Teaching With Authority—It Helps When You Wrote the Book

The riveting stories of Jesus Christ become more amazing each time we hear them. Here is God humbling himself in human form to share our pain, to teach us wisdom, and then to take our punishment for all the sin we commit – past, present, and future – to reconcile us to the Father. Those who heard Him speak understood He spoke with authority, not like their religious leaders, whose learning was second-hand. Jesus spoke with authority because His Spirit guided the hands of those who wrote the Scriptures.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29 NIV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NLT)

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 MEV)

WHAT AN AMAZING SIGHT THAT MUST HAVE BEEN.

This common-looking man, with flowing mane, dirty feet, and only a carpenter’s learning, was sitting in a small boat preaching to a crowd of men, women, and children hungry for something in their lives, and the Bible tells us “they were amazed” because this man, of questionable birth “taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”32-jesuspreachesfromboat

Of course, His birth was questioned. Everyone knew that Mary, His mother, was unwed when she carried the child. They might have heard that an angel had assured his earthly father, Joseph, that the Holy Spirit of Almighty God had given Mary the child, but who really could understand that.

Yet, here He was was, preaching about love and hate, life and death, marriage and sex, divorce, coveting, murder, lust, adultery, and spiritual discipline, and He did so in such a remarkable manner, with such force and conviction that His listeners – humble folks just like Him – marveled at His authority.

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Continue reading “Teaching With Authority—It Helps When You Wrote the Book”

LoveAndGrace–2016 In Review

LoveAndGrace, my Christian-theme blog and baby, closes out its first year of publication, and I give thanks to God for His trust in me to spread the Word to those He places in my path. My prayers have migrated from asking His help in launching the blog to where they should be: seeking His direction in helping me write them. So far, 32 blogs have been posted in 2016 (the 33rd is going up tomorrow), and the stats are interesting. The two blogs I felt the least comfortable writing —“The Christian’s Response to Politics” and “Will Christians Lead the Political Debate or Abdicate Responsibility”  — were by far the most viewed, while the most important blog I wrote, “Praying Boldly,”  was the least viewed, and my favorite post, “God’s Key Question,”  also ranked near the bottom in total views. Stats show the blog was seen in countries outside the U.S., including China, South Korea, Venezuela, Spain, and Australia. Aah, the Internet. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,” Jesus said (Matthew 28:19) and “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). Pray with me in 2017 that God will continue to bless this blog and pour His Grace into it and into the hearts and lives of those who read it. Be blessed, my friends.

Jesus, Who Is My Neighbor?

When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, He placed us in the story. Typically, we think we’re cast in the role of the Samaritan, the good man, the benefactor, but actually He left it open if we would be the benefactor. We also could be the innkeeper, who provided aide without certainty of full payment. Certainly, we are the two religious leaders — the “good” people in our community — but we’re also the victim in need of help. But there’s a sixth person in this story, the expert in Jewish law who asked who his neighbor was. Moses answered that question in Leviticus, written 1,300 years earlier. The legal expert should have known that. Since Jesus’ told the story, another 2,000 years have passed. Are we any closer to answering the question?

A teacher of the law, seeking to trap Jesus, asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to love God and obey His  law, including loving his neighbor as himself. The legal expert then asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25-29 (edited)

IT’S CALLED THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN.

We think we know the story because it’s an easy tale to follow. We can readily pick out each of the four main characters — victim, priest, Levite, benefactor — and place ourselves in whichever role we wish to accomplish whatever result we favor.

Most of us probably see ourselves as the benefactor. He was  described as a Samaritan, which m31-robbersbeatingthevictimeans little to us, just a slight reference to nationality, nothing significant, so we let it pass.

The holy men who passed by the victim without offering assistance are easy enough to place also — they’re the hypocrites, and surely we see many of those around, you know, people who say all sorts of good things but who don’t follow through. We even have an expression: “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.” They might be called the “good people” in our community.

Do we ever look at the victim?

Jesus describes him as a man walking from Jerusalem to Jericho, who was attacked by robbers, beaten, and left for dead. He gives us no other description, so we tend to ignore him. Continue reading “Jesus, Who Is My Neighbor?”

God Hates Sin, Man Loves Sin

God hates sin; man loves sin. We’re on a collision course. God says the wages of our sin is death, but out of His abundant love, He provided a way toward salvation. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay our price. Our belief in Him restores us to a right relationship with the Father.

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4 NIV)

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:18 ESV)

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 NASB)

“Let those who love the LORD hate evil.” (Psalm 97:10 NIV)

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.” (Romans 6:12 HCSB)

GOD TAKES SIN SERIOUSLY. MAN DOES NOT.

That puts mankind on a collision course with the Creator of the universe. 

There is no good outcome for mankind when God wants us to go one way, and we want
to go another, when we continue to sin and God hates our sin.
Continue reading “God Hates Sin, Man Loves Sin”

Doing Good Without God? Huh?

What does it mean to be a “good person,” and how good must we be to merit eternal life with the God of the universe? Man often compiles his own list of “dos” and “don’ts” that seem reasonable to him, without wanting to give credit to the eternal God for having compiled the ultimate list in the Ten Commandments, which He fleshed out in the Sermon on the Mount. The problem is that no amount of willpower or positive energy is sufficient to keep us on track: every time we fail, we see how much we need a Savior.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6 NASB)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40 ESV)

THE STORY GOES THAT Benjamin Franklin created his own non-doctrinaire guide to “good works” that emphasized the virtues associated with the Christian faith’s walk with Christ but eliminated the role of God as the source.

The idea behind this, no doubt, was the rationalist’s view that most moral  platitudes — the variety of “dos” and “don’ts” — are self-evident and that ascribing their origin to an unseen Diety — holy, perfect, and judgmental —was both unnecessary and unwise!RulesYouCanYouCan't.gif

After all, the rationalist would argue, if the ideas were generated by some source superior to oneself, there’s no telling what additional platitudes might be lurking behind the ones we’ve identified.

Once that happens, well, look out because we might not want any of THOSE platitudes. Nope. We want complete control over the list. This will be our list, not one handed to us by an outside source.

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OKAY, SO WHAT WAS on the list that Mr. Franklin compiled and what was his point in compiling the list in the first place? Continue reading “Doing Good Without God? Huh?”

Stepping Out In Faith: LoveAndGrace 2017

LoveAndGrace began in 2016 as a step of faith and needs enhancements for 2017. Readers are asked to pray for its success in reaching the lost, the struggling, and those looking for a friend to share their daily walk with Christ.

When the priests who were carrying the chest came to the Jordan (River), their feet touched the edge of the water. The Jordan had overflowed its banks completely, the way it does during the entire harvest season. But at that moment the water of the Jordan coming downstream stood still. (Joshua 3:14-16a CEB)

“But may those who love the Lord be like the sun when it rises in all its brightness.” (Judges 5:31 GW)

SOMETIMES, THE LORD ASKS US TO STEP OUT IN FAITH.

This blog is one of them. At the start of 2016, I began to write and publish a Christian-themed blog, which I believe the Lord has equipped me and led me to write.

LoveAndGrace was not to be a testament to my thoughts or experiences or dreams but a willing vessel for the ideas that I felt the Lord giving me to share. I’m taking seriously the biblical testimony that each of us is called to witness to those whom we are uniquely suited to reach. So, if Billy Graham reaches 50 million people, and I reach 5 people, my 5 people are added to his 50 million people–that’s 50 million +5 who will enjoy eternal life with the Creator. Continue reading “Stepping Out In Faith: LoveAndGrace 2017”