The gospel is exciting

Romans 1:16 KJV

One Sunday a lady fell asleep in church. Pointing to the man sitting next to her, the pastor said, “Please wake that lady up.” The man replied, “Sorry, Pastor. You put her to sleep – you wake her up!” Seriously, Paul tells us “the gospel…is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (NKJV). The Greek word for “power” is dynamis, from which we get the word dynamite. Talk about impact! The gospel changes people profoundly. Chuck Swindoll says: “The gospel is like a sword sharpened on the stone of Scripture and tempered in the furnace of reality, relevance, and need. Of all the reactions a person may have to it, I can think of none worse than a yawn, a sleepy ‘so what,’ or a bored ‘who cares?’ Jesus met people where they were. His word touched raw nerves. His preaching was a lot more ‘here-and-now’ than it was ‘there-and-then.’ He attacked hypocrisy and prejudice. He met people where they were, not where they ought to be. Angry young men, blind beggars, proud politicians, loose-living hookers, ignorant fishermen, naked victims of demonism, and grieving parents – He related to them all. His enemies misunderstood Him, but they couldn’t ignore Him. They hated Him, but they were never bored around Him. Do you want a new definition of failing the Lord? Here it is – using the gospel to bore people! The gospel isn’t some vague religious concept; it’s an exciting relationship with God that works in everyday life.” And the people around you need it, so share it with them.

Soul food: Lev 13:38-14:57; Luke 21:1-7; Ps 25:1-7; Prov 9:17-18

Gospel power

Romans 1:16 NIV

Paul tells us the gospel ‘is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.’ The Greek word for ‘power’ is dynamis, and we get our word dynamite from that. That shows just how much impact the gospel can have. We can so easily forget that the gospel has power. We can view it as a nice story of God’s rescue, and forget that it’s actually truth. And not just truth, but truth that can bring about transformation in our lives. When we hear the gospel, it has the power to lead us to Jesus and His promise of eternal life. It has the power to change how we live our lives, and can set us on a new path. It can change our hearts. The Bible says: ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). The gospel changes people profoundly. And we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves. The people around us need to hear it, so let’s make sure we’re looking for opportunities to share it with them. Jesus told His disciples: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19 NIV). That’s what we’re called to do too. We might worry we don’t have the right words to say, but the gospel has the words we need. And we shouldn’t be going about telling people they’re sinners. When they understand the gospel for themselves, they will recognise where they’re going wrong and naturally want to make a change. Our job is simply to share the gospel, and let God do the rest.

Lev 13:38-14:57; Luke 21:1-7; Ps 25:1-7; Prov 9:17-18

Be expectant

Deuteronomy 8:7 NIV

When God promises you something, it means it’ll happen. It may not happen when we want it to happen, but God’s timing is perfect. Waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives can be really hard. If we’ve been waiting a long time, we can begin to wonder whether anything’s actually going to change. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God told them: ‘For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land.’ The words ‘is bringing’ shows that God’s promise to them about entering the ‘good land’ hadn’t yet been fulfilled. After 40 years of wandering around the desert, it wouldn’t have been surprising if some of the Israelites had started to doubt God’s promise. The description they were given of the land (which you can read in Deuteronomy 8:7-9) might have seemed unlikely, and too big a promise, after they had experienced the wilderness for so long. But He did bring them to the land. And He will fulfil the promises He’s made to us too. He wants us to wait expectantly. Just because something’s not immediately evident doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It’s like if we asked God for an oak tree, and He gave us an acorn. At that point we may think God didn’t hear and answer our prayer. But the oak tree is in the acorn; it’s just a matter of time before what’s inside bursts out. Whatever God has promised us, the seeds are already within us. We need to water them, nurture them, and refuse to let anyone uproot them. Other people’s opinions can cause us to doubt what we’ve heard from God, but we need to stand strong and wait expectantly for His promises to be fulfilled.

Lev 11:1-13:37; Luke 20:41-47; Ps 32; Prov 9:10-16

New way

Hebrews 10:20 NCV

In the Old Testament there were over six hundred religious laws. And every time someone failed to keep one, they had to offer an animal sacrifice as atonement. This resulted in people trying and failing; feeling guilty and trying harder; failing again and making more sacrifices. It was a never-ending cycle. Then Jesus came and opened up ‘a new and living way…for us’ to have a relationship with God. His way included forgiveness for sin, and the replacement of sacrifices with faith in Him. For many it was just too good to be true, so they kept working and trying to impress God with their goodness. We can find ourselves doing that too. One Christian author writes: ‘I lived that way for years. It meant having to do everything perfectly; otherwise I was in trouble with God. Since this was an impossible standard to keep, it stole all my peace and joy. While I was trying to walk in love, I wasn’t a very loving person. I couldn’t give others what I didn’t know how to receive myself! I wasn’t receiving God’s mercy for my failures; therefore I couldn’t offer it to anybody else. I tried to follow all the rules, many that weren’t even scriptural – just things to feel guilty about. But thank God I don’t have to live that way anymore. Now I’m not working to be saved, I’m working because I am saved! My salvation isn’t based on what I do, but solely on what Jesus has done for me.’ When we understand that we’ve been saved by God’s grace, our relationship with Him is no longer about us being perfect, and instead becomes about His perfect love.

Exo 33-35; Luke 14:25-35; Ps 112; Prov 7:6-9

Grace produces godliness

Romans 6:1 NKJV

How should we answer those who say that talking too much about God’s grace causes people to think they have a license to sin? By pointing them to God’s Word: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (vv. 1-2 NKJV). Note the words “died to sin.” As you feed your new nature and starve your old one, it begins to die. You become less interested in pleasing yourself, and more interested in pleasing God. Paul said, “For the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14 NKJV). Paul was not compelled by the fear of losing his salvation, but by the need to respond to God’s grace which he had experienced. He said, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14 NAS). The Greek word for “world” is kosmos, or “order.” A revelation of God’s grace caused the world order to lose its appeal to Paul, and he to lose his appeal to them. When properly understood, the grace of God does not prevent godliness, but produces more of it. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14 NKJV).

Soul food: Ecc 1-4; Luke 6:27-36; Ps 107:1-9; Prov 3:13-18