Just Like Buttah

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

– Romans 8:31 (ESV)

One day in 1740, the Anglican pastor (and later founder of Methodism) John Wesley stood before his congregants in a chapel in Bristol, England.  He delivered his simply titled “Sermon 128,” better known today as “Free Grace.” Using Romans 8:32 as his text, Wesley wonderfully proclaimed: "(The) assurance of faith which these enjoy excludes all doubt and fear, It excludes all kinds of doubt and fear concerning their future perseverance; though it is not properly, as was said before, an assurance of what is future, but only of what now is."

That is a pretty audacious statement to make.  We are expected, as believers who have the assurance of faith, to not be bothered by anything past, present, or future.  No worry.  No doubt.  It is a claim one cannot make without understanding the verse before Wesley’s base passage for this sermon.

If God is for us, who can be against us?  If one digs into the Greek words in this verse, we find what Paul is saying here is this: if God – Who Is high above us and far beyond our grasp – loves us so much as to stand for us, who can make a charge against us that will stick?

Look at Jesus.  His trials before the Jewish and Roman leaders was a kangaroo court.  He was unjustly tried, punished and executed – with great haste and no true sense of fairness.  The enemies of Jesus passed a guilty judgment against Him.

But God had the final word in the matter.  Three days after His death, Jesus Christ put pay to all of His promises, and all the Old Testament Scripture that was penned before – and pointed toward – Him. 

My point is this: the judgment of others does not matter. 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)

God has the final say, not your enemies.  God loves you, you are His child, and His love for you is never ending.  Do not let those who oppose you get in your way of doing what God has called you to do.  Do not let fear or worry or doubt cloud your vision or block your path.  Here is the great thing about fear: faith is its Achilles Heel.  If you stand up in faith and stare fear in the face, it will back down.  True authority is rooted in God, and His will and ways and Word.

Faith turns fear into soft butter.  So, today, whatever you are facing, don’t be swayed by the enemy.  Don’t let doubt creep in.  Do not weary in well doing.  Stand up straight and strong in faith on the mighty Word of the Lord.  Hold fast to your conviction that God is GOD and He has a plan and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that will thwart that plan.

And remember that you are part of that plan.  Cling to God.  Let Him fight the battle.  You just need to stand strong and stay faithful.  The LORD is your strength, and when we are weak, He is strong!

By Definition, You Are…

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

What defines a person? Is it their job? Their past? The judgements of others? Is it the grades you get at school, your station in life? Is it status or wealth or genealogy? Answer this question: at the very core of my being, I am a ______________________.

How did you define yourself? Some will choose their employment position or title. Others their familial role. Still others will frame their identity with either a point of pride (or, the other end of the spectrum, failure).

The problem is that none of these identifying factors are complete – or completely accurate. In fact, they can often hold us back. Especially if we are branded by others with an unfair label.

Your work does not define you.

Your wealth does not define you.

Your title, status, achievements, failures… None of these things define you.

No other human being can define you.

Only God defines you. He created each and every one of us with a purpose. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, wired with a God bestowed purpose and destiny. What is your purpose in life? I have no idea. Ask God! He drew up the design, plotted out the plan, wired you to be you.

Trust in a God. He has wonderful designs for your life. Get up in the morning and say, “Good Morning Lord! Thank you for giving me another day to serve you and rest in your grace and love. How can I serve today?” Seek God first and foremost. And watch Him work amazingly through your life to bless others. Then you will find your true purpose. It is only in God through Jesus Christ that we find our true identity.

So, who are you? You are a child of the One True God, greatly loved, incredibly blessed, fearfully and wonderfully made!

(C) 2013 by Chris Courtney. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share this message with anyone who you think may be blessed by it!

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No Luck At All

I do not believe in luck. Nothing happens by chance. We are where we are, when we are, because it is God’s will. The people in your life are there because God placed them there. A friend of mine recently Tweeted a very wise quote from the late pastor Chuck Smith: “Everything is preparation for something else.”

Everything has a purpose. You may never know it because it may be for someone else. There may be a lesson to learn. You may be the one who leads someone to Christ by your actions, never needing to speak a word.

Your life is not meaningless. You are not called to a hopeless existence. We have a job: to be salt and light before men, to let the light of Christ shine far brighter through us. We are called to share the light and love of Jesus. Today, as we head into the new week, let’ s do so with great joy, with great thanksgiving in our in hearts. We are called to love.

(C) 20013 by Chris Courtney. All rights reserved. Please feel free to send this to any friends who need a boost all in God’s ways of doing things.


An Eternal Weekend Perspective

Ahhh… can you see it?  Look there, off in the distance.  Just beyond the horizon.  Shining, glimmering, calling out to you… If you can’t quite see it yet, wait until noon.  That’s when we crest the uphill climb every Wednesday and begin our descent into the always anticipated weekend.

The weekend.  Most look forward to it.  Some live for it.  Some revel in it so much that, as the old joke goes, they have to go back to work on Monday to get some rest.

Today, I want to show you something to look forward to even more than the weekend.  If things are getting stressful or tough and you see no end in sight to whatever situation you are facing, remember: just like the workweek – and the weekend – nothing lasts forever.

Except, that is, eternity.  (I know… thanks for pointing out the obvious…)

Eternity.  That is exactly what I want to get you thinking about.  How wrapped up do we get in our own little lives?  How many trivialities eat away at our time, our finances, our nervous systems?  How much focus do we put on things that, in a year or two or twenty, will not matter?

Consider what the apostle James wrote:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. – James 4:13-14 (ESV)

A mist.  Here today.  Gone tomorrow.  And for what?

If that sounds depressing, it shouldn’t be.  Let’s face it: this life is tough.  Stress, sorrows, pain, disease, guilt, toil…

But – if you think about it – on average we are only on this earth for 67.2 years.  That is the world life expectancy as of 2010 (according to The CIA World Fact Book).  And that’s pretty impressive, considering the number was half that (or less) up until around a century ago.

But even that is a speck compared to eternity.  Eternity is hard to grasp because it is a dimension we finite, time-bound humans have never experienced.  To understand eternity is to understand what it is to live unshackled by clocks and calendars.  Eternity is… well… eternal!  It never began.  It never ends.

Eternity – that wonderful place outside of time – is where we will be.  And, for believers in Christ, we will spend that time in the presence of Almighty God, Eternal Creator of All (including eternity itself).  Now… seriously… stop and think about that.  Eternity.  Forever.  No end.

No pain.

No sorrow.

No sin.

No depression.

No boredom.

No heartache.

No killing.

No disease.

No bondage.

No bitterness.

No fear.

No worry.

No need to live for the weekend.

Eternity worshipping our loving God Who so graciously gave His Son so we can spend eternity with Him.

And, if you don’t believe in Jesus, I have one simple question for you: what have you got to lose?  If I’m wrong, you’ve lost nothing.  Your life’s end on this earth will be just what you believe.  But, if I’m right (and this is not a boast of anything to do with me, it is all God’s grace and mercy and all in His Word), you will still have to face eternity. 

And it won’t be nearly as pleasant.

I cannot imagine what eternity totally separated from God is like.  The thought makes me shudder.

And, trust me, eternity lasts a lot longer than the 50-some hour mid-hump-day slide into the weekend.