When The Joy Is Gone!

November 25th, 2013

Yesterday we had A WONDERFUL Sunday here at Grace Baptist Church. In both the morning and evening services the building was full. On Saturday two of our men were able to lead two teenage brothers to the Lord while out soul winning. Both teenage young men came to church yesterday morning and they brought their mom with them. This precious mother also received Christ as her Saviour and came forward in the invitation at the conclusion of the service professing her faith in Jesus Christ. In addition to this family five more precious souls were saved and once again God moved in a mighty way here at Grace. Yesterday was yet another Sunday for joy and celebration.  We rejoice that folks have joined us on the journey of faith.  Yet, not every day is so joyous.  The truth is that sometimes the pain that we can and do experience in life robs us of our joy.

We live in a world that is full of brokenness and pain.  Loved ones get sick.  Marriages get stretched to the breaking point.  Our friends at times betray us.  The nation is polarized.  The economy still hasn’t recovered and jobs are hard to find.  Morally we seem to lose ground almost every day.  The news reports speak of winter storms, hurricanes, floods, tornados and earthquakes.  The threat of terrorism persists.  The list could go on and on for hours. 

Lingering in the hearts of many Christians is that nagging sense that things aren't quite right, not as they could be, nor as they should be.  Many feel guilt, condemnation and failure. It leaves us asking the tough questions of life.  Why aren't things better?  Why cannot I get on the victory side in my Christian life?

The Prophet Jeremiah served God in a time when “When Joy was Gone” or at least hard to find. Jeremiah 8:18 “When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.” The prophet asked in Jeremiah 8:22 “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

Jeremiah is wondering about those promises God has made? Why haven't we been restored? Why haven't we been made whole?   Even those of us who have committed ourselves to living lives of faithful obedience to God may wonder at times if such faith makes any difference. We pray for years for the soul of a friend or loved one; we plead with God to make our relationships better; we tithe faithfully but still struggle to find a job that can pay the bills and provide for the family.  We live the wholesome lifestyle prescribed by the scriptures but still experience chronic pain or sickness.  We do our best to "trust and obey" but still we sometimes wonder if God even knows or cares. 

So why is there so much evil in this world? Why do we face such tremendous tragedies? Where is God in all of this?  For Jeremiah it was clear. God had spoken to him directly. It was God's judgment upon the nation of Israel who had strayed from their relationship with God.  God was behind it.  

What did Jesus have to say about the trials and tribulations of this life?  Jesus never really answered directly why much of the hurt and hard ache in our world occurs. He did say that it was not because of sin in the story of the man born blind in John 9. On another occasion in Luke 13 Jesus said that the collapse of a large building in Jerusalem, which killed 18 people, did not happen because they were more guilty sinners than any others living in the city. He said plainly that all of us have a need to repent.

We have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering.”  The truth is, we don't know why children die. WE don't know why hurricanes make last minute turns, sparing some while bringing devastation to others. We don't why troubles seem only to multiply for some folks. We don't know why healthy folks get cancer. There are so many things we just don't know. 

Praise God for what we do know!  We do know that God's love for us has no boundary. We do know that there is a God who can heal us. There is a God who can soothe the pain and mend the heart. We know it is so.  

I love the old negro- spiritual that says “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” That balm, my precious friend, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Physician. He has a ministry of touching the untouchable, embracing the erring, healing the hurting, and forgiving the fallen.

In the Lord Jesus Christ we encounter a God who will not abandoned us even in our sin. Friend, it is for that reason, we find the strength to look beyond the days when joy is gone and live for the day when joy shall be return. Friend, until we see the Saviour face to face, our pain is God's pain. Yesterday here at Grace Baptist Church we saw once again that Jesus can set the sinner free and make him or her brand new! Oh what Joy! Oh what Glory!

This Thanksgiving Season let’s spread the message far and near – Jesus Cares!  I love the hymn written by Frank E. Graeff, in 1901.

Does Jesus Care When My Heart Is Pained
Too Deeply For Mirth Or Song,
As The Burdens Press, And The Cares Distress,
And The Way Grows Weary And Long?

Oh, Yes, He Cares, I Know He Cares,
His Heart Is Touched With My Grief;
When The Days Are Weary, The Long Nights Dreary,
I Know My Savior Cares.

The Commands Of Christ!

November 2nd, 2013

In (Matthew 28:20) Jesus said, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” We are to teach all the commands of Christ.

Now listen to what the Apostle Paul was inspired by the Holy Ghost to write in (I Cor.14:37) “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” All of the Apostle’s inspired epistles - Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews are the Commands Of Christ.

These verses run contrary to the falsehoods taught in much contemporary preaching today. This is a Significant and Serious Subject about which there is so much Confusion (I Cor. 14:33) in Contemporary Christianity! It is the Misunderstanding and Misinterpretation of this subject that is the reason So Many Of Our Children Turn Their Back on Historic and Authentic Christianity!

There is an offshoot of Christianity today that is teaching the false doctrine that the New Testament or New Covenant is only about Relationships not Rules. This reasoning believes that since we have been set free by Christ there are essential very few Rules in the New Covenant. This offshoot which is actually a contemporary version of hyper-dispensationalism has taken out of context a conversation Jesus had with a lawyer in (Matthew 22:35-40). Listen to this conversation - “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  

Does this mean that Loving God and Loving My Neighbor is all that Christ Commands? Absolutely not! What Jesus was saying was that all the COMMANDS / RULES of the Bible involve my Relationship With God and my Relationship With My Fellow Man!

The First 4 of the 10 Commandments Involve My Relationship With God And The Next 6 Involve My Relationship With My Fellow Man! Right between commandment 2 and 3 the Bible says in (Exodus 20:6)And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

We cannot divorce obedience from love. Jesus established this continuing principle in (John 14:15) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Listen to the inspired words of John in (I John 5:2) “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

Here Is The QuestionIs It Legalism To Seek To Obey The Commands Of Christ? One of the leading Bible scholars of the last generation said that, “By Focusing On The Selected Key Commands Spoken By Jesus In The Gospels There Are a Total Of 382 Spoken Commands By Jesus Which Were In The Imperative Tense In The Original Greek.” Now this does not even deal with the fact that the Apostle Paul stated in (I Cor. 14:37) that The Things That He Wrote Unto You And I Are The Commandments Of The Lord, as well. 

Here Is The Real Issue - How Can We Be True Disciples Of The Lord Jesus Christ? Discipleship is what the Christian life is all about. But how do we know when we are true Disciples? And how do we know when we have successfully trained someone else to be a Disciple? (Matthew 28:20) is the Curriculum For Christlikeness. Jesus said, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

There is no denying Jesus Gave Commands (MANY). If you consider yourself to belong to Jesus Christ in any sense then how can you ignore what He said? If His commands were to be ignored then why did He give them and why were they written down? If He did not expect us to obey them then why did He ask in (Luke 6:46) “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Since Salvation Is Free and Available Only By The Grace Of Jesus, Some Believe That It Is Inappropriate To Suggest That Jesus Had Any Commandments Other Than The 2 In (Matthew 22). There is no doubt that the Bible makes it very clear That Faith In Jesus Is The Only Way To Be Born Again And Go To Heaven. But as you observe the many Commands Of Christ throughout the gospels it becomes abundantly clear that God is not only The God Of Grace, God is also The God Of Expectations.

The Commands Of Christ apply to all Jesus followers. His atoning grace has set us free from the Jewish ceremonial laws found in the Old Testament. However, Jesus said in (Matthew 5:17) that He didn’t come to Abolish The Law, but to Fulfill The Law. Jesus had a high view of His Father’s Moral Commands, and he paid the price to set us free from the penalty of having broken them. Now, his life and words affirm that as His Disciples, We Do Have Commands To Observe not to Merit His Grace but to Show Our Gratitude For His Grace. Do not let some false teachers and modern day libertarians lead you into the false doctrine that seeking to please God is legalism. 

The Awesome Rewards of obeying Christ’s Commands are not Heaven (That Would Be Salvation By Works - Which Is The True Definition Of Legalism) but they are Hope & Honor, Blessings & Bountifulness, Wisdom & Walking In His Presence, Joyfullness &Successfulness! The Commands Of Christ are really just God’s Rules For Living, and they are intended to help me toward an abundant life, not to limit my freedom?