Thursday Truth: Three Great Articles To Lead You into Truth 09-20-18

“If I speak what is false, I must answer for it; if truth, it will answer for me.” ~ Thomas Fuller

Thursday Truth: Three Articles To Lead You into Truth 09-20-18

If God Doesn’t Need Anything, Then Why Does He Command Us to Serve Him?

by Mark Altrogge

God doesn’t need our work.  

He doesn’t need our money, either. God can get everything done without a heavenly Kickstarter campaign. He didn’t ask for any help when he created the galaxies. He can get along just fine without our peewee contributions to the universe. Continue Reading


If the Holy Spirit Lives in Us, Why Can’t We Live Perfect Lives?

by R.C. Sproul

Let me suggest to you that we can live perfect lives. Now that may sound like the most outrageous thing you have ever heard, because one of the few things you’ll get both Christian and non-Christian to agree on is that nobody is perfect! Continue Reading


Lift High the Name of Jesus

Free Hymn of the Month from Getty Music & Blue Letter Bible

Each month Blue Letter Bible offers a free hymn from Getty Music.

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)

Download the powerful hymn and read the story behind it:

Lift High the Name of Jesus

“BLB is very blessed to partner with Getty Music and offer you these wonderful modern hymns, which promote sincere, Bible-based worship in the hearts of God’s people.”


“Jesus Christ Himself is the final exegesis of all truth. He is all that we need to know about God, and He is all that we need to know about man.” ~ Major Ian Thomas

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Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer may seem obvious. Consider the facts.

Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer seems obvious – No!

But hear me out.

I have a story that can help us answer that question — a question we each need to ponder.

Just to warn you a little, this is not a chicken nugget post. It’s more like filet. By that, I mean this question is meaty.

Worst Decision Ever

Many years ago I made the worst decision of my life.

I sat on a vinyl-covered barstool and walked away from God.

We’d come to an impasse.

The life I wanted didn’t match the life He seemed to want for me. So I told Him the time had come for us to part ways . . . at least for now.

I hadn’t stopped loving God. But He wanted me to surrender to Him, and I wanted Him to surrender to me.

Since we both refused to give in, I made the worst decision of my life.

Two years and painful scars later, I found my way back to God.

With relief and joy, I fell into His welcoming arms and surrendered to His will.

At least I thought I’d surrendered.

Here We Go Again

While my renewed relationship with God exhilarated me, my repeated failure to walk free from sin frustrated me.

Want what God wants. Want what I want.

Gain victory. Fall on my face.

Stand against sin. Run after sin.

Before long, I was digging my heels in with God. Again.

“You always get Your way,” I cried. “Please, this time, just do what I’m asking!”

The Pangs of Death

Ever patient, God spoke through His Word into my aching heart and clouded mind.

“Your way leads to destruction. Your path is paved with lies. Believe Me when I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

I’d been feeling the pangs of death, sure enough, but not the kind God meant.

I was killing my fellowship with God. I was fighting a battle I knew I’d ultimately regret but couldn’t seem to stop fighting.

As they say, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

They are so right sometimes.

Except it was like I had two hearts.

Two Hearts – One Battle

One heart wanted what God wanted as it overflowed with love for Him. The other heart wanted what my sin wanted, as it overflowed with desire for it.

I begged for relief. “Change me, God! Change my heart!”

Silence.

I understood why suicide seems appealing. Relief from pain and struggle in an instant.

God knew I didn’t need relief, though. I needed power. Resurrection power to follow the heart that desired God more than sin.

The funny thing about resurrection, though, is it only comes after death.

Finally, on a warm spring day, I sat on the soft grass in the shade of my Vitex tree and died.

“You win, God,” I said. “I can’t fight anymore. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want You. I don’t care about anything else. Just give me You. I’ll do whatever You want, no matter what it costs me, even if You never bless me again. I don’t care. Just give me You.”

In utter weakness, I died that day. Yet, I rose up and walked into my house stronger and freer than I’d ever been.

God had won the battle, and I gained the victory.

The Verdict

It’s time for a verdict on whether sin can be good.

But first, let’s review the facts of my story.

Facts:

My love for God – as strong as it felt – didn’t draw me back to Him. The pain of my sin did.

My desire to please God didn’t open my eyes to the reality of how good He is or how perfect His law is. My sin did.

It was the devastating “rewards” of my sin that shook me awake to the truth that the path I was walking led only to destruction.

Sin’s agony sent me fleeing to Truth. Running back to God.

Without sin’s wretched grip, I may never have become desperate for relief. I may never have died that day and fully surrendered to God.

Instead, at the very best, I might have lived the rest of my life in exasperation, feeling doomed to a rollercoaster existence of failure, victory, failure, victory.

In view of the facts, I ask again: Can sin ever be good?

Verdict:

No!

No, it can’t.

Sin can never be good. It is unadulterated evil bent on destruction.

But God is good.

God is so good and powerful that He can and does use everything, including our most hideous sin, for His perfect purposes.

He used my wretched sin to draw me to Himself and teach me the truth we all must learn:

Jesus paid the full price (penalty) for our sin on the cross, BUT sin isn’t gone. It lives on inside us, and we are powerless to defeat it – by ourselves. But thanks be to God for His resurrection power over sin through His Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian.

Sin is Never Good. But God Is.

If you’re struggling with sin and feel powerless to defeat it, you need to know that only God can, and He will. Abide in Christ.

Trust Him to be your strength and walk in that trust.

If you’ve already reached an impasse with God and walked away, I pray you’ll return. God is worth more than anything sin or this world has to offer.

Sin’s “rewards” lie perched on a mountain of crumbling lies.

Because sin can never be good.

But God always is.

Can sin ever be good? Consider the facts #Biblestudy #God Click To Tweet




Jesus’ Last Seven Words On the Cross & What They Mean For Us Today

Jesus' Last Seven Words On the Cross and What They Mean For Us Today (via www.jeanwilund.com) #Easter #GoodFriday

________†________

If you could control the moment you died, what would your last words be?  

Jesus controlled His. 

Let’s look at what He chose to say.

Let’s look at His last seven words on the cross and what they mean to us today.


1. Forgiveness

“Father, forgive them;
for they do not know what they are doing.”
(Luke 23:34 NASB)

Christ’s first recorded words on the cross were a prayer. But not for Himself. 

“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” 

Really? They didn’t know what they were doing?

It took awhile for Christ to stumble up to Calvary in His tortured state. They had plenty of time to realize where this would end.

They drove nails through His hands and feet.

How could they not know what they were doing?

And yet . . .“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

They didn’t know because sin blinded them.

The Jewish leaders, the crowd who cried out for His crucifixion, Governor Pilate who gave the order for His death, and the Roman guards who carried out their evil desires were all blinded by sin.

If they’d truly understood what they were doing, they wouldn’t have done it.

They would’ve been too horrified.

Instead, they would’ve bowed before Jesus, not mocked, denied, and crucified Him.

What this means for us:

Like those who crucified Christ, we deny, excuse, and wink at sin. 

And just like them, we’re blind to the depths and seriousness of it.

If we saw our sin as it actually is — as God sees it — it would revolt us. We’d stay far from it. 

But we’re just as easily blinded by sin. 

Unless God opens our eyes to it, we’ll stay blind.

Ask God to help you see sin for what it is so you’ll want to stay far from its destructiveness.

Sort of like most of us wouldn’t be tempted to eat roach-filled brownies. 

Then remember how sin blinds. That way when others sin against you, even those who surely know what they’re doing, your heart will be able to forgive. Like Christ’s.

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” 

Because none of us truly do.


2. Salvation

“And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you,
today you shall be with Me in Paradise.’”
~ Luke 23:43

Two criminals hung on the cross next to Christ. One spewed hate. The other admitted his guilt and asked Christ for mercy.  

Salvation only came to one that day.

The thief, who believed Jesus is exactly who He said He was, joined Christ in heaven that day. The other one doomed himself to hell by his unbelief. He had the same opportunity to believe but refused.

What this means for us:

As long as there is breath in our lungs, it’s not too late for us to choose to believe.

But we won’t have forever to make that choice.

Time ran out on the other criminal.

Don’t let time run out on you. Choose today while there’s still today. 


3. Compassion

“Dear woman, here is your son.”
John 19:26

The first three of Jesus’ last words were for other people. 

His concern, as He hung in agony, was for the forgiveness, salvation, and needs of others. 

Specifically the needs of His mother. Mary. 

We don’t know what happened to Joseph by this point. Most believe he must have died as he’s not mentioned in the Bible after Jesus was grown. 

As Jesus hung on the cross, and pain pierced His body, He focused on His mother and passed the responsibility of caring for her to His beloved disciple, John. 

What this means for us today:

Jesus showed us that much can be accomplished no matter our circumstances through great, selfless love for God and others.

It’s natural when we’re in pain to turn our thoughts inward. But studies have shown that when we turn our thoughts and actions toward serving others instead, our pain tolerance increases.

Jesus wasn’t trying to reduce His stress by His actions, but it’s not a bad benefit. 

Jesus also demonstrated the importance of always showing love to your mother.

Did you hear that, kids? Jesus said so.  


4. Anguish

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
~ Mark 15:34

When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsake Me?” did He not understand what God was doing? 

Was He suddenly confused in His anguish? 

Absolutely not.

In all of Christ’s humanity, He never lost His deity.

When He humbled Himself and took on the physical form of man, He laid aside His rights, not His divinity.

He submitted His rights even to death on a cross, but He never lost sight of His purpose or God’s plan.

Yes, He suffered terrible anguish in His body from the agony of the cross and the flogging He endured beforehand.

He also suffered in His soul, as He carried the crushing weight of our despised sin.

But Jesus wasn’t confused. He was quoting the first verse in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22 is filled with prophecies about Him, the Messiah, the Promised Savior. Every Jewish leader listening to Him knew that psalm.

By quoting that verse, Jesus declared that Psalm 22 spoke of Him. 

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had told the Jewish leaders that Moses wrote about Him. (John 5:46) In this one prayer, He revealed the Psalmists did as well. 

What this means for us today:

In these words, Christ settles forever the question, “Does God really love me? Do I really matter?” 

The answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

Which of us would hand over our own beloved son to be tortured and forsaken for our friends, much less our enemies?

Who among us would pour out their own fierce wrath upon their beloved only son for the sin of those who spit on him and mocked him? 

God did. (Romans 5:10)

And which of us would be willing to endure such torment for those who don’t deserve it?

Jesus was. (Hebrews 12:2)

Yes, God really loves you. 

And, yes, you really matter to Christ.


5. Suffering

“I am thirsty.”
~ John 19:28

In Christ’s humanity, His body was ready to give out. It suffered intense physical thirst.

In Psalm 22, God pointed to this moment.

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.”
~ Psalm 22:15

Through King David, God prophecized that Jesus would drink bitterness.

“…for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”
~ Psalm 69:21

What this means for us today:

Man can live a long time without food, although it wouldn’t be fun. But man cannot live long without water. 

Jesus suffered agonizing physical thirst that spoke to our spiritual thirst. 

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus spoke of spiritual thirst to the Samaritan woman at the well.

He said to her, “Give Me a drink.” (John 4:7)

She was surprised by this for many reasons and was drawn into a conversation with Christ. In a way that only Jesus can do, He told her about Himself. 

“Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

We’re all created as spiritual beings. And without Christ–the Living Water–our spiritual thirst can never be quenched. And we can never truly live.

Without Him, we’ll merely survive until we die. Eternally.

With Him, rivers of living water spring up from us to eternal life, and we will never thirst again. 


6. Victory

“It is finished!”
~ John 19:30

What God begins, He finishes. Period. 

Christ accomplished our salvation. The terrible price had been paid on the cross. 

From that moment in the Garden of Eden when the crunch of rebellion was heard ‘round the world, all of heaven and earth longed to hear these three words spoken.

“It is finished!” 

Through these three final words uttered on the cross, Christ expressed what every person longs to hear.

“I love you!” 

What this means for us today:

Everything you need for salvation has already been accomplished.

All you need to do is accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. You need to do anything to earn it. No good deeds or special works.

You can’t earn it. You don’t have it in you because you’ve got sin in you instead.

Simply:

Admit you’re a natural born sinner with no hope of ever being free of your sin apart from Christ,

Believe in your heart that Jesus paid for all your sin on the cross, and

Confess Him as your Lord,

You will be saved. 

Jesus finished the work of salvation on the cross. Accept it. Receive it. Enjoy it.

“It is finished!”  


7. Joy

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!”
~ Luke 23:46
 

Just like Christ’s first words on the cross, His last words were a prayer to God.

In His words, we see the beauty of the perfect relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus' Last Seven Words On the Cross and What They Mean For Us Today (via www.jeanwilund.com) #Easter #GoodFridayWe also see the proof that Jesus truly gave His life. No one took it. 

His disciple Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders. 

The leaders demanded Pilate crucify Him. 

Pilate handed Jesus over to the Roman guards. 

The Roman guards nailed Jesus to the cross. 

But no one took His life. 

Jesus chose the exact moment when He would die. 

After declaring, “It is finished,” Jesus prayed, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” 

Then He bowed His head and gave up His life. 

Scripture doesn’t say He passed away, thus His head fell forward. 

It says, “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” ~ John 19:30

What a powerful display of Christ’s divinity. Even as He suffered the deepest agony possible, He remained sovereign over all, perfect in all His ways.

The agony was behind Him. The joy before Him. Jesus said His last words and then entered into His joy.

What this means for us today:

The Bible says it best.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

These were Jesus’ Last Seven Words before He gave His life on the cross.
But this is not the end of the story.

Today is Friday, but Sunday’s coming!


If you could control the moment you died, what would your last words be? #Jesus #Easter Click To Tweet


NOTE: Just to be clear, Jesus’ last seven words on the cross weren’t actually His “last words” because He’s never going to have “last words.” He rose from the dead and lives — and speaks — forevermore.





Don’t Misunderstand the Song “What a Beautiful Name” — Jesus Doesn’t Need You, But He Wants You

Don't Misunderstand the song "What a Beautiful Name" by Hillsong ~ Jesus Doesn't Need You, But He Wants You (via www.JeanWilund.com)I Misunderstood

The first time I heard What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong I misunderstood.

The song is topping the charts and played in churches around the world, but something about it sat wrong with me.

The line about Jesus not wanting heaven without you and me seemed off.

That line bothered me only because it could be misunderstood.

It sounded to me like the song was saying:

Jesus didn’t want Heaven if we couldn’t be in it.

It wasn’t complete without us.

He needed us so He came down to get us.

Doesn’t that sound sweet? Don’t you feel loved?

Except, No!

And I hope I’m right here, surely the songwriter didn’t mean that.

Surely, he meant:

Jesus didn’t want us to miss out on His perfect and complete Heaven.

We need Him so He came down to make a way for us to join Him there.

Don’t misunderstand. Jesus doesn’t need us. At all. But He wants us.

Now that should make you feel loved.


Jesus Doesn’t Need You, But He Wants You

Jesus isn’t Jerry McGuire coming for his bride. We don’t complete Him.

He’s complete already — self-sufficient, lacking nothing.

He doesn’t even need our friendship.

From eternity past, Jesus has lived in perfect relationship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

He wasn’t lonely and looking for love. He’s always been perfect and complete. 


Why Didn’t Jesus Want Heaven Without us?

Jesus doesn’t need heaven with us. He simply wants heaven with us.

It’s the same reason why He created us.

You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.
~ Revelation 4:11

Jesus doesn’t need you. But He wants you. 

The next time you feel less than lovable, remember the One who doesn’t need you, created you, and He loves you.

Yes, you’re going to act unlovable at times. Welcome to the human race.

But don’t misunderstand: You may act unlovable at times, but you will never be unlovable. 

Jesus proved it by coming down for you so that He can have heaven with you, not without you.

Keep that perspective in mind as you listen to What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong:

Don't Misunderstand the song #WhataBeautifulName. #Jesus Doesn't Need You, but He Wants you! Click To Tweet




God is Eternal (From the Never-Ending, Ever-Growing List of the Character Traits of God)

God is Eternal: From the Never-ending, Ever-growing List of the Character Traits of God. (www.JeanWilund.com)

They say,” Nothing lasts forever.” 

They are wrong. 

Three things last forever:

God,

His Word,

and people.



God


God is eternal. There’s never been a time when He didn’t exist. 

He wasn’t born. He wasn’t created. 

He is. He has always been. And He will always continue to be.

Eternal.

“Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2 NASB).



God’s Word


God’s Word is God, so it’s only logical that it will last forever.

I don’t mean God’s Word as in the printed paper and ink of the Bible is God. That would be silly. But the Gospel of John tells us:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 ESV). 

John is referring to Jesus Christ in this passage. Jesus is the Word. And His Word stands forever.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NASB).

Even before God spoke His Word to create the world, His Word existed from eternity past in Jesus Christ and will stand on into eternity future.



People


We are not God.

I know. I forget that at times, too.

We aren’t God, but He created us to be eternal.

Remembering that everyone is eternal should put an urgency into our hearts to share the truth of the Gospel message with others. And it should give us comfort.

A friend of mine reminded me of the comfort this truth offers when he spoke of a couple whose child lived only two brief minutes. Their next child lived only two months.

The heartbroken couple couldn’t understand why God would create children to only live for two minutes and two months.

A friend encouraged them that God didn’t create them to live that short. He created them to live eternally. It was only their time on earth that was short. Their children are more alive in heaven now than they ever were on earth. 

None of us will live forever on earth — we can thank sin and death for that — but our souls will live forever. Where our souls will live, however, is up to us.



Where Will We Spend Our Eternity?


God has offered eternity in heaven with Him by His grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. 

It’s an extravagant offer, but it comes with a time limit.

The offer expires when we do.

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Those who choose No to God’s offer will spend their eternity separated from Him in hell. It’s a horrible reality, but it’s the choice we make when we choose to reject His Son and His gift of salvation. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NASB). 

“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46 NASB). 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB).



Knowing God is Eternal Makes a Difference Today


Knowing God is eternal helps us live today.

We don’t have to scramble to “have it all” here because we’re spending eternity there.

And the all we’ll have there will outshine anything we have here — so long as your there is heaven. Otherwise, get it here while you can because there will be hell. Literally.

God works each day with eternity in mind.

Too often, though, we have now in mind. We want God to fix our problems nowWe want Him to fix this world now.

Or do we? Consider this:

If we knew everything God knows about yesterday, today, or forever, we’d do and time everything exactly as He has.

So, maybe we don’t really want Him to fix everything on our timetable or in our way. We just think we do because we don’t know what we don’t know.

Think George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life. When he got what he thought he wanted, he realized he didn’t really want what he wanted after all. 

Instead, what we really want in our deepest heart is to learn to trust and rest in God’s eternal plan. 

Knowing God is eternal helps us put today into perspective.

God isn’t in a hurry. He has forever to work out His plan, and it’s a great one. No, it’s a perfect one.

Sometimes I’m impatient as I pray for things. My heart strangles from the overwhelming desire for God to answer my prayer now.

I’ve laid awake for hours, begging God for the answer my heart craves — answers I imagine must also be His heart’s desire. Peace eludes me until I remember He’s eternal.

God is not always in a hurry to answer my prayers, but not because He doesn’t care. Because He always knows the right thing to do at the right time.

I can rest because God never does.



God is Eternal: From the Never-ending, Ever-growing List of the Character Traits of God. (www.JeanWilund.com)God’s Word on His Eternality


“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever” (Isaiah 57:15a NASB).

“Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2 NASB).

“Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9,10 NASB).

“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (Exodus 3:14 NASB).


How will knowing that God is eternal make a difference in your life today? Leave a comment below. Thanks!


God is Eternal & What That Means #God. #KnowingGod Click To Tweet

If you’d like to go deeper in your study of the character traits of God, here are a few resources I recommend. Click on the photos for more information about these great books by A. W. Tozer: 



(Note: These links are affiliate links through Amazon.com. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. In other words, if you purchase through any of these links, I receive a small bonus. You are, of course, free to purchase without going through these links.)