God Is So I Am: Changing Our Story

Do you feel alone and rejected? Do you feel worthless? Is your marriage on the brink of divorce? Do you wonder if God even cares? If we have eyes to see and hears to hear. How could these stories be changed? When we change our heart and open our eyes’s we can change our story and help other change their story.

 

 

 

In Your Place

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
John 10:11 & 15b NASB

Someone stood in for you. He was tried and executed for you. His name was Jesus. He paid the price that you could have paid for your sins but don’t have too.

This past weekend I watched a video of a Biblical scholar who spoke of the importance of Jesus.

He praised Jesus for His importance as a representation to us of God Himself in human form. He praised Him for His reinterpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures. He even praised Him as the greatest man who ever lived.

Yet, during his comments, however, he denied the fact that Jesus death was a substitutionary death – for your sins and mine. We who’ve studied the Bible for years call this work of Jesus, the substitutionary work of Jesus that atoned for your sins and mine.

This man praised Jesus for so many things, yet he dismissed our Lord’s primary and greatest work. My dear reader, the Bible is replete with hundreds of prophecies announcing the death of the Suffering Savior for our sins, and others proclaiming it in the New Testament as well. In the verses above, even Jesus Himself prophecies of His coming death “for the sheep.”

That’s us – Sheep. Guilty sheep. We all know it. We need a Deliverer. One who will stand for us in our place because we can’t stand. Someone who is not guilty who will stand in for we who are guilty.

An Every Day Story of Substitution

He was reared in the head of a hollow in rural West Virginia. It was a small wooden frame home in which he lived. A very humble home. Those who lived in that home were poor by human terms and had lived their entire lives that same way.

In that home was an older man named Clyde. He was a farmer.

He’d been in World War I, and came home with deep emotional struggles. No doubt the terrible horrors of trench warfare against the Germans, and the multiplied gas, chemical, and biological warfare attacks employed by the enemy, ruthlessly fighting against them, had taken its toll on his heart and mind.

But he was a kind and humble man; tough and hard with the teenaged boys, yet gentle with the younger boys. The youngsters had endless hours of fun helping him put up loose hay with a wagon and two surly mules. He could have never afforded a tractor and hay baler. Clyde was always good to everyone, even though the young boys played more than they helped.

Years after Clyde had passed away, another part of his life was discovered. After the war, he’d broken the law and was taken to jail as a young man. He was guilty, and he knew it. His family knew it. The courts of the day knew it.

But his family knew something else. Clyde would never survive in prison because of his struggles of heart and mind.

Clyde had a twin brother. His name was Clive. Clive lived nearby, and he too was a farmer.

Soon after Clyde was jailed and awaiting trial, Clive and the family devised a plan. They’d visit Clyde in the local jail. During their family visit, they’d have Clyde change clothes with Clive, leaving Clive in jail.

Clive, the loving twin brother, would stay in jail while Clyde, who would never have survived the years of incarceration, would be free to go. They did it. The sheriff and jailer were fooled. Clyde went free, and Clive stayed in jail awaiting trial.

The trial came. Clyde was convicted, sentenced, yet Clive served seven years in the state penitentiary. An innocent man paid the debt for his brother whom he loved so much.

Jesus Was No Different

Jesus didn’t come just to show you what God is really like, just to help you interpret the weird and wild Old Testament, or just to be the best of us all. He came to save (deliver) you by taking your place. Read John’s Gospel chapter three verses sixteen and seventeen. You’ll see for yourself – “that the world through Him might be saved.”

He indeed did come to die for you because you and I are a guilty sheep, substituting Himself for us because He and His Father love us that deeply. Deeply and passionately enough to pay our debt Themselves!

Of His free will, He came. Of His free will, He lived an innocent and perfect life. And of His own free will He generously sacrificed His life as payment, ransoming us from our guilt and sin and shame, to live a life here that is exponentially more enjoyable and eternally perfect in Heaven when we pass on to the next life.

Don’t Be Tricked

Be like Clyde and his family. Clyde knew he was guilty. His family knew he was guilty. His family devised a plan.

Be like God and His family. God knows your guilty. Jesus knows your guilty. Yet God and Jesus prepared a plan to save you and deliver you from an eternity of horror.

And even though they know you’re guilty, they love you regardless of your guilt and have devised a way to save you.

Two choices you and I have to make in life are then clear. One, we must admit that we’re guilty and in this day of blaming everyone but ourselves, that’s hard to do. Each of us must do it.

Two, you and I have to come to the One who stood in our place for us and asked Him to be our personal Savior and Lord. Jesus said it Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”

A Simple Prayer of Salvation

If you’re finally ready to admit that you too are a guilty sheep, would you take a knee and pray this prayer to God now?

“God, I don’t understand everything about you or the Bible; but I do understand now that I am simply a guilty person. I have sinned, and I’ve fallen, and I can’t get myself up. I believe that Jesus is not just a good man, not just a picture of you; but I believe He died for me and in my place. Right now I ask you, Jesus, please save me. I know I cannot make everything right and that you have already made it all right through your substitutionary death for me. I believe, and I trust you to be my own Savior and Lord right now. Amen”

And if you prayed that prayer just now, you are now what the Bible calls a disciple of Jesus and a born again woman or man. You are saved! You are born again! It’s that simple.

Why don’t you drop us an email at amen@renewalchapels.com and let us know of your choice of Jesus, not only as the best person who ever lived but as your very own personal Savior and Lord? We’d love to hear from you and help you on your journey with God.

Peace,

Pastor Mark

God Is So I Am: Sharing Life

Today our world is full of people that don’t want to attend church because Churches today have become places that pass judgment or hubs for gossip. Our mission is to share life with people that don’t cast judgment and become a place where people come to find hope and peace just as they found in Jesus.

 

 

 

God Is So I Am: Give What You’ve Received

There is very little hope in our world today. Life has a meaninglessness to it that leaves us hopeless more than hopeful about the future. In Christ, thought, life can be radically different. Join us and see how you can give others the great hope that you have received from God.

 

 

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God is So I Am: Life Giving Not Life Taking

God calls us in his ministry as disciples to give life to others and not take it. Culture today teaches us today how if you want something how do I take it from someone. Jesus calls his disciples to breath life into people not matter their problems, additions, or differences.

 

Waiting on God in Faith

I’m sitting in Cracker Barrel, waiting. Waiting again. “Every time I meet with this guy he’s late,” I complain to myself. He strikes me as such a self-important sort of fellow. I ask God to forgive me for thinking ill of him…but I still feel that way.

Few people in this life are dependable. I mean to be on time. You know.

We were supposed to meet at 8 AM for breakfast. At this rate, we’re going to have an early lunch. I’m ready to leave!

Just as I was starting to get ticked, God reminded me of something.

He reminded me of His patient perseverance in waiting for me. His love led Him to be patient with me, confident in His work that He would complete in me regardless of me.

You see, He’s sovereign. I’m not.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9 NASB

So often we describe God like this, “Come on God! You are so slow! Let’s get moving! Okay?” We see Him as slow. Because we see Him this way, we also believe He is condescending and always late.

Then we start thinking of Him with the same way that I’m thinking of my friend who is late, with irritation and impatience.

We start believing that He’s disengaged, distant, aloof, and disinterested in our lives.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The God who waited on you to “come around” to seeing Him as He really is – unchanging in His love for you and proving it through Christ – is worthy of your waiting on Him now.

Be patient. Persevere. Endure. He’s moving at just the right speed and in just the right way, bringing just the right things to bear, to give you a future that you could never have imagined.

Continued faith in Him is the key. Faith always is.

Read the words of the prophet Habakkuk. He waits for God as a guard on a watchtower waiting on a messenger to arrive with an important message…

“I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.
Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:1-3 NASB

What does Habakkuk’s faith do for him? In faith and trust in God he stands, he watches, he listens, and he prepares to respond. He’s looking for God to correct Him for being so impatient.

And, as always, God shows up. He may “tarry,” and He may call us to “wait for it;” but He will “certainly come” and His timing will always be right.

Many times God is waiting for us to be ready for what He has to say or for what He wants to accomplish in our lives. It’s not God who’s delaying. It’s us.

He’s waiting for us to express faith.

There are three kinds of faith you know? First, there’s easy faith. It’s the kind that we just have. There’s no work to it. We easily trust God that our car will start, we’ll make it to work on time, the kids will get to school, or our family loves us.

Second, there’s intentional faith, the kind of faith that takes a bit of work. I have to say, “God, I’m a bit concerned here, but I know you’ve got this!” This is the kind of faith that we have to express when life becomes uneasy. I lose my job; my car breaks down, and I can’t get to work on time; and other significant inconveniences in life.

Third is radical faith. Faith must become radical when the word cancer is used by a doctor when he describes my physical ailment. It becomes radical when a family member dies, tragedy strikes, a flood ravages a town, or a hurricane hits the shore with devastating force. Radical faith is the faith that says, “Oh God why? Why did you allow this? None the less God, I trust you!”

Most of our waiting upon God won’t require radical faith. It may require intentional faith, but most of the time it will just require easy faith.

Will you wait? Will you wait on God? If you do, it will be because you trust Him to be right on time with just the right answer or blessing.

And, when you do, you’ll be much more patient with others too. Maybe that’s why we’re not patient with others? Maybe we simply don’t trust God?

Peace,

Pastor Mark

God Is So I Am: Merciful not Moralizing

Welcome to the inaugural service of Renewal Chapels. Today we began what God was leading us to love all in our community and city. We are excited to see were God leads us are we are lead to be merciful and not moralizing to all. Thank you for join us.

 

Struggle & Relief

Thank the Lord I don’t have to go anywhere this evening! In the words of my best friend while in seminary many years ago, “It’s thick!”

No birds fill the air tonight with their flying, flipping, and forward darts and dives. Absent are the barn swallows as the early evening comes upon us. It’s just too hot!

Only the bugs are buzzing and singing. Oh, they’re very happy! The demon-bred wasps leave the shaded wooden-paper nest to spend this evening on the brick wall of our home, baking themselves in the torrid evening sun. Only insects are enlivened by this kind of heat! And maybe snakes, but thank the Lord I don’t see any of those Satan-like slitherers.

The creek behind my house is languishing, a slow flow. Brown water from all of the recent rains, thick with mud, sticks, and limbs slowly oozes its way past our back yard.

The heat is exhausting and sticky. I reach up to scratch the back of my neck. My fingers stick to my neck and my upper, and lower arm has to be peeled apart as I lower it back to the arm of my chair.

We won’t be enjoying the porch swing tonight. With this kind of humidity, the mosquitos will be ravenous after the sun goes down; leaving their itchy pink whelps all over our legs and arms.

They always go for my wife first. “Your blood’s sweeter than mine, Honey,” I laughingly exclaim to her. I know though that it’s really because her skin is more soft and supple than mine; much easier “pickin’s” for those tiny blood-sucking beasts!

Afternoons and evenings like this remind me of the days of woeful burden that our life can become at times as Jesus’ disciples. It’s not that God lays terrible burdens upon us all the time, although at times He does.

It’s more that life as Jesus disciple is simply not always easy. It does take discipline, hard work, the “girding up of the loins” of your mind, as the King James Version portrays the challenging task of being “on mission” always as Jesus’ friend and servant (1 Peter 1:13 KJV).

Sometimes the Jesus-Life is work. Burden. Struggle. Sweaty and sticky-dirty. Exhausting.

Yet God always gives a gift. It’s the refreshing rains that come and fall, cooling off the afternoon and evening, and giving new life.

As the rain is drunk up by the heat-thirsty grass and trees, the air is cooled by its falling. The smell of rain itself can be so burden lifting.

I sense my parchedness as my cotton-covered tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I need a drink.

Then He comes to me. God that is…and Jesus. In His words to the woman at the Samaritan well…

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
John 4:10 NASB

And later in His life-giving conversation with this lose-living lady…

“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 NASB

“Springing up” doesn’t seem like something that I’d do right now, given the weather. But inside my heart is enlivened and comforted by the reality of the life that my Savior gives.

Yes, indeed. There are times when the life that I have as Jesus’ disciple is a more of a trudge and sludge than a refreshing walk.

While I may be covered with sticky sweat and dirt and grime and even tears. Inside life is radically different. It’s filled with…

…refreshing mercy from God in a merciless world;
…life from Christ in a dying and decaying earth;
…hope from His Spirit who’s with me always, even in a culture that is angry with hopelessness;
…a permanence in my life that only Jesus disciple understands, while everyone else around us struggles with the temporary pleasures that can be had today;
…a protection as God’s own power garrisons me around, above, and below, keeping me safe and secure;
…and a joy, an honest-to-goodness joy that is unspeakable to anyone else but me because it’s grounded in the faith-life of Jesus’ disciples, even on days when I feel on the inside like I do today on the outside (See 1 Peter 1:3-6).

The Hebrew prophet speaks of this cooling refreshment from God through Christ too. Read Hosea’s own words of the love of our Merciful Abba…

“He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
Hosea 6:2-3 NASB

You and I can indeed “press on to know the Lord!” Even in the throws of terrible struggle in blood, sweat, and tears, we can move forward to experience God.

How? Because in everything, He is always coming to us. He’s Immanuel. He promised He’d do no less. He always keeps His word!

Because we know that, as bad as things are now, He’s always delivered us through them in the past, and He’ll deliver us again this time.

Our intent then is to keep our hearts and minds fixed on the hope that He’s present now, and coming in the relief that is due any moment.

Just watch. The One who’s in the struggle will be the One in the relief He’ll bring soon enough!

Peace,

Pastor Mark