Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grace and Truth: The Divine Marriage

The Bible says that Jesus is full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).  I have found the grace and truth balance to be of utmost importance in all of my ministry and relational interactions.  Grace is foundational for someone to know they are loved and accepted, no matter what.  And truth is essential for living according to God’s will. 

Truth is the guardrail at the top of the cliff, and grace is the paramedic down below should we fall.

Jesus embodied grace and truth in the most perfect way.  His handling of the woman caught in adultery provides the model.  He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you” (GRACE) … “go and sin no more” (TRUTH).  He did not condone her adultery, but He also did not reject her as a sinner.  He did exactly what Eph. 4:15 tells us:  “Speak the truth in love.”  Oh that I might display truth and grace in all my relationships.

Now sometimes, like Jesus, we need to lean more toward truth, as He did with the hard-hearted, hypocritical Pharisees.  While other times He leaned toward grace, as with repentant sinners. 

The story of the Prodigal sons (yes intentional plural here) reveals both truth and grace.  The younger son was repentant and thus received grace.  The old brother was self righteous and unable to receive His brother and thus got more convicting truth from his father. 

What determines whether God leans toward us with more truth or grace is our HEART.  The heart that is repentant to sin and responsive to truth gets grace!  The heart that is prideful and self-sufficient might need a good dose of convicting truth.  In the same way, we should seek to minister to others based on their heart.  But the bottom line with all of this is that Jesus wants to come with both grace and truth, and therefore, we should bring both to bear in our relationships. 

My final encouragement is to use the “Oreo” cookie as your model.  The two outside parts represent grace and the inside filling is truth.  Start with grace by loving and accepting all people, regardless of their lifestyle or sin.  Once you take this part off, then you are ready to minister the truth, even if it involves confronting them about sin in their life.  If they receive the truth, which will set them free according to Jn. 8:32, then more grace comes because repentance of sin brings about the unleashing of God’s amazing grace!

Grace and truth:  what a divine marriage!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Generosity and the Fruit of the Spirit

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching on “Joyful Generosity” from 2 Corinthians 8-9.  You can hear or watch the message at

For joyful generosity to occur in our lives, we must be filled with the Spirit because joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  This truth got me thinking about the other fruits of the Spirit and how they tie into generosity.  Here are my thoughts on that:

Love: We give because we love God and we love people and want to financially help people that don’t love God come to know Jesus.
Joy:  The inward work of the Spirit and realizing it is an eternal investment provides great joy as we give to the Lord. But what about my own needs?
Peace: We have a peace that God will provide all of our needs even when we sacrificially give.  He promises this in Philippians 4:19.
Patience: God gives us the ability to patiently wait on him to provide for our needs. Furthermore, it requires patience to wait on a good deal instead of spending top dollar for something we want.
Kindness:  The giving of time, talents and treasures comes from a kind heart that wants to help others and serve the Lord.
Goodness:  We give from the goodness of our heart made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  God works “in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Gentleness:  We do not showcase our giving before others.  Instead, we give in a quiet and pure-hearted manner (i.e., gentleness).  Jesus said the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing (Mathew 6:3).
Faithfulness:  We give faithfully, consistently, regularly and repetitively because that is what God calls us to do.  “Do not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).  Finally,
Self-control:  It takes self-control to not spend on things that are temporal and wasteful, and to keep our priorities where God wants them, so that we joyfully give of our time, talents and treasures for the Gospel.

Make God make us joyful givers by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Generosity and the Gospel

 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.” 
2 Corinthians 8:9

This passage is in the context of financial generosity.  Paul was strongly admonishing the church at Corinth to follow the example of the Macedonian churches in being rich in generosity toward the suffering believers in Jerusalem.  Paul motivates them by reminding them how we display the Gospel when we give, and especially when we give with joy! 

How does joyful generosity model the Gospel of Jesus?  Jesus was rich in glory and fellowship with the Father while in heaven.  He gave up that richness by coming to sinful earth, taking on a human body, suffering and dying the most painful death imaginable in crucifixion.  And Jesus sacrificed with joy.  “For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame … “ (Hebr. 12:2).  The joy set before Jesus was knowing that He would purchase the church as His bride through His shed blood.

Through Jesus giving up His wealth to take on spiritual poverty, we can be made rich in forgiveness, love, acceptance, and in a future heavenly home.  Jesus’ sacrifice (with joy) benefits us in countless ways.

In the same way, as we joyfully give and sacrifice from our wealth (and most Americans are wealthy compared to the rest of the world), others benefit in countless ways.  God’s people should be rich in generosity, and do so with joy.  Our joy in giving comes in knowing we are modeling the Gospel, pleasing our Father, investing in eternity, and advancing the good news of salvation in Jesus.

Let’s be a joyfully generous people … “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7)!