Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Only Hope is the Gospel

Recently I have been able to have a few good conversations with people about the gospel. I love to talk about the significance of salvation found in Christ alone. Most who have gone to a gospel teaching church can tell you what the gospel is all about. They can tell you about the grace of God found in Jesus Christ and that trusting in Christ is the oly merit of salvation. Normally I follow that up with two simple questions. The first one is simple:

What does that mean for your life in your pursuit of holiness?

Basically how does the gospel change and transform a person? The gospel isn't fire insurance but the gospel takes us from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light. We should be people who strive to be like Christ. Our desires should be his desires. The things he loves we should love. The things he hates we should hate. We find out his will for our lives in his Word. In order to grow in godliness we must be people who dig into the Scriptures.

My second question is another simple one but I've discovered many do not really know the answer or they give an answer that has nothing to do with the gospel. The second question is more of a scenario that leads to a question:

Pretend someone was on lockdown and they had 30 minutes before being executed and they wanted to talk with you, what hope would you give them?

The responses: "I don't know", "That's a good question", "I need to think about that one" and so on.

Puzzled by the responses to the question I ask, "Do you have any hope for them?"

I have wondered how someone can say they believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone yet not have an answer to this question. Do we only believe in this gospel to save "good" people? Is this the message we have heard in church and also thought it was only for those in church? If our only hope is Christ crucified then the only hope we have to offer the inmate on death row, who is about to be executed, is the same. Christ is the only hope he has and needs. He is the only hope we have and need.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

What hope would you offer?

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Faithful God

The faithful God

The one true, eternal, God is God
Faithful, his immutability means he's the unchanging one
Independent, he has no need for anyone or anything
Completely self-sufficient, he needs no offerings
Unchanging is who is in his purposes and promises
If he were to change we should wonder, "What kind of god is this?"
Eternal, no beginning and with no end
Who was, who is, who is to come is hard to comprehend
Omnipresent, he's everywhere, there's no place to hide
If you think you're hiding your sin from him this should make you terrified
Unified, no one attribute is greater than another
Complete in every part of his character, completely together
This is our God, the God of the Bible, the one we can trust
Holy, merciful, gracious, loving and just
His faithfulness is no different from his other attributes
He is fraithful in spite of our faithlessness, this is an absolute
How can we be sure he will be faithful to us in all of life?
We can look to cross where he sacrficed his Son to pay our great price
If God would not spare his one and only begotten Son
Why would we doubt him? Thinking he would forsake his own love?
He promised to redeem a people for his own possession
Then provided the substitute, Jesus, who suffered much rejection
The cost was great, with much pain and grief
But God made a promise he was faithful to keep
So with the greatest promise fulfilled in Christ
Why do we doubt his faithfulness with the simple things in life?
Food, clothes, shelter, tend to bring us much worry
The problem begins and ends because our vision of Jesus is blurry
But why do we worry when our cup overflows?
O we of little faith, not trusting the God who is faithful

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm Good



I hear the drummers coming for me death is at my doorway
Fear says Imma perish but that ain't what my Lord say
He said I ain't guilty though I still ain't have my court date
Tasted and I've seen even though it's just a forte
I don't know what they feeling I don't know what they thinking
But my soul's invincible like Mario when he blinking
They see me full of joy like "I don't know what he drinking?"
Cup is full of living water bro I sip it and thank Him
Yes sir may not win grammy or get another stellar
But I get rewards from my Lord there ain't nothing better
I may not jot again I may not sell a milli
But I've been purchased by my king He's forever with me
So what they talking bout no they can't knock me down
Yes sir I do feel pain but Jesus got me now
That's why I'm making noise that's why I'm running hard
That's why I go gorilla spitting monkey bars

Partner now you know I'm good to go
Pressure creates diamonds and fire refines the gold
Ain't nothing on this planet that satisfies my soul
I'm living for tomorrow today is out of control for sho
I'm good take all my money
I'm good here come the pain
I'm good ya they can kill me
I'm good to die is gain
I'm good I ain't insane yet we don't feel any pain
I'm the same you can't take us out the game
Cause homie we good

I done been through the fire I survived all the floods
And them writers is with me they all covered in blood
Drag my name through the mud they can hate they can gossip
But my passion for Jesus they ain't never go'n stop me
I was dead I guess that made me better than I ever was
Look at me I'm good partner I'm on my forever buzz
If everything I have is taken I can take it
They say I never make it I know the person who made it
My life is hidden in Him so when I die I gain
And Jesus really be walking with me so how I'm lame?
My life is full of pain problems and such
But I'm focused on forever in eternity's touch
While the world try to fight me Pharisees try to stone me
I am Tebow in the fourth quarter they can't hold me
Ya the Lord is my coach got me off in the zone
Tell my mama that I'm good when he carry me home

I know that Imma suffer that will only make me tougher

Death is just a doorway to take me to my faithful lover
The lover of my soul is with me you can save me brother
But you can never knock me down and take me under bring the thunder
Let the storms come to hunt us and hurt us
They can't take our Lord from us bro we got us a verdict Not Guilty
He's with us and He stays present He never leaves me
He even gives me stage presence (Trip Lee & Lecrae)

Grace upon grace,
JRL








Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Gospel Poem

God
Let's start at a time when nothing existed
Besides the holy Creator who spoke everything into existence
He spoke and everything came to be, Creator means he owns you and me
He rules and reigns all he created, he has dominion in his sovereignty,
All-knowing, all- powerful, he's present at all times, in all places
He is the one true eternal God, faithful, loving, full of patience
Judge of all the earth he is jealous to protect his glory,
He's not jealous of any human although that seems to be Oprah's story
Gave his perfect will for us to obey, delight in him everyday
But we wanted his throne, we were led astray
Man
Deceived in the garden Our condition is ruined from birth,
No way to escape our sinful nature when brought into this world
Inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve wanted God's throne
Deceived, thought they would receive the status of God
Believing the serpents lie, they spiritually died
Separated from God, perfect fellowship was denied
Broken, Cut off from the garden, our hearts are hardened
Enslaved, shackled by sin's power, we need God's grace to be pardoned
We've all gone astray led away by sins various pleasures
But God had a plan in his infinite wisdom to send his Son he treasured
Jesus
The Long expected Messiah left the glories of heaven
The Light of the world, the Bread of life, the holy manna
Descended from his throne to take the form of a slave
Perfect life, death on a cross, the Son of God laid in the grave
But death could not hold him, no way could the grave contain him
The stone was rolled away, the angel declared, "He is risen!"
Jesus died in our place as our substitute, bearing our wrath we deserved
Sins forgiven, made new creation's, eternal life now reserved
Jesus the only way of salvation, enter by the narrow gate
Confess your sins, be forgiven, repent before it's too late
Response
The call of salvation is ringing loud to all ears
Come you tired and wearied souls, Jesus draws near
He desires for all to repent, he laid his life down on a tree
He demonstrated his love, not for the righteous, but enemies like you and me
No greater love will you find in all your days
Turn and run to Jesus, forsake your wicked ways
The gospel is a command, don't reject the forgiveness found in Christ
He loved you like no other, he paid your infinite price
Place your faith in him today, trust him, find yourself hope and freedom
Enemy to friend, sinner to saint, you will be adopted into his kingdom
Summary
God the holy Creator, owner of all
Those he created rebelled, sinners from the fall
But Jesus descended, lived, died, rose defeating the grave
Will you reject Jesus? Repent and believe for his life he gave

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happiness and Holiness go Hand in Hand

Recently I listened to a sermon preached by Jesse Johnson. Jesse is the teaching pastor at Immanuel Bible Chirch in Virginia. He was starting a series from Psalm 119 which is a chapter of the Bible about the Bible. The whole chapter speaks of the Psalmist delight in the precepts of God. It is 176 verses about the Scriptures. It is fantastic! In the sermon Jesse made a statement that stood out to me more than anything else. I believe what he said is something many Christians get wrong unintentionally. Jesse said: "Happiness is found in holiness."

Amen!

I've heard many times that God is not concerned about your happiness but your holiness. Or God is not about making you happy but holy. While I undestand the intention of those types of statements I just don't agree with them. My reason is Psalm 119:1, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” Or Psalm 16:11 where David writes, "You make known to me the path of life, in your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore". No doubt God saved us from the wickedness of our sins. He purchased us with his blood and broke the chains of sin’s dominion over us. He wants us to pursue him. He wants us to seek his will. He wants our obedience. He wants our holiness. But I don't think he wants them at the expense of our happiness. We too often forget God, as our Creator, knows what brings us the greatest happiness or greatest joy. He knows what will make us truly happy.

I think what is hard for us to comprehend is the fact that dying to self could possibly make us happy. As Christians we can be quick to say those who are worldly are not truly happy yet our hearts can tend to crave what they have at times. Why? We think it will make us happy as well. It is true that those who don't have a relationship with Christ are not truly happy. Eternal souls can only be satisfied with eternal pleasure or eternal joy. Those eternal realities are only found in the eternal God. A relationship with the eternal God is only found in trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior will produce a life of holiness because of the Spirit's work in changing your desires for the things God loves and hating what he hates. Or simply put: "Happiness is found in holiness".

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Good Life

Today I want to promote an album coming out next Tuesday, April 10 by my favorite artist Trip Lee.  The album is called The Good Life being released by Reach Records.  If you are a fan of Hip-Hop I would recommend this album.  But more importantly if you want to hear words that magnify Jesus Christ I would tell you to get this album.  Trip has always done a great job at pointing people to Jesus Christ through his lyrics.  In rap music the artist can really present a mini-sermon with all the words being used in a song.  They are able to communicate more information.

I was recently on You Tube and caught a live version of the track Take Me There featuring Jimmy Needham.  A few other songs have already been released but I am most excited about this track because it is really a cry for heaven.  It is a cry to see Jesus face to face and to dwell with him for all eternity.  I am ready to hear the recorded track.  Here is the song:


Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Victory

On a hill
Your blood was spilled
Your brow, Your hands, Your feet
With nails and thorns
the veil was torn
To make a way for me,
You made a way for me.

Jesus, Savior, my God, my King, my Lord
Jesus, Savior, the victory is Yours.

Wrapped and bound,
they laid You down
A perfect sacrifice
But in three days,
the stone was rolled away
Forever You're alive
Forever You're alive

Death has been beaten
The grave has been conquered
Jesus is risen
Life ever after (Phil Wickham)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, April 2, 2012

Finally Back (I Think)

I took some time off from writing because my wife and I had another baby. Some things just have to go for a time and the blog was one of those things. But now I am going to try and start writin again. Like I said we were blessed with another baby girl (Avery Rose) which has consumed most of our time. I am not sure how those bigger families do it. More power to them or maybe I should say grace to them. One big thing I have learned during these past couple of weeks is the selfishness in my heart. I feel like I am holding a stack of bananas and the French Peas keep screaming, "You're so selfish!" It's brutal! But it has been good for my growth in godliness. The saddest part was the fact that I was so surprised by my selfishness. Apparently I was beginning to think of myself as a better person thanmimactually am. I was holding a higher view of myself rather than a true view of myself. It boils down to the fact that I wasn't focused on Christ. Because of my higher view of self I was beginning to think I could serve and love in my own power. Wrong! I forgot what the cross says so loudly about me: Sinner. But I also forgot what the cost speaks about Christ: selfless. Because of Christ's selflessness my selfishness is forgiven. I've had to keep reminding myself of this truth. Christ needs to be my focus so I can die to self as Christ did. I am grateful he has not left me to myself but continues to pursue me. He is so good even when it hurts.

Grace upon grace,
JRL