In this episode of The Point, we take a thorough look at temptation, sin, the sin-curse, and redemption, and understand why man struggles today.
Have you ever been burnt out? Tired of the same ole struggle, the same day-to-day routine? Need a change of scenery?
We all get burnt out. We all get tired, and we all want a new life. Why else would one of the top-selling singles from the Rock band “Everclear” be named “I will buy you a new life?”
There comes a time in everyone’s life where they want to hit the “Reset” button. Many actually ruin their lives in search of that reset button. They leave their families, file for divorce, leave a steady job and lose opportunities as a result. Many a regret were born out of restlessness.
The secret, however, is that new starts, restarts and resets do not come from the afore mentioned options. All those options do is add problems to your current struggles. That said, is it possible to hit the reset button on life? Is it possible to buy a new life?
The short answer is yes, it is possible to hit the reset button, and it is possible to get a new life, but Art Alexakis of Everclear is not the one who is going to buy it for you. Your new life was already paid for, 2,000 years ago, by Jesus Christ.
Now before you roll your eyes and click away, hear me out. You cannot get a new life simply by running from the one you are in. You get a new life by changing the one you are in. That change comes through Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If any man be in Christ, He is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” The first key to a new life is to change yourself. Become someone greater. Become something more. Become the great individual that God intended on you being. It’s a change that no one can make on their own. It comes by turning from sin, trusting Jesus Christ as your savior, and by allowing Him to work in your life to form you into the person He intended on you being.
The initial change happens at the point of salvation. The continued change happens as you live out that new life. Romans 6:4 says “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” So, if you are a recovering alcoholic who has repented and given his life to Christ, don’t live the rest of your life the way an alcoholic would. Live your life with your new dream and your new purpose. It’s a conscientious choice you must make daily.
The continued change happens as you allow the Lord to work in your life. Romans 8:28 says “We know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Accepting Jesus Christ as your savior does not mean that you will no longer have problems. It simply means that your problems are no longer pointless. They now serve a purpose, whether it be resolving an ongoing conflict, strengthening you for the journey ahead, building your testimony to reach others, or placing you in a position where God will later bless you. All of it will set you up to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
So, at this point, God has changed the core of who you really are, and He has forged a hope and faith within you through the circumstances in life. But chances are, when you signed up for a new life, you weren’t looking for conditioning, but rather, a new adventure.
May I welcome you to your new life. If you center your life around the Lord as He forges your faith and your character, new opportunities that once seemed impossible will open themselves to you.
When I was saved, a retired pastor told me that my life would never be the same. I doubted him. After all, I still had a job, I still had bills, and I still expected to go to work at the same place and continue to do so until I die.
Today, I still have a job, and I still have bills. However, God has opened the door for me to play a part in the planting of a new church, and this opportunity has opened doors of which I have never dreamed… from the people I meet, to the radio talk show that I do, to the places I have traveled along the way. Back in November 2002, God literally blessed me with a new life. I am a new person, in a new place, with a new mission. The same can happen for you.
Do you want a new life? Repent and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. Have you been saved, but a new life never materialized? Rededicate yourself to the Lord, center your life around Him, live out your faith, and watch what happens. May God bless you along this journey.
Many motivational speakers encourage their listeners to envision success. The popular motto is, “If you can envision it, you can do it!” At this point, conference attendees will then begin daydreaming about unparalleled success, fame and fortune. While most people set unreasonable goals and expectations, this approach has led to some setting realistic goals, then achieving success.
The tragic part of this is that the vision-to-action progression is not limited to good things like pursuing your dreams. It can also apply to sin and evil. Over the past few months, America has seen horrific acts of crime and immorality carried out in public view. In each of these crimes, there is documented proof that the offender had a preconceived notion of what he wanted to do. Whether you look at the Charleston shooter, Josh Duggar, or Vester Lee Flanagan, the former TV news reporter who shot and killed two former colleagues after being fired from the station, each offender had envisioned his sin, planned it, then carried it out.
It began with evil thoughts, grew into evil intentions, which then led to evil actions. The Charleston shooter, Dylan Roof, cultivated a hatred of African Americans, before planning and carrying out an attack on a Charleston church. Josh Duggar nurtured sexual fantasies through the use of pornography before using Ashley Madison to set up extra-marital affairs. Vester Lee Flanagan cultivated a hatred of Caucasian Americans before planning and carrying out the murder of two of his former colleagues on live TV. Like a seed that germinates, evil thoughts grow into evil intentions, which then bloom into evil acts.
And the thing that should scare you is that we all have these seeds planted within us. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful, above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Notice, the heart is deceitful. Deceit is the fine art of misleading and lying to people. One of the heart’s greatest deceits is the lie that it perpetuates upon the individual to whom it belongs. The heart deceives us into thinking that we’re good, okay, average, and salt of the earth Americans. Meanwhile, it harbors desperate wickedness.
Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 15:18-19, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:”
These sins begin as small thoughts, or small feelings of anger, desire, or rebellion. As they grow, they develop into the actions described in Matthew 15:18-19, and the actions we have seen on the national news recently. The scary part is, each one of us is capable of these things if we let this go unchecked.
The remedy is not to try to stuff these things deep within your own subconscious. You can’t hide them away, or wish them away. The way to handle these temptations, which are brought on by the sin nature, is to give them up to the Lord. As King David prayed in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Pray to the Lord to cleanse your heart from these sins and sinful desires, and then refuse to cultivate their growth. The way you avoid growing these sins in your heart is by turning away from sin, and not being entertained by it. Or, as Psalms 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Do not entertain yourself with movies and TV shows that glorify immorality and violence. Do not entertain sexual fantasies. Do not envision or plot revenge. Don’t indulge in get rich quick schemes.
Understandably, this post will not be the most popular thing posted on “The Point.” In fact, it may very well become the most controversial, due to the fact that it involves recent news stories and the idea that each of us has sin in our hearts. Still, I felt the need to post it, because each of us needs to be aware of his potential for sin, failure, and even evil. Each of us needs to turn to God for forgiveness and cleansing, and each of us needs to live a life on guard, that we do not give in to our sinful desires. May God bless you as you travel your path.
What separates greatness from mediocrity?
What separates a man who lives life boldly, pursuing his dreams, and achieving great things from someone who merely tries to survive? One lives by faith, the other by fear.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., achieved greatness through living by faith. Dr. King spoke of this faith during his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech given at the Jobs and Freedom March on Washington in 1963. He stated:
I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
Dr. King’s faith was not only that his dream of racial harmony and national healing would come true, but that one day, the Lord would return and set everything as it should be. Knowing that this result was inevitable, he boldly marched forward, speaking out on racial injustice, national healing, and ethnic harmony. He challenged America to live up to its founding creed, that “All men are created equal,” and are endued, by God, the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On the eve of his assassination, Dr. King told supporters that he was confident that he had done God’s will.
What a way to live life… to live confident that your life meant something, and to leave this life with no regrets.
How can we live that life? We may not be able to lead marches on Washington, and notably change our nation the way Dr. King did, but we can still make a huge impact in our own spheres of life. In order to live a life that mattered, a life where you achieve greatness, there are six truths you must embrace.
1. God exists, and He created all things. The very existence of God is proven through the creation. (Romans 1:20, Hebrews 11:3). He created the Heavens, the Earth, land, water, oceans, animal and plant life, and man king. Being the Creator of all things, it follows that God is in control of all things, which should give you the faith to trust Him with the details over which you have no control.
2. If God created all things, it follows that He created all things with a purpose.
3. If God created all things with a purpose, then He created us with a purpose. Your life is not an accident, and you are not just drifting in this world, left to survive the best you know how until you die. Your life has meaning. Your life is valuable. Your life has purpose. Your life matters. The question then becomes, “What is my purpose?”
4. God revealed His purpose for us in His written word, the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
These verses tell us that everything we need to know about God, and His expectation from us, is found in the scriptures, the Bible. The Bible is all God’s Word (given by inspiration), and is profitable for doctrine (a system of teaching, or a creed by which life is lived), for reproof (confrontation), for correction, for instruction in righteousness (what God wants us to do.) The idea is that we would be perfect (complete), thoroughly furnished (equipped) unto all good works.
5. To reject God’s purpose for our lives is to rebel against God Himself. That is the definition of sin. Sin is not defined as breaking God’s law. Sin is not defined as doing something bad, immoral, or evil. Sin is defined as rebelling against God. Now, breaking God’s law, immorality, and evil are all forms of rebelling against God, but even things that you and I don’t see as bad, or evil, also qualify as rebelling against God. When we reject God’s design for life, His purpose for our lives, and His will, we are rebelling against Him, and are sinning.
Think about it. What was so bad about Adam and Eve eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why was their disobedience of God’s command to not eat the fruit a sin? It was a sin, because they were trying to be as gods. They were seeking to elevate themselves to God’s level, so that they would not be subject to Him anymore. They rebelled. They sinned, and we have been cursed ever since.
6. We are all guilty of #5. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This truth, while keeping us humble, also reminds us that the onus is not on us when it comes to greatness. Our greatness is bestowed upon us by God as we trust Him throughout our lives. It also reminds us that our salvation, and our entrance into Heaven is not based on our accomplishments, but our faith in the Lord. Mainly, this is key to knowing that we can be redeemed.
Now, let’s look at how you can revolutionize your life by embracing these six truths.
1. Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. The fact that all of us have sinned, and thus all of us stand guilty before God prompted Jesus Christ to take our sin upon Himself when He went to the cross. He took our punishment, so that we could stand before God with our debt paid, and thus be welcomed into Heaven. That salvation is accessed whenever a person turns from their sin, and trusts Jesus Christ to save them. Believe in Jesus. Pray to the Lord. Ask Him to save you. Without faith in Christ, nothing else matters.
2. Follow your purpose. In the movie, “Moms Night Out,” Trace Adkins played a biker who had strayed from the Lord. During the movie, he discussed watching an internet video of a mother eagle with all of her babies. He said it was awe-inspiring to watch one of God’s creatures simply do what it was created to do.
Finding your purpose doesn’t mean you have to go on this Easter egg hunt for a secret mission God has planted for you. It simply means to do what God designed you to do. All of us were designed to live the human experience: To grow up, follow a career, to get married, have kids, raise those kids, and then retire and teach the younger generations. There are some variations, not everyone gets married, not everyone can have kids, but as a norm, that’s what God designed us to do. (Those who are unable to marry, or have kids have different callings in life). Furthermore, all of us were designed to worship God.
So, living your purpose means worshiping God. This means going to church on Sundays, but it also means having a time of personal, and family worship, which consists of Bible study or devotional, and prayer.
Finding your purpose in your career involves discovering your talent, using that in your career to the best of your ability, but more importantly, honoring and glorifying God with that talent. In my particular case, I host a radio talk show. While the format of my station will not allow me to preach sermons or give devotionals during my 3-hour daily talk show, I can approach the topics from God’s perspective, and give Spiritual insight into the news of the day.
In your case, it might be building your reputation for workmanship, work ethic, and integrity. In whatever you do, you are called to show the world how God would work through that profession.
Finding your purpose in your personal life involves applying scripture to your family responsibilities… from a man’s responsibility to provide for his family and teach his children about God, to a man’s responsibility to love his wife. A woman’s responsibility is to respect and help her husband, though Proverbs 31 tells us that women are also endued with talent that is to be used to glorify Him, and provide for her family.
We can (and probably will) explore how these truths can apply to certain situations in your life. In the meantime, if you will keep them at the top of your mind, and think about how you can apply them to your situation, you will notice changes. God exists. He has a purpose for our lives. Are we willing to live it?
Luke 1:26-27 says, “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, (27) to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
The virgin birth, the fact that Jesus Christ was born to a woman who was a virgin, (meaning she never had relations with a man (Luke 1:34)), is a fundamental doctrine of true Christianity for a number of reasons. First, the Old Testament not only foretells the virgin birth, the New Testament proclaims it. Secondly, it is the fulfilled prophecy in scripture that is used to validate the Bible as the Word of God. Third, the virgin birth is fundamental to the sinless nature of Christ. (Had Jesus been born of the union of a man and a woman, He would have been a sinner like the rest of us, and thus incapable of paying for our sins on the cross.)
There have been some that have tried to re-define the word “virgin” in scripture to mean, “a young maiden.” While the word was almost exclusively used to describe a young woman, it was limited in which young women it described. A young woman described as a virgin was one who had not been defiled, was not married, and was pure.
Furthermore, if the sign of the birth of Christ was to be a virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), and if “virgin” only meant “young woman,” then Christ’s birth wouldn’t have been anything special. However, Isaiah 7:14 said the birth would be a sign, therefore the virgin birth described in Isaiah 7:14 is special, and thus depicted a child being born to a woman who had not had relations with a man. Any denial of the virgin birth is a denial of the scriptures, and the power of God Himself… but I digress.
The virgin birth was about God keeping His promise to His people. In Isaiah 7:14, God promised His people the Messiah… and He told them what to look for in the fulfillment of this promise. “Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name, Immanuel.”
The name, Immanuel, means “God with us.” As mentioned in this post, God’s desire has always been to dwell with His people. The Son promised in Isaiah 7:14 would not only be the Son of God, but also God in flesh. God promised the coming of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 7:14, and the sign that He gave for people to look for was the fact He would be born of a virgin. It would be a unique situation that would mark the fulfillment of God’s promise.
That’s why the Gospels of Matthew and Luke pay special attention to the fact that Mary was a virgin when Christ was conceived, and thus born. They were documenting the fact that God kept His promise, sent the Messiah, who, being God in flesh, dwelt among us before dying for our sins on the cross.
God keeps His promises, and they are promises which should bring you rest. God promised a Savior, and He gave us Jesus. God promises to save all who believe in Jesus, and He does. God has promised that Jesus will return and establish His Kingdom on Earth, and He will. Are you ready to receive that promise?
Thanksgiving is behind us, and we survived the madness of Black Friday. At this time, we begin hanging our Christmas lights, and start a month-long celebration of Christmas. Every year, the retail industry celebrates their biggest sales months of the year, while Christians commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior.
A more scholarly preacher might be tempted to lament that Jesus wasn’t really born in December, and that this celebration arises out of man’s traditions. I, on the other hand, prefer not to be a killjoy. While we don’t really know when Christ was born (some do offer good theories), the fact of the matter is that He was born. His birth was so important to God that He inspired Matthew and Luke to write about it. If God celebrated it in two different books of the Bible, and foretold it in the Book of Isaiah, then it makes sense that we should celebrate the birth of Christ today. Further, it makes sense that the celebration should last an entire month. In fact, it doesn’t really bother me that we begin rolling out the Christmas stuff in September… all the more opportunity to bring attention to our Lord.
When you read about the birth of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1-2, and in Luke 1-2, you will notice the writers pay special attention to pointing out the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ. From that fact, we learn that Christmas is about God keeping His promise, and that we can draw hope from the Lord, knowing that God keeps His promise.
In Isaiah 9:6, the Bible says “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” In that verse, God made a promise to the nation of Israel, and more specifically, the southern kingdom of Judah. His promise was, though the nation was in decline due to sin and idolatry, He would send Christ, who would bring salvation, and restore the Kingdom. The birth of Christ is the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise.
So, every time you see a Christmas decoration, a Nativity scene, a banner proclaiming that “Jesus is the Reason for the season,” remember the promise God made, and kept.
Furthermore, Isaiah 9:6 is the key verse for our Christmas series this year, “And His Name Shall Be Called.” Join us as we learn of God’s promise and hope, by studying the names attributed to Christ around His birth. We hope to see you there.
Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility, 104 E. Industrial, Early, Texas, 76802.
Pastor Leland Acker
For a long time, I have been fascinated with the story of Simon the Cyrenian, the man whom the Roman soldiers forced to help Jesus carry His cross up the hill of Golgotha. Now, just about every Christian will tell you that Simon was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus after the Lord collapsed of physical exhaustion after hours of torture and beatings. In fact, if you visit the city of Jerusalem, they have marked the “Via Dolorosa,” the path that many believed Jesus followed as He carried the cross. Three of those stations are allegedly places where Jesus fell, and one is Station 5, where the Romans forced Simon to help Jesus carry His cross.
The problem with the traditional “Via Dolorosa” is that the path leads through the city, and the Bible states that the soldiers led Jesus out of the city to a place that is called “Golgotha,” or “The place of the skull.” And contrary to what I grew up believing, Jesus never stumbled as He carried the cross.
Matthew 27:31-32 says “And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.”
After the Roman soldiers beat and scourged Jesus, they led Him out of the Antonia Fortress, and immediately compelled Simon to help Jesus carry His cross. So, the tradition that Jesus fell, and as a result, Simon was drafted into service has no root in scripture. None of the four Gospels describe a fall of Jesus prior to Simon’s involvement. Furthermore, none of the four Gospels record a single fall of Jesus. Which means that the idea that Jesus stumbled and fell as He carried the cross to Golgotha is completely based on tradition, and not scripture.
So, why is this important? Simple.
Tradition paints a picture of a Jesus whose humanity had overcome Him, thus He was too weak to carry His cross up the hill for the crucifixion. Scripture shows us the real Jesus, Who, despite the beatings and scourging, was determined to get up that hill and be crucified. Why? Because getting up that hill and on that cross was the only way to pay for your sins, and save your soul. The love of Jesus propelled Him up that hill, wounds and all, so that He could save you.
As for Simon? He observed a Passover celebration that year that no one would ever forget. Mark 15:21 says “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.” Simon had just come in from out of the country, likely to celebrate the Passover. What wound up happening, however, was that He accompanied the Lamb of God to the sacrifice that would ultimately take away the sins of the world.
I don’t know if Simon believed in Jesus before this moment, but I believe he became a believer afterward. I believe Simon was a key figure in the early church, as his two sons were well-known enough to be referenced by Mark as he recorded the crucifixion of Christ. Simon was going about business as usual, until he was met by Christ, and then was forever changed.
What about you? Have you met Christ? Did it change your life