sin

How God sees you

IMG_0774The Bible tells the story of a rich man who traveled into a foreign country and released his wife into the harem of a pagan king on two separate occasions. This same man fathered children with multiple wives, as well as one of his wife’s handmaids. What do you think God did with this man?

In two short sentences, I described to you Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, and the prime Biblical example of faith. In all fairness to Abraham, the two sentences I used to introduce him captured the worst moments of his life. In the opening paragraph of this post, I unfairly defined him by his sin, and his failures.

While I may seem like a dirty dog for doing that, the truth is we do this to ourselves and each other on a daily basis. We tend to define ourselves by our worst moments, which leads to discouragement, which leads to depression, which leads to anger and estrangement.

You may see yourself as a failure. You may see others around you as failures. However, that does not mean that’s how God sees you, nor does it mean that’s how God sees others.

How can God honor a man who sinned as grievously as Abraham? Simple. Romans 4:3 says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

Abraham believed God. He trusted God. He took God at His word. Therefore, God regarded Abraham as righteous and saved his soul.

Furthermore, God looked at Abraham, not as the adulterous man who violated His plan for marriage, but rather as a work in progress that God refined until he was ready to receive His blessings.

You see this concept at work with Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3. Joshua the high priest stood before God wearing filthy garments, a sign of his sin, and a sign of the sin of his people. Satan stood beside Joshua, “resisting,” or accusing him, but God responded, “The LORD rebuke thee, Satan, even the LORD who hath chosen Israel rebuke thee, is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”

Joshua stood before God as a mess, but God saw Joshua for the man whom he was transforming him to be.

Your life may be a mess right now. You may be fearful to enter God’s presence. Perhaps that is why you haven’t been to church in a while. You want to at least be able to put your best foot forward, and right now, you don’t have a shoe to fit.

If you trust God, He regards that as righteousness, and He will save your soul. Furthermore, His view of you has less to do with what you are, and more to do with what He will transform you to be. He sees the best in you, and He will bring it out.

And just as scripture gives glowing praise of Abraham, if you trust God to do this work in you, you, too, will hear God’s praise on the day of judgment, when He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

If you don’t know the Jesus Christ as your savior, trust Him to save you today. If you know the Lord, trust Him to transform you. Then, return to His presence.

I’ll see you Sunday morning.

If You Can See It, You Can Do It

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.

False Promises of Freedom

Do you realize that, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived under one restriction, and one restriction only?

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17

Adam and Eve were told they could freely eat of every fruit of every tree in the garden, except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were forbidden from eating of that tree, because doing so would cause death. Other than that, everything went.

In the history of man, I cannot think of another time when man was more free, let alone as free as Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Yet, in Genesis 3, Satan (in the form of the serpent) somehow convinced Adam and Eve that they were not free. He reasoned that they could never be free as long as they were under God’s authority, and God was intent on continuing His “oppression.”

That’s the message within Satan’s statement to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5.

Adam and Eve were led to believe that by eating the forbidden fruit, they would be freed from God’s authority, free to do whatever they felt. They thought they were about to realize a level of freedom never before seen. They were wrong.

Their eating of the fruit brought sin into the world, and the knowledge of sin. So, instead of being freed from God, Adam and Eve were made slaves to sin, its consequences, and its relentless presence in every aspect of life. Consequently, the entire human race has been subjected to such.

In modern times, the Satanic Temple (which denies the existence of Satan, all the while advancing his message), proclaims that its doctrine would liberate people from the bonds of religion and unjust laws. In reality, they are making the same false promise as Satan made to Adam and Eve. Satan promised a freedom from God, a freedom to do with their bodies as they wished. The Satanic Temple lists that concept as one of its tenets. Yet we know that one cannot live in total freedom without impacting the freedom of others.

Recently, the Satanic Temple protested in favor of abortion, saying that pro-life legislation enslaves women to the oppression of motherhood. While motherhood is definitely a rigorous lifestyle (one of which many women have told me is completely worth it), the fact is that a pregnant woman cannot live free of motherhood without denying another person the most basic right to life. And while the Satanic Temple claims to support scientific reason, the fact is genetically, that “fetus” is a human being.

If a woman decides to defy God’s design for marriage, and live a sexually immoral life, then she can do so without the effect of pregnancy, and thus, motherhood, simply by employing birth control. Even if she is successful at this, she still faces the consequences of STD’s, the emotional damage brought on by promiscuity, and the degradation that often follows. (For what it’s worth, men who live sexually immoral lives face the same consequence).

What is promised as freedom from God’s law, the restraints of religion, or the morays of morality, actually presents a bondage all its own. My point? The promise of total freedom is a false promise that Satan has made since the creation of man. It never materializes, and never will.

Whether it was the prohibition of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, the 10 Commandments in Exodus, or the commandment to love each other in John 15, God’s commandments are given to protect us from destruction, and to help us enjoy the most of what life has to offer.

The prohibition against eating of the tree in the garden was to allow Adam and Eve maximum freedom without the fear or confusion over sin. The 10 Commandments guarded us against the self-destructive lifestyles of covetousness, deceit, theft, adultery, stupidity, and idolatry. The commandment to love each other moves God’s law from a list of do’s and don’ts to a check of your motivation. It all frees us. The question is, will you enjoy the freedom God makes freely available in Christ? Or will you choose the slavery that comes with sin?

Choose wisely, for your choice will last you for eternity.

6 Truths that will Revolutionize the Way You Live Life

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?

Why Our Mission Involved The Early Pioneer Days

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Bro. John Melancon demonstrates Bible artifacts to a festival-goer at the Early Pioneer Days.

Saturday at the Pioneer Days celebration in Early, Texas, festival goers enjoyed angus beef hamburgers, kettle corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and balloon animals. As they strolled through the festival booths, they came upon our booth, featuring Bible archaeologist John Melancon. Bro. Melancon demonstrated the artifacts that he collected during archaeological digs in the Holy Land, related them to scripture, and then discussed Bible truths, particularly the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins.

Some may wonder  why a church would go through the expense, time and effort of hosting a festival booth at a local carnival, without the benefit of a fund-raiser. It’s really quite simple. It’s part of our mission at Grace Pointe.

The day is coming when we will all stand before the Lord, who will judge us and determine whether we are received into His Kingdom (Heaven), or whether we are condemned for eternity (Hell). He will judge us based on two criteria… (1) Have we broken God’s law? and (2) Has the penalty for our sin been paid?

We have all broken God’s law. We have all sinned. We have all told lies, we have all taken something that didn’t belong to us, we have all failed at one point in our lives to love the Lord and worship God. By the definition of the law given in the 10 Commandments, we are all guilty of breaking God’s law, and sinning (Romans 3:23). Scripture declares that the penalty for sin is death and condemnation (Romans 6:23). So, on that part of the judgment, we will all be found guilty (Romans 3:19).

The question will then be the status of your punishment. When Jesus died on the cross, He not only suffered for a cause, and stood His ground as a noble leader, He took the punishment for our sins from God. Isaiah 53:11 says “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

While He was on that cross, Jesus endured the wrath of God that was caused by our sin. He took our punishment for us (1 John 2:2). The question is, whether that payment for sins has been credited to your account. Such a transaction happens when you repent of your sins, and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior (Romans 4). If you have been found to have your sins paid, because you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you will be received into Heaven. If the payment for sins has not been credited to your account, because you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, you will be condemned to an eternity in Hell (John 3:36).

It’s that last part that propels our public outreach at local festivals. We’re not there to ruin a good time, and we are not there to make a name for ourselves, or raise funds. We are there to get in touch with people we would not otherwise get to meet, so that we can warn all people to flee God’s wrath and be saved by trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

It’s our prayer that all who hear our presentation of the Gospel will repent and trust Jesus Christ as Savior.

Sunday morning, we will study Luke 16, and learn about Hell by expounding on the passage about the rich man and Lazarus. Service starts at 11 a.m. We hope to see you there.

Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX 76802.

Hitting the Reset Button on Life

Toward the end of The Shawshank Redemption, Red, portrayed by Morgan Freeman, gave the following speech at a parole hearing when asked if he had been rehabilitated:

There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that.

Who can relate to looking back on one’s younger self, and wishing they could relate the consequences of their actions? The problem is, when we’re young, we lack the wisdom to foresee the consequences of our choices, and actions. Many people find themselves in a place today where they never intended to be, nor did they desire to be.

While some people made good choices in their youth, they placed their faith in Jesus Christ, went to college, graduated from law school, built a career, stayed away from drugs/alcohol, and were faithful to their spouses, many made poor choices, and as a result, have seen their lives torn to shambles. Such hopelessness has some contemplating suicide, others contemplating running away. Oh, if there was just a reset button on life? Such as the one on the old Nintendo Entertainment System…. if the game wasn’t going well, just hit the reset button, and start over.

The good news of the Gospel is that such a reset button exists, although the results may not be as instantaneous as the NES reset button.

In Matthew 8, scripture records the cleansing of the leper. Now, leprosy in Bible times was a horrible debilitating disease. It formed lesions on the skin that would get infected, scar, and leave the victim disfigured. It also killed the nerve endings in the skin, leading to injuries to the body’s extremities and face.

In many ways, leprosy was like sin. It destroyed, scarred, spread, and left one disfigured. Also, just like ancient leprosy, one can’t heal himself from sin, or the sin-curse. 

In Matthew 8, a leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus replied, “I will, be thou clean.” The Bible says that immediately, the leper was made clean. This means that not only was he healed of his leprosy, but the sores, scars and injuries were gone. Christ had removed the disease from him, and healed him from the effects of the disease. The leper was now a new man. In essence, he hit the reset button on life. He had a new lease on life.

Now, in every miracle Jesus performed, there are two meanings… the physical meaning, and the Spiritual meaning. The physical meaning of the healing of the leper is obvious. Christ has the power over disease, and the power to heal. If you are suffering from a physical disease, Christ can heal you, and often times will, if you trust Him and turn to Him in prayer.

However, the Spiritual application is much better than the physical, because by cleansing the leper, Christ showed us how he cleanses us from sin. As mentioned earlier, sin and leprosy are a lot alike… except sin is a spiritual disease, and leprosy is a physical disease. Our sin destroys us, and scars us, and we cannot cleanse ourselves from sin, or its effects. Just like that leper, we have to turn to Jesus for salvation, forgiveness, healing, cleansing and restoration. And just like that leper’s cleansing was immediate, our salvation and forgiveness is immediate as well.

However, Christ does not stop with just saving our souls. He goes on to clean up our lives, and restore us to a place where we can serve God, and have a positive impact on others. He places us in situations where God can bless us. He begins that work in us, and continues it until the day we die. Thus, the day we repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ as our personal savior, we effectively “hit the reset button” on life, and the Lord puts us on a new course. 

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that my life before I accepted Christ was destined for destruction. Since Christ saved me, He has worked in my life, building me, remolding me, and placing me in situations where I can see Him work, and He blesses me. It’s a great place to be.

So, if you are trapped in your current situation, and feeling hopeless, remember, there is a reset button on life… and his name is Jesus Christ.

May God bless you, guide you, and keep you…

-Leland Acker