The Laser of The Word  6-5-23

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In addition to being a pastor, I also do some farm drainage work. A former roofer once told me to always remember that water runs downhill. His concern was that a good roofer needed to anticipate where the water would end up and prevent it from going where it was not supposed to go. When working on a drainage project we need to make sure that the water does go where we want it to go. In order for that to happen, we need to make a path for it to follow and that path must be downhill.

On a roof, it is usually fairly simple to tell the top from the bottom, but out in a field the elevation change can be so slight that the high and low spots may not be clearly visible. Further the lay of the land can give an optical illusion and be deceptive. A few years ago, a farmer had me fix a problem area in his field. Another person had installed tile in that field that led right to a wet spot, but the tile had not solved the problem. It looked like it should have worked perfectly because the wet spot appeared to be a couple of feet higher than the direction the tile had come from. Looks can be deceiving though and I was able to determine that the wet spot was actually lower than the area the tile was coming from. Likely the tile had been installed with the thought that there was plenty of downhill flow so it could just be put in at a consistent depth. Because of the mistake, the water would have had to run uphill to drain. That will not work.

The optical illusion of that field had fooled me as well until I used modern technology to check the elevations. One of the tools I use is a laser level. A beam of light is sent out on a level plane and that beam is then detected by a receiver on a measuring rod. Measurements are then recorded, and differences are noted in order to determine the high and low areas of a field. A laser is a valuable tool for making sure water runs downhill.

Since the accuracy of the laser is so vital to doing the job properly, I check it's accuracy by checking a benchmark 100' from the laser, turning the laser 180* and them making sure the line is withing 1/8” of the benchmark. When I recently did this check, I found out my laser was out of calibration. Rather than proceeding with the job with an out of line laser, I got a different one.

When doing drainage work, we need something to keep us in line so that we do not mess up the job. A laser is great tool to keep everything literally in line. In life, we need something to keep us in line as well. The word of God is like a laser to keep us on track. It can show us when we have gotten off course and it can show us when we have viewed things the wrong way. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Realize that not only did God send his son Jesus Christ, but he sent us his word in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. Let those words guide us to stay on course. Take the time to read the Bible and let it correct the inaccuracies in your life. 

Sinners Saved by Grace 5-22-23

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I love knowing that Jesus Christ changes lives. A friend of mine appears to be the stereotypical sweet Christian lady. She is faithful at church, kind to others, and you would never expect to hear that she had a sinful past. But she was not always that way. Before she came to Christ, she had visited a church, but had not taken the message seriously. She then went back to the vehicle and smoked a joint with her husband who was also not a Christian at that time. Eventually they both trusted Jesus Christ and their lives changed.

Many of those in our small church have similar stories that they could share. Our sons know that the people that they go to church with have a sinful past. That does not alarm me, because those people are not encouraging that behavior, but instead are warning about it. They are confessing their sins to each other as we study passages in the Bible that talk about those sins. They are not glorifying the sin, but instead admitting that they did wrong, and that change was needed, and that Jesus can and did bring about that change.

A friend of mine recently became a Christian. Before he was a Christian, he tried to excuse his sinful behavior, but once he surrendered to Christ, he was really bothered by his past. I told him that the people I go to church with also had a past and how the Lord had changed them. He told me that he had been worried about them judging him, but now he wondered what they would think about him knowing that they also had a past. I told him that they regularly share about their past because they are rejoicing that Jesus had changed them.

I then asked him to read Romans 5:6-8 which says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NASB)

That passage makes it clear that Christianity is not for perfect people who have it all together. Instead, it is for fallen people who need a savior. In Romans 3:23 we are told that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That includes that sweet lady who seems like the perfect Christian. Jesus died for her, and she believed in him, and then he changed her.

Notice that Jesus did not wait for us to straighten our lives out before he died for us. Instead “He demonstrated his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us.” While we were yet sinners! That means that while you are still struggling with your sin, you can come to Jesus Christ. Never forget that he loves you in spite of your sin. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

In verse 20 of Romans 5, we are told, “And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”, That means that the grace of God is greater than our sin. That should not be an excuse for us to keep sinning. Romans chapter 6 addresses this as we are challenged to avoid sin once we come to Christ and are shown that we no longer have to be slaves to sin after we trust him.

If you are struggling with sin and are thinking you could never be good enough for God, then realize that he loves you anyway. Then come to him and let him change you as your love for him motivates you to live for his glory as he works through you. Once you come to him, Jesus will give you his Holy Spirit and you will no longer be fighting sin on your own. Come to him and let him transform you.  

My Horse Wouldn't Train  5-7-23