Be Kind, But Not Just For Kindness’ Sake: Good Morning Devotional for 12.17.2021

December 17 (JPG)

Good morning! Christ calls us to be kind to others based on the gospel work He worked in you. By God’s grace and power, we must better our bitter attitude. We must forgive as God forgave you. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus puts the groceries on the bottom shelf:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

It’s not easy to forgive someone who has hurt you, gossiped about you, abandoned you, betrayed you, or disavowed you. But remember, these and more did the disciples do to Jesus–but He forgave them and restored them (all except one, who did not repent). 

Chuck Colson told the story (at the 1994 Ligonier Conference in Dallas, Texas) of a prison camp where 20 men came in from digging and lined their shovels up on the wall as they always did for the counting. When they were counted, the officer found only 19. He demanded that the one who didn’t bring his shovel step forward. None did. Then he threatened that if no one stepped forward, he would choose ten men at random and shoot them. A young man of about 19 stepped forward and was immediately taken a few paces away and shot as an example to the others. But then as they were dismissing, the shovels were counted again and there were 20 after all. The officer had miscounted. John Piper sums up the point:

The difference between what that boy did for his friends and what Jesus did for you is that Jesus knew which ten men he was dying for and he knew that we were all unworthy. But he did it anyway, because he had a very special covenant love for you that is far above human love.

Our kindness to others is not based on our worthiness or theirs. Our kindness is based on the goodness and faithfulness that Christ extended and presently extends to us.

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Good Morning Devo for 9.15.2021: What Does God Covering Our Sins Mean?

Good morning! How wonderful to know that God will cover all of our sins based on the atoning work of Christ. This motif originates from the understanding of the Ark of the Covenant mentioned several times in the Old Testament.

The ark contained two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed upon them. Its located was eventually placed in the Holy of Holies. Along with the tablets were a golden pot of manna (food that God provided in the wilderness–see Exodus 16) and Aaron’s almost rod (Numbers 17). The ark possessed a lid that laid on top called the mercy seat. Here was a visible symbol of God’s divine presence. Here also was where God was to be seated and to give mercy to His people when the blood of the atoning sacrifice was sprinkled there. Thus, this is where we get this covenant understanding of our sins being covered by His blood.

Jesus’ blood from His sacrifice covers our sins as a propitiation, in which the wrath and penalty of our sin was removed and put upon Himself. Jesus is also the Great High Priest who offers the sacrifice and provides that priestly intercession. Romans 3:24-25 gives the needed insight for our New Testament perspective:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The Apostle Paul, Romans 3:21-26

Are you relying on the mercy of God to cover your sins? This is the only way to find forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. It’s only through Christ.

Matthew Perry, Ph.D. is Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO

Why You Shouldn’t Preach This Sunday

In many churches, the preaching pastor stands as the primary leader of the church as well.  While some are moving away from that model (which I hope to address soon), this stands as the primary model in many churches.  But even if you’re not the main preaching pastor, you may still have a responsibility to bring the Word regularly in your local church.

And maybe you shouldn’t.  Maybe you shouldn’t be preaching to your people or to any other people.  You may exegete the Word correctly, have the proper application, phenomenal delivery, and are loved by your people. Still–you may need to sit.  Here’s why:

  1. You don’t believe the Bible is fully inspired (breathed out) by God.  Paul urged Paul to preach the Word because this Word was the only reliable word of and from God (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5).  The Word is enough to make the man of God mature and complete, lacking nothing.  If you stand before God’s people questioning the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, you should not preach.
  2. You’re preaching because it’s a job, not a calling.  Paul wrote:  “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29).  God provides the energy for the struggle due to His calling and galvanizing of our hearts.  If you’re preaching outside of the call, but only due to this being a job, you should not preach! 
  3. You don’t love the people to whom you preach.  Read Acts 20:17-38 and tell me honestly that Paul did not love the Ephesians church and the elders with whom he served.  If you fail to love your people do to a haughtiness and arrogance due to whatever reason, then you should not preach.
  4. You refuse to adapt to the context in which God has you.  God places us where He places us.  He is sovereign Lord of all, and therefore He knows where He has His people to serve.  I remember times when I allowed my personal preferences to be elevated to tests of faith when it came to programs, music, the works. God had to work some hard things in my life for me to realize that He knew where He wanted me, and that brought joy.  If there’s a refusal over a long period of time to adapt to the context in which God has you, then you shouldn’t preach.
  5. You’re looking to the next venture rather than the venture God has you now.  Do you see the place where you serve as the proverbial stepping stone?  Are you using the church in which you lead to simply gain experience for the next sweet spot of service?  If you are using your people for your own personal gain and not their pastoral well-being, you should not preach.
  6. If you harbor unforgiveness to a member without going and setting things straight.  Matthew 5:21-26 is clear about unforgiveness and anger toward a brother.  We should even leave our time of worship to set it straight. Even when people say or do things that slander you with false or misguided information and intentions, God still calls you to forgive.  If you refuse to do this, don’t preach on Sunday.
  7. Your marriage/children need you–and you need to step away for a season.  Your family comes first outside of God.  If your marriage is falling apart and your children are on the verge of stepping off a cliff, then you should step away to care for them as the only husband to your wife and the only father to your children.  Hopefully, your church will understand, but even if they don’t, step away.  Don’t preach.  Be there as Christ for your family.