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Saturday, April 21, 2018

He Doesn’t Raise the Bar. He is the Bar.

Romans 3:21-29 & Romans 6:23
(Use the link below to read the verses.)


There’s a series of recent Ford F150 commercials that sells the popular pickup truck in very clever and creative ways.

         One talks about how the F150 re-writes the “Truck Laws” for pickup trucks because of how many different ways you can use it.

         Another speaks metaphorically. As the screen flashes back and forth between NFL football and your F150, it suggests that you’re the quarterback and your truck is your offensive line.

         The third one praises the F150 for being “Brainiac Smart” because of all the protective sensors it has.

Each one of these commercials finishes with the narrator powerfully saying, “THIS IS THE NEW 2018 FORD F150! IT DOESN’T JUST RAISE THE BAR PAL! IT IS THE BAR!” In 30 seconds you have been convinced that Ford F150 “Is the bar” for other trucks to reach.


Paul was trying to sell something to his peers by setting the bar. The Jewish culture of his day, set the bar of righteousness by focusing on the Law. Even Paul, before his conversion, had bought into this belief. However, he changed dramatically.


21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping
the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.                   NLT


This statement must have rankled the Jewish religious establishment who firmly believed in living by the Law to attain righteousness. The idea that all you had to do was believe in Jesus must have been heretical.


In fact, it was more than that. It was a statement of freedom. Freedom from the rules of man born out of pride. Pride that said, “Look at what I did”. Pride that believed in self-righteousness, not God-righteousness. With pride, we don’t need God.


23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (The bar.) 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.           NLT


In other words…







Friday, April 20, 2018

Passion Personified


Readings:  Acts 9:14-15

“He always goes for the gusto.”  “She’s just like the energizer bunny.”  Have you referred to friends or colleagues in this manner? I know several people whom I would refer to as “passionate” or “zealous.”  They seem to have unending energy as they pursue a cause or objective.
In the book of Acts and in many of the New Testament letters written by Paul, we can’t miss the fact that Saul [later called Paul after his conversion to Christ] was the epitome of zeal.  I picture it as a sphere around which many arrows are pointing outward, showing energy going out from the center of the sphere. This was Saul, while he stood watch over the clothes of the men who stoned the disciple Stephen, and “in full agreement with killing him (Acts 7:58; 8:1).” This was Saul as he was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples (Acts 9:1).”  And this was Saul when he went from town-to-town with “authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on [Jesus’] name (Acts 9:14).” 

Wow, I think I might go so far as to say he was obsessed with his objective to wipe out all Jesus-followers! So how could a man considered the “arch-persecutor” of the followers of Jesus turn 180 degrees from his pursuit and actually becoming the pursued?  And why would he do it?  Simply put, he had an encounter with the Son of the Living God! (read about it in Acts 9: 1-9)

He was the Lord’s “chosen instrument to carry [His] name before” all people – Jews, Gentiles, kings (Acts 9:15).  God channeled Paul’s fervor to grow His church. Paul’s obsession now became one of reaching the known world for Christ.  He was intent on preserving the truth of the Gospel – devoted to keeping fellow believers zealous in their faith. He told them, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Rom 12:11).”

How grateful I am that God transformed Paul’s zeal for a good, holy purpose. You and I are the beneficiaries of his passion to communicate the Gospel.


Lord, give me such zeal for you and your Word that those around me may be beneficiaries of your grace and mercy.  “One holy passion filling all my frame…, my heart an altar, and your love the flame.”