Thursday, December 25, 2014


"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh..." (Romans 8:3)

 Christmas Day is winding down. The food has been eaten and presents opened. All the church services and church productions leading up to today are memories that are beginning to fade into the past. As I reflect on the activities and the reasons why we have all of this celebration, the word "helpless" comes to mind.

When Christ was born over 2000 years ago, He laid down His right to His throne and along with it, His authority. He humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-8). He made Himself helpless...a baby. He was dependent on mankind for His daily care. He laid His life in the hands of the people whom He came to save; the people who would eventually crucify Him.

Why did He go through all of this? What was the significance? Why all the hoopla? Because we are helpless and only He could help us. As explained in Romans 8:3 above, the law was given, but it was too weak to save us. It was too weak because it required our ability to follow it flawlessly. We are helpless because we are sinful. The law actually served to show us how helpless we are (Galatians 3:24-25

That doesn't sound like good news because we don't like our faults being pointed out and we also don't like to be told we are helpless. However, the sooner we recognize and accept our helplessness, the sooner we can realize the tremendous gift and inheritance that God the Father has waiting for us. All our efforts end in disaster, but God's efforts end in an indescribable, wonderful eternity. (Romans 3:10-12, Isaiah 64:6-7, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 2 Corinthians 8:9, Romans 5:8)

God's offer of salvation has nothing to do with our ability to be good or do good. We will fall short every time. Just one failure (sin) causes us to fall short of God's glory, but the price God paid by sending His perfect Son to die on the cross FOR YOU is sufficient for all time.
 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11, NASB)
I pray that if you have not already done so, you will soon accept this gift that God has held out to you. Come, confess your helplessness to God along with me and allow God to lift you up into His glorious inheritance. Then...let your life be lived for Him out of gratitude rather than appeasement.

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm Not Enough, But I Am Complete

OK. If you subscribe to the email version of my blog, this one is coming to you twice.  That's because I am a new blogger and have uncertainties and overlooked details that catch me questioning things. I posted this last week and then realized that I had posted a similar blog. However, the content was not intended to be the same. Soooo, long story short: I deleted last week's post but decided to put it back. However, I plan to rewrite the content the way I intended it to be in the first place. That should post sometime before the week is up. It will be entitled "Helpless". Regardless, thank you for sticking with me in this learning adventure. I pray that you have been encouraged even a little!
I have some food sensitivities...many food sensitivities to be a little more specific. So many that my selections are very slim and I eat 99.5% of my meals at home so I know exactly what is in it.  Because of this there are days that no matter how much I eat of what I can eat, it's just not enough. Sometimes I continue to feel hungry and other times I just cannot feel satisfied with what I have eaten even if I am full. On those days, nothing is enough.

In our world which is highly saturated with psychoanalytics, many of us have felt this way about life, perhaps even about ourselves: "I am not enough". I have days like that: days in which I just don't feel like I am enough or have enough to meet the demands, requests or expectations of those around me. However, it is  not a lingering or predominant feeling.

One reminder I try to keep before me, though is that I am not enough to meet God's standard of perfection. I am not good enough, smart enough, clever enough or convincing enough to impress God.
10 as it is written
This is not a self-abasing attitude that I am practicing, nor is it a form of penance. It is simply reality. Why do I keep this reminder before me then? Because although I know I fall terribly short of God's standard and that those failures are an offense to Him, I gladly rejoice that out of His love for mankind, He has provided what I need to be not only acceptable, but abundantly supplied. Philippians 1:6 says, " For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." 

This perfection is accomplished because Jesus, God in the flesh, laid aside His rightful place on the throne of heaven for a short time to come to earth as a baby. He grew to manhood living a perfect life all the way through to His death on the cross. This is how He paid the debt we owe for our sins. The best part of this story is that after men put Him in a tomb and sealed it and placed a guard in front of it, He rose and overcame death.

What you must do to RECEIVE this same victory, this GIFT of eternal life, is accept it. It's that simple. If you accept this gift, understanding the magnitude of what He has saved you from, then your grateful heart will experience a change of desires and you will want to serve and obey what God says through His Word, the Bible.

We deserve worse because we are not enough, but God's love is enough for the whole world (John 3:16). He offers it, but He doesn't force it. However, He is a righteous God who demands justice for breaking His law, so the penalty must be paid one way or another: either by you or by Him. He has an abundant supply with which to pay and His desire is to pay, because He loves you (2 Peter 3:9).

Please receive His Christmas gift today and know that He completes the parts of you that aren't enough just like He has done and continues to do for me. You will be satisfied!
"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift"

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Maleficent = Good?

 "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20, NASB)

Let me start with a couple of notes:
The first is a spoiler alert. If you have not yet seen the movie Maleficent just be warned that I will be addressing the main plot in this post.  Second, please take note that I am not saying anything negative about the movie in this post. I am simply making a point about a current trend in our culture. I actually found the movie very entertaining and it was clean. We did not have to use our ClearPlay filter at all.

There seems to be a trend in the media to take what once was considered bad or evil and call it good. There are many subtle ways this takes place, but one of the prominent ways has been through movies that are targeted primarily at a young audience. One example in which this is subtly done is the fairly recent release of OZ: The Great and Powerful. At Oz's first encounter with Theodora, she introduces herself as Theodora the Good. Soon after, the truth is revealed that she is inherently evil. However, her surrender to evil is the result of her sister's deceptions.  Evil is justified by unfair treatment of others.

The plot is very similar in Maleficent. Maleficent is simply a guardian of her people and is looking out for their welfare, protecting them from the insatiable appetites of mankind. She finally opens her heart to trust a boy only for him to grow up and give in to greed. Out of his greed to become king he betrays and physically and emotionally harms her. It is out of this betrayal that she speaks the curse upon his first born.  After attempts to hide the child have failed miserably, Maleficent is seen following the child all throughout her life always protecting her while hiding in the shadows. The conclusion is that Maleficent was simply misunderstood and abused by mankind, yet she redeems herself from her wicked intent in the end.

The message is disseminated time and again that "evil is not always evil. It is simply a matter of perspective and a relative standard." The truth is that since God created everything that is in existence, including mankind, He gets to set the standard. His standard is much higher than our standard:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts(Isaiah 55:7-9, NASB)
We must be careful to remember that God is the sovereign ruler over all creation and we are dust compared to His greatness and power. However, we must also know that God's love is just as great as He is mighty and beyond our imagination. Though evil will never be good, and though we can never do enough good to reverse the evil we have done, God has provided for our evil to be washed away so we can live in the presence of His goodness forever. That was accomplished on the cross through the sinless sacrifice of the blood and body of Jesus Christ. He not only gave His life to pay our fine, but He defeated His death and ours when He rose from the grave on the third day.  Will you accept His gift today and have the evil of your heart wiped away just like He did for me 34 years ago? He has made my heart grateful by His wonderful gift!
  1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5 Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. 6 The LORD performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. 17 But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children... (Psalm 103:1-17, NASB)

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lessons Learned

I wasn't planning on making this a blog post. At least not now. But I the more I thought about it the more I thought it would be appropriate. Besides, I have not posted in about two weeks. Things have been more hectic than usual for me, so I have to pick and choose things to let go. However, that's a whole other post for another time.

Here's my thought: Isn't it strange (and neat) how you will hear the same theme over and over again? It comes from different sources at different times. For me this past couple of weeks, I have been hearing the same two themes through radio, podcast, a book I have been reading, sermons at church and Sunday School lessons. Though different, both theme go hand in hand.

The first is regarding trials or difficulties of life. The pervading theme has been how the struggles, trials or difficulties we face can be used to prepare us for leadership or other opportunities or circumstances later on. I have had a few struggles recently. For those who have followed me over the past four years, you know that I have struggled with some voice/throat issues which we have finally narrowed down the cause to being food sensitivities. Most of the time the effects can be minimized by food avoidance, but have never been fully resolved. Lately, it seems that I have been more sensitive to things that I was able to eat previously. It comes and goes. However, I have always checked to see how God might be using this to teach me something. I have always prayed for insight. Not that I think He had to have caused it, but that He can use it whether He caused it or not.  Also, not that I have always met it with a cheerful and trusting heart. I have asked "why?" on  a number of occasions.  Usually receiving what I perceive as a response of "just wait and see". That excites me sometimes and frustrates me others. But it is teaching me trust none-the-less and likely has even more to teach me when the wait is over.

The other theme I have had circulating around me is the truth of total dependence on God.  Total dependence for daily living, total dependence for salvation and total dependence for my growth as a follower of Christ (a.k.a., discipleship or sanctification). The first reminder of this came when I read the passage Romans 3:10-12 again: " As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." The phrase I cued in on this time when I read this verse is the one that says "They have together become unprofitable..." We had nothing to offer Christ before salvation and we have nothing to offer Christ after. He offers everything. He gives us value when His life and His Spirit fills us (Ephesians 2).

When we realize our utter weakness, then we can begin to declare our dependence upon the One True God who loves us and cares for us and desires good things for us (Hebrews 11:6). A good father has his child's best interest at heart. As the child grows in the love of the father, then he or she is willing to give full trust to the father and rest fully dependent on him for wisdom, strength and protection. When the child is confident in the father's love, then the child is at peace.  That is the relationship we are to have with God the Father. He is perfect and promised to never leave or forsake those who put their trust in Him (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Here's the bottom line of what I have learned with these two repetitive lessons from the past two weeks: If I acknowledge my weakness and trust in God, fully depending on Him, then I know that He will work out whatever difficulty I face for His glory and I will reap the benefits as well. Often this is easier said than done, but then again, it breaks the Father's heart when we don't trust Him. I know my heart breaks every time my naturally anxious son doesn't trust me when I tell him that he is safe with me. We need to learn to rest in Paul's words:  "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Come on, be weak with me. Trust in the Lord. Learn from your difficulties. Keep asking questions. He will eventually reveal what you need to know: either through His Word (the Bible) or by His Spirit or in the final outcome of your circumstance(s).  When trials come, begin to live in great expectation for what great thing God is going to reveal. This doesn't mean everything will be rosy and fun. It also doesn't mean that God is the one causing everything that happens. It does mean that He can use anything that happens to teach you and to glorify Himself (Romans 8:28). 

 For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dial-up in a High Speed World

We don't like to wait. Some of us remember what it was like to have a home-cooked, made-from-scratch meal. I actually remember making pizza with my family as a Friday-only treat.  Those home-cooked meals progressed to TV dinners baked in the oven and then progressed further to TV dinners cooked in the microwave. The Friday family pizza making evolved into pizza delivery while eating in front of a TV watching a movie on video tape that we rented from the movie rental store. Then we began to pick up other fast food and a DVD or ordered a pay-per-view movie which has now evolved into a streamed movie via the internet.  All we need now is for the food to be delivered via teletransport so we don't even have to pick it up on the way home. We just don't like to wait!

So...this makes it difficult for the believer when we serve a God who has always existed and has all the time in the world to see His plan unfold, not only for our lives but for all people for all time. "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day" (2 Peter 3:8). Our thought might be, "I don't have a thousand years to wait for God's plan to unfold." However, God's timing is perfect whether our circumstances while waiting are good or bad. God holds all time in His hand.  

In Hebrews 11 we read what is typically referred to as the "Hall of Faith". It speaks about the great saints of old who accomplished great things by faith in God. However, if you are paying close attention, the focus is not on their faith in the things that God was accomplishing in that moment. The focus was on their faith to walk through those things with an eye to the future. As a matter of fact, as you read through the chapter, you will see that some of them did not meet a glorious end. Many died horrific deaths and yet all of them ultimately died physically whether by natural causes or by the hand of mankind. Hebrews 11:13 says, "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth"and Hebrews 11:39-40 says, "And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promisedbecause God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect."

So, why did they endure? Why did some of them suffer even though it did not benefit them in their life on earth?  Because they saw something better.  It was invisible, but they saw it with eyes of faith. They abandoned the good things that they could have had on earth for the best things in heaven. They delayed the immediate for the benefit of the long term.

Many people are in debt financially because they didn't want to wait to get that car, or that house or that _____________ (you fill in the blank). However, most of those people struggle to make it from paycheck to paycheck not because of the debt, but because of their unwillingness to wait. Many people are denying the very existence of God because if they accept it, then they know there is accountability for the way they are living today. They are forfeiting their eternity for pleasure today. 

For those who are believers, many are forfeiting inner peace because of constant anxiety over events which God has in control. Many are forfeiting fellowship with God or even future heavenly rewards by compromising on moral or ethical issues in order to get something today rather than waiting for the greater things God has in store.

I always hated dial-up  internet and was exited to see the of day high-speed internet. However, as I have used the high-speed connection, I have become discontent with it and want it to be even faster. If I get a faster connection, I eventually will be dissatisfied with that. My point is, that there are some things worth waiting for, but I just have to make up my mind that I will have to wait. If we are willing to deny ourselves some temporary comforts and pleasures, there will be a reward greater than we can fathom when Christ comes back. 

For those who have not accepted Christ as Savior, Please go here and consider the message given and don't delay on that one!  God is good and He has a perfect plan with perfect timing. As a matter of fact, you are one of the ones He is waiting for: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Running to Him is the only thing worth you getting in a hurry.

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet