Billy's Blog
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June 25, 2015, 10:08 AM

Planning or Controlling?

In our small group we were studying James chapter four. A few verses in this chapter talk about making plans. Scripture does not condemn making plans. Jesus actually endorsed when it came to counting the cost of following Jesus and making plans to make sure you were willing. In Proverbs 16:3 it says that we need to commit our plans to the Lord. So God does not condemn making plans. What he does condemn is boasting and bragging. Here's what I mean. 

James 4:13 says that we will say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." God says this is boastful arrogance, because we think we are in control. The sin is not the planning. The sin is thinking that are lord of our lives. James instructs us on a great alternative. 

"Instead, you ought to say, If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:15)

The point is who the lord of our lives is. If we are in control, and we are the lord of our lives, then we will make plans with no regard for the will of God. We will make plans that suit us, please us, and make us happy. 

So when it comes to your life are you planning or are you controlling? When you make plans do you consider the will of God or are you simply planning your life as if you are in control? It may sound like splitting hairs but it makes all the difference in the world. 




May 26, 2015, 8:52 AM

Go And Sin No More

A lot of Christians have the spiritual gift of justification. We can justify just about anything that we do with a reasonable sounding excuse. One of the excuses that I hear a lot is, "Well, I'm not perfect." 

There's a couple of problems with this one. First of all, who expects you to be perfect? I know God doesn't and I don't know anyone who expects perfection out of another human being. Secondly, this excuse usually comes with an explanation that we just are who we are, and we can't help the fact that we have so many flaws. 

Remember when Jesus encountered the woman who was caught in adultery? She was about to stoned for her sin, of which she was guilty. Jesus challenged the men who were going to stone her. He challenged them to consider if they themselves had sin in their lives. He told them that the one without sin could throw the first stone. The Bible says that they began to drop their stones and walk away, the older ones first and then the younger ones. Jesus told her that no one remained to condemn her and that he himself did not condemn her. But he did challenge her before he left. He said five simple words, "Go and sin no more."

It is true that even Christians are sinners. 1 John chapter one tells us that if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and call God a liar. But this doesn't mean that aren 't empowered to overcome sin. Romans 6 tells us that are dead to sin and alive to Christ. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome our sin. We have been empowered to be overcomers and to be victorious over the things that Satan throws our way. 

Christians are not to be "justifiers" with comebacks like, "I'm not perfect" and "We all sin." We are to be people who every day are becoming more like Christ and less like ourselves. Christians, we have a lot to do. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has some great things planned for us to do. We don't have time to fall back into the past and wallow in our old sin. Let's move on and do something better with our lives. 




May 19, 2015, 11:48 AM

Two Roads To Hope

"I sure hope it doesn't rain today." 

You ever said this? Maybe you had to mow your grass or had a picnic planned or were set to attend a baseball game. You really hoped that it wouldn't rain. What did you really mean by hope? You meant that you weren't really sure whether you'd be lucky or not, but you wanted your wish to come true. 

This is not hope in the Biblical sense. Hope is real. Hope is definite. Hope is being convinced. It's not something you have in your hands yet, but you are as convinced of it as if it were. But how do we get this kind of hope? 

I was reading Romans chapter five this morning in preparation for my sermon and I was studying about hope. I don't read commentaries too often, but I really wanted to dig into a couple of things I read. One commentator said that we get hope from two places in our lives. 

First of all, we get hope when we are saved. When you are baptized into Christ you have instant hope. You have a hope and peace because through your faith in Jesus Christ you now have access to his grace. You now have real hope in eternal life. 

The second way we get hope is having our faith proven through difficult times. 

In the book of Malachi God condemns the people for robbing him. They were so puzzled. How in the world can you rob from a God who has everything? They were not giving their tithes and offerings. They were holding back from God what He had commanded them to give back. The issue was not a matter of finances, or a lack thereof, it was trust. So God told them to test him. Yes, test him. He told them to just give what they were supposed to do without question. He told them that if they would do this, trust him with their possessions and give, he would open up the floodgates of heaven and just pour out blessing on them. He wanted to help prove their faith. 

Life is a process. Maturity is a process. Hope is a process.  Your hope grows and becomes more real as it is tested and it passes. Your road to hope won't be without potholes or dangerous curves. As the old Ricky Van Shelton song says, "Just keep it between the lines." Don't give up. 

As Scripture reminds us in Romans 5, "hope does not disappoint." 




May 5, 2015, 9:48 AM

The Real Point Of Forgiveness

I have a lot of talks with people about forgiveness. Of all the things in life that are misunderstood I think that forgiveness is one of the top five. There are a lot of clear-cut things in the Bible about forgiveness. Matthew 6:15 clearly says that if you are unwilling to offer forgiveness to someone then God is unwilling to offer it to you. That's pretty powerful and straightforward. 

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a parable about two men who owed money. The first man owed 10,000 bags of gold. This was an amount that he could have never in his wildest dreams paid off. The servant begged for mercy and the master forgave the debt. Immediately the servant found a person who owed him a hundred silver coins. This amount was so minimal compared to what he had owed, but he choked him and had him thrown into prison. People saw this incident and were so angry that they reported him to his master and he was arrested and tortured and demanded to pay back what he owed. 

In other words, God takes forgiveness really seriously. He has forgiven us so much we are in no position to hold back forgiveness from someone who has wronged us.

But here's what we really misunderstand about forgiveness...it's good for us!

We usually look at the other person and justify why we won't forgive them. They haven't asked, they don't deserve it, they won't appreciate it. What you don't understand is that it's going to change your life! 

When you forgive someone you aren't saying what they did is okay. You are not letting them off the hook. You are not even allowing them into your life. You are choosing to do the right thing and forgive and let it go. When you refuse to forgive usually the only person you are really hurting is YOU!

Forgiveness doesn't always feel right at the time. It doesn't always feel fair. It doesn't always seem justified. But forgiveness is ALWAYS the right thing to do. We know how good it feels to know and live under the free gift of forgiveness God gives us. Now feel the freedom of forgiving other people. 

Don't go another day with an unforgiving heart. It's just not worth it!




April 28, 2015, 9:12 AM

Lines of Separation

In our culture there are so many things that separate people, that make on person more important than another.

Money is a HUGE one. If you have money you can have more material things which sets you apart. If you have money you usually have power, which means you have influence. 

Good looks is another one. Good looks can get you ahead in life even when you don't really have anything else...including intelligence and talent. 

Intelligence and talent can set you apart from people. You can get scholarships...both athletic and academic. You can achieve higher levels of success in your career. You can have an office with a window and a nice title while others have a cubicle and don't even get a business card. 

Money, intelligence, looks, talent...all of these separate us and give different values to people in our culture...but sin is an equalizer. Sin puts us all on level ground. 

Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 

Notice that word, ALL. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, skinny or fat, the CEO or the janitor...everyone has sinned. Everyone is in the same boat outside of Jesus Christ and it is sinking. In Acts 10:34 Peter says that God shows no partiality. When God judges you he doesn't judge you on whether or not you have a lot of money or don't. He doesn't judge you on how beautiful you may appear. He doesn't judge you based upon what others have said about you. He judges you simply by what you've actually done. He treates everyone fairly. 

If we are all in the same boat then why would any of us think that we are better than someone else? 

Why would we think that our sin is BETTER than someone else's sin? Why would we think that our ugliness is somehow prettier than someone else's ugliness?

Let's just face it...all of us have messed up, do mess up, and will continue to mess up. So we can put down the masks of perfection and drop the act. We can get real about who we are. We can stop tearing others down to make ourselves feel better and put out a helping hand. 

We're all in this boat together...we might as well row together in the right direction. 


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