Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
The day started out bright and sunny. I got up and got ready for church like I usually do on Sunday. I had time to spend reading the Bible before I left. I read Matthew 13 which gave 7 parables that Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God. I was really interested and told myself that after church, I was going to come home and do some study on it. I headed off to church in my new car and headed East on I-20 and then North on Texas 47 as I usually do. I saw my friends the buffalo, camels and the zebra all out in the fields enjoying the morning. I kept reminding myself that I had to stop sometime and take some pictures. But not today, I needed to get to church and serve as a greeter.
Pastor Brandon started his message from Luke 18:9-14 about the Pharisee and the tax collector. I imagine most of us have read and heard several messages on it over the years. But, as usual when I go to Stonepoint, God took an old and familiar passage and brought new light to it. I had just submitted a blog post to the church last night that I thought paralleled today’s message. The pastor started off today by saying that we tend to live in ‘the land of in between.’ We tend to feel that our walk with the Lord is not what it should be but it is not all that bad either. Our problem we have is that we would rather say that we are OK than to admit that we have sinful habits that we can’t have victory over and need help (quote from the message.)
The parable in Luke 18:9-14 says that Jesus told this parable “to some people who trusted in themselves and that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt.” The Pharisee in this parable was one of those people. But the tax collector wouldn’t even lift his eyes up and just kept saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” The parable ends by saying that tax collector went to his home justified and the Pharisee did not. Asking for God’s mercy because we are sinners is always a good prayer and we can be assured that God will hear us.
Later in the message, Pastor Brandon talked a little about a program the church has on Monday nights called re:generation. It is a program for people who know they have problems. Some are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography. We tend to think that these programs are for people like that. But after hearing the pastor talk about this program, I think I should be in it. Basically anyone who knows they have a sin problem would be a candidate for this program. Now, strange as it might seem, I have no problems with drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography. I did have a drinking problem before and after I got saved, but in time, God gave me victory over that. You see, my sins are not as obvious as the people who come to re:generation. No, my sins are more subtle. They are sins like anger, pride, lust, bitterness, attitude issues, lack of forgiveness, depression and discouragement (you may not think those last two are sins but in my life they are) and the list could go on. I also need to say, I am well aware that I have these sin problems. My struggle is that I don’t seem to have the victory over them. I am, in Pastor’s language today, “a bottom dweller.” I hang out in the area of defeat and discouragement over my sins.
Now, I talk about myself but let me ask, what about you? Are you in the same boat as me? Knowing you are not right with God, wanting to have victory but unable to get there. If you are a fellow “bottom dweller” I have good news for you. As long as we are humble before the Lord about our sins, as the tax collector was, He is for us! It is when we think we are OK that we go home unjustified. Isaiah 57:15 is a beautiful verse for us: “For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”‘ Do you see what God is saying? He lives in a high place totally separate from us. But at the same time he dwells with the lowly and contrite of heart. He is on the side of the meek and humble. (See Matthew 5:1-5). We just need to be honest about ourselves and surrender to Him.
I would like to leave you with three steps that we heard from Pastor Brandon’s message today that will go a long way to helping us gain victory over our sins.
Step 1–ADMIT-that we are powerless in our addictions and sins.
Step 2–BELIEVE–that God is the only one who can fully restore us.
Step 3–TRUST–we decide to trust God with our lives and wills by accepting His grace through Christ.
Brothers and sisters, while I did not do justice to the message today in this post, I pray that you will take this feeble attempt to encourage you to heart. God loves to help the humble and helpless! We just need to come to him and trust that he will work on our behalf. I would like to leave you with one more verse from Isaiah. It is Isaiah 66:1-2, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is my throne and the earth is My footstool. where then is a house you could build for Me? and where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being.’ declares the LORD. ‘But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.'” May we rely on God’s grace that is freely given to us in Christ and trust Him to give us victory over our sins!