In What Way Are God’s Ways & Thoughts Higher Than Ours?


Isaish 55.9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

Whenever someone is going through any of the inexplicable tragedies of life (you can fill in the blank ____________ with your tragedy de jour) sooner or later somebody will attempt to comfort the confused soul with the above words from Isaiah 55:8-9.

The idea of invoking this passage is to say that God must have a glorious plan in allowing the tragic event(s) to occur. Granted, we cannot wrap our feeble minds around those plans but they must be wonderful and glorious because God knows what He’s doing. (On a side note, I think many unwittingly use this passage as a thought-terminating cliché.)

However, upon closer examination of the immediate context, we learn these words speak to nothing of the sort. The prophet is not addressing the bewildering heartaches of life, but rather, he is expressing something joyful and uplifting. This is plainly seen when vv. 6-7 are considered,

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near;  let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)

What our feeble minds cannot comprehend is how freely and graciously God pardons the sins of the penitent! Taken together, Isaiah 55:6-9 is one of the clearest, most uplifting invitations to salvation in all the scriptures. The chapter opens with the fervent cry, “Come, everyone who thirst come to the waters” and enjoy the grace of God (55:1). Forgiveness is liberally offered to anyone who would seek the Lord God; call upon Him and depart from evil.

If any would doubt God’s willingness to freely forgive them (especially when they can’t forgive themselves) the prophet reminds us, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our way. He forgives when others will not, and His love knows no limits going far beyond our comprehension (cf. Psalm 103:11).

So friend, turn to Father, forsake evil calling upon His name and accept His limitless love for you! If I can help you with any spiritual need drop me a line at clay@claygentry.com. God bless.

 

Do You Want To Go Away As Well?


do you want to leave

Jesus the life-giver has a question for you:

So Jesus asked…, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67)

Many people follow Jesus in order to have their needs met; needs that are typically defined for Jesus, not by Jesus. So, when the Lord fails to meet their demands they blame Him and leave. On one such occasion, after many of Jesus’ followers deserted Him, He asked the Twelve if they too were going to leave. Predictably, Peter spoke up saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” Our greatest need is the forgiveness of our sins, not more bread on the table. When the crowds thin and people leave how will you respond to the Savior’s question? There are only two answers, either you will accept Him for who He is and what He offers, or you will reject Him. So today, choose life; choose Christ.

For the whole story read John 6:1-71

en español

Other post in the Jesus Has A Question For You series:

What Do You Want From Me?

Who Do You Say That I Am?

What Were You Arguing About On The Way?

Why Are You Afraid, O You Of Little Faith?

Jesus’ One Mission: Save Sinners


Jesus saves sinners

This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

The apostle Paul had been “a blasphemer, persecutor and an insolent opponent” of God. However, the Lord’s grace overflowed for him and he found mercy and forgiveness from his sins. Therefore, we learn, the key to salvation is the character of God, not the performance of man. Humanity’s only hope is in the merciful and gracious character of God expressed through Christ Jesus. Just as the Lord saved Paul, He will save you. So, take comfort today in these words, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save… you.”

For further reading: Luke 15:1-32; Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-16; 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Other devotionals in the This is a Trustworthy Saying… series:

Rise Up O Men Of God And Lead (1 Timothy 3:1)

Training For Godliness (1 Timothy 4:7, 8)

Two Sides Of A Faithful God (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

You Were Saved For Good Works (Titus 3:8)

Mark Bible Study Guide


I would like to introduce you to the newest installment in the Devoted to the Word Bible Study Series: The Gospel of Mark. As with all Devoted to the Word Bible studies, God’s word is the central focus of each lesson.

This study is specifically designed for serious seekers and/or new converts. It is a 8 week study of the Gospel of Mark. Each weekly lesson is divided into 5 daily readings and a weekend review. This will help instill the virtue of daily Bible study, and shorter readings will allow the student to delve deeply into the meaning and application of each reading.

Mark Bible Study Guide

The Greatest Event In History… And What It Means For You.


The greatest event in history was Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Here’s what it means to you:

God is holy, and He demands that you be holy to be in His presence.

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

You are not holy because of your sins.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23

The result of your sin is separation from God and spiritual death.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-7

God loved you so much, He sent Jesus to pay the price for your sin.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and send His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10

Through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection you can now have a relationship with God.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6

The only way to begin your relationship with God, is by first dying with Jesus through baptism.

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives for God. So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:3-14

Will you put your faith in Jesus and be baptized today?

“And Jesus said, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16)

If I can assist you in your spiritual walk, please email me at clay@claygentry.com.

God’s Grace Is Not A License To Sin


“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Romans 6:1

On the surface it seems strange that anyone, especially Christians, would think that it would be okay to continue to sin so that God’s grace may abound toward us. Yet, it seems that was the attitude of some Christians who thought, “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20).

There’s a danger in this sort of thinking (that we can continue to sin because of God’s grace and forgiveness), because it leads to a life becoming more and more entrenched in the ways of sin. Paul uses terms such as, “slaves of sin” (6:6) and “instruments of unrighteousness” (6:13) to describe our lives when under sins sway.

What was Paul’s answer then to his original question, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (6:1-2a) Paul gives three compelling reasons why we, as Christians, can overcome sin’s temptations and do not to continue in sin:

We Have Died to Sin (6:2b-11a) – Paul doesn’t want us to continue in sin since we have died to sin (6:2, 11a), we have been freed from sin, it no longer has dominion (influence or power) over us (6:7).

To illustrate that we’ve died to sin, Paul uses to Jesus’ death and resurrection to prove his point. When Jesus died and was raised from the dead to life he broke the bonds that death held over humanity, death no longer had dominion over Him in that He will die no more (6:9).

When we were baptized we were buried…with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (6:4). Freedom from sin is the new life that we live. Paul continues, For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like His” (6:5). Jesus’ resurrection broke the bonds of death and sin; they no longer had dominion over man (6:9-10). When we are resurrected from the tomb of baptism the dominion of sin over our lives has been broken, we are free, we no longer have to obey it as slaves.

How does this help us overcome temptations to continue to sin? We know that we don’t have to obey sin. Praise God that he has set us free and has given us an avenue of escape (1 Cor 10:13). Does that mean that we want sin? No, but what it does mean is that we don’t have to powerlessly obey sin because it is no longer our master.

We Are Alive to God (6:11b-14) – Just because we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, that doesn’t mean we are act dead, rather, Paul wants us to consider ourselves “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11).

Since we are alive to God, we present our bodies to God as “instruments for righteousness” (6:13). In just the same way we were once “instruments for unrighteousness” in perpetuating sins desires, we are to seek to perpetuate the desires of our God who raised us from death to life. We can do this because God has promised that sin no longer has dominion over us since His grace rules in our lives (6:14).

How does this help us to overcome the temptation to continue to sin? God fills the void sin left in our lives. By giving us purpose through Jesus Christ (being alive to God and instruments of righteousness), we don’t have to obey sin and allow it to once again reign in our lives.

We Are Slaves of Righteousness (6:15-23) – Here Paul again anticipates another question, this time it appears to be from the perspective of an adversary saying, “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” Again, Paul answers with a resounding, “Certainly not!” (6:15)

Even though we are not under law but grace, we are not free to live our lives as we please and sin at will as if there are no commandments to live by. As humans, we are going to be slaves by way of obedience to either sin or to righteousness. By being obedient to sin, we become its slave, the wages that sin pays its slaves is death (6:23). By being obedient to righteousness, we become God’s slave, to His slaves He gives the free gift of eternal life (cf. 6:16, 22-23).

When we live in sin we are bound up in sins lies. One of those lies is that if we follow God, He will cramp our style, because His ways are restrictive. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We’re truly free when we’re slaves of righteousness (6:18). If we’ve been set free from sin then it was a life of bondage. If we’re slaves of righteousness, which is the opposite of being slaves of sin, then we are truly free.

How does this help us overcome the temptation to continue to sin? We don’t have to obey sin because as slaves of righteousness we are free from sin’s control and influence, we no longer have to please sin, instead we seek to please God by being obedient to Him (cf. 6:20).

Is God’s grace a license to sin? Certainly not! Paul has shown us that since we, as Christians, have died to sin, are alive to God and are slaves of righteousness sin no longer has control over us so that we should obey it. When we’re tempted to sin and become entangled in its web once again let us hold fast our faith and remember the lessons that Paul has taught us.