Author Archives: lrbartel

Heartfelt worship… the spirit of Christmas!

Christmas - Elizabeth worshippingRe-posting this from one year ago… Just think we need the reminder… Elizabeth and Mary captured what Christmas ought to produce in us!

A pic highlighting what Christmas ought to generate in the heart of God’s people – heartfelt worship!!!… Mary’s Song – the “Magnificat”…

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant! For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name! His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation! (From Luke 1:46–55 ESV)

The Bible says, “All have sinned! … All are sinners!”

Romans 3:23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Solomon said it (and it’s true!)…

“Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins!” (Ecclesiastes 8:20 NLT)

Apostle Paul would agree with him! He said…

“Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard!” (Romans 3:23 NLT)

And Apostle John even went further…

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth! But if we confess [acknowledge] our sins to Him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that His word has no place in our hearts. I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” (1 John 1:8–2:2 NLT)

So this morning, when I read Ecclesiastes 7:20 during my time of “coffee with the Lord” I wrote these word in the margin of my Bible… “I am a sinner! I’ve sinned so many times! Without God’s grace and mercy I’m ruined – I’m doomed! Oh Lord, I acknowledge my sin! Please forgive me and cleanse me from all sin!”

He promised He would! In fact that’s what His sacrifice on the cross provided for! That’s why Apostle Paul went on to say…

“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. God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood for their sin.” (Romans 3:24-25 NLT)

And my response to that? Praise the Lord! Thank you, Jesus,! I, like you, am a “Sinner, saved by grace!”

Mannasseh and John Newton… Amazing Grace!!!

John NewtonEvery year I read the story in the Bible… and every year I’m amazed!!! God forgave Manasseh, an incredibly evil king, granted him grace, and restored Him! I just gotta tell you, it’s a good thing I’m not God!

I mean read this evaluation of him and his reign (2 Chronicles 33:1-9 NLT)…

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them. He built pagan altars in the Temple of the LORD, the place where the LORD had said, ‘My name will remain in Jerusalem forever.’ He built these altars for all the powers of the heavens in both courtyards of the LORD’s Temple.  Manasseh also sacrificed his own sons in the fire in the valley of Ben-Hinnom. He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the LORD’s sight, arousing his anger.  Manasseh even took a carved idol he had made and set it up in God’s Temple, the very place where God had told David and his son Solomon: ‘My name will be honored forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem—the city I have chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands—all the laws, decrees, and regulations given through Moses—I will not send them into exile from this land that I set aside for your ancestors.’  But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the LORD had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land!”

I mean, would you be inclined to forgive a guy like that if you were God?

God did, however, discipline and punish Mannasseh!

“The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.” (2 Chronicles 33:10–11 NLT)

But here is the mind-boggling kicker… THE LORD FORGAVE AND RESTORED MANNASSEH!!!

“But while in deep distress, MANASSEH SOUGHT THE LORD HIS GOD AND SINCERELY HUMBLED HIMSELF BEFORE THE GOD OF HIS ANCESTORS. AND WHEN HE PRAYED, THE LORD LISTENED TO HIM AND WAS MOVED BY HIS REQUEST. So the LORD brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. THEN MANASSEH FINALLY REALIZED THAT THE LORD ALONE IS GOD! … Manasseh also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the LORD’s Temple…. Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the LORD, the God of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 33:12–17 NLT)

Wow!!! What love… what mercy… what grace!
So this is what I’ve said each time I’ve read this account in the Bible… “If the Lord will forgive and restore Mannasseh – He’ll forgive and restore ANYONE!”

But that was way back then, you say… Well a few years ago I read the story of John Newton – the profligate, evil, slave ship captain … Oops – “former slave ship captain!” – who came to faith in Christ, experienced God’s forgiveness and restoration, became a great church leader, and wrote the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” [If you’re not acquainted with the story let me recommend the movie AMAZING GRACE [2006] and the book telling the story. JOHN NEWTON [by Jonathan Aitken with Philip Yancey]). As a result of reading John Newton’s story I’ve coined another statement: “If God can forgive and save John Newton, He can save ANYONE!” He did it for me… and He can do it for YOU!

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