Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim 1:15)

Jesus did not come as a good example or to blaze a trail to the afterlife that we can now follow. No, Jesus came to save. He came to save because we are sinners who need saving. We don’t need good examples. We don’t need trails to follow. We need to be freed from our rebellion, freed from the grip of sin, freed from the blinding thoughts and desires that cause us to run from God instead of to Him.

It is fruitless for Jesus to blaze a trail to the afterlife because we don’t want to follow the trail. We run from the trail seeking to blaze our own. Sin causes us to believe we are capable of pleasing and reaching God in and of ourselves. We believe we somehow have the inside track and everyone else doesn’t. Sin causes us to think much better of ourselves

Instead of believing we are worth saving, we must see ourselves through God’s eyes — we are wretched sinners who don’t deserve salvation. Notice Paul ends the verse by admitting he is the chief of sinners. We must admit the same as well. When we are willing to admit we are the chief of sinners we can rest knowing Jesus is at work in our lives. We should praise Him for His work in saving us from an eternal life outside of the presence of God. As well as freeing us from the effects of sin on our life now.

Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

Pastor, please the Lord, not self or man.

”For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess 2:3-4)

True workmen for the Lord do not have ulterior motives. They should not be greedy. Their desire should not be to amass wealth, status, or position off the backs of those they are to serve and to whom they are to preach the good news. One should not enter ministry for riches or acclaim.

Ministers are entrusted with the gospel. They are speak the truth in love, not to please man, but to please God. Here in lies the difficulty. God is our boss/master not man. Sometimes those two are at odds. When they are at odds with one another, our default should not be to please man, rather our default should be to please God, trusting He will care for us.

Pastor, why do you preach? Why do you serve? Is it for your own gain or the gain of others? Do you trust God to provide or do you fear man? As Pastors, we serve an audience of One (God) to the pleasure of many (the congregation). Our focus must always be on pleasing the Lord not self or man.

Set your mind on the things above to live out your new humanity in Christ

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2)

It is easy to focus on the here and now. What is going on around us often steals our attention. It consumes us. The thoughts, actions, ideas, philosophies of the surrounding culture presses in on us. As believers, however, those who have been raised with Christ, we are to set our minds on the things above. In other words, we are to live according to God’s will.

Where is God’s will found? It is found in His Word. We must use God’s Word as our daily guide. If you are a believer, yet you never read God’s Word, you are incapable of setting your mind on the things above and living differently than the culture.

But those who are believers, those who have been raised with Christ, whose life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3), you should set your mind on the things above. You should be motivated to do so because Jesus came to die. He didn’t come to die in order for you to continue to be influenced by the culture as you once were.

Jesus sacrificed Himself in order for you to be different. Not just live differently when you feel like, but to literally be different. If you skip down to verse 10, you discover that our self is new. In other words, in Christ, we are a new humanity. As a new humanity, we are to live differently. We are to live according to God’s original design.

The problem with living according to our new humanity is that we live in a world pressing in on us. Since we currently live in the midst of a sinful world, we must set our minds on the things above in order to live out our new humanity on a daily basis.

Remember, we are fighting a spiritual war.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

We are living in a time of political upheaval. Tempers are charged on either side of the aisle. Everyone feels they have been wronged. Both sides are fighting back, protecting, vouching for, and propelling their candidate to the front.

Let me encourage you not to put your trust in a candidate, political party, or policy. While politics are important, they are not the end all be all. Paul reminds us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood. Instead the battle we are fighting is a spiritual battle. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for a spiritual war by taking up spiritual armor.

Spiritual wars are not fought with sticks, clubs, swords, or guns. They are fought by following and adhering to God’s Word. Jesus told His disciples to put their swords away. We should put our swords away as well. Attacks, riots, mob violent will not solve the problems we face in our country. Only the gospel and God’s Word will bring the change for which we desperately hope.

Remember, we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood, instead we are fighting a spiritual war, which requires spiritual armor.

Don’t let anger give the devil opportunity

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Eph 4:26-27)

How do we live differently from the world?

One way we live differently is by putting away our anger. Not allowing it to stew overnight. It is important we don’t allow anger to stew because it will develop further. Anger, though sinful in itself, left unchecked will turn into further sinful action. Corrupting talk, wrath, clamor, slander, malice. All these actions against another can stem from anger and will kill unity in community.

When we allow anger to stew, we give opportunity to the devil. He uses our anger with others to create division and disunity. It’s that division and disunity that destroys the church’s witness, it hinders its mission. Don’t allow the devil the victory. Deal with anger in seed form so that it will not take root.

Goals Lead to Success but hold them loosely

Goals, whether they are small or large almost everyone has them. That is especially true this time of year. We call them resolutions, but essentially they are our goals for the next year.

Goals for the New Year

Personal Goals

I’ve set some goals for 2021. Like most people, one of my goals is to be healthier. 2020 did a number on me. We went from stocking up on M&M’s to Oreo’s to Ice Cream and then holiday candy and treats. Before I knew it, I had put on 20 in 2020.

If I were to poll the audience, I am sure many of you have a goal to live healthier this next year as well. Or maybe you are planning on striking out on your own and starting a new business. You are finally going to do it. Or maybe your goal is to finish school or that big project you have been working on. Maybe you want to read more or through the Bible in 2021. If you don’t have any other goals, I’d certainly suggest reading through the Bible in a year as a worthwhile goal. Or maybe you want to downsize, clean out those closets and garage. Whatever it might be, I’m sure you have some goals, a New Years Resolution, or two in mind.

Almost 50 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions. 80% of those people believe they will keep their New Years resolution, but the truth is New Years resolutions are not easy to keep. According to the Washington Post, only 46 percent of those who make resolution will keep them for six months and 8 percent the whole year. That is a staggering statistic. Only 8% hit their goal, which means 92% of all people fail at keeping their New Years Resolution.1

Since New Years resolutions are not easy to keep, the goals we set are not easy to attain so:

  • We must be realistic with the goals we set.
  • We need a good foundation upon which to build.
  • We need others to help us realize our goals.

Church Goals

As a church, we need the same. We need a goal for which to reach or we are going to flounder around like a fish out of water. We also have to be realistic with the goals we set. We have to build on a good foundation. We need one another to help us realize our goals.

Goals Lead to Success

We have to know in what direction we are going before we head out. I’d encourage you to develop some personally goals for the year.

If you are a brother pastor, develop some ministry goals as well. Develop goals for your personal ministry as well as your church’s ministry. If we are going to see success in 2021, we must develop goals.

Hold Them Loosely

While it is important we develop goals, we must hold our goals loosely. If 2020 taught us anything, our goals, whether they be personal or ministry-related, might not match God’s goals for us. Develop goals, but hold those goals loosely as you pray for the Lord’s guidance, empowerment, and ultimately for His will to be done.


[1] https://www.finder.com/new-years-resolution-statistics AND https://www.wrpawprint.com/features/2015/01/27/failing-new-years-resolutions/