Is there someone who made a mistake and you won’t forgive them? If there is, I encourage you to set aside your anger and hurt and forgive them. No, it’s not always easy but, it’s what we should do.
In I Peter 5:13, Peter is closing out his letter. As he does, he mentions that “his son, Mark” was with him. Why is that so significant?
Go back with me to the book of Acts. When the apostle Paul and Barnabas were preparing to take their first missionary trip, Mark had gone with them. But, for some reason, Mark bailed out. He left Paul and Barnabas. When Paul and Barnabas were preparing to go on their second journey, Barnabas the encourager, wanted to take Mark with them. But Paul wouldn’t have it.
So, Mark had made a mistake. His mistake was so great, Paul didn’t want to take him on their second journey.
Yet, here in I Peter, Mark is mentioned. Peter even refers to him as, “my son, Mark.” Mark had made a mistake in the past, but Peter loved him.
Has someone you know dropped the ball? Has someone made a mistake? It happens. And, it’s not easy to forgive. I know… but, we should forgive.
People are flawed. People are human… and sometimes our flesh is strong and powerful enough that it leads us to do things we shouldn’t do or maybe we fail to do something we should do.
If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, set it aside. Forgive the person. You make take a trip around-the-world with the person but you can forgive them and move forward.
What does it mean to live for Jesus? Millions of people are referred to as “Christians” meaning, they have at some point received Christ as Savior and are trying to live for Christ. So what does it mean to live for Christ?
In I Peter 2:18, Peter challenged us to “…follow in His steps.” What does it mean to “follow in His steps?” Well, let’s follow the steps of Jesus. Where do those steps lead us? While we certainly can’t cover them all, let’s see a few places the steps of Jesus take us.
They take us to worship… In Luke 4:16, the Bible says when Jesus came to Nazareth… on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue. Jesus went there to worship. As followers of Jesus, worship should be important to us.
They take us to Samaria. The Bible says that on one occasion He purposefully went through Samaria. Why? Because the Jews despised the Samaritans. So, by going through Samaria, Jesus was teaching His disciples that He loved all people.
They take us to pray. The Bible says that one morning, Jesus got up early… and went alone to pray. He did this because there were beginning to be more demands on Him and He knew He had to have the Father’s power.
They take us to serve. In Luke 22:27 Jesus said, “I among you as one who serves…” Jesus’ life was one of service. We should do the same.
My son works for Chik-fil-A. When their employees take an order they ask, “How may I serve you?” That would be a good way for us to approach people as well… “How can I serve you?” or, “How can I help you?”
I could go on and list many others but you get the idea. Today, as Christians, let’s follow the steps of Jesus. Let’s prepare to worship tomorrow… let’s love everyone, let’s devote time to prayer and let’s serve others. In doing so, we follow the steps of Jesus.
There is an old hymn that goes;
“Take time to be holy, Speak ‘oft with thy Lord.
Abide in Him always, And feed on His word.
Make friends with God’s children, Help those who are weak…”
Think about the words, “…take time to be holy.” What does it mean to “be holy.” The word “holy” refers to something that is set apart for God. God is holy and anything set apart for God is to be holy as well.
As Christians, we are to live holy lives. I Peter 1:15 says, “…be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” Peter was challenging his readers to live holy lives.
Being holy means that every day, we are trying to live in a manner that brings glory to God.
It means guarding our tongue… It means not gossiping or criticizing (except in rare occasions when it may be justified) or using profanity.
It means being careful what we listen to…
It means being careful what we watch…
It means being kind to others.
I could go on but you understand the idea.
Two things need to be said about holiness; First, we have lowered the standard of holiness today. There are things that we do or say today that we shouldn’t. Now, someone may say, “Hey man, it’s 2018; that’s just the way it is.” But that doesn’t mean it’s right.
The second thing is this; we are not perfect. We will slip on occasion. But let’s go a step farther…. if you are living for the Lord and you really are trying to honor Him… it will bother you when you slip. You won’t need anyone to tell you that you slipped. It will bother you. That’s the convicting power of the Holy Spirit at work.
One other thing… Christians don’t have to “look” or sound holy to be holy.
I’ve known people who like to “look” holy or sound holy who were extremely judgmental of others and that’s not holy living either.
Let’s say someone dresses different than you. As long as how they dress isn’t un-Christian, it has ZERO to do with holiness.
Let’s say someone wears their hair different… or has body-piercings… or maybe thinks differently than you…. if it isn’t unChristian, it means nothing.
Holy living should not lead to being judgmental and unfortunately, that often happens. Holy living means striving every day to bring glory to Jesus and loving others.
(Editor’s note… a transparent post… it may not be pretty but it’s what God impressed on my heart… hopefully the Lord uses it to bless someone today.)
Last week, I was preparing the Sunday School lesson for a class I was beginning to teach. One of the texts for the lesson was Psalm 51. That text is David’s prayer of confession after his affair with Bathsheba and having her husband, Uriah killed.
In the Psalm, David pours out his heart and then, in Psalm 51:10, David prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.. And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” As I read that verse, it spoke to my heart… now I wasn’t preparing to teach but instead, was sensing the Holy Spirit convicting me personally about this verse.
You see, over the last two years and nine months, I’ve drifted. That’s tough for me to say… in public anyway… I’m a Pastor and I’m not supposed to drift. But I had.
I had been bitter with the church.
I had been bitter with Ministers.
I had been bitter with God.
I questioned the whole deal.
I’m not proud of any of those feelings but that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t know if I ever wanted to Pastor again. I wanted to do something and try to make a lot of money. At least, that was my idea… But it wasn’t God’s.
Yes, I had drifted… I needed to “get back to Bethel” as Jacob did in Genesis. I needed to get back to the Lord.
I had been going to church and Sunday School… We have tithed… but my heart wasn’t right. It was a LONG way from being right.
Until last week, when God spoke to me from Psalm 51:10… “Create in me a clean heart…”
That’s my prayer. Does that mean my heart will stay clean? No. This has to be done every day… maybe even every minute. We live in a sinful world and we are human. So, every day I have to ask God to “create in Me a clean heart…”
I believe that in part, God has been testing me during this time. I believe God has forced me to take a good long look at Gregg Potts. I’ve been on my face… and what I saw wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of junk I had to work through and ask forgiveness for.
The best way I know to explain this is with a ladder. You’ve heard the expression “I was climbing the ladder.” That was me. I had WAY too much of the success syndrome in me. I was climbing the ministerial and Southern Baptist leader. I know… I shouldn’t have been doing that… I KNOW.. I get it. I understand.. I was WRONG! But, that’s what was happening. But, as I climbed “my” ladder, I came to a point where I realized my ladder wasn’t on a solid foundation and it fell… I fell with it. So, if you are climbing the ladder, be sure you are on a solid, stable ladder… You can get a ways up the wrong ladder and it will fall and you will hurt. I know because I did it.
God is creating in me a clean heart. God has rekindled my desire to preach and teach and Pastor.
I’m 57. I’ve made a mess out of the last decade or so. But with God’s grace, I want to close strong. I don’t know how much time I have left… hopefully a lot… but whatever it is, I want to use it for God’s glory.
Today, I am THANKFUL for a wife who has put up with me and loved me and been there for me. Lord have mercy, Holli Alice has been through it with me. I am THANKFUL for a Savior who loves me warts and all.
I am THANKFUL for my kids, Robert, Will and Sarah; my daughter-in-law Lauren, my son-in-law Landon and my grandson Peyton.
I am thankful we have a home in Cartersville, Ga.
I am thankful for friends.
I am thankful that I serve a Savior who forgives.
I am thankful He has forgiven me for climbing the ladder… and is renewing a clean heart in me.
Some folks have been praying for me… and this week, I’ve sensed that the prayers that have been going up on Gregg Potts’ behalf, or being answered.
Thank you Lord, for saving me and using me.
Go back with me to the first Thanksgiving. The original settlers had faced a tough year. Many of their loved ones and friends had died. Yet, they felt led to pause for a moment of Thanksgiving to give thanks to God for their survival.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. It may be that 2018 has been a tough year for some. Maybe you lost a job or your income has been cut. Maybe there have been some health problems.
A verse from Proverbs spoke to my heart this morning; “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, Than he who is crooked though he be rich” (Proverbs 28:6).
Maybe you are a hard-working, honest person. Every day you are doing your best to make a living and provide for your family. You know someone who is doing better than you, and you envy them some. But, you’ve heard that all is not as it seems with that person. You’ve heard that they can be a little shady in their business dealings. You aren’t going to do that You aren’t going to do that and at times you can maybe get a little angry… maybe depressed. You believe in doing what is right. You aren’t going to lie or cheat…
The verse I quoted earlier speaks to this… “Better is the poor… who walks in his integrity… Than he who is crooked and rich.”
So, you don’t have as much as someone else? “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked though he be rich.”
Walk with the Lord. Do the right thing… You are better off than the person who is dishonest.
As Christians, our goal is to live for Jesus. We should want to honor Him in all we do. So, how do we do that?
One approach that we have been taught is to NOT do bad things. This way is expressed in this quote; “I don’t smoke, I don’t chew and I don’t hang with those who do.”
Ok, that’s good… there are things we shouldn’t do as Christians. But, the Christian life is not just about NOT doing certain things. As Christians, there are things we are supposed to do as well as things we aren’t supposed to do.
James 4:17 says, “To Him who knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin.”
Think about that verse. “To him who knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it…” So, staying away from things isn’t enough to glorify Christ. If we know something is the right thing to do but we don’t do it, that’s just as much of a sin as doing bad stuff.
For example; if we know someone needs help but we don’t help them… that is sin.
You may know your church needs a Sunday School teacher for a particular age-group. You could do that, but you don’t because you don’t want to make a commitment to being there every Sunday. That is sin.
Or, if you know you should be tithing… giving… but you don’t do it, that is sin.
So, it’s not enough to NOT do certain things… If we know something is the right thing to do but we don’t do it, that is sin as well.
This is Thanksgiving… do you know someone who is struggling financially? If you have some extra money, why not help them?
Do you know someone who will be alone at Thanksgiving? If you can, why not invite them to your home?
Do you know someone who is down… discouraged… depressed? Why not do something to encourage them?
It isn’t enough to NOT do certain things… If we know something needs to be done and we don’t do it, that is a sin as well.
What is necessary for a person to be a Christian; faith or works? The answer is faith but works should follow if our faith is real.
In Ephesians 2, Paul says, “we are saved by grace through faith.. not as a result of works… So, Paul says that works don’t save you. But then, James tells us that works should follow faith and James is right
In order for anyone to become a Christian they must by faith, ask Christ to save them. They must by faith invite Jesus Christ into their heart. Ok, that’s all that’s necessary for salvation. When you invite Christ into your heart, you are now saved.
Then what? Because we invite Christ into our hearts, our faith in Christ produces works. We begin to worship; we study our Bible, we give, we serve, etc… So our faith produces works.
So, are we saved through works? No, we aren’t. But, there should be works in our lives because by faith, we have received Christ as our Savior.
We receive Christ by faith and our faith produces works in our lives.
James said, “So also faith is dead without good works” (2;26).
Today, this week… demonstrate your Christian faith through the works of love and giving and helping.