November 25

1 Timothy 1-2, Psalm 19

Michael Franzese, former mobster and head of the Colombo crime family spent his whole early life in the mob. He married his wife in 1984, an evangelical Christian. He went to prison in 1985 and 1991 on charges of racketeering, counterfeiting, bootlegging and tax fraud. It was during his second sentence when he found Jesus and did the unthinkable, he walked away from the crime family. He wrote a book, "Quitting the Mob", and now is a speaker to keep others from a life of crime. Chuck Colson, arrested for his involvement in Watergate, who was called the "evil genius" within the Nixon administration and who masterminded ways to sabotage his opponents, in his own words saying, "I'd walk over my own grandmother to re-elect Richard Nixon." During his sentence he found Christ and initiated Prison Fellowship Ministries to bring serious Bible study to inmates, Justice fellowship to bring about Bible based prison reform, and began his public ministry on Breakpoint. Serial killer. David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, has turned his life over to Christ and now calls himself, son of hope. These are extreme examples, but we should never minimize sin in our life. One church divides sins into mortal and venial. These venial or lesser sins supposedly do not keep one out of heaven and include : pride, gluttony, greed, sloth, etc. This is a man made distinction, sin is a stain to God no matter what the particular sin is. There are also sins of commission and omission, whether we are aware of it or not. Again, this doesn't lessen our responsibility but should humble us into realizing how far we are from perfection.

In 1 Timothy 1:13-15, Paul describes his former state and transformation, "although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." What God did in showing mercy to Paul, and for that matter King David, Michael Franzese, Chuck Colson, and Son of Sam was to show that their was hope for the worst of sinners and that no one was out of reach of God's love and grace. When we consider others we should remember what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:3-4, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." To consider anyone beyond hope, too far gone, not worth trying to reach is not the way God looks at it. God through Ezekiel says in Ezekiel 18:23, "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord God, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?" But we must remember when reflecting personally or in reaching out to others what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all,". Though many would like to feel that all roads lead to God, and that the Christian view is narrow minded, Jesus Himself instructs us in this view in John 14:6, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus is stating without equivocation that He and He alone is the only way.

The reality of sin is not a popular topic. Most would rather compare themselves with others rather than God and thus elevate themselves in their own minds. If I stepped into a boxing ring with any pre-kindergarten student I would seem and feel pretty tough. Put me in the ring with Evander Holyfield, and I wouldn't last 3 seconds, probably being knocked out with a punch

to the arm. In the first 5 chapters of Isaiah we read a lot of woe to you. When Isaiah finds himself before the throne of God, he says in Isaiah 6:5, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" The reality is we are all sinners and without Jesus we are all without hope. Satan loves to play both sides with people, he tempts us. Then when we fall he whispers in our ear that now we are so bad, God will never forgive us. That is a typical lie from the father of lies. No matter what we have done God will forgive us if we repent. But one of the most dangerous things is to compare ourselves, minimize our own sin, and therefore not seek our Savior. John writes in 1 John 1:8-9, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster