Coming Straight at You

One of my favorite things about the Chronological Bible is that the words of the prophets are placed into the reading so they are talking straight at the kings and people who God called them to warn.

God sent the prophet Amos to both Israel and Judah to call out the current religious establishment.  The religious leaders in Judah were leading their people to develop meaningless religious traditions while refusing to do what God really wanted them to do – give mercy and justice to the oppressed and needy.

Israel was experiencing a time of prosperity which led them to a lifestyle of greed and immorality.

Sound familiar?  Do we see any of this in our culture today?  Immorality – have you turned on your TV lately? Have you looked at billboards along the freeways?  Greed – there are so many examples its hard to figure out where to start.  People will do anything these days for money.

As I read the book of Amos, God speaks to my heart and asks me to critically evaluate my religious habits and my ethical conduct.  He also warns me against complacency – getting too comfortable.

I’m careful to keep my relationship with God as my first priority, not religious habits.  When someone tells me they aren’t into organized religion, I tell them I’m not either – I’m totally into having a close relationship with God.  That always gets their attention.

But I know what God means by being too comfortable.  I used to live in a nice Christian bubble.  All of my close friends were Christian.  Everyone on my social calendar was a Christian.  I knew some non-Christians at work but everyone in my personal world was a believer.

This is the definition of complacent.

For God so loved the world……we have been commissioned to tell the world the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.  That’s not comfortable – that’s being stretched and reaching into the mess that is our culture today with the love of Jesus.  Now my calendar always includes places and relationships where I can be the light and let the love of God flow through me out to people who don’t know him.

Take a close look at your life.  Have you wandered into some immorality?  Or greed?  Or meaningless religious traditions?  Or complacency?

If that’s true, it’s time to turn back to God. “Seek me and live” God tells us in Amos 5:6. When we repent, he restores.  And he renews.  And he changes us from the inside out.

Thank you, Abba Father.

One Very Important Sentence

This one sentence does a great job of summing up the Good News – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

If you wanted to memorize just one verse of the entire Bible, this would be it.  John 3:16. 

God loved us so much that he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for all of our sins for all time on the cross.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, those of us who put our faith in him can have an eternal relationship with God which starts here on earth and ends in heaven …. forever.

This is the most important news anyone can ever hear.  People who are not Christ-followers don’t know it, but they are looking for Jesus.  They might think they are looking for a better job, a better spouse or a better house, but they are really looking for Jesus.  We were all created with a God – shaped hole which only God can fill.  There will be an emptiness in our lives until we accept the salvation offered by Jesus and live in his Light.

This emptiness explains a lot of what we’re seeing go on in our world right now.  People are looking for something and they aren’t finding it so there is anger, frustration, confusion and unrest.  Evil thrives in this kind of environment.  This will continue until they look to Jesus to fill that hole.  He’s the only answer.

I cannot remember a time in my life when it was more important for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus to share our stories, share the Good News, share our trust in God and share that we know how this story is going to end.  Judging those who do not know Jesus is not the right response to what is going on.  Jesus tells us today that loving those who haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation yet is the right answer.

God has already claimed victory, we’re just living through the mess that Satan is masterminding.  Satan is winning some battles, but we have nothing to fear – God has won the war.

Amen!  Hallelujah!

What I Haven’t Done

The things I should have done,

but didn’t,

seem like less than of problem than the things I have done that I shouldn’t have.

Are you with me on this?

Is that because the things I should have done but didn’t are invisible?  It didn’t happen so there is no evidence that I should have done it?  Or maybe the lack of action is much clearer in the rear view mirror than it is in the moment?

James tells us, “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and not do it.”

God knows everything – even my thoughts.  There are no secrets from him.  When I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something or say something and I don’t do it,  God knows.  Sure, his grace kicks in and my sins are covered by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, but it’s still wrong.

I need to keep my eyes and ears open to these promptings so I don’t miss the opportunities God give me to partner with him in his plan to redeem the people around me and deepen their faith.  I want to make sure my hands and feet are available for his kingdom purposes.

During this special time of year, I often hear the Spirit whispering in my ear,

“For God so loved the world.”

Please let me be a part of helping the world believe in you, Abba Father, so they will accept your free gift of grace and live in your love.

Whoever…

Whenever.

Me, you, your family, your neighbors…..

someone you like……

and someone you don’t like.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Here it is – the Great News of the Gospel all in one verse!  Jesus told this to Nicodemus very early in his ministry.

Whoever.

Jesus’ arms are wide open for everyone.

Satan loves to twist the truth (always) when he whispers into people’s ears “God doesn’t really love everyone – why does Jesus say he’s the only way to heaven?  Shouldn’t there be lots of ways?”

Read John 3:16 again……slowly.

God loves us – all of us.  And he has paved the way of grace for all of us to be with him in heaven.  But there’s a price to be paid for our rebellion, lack of faith and sin.  And Jesus paid that price.  When any of us anywhere at any time accept salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the punishment that should have been ours is erased.  It’s gone.  Jesus’ death made our once-and-for-all forgiveness possible.

So let’s not let Satan get us all tangled up in his lies.  Let’s not let Satan distract us by offering ‘other ways’ that he tries to sell as more culturally relevant.

The truth doesn’t change.  John 3:16 is as important to us today as it was to Nicodemus thousands of years ago.

God loves the world and his grace is available FREE to everyone – even a thief on a cross who believed for the first time with his last breath.

Thank you for your gift of grace, Abba Father.

A Great Light Has Come!

Isaiah 9, 2018 – 

I was once walking in darkness, but now I have seen a great light.  An everlasting light has dawned in my soul.

As I praise God, he increases my joy.  He has broken the bondage of sin in my life.

The battle is his and he has already won!

For unto me – and you – a child was born,  God gave us his only son.  He came from heaven with all authority and power.

He is our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace.  There is no end to his greatness.  He does what is right and just – now and forever.

The Lord Almighty has done all of this –

for me.

Thank you, Jesus

You Are A Letter

You are changed.

I am changed.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, his spirit comes to live inside of us.

He speaks to us.

He loves us.

He redeems us.

He changes us – when we listen and obey.

Paul writes about this transformation in his second letter to the Corinthians.  He calls them “a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tables of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

You and I are Christ’s letter to our world – not written in ink but communicated by how much we love God and how much we love others.

Faith, Hope and Love…

and the greatest of these is love.

We love you, Abba Father.

 

Sword Fighting Class – For God So Loved the World

We are just starting the long trek of memorizing Romans 8.  I know God has some special things to reveal to us as we meditate on these words by saying them over and over and over.

‘Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because, through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

And this week we add the next verse,Romans 8; 1-9

“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.”

For God so loved the world…..

The law was never going to make us righteous.  It just pointed out how unrighteous we are.  How much we need a Savior.

There is a righteousness and a holiness and a justice part of God that demanded payment for our sins.  But we were never going to be able to pay that debt because of our rebellion and sin.

So God sent Jesus to die for us.

And God adopted us as his children.

For God so loved us.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

 

In the Beginning

The Spirit of God hovered over a formless, dark, and empty world.

Then God created light.  The sky.  The land and the sea.  Plants and trees.  The sun.  The moon.  All living creatures – on the land and in the water.Genesis 1 2015 in the beginning

And he saw that it was good.

Then God created male and female in his own image.

He created US.

He was looking forward to the relationship he would have with Adam and Eve – walking through his beautiful garden with them every day.

He knew they would eat the apple – in defiance of his one restriction to their use of his garden.

God knew Cain would kill his brother.

He knew he would destroy all of the rebellious people with a flood, saving Noah and his family to repopulate the earth.

God knew he was going to grow Abraham into a Father of Faith.

He knew Joseph needed to go to Egypt to save multitudes of people including his family from starvation.

He knew that his people would be enslaved and would need a reluctant hero – Moses – to set them free.

God knew all about the whining Israelites wandering through the desert.  And brave Joshua who would step up to lead them into the Promised Land.

God knew about all of the issues with idols and other gods.  Of sins heaped upon sins.

He knew about David, a man after his own heart, who would be a beacon of light in the darkness even while battling with his own sins.

He knew that his prophets saying his words to his people would be ignored….ridiculed…..killed.

He knew about the heart-breaking exile that would happen to his people and their struggles to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

God already knew he was going to have to send his son in order to save the people he had created in his own image.

He knew that this son he dearly loved would have to die an excruciatingly painful death on the cross as the sins of all the world were placed on him.

God knew that the worst part would be when he had to turn away, separating himself from the sin….while his son cried, “Father, why have you forsaken me?”

God knew all of this before he created us.

And he did it anyway.

Because he thinks we’re worth it.

For God so loved the world…..

 

The Great News!

It’s all in John 3:16.  We should have this verse ready whenever we’re talking with someone who doesn’t believe because this verse includes all of the important parts of the Good News.

It’s an easy verse to memorize because the words reverberate around in our minds….

bouncing back and forth as we consider this astounding truth…..

God so loved us….October 23 2014 b The good news

so much….

God so love the world!  All of us….

even the unlovable….

and that’s very good because sometimes we are very unlovable.

He gave his Son…

for us……

he gave his Son for the unlovables…..

how much love does that take?

A perfect love……

an unconditional love….

a love we can’t find anywhere else…..

even though we look everywhere….

or hit bottom trying to do it all ourselves….

until we finally we open up our eyes and realize that God is what we’re looking for.

Whoever believes….

that’s me…

I believe….

I’m willing to stake my life on this truth.

My eternal life.

And whoever believes will not perish……

we were on the road to destruction…

we were going to hell for our rebellion…..

we all rebel, some more obvious than others, but it’s there…..

whenever we do something we want instead of what God wants…..

or whenever we don’t do something God wants……

even our thoughts count…..

so we deserved eternal separation from our Holy Father God.

But God intervened and sent Jesus to save the world!

And now believers are reconciled to God for eternity!

Our eternal life with our loving, gracious and perfect God has already started!

And the Best is Yet to Be!

This is the Very Best News anyone could hear!

Thank you for the truth of John 3:16, dear Father!