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God is Love

One of the most famous verses in the Bible is John 3:16, sometimes displayed at football games, on vehicle stickers and roadway signs. The verse contains the message of God’s love, Jesus coming, and eternal life. The verses that follow disclose the heart-breaking desire of people to remain in darkness. Are you living in the light?

love

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John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The divine gift

God loves more than a people group, gender, or nation. He loves the whole world. His love propelled Him to give the divine gift of His Son as a sacrifice for sin.

Although Christ’s coming brings judgment to those not believing, this was not the purpose. His aim is saving the world.”

John 3:18-19

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Lovers of evil

Refusing the divine gift brings judgment. People consumed with wrongdoing prefer to not be shaken out of a comfortable sinfulness. Yet if people desire darkness over light they have chosen condemnation.

John 3:20-21

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

Loving darkness

Those in darkness hate the light because it exposes the real person. Few like being confronted about what they do wrong. Even so, some willingly lay down pride and respond to the love of God, accepting Jesus.

The challenge

Live life in the light. Choose Jesus! Then tell others about their need to embrace God’s love in order to spend eternity with Him.

How has living in the light changed your life? Share your comments below.

Confidence in Christ

Many people find their identity in family, work, religion, hobbies, sports or recreation. This reminds me of Jesus’ teaching on house building in Matthew 7:24-27. If someone’s identity is built upon temporal things, they build on faulty foundations. When troubles come there is no firm footing. If identity is found in Christ, He provides strength to stand in the midst of a changing world.

confidence

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John 2:23

Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him.

A forming faith

Miraculous signs caused people within Jerusalem to be attracted to Jesus but did not cause them to have profound faith in Him.

Faith, by definition, is not acquired “by sight.” Faith is found by acknowledging Him the Lord of your life and believing God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

John 2:24

But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature.

Genuine transformation

Many who witnessed Jesus perform miracles were willing to make Him a national leader but Jesus would not entrust Himself to them. His desire is for people to experience genuine transformation, not just enthusiasm for something spectacular.

There was an eternal purpose behind the miracles of Jesus.

Although He desired to address physical needs, Jesus wanted to open people’s eyes to eternity.

John 2:25

No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

A faulty heart

God fully knows the hearts of men. First Kings 8:39 states, “Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart.”

People were impressed with Jesus’ miracles, but He knew many would not fully devote their lives to Him.

Identity in Jesus

Jesus did not need human approval to stand firm in who He was, is, and forever will be. He knew Himself to be of divine origin. His confidence came from His relationship with the Heavenly Father.

As a follower of Jesus, our identity is found in Him. If you have made Jesus Lord of your life you are a child of the King. Paul relates from 2 Samuel 7:14, “I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

People will have varying opinions of who you are, but Jesus sees you as a child of God.

If your confidence is in a relationship, a job title, social standing, or anything else, insecurity and fear will constantly be part of your life. Placing confidence in Christ enables you to stand on a firm foundation.

The challenge

As a follower of Jesus, confidence comes from Christ. Stand firm in faith and do not allow circumstances or people to overwhelm you.

In what ways have circumstances or people kept you from claiming an identity in Christ? Share your comments below.

Seize the Day

Each day is a gift

Nate, our kindergartner, and I walk to and from school every day. We pray about the day in the morning and he shares the best part of the day and the greatest challenge he faced on the way home. This helps him understand that each day is a gift worth remembering.

The Blessed Hope

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

second coming

Mt. of Olives in the background – where the second coming of Christ is predicted to occur.

Eternity on your mind

At one time the church liberally sang choruses referencing the second coming of Christ, such as “The King is Coming; Soon and Very Soon; and We Shall See the King.”

Carpe Diem

The result was a sense of urgency to make the most of every moment, knowing you either move people closer to heaven or hell by the way you live. Living with the imminent return of Christ creates an urgency to tell others about Him and seize each day for Jesus.

Always with the Lord

In the toils of life there is a longing for more of Him, a longing not fully actualized until He returns and the church is caught up to Him in the clouds. Eternity is your final rest, remaining forever in His presence. What a day that will be!

The return of the King

The Bible closes with Revelation 22:20-21,

‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

Our blessed hope is the return of Jesus Christ.

A final act

These verses confess that answers to life’s problems do not rest in human ability. The answer comes in the return of Him who brings lasting peace.

Redemptive history remains incomplete until Christ returns.

The challenge

Make the most of each day, live expecting the return of Christ and do not miss a moment telling others about Him. “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”

How can you live each day with intentionality? Share your comments below.

Loving People While Hating Tolerance

Our culture strongly endorses tolerance. Is it healthy for the church to embrace this trait? Is tolerance equal to love?
tolerance

“Kind people go to heaven!”

The note pictured above was on a cafe counter in Jerusalem. The pervading thought of “kind people go to heaven” is deeply ingrained in many cultures. Not offending others has become top priority today. Tolerance seems to reflect kindness. This has led many to think tolerance is love.

Love God, Love people

Jesus said the greatest commandments are to,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind (and) love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37, 39)

We align with God and ask the Spirit’s fruit to increase in our life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

We experience more of His transforming power and naturally start wanting to tell others about Jesus. We love neighbors and even enemies. We want them to experience life to the fullest.

An eternal concern

To not express concern for a person’s eternal welfare is not love but passivity.

Love does not include blind tolerance for unwholesome lifestyles that separate people from God.

Bringing a sword

The message of salvation can bring division. Jesus states,

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34)

Social norms support people with unbiased tolerance for any lifestyle. Expect conflict when upholding biblical values.

Love and division

When lovingly talking with others about God, the message may not be appreciated. This should not change your God-given burden to see them rescued from eternal separation with the Creator. Oswald Chambers encourages,

Never be diplomatic and careful with the treasure God gives you.”

Defining love

Tolerance is easy, love is hard. As someone who follows the One bringing meaning to life and hope for the future, choose love. Real love leads people to a relationship with God. We have a treasure to give and tolerance will not save people from hell.

Please excuse my intolerance

If you do not follow Jesus, please excuse me for refusing to passively walk through life, ignoring a lifestyle not exhibiting a meaningful relationship with God.

I cannot idly stand by and watch you live a life displeasing to God, keeping you separate from Him.

Excuse my intolerance but accept my love and concern for your eternal destiny. John 3:16,

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

The challenge

Genuinely love! Be bold! Share your faith! Do not let tolerance stand in the way of telling others what God will do for them, about the forgiveness and freedom experienced when following Jesus.

What are some ways you can express love to your neighbor? Share your comments below.

If God Wills

Planning for an unpromised future

Where we live people have an “Inshallah” mentality. The word means, “If God wills!” The belief has several different effects on life. One relates to making future plans.

future food

Buy only what you need for the day

We recently picked up a prescription from the pharmacy. The medicine is to be taken for several months. Shellie asked the pharmacist to fill the prescription and was only given a two weeks supply. She was informed to come back in two weeks for more, not because the medicine was not in stock, but rather no one knows if it will still be needed by then.

What about tomorrow?

Where we live people do not assume tomorrow is guaranteed. They usually buy the groceries for a day and buy medicine needed at that moment. They rarely make preparations for the future.

What does Jesus think?

Luke records a parable where Jesus talks about making plans.

Luke 12:16-21

“A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Rich with God

The parable does not infer you should not plan, but does say what should get top priority – a rich relationship with God. When making plans, be sensitive to God and His will.

God’s desire

You are an eternal being meant to have a relationship with the living God. Busily pursuing wealth and menial things robs you of eternal living.

The challenge

Live your life focused on eternity. Place God in the center of your plans. Experience true riches!

In what ways are you living for eternity? Share your comments below.