Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Simple Yes

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.  Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

God loved us before He created us – His creativity flows from His love.
God loved us before we knew Him – His love directs His knowing.
God loved us when we were against Him – His love transcends our rebellion.
God loved us when we failing/dying – His love trumps the penalty of sin.

God has love – God is love – God loves. This is not an intangible emotion, a theological principle or a philosophical generalization. The real impact of this truth comes with the inclusion of a simple word: you.

The story of God's love for you is one mostly of His longing and aching for something more than a casual glance or a quick “Dear Lord” prayer. It is the story of His everlasting pursuit and eternal passion for a lost child. It is a unique story, one of billions that are different, yet they’re all the same -- God loves you. 

When my wife and I were married we made promises to each other -- the vows of lovers equal in our passion for and devotion to each other. God's love, though is more one-sided. He's the one who takes the initiative and the risk. He seeks us out and pledges everything to us, knowing that we can ignore or even reject His advances. He signed the check made out to us of eternal love and joy and security with His own blood, a gift that requires only our acceptance of His proposal.

God has loved, does love and will always love you. Drawing you to His love, His offer stands -- a simple "yes" is all He wants. What will you say to Him today?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Joyful and Willing

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.  Psalm 51:12 NLT

This morning Lord I thank you for being a God of grace, specifically for being so gracious to me. How many times have I wandered away from you, or even run from you and you just keep calling, keep coming towards me. Then when I'm exhausted from my self-centered pursuits or fear-based flights you hold out your hand and say, "Shall we try it again?"

How could I ever believe that life apart from you is any life at all? And why would I seek fulfillment and joy anywhere but in the center of your will? I remember what it was like when the light of your salvation first dawned -- I couldn't get enough. I couldn't wait each morning to come listen and learn from you, making myself available to your direction and anticipating the adventure of walking with you. 

Bring me back to that place again Lord -- that place of freedom, of wonder, of secure confidence, of adventure and exhilaration at the very thought of being your child. Adopted into your family as your beloved child. Instill in me a sense of family pride, loyalty and honor so that I want what you want, so that I obey without hesitation or a thought of doing otherwise. Thank you Lord for being my Father, my God of grace.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Choose Life

I am offering you life or death, blessings or curses. Now, choose life!  Deuteronomy 30:19 (NCV)

At Creation God gave Adam & Eve the power to choose between the good and the bad – to choose to do what God said, or not. Sadly they chose their own way instead of God's, and we’ve been struggling with the consequences ever since. We not only inherited misery and death as fallout from the plucking of the forbidden fruit, but we ourselves are now predisposed to choices that take us away from God.

And yet the greatest gift God has given us apart from the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ is the power to choose between blessing or curse, between life or death. On our own we will be seduced by the whisperings of the evil one -- "Take the fruit, you'll love it, it will make you feel alive and free!" But when God shines the full light of truth on our options, we see that He really does know what He's talking about when He says, "Eat this, not that; do this, not that; follow this path, not that one."

God made you – He knows how you are wired and how you work -- what the best way of living for you is. He knows what it takes to develop and maintain your body, mind, and soul. And like with Israel of old He promises that if you choose His ways, you will be blessed above all others – you will be healthier, wealthier, happier. Choosing life, you will be filled with His abundant life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Matter of Choice

This command I give you today is not too hard for you; it is not beyond what you can do... The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.   Deuteronomy 30:11,14 (NCV)

It's easy to get bogged down when studying the Bible or discussing it's meaning and relevance with others. Years ago we had friends over for lunch after church and began debating the book of Romans. The conversation turned into an ideological rabbit trail of hair-splitting precise meanings, and became so convoluted that nine hours into the discussion I finally asked, "If the gospel is this hard to understand how is it possible for simple or uneducated people to be in heaven?"

You don't have to spend a fortune getting a seminary education or a lifetime studying the great theologians. As Moses said, "the word is very near you..." When we accept the invitation of Jesus to follow, He gives us His Spirit to guide and direct us -- telling us which way to turn, what paths to avoid, and how to walk in the ways of God. We just have to listen. And hearing God's word on the inside, it becomes a matter of choice -- not can I obey, but will I obey

The heights and depths of theological profundities may escape us, and there are things about God we will never be able to grasp, let alone explain. But His will for us is plain, it is clear. Believe He is good and has good in mind for us, then let that goodness shape our relationships with others. All the commandments and precepts of the Bible boil down to this: love God and love others. Every act and intent either springs from love or from self. So today choose love, choose life.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

From The Inside Out

I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Mark 2:1 (NIRV)

When Jesus spoke these words he had just finished telling a man who couldn't walk that his sins were forgiven. The man's friends had brought him to Jesus hoping for a miracle of physical healing. But instead of focusing on disabled legs and feet, Jesus first ministered to the patient's disabled heart. His physical paralysis was compounded by the oppressive weight of guilt crushing his spirit. So Jesus gave him the most important medicine first -- forgiveness. 

Most of the debilitating diseases in our society are the result of poor lifestyle choices -- substance abuse, alcoholism, smoking, bad diet and sedentary habits. And the root of those afflictions can often be traced to a broken spirit -- guilt, despair, anger, hopelessness, low self-esteem. Have you ever experienced guilt? Then you know it's brutal power -- you just feel sick. Have you ever felt really alone? Then you know that it can incapacitate you, making the simplest task seem overwhelming.

The healing power of Jesus begins with a restoration of hope, a liberating realization of forgiveness, a cleansing tide of His righteousness washing away our darkness. But it doesn't stop there. Jesus went on to give physical healing to paralyzed man, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!" Likewise, His words of absolution to us are always followed by, Now come follow Me." He not only wants us to walk and work with Him, He empowers us to do so. And if we act on His word we discover that He makes us whole from the inside out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Father's Heart For You

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”   3 John 1 (NKJV)

God wants for you what is best. But most people really don't believe it. They think God wants "what is best" like an overbearing nurse wants her patient to take bad-tasting medicine. But that's not how God is. He really wants all the best for you and me. He wants you to prosper in your life, for you to be filled and fulfilled -- for you to be healthy, wealthy and wise.

I can never think of a time in my life where I wanted anything less than good for my children. From their very first breath I wanted them to be safe and satisfied. I wanted them to grow strong and be happy. I wanted to shower them with good things. They didn't always see it that way. Sometimes they thought I was preventing their happiness, only interested in punishing them. But as human and imperfect a father I am, I always wanted them to prosper and still do.

God doesn't only wish for you to behave, He yearns for goodness and joy and abundance to fill your life. You are His beloved child, how could He or why would He desire anything less?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Be Still, Don't Worry

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 40:10 (NIV)

Today for a few moments, just be quiet and learn two truths – there is a God; you are not God. God is in control, you’re not. God is able to handle everything, you’re not. God can see everything including the end from the beginning, you can’t

When we worry, what we’re doing is trying to replace God – Almost always our “worries” have to do with things that we can do nothing about. Only God can. Or if we can do something about it, worry allows us to procrastinate in doing the work that needs to be done. Worry alone never solved anything. So why worry? It just gives us the illusion of being in control, but we’re not. It's just wasted energy and it brings on useless stress.

Being still is the prerequisite of knowing God – you have to tune out the clatter of the world around as well as the noise of your own troubled thoughts. And in quieting your fears, you can embrace the peace of God. "Peace I give you..." Jesus said. His peace is not just the absence of anxiety, but the presence of confidence, assurance, trust and security. 

Be still this day and let the peace of Christ sustain you whatever may come.