Abide in Me — John 15:4
Do you need anything more than the cruel cross of Jesus Christ to convince you of how deep your need for grace is?
Think about it—God was so sure of the depth and expansiveness of your sin, of your inability to grasp how desperate your condition is (and, even if you were able, your complete inability to free yourself from it), that he was willing to harness the forces of nature and to carefully control the events of human history so that at a certain point Jesus would come to live the life you could not live, die the death that you should have died, and rise again, conquering death. Why did God go to this elaborate and sacrificial extent? There is only one answer to the question. God the Father planned it, God the Son was willing to do it, and God the Holy Spirit applied this work to your heart and mine because there just was no other way.
Sin is every human being’s core disease. It is completely beyond the power of any human being to escape it. It separates you from God, for whom you were created. It damages every aspect of your personhood. It makes it impossible for you to be what God created you to be and to do what God designed you to do. It robs you of inner contentment and peace, and it puts you at war with other human beings. It renders you blind, weak, self-oriented, and rebellious. It reduces all of us to fools, and ultimately it leads to death. Sin is an unmitigated, almost incalculable disaster. You can run from a certain situation, you can get yourself out of a relationship, and you can move to another location and choose not to go back again. But you and I have no ability whatsoever to escape from the hold that sin has on us. It is the moral Vise-Grip that has held the heart of every person who has ever lived.
There are few passages that capture the disaster of sin and what it does to people made in God’s image better than Genesis 6:5–6: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Note two things from this passage. First, the effect of sin on people was deep, heart deep. Sin is not just a matter of bad behavior. It is a condition of the heart. That’s why you cannot free yourself from it. Second, the effects of sin on you and me are comprehensive. Note the words “every intention” coupled with the words “only evil continually.”
But the passage tells us more. God was not satisfied leaving us in the disaster of sin. The disease that infected the heart of every human being produced sorrow in his heart. But his sorrow was not just the sorrow of remorse or the sorrow of judgment; it was the sorrow of grace. The words of Genesis 6:8—“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord”—tell you that Genesis 6 is not the end of the story. God would not just punish sin; he would raise up a nation out of which his Son would come to live and die to deliver us from it. The cross of his Son stands as a lasting reminder of just how desperate our need is for the grace that that cross represents.
For further study and encouragement :: 1 Peter 3:18—22
Love that calls wrong right and right wrong simply isn’t love.
Real love rebukes and forgives. There are an awful lot of things that we call love that don’t really rise to the level of what love is and what love does. Being willing to tolerate things that are wrong in the eyes of God may create a comfortable surface peace, but it isn’t what love does. Being willing to live inside of a circle of evil and not make waves may cause people to like me, but it isn’t love. Saying, “It’s okay—don’t worry about it,” to a person who did something wrong is not really loving. Maintaining peace at any cost isn’t love. Remaining silent when I should speak up isn’t love. Being unwilling to step into tense moments with you because there is wrong between us that needs to be exposed and discussed isn’t love. Asking you to tolerate whatever I do or say because you say you love me is a fundamental misunderstanding of what love is and what love does. Much of what we think love is simply isn’t love after all.
Real, biblical, self-sacrificing, God-honoring love never compromises what God says is right and true. Truth and love are inextricably bound together. Love that compromises truth simply isn’t love. Truth without love ceases to be truth because it gets bent and twisted by other human agendas. If love wants and works for what is best for you, then love is committed to being part of what God says is best in your life. So, I am committed to being God’s tool for what he says is best in your life, even if that means we have to go through tense and difficult moments to get there. I think often we opt for silence, willingly avoiding issues and letting wrong things go on unchecked, not because we love the other person, but because we love ourselves and just don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with something that God says is clearly wrong. We are unwilling to make the hard personal sacrifices that are the call of real love. Now, I’m not talking about being self-righteous, judgmental, critical, and condemning. No, I’m talking about choosing not to ignore wrong, but dealing with wrong with the same grace that you have been given by God. Grace never calls wrong right. If wrong were right, grace wouldn’t be necessary. If sin weren’t evil and wrong, Jesus would never have had to come.
The cross of Jesus Christ is the only model you need of what love does in the face of wrong. Love doesn’t call wrong right. Love doesn’t ignore wrong and hope it goes away. Love doesn’t turn its back on you because you are wrong. Love doesn’t mock you. Love doesn’t mean I turn the tables and work to make you hurt in the same way you have hurt me. Love doesn’t go passive and stay silent in the face of wrong. Loves moves toward you because you are wrong and need to be rescued from you. In moving toward you, love is willing to make sacrifices and endure hardships so that you may be made right again and be reconciled to God and others. God graces us with this kind of love so that we may be tools of this love in the lives of others.
For further study & encouragement read 1 Corinthians 13:4—13
Where is hope to be found? In five life-altering words: “I am with you always.”
You and I are on a constant quest for hope. We all want a reason to get up in the morning and motivation to continue. Here are some things you have to know about hope ::
1. God hardwired human beings for hope. We don’t live by instinct; we all find our identity, meaning, purpose, and inner sense of well-being in something.
2. What you place your hope in will set the direction of your life. Whether you know it or not, your life path is directed by hope. Whether it’s hope in a philosophy, a person, a dream, a location, or whatever, your life will be shaped by what you place your hope in.
3. Hope always includes an expectation and an object. I am hoping for something and hoping that someone or something will deliver it.
4. Hope, to be hope, has to fix what is broken. Hope that does not address your needs isn’t very hopeful. You place your hope in your mechanic only if he has the ability to fix what’s broken on your car.
5. You always preach to yourself a gospel of some kind of hope. You’re always reaching for hope and preaching to yourself the validity of what you reach for.
But here is the radical truth of the gospel. Hope is not a situation. Hope is not a location. Hope is not a possession. Hope is not an experience. Hope is more than an insight or a truism. Hope is a person, and his name is Jesus! He comes to you and makes a commitment of hope: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Now, there’s hope. You have something profoundly deeper to hold on to than the hope that people will be nice to you, that your job will work out, that you will make good choices when tempted, that you’ll be smart enough to make good decisions, that you’ll be able to avoid poverty or sickness, or that you’ll have a good place to live and enough to eat. No, this is eternal and deeply personal hope. It rests in the truth that Jesus has wrapped his powerful arms around you and he will never, ever let you go. If nothing you envisioned ever works out and all the bad things that you’ve dreaded come your way, you still have hope, because he is with you in power and grace.
For further study and encouragement :: Haggai 1:12–15
1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.
2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.
3 They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.
4 Thou hast ordained Thy precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Thy statutes!
6 Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Thy commandments.
7 I shall give thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Thy righteous judgments.
8 I shall keep Thy statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!
Over the next 22 days it is my hope to soak in and meditate on Psalm 119. This is the longest chapter of the Bible with 22 sections. Each of the 22 sections is an acrostic in the original Hebrew language that alliterates each statement with one letter from the Hebrew Alphabet.
All of that is interesting for those that would like to know more about Biblical language. My heart is to let these words rest on my soul and become planted deeply as I seek to know the Living LORD my God in a more personal way. In sharing this, I hope it will encourage your pursuit as well.
“Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are.” – J.I. Packer, Knowing God