Posted in Bible Studies

God’s Word Is Life

Oh, if I could only wrap myself in the word of God and make it my blanket, my head would snuggle in its phrases and my heart would feel its warmth in delight. If within its pages I could lose myself and never return, I would ask God for others to do the same, and swim in the ocean of its truth to experience the breadth of God’s love.

God’s word is life. God’s word is love. God’s word is everything anyone would ever want, because everything is what God’s word is. It discerns. It reveals. It cuts to the bone to expose the innermost secrets:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Oh, how wonderful God is to have opened salvation to us through Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For only through Jesus, the Word, can we attain salvation (John 1:1-4, 14). Line upon line, verse upon verse; every word from God’s mouth is a light on to my feet. It builds. It edifies. It supports the church on a cornerstone others have rejected. And it floods the spirit of those wanting to know what truth is.

Be enraptured by God’s word. Be enthralled by it. Grow in its knowledge and in its depth. Know that he gave us this moment in time to draw nearer to him in absolute adoration and joy for him. For the joy of reading God’s word is life on to the reader.

Let us read life into our lives.

Posted in My Journey

What Is Love?

Love does not hate; it does not boast, nor does it seek revenge. Love cares for another more than oneself; it is not proud, arrogant or unmerciful. Love leads, conquers prejudice, and gives even when in need. Love is not afraid and will always be kind.

It would be easy to quote the apostle Paul’s inspired words about love from 1 Corinthians 13, but one of the greatest thoughts about love comes from Jesus himself, when he said:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Jesus demonstrated that very love when he died on the cross for us in order to pay for the penalty of our sins. And although the night before his death Jesus fervently prayed to God regarding this great responsibility placed on his shoulders, he still accepted it because it was God’s will. No other act in human history depicts just how much God loves us than for him to have given his son Jesus as a sacrifice to redeem us from death.

What is love? It is to look upon Christ’s sacrifice and to conclude how selfless an act it truly was for him to give his last breath for us sinners. It is to become like Jesus and to sacrifice ourselves for others as a means to allow Christ to live in us, not only in word but also in deed. We Christians owe our lives to God, and what better way to show our love for him than to give as he gave so that we can experience the fullness of his love living in us. No greater love is it than to sacrifice one’s life for friends.

As we move into the new year, let us resolve to let our light shine so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.

Posted in My Journey

The Reward of Our Trials

When I think about of all that has happened in my life, of all those times when I could have failed miserably, and of all those moments when one decision could have altered my future permanently, I am thankful. God could have allowed one of those fleeting instances to change my life irrevocably. But he did not. Instead, he looked after me. He watched over me. And he protected me as I went on my way. Why?

That question, why? is a big question to me. Why would God spare me the pain I would have otherwise experienced had I endured certain trials?

The Apostle James talks about trials this way:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

James is saying, trials offer opportunities to grow in faith, in that no matter what happens to us, God will give us the patience to endure whatever trial comes our way. Saying it another way, God will provide the help we need when we suffer.

I may have avoided certain trials, but I cannot tell you how many times I have felt alone, broken and upset, only to find God there, waiting to help me. He never leaves us. He is there always, hoping that we would come and give of our hearts to him in prayer. All God wants is a relationship with us. He offered his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins. Everyone who believes Jesus is the son of God will have salvation. So how difficult is it to understand that God loves us more than he loves anything in this universe?

When I think about trials this way, it is then easy to accept the truth that God allows suffering, because no one suffered more than Christ did on the cross. And although Christ’s suffering was not a trial for him, his whole purpose for coming was so that we who suffer would have hope—hope for a future—hope for eternal life. James confirms this when he says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Friends, continue to love God as he loves us, unconditionally and without end, for as we love him this way, our trials will then be as steppingstones toward our reward, which is the crown of life.

Audio transcript:

Posted in My Journey

Salvation Is Ours Now

Jesus is the only answer to eternal life. For those wishing to live forever, he is the way, the truth and the light. God purposed Jesus to come to earth when he did to take away the sin of the world. What many do not realize, though, is that God had foretold Jesus’ coming way back in the Garden of Eden:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God spoke these words to the serpent as a curse for the deception under which he had caused humanity to fall (Genesis 3:4); that by taking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden (Genesis 2:17), Adam and Eve would not surely die. The serpent implied they already had eternal life within them and did not need God to live forever.

The last part of that curse, however, is the true hope for humanity. It bears repeating, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” In other words, Jesus will ultimately overcome Satan (Romans 16:20) by becoming the perfect sacrifice by which God will redeem us; a promise he fulfilled when he died on the cross for us (Ephesians 2:13).

Satan can bring charges against us to the high courts in heaven (Job 1:9-11). He can tempt us to commit sin (Matthew 4:5-6). He can attempt to corrupt us (Galatians 6:7-8). But what he cannot do is make us do anything against our will (James 1:14-15). And when our will aligns to God’s will, there is nothing he can do to render us useless (Luke 22:42).

God will provide the help we need to overcome Satan. As it says in the Gospel of John, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). Once we accept Jesus as our savior, through grace, God saves us.

What a wonderful and powerful message that Jesus brought to his very elect. No circumstance is too great, no power is too strong, and no force is too overwhelming that God could not overcome. His glorious message of salvation guarantees us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And if we do struggle with our days, let us take heart, for God is our strength, as it says in Psalms, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

Therefore, let us encourage one another, help one another and grow in the knowledge of Christ our Lord, for eternal life is ours now, and the days are short until his return.

Posted in My Journey

Everlasting Life Through Christ

Eternal life is God’s gift to those who believe Jesus is his son. Not many promises to God’s elect are as direct, as resilient, and as foremost, as that written by the apostle Paul in the letter to the saints in Rome. And few promises stand out as being the one promise for which every Christian ought to aim:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus said about the resurrection to everlasting life, “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25).

Jesus is talking about us and about our destiny. We may think we know where we are going, perhaps assumed true, or even accepted what others have told us, but our Savior and King says it plainly that we will neither marry nor be married when resurrected. We will be as angels but not angels; for Paul says we will ultimately judge the angels, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life” (1 Corinthians 6:3).

Our lives are in preparation for a time far greater than the mortal life we are living today. Eternal life promises a life with God the Father and Jesus sitting at his right hand, glorified with them and judging the world, as Paul says in verse 2, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?”

The destiny we look to is beyond anything we can imagine this life can provide. The ultimate joy we will experience once we die will not compare with the lifetime of pain we may have had to endure by claiming Christ as our savior.

Yet God’s rich favor over our lives is worth more than mountains filled with gold and chests brimful and running over with jewels. Nothing comes close to what we will have after this life.

Let us count it all joy to know God loves us that much to have us live forever.

Posted in Bible Studies

Victory Over Sin

Believe that Jesus is the son of God and you will have salvation. He gave up his life for us while we were still sinners, so that his sacrifice would redeem us from the penalty of sin. But like a harlot, sin continually tempts us to love her in order that we may lose ourselves again to our fleshly desires.

King Solomon recognized sin’s wily ways. He wrote about them in the Book of Proverbs. In no greater context has he written about sin’s allure than that of adultery. This is what he says:

“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol (a place of darkness).” (Proverbs 5:3-5)

Solomon is saying that sin looks beautiful on the outside. Her words are sweet to the ears and her reasoning behind doing what she does is smoother than the finest oil you can find. But Solomon is also saying that once you remove sin’s mask, underneath is an ugly bitterness that will corrupt the soul and will cut the spirit like a sharp, two-edged sword. The ultimate destiny for those who follow her steps will be the path that leads to death and darkness.

And if that stern warning was not convincing enough to keep away from her, Solomon gave sin, that whore, a voice:

“I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” (Proverbs 7:16-19)

Sin’s deception is that she makes doing bad things look good. Even more so, if sin’s corruption can seduce the very elect, she will have accomplished what she had intended. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” He later describes the fate of the unrepentant:

“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:23)

But the good news is that we have hope in Christ. We may fall and succumb to sin, but through Christ Jesus, our salvation is sure. The apostle Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

How wonderful to know that as Christians, we can look to Jesus as the source of our strength to overcome sin. What a delight it is to understand the fullness of God’s love through his mercy. And what a powerful destiny we have when finally sin and death will no longer exist.

All praise belongs to God Almighty in the highest, for he is good.

Posted in My Journey

God’s Love for Us

God saves those who believe Jesus is his son. Through him, people will have salvation from the penalty of sin, which is death. And by no other name can anyone find salvation.

As deceitful as the human heart is (Jeremiah 17:9), God gives life to those who sincerely repent of their sins. He calls those who are willing to change their lives, those who are broken and sorrowful, and those who are remorseful for what they have done (Matthew 22:14). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we Christians can overcome. Of ourselves, we have no power to do anything, but with God’s spirit, all things are possible (Luke 18:27).

The joy we have comes from knowing Jesus is living inside us—now, at this moment. He is living inside us, making us aware of the battle that rages deep within our hearts. As much as we want to obey him, keep his commandments, and love others as ourselves, the old self does not want to stay dead in that watery grave of baptism. Our flesh fights against the spirit and we end up doing what we do not want to do, as the apostle Paul said:

“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19)

How awful we are that we would ignore the things we ought to do to want to sin. Yet, Jesus living inside us makes us aware of just how ugly sin is. And we pray about it; and we ask God to forgive us; and we ask him to wash away our sins with Jesus’ blood (Acts 22:16). And because we are sinners, and God hears a penitent heart (Psalms 51:17), he forgives us, not because he has to, but because he wants to. Could God have loved us any more than for him to give his only son as a sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16)?

Oh, how wonderful God is! We may sin, but his love for us is greater, taller, stronger, deeper and wider than anything we could ever imagine.

For this reason, nothing can come between God’s love and us.