Posted in My Journey

God’s Love Endures Forever

God loves us more than anything in the universe. He loves us more than the sun, more than the earth, more than anything. God’s love for us is so great such that he sacrificed his son Jesus so that he might save us from the penalty of sin. There is nothing God has withheld in order to give us life.

The prophet Isaiah spoke about God’s love this way:

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.

(Isaiah 49:13)

Later, in that same chapter Isaiah reveals one of the most significant prophecies recorded in the bible, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). What is Isaiah talking about here? The context is all about Israel’s restoration, yet this one verse points to a time when God will give of himself for the salvation of those who believe. How is that possible?

When the Romans were holding Jesus’ hands steady on the cross, the engraver positioned his nails to write all our names on Jesus’ palms. Once our savior’s blood soaked the back of that cross, God’s love for us was complete. We all had a hand in the crucifixion, but God was the one who now had our names engraved on the palms of his hands.

If in our lives we reach a time when we feel abandoned, acquainted with sorrow, or rejected, there is no one else who felt that more than God’s son Jesus did when he hung on that cross. However, God’s love never failed Jesus, for he now sits at the right hand of the Father and is waiting for the day when he will come again. In the meantime, our names are safe with God, and he will not forget us when we pass from this life to the next, for his love endures forever.

Audio transcript:

Posted in My Journey

Our Trials Have Meaning

I once attended a church whose pastor believed trials are not from God. I actually had a lively discussion with him in terms of proving God uses trials and persecutions to build a Christian’s faith and love for God. It was not until some time had passed that I realized the pastor believed in the prosperity gospel.

The prosperity gospel convinces Christians that God wants them to be healthy, wealthy and happy in this lifetime. I will not revisit this topic, as I have already written about this before. What I would like to write about today, though, is to make the point that God loves us and that no matter what happens in this lifetime, he will never abandon us. The trials we go through as individuals, and as a church, happen for a reason. We may not know the reason for our suffering now, and we may not know it until we have lived our lives to the full, but God has it all planned one-thousand moves ahead of us. He knows where all the pieces of our suffering fit in the grand scheme of his design. What we have to do is trust him with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds. Then, and only then, will our trials have meaning.

Before Moses died, he provisioned Joshua to be his successor. Part of that provisioning included encouraging words that would carry Joshua and the next generation of Israelites to the Promised Land:

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

In the same way, God will not leave us or forsake us. We may have days when we feel we should have stayed in bed and not faced the world, but God will not give us a trial we cannot handle. He has already counted the cost, and he knows we can overcome. We just need to look to him for the courage and strength. Through his son Jesus, we can do all things, as the Apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). And by the power of the Holy Spirit, God brings into remembrance the words we need to move forward, “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).

Whatever you may be going through, whatever trial you may be facing, remember: God is always there listening, whispering; he will never abandon you (Psalms 16:1). You are very important to him, and no one can prevent you from drawing closer to him. His purpose for all of us is for us to rely on him fully, perfectly and without hesitation. He is our God, our creator and king.

No one can take that away from us.

Audio transcript:

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

Believe and Be Saved

Look to God and he will give you the answers you seek. Love him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, and he will provide you with everything you need. He will never forsake you. He will never surrender you. He will always love you.

Look what it says in the latter part of the New Testament:

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)

God has a plan for you, and that plan involves him changing your life. He is looking to raise you from the dead and to give you his kingdom as an inheritance (Matthew 25:34). Salvation will be yours, if you believe Jesus is the son of God (John 20:31).

Oh, how wonderful God is! He is generous, kind, affectionate and loving. His tender mercies toward us never end, and he has never failed us. When we think we are alone, he is there. When we feel tossed, he is there. And when our hope seems shattered, he is always there. He looks out for us, he keeps us, and he protects us.

There is no other God than God. He is the beginning and the end. He is the one who made all things, and he is willing to give all things to those who believe (Revelation 21:6).

I believe.

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.

Posted in My Journey

God Does Not Abandon His Children

God is wonderful, amazing and patient with us. He knows what we need, when we need it and how. He surely keeps his promises to those who believe Christ is his son, but even more so, he will bless those who need it the most in their time of need.

I had something happen to me this week that I will tell you because I think it is important that everyone knows that when God acts, he acts swiftly, with purpose and with compassion. He definitely does not abandon his children, and this is one of those occasions I felt closer to God. I knew he was there, and he was looking out for me, taking away any insecurity I had during those moments I was feeling alone.

I had attended an event last week with a group of friends that I was looking forward to all year. We had the opportunity to share in food, fun and festivities. The event featured a potluck meal and a flexible seating arrangement, which I thought was great. It certainly promoted mingling. When we arrived, we dispersed, found the food, plated everything and proceeded to find a table. Only, when we did find an empty table, it could fit six and no more. There were seven of us. I was the last man standing, so to speak. So there I was, plate in hand filled with food without a seat. That sudden feeling of abandonment gripped my tummy, and for a while, it would not let go.

I decided to look for another place to sit, even though all the other tables seemed full. As I walked through the crowd, praying to God for restoration, I eventually did find a seat along the sidelines. Individual chairs were available and I took one. And once I had settled in, one of my friends who had taken a seat with the others, left the group, came and sat with me. God knew what I needed.

Now, I am relating this story to tell you that God does not abandon his people. At times we may feel alone and seemingly without support, but God knows above all else, how to resolve our situation in order to make it work for good. I am remembering the Apostle Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost when he said:

“He foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (Acts 2:31)

If God could raise his son Jesus from the dead, imagine what more he could do when we face something infinitely smaller in scale and we call on his name.

God has proven time and again his mercy for us Christians will never fail (Psalms 28:6). His love for us abounds (Romans 8:38-39) and his grace upon our lives goes beyond this lifetime and into the next (Ephesians 2:8). We have his spirit to encourage us (John 14:16), we have his joy to carry us through trials (James 1:2-3), and we have peace to settle us when weariness hits our bones (Psalms 4:8). He is the great redeemer (Psalms 78:35) and counselor (Isaiah 9:6). He will always be there for us.

God will never abandon us.