Need to check out a church, a bible study, or a community group and you’re not sure what they’re teaching is even in the bible? Take this book with you!
We are people who are always looking for life. We turn to material things or relationships or careers or hobbies. The biggest lie is, “You can have it all!” or “Make this your best life now!” Advertisers know this. The color and smell of a new car. The bigger house with a pool. The trip to an exotic land where you can live like someone else for a while. All these things promise us life, happiness and the satisfaction of our souls.
We don’t give our best to these things. We know them to be imposters of happiness. If we don’t have them, we stay content anyway. Why? Because we have Jesus. He is what we need all the time. Faith is the ongoing movement toward Jesus everyday. He satisfies us with his presence and care. He gives us better food to eat in his Word. He takes us by the hand and gives us rest. He knows us and loves us and delights to call us his friends. And one day we will see him face to face in the new heavens and the new earth.
We can wait for that.
In the meantime we stay busy telling others how wonderful he is.
Talk to me.
It’s Thanksgiving this week and the focus around here is turkey and being thankful. The turkey part is easy. You go to the store and select the bird you want and bring it home and prepare and roast it.
It’s the thankfulness part that is trickier. We’re not very good at it. If you’re like me, I frequently forget to thank God from one day to the next, and one week to the next.
That’s shameful considering the very air I breathe is his.
Not only that, God did the most scandalous thing in the world. He rescued us from his wrath and judgment and hell. This he planned long ago, before the world was made. Then he sent his Son in time and space to bring us salvation, a gift we didn’t deserve, all because God wanted us in his family. We didn’t ask to be rescued. We didn’t even think we needed to be rescued. That’s how deep sin goes. But God knew our deepest need was to know him and have him as our God. He chose us. We are now new creatures in Christ. And in the resurrection of his Son he is re-creating the world. And one day God will usher in the new heavens and the new earth where we will live forever.
That’s what we need to be thankful for. It should take our breath away.
Not only this week, but every day.
Talk to me.
We were designed to live by the law before we fell in Adam. Had he kept it God would have given us eternal life. There would have been no sin and misery, only grace and approval.
After Adam’s fall we still want to keep the law, it’s the natural man’s default position, but now we can’t because of sin.
There is no way to be saved by the law. It has no life. It can only point the finger and denounce us for our sins.
It’s meant to do us in and draw us to Christ, who was the only man who kept the law after Adam.
He obeyed it perfectly.
He fulfilled it perfectly.
He earned salvation for us, in our place, because we couldn’t do it.
So it’s true we’re still saved by the law, but it’s Jesus’s obedience to it that saves us.
Now that is the best news you’ll ever receive. Today and forever.
You want freedom? Here it is.
Talk to me.
How do you know you are born again?
Some people think it’s because they said a prayer. Or they raised a hand in a service. Or they called out to Jesus in the midst of turmoil in their life.
So many people are trusting in the church. Their leaders. The sacraments.
All of these things spell trouble.
How to know you’re born again is simple: you believe in Christ.
You believe in him because you are born again, otherwise he’s the furthest thing from your mind and heart.
Faith that believes that Jesus is the Christ produces love for God and love for others.
But love for others is the difficult part. People are a problem. Let’s face it, some Christians can be boring, depressing, unattractive, wet blankets, repellent, and pains in the neck.
And then throw in the devil, the world and your flesh and the mix will keep you from loving others. Culture becomes more important than Christ. Popular opinion, too. Laziness sets in. And narcissism takes over.
But loving others is sweet when you know God wants you to do it. And he will give you the heart for it.
The truth is we’re all depraved. We share an equality in guilt. And an equality in grace.
The one place where everybody is equal is at the cross. Even the cool people.
If you don’t have a love for other Christians, especially inside the church, then you’re presuming you love God. You can’t love God without including his people.
Ask him to give you his love for the family. You’ll be glad you did.
Talk to me.
A war movie is an apt metaphor for life because we’re all prisoners of war. Everyone of us, from the rich and famous to the homeless person sleeping in a doorway. We are born in bondage to sin. There is no other identity. We can thank our first parents for that. They threw us under the bus when they chose to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit. Ever since that day all of us are born broken, needy and rebellious.
The bible calls it bondage to sin, Satan and the wrath of God. The trio of horror, except we don’t recognize it as such. We think it’s normal. We have no other reality to compare it to.
Self exacts a gravity that pulls us deeper and deeper into itself. We are the compass we live our lives by. The darkness is light to us. Selfish behavior is the stuff of life. The only god that rules is ourselves.
But God. He has redeemed us.
He’s pulled us out of our misery.
Sin no longer has dominion over us.
Satan’s slavery is broken.
We’re free from the wrath of God.
Jesus paid the price for our freedom.
He has given us his nature.
We live our lives in His light now.
Talk to me.
Have you every wondered what Jesus experienced in the garden of Gethsemane? It certainly wasn’t about showing us how to pray better. Nor was it an example of humility for us to follow.
For Jesus it was about suffering. He suffered his whole life, as Isaiah tells us, from men and from devils. Judas, Peter and Satan himself.
The cross was going to be a level of suffering like no one had ever experienced before. It was where Jesus would receive from the hand of his Father all his wrath for sin. It would also be the place the Father would turn his back on Jesus and abandon him.
Think about that. It would be the first time in Jesus’s life where the Father would disengage with his Son.
Jesus did not die for God, he was no martyr. He died under God’s wrath, the justice of God being poured out on him for the sins of the world. It was at the cross that Jesus became responsible for sin. Yours and mine.
Knowing this, it moved Jesus to pray. He asked his closest friends – Peter, James and John – to pray with him so he would not be alone in his agony. But they failed him. They slept for sorrow because it finally dawned on them that he would not usher in their hopes for a restored Israel. Their dream was shattered. There was no crown for Jesus or for them. Instead there was a cross and death.
Jesus’s prayer included the removal of God’s wrath from him. He hoped for a reprieve. But no matter what, he was willing to submit to his Father’s will. What anchored him was the promise of the resurrection. This hope was Christ’s by right. He earned it. We don’t have that right, nor do we earn it. We have the same hope by faith.
Adam started in a garden that was a paradise, but then he ruined it. Jesus lived in a ruined world, and ended his life in an olive grove where olives were pressed to give their oil. A fitting location in preparation for the Second Adam to be crushed in order to restore us back to God and eventually to a new heavens and a new world.
Talk to me.