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!
I don’t know about you but I’m not very good at the loving your neighbor thing. If I’m honest, I much prefer my own company, my own thoughts and my own projects. Putting others first is like asking a zebra to switch its stripes to polka dots.
But there it is. Jesus said to love one another, and John said it too. In fact, John said something else that’s disturbing. If we don’t love other believers it’s proof we’re not Christians!
And not just believers we like, or share the same doctrine with, or understand life in similar ways. We’re called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ who are totally different from us. Those whose politics we hate. Those who barely read the bible. Those who relate to God in emotional ways.
So why such emphasis on this love thing?
Because it’s like God. God is love. After all, he loved us when we were unlovable. He loved us before our sins were forgiven. He served us in our misery and wretchedness. He gave us Jesus before we knew we needed him.
God is always loving, even when we’re not. Jesus suffered the wrath of God for us. He satisfied the justice of God. Jesus is the ultimate proof of how much God loves us.
We do not love well. But Jesus loved his Father and us, his children perfectly. And that perfect record is ours by faith in Christ. Knowing that, we can go out and love others not so well, knowing Jesus covers all our imperfections.
That’s another gift we don’t deserve, but it’s ours because God loves us.
Talk to me.
Once upon a time stories were for children. Now they seem to be usurped by almost everybody – big business, airlines, pharmaceutical companies, the automobile industry, everything is fair game even down to the toothpaste yuo use.
The truth is we’re wired for story. Our brains respond to them. And for some of you, you are a slave to your story. It’s the one you play in your head everyday. It can be a traumatic event, an emotional decision, a deep hurt, an unfairness, whatever it was that left a wound in your soul.
Instead of replaying it over and over again, replace it with a better story.
The one that has you in Christ’s story. It’s the one that starts like this:
Once upon a time God created a perfect world and handed it over to his children, Adam and Eve to take care of it, but then they disobeyed him and plunged themselves and everybody after them into sin. When God saw the mess they had made, he realized only he could fix it. So he sent his perfect Son to earth in the form of a perfect man to live and do what Adam and Eve and the rest of us failed to do. Jesus lived to please God and then died on the cross to pay the price for your sins. His perfect life and record is now yours as a gift from God to you. All you need is faith in Christ to get it. The moment you receive that gift you step into Christ’s story.
What is true of you now?
You have a new Father who loves you. He is unlike any earthly father you’ve ever known.
You have a Savior who fixed your biggest problem – your sin that kept you from God.
You have a new identity – you are a child of God with all its privileges, including an inheritance.
You have a new family – your brothers and sisters in Christ.
You have a new future – living in the new heavens and the new earth for an eternity.
You have new support – the church.
You have a calling – the Holy Spirit has given you spiritual gifts to serve God with.
So what are you waiting for?
Dump the old story today and start telling yourself the new one!
Talk to me.
Religion is for good people.
It has one central characteristic – to give you a bunch of laws to make your life work and to gain approval from its god. And the burden is on you. You have make it work. It’s your discipline and commitment that makes it or breaks it for you.
For example, meditation just doesn’t float down like a cloud and take you by the hand to your happy place. You have to work it. You have to set aside the time, roll out the mat, sit Buddha-style, inhale and exhale, clear your mind, breathe in, breathe out, and keep your back straight. After twenty minutes you get up, roll up the mat, tuck it under your arm and now you’re ready to check that off your list for the day.
On the other hand, Christianity is for bad people. That’s me. I have the mat, the exercise ball, and the twister thing, all with a heavy layer of dust on them in the corner of the room. I’ve walked away from many schools of discipline. I’m sure they would have worked had I been more consistent. But consistency eludes me, along with daily bible reading, prayer, and keeping my eyes glued to Jesus every day.
The slightest distraction draws me away from him. The weather. My spiritual temperature. The latest conflict with my husband. The boring aspects of my job. Those capture my heart faster than everything Jesus has done for me.
I tell others to be aware of looking inward because there’s nothing good there. Just sin and failure. That joy in life is found in keeping a closeness with Jesus. Except I don’t do it.
That’s why I’m a bad people. Even on my best days, my life is shot full of sin. That’s why Christianity is my kind of religion. It tells me I am bad, that I have no hope, and that I am lost and without God in the world. Sounds very orphan-like to me. No Father is heaven looking after me. No church to nurture and raise me. No brothers and sisters to live with. That’s as bad as it gets.
That’s why I need Christianity. That’s where I discover Jesus. He came to rescue me because I was that bad. He merited righteousness through his perfect obedience, and paid the price for my sins through his death on the cross. And both are credited to me through faith in him alone.
That’s it. It’s that simple, and yet it cost Jesus everything. My job? To believe him. If he said he did this, then you can trust him.
Which would you rather do? Believe in Jesus or roll out that dusty exercise ball?
Talk to me.
Did you know God is the only one who names himself?
El means power. Elohim. Pushing back the chaos and establishing order. You see this on display in the creation of the world. God can push back the chaos in your life. Nothing is beyond his power.
Yahweh is used 5,000 times in the bible. It’s his most important name.
Think Passover. The parting of the Red Sea. The drowning of the Egyptians.
God wants us to think of him as the trustworthy God.
He’s not Mr. God, formal and aloof in a black suit behind a desk.
He’s known as Yahweh Jireh. The Lord sees and provides. The ram in the thicket. Manna in the wilderness. Jesus on the cross.
Yahweh Rapha. The Lord heals you. He turns your Marah into sweet water. Jesus heals you body and soul.
Yahweh Nissi means God is your banner. You cannot be defeated. God went to war for Israel. He stands shoulder to shoulder with you today.
Yahweh Sabaoth. He is the host of heaven. He brings the armies. He defends you.
God has now visited you in Jesus. It’s permanent. He didn’t slip out of his body like a garment when he returned to heaven. He stays a man forever and lives there. He remains a man who sympathizes with you and prays for you.
Celebrate his name today!
Do we believe the cross is our Father’s ultimate expression of his love for us?
Or do we think that having our dreams and desires met is the litmus test of our Father’s love?
Our problem is that we don’t fully grasp how sinful we are and how deep sin goes. It has twisted everything about us – our minds, emotions, will, and bodies. We are bent inward on ourselves, which keeps God out.
Each one of us lives in a world of our own making. Whose voice do we hear everyday? What thoughts do we think? What lies and fantasies do we entertain? What willfulness do we exert on others? Every atom of our being cries defiance of the living God. We are rebels in the world God created.
Since we’re as deformed as the Scriptures say we are, then the cross is our only hope of rescue and deliverance. We deserve death, not a make-over. And for that reason God killed us at the cross in Christ. Then he buried us with Christ. And when Christ was resurrected he took us with him so we would live a new life in him. See Romans 6.
We are so united to Christ that we are now new creations made in his image. His holiness and the fruit of his Spirit are now ours. And that pleases the Father immensely.
Christ won it all at the cross.
Thank the Father today!
Talk to me.
If you think the bible is about good people doing wonderful things for God, you ought to read it sometime!
The fact is, the bible is about a wonderful God doing good things for bad people.
The only good guys in the bible are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Everybody else is bad.
That includes you and me.
“There is none righteous, no not one.” – Romans 3:10
The truth is not a single soul can stand before God and say, “I’ve done my best.”
We haven’t done our best, not even on our good days.
If God is going to save us and use us and make something of us, He’s going to have to do it in spite of ourselves. Not because we read the bible every day; not because we give thanks before every meal; not because we never miss church; and not because we try to be good parents, friends and neighbors.
We are promise breakers, we’re not people of integrity, and we don’t measure up to our own standards let alone God’s.
We need a God for failures.
And that’s exactly what we have.
Jesus Christ joined the human race so he could become our substitute.
He lived the life we should have lived, obeying every one of God’s commands from the heart.
That means he won God’s favor and secured a place in heaven for us.
His righteousness was charged to our accounts, so that we with all our sins and failures are declared righteous.
What happened to our sin?
God charged it to Jesus’s account, he absorbed the penalty, and died in our place on the cross.
It’s all paid for.
We stand forgiven and accepted because of the work of our Savior.
Talk to me.