Archive for December, 2016
“…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God has given to us not only an affirmation and expression of his love, but also, to anyone and everyone, the opportunity to experience his love and a quality of life that is eternal in nature. To believe is a wonderful present tense participle that is characterized by a continuing pursuit of the life of faith that is to be found in Christ Jesus. Belief is never qualified with adverbs or adjectives such as completely, sincerely, deeply, etc. Doing so would make the possibility of salvation the result of human effort instead of the exclusive working of God’s grace and mercy.
“…that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16).
That God gave points to a once and for all historical action. This particular clause is a unique grammatical construction; emphasizing not simply that God loved the world enough to give his son, but rather, he loved the world so much that he actually gave his son. God’s love is not some distant, subjective declaration but a deeply personal, objective, sacrificial expression.
“For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16).
Jesus’ declaration of God’s love for the world was unprecedented in Jewish literature. Even in the New Testament, “the world” (kosmos) was a term associated with those who rejected and had no regard for the things of God. How could the scope of his love be any less? If God’s love is, in fact, unconditional, then it must be for all and not some. That we are loved unconditionally offers the transformational perspective of viewing ourselves not through the lens of our own low self-esteem, but rather, the eye of God’s love.
“Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
In the effort to get ahead; the maniacal daily grind of striving, pushing, and pressing to acquire the offerings of this world, the heavenly Voice that desires to speak peace to desperate hearts is drowned out. We must somehow guard against fooling ourselves into thinking that token nods to the Father, in the wake of our busyness, sufficiently postures us to know Him intimately. Intimacy with God is intentional, not incidental.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
The Hebrew word translated as “troubled” was originally associated with cramped quarters. In other words, when you are feeling constricted; when the world is pressing in, we can be assured that God’s presence is our refuge and strength. He both protects and fights. He is both shield and sword.
“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).
I confess that I’m perplexed every time I hear it asked or see it posted, “Where does the time go?” Why are so many surprised by the passage of time? Time is doing what time does…it goes. The seconds tick away, the minute and hour hands turn, and the calendar rolls through the months and years with unceasing regularity. The greater question in regard to time is, “What are you doing with it?” Consider how much time is wasted by individuals waiting until next Monday or the new year to do or start something that should be done today, only to awaken on those days and discover that they look and feel no different than today. As the people of God, we don’t need resolutions, but rather, the discipline to be who we are called to be…disciples.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
The freedom procured by the Son is broad and life-changing. It is a release from strangulating institutional religious tradition; from oppressive social and economic structures that hold generations hostage; deliverance from our own prideful egos and self-imposed limitations. Our freedom in Christ becomes the harnessing of our entire being for the ministry of servicing his glory and the pursuit of freedom for all others. This freedom afforded us is a greater responsibility than we could have ever known before.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Some psychologists have estimated that more than 75 percent of what we say to ourselves is negative. Such discouraging self-dialogue is detrimental to the journey of faith and the process of growing in Christlikeness. The solution is to be found in changing the script. The discipline of bible study and prayerful meditation on the word of God offers to us a new internal vocabulary that speaks truth into our lives, refutes the lies of the enemy, and provides the power and encouragement necessary to keep going forward toward our destination.
“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world” (John 16:21).
Pain and joy have always had a strange relationship. Each one must exist to truly appreciate and understand the other. The birth of a child, for example, heralds in a degree of joy that could not have been anticipated by the pain experienced in labor and delivery. While the world seeks to replace your pain with any number of things that may, well indeed, bring momentary pleasure and satisfaction, the Christian faith is unique in that it brings forth a permanent and lasting joy from the very thing that produces our pain and sorrow.
“A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me” (John 16:16).
In the midst of life’s storms it’s not unusual that we find ourselves asking, “How long, O’ Lord?” Experience and the scripture themselves teach us that the span between our darkest despair and the day of our deliverance is just a little while. The blackest Friday in history eventually gave way to an unimaginable resurrection. It is in the “little while” of our sorrow that hope brings forth its sustaining presence.