Conflict

Conflict.  It’s all around us and it’s in us. It can happen at work, school, church, or even undeniably and sadly, at home where it occurs most frequently. The Bible does not call all conflict sinful.  Men like Moses, David, and Paul had conflicts in their lives and even Jesus, the very Son of God, had conflict in His life as well (His whole adult life might be said to be in conflict with someone or something).  Disagreements and disputes will happen. We all know that because we’ve all had conflict.

But the way we handle and resolve our conflicts is of extreme importance. Believe it or not, conflict can become a motivator to greater understanding, closeness, and depth of a relationship; or, most unfortunately, it can bring anger and bitterness, yielding weakened or broken relationships. How you and I deal with conflict can literally shape the direction of our lives.  And at the root of it all is the heart.

So how do conflicts start?

2 Samuel 15:6-12 (NLT) says this,

“When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel.
After four years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill a vow I made to him. For while your servant was at Geshur in Aram, I promised to sacrifice to the Lord in Hebron if he would bring me back to Jerusalem.”
“All right,” the king told him. “Go and fulfill your vow.”
So Absalom went to Hebron. But while he was there, he sent secret messengers to all the tribes of Israel to stir up a rebellion against the king. “As soon as you hear the ram’s horn,” his message read, “you are to say, ‘Absalom has been crowned king in Hebron.’ ” He took 200 men from Jerusalem with him as guests, but they knew nothing of his intentions. While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum.

Absalom simply wasn’t getting his way.  The king (David) for years would not see him, then finally he did. But that did not satisfy Absalom; he and the king were still at odds.  So Absalom was upset and conjured a plan of rebellion in his heart to get even with the king.

Conflict begins when you aren’t getting what you want so you confront someone to try and get it. You want someone’s behavior to be different, you want your way on some issue, you want to win, you want something you don’t have, you want a person to yield to you.   The list might go on and on. However when the other person is not willing to give you what you want, you find yourself in conflict with them and that can lead to open warfare and fighting.

Anger, leading to harsh and course words, can become evident during the conflict because your will and desire has taken over your heart and then your mind. It is no longer a matter of right or wrong; it is only a matter of your way. The other person’s opinion no longer matters, the other person’s feelings no longer matter, the other person’s arguments no longer matter; in fact the other person doesn’t matter at that time of anger. It is only you that matters. It is only your way that matters. And so lashing out is the result, and it matters not how hurtful or disparaging the words are.  Only one thing matters: your way.

And the words spoken in anger resulting from self-centeredness that results in conflict can have long-time damaging power to both parties. 1 It may take a long time for the pain of derogatory and shameful words to be replaced with self-worth that comes only from remembering, and taking to heart, that Jesus loves you through it all. That He did not abandon you during the conflict can replace the hurt with joy, but again, that may take quite some time depending on how close the participants in the conflict truly are.

Conflict is never righteously resolved through anger. And anger that is not righteous anger, is sin against God.  Paul, speaking to the Galatian believers, says,

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 2 

Paul puts outbursts of anger as sinful as sexual immorality and sorcery! Sounds like it’s pretty important to avoid, doesn’t it?

So how can we avoid conflict in the first place? For if conflict leads to anger in your heart, and that anger is sinful, then reducing conflict in your life is a necessity, not an option.

In solving conflict, someone will have to take the initiative to try and resolve it before it escalates into something hideous, unsightly, and sinful; before it escalates into words that have potential to cause long-lasting heartache. In Genesis 13:5-9 (NLT) we read,

“Lot, who was traveling with Abram, had also become very wealthy with flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and many tents. But the land could not support both Abram and Lot with all their flocks and herds living so close together. So disputes broke out between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. (At that time Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land.)
Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives![emphasis mine] The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.”

Here we see that Abraham gave Lot the first choice, putting his family’s peace above personal desires. And this is important: Abraham thought about the result of conflict, the possible terrible ripping apart of his family, and quickly came to the conclusion that the land he might wind up with for the care of his herds was far, far less important than was the harmony between the two men and their herdsmen. Conflict was right at the doorstep; the fuse had been ignited, but Abraham quickly defused the whole possible conflict with a selfless offer. And it was over! The conflict that was peeking around the corner was destroyed and peace ensued.

No hurt feelings, no apologies needed, no working through the pain of conflict; for through kindness, selflessness, and a desire for peace, it had been totally and completely avoided.

Paul says it better than I could ever say:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. [emphasis mine]” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Conflicts will come and go; there is simply nothing we can do about that in this fallen world where we live within sinful bodies.  It is only how we respond that matters – both for now and eternity.

Anger deriving from conflict is antithetical to these words found in Colossians,

“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” 3

So, out of the two outcomes, which one would you rather be responsible for? Out of the two outcomes, which one would you rather God see? Out of the two outcomes, which one glorifies your Savior? Out of the two outcomes, which one doesn’t need repentance and forgiveness? Out of the two outcomes, which one is the only one that will please your God, bring glory to His name, and at the same time, keep you humble and then according to His Word, be the recipient of His grace? 4

You and I simply cannot allow conflict to work its way into anger if we are allowing the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts; for the two cannot live together 5.  And if we let the peace of Christ rule our lives, then we will have this outcome: We will become peacemakers 6and be forever grateful to Him as we will see His goodness and beauty and not our ugliness.  And then, like Abraham, the conflict will be immediately defused ;not for our sake, but for the sake of our Lord and Savior. And that is pleasing unto Him.

To Jesus be the glory now and always.

 

Sin And The Grace Of God

(A Small Takeaway From Joshua Chapter 7)

As we continue to study Joshua chapter 7, we will be reminded of the public exposure of the sin of Achan and the resulting punishment he brought upon himself and his family.  His sin, thought to have been done in secret, caused his death and the death of his entire family. And while there is much for us to glean and learn from these verses, there is one area that I had initially overlooked. Frankly, I had not even given it any thought. Then as I was looking more deeply into the chapter, I found a quote from John Calvin. And I started to sweat.

The quote from John Calvin (found later in this article) has made me realize once again that I can’t count the ways in which the Lord has been so very gracious in my life (and of course,  in the lives of all of His children). But now I have had my eyes opened to another huge way in which He has shown more grace to me in my life: By keeping many of my sins to Himself.  And perhaps as you think on this, you may find yourself thinking in a similar fashion. I think it is safe to say, that had He, in His providence, decided to expose only one or two of our sins, many of us might today be ruined .

As you continue down this blog, and read the quote from Calvin, may the truthfulness of his comments help to keep all of us from sinning, for should our sins be exposed to the world because the Lord thought it best in His economy to do so, where could we hide? Think about relationships crumbling and friendships retreating. Think about families being ruined and honor being destroyed. Think about words that would completely devastate people and actions that would shatter lives, even your very own. Think about your testimony and the possible ruination of your witness.  I cringe when I think about it.

Drawing this back to Achan’s deserved punishment, perhaps it would be better to lose physical life on earth than to have our sins exposed for all to see. But the Lord has provided me (and you) a “City of Refuge” where for now, we are safe from the embarrassing exposure of a public knowledge of our sins against our holy God.  That “City of Refuge” is known by another more familiar name: Grace. It is a land of grace, provided by the Lord. A city filled with others just like you and me.

And all of us that are presently found in this grace-land are hoping and praying that this “grace-city” would remain – that He will continue to keep us safe, and our sin hidden from the rest of the world, 1 – until we are all called home. And by His mercy, we ask, may He continue to deem it so.

Here is the quote:

“Though God does not bring all guilty actions to light at the very moment, nor always employ the casting of lots for this purpose, He has taught us by this example that there is nothing so hidden as not to be revealed in its own time. The form of disclosure will, indeed, be different; but let every one reflect, for himself, that things which escape the knowledge of the whole world are not concealed from God, and that to make them public depends only on His pleasure [emphasis mine]. For though a sin may seem as it were to have fallen asleep, it is however awake before the door, and will beset the miserable man till it overtake and crush him.”    John Calvin

May we cry out, “Lord have mercy on me.  Lord have mercy on us; even His own blood-bought children.”

And may we never twist the incredible grace of our Lord and think that His grace, which is always greater than our sin, gives us license to transgress against Him because we know we will be forgiven. (May the Holy Spirit convict each of us otherwise!). Instead, may our desire to lift His name above all else, give us purpose and determination to go through our days following His commandments and walking in the light as He is in the light, such that His glory is being revealed day by day in and through our lives.

After all, as His children, that is our only purpose until He takes us home. To God be the glory!

Prayer

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells us to “Pray without ceasing”. Now that doesn’t mean to be in constant prayer throughout every hour of every day. What it actually means is to not give up on prayer.

Why did Paul tell us to never stop praying? One of the primary reasons why we pray is to acknowledge our complete dependence upon God and the total dependability of Him in all of our circumstances. Let’s top right here. Do we really believe this? In most cases, I would say “Yes”, most Christians really believe this. Then if we do, do we live like we believe it? And in most cases, I would say, “No”, most Christians don’t live it. (Incidentally, I am in the group of “most Christians” in case you were wondering.)

We go through life, day by day, way too often, in our own world, doing what we think is best for our day. Whatever we choose to do, we have made the choice and away we go, marching to the beat of our own drum, accomplishing (or trying to anyway) the tasks we have set before us. And even though we don’t think about it too often, it’s right there where we have a problem: exactly where is God in this?

Answer: He’s missing. Oh, He’s not missing in that He isn’t with us; He most certainly is. But His input is missing. And by ignoring or not caring about His thoughts, directions, guidance, care, and love for us for that day,  we go out into the world in our own wisdom, in our own power, in our own direction, without any protection against the world who hates us, and without knowing if the path we have chosen is even close to the one that our blessed Savior wants us to take.

This is similar to the man who is in his car, knows where he wants to go, gets lost (let’s say this is before GPS), but won’t ask anyone how to get back on the right road to get him to his destination.  Sounds pretty dumb doesn’t it? Yet that’s been done a million times! And what’s the result? Maybe the driver accidentally finds his way back to the right road. But even if he does, he has had anxiety and anger through the whole ordeal and may have lost precious time along the way. But for most, they continue to be lost, maybe even getting more lost, and eventually have to find someone who knows the way. Again, frustration, anger, embarrassment, and lost time are the result.

But had the man actually searched out a good map, and followed it closely, he would have gotten to his destination in the right amount of time, even if he had never been on the roads before, enjoying the drive, and being calm and confident along the way.

When we don’t start our day in prayer we’re much like the man who plans out his trip, knows where he wants to go, but gets lost along the way because he didn’t know how to get there without directions or help, but willingly – stubbornly – chose not to seek out the assistance he needed.

So why do we do it? Because like the man in the illustration, we think we’re smart enough and know what we’re doing.  While God will give us the choice of how to get to our destination (whatever that may be), He always knows where He’d like us to go, He always knows how to lead us, and He always knows how to protect us throughout the day. He knows where He wants to take us even if it may be in a different direction than we had planned.

So maybe its time that we change the start of each day and put it into God’s hands. And just how should we do that? “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding [my emphasis].” (KJV) Proverbs 3:5

So let’s bring this back to last night.  Here’s what I learned: I need to give my day to the Lord, not planning anything without going to Him first, asking Him what He would have me do this day, and trusting that He knows so much better than do I what He would have me do. What might be the result? Maybe I’m driving down a street at a time when someone needs some help. Maybe I run into someone at the store who needs prayer.  Maybe I find myself going to Him more throughout the day because I know I’ve given it to Him. Maybe I see His glory more often throughout the day as I see my day unfold and watch His love for me show through like the sun breaking through dark clouds.

And as I make this a habit, I will undoubtedly find that I will begin to trust Him more, I will begin to give Him more of my time, I will begin to better understand His love for me and I begin to love Him more, I will begin to see How much more wise He is than me, I will begin to see how dumb and sinful I was trying to go through life my way, and I will begin to see that the best way to be His child is to ask Him what I can do this day to please Him, to love Him, and to follow Him. And I will finally see that that will be the best way to glorify Him and to have “the weight of His glory fall upon me”.

It was through prayer that our guest pastor last night found himself witnessing to men who were putting poison in their veins. It was through prayer that those men left that area each having received a free copy of God’s Holy Word and having been prayed for. It was through prayer that this man found himself praying for and offering help to men who were sleeping on concrete steps. It was through prayer that God led this man to a group of men he had never seen before or since, hopping on a bus, and ask them if he could lift them up to the King of heaven.  It was through prayer that led the pastor and his family to sell everything they owned to go plant a Christ-glorifying church in a different country. It was through prayer that led this man of God back home to serve the King of Glory in new and different ways. Yes, it took a willingness to push the flesh aside and obey the direction of the Holy Spirit within him in each of these cases, but he did so once again through prayer.

He had good, godly advise for each of us: do not be led through life by a spirit of fear for God has overcome it all.  Be wise he said, but don’t be afraid. Do what His Spirit is asking you to do (and we won’t know what this is if we don’t pray!). Whether it’s something big or something small, it matters not: just do what He’s asking you to do. It probably won’t be easy. Most of us have decades of living our lives the way we want to.  Most of us don’t put our Lord first often enough in everything we do. Most of us are a bit unwilling to carry our cross daily for His glory. But that’s exactly where prayer comes in: it sets us with our eyes fixed on our loving Savior.

And as the hymn writer wrote,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace. 1

Now “the things of the earth” may not only be physical things, but include fear and anxiety as well.  Our guest pastor has turned his eyes upon Jesus and has seen Him and embraced Him, following Him and always striving to be a better disciple. And in doing so, his fears, his anxieties, his desires apart from the Lord’s, have all grown strangely dim.

I want to be like that man.

Preview of Joshua Chapter 7

The seventh chapter beings with the word “But” so we know that whatever was said earlier has an exception and may be quite exciting or maybe a warning. In chapter 6 we read about the incredible, miraculous victory by the Israelites over the inhabitants of the city of Jericho. We saw the hand of God in every victory from the crossing of the Jordan River to the battle at Jericho.

But (there’s that word again!) something happened in Jericho which went against God’s command 1to the Jews and as it turns out, even though only committed by a single individual, the sin was so egregious that the entire group of Israelites were going to pay a price – and in some cases – the ultimate price – for the disobedience of just one man.

The sin was unknown to Joshua or presumably anyone outside of the man’s family. So why did the Lord cause the entire assembly of Israelites to pay the price for one man’s sin?  Why did about 36 soldiers of the Israeli army have to die at the hands of the army of Ai?  And how do these things apply to our lives and the life of the church today?

I hope that as we dig into this wonderful chapter in the Word of God, that we will bring to light the issues, the problems, the consequences, Joshua’s response, and the complete relevance for us today.

Come join us!

A Leper

“And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Mark 1:39-44 (KJV)

Perhaps we can understand our Lord’s concern for a feverish woman, or a blind man, or a palsied man, or a woman with an issue of blood for years and years, but that He would allow a leper close to Him and furthermore, to reach out and touch him may be beyond our limited understanding but most certainly it had to be mind-blowing to those around Him. For you see, if you were a leper in the times of the life of Jesus the Messiah, lepers had a special place in society and it was separation, solitariness, and humiliation.

According to the Lord, leprosy was an infection that made a person ceremonially unclean (Lev. Chapter 13), and so God appointed His priests to act as His inspectors to determine whether the victim was unclean, and if so, they gave the word that the leper had to be separated from the rest of the camp. 

The disease was very contagious. Therefore, lepers were supposed to keep their distance and warn everyone that they were coming, lest others would contract the disease and be defiled. 

“And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” Leviticus 13:45-46 (KJV)

Imagine the feelings of a person, man or woman, young or old, who had leprosy. First, the skin was in terrible condition. The disease, also called Hanson’s disease, essentially erodes the nerve endings in the body.  And when the disease attacks the nerve endings in the hands and feet, the diseased limbs begin to die; they rot and decay right on the person’s body. While it can be treated today with antibiotics, back then, there was no healing through medicine; it was only through the miracle of the Lord’s touch that the leper could be healed.

So first, you were deformed and ugly. So you covered yourself so no one could see your ugliness and your deformities. Hunliatin and depression were your only friends.

Secondly, you were an outcast religiously and socially. You couldn’t worship with your fellow Jews. You were not allowed to congregate with those that were clean. As much as you may have wanted to lift your hands or go to the alter with your friends and fellow-worshippers, you were not allowed to do so. 

Socially, you were supposed to walk on the other side of the street when passers-by were approaching and say, “Unclean, unclean”.  No going to the market and enjoying picking up fruits, vegetables, and bread, choosing which you would purchase. No, you could no longer do that. Friends had to keep their distance too for they did not want to contract that horrible disease.

Life for you had no joy, no comfort, no compassion, no love, save for those closest to you.

Can you imagine?

You would be broken-hearted, isolated, and emotionally wrecked as each day brought another day of sadness and loneliness. Few to comfort you, even less to really love you.

Now, I have a question for each of us: Who in your life have you made a leper? Who have you judged to be a “unclean” in your life or those you worship with? What do I mean by that? Simply that we do that. We look at someone in our lives who doesn’t meet our standards and we judge them and then we create them to be a leper and then treat them as such. We distance ourselves from them. While we once loved them, our love has grown cold. While we once broke bread with them, we have no time to meet with them for a meal. We once worshipped with them; now we’d rather we didn’t see them in church. Once we gladly told others about our friend, now we talk about “that” person with disdain, showing little or no respect for that person. We scowl at times when thinking about that person. We hope that our paths will not meet as there will be awkwardness for us to look upon that leper…the leper that we have created.

And so, where once there was a friendship and a camaraderie between you and them, now there is nothing but scorn in your heart for them. For they are a leper to you and you must keep your distance and they must be left alone to fend for themselves. They must be “punished” for whatever it is that they did that caused you to judge them and make them diseased to the point of no redeeming.

Now I say, Clean your heart my friend! For it is you that is the leper! You are the one that has contracted the disease of depravity and ugliness! Your flesh has prevailed and it is raw, blackened, and dead. It is you that needs to be cleaned and healed, not the one you deemed leprous through your judgmentalism and censoriousness! 

So humble yourself before the Lord and make it right before Him and you. Ask Him for forgiveness for the sin of pride and corruption. Allow Him to remind you exactly what His Son had to do to clean you! Remind yourself what a depraved sinner you were and are and that He has shown you only grace and mercy all the days of your life!  And then go and do likewise to the leper you have created and walked away from. Go to that person and ask forgiveness for judging them and for abandoning them.  For the Lord has not forgotten them. For whatever they did, let the Lord do His work in their lives while you carry out your mission for the Lord which is to love even those that we deem undeserving of our love. 

After all, what have you ever done to deserve the love of Jesus? What have you ever done Mr. or Mrs. Christian? You have done nothing! Before you were born-again, you walked in your own ways, looking forward to each day and how you might satisfy your unredeemed flesh. But even after your salvation, you continue to disappoint the One who gave His life for you. You are so lacking in love, you are so short of compassion, you are so exempt of grace, and you have no mercy save for those very few you deem worthy of it. 

But remember, the Lord is a merciful God and has forgotten none of His children! His love does not ebb and flow with His children’s faithfulness to Him! He loves you perfectly through every good time and every bad time in your life.  Then why do you treat your fellow brother or sister as a leper? It is because you have forgotten God’s love for you. You have forgotten Christ’s work for you. You have forgotten the Spirit’s power within you. And hence, you have forgotten that they too are God’s child for whom Jesus died, because you are now convinced you are better than they. For in your mind, you will only be satisfied when they walk away from you and cry out “Unclean, unclean”! Only then will your flesh be satisfied.  Except, you are the sinner! You are the diseased one! For you have chosen to forget the full love of Christ. You have dismissed the mercy of God. And you have forgotten the grace of God that plucked you from the fires of hell.

It is time for forgiveness. It is time for repentance! It is time for humbling yourself before your God. It is time to rent your clothes! It is time to place yourself in dust and ashes! It is time for you to be a dispenser of grace. It is time for you to look upon the almighty Lord, hanging on the Cross at Calvary and remember His words as he hung there by nails of hatred, His body beaten and torn, hanging naked before the world to see, being humiliated by so many who reviled Him and wanted nothing to do with Him.  While all this was happening, while His physical body was in extreme agony, and while He knew that He was going to be separated from His Father so that He would take the punishment for the sins fo the world, His lasting and penetrating words were, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (KJV)

Jesus died on the Cross for our sins because He had compassion on the sinner – including you and me. Jesus also reached out and healed the leper (also the one who, like us, was unclean). Why? Scripture tells us again because He was moved by compassion. Now if you have been pierced by the arrow of truthfulness from our Holy God, then go and do likewise Christian. Show others that you are the Lord’s and that He is your Master and Savior. Mortify your flesh and allow His Spirit to reign in you that you may be the salt and light you have been called to be…for His sake, for His glory, and for His Name.

Webster Bible Study Takes A Summer Vacation

Well, by the grace of God we completed another year of Bible study. We are very thankful to the Lord for His grace throughout the entire year of study. And Sue and I are thankful for all who attended. It has been and will always be our goal to glorify the Lord and lift Jesus up through prayer, worship, and study with the end result allowing us to be more aware of our great darkness and sinfulness, but His even greater love and grace, such  that we would willingly allow His Spirit to change us and make us more like the beloved Savior we worship.

We desire to be true follows of Christ and whatever our cross may be on any particular day, week, month, or year, to carry it for the sake of the Gospel.  May we not just be hearers of the word, but doers as well. (“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”) (KJV) James 1:22

So, we return, Lord willing, on the second Monday of September (September 10th, 2018) and begin the second major section of the book, Chapter 7 of the Book of Joshua.

Sue and I wish each of you a blessed and enjoyable summer and hope to see you at the picnic in June.

Please remember to keep our brothers and sisters in prayer (“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” Eph. 6:18 KJV) and should we receive any prayer requests throughout the summer, we will be sure to pass them along to all (“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8 (KJV).

Little Children

Mark 10:14-16 (KJV) “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

I was on the sidelines watching a dad play with her little girl in the water the other day while vacationing in Florida, and I watched as he played with her; they both had so much fun.

But it dawned on me as the dad was swinging his daughter above his head and above the water that the father was in total control of this girl’s happiness, joy, her well-being, and perhaps even her life. As he tossed her up in the air and spun her about, sometimes he let her feet go into the water, sometimes her hands and arms went into the water,  and even once or twice, her dad swooped her down just low enough that her head even went into the water just a bit.

He might have tossed her and missed catching her and she would have gone under the water. He might have tossed her and caught her awkwardly and bruised her or worse. If we think of all the possibilities of what might have happened to this little girl, we might get a bit nervous about how they were having fun. But the girl? Not one moment of thought passed through her mind that erupted in any sort of fear. Now she was certainly old enough to know about scrapes and pain and things that could hurt her body, but that wouldn’t happen; not now anyway. Why? Because it was her dad holding her. It was her dad tossing her. And as long as he was close to her, as long as he was the one playing with her, tossing and spinning her, as long as she could see and feel that she was safe in his arms, nothing else mattered.

And I thought: that’s exactly how the Lord demands that we enter into His kingdom. We are to trust in Him no matter what’s going on around us or to us. We are to keep our eyes fixed on Him:

(Hebrews 12:2 (KJV) “Looking unto Jesus [emphasis mine] the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God).

After all, His eyes are fixed on us, right?

Psalms 32:8 (KJV) “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go:
I will guide thee with mine eye.” [emphasis mine]

And then how are we to be? We are to know and understand that we are safe in His everlasting arms:

Deuteronomy 33:27 (KJV) “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.”

So then, how should we feel? Safe and secure, just like that little girl did in her daddy’s arms.

And what if something should happen that looks like it will be bad? Again, we remember where we are, who is holding us, and how strong and loving He is.

That dad in the pool would never do anything to hurt his daughter in any way. And that little girl, even though she has had less time on earth to learn that about her dad than many of us have had as born-again children to learn about our heavenly Father, nevertheless, she trusted him completely – without any fear whatsoever – with her welfare in all ways. Because there was something inside of her that she had gained through experience with her dad, that she knew completely there was no where else on this planet that she could feel so loved and so cared for as when she was with her dad.

Now, when was the last time you and I felt like that? Have we ever felt like that?  Perhaps in our first days of being part of His family we felt that way, but time and experience has led us to believe otherwise.

But think of it: the more the little girl (maybe 6 or 7 years old I think) learned about her father, the more she has come to trust him. And then think of this: if something bad were to happen to that little girl; even if it happened because her dad made a crucial mistake and an accident did occur, do you think she would love her dad less? Do you think she would think that he loved her any less? Of course not; as a matter of fact, she would want to be back in his arms just as quickly as she could. Because while there might be some pain and hurting, she would want him to hold her so that she knew in spite of her pain, her daddy still loved her (and would always love her) and would do anything he could to make her well again.

The great news for us is that unlike an earthly dad, our heavenly Father cannot make any mistakes. We don’t have to worry about something happening to us that He didn’t know about in advance. He will never be caught off guard and He will never be caught by surprise.  And He simply cannot do anything or allow anything to happen to us except that it is done out of His incredible, perfect, agapé, love for us. And what comfort that should bring to each of us. He loves us and is holding us with His powerful hands. Nothing shall shake us apart from His grip upon our lives. And nothing is able to pull His arms apart to let us fall.

Yes, He is ours and we are His; and in that we must take comfort at all times, good and bad, and give Him all the praise and glory He deserves for being our perfect Father. For no one else can provide for us the love, compassion, tenderness, and care that only He can give.

 It is time (probably past time) that we stop fearing so greatly when life comes at us and we see a dark sky and a hazy, uncertain horizon, and lift up our eyes and talk to Him, telling Him about our fears and letting Him remind us where we are (in His arms), and that we are safe and secure right there.

To God alone be the glory!

Accidents? No Such Thing.

When you and I pray for, among other things, traveling mercies for our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers as they go to work, the store, soccer, or wherever their travels may take them, what exactly do we expect?

Yesterday, one of my co-workers was going home for the day and was T-Boned by another driver doing about 55 MPH. The car is a complete wreck. A picture of it is below.

Gregs Car

As it turns out, prayers were lifted in the morning for his safety on the road for that day. So, did the Lord not answer those prayers?

Some would say, your prayers were pretty worthless yesterday, weren’t they? Where was your God when this happened? Seems He was too busy to hear you or simply didn’t care. Or maybe He isn’t even there at all.

When we pray for someone’s health, safety, protection; to keep them out of danger or harm, and something that we wish didn’t happen to them occurs, what are our thoughts? Are they similar to the ones above? Or as we think about the outcome, are we thankful for the mercies of God in the midst of the tragedy.

My co-worker is doing fine. Bumps and bruises is all he is left with, and that is an incredible sign of the mercy of God.

But what about hurricane Harvey? Hurricane Irma? Tsunamis in other parts of the world? Other natural disasters? Is it the same before, during, and after these tragedies occur?

It is important to remember that when we go through the trouble that life can, and sometimes does, bring our way, that our God is always completely faithful.  The last part of Hebrews 13:5 says, “be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (KJV)

God did not leave my co-worker when the other driver ran into him. God was not not paying attention. God was not unaware of the collision. As a matter of fact, He knew it was going to happen before it ever did (while we call things like this “accidents”, there are no such things in God’s view).  So, why did He allow it? Perhaps that my coworker, his wife, and his family, would, in the midst of a close scrape with possible death, remember His mercies, be content with His faithfulness, and gladly receive His compassions that He so dearly enjoys giving.  Or perhaps it took place to remind all of us that should something like this should happen to us (or worse), that we would remember this “accident” (even in light of our prayers). But even more importantly, might it not be a reminder for us to not forget God’s love for us through it all, whether His mercies lead to life or death.

Remember what Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations? “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23 KJV)

Jeremiah’s name shows he was chosen by God. It means “Jehovah has appointed.” Jeremiah is often called “the weeping prophet” because he shed tears over the sins of his people. Although he was God’s spokesman for many years, preaching and warning the people, he did not succeed in turning the people back to God. His own family rejected him. He was beaten and put in prison on several occasions (Jeremiah 20:2, 26:8-11; 32:1-3; 33:1; 37:13-15; 38:6-13). Jeremiah was taken to Egypt by the people who killed Gedaliah, Babylon’s governor over Judah (Jeremiah 41-43). When he continued to preach God’s Word, he was stoned to death, according to Jewish history.

And yet, read again what Jeremiah wrote: “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” WOW!

So when things don’t apparently go our way (and it’s been said many times that we’re either just coming out of trouble, going into it, or in the very midst of it right now), when our prayers seem to have gone unanswered, remember that God is working His good and perfect plan through us, for our good and His glory. And while there is probably no one that voluntarily steps up and says, “Lord, choose me, I want to suffer”, may we remember as we are chosen to suffer, whether it’s from our own sin, the sin of others, or simply the problem with, and result of, this fallen world, that nothing takes place in our lives without having been first allowed by the Lord to take place.

And this same God is the One who loves you and me so much that He died for our sins, making an eternity in heaven a sure-fired, positive, guaranteed reality for those who are called His own:

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8 KJV)

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 KJV)

I readily admit that I have no rock-solid, specific answers for much of what happens in life, but we have His word to help us through our darkest hours. And He is faithful. So, as I remind myself, “be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” And may that truth comfort each of us as we face whatever may come our way on any particular day.

Praise to His glorious Name!

The Incredible Love of Christ

As Christians go through life, all of us find ourselves in the middle of storms and dangers that have come raging our way. No one really wants to face them, but alas, we will need to be strong because it is inevitable that crises will strike us, for we are not exempt from the effects of sin and a fallen world.

These times that can try men’s souls teach us who we are and who God truly is. In whatever way you choose to examine us, we are frail.  In the physical realm, no matter how strong we are, no matter how hard we work at being a great athlete, any number of sundry diseases can damage our body for which we have no defense.

In the spiritual world, we are just as frail, if not more so. These same diseases that so negatively impact a person’s life, can also have a negative impact on our spiritual life as well. And as we find ourselves in physical, mental, or spiritual weakness, we can respond in one of two ways.

Christians have a great advantage during these times because our God and Father, Jehovah, is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-gracious, all-compassionate, all-understanding, all-healing God. And because every true Christian has had a ransom paid for their sins that allows entry into God’s true family, we can go directly to our loving, adoptive Father and lean on His promises knowing that they are forever true. And what God has pledged to one of His individual children is true for all of us. For His love is an everlasting, all-encompassing love,⁠1 and He never changes.⁠2

But what if these promises weren’t available to us? What if there was no promise of God never leaving us? What if He chose at some point in time to leave us?  What if He chose to forget about us? What if He chose to have a time in our lives where He would turn His face from us?

For Christians, who have leaned and rested on these promises, we would find ourselves alone and frightened. We would find ourselves wondering without God to turn to, just where can I go for what I daily need?  With our heavenly Father making Himself unavailable to us, we have lost our ultimate protection from all things that might attack us in this fallen world.  If we play this out in our minds, we would eventually find ourselves broken, dismayed, lonely, depressed, and alone. Ponder these thoughts for a moment. If God had decided to turn away from you, to whom would you go during times of crises in your life?  If God decided He would forget about you, how devastating would that be?  It would be this devastating: The very life that you knew would be turned completely upside down, if not totally destroyed.

After having received God’s free gift of salvation (that is, after having repented of your sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ), after having His mercy poured out into our lives again and again and again, after having been recipients of His grace time and time again, after having experienced His patience and long-suffering countless times, after personally knowing His goodness and kindness, now imagine that He willingly takes those things away. That is, quite frankly, truly unimaginable to me. In light of these thoughts, I, like Isaiah, would become undone. I would become unraveled and without hope. I would cry out, but He would not hear me?  I would turn, but He would not be there. I would look, but He would be nowhere to be found. I would need Him but I would be left on my own. I would be an orphan, lost, abandoned, with no where to turn, and no one to love me and take care of me.

Fortunately for you and me, as born-again children of God, according to Scripture, by His grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, these things will never happen. There will never be a moment in time or eternity where He will ever leave us or forsake us. There will never be a time when we will be alone, without Him by our side. There will never be a second where His love will not comfort us, forgive us, or accept us because in Jesus Christ, He has promised us these things. And in these promises we can and should take unlimited comfort. We should find complete and total rest in our God for that is what He has promised us.

But there is One who was abandoned. There was One who cried out to God and His face was turned against Him. There was One who received the blows of God’s wrath for something He had never done.  It was the God-Man whose name is Jesus.  When He cried out from the Cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34b (KJV), His Father was nowhere to be found.  For He had abandoned His Son so that He could pour out His wrath on Him for the sins of the whole world, to all who would believe.  Perfect in every way, as Jesus hung on that Cross on Calvary, looking for His loving Father, the One Jesus Himself loved so much, the Father had turned away from His Son. Truly cursed is the Man who hangs from a tree.⁠3

I cannot imagine what Jesus went through on the Cross. We think we know, but we do not.

There’s the incredible physical pain hanging from that Roman Cross. It was a torturous death. A depraved method of killing a man that would cause excruciating pain and suffering. Death on a cross usually took place from asphyxiation. As all the muscles in the body tire of trying to stay alive, in the end, because the diaphragm is so weakened by the pain and trauma, the body instinctively tries to expand the lungs through pushing up on the nails that are holding the feet in place on the cross. This continues, usually for hours, until finally the ability to do even that wains and death occurs. If life hangs on too long for the prescribed process, then the soldiers come and break the legs of the one hanging on the cross; since they are no longer capable of breathing, they die in minutes.

Jesus was so badly beaten before the first nail was even driven through His hands and feet, that there was no need to break His legs. Quite naturally, Scripture was fulfilled because of this.  Speaking of the Passover Lamb, we read in Numbers 9:12 (KJV)  “They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it [emphasis mine]: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.” Even though the Israelites had no idea at the time why no bone was to be broken on the Passover Lamb they prepared (they did it simply because God told them to do so), it is now clear that it was to point the Jews and the world to Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. (“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”  John 1:29 (KJV))

Then there was the mocking.  Jesus would now hear the contempt and disdain while hanging there.⁠4 When we’re in pain, we yearn for understanding and comforting words just to know that someone cares, that someone loves us, that someone understands. It is consoling to us to know that even though we’re suffering through some pain, God has placed a friend in our midst to suffer with us to the extent that they can.  But Jesus heard no such words of compassion. He heard no words of empathy. He only heard and saw those for whom He came, mocking and reviling Him. How those hurtful words, spoken in disgust, disapproval, unbelief, and foolishness, that must have increased His torture. It is for them that He hung there, and all they could do was scorn and ridicule Him.  But even worse, Jesus cries out to His God with whom He has always had a perfect relationship, but His Father was nowhere to be found!  Jesus could take the ridicule and scorn from the people because the Father was by His side. But wait, His Father was not at His side during this moment of tragedy. And now where was Jesus to turn?

It was this abandonment of His God and His Father that I believe would cause so much torment in our Savior, a torment that Jesus surely experienced; the pain of which we simply cannot imagine. A faultless relationship; the Father and the Son having always enjoyed a perfect, loving association from eternity past, is now terribly broken.  This perfect love that surpasses anything we have ever known, experienced, or felt has now been smashed; the bond is severed, even if only temporarily, and it must have been unbearable to the Son. Jesus’ loving Father has willingly and knowingly abandoned His perfect Son to face the judgment and wrath of the Father all by Himself.

Imagine an incredibly loving mom or dad. They have always been there for you. They took care of you, nurtured you, fed you, clothed you, kept you safe and warm in a home provided by them for you. They played with you, they taught you, they corrected you, the caressed you, held your hand, comforted you, were always patient with you, never gave up on you, and loved you at all times, through thick and thin. One thing you could count on in life was their unconditional love; that was a given. It was certain. Beyond anything the world has to offer, the love your parents offered to you at all times, made life wonderful even in the face of difficulty or adversity. And you loved them with everything fiber of your being because they were so wonderful to you. You couldn’t imagine even a day without them. Even in your adulthood, you still found yourself talking to them, asking for their advice, wanting to hear that they are OK, and you felt their love in their voice and you were comforted by the fact that they were OK. And they too, were at ease knowing that you made it through another day with no problems or issues.

And then one day, you called them and they didn’t answer. You drove to their home and they were gone. You searched and searched, and you couldn’t find what happened to them. You wondered, you thought, “Where are they”?  As the days and weeks went by, you cried yourself to sleep so many nights, you were in pain that would not go away, and could not think straight. But you held out hope that one day you would find them. Then that day came; you found that they had moved but that they were all right. You had a rush of peace come over you. You drove to their new home only to find that upon answering the door, they would not see you or talk to you. You cried out, “Why!” “Why are you turning your back to me? What have I done?” We have loved each other so wonderfully, so perfectly, all the days of our lives, and now you are abandoning me? I don’t understand.”

But there is no response; the door shuts in your face. You pound on it but it will not open. You cry out loud, “Mom, dad, please, please come to me! Please comfort me! Please love me again, like you used to!”  But your cries are not heard. They are not to be found. You are devastated. Although you never wanted to know, you feel the pain, grief, and sorrow of being alone and what it means to have a truly broken heart. Now you know what mental anguish is and how it hurts so much more than a bruise or broken bone. You are inconsolable. Nothing you say to yourself, nothing you hear, nothing you read, has any positive impact on your hurt, pain, and grief. Life no longer seems worth living.

That scene doesn’t even begin to compare with what I believe Jesus went through. It is my feeble attempt to get us to think about the Father turning His ear from His Son’s pleas. It is a poor undertaking to get us to see what God the Son went through for us. Us: a sinful, wretched, evil people, so unworthy of love, so unworthy of mercy, so unworthy of grace, so unworthy of the Cross, so unworthy of becoming a child of God the Father. But that’s exactly what Jesus did on the Cross; for the joy set before Him, He endured the Cross.⁠5  And what was that joy?  What joy could possibly be so great in the Savior’s mind, that He would go through that anguish for you and for me? It was the joy of being true to His Father and to His love for mankind. It was the joy of knowing that once His mission on the Cross was fulfilled, heaven’s doors would be open to all who would believe. And that joy moved Jesus to what He and only He could do for a broken world and sinful man.

And that’s love; agape love. It’s simply beyond my mental capacity to fully understand all that was involved on the Cross that day.  We accept it and understand it only dimly now for we are in our fallen state. I cannot imagine when we see Him face to face, and understand fully what He has done for us, how we will respond. Will we ever get off our knees in worship? Will we ever stop cleaning His feet with our tears of thankfulness? Will we ever stop singing to Him in praise? Will we ever be able, even in heaven, to proclaim His praises and adore Him as He alone deserves? Scripture tells us that we will,⁠6 but it still remains incredible to me that I will ever fully comprehend my Savior’s love for me.

It is with these thoughts that I hope we celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday. (Or Atonement Friday and Resurrection Sunday, if you will.) But my hope, by God’s grace, is that these will be my thoughts each time I take communion. And I pray that through the days, what I have written will become my daily thoughts so that I would never forget, not even for a day, what my wonderful, precious Savior has done for such a wretch as me.

May I learn to praise Him more, adore Him more fully, and follow Him more completely.  For He is my God and He is my Savior. He willingly died for me and gave Himself for me that I might have eternal life.  May my song to my Savior ever be:

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.⁠7

Yes Lord, I present to you my life, may it ever, only, be all for Thee.

Pro Rege,

Bob Sierk

1 Jeremiah 31:3 (KJV)  “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Psalms 136:2 (ESV)  “Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Exodus 34:6 (ESV)  “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”

Ephesians 3:17 (KJV)  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Ephesians 3:18 (KJV)  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

Ephesians 3:19 (KJV)  “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

Psalms 52:8b (ESV)  “I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.”

Psalms 36:5 (ESV)  Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalms 36:6 (ESV)  Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.

Psalms 36:7 (ESV)  “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

2 Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

James 1:17 (KJV)  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

3 “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”  (Deuteronomy 21:23, KJV)

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”  (Galatians 3:13, KJV)

4 “And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.”  (Mark 15:29-31, KJV)

5 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2, KJV)

6 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  (1 John 3:2, KJV)

7 “Take My Life And Let It Be”, Frances R. Havergal, 1874

Laying Down Your Life

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15:13, KJV)

This is the love of Christ! It is amazing, it is unsearchable, it is fully unknowable, and it is beyond measure! It is unchangeable and it is free!

Exactly what kind of love is this? It is this love of Christ that caused Him to be willing to be made a curse; He took the punishment for our sins; He took the wrath of God that was stored up for us! This love made Jesus, the Holy Supreme Creator, Sustainer, and King of all things to die an ignoble, shameful, cruel, and accursed death!  For the wrath of God was put upon Him on the Cross.

David Clarkson asks in his book, The Practical Works of David Clarkson, Volume 3, 11-24,

“Was it not enough, dearest Savior, that you condescended to pray, sigh, and weep for us, but were willing also to bleed and die for us? Was it not enough that you were hated, slandered, and blasphemed, but also scourged, nailed, wounded, and crucified? Was it not enough that you felt the cruelty of many, but also underwent the wrath of God?  O the transcendent love of Christ! Heaven and earth are astonished at it. What tongue can express it? What heart can conceive it? The tongues, the thoughts of men and angels are far below it. O the height, depth, breadth, and length of the love of Christ!”

Saint, remember who you once were? Vile, wretched, unloving, hateful, prideful, criminal, base, liar, murderer, coveter, adulterer, hater of God and His Son, and fully unholy in every way? We had nothing, no beauty of thought, no beauty of soul, no beauty  of spirit that might draw Jesus to us. There was nothing lovely in us because there is nothing whatsoever pleasant or appealing in man. Nothing! I say again, there is nothing that man has, of the least amount of good, to bring to Jesus!

But Jesus was completely aware of this! He was fully aware of your depravity and sinfulness as well as mine even before we were formed in the womb. Jesus, throughout all eternity, was fully aware of our depravity. He saw every one of our sins, not in a line, one by one, but all at once. Each sin piled on top of the other. Think about that: every one of your sins or my sins piled up in front of Jesus. Honestly, in my case, it would take God Himself to see the height and breadth of the pyramid of my sins. This is not pretty. This is not petty. This is not trivial.  Our sin is profound and it is ugly. That pile of mine contains everything that God is against; everything that He hates; everything He abhors, everything that angers Him to the point of wrath; everything that He will not have before Him.

Now, ponder this scene of Jesus looking at your wickedness and vileness.  Holiness with purity, perfection, and  virtue known nowhere else and found in no other is looking at you and at me. And what does He do? He loves us, which, if we think about it, should add even more marvel at His love for us.

Again, David Clarkson in the same volume, says,

“He saw every perverse look, every unkind gesture, every rebellious motion, every disingenuous act. Every heart was visible from eternity. Here is the wonder of Christ’s love: it is fixed upon man, the worst of creatures. Consider his resolution, and wonder. I will give eternal life to those who have dishonored me.”

Sinner look up! Perfect love and Pure Light has looked at you, dissected your heart, read your mind, watched your actions, and as your Savior and Lover of your soul, has welcomed you into His home and into His arms.  He has cleansed you and made you white as snow.  He has traded your sinfulness for His sinlessness. He has traded your corruption for His perfection.  He has freely given His life for yours, that through His death, you may live in heaven for eternity. For His home, His love, His compassion, His safety, His surety, even His very Being, is now yours because you are now His.

His purchase of our life was at the greatest cost one could ever imagine. But His love for us and for His Father led Him down the Via De La Rosa all the way to Calvary where He laid down His life. Nothing could ever stop Him. Love put Him in Mary’s womb and that same love allowed Him to be nailed to the Cross. His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension all took place because our Jesus was driven by His unmeasurable love for His enemies.

From the great hymn, “And Can It Be“, written by Charles Wesley in 1738, we read,

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No greater love has this world ever known; and it is given freely to all those who ask.

To God be the glory, now and forever, Amen.