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The book of Genesis records God's creation of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve. Their initial condition was perfect, they were made in the very image of their Creator. Satan is allowed by God to tempt his 'new creation' and they sin. As a result of their disobedience, the curse of sin brought death to all of God's creation. The world that he made for humanity to enjoy, was plunged into darkness and chaos and from that day onward, this world has been the devil's domain. The Apostle Paul refers to Satan as the "god of this world", in 2 Cor 4:4. He goes on to say that the citizens of this world have been blinded by Satan - blinded to the glorious truth of the gospel. John tells us that, "the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."
It's pretty clear from our text (1 John 2:15), that we are not to love the world. In fact, John says that if we claim to love God and love the world at the same time, we are liars! Such strong words give us insight into how God feels about the world. Of course, and it should go without saying, that the world I am talking about is not the people, but the sin of the world. The same John who wrote the words of our text also wrote John 3:16.
The world I am discussing here will someday be destroyed by God. It is infected with a virus much more dangerous and insidious than Covid-19. No flesh is immune to it, and it is one hundred percent fatal. The victims of this disease are called sinners. Perverted from what God created them to be and separated from the holy influence of their Creator, these sinners, blinded by their infection, grope continually in the dark seeking only to appease the appetites of the flesh and unwittingly fulfilling the will of their father the devil. (John 8:44) What's worse, is that fallen humanity continuously flaunts its wickedness before a holy God, and despite God's impassioned pleading for repentance and his righteous judgements, the inhabitants of this world, are at best blissfully and intentionally ignorant to his righteous demands, and at worse, stand in brazen and open defiance to them.
So, what is to be our perspective on the world as Christians?
1. James 4:4 We should hate this world! It's clear from scripture and from experience that this world hates our God. It stands in direct opposition to all that is of God and is under the control of God's enemy and his demonic horde.
2. John 12:31 Realize that it's temporary. God is going to judge this world and its god, and destroy it with holy fire. The plague that infects this world will be dealt with in the furnace of God's divine judgement and the universe will be forever cleansed if it.
3. John 18:36 Know that we are foreigners in enemy territory. We have been born again into a kingdom that is not of this world. Our stay here is a temporary one and our allegiance is not to the rulers of this world but to the King of Kings.
4. John 15:19 Understand that this world hates us. Jesus was very clear, we're not to be surprised when we face opposition or persecution. He said that the world hated him and because we are his it would hate us as well. Luke warns us to be more concerned when everyone speaks well of us. (Luke 6:26)
5. 1 John 2:16 Evil should never shock or surprise us. When we see the darkness and chaos all around us in the world, we should not be amazed. We cannot afford to be deceived by the facade that Satan has cloaked this world in to conceal its true nature. He is a master of disguise (2 Cor 11:14) and he loves to hide the corruption of this world behind a veil of light - but that light is not the light of Christ. There is nothing good about the world, if it were God would not be planning to destroy it!
The New Testament work for church (ekklesia), literally means, "called out ones". In other words, the church is that universal group of people that have been called out from the world. "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord..." (2 Cor 6:17). Like the Hebrew people, Christ, our true Moses (deliverer) has opened the way for us and called us out of Egypt into a new land. Though we may be tempted by the remembrance of the things of the world which we have been called out of (Numbers 11:5), we must resist. Egypt, the world, only offers us slavery.
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The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Psalm 119:160
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. Psalm 33:11
Mankind's body of knowledge and understanding has evolved significantly since the last book of the Bible was written near the end of the first century. Since then, we have made great strides in science. Mapped the surface of the earth. Explored the oceans and the heavens, and vastly broadened our comprehension of the material universe. The greatest of our discoveries have taken place within the last one hundred years, as technology has granted humanity access to levels of insight previously unknown. This knowledge is not static however. In our day it's changing at exponential rates. For practical purposes, this means that everything we know, or maybe better said, what we think we know, is changing every day that we live.
If we were to think of all of the knowledge that we currently have as a set of encyclopedias, this massive set of books would need to be reprinted daily in order to keep them updated with current information. (Incidentally, that's why encyclopedias are no longer being printed). Our understanding of things is evolving so fast that printed media is no longer a feasible way to record it. In fact, one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century is going to be the ability to document, manage, verify and apply the mesmerizing onslaught of information that is literally being edited by the minute. It can be overwhelming just thinking about it.
Thankfully, some information never needs to be edited or updated! God's word is as true and relevant today as it was when each of its sixty-six books were inspired and written. We have are in our possession an encyclopedia of works that have come to us from the very God, infallible and as infinitely trustworthy as the God who inspired them. And, as if this collection of books weren't enough of a gift from our gracious God, he himself, the living Word, took on a human nature to further reveal it's divine truth! (John 1:1)
As Christians this places us in an enviable position. While the world struggles and flounders to make sense of the 'information age', the data contained our reference manual remains constant and reliable. Our faith in God's eternal truths, the application of its divine principles, and our obedience to its commands places our feet on a secure foundation. From his word we get a heavenly perspective on the earthly matters that are shaking the nations, governments, and the economies of this world . We have the benefit of seeing the past, the present and the future through the eyes of the Almighty. (Isaiah 46:10) What a marvelous gift God has given us in his word!
Whatever might be troubling you today, view it through the lens of God's word. If you're struggling with a tough decision, make it based on biblical wisdom. Trying to make sense of current circumstances or events? Be enlightened by God himself. His word truly is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. (Psalm 119:105)
How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
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But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd
The scene in Acts 17 looks like today’s evening news. Paul according to his usual custom went to the Synagogue when he arrived in town and demonstrated to the local Jews, from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus was their messiah. He was successful in convincing some of them, which angered other Jews who then formed a mob and started a riot.
Question: If the angry Jews didn’t like that Paul was convincing some of their people to believe the gospel, why didn’t they refute Paul’s teaching instead of resorting to rioting and violence?
Answer: They we’re not concerned for the truth or for their fellow Jews. They were angry. They were filled with rage and violence and their evil jealous hearts were controlled by Satan.
Tell me if this looks familiar. These rioters stirred up the crowd and went to the local politicians and lied and manipulated them into siding with them. They did this because of their personal hatred for what they believed to be a false religion. They accused Paul and his friends of causing trouble and breaking Roman law, but they themselves were the real troublemakers and lawbreakers! These men, who would have readily argued for the virtue of their cause were more than willing to lie and incite violence for their “righteous” cause. The situation became so dangerous that Paul and Silas had to be smuggled out of the city under the cover of night.
This story is being played out all over the US. Angry and violent people are rioting, looting, hurting and innocent people are even dying, and they have the support of politicians and community leaders. But, if they were concerned about the truth and the people they claim to be standing up for, would they destroy these people’s communities? Would they loot their businesses? Would they need to hide behind a masked mob and lash out at the people and communities they claim to be serving?
I’ve listened to people on the news defend the violent and criminal actions of mobsters because of they believe their actions are justified by their noble cause. But this defies logic. Noble causes are defended by noble actions. Violence is the fruit of violent hearts. Right motives produce righteous behaviour and evil hides under a cloak and behind a mask.
Don’t misunderstand me here. I believe that intolerance, whether motivated by religious hatred or racism is evil. I believe unequivocally that the actions of the police officer resulting in the death of George Floyd were deplorable and demonstrated a wanton disregard for Mr. Floyd’s well-being and his value as a being made in the image of his Creator. I, and every person I know are shocked and saddened by the cold and callous treatment this man received by those sworn to serve and protect.
But. And I mean BUT! The anger of man does not result in righteousness (James 1:20). Like the mob in Acts 17, the violence and looting we see on the news today is not coming from good intentions. Violent men are seizing opportunity. Thieves are taking advantage. Troublemakers are creating chaos and anarchy. And, the voices of the people who really want to see things change for the better are drowned out by those who want to capitalize politically on any and every crisis they can promote.
Mob violence and riots are as old as humanity. What we are witnessing is nothing new. Ever since the fall, the world has been filled with violence (Gen 6:11). As Christians we need to be discerning. We can and should mourn with those who truly mourn and stand for what is right. But we shouldn’t side with the mob. We cannot stand in solidarity with violent men. We dare not lend credence to opportunists who justify their unrighteous actions. Before we allow ourselves to be swept along by the crowd or swayed by emotional groupthink, remember who we are. Our allegiance is not to any earthly cause or political persuasion. Our loyalty is reserved solely for our righteous King, who will very soon judge the violent, no matter what banner they claim to march under.
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When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It marks the fiftieth day after Passover. Jesus was crucified on Passover and after his resurrection he instructed his disciples to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever wondered why God didn’t baptize the disciples immediately after Jesus rose? Why did they have to wait so long. Was it just so Jesus promise would be fulfilled on an important day in the Jewish calendar?
For three years these people had been personally discipled by the Lord. During that time they had seen and heard such privileged things. Our Lord’s teachings, his miracles, his compassion towards the needy and on and on. These fortunate men and women were personally mentored by the Messiah himself! Then comes the glorious finale, they get to witness Christ’s ascension into Heaven accompanied by an angelic messenger no less.
Can you imagine it? Three years of intensive ministry and training and suddenly he’s gone. In those three years they had learned to depend on him completely. Whether they were in a storm on the Sea of Galilee or attempting to cast out a demon, the more time they spent with him the more dependent they became.
Now he was gone and the confidence and courage that came from being with him was gone too. They were alone in a hostile world where they were known to be the followers of a dead messiah. Where were they to turn now? Jesus told them they were going to be his witnesses to the world, but how? Without him they could do nothing.
So they waited. That’s what he told them to do (Acts 1:4). What else could they do, but wait.
I believe that Jesus as part of God’s plan revealed himself to those first disciples and in the process of the three years he spent with them he made them keenly aware of their dependence on him. By the time he ascended their lives would have so revolved around him that his leaving would have left a huge vacuum. A vacuum that left them feeling empty. A vacuum that would demanded to be filled. A vacuum that he intended to fill, with the Holy Spirit.
Do you want revival? Would you like to experience a fresh Pentecost? God has not changed and he desires to pour out his Spirit on Living Waters Fellowship. But we need to become aware of our absolute dependence on him. We need to feel the raw reality of our helpless and hopeless state, our complete need of him. We need to sense the void, the vacuum within us and become consumed by a hunger and thirst to be filled by him.
Revival doesn’t come to a people who would “like” a revival. It comes to a people who “need” it! Revival will come when God’s people decide they can’t live without it. When we realize that we can’t do anything without him and won’t settle for anything less than God’s promise of power to his church.
I think that Peter, James, John and the others would have felt both desperate and hopeful at the same time. They were keenly aware of how much they needed Christ and desperation in his absence would have surely been their reality. But, he told them the Spirit would come and be their teacher, their comforter, their enabler. So, they had this hope to cling to.
Are you desperate? Does your hunger for Christ consume you? That’s what it’s going to take. A desperate and hopeful church driven to its knees. A church that will not settle for any substitutes. A church that won’t be denied, determined to seek Heaven for nothing less than his glorious outpouring.
So where do we start? Let’s begin by waiting before the Lord acknowledging our absolute need and dependence on him until he reveals to us the true depth of our need. And let’s determine in our hearts that in these last days we will not be satisfied with anything less than a genuine baptism of fire from on high.
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Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
The law of sowing and reaping is the great overarching principle that governs the experience of all of humanity. God has ordained this law and woven it into the fabric of the both the spiritual and physical universe. Anyone who thinks they can mock God and evade its implications and outcomes, will themselves be mocked by its tireless and persistent creep. No person is exempt from this continuous and all encompassing cycle of cause and effect. There is no place to hide from it. Do not be deceived, what we sow, we will reap.
Ask the athlete how they stay in top physical condition. Ask the scholar how they have become so learned. Ask the wealthy entrepreneur how they obtained their financial success. They will all give you the same answer. They pursued a relentless and incremental path towards their goals. Day in and day out they sowed by eating healthy, exercising, studying and working diligently at the right things to reap their desired outcomes.
Unfortunately, for those of us less motivated, the law doesn’t relent. We can fool ourselves into thinking we’ll accomplish the things we desire but reality confirms the absolute truth of God’s word. I may not like the way I look or feel but if I am not willing to eat right and exercise I will continue getting the same unhappy results. Wishful thinking is a form of self-deceit and will not produce the results we want. If we don’t understand this we will be tempted to blame our misfortunes in life on circumstance and sometimes even on God. But God’s word is clear. We live in a fallen world and progress in any area of life comes from the hard work of sowing.
What about our relationship with God? Is it subject to this law as well? It most assuredly is. If we wish to grow spiritually we must sow to the Spirit (Gal 6:8). A healthy relationship with Him requires the intentional prioritizing and practice of the daily spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, reading and study. Not because these ‘works’ gain us favour with God, but because if we don’t sow to the Spirit we will die spiritually and we will reap spiritual destruction. By daily communing with God through prayer and his word, he creates in us spiritual hunger ad crucifies our sinful carnal desires. It is no accident that the bible uses the words disciple and Christian as synonymous terms. Without the disciplined work of spiritual sowing, our sinful natures overwhelm our spiritual desire. Again, some might accuse me of promoting legalism or works, but nothing could be further from the truth. Daily devotional time doesn’t make God love us more or save us. But without it a Christian will not grow in their relationship with the Lord. Without it God cannot pour his Spirit into us. Without it we will not hide his word in our hearts. Without it we will not experience intimacy with him. We won’t overcome habitual sin or experience victory in our daily walk with Christ. We’ll miss out on the blessing of answered prayer and spiritual insight. We won’t live our earthly lives with Heaven’s perspective and his joy will not be our strength. The inevitable result will be backsliding into a Laodicean state and eventually even turning our backs on Christ completely.
Let’s make it our goal to enjoy a vibrant and dynamic relationship with the Lord Jesus. Let’s count the cost and be realistic about what it will take to have this kind of relationship with him. And, lets purpose in our hearts to sow to the Spirit and deny the flesh so that we will experience personal and corporate revival in these last days!
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“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
2 Timothy 2:24-26
It’s fair to say that most of the people of this world are in opposition to God. Even many who claim to be Christians today are teaching things that are in direct opposition to His word. Of course this shouldn’t come as any surprise to us. Jesus and the Apostles were opposed by the world and two thousand years later the world is still hostile in its defiance towards Christ and his truth.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes this makes me angry. And, I don’t mean the righteous kind of anger... sometimes I just get plain mad at the people themselves. Maybe you can relate? Do you ever find yourself getting a little heated at someone who expresses their ungodly opinions? Maybe you’ve had to bite your tongue once or twice when your unsaved in-laws reaffirms their “pro-choice” stance. Perhaps you’ve even responded harshly to a neighbour or friend when they have acted in a less-than-Christian manner towards you or your family.
I can assure you you’re not alone if you have, but Paul’s words to Timothy are a good reality check for us in those moments. The people of this world are held captive by the devil. Satan is a liar and those under his control are deceived by him. They say and do what they say and do because “the God of this world has blinded their minds” (2 Cor 4:4). It is in light of this that the Apostle instructs us to respond with kindness, patience and gentleness. Jesus prayed for the people of this world while he was on the cross, “... they know not what they do.”
We are to correct when we have opportunity, but always from the place of love, not anger. We were once blind to the truth. Had we not been saved by his lavish grace, we too would be living in rebellious opposition to the Lord. If we had not been brought into the marvelous light of the gospel, where would we be today?
So the next time a politician says something that you find offensive, instead of arguing with the tv, take a moment to pray for them. When your neighbor’s unwholesome language offends you remember he is in bondage and your kindness and compassion in Christ could be the keys to his freedom. When that family member that doesn’t know the Lord calls you a “science-deny-er” because you believe God is our Creator, don’t forget that God looks beyond their foolish arrogance and loves them, as should we.
It’s easy, when we hear people’s words and witness their behaviour to mistake them for the enemy. But, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the spirit of wickedness that controls the thoughts of men. Instead, “...be kind to all, ..., patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition,” and “...perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil.”
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I heard someone in a movie say that faith requires you to take risks, but I would argue that the opposite is true. When Hollywood promotes faith it’s always faith in man or faith in blind faith. When the bible speaks of faith, it’s always referring to trusting in our infinitely trustworthy God!
When Moses sent the twelve into Canaan on a reconnaissance mission, God had already promised the Hebrew people the land, and victory over the enemy nations that were occupying it. All twelve members of the party were well aware of this but not all twelve took God at his word.
Ten of the men saw only the obstacles that had to be overcome to gain the territory. But, two of them saw the promised rewards that God had assured them they would get upon taking the land. These two had a faith perspective.
So which perspective is more risky? Even though Israel eventually did conquer Canaan, they paid a steep price for their unbelief. Forty years were wasted wandering in the wilderness that could have been spent enjoying the blessings of God in their new homeland. An entire generation never even got to see it because of their unwillingness to trust the Lord.
Faith in God is never risky! Not because the dangers aren’t real, but because he is faithful! Honouring the Lord by trusting his promises will yield the greatest possible rewards. The real risk is missing out on his desire to bless because we choose to worry and panic rather than trust.
Remember, faith honours God, and God honours our faith.
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... For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 1 Cor 5:7
When the church was born in the first century and Christ’s disciples became known as Christians (Acts 11:26), it was still predominantly a Jewish affair. In fact, it’s obvious from the words and actions of the New Testament writers that their faith in Christ was not for them the beginning of a new religion, but the fulfillment of their long awaited Jewish hopes. Certainly they saw it as a new era, the Messianic era to be exact, but not a new faith. No, it was the fulfillment of the faith of their fathers, as foretold by the Hebrew Prophets.
Sadly, it didn’t take long for antisemitism to begin infecting the early church and it has been a blight on the church, tainting the truth of the gospel for the past two millennia, and at untold cost! The gospel was first for the Jew and then for us (Rom 1:16), and the church that Christ intended was never meant to be a gentile body, but the ultimate expression of Judaism into which the gentiles are the invited guests, foreigners to the commonwealth and wild olive branches. (Eph 2:12; Rom 11:17). Don’t misunderstand, I am not implying that we are second-class saints. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal 3:28), God’s grace places us all on an even playing field.
So, why the tirade you ask? What’s the big deal? Well to begin with, Jews have been persecuted in the name of Christ for the past two thousand years. A reality so tragic that I wouldn’t know how to begin to address its significance! But that’s a subject for another time. Today I want to focus on what we have lost in our understanding and appreciation of the gospel and the Lord Jesus when the church chose to deviate from its Hebrew roots. The Patriarchs, the Judges of Israel, the Hebrew Kings and Queens, God’s poets and prophets were all Jews, and more importantly our saviour was a Jew. He was the very King of the Jews! (Luke 23:3) Everything that has come to the church has come to us by way of the Jewish people and through the Jewish scriptures.
Today is Good Friday and we are in the Easter season. For the Christian this is the most holy of times. But, what if the church hadn’t chosen to discriminate against Israel and its people? Would we be calling this the Passover season? And would this have any bearing on our understanding of the gospel and true “Lamb of God”? I submit to you that it would. The antisemitic element that spread its seminal lies in the early days of church history has resulted in a ‘gentile’ understanding of scripture untethered from it’s moorings in the Torah and the Prophets.
Let me be clear. I am not trying to Judaize the church as much as I am trying to un-gentile-ize it. Gentile Christians are not Jews and I do not agree with the efforts of some to make gentiles act like Jews. The Apostle Paul dealt with this error in his letters leaving us with no excuse for such teaching. But, Jesus death and its blessed consequences were typified and prophesied in the Jewish writings of the Old Testament because God, (Jesus), revealed it to the Jewish people. To appreciate in any worthy measure the incomprehensible majesty of Christ and his gospel, we must embrace the bible and our faith in its true context. The context of Judaism.
In this blessed season, that context is revealed in part in the Passover story. In it we see Christ, the perfect sacrifice. We see his blood, the only efficacious defense in the face of God’s warranted and holy wrath. We see in Egypt a type of the world and we were its slaves. But through the blood of Christ we are not only spared from death, but we have been set free from the slavery to sin and the world. The death angel inevitably passes over all of humanity and all he looks for is the blood. Since the foundation of the world, there has only been one solution determined for our sinful condition. Christ and Christ crucified.(Rev 13:8) There has never been another plan. It has always been and only will be the blood! All citizens of Heaven will be blood bought. (1Pe: 18-20) The Hebrew slaves were not given a list of options they could choose from. God gave very specific instructions. It was blood or death! Beginning with that first Passover God revealed to mankind through the slaughter of untold numbers of animals and endless gallons of spilled blood, that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin.”
Does this sound vulgar? It should. The slaughter of the innocents and their blood gushing from their veins to be painted and sprinkled on door posts and altars. The Son of God was crucified on Passover. He was beaten, bruised, whipped, punctured and nailed. He bled until he was empty of blood and then he was speared in the side and the water that had filled his lungs ran from his body. We civilized people would not have been able to look on this ‘vulgar’ scene. But we should. We should look long and hard. We should look until we are sickened by the pathetic image. And when we have become ill, we should continue to look. When we can no longer hold our gaze on Golgotha’s lifeless lamb, mercilessly maimed and disfigured. We should look upon him that once perfect lamb without defect now marred beyond recognition. We should see the five and a half litres of innocent blood that streamed down the cross and stained the soil beneath him, and realize that vulgar though it was, that the vulgarity is ours. This was the price paid for OUR sin.
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“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3: 1
The dictionary defines lavish as:
“To bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on.”
We know that God loves the world. (John 3:16) But if you’re like me, sometimes I forget that he loves me too. I mean, I know me. I know that I don’t measure up to the glory of God. (Rom 3:23) I know that in me there’s nothing deserving of this great gift. (Rom 7:18) So, sometimes I find it hard to believe he loves me.
What I have to keep reminding myself is, God’s love for me is not even about me. This might sound crazy, but let me try to explain. The Apostle John tells us that “God is love” (1 John. 4:16). I am not aware of any other instance in the Bible where God is referred to as one of his attributes. What I mean is God is referred to as being holy, but we don’t read anywhere that God is ‘Holiness’. God is all knowing, but we are never told he is ‘All Knowingness’ or ‘Omniscience’. He is all powerful but none of the bible writers said that he is ‘All Powerfulness’ or ‘Omnipotence’. The Lord is merciful, and yet we don’t see him defined as ‘Mercy’ in scripture.
When John says, “God is Love.” It seems to me that he is saying more than God is loving. He goes further and says that in his very essence, God is love. That he is love personified or ‘living love’. That all of God’s other attributes directly come from divine love or are directed by divine love. Let me try to break this down a little. God is gracious. But why is he gracious? He is gracious because he is love. God is kind, because he is love. His attributes of being gracious and his kindness flow directly from love, which he is. God is omnipotent, or all powerful. Because he is love his actions are always consistent with and motivated by divine love. God is omnipresent or everywhere at once, and because of who he is, love, he chooses to be always with us. God has the independent and sovereign right to do anything he desires, but he never acts unlovingly or for any other motive than love, because he is love! Hallelujah! Even when he judges and chastens he does so from love. (Heb 12:6)
So let’s go back to the weird statement I made before, that God’s loving me isn’t even about me. (and this is such good news!) Like I said earlier, it’s easier for me to believe God loves you than it is for me to be secure in his love for me. Whether this is because of my contemptible pride or my awareness of my own unworthiness, or both I am not completely sure. What is wondrous though, is that God, by his very nature loves because this is who he is and I therefore, (and you), cannot be the exception! By his very nature God’s love is indiscriminate. He loves you and me because He is love! Oh I wish I could find the words to communicate this... You can’t stop God from loving you even if you wanted him to. You can “make your bed in hell” and he will still love you because he is love, not because you are lovely. This is the greatest news there is! God loves us in spite of us so we can rest in that love with the full assurance that we are never beyond it.
If you are not convinced, look to the cross. When you were at your very worst, before you repented and received his mercy, he demonstrated his love for us in the most public and convincing manner possible. (Rom 5:8) Now that we have been saved he has bestowed on us the most extravagant and generous proof of that love by calling us his children. His love for us is more certain than any other truth in the universe.
My appeal to you today is this. Receive God’s love. His word is his divine love letter revealing from Genesis to Revelation that he loves us unconditionally. Don’t live another moment without the secure knowledge of his love for you. Walk each day for the rest of your life in the light of his love, because that is our eternal destiny.
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song
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For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
To say that we are living in unprecedented times is by no means an exaggeration. I could go into details to support this statement, but I know that I am not telling you anything you didn’t know already. We are witnessing the breakdown of emergency response preparedness on a global level. News coming from the world’s financial markets is dire. Leaders of governments and NGOs around the globe at all levels are dealing with humanly insurmountable problems and the citizens of earthy are understandably fearful due to the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
”There will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now”.
The words, “...such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now”, are the very definition of ‘unprecedented’. In his own words Jesus warned us that this time of fear and sorrow, like the world has never known would come. If you read all of Matthew 24 he even told us in detail what kinds of events to expect. Events that we are witnessing today.
But, there is good news. No, that’s not exactly true. The news I am referring to is so exceedingly wonderful that to simply use the word good as it is understood in our common vernacular would be a great wrong. This news, according to the Apostle Peter should fill every believer with inexpressible joy and is full of glory! (1 Pe 1:8)
Our Lord has not been caught unaware by these troubling times. Not only that but he has shared with us his wonderful plan of redemption and the details his plan to deliver us out of this time of great tribulation. On that day will begin for us an eternal future that will completely erase the memory of “these light and momentary troubles”. The hymn inspired by Peter’s encouraging words says,
“It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Full of glory, Full of glory.
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
And the half has never yet been told!”
So, here’s the skinny. Things are going to get worse before they get better. This is just the beginning of what Jesus warned us about. (Matt 24:8) Now is the time to “lay aside every weight” and set our gaze intently on Christ to the exclusion of all else. This is the time for single minded devotion to our God. Whatever we have prized above Christ, whatever is distracting us, we must cast off and cast ourselves on him . Our Heavenly Father is about to give the command for the greatest rescue operation in history.
Our future is certain and it is glorious!