John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God isn’t just another person in life who goes around saying things He doesn’t mean. God cannot lie and He does not make promises He doesn’t keep. When He says He loves us, He doesn’t just leave it at that. He demonstrates it.
Do we understand what it means that God loves us? Do we grasp the heaviness of the fact that the one who created all things has affection for us? That He thinks about us? That He has a plan for us? He works in our lives, shaping us to be who He created us to be. He disciplines us when we’ve done wrong, just as a father disciplines his children so that they’ll learn right from wrong. God shows His love by being involved in our lives.
In an act that could never be confused for anything but love, God sent His Son to die a painful death of suffering on a cross, taking on our sin and giving us His righteousness, so that He could have a relationship with us. This act was not because we had done anything to earn His love, but because He just loved us that much.
When we struggle in life, when things just don’t seem to make sense, when we feel like no one loves us, we can look at all that God has done for us. Look to the forgiveness you’ve received in Christ, to the wonderful promises God has made, and to the Holy Spirit He’s placed in your life to comfort and guide you. He loves you so much that He can’t stay away from you. He’s crazy about you.
Isaiah 33:22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us.
The bad news is, God is our judge. The good news is, the Judge is on our side. If we’re in Christ, we have a mediator who acts on our behalf to keep the Judge’s wrath from us. The Judge sees His Son in us and rules in our favor.
Which of us is worthy of judging another? We’ve all committed sins and are guilty of our own transgressions. How could we judge anyone with so many strikes against us? But God isn’t like us. The Judge is without sin, without blemish. He is holy, and only one who is holy is worthy to judge. He alone holds the right to hand down a verdict.
One day we’ll all stand before Him and He’ll make His ruling. We’re either not-guilty because we’ve believed on Christ for our salvation, or we’re guilty because we tried to be good enough on our own and didn’t measure up. Where will you stand on the final judgement day? Will you be acquitted of all charges because Christ your mediator stands between you and the Judge, or will you find yourself accused without counsel to defend you?
Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
What does God want from us? Sometimes we need but ask Him. We’ll find many times that He’s already at work in us to bring about His purposes. We are His instruments in this life, if we’ve given ourselves over to Him…and really even if we haven’t (Romans 9:20-23). He makes us into what He needs us to be, what He wants us to be.
We all have our own desires and our own ideas about what being godly means, but it’s God himself who determines what our strengths and weaknesses are, what our opportunities will be, what our roles in life will be. But we get to where we are in His great plan one step at a time, one little minor change at a time. We experience and encounter things that develop us as a people and then we in turn become a little bit more of what God intended. If we’re following Christ, we’ll be used for good. God will have us play out a role on His team. The wicked and ungodly play a role too in His plan, but not for the same side.
Pray for wisdom, pray that God the Father would work on you to make you into the creation He intended you to be. Seek to be more like Christ, in His character and in His devotion to the Father. Let God work in you and through you as He shapes you into a fine piece of art.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Our loving heavenly Father watches over His flock and will not lose even one without knowing about it. There’s nowhere that we can go where we’ll be outside His sight and His protection. He can and does protect us. We have nothing to fear.
The things of this world can be dangerous to anyone, but to a follower of Christ, some of them are downright disastrous outside the grace of God. He keeps us from harm and allows nothing to prosper against us as we carry out His purposes. If we’re on the path He sets us on, we’ll see plenty of opposition, but He’ll be the One who keeps us going, guarding us all the way.
He know our weaknesses and won’t allow us to face more temptation than we can bear. In fact, when faced with temptation, God provides us a way out! He gives us the avenue to get away from it, because He cares about our future. He has things for us to do and He’ll provide a way for us to make it to the finish line. He’s there for us, even when it sometimes seems He’s not. He’s never off duty, He’s always watching over us, like a shepherd who cares about each and every one of his little sheep.
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We like to make much of what we do for God and what we’ve done to change since becoming Christians, but we leave out how much of the work was done by God himself. Much of what we take credit for was initiated by Him and we merely carried out what He called us to do. Let’s step aside for the moment and consider His calling.
God calls us into fellowship with himself through Jesus. He wants us to be His. He’s a loving Father who adores us and would have us all follow Him in love. He calls us into good works. He wants to see us do something with our faith, not just believe but show our love for Him by serving others and serving Him. We’re His vessels here on earth to do His will, but it requires us letting Him have control of the wheel.
He calls us to repentance. God wants us to seek after Him with a sorrow for the things we’ve done to keep us from Him. We can’t serve sin and God, so when it comes down to it, He’s calling us to genuinely give up the sin and follow Him. He calls us to holiness. We can’t be perfect, but we can be in a right relationship with God through Christ. Holiness and righteousness are His in which to cloak us and we receive them when we follow Him. He calls each of us to ministry. Not all of us will leave our careers and become pastors and preachers, but we all have a ministry in which God can use us to expand His kingdom and bring glory unto himself.
He’s calling even now. There’s something tugging on your heart that you know you ought to do. You read something in God’s Word that the Holy Spirit emphasized in your heart. You are being called and your response does not mean that you are doing anything on your own. Your answer to the call is out of obedience.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Any discussion of God the Father has to begin…in the beginning. God existed before there was time and then, He created time. This is confusing to almost anyone and we won’t spend much time discussing eternality, but the basis of discussing God is the creation of time and all things in existence. Before He spoke it, it didn’t exist.
Clearly, Jesus played a role in creation. Colossians and the Gospel of John make that very clear. But God the Father has the authority to speak things into existence, and so it was with the creation of the world. He spoke, and there was light. He spoke and there was night and there was day. He spoke, and His words were so powerful that whatever He said happened. Now why is it again that we question whether God is powerful enough to help us in our lives?
There was nothing but Him, and then there was what He created. That’s pretty simple, yet it’s so incredibly complicated. How did God exist from eternity if nothing else existed? How did creation take place? Was it a big bang? These are honestly mysteries that aren’t going to be answered easily. We can never know everything about God, but we do know this, our Father set the universe in place, and all things hold together because of Him. We can rely on Him for all of our lives’ issues.
Psalm 91:2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Just as we seek satisfaction and pleasure in meaningless things in this life, we also seek security in equally meaningless things. We have a tendency to think that having enough money will keep us safe from disaster or unhappiness, that enough respect will keep us free from loneliness, that enough power will keep us secure from threats.
But the day comes for everyone when that stuff isn’t enough. The economy tanks, a mistake is made that ruins a hard-earned reputation, the job that seemed stable is lost. These things, for all they promise, can’t provide security. Only he who puts his trust in the Lord will find true refuge.
God is able to be our shelter from life’s hurts, our fortress from attack, our deliverer from danger. Only He is enough. Only He can live up to the promise of security. Dwell in Him and He will prove faithful.
———- Think of one thing that you’ve put your trust in, only to have it fail to live up to its promises. Now compare that to God’s faithfulness shown in Scripture.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
One of the most often quoted theological statements is “God helps those who help themselves”. The troubling thing about basing one’s view of God on this idea is that it’s just not biblical (The statement itself is most often attributed to Benjamin Franklin). One of the main themes of the Bible is that man is incapable of helping himself. Apart from God we are depraved, unable to life ourselves out of the pit that sin has led us to. We cannot help ourselves.
But God, in His sovereignty, chooses to help us anyway. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). In other words, He helped us though we were not helping ourselves. Even if we tried to gain some ground without God, our best efforts are useless (Isaiah 64:6). Our Lord knew we would be helpless. His plan is to be our refuge, our shelter (Isaiah 25:4), our comforter (John 14:16), our advocate (1 John 2:1). The list goes on. Why would God have such descriptive names of one who defends and provides for the helpless if we were able to doing anything for ourselves?
Secular theology may find it reasonable to accept that we must do something to earn God’s favor, but to the Christian it’s irreconcilable with The Word. God helps those who cannot help themselves. Find rest in that. Live with that hope.
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This is as true of the heart as it is of the mind. If we fill up our lives with the wrong stuff, there’s no more room for the right stuff.
This past week, as I was teaching the elementary school aged kids in church, I spoke on this topic. I talked about Romans 12:2 and being transformed by the renewal of your mind and how that meant that you need to spend time with God daily by reading what He has said in His Word. We talked about how we can have peace in times of fear or comfort in times of worry if we have our minds set on the Lord. Sensing that the kids were getting it, but needed a bit more, I gave an analogy.
If we were to only feed our bodies once a week, we’d be incredibly weak and may even starve. That would be nonsense, yet we do it spiritually by not spending time in the Word more than once or twice a week. How could we expect to know God’s will or to have peace when we haven’t been with the one who leads and comforts? It’s ludicrous.
The truth is, to be truly healthy mentally, we’ve got to have the right thoughts. In order to have the right thoughts, we’ve got to put the right things into our mind. We’ve got to feed our minds with the Scriptures, our spiritual food. That’s how we stay fixed on God.
Can I challenge you, if you’re not already reading the Bible daily to start with a Bible reading plan? There are some great ones available online.