Tuesday, February 26, 2013

God’s love for sinners is clearly seen in all he does for us.

           The story is told of a farmer who once owned a number of hens. Unfortunately one afternoon the hen house burned down. As the farmer picked through the rubble, he came across one hen lying dead near the door of the hen house. Her top feathers were singed brown from the fire and her head lay limp. When he reached to pick her up, he felt something move. The hen’s four chicks came scurrying out from beneath her. The hen’s body had saved them by shielding them from the flames even though she died in the process.
This story or illustration has been around for some time in various forms, but it serves well as an illustration of the love that our Lord has shown to us. Jesus uses much the same picture when he said, ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under wings, but you were not willing!
Jesus had come to save all people from their sins and their consequence. The first promise had been made to Adam and Eve soon after their sin of disobedience. That promise was renewed again and again – to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and many others.
Yet, when Jesus arrived, he was rejected. Oh, there were some who believed in him. His popularity went up and down. In his home town of Nazareth, they tried to kill him. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes often sought to discredit Jesus. “He eats with sinners,” they cried. He worked with prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. More important of all, he stole the hearts of the people. The more he was praised by others, the greater their hatred.
Yet he loved him. As he looked at the very ones who would plot for his arrest and cry out for his death, Jesus wept. You can feel it in his words – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…. how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under wings, but you were not willing!”
Every soul is precious to the Lord. That includes yours and mine. He loves us all. He proved that at Calvary. There the innocent Lamb of God laid down his life for the sins of the world. There he died in our place. There he faced the wrath of his Father and endured the pains of hell. He did it out of love for us.
           What a comfort that is for us all. We need a Savior just as much as the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day. Our sinful nature is just as strong as theirs. How often haven’t we rejected the Savior much as they did? We do it when we refuse to listen to him and do our own thing. It happens when we let the activities of life squeeze time for worship and prayer out of our schedules when he tells us to ‘seek first the kingdom of God.’ We do it every time we go our way instead of walking in his. The amazing thing is that Jesus loves us. With his love he seeks to draw us back to himself over and over again. He assures of his forgiveness and love. Just as a hen, by instinct, loves her chicks, Jesus by his nature loves us. It is who he is and what he does! Thank God that is the way he is!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with boldness. Stretch out your hand and to perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your hold servant Jesus.” – Acts 4:29-30
           Testimonials are worth money. Advertisers know this.  A pop singer holds up a can of Pepsi and it sells. A football player pitches the latest diet program, and a NASCAR driver sells Miller Beer. There’s a confidence factor when you know that some movie star or sports hero endorses your brand. People like to identify with a winner.
When is the last time you saw a losing team making product endorsements? It doesn’t happen in the business world, but it God’s world it does. Remember Joseph in Egypt? Sold as a slave by his brothers, doing time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit? He later testified to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
It happened in the New Testament, too. The believers in Jerusalem were being persecuted. Peter and John had been arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. They had been commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Who would be next?
The believers were living in difficult times and facing some tough decisions. But they did not pray for safety or that the persecutions would end. Instead, they gave glory to God and prayed that he would strengthen them so they could continue to speak with great boldness!  They wanted the Lord to bless them so that they would continue to do signs and wonders in the name of Jesus! They were “losers” whom God would make into winners!
When you stop to think about it, anyone can praise God and be thankful when everything is going well. It takes real faith to praise God and trust his goodness when it seems to us that things are going wrong. When sickness comes, we may have to wait to see the blessing in it. When we suffer loss, it takes faith to believe that it can be for our good. When our church goes through times of trial and testing, believers will still praise God for his mercies and trust that his ways are always good.
           Believers testify to the goodness and mercy of God even in days of adversity. So Jesus prayed before his crucifixion, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus prayed for his disciples, that they “would be protected from the evil one.” And Jesus prayed for us, “that all of them may be one.” – John 17:15-20. Let us continue to pray that God would make us strong in faith that we may testify of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How do I say, “I love you?”

          When you think of Valentine's Day, I'll bet you think about love. As you search through the rack of Valentine cards, you look and look until you find just the right one. You want the card that lets them know just how you feel. The same can be said for the gifts we buy whether they are candy, flowers, or lingerie.
The word "love" may be one of the most delightful words in the English language. It is a word, when pondered, brings to mind the wonderful feelings we have in our heart for those who are closest to us. It may be our love for our parents, brother, or sister, our children, our spouse or a close friend. While our relationship to each of these is different, the common bond is love. But, what is love?
In trying to define what love is, I often go back to the Greek, the same language God used to write the New Testament books of the Bible. In Greek there are three different words for love. One word is “eros.” Eros conveys the idea of love as a physical or sexual attraction. It is the basis for our English word “erotic.” Another Greek word for love is “philia.” This word for love conveys the idea of the love one has for a friend. This is the basis for the word Philadelphia or “the city of brotherly love.”
There is yet another word for "love" in the Bible. You may be familiar with it. It is word "agape." Agape love is the word God uses to describe the love one Christian has for another; the love a Christian spouse should have for another. It is the kind of love God says that we should have for our neighbor. God even uses this word when he tells us to “love your enemy.” This is obviously not the same kind of love we find described by “eros” or “philia.”
The meaning of the agape type of love finds its meaning in God. It is the word God chose to speak of his love for us. Paul speaks of this love when he writes, "God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Instead of abandoning us because of our sins, God put his love into action by providing us with forgiveness through Jesus, our Savior. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (I John 4:10)
You and I have experienced this love in a very personal way. We know how much we have sinned. We also know of God’s love for us in Christ. We know that no matter how much we have sinned, no matter how shameful our deeds, God still loves us, loves us so much that he sent his precious Son into the world to suffer and die for our sins. God did that for you and me; he did it for the whole world. Now that’s LOVE!
When we become a child of God and the Lord takes up residence in our heart, it is filled with that love – agape love. It is that love that enables us to love God and those around us in a way that the unbelieving world can’t understand.
Agape love, when present in the heart of husband and wife, turns a marriage into something special. It leads husbands and wives to forgive each other when a wrong has been committed, to live in loving service of their spouse. Agape love moves us to show love to those around us, even those who hate us, use us and hurt us.  
          As our society prepares to give its attention to LOVE on Valentine’s Day, let us, focus our attention on the greatest love of all - God's love for us sinners. It is a perfect love, a sacrificial love, a love that will never fail, love for all. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)