OUR GOD CAN CARRY OUR BURDENS

October 3, 2016

Walking down a country road, a traveler was struggling under the heavy load he was carrying on his back. When a kind farmer saw the man, he stopped and offered him a ride on his wagon. Both the farmer and his horse waited patiently while the traveler got settled. A few minutes later, the farmer looked back and noticed that the colossal bundle was still on the traveler’s back, and asked him, “Why are you still carrying that heavy load?” the burdened man answered, “I thought it would be too much for the wagon. I’ll carry it.” Unfortunately, the man didn’t get relief from his back-breaking load because he didn’t trust the wagon.

Sometimes we’re like that foolish man. Our cumbersome load may be impossible to carry; we stagger through our days under its weight. Maybe we even pray about it, but keep trying to shoulder it on our own. We find no relief. The Psalmist encourages us in Psalm 55:22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”

Let’s not be like the traveler on the wagon. Let’s lay our heavy burden down on the only One who is kind enough and strong enough to carry it. Our God CAN carry our burdens. Ahhh…what a relief!

(Join me every Monday of 2016 in my quest to know God better!)


OUR GOD INVENTED FREEBIES

August 8, 2016

Who doesn’t love a freebie? Dozens of freebie websites – legit or not-so-legit – prove that there’s a trend towards “if it’s free, I’m all in.”

Getting something for nothing isn’t new; God invented the concept. Everything we have is a freebie from God. If you are breathing, that is proof! In his famous speech on the Areopagus, The Apostle Paul stated that God “gives to all life, breath and all things.” (Acts 17:25). Thank God, He never sends us an invoice for “life, breath and all things.” They are free!

But there’s more. In Romans 8:32, Paul wrote that “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” That includes free peace, free forgiveness, free wisdom, free grace, free love and countless other freebies.

And there’s still more. God doesn’t limit free gifts to our time on earth. The most important free gift He offers is “eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Next time you see the word “FREE” in an advertisement, on a website or TV ad, remember that “FREE” isn’t a new concept. Our God invented freebies; let’s thank now Him for that! We certainly will thank Him forever as we enjoy His greatest free gift: eternal life!

(Join me every Monday of 2016 as I share more discoveries on my quest to know God better)


OUR GOD IS GENUINELY GENEROUS

July 18, 2016

Recently I discovered that a “baker’s dozen” didn’t start out as a gesture of generosity. It was a safeguard implemented by British breadmakers around 1260, because they were being accused of shorting their customers with skimpy loaves.

Our God – unlike those British breadmakers – is genuinely generous, and we find evidence of that truth all throughout the Bible. Here are some examples:

God’s love has been poured out in our hearts. (Romans 5:5)
God made the riches of His grace abound toward us. (Ephesians 1:7)
God is abundant in mercy to all who call on Him. (Psalm 86:5)
God abundantly forgives all who return to Him. (Isaiah 55:7)

The greatest proof of God’s generosity is found in the word “whoever”. In John 3:16 we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” No person is outside the “whoever” group. God’s generous love for all mankind motivated Him to offer eternal life in Jesus; because His invitation is also generous, whoever believes in Jesus can enjoy our God’s generosity forever.

Maybe your local bakery doesn’t give you the 13th donut; that’s OK. (They aren’t very good for you anyway…) You can be sure of this undeniable truth: our God is genuinely generous. He gives us much more than an extra donut, and we are eternally thankful for that!

(Join me each Monday of 2016 as I share what I’m learning on my quest to know God more.)


THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE – An Easter Acronym

April 13, 2014

Is Easter only about colored, decorated eggs, the Easter bunny, “Peeps” and jelly beans? Is it simply another long weekend? Or is Easter about having the table set with fine china, an impressive Easter centerpiece and an excess of well-prepared food? What is Easter?

We can best understand Easter by seeing what God has to say about it. After all, it was His greatest act of love that prompts this annual celebration: The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Looking at an acronym for the word “Easter” will give us insight into its meaning.

E – Everlasting life. That’s the foundation of our celebration. In one of the most well-known Bible verses, we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

A – Assurance. In a long heart-to-heart session with His followers shortly before His death, Jesus assured them (and us) “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)

S – Salvation. Before Jesus made his physical appearance on earth, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, announcing Christ’s arrival. He said: “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

T – The Gift. Throughout the Bible, we are reminded that we are all sinners, deserving death. But we praise God that “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

E – Enemies. That’s what we were when Christ died for us. Because Jesus died, we are offered reconciliation. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “…when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)

R – Resurrection. To a woman who was grieving the death of her brother, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26)

Color the eggs. Eat the “Peeps” and jelly beans and enjoy your delicious family meal. But always remember God’s greatest act of love, and let the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection be the center of your celebration. That’s what Easter is all about!


“IF IT WEREN’T FOR_____I WOULDN’T BE HERE TODAY!”

February 10, 2014

Many of us are familiar with the TV commercial that shows an elderly lady exclaiming, “If it weren’t for (product “x”), I wouldn’t be here today!” Like that lady, every person has a set of circumstances and a unique story; we can fill in the blank with nearly anything or anyone. We hear expressions like:

“If it weren’t for…

…my upbringing… my work ethic…my mom…my dad…my position in the company…my education…sheer luck…my abilities…my commitment…my 4th grade teacher…my best friend…

…I wouldn’t be here today!”

That may be true in the physical realm; but let’s look deeper, into spiritual issues. Eternal things are what really matter, anyway. Let’s fill in the blank with truths that Christ followers live by. We can declare that:

“If it weren’t for…

…Christ’s death that reconciled me with God… (Colossians 1:21,22)

…Jesus, who was made sin so that I can become righteous like Him…(2nd Corinthians 5:21)

…Jesus, who died for me when I was undeserving…(Romans 5:8)

…Jesus, the only Mediator I have before a just and holy God…(1st Timothy 2:5,6)

…Jesus, who gives me access to grace…(Romans 5:1,2)

…I wouldn’t be here today!”

Now let’s take all those truths, distill them down and fill in the blank with one name: JESUS. It reads like this: “If it weren’t for JESUS, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Praise God for Jesus! Thank Him – if you haven’t yet – for being the center of your life. Love Him, serve Him, and get to know Him more. Then one day, as we present ourselves before our Holy Father God by no merit of our own, we will fall on our knees before him, confessing once again, “If it weren’t for JESUS, I wouldn’t be here today!”


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – S

December 19, 2013

Wrapping up our Christmas acronym of the names of Jesus with the letter “S”, we’ll look at Jesus, our SAVIOR.

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior…” (Luke 2:11)

Sometimes the extraordinary becomes ordinary the spectacular becomes mundane and the exceptional becomes common, simply because we become so familiar with it. Maybe – just maybe – we get so used to hearing that familiar declaration of the angel to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem so many centuries ago that it just becomes another Christmas cliché: “For unto us is born to you this day a Savior…”

To refresh our memories and give us a renewed appreciation for Jesus, our Savior, let’s see what that really means.

Jesus, our Savior, was sent by God the Father “as the Savior of the world.” (1st John 4:14). Sent on a mission, Jesus fulfilled it on the cross.

Jesus, our Savior, saves “His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). No one else can save us from our sins!

Jesus, our Savior, gives “repentance and forgiveness of sins”. (Acts 5:31) No one else can give us the grace to repent; no one else can forgive our sins.

Jesus, our Savior, “has abolished death…has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel”. (2nd Timothy 1:9,10) We don’t fear death because in Him we have life and light!

This Christmas season, let’s not allow years – or decades – of familiarity stifle our amazement and extinguish our wonder as we reflect on Jesus, our Savior. If we are alive, if we are forgiven, and if we live in the light, it’s only because of JESUS, OUR SAVIOR! Let’s celebrate Him!


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – R

December 7, 2013

As we go through our Christmas acronym with the names of Christ, (see post from December 1) today’s letter is “R” and we are going to consider Jesus, the RESURRECTION and the life (John 11:25)

Jesus Himself spoke about the resurrection on several occasions. Here are two passages where He promises that those who believe in Him will one day be resurrected to eternal life:

John 6:40: “And this is the will of Him (God) who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the RESURRECTION and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ “

Even if I don’t get one Christmas card; if I don’t receive any Christmas presents, decorate a Christmas tree or eat even one Christmas cookie, that’s totally fine! I can celebrate without that, because I know that one day, Jesus Himself will raise me up to be with Him forever. This Christmas, I’m celebrating that Jesus is the RESURRECTION!


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – C

December 3, 2013

We are building our Christmas acronym with the names of Christ. Although there are several of His names that start with the letter “C”, today we’ll look at only one: CHRIST.

NEWSFLASH: “Christ” is not the last name of Jesus. “Christ” is the Greek translation of “Messiah”, which literally means “The Anointed One.” In the Old Testament, Kings, priests and prophets were anointed with oil, symbolizing that God had set them aside for a very special mission.

Christ Himself explained His special mission in John 10:10-18. In that passage, He declared that He came to lay down His life, and give “abundant life.” Later in Ephesians 2:4 and 5, the apostle Paul wrote: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

Yes, Christ is the Anointed One who fulfilled a very special mission: He came to give us the gift of abundant, eternal life. As you give and receive gifts this Christmas season, thank God for LIFE in Jesus, the greatest gift of all. It can’t be bought or wrapped; you won’t find it under any Christmas tree….but you can receive it in your heart!

“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23


COUNT YOUR “I” BLESSINGS

November 11, 2013

I discovered that “I” blessings aren’t the easiest to come up with. The search intensifies…I am thankful for ice cream, ink, imaginations, innocence, intelligence, interest, indoor plumbing and instructions.

But one thing that stands out on my “I” blessing list is one we are assured of in 1st Peter 1:4. Peter wrote that because of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we have an “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that does not fade away”, and that it is reserved in heaven for us!

“I” blessings can’t get any better than an inheritance in heaven!


Is Heaven God’s Hand?

March 15, 2012

Today is our grandson Jehiel’s birthday. He’s five. Right from the beginning, he was very curious and observant. You can almost see the little gears of his brain in motion as an interesting image enters through the portals of his eyes, or when he hears a verbal explanation of whatever it is that has his attention at the moment. As those little gears roll, he interprets what he’s seen or learned, and is quick to act accordingly.

Last week I was helping him with his Bible story and verse for AWANA. He was to learn Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd”. In the workbook, there was a story about a sheep, with an allusion to heaven, along with Jesus’ words recorded in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” There was a cloud shape on the workbook page where he was to draw what he thinks heaven is like. After explaining the Good Shepherd – sheep – eternal life – heaven relationship to him (gears were grinding, I could almost see them…) Jehiel grabbed his marker and quickly outlined his hand on top of the too-small cloud, as he inquired: “Is heaven God’s hand?”

Jehiel - curious and observant!

Taken aback, I replied: “Well, not really. But if we follow our Good Shepherd, Jesus, He keeps us safe inside His hand until we get to heaven.” He immediately added a little stick figure inside his hand drawing, which he identified as himself. That was his interpretation of heaven: he was safe inside of God’s big hand.

No, heaven isn’t really God’s hand. But Jesus made the illustration that He would protect us, watch over us and care for us till we get to heaven so simple that even a five-year-old can understand it! And this Grandma praised God again for the assurance we have that we are safe in His hand!

 

 


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