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Surviving the Fire

High Park fire, Larimer County, CO (2012), Author US Air Force, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/7462740970/, (PD as work of federal govt.)

Read the blogs of child abuse victims and those concerned for them.  Somewhere along the line, you will find mention of what the abuse damaged or destroyed outright.

Our innocence.  Our childhood.  Our peace of mind.  Our self-confidence.  Our self-esteem.  Our ability to trust.  Our capacity to select loving partners, and sustain healthy relationships.  Our faith.  Our voice.

And from far too many, the abuse took their very lives.

For many of us, what the abuse left behind was isolation, grief, anxiety, depression, rage, and a permanent sense of violation.

Unfortunately, that we will never be the women (or men) we might have been is not helpful information.  We are who we are…marked by these scars.

In some sense, the scars are our badges – if not of honor exactly, then certainly not of shame.  We were the ones sinned against, not the ones sinning, no matter how we were made to feel about the torture inflicted upon us.

As with the veteran who has lost a limb to war or the woman who has lost a breast to cancer, this is simply our reality now.

No single statement can characterize us all, except that we were blameless.

Some of us were victimized by priests; others, by family members or strangers.  Some of us pressed criminal charges against our abusers; some chose to remain (or were forced to remain) silent, sometimes for decades.

Some of us lived in denial, maintaining a painful status quo in our attempt to protect loved ones.  Some of us fled to the streets, from one kind of horror to another.  Some changed sexes or became sex addicts.  A few fled from sex, itself.

Some of us forgave; some never will.

The abuse did not make us bad citizens, bad neighbors, bad employees, or bad friends. Many of us became high achievers, first at school and later at work.

A surprising number of us have found a strength we did not realize we had.  We have found a way to use our anger to fuel the struggle against abuse and injustice; use our pain as a subject for art and literature.

A surprising number of us have reclaimed our joy.  We remember the past, but choose to focus on the present.

Somehow we managed to survive the onslaught against our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.  Whether by luck or fate, intestinal fortitude or grace, we survived the fire.  We are here and entitled to live our lives.

Originally posted 10/19/14

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

https://avoicereclaimed.com/2018/05/27/surviving-the-fire-2/

VIDEO Jesus: Glory, Grace, and God

John MacArthur Nov 11, 2012

All right, the gospel of John, what a wonderful place to be in the time of darkness to shine the light, right? We have been introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ in this gospel. He is the Word. He is the Life. He is the Light, as we learned in the first four verses, and the fifth verse began to expand on that concept of light, and we came all the way down into verse 13 last time. So pick it up at John 1:14. Let me read it to you.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time, the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained Him.”

John opens his gospel with 18 verses that we would call a prologue – a prologue. This is John talking theologically. Starting in verse 19, he goes into the narrative part of it in which he starts to tell the story of Jesus’ life in the world. And he goes into the statements that Jesus makes and the works that He does and the miracles He performs and gives us the wonderful story all the way to the cross and the resurrection. But in the opening prologue, he makes his thesis statement, and the statement in the opening prologue is that Jesus is God in human flesh, that He is the Creator of the universe who has become a part of His creation.

He is pure, eternal being who has become a man. That is John’s message, that Jesus is not a created man, He is God in human flesh. And that, dear friends, that is the most essential doctrine in the Christian faith. That is it. And that is why there have been and continue to be so many heresies concerning Jesus Christ, concerning the essence or the nature or the person of Jesus Christ. This is the important doctrine in the Christian faith. It must be known, it must be believed, for someone to escape hell and enter heaven, that Jesus is God.

Summed up in four words at the beginning of verse 14, “The Word became flesh.” The Word became flesh. That is the central truth of Christianity, that is the theme of John’s gospel, and that is the required conviction for anyone who will escape hell, to understand that the Word became flesh.

Now, we’ve already learned in the opening thirteen verses that what that is saying is that the one, true, eternal God became human. That the infinite One became finite, that the eternal One entered time, that the omnipresent One became confined in the space of a human body, that the invisible One became visible. The true church of Jesus Christ has always believed that. It has always proclaimed that. It has always demanded that. Any other view of Christ is unacceptable – it is a damning heresy. This is the only view of Christ by which someone can escape hell and enter heaven. This is the reason John makes such a case out of the deity of Jesus Christ.

He gives his purpose in chapter 20, verse 31, at the end of his gospel. “These have been written” – everything in the gospel up to this point – “so that you may believe that Jesus is the anointed One, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.” The only way to have eternal life is by believing in Him, believing who He is, first of all, and what He has done.

So in His opening prologue, John talks about the nature of Jesus Christ. He introduces Him as “the Word.” This is a metaphor which speaks of Christ as coming from God, as God revealing Himself, disclosing Himself, speaking. And he says, “The Word was in the beginning.” In other words, He already existed when everything that began, began, which means He’s eternal. He was with God, which means though He was God, He was at the same time distinct from God. He was with God and was God. That is Trinitarian. There is one God and yet three persons. Jesus is God and yet He is with God.

The theology here is profound. And in the beginning when everything came into existence that came into existence, He “was” – the verb “to be,” pure being, He eternally existed. To prove that, everything that came into being came into being through Him, and without Him did not anything come into being that came into being – and that because He is life. He has life in Himself. He is the Creator. And the Creator whose eternal being, verse 5 says, came into the darkness of this world like a light. And that’s how he introduces this incredible book, the arrival of the Light, the very life of God, the very Word of God, into the world.

Now, I think it would be safe to say that John was legitimately obsessed with this great foundational doctrine. And again I urge you, whenever anybody talks about religion and gets to Jesus, you want to focus right down on what Jesus they are talking about. Are they talking about the One who is the eternal God? The One who is the Creator who existed infinitely forever? Or are they talking about some other Jesus? John is obsessed with this.

In the last century, the last decade, rather, of the first century – in the nineties – he wrote his gospel and he also wrote three epistles. And just to show you what was so much on his heart, turn to 1 John for a moment – 1 John – and John launches his epistle, and he’s writing this epistle to believers to identify for them the marks of true salvation. And listen how he starts. He starts very much like he started his gospel. “What was from the beginning,” that’s Christ, who, when the beginning began, already existed because He’s eternal.

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, namely the Word of Life – and the life was manifested.” There is very parallel language. The eternal Word, life itself, manifested itself in the world, John said, and we saw it with our own eyes. And we looked at it, and we heard, and we touched Him with our hands. We’ve seen, he says in verse 2, we testify, we proclaim to you the eternal life – you could capitalize that, The Eternal Life, meaning the Son of God – which was with the Father and was manifested to us – and we’ve seen and we heard and we proclaim to you.

He can’t get over this. John is absolutely blown away by the fact that he has heard, he has seen, he has looked deeply into the face of, and he has touched the Creator of the universe in a human form. I think this would be something to obsess about. That’s where John is. And what we have seen and heard and touched, we declare to you so that, verse 3, you may have fellowship with us, so that you can come into the kingdom, believing in Him, and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these are things we write, so that your joy may be made complete, because complete joy can only be found in knowing Him.

You know, John never got over it. You wonder why John refers to himself in his gospel, not by his name, but he calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or “the disciple who leaned on Jesus” because he never, ever could fathom the reality that this is the eternal Creator God, the one true God in human form, and He loves me, and He walks with me, and He talks with me, and I touch Him, and I fellowship with Him, and I can’t get over it. This is the obsession of all of his writing.

In chapter 2 of 1 John, down in verse 22, he says, “Who is the liar? Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son doesn’t have the Father. The one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning” – from the apostles, from us – “abides in you, you will abide in the Son and in the Father.” Again he goes back, that if you tamper with who Christ is, you will alienate yourself from God – very, very serious to John.

Chapter 4, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit.” Don’t believe every claim, every teacher, every spirit behind every teacher. Test the spirits, see whether they’re from God because there are so many false prophets in the world. How do you know when someone’s a false prophet? By this you know the Spirit of God that is behind the true Spirit: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. Those who affirm the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, they’re from God. “Every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming and now already in the world.”

John is absolutely crystal clear that one’s view of Jesus Christ is determinative – determinative. Down in verse 12, same chapter: “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, His love is perfected , and it’s by this we know that we abide in Him and He in us because He’s given us His Spirit. We have seen and testified that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

If you tamper with the deity of Jesus Christ, you are not in the kingdom of God. Chapter 5, he’s not finished. Verse 1, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” That simple. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Verse 4, “Whoever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” And finally, down in verse 20, “We know that the Son of God has come.”

We know that the Son of God has come, we’ve seen Him, heard Him, touched Him, and has given to us understanding so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, this is the true God and eternal life.

In the second letter, after the first epistle, verse 7, he says: “Many deceivers are gone out into the world who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver, an antichrist.” Verse 9, “Anyone who goes beyond doesn’t abide in the teaching of Christ, doesn’t have God. The one who abides in this teaching has the Father and the Son.” So if anybody comes to you and doesn’t have that teaching, don’t let him in your house, don’t give him a greeting, because you would be a partaker in his evil deed. It’s all about Christ and who Christ is.

Now, with that in mind, you can go back to the first chapter of the gospel of John. It is, therefore, not surprising that of all of the Christian doctrines, there has no single doctrine been more assaulted and attacked than the truth concerning the incarnation of Jesus Christ. There have been all kinds of Jesuses, all kinds of Christs offered to the world. And in the future, we are warned that as we get closer to the coming of Christ, false Christs will multiply, false Jesuses will multiply, and we have to be discerning about whether people are speaking of the true Christ.

To put it another way, it is as damning to believe in the wrong Jesus as to believe in no Jesus. To believe in the wrong Jesus is as damning as to believe you’re saved by a rock, some animistic religion. You can’t be saved by believing the wrong thing about Christ. You must believe in His deity and humanity. And that’s why John is so compelled at this point.

Now, in verses 14 to 18, we come to the crescendo, “And the Word became flesh,” the Word became flesh. The Word, meaning the preincarnate Son of God whose eternal being became flesh. The word is sarx. Sometimes the word “flesh” is used in a moral sense, deeds of the flesh, like Romans 8, Galatians 5. But sometimes it’s used in a physical sense, and that’s the way it’s used here. Romans 1:3 says that Jesus was the Son of David, “according to the flesh,” humanly speaking. So sometimes it has a moral component, and other times it’s just talking about a physical component, and that’s what it is here.

The eternal Word became human, that’s what it means, the eternal Word became human. So you have the God-man. The eternal God who is pure eternal being and not becoming at all as His creatures are becomes a part of His creation. God and man are joined in one person, never again to be separated. Listen to that. They are joined in one person, never again to be separated, yet never confounded and never mixed. His human nature – His human nature does not overpower His divine nature, His divine nature does not overpower His human nature. They are both perfect and distinct and indivisible and yet unmingled and unmixed.

The deity of Christ is not diminished by His humanity nor is His humanity overpowered by His deity. And maybe I can illustrate that by saying this: When you see Christ in heaven, He will be exactly the same God-man that He was when He walked on Earth in the post-resurrection form of the body that the disciples spent forty days with. He is the same Christ. He doesn’t become a floating fog in heaven, as some of these silly people say who take fake trips to heaven and then make up things. He is exactly who He is. He will be who He was on Earth,, fully man, fully God in the same way He walked on earth.

Let me take it a step further. His humanity is not the humanity of Adam before his fall. He does not have a pre-fall humanity. Some people think that, yes, He’s fully man, but He’s fully man in the sense of Adam was before the fall. That is not true. He is fully man in the sense that Adam was after the fall. How do you know that? Because He lived and grew and died, and that is a factor of fallen condition. Furthermore, if He was not in the form of man after the fall, He would have no ability to understand our weaknesses and our infirmities and be tempted in all points as we are tempted and come out as a merciful, sympathetic high priest.

So He is truly human in the sense that we are human in the post-fall realm – with one exception: no sin. He is without sin – holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, without sin forever. Second Corinthians 5, He knew no sin.

So this One, John says, this God-man, “the Word became flesh” and then He says, “and dwelt among us” – dwelt among us, skēnoō, means to pitch your tent. He brought His tent to us and He settled down in our world. For thirty-three years, He lived in our world, took on the form of a man, came and became one of us, Hebrews 2, Philippians 2, grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God and man. You can’t deny that. That’s 1 John – I just read it to you – 4:2 and 3. If you deny that Jesus came in the flesh, the Son of God was an actual man, then that’s heresy, and you don’t know God. God in human form dwelt with us.

How did we know He was God? John gives us three very important statements, and they’re tied to three words – clear evidence that this is God. First word, glory; second word, grace; third word, God. And we’ll just look at this briefly. I know you’re familiar with it. Back to verse 14, first point: The incarnate Christ displays divine glory. The incarnate Christ displays divine glory. John says in verse 14, “And we saw His glory.” We saw His glory. And it was glory that belongs to the monogenēs of the Father, and it was full of grace and truth. We saw His glory.

What is glory? What does that mean? You have to go back to the Old Testament to pick up on that, really. God’s glory is intrinsic to His nature, it is who He is. It is the sum of His attributes. Take all the attributes of God and you can list them, all of the attributes of God in perfect complex are His glory, His intrinsic, innate glory – all of His attributes.

But then there is also His manifest glory, and He manifests His glory symbolically and in reality. Let me tell you what I mean. Moses in Exodus 33 says, “Show me your glory. I want to see your glory.” And the Lord says, in effect, “Okay, I’ll show you my glory, but I have to warn you, I can’t show it all to you because no man could see my face and live,” Exodus 33:20. So the Lord said, “There’s a place by me, and you can stand there on the rock, and it’ll come about. While my glory is passing by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock, and I’ll cover you with my hand until I pass by.

“And what you’re going to see is the edges of my glory shining across the cover. You can see the fringes of my glory because if you saw my full glory, you’d be incinerated in a millisecond.” What is this kind of glory? What is this? This is God’s nature, God’s essence, the eternal complex of all that He is, the all-glorious God, manifest in blazing light – manifest in blazing light. I think that’s something of what Adam and Eve saw when they walked and talked with God in the garden because God is invisible, called repeatedly the invisible God. So what did they see? They walked with the Shekinah.

They walked with the presence of God manifest in light to some degree. And maybe they were able to absorb more of His glory since they were unfallen, and once they fell, they had to be kicked out because they could no longer look at His glory or fellowship with Him. Moses says, “Show me your glory,” and God says, “I’ll let you see the afterglow, I’ll let you see the back part, I’ll let you see the edges or you’d be incinerated in a millisecond.” That’s the powerful majesty and glory of God that would destroy us because we’re sinners.

And then the glory is defined. Moses said, “Show me your glory,” and He said, “Okay,” God did, verse 19, “I’ll make all my goodness pass before you. I’ll proclaim the name of the Lord, and the name of the Lord is all that He is. Before you, I’ll proclaim my attributes, I’ll be gracious to you, I’ll show compassion on you.” And then down in verse 6 of the next chapter, “The Lord descends,” in verse 5, and then the Lord passes in front of him and the Lord – this light passes in front of him, this glowing light, and the Lord begins to describe His glory.

Verse 6, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, forgives iniquity, transgressions, sin,” et cetera. The glory of God is the complex of all of His attributes, and sometimes it was manifested in blazing light.

Later on, when the children of Israel were walking in the wilderness, you remember God led them by a fiery flame at night, and when the tabernacle was built in Exodus 40, the glory of God came down to the tabernacle. When the temple was built, 1 Kings 8:11, the glory of God came down to the temple. So God’s glory is His attributes but manifestly seen frequently in the Old Testament as light.

In the future, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, Jesus returns, and it says in both those chapters, chapter 24, verses 29 and 30, chapter 25, verse 31, that He will come in great glory and the Shekinah will be back. Revelation says people will call on the rocks and the mountains to hide them from the face of the glory. The sky will go dark, the moon and sun will not give its light, and into the blackness will come this blazing Shekinah presence of Jesus Christ.

Again, the manifestation of the attributes of God in light. So that had happened in the past and in the future will happen again. In the meantime, the glory comes to earth in Jesus. Okay? And on one occasion – Matthew – Luke also records it – they went up to the mount, Peter, James, and John, remember? And the Lord pulled back His flesh and what did they see? They saw His glory, and it was so blinding, they fell like dead men under the sheer shock and force of this blazing light, even though it was veiled to some degree so they didn’t burn up. And Peter writes, “When we were on the holy mountain, we saw His glory” – “we saw His glory.”

Let’s go back now. When John says, “We beheld His glory” – “we beheld His glory” – he can mean that they beheld the light, the Shekinah, the blazing light, because John was up there on that mount. He certainly can mean that. And this is written long after that happened, so he would remember that experience as well as Peter did.

But it’s more than that. When John says, “We beheld His glory,” he’s not only talking about the representation of that glory in light, he’s talking about the reality of those attributes which were manifest throughout the ministry in the life of Christ. John could say it this way: We saw His love, we saw His mercy, we saw His wisdom, we saw His knowledge, we saw His power, we saw His justice, we saw His holiness, we saw His compassion, we saw His omnipotence, we saw His omniscience, we saw His anger, we saw His wrath, we saw His kindness, we saw His patience, we saw it all.

We saw all those things that the Lord listed back in Exodus 33 and 34, and we saw the light – and we saw the light. We saw His glory. We don’t question that this is God, right? We saw the manifest light that symbolizes His glory, and we saw the attributes that make up His glory – we saw it all, we saw it all. We saw a visible representation of His glory, and we saw the invisible representation of that glory in His life.

We’re going to find out in John 2 when we go to a wedding together that Jesus did a miracle there, and verse 11 says of John 2, “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory” – “manifested His glory.” He didn’t pull His flesh back like He did in the transfiguration, but He manifested the glory of His power by creating wine out of nothing. So John says, “Look, we saw His glory, yes, on the holy mount, visible glory. But yes, we saw that invisible glory, the operation of His attributes.”

So when you ask John if Jesus is God, the God-man, God in human flesh, John will tell you yes – yes, He is because we saw His glory. Secondly, John will tell you that the incarnation of Christ dispenses His grace – dispenses His grace. The end of verse 14, “Full of grace and truth.” Full of grace and truth. Not half measures, not fractions, not incomplete – full of grace and truth.

Grace and truth are together in this passage. They need to be together. They have to be together because the only way that you can experience grace is by believing what? The truth. They go together – they go together. So John says, “We have experienced who He is.” Intrinsically, He is the monogenēs from the Father. That’s His essential being. We’ve also experienced His glory through His grace and truth manifest in His works and words and life.

And then John calls His friend, John the Baptist. We call them John A and John B. John the apostle calls on John the Baptist and says, “John testified about Him and cried out saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’” How can somebody who comes after me exist before me? John says, “He came after me. He was born after me.” Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist before Mary was pregnant with Jesus. John was born first.

And John says, “The one who was born after me was before me. He existed before me.” Again, that’s pure eternal being. So John the apostle borrows some testimony from John the Baptist. Why do you think he does that? Is that necessary? It’s necessary if you’re Jewish and you believe in Deuteronomy, that everything has to be confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Why not? It was John the Baptist. This language here, the verbs here indicate that this was constantly John’s pattern. This was what he was always saying. “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, because He existed before me.” How can anybody who comes after me have existed before me unless He’s eternal?

So the testimony of John A (the apostle), John B (the Baptist) join together to declare that Jesus is the divine glory – that Jesus is the divine glory, divine God on display.

Number two: The incarnate Christ dispenses grace “for of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” We’re so glad to be delivered from the law, right? And brought to grace. Grace came through Christ. So He displays glory, He dispenses grace. This is the evidence of His deity.

He is full of grace and truth. He is full, in verse 16, and “of His fullness we have all received,” and then he illustrates it by saying in the Greek, “Grace after grace.” “Grace in the place of grace,” that’s what that is. It’s just – endless, non-diminishing supply of grace upon grace upon grace. I love they use the preposition after grace, after grace, after grace – after this grace is moved, there’s more grace filling the vacuum. There’s never any diminishing of grace.

We have received the fullness of the grace that He possesses, grace in the place of grace in the place of grace in the place of grace. Romans 5, Paul says, “In this grace we stand” – we live, this is where we exist. Grace comes constantly to us because we have believed the truth of the gospel, and we don’t receive some small amount of grace. You remember? To the apostle Paul who was concerned about his thorn in the flesh, our Lord said, “My grace is sufficient,” right? “My grace is sufficient.” It’s a never-ever-ending supply.

We read in Hebrews, “Come to the throne of grace.” There’s a never-diminishing supply for every need that you will ever have. John says, “How do we know He’s God?” Because we are living in this realm of grace that just keeps being poured out and poured out and poured out on our lives.

And all we knew under the law was threats and warnings, and death and judgment, and along comes Christ, and it’s grace in the place of grace in the place of grace. At the end of verse 17, “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” Promised in the Old Testament? Yes. Promised in the Old Testament. Activated in the Old Testament? Sure. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Grace all through the Old Testament. Everybody ever saved in the history of the world has been saved by God’s grace.

But grace was not fully realized until Christ came and paid His penalty on the cross. The word “realized” here is egeneto – egeneto. It’s from the verb ginomai, to become, and it means came into being, came into existence. We could read it that way. Grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.

Well, you say, “If they only came into being through Jesus Christ, then was there any grace before Jesus Christ?” Yes, God, knowing that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, was applying the grace that had not yet been validated. And the grace that Christ exhibited and purchased at the cross extended back as much as it extends forward.

John says, “This is not an ordinary man.” Gospel truth tells us that this is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the God-man, fully God, fully man. We see it, we’ve experienced it, we’ve touched Him, we’ve heard Him, He displayed grace, and He dispensed glory.

One final point: The incarnate Christ defines God, He defines God. He displays glory, dispenses grace, and defines God. I love verse 18. “No one has seen God at any time.” Why? He’s invisible. There are times when God has appeared as smoke and fire and things like that, but He has no form. No one has seen God at any time. However, the monogenēs, the Son of God, the incarnate One, the One who is in the bosom of the Father.

“Bosom” is really an antiquated word, let me tell you what that word is. It’s actually used in the book of Acts for bay or inlet. It’s a word for the fold in material. If you took a bunch of material and piled it up and it had little folds, that would be the word used, or it’s for a very tight, small pocket. And so what he is saying is the monogenēs, who is tucked in intimately to the very presence of God – it’s a beautiful picture – who is folded into God, he has explained Him.

That last statement, “He has explained Him” – really powerful. Wouldn’t you like to have God explained to you? When somebody said to you, “How do you explain God?” where would you go? Well, you’d go to that verse and say, “Look at Jesus Christ, He explains God.”

By the way, the word “explained” here is an interesting word. It’s the word exēgeomai, from which we get exegete. We use that word a lot in seminary because we teach people how to do exegesis, how to exegete Scripture. What does it mean? It means to explain, interpret, give the meaning. Jesus exegetes God. So you want to know about God? Jesus defines God. He displays glory, He dispenses grace, and He defines God.

So don’t come to me with any patronizing nonsense about Jesus being a nice man, a good teacher, a noble, religious leader. That’s not an option. He’s God. He is God. And if you believe that and you receive Him – “to those who received Him,” right? Verse 12, He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe on His name. In order to be a child of God, you have to believe on His name. To believe on His name, you must believe that He is who He is.

Father, we are grateful again for how clear and yet profound your Word is, and we thank you for the treasure that every verse, every phrase is to us. We feel like we’ve gone way too fast. We could spend a year on that passage alone. We’re going to have to trust your Holy Spirit (and gladly do) to unfold its truths to us as we go back and meditate and meditate and meditate on its truth.

More importantly, Lord, I pray for those who have not yet confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have not yet come to know the God-man who died on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins and rose again to provide eternal life. May those hearts be opened today. May they believe, and not having heard this preached, walk away in rebellious disobedience and forfeit eternal rest. May they enter into the rest that is found only through faith in Christ. We pray in His name. Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-4

At Least 10 Things Great Churches Are For

By Sermoncentral on Apr 20, 2021

The church has often, intentionally or not, been branded as a community of people who are angry and therefore are against everything not church-y. This is especially true when we so vocally voice our protests and gang up to boycott every business that doesn’t look conservative-Christian-friendly enough. I’ve listened to too much lately. From all sides. Some opinions I agree with and others I don’t, but what I’ve concluded is ultimately this: If I’m going to be known or listened to, I want it to be because of what I’m FOR, not what I’m against.

Is it just me, or has the Internet and social media seemingly been flooded lately by a whole lot of vocal people expressing just how many things they’re against?

There’s a culture war going on, and it isn’t just the right versus the left. Society seems divided into all kinds of tribes and micro-communities, but issue after issue keeps dividing those micro-communities further. It’s very easy to join the fray – to get drafted into a war we don’t really feel is ours, but in which our emotions have become entangled, as if every major trending topic will most certainly determine our fate if we don’t speak up.

The church has often, intentionally or not, been branded as a community of people who are angry and therefore are against everything not church-y. This is especially true when we so vocally voice our protests and gang up to boycott every business that doesn’t look conservative-Christian-friendly enough.

I’ve listened to too much lately. From all sides. Some opinions I agree with and others I don’t, but what I’ve concluded is ultimately this: If I’m going to be known or listened to, I want it to be because of what I’m FOR, not what I’m against.

Please don’t misunderstand. There are lots of things that Christ-followers should be ardently against. We should be passionately against slavery and human trafficking, genocide, persecution, and oppression. We should be against doctrinal error within the church when it confuses or obscures the true message of the gospel. And we should even be against sin, especially in our own lives. After all, where sin thrives, humanity doesn’t.

My fear, though, is that the church is often branded, fairly or not, as the people who are against people. The church is against gay people, liberals, addicts, and sinners of all kinds. We’re against Target or Starbucks or Hollywood. We’re against pregnant teenagers, rock bands, and anyone who is inked or pierced. I realize I’m feeding into some of the stereotypes about the church that certainly don’t apply to even a majority of Christians. But some of this brand has been earned.

When it comes to my own ministry, and the way I lead the church I love, I want to major on the things that we’re for. I want to put down the weapons of the sarcastic juke and judgmental stab and instead take up the tools that are constructive. I would rather have a ministry of building people up with truth than tearing them down with it. For example…

1. We’re for truth – absolute, eternal truth in a world of uncertainty.

2.  We’re for love – showing love in practical, tangible ways in a self-serving world.

3.  We’re for life – imparting life in a world dominated by death and tragedy.

4.  We’re for human dignity – every person is a precious soul, and every soul matters deeply to God.

5.  We’re for healing – offering physical, emotional, and spiritual healing for the broken in a broken world.

6.  We’re for grace – the radical, Jesus-like kind that offends the religious and saves sinners.

7.  We’re for community – life-giving relationships between people who bear each other’s burdens.

8.  We’re for prayer – prayer that calls on an active and living God to move heaven and earth.

9.  We’re for faith – the kind that moves mountains, that expects God’s best.

10.  We’re for hope – that the King will return, rule, and reign in peace forever!

We’re for YOU! We’re for you because God created you, loves you, lived for you, died for you, rose for you, and draws you to himself in love no matter your background, no matter your sin, and no matter what your story looks like.

https://www.sermoncentral.com/pastors-preaching-articles/sermoncentral-at-least-10-things-great-churches-are-for-2536

The Grace of Good Rebuke

How to Love with Hard Words

Article by Marshall Segal Staff writer, desiringGod.org

How we give and receive rebuke reveals more about us than we might first realize. When was the last time someone rebuked you, and how did you respond? When was the last time you needed to rebuke someone? How did you respond?

When someone confronts us about a sin he sees in us, some of us get defensive and fire back. Others cower, withdraw, and crumble in self-pity. Still others, however, have learned to receive good rebuke for what it is: love. They know the secret others fail to grasp: Hard words are instrumental, indispensable, and precious along the path to godliness.

“Hard words are instrumental, indispensable, and precious along the path to godliness.”

Similarly, when someone sins against us, we often fall into one of two traps. Some of us default (often out of hurt or anger) to brutal honesty, the kind that wields truth to, consciously or unconsciously, harm others. Others of us resist confrontation at all costs, or we couch every hard word with every available pillow. In both cases, we fail to practice rebuke as an act of extraordinary love — either by speaking the truth without love or by failing to speak at all.

Second Corinthians 13 might not be the first text we think of for rebuke, but it does chart a wise course through the land mines that often make healthy, loving, and life-giving correction so difficult.

The Occasion of Rebuke

The particular sin Paul confronts in 2 Corinthians was likely more personally painful than many of us can imagine (2 Corinthians 2:1). The whole letter addresses a rebellion that arose in the church of Corinth against his authority and ministry, even after years of his investing there (2 Corinthians 10:1011:413:2–3).

While the situation (and stakes) may have been different for Paul, he faced the same question we face again and again within the church: When we see sin in one another, will we lovingly and graciously confront one another? Or will we avoid conflict out of fear? Or, in anger and impatience, will we heap shame and guilt on a brother or sister?

Before we get into how we rebuke, it’s worth pausing over why we need rebuke. We all need to rebuke and be rebuked because we all still sin (1 John 1:8). And sin is deadly serious. If we’re unwilling to rebuke one another, we need to ask if we really believe that sin is deceptive, destructive, and, if unrepentant, damning. Rebuke is part of a wider vigilance against the only enemy that can destroy us:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12–13)

Because sin is so serious, so awful, so devastating to a soul, we are to exhort one another every day. And sometimes, for any number of reasons, we need more than exhortation. We need rebuke. And if we see sin for what it really is, we should embrace, even rejoice in, good rebuke.

Knowing that we need rebuke, we need to learn to rebuke well — lovingly and honestly, graciously and firmly. And to rebuke well, we need to be deeply and passionately rooted in the gospel, we need to recognize and confront the sinfulness of sin (first in ourselves, and only then in others), and we need to learn the goal and heart of good rebuke.

The Goal of Good Rebuke

First, the goal. The goal of good rebuke is not rebuke. Rebuke is always a means, not an end. As Paul rebukes his opponents, he clarifies the goal (and repeats himself to be clear). “Your restoration is what we pray for” (2 Corinthians 13:9). And then speaking to the whole church: “Aim for restoration” (2 Corinthians 13:11). Restoration, not mere correction, is the goal of godly rebuke.

The apostle — despite what these false teachers had done to him — didn’t want the Corinthians canceled or thrown out; he wanted them back as brothers. He wanted relationships restored, partnerships restored, the sweetness of unity and fellowship restored. How different might our churches, our disagreements, even our controversies be if more of us longed, prayed, and worked for restoration like Paul did? Restoration — the renewal and revival of once-broken (or even dead) love — is the goal of good rebuke.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression,” Paul charges all believers, “you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). One way to cultivate the gentleness we need in godly correction is to focus on correction as a pathway to restoration. If restoration is the destination, it will shape and color what words we use and how we say them.

The Heart of Good Rebuke

While restoration is the aim, humility and love are the heart of good rebuke. We see this most clearly and powerfully in the previous verse: “We are glad when we are weak and you are strong” (2 Corinthians 13:9). Because restoration, not self-preservation or vindication, was his greatest burden, Paul was glad to be rejected and humiliated if it meant his offenders might finally repent and be forgiven and restored.

“I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,” he wrote earlier in the same letter, “so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). I am content with insults and persecutions — literally, well pleased with insults and persecutions. That gladness was (and is) surprising, even offensive — and utterly Christian. Jesus had said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The heart of good rebuke knows that the power of God to convict, to redeem, to change often pours through our willingness to be weak.

“The power of God to convict, to redeem, to change often pours through our willingness to be weak.”

How did humility and love penetrate so deeply into his heart — a heart that had once violently opposed and persecuted believers? He immersed his heart in the heart of another. Again, Paul writes, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus endured the hardships of the cross for joy (Hebrews 12:2). Christian humility and love produce a joy strong enough to sacrifice for others, even for those who sin against us.

The Tone of Good Rebuke

While Paul’s heart was warm and humble toward the rebellious, and while he longed deeply and persistently for their restoration, he was not afraid to be severe if necessary. “For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me” (2 Corinthians 13:10). At times, severity is necessary when we rebuke one another. This severity, Paul specifically says later in the same verse, tears down (at least for the moment) instead of building up.

This may be the most uncomfortable word for many of us: severe. Do we ever really need to be severe? Especially today, in an often excessively sensitive and empathetic society, severity seems only and ever inappropriate (or worse). To some, severity sounds like abuse. If it hurts, it should not have been said, could be a proverb of our age. And it is a plague on our age. The wise know just how desperately we need hard words (Proverbs 15:31). The foolish hoard soft words, and flee anything even resembling reproof (Proverbs 12:113:1815:32). Mute. Block. Cancel. And the Old Testament warns us, in horror after horror, what happens when everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6).

Sometimes, when sin deceives us and entrenches itself in our souls, we need the grace of godly severity. Paul not only models this severity, but encourages it when appropriate: “Therefore rebuke them sharply” — same word — “that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). Severity if necessary, so that our brother or sister might be sound again.

The Reluctance of Good Rebuke

Rebuke, especially severe rebuke, should always be patient and reluctant — not impatient and impulsive. The apostle was willing to be severe if necessary in the path of love, but notice that he was willing, not eager.

“I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down” (2 Corinthians 13:10). I don’t want to be severe. I don’t want to tear you down. I don’t want it to get to that point. I have done all I know to do to avoid a harsher confrontation. I want to build you up and encourage you in Christ. I would rather plead and appeal than rebuke sharply.

We are not apostles, but God has given each of us some measure of influence in the body of Christ. We’re each uniquely placed in local congregations and empowered by the Spirit of God to serve in various ways. And though severity is sometimes necessary, God has given us our unique giftings and influence primarily for the sake of building one another up (1 Corinthians 14:1226), not tearing one another down. The church should be known as builders, not bulldozers.

Many of us, however, rarely even think about how we might intentionally build up someone else in the body. And when that’s the case, rebuke will rarely be received well, even when it is extended well. In the life of any local church, rebuke should be an occasional ripple in a mighty river of encouragement.

The Vital Ally of Good Rebuke

While this last lesson may be the most subtle lesson from the passage, it may also be the most revealing. “Your restoration,” Paul writes, “is what we pray for” (2 Corinthians 13:9). And a couple of verses earlier: “We pray to God that you may not do wrong . . . but that you may do what is right” (2 Corinthians 13:7). If we are ready to rebuke someone, but are reluctant to pray for him, are we really as ready as we think?

“Rebuke without prayer is rebuke without power.”

What we want, in any good rebuke, is for God to bring the clarity and change in this person. We can muster the courage to say something, meticulously monitor our words and tone, repeatedly express our affection and hope, discretely draw in other concerned believers — and still, if God does not act, all the love in the world will fall on deaf ears. We are mere planters, waterers, rebukers; he alone makes any heart grow (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Before we rebuke, as we rebuke, and after we rebuke, we should always pray. Rebuke without prayer is rebuke without power. But rebuke with prayer is rebuke with the backing of heaven. So, confront sin when you see it, aiming for restoration from a heart of humility and love, with a reluctant willingness to be severe if necessary. But above all else, pray and ask God to part the waters of this person’s heart and finally deliver him from the enemy of his soul.

Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have two children and live in Minneapolis.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-grace-of-good-rebuke

Correct Motives For Bible Study

Posted by God’s Gift

Bible study is the natural habit of those who love God, and thus, hunger and thirst after His will. True disciples are those who continually seek for God’s directions in the Bible in order to pattern their behavior after His will.

  • Motivated to know the truth.

Matthew 5:3 (KJV)Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

John 7:17 (KJV)If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 

John 8:32 (KJV)And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

  • Motivated to obey God.

John 15:14 (KJV)Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 

James 1:22-25 (KJV)be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 

  • Motivated to war against Satan.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (KJV)Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 

2 Timothy 2:14-15 (KJV)Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (KJV)I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 

  • Motivated to save one’s self.

John 6:63 (KJV)It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 

1 Timothy 4:16 (KJV)Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 

James 1:21 (KJV)Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 

  • Motivated to teach.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

Hebrews 5:12 (KJV)For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 

  • Motivated by Paul’s example.

2 Timothy 4:13 (KJV)The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. 

  • Motivated to grow in knowledge.

Colossians 1:10 (KJV)That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV)For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 

  • Motivated by thirst for righteousness.

Matthew 5:6 (KJV)Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 

1 Peter 2:2 (KJV)As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 

Godsgift

https://jesusmarketinngblog.wpcomstaging.com/2021/03/26/correct-motives-for-bible-study/

Jesus, the Unwelcomed Lover (Luke 13:31-35)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. Book of Luke

Have you ever had your love rejected? It hurts when someone rejects your love, whether you are 13, 23, or 73 years old. Oh, the pain of rejected love!

In today’s passage, I want you to see how Jesus’ love is often unwelcomed and rejected. But before we read our text, let me review the context and setting. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to be crucified (v. 22). The opposition against Him was growing stronger and more vocal. The common people loved Him and heard Him gladly, but the religious crowd hated Him because He exposed their hypocrisy and wickedness. Let’s pick up with Luke 13:31-35:

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to Him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill You.”

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

“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 her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

In these words, you can almost feel the depth of love and compassion Jesus had for His people. That’s the same kind of love He has for you today. Let’s learn three important things about Jesus’ love:

1. Jesus is a fearless lover

The Pharisees warned Jesus that Herod was out to kill Him, so He had better leave town by sundown. He was no friend of the Pharisees, so this warning was probably a scare tactic intended to spook Jesus.

Herod Antipas was a powerful governor who had the authority to execute anyone he desired. A few months earlier, he had beheaded John the Baptist at the request of his cunning stepdaughter, who was also his niece. Herod had nightmares that Jesus was actually John come back from the dead.

Jesus’ reply is priceless. He makes a joke of Herod. He says, “You tell that fox…” (v. 32). That’s an example of Hebrew humor. He was offering a caricature of Herod as a sneaky, cunning, predatory animal—actually pretty funny if you knew anything about Herod! He was more animal-like in his passions than human.

This response reveals Jesus’ courage. He is a fearless lover. He indicated He was going to keep on doing what He had been doing and Herod would not slow Him down. He had a job to do and He had a goal to accomplish. In verse 32, Jesus said, “I WILL reach my goal.” His goal was to redeem sinful mankind—and He knew He would have to die as the sacrificial Lamb to provide forgiveness. Nothing would cause Him to detour from the destination of the cross. Jesus was not afraid of Herod because He knew He already had a date with death and it wouldn’t be at the hands of Herod. Jesus did not die some martyr’s death over which He had no control. They did not execute Him; He willingly laid down His life. He makes that clear by what He said in John 10:17-18: “The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.” Revelation 13:8 says Jesus is the Lamb of God who was “slain from the creation of the world.” The cross was not an afterthought of God. It was not “Plan B” because Adam and Eve sinned. It was not a contingency plan—it was always God’s plan.

In a few days, Jesus was going to carry a literal cross from Pilate’s fort to a hill outside Jerusalem. But Jesus was already carrying that cross in His mind and heart. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus knew He would die and rise again. He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:19). That’s why He was a fearless lover.

Human nature always wants to “detour from the difficult” instead of staying the course. Human nature says, “Get out of that bad marriage” or “Don’t submit to that difficult boss.” But there is a cross for all of us who would follow Jesus and we must be fearless in carrying it.

Jesus laughed and said, “You tell that fox…” On the surface, it seems as if Herod was the old fox who was being laughed at, but on a different level, I think Jesus was also laughing at the fox of death, the death Herod had the power to inflict. Jesus laughed at death.

Here’s the personal application for each of us: when we belong to God, we don’t have to fear any fox! When we are carrying the cross of Jesus, we have already died to self. You can’t scare a dead man. When we’re carrying the cross, it’s a liberating experience because we don’t have to be afraid of anybody or anything.

When the ship captain delivered the first missionaries to the wild jungle, he said, “I don’t know why you are going to those savages because they will kill you.” The missionary replied, “They can’t kill us because we have already died.”

The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18). That’s why Jesus wasn’t afraid. He possessed a perfect love for us. Jesus laughed in the face of the fear of death. You and I don’t have to be afraid either. When we are carrying the cross of Christ, we can laugh at any threat. I love the comment about the “Proverbs 31 woman.” The Bible says a godly woman is able to “laugh at the days to come” (Prov. 31:25). When you are carrying the cross, you can face any threat of the future and laugh at it. That’s what Jesus did – He made a joke about Herod and his deathly threat.

What are you afraid of today? Death? Financial ruin? Terrorist attack? Disease? When you truly belong to God there is nothing in this life that can rob you of your joy and your promise of eternal life. Some people go through this life whining and complaining and moaning and groaning that life isn’t fair. Hey, this life isn’t fair, but this life isn’t all there is! So get over it and get under the cross! Start living a life under the cross where you can laugh at the things that ought to scare you. Jesus is a fearless lover and what a lesson for all of us!

2. Jesus is a protective lover

This passage could be called Animal Planet because Jesus makes references to two different animals. He compared Herod and death to a fox, and He compared Himself to a mother hen. Look at verse 34 again. Jesus says, “Oh 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 her wings, but you were not willing!” Can you hear the depth of passion and heartache in that cry? There are many pictures in the Bible that describe God’s nature and character: He is a rock, the door, a shepherd, the light… and there are many others. God’s character is so multi-faceted that none of these images fully communicate the richness of His nature. Each one gives us a small insight into how He wants to relate to us.

Have you ever thought of God as a mother hen? Jesus was standing over Jerusalem with His arms of love outstretched, but the Jews were unwilling to accept His love. Jerusalem will never have peace until they acknowledge the Prince of Peace. Now, I must admit, I have never raised chickens, and maybe some of you have, so you may know more about chickens than I do. But we can learn something about God by understanding a mother hen.

A hen constantly calls her chicks. Maybe you have been around a chicken yard and heard them clucking, and thought they were clucking just to hear themselves cluck. But each hen has a distinctive cluck and clucks constantly, so her chicks can find her. Her chicks recognize her call. Jesus is constantly calling us to Himself as well. He says, “Come to Me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). If we are wise, we will recognize and respond to the call of Jesus.

A hen calls them to feed. In every chicken yard there is a clearly established “pecking order.” The most dominant chickens get the first chance at food. As you can imagine, little chicks are pretty far down the pecking order. That’s why we are told to “stay right in the center” of God’s love. Like those little chicks Jesus spoke of, we should stay under the protective wings of God. We should be like a little child running to a parent with our arms outstretched and open—and get into the zone of His blessing and grace. Some of you are Christians and God loves you, but you have left the shelter of His love. Today, you can come back to Him and get back into the center of His love.

3. Jesus is a rejected lover

Verse 34 contains five of the saddest words in the Universe. Jesus said, “but you were not willing.” Jesus loves us so much He died for our sins. There is a heaven and a hell, and if a person lives their entire life rejecting His love, they will spend eternity in hell. I suspect He will say to each person who goes to hell, “I wanted to protect you and shelter you like a hen protects her chicks… but you were not willing.”

I can understand how Jesus’ heart was broken because His Jewish brothers and sisters rejected Him. The Bible says, “He came to that which was His own, but his own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). When I was in the eighth grade, there was a girl who rejected my love—and the result was only a minor broken heart. But the consequences of rejecting Jesus’ love are much more severe. Any person who rejects God’s love will experience spiritual desolation. When I think of the word “desolate,” I imagine a dry, barren desert where there is no shade and no water. I’ve known people, and perhaps you are one of them, who are experiencing spiritual desolation. There are no springs of living water bubbling up in their personalities. There is no fruit, no joy, no peace—only barrenness and desolation. Are you there?

The most amazing thing Jesus said in this passage is that we have the power to choose. Those last four words in verse 34 are some of the most powerful words in the universe. Jesus says to us, “I will love you and shelter you like a mother hen protects her chicks if you are willing.” You have the power to choose. When you choose to change the direction of your life, that’s called repentance. Have you ever repented and accepted Jesus’ love?

Today, Jesus invites you to run under His wings of safety and warmth. Some of you are Christians who left the circle of His love. He never stopped loving you, but you have vacated that zone of blessing. Will you move back to a position of obedience, so He can bless you? Others of you need to accept His love for the first time. Will you do that? If you choose not to receive His offer of love, for you He is still Jesus, the unwelcomed lover.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/jesus-the-unwelcomed-lover-2/

5 Reasons Why People Doubt Their Salvation

I am confident of this: that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

The Bible teaches not only does Jesus save us, but He keeps us in the faith. It teaches God not only gives eternal life, but will preserve us in that life. It is not life until we sin again, it is not life until we feel differently, it is not life until times get tough and our faith grows weak, it is eternal life which will never end. Scripture is filled with the assurance that our salvation is secure.

Many people, however, tend to doubt their salvation. Here are five reasons why:

1. They have a faulty understanding of how they are saved.

If a person thinks he is saved by good works, then it stands to reason he would think his salvation could be lost by bad works. This is the problem with many people today. They feel they can lose their salvation. They say, “If I could earn it, I could lose it. If I could deserve it, I could desert it.” But this is incorrect. The truth of the matter is since we cannot earn it, since it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast, then we did not deserve it in the first place.

This is why a proper theological understanding of salvation is important. God chose to save us, not based on our merits or what we deserved. Rather, He chose to save us in spite of who we are and contrary to what we deserved. Salvation is based on His goodness and grace, not on our merit. When we get a proper understanding of that, when we get a clear picture of how bad our sins are and how great God’s grace is, it will give us a new and deeper appreciation for our salvation.

2. They do not have a biblical understanding of perseverance.

Instead of realizing what God has said and trusting He will be faithful to His Word, many people have based their beliefs on what someone has told them, how they feel, on faulty interpretation, or something other than the revelation in God’s Word. This is the fundamental problem with all doctrinal error, that people have not rightly divided the Word of God and have based their belief on a view which is not biblical.

Many people base their beliefs on experience. They might say something like this: “I knew a person who was a great Christian for many years, but then one day he decided to walk away from the faith and leave God behind. He just laid down his salvation and abandoned God.” Scripture gives insight into such cases: “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19). If we are truly saved, we will persevere in our salvation to the end.

3. They are ignorant of God’s promises in His Word.

The level of biblical illiteracy today is astonishing. Many professing Christians know more about their favorite sports teams than they do the doctrines of the faith. It is no wonder why so many of us are so easily led astray by every wind of doctrine which blows across the ecclesiological landscape.

The antidote for this is simple: get grounded and rooted in the Word of God, and learn what it says about who God is. God’s Word tells us He gives eternal life: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12-13).

4. They are out of fellowship with God and do not sense His presence.

There are many Christians today who experience doubts about their salvation for no other reason than they are out of fellowship with God. Our salvation is all about relationship. It is about walking and talking, breathing and being; it is about practicing the presence of God in our lives. But many Christians have allowed sin to remain in their lives, unconfessed and unaddressed. They have grieved the Holy Spirit of God and are no longer sensitive to His presence in their lives, nor are they aware of His movement around them. It is little wonder why people in such a state doubt their salvation.

The solution for this is simple: Get right with God. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

5. They are not saved and sense they are lost because they really are.

One of the reasons people doubt their salvation is simply because they are not saved. They may have knowledge of the church. They may have knowledge of Scripture. They may have grown up in a Christian home, surrounded by Christian friends and family, but at the end of the day, they cannot say they have ever experienced a transformation of their life, the kind of transformation which only Jesus can bring when He gives a person a new heart and a new mind.

It is to this end that Paul tells the Christians at Corinth: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). The reason many people will go to hell from a church pew is because they never gave themselves a spiritual examination. They never stopped to consider whether or not they were really saved. If you are truly saved, you should know it. God does not want you to be paralyzed by fear or doubts, which are ungrounded or unfounded.

The solution is clear: know what God’s Word says about your salvation. Stand on the truth that it is Jesus who saves you and not anything you have done. Ground yourself in good doctrine. Remember your salvation is a reflection and an extension of God’s character. Let Him show you if there is any sin in your life and stop for a moment to examine yourself spiritually to see if you are truly in the faith: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

* If you enjoyed this, I encourage you to read more in my book, Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living.

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C.S. Lewis “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one … without signposts

November 28, 2020 • C.S. Lewis 

His death went unnoticed, as he died the same day John F. Kennedy was shot.His books are some of the most widely read in English literature, with over 200 million sold worldwide.Read as PDF …

Miracles in American History-Vol. TWO: Amazing Faith that Shaped the Nation

Nearly 50 years after his death, his books continue to sell a million copies a year.His name was Clive Staples Lewis, born NOVEMBER 29, 1898.

At age 19, he fought in the trenches in World War I.After the War, C.S. Lewis taught at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1925-54; and was professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, 1954-1963.

Originally an agnostic, C.S. Lewis credited his Catholic colleague at Oxford, J.R.R. Tolkien, whom he met in 1926, as being instrumental in his coming to faith in Jesus Christ.J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, 1937, and Lord of the Rings, 1937-1949, which is one of the best-selling novels ever written–with over 150 million copies sold.

C.S. Lewis’ writing style was influenced by George MacDonald, a writer and Christian minister.MacDonald’s fantasy literature pioneered an entire genre, influencing Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865; L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz, 1900; J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, 1937.

C.S. Lewis regarded MacDonald as a “master,” stating:”Picking up a copy of Phantastes (1858) one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later, I knew that I had crossed a great frontier.”

G. K. Chesterton cited George MacDonald’sThe Princess and the Goblin (1872) as a book that had “made a difference to my whole existence.”

George MacDonald wrote:

  • “There are things that must be done in faith, else they never have being.”
  • “Faith is that which, knowing the Lord’s will, goes and does it; or, not knowing it, stands and waits, content in ignorance as in knowledge, because God wills – neither pressing into the hidden future, nor careless of the knowledge which opens the path of action.”
  • “Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to the honest. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood … Doubts must precede every deeper assurance; for uncertainties are what we first see when we look into a region hitherto unknown, unexplored, unannexed.”
  • “The principle part of faith is patience.”
  • “A perfect faith would lift us absolutely above fear.”
  • “All about us, in earth and air, wherever the eye or ear can reach, there is a power ever breathing itself forth in signs, now in daisy, now in a wind-waft, a cloud, a sunset; a power that holds constant and sweetest relation with the dark and silent world within us. The same God who is in us, and upon whose tree we are the buds, if not yet the flowers, also is all about us- inside, the Spirit; outside, the Word. And the two are ever trying to meet in us.”
  • “If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God, and he that does not live to God, is dead.”
  • “Any faith in Him, however small, is better than any belief about Him, however great.”

C.S. Lewis was also influenced by Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s book, The Everlasting Man (1925), written in rebuttal of H.G. Wells’The Outline of History.

Lewis explained:”The best popular defense of the full Christian position I know is G.K. Chesterton’sThe Everlasting Man.”

Chesterton wrote in The Everlasting Man, 1925:“Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something . Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else.It is really far more logical to start by saying ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth’ even ifyou only mean ‘In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.’For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one.But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else.”

He continued:”I do not believe that the past is most truly pictured as a thing in which humanity merely fades away into nature, or civilization merely fades away into barbarism, or religion fades away into mythology, or our own religion fades away into the religions of the world.In short I do not believe that the best way to produce an outline of history is to rub out the lines.”

G.K. Chesterton wrote in The Everlasting Man, 1925:“If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic.A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy.As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.”

He added:“As for the general view that the Church was discredited by the War — they might as well say that the Ark was discredited by the Flood.When the world goes wrong, it proves rather that the Church is right.The Church is justified, not because her children do not sin, but because they do.”

G.K. Chesterton continued:“Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died.Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”

Miracles in American History-Vol. TWO: Amazing Faith that Shaped the Nation

C.S. Lewis described in Surprised by Joy, 1955, how he resisted believing, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.”Finally, in 1929, he came to believe in God:”You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen (College, Oxford) night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.

… That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

In 1931, after a late-night discussion with J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson,Lewis described his deepening spiritual journey in Surprised by Joy:

“I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken.I was driven to Whipsnade zoo one sunny morning.When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached to zoo I did.Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought.Nor in great emotion. ‘Emotional’ is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events.It was more like when a man, after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.

… And it was, like that moment on top of the bus, ambiguous.Freedom, or necessity? Or do they differ at their maximum? At that maximum a man is what he does; there is nothing of him left over or outside the act.As for what we commonly call ‘Will,’ and what we commonly call ‘Emotion,’ I fancy these usually talk too loud, protest too much, to be quite believed, and we have a secret suspicion that the great passion or the iron resolution is partly a put-up job.

… They have spoiled Whipsnade since then.Wallaby Wood, with the birds singing overhead and the blue-bells underfoot and the Wallabies hopping all round one, was almost Eden come again.”

Among C.S. Lewis’ most notable books are:

  • The Problem of Pain, 1940;
  • The Screwtape Letters, 1942;
  • Abolition of Man, 1943;
  • Miracles, 1947; and
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, 1950-1956, which includes: The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe.

There Really is a Santa Claus -History of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Holiday Traditions

Lewis stated in The Oxford Socratic Club (1944. pp. 154-165):”If … I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit science.If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on bio-chemistry, and bio-chemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of atoms,I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees.”

In The Problem of Pain,Lewis wrote:”The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it.Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil.Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt …God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world …No doubt pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion.But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment, it removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of the rebel soul …Suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God …… If tribulation is a necessary element in redemption, we must anticipate that it will never cease till God sees the world to be either redeemed or no further redeemable.”

In Mere Christianity, 1952, C.S. Lewis wrote:”All that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Lewis expressed in Mere Christianity, 1952:”I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’That is the one thing we must not say.A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

… You must make your choice.Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

In The Screwtape Letters, 1942, Lewis wrote:“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

In the final chapter of The Abolition of Man, 1943, Lewis warned:”I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently.”

C.S. Lewis wrote:

  • “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.'”
  • “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
  • “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”
  • “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”

Lewis wrote:”Christianity … is a religion you could not have guessed … ‘It is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up.It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”

He wrote in Mere Christianity, 1952:”The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus in a woman’s body.”

In Mere Christianity,C.S. Lewis wrote:”God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion.God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing”–Read as PDF … C.S. Lewis “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one”

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You Are Worthy of God’s Love

 by ZAMA-ZOE GRACE

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. Luke 15:20-25

You are Worthy of God’s Love

Greetings friends, I trust you are well and are still acknowledging the love of God in your life. I know some who face difficulties at this stage might question if God loves them or even care about them. 

Today I write to encourage you that the Lord God of truth loves you, and He has not left your side; He is with you and for you, and He will see you through; it does not matter how hard things have become. 

This day, may I encourage those who feel it’s their fault things have not worked out, those whom the enemy is putting so much guilt and condemnation in their hearts. 

May I share with you two stories in the bible where God demonstrated so much love for the person who felt so lost and thought they did not deserve the mercy and the kindness of God, and they were so wrong because, in the end, God embraced them and showered them with so much love. 

 Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David…..10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 2 Sam.16:5-10

 As we read from the above mentioned scripture, we can see that at that point, the king did not think he deserved God’s love; he did not feel worthy of any respect from the people because of the sin he committed against God. He accepted all the bad that was taking place in his life, with no hope of experiencing God’s love and acceptance. 

However, in the end, after he had passed through many afflictions, God restored him to his throne, and he became a king in Israel and Judah. He received the promise God made to His people is Isaiah 61:7, where He said, ” You will receive a double measure of wealth instead of your shame. You will sing about your wealth instead of being disgraced. That is why you will have a double measure of wealth in your land. You will have everlasting joy.”

The God of love did not stop loving the king, even though it was his fault. This love foreshadows the kind of love God would demonstrate to His people in the new covenant of grace. We read about this love in Luke, chapter 15, from verses 11 to 32. In this story, we learn that the younger son requested his father’s inheritance while his father was still alive, left his family home, and went squandered all the wealth his father gave him. 

At some point in his life, this young man encountered hardship because he had exhausted all his inheritance, and not only that, there was a severe famine in the land. Life became hard to the point that he served in the fields and fed swine and shared meals with the animals he was feeding.

Eventually, he came to his senses and returned home. As he went back home, he did not expect to find any form of acceptance; he did not expect his father’s love. He only needed shelter, and he was willing to serve under his father as one of the servants. 

He was lost and feeling so unworthy of his father’s love. He was full of shame and disgrace and defeat. He could not even recognize himself, but he had a father who loved him with undying love, never-ending love, who recognized him from a distance and ran towards him and embraced him and showered him with so much love that he never thought was possible at that time. His father welcomed him back and dressed him afresh, and restored him to his position as a son in the family. His father did not even want to discuss the matter; he was happy to have his lost son back home where he belonged. 

Likewise, It does not matter if it was our own doing or somebody put us in a predicament; God will always respond to us with love, for God is Love. He can respond to us with love, even if we lose our path; He comes chasing after, puts us on His shoulders, and brings back to the way we are supposed to follow. 

In the new covenant of grace, God has demonstrated a greater love for you. He has paid the price that will continue to prove until eternity that you are worthy of God’s love. It does not matter if you miss Him along the way; His love for you remains the same. It does not matter the circumstances; God’s love will prevail because His love never fails.

Today Christ is reminding you that His love for you will conquer the work of the enemy in your life. God’s love will restore you to your original position and purpose, and you will receive even more than what you deserve as we read in Isaiah, chapter 61, verse 7.

May you find courage this day, knowing that you are worthy of God’s love. May you see this love amid storms of life. May you discern this love amid confusion, doubt, and may it restore your passion for Him.

God loves you; He is with you and for you. Thank you for reading this post; I appreciate you; many blessings to you. 

You Are Worthy of God’s Love!

ZAMA-ZOE GRACE

You Are Worthy of God’s Love

 by ZAMA-ZOE GRACE

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. Luke 15:20-25

You are Worthy of God’s Love

Greetings friends, I trust you are well and are still acknowledging the love of God in your life. I know some who face difficulties at this stage might question if God loves them or even care about them. 

Today I write to encourage you that the Lord God of truth loves you, and He has not left your side; He is with you and for you, and He will see you through; it does not matter how hard things have become. 

This day, may I encourage those who feel it’s their fault things have not worked out, those whom the enemy is putting so much guilt and condemnation in their hearts. 

May I share with you two stories in the bible where God demonstrated so much love for the person who felt so lost and thought they did not deserve the mercy and the kindness of God, and they were so wrong because, in the end, God embraced them and showered them with so much love. 

 Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David…..10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 2 Sam.16:5-10

 As we read from the above mentioned scripture, we can see that at that point, the king did not think he deserved God’s love; he did not feel worthy of any respect from the people because of the sin he committed against God. He accepted all the bad that was taking place in his life, with no hope of experiencing God’s love and acceptance. 

However, in the end, after he had passed through many afflictions, God restored him to his throne, and he became a king in Israel and Judah. He received the promise God made to His people is Isaiah 61:7, where He said, ” You will receive a double measure of wealth instead of your shame. You will sing about your wealth instead of being disgraced. That is why you will have a double measure of wealth in your land. You will have everlasting joy.”

The God of love did not stop loving the king, even though it was his fault. This love foreshadows the kind of love God would demonstrate to His people in the new covenant of grace. We read about this love in Luke, chapter 15, from verses 11 to 32. In this story, we learn that the younger son requested his father’s inheritance while his father was still alive, left his family home, and went squandered all the wealth his father gave him. 

At some point in his life, this young man encountered hardship because he had exhausted all his inheritance, and not only that, there was a severe famine in the land. Life became hard to the point that he served in the fields and fed swine and shared meals with the animals he was feeding.

Eventually, he came to his senses and returned home. As he went back home, he did not expect to find any form of acceptance; he did not expect his father’s love. He only needed shelter, and he was willing to serve under his father as one of the servants. 

He was lost and feeling so unworthy of his father’s love. He was full of shame and disgrace and defeat. He could not even recognize himself, but he had a father who loved him with undying love, never-ending love, who recognized him from a distance and ran towards him and embraced him and showered him with so much love that he never thought was possible at that time. His father welcomed him back and dressed him afresh, and restored him to his position as a son in the family. His father did not even want to discuss the matter; he was happy to have his lost son back home where he belonged. 

Likewise, It does not matter if it was our own doing or somebody put us in a predicament; God will always respond to us with love, for God is Love. He can respond to us with love, even if we lose our path; He comes chasing after, puts us on His shoulders, and brings back to the way we are supposed to follow. 

In the new covenant of grace, God has demonstrated a greater love for you. He has paid the price that will continue to prove until eternity that you are worthy of God’s love. It does not matter if you miss Him along the way; His love for you remains the same. It does not matter the circumstances; God’s love will prevail because His love never fails.

Today Christ is reminding you that His love for you will conquer the work of the enemy in your life. God’s love will restore you to your original position and purpose, and you will receive even more than what you deserve as we read in Isaiah, chapter 61, verse 7.

May you find courage this day, knowing that you are worthy of God’s love. May you see this love amid storms of life. May you discern this love amid confusion, doubt, and may it restore your passion for Him.

God loves you; He is with you and for you. Thank you for reading this post; I appreciate you; many blessings to you. 

You Are Worthy of God’s Love!

You Are Worthy of God’s Love

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