An ongoing battle that every Christian faces is the one between the person you were before you met Jesus and the one you are now that you have met Him. Old temptations beckon. Old habits resurface. Old desires rekindle. Old loyalties divide. Old beliefs hinder. Old memories haunt. When you feel this tension, remember that you have a new identity, a new life and a new you because you believe in and belong to Jesus! You have been changed, are being changed and will be changed by His transforming grace. So fight the good fight of faith against sin as you rejoice in this today: that’s not you anymore.
When we try to make others pay for their sin, we have forgotten that Jesus paid for our sin. As recipients of grace, we are to release our instinct for revenge when others wrong us to let God judge, punish and make all things right in His timing and in His way. Our role is to model His grace, not His judgment. Even when we must seek appropriate justice, it should be motivated by love, not hatred. So, let us overcome evil with good and leave it to God to do the work He means to do. We who have received grace should be quickest to extend it, praying that others will turn to Jesus as we ourselves have done.
Bad circumstances, bad people and bad news make me want it. The more I survey the landscape of the sinfulness and brokenness we are all a part of, I look forward to our eternal heavenly home that Jesus is preparing for us so we can be with Him forever. A place where there will be no more sorrow, suffering or sin. A place where bad things will be eliminated, good things will be perfected and the best things will be unveiled. Our citizenship is in heaven, and God has put a longing in us for our homeland. When it’s hard here, let’s take heart and remember: He is preparing a place for us, and preparing us for a place.
Someone once said that God doesn’t care how many Bible verses we memorize as long as we love others. But the Bible is where we find our definition for what love is and our demonstration of what love does. Knowing what God has to say about love keeps us from forming our own opinions about what is right and wrong about how we feel and treat other people. It also reminds us of His steadfast love for us despite our faults, flaws and failures. This helps us be loving towards others who, like us, are in need of grace. God cares that we know the Bible because that’s how He prepares us to care for others.
Birds fly. Flowers bloom. Honey sweetens. Water dampens. Light illuminates. It’s automatic and appropriate that they do these things because that’s how they were made. This is their nature and design, and it is right to expect them to act in a certain way just as it is right to expect saving faith in Jesus to work itself out in love. It is normal. It is natural. When God’s grace remakes us into people of faith, the new love we have for God will burst forth in acts of love for others. We can’t help but love. We can’t stop loving. We will live this out imperfectly, but this is for sure: A faith that saves is a faith that loves.
One of the enemy’s biggest lies is convincing us to live as if this life is all there is. He wants us to prioritize and pursue things that won’t matter for long over things that will matter forever. But everything looks different when you look past the temporary to eternity. This place isn’t our home; we’re heading home. This life won’t last forever; the next life will. This treasure trove will fade away; the ones laid up in heaven have an everlasting shine. Yes, let us enjoy our time on earth and the things of earth as God means for us to do. But, even more, let us think, feel, speak and act as people who have set their sights on eternity.
God has not blessed us with time just so we can use it binge-watching Netflix. He has not blessed us with money just so we can spend it on more comforts. He has not blessed us with abilities and skills just so we can serve our own interests and passions. The generosity of God has been extended to us with blessings of time, talent and treasure that we might both enjoy them ourselves and extend them to bless others. Those of us who are trusting in Jesus have been entrusted with showing the world His heart for them by being His hands and feet and mouth to them. You have been blessed; now go be a blessing.
The paths will divide. The objectives will conflict. The plans will differ. The desires will compete. The advice will disagree. We will often find ourselves having to choose sides for who we will listen to, go with and live to the satisfaction of … God or people. We simply cannot be and do what will make Him happy and others happy at the same time, all the time. Rather than compromising to satisfy the crowd, let us show others the better path, the better objective, the better plan, the better desire and the better advice found in the good news of Jesus. Today, by grace, let us prioritize pleasing God over pleasing people.
Chosen means to be selected. Chosen means to be wanted. Chosen means to be included. And there is always a basis for being chosen that explains why any person, place or thing is selected, wanted and included. I’ve been chosen to be on an all-star team, to be a keynote speaker and to be a husband. These were all based on merit. But when God chose me to be in His family, it wasn’t because I deserved it. It was because Jesus took all of my sinfulness and replaced it with all of His righteousness. His merit replaced my demerit. I wasn’t chosen because of my skill, knowledge or charm. I was chosen by grace.
God delights to give His children the good things they ask from Him. Why then are there times when we don’t get what we want in life? One reason is simply that we aren’t asking Him for good things. That could mean that we aren’t praying at all, and we don’t get what we ask for because we aren’t asking. That could mean that we are praying, but what we are asking for isn’t good for us to get. Whether it’s the wrong thing, the wrong track, or the wrong time, God loves us too much to say “yes” to all of our requests that we would regret in the end. When He acts differently than we asked, it’s always an upgrade.
Faith in Jesus is followed by following Jesus in faith. Saving belief leads us to step off the throne, take off the crown, and let Jesus take over ruling our hearts and lives. We haven’t really put our faith in Jesus if we are indifferent to what He wants and resistant to what He says. That’s not trust. That’s a lack of trust. That’s mistrust. Real faith in Jesus makes us want to give up our sin and self-rule to follow His steps, His ways and His commands (although imperfectly executed) more fully over time. Why? Because we are confident that life His way is better than any other option, and that for eternal life He is the only option.