He Came To Forgive Us And Free Us

Jesus lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and rose victoriously from the grave.  He did not live, die and rise so we could remain stuck in our sin and struggles as if He did nothing at all.  He came to forgive us and free us from: bitterness, selfishness, laziness, unkindness, purposelessness, sadness, fearfulness and all ungodliness so we might walk in newness of life.  Sin-defeating, life-enabling, heart-transforming, joy-securing resurrection power is ours!  May we have a confidence in and dependance on the power and presence of Jesus today.  We aren’t who we used to be, and we don’t have to live like we are.

He Paid A Debt He Did Not Owe

The gospel is not a self-help plan; it is a rescue plan.  God does not ask us to fix ourselves in five simple steps, but rather to trust in the one stunning step He took in sending Jesus to fix all that is broken in us. His generosity is breathtaking, His goodness is jaw-dropping and His grace is amazing, for He treated His Son like a sinner on the cross so sinners like you and me could be treated like a son.  The more we are aware of the depths of our sin, the more we will appreciate the depths of His salvation. So… let us marvel at and rejoice in this today: Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay.

Preparing Us For A Place

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.

Resting In His Grace

Imperfect words.  Imperfect actions.  Imperfect thoughts.  Imperfect attitudes.  Imperfect motives.  Even though we are not who we used to be, we are also not yet who we will become.  We are imperfect people.  That doesn’t mean we should be indifferent to our sin-produced flaws or complacent in our grace-driven effort to overcome them.   We should work hard to act like Jesus on the outside while God works to make us more like Jesus on the inside.  But we do this secure in His love, safe in His mercy and strengthened by His power.  Today, let us strive for holy living while relying on and resting in His grace.

God Cares That We Know the Bible

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.

A Faith That Saves

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.

Sights On Eternity

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.

Blessed To Be A Blessing

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.

Prioritize Pleasing God

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.

He Doesn’t Need

He doesn’t need advice.  He doesn’t need instructions.  He doesn’t need guidance.  God rules and reigns over every location and situation in the universe with absolute certainty.  You will not find Him getting confused, getting caught off guard or getting into a place where He second guesses Himself.  He always knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it in order to accomplish the goal of His purpose and the good of His people.  This is the One we turn to and trust in!  When we struggle to make sense of our lives, let us remember:  Even if we don’t know what it is, God always knows exactly what He’s doing.

He Didn’t Need

He didn’t need a blueprint.  He didn’t need inspiration.  He didn’t need assistance.  God created all of the universe without anyone’s ideas, input, ingenuity, innovation or imagination.  He just designed it all and made it all out of nothing.  When you consider the amazing diversity and creativity and majesty displayed in every corner of the created world that we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel, God’s handiwork is just absolutely stunning.  He created angles and dimensions, shapes and textures, colors and flavors, scents and elements, and, well, everything known and unknown to us.  Praise Him for He has done great things!

To Seek His Honor Is To Seek Our Happiness

The ultimate goal of our lives is for God to be honored in us and us to be happy in Him.  There isn’t anything higher to aspire to than the duality of God’s honor and our happiness.  When we thank Him, trust Him, and treasure Him, these two things are achieved.  Thanking Him means our hearts are glad because of something He gets glory for doing.  Trusting Him means we delight to do what God has decided because we believe that He is good.  Treasuring Him means we find enjoyment in His companionship because He is infinitely worth knowing.  To seek His honor is to seek our happiness.

It Is Always Appropriate

Who He is deserves it.  What He does deserves it.  Our great God accomplishes great things and is worthy of our heartfelt praise.  Let us stand still, stand back and stand in awe of the One Who is perfect in every act, every decision, every purpose, every trait and every way.  He creates from nothing.  He rules over everything. He can do anything.  And all that He is, says and does is good.  We cannot improve upon a single thing in the universe that bears His handiwork or bears His likeness. Today, let us worship Him with glad and grateful and glory-giving hearts, remembering this: It is always appropriate to applaud God.

Whatever It Takes To Be Happier

Every single day you and I should do whatever it takes to be happier in Jesus.  That’s how we win against temptation, frustration and dissatisfaction in this life.  The attempts we make to improve ourselves, improve our circumstances, and improve our lives should not simply be about trying to take away things we dislike and add in things we do like.  Instead, our goal should be to know and enjoy Jesus more and more and more.  We grow in our inner peace, rest, security, confidence, hope and joy not because over and over we figure out a way to make things better, but because over and over we find our way to Jesus.

Chosen By Grace

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.

To Gain All That Jesus Has To Offer

We go to great measures to gain treasures in this world.  But trophies, trips, triumphs, titles, toys, things and time spent on earthly pursuits and pleasures with no regard for eternity will undo us in the end.  It’s not that these things are inherently wrong, evil or unprofitable; it’s that we often ignore God to pursue them and value them more than we do Him. God has given us all things richly to enjoy, but the point of that enjoyment is to point us to Jesus. To gain all that the world has to offer yet not have Jesus is to have nothing at all.  To gain all that Jesus has to offer yet not have the world is to have everything.

It’s Always An Upgrade

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.

Life-Giving, Not Life-Draining

Many people see God’s commandments as a life-draining set of rules that is unpleasant, unnecessary and unwanted. They are seeing them wrongly.  Do you know how bridges are designed, built and maintained for our safety?  By “rules.” Do you know how meals are prepared, served and consumed for our nourishment? By “rules.” Do you know how music is composed, recorded and performed for our delight?  By “rules.”  God has decided how things should work for our … Safety. Nourishment. Delight. God’s good design for all things in our lives and in our universe is not life-draining; it is life-giving.

Secure In Our Identity

When we are secure in our identity in Christ, we are free to have relationships that are not defined by comparing ourselves with others, but by caring for others.  If our sense of personal worth comes from how God feels about us, treats us, and remakes us as His children, then we don’t have to prove ourselves in categories of better and worse, more and less, or ahead and behind in how we measure up against the people in our lives.  Instead of ranking ourselves as better off than others or resenting others who we think are better off than ourselves, we can joyfully love and serve them as equal image-bearers of God.

Jesus Already Did That

This is the jaw-dropping reality of just how much you are worth:   Jesus loves you, gave Himself for you and lives in you. Don’t you see?  Your worth is not based on who you are; it is based on Whose you are.  Your worth is not based on your performance; it is based on His.   Your worth is not based on your making a name for yourself; it is based on the Name of the One who lives inside you.  If you belong to Jesus, the old you is dead, and the life you now live carries a value that is not found in any personal achievement, accolade or attribute.  You don’t have to prove your worth.  Jesus already did that.