Romans 3:21-24 (The Message), But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift.
Verse 25, God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear.
We have new life in Christ Jesus. That new life begins the moment we believe, and it last forever. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten. We have entered the Kingdom of God. His will guides us and protects us. He is with us no matter what we encounter in our remaining years here on earth.
When we leave the earth we will live in righteousness. We will be together forever. I’d like to add we’ll all be nice, since the sinful nature will be gone. Jesus did all this for us. So let us celebrate what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. I’m looking forward to that time when we’re all together in Heaven. Imagine the celebration.
Our pastor, Eric Nelson, has been speaking on the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman recorded in John chapter 4. During his discourse Pastor Eric pointed out, “We tend to think that Christianity is about not sinning, but Jesus took care of sin. Christianity is about the source from which we draw life.”
What a great way to express this truth. Our walk with the Lord is not about becoming good people. This should not be our focus. We focus on building our relationship with Jesus and following his lead. The by-product of this relationship is we become better people. We also become more useful servants in God’s Kingdom.
Jesus clarified this with his disciples in John chapter 15. He said, “I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
To become a better, more useful person, we must draw the sustenance of life from Jesus. Our efforts apart from him are useless.
I often write about the new life we have as Christians. Today, I’d like to write about the source of this new life. How did this come about?
I was standing in front of The Judge condemned to death. The wages of my sin had put me in this position. I was indeed guilty; I deserved the sentence. As I waited for the pronouncement of the verdict, and I anticipated the sound of the gavel fall sealing my fate, a man in the courtroom stepped forward. He addressed The Judge with these words, “I want to take this man’s place your honor.”
“Why would you do this?” asked The Judge. “You are innocent”.
He simply said, “Because I love him.”
The Judge looked at me and said, “You’re free to go.” He turned to the bailiff and ordered, “Take this man into custody.”
The Man not only volunteered to take my place, he actually did it. It was a horrible death he endured for me, but it was the source of my new life.
Jesus took my place. Jesus is the source of new life. I never want to take for granted what he did for me. My response, with a heart full of gratitude I humbly kneel at his feet, and I speak the same words he spoke to his father that dreadful night, “Not my will, but your will.”
One of the truths that our Pastor is continuingly emphasizing is that God loves us. He also says that God’s love is hard for us to comprehend. I think we all know this. There’s not an abundance of examples of this kind of love here on earth.
The other day, I was singing an old song, “I’ve Got a River of Life Flowing Out of Me”, and I thought of this analogy.
God’s love for us is like a river flowing to us. We throw rocks of sin into this river; they make ripples, but they never stop the flow. When we choose a life of sin, sometimes, we actually dam up the flow, but the pressure of his love is always there. One act of repentance permits his love to breach the dam. And if we allow it, the flow of his love will continue to wash away the dam, and his love will pour into our lives. Receiving his love makes us a new person.
This river of God’s love doesn’t stop with us; it flows through us and blesses those around us. When we doubt his love, the waters get murky and hinder the blessings we can bring to others. Once again, our quest in this life is to learn to trust God. A big part of this is to trust that he loves us. The enemy of our souls will shoot fiery darts from the banks of the river to make us doubt God’s love. The shield of faith will divert them.
In my late teens and early twenties, I hung out with a group of guys my age. We focused our young minds on solving the problems of the world. Our solutions seemed reasonable and rational. Then life changed for us. We became husbands and fathers. The big picture problems of the world took a back seat to the daily problems of domestic life.
The world we live in hasn’t changed. There are still big problems. In our young idealistic minds, we thought that we could show people a better way and that would fix it. Don’t we wish that were true! I now know that the complexities of the world’s problems are way beyond any solution I might come up with.
Who then can solve the world’s problems? God in his infinite wisdom knows that the problems of our world can be defined by one simple word, sin. Sin generally stated is the self-centered perspective that I’m more important than others. That’s the root of our problems. Unfortunately, I can’t even fix this problem in myself let along the whole world.
However God has provided us with the solution. We are currently celebrating his solution. He came to us as a baby in a manger to provide for us the opportunity to overcome sin. Sin is an individual problem, so the offer is to each of the world’s citizens. The problems in our world still exist because many have chosen to reject God’s solution.
Here in this season of celebrating the answer to our problems in Christ Jesus, please join me in a prayer for the salvation of those around us. Let’s work on the world’s problems by bring one individual at a time to Jesus for the solution to the root of our problems.
God loves us! As he was preparing a place for us he first created light. Light is incredible. It sustains physical life, refracts into all the wonderful colors we see, and provides a contrast to darkness. God designed a great place for us that is full of light.
Light is necessary for life to exist on earth. The process of photosynthesis is the foundation for all food consumed by living creatures. The light we receive from the sun provides the necessary heat the earth requires. In light we find God’s provision for his created ones.
As light contacts various objects it refracts. These refractions disperse the light into an amazing array of colors making the earth a beautiful place. The colors we see calm us, delight us, and stimulate us. Through light our creator has inspired us and made our lives full and interesting.
Light and its contrast darkness are used figuratively throughout the scriptures to help us understand God’s care for us. We read in Psalm 18: 28 “God turns my darkness into light,” and Psalm 56:13 says that God provides the light of life. Light provides a metaphor for virtue. Light is righteousness and darkness is sinfulness. Romans 13:12, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Light has great importance in God’s creation. Isaiah used light to predict the coming of Jesus, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).” For us today that light has long since dawned. We can now walk in the light. I pray that His light will shine in your heart today, and that darkness will have no place in your heart. Praise be to God for the wonders of light.
You frequently hear people ask how a loving God can allow all the evil in the world. I would answer; a loving God demonstrates his love through patience.
The Apostle Peter tells us:
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up (2Peter 3:8-10).
Just like the ancient Israelites, people think that God is not seeing what they are doing, so anything goes. Then the day of judgement came for Israel. They were conquered and dispersed. Therefore, we should not be lulled into complacency by his patience. God is actively involved in all that transpires here on earth- patiently working through us for the redemption of lost souls.
The ultimate display of God’s love is through his son. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.” He is allowing time for those who will receive his gift and avoid judgement. However, we should never forget that he has assigned a day of judgement. God is patient, but the Day of the Lord will come.