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.
All humans have this in common, sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). The question then is how do we deal with our sin? In Psalm 32 David wrestles with sin. He talks about the anguish of his hidden sin. The weight of guilt is heavy upon him. Have you ever experienced the torment of trying to keep a sin concealed?
David writes in Psalm 32:5, Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Confession is David’s answer. It is amazingly freeing when we bring a hidden sin into the light and receive God’s forgiveness. We can trust God. 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).
Concealed sin separates us from God; confessed sin restores us to God. The universal and eternally most important thing is to be restored to God. The significance of Christmas is that Jesus came to earth so we might be restored to God. God has made the way for us. Don’t miss out! Confess your sins and receive God’s great gift of forgiveness.
Jesus died on the cross to pay the debt we owed for our sins. He rose from the grave to demonstrate the new and eternal life he had purchased for us. The cross is our place of entry into God’s eternal Kingdom. It is the gate that Jesus prepared for us. We can come to God by no other path. Salvation is found only at the cross. Our old life is left at the foot of the cross, and there we enter into our new life in Christ Jesus.
In the story of the Good Shepherd found in John chapter 10, Jesus refers to believers as the sheep. He makes it very clear that he is the gate for the sheep to enter. He says, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep (verse 7).” Many have looked for other ways, but the only way is through Jesus.
In John 10:17-18 (The Message) Jesus explains:
“This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”
God the Father gave Jesus the authority to redeem us. No one else has been given this authority. He alone is our redeemer. Yes, the gate is narrow, but it leads to redemption and eternal life.
Last week I worked full days and had church and family activities that occupied my time. I had a very busy week. However, through the activities of the week I was awakened to Jesus’ undeniable love.
Maundy Thursday our church family got together to share dinner and communion. Jesus ate his last supper meal with the disciples, and then he initiated the symbolic practice of communion. We wanted to share in that remembrance in a meaningful way. We sat down together and participated in what Jesus did those many years ago.
Good Friday my wife and I went to a local church that provides the Stations of the Cross. If you’re not familiar with this presentation, it is a walk through the various experiences of Jesus’ day of crucifixion. At each station, you read the scriptures that pertain, and take time to pray and meditate. We’ve done this for several years, and each time is different. The Holy Spirit always leads us into another perspective of what Jesus went through on that day.
The effect of last week’s undertakings left me overwhelmed. As I walked through the gruesome abuses that Jesus endured, I encountered undeniable love. What led Jesus to the cross and what kept him there was simply love. I cannot say anything more definitive. I can only say I have now felt his love more deeply and personally than ever before. He loved us, and he died for us.
I close with this exclamation: I praise you and thank you Jesus for your love expressed so undeniably!
In the dark of night,
Filled with deep despair,
I sit here all alone.
I need to be rescued,
But who is there to rescue me?
Many of us represent God’s compassion by helping to rescue lost souls. After all we are God’s ambassadors. Yet every lost soul needs to reconcile with God. So to truly rescue the lost, we need to bring them to Christ Jesus. Our comfort and encouragement are helpful, but only at the foot of the cross can they find new life.
Webster’s Dictionary defines meek:
1 Enduring injury with patience and without resentment – submissive – humble
2 Deficient in spirit and courage
The first definition doesn’t convey the characteristics of weakness but of Christ likeness. This definition speaks of the qualities Jesus displayed on the cross. It is a Godly perspective. The second definition imparts thoughts of weakness, timidity, and cowardice. This is a worldly perspective. Which of these will inherit the earth?
In 2 Corinthians chapter 10 the Apostle Paul responds to the to the Corinthians’ worldly interpretation of his meekness. He uses a little sarcasm in verse 1 when he states: “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away!” They had obviously accused him of being cowardly. He goes on to let them know that his meek/humble approach to them was not out of weakness but out of caring for them. He was trying to change their viewpoint from worldly to Godly.
I believe that the ones who endure the injuries of this world with patience and without resentment, who are submissive to Christ, and who humble themselves before their God will inherit the earth. These are not weak people. They are the ones who have been overwhelmed by the love of Christ, and from their humble thankfulness give that love to others regardless of the cost. This takes strength and courage.
Over the last two weeks I’ve shared these thoughts:
When Jesus came to earth, he brought the Kingdom of God with him.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, he gave us access to the Kingdom of God.
To enter the Kingdom of God, we must surrender our will to God’s will and receive Jesus as our savior.
As soon as we enter the Kingdom of God, we gain eternal life.
Before we entered God’s Kingdom, we were simply dissipating life. One of the blessings of living in God’s Kingdom is his will now guides our lives. God’s will can be explained by these two commands. Jesus told us in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” God’s will is to help us step beyond our self-centeredness and live a life of purpose.
What I have observed, over the years of living in God’s kingdom, is that every one of God’s children has a unique and specific purpose to fulfill. Bonnie calls this our passion. For her and me the passion has been for children in need. Our lives together have always been directed toward serving children. The seed of this passion was planted very early in our lives and satisfied as we walked with the Lord. What is your passion?
The Kingdom of God is a glorious place, even now, for those who love him. We look forward to Jesus’ return and the final defeat of evil, but for now, we have a purpose to fulfill. “Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).”