Monday, October 25, 2004

Love (10/25/04)

"…God is love…" 1 John 4:16.

Think about the cross. Think about the grace and mercy given to us on the cross. Think about the root of this grace and mercy - God's love for us. I don't know why He loves me. But knowing that He loves me is at the core of my faith. It allows me to set aside self and love Him back in my own imperfect way. And ultimately, isn't this what God wants from us? For us to love Him back - allowing His perfect love to shine through us?

Love is the root and the power behind all the so called "symptoms" of a Christian life. For example - God doesn't need us to give of our treasures - but if we love Him, we do. And He doesn't want us to give them unless they are given in love. Likewise, God doesn't need us to do good works. He's big enough to accomplish all the good works we could possibly do the rest of our days with just a wave of His finger. Yet if we love Him, we want to do good works (not out of compulsion but out of love and gratitude).

From the moment of salvation onward for the rest of our lives, we are learning about His love for us, accepting this love, and learning how to love Him back - so that His love can shine through us. Love is the very center of Christianity which is where it should be since God is love. I am in the kindergarten of love school being taught by the author of the subject - love itself.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.

So let's all fast and pray this Wednesday for love. For our own love of the Father. And that others who have not yet come to know His liberating love can come to meet Him at the cross.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Unshakeable faith (10/17/04)

In the book of Daniel, I'm sure you've all read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Read Daniel 3 to refresh your memory of the story. It's a short story but it portrays unshakable faith in a manner that is hard to comprehend. I want to have faith like these 3 men. I want to trust God even in the blackest periods of my life. I don't want to just have fair weather faith. So it raises the question - how do we go about getting this kind of faith - unshakable faith?

When we spend a lot of time with somebody, we normally start to see their flaws. Even more so if we live with that person (just ask my wife). Now think about the 12 who lived, ate, traveled, and spent enormous amounts of time with Jesus during His 3 year ministry. They had 3 years to find kinks and flaws. 3 years to poke holes in their own faith. Yet all these 12 saw was the perfection that is our Lord. Most of them died martyr's deaths defending their faith. Just thinking about the reality of this gives me faith. In short, realizing Jesus is who He said He is should make our faith unshakable. And spending our own time living, eating, walking with Him allows us to see the perfection that is our Lord.

In a similar way, if I believe the bible is truly the word of God, my faith should be unshakable. We talked a lot about this in last week's message. Once again, I think experience is the key. The more time we spend in the word, studying it, getting to know it, and living it, the more we realize its divine nature. I heard a pastor this week who put it this way - "the bible has more than 40 writers but it only has 1 author".

So this Wednesday, as we fast, let's spend some time walking with Him, praying for unshakable faith. Faith that's just as strong in the lowest lows as it is in the highest highs.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Word (10/10/04)

The Bible can be a big hang-up for unbelievers. They have trouble with the Christian notion that it is the actual word of God. If I can correctly recall my own skepticism prior to being saved, I felt that the bible was some crackpot man-made collection of self-serving fairy tales. The odd thing was that this feeling was very strong - and I had never even read the bible!! Now that I've read the bible and accepted Christ as my savior, I am starting to understand the magnitude of the miracle the bible is. This Wednesday as we fast and pray, we will reflect on this miracle and thank God for passing it on to us.

First, you have all probably heard the stats - 66 books written in 3 different languages over a period of 1500 years by 40+ authors. Yet the overall message is consistent throughout. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Only God could orchestrate such a thing.

Second, given the above, reflect on all the prophecy documented in the bible and the subsequent fulfillment of that prophecy. Again, only God could orchestrate such a thing.

Third, think about the timelessness of the word. It's as relevant today as it was in the 1st century and will continue to be into the future. Once again, truly a miracle.

Last, and perhaps most compelling, is the power the word has to change lives. You are probably a living example. I heard a sermon this past week in which the pastor was talking about how the word comforts the afflicted. Then he really caught my attention by stating the converse. He said "But equally important, think about how the word afflicts the comforted". Surely you've had convicting moments while reading the bible. Further, have you ever been reading a passage in the bible that you've read dozens of times before when suddenly, you comprehend in a way that takes you deeper than you've been before? You get a new clarity that you know came from God. A new clarity that only reaffirms and strengthens your faith in the divine inspiration of the word.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,