The Gospel is not “Do this!” or “Do that!”

The Good News of the Gospel is not “do this” or “do that.” Instead, because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we no longer NEED to think or act in certain patterns. We GET to live in light of what is now true of us. The Gospel is truly Good News for EVERY area of our lives today, not just good news about the future after we die.

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Avoiding Temptation of Despair

Isaiah 11:1 says,

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Salvation comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.

That gives me hope. I keep expecting big and loud events to convince me and others of God’s saving power. But that’s only what the world offers on cable news and social media. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the “shoot that shall sprout from the stump.”

When I don’t see the small signs of God’s presence–the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the encouraging hug of a friend–I will always remain tempted to despair.

The baby of Bethlehem, the carpenter of Nazareth, the naked man on the cross asks for my full attention. The work of salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continue to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hiding in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices.

How Much of Your Life is Devoted to Things That Won’t Last?

“A life devoted to dead things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”  Proverbs 11:28 (The Message)

How much of my life is devoted to things that won’t last? We buy, purchase, consume things that eat up time that can’t be used for eternal things. But ALL of our time can’t be spent on that which is not of earth. God wants us to enjoy beauty and art…but most humans just live FOR THAT.

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord…. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they go right on producing delicious fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

God is for You!

Romans 8:31,

If God is for us, who can be against us?

GOD is or you. People will always let you down including those closest to you who really love you. But within reach of each prayer is the Maker of heaven and earth.

God IS for you. Not “maybe” or “used to be” or “will be” some time in the future but right now! He’s on your side. He couldn’t be closer to you than right now. Will you seek Him?

God is FOR you. Tired? He’ll carry you. God is cheering you on and applauding your steps.

God is for YOU! If God had a calendar, your birthday would be circled. He’s already written your name on His hand (Isaiah 49:16).

A Giving Spirit Comes with Free Health Benefits

A study at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research tracked the relationships of 423 elderly couples for five years, during which time 134 of them died.  Those who had giving relationships (helped friends, did child care, assisted in errands) had half the mortality rate of those who didn’t.  It’s interesting that the benefits don’t accrue to those at the receiving end of the relationship, only the giving end.  We need to give in order to meet one another’s needs, and this need in us is so basic that “lack of religious involvement has an effect on mortality equivalent to forty years of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.”

3 Kinds of Peace

Jesus said in John 16:33,

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Jesus was right. We have all dealt with trouble in different sizes and sources in work, family, church, and body. No one is immune. This is the absence of peace.

The Bible talks about three kinds of peace:

  1. Peace with others. Romans 12:18. It’s EXTERNAL and necessary for relationships.
  2. Peace with yourself. Colossians 3:15. It’s INTERNAL and this is our state of mind and the part that probably gives us most trouble.
  3. Peace with God. Romans 5:1. This is the ETERNAL peace, the most important, and comes from knowing God and being in right relationship with Him.

When you’re at peace with God you’ll be at peace with yourself and when you’re at peace with yourself you’ll be at peace with others.

That’s the direction it flows. So if you’re having “trouble,” start with God and let Him bring the peace that passes all human understanding.

Does the Bible Contradict Itself when it comes to Fearing the Lord?

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands.

That’s Psalm 112:1.  How can someone be in fear AND blessed? To be blessed or happy is NOT a characteristic of someone who is afraid.

The term “fear” in this context when applied to our Almighty is not one of dread or apprehension but rather of awe, reverence, and utmost respect. We are taught in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out fear, that is love for and love by God cancels out fear which may be in our hands and hearts.

Psalm 34:4 confirms this…

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.