“Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish” (Isaiah 46:9-10, NLT).
One of the most fascinating things about God is he lives outside of space and time. He had no beginning and he has no end. He’s not bound by any of the limitations we experience. We live on a timeline but as he doesn’t, he can see ours from beginning to end. This confuses us sometimes—remember the Borg Queen’s famous words? “You think in such three dimensional terms”! (Star Trek, First Contact)
God sees everything from beginning to end and he knows how all of our stories will turn out. This doesn’t necessarily mean he orchestrates everything, but these verses do assure us his plan and purposes will be accomplished. And we don’t need to worry about God doing whatever he wishes, as if he might decide to do something capricious or selfish. He’s not like us! Everything he does is in love and with our best interests at heart.
“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins” (Romans 8:3, NLT).
A common refrain in some churches is the whole world is under condemnation and it’s up to the people sitting in the pews to save as many as they can before the end comes. The burden and responsibility aside, this simply isn’t the case. It’s true the whole world was condemned under the law. It wasn’t meant to save us, only point to the one who would bring salvation.
God never meant for Christians to bear the responsibility of saving the world—that’s his job. By laying down his life, Jesus took our condemnation upon himself, ending sin’s power and control over our destiny. Sin was condemned and the law was superseded by grace, which is available to all. So what’s the Christian’s job? To love God and neighbor and with his help, in the Spirit, live lives that will point to the goodness and love of the only one who can save.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1, NLT).
For some, waking up is hard to do, especially after too much partying the night before or just a bad time sleeping. Many people rely on coffee to help them focus and give them energy, to give new life, so to speak. Even the smell of freshly ground beans is enough to start the waking process.
Believing in Jesus and his saving grace for the first time is like waking up to a brand new reality, one filled with forgiveness, freedom and hope for the future. But with time, the drudgery of life can cause that reality to fade a little and make us wonder which is real—the picture of no more tears, sorrow or death, or the pain and suffering of today. By keeping our sights on the realities of heaven, we can wake up every morning to God’s fresh mercies (Lamentations 3:23). Whether or not you like coffee, however you wake up, remind yourself as you start your day of his love and grace and your new life in Christ.
“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16, NLT).
When a company chooses a team for a special project, the individuals are thoroughly vetted and evaluated to make sure they can do the job. Their backgrounds are checked to see if anything in their past may be a hindrance to their performance or reputation. For an important project, a company wants the best and the brightest to ensure success.
Sometimes we look at the members of Christ’s body, the church, and wonder what was God thinking? We’re a motley mismatched crew, but a true representation of humanity with one major thing in common—Jesus our savior. We don’t have to worry about background checks or vetting or testing. God is the one who put us together and he’s the one who makes sure we all fit perfectly. He gives us each a special gift to help the body grow in love. The body of Christ may not be the team a company CEO would choose, but God is not your typical CEO—he wants everyone on his team, no matter who they are or what they’ve done and he makes it work.
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NLT).
A vacuum cleaner company came up with a catchy slogan to try and sell their products: “Life is messy; clean it up.” I don’t know how many vacuums they sold, but the slogan was brilliant. We make messes and a lot of them are own fault. Some occur over and over and have to be continually swept up, while others are so big and terrible they seem to have no solution, causing some to lose hope.
Some believe repenting of sins is like getting a new carpet: God gives us a fresh start but it’s up to us to keep it clean. When Jesus forgave our sins from the cross, he did it once and for all. In Christ, we are clean and even though we aren’t perfect and still sin, the burden of staying clean is off our backs. He is the one who made us holy and blameless and he is the one who keeps us that way. We can live guilt free, resting in his grace, confident the one who is faithful will make it happen.
“He renews my strength” (Psalm 23:3a, NLT).
If you’re tired and feeling sluggish, down a few ounces of a super-caffeinated energy drink and you’re good to go—until it wears off. I can’t even drink coffee, so I’ve stayed away from them. I suppose for those who don’t get enough sleep, the drinks might be helpful, but it seems dumping too much caffeine in your system could have some negative effects, especially long term. Adequate sleep, exercise and healthy food are a better alternative.
Energy drinks and a healthy lifestyle aren’t enough when we experience fatigue in our spirits. Nothing in this world helps for much longer than a caffeine high. Only God, who has and is boundless energy, can renew us on the inside and give us what no energy drink ever could—his own empowering, motivating, life-giving Spirit. Living water doesn’t come in a can and can’t be bought. It’s free, available to all and can be found as we rest in the green meadow of his presence, beside the peaceful stream of his love and grace.
“Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own” (Philippians 3:12, AMP).
We’re all born with the need to belong. We join groups with like interests and enjoy being part of a community. Some people are born into elite groups, which can be a source of pride, even though they did nothing to attain their place in life. The Apostle Paul was such a person—he had every exalted credential a Jew of his time could hope for which made him part of a very special club. But he gave it all up for something better.
When God created humankind, he gave us membership in his family, children by birth. While this is great all on its own, it was only the beginning. Just as the infomercials tell us wait, there’s more, God in Christ made a way for us to belong to the most special group of all—the kingdom of his dear Son. Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus took hold of us and made us his own, which spurred Paul to give up everything he considered important to then make Jesus his own. The good news is this isn’t an elite club open to only a few. Everyone is invited and is included in the life of Father, Son and Spirit.
“Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong” (Ephesians 3:17b, NLT).
One of the big dangers of a storm with powerful wind is falling trees. We’ve all seen pictures of—or experienced—a huge tree that has been ripped from the ground and has fallen over a house or cars and sadly, sometimes injured or killed people. When the shallowness of the roots are exposed, it’s hard to believe the tree could even stand up at all.
Just as healthy trees need strong, deep roots, so we need deep roots in Christ. He is the nourishing soil, the water and the sunlight. As we trust in his goodness and grace, he gives us growth and stability, securing us in his love. When the winds blow—and they will—we can stand strong, knowing our roots are deep in the one who can keep us from falling.
“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past” (Romans 3:25, NLT).
Some have a problem with grace because on the surface, it may seem like a license to sin. If everything is forgiven, people can get away with anything. What of punishment? they ask. Shouldn’t mass murderers and child molesters have to suffer for their crimes? What about the rest of us, who have committed only “small” sins? When we read verses about having to give account of our lives, we inwardly tremble and wonder exactly what that means. For ourselves, we hope grace really will cover our sins, but shouldn’t the unrepentant get what they deserve?
God is the Father of all, more loving than any human parent could ever be, but he’s not just a loving Father, he is love (1 John 4:8). Would such a loving father devise a place of pain and torture for his children? Even human parents wouldn’t do that. Sin does have consequences which is why God came to earth as Jesus to take our punishment for us. Rather than give in to some twisted desire to see sinners get what they (we) deserve, we can trust God for his grace and mercy for all of humanity, for whom Jesus died (John 3:16).
Visit gci.org to listen to interviews with Trinitarian theologians.
“And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12, NLT).
As most parents and people who work with children realize, little ones don’t respond positively to yelling, screaming or bullying. In fact, no one does. Society frowns on this behavior and even recognizes those who try to manipulate and coerce others in this way may have mental or emotional issues. Unfortunately, some believe this to be true of how God deals with humanity. They think he bullies us with threats of eternal torture in some kind of unbearable hell unless we repent and change our ways—to his way.
Fortunately for us, God isn’t like that. He does display his power and might through nature and the natural laws he has put in place. But when it comes to his children, he is the most tender, gentle, loving and kind Father. The Holy Spirit never yells at us and doesn’t bully. He works within our hearts, whispering to us God’s perfect way of love and grace. If we can get quiet enough to listen, we’ll be able to hear what’s really on his heart—his love for us, his precious ones.