“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.
“God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power” (Job 37:5, NLT).
Lightning and thunder can be both terrifying and awe-inspiring. Watching lightning rip through the sky followed by the loudest sound in the world is better than watching a movie. I once had the opportunity to see this amazing natural show from my room at the top of a hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was told it happens often over the city so they were used to it, but I couldn’t stay away from the window, eyes glued to the sky, thrilled by each jagged bolt.
It’s no wonder Elihu heard the voice of God in thunder. The sheer power and force in each clap are tremendous. As The Message puts it, “No one can mistake that voice.” God’s strength and power are beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend but the glimpses we see in a storm are enough to know his voice can shake the heavens and the earth. And it already has—when he sent his Son, the Word, to shake the universe with grace. The sound of his unmistakable voice still echoes throughout the world, as the Holy Spirit sheds his love and grace on those within hearing distance—and that’s everyone!