God Is For Us

One of my favorite parts of Scripture is Romans chapter 8. It’s such a powerful reminder of the gospel and of what God has accomplished for us through Jesus. And one of my favorite verses in Romans 8 is verse 31. Paul has just finished talking about many wonderful blessings we have in Christ, and then he says this. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
 
You know, I think sometimes we forget that God is for us. Have you ever found yourself thinking God is actually against you? Certainly, we find ourselves at times thinking that God is distant or even indifferent toward us. In those moments when life is hard, and things just aren’t going well we can find ourselves wondering where God is and if he even cares.
 
But, having reflected on the mighty things God has accomplished for his people, Paul comes to the conclusion that God is, in fact, for us! What an encouragement that is! The God who made and sustains everything in existence is for you and me! And if the eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing God is for us, who can stand against us?!
 
The answer is nobody! No one can effectively stand against those whom God is for! They can’t overcome the God who is for us, and so ultimately those who oppose us don’t make a bit of difference! Remember that as you experience opposition for your faith. God is for you, so no one can stand against you!

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Our Wandering is Redeemed!

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. –Isaiah 53:6
 
I don’t think truer words have ever been said than when the prophet Isaiah said that we have all gone astray like sheep. Sheep are known not to be the brightest of animals, and they have a tendency to wander from the flock and get themselves into trouble. What a perfect metaphor for the way we humans wander in our own way.
 
There’s another name for our wandering, though. When we wander from the path God has set before us its called sin, and we all do it. We turn from God’s will for us and pursue our will for us. We trade his priorities for our priorities. So often, we wander away from God’s plan and purpose for us, and the fact is, our wandering comes with consequences.
 
But, what is amazing about this verse is that it tells us the wonderful news that we don’t have to bear the consequences of our wandering ourselves! By the grace of God, our iniquity has been laid upon Jesus Christ, our good Shepherd. On the cross he bore the punishment that we deserved for our wandering, so that we didn’t have to. And because he did that, forgiveness and eternal life have been made available if we’ll trust in him!
 
Trust your shepherd today!

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He Sets His Mind On Us

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4
 
Have you ever looked up on a starry night and simply been in awe of how massive God’s creation is and how incredibly small we are in comparison? We humans have a habit of thinking we are the center of the universe, but when we look up, we realize how tiny we really are in the grand scheme of things. This is what was going through David’s mind as he penned Psalm 8. He recognized just how small he was in light of God’s grand creation. But what really got to David was the fact that, in spite of how small we humans are, God is mindful of us and he cares for us.
 
How amazing is that?! God created everything in existence: billions of galaxies, trillions of stars, and untold numbers of planets and moons. And, yet he looks past it all and sets his mind on you and me. He cares for us, tiny people on a tiny planet. But it’s more than that. He cares for us so much that he wants to spend all eternity with us,and enough to die to make that happen!
 
When I think about that, I’m left asking the same question David asked, “What is man that you are mindful of him?”

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Let Us Use Our Gifts

I just don’t know enough about the Bible. I’m just not that outgoing. I haven’t been a Christian long enough. What if I mess up? It’s too difficult for me. God could never use a sinner like me.
 
Have you ever found yourself saying any of those? You know, we are really good at finding reasons to remain passive in our faith. We could probably all come up with a long list of reasons not to go out and actually do the things God has called us to do, things like sharing our faith, serving, and loving the lost. Most of our reasons come down to a lie we’ve believed that there’s no room in God’s plan for people like us.
 
Nothing could be further from the truth. God wants to use you to accomplish his will! He has planned to use you in that work since the beginning! And what’s more, he has given you the gifts and abilities you need to be able to live out your part in his plan. Look at what Paul wrote in Romans 12:
 
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” –Romans 12:6-8

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Keep the Faith!

We live in a world broken by sin. This isn’t news to any of us. We  see the evidence of that fact all around us, don’t we? We see it in families torn apart by sin. We see it in nations that are pitted against one another. We see it in moral standards that seem to be getting lower all the time. We see it in nations and peoples who are oppressed and stricken with poverty. We see it in riots. We see it  when senseless acts of evil are carried out, like the recent tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde.  

Sin, evil, and death are all around us. And at times we all find ourselves feeling as though evil is winning. Maybe you have found your self wondering, will things ever change? Will it always be this way?  

The wonderful thing about the Christian faith is that it gives us hope in the midst of such evil and brokenness. Scripture teaches us that things will not always be the way they are! God has a plan to do away with evil, sin, and death once and for all! Look at what John writes about this hope. 

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no  more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” –Revelation 21:4 

Don’t lose hope! Things will not always be as they are today. A day is coming when the former things (sin, evil, death, pain, and suffering, etc.) will pass away! What a day that will be!

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God’s Love Never Fails

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a good amount of time in  your life worried that something you’ve done might cause God to  stop loving you. We so often have this idea that God’s love for us is conditional. That’s often the way love works between people,  isn’t it? There are conditions. And, despite all that Scripture says  to the contrary, we often think God’s love for us works the same  way. So, we end up living in fear that, somehow, we’ll disqualify  ourselves from his love. But listen to the words Paul wrote at the  end of Romans 8. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor  things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth,  nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the  love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:38-39 

These beautiful words were written by the apostle Paul who,  before his conversion, was a persecutor of the church. He  participated in the killing of Christians before he became one of  them! And, even with that kind of a past, Paul still believed that  nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  If Paul’s sin couldn’t separate him from God’s love, neither can  yours! 


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Delight in His Law

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,  nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he  meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of  water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not  wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so,  but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wick ed will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation  of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,  but the way of the wicked will perish. –Psalm 1 

I don’t know about you, but I want my life to be like that. I want  to live a life that is blessed, one that is fruitful. I want to be like  that tree that doesn’t wither and prospers in everything. And,  according to the Psalm writer, that kind of life comes from being  firmly rooted in God’s word. It comes when we find delight in  God’s word and meditate on it day and night!  

But isn’t it true that very often we don’t do that? How often we  walk in the counsel of the wicked and delight in the things of this  world. And, if we find our delight in the things of this world, we won’t be like that tree planted by the water, we’ll be like chaff the wind drives away. That’s when things seem to fall apart. 

Where do you find your delight? In the law of the LORD?


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Whom Will We Serve

At the end of the book of Joshua, Joshua gives a farewell address to Israel. In this farewell speech, Joshua presents Israel with a choice. “Choose this day whom you will serve,” (24:15). The choice before Israel was whether they would serve the one true God of Israel or false gods which their ancestors and the Canaanites served.
 
This wasn’t a choice they only had to make once on this particular day. Every single day Israel had to decide for themselves who they would serve. The same is true for you and me today. We must choose this day whom we will serve, but not just today. We must make the choice between serving God or something else every single day.
 
The reason we have to make this choice daily is because, if we’re not intentional, we can easily find ourselves serving a host of other things and neglecting to serve God. Our careers can easily take over our lives and push God out of the picture. The same is true of our hobbies, bank accounts, relationships, our desire for influence or power, and certainly our desire for comfort. These things and many more can easily become idols we serve instead of God. In fact, I think Scripture shows that our natural inclination is to lean toward serving these things rather than God.
 
So, we must make a choice. Who will we serve? I pray all of us answer like Joshua did, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

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The Helper

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26
 
There are times in this life when we just don’t know what to pray for. Ever been there? It can be hard to know what to pray for when life gets tough, as it often does. It can be hard to know what to pray for when you feel disconnected from God. It’s hard to know what to pray in seasons of change, and even in the midst of trials. There are also times it is hard to know what to pray for as we go about the mission Jesus gave us. And it is in these times that it becomes abundantly clear, we can’t make it on our own. We need God’s help to get through this life.
 
Thankfully, after Jesus went to be with the Father, he sent us his Holy Spirit. In John 16, he is referred to as The Helper. He is here to help us in those moments when we don’t know what to pray (and all the other moments too). Isn’t that an amazing thought! The 3rd person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit himself, intercedes for us! He knows exactly what we need and that’s what he brings before the Father.
 
Rest assured, when you don’t know what to pray, He does, and he is.

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Jesus Is Our Peace

If someone was pushed to describe the church of today in one word, I think there’s a good chance they’d use the word “divided.” In the United States alone there are more than 200 different Christian denominations, and the reason is that Christians are divided on a long list of issues. We divide over traditional preferences, worship preferences, Bible translations, and even what the church building should look like. These are just the beginning of the kinds of things Christians divide over. Don’t you wish there was some way Christians could get along?
 
In Ephesians 2, Paul says that Jesus is our peace. He is talking about how in Jesus, the division and animosity that once existed between Jews and Gentiles was done away with. The ancient Jews and Gentiles had so much disdain for one another, but when the two came to faith in Jesus, he became the common ground that transcended all the things that made them different. In effect, Jesus made these people, divided as they were, to be one.
 
If Jesus could unite the ancient Jews and Gentiles, I think he can do the same for modern day Christians! Most of the things that we divide over in the church don’t amount to much at all in comparison to Jesus! But, time and again, we focus on the wrong things. We Christians need to learn to focus on him rather than on the things we let divide us. We need to let him be our common ground as he was for the Jews and Gentiles! Just like for them, Jesus is our peace!
 

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