Are you looking for freedom…freedom from sin, bondage, deception, and addictions? Freedom to be the person God created you to be? Jesus provides one of the great freedom promises in God’s Word. “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32, NKJV) WOW! What a guarantee! But you have to read the fine print to find out whom this sweeping assurance applies to. The sentence before it qualifies the recipient. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31b, NKJV) The promise of unlimited freedom is only given to those who continue to abide and remain in the Word of God, not just anyone’s words. There’s no shortage of voices offering false freedom with empty words. Check the label. Only truth that agrees with the Holy Bible will set you free.
Do you think of yourself as ordinary? You’re not! Ordinary has been defined as: “Not remarkable or special in any way, and therefore uninteresting and unimpressive.” Nothing could be further from the truth. On the other hand, extraordinary is defined as, “…deserving attention…because of being wonderful, excellent, and having a special purpose.” Now we’re talking! God’s Word says, “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14, NKJV) We are truly special because we are made “…in the image and likeness of God.” (Genesis 1:26, NKJV) When God created you He gave you an eternal spirit, capable of having His Holy Spirit fill your life with His presence. We’ve even been given the fruit of His Spirit…His “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NKJV) What could be more wonderful and extraordinary than this?
The Greatest Test In Life
Once you’ve been hurt, it’s harder to trust. And since all of us have been hurt, it’s hard for any of us to trust anyone…even God. You can see lack of trust not just in 60 year olds, but sad to say, in 6 year olds as well. Perhaps the greatest test in life is our ability to trust after we’ve been hurt. That’s why the Bible says, “…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NLT) While being hurt by others is inevitable, Jesus compels us to follow His example in forgiving, saying, he who has been forgiven little loves little; but he who has been forgiven much, loves much. (Luke 7:47) We realize the extent of God’s love when we receive and then offer others His complete forgiveness.
Laying Down Her Life
During the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese child volunteered to give blood so that other children could live. When she was led into a room and asked to lie down on a table to give blood she began to cry. An Army nurse came over and, through an interpreter, asked if she was hurt. The little girl said, “No,” but kept crying. Finally, the nurse asked the interpreter to find out why the girl was sobbing. After talking to her for a few minutes the interpreter told the American nurse that when the little girl was asked to give blood, she thought you meant: Was she willing to give all of her blood so someone else could live? The little girl was willing to lay down her life for total strangers. Is there any greater love than that?
For forty-two years, every week, a man slipped a love letter under the door of his ex-girlfriend. He tried over and over again to mend the lovers’ quarrel that separated them for so long, but nothing worked. Her heart would not be moved. For forty-two years she burned each letter, refusing even to speak to him… Then the man finally got the courage to knock on her door and propose; she accepted. A bittersweet story to say the least, but with a great moral. Don’t waste your life holding on to old grudges, when new thoughts are a decision a way. Jesus challenged us all. “…if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NJV)
Bears and Skunks
Those who work with animals in the wild have said that the only creatures bears will allow to eat with them are skunks. Perhaps the reason is obvious. The cost of not living in peace with skunks is just too high! What a great principle, and one that all of us can learn from. There are many things in life that, if we give in to, will cost us far too much. The cost of unforgiveness, for example, would certainly qualify. How much senseless pain has been perpetuated because individuals were unwilling to forgive. From marriages…to families…to nations, unforgiveness costs more than we should ever want to pay. Perhaps the secret of learning to forgive is most clearly seen in the sinless life of Jesus. His willingness to die on the cross for our sins cost Him everything.
Would it surprise you if I told you that God the Father loves you as much as He loves Jesus? And not a bit less! That’s exactly what the Bible teaches. Jesus said, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.” (John 15:9, NLT) WOW! If I’m as loved as Jesus, then God the Father is as pleased with me as He is with Jesus. Not with everything I do, but everything I am. That was always His plan: to have Jesus die for my sins so that I could be fully accepted by God. In Christ, we are completely justified…just as if we’ve never sinned. The Bible says, “In Him (in Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, NKJV)
Law of Sowing and Reaping
I can only give what I’ve received. If I haven’t been forgiven, I can offer little forgiveness. If I don’t love myself, I won’t be able to unconditionally love others. If I don’t believe God gave His life for me, then I’ll have no desire to give my life to Him. It all relates to the Law of “Sowing and Reaping.” God sows His love in me, so I can love other people. We are all right now reaping what we have sown…unless we tap into a higher law! It’s called the law of grace. When Jesus died for my sins, He reaped what I had sown. The law of grace, receiving God’s undeserved favor, trumped the law of sowing and reaping. You and I don’t have to get what we deserve; thankfully, Jesus already took the punishment for us.
Would you like to be rich! It’s a great idea…as long as your riches last forever. Though you can’t take riches with you, you can send them on ahead. John Wesley said, “We should only value things by the price they shall gain in eternity.” Eternity’s the main-event! Earth’s a mere dress rehearsal! The Bible says, “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3, NLT) Jesus reminded us of this when He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.” (Matthew 13:44, NLT) The greatest joys in life are eternal. And God’s prepared them for each of us.
We Are God’s Pearls
God doesn’t make junk! Everything He’s created is remarkable, exceptional and one-of-a-kind. From snowflakes to sunflowers, elephants to ants, penguins to people, God’s creation is amazing. The devil tries to destroy the extraordinariness of our lives, just like he destroyed his own. But don’t give up the riches of Heaven for the counterfeit treasures of Earth. Jesus said, “…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46, NKJV) I used to read this and think, “I need to give God my whole heart in order to get the pearl of great price…Jesus.” Now, I realize, God is the merchant and we are His pearls. He gave everything He had for us, even His life, so that we can spend eternity with Him.
Ever put your hope in an investment that didn’t pan out. It can be incredibly painful. We’d all love to get the inside scoop on a foolproof investment, one that’s guaranteed to provide for our future in a significant way? Well, God offers just such an opportunity. But with a caution! Don’t “…trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1Timothy 1:17b, NLT) The Archbishop of Canterbury, John Tillotson once elaborated the point, “He who provides for this life but takes no care for eternity is wise for a moment but a fool forever.” That pretty much sums it up. Why appear to be wise chasing riches on this temporary Earth, when you can walk in the wisdom of God that guarantees an incomparable return…forever.