Love, my conclusion (the conclusion)

Love, my conclusion (the conclusion)

Love is absolutely the most difficult thing to give, the most rewarding thing to receive, and by far the most gratifying feelings in the world involve giving love and being loved. Yet, love is not an emotion, which the world would have you believe. Love is a choice, and when one is being loved, they feel a wide range of emotions, from joy to safety. When asked why someone makes you feel loved it is usually defined like this, “so and so makes me happy!” or “I always feel so safe in their arms!” It’s why some mistake their emotion in a moment for love and then, later on, will say, “I just don’t love them anymore” or “I never really loved them in the first place.” Lust is a big imposter for love. The sense of attraction that is shared by two people that leads to intimacy, or since everyone knows what i am talking about here anyway let me just say it, sex.

Many emotions try to masquerade as love, even jealousy. But, every emotion although a direct result of love, is not love in and of itself but rather, love is love and that is a choice. We choose to love or not love. Shakespeare said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” i would say, “to love or not to love, that is the question.” The world tells us we are to hate certain things, certain people, even the idea of hating hate. And if love were an emotion, it would be easy to justify, “i don’t love this therefore, i must hate it.” Oh for us to love, i mean genuinely love. But i can’t love that which i do not like, can i?

“God is love.” “For God so loved the world…” We have come full circle now, back to where we started. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is a choice. He chose to do what He did, out of love, He chose love. He instructs us to love our neighbors, enemies, wives/husbands, love never fails. When we choose to love someone it requires us to fight through, negative emotions, sometimes. It isn’t always easy to choose love. Hate, definitely is the easier choice, given our fallen human nature. However, we are called to love, it is a challenge, a rallying cry, a mission, and a purpose. We are to love God with all our heart soul mind and strength, as well as, love our neighbor as ourselves.

Today in a world so full of daggers, hate, and dysfunction, i choose love!

1 John 4:13-21 The Message

13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

To Love, to Be Loved

17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First, we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

You are loved,

cj

Love, my conclusion (Part 1)

Love, my conclusion (Part 1)

Instead of going on about the difference between the different forms of love used in Scripture, Agapa, Eros, Philia, and the less common but still relevant Storge. Which perhaps is a future post, i rather here just cut to the chase a bit. Let’s not get lost in rabbit trails of debate or even friendly conversation, which simply is the mascarade of confusion, doubt, and deflection. We fight being loved, so we don’t get hurt. We fight loving others because we don’t want to be disappointed, and we fight others loving others because we are jealous, cynical, and doubtful of genuine love. We wrap ourselves up in fairytale love stories and fantasies that actually warp any form of love and give false expectations of any sort of reality.

It almost sounds as if i have a cynical heart towards love. Perhaps i do. Perhaps that is why it intrigues me so. Even to the point of haunting my dreams, and peaking it’s head out through the pages of these words. You may remember a song by Tina Turner, called,
“What’s love got to do with it?” Here is the chorus to that song . . .

What’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second-hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

You want to talk cynical? There it is written in 1984 and i bet the sentiment goes centuries beyond that too. For my point, each verse talks about something different, the first verse about lust, the second verse, confusion, the third, protection. This is just one iconic song, there are countless others, i just happen to like the tune, and i can hear it playing in my head. So, with such a worldly view of love abounding around us, choking out our very hearts, what are we to do?

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in Him and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:7-12

If we claim to have love but we do not back it up with action then we are only fooling ourselves, no one else. We become the very thing everyone claims we as Christians are, hypocrites. Let us consider these verses from 1 John 3:11,12

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” 

Jealousy is a killer of love. Jealousy hides inside your heart, your mind, your anger, your fear, and it waits for an opportunity to reveal his hideousness in humanity by way of our fallen nature, surprisingly enough. It is why we ought to pursue the love of God with every fiber of our being! No rock left unturned, no shadow left cast, no door left unopened in our pursuit of love. For we are only capable of true, honest, sincere love when we are abiding in God and He in us for “His love is perfected in us” through abiding. i am not done. To be continued . . .

You are LOVED,

cj

Today is my birthday.

Today is my birthday.

It’s 1979, i am turning 6 years old. Dinner is, by my choice, my mom’s lasagna. i will eat two pieces. The cake is simple, two-layer, round, chocolate with chocolate frosting. My gift that year, i can’t believe i remember, cap-guns with a holster and five hot-wheels cars. No friends, just family, my sister who is six years older, my brother who is four years older, and my parents who are just older. We are living in Sylmar, California which is in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. It’s July, it’s hot, it’s lighter later, it’s later, dusk has set in. Sirens fill the air, they stop short, they are close by, close enough that we see the flashing red lights.

Cameron and David are brothers. They live down the alley, i don’t remember what side of the street if they were on our side or the other block, we always just went down the alley to get there. They are both six years old. They are not twins, separated by 11 months this is the short part of the year they share a number. i remember playing in their chicken coop, they didn’t have chickens, just a coop. i don’t know if they never had chickens, maybe it came with the house, i only know they didn’t have any chickens while i knew them and so we made it into a fort of sorts. Cameron was the leader of our little club, he made all the rules. Our motto, “We aren’t chicken!” Sadly none too bright either.

Cameron earlier that day would hear of a game called chicken. He didn’t tell what the game was. He said it would be fun. It was to be a club game. i would miss the first time playing because of my birthday celebration. i wish i had known, i would like to think i would have told him to not do it . . . but i did not know.

We walked to the end of the block to see what the fuss was. When we arrived there were two small sheets draped over two small bodies. One car in the middle of the road the driver sitting in the passenger seat with their legs outside the car. My mom, working as a nurse at the time was talking to the fire department. She returned, D.O.A. that’s all i heard before she told my sister to take me home, she did. We didn’t find out until later who it was and what they were doing.

Today is my birthday. It is 2018. As i look back on my years i have story after story, memory after memory of moments where an event or a decision give rise to thoughts in which i wonder, “what if i did this or that?” “what if” i could what if this story too. “What if i was there with them?” Or “what if i had thought to invite them to my birthday?” i could allow these thoughts to consume me or i can put them behind me, learn from them and press on making the most of every moment, every day, every year.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…” Matthew 6:25-34

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:4-6

i like to reflect on my birthday’s. Have i made the most of my year? Have done all that i can? Am i content with it? What changes do i need to make? How can i love more? Do more? Live better?

Today is my birthday.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 2)

Jude (Part 2)

Once again we will be looking into Jude. This is, as the title states, part 2, there is also an introduction. If you have not yet read those i would suggest going back and reading those before continuing here.

Jude is writing about those who have crept into the church unnoticed. The warning is for us to be alert. So that we do not fall prey to them. To continue to search the Scriptures daily so that we remain knowledgeable and able to spot the imposter.  These folks have come in the side door, they slipped in the back. Yet, their resume and their teachings are not the same. In as much as they have subtly shifted meaning, context, and even grace, ultimately denying the very person of Jesus, while claiming His name.

Verse 8 reads, Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. These men, by dreaming, let me say this, that dreaming isn’t bad, it is good, and we should have lofty dreams. However, these men were not dreaming lofty God-sized dreams, they were dreaming as men. It was for power, prestige, influence that these men dreamed. We know this because they defiled the flesh, this is the same as “strange flesh” that of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a perverted sense of grace and self-assumed authority in matters best left to God’s Word and not man’s opinion. You see they reject all authority to include Church authority and all the way down the line to government authority. They have taken it upon themselves to pronounce judgment rather than hang onto the authority of Scripture. Thumbing their noses at Jesus Himself as they curse the very Word.

These men are like hidden reefs that would shipwreck your faith. Pual writes to Timothy in 1:18-20 says, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” These men are hollow, waterless clouds, pushed my any which wind that blows, in other words, their moral compass is broken and they are persuaded by the mood of the people rather than the Word of God. Trees without fruit. We are told that we will know them by their fruit, Jude isn’t saying anything new and yet we need to be reminded.

Yet in the same way, these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are [j]destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay [k]they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are [l]hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, [m]doubly dead, uprooted;13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n]shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the [o]black darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:8-13)

Take a deep breath. Ask yourself this, are you seeking the approval of man or of God? Let us together walk the road less traveled and seek the will of God, dream God-sized dreams and live out our lives flowing from the grace that we have been shown. Not by running from God’s Word, or watering it down, but by living it out — that we might save some.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

A life of dependance . . .

A life of dependance . . .

We all depend on someone or something for life. Some will say they don’t depend on anyone, well that simply says, “I depend on myself.” So the reality is everyone depends on something for their existence. It may be work, that job you hate going to every Monday, or it may be a spouse, or a relative of some sort. It could be the Government, a retirement investment or an inheritance. Some who are very ill depend on machines or medicine for life, without them they die. So whether we like to think in these terms or not we are all dependent upon something or someone for life.

Being dependent upon riches or popularity or even other people, yourself included leads to disappoint, despair, even tragedy. Oh there might be momentary pleasure, riches, even glimpses of happiness. However, we can name person after person of influence who has struggled with fame, fortune, popularity and riches. A quick google search will show us these facts to be true. And whether we like to admit it or not we are dependent by nature. So, lets talk about for a second, the idea of being dependent. For if we are by nature dependent then we should find the true source of our dependence.

i offer up to you this passage from Jeremiah 17:5-8;

Wisdom from the Lord

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
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 never stop producing fruit.

 

John D. Rockefeller, (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937)  said, “If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it.” Now this coming from a man who arguably was the richest man in modern history. Yet, although rich as could be his dependence was not on his wealth, as this quote here will show, “This Sunday School has been of help to me, greater perhaps than any other force in my Christian life, and I can ask no better things for you than that you, and all that shall come after you in this great band of workers for Christ, shall receive the same measure of blessedness which I have been permitted to have.”

You might argue that it was easy for him to have his dependence on Jesus because he was so wealthy. Well, to that i say what about Horatio G. Spafford. Here is a man who lost everything, with the exception of his wife, “saved alone” from a shipwreck. He went on to pen one of, if not the greatest hymn of all time, “It is well with my soul”. Read his full story here. Today, where do you find your dependence, i submit to you that if your answer is anything but Christ alone, you need to stop what you are doing and reevaluate life and put your hope, trust, confidence . . . dependence on the only one who can and will see you through, Jesus the Messiah.

You are loved,

cj

Stuck in the mud.

Stuck in the mud.

Today, i drove out with a friend to get hay for our horses. We have one, Shrek and they have two, the names escape me. We drove about an hour to a town called Red Lodge in Montana. We had in tow our horse trailer for Shrek to carry the hay. Our Chevy Avalanche is only two-wheel drive with traction control. Having moved from California it’s all we really needed and we picked this up used so it wasn’t a priority over cost. We previously got it stuck in the mud when we were getting the trailer ready for our move. Thanks to some kitty litter we were able to get it unstuck, that was not the case this time.

i was a bit fearful arriving in Red Lodge at the farm where we got the hay. Watched carefully where i was going and every turn was measured for whether or not i would make it through. It was an unfamiliar place and i was much more on my guard. We loaded up the hay and pulled out and all was well. My friend and i had a great conversation and the trip home was quick. Arriving back at the stable we went to park the trailer near the barn for easy unloading of the hay. i was totally comfortable. i swung the trailer around to back in and proceeded to make my way towards the barn, when…you guessed it, i got stuck in the mud. The more i tried to free myself the more stuck i became. My friend came up and asked, “is this four-wheel drive?” We already know the answer to that question.

No amount of struggle would free me because the weight of the trailer was too great. Often we are the same way with the things that weigh us down in life. Struggles and sin weigh us down and many are stuck in the mud. It happens mostly when we are comfortable. We aren’t on the lookout because we feel like we have a handle on life. It’s then the Devil gets his claws in us and drags us down with weights we don’t need to even carry. You know how i got the truck unstuck? i dropped the trailer. Yep, that’s it, i dropped the trailer. Then with a little maneuvering, i was free and on my way.  Dumping the weight of struggle and sin is the same, if we dump it, with a little maneuvering we can be on our way.

With a lesson learned and a path made we can avoid those struggles. If we stay alert to the temptations around us if we look out for one another. If we don’t assume everyone has four-wheel drive, we will be better able to address the needs of our friends before they get stuck in the mud. Having that faith community around us and placing our faith in them we will be ready for the obstacles of life.

1 Peter 5:6-11 says it all:

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers[b] all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In his kindness, God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.

You are loved,

cj

In our temptation, You have made A WAY, Thy Kingdom Come

In our temptation, You have made A WAY, Thy Kingdom Come

In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Prior to this verse, Paul tells the Corinthians and subsequently us, that the early Jewish nation, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Yet, even still, “…with most of them, God was not well pleased.” Why? Well, because the consistently gave into temptation without remorse or repentance. The caveat, our example. (1 Corinthians 6-11)

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 

Now to us, take heed to these warnings, and hold fast to the promise that God will give you an escape hatch when temptation comes your way. What a great feeling to know that God is looking out for us, that He has our best in mind, our prosperity and not our destruction. We need only seek Him with our whole heart and we will find Him.  On the other hand, the devil is aware also and he is fighting for your soul as well. He will stop at nothing to gain control of you and he knows just how to tempt you. He knows your weaknesses, maybe even better than you do. In fact, as Paul warns in verse 12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Do not get too confident in your own ability to stand but lean on Jesus. Jesus is the ESCAPE HATCH.

you are loved,

cj

In our sin, yet by Your Sacrifice, Thy Kingdom Come

In our sin, yet by Your Sacrifice, Thy Kingdom Come

“I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see…” This line from “Amazing Grace” is the anthem of all in Christ. Each one of us started from the same place, deep in sin. The only way out, not by works (“not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” [Eph 2:9 ESV]) it is only by Jesus, “But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (ESV 2:13) This remedy all though it sounds simple enough is made difficult by the flesh of man. The war the wages inside us is real. “23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:23-25 ESV)

This sin problem that we have is constant. It is why we are told to meditate daily on the Word. To pray without ceasing. To lock up the Word in our hearts, tieing them as symbols around our hands, over and over we are reminded because we can become complacent, apathetic even and the sin that so easily ensnared us before will yet again. However, we now know better! Therefore we must strive upward and onward, for we are no longer blind to sin, but we see.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11)

…And Character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame (or let us down). There seems to be a recurring theme these past few weeks around this idea of hope. Hope is central to our faith. It is what will push us forward. It is the wind in the sail of life when things get rocky, when we fail, when we feel lost, lonely, afraid or hurt. Hope is the catalyst to “love poured out”.  In Christ, all things are possible. Therefore we can not continue to settle for the statement, “well, we are sinners saved by grace.” i counter that with this, we “were” sinners saved by grace. Jesus told many, “go and sin no more.” Was He setting them up for failure? No, absolutely not. Was His expectation sinlessness? Again, No. Paul sums it up best here in Philippians 3:12-16;

12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” 

Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Let me once more share my life verse with you from Micah 6:8; “He has shown you, oh man, what the Lord requires of you; to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk Humbly with Him (God).” When you find yourself in any sort of situation ask yourself this, are you acting justly? Are you showing mercy? Are you walking humbly with your God? i assure you that the answers will either inspire you onward or challenge you to grow. In our sin, He saved us, by His sacrifice He made away.  Therefore our desire should remain, His perfect Kingdom Come.

In our sin, yet by His sacrifice, Thy Kingdom Come.

You are loved,

cj