We Were Once Lost

For the first thirty years of my life, I was blinded by the sin that I was living in. That sin consumed my every day, my every thought, and my every action. In my mind I wasn’t as bad as the person next to me, and I wasn’t doing anything illegal that would result in being arrested and put in prison. I was being good enough, and there really wasn’t a reason for me to change.

That was until my eyes were opened when I heard the word of God, and my life was forever changed.

I am thankful for my memory, and that I am able to remember my past. Although remembering the past brings along memories I wish I could forget, it also allows me to see how incredible God is, and how he has redeemed me from that past sin. Without that memory, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue about who I used to be, compared to who I am now.

We all have friends and family who are in need of that saving grace. And we all have been graced by someone in our lives who made an impact on who are in Christ. We have that opportunity to be the same for others. Tonight, I read a few verses in Titus that further showed me the truth about why we need to put on compassionate hearts with those around us:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Titus 3:3

That verse can not be any closer to the truth. At one point in our lives, we were in the same position as that person in need of forgiveness and grace, no matter the sins at hand. All sin separates us from God. I often wonder if those people in my life didn’t share the love of God with me. I could still possibly be lost in my sin, unknowingly waiting to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ or Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7

Let us share the goodness and loving kindness that God has freely given to us. We have no idea how God is going to work in their lives. Only He knows their heart, and if they will repent, deny themselves, and follow Jesus. But we are called for this very purpose, to share the truth about our Lord and Savior.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ

Romans 10:17

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The Promise of Completion

I can remember the day when I bought my first bible. It was a sunny crisp fall day, on November 30, 2013. As I exited my car and started to walk to the entrance, I spotted a shiny penny in one of the empty parking spots. I picked it up and placed it in my back pocket. Walking into the local Barnes and Nobel, I had a slight idea about what bible translation I was going to buy. The days before, I had done a little research online to see if one version would be easier to read and understand than the other. At that time, my only knowledge of the bible was that it’s very long, has stories about God, and held the teachings for Christianity.

One year and five months later, my knowledge of the bible, God, and what Jesus has done for me has increased beyond what I ever imagined. He took someone who dreaded reading anything, and turned him into someone who craves and pants for the word of God. But more importantly than merely knowing about Jesus, I now know Him personally.

Looking back on that day in November, I can see that God began a mighty work in my life.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

Whether you see it or not, God is working in your life. And we have the promise that the work He began will be brought to completion!

The Promise of Being Complete

This morning as I scrolled through my Twitter feed, I came across an article that really hit home for me:

Redeem the Rejection of Singleness

Towards the end of the article, the author stated, “Settle in your mind”. Whenever I read or hear those words, the antennas on my head perk up, as I know that I’m about to come across something profound. These are the moments that usually lead me to a conviction on something life changing.

Settle it in your mind: You are not alone because you are unwanted, unloved, or rejected. Your life is being written with kind and perfect intentions by a sovereign and loving God who is stewarding all things to give you the greatest possible good: himself.

God is good, and know’s exactly what I need, and when I need it.

So, on May 21, 2015, I have settled in my mind that my worth and identity is not found in man, but in Jesus Christ. He alone holds that power in my life. I am not alone, not unwanted, not unloved, and not rejected, but am fully present, fully wanted, fully loved, and fully accepted in Jesus Christ.

We have the promise of being complete in Jesus Christ.

and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Colossians 2:10

 

 

The Promise of His Presence

This weekend I ran across a sermon by Billy Graham in Denver, Colorado in 1987 (Video) where he preached about loneliness. Towards the beginning of his message, he read part of Psalms 102, which talked about a bird alone in the wilderness.

I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places;
I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
Psalms 102:6-7

Watching birds has slowly become a little hobby. I built a birdhouse earlier this spring in hopes to see new birds being born. It’s incredible to watch the teamwork of birds as they build their nests, and take care of their young.

But sometimes I can feel like that lone bird in the wilderness, sitting in my home, watching all the pairs of birds around me building a future together.

In my seeking for biblical truths about feeling alone, I found that the word “loneliness” is not found anywhere within the new testament, which I found to be pretty interesting. Surely this would have been addressed at some point? The only places where “being alone” was really mentioned was where Jesus went out early in the morning alone to pray.

I think that this little observation speaks to the truth of the gospel, that there is no true loneliness with Jesus Christ. His last words before asending to heaven were, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b).

With Jesus, we are never alone. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, He is with us always, wherever we go, wherever we stay, and whatever we may be going through in this life.

We have the promise of His presence, forever.

Unconditional Love

One of the most well known verses in the bible would have to be John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”.  Two years ago, in 2013, it was reported by Bible Gateway that John 3:16 was the most searched for bible verse, along with love being the most searched for word.

What is this love that people are searching for?

To understand this love better, we could look at the greek word used here, which is agapao. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines this word as:

The word agapao (and its cognate agape) is rarely used in extrabiblical Greek. It was used by believers to denote the special unconditional love of God and is used interchangeably with phileo to designate God the Father’s love for Jesus, God the Father’s love for an individual believer, and of Christ’s love for a disciple.

This love that God has for those who believe in Him is unconditional, and is the same love that He has for his only son, Jesus. People are searching for unconditional love, but where is this love coming from?

When the Pharisees tried to test Jesus, He revealed to us another truth about our Father, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40

We are called to love the Lord with everything about us (our heart , soul, and mind), and then we are to love our neighbor. Both God and neighbor come before our own selfs and our own needs. That is the true, unconditional and sacrificial love that can only come from God. For we are able to love because God loved us first (1 John 4:19).

How can we possibly love in this way?

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

It is only through the power of Christ that we are able to love in this manner. Jesus died for us, so that we may no longer live for ourselves (self-centered), but rather live for Him (Christ-centered). When we live for Christ, and share the gospel — the good news about what Christ did for us — we are living out his unconditional love, and sharing that love with others.

 

Promise of Patience

We live in a world of instant gratification. Over the course of history, the mediums to satisfy our needs have greatly increased.

The newspaper gave us news quicker than word of mouth. The radio and television gave us the news quicker than the newspaper. The telephone allowed us to talk quicker than face to face. The internet allows us to send a greeting quicker than by letter. Our smart phones give us access to all of these things from anywhere in the world at any point of time. Social networks let us know at every moment what is going on in each others lives.

If there is any sort of delay or slowness, we wonder if something is wrong, and can become impatient and frustrated.

So when we make our requests known to God, it is no surprise that we can become frustrated when things don’t happen now and according to our timeline.

 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

The context of the above passage from 2 Peter is the promise of the coming of the new Heaven and the new Earth. As we wait patiently, God is also patient in all coming to repentance before that day.

God is patient.

It took me the first thirty years of my life to come to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am so thankful to know that God has been patient with me over those years. And as I am approaching the second year as a Christian, and as I am growing in my relationship with Jesus, God is still patient.

To love is to be patient, as patience is the first quality listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4. God loves us so much, and graces us with His patience every day. Let us give thanks to the Father for the promise of patience, and share that promise with everyone we know and meet.

Promise of Hearing Your Prayers

This morning I read the parable of the persistent widow. She came before the judge constantly with her request, and eventually that judge granted her request. Jesus was teaching us through this parable to be persistent and consistent with our prayer life. If the lesser is true (the judge granting the widows request), how much more true is it that God will grant our requests?

As recorded in the New Testament, prayer is the only thing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them. Between all of the miracles they witnessed and noticing Jesus rising early in the morning to pray, they were most interested in learning how to pray.

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1

This brings us to the promise that God hears our prayers.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
1 John 5:14–15

When we align our will to God’s will, our wants to God’s wants, our desires to God’s desires, we will be praying and asking for the exact things that God wants. We have this confidence as we grow in our relationship with Jesus and in our prayer life, that He will hear our prayers, and will act upon them according to His will.

Sometimes all we need is to know that someone is there to listen to us. Let us give thanks knowing the promise that God is always there, and that He hears our prayers.