Sunday, February 13, 2011

John 3:17

You're probably thinking "don't you mean John 3:16?"  I just heard this in church, today.  It meant so much I just had to come and share.  Almost everyone has heard John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  Even people that are not Christians have heard this scripture, but the sad thing is that we are surrounded by people who think that doesn't apply to them.  People that think they are so bad and have sinned so much in their life that there is no way that they are "good enough to become a Christian".
That is why if we just read ahead a tiny bit we get some more good news that might even be better news for some people.  "For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." v 17&18.
It doesn't matter what you've done or what you're going to do.  You could have committed some of the most heinous acts know to man and you can still be saved.  Or you could have lead the most honest and righteous life ever and still not be saved because you don't know Jesus.  It just goes to show us, that it's not about us it's only about Jesus.  There is nothing we can do to get to Heaven accept call on Him.  That is Good News!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What I'm learning from Roman's 8

I'm Free From the Law of Sin and Death

This is something I've just recently learned.  Until I learned it, I spent the majority of my life relying on myself to "do good" and not "mess up" and when I inevitably did, I spent the rest of my time feeling shameful about my own inadequacies.  Finally, as I told you before in a previous post, I read Romans 8 and for the first time really understood that God had taken care of all of that for me, and I should not be relying on myself for anything.   
The law is good and just, but if that's all there was it would be impossible to get to God by following it.  That's because we just can't manage it all on our own.  By ourselves we are naturally governed by the "flesh" or self fulfillment and that is always going to lead to sin.  Verse 7 says the "the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."  We can't do it.  It's just not possible
But "what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh," - verse 3.  Jesus became a man just like us, but he is the only person who has ever been able to do it - meet the requirements of the law, and condemn sin once and for all.
Once we belong to Christ, the Spirit of God lives in us.  We will automatically have our "minds set on what the Spirit desires," verse 5.  The amazing thing is that once the Spirit of the one who was powerful enough to raise the dead actually lives inside of us, He is absolutely powerful enough to remove sin from our lives!
It's not to say that we will never sin again, because we are still flesh and weak, and we naturally have that self fulfilling desire.  "I can do it," or "I should be better".  That's when we will fail every time. We must learn to succumb to the Spirit that dwells within us.  It will guide us and lead us in what He desires.  And it will totally change your life!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Part II

I wanted to take some time to share with any of you who might be reading something that is weighing very heavily on my heart.  I have a dear friend who has recently learned that her mother has stage 4 stomach cancer.  In the few weeks since the diagnosis, the news just keeps getting worse and worse.  I want to console my friend, but there is not a lot you can say.  I've just told her to "trust in the Lord, it's part of His plan.  Let Him carry you through these tough times"
She is understandably distraught, but also angry.  Why should someone like her mother, who has already been through so much, have to go through this?
It isn't really my place - or anyone's for that matter - to question our Father on His plan, but I have been quite desperate to give her some kind of assurance.  The best place to turn when you have questions like this is to prayer, and scripture.  I turned to one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible - Romans chapter 8.
The first time I really tried to read the Bible with understanding something changed in me when I got to this chapter.  At that time I was a new mother and life was really stressing me out.  I was constantly feeling ashamed for not being good enough. When I got to Romans 8, I finally understood that I could not keep relying on myself to do anything.  I really truly learned about my new life in the Spirit "because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2
I will soon tell you more about how Romans 8 changed my life (you've really got to read it), but right now I want to share more about my friend.
So I turned to my trusty chapter and read a verse about suffering. "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:16 & 17 and then later "As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." verse 36.  
This "suffering" that is mentioned - I knew about that.  They were talking about all the saints who'd come before us and died defending their faith.  Or future Christians during the great tribulation that will perish in the name of Jesus...right?  Never had I considered that all of us will suffer here and now just because of who we are.  
But then I remembered "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13,14).  If being a Christian were easy, everyone would be jumping on board, but its not.  It's not just hard to stay away from temptation and lead a holy life, but everything is going to be hard: marriage, parenting, work, school, health - all of it.  We have to remember that these hardships, as devastating as they may be, are paving the path to glory.  And "...our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" verse 18.
I'd like to ask you to pray for my friend, her mother and their whole family.  Please pray for God's will first and foremost.  Pray for her mother's health.  Pray for healing - God willing, and peace and comfort.  Please pray for my friend and the rest of her family.  Pray that they will surrender to God's will and that they will be able to trust in Him completely and allow His Holy Spirit to carry them through this trial.

"Father in Heaven, thank you for giving Your Word as an instruction manual to life. Thank you for letting us come to You in prayer and always hearing us. Thank you for sending us Your Holy Spirit to intercede when we are so devastated that we don't even know how to pray.  Thank you for bringing your precious Son up from the grave to sit at your right hand and also pray for us.  Thank you for letting nothing separate us from Your love for us.  Please guide us in letting nothing separate us from our love for You.  Amen"