12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 
John 15:12-14 (NKJV)

Compelled by love, Jesus lay down His life so we could have a relationship with Him forever!  We celebrate love on Valentine’s Day.  Romantic love mostly, but God provides a perfect love toward us.  Because God IS love!  As God pours out His love on us, we spread it around accordingly.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails…
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a (NKJV)

If you are like me, you fall short of that regularly.  If we remember the love that has been poured out on us, even though we don’t deserve it, maybe we can get closer to the mark in time.  For me, I pray that that is so.  No matter what, God’s love never fails!  I love that.

Tired of Backsliding

Today is the 14th of November and that means Proverbs 14 is part of my daily Bible reading. That is, when I am being obedient and actually doing my daily Bible reading.

As I was reading Proverbs 14 this morning I didn’t get too far before I had to pause and contemplate verse 14.

14 The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways,
But a good man will be satisfied from above.

I think we all get frustrated with life sometimes. Disappointed that things didn’t worked out the way we planned or the wait for a promise was just a little (lot) bit longer then we expected. These are dangerous times for the Christian. If we don’t stay close to God and stay in His presence we can allow ourselves to get upset and even angry with God. If left unchecked that can lead to bitterness and a dry spirit. (don’t ask me how I know that : )

In these times (which I hope you never experience) it’s easy to turn to “comfort sins.” Those bad habits the old man used to have that want to come back in and enslave again. It can be as simple as overeating comfort foods or much worse. Certainly the comfort food analogy applies.

If you’ve ever been down this dark path even a little ways (I imagine it may be more common then people like to admit) and back again then you already know the wisdom of God through Solomon in Proverbs 14:14. You will grow tired of being backsliden (new word alert!) in heart. You will have your fill and the Holy Spirit will make you sick of it! Thank God for that!

There is a way back. Even better, there is a way to avoid this backsliden condition to begin with. Run to God every day! Stay close to Him no matter what. Share your troubles with Him. Lay your burdens at His feet. If you pick them back up an hour later, lay them at His feet again! He cares in a very personal way for you and the more you spend time with Him, the more you will see Him working in big and small ways in your life.

God is getting you through whatever it is. If you are frustrated and fall, let God pick you back up. Confess your sins to Him. Turn away from Backslideness (an even better new word alert!) and into His loving arms. Then you will be back on the track to being a good man satisfied from above, no matter what your circumstances.

Good News for a Reason!

wcrossblood75Christian Recording Artist and Lead Pastor of The Exchange, Joel Engle, wrote this on his Facebook wall this evening:

Christian, don’t fall into despair over your sinful failings! Christ has freed you from wrath, has made you holy and will give you victory!

That gets me excited! It is the Gospel message. Jesus took your punishment and God isn’t mad at you anymore. Truly this is the heart of Christianity that should be the heart of every sermon. So often we let the enemy, or the world, or ourselves, lie to us about who we are in Christ and the miraculous transformation He has done in our heart and is doing in our lives. When you receive Christ He gives you His Holiness! You are justified (just as if I’d never sinned) and God removes your sin from you as far as the east is from the west! It is a miracle and it is good news.

When we consider the story of the Prodigal Son, who spent his share of the inheritance with “loose living” and was still welcomed home by his father when he returned home then we get a glimpse of the heart of our Heavenly Father. He never looses His love for you no matter what you choose to do. Yes, sin has consequences and can lead you to an early grave and an unhappy life, but remember you can always run to a loving God who loves you more than you can ever imagine. Always.

God poured His wrath out on His Son Jesus so He will never pour it out on you. Remember that when you sin (and you do) that God isn’t angry with you. He loves you with an eternal love. Run to Him and receive your forgiveness, don’t run away in fear and go deeper into destruction.

Are sermons about the dangers of sin important? Of course they are and all scripture is God-breathed and is good for instruction and even correction. But looking at your sin is not going to bring about change in your life. It’s when you look at the Cross and what God did for you that you realize you can trust the King of the Universe to bring you safely to your destination. And you can trust Him with your problems and your secrets. He already knows and He couldn’t love you any less.

Always remember and never forget that at the core of any and all Christian messages is (should be) the complete forgiveness that you receive when you receive Christ. Joel calls it The Exchange. It’s the best deal ever offered in the history of the universe. You Exchanged your mess for His Glorious Kingdom! When you do that you become His kid and a part of the family! Now start acting like it 🙂