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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jesus Loves You

What are your thoughts as we go into Holy Week next week? Do you reflect on what Jesus may have been thinking as He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? When I was a child my mother had me read the story of the crucifixion. I read it the way I read my stories and wept when I realized there was no way Jesus' life would be spared. Now as an adult and a Christian, I know that Jesus came to earth to die for my sins. As a child I couldn't understand this. Do you?

Most of all, do you realize why Jesus died? It wasn't because the religious leaders hated him or because Herod and Pilate couldn't agree on what to do with Him. If Jesus wanted to get out from dying, no amount of hate or political bungling could have made Him die. He died because He loves you and he loves me. Plain and simple. 

It's easy to say, "Yes, I know Jesus loves me."  But the concept of someone loving us to the extent that He would die for us can be difficult to grasp. Here's what the Bible says:

For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that all who believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3: 16.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15: 13

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 8

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3: 23

The amazing thing about Jesus' love is that it is unconditional. You don't have to be good or holy or even a Christian for Jesus to love you. He can't help but love you, because He is love. So when you reflect on Palm Sunday and holy week, realize that Jesus had you in mind when He did all that He did. And He still does. That's why He stretched out his arms wide on the cross so you could run into them and be saved. And they are still outstretched. Won't you run into them today? He's waiting, but He won't wait forever. 

The Bible says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 4 : 7).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What Does Your Conscience Say?

So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. Acts 24: 16 NIV


"They don't have a conscience." We often say this to refer to people who commit heinous crimes without showing any feelings of remorse. But everyone does have a conscience. Call it "the little voice" or whatever you choose to call it, our conscience can keep us from wrongdoing and even from getting into serious trouble.

Christopher Reeve said, 
"I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don't know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do."

The Bible has a lot to say about conscience. Is is just a little voice, or is it the work of the Holy Spirit in us?

When Abraham and his wife Sarah went on a journey, Abraham feared that because Sarah was so beautiful, the men would kill him and take her, so he told her to say she was his sister. Sarah did as she was told and the king did, in fact, send for her to make her part of his harem. But the Lord appeared to him in a dream and warned him not to touch her because she was another man's wife.

The king, very afraid, said, "Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, 'He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands." 
Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her" (Genesis 20: 5-6). 

In Romans 13: 5, Paul says,  "Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience."

In other words, you don't submit because you fear punishment, but because your conscience tells you it's the right thing to do.

Christians face many temptations throughout life, but we must always listen to the voice of our conscience. We must be able to say like Job,  "I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live" (27: 6).

Even children have a conscience. Although they may not always confess when they do something wrong, the guilt shows on their faces. Children know when they deserve to be punished. It's the same with us adults. We know we deserve God's wrath, but instead, we receive His grace. However, that doesn't give us the license to ignore our conscience and go on sinning. We must do the right thing. Go to God, confess our sins and ask Him to help us turn away from them once and for all. God bless.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Half Empty Or Half Full?

I'm sure you've heard the question before: Is your glass half empty or half full? I answered this
question in a forum recently where the person who posed the question seemed to think that the glass is half empty for most people. I daresay I was pleased that most of the respondents, including myself, agreed that it was a matter of perspective and for many, the glass was half full.

This question reminded me of Ruth and Naomi who I wrote about in a recent post. If you haven't read it yet, you may read it here. Naomi became bitter over the loss of her husband and sons, while Ruth, who had also lost her husband, looked to the future with hope.

Ruth could have easily become despondent and bitter. She was a young widow and she did not have a son to provide for her. Two factors that put her at a great disadvantage, unless she could remarry. When Naomi, her mother-in-law, decided to leave for Judah, Ruth readily decided to follow her. Ruth saw her glass as half full, waiting to be filled. And it did, as you read in my earlier post.

What I find amazing about this story is that Ruth, who had been childless before, became pregnant and bore a son when she married Boaz. And Naomi, who had never been a grandmother before, became nurse to Ruth's baby.

The Bible says, "... godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).Ruth gained by being godly and contented. Not many Christians are contented. We tend to fret and become anxious when our glass looks like it's half empty, when instead, we should see it as half full.