Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:13-14

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

When I read this verse this morning … well, I just had to smile and shed a tear.  I think about how gracious God has been to each of us … how He has given each of us the experience of life in all of its mystery, wonder, and fulfillment.  Who can truly understand the mind and wisdom of God to design for us “life” and “being” and “purpose” and “meaning” in the way He has ordained all of these experiences for us … for our spirits (inmost beings)?  I believe this is why the Psalmist declared: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Oh, my friend, God is to be reverenced! He is worthy of the highest praise! Just look at the ultrasound of a newly conceived embryo….  It is the revelation of God to us – His works are indeed wonderful!

In the wombs of our mothers, God knit us together. Our bodies were formed and grew into a completed beings .  Within our mothers, God prepared us bodies to be the individual temples for our spirits to indwell. He fashioned each of us for His own purpose and for His glory.  This is why we honor our mothers … because through them each of us was brought to life! Even those yet to be born will join this gift of life each of us has graciously been given by our Creator.  And so it has been for millennia that our Father has ordained for those He created in His image to participate in His creative work to fill the earth with His children.  What an incredible thought!

So when we honor mothers for bringing us into this world … we honor our Father in heaven for His handiwork.  We acknowledge His great love, compassion, and provision.  The mystery of His wisdom is simply beyond our human comprehension … yet He has revealed to us Himself through His own Son … and demonstrated His deepest desire to fellowship with each of us personally and collectively.  Oh, I pray we will find in the conception of life … the very heart of God … His tender mercies … His lavish grace … His unfailing love!  And I pray that we the Church … the Body of Christ … will do everything within our power to protect every unborn child as well as every living child that God has given us to nurture and raise for His Name and for His Glory!  Let us unite in prayer for their protection, provision, and person-hood with all sacredness and human dignity possible. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Cf. Ephesians 2:10)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

The Foolish Cross?

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Paul tells us the message of the cross is considered foolishness to those who are perishing.  What is the “message of the cross”?  Why would it be considered foolishness? Well, let’s put this verse in its context and see if that will help us::

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 (NIV)

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (Cf. Isaiah 29:14) 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

I think Paul is trying to drive home the point that it was incomprehensible to most Jews (and certainly to most non-Jews) that a Messiah … a Warrior King … a Savior and Deliverer sent by God to His people would have been mightier than to have suffered a torturous, humiliating death on a cross.  What kind of Messiah could Jesus have been to have suffered such a fate?  Why would anyone believe in such a weakling? Such thinking is foolishness … beyond irrational.  I think that mindset is what drove Paul (Saul) to persecute the “fanatical” Christians before He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.  They were dangerous “lunatics” subverting Judaism and had to be stopped.  But the other aspect that drove the earliest believers to persist in their faith was the resurrection of Jesus.  Had He not been resurrected … this “foolishness” would have long since abated.  Indeed, if Jesus were not resurrected … then our faith would be in vain.  It would be foolish.  But we would still be in our sin as well….  (Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12-17)

As Paul reasons, God ordained for His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Jesus had to die … to pay the wages of sin on our behalf. Redemption had a cost. There was a price for reconciliation.  While the cross “appeased” the justice requirement of a Holy God, it also demonstrated the incomprehensible love of God for us.  He paid the debt we owed for us!  Thus, in Christ Jesus, we see the wisdom of God because the resurrection demonstrates the power of God.  Those who reject the grace of God as foolishness will perish in their pride and arrogance.  But those who believe in Christ Jesus, the power and wisdom of God, received His gift of grace, salvation, and eternal life.  Again, the Prophet Isaiah comes to mind. The Jews should have known from their own Scriptures that the Messiah would suffer and die for their transgressions.  Their blindness became their foolishness….

Isaiah 53

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

To the world, the death of Jesus upon a cross is meaningless and foolish. A victorious, warrior King would not have let that happen … certainly not the Son of God.  But the wisdom of God required a demonstration of His wrath against sin and iniquity.  Sin is an affront to His holiness and to those created in His image.  Sin stains.  It mars.  It kills and destroys the souls of man.  And God loves us too much to allow such devastation and destruction to annihilate our souls.  He wrought His own salvation for us through His Son.  Through faith, we just need to trust Him … in His finished work on the cross … and receive His gracious offer of forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.  Faith in Christ Jesus is the game changer; and I can assure you He is the power and the wisdom of God.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

The Debt of Love

Romans 13:8

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

We have studied this verse before, but it is a great reminder of the great command of our Lord Jesus – that we should love one another. For love fulfills the will of God for our lives….

John 13:34-36 (NIV)

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

1 John 3:11 (NIV)

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:23-24 (NIV)

23 And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.

1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:11-13 (NIV)

11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit.

When you look at the Gospel … the key message (the will) of God is to believe in His Son, Jesus … who is the Messiah … the Christ! When you consider it … the key message (the will) of Christ Jesus is that we love one another as He has loved us. It is evident to see that His love is a sacrificial love … a love based in compassion and forgiveness. Jesus joyfully paid the debt that we owed. He calls us to do so for one another. This is HOW we demonstrate our love for Him. We continue His work of love … as members of His Body … and manifest His presence in the world.

Lord Jesus, I pray we will be in truth the Light of the world you have commissioned us to be. (Cf. Matthew 5:14) As your servants … as your heart, hands, and feet in this world … grant that through us that those who are lost will encounter you and be change through the power of your great love. For if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. Amen.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Radiant Son

Hebrews 1:3

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

We have discussed this verse before … but in light of the recent tide of verses we have received in these days approaching Easter, I cannot help but believe the message here is something the Spirit wants to draw to our attention.  Yesterday, our verse focused on the mercies and forgiveness granted to us through Christ Jesus. Paul explained to us that God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) In 1 John 4:8-16, the Apostle John declares, “We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” And here the writer of the Book of Hebrews asserts that Jesus, the Son of God, is the “exact representation of God’s being.”  God is love … therefore … Jesus encompasses and embodies the love of God in all of its fullness.  If anyone ever wants to know how much God deeply loves them … he or she need look no farther than Jesus … who is the image of God. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15)

John 15:9-17 (NIV) – Jesus is speaking:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Verse 13 reveals how “great” the love of God is towards us.  Jesus was willing to lay down His own life for us.  And Jesus called us friends because He has made known to us the heart of the Father.  As His friends, we should do what He commands.  In Verse 17, Jesus said, “This is my command: Love each other.”  In doing so, we bear the image of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us!  In doing so, we demonstrate our gratitude and thanksgiving for His mercies upon us.  In doing so, we bear fruit – fruit that will last!  Oh, I pray we will somehow better grasp the radiance and power of our Lord Jesus Christ – who sustains all things by His Word.  I pray we will consider how best to serve Him … how best to live worthy of Him and His calling upon our lives. (Cf. Colossians 1:10)  And I believe this is a great verse to inspire us toward that goal as we revere Him in our hearts….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Boasting in God

Romans 5:10

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!

After reading this verse, I had to read the whole chapter. How incredible to contemplate the immense depth of love God truly has for us! Here the Apostle Paul poses an important rhetorical question, but the theological implication is quite powerful for us!  Paul had just affirmed in Verse 8 how God demonstrates His own love for us in this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  It was the helpless, powerless, condition of our sinful human nature … our rebellious inclination … that God redeemed through His Son.  And so Paul goes on to share the implications of this love for us in Verses 9-10. I will reprint the larger passage for you to see the context and to embrace the incredible mercy we have received from God:

Romans 5:6-11 (NIV)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I love Verse 11 where Paul goes on to assert: “Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This boasting Paul speaks of must be sincere praise and worship – filled with the overwhelming joy of this knowledge!  If you and I cannot feel excited about the mercies of God granted to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, I’m not sure what would excite our souls!  This is the true meaning of Easter!  We celebrate His resurrection because of what Jesus accomplished – reconciliation, forgiveness, fellowship, abiding love, and eternal life with Him.  I pray we will all raise a shout of Glory! Hallelujah! Amen! Yes, let us join Paul and “boast” in God for His indescribable gift! (Cf. 2 Corinthians 9:15)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

My Life Verse

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

This is one of my favorite verses of all … like my “life verse” to keep me grounded with this “pillar” of faith.  Since I use it often in my commentaries, I will just send it along as a quick reminder to everyone that whatever you have gone through … are going through … or will go through in life … God is watching over you and will cause ALL things to work together for your good … because you love Him and have been called according to His purpose.  Amen! 

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

Covenant of Love

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

We have seen this verse in some of the commentaries when looking at the love of God … what it truly means … and that it is a promise to those who love God.  We find the phrase “covenant of love” used here and it is found several times in the Old Testament.  If we look at the definition of covenant, we will find the following thoughts:  A formal, solemn, and binding agreement; a written agreement or promise; an accord; an alliance; a compact; a treaty; and so forth.  From these concepts we can better understand that the love of God is a binding agreement He has made with us … a holy oath or promise to those who love Him.  Notice the next sentence states, “He is a faithful God.”  So we see that the concept of faithfulness is connected with the terms: binding, oath, and promise.  To be faithful means you will do what you have promised to do.  So God has vowed to love those who love Him and keep His commandments.  And this verse is quoted in Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:10; and Daniel 9:4.

What is the implication or application of this passage?  Well, my first thought was the statement Jesus made in John 14:15:   “If you love me, keep my commands.”  You will find similar language used in John 14:21 and John 15:10. Our love for God is demonstrated through our obedience to His commandments.  So it makes sense that our promise in this relationship … our covenant with Him … is to keep His commandments.  In essence, the agreement between the two parties bound by this covenant is “to love one another”.  God demonstrates His own love to us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Cf. Romans 5:8) Yes, His love is the free gift of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!  We demonstrate our love to Him in this: Keeping His commandments … and His commands are not burdensome. (Cf. 1 John 5:3)

From John 3:16 we know: God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son … but His “covenant of love” is with those who love Him and keep His commandments. In a similar fashion, God so loved the world … but only those who believe in Jesus will not perish.  I think there is a differentiation that needs to be examined here. The love of God is unconditional … but the blessings of His love are conditional upon our responses.  His love is not binding on someone who does not love Him … anymore than eternal life is given to those who do not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. In other words, our response to Jesus determines our right to become children of God; His atonement and salvation; our eternal life; and whether God is bound by oath to grant these promises to us.  Remember, a covenant (binding agreement) is between two parties.  God is faithful to us.  The question is whether we are faithful to Him.  So I dare each of us to be faithful to God and see what happens….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Evening!