Tag Archives: John 3:16

No Guarantees? Not So Fast…

Yesterday evening, as I learned of a friend who passed away due to complications from the flu, I was reminded that life offers no guarantees. Alan leaves behind a loving wife and two lovely daughters of high school age. As I lift his family and friends in prayer, I can’t help but think about my own family and how they would feel if God called me home at a young age.

Goofing off, Thanksgiving 2012

Goofing off, Thanksgiving 2012

As I write this, several other people dear to me also come to mind: a pastor friend battling metastasized cancer, a coworker recovering from major surgery, and another business friend & colleague who passed away suddenly while on vacation over Thanksgiving weekend. Each of these people woke up one day expecting a normal day; by the end of that day things had drastically changed. They all have jobs and they all have family and friends who love them, and they are all about my age.

At times like this I am compelled to reflect on my own life. I tend to live my life as if none of these things could happen to me. I go to work, I watch my football, I enjoy my family and I count my blessings. I don’t eat as well as I should, I occasionally drink a bit too much wine, and I rarely exercise. I sometimes stress over circumstances, which compared to the trials these friends are facing, are really nothing more than short-term inconveniences. My family, friends and coworkers are precious to me also. I pray for those in need of healing and those facing trials, but I don’t pray enough. I live my life as if I have forever during which to live it, when in reality, my “normal” could change just as quickly as it did for my four friends. As I take my allotment of time for granted, I realize that I sometimes take the people God has placed in my life for granted, too. For these transgressions I ask God’s forgiveness.

Naples, FL Sunset - July 2012

Naples, FL Sunset – July 2012

I’m sad today for those whom my friends Alan and Bob left behind. As I contemplate my own life I realize it’s not too late to change some things, and I will prayerfully seek God’s guidance in this respect. But more than that, I thank God for the hope He offers – real hope that each and every one of us can grab ahold of and celebrate every day no matter what circumstances we face:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Whether I live one more day or many more decades, my life on Earth will come to an end one day. So will yours. If I place my trust in the things of this world, it all ends the moment I take my last breath; I have no hope for eternity. God offers us so much more than that. He offers His Son as the perfect sacrifice to pay the price for my sins – and yours, too. God’s promise of eternal life comes only through faith in Jesus. While I enjoy life and the blessings God has bestowed on me, my hope for eternity is not in the things of this world. My hope is planted firmly in my faith in Jesus Christ. With that hope, even if my “normal” should change drastically today, I can live my life with no worries, for I know my eternity will be with my Lord. And with that hope, my last breath on Earth will not be the end; it will be the beginning of my eternal life in His presence.

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

Travel Bible study. Taken 9.15.2013, Chicago, IL

Until He calls me home, I resolve to live out my remaining days on Earth, whether one or thousands, with my eyes focused squarely on the Prize. I will breath more deeply, observe more thoroughly, and care more thoughtfully. I will be more diligent in prayer, more concerned about others, and more faithful to my Lord and Savior. Truly, I can do none of this on my own; but through Him I can succeed.

My Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, as I go about my routine today, there are people dear to me who struggle with loss, illness, job transition, and so many other things. I pray for those who need comfort, those who need healing, and those in need of work. I pray that You would provide what they need. I also pray for those who don’t know Your Son, Jesus Christ. According to Your will, Lord, let me be a witness to this world that so desperately needs to know You. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

Judgment and Mercy ~ Jeremiah 1:1-19

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” ~ Jeremiah 1:9-10

God called Jeremiah to deliver bad news to a divided Israel. Over a span of 40 years, Jeremiah delivered God’s message of judgment to an audience that didn’t want to hear it; no wonder, as the message foretells destruction because the people have turned away from God: “I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods, and in worshiping what their hands have made” (vs 16). We must always remember that God is righteous, just, and sovereign. There is judgment for sin, and everyone will face it. God’s judgment is pure and just; never forget that.

Two points strike me about God’s calling of Jeremiah:

  1. God chose Jeremiah “before I formed you in the womb” (vs 4). What an insight this offers into the eternal scope of God’s plan! Our all-knowing God has already chosen those who will come after us to proclaim His Word! Here we see clearly that God has a plan for everybody, even before He makes us.
  2. Jeremiah was anything but enthusiastic as he received God’s calling. He was reluctant. He said he was too young; that he could not speak. But God knew better; He had made His choice. Even in spite of Jeremiah’s reluctance, God calls him anyway.

The news God is calling Jeremiah to deliver will not be received well, and Jeremiah appears to know that. God reassures him, instructing Jeremiah not to be terrified in front of the leaders. God has made Jeremiah a fortified city, able to stand up to anything as long as he trusts God. What great reassurance for all of us who love and trust the Lord!

Many modern-day Christian churches don’t like to talk about God’s righteous judgment. The reality, though, is that God’s righteous judgment still applies today. All of us are sinners and will face God’s righteous judgment.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”  “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. ~ Romans 3:10-20

God’s righteous judgment applies to all – whether they believe it or not. There is a price to be paid for sin; justice must be served on the sinner.

Indeed, God’s judgment is perfect, yet His mercy is immeasurable:

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~ John 3:16-17

You see, the world is already condemned because of sin. Jesus came that those who believe in Him would be redeemed and have eternal life. Only through Jesus can the sinner be saved: Buddha cannot save us; Islam cannot save us; Mother Earth cannot save us; human knowledge and wisdom cannot save us; there is no “universal salvation.” Scripture tells us clearly that salvation comes only through faith in Jesus:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and gave them this command:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He is our righteous judge, and in mercy for us sinners, He Himself suffered our punishment on the cross. Through His act of mercy, all who believe in Him have had their sentence served in full!

The commissioning of His disciples recorded in Matthew applies to us believers today. People need to be made aware of their sin and their condition under sin so they recognize the need for a Savior. Once they see their condition and realize the severity of the judgment that awaits them, the good news of the Gospel is ever so sweet.

God called Jeremiah to deliver bad news, and Jeremiah responded to that call in faith and trust in spite of his human limitations. Today we are called to deliver wonderful news, yet we often hesitate to do so. Let us not live our lives in fear of what others might say or think of our faith. Let always remember that God is with us. Let us live out the Great Commission and faithfully share the Gospel with a nation and a world that so desperately needs to hear it!

Ponder this: Am I responding to the Great Commission as God would have me do so? Who within my reach needs to hear the Gospel?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I come to you today a poor, miserable sinner who takes great comfort in the reality that Jesus paid the price for my sins. Forgive me for my sins, and help me live a life that constantly and consistently reflects Your goodness and mercy. Show me, Lord, how You would have me share my faith with those who need Your Gospel. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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