Divine Romance

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller:

“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” — Eze 16:8

At the heart of each of us is this desire to be loved. Whether from our family or friends, we all long to be loved.

Ezekiel begins this chapter with an allegory of a love story. A King who sees in his bride much more than she could have ever been.

As the story zooms out, we realize it is God speaking of His covenant relationship with His people. The story ends tragically, but it does not change the beautiful way in which Ezekiel describes God’s love for His bride.

We often struggle with our view of ourselves. The enemy constantly highlights our insecurities. Have you stopped today to see yourself in the light of God’s love? Have you considered how deeply loved you are by the great I AM?

No matter how unlovable you may feel, it does not change the truth of how passionate God’s love is for you right now. You have access to the greatest source and supply of love in the universe. How will you respond to this love? With religion – acts of duty devoid of connection? Or relationship – an intimate journey that will satisfy your soul?

No Darkness

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

“What is God doing to me?” Have you ever asked a question like that? Perhaps you are going through a rough patch and you don’t understand.  Perhaps someone has betrayed you, and you are not only hurt, but you begin to wonder if even God has betrayed you.  Maybe you start to wonder if God hasn’t laid some grand cosmic trap to catch you and torment you.

Darth Vader may have quipped about the “power of the dark side” but let me say this clearly:  There is no “dark side” with God.  He has no secret motives.  He is not out to destroy you.  He has not deceived you.  He is not trying to take advantage of you.

Sometimes we get confused when someone we have trusted betrays us.  If it happens more than once, we can begin to wonder if it’s safe to trust anyone.  My friend, people are flawed and may at times disappoint you, but don’t confuse the people around you with God.

God has clearly shown us that He is on our side.  When He sent His only Son to die on a cross, He was showing the measure of His love for us. We may not understand what happens around us, but we can know for sure that He is for us.  He loves you like no other.

Thy Will be Done

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men–. (1Pe 2:15)

“How do I know if it is God’s will?” This may be one of the most asked questions I receive as a Pastor.  Here Peter says very clearly, “this is the will of God.” Peter is making a case for relational evangelism. He is telling us that looking through the lens of the Gospel in every relationship is an opportunity for evangelism!

Peter challenges us to see if we are living in such a way that points to Jesus! Peter mentions submission to government – not because the government is supreme but because Jesus is! Peter is saying our focus is not on politics but people! Loving Jesus should influence our engagement in society. Peter is applying Jesus’ principle of being salt and light!

Peter takes it a step further and speaks about our witness at work. Do people see Jesus in my work ethic? How do I handle difficult people and difficult situations? Do I see them as an opportunity to share the light and love of Jesus?

Peter calls every believer to a life “on mission”. He calls us to biblical submission. May we surrender our will to His words and live in the light of Jesus’ love and humility this week!

A Parent’s Reasons

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

“I don’t want to eat my vegetables! I don’t want to do my homework!” If you’re a parent, you have (or will) hear comments like this from time to time.  The issues might not be about vegetables or homework, but there will be something that doesn’t strike the child as “fair”.  Of course, those complaints may even be followed with that old one, “You don’t love me!” The wise parent might lower their head and cringe, but they soldier on, and the child continues to be guided in the direction that’s best for them, even if they don’t see it yet.

The nation of Judah was in the middle of the biggest “time out” ever.  The entire nation would eventually be moved to Babylon where they would sit for seventy years, learning to change their evil ways, and developing a new heart for God.  Of course, some of them may have thought that God had abandoned them.  Some may have thought that God no longer loved them.  It wasn’t true.  God loves His people. Loving parents know that difficult times might be necessary for a child’s maturity.  God’s aim isn’t to destroy us but to help us.  He has good plans.  There is hope.  Don’t despair.

Anchor

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, (Hebrews 6:19)

Life can be hard at times.  Sometimes it seems that we’re surrounded by storms that just get more and more difficult.  Almost like a hurricane.  Ancient mariners would throw out their anchors to keep them from being blown off course.

What are your anchors in life?  What do you rely on to keep you on course?

The writer of Hebrews points to our hope in Jesus as the best of anchors.  When everything around us is going crazy, we might begin to wonder how things will turn out.  Yet, when our hope is in Jesus, we actually know the end of the story.  The story of our life ends with Jesus.  Heaven is a pretty great “happy ending” in my eyes.  Heaven is “behind the veil”.  Heaven is being in God’s presence.  Heaven is a sure thing when we have come to trust in Jesus.

Again, I would ask: What are your anchors in life?  What are you counting on to get you through?  Put your hope and trust in the One who gave His life for you.  Put your hope in the One who conquered death and rose from the grave.  Put your hope in the One with whom all things are possible.  You can ride out this storm.

Purpose

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

It’s a question that most people ask at some point in their lives, “Why am I here?”  I think the search for meaning in life is something that God has hard-wired into every person. The thing is, you do have a purpose in life.  The prophet Jeremiah was a young man when he first heard God’s voice.  God Himself told Jeremiah that he had a specific calling on his life and that it was something that God had planned all along for Jeremiah, even before he was born.

Now be careful that you don’t confuse Jeremiah’s call with your own call.  Jeremiah had a specific purpose at a specific point in history. Though you may not have Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet, you do have a call on your life at this point in world history. Your call might be something big and splashy, but God has also called many of us to serve Him behind the scenes, furthering His kingdom purposes on this planet.

Like Jeremiah, you might question what God has called you to do. Like Jeremiah, it may take some convincing to get you on track. The true fulfillment you’re looking for doesn’t happen until you get on the path God has designed you for.

Love of Money

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

It’s not easy to avoid being a “material girl” when you’re living in a “material world”.  Or a “material boy” for that matter.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “just a little bit more” would make us happy.  They say that the difference between a man with six kids and a man with six million dollars is that the man with the money wants more.  And more.  And more.

Even in the church, you can see the root of greed continually attempting to get its foot in the door. A pastor might tell himself he’s trying to advance God’s kingdom, but all the people hear is the church asking for more, more, more.

Now don’t misunderstand me here.  Money in and of itself is neither good nor evil.  It’s the love of money that causes us so much heartache. The rich, young ruler was told to sell all he had and give it to the poor, not because he had money, but because he loved money more than God (Lk. 18:22).

Contentment in life starts with finding joy in where you are, not where you think you should be.  Take the focus off of “me” and put it on those around you. Find joy in walking with God.

Loving the Truth

“…and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

Paul was writing about an individual we have come to label as the “antichrist”.  One day a real, live, flesh and blood individual will emerge, not only to conquer the world, but get the world thinking that he is the true savior.  He will be the embodiment of evil and, in fact, will be “possessed” by Satan himself.

How could the world fall for something or someone so evil?  Paul said that it would happen because the people will become detached from truth, starting with the truth about salvation.

Have you noticed how difficult it is for our culture to decide on what is true? We live in a world where people are satisfied to call something “true” simply because they “feel” it’s true, regardless of any actual empirical basis.  We want some notion about a person we despise to be true simply because we don’t like that person, and not whether the idea is based in fact.

Here’s a piece of truth.  There was an actual, historical person named Jesus. Records of His words and life continue to be proven accurate.  He claimed to be God. He claimed to die for our sins.  He rose from the dead.  Will you trust the truth?

Focus Determines Your Outcome

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Daniel Grant:

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

What are you focusing on? What is it that holds your attention? There are a great many things that demand our attention and some of them may be worthy of great consideration! However, beloved, we need to keep the most important thing in focus, and that is Jesus.

Colossians 3 is my favorite chapter of Scripture, hands down. It starts with this fantastic admonition to set our minds on Christ and to seek the things above (kingdom ways). Then it goes on to remind us of all the other things that we need to think and put into practice! IF we have our focus right, then the rest of the instructions find their rightful place. Paul urges us to put off the old ways of the flesh and to put on the new kingdom clothing of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. What is the lynch-pin that holds these precious virtues together? Paul artfully lands that final stroke with the admonition to love and forgive one another just as Christ has forgiven us. This is not another “To-do” list, but it is our new kingdom identity in Christ. Beloved, keep looking up, because our Savior is coming back for us! The darker things get in our culture, contrasts with the beautiful, stunning, and eternal light that comes only from Jesus. So, keep your eyes and mind set on Jesus. May God help us to do it!!

The Fixer

What’s wrong with this world?  There seems to be so many broken things all around us.  We see such destruction in the natural world with hurricanes and earthquakes. We see savagery in the animal kingdom when that wolf hunts the defenseless lamb and tears it to pieces.  In the world of humanity, we see great evil in wars, sexual assault, child abuse, disease, and suffering.

Some people look at these things and wonder, “Where is God in all of this?”  They will say, “If there is a God, then why doesn’t He stop all of this?”

Much of the pain we see in the world can be traced back to mankind’s own rebellion against God. Adam’s sin in the garden “broke” the perfection in Eden, and the entire planet has gone downhill ever since. Doesn’t God even care?

God does indeed care.  He sent His Son to deal with the root of the problem, our sin. God is patiently giving people a chance to turn to Him to find the healing from brokenness that only He can give. Best of all, Jesus will one day return and fix all this mess.  Isaiah described what a “fixed” world would look like: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Do you need the “Fixer”?