The Very Serious Issue of Love

“But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.” Jesus Christ; John 5:42

Holy mackerel – If I were sitting across a table at a coffee shop with Jesus,….would he say this very same thing to me?? His piercing statement haunts me.

Here’s the thing – the “love of God” in me loves not only people I like, but people I don’t like – people I DON’T like. That includes people who’ve hurt me or my family, betrayed me, and said ugly things about me. This is hard teaching. But, I can’t just pretend it’s not there.

Jesus, the Word made Flesh, inspired Paul to write, “Love must be sincere…Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:9-10)

And….

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

Finally, John the disciple wrote, “We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4:19-21)

This is hard teaching. When Jesus looks at me, I do pray he sees the love of God within me.

Help me love like you, Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

B-E-L-I-E-V-E

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” John the Baptist; John 3:36

Really, it all comes down to what we believe. I heard a preacher years ago say, “What you believe determines how you live regardless of what you say.” Truth.

When the disciple John wrote his gospel account he placed a great deal of emphasis on the concept of “belief.” In chapter 3, vss 11-21, alone, John uses the word “believe” seven times; and it occurs approximately 100 times throughout John’s gospel. For instance,…

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him….” (3:16)

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:30-31)

What atheists, agnostics, skeptics, etc. fail to remind their audiences is this: Sure, Christianity takes faith (“by grace, through faith we are saved” – Eph. 2:8). But, so do Darwinian evolution, atheism,  and agnosticism require a great deal of faith.

Personally, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. I tried in the days immediately following my son’s death, but to no avail. The evidence for the existence of God is overwhelming. And, like former atheist, Antony Flew, “i must go where the argument leads.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Believe

Fast & Furious

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2:13-15)

Before we question Jesus for his actions here, just know that the business practices of those selling livestock and exchanging currency had become extremely corrupt, taking advantage of the thousands in town for Passover.

Of note here is how quickly and decisively Jesus “addressed the problem.” John MacArthur comments on this passage: “When the holiness of God and His worship was a stake, Jesus took fast and furious action.”

As I read through this passage in John’s gospel I found myself quickly convicted. After all, Paul describes us (believers) as “temples of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) If, somehow, my body/temple were laid out like the 1st century temple – and Jesus walked in – what would He find? Would my spiritual condition prompt in Christ the same reaction the Jerusalem temple did?

Lord, reveal to me all the corruption in my heart and mind (there’s a lot). Forgive me, and – with swift force – “drive it out of me” so that I may say with the psalmist, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (19:14)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

At the Corner of Guilt & Shame

She was a Samaritan.

The Jews hated Samaritans.

She, due to her own bad choices, had a rough past. And her present situation wasn’t any better.

Jews didn’t speak to Samaritans, much less a Jewish man speak to a Samaritan woman. But Jesus not only spoke to her, he initiated the conversation.  John records the disciples (who were arriving from a trip into town) “were surprised to find [Jesus] talking with a woman.”

Samaritan women typically came to Jacob’s Well to draw water in the early morning or late evening to avoid the hot sun. This woman, alone, came during the afternoon. John MacArthur comments on this passage: “The woman coming to the well alone may indicate that her public shame caused her to be isolated from other women.”

But, regardless of when this woman had decided to show up at the well, this was no chance meeting. It was a divine appointment. An encounter.

And, at the corner of Guilt & Shame, Jesus was waiting for her (He never misses an appointment :)) – offering restoration and redemption, all because of love.

Having arrived at the well at the corner of Guilt & Shame, she was departing the well from the corner of Love & Grace.

Returning to her home restored & redeemed, John writes, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.”

Guilt & Shame come from Satan.

Boundless Love and Amazing Grace are offered to you and me freely through Christ Jesus.

Are you weighed down with guilt and shame?  Come to the well. Rest in Christ.  Drink Living Water.

Read the entire story in John’s gospel.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

No More Sickness

“For this corruptible [body] must put on incorruption; and this mortal [body] must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:53)

Sorta sounds like a script for the next Avengers movie, huh? “Regular person turns into super-hero.”

But, this is no movie script. This is Holy SCRIPTure.

Recently, I came down with something out of the pits of hell called a Stomach Virus (the dr said it may have been food-poisoning, he wasn’t sure). All I know is, for the most part, I haven’t felt like doing anything other than wishing I were dead.

I haven’t been this sick in years. So, naturally, there were a number of times (as I lay there moaning and groaning) I thought of the Scripture verse cited above.

Can you imagine?? One day, because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb – no more sickness of any kind – the old will be gone; the new will be realized! No more cancer or clinical depression! No more maladies that appear to stump the best of physicians causing them to say, “We’re just not sure what’s wrong.” No more disease or sickness at all! None! Nada! Zilch!

But it doesn’t end there…

Not only are we rid – forever – of mortal sickness, we’re given the “bodies” we were intended to have before Adam & Eve’s sin in Eden! In the preceding verse to the one cited above, Paul writes: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…the dead will be raised *incorruptible*, and We. Shall. Be. Changed.” [emphasis mine]

Hallelujah, Nick

Outstanding Quote for All Christian Youth Leaders

“Instead of addressing teens’ questions, most church youth groups focus on fun and food. The goal seems to be to create emotional attachment using loud music, silly skits, slapstick games — and pizza. But the force of sheer emotional experience will not equip teens to address the ideas they will encounter when they leave home and face the world on their own. A study in Britain found that non-religious parents have a near 100 percent chance of passing on their views to their children, whereas religious parents have only about a 50/50 chance of passing on their views. Clearly, teaching young people to engage critically with secular worldviews is no longer an option. It is a necessary survival skill.”

Nancy Pearcey, from her article, ‘How Critical Thinking Saves Faith’; Pearcey was the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar for several years at the World Journalism Institute. In 2012, she became Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University.

Christ in the Old Testament

christ-in-ot-4

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Christ] interpreted to them in all the [Old Testament] Scriptures the things concerning himself…These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:27, 44)

Can you imagine hearing these sermons from Jesus, Himself, expositing the Old Testament (the only Testament at the time) concerning Himself?? It’s no wonder the once dejected disciples became known as the courageous “community of the resurrection.”

In his preface to his Christ in the Old Testament, Charles Spurgeon writes,

“[Christ] is everywhere in Scripture; patriarchs and kings are types of Him who is the Ancient of Days and the Prince of Peace; the Law was but a shadow of good things to come, and the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. The Old Testament was Christ’s Bible, and it is a Bible full of Christ.”

God, the Son, shows up not in the Gospels, but in Genesis 1:1 where He speaks the cosmos into existence. How do we know this? Because the disciple, John, offers the following commentary on Genesis 1:1: Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3)  In addition, Paul offers the following: “For by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17)

The early church fathers described the Bible this way in regard to Christ:  “Christ is in the Old Testament concealed; and in the New Testament revealed.”

Interested in further study on this doctrine? Here are some great resources…. nw

Christ in the OT