Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Friday, April 22, 2011

Revelation

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” - Romans 1:20

If we want to see God's eternal power and divine nature all that we have to do is look around us at his creation. Everything that we see points to the divine creator of the universe. The sunrise, sunset, blooming flowers, budding trees, massive oceans, enormous mountains all display his power and beauty. The face of your neighbor, the laughter of a child, the air that we breath, the balance of the ecosystem, the beauty of plants, trees, flowers, animals and people all point to the beauty of the divine. The sound of the birds singing, the smell of a fresh rain, the awesome wonder of the human hand and the human mind all point to the truth of God.

Look around this doesn't happen by chance or accident. The perfect tilt of the earth axes, the sun to light the day and the moon to reflect the sun to give light to the night, the plants giving off oxygen and taking in carbon dioxide while human take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide all tell us that this is no coincidence it is a GODcidence. This was all created by an amazing, powerful creator who desire us to know that he loves us and cares for us and wants nothing more than to spend every day in an intimate relationship with you and me.

WOW. That is all that I can say.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, April 21, 2011

God cares about you

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”” - John 10:28-30

Do you ever feel like no one cares?
Do you ever feel unloved?

Don't be fooled by your feelings.

The God that created all things loves and cares for you.

The truth is God cares about you. God loves you. God wants to spend all of eternity with you. Each moment of every day for ever and ever God loves and cares about you. He shows his love in that he does for us what we can not do for ourselves. He shows his love by doing what only he can do by coming to earth as Jesus and dying on the cross so that we could live eternally with him. He wants us to place our lives in his hands. He desires that we would just rest in the palm of his hands and trust him with our lives. He cares. He wants what is best for us. He loves us. When in his hands no one can snatch us out of his hands he will protect us.

However, God's hands are not clenched fists holding us hostage unwillingly. Because he loves us and cares for us, the choice is our to rest safe and secure in his hands or to walk outside of his loving embrace. No one can snatch us from him. He will protect us from that ever happening when we place our lives in his hands but his arms and hands are always open so that we can know his love and care is real and we can choose it or reject it.

It does not make since to reject it, but we can and some do.

But, if you want to know that you are loved and cared for and that each and every moment of all eternity God wants nothing more than to love you and for you to be able to love him in return than rest in the palm of God's hand and the truth of God's promise that he will give you eternal life and you will not perish. Rest in knowing that he and he alone is capable if this and that he will not let anyone snatch you away from him. He loves you. He cares. He desires only the best for you.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Living

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” - 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

Are you living?

My dad when he was diagnosed with cancer said a profound thing to me that has stuck with me to this day. He said, "I am going to spend he rest of my life living not dying."

That is an awesome statement.

Too often we go through life without living. We spend our days dying, or dead, rather than living each day to the fullest. In our spirits and spiritually speaking we stay stuck in Adam and in sin rather than living the new life that Jesus offers us. We live on thew other side of Easter rather than on this side of Easter. We spend each day as if it is only Fridays doom and gloom and death that reign. But, Christ is Risen! Christ has indeed been raised from the dead so you and I can truly live. We can spend the rest of our lives and all eternity living.

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Friday, April 15, 2011

Give what is owed

“This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” - Romans 13:6-7

I think that when we read the passage from Romans we get focused on the paying taxes part. Even though today is April 15 and tax day is approaching I want to look more deeply into what Paul is saying here.

Paul is just using taxes as an example for a deep truth that he is trying to convey. The scripture instructs us to give to everyone what is owed.

Do you owe someone respect? You should show them respect. Do you owe someone honor? than you should honor them. Is someone worthy of praise? You should praise them.

Today, everyday, it is time to give people what we owe them, because today is the time we are sure that we have. Do you need to tell someone thank you. Do it. Do you need to offer forgiveness? Do it. Do you need to tell someone you love them? Do it. Do you owe someone your respect? Do you owe someone your honor? Do it today. It is time to give what is owed to others. Respect, honor, love, and forgiveness. In this way we give God the glory, honor and praise that is due him.

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What do you take your stand on?

“[The Resurrection of Christ] Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” - 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4

I think it was a country song that had the words, "you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." Paul says that the most important thing to take a stand on is Christ death, burial and resurrection. Paul is saying the one thing that I will not waver from, the one thing that is central and key to my life, the one thing that I am living for, and the one thing that I willing to die for is that Christ lived and died for my sin, was dead and buried and was raised on the third day. This is the gospel. This is the good news. Sin does not win. Jesus does. Death does not win. Jesus does. New life. Life everlasting. Jesus wins for me because he loves me. All he ask is that I love him in return.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We are all in the same boat

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” - Romans 3:23-24

Romans 3 is pretty clear that each and every person, without exception, is in the same boat. All of us, the best and the worst, fall short of God's glory. All of us are sinners. We all are in the same boat and without Christ it is a sinking ship.

Every person that you lay eyes on today is just like you. You, me, everyone we see are sinners in need of Christ. Everyone that we lay eyes on today are also precious and loved by God. God has not played favorites. All of us, even the ones that we struggle to love, are loved by God. Each and every person that you will look at today is loved by God so much that Jesus died on a cross for them. It is helpful at times to be reminded of this truth.

Love today. (Because He loves each and every one of us.)

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Selfishness

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” - Luke 9:23-24

Quite possibly the biggest obstacle that we face to living in relationship with Jesus is our own selfishness. It is impossible to be selfish and follow Jesus at the time. Jesus says the the first thing that we have to do in order to follow him is stop being selfish. Stop being self centered. Stop caring only about ourselves and what is in it for us. First thing we must do is deny ourselves. As followers of Jesus we each and everyday, if we want to follow Jesus, we have to get ourselves out of the way.

It is not about us if we are following Jesus. Whenever we catch ourselves acting and living selfishly, with an "it's all about what I want and feel" mentality, we can be assured that we are not seeking after Jesus but ourselves. Followers of Jesus are not selfish people. Followers of Jesus lose their lives. They give up their lives daily to follow Jesus.

And Jesus tells us that this is when we begin to live.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easter People

““He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”” - 1 Peter 2:24

"By his wounds you have been healed." This is what it says. Did you catch that? Did you happen to notice the tense of the statement. It does not say that we will be healed. It doesn't say that healing is coming. It says that what is necessary for us to be healed, our healing, has come. When Christ was wounded we were healed. Nothing more needs to happen. Sin has been put to death we no longer have to live in it. We are not stuck in sin. We can live for righteousness. It isn't coming--it has come. The healer, the one who has healed us has won the victory and overcome so that we can live for righteousness.

Yet, too often I/we live as if it is a future reality not a present one. When Lazarus was raised from the dead and given new life by the power of Christ we are told that Jesus told the people around him and Lazarus to take of his grave clothes. Lazarus had been healed by God and had walked out of the tomb but one more thing had to happen. He needed to take of the grave clothes. He needed to live in the new reality. The reality of his healing meant he no longer should be wearing grave clothes and he/we are responsible for taking off the grave clothes.

I think that too often we fail to recognize the truth of 1 Peter 2:24, that we "have been healed" because we fail to take off our grave clothes. We continue to be dressed in our old way. We don't live as if we have overcome sin, instead we keep wearing our old "sin clothes". We never clothe ourselves in righteousness. We live like healing is coming some day not that it has already come.

But here is the truth, you have been healed. All that is necessary has already happened. It happen on a cross just outside of Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. By his wounds we have been healed. It is time to live this reality. Take off your grave clothes. Stop living as those who are dying but live for righteousness. Live as Easter people. Christ has died. Christ is Risen!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, April 8, 2011

Enemies

“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!” - Romans 5:10

Paul reminds us that when we live separated from God and live by our own rules and standards as our own god. We are living as God's enemies. Yet, God doesn't hold a grudge against us. God does not hate us. God loves us. God lays down his life for us. For his enemies. So that we can be put back into a right relationship; no longer be enemies, but live a new life. Live a reconciled and saved life. Not as his enemies but as his friends, as His children.

God doesn't hold grudges and either should we. God loves. So should we. "It is easy", Jesus says, "to love those that love us back. But I say love your enemies."

God does.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Key to Success

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” - Galatians 2:20

Have I died today? Have you died today?

The writer of Galatians says that they have been crucified with Christ and they no longer live, but now the risen Lord lives in them and through them. Following Jesus begins by being crucified with him. We have to die to our old ways, old habits, old desires, old behaviors and ways of living. Jesus said that anyone who wishes to save there lives will lose it. If we want to be saved by Christ we must begin by dying with him.

This is the hardest part. It is easy to ask for forgiveness. It is hard to let go of the pain. It is easy to say "I believe." It is hard to love our enemies. It is easy to spend an hour a week in the church building. It is hard to be the church. It is easy to talk about what it means to be a Christian and what Christians ought to do. It is hard to live as a follower of Jesus. It is hard because to move from the easy to the hard we must be crucified with Christ and we must give up our lives to him. For us to be transformed by Jesus so that the life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son who lives in us.

The key to success is to every day die to self. The key to success is to allow Christ to live in us and through us. Apart from Christ we can do nothing but in Christ we can do all things.

Each morning we have the opportunity to live for ourselves or to let the risen Christ live in us and through us. Each morning we have the opportunity to say i am living for Jesus today and not for myself. Each morning we can choose the easy way that leads to spiritual and physical death for all eternity or we can choose the hard work of being crucified with Christ so that we can live in him and through him for all eternity.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Response

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” - 1 John 3:16

We love God by loving others. Our Love of God is an action and is shown in our willingness to love others like he loves them and he loves us. John 3:16 tells us the action that God takes because he loves us. 1 John 3;16 tells us the action that we must take because love God.

We ought to do what God does because he loves. We ought to lay down our lives for each other. Love puts others first. Love puts God first. Love lays down I for we. Love lays down mine for yours. Love lays down self for someone else. Love doesn't forget about self or loath self, but it does put others first. We show God how much we love him by how much we love the people that we are in contact with everyday.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living for Christ Sake

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Have you ever been compelled to do something?

It is as if there is nothing else you can do. You must do it. A home run hitter hits a home run and you are moved to jump to your feet and shout for joy. A gifted singer sings a song and you are moved to tears. A speech is given by a great orator and you stand to your feet and applaud. Compelled to do something out of the ordinary because of what we have experienced.

Paul says, that when we understand just how much Christ loves us and we experience the love of Christ in our life we are compelled to live. Christ's love is worth living for. When we understand and experience the love of Christ we are compelled to stop living for ourselves and to live for Christ sake. Not our sake and our pleasure but for Christ's sake and pleasure.

God steps down out of the comfort of heaven into our world as Jesus. He comes into our world because he loves us. He lives a perfect, sinless life as an example to us. He doesn't condemn us. He loves us. He takes on the punishment for sin and dies our death on the cross so that we could be set free and forgiven our sins. Because he loves us. He dies for all of us so that we can live. Because he loves us. He is dead and buried in a tomb. A stone seals the tomb shut but it doesn't keep him in the tomb. On that first Easter morning he rose from the dead and is alive today. He overcomes death. He defeats sin. Because he loves us.

We cheer like fools for home runs, touchdowns, and great performances. We are moved to tears by beautiful words and incredible experiences. We are compelled to respond.

When we understand Christ's love it will moves us to give thanks. It will move us to express emotion we may have never felt or expressed before it may move us to tears of joy. It will compel us to live, not for ourselves, but for him.

Love today. For him.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, April 4, 2011

According to Who?

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” - Ephesians 1:7

"According to who?" That is the question I heard a lot when I was a teenage know it all. It is funny how we think we know everything at a time in life when we know very little. Just enough to get us in trouble.

The refreshing thing about this passage is that it give us the answer to the question when it is asked regarding forgiveness of sin and redemption. Forgiveness and redemption is not according to our knowledge. Forgiveness and redemption is not based upon what we have done or what we didn't do. Forgiveness of Sin and redemption are available to us because of who God is and what God has done through the work of Christ on the cross. It is not according to me or my works. It is not according to you and what you do. It is according to the riches of God's grace. This means that forgiveness of sin and redemption are a free gift for us to receive. We can't earn or deserve them. We don't have to. God offers them to us because he loves us.

But, and this is important, we do have to receive them. A gift is not a gift until we receive it. It is not ours until we open it. Open the gift and live the new live. Live as the redeemed. Live as the forgiven. Live a new life in Christ. Because it is not according to me or you it is according to HIM.

Live according to HIM. Forgiven. Redeemed.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day

“For the director of music. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” - Psalm 14:1

Don't be a fool today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug