“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”(Psa.103:11-12) How can we question God’s love for us? We do it though, don’t we? We look at our lives, specifically our mistakes and sins and reason that a holy God couldn’t love me. Well, maybe He shouldn’t but certainly He does love you and me. In the above Psalm, David compares how much God loves us to how high the heavens are above the earth. That may seem odd, but how else can man adequately describe how much God loves us? It’s our short comings and failures that cause us to question God’s love for us. David wrote that God removed our transgressions. As much as we’d like, you and I can’t remove our transgressions. But God can and He did. David used the large distance between the east and the west to describe how far God removed our sins from us. David used terms that we can understand to drive home the point that God loves us so much that He removed our sins far away from us. So, our sins shouldn’t cause us to question God’s love, but instead, remind us just how much God really does love us.
I honestly don’t know how people do it. I don’t understand how people make it through this life without a church family. Life, especially today’s society, can be brutal. Life has a way of chewing people up and spitting them out. Of course we face good times and even great times in this life too. But we also face divorce, death, financial problems, kid problems and job problems to name just a few. If it be the highest of highs or the lowest of lows, how does one learn to manage and cope with this roller coaster life we live? I truly believe that everyone needs a church family to do life with. I understand that most have a physical family, which is great, but we need people our age who are dealing with the same issues. A church family provides genuine love, support, encouragement and of course, understanding. We all need every single one of these. It’s good to know that I have someone (many) in my corner no matter what. With a church family, odds are pretty good that no matter what you are going through you have someone close who’s already been there. A church family is a bunch of imperfect people who make up the perfect family to travel this life with. “He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” “Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”(Mt.12:48-50)
I guess we’ve all been guilty of it at times. The truth of the matter is it seldom, if ever, does any good. From the umpires call at the game to the high price of gas, we’ve all complained about something at some point. Some are career complainers. What I mean is they are professional complainers who complain about seemingly everything no matter what. As I think back over the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, I don’t recall many complaints coming from the mouth of the master teacher. Jesus just didn’t complain because He was far more interested in being a good example to those around Him. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”(Phil.2:14-15) The idea behind this teaching is think about your influence. Stop complaining about everything so that you can be a positive influence on others. Reality is we’ll be an influence of those we come in contact with, we just need to be sure and be a positive influence. The complaining never sounds or looks good and it never sets a good example for others. As Christians our focus should be more on others and less on the things that inconvenience us and lead to our complaining. Just consider what others think about you when they see you complaining. Stop complaining and shine like stars for others by your positive and beneficial behavior.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the phrase “talking the talk”. Talking the talk can pertain to nearly anything. It may refer to an athlete talking the talk about his great ability as a ballplayer. It could be a business man talking about how he is the best entrepreneur in his field. Talking the talk could also refer to anyone who claims to be a devoted Christian. You see, talking the talk is just what it is, all talk. Have you heard of the phrase “walk the talk”? Walking the talk encourages us to back our talk up. In other words, don’t just talk about it, do it. The idea of “walking” is living up to your talk. Don’t just talk, show it. This principle very much applies to our spiritual lives. Anyone can say I love God and claim to be a Christian, but not everyone lives that. Jesus taught this principle of walking the talk. “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”(Mt.7:21) Jesus is more interested in one’s walk than their talk. It’s our walk that shows our genuine faith. It’s our walk that truly points people to Jesus. We can talk all day long but what really counts is can we walk the talk?
Each spring the skeptics and doubters come out with their well-crafted but not so well thought out false teachings regarding the resurrection of Jesus. Their focus is to downplay and create doubt in whomever they can about Jesus’ resurrection. I’ll be honest, it’s a lot easier to believe in an empty tomb and a risen Savior than the false claims they make. One thing is for sure, the Bible is crystal clear about the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The tomb, the right tomb that is, was found empty. Only the grave clothes worn by our Lord remained. (Lk.24:12) Jesus has in fact left the grave and oh what that means for you and me. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”(I Cor.15:17) The resurrection of Christ gives us something to believe in. Consider the fact that everything we believe in as Christians is based on the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. So because of the resurrection we can put our faith in a Savior that death could not hold. The resurrection of Christ gives us salvation from our sins. If the body of Jesus was still in the tomb than you and I would still be lost in our sins and without any hope. Because Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected from the grave, we can overcome our sin problem through Him just as He overcame death. No matter what the skeptics believe and teach, Jesus was resurrected from the grave and the resurrection literally means everything.
When I think about captivity I’m usually reminded of the many horrible stories that none us want to remember. The word captivity carries with it a very negative connotation. Captivity is the taking of one’s freedom. We all want our freedom so the thought of being in captivity is not pleasant at all. What about placing our thoughts in captivity? Can we do that? Is that even possible? The apostle Paul wrote, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(II Cor.10:5) The idea is Christians shouldn’t allow their thoughts to have complete freedom to think about just any and everything. The Christian should hold his thoughts in captivity making them obedient to Christ. We hold our thoughts in captivity by actively making it a point to control our thoughts and only allow thoughts that are godly. Some believe that their thoughts are their own so they can think about whatever they desire. The problem with that mentality is that it leads to sinful thoughts which lead to sinful actions. If you want to lead purer less sinful lives then hold your thoughts in captivity until they are obedient to Christ.
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”(I Tim.2:3-4) That’s right, God wants you saved. How refreshing and encouraging is that. Yet, to some the thought that God wants them saved is unlikely and unbelievable. How sad is that? The world is full of people who don’t believe that God wants them to be saved. Even sadder, I’m afraid many of those people are Christians. There are those who believe that God views them so negatively that He couldn’t possibly want them to be saved. Do you view God as a mean stern faced being who sits on His throne just hoping you mess up so that He can let you have it? I’m sure some people view God that way. I believe that is a total misrepresentation of who God is and what He wants for us. More than anything God wants us all saved and with Him for eternity. He has gone to great lengths to show His love for us and His desire to save us eternally. If God wasn’t genuinely interested in saving us then why did He send His only Son, Jesus, to the cross to die for us? “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”(II Pet.3:9)