Tuesday, October 25, 2016


A wooden cross is made by nailing or tying two pieces of uneven-length wood together, as seen in this picture. Even a child could put one together. In years past, in Rome and other parts of the world, hanging a person on a cross was a way of punishing criminals. As to be expected, many criminals died this way, but of all the individuals crucified, only one of them had never done anything wrong. In fact, He was sinless.

A cross is a cross, but this sinless one on it made one particular cross significantly different from all the others. You see, the man on that cross was not a man at all; He was God, and he died willingly, out of love.

When God Almighty, Creator of the universe, with power to call on legions of angels to fight on His behalf, hangs defenseless on a tree, everybody needs to stop and pay attention! That act speaks volumes: of man’s ignorance and wickedness, and of God’s love and longing to forgive, redeem, and to replace a broken relationship with an ongoing Father-child relationship now, and into eternity.  

The cross: there was a reason for it! Right from the beginning, God knew He would be dying a cruel death, to restore the fellowship with man that would be broken by sin.

If you are confused, be patient; I’ll explain further. The only sinless Person who ever died such a horrible death was God. Why did He die if He was sinless? He died to pay for the penalty of man’s sin. Without this act, there could be no forgiveness of sin (see Hebrews 9:22), as His death was the only acceptable payment for the sins of man. That one act covers their past, present and future failings (see Hebrews 9:28). Without it, there’d be no restoration of the relationship between man and God.

So how did we fall out of fellowship with God? Adam and Eve (our original parents) sinned against God in the Garden of Eden through disobedience, and, being their offspring, we inherited their sin-nature. So now we sin because we were born with a sin-nature; we’re sinners not because we sin, but we sin because we’re sinners (see Romans 5:12). Sin has put a separation between us and God (Adam and Eve were thrown out of God’s presence). The only way to restore our relationship with God was for the sin to be paid for, which God did through that cruel death of His Son Jesus on the cross. For “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT). 

The cross! Although it represented such pain and agony, it demonstrated love and brought forgiveness and life! The cross!

How then should we respond to a sacrifice this costly? In one word, REPENT! Repentance is agreeing that we’re sinners (see Romans 5:20), deciding to turn our back on sin, and placing our faith in Jesus. When we take that step, God forgives us; because He’s promised He would if we confess and forsake our sins (see 1 John 1:9). If we choose to not repent, we’ll face God’s judgment in the future, and the verdict will be condemnation to hell.

Just so we understand that: “Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). If you haven’t already placed your faith in Jesus, what are you waiting for? Tomorrow is not promised to anyone; death could knock on your door any day, any time, and it might be too late for you to experience God’s grace and forgiveness in a personal way. You might have an elaborate funeral when you die, but that won’t change your stand with God. Please do this today; it is that urgent!

When you place your faith in Jesus, God will: remove your sins as far from you as the east is from the west (see Psalm 103:12). He’ll never again remember your sins (see Hebrews 8:12, 10:17). He’ll guide and teach you through His Word, the Bible, and through sharing with other Christians. He’ll always be available to you through prayer.

God is waiting for a response to His call; answer today!      

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Are you a child of God? You might be surprised that I asked, because you are wondering, “Isn’t everyone a child of God?” What kind of evidence should there be?

Here are the Bible’s answers to these questions. God is the creator of all life; He created man in His own image, and so in that sense, yes, everyone is a child of God. However, Satan cunningly lured us into his camp, by deceiving Adam and Eve in the Garden, and thus causing a separation between us and God. The Bible explains our condition this way: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV). Sin has definitely put a separation between us and God.

In order for that separation to be bridged, God sent His only Son to die in our place -- to take on the punishment that we deserved. As a result, Jesus became our sin-bearer. And the Bible says faith in Jesus as our Savior restores our relationship. God doesn’t force us to believe in Him; it is a choice each individual has to make on his or her own. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV). Also, the apostle Paul reminded the Church of Galatia, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26 NIV).

Sin placed us in the devil’s kingdom of darkness, but God transfers us into His kingdom of light when we place our faith in Jesus. Only then can we claim that we are God’s children. The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of God’s promise: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18 NIV). If being created by God automatically made us His children, this promise, “I will be,” would not be necessary. But as it stands, we need to become His children.

There are characteristics of the children of God, and there are characteristics of the children of the devil; they are not the same. If you are a child of God, you’ve become a new creation, your former way of life has become a thing of the past (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). God’s characteristics will be evident in your new life, because He lives through you, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV). The following characteristics are proof that a person is a child of God:

The believer/child of God:

Is indwelt by the Holy Spirit – “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9 NIV). Do you belong to Christ? If yes, do you have the Holy Spirit?

Has the assurance of being the child of God – “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16 NIV). The Holy Spirit gives us the inner assurance that we are God’s children. Are you a child of God? Do you have that assurance?

Has the hope and assurance of eternal life – “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV), and “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 NIV). Can you say with certainty that if you die today you’ll be ushered into the presence of God?

Is controlled and led by the Spirit – “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14 NIV). When there is leading, there has to be following. In other words we take direction and instructions from God; we don’t do our own thing. Who is the charge-person in your life, God or … (insert your name)?

 Does not live in sin – “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6 NIV). Do you claim to be a child of God? Are you enslaved by any particular sin? Reconsider your claim, and don’t allow the devil to find excuses for you. If the Holy Spirit lives in you, you should be uncomfortable living in sin.

Delights in pleasing God – “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (8:8 NIV). The opposite of this verse is also true: those controlled by the Spirit of God do please God! Do you sometimes sense God saying to you, “Good job!”? How does that make you feel?

Abides in Christ: Jesus describes Himself as the Vine and us as the branches. The branch, of course, will die if it does not receive nourishment from the tree. Receiving nourishment from the tree does not only keep the branch alive, but also helps it to blossom and bear fruit (see John 14:1-5).

Bears Fruit – According to the book of Galatians, the fruit we bear as a result of abiding in Christ is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (see Galatians 5:22). Is anything on this list missing in your life? What kind of fruit are you bearing? Is it fruit that can lead observers to the conclusion that you are a child of God? If you’re not bearing godly fruit, please pray for the grace to be able do so. You can then agree with the apostle Paul, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV).  

Accepts Corrections – we all need to be corrected from time to time, or we’ll make the same mistakes repeatedly. Correcting us when we go wrong is one of God’s ways of expressing His love for us, and He grants us grace to endure during those times. If we accept His corrections, we emerge from our experiences as wiser, mature, and better people. Job tells us, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal” (Job 5:17 NIV). Also Proverbs tells us, “My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV).

Dear child of God, we’ve been commanded to be light and salt (see Matthew 5:13-14) in the world, in order to make Christ attractive to people. We can’t be effective in ministry if there is no evidence in our lives that we are God’s children!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Trials Are Good

Quite often, when we ask the question “Why?” we imply that something hasn’t gone the way we expected or the way it should have gone. We imply that a mistake has been made, and we need an explanation. 

We don’t direct our “Why?” questions only to each other. We direct them to God as well, and that is okay. He has the answers for all of them. We might not agree with His answers at the time, but He helps us see things His way eventually.  
Let us consider this: if, without asking God, we always had what we needed, and things always went our way, when would we express dependence upon Him for anything or express faith in Him? After all, He admonishes us to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). When would we ever ascribe our successes to His power and grace? Success would be all about us. All the glory would be ours and ours alone. We would claim, “I did this,” and “I did that,” and “I did the other, too.”  

If we didn’t have issues we could take to God, how would we know He could fix them? Had He fixed them before we ever asked Him, He would not receive any glory from us for fixing them. So, God allows trials in our lives to direct us to Himself and His awesome power. In fact, down here on earth, we will have troubles again and again, but they are good for us.

When things get rough, let us go to Him, not to ask why, but to express confidence in His ability to take charge, and work them out for our good.   
Rough times are God’s invitation and reminder for us to trust Him and lean on Him. Those hard experiences are times to be still and know that He is God (Psalms 46:10). When we lean on Him, He intervenes in unimaginable ways to demonstrate how much He cares about us.

God does not take pleasure in our pain, struggles, hurts or difficulties. Rather, He uses these situations to redirect us to Himself, because He is interested in a deeper relationship with each one of His children. May God help us to see suffering, pain, disappointments, and the like from His perspective, and to be thankful. Job did!

Things will not go smoothly all the time. Otherwise we would try to claim for ourselves the glory that is due Him. He has already said “I will not give my glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8 NIV84). NO EXCEPTIONS!