God’s Love Is Eternal

265a66a5b0ca1b5f9feec24c5c29975aGod’s love is eternal. He didn’t begin and end loving us. He simply always has. He cannot be separated from love, because He is love. He doesn’t choose love. He is love.

His love isn’t just for us. When we only consider what we can get from God, we miss out. We miss out on the fullness of gratitude, the fullness of faith, and the fullness of love.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love is eternal.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love is eternal.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love is eternal.
He alone does great wonders. His love is eternal.
He made the heavens skillfully. His love is eternal.
He spread the land on the waters. His love is eternal.
He made the great lights: His love is eternal.
the sun to rule by day, His love is eternal.
the moon and stars to rule by night. His love is eternal.
He struck the firstborn of the Egyptians His love is eternal.
and brought Israel out from among them His love is eternal.
with a strong hand and outstretched arm. His love is eternal.
He divided the Red Sea His love is eternal.
and led Israel through, His love is eternal.
but hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea. His love is eternal.
He led His people in the wilderness. His love is eternal.
He struck down great kings His love is eternal.
and slaughtered famous kings—His love is eternal.
Sihon king of the Amorites His love is eternal.
and Og king of Bashan—His love is eternal.
and gave their land as an inheritance, His love is eternal.
an inheritance to Israel His servant. His love is eternal.
He remembered us in our humiliation His love is eternal.
and rescued us from our foes. His love is eternal.
He gives food to every creature. His love is eternal.
Give thanks to the God of heaven! His love is eternal. (Psalm 136)

Give Me This Water

indexJesus said, “If you only knew the free gift of God and who it is that is asking you for water, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

The woman said, “Sir, where will you get this living water? The well is very deep, and you have nothing to get water with. Are you greater than Jacob, our father, who gave us this well and drank from it himself along with his sons and flocks?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty. The water I give will become a spring of water gushing up inside that person, giving eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so I will never be thirsty again and will not have to come back here to get more water.” John 4:10-15

The Samaritan woman at the well didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. She thought he was talking about the physical water she drew from the well – the well she trudged to and from every day. The conversation between the woman and Jesus was on two levels: the practical level, which the woman focused upon, and the spiritual level, which Jesus superimposed.

The woman kept pulling the conversation back to what she knew. She could only think in the context in which she lived. She was practical. She needed water and disliked trudging back and forth to the well, likely for a variety of reasons, and if she could find a way to not have to continue the routine by accessing what Jesus said was eternal, she’d choose his way!

We often respond to God in the context of what we understand. We can’t get outside of our own world long enough to see the possibilities God places right before us. We think things can only work a certain way because we’ve worn ruts in the road, just as the Samaritan woman had worn along the path to the well. The journey was automatic. What about your journey is currently automatic?

God wants to reveal himself to you in fresh ways. He wants you to acknowledge him instead of remaining focused on your daily routine. He wants to offer a refreshing drink to you. Will you accept?

Live It. God will refresh you today. Watch for it. It might be through a friend’s encouraging word or a stranger’s smile. It might be an unexpected email or text. It could be a gorgeous sunset or fluttering butterfly. Be prepared, and give God the credit. Soak up every drop of his nourishment.

Jesus Is With Us

Jesus is given many names throughout Scripture, and each gives us a glimpse into the deity and character of who Jesus is. Each name invites us to discover Jesus one piece of understanding at a time. The name Immanuel is of paramount importance. It connects many other pieces together, because Immanuel means, “God with us.” Immanuel captures the essence of the deity of God becoming a person who walked alongside men on earth.

The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

Jesus’s birth brought a physical closeness to us and God. God could no longer be seen as a God who was “somewhere out there,” ready to bless and guide us from a distance. Jesus brought with him the availability of a personal relationship. God’s help, protection, provision and guidance became touchable. Those who stood in the presence of Jesus stood in the presence of God. Those who have a personal relationship with Jesus have a personal relationship with God. There is no far-off, long-distance relationship with an unseen, unfamiliar, unrevealed God. Jesus came to earth as the incarnate God, and he provides a way to authentic, significant, purposeful, eternal faith.

In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him. The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father—and he was full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3, 14)

Why do we need Immanuel, “God with Us”? Because our sin—yes, that three-letter word that we don’t want to acknowledge we have in our lives—has separated us from God. Without Immanuel, we’re incomplete at best. No matter what we imagine in our arrogance, we are creatures. We did not imagine or will ourselves into existence. We can come up with all kinds of flattering explanations as to how and why we’re here, but we often do so without evidence of truth.

We are beautiful, complicated, and intricate creations fashioned in the image of God, and we are created for the purpose of knowing and loving him. He are intended to have the most intimate relationship imaginable with him, depending on him for all things, daily walking in his light, love, joy, and power.

With man’s rebellion, or sin, we set aside our intimate relationship with God. We need God, because it is at the core of our nature to know him, and without him, we are incomplete, empty, unfulfilled, restless, because we are living life contrary to the purpose for which we are made.

We need “God with us” because without him we are incomplete. Only Jesus can undo what we have done. Only the one who created us in the first place can restore us again. Only he can give our lives the meaning and completeness we are supposed to have. In this one name—Immanuel—everything we need, the entire plan of God’s salvation is fulfilled. We are blessed that Jesus is Immanuel.

Jesus Is Indescribable

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Jesus is a gift beyond words. He is indescribable. We can attach adjectives and descriptors. We can point to the names given to him in Scripture and list what characterizes him best, but we cannot fully capture essence of who he is, because he is incomparable.

This indescribable gift cannot be obtained by human performance or effort. It cannot be secured by monetary payments. A gift is not a gift until it is accepted, yet God’s indescribable gift of Jesus is available to everyone who chooses to receive him. With the indescribable gift of Jesus comes a package of amazing grace, genuine forgiveness, transforming power, and eternal life.

No gift can be compared with God’s gift of Jesus. No poet can fully express him. No theologian can fully explain him. No artist or writer can fully capture him. No actor can completely portray him. The indescribable gift of Jesus is too marvelous to be adequately described and too priceless to be assessed. Yet the indescribably gift of Jesus can always be received. He is accessible. He is accepting. He is prepared to receive you.

It is through the gift of Jesus that we receive every blessing.

Going Up at Easter

In preparing for Easter this year, I’ve often thought of my trip to Israel last November. Of course, I know not every place I stood is unequivocably the place Jesus stood, but because my feet have journeyed in Jerusalem, I heart feels closer to the center of Jesus’ journey. My heart breaks. My anger is stirred. My compassion pours. My soul rejoices. I am overwhelmed.

I miss Jerusalem. But I don’t have to miss Jesus.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread and thanked God for it and broke it. Then he gave it to his followers and said, “Take it; this is my body.”  Then Jesus took a cup and thanked God for it and gave it to the followers, and they all drank from the cup. Then Jesus said, “This is my blood which is the new agreement that God makes with his people. This blood is poured out for many. I tell you the truth, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine again until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25

After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 14:26

 Jesus and his followers went to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be very sad and troubled. He said to them, “My heart is full of sorrow, to the point of death. Stay here and watch.” After walking a little farther away from them, Jesus fell to the ground and prayed that, if possible, he would not have this time of suffering. He prayed, “Abba, Father! You can do all things. Take away this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want.” Mark 14:32-26 

The soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s palace (called the Praetorium) and called all the other soldiers together. They put a purple robe on Jesus and used thorny branches to make a crown for his head. They began to call out to him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” The soldiers beat Jesus on the head many times with a stick. They spit on him and made fun of him by bowing on their knees and worshiping him. After they finished, the soldiers took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him out of the palace to be crucified. Mark 15:16-20

At noon the whole country became dark, and the darkness lasted for three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” When some of the people standing there heard this, they said, “Listen! He is calling Elijah.” Someone there ran and got a sponge, filled it with vinegar, tied it to a stick, and gave it to Jesus to drink. He said, “We want to see if Elijah will come to take him down from the cross.” Then Jesus cried in a loud voice and died. Mark 15:33-37

Joseph from Arimathea was brave enough to go to Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. Joseph, an important member of the Jewish council, was one of the people who was waiting for the kingdom of God to come. Joseph bought some linen cloth, took the body down from the cross, and wrapped it in the linen. He put the body in a tomb that was cut out of a wall of rock. Then he rolled a very large stone to block the entrance of the tomb. Mark 15:43,46

Very early on the first day of the week, at dawn, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, two men in shining clothes suddenly stood beside them. The women were very afraid and bowed their heads to the ground. The men said to them, “Why are you looking for a living person in this place for the dead? He is not here; he has risen from the dead. Do you remember what he told you in Galilee? He said the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful people, be crucified, and rise from the dead on the third day.” Then the women remembered what Jesus had said. Luke 24:1-8

Jesus led his followers as far as Bethany, and he raised his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he was separated from them and carried into heaven. They worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem very happy. Luke 24:50-52

Tax Time

If you live in the U.S., you’ve (hopefully) processed your taxes by now. (If not, get to it!) Going through documents in preparation for taxes gives you a snapshot of the past year. Consider:

  • What were your priorities?
  • What have you justified?
  • How have you been blessed?
  • Where did you invest?

Dig deeper and reflect on the past year. You’ve likely spent significant time preparing your taxes. Spend some time reflecting on your life as a whole over the past year.

Priorities. Where did you spend your money? What did you give away? What was essential in your life? What did you ignore?

Justifications. What’s important enough to document? What stands out that you want to “prove” with evidence. If you created a receipt for the year, what would be on the receipt?

Blessings. How has God provided for you? Think beyond the bottom line of income. Consider an unexpectedly low bill or an appliance or vehicle that continues to run. Mentally walk through your daily routine and consider blessings you might often take for granted.

Investments. How have you invested your time, energy and resources? Are you more concerned with worldly rewards or eternal benefits? Are you more concerned about the interest and dividends, the whats and how much of investment, or the to whom and when?

Reflecting on the past is important in helping us move into the future. Use this process to set goals for the coming months and year. Set goals and regularly evaluate how you’re doing. You might need to make some adjustments along the way, but at the end of the year, the bottom line can show growth, commitment, and faithful living.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne. Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying. Hebrews 12:1-3