The Bible, taken as a whole, tells a compelling story of creation, a fall, redemption, and restoration. It is a story of overcoming insurmountable odds; of the world being set right again, a story of second chances. It is the story of a creator who relentlessly pursues us with a love so great
Salvation is yours. It’s free. God redeemed all of us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is God’s plan to restore humanity to the way he created us. And at the same time, God also gave us free will. We can choose to turn away from God.
There is confidence in Jesus’ words in this passage. He speaks with authority about his sheep. He is certain, without doubt, in his ability to hold his sheep secure. He says twice, “No one will snatch them.” That leaves only one other possibility for the sheep.
Chuck Colson was named one of the “Watergate Seven,” and sent to federal prison for 7 months in 1974. After a conversion to Christianity, he found that God worked best through human brokenness and weakness, rather than through power and achievement. While many doubted his sincerity at first, Chuck's story was not that of a man trying to clamber and claw his way back into respectability and success.
Jesus came for everyone. Yes, every single one of us. Jesus came for the politicians, prisoners, rich, poor, liberals, and conservatives. He came also for the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Christians; unbelievers, believers, atheists; homosexuals and homophobes. He came for you and me and every other human being on the planet.
The word reconcile means to bring into a changed relationship, or to bring together two parties who should have been together all along. The Bible speaks of the human race as enemies of God in this passage. You may say that you are no “enemy” of God, but apart from faith in Jesus, we are passive enemies of God. You have a need for reconciliation.
This Psalm is often quoted in times of great need. But many find it a daily prayer and reminder that God is with us at all times, not just times of desperation. Yesterday, we talked about our need for amazing grace. When our need is great, the grace is greater. But often, we forget about God in the every day, small sin realm.
The Apostle Paul delighted in weakness. He understood, in a deep way, that when he was weak, when he failed, when he did not have the skills or strength to do what God called him to do, then would Christ’s strength shine all the brighter. He only needed to recognize his weakness and accept Christ’s strength.
The process of a redemptive transformation is found in replacing ourselves as the central object of focus with something greater. The false narrative of our culture is that joy and happiness will be found within us. In reality, the search for happiness is fruitless. Seeking to live a life that centers around loving God and loving others is what brings true joy and happiness.
With God, redemption is both immediate and ongoing. We are immediately redeemed by grace when we choose Jesus. And at the same time, we must daily renew our commitment to follow Jesus. Through this daily effort, grace continues to be active in our lives. It is much like the manna God sent to the Israelites each day.
Everyone worries. Everyone deals with fear. And everyone doubts God from time to time. Yes, even Pastors. It is our response to these worries, fears and doubts that get us into trouble. Yesterday, we studied one of my favorite verses that tells us to pray about all of this, with gratitude and then trust God to provide peace. Unfortunately, as broken, messy humans, we sometimes respond to worry, fear and doubt in unhealthy ways
How do we decide if worry is a problem for us? A little, short-term concern can be good. It can help us focus on a problem, motivate us to get something done or encourage us to do something about a situation we need to change.
There are few nations in the world where the founding idea was as simple as one word, “Liberty.” It is defined as a: the power to do as one pleases. b: freedom from physical restraint. c: freedom from arbitrary or despotic control. d: the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges. e: the power of choice.
Today, we celebrate the 4th of July, America’s day of independence. We celebrate this day in all kinds of ways - hotdogs, fireworks, family gatherings, parades and various displays of our patriotism. Most of us are proud and grateful to be citizens of the United States. The question is – do we feel the same amount of pride in our heritage as Christians? Do you put as much effort and pride into celebrating your faith as you do your country?
Most people worry. Every day. They worry about family, safety, money, health, jobs, school, friendships, and the future, just to name a few. Jesus knows we worry, so he talked about it in his time on earth. Jesus told the people not to worry, and he knew that was not easy for us. Even Jesus had worry, expressed in his time of wrestling with God in the garden of Gethsemane