The Father’s love for His children is so vast that we can never fully fathom its extent (Ephesians 3:14-19). God’s love is constant, unchanging, and eternal. But sometimes we have emotions that tell us otherwise.
In our mind, we frequently correlate divine love and our behavior. When we have been good, we believe that we’re loved by God. But when we sin or make mistakes, we sometimes question how much He cares for us. After a series of missteps, we might conclude He disapproves of us far more often than He loves us. Some of us even think that the Lord’s judgment hangs over our heads like a dark cloud.
The truth is, there is no condemnation for any believer. Everything that would condemn us before almighty God was placed upon Jesus at the cross. In the Father’s divine court of law, His Son was found guilty in our place so we could be set free from condemnation forever. It’s as if God stamped the record of our sin-debt with the words “paid in full.” No matter when the offense occurred—whether before salvation or years still in the future—the Christian’s transgressions are fully paid for by Jesus’ blood. No believer is indebted to God for sin.
The Lord does not excuse our sin. He is a loving heavenly Father, and He will use discipline to bring us back to godly behavior (Heb. 12:7). He also allows us to experience the consequences of sin; however, divine condemnation is not one of them. Won’t you open your heart and mind to receive God’s love today?
Bible in One Year: Proverbs 29-31
Read: Luke 24:44–49
Bible in a Year: Psalms 16–17; Acts 20:1–16
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.—Luke 24:45
The sequoia tree, one of three species of redwoods, is among the world’s largest and most enduring organisms. It can grow to 300 feet in height, weigh over 2.5 million pounds (1.1 million kg), and live for 3,000 years. But the majestic sequoia owes much of its size and longevity to what lies below the surface. A twelve- to fourteen-foot-deep matting of roots, spreading over as much as an acre of earth, firmly grounds its towering height and astonishing weight.
A redwood’s expansive root system, however, is small compared to the national history, religion, and anticipation that undergird the life of Jesus. On one occasion He told a group of religious leaders that the Scriptures they loved and trusted told His story (John 5:39). In the synagogue of Nazareth He opened the scroll of Isaiah, read a description of Israel’s Messiah, and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
Later, after His resurrection, Jesus helped His disciples understand how the words of Moses, the prophets, and even the songs of Israel showed why it was necessary for Him to suffer, die, and rise from the dead (24:46).
What grace and grandeur—to see Jesus rooted in the history and Scriptures of a nation, and to see how extensively our own lives are rooted in our need of Him. —Mart DeHaan
Father in heaven, please help us never forget that the history of Israel and the inspired words of Scripture ground us in seeing our need of Your Son.
All Scripture helps us see our need of Jesus.
INSIGHT: This remarkable passage records Jesus Christ’s explanation of the scriptural foundation to His redemptive ministry on earth. He tells the disciples—and us—that Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms bear witness to who He is. The expectations of the Jewish nation had been that Messiah would be a conquering hero who would liberate them from tyranny. In the time of Christ, the obvious oppressor was the Roman Empire. Yet God’s eternal plan from before the creation of the world was that forgiveness of sins would be secured through the substitute blood offering of Messiah—Jesus of Nazareth. He would provide redemption for every member of the human race who would hear and believe the gospel of grace. Jesus told His followers that opposition and persecution would accompany this proclamation of the gospel, but an eternal reward and joyous fellowship with the Creator-Redeemer God would be given to those who persevered.
Who do you know who needs to hear this good news of grace? Dennis Fisher
Kids 4 Truth International – God Made Me Unique
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)
The Browning family has five children. Each one of them is different from the others. No one looks exactly like another, and no two have the same personality. One is a bookworm who could spend hours reading and thinking about reading. One is athletic and loves to bake. Another is shy and enjoys making up new games to play. One talks really fast and has a silly sense of humor. The littlest one, who is adopted, seems to love everyone. Each child is unique, and their parents love each one of them. No family is the same as another family, and no one person is the same. Being unique but yet also part of a united group is one of the things that is so special about the family. That is how God created families to be.
We believe that kids are different from each other, but what about animals – even tiny ones, like ants? Have you ever seen a long trail of ants? Do they all look identical (exactly alike) to you? Did you know that each of those ants is different from the others? God made each of them unique. Or snowflakes: Have you ever watched snow fall? The flakes flutter down onto the windshield of a car or onto the ground. Some flakes are big, and some are small, but every single one of those snowflakes is unique – none of them are alike.
Do you think the differences among people, ants, and snowflakes happened by chance? Not a chance! We have a powerful, awesome God Who has created everything. Each of us has been created unique. Not one of us is exactly like another person. Even if you are an identical twin, you are different from your twin. It may be that your hair is thinner, or you are slightly taller, or perhaps your teeth are straight but your twin’s are not.
God made each of the Browning kids unique. And God made you unique! The Bible says we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God knows everything about you. He knows the number of hairs on your head – even if a few of them get pulled out somehow! He knows when you do right and when you do wrong. It takes an awesome, all-powerful God to create so many unique individuals and to know them so closely and personally.
Your awesome God made you unique.
» What does God know about me that no one else knows?
» Do I praise Him for being the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator that He is?
For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].—Corinthians 5:21
What if everywhere you went, you ran into someone you didn’t like? Wouldn’t that be terrible? Oh no, you’d think, her again. You attend a party, and you have to endure her conversation and views. You go to church, and she’s sitting right beside you. What a bummer to have to spend so much time with this person, you think.
Then it gets worse. There she is at the dinner table with you! She’s lounging by the pool; she’s even in your bed! She’s everywhere! That sounds pretty awful, but it is the exact situation you find yourself in if you don’t like yourself, because you are everywhere you go. You can’t get away from yourself, even for a second, so you are in for a sad life if you dread your own company. That much is pretty obvious.
But believe it or not, even though we can all agree that it makes no sense to live your life this way, I find that most people don’t like themselves. They may not even realize it, but some genuine soul-searching reveals the sad fact that they have rejected themselves and in some cases even hate themselves. I’ve come across a lot of people over the years, through my ministry and in day-to-day life, and I’m amazed at how few are truly at peace with themselves. Instead, they have declared war on themselves.
God wants you to love yourself, not in some wrong selfish or prideful way, but in a healthy way that truly understands how special you are to Him. As you begin to see yourself as God sees you, then not only will you love yourself, but you will have the confidence and faith to be a powerful force for good in the world.
From the book New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer.
“Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches; He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death” (Revelation 2:11).
I find great comfort in the promises of God’s word, and this is another that makes a positive assurance to use: we shall not be hurt by the Second Death.
But just what is meant by the term Second Death? It would seem to mean that the conqueror shall not have anything to fear in the future world. The punishment of hell is sometimes called death – not in the sense that the soul will cease to exist, but because death is the most fearful thing we know about, and there is a striking similarity in many respects between death and future punishment.
As death cuts us off from life, so the second death cuts one off from eternal life. Death puts an end to all our earthly hopes, and the second death to all hope forever. Death is accompanied by terrors and alarms, which are only faint emblems of the coming terror in the world of woe.
This promise of no harm for us in the second death really is all that is necessary to sustain us in our trials. Nothing else is needed to make the burdens of life tolerable but this assurance that the end of our earthly journey will bring us to the close of suffering. No power can harm us beyond the grave.
We have no promise that we shall not die, but we do have this glorious assurance that nothing beyond that will ever hurt us. Meanwhile, we are expected to listen – and to be faithful.
Bible Reading: John 8:21-25
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that nothing beyond the grave will ever hurt me, I will make this present life count for Christ and His kingdom.
He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21
Laughter is from the Lord. It is His medicine for the mind and therapy for the soul. The Lord laughs because He is the dispenser of laughter. You cannot give what you do not have, and He has plenty to laugh about. Just as an engaging parent intently observes his children, so God sees antics and behaviors that are hilarious. The Lord must laugh when He sees one of His children smile and do something silly, harmless, and lighthearted. Indeed, He knows laughter is one way to get us through life’s intense moments. God is not so serious that he cannot smile and laugh.
How could Jesus have been 100% human if He hadn’t experienced an old-fashioned belly laugh? Just hanging out with impetuous Peter would be reason enough to giggle under your breath, or even burst into raucous, roaring laughter. Indeed, God has a sense of humor. You don’t have to look beyond the mirror to verify this fact. His joy and laughter are a refreshing combination. In a day when proud piety has frowned on laughter, God still laughs. He laughs, and so do you, for you were created in His image. It is no laughing matter to think that God does not laugh. A world without laughter would be like a joke without a punch line, so look to the Lord of laughter and smile; He does.
“So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure” (Genesis 18:12).
God has given you permission to laugh. In fact, He has put joy in your heart and laughter on your lips for a purpose. When you laugh, you relax. When you laugh, the cares of this world shrink and the Lord looms larger. When you laugh, you learn to enjoy life and the Lord himself. When you laugh, you look like the Lord. Laugh loudly and laugh often. Moreover, generosity will fuel your laughter. It is cheerful giving that brings joy to the soul (2 Corinthians 9:7). Generosity ignites joy and laughter. No wonder the greedy frown and fret; there is no freedom to let loose and laugh. Laughless living is for losers. They are bound up in boring behavior. If you are too serious to laugh, you are too serious.
Seriously, you can be too serious for your own good. You may be more serious than God. Instead, throw back your head and begin by laughing at yourself. Take yourself less seriously and God more seriously. A good laugh lends itself to longer and better living. A scowling face seems to rush more quickly to the grave. Lean on the Lord for your laughter, and make His joy your strength.
Laughter infuses your faith with mercy and hope. You are not a naïve laughing fool, but a joyful follower of Christ. Take time each day to laugh at yourself and to laugh with others. Recognize laughter as the Lord’s way of leveraging a balanced and healthy life. Life without laughter is dull and mundane. Therefore, choose to lift up others and yourself with a good laugh. There is a time to laugh, so do it often and do it well. The Lord may be laughing right now, so smile.
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you with thanksgiving for Your joy is my strength, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Application: What area of my life do I need to take less seriously and take the Lord more seriously?
Related Readings: Genesis 21:6; Job 8:21; Psalm 37:13, 126:2; Proverbs 14:13; Luke 7:34
Read 1 CHRONICLES 14
One challenge facing the American colonies after they declared independence from England was establishing the commercial viability of the fledgling nation. John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and second president of the United States, went to Amsterdam to obtain a loan so the new country could pay its war debts. He found that the bankers were reluctant to grant the loan until the Dutch parliament formally recognized the United States as a country.
In 1 Chronicles 14, the author highlights three indicators of David’s success. First, David received support from Hiram, the king of Tyre. This Phoenician port city was an important center for shipping. By supplying cedar logs and craftsmen to build David’s palace, Hiram was doing more than engaging in a business transaction. He was acknowledging the legitimacy of David’s rule.
Second, the expansion of David’s family was evidence of David’s growing prosperity. Even the opposition of the Philistines gave David a kind of legitimacy, since it meant that they viewed him as a viable threat. The fact that the Lord answered when David inquired of Him is the third proof that God was behind his rise to power. David’s predecessor Saul knew that God had removed His hand of blessing from him when he inquired of God “but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets” (1 Sam. 28:6).
The mode of David’s victory in verses 13 through 16 was proof of divine support as much as the victory itself. The advance of David’s men was masked by the sound of wind in the tops of the Balsam trees. Not only did God give David the plan, He enlisted the support of creation itself in David’s cause.
APPLY THE WORD
Most people believe the secret to success is a combination of optimism and persistence mixed with a dash of luck. Surely anyone can succeed if they try hard enough! But God was the key to David’s success. Are you hoping for success today? Then seek God first. He will show you what true success looks like.