Unconditional love. That’s love that expresses itself…before it knows if the recipient will receive it.
That’s what God has done. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus died without any proof that we would receive the benefits of His death on our behalf.
That’s unconditional love – love that expresses itself before there is an indication of receptivity.
And…we too are called upon to express that kind of love.
For example…godly parents are called upon to offer unconditional love – not determined by a child’s response.
The Bible has a word for this kind of love – it’s called grace.
Five smooth stones. That’s how many David took with him when he went out to meet Goliath in battle.
“…he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”
Sometimes…there are profound spiritual truths hidden in the detail of a story. Why did David take five stones when it appears one would have been sufficient?
Consider this. Only one stone in his bag might have indicated reliance on his skills as a marksman.
Taking extra stones might be thought of as a demonstration of humility. Only one stone could be construed as arrogance.
So – always take an extra four stones…as a sign of your humility and reliance on God.
The motivation for repentance. Is it fear of consequences…or an acknowledgement of sin?
A thief may repent for his thievery…because he doesn’t want to be punished. That’s consequence fear. If the charges were dismissed…he would likely return to thievery.
That’s not true repentance.
But…if a thief repents over the sin itself and hates the transgression – an offense against God – that is true repentance.
When King David repented he said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Consequence repentance is an insult to a holy God. He looks at the heart.
Yes…God’s wrath is to be feared…but true repentance centers on the offense of sin itself.
True repentance – it’s a turning away from that which violates the holiness of God.
Regrets. They are especially tragic when it is God who has the regret.
King Saul disobeyed the Lord’s command to destroy the Amalekites. The offense was so severe that God regretted he had chosen Saul to be the king.
“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.”
But…here’s the question. Is there anything in your life that’s so grievous that God would regret His call on your life?
If so…God’s regret does not invalidate His power to forgive. David committed adultery – followed by murder – but God forgave him.
Live so God will never regret His call on your life.
How old are you? A lot older than you might think.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
So…your beginning goes way back to eternity. That speaks of how important you are in God’s sight.
But…to what were you chosen?
“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ…”
Before time began…God’s plan for you included adoption into sonship. In Jesus you have become a part of God’s eternal plan.
And…that plan is realized when you place your trust in Jesus Christ.
What a glorious truth – chosen from eternity to be a child of God.
Complex or simple? That’s a decision you must make.
For some — life is a maze of complexities. For others – life is a simple matter of trust.
Interestingly…with greater understanding…complexities become simplicities.
The Bible says “…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
In other words…unless you resolve the complexities of life into simple trust in God…you cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Paul warns us that our minds must not be “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
The call of Jesus is just this – trust.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
That is simple.
Obligated or privileged. The difference can be very significant.
An obligated society is committed to fairness and generosity. A privileged society is self-seeking and self-serving.
The difference shows up in everyday experiences – in making deals…how a neighbor is treated…driving on the freeway…and in many other interactions of life.
Obligation focuses on the well-being of others. Privilege brushes people aside.
The difference is most clearly demonstrated in the life and ministry of Jesus. His approach always focused on obligation – how to treat a neighbor…and all He said about servanthood.
So…how does this balance out in your life?
Let it be obligation over privilege.
Unresponsive. That’s how it is when you speak to some people about matters of faith.
It’s because their spirit is dead – dead in transgressions and sin. And until their spirit has been awakened – there will be no response to the gospel.
It’s like the battery in your car. It remains dead until it is charged. So it is with the soul. Until it is regenerated — by the power of the Holy Spirit — it remains dead.
It is essential to pray for a spiritual receptivity. Without the work of the Holy Spirit…there will continue to be no response.
It might be a spouse…a son or daughter…a colleague or friend who is unresponsive.
Be patient…and prayerful.
And…live with the confidence that they will be saved.
Running red lights. That’s a sure way to cause an accident.
But…people do it all the time.
Parental warnings are ignored. Wise counsel is turned down. The consequence of sin is pushed to the side.
Flashing red lights go unheeded.
Adam and Eve turned a deaf ear to warnings about eating the forbidden fruit.
How many red lights did Judas run…on his way to betraying Jesus?
And…the Bible relates the sad story of Israel’s idolatrous ways. The prophets warned them over and over…but they kept running red lights.
The result was famine…war…and captivity.
So…heed the warnings of God’s Word. Devote yourself to godly living.
Stop – when the light is red.
A spiritual wilderness. That’s how it can feel – passions have subsided…fervor is lacking…and routine has become a burden.
It was like that in Eli’s day: “…the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.”
Later…a dying mother named her newborn son Ichabod – “The glory of the Lord has departed.”
It was a dark moment in the life of Israel.
And…sometimes people today find themselves in just such a place – it is as if the glory of the Lord has departed.
So…what should be done?
The first thing is repentance. Israel had sinned…and often that is true of the people of God today.
Second is the prayer for renewal. God’s will for His people is refreshing and blessing.
That’s the way out of a spiritual wilderness.