Nothing can separate us from God’s love. His love never fails. It never ends. That is a thought that is beyond wonderful!
Romans 8:38-39 tells us that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. Nothing in heaven and nothing on earth. Not death, not life, not even the powers of hell. In the New Living Translation, it says that not even our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow can separate us from God’s love for us.
That is a very comforting thought! When we look at the things going on in the world today–things like terrorism and natural disasters–it is easy for us to fear for today and, most certainly, to worry about tomorrow. But there is one thing that we don’t need to fear, one thing that we don’t need to worry about, and that is God’s love. God has told us in His word that nothing can take that away from us.
As I meditated on Romans 8:38-39, the Holy Spirit brought another verse to my mind, Hebrews 13:8, which tells us that Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday and He will be tomorrow. He never changes. The same is true for God’s love. It never changes, never fails, and never ends. How amazing is that? Thank You, Lord, for Your love that never fails!
Then God said… and there was.
God’s word is powerful. In the story of Creation, for six days God spoke and the world was created. He didn’t need to hire contractors, landscapers, or scientists and ask them to put it all together. He simply spoke and it came to be. When God said it, it was!
God has given us His word as a manual for life. Psalm 119:105 says that His word is a lamp for our feet and a light to help us to see our path. It helps us to see the way in which we should walk so that we don’t get lost and we don’t stumble.
The word of God is also a powerful weapon. When we are faced with temptation or when we are under attack from the enemy, our best defense, our best plan for overcoming, is to use the word of God. But, for it to be truly effective, it must be in our hearts. We need to read it and allow it to live in us. We need to do what it says. And, we need to cling to it.
Jesus used the parable of the sower (Luke 8:1-15) to explain that the word of God must take root in us so that the Kingdom of God can grow. The key for us here is allowing it to take root. When we simply hear the word, but don’t allow it to take root in our hearts, the enemy can come in and just take it from us. If the word is not deeply rooted in our hearts, it also makes it easy for temptation to cause us to fall away. If we don’t cling to His word, the cares and pleasures of life will try to crowd it out and keep us from maturing in our faith. But, when we hear God’s word and cling to it, when we allow it to take root in us, our lives can be used to produce a great harvest for God’s Kingdom.
Scripture tells us that God’s word is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). He has provided it to us so that we can grow in our faith, stand firm when adversity comes, and be molded more and more into His image.
How much am I worth? What is my value as a person? I have some talents, I am fairly intelligent, I have a nice house and car, a beautiful wife and family. But none of these things reflect my true value. My value is not in things, in people, or in possessions. So, what is my value and what determines it?
I once read in a devotion that there are two things that determine value in life. The first is the price someone is willing to pay for something. The second is who has owned something in the past. God’s word tells me that I have been bought and paid for by Jesus Christ, which means I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 7:23). So, my value is determined by the fact that I belong to Him. He paid for my life with His own.
When I consider what I cost Him, when I think about the price He paid, how can I not feel valued? Jesus is the Son of God, a part of the Trinity, He is King of Kings and Lord of lords, and yet He was willing to pay the greatest price for me. So that I could belong to Him, He paid for me with His life.
Lord, I thank You for what You did for me. You paid for me with Your life. You gave me value by dying for me. I belong to You, Lord. I am Yours. Amen!
During our worship time this morning, my wife, Linda, and I sang a few Christmas carols, one of which was “Joy To the World.” I thought about the lyrics we were singing, particularly “let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing,” and I was led to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. After reading them, I sat and meditated on what I had read. Now I’ve read these passages in Matthew and Luke many times before, but something really stood out to me as I read them today–the reactions or, I should say, the response of the people involved in the story.
First, there were the angels. After the angel messenger appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Savior, Jesus, the sky suddenly filled with a whole army of angels, a heavenly choir, who began lifting their voices in praise (Luke 2:13-14). The hearts of the angels were filled with excitement over the coming of the Savior. That excitement just poured out of their hearts as they sang their praises to God.
Then, after hearing the words spoken to them by the angel messenger and witnessing this heavenly worship service, the hearts of the shepherds were so filled with joy and wonder that they just dropped everything, left their flocks, and hurried (they didn’t take a leisurely stroll, they ran!) to Bethlehem so they could actually see what the angel had told them was happening there (Luke 2:15-16). After seeing Jesus, their hearts were filled to overflowing and they told everyone they knew about it and returned to their flocks praising God (Luke 2:17-18, 20).
Mary had the response that only a mother could have. After witnessing the visit of the shepherds and their response to Jesus, Mary quietly tucked all of these things that happened into the scrapbook of her heart, where she treasured them and thought about them in years to come (Luke 2:19).
And, of course, there were also the wise men, the Magi from the east. These men of great wealth and knowledge had studied the prophecies and read the signs in the heavens. Their hearts were filled with the desire to see the child born to be king of the Jews, so they packed up their things and followed the star which led them on their long journey to see Jesus. When they reached Bethlehem and saw the child, they recognized who He was and their hearts filled with reverence. They bowed down and worshiped Him, then presented Him with gifts worthy of a king (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11).
The Christmas season is a time to reflect on the wonderful gift that God has given us in sending His Son, this tiny baby born in a manger, who would grow up to sacrifice His own life so that we could have eternal life. My prayer, not just for myself, but for us all, is that the joy of Christmas will fill our hearts and that we will open our hearts to prepare Him room. Let our hearts never be like the inn at Bethlehem and have no room for Him.
The Lord has been speaking to me today about desire. When God created man, He placed in him the ability to experience feelings and emotions. He enables us to give and receive love, to feel joy, happiness. He even enabled us to feel sadness and anger. God also placed within us the ability to feel desire. I believe that His intent was for us to desire Him, to want to be close to Him and to live in a relationship with Him. But, like so many other things, desire became corrupted by the fall of man.
The definition of desire is “to long or hope for.” Desire can be good or bad, depending on the motivation of the person experiencing the desire and what is being desired. So, what does God’s word say about desire?
For one thing, desire is a heart issue. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus said that our heart’s desires are dictated by what we treasure. If we treasure earthly things, then that is what our hearts will desire, but if we treasure the things of God, our desire will be for them. This doesn’t mean that all earthly things are bad. God does want us to have our heart’s desires, but He wants us to desire Him first. Psalm 37:4 says that those who delight in Him will be given their heart’s desires.
The Lord wants us to produce fruit for His Kingdom. In the parable of the seed in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, the seed represents God’s word, His message of Good News. This parable tells us that if we allow worries, wealth, or the desire for other things (seeking the things of the world over the things of the kingdom) crowd out the word of God in our lives, then we will bear no fruit (Mark 4:19).
So, what should we desire? We should desire God. We should desire a relationship with Him, desire to spend time with Him, desire to worship Him and praise Him. We should also desire the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:31). We should desire to do what pleases God (Philippians 2:13). And, of course, we should have a desire for the word and the ways of God.
My prayer today is that I will always desire to seek the Lord and His righteousness above all else.
God asked me today, “Why do you praise Me?
In preparation for Christmas, I have been reading some Advent and Christmas devotionals. This morning, as I was reading one, I heard a voice in my head saying, “God so love the world.” That phrase kept repeating and it got me thinking. That is the reason for Christmas. God loved us so much the He sent His Son to earth in the form of a tiny baby.
As I reflected on this, scenes from the life of Jesus on earth starting playing in my head. It hit me that, throughout that time, our enemy Satan tried very hard to prevent Jesus from accomplishing His mission–to free us from the bondage of our sin and restore our relationship with God. Satan knew that this was Jesus’ mission and could see the writing on the wall. If Jesus fulfilled what God sent Him to do, not only would we be freed from sin, but he would be defeated. So, the enemy of our souls tried his best to prevent it from happening.
First, he tried to create scandal by preventing Joseph from taking Mary as his wife because she was with child. Joseph planned to quietly divorce Mary. But, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to calm his fears and explain that the child Mary was carrying was the Son of God. In obedience to God, Joseph took Mary as his wife (Luke 1:18-25). Scandal prevented, Satan thwarted,
When Jesus was born, Satan tried using King Herod to end Jesus’ mission. Herod had learned of Jesus’ birth and knew that the prophecies spoke of a new King who would be born. Realizing that Jesus was that King, Herod tried to preserve his own reign by having the child killed. But, once again, an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream, warning him about Herod’s plot. Joseph took Jesus and Mary and fled to Egypt (Luke 2:13-18). Catastrophe averted, Satan thwarted again.
Years later, when Jesus began His ministry, Satan decided that he would take it into his own hands to destroy Jesus’ mission. When Jesus had spent forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness, Satan appeared to Him. Knowing that Jesus would be weak and hungry, Satan tried to tempt Him. Temptation had worked with Adam and Eve in the garden, so Satan, the father of lies, must have figured it was worth another shot. But Jesus leaned on God’s word and resisted Satan’s attempts (Matthew 4:1-11). Temptation avoided, Satan thwarted yet again.
Then came the day of the cross. Satan likely rejoiced, watching with glee as Jesus was tried, beaten, scorned, and then nailed to a cross to die. When Jesus gave up His last breath, Satan probably thought he had won. After all, Jesus was dead. But, the enemy’s celebration was cut short three days later when Jesus, the Son of God, our Savior and Deliverer, rose from the grave. We were freed from the bondage of our sin. Mission accomplished, Satan defeated!
Thank You, Lord, for this reminder that the joyous event we celebrate on Christmas, the birth of Your Son, is ultimately about the cross. It’s about Your great love for us that was shown by giving Jesus to die for us while we were sinners and totally undeserving of it. In Jesus’ name. Amen!