Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our Secure Identity

Identity theft, in today’s world, is all too common. Usually due to greed, someone takes the good name of another and uses it for selfish, materialistic desires. For the victim, getting your name cleared can be time consuming and expensive.

A person’s identity consists of a lot of different aspects, including our titles. When a woman marries she becomes known as “Mrs.”, not “Miss”. Her last name will oftentimes change, too. When we have children and become a parent our identity changes again. We are now so-and-so’s mom or dad. And yet a third aspect can be found in our career; our vocation is a big part of who we are.

Depending upon our life choices, along with circumstances beyond our control, we can have many different titles. Our titles will even change throughout our lives, affecting who we are for better or for worse.

For instance, maybe you have recently retired or lost your job. For decades you defined yourself by your career. It was part of who you were; part of your identity. Or maybe you’ve suffered through an unwanted divorce, or become suddenly widowed. Or maybe you have not obeyed the laws of the land and now your identity is your last name and a number.

If we have a title taken from us (especially if we didn’t want it taken), it can leave us feeling jolted and displaced. It can be a painful, constant reminder of our loss. If we aren’t careful, we can focus on our loss to the extent that it consumes our every thought and hinders us from living in the moment.

During those times when we are unexpectedly reminded of our loss, we need to take comfort in, and concentrate on, the one identity that we have that can never change. If we have accepted Christ as our personal savior, no one can take away our identity as a Christian—a child of God. No matter what title society wants to place upon us or strip from us, we are still God’s precious son or daughter. As born again believers we know who we are in Christ. As God’s child, we have inherited His promises; and one of those promises is: He will never leave us. Unlike our spouse, God will never divorce us or die. Unlike our boss, He will never lay us off or let us go. Our identity with God is secure.

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).

Forever His,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

All for Love

Valentine’s Day is that wonderful holiday where we express our love to someone near and dear to our heart. It is (thankfully) not a controversial holiday; it’s simply a day when we tell and show our loved ones that we love them. Whether it’s with chocolate, jewelry, a card, a nice dinner, or something that costs us nothing but our time, we devote this day to honoring someone special to us.

There were several Christian martyrs who were known as Valentine centuries ago, but none of them are the author of love; God is. As a matter of fact, love is such a big deal to God that the word “love” is found 686 times in the Bible (New International Version). Many Bible scholars agree that the most powerful usage of that word is found in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Love began with God. He loved us first, and then to express that love He subsequently “gave”. He gave His only son as a gift to mankind – and all out of love for us. God’s gift of His son to bear our sins was the ultimate act of love; nothing has, or ever will, top that.

I don’t know about you, but I still find it hard to believe that the God of all creation loves us. With all of our sins, faults, and failures, the fact that our heavenly Father would still woo and pursue His people is amazing to me. It’s not enough for God (and it shouldn’t be enough for us) to be saved from an eternity in hell, rather the God of the universe wants to hear from us, and speak to us – regularly – and all because He loves us.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He could have responded with, “Obedience. Obey your Heavenly Father.” Or, He could have said, “Honesty. Be honest with God and those you encounter.” Instead, Jesus responded with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

In other words, Jesus said to give Him first place in your life. Be sold out to Him every day of the week, all day, and not just Sunday morning.

Our Lord is the epitome of true love. Jesus loved children, He loved the poor, and He loved those whom society loathed, such as the lepers and prostitutes. He even loved those who killed Him, telling His father to “forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus loved the unlovable, and that is exactly what He expects Christians to do, too, through Him. God’s grace enables us to reach out to the down and out. When we give Him first place in our life, He gives us mercy and grace to love others.
Jesus loves you, this I know…the question is, do you love Him?

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21).

In His Love,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Who Is Your Hero?

Hopefully you have at least one hero. A hero is someone (living or dead) who you look up to and admire for their brave deeds and noble qualities. Pilots become heroes for safely landing airplanes in rough conditions. Doctors and firefighters are considered heroes when they save a life. Those who serve in the military, especially in a time of war, are also deemed heroes by most citizens.

Many Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be a hero. President Lincoln battled many obstacles in his life, including: the loss of his mother at a young age, a lack of a college education, falling in love with a woman who married another, fighting for the presidency, struggling to keep a divided nation together, struggling to keep his unhappy marriage together, burying two young sons, and battling depression most of his adult life.

It is remarkable that with all the pain and despair he endured, President Lincoln could still have such a keen sense of humor. Once, when he was accused of being two-faced, he responded by saying, “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
Mr. Lincoln knew that it was our outlook on life that would make us or break us. As someone who read the Bible regularly he was probably aware of the verse, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength,” (Nehemiah 8: 10). Those who have researched Abraham Lincoln’s life say that, as the Civil War raged on, Abraham Lincoln turned toward his faith in God more. He knew that in order to have any level of inner peace, he would need to keep his faith and trust in God. With the weight of the nation on his shoulders, and feeling somewhat alone with the many huge decisions he had to make, President Lincoln was wise enough to know he needed Divine help. President Lincoln gave homage to the One true Hero, God.

We need to remember that the Lord is no respecter of persons. The same God who listened to a President’s plea for wisdom as to how to govern a divided nation, also hears the desperate cries of the one who battles drug addiction, and the heartfelt remorse of a convicted criminal.

Who is your Hero today? There is only One worthy of the title; only One who can truly “rescue” us. Turn to Jesus and make Him your hero. Not only will Jesus rescue you in this life, comforting you when you hurt and giving you wisdom when you don’t know the way, but He can save you from an eternity in hell, too. Don’t delay. Make Him your Lord, today.

... “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow …and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil. 2: 10-11).

In Him,
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