“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.” John 3:16 NIV
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV
These passages speak of the love God has for everyone. Not just when we are good or do what he wants. But everyone and all the time. He does not want anyone ever to perish. He gave his one and only son to be born so that he could die a humiliating, horrible death so that nobody would have to die. We all deserve death because we’ve all sinned. But he died for us. That is real love. He is a perfect and holy God who cannot dwell among sin. They made a way for us to be together with them for eternity in heaven. But they also gave us free will, to be able to choose just what we want. They have made it very clear what they want. They have given us their own words written just for us to help us know them. They have given us a gift. Just like every gift you have ever been given, it is free. You have to do nothing but accept it. It takes faith to accept it because it is not something you can see or feel. We have to believe we have it. With that gift comes the promises that they will help us. Once we believe, we need to practice what we believe. We will turn away from sin. We are no longer a slave to sin but are made new. Many people choose to believe the parts of the Bible they like. It is historically accurate and has been proven to be true. If it is true, it is to be believed. All of it. If we believe all the good things like how much God knows us and loves us, knowing our every thought and always wanting what is best for us. Then we ought to believe when he tells us not to do something. Sin is not just wrong, it is not good for us if it brings eternal death. He has warned us time and time again. But this is one thing he doesn’t have control over. We do though. So nobody can say that a righteous God would not send someone to hell. He doesn’t. But we do by not believing and obeying. We have the final say over our actions. We can use any excuse we want, but not doing his will puts it on us. He is a very loving and just God. He tells us in his word how to be blessed. He tells us he to have a full and abundant life. How to have fullness of joy bubbling over in our lives. He wants what every good father wants for his children. The best. Every parent will do everything they can to see their children happy, healthy, and safe and sometimes say ‘no’. If what they want is not best for them. Shouldn’t we be glad to do things that will bring joy, happiness, and blessings.
What can we do to have a good and abundant life?
“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have turned him over to you.” John 18:30 NIV
Jesus a criminal. Only God could have orchestrated that scenario. Jesus was a perfect human being. He lived a life without sinning. He was one of the many loving, caring, and wonderful persons ever. He never argued about being right. But he was always right. He didn’t need to get his point across. Prove himself, or defend himself. All things we do quite regularly. Somehow we see it as necessary to have people like us, agree with us, and cooperate with us. Nobody wants to be looked down on, be picked on, or bullied. We try to prove that what we do or say is right, at least to our reasoning. Jesus stated a fact. Take it or leave it. He did not need people to agree with him or to do what he said. The things he tells us to do really are the best for us and he knows that. If we don’t do them we are just hurting ourselves. He doesn’t want to see us hurting others by our choices but he has given us free will. It gives him so much more joy when we do things because we want to, our choice. He has told us what to do to be blessed. He has also shown us what will bring troubles and curses. Do you know that everything he did should have brought him so much peace and acceptance, but he came here for one reason and only one. To do his father’s will. A sacrifice had to be made, a perfect sacrifice. We are all imperfect. Not one person has ever led a perfect life, but Jesus. The only way, was for Jesus to live a perfect life and be sacrificed. He did it willingly for you and for me. He was right, never wrong, and he should have been accepted and agreed with. Instead he put up with terrible abuse. He was whipped, spit on and humiliated. Over and over he had the opportunity to defend himself but he didn’t. He could have, maybe should have. But that was not the plan. He hung there on that cross and died for you and for me. He looked to the day when each of us would say yes to the gift he offered us. It didn’t have to make sense to us, it made sense to God. He even made a point of forgiving the criminal that hung next to him when he asked. No one has ever done anything they can’t be forgiven for. He loves us. He even prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Do you want to accept this extravagant gift?
“In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are angry, do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV
The Bible does not say don’t get angry. We all naturally feel angry when someone is cruel, thoughtless or selfish. This says when you are angry do not sin. So being angry is not the sin. But what we do with that anger can be. Holding on to anger is like tying an anchor around your neck. It will only get heavier, dragging you down as you refuse to let it go. It really seems stupid If you think about it. I watched another movie the other night. I’m sure you can see by now that I love watching good uplifting movies before I go to sleep at night. And I have had some really good nights of sleep lately. I have always had trouble sleeping soundly ever since my stroke. But not lately. The people in the movie had some bad things happen to them that really should have caused great bitterness, but instead they decided to find love and acceptance for the one who hurt them. Oh, it was not easy. One woman was shot by an attacker but he became a very close friend. Then when that friend was tragically killed in an accident his father had to learn to forgive the one who killed his son. But by doing that he gained a whole new life with this man and his daughter that was so fulfilling. Each person had to come to a place where they could see that anger was destroying them and giving the devil control. They had to make a decision to forgive. To forgive doesn’t mean you forget, but gives you the peace to move forward. To think of someone with anger is the same thing as murder to God and it harms everyone involved. Anger and hatred are wrong and damage many. The devil loves it when we are angry because it gives him control. Whatever you do as long as it depends on you live peaceably with all people. This is something Jesus said while he was alive and it’s very good advice. The world we live in has enough anger and hatred we don’t need to add to it. We need to make this ugly world better and love, love freely. The attitude you hold on to does make a difference in everyone’s happiness. Be a difference maker. Is there someone you need to forgive?