Tag: loved

A Word for the World

the worldAsk 50 people the question, “What does God think about the world?”, you may get 50 different answers.

About 2000 years ago, Jesus made a statement that answered the question once and for all.

It was true before He said it, while He said, and it’s been true ever since.

One verse says it all.

A word for the world.

God – unmistakably, undeniably, without apology, God. Before the world began, God. During the world’s darkest moments, God. Who was and is and is to come, God. Known by all who earnestly and humbly seek Him, God.

So loved – valued and honored, was patient and kind, was devoted to, couldn’t live without, affectionate towards…

The world – His creation, every person, no exceptions. Every tribe, kindred, nation. Past, present, future. The good, bad, and ugly.

That He – unmistakably, undeniably, without apology, God.

Gave – without strings attached, unforced, freely distributed, bestowed, conveyed, imparted, lavished

His – unmistakably, undeniably, without apology, God’s.

Only – unique, none other, one of a kind, incomparable, inimitable, without equal, unmatched, unparalleled, unsurpassable

Son – Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, Messiah, I Am, Alpha and Omega, The Word made flesh, the Light of the world, Savior and Lord

That whoever – His creation, every person, no exceptions. Every tribe, kindred, nation. Past, present, future. The good, bad, and ugly.

Believes – receives as true, accepts, trusts, embraces, adheres to

In Him – Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, Messiah, I Am, Alpha and Omega, The Word made flesh, the Light of the world, Savior and Lord

Should not – won’t, can’t, impossible to do so, emphatically no way, couldn’t happen

Perish
– die, exist without God’s Presence, spend eternity in hell, suffer forever

But have – possess, own, utilize, enjoy, receive without conditions

Eternal – forever, everlasting, without end, perpetual, ageless, timeless, enduring, ongoing, God’s kind

Life – wholeness, energy, fruitfulness, purpose, being, vibrancy,
vitality, God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

Do you? Will you?

Introduction to… A Story

A Story

Stories.

Everyone has one. Not everyone can or would even want to tell theirs, but everyone has one.

Some stories are so easy to hear, easy to believe, easy to relate to, easy to tell. Others are the complete opposite.

No one’s story should be left untold. No one’s. There is something to be learned from each. Something to help lift someone else out of despair and hopelessness. Something to bring understanding to a life of confusion. Something to identify with; to help someone else realize they are not alone. Even a story of “total failure” can be used to help someone else.

For A Story to be told, there must be three things.

First, the story. Truth. What really happened? Why did it happen? When it happened isn’t so important, because people really haven’t changed much down through the ages. The story’s main participant would be the “who”. How did it happen? The story will detail what’s really important.

Secondly, the storyteller. Possibly the subject of the story, but not necessarily. The storyteller must adhere to the story. Truth. For a story to connect with others, truth is paramount. Hope will not grasp fantasy for long. Fantasy will never bring about lasting change. Truth will. So the storyteller must stay with truth, which is the story.

Finally, the reader. Each reader is in the process of living their own story. One reader’s story may be full of darkness, hopelessness, confusion, perversion. Someone else may have a story of riches and beauty, a wonderful childhood, direction in life, faith in God. There may be any number of life situations in one story. But one thing is certain with every reader. Their final chapter hasn’t yet been written.

As I said, everyone has a story and everyone’s story should be told. This is my story; not my whole story but a segment of it that others, I believe, need to know. A Story others may relate to, draw hope from. A Story that may help others rewrite their own.

I chose to use this medium, my blog, to tell the story. I’ll write a number of chapters over the next several weeks. I pray each reader that is not satified with their story, may find the necessary courage to begin the rewrite process.

Look for truth. Truth makes the story. Truth connects the story with each reader. Truth helps the reader rewrite their own story. Truth is what changed mine.

Stories.

As I said, this one is mine, though it’s not just about me. It’s also A Story about a King named Manasseh, a Father with two prodigal sons, a few of God’s favorite people, and what He does with people gone bad. A Story about failure, family and friends. It’s about Encouragement, Hope and Restoration. It’s about Truth. It’s A Story about Jesus.

And, it’s about you.

Israel, You Are Not Forsaken

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Israel, you are not forsaken…

Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. I will be patient as the Lord punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.

The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness. Then my enemies will see that the Lord is on my side. They will be ashamed that they taunted me, saying, “So where is the Lord – that God of yours?” With my own eyes I will see their downfall; they will be trampled like mud in the streets.

In that day, Israel, your cities will be rebuilt, and your borders will be extended.

People from many lands will come and honor you – from Assyria all the way to the towns of Egypt, from Egypt all the way to the Euphrates River, and from distant seas and mountains. But the land will become empty and desolate because of the wickedness of those who live there.

O Lord , protect your people with your shepherd’s staff; lead your flock, your special possession. Though they live alone in a thicket on the heights of Mount Carmel, let them graze in the fertile pastures of Bashan and Gilead as they did long ago.

“Yes,” says the Lord , “I will do mighty miracles for you, like those I did when I rescued you from slavery in Egypt.” All the nations of the world will stand amazed at what the Lord will do for you. They will be embarrassed at their feeble power.

They will cover their mouths in silent awe, deaf to everything around them. Like snakes crawling from their holes, they will come out to meet the Lord our God. They will fear him greatly, trembling in terror at his presence.

Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago. (Micah 7:8-20 NLT)

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.

The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord ’s own mouth. The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see – a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.

Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. (Isaiah 62:1 – 62:5 NLT)

Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord . Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.

The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: “I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine. You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the Lord . Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”

Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The Lord has sent this message to every land:
“Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”

They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the Lord .” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken (Isaiah 62 NLT)

Israel is always in the news. And though much of the world is totally against this tiny nation (geographically speaking), The Lord God has not forgotten the Covenant He made with Abraham many years ago.

Israel, the Name hated by the world but loved by their Creator. After all, it was Abraham’s God Who changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Israel, one who has fought with God and with man, and prevailed. (Genesis 32)

Israel, the nation God used to bless the world! The word He spoke to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3 NLT)

Israel. Though nations are trying to pick it apart, as one would pick chicken off a bone, their trouble will last for a brief moment longer. As Ezekiel has said, over and over in his prophetic writings, “then shall they know I am The Lord God.” When? After The Lord has miraculously delivered them from their enemies.

Israel, the apple of God’s eye. And though His eye has cried over the condition of His beloved: the rejection, rebellion, and ruin throughout the years; He has kept Israel in the deepest place of His heart.

Israel, as certain as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, you are The Nation of The Covenant. You are “Bethel” (house of bread) to the world. The Grace and Truth God poured into you, and through you, has eternally affected millions of people.

Israel. Some would say you are separated, divorced, from your God. Some would say your sins have declared you unfit for the Holy God. But you will find His compassions fail not; they are new every morning. You will discover His faithfulness far greater than your transgressions.

Israel. You will soon witness the saving power of The Lord, your Maker. You will recognize Him as He comes to you with healing in His wings. You will stand firm, as His everlasting arms support you. You will come to know the Name of Abraham’s Ram that was caught in the thicket; the One that was slain in Isaac’s stead. And you will cry out, “the Lord, my Provider!”

Israel, your Banner and Shield is covering you once again. He is your Shepherd and will see you through to the end.

Israel, rejoice! For the end will be your beginning!

Israel, you are not forsaken.

Actions Speak Louder

Light Picture by FB Friend Connie Anderson. Used with permission

Light Picture by FB Friend Connie Anderson. Used with permission

There’s a saying I like and it goes like this: “Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” In other words, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Do you find that to be true?

How do you respond when you hear someone say, “I love you”, but their actions seem to contradict their words? How does it make you feel? How much can you trust someone who says one thing but does another?

I remember a time in my life, about 20 years ago. Because of my self-indulgent behavior, wandering eyes, lustful heart and uncontrolled thoughts, I brought hellish confusion and destruction into my family and those who were connected with my life. My family was blown apart! My wife and I split up and, for a while, it seemed as though there was no hope of reconciliation. My son didn’t know what to think, my wife couldn’t think, and I acted like a mad man!

I resigned from the church my wife and I had planted 10 years prior. But I was so out of control, it didn’t matter. I was so focused on feeding the cravings of my flesh, no one knew me. I remember our marriage counselor saying to me one day, “Jan, with your attitude, you’re headed back to the streets; back to the gutter.” For an hour or two that statement bothered me. But it didn’t take long until I was trying to satisfy the lusts within that were screaming for attention.

After a few months, lots of people praying, several counseling sessions, heated discussions, and saying, “I’m sorry” countless times, we began the process of rebuilding. Of course, our marriage was just part of the picture that needed rebuilt. Our individual lives had been blown apart because the one thing that held us together had been violated, over and over.

Trust.

Regardless of how many times I said I was sorry (and meant it!), my words could not erase what had happened. My words alone could not make the healing and restoration process any shorter.

What a long process! So many hurts to heal, tears to dry, and bridges to rebuild. I soon discovered it was a lot harder rebuilding trust than building it initially. Just like building a house, it’s easier to build a new house than to rebuild an old one. With a new house there isn’t any old debris to clean up first. You can begin building right away, once the lot is prepared. But with a rebuild, all the old has to be removed before anything else can be done. When trust has been violated, part of what was built is demolished and lies on the ground in a heap. That heap has to be dealt with first.

So rebuilding can only begin with an action, not a word, that supports the building of trust, a trust relationship. Such as accountability, tenderness, and listening to the pain and hurts of the one violated. Standing over someone with your hands on your hips, shouting, “I said I’m sorry; why don’t you believe me?” doesn’t speed up the process. It only lengthens it.

I went to see a counselor quite a bit during those weeks and months of the restoration process. God used him to help me see who I really was, not who I thought I was, or was trying to be. One day, after I had been seeing him for almost a year, my wife and I planned a trip to see her family. It was to be the first trip back home since I had brought such havoc into our lives. Of course, I was very apprehensive about seeing her parents and siblings. I was truly sorry for what I had done, was working very hard to rebuild and regain what I had thrown away; and I wanted my in-laws to know how much I had changed.

A day or two before we left on our trip I had a session with my counselor. I told him of our planned trip and mentioned my apprehension. As he listened to me explain how I really wanted people to know I was a new guy, that I’d changed and would never treat my wife in such a way ever again, he calmly leaned forward and made a statement that I’ve kept with me ever since.

He said, “Jan, you don’t have to say a word. As a matter of fact, it would be better if you kept quiet about how you’ve changed. Just show them. They won’t believe your words, but eventually they will believe your actions if you are consistent.”

He was definitely right. Actions speak louder than words!

It was several years after the bomb exploded in my life, after we began the process of rebuilding, that my wife said something to me that I’ll never forget. She told me that she trusted me more than she ever had! That was such a powerful word to me. It was a word that had been proven by more than mere words, but by actions.

By the way, we just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary! Hallelujah!

Whether you are trying to convey your love for someone, your care and compassion; or maybe you’re trying to get your friends or family to believe God loves them; let’s face it. Words can help at times. But at other times, especially when people have been hurt, not by God, but by His people, words will only get in the way.

God didn’t sit on His throne in Heaven and give us a shout, “I LOVE YOU!” He didn’t just send a prophet or an angel to earth with a coded message declaring His love for mankind. No, the scriptures reveal “that God SHOWED His love for us – while we were still sinners (completely at odds with Him and His Holiness).” Yes, God’s walk talks, and His talk talks, but His walk talks louder than His talk talks!

That’s how we know He really loves us. Because He SHOWED us. His actions supported His Words.

They still do. He still does. Do you? Will you?

Who in the world are YOU?

20121129-005935.jpg I was visiting with my pastor today, sharing with him about the direction the Lord seemed to be pointing my wife and I. During our conversation I heard myself say something that really registered with my spirit. Something known as true in my head, but had finally made its way to my heart.

Value. My value. Now don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t just realize I was the most important person in the world. No, what opened up in my spirit is why I am valuable. What’s so special about me? Who in the world am I?

All my life I have placed my value on my grades, my friends, my things, my job, my music ability, etc. When I was in third grade I started taking piano lessons, like my older brother. My motive? I wanted to learn to do something better than him, get more positive attention, add some value to my life.

Even when I received Christ as my Lord and Savior, my value seemed like it was wrapped up in what I did. Music and leading worship, teaching, pastoring a church, prophesying; on and on I could go about the things that seemed to make me valuable. A least, in my eyes.

Now there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, especially when the Lord anoints you to do them. What’s wrong is this. What happens when I can’t do those things anymore? What happens to my value? Do I really listen to the Lord and follow His direction if He’s leading me to do something that doesn’t “add to my value”? If I get my value, my self-worth, from what I do, chances are I will keep trying to do that thing regardless of whether it’s the right thing to do or not. And, if the things I do seem to get old and mundane (losing their ability to give me the value I “need”), after a while my eyes and heart can wander to places that will feed my need for “value”; places that only bring destruction to my life or someone elses.

So it hit me today. It registered deep within my spirit; my value is built into me by my Heavenly Father. “What can a man give in exchange for his soul”, Jesus asked. He also said, “you are more valuable than the sparrows.” The Psalmist said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The truth in this revelation is so freeing! Regardless of a title, position, a gift, an anointing; I am valuable because God thinks so. Yes, I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me. Yes, I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loved me. Yes, greater is He Who is in me than the one in the world. But my value is not it in those truths. Those are extra!

I am free to be me. God so loved ME! Who am I in the world? Me! Nothing I do, good or bad, will add or subtract from my value! It may affect my ability to be useful, or trusted, but my value is eternal!

And you are YOU! Valuable enough to your Maker to give His best for you.

Value. Built into every one of us.

Built by God.

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