The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money. I walked into a local supermarket yesterday, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display. On the love side, Valentine’s Day is a day when we can express our love for one another freely and not be thought of as sentimental or mushy. How about God? How does God express His love for us? Here is a familiar verse that gets right to the heart of God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For He did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
How much more love could God show towards us than sacrificing His only Son on our behalf? He loved us that much. He sent Him so that through faith in Jesus we could be saved and not condemned. Only sinless Jesus could erase our sin and present us whole and perfectly clean before our Holy God.
When you say ‘thank you’ today for a Valentine gift you receive, a card, note, flowers or someone simply saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, think about thanking God too. Thank Him for sending Jesus. Thank Him for making a way for your salvation and eternal life with Him. That is the best Valentine I can think of that is filled with all of God’s love for now throughout eternity.
Blessings on this Valentine’s Day.
When we think about blessings and what it means to be blessed, one of the first things that comes into the mind of the believer is salvation. Truly being spared the wrath of God in judgement and being able to live with Him forever in heaven is a BIG blessing. Scripture tell us exactly that in Psalm 32:1-2.
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
We are spared from the wrath of God (God’s anger over sin) because Jesus came, died on the cross and rose again so that we could be reconciled to God. (Romans 5:10-12) His blood provides the atonement for our sins as He covers us so that when God looks at the believer He sees Jesus’ atoning blood not our sin. “God gave Christ as a sacrifice to pay for sins through the spilling of his blood. So God forgives the sins of those who have faith. God did all this to prove that he does what is right. He is a God of mercy.” Romans 3:25 We are forgiven and God promises to not hold our sins against us. I love these verses in Micah about God, His forgiveness and the fact that He casts my sins into the depths of the sea. Praise God once confessed, our sins are gone forever! Micah 7:8-10
Lord, who is a God like you?
You forgive sin.
You forgive your people
when they do what is wrong.
You don’t stay angry forever.
Instead, you take delight in showing
your faithful love to them.
19 Once again you will show loving concern for us.
You will completely wipe out
the evil things we’ve done.
You will throw all our sins
into the bottom of the sea.
How blessed am I? Because of Jesus and His sacrifice, God forgives my sin and casts it into the depths of the sea. Because of Jesus, I can continue to walk with Him each day and have His light to shine for others. 1 John 1:6-7 puts it this way. “Suppose we say that we share life with God but still walk in the darkness. Then we are lying. We are not living out the truth. 7 But suppose we walk in the light, just as he is in the light. Then we share life with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his Son, makes us pure from all sin.”
May your day be filled with joy as you reflect on your treasured state of being- forgiven, all your sins are gone out of God’s sight forever, you are able to walk with Jesus in His light each day and saved for eternity. Now there are eternal blessings we can count upon!
In this next portion of scripture I envision the angels as they announce the arrival of our Savior to the shepherds, or Paul as he preaches about the ‘good news’ of the gospel. Like many prophecies it has already been fulfilled and yet there is one fulfillment still future to us.
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Scholars feel the first fulfillment of God’s return to Jerusalem (Zion) was when His people returned from captivity in Babylon. Nehemiah led the group back to Jerusalem with the blessing and provisions of King Artaxerxes. See the books of Nehemiah and Ezra for the full telling of their return, opposition, rebuilding of the walls and eventually the temple. The second fulfillment of this prophecy of good news being proclaimed in Zion comes through Jesus. He proclaimed the ‘good news’ of the kingdom. Jesus read the words in Isaiah as told in Luke 4:18 ““The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,” He then in verses 20-21 Luke records, “Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus knew the gospel or good news he preached was to bring salvation and deliverance for all who believed. The final fulfillment of this prophecy is still future to us. It will be when Christ returns triumphantly to Zion, proclaiming the good news of His return and reign over all the earth. Revelation 19:6 “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” What a glorious time that will be!
The prophecy tells of good news- good tidings, that salvation is available to all who believe. Jesus’ coming brought hope of restoration in our relationship with God and freedom from the bondage of sin. Paul reasoned with the Jews in Antioch “Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39 Again in Romans 6:-6-7 and 18 Paul explains this freedom and our new view of righteousness this freedom brings. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” The good news of the gospel brings restoration and hope, and that is good news indeed!
Who can you tell of the good news of Jesus this Christmas?
Messiah tells this scripture one way. The traditional Christmas carol proclaims the good news too. This one is just fun and makes me smile.
Part 1 of the Messiah ends with the following verses from Matthew 11. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The Messiah that Handel has been exclaiming about in song will bring hope, restoration, rest, comfort and wisdom for living our lives with Him. Following Him provides us with opportunity to bring our heaviest problems, cares, concerns or heartaches to Him. He promises rest for our weary souls and will teach us to bear up under the strains of living. Walking with Him will seem easy and it will lighten our burdens by sharing them with Him.
Does this life with Jesus describe you? Look at these verses in the Amplified Bible and see if it helps clarify what walking with Him will do in and through you. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” Are you bogged down by religious rituals that seem meaningless? Have you experienced the refreshment of Salvation in Jesus? Do you consider yourself His disciple? Does walking with Him seem no burden at all as He is right there with you?
Look to Jesus today for hope, encouragement, rest and lightness in your burdens.
Here is a lovely song using these verses. Music from the Messiah was not available.
I love the story of the shepherds and the angels. God’s heavenly beings announcing the biggest event in history to lowly shepherds, the guys out tending the sheep in the lonely hills. “In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. Luke 2:8-9
If you had been on guard duty that night, it would have been totally dark in the hills around Bethlehem. The only light would have been the moon and stars until out of nowhere you are suddenly surrounded by glorious flashing lights. I think terror would have been the emotion of the evening. Before we hear from the angels in tomorrow’s passage, let’s stop and consider why would God send holy messengers to announce His Son’s birth to shepherds? Why not to the powerful kings of the day, or nobles? Perhaps Jesus said it best, in Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus came as our Savior to touch the lives of those that will seek Him. He came to save the world from the penalty of sin which is death. Timothy wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
As you listen and think about the flashing lights on that lonely night in Bethlehem, praise God that Jesus came. He alone can save. John 14:6 ” “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Have a blessed day,
I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’. It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’. It began as a term to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians. It then became a day to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased. In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me. His death was the darkest day that brought the greatest profit for us. John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen. “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath. Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they rushed to get Jesus down from the cross, hastily buried and settled in a borrowed tomb. Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste. After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday. “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” Mark 16:1 Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of sin and death. An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” What joyous news they had to share!
That blackest of Friday bringing death to Jesus and a hasty burial brought the greatest profit to you and me. Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history. Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven. We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin. That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.
As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ. Praise Him as you do.
Because I believe that Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, I am a joint heir with Christ. This is an amazing truth that is laid out for us in scripture. Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Being a child of God means we share in the good and the ‘bad’ or suffering just as Christ did. This is a truth of family life we see in our own lives. We reap the benefits of being in our earthly family- the love, care and companionship, but we also have the hard times, struggles and strains caused by living here on sin-filled earth. However, being a child of God, we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to give us power to endure and overcome evil with good as we struggle to live for Him. We know the love and companionship of the Holy Spirit within our lives as His Spirit bears witness with our spirit. Praise God, we can know and feel His power and guidance in our lives. Someday we will see Him in all His glory and share in the joy of His presence. That is a true inheritance worth waiting and working for!
As a believer, are you feeling His power in your life? If not, turn to Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and then listen and feel the Spirit within you recognize His voice. If you do not know Jesus, call on Him and He will reveal himself to you. Many verses tell us how simple it is to do this: 1 John 1:9 “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Romans 10:9 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” What is keeping you from knowing Jesus today? In the face of an eternity without Him, whatever is stopping you is unimportant. Turn to Jesus today.
Loving being an Heir,