Someone Loves You Who You Don’t Know

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever should believe in him will not perish, but have everlasting life”

-John 3:16

From Ben,

Wow! Well that is exciting that someone who I don’t even know loves me. Your first questions may be, “Is she/he cute?!”, “What do they like to do?” “How do they know me, and why do they love me?”. Well I would ask the same things, only to find an incredible answer. An unexpected answer. A wild surprise! Do you have any idea who this may be?

It is Jesus! The bible tells us that Jesus loved us even before we were born. That is crazy. After pursuing God for many years, and making mistakes, the true love that Jesus has for me and all of humankind is unfathomable. How could someone love me even when I don’t obey them, and when I choose my way first? Only an eternal, all-knowing, perfect, pure, and all-loving God can do that. In fact, God loved us so much that he sent His ONLY son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His son is Jesus.

Here is another amazing part, Jesus did not run from the will of his Father, which was to die a gruesome death to take our sins as a Holy sacrifice… then to rise 3 days later to show His defeat over our sin and death. Why on earth would someone I don’t know and who doesn’t know me willingly die for me? Well that’s the thing, He DOES know you. In fact, He knows you better than you know yourself.

God created the Earth and its foundations, and Jesus was there with him in the beginning. God says that He knew us and knitted us all before our birth. Wow! God designed me, and not only that, he designed me in His image! He really must love me to do that. Not only this, but He says he will love us forever, and because of that, is coming back some day!

Jesus promised that the day will come where he will return riding on a cloud and bring those who decided to trust Him to a place where he has prepared a place for them. So Jesus’s love is so great that He is coming back to get us! He hasn’t forgotten about us, he loves us! And he promises he will be back soon. So what does this mean for us?

Well, the first part is realizing that Jesus loves us. Understanding the width of his love is almost impossible, but we do see that love in his dying for our own sins. See, once we realize just how devastating our sin is, we begin to grasp the love Jesus has for us. He took ALL OF IT, all the sin in the world. Can you imagine what kind of weight that would be on you? But Jesus took it, and he took it to the grave. But because of His love, he wanted to give us the chance to spend forever with Him in heaven one day. So he rose from the dead, defeating our sin. What do we do?

We must repent. Turn away from our sins. Jesus defeated them, so we don’t need to wrestle and try to make up for them now. Then we believe, and follow His commands. By believing, we say “Jesus you can have my life, I live for you now”. And in that belief, we find JOY in following his ways over our own. By the way, His ways are not meant to be easy, but they bring the only source of true joy.

I pray that each and every one of you will one day come to know this Jesus much more personally. That you can have a relationship with Him, because He really does love you, and he will be back to bring those who love him home.

The More Beautiful Gate

Acts 3:1-2

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

From Ben,

We often get caught up in the daily tasks of life and rarely take the time to see past the broken of this world to the perfect of His heavens. Peter and John dealt with someone in this situation in Acts 3. On their way to the temple, Peter and John encountered a lame man at the Beautiful Gate, where he daily laid seeking alms. It is important to note the lowliness of the lame in this society. They were often shunned, and furthermore, were thought to be punished by God for some unforgivable sin. So we can infer that very rarely would someone stop to lend a helping hand. But Peter and John saw an opportunity to make a kingdom impact, and they didn’t let it go.

The lame man was seeking money to help him survive. He was unaware of the so much more essential thing that would give him ETERNAL life, the gospel. How many times does this happen in our lives? We get so caught up in life that we seek the things of this world, totally forgetting to have an eternal perspective on life. The sad thing is, in this case, the man was unaware of what he was missing. He truly believed that money would get him where he needed to be in life. Guys, don’t believe this lie, that the things of this world can satisfy. Only God can truly satisfy.

We continuously ask God to change our circumstances rather than asking God to change our heart in our circumstances. Thankfully, God had a plan for this man. Peter and John were going to share the gospel with him, changing his heart in the circumstance, which in turn, changed the circumstance. By performing a miracle, the gospel was shared with this man, showing the resurrection of Christ by symbolizing a brand new creation, in this case, and man who has never took a step in his life could now leap for joy. This joy came from his heart because the healing showed the power of Christ to the lame man. He now had Jesus in his heart!

The man, a new creation in Christ, could not contain his joy, and many saw what Christ had done in his life. Because of this, the strength of God was displayed for all to see. This happens in our life too. When we ask Christ into our hearts, we become a new creation, one that is like no other. We are on display for all to see, getting the chance to share the gospel with those who see. So the lame man crawled to the Beautiful Gate seeking worldly help, but he left running for joy after having acceptance into the More Beautiful Gate, that is, the Gates of Heaven. Have you seen the More Beautiful Gate? Or are you still seeking help in the form of worldly things like money and power at the physical gate? I would encourage you to seek the More Beautiful Gate through accepting Christ into your hearts, so that you may be a new creation, on display for all to see.

Returning to the Truth

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

From Ben,

As I have been reading through the Word the past week, God is continuing to remind me of the validity of scripture. Let’s just look at the very first part of this verse, “All scripture is breathed out by God”. Whoa! The very same scripture that we have access to and strive to be reading daily was literally breathed out by God, the same God that breathed the universe into existence. That’s pretty mind blowing. This should remind us of the importance of the Bible and interaction with the text. Anytime God says something, it’s important!

Next we see some uses of God’s word: Correction, teaching, reproof, and training in righteousness. The vast amount of uses of the Bible is incredible, and can be taken back to the fact that each and every piece of it was hand picked by the one true God. Every Sunday the Bible is put to use by our pastors; they are using the Bible to teach us more on how to live a Christ-centered life. Secondly, using the Bible for correction is something that seems to have been lost. We tend to turn to society’s standards when dealing with a situation; however, we should be turning to the one source of truth, that is God’s Word. Reproof is often used along the same terms of correction, but reproof tends to lean more on a behavioral side whereas correction is more in terms of what one believes. The Bible is useful for reproof because it shows us our sin. This is extremely important as we are striving to be like Christ, we must know our boundaries. Lastly, we see how the Bible is useful in training in righteousness. I just love this aspect of the Bible; having the ability to build up and train with brothers and sisters in Christ using the Words which were brought about by God himself. Wow!

Finally, all of these things allow the man of God to be complete and equipped for every good work. The last thing we want to be as followers of Christ is unprepared. As 1 Peter 3:15 shows us, we should always be ready to defend our faith. However, being equipped entails more than this. Being equipped means you are prepared for any situation that is thrown towards you. When we are equipped as believers, we are fully capable of accomplishing everything that is pleasing to the Lord in order to glorify His name.We should also note that this is a continuous process. We must be reading God’s word daily in order for us to be fully equipped.

I would encourage each and every one of you to dig into the precious scriptures that the Holy God himself spoke through man. As Christians, we should be ready to use the Word for teaching, correction, reproof, and training in righteousness daily. In every situation, be ready to return to the truth, God’s word never fails!

You Can’t Do it Alone!

sharpen

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

From Ben,

In our ever-changing world, it is vitally important to go through the fight of defending your faith with a buddy. Growing up, my battle buddy was Caleb, and still is. He is someone I know I can continually rely on, as well as a man who will approach me about my faults, then bring me up in brotherly love. The verse I provided above is the foundation of this principle in my life. My dad constantly pointed me to this verse as I was growing up, and it helped shape me into the young man I am today.

This proverb was written during the Iron Age in the Middle East. Iron at this time had many impurities and defects; therefore, in order to sharpen iron, another alloy of iron (one that is possibly stronger) was needed to grind off the impurities. With perpetual sharpening, the project that was once an ugly mold of iron becomes sharp and ready for use. So what does this mean in the context of living a Godly life, especially as a teen?

Personally, I have seen this process and experienced it do amazing work in the lives of believers. As a christian, I am pursuing godliness, but I am an imperfect being who makes mistakes constantly. However, every time I make a decision that is not directly in line with God’s calling, in the end I am sharper than I was before because of the counsel and guidance of another man. Another thing that intensifies this process is knowing your weaknesses. By knowing your own weakness, you can put the extra time in that area, being more precise about which parts in your walk with Christ need to be sharpened. As was done to sharpen iron, your friend who is walking with you will be stronger than you in certain areas, this allows for increased sharpening.

I encourage each and every one of you to invest in finding a battle buddy, godly friend who sticks closer than a brother. I am convinced that without having a godly friend beside you through all trials, tribulations, and especially joyful times, become more Christ-like will be evermore challenging. With God’s continued grace and the countenance of another believer, that once ugly mold will be a new warrior for the kingdom of God, a warrior who has been strengthened, a warrior who has been humbled, and a warrior who has a friend to cover their back. Don’t do it alone!