Imagine if you lived in a context where you felt like no matter what you did, you were never going to be accepted or welcomed? For many people, that's the way they would characterize the bulk of their daily experiences. They feel unloved and can give you many examples of how they've been treated like unwanted and unappreciated outcasts. That was certainly the case during the days of Christ's earthly ministry as well. But Jesus didn't avoid the outcasts. He offered Himself to them and gave them the opportunity to become part of His family.
Commitment and faithfulness are traits the Lord makes visible in the lives of those who trust in Him. When we come to a place of genuine faith in Jesus Christ, a transformation takes place in our lives. Instead of running away from God, we embrace Him. Instead of ignoring Him, we strive to hear Him. Instead of disobeying Him, we find delight in obeying Him. That obedience becomes the most obvious mark of our genuine faith in Him.
God is giving us the opportunity to do a "rewrite" with our lives. Prior to coming to know Him, we were spiraling downward, bent on defiance toward Him, and idolizing our own ideas as if they were superior to His omniscience. We were lost, and we didn't really want to be found. But through Jesus Christ, we're now given the opportunity to experience a full rewrite of our life story, and the story that He's crafting is a masterpiece.
Grace is an undeserved gift. When we're shown grace, we're given a blessing that we didn't do anything to earn. Displaying grace is a wonderful trait to practice in life, but there is no greater example of it than the grace we have been shown by God through Jesus Christ. In fact, He wants our lives to abound with His grace. But to fully appreciate the depth of His grace, it's helpful to understand just how bad things would be for us without it.
I'm a big fan of multiple genres of music, and there's a song that was released some years ago that speaks about being "stuck in a moment." That's probably a concept most of us can identify with to some degree. Sometimes our circumstances can feel so "all-consuming" to the point that it's hard to see beyond them. We get stuck in a moment. Instead of seeing what's further up ahead, we struggle to see much further beyond the four walls that surround us. But hope is a very real thing and something we shouldn’t let go of. So what truths should we hold onto if we’re tempted to lose hope?
There's a curious trait that we all possess, and it has a habit of showing up in interesting ways. In general, we prefer to place our trust in what we can observe. We want our eyes to be convinced of something before our hearts are willing to trust in its reliability.
But in regard to our faith, God is honored when we trust Him for what we cannot yet see. Anyone can walk by sight, but not everyone is willing to walk by faith, and God has promised us many things that can't be facilitated through natural means. Naturally speaking, His promises seem impossible, but God wants us to trust Him to do the impossible. So, what does that look like?
Have you ever wondered if you’ve offended God? Maybe you've spent your life avoiding God, but now you're becoming conscious of His presence and you're curious about what He thinks of you. Maybe you've been walking with God, but lately you've been experiencing trials and difficulties that feel out of the norm. Is He angry with you? Does He want to have anything to do with you? Does He have something against you that needs to be dealt with and brought out into the open?
There are many things that we all do that force us to compromise with that we know to be right. But because we sometimes want to do what we want to do, regardless of the consequences, we can invent creative excuses to justify all kinds of behaviors.
This, by the way, isn't new to us. Mankind has excelled at this practice from our earliest days and it always gets us in trouble while also impacting the nature of our fellowship with God. What are you currently excusing in your life that really needs to be rooted out? What are your favorite excuses for doing whatever you want?
Many people mistakenly believe that eternal life or salvation can be earned. If you asked most people why they believed the Lord was going to grant them eternal life in His presence, they would say, "Because I have done more good in my life than bad." But is that true? Does Scripture actually teach this or is salvation obtained in a different way than many people expect?