“1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:1-7 (NASB)
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world: red, brown, yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” As the well-known Christian children’s song declares, Jesus indeed loves the children of the entire world. Yet, in a political climate that seems so polarized by race, this statement may seem difficult for some. The words of Jesus may even seem ridiculous to others. Yet, Jesus proved time and time again that He did not just come for one race or one people group, but indeed for all the world (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10).
Take for example the account of Jesus speaking with the woman at the well (John 4:1-45). While returning to Galilee, Jesus and His disciples passed through Samaria. While in the Samaritan town of Sychar, Jesus shocked His disciples by chatting with a woman with a scandalous past (and present). He had also shocked the woman herself, who knowing that Jews did not speak to “half-breeds” (Jews in these cities had been forced to intermarry with those of the Assyrian empire…and thus, were now only half-Jews). Yet, Jesus blew this clear out of the proverbial water by not only greeting the woman, but asking her for a drink. In doing so, it opened up a genuine conversation that resulted in Jesus exposing her choices of living with a man that was not her husband and the fact that the woman had five previous husbands. Jesus then shared with her that He was the Messiah (John 4:25-26). And as a result of the disciples walking back from getting food in town to witness this exchange, they were forever changed.
“ 39From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41Many more believed because of His word; 42and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:39-42 (NASB)
Jesus always valued people over protocol and even perceived importance of function and age. Jesus strongly corrected His disciples who were trying to keep people with their little children from getting near to Jesus for Him to bless their children. The disciples just didn’t get it. They missed the point that Jesus saw value in the heart; not in the outward appearance of success and being worthy of being seen only once an adult. No, Jesus loved young and old the same; perfectly and with warm blessing.
“13And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” Mark 10:13-16 (NASB)
I remember being in Norfolk, Virginia as the race riots were taking place in 2017 around the country, but most notably, the terrible tragedy of Charlottesville, Virginia. I remember vividly the staff, whom had become our friends, being terrified of bodily harm to their bus due to the riots—simply because they were African American. I will never forget praying alongside our children with these amazing women in Jesus’ name and offering for my children and I to drive them to their homes after they had been given the day off from cleaning on-base hotels by their employer due to the lethal tone of riots at that time. These ladies, specifically one, could not believe that we would care about their well being—we were white, after all. I could not believe that they would assume that we would not care—they each possessed dignity, value and eternal worth no matter what the color of their hair, fingernails or skin. The bottom line…and every line above it…all are valuable in the sight of Almighty God and ALL are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). If we are not actively teaching our children these truths, we are cheapening their impact for the Gospel of Jesus Christ—for those of any given cultural heritage will only be able to experience the time and attention we are willing to invest in them.
Thus, may we teach our children to LOVE DEEPLY in Jesus’ name for we are all of one race…the race of ADAM…that being marred by SIN. And no matter what shade or variation of rebellion against God we paint atop our sinful souls, we all come from the same root of Adam (Genesis 3 & Romans 3:23). And where there is sin, the Bible is very clear to state, death will always follow (Genesis 5 & Romans 6:26).
But!!! PRAISE GOD ALMIGHTY, regardless of what each of us have done—there is forgiveness and a fresh start offered to all through Jesus Christ the Risen Lord (Isaiah 53:5)! May we love intentional—engage cross-culturally with purpose—and further the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people as the Lord Jesus Christ instructed us.
Have you ever felt stuck? Beat down? Total devastated? I would love to introduce you to a young Zambian woman by the name of Makuba—who overcame all odds through the power of Jesus Christ. May you be encourage to seek Jesus Christ and prayerfully follow His leading for your life as this amazing young woman did.
“The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)
Well, after a night that nearly left me praising the Lord to the point of tears, I must encourage each one reading what the Lord did on Halloween night!!!
As a background, in previous years, we have ignored the pagan holiday all together and wanted to have no part of it. Yet, this year the Lord moved on our hearts in a different way. Rather than seeing it as a night to dread or even leave home to avoid, the Lord Jesus allowed our spiritual eyes to be opened. As a result, for the first time we saw Halloween through the eyes of missions! We were going to be able to witness about the truths of Jesus Christ right from our own front door!!! The people of our city were literally coming to us!!! What would the Lord have us do with this incredibly unique opportunity? A very simple, yet profound exercise of sharing the love of God with those in our community.
The Lord had spurred my heart to ask our church for Gospel tracts (a tiny booklet which guides people to think about eternity and honestly assess where they are with God). At the end of the four points presented within this tiny booklet, there is a prayer each can pray to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior (1 John 1:9, 1 John 4:9). The church was more than happy to supply the tracts. The Lord then brought to mind that this pagan tradition is surrounded by candies. Well, seeing as Jesus is the sweetest treat for the soul, it was only fitting to attach a tract to each piece of candy to be passed out Halloween night!
Our children helped us to tape a candy onto each tract and we prayed for the Lord to use these simple papers to further the reality that Jesus Christ came to rescue and redeem all people–regardless of age, gender, religious affiliation, social bias or sports team preference (Psalm 8:2, Matthew 11:25, John 3:16). And as Halloween night arrived, I was so excited!!!
” 21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 (NASB)
Our front porch light was on and the candy bowls with tracts securely taped onto each piece were all in place. And then, the first sound of the door bell rang! My daughter ran to the door and opened it gladly. With candy in her hand, she listened as the face painted child shouted “trick or treat!” With a smile, our daughter placed a piece of candy with a the Gospel tract into the child’s bag. And as the child left, we declared with a smile, “Jesus Loves You”. It seemed to caught the girl off guard and she thanked us as she walked to the next house. What had just happened?! My heart was racing and tears began to well in my eyes. And all at once I heart these words in my heart, “you are taking back the night in My name.”
And with each group of children that would come to our door, some dressed as the living dead, others princesses, taxi drivers and ghosts, we would declare the same message as we dropped candy into each individual bag: JESUS LOVES YOU. It seemed to take the children off guard. One mother left our house saying, “God bless.” It was absolutely astonishing to me to see the visible posture of the children change–both preschoolers and those of junior high–once they heard it said that Jesus loves them–individually.
Sound simple? Well, it is…and that is the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not how complex and sophisticated our approach or presentation is. No. Rather, it is about presenting the reality that the God who made all things, cared enough to step into this fallen world and see through each of our own masks and costumes to wash us clean through rescuing us from the punishment we each deserve–due to our disobedience to Him–and rather receive right standing with God Almighty through accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” Isaiah 1:17-18 (NASB)
The time is now Church…opportunities to speak of the LOVE of Jesus Christ are all around…let’s get to it.
“9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
1 John 4:9-10 (HCSB)
Jesus Christ is LORD…this is how you would say it in Arabic…
~~~~~~~~~yaswae almasih hu alrrbb
Jesus Christ is Lord…as Ramadan has begun (marking the month of fasting and prayer for Muslims world wide)…as believers in Jesus Christ, may we PRAY FOR THESE PRECIOUS PEOPLE who are destined to eternal separation from God (Romans 5:8-10, 1 John 4:9)–just as each of us were (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10 & Romans 8:28)–before meeting our precious and victorious Savior Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10 & 1 John 5:11).
It is so easy to hate those who cause harm…so easy to put our faith aside and react to the chaos. Yet, may we claim the truths of Scripture. May we lift up those grieving and suffering from the most recent attacks in Manchester and Egypt as well as previous attacks in India, California, Germany, Florida and each place around the globe that experiences acts of terror against its people. May we be marked as a people of prayer for each one affected–both directly and indirectly (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 57:15).
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18 (NASB).
Each brutal and horrific loss of life is truly tragic. But as believers in Jesus Christ, may we remember that we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:10-18). There is NO act that is beyond the grace of the Risen Savior Jesus Christ…
…if so…I surely would not be allowed into the Holy and Pure presence of the LORD (Isaiah 6:1-8).
May we remember that EACH of us has a desperate need for the Lord Jesus…and such acts of terror highlight the crucial need of EVANGELISM to such people…may we call it for what it is…another tactic of the devil to “steal, kill and destroy” … but in that same verse…Jesus Christ said that He came to give us “life and life in abundance” (John 10:10).
The time is now church…let us run to the DARK AND DYING WORLD…with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20)…for the devil would LOVE to silence this message of eternal hope from each of our lips…may we fight back…with the same love, grace and eternal perspective that our Lord Jesus Christ showed towards us. The time is now.