“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.
“2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8 (NASB)
I don’t know if you are a gardener or not, but my husband is a born natural. He can grow anything in any climate; while I can hardly seem to keep a fake plant alive! Haha
This current growing season, he has grown sunflowers, tomatoes, corn and even dill (each over 4 feet tall)! But, above the mint, the peppers, the colorful zinnias and the California poppies, there has been one plant that has grabbed my attention most of all; the cucumber vine.
What starts as a tiny seed, soon sprouts into a lovely green aspiration of two green leaves. From there, with sunlight and water, the plant continues to grow. And with cucumbers, a trellis of some sort soon needs to be constructed for them to climb onto. At the stage of the seed and even the small aspiring sprout, the tall trellis looks ridiculously too high for such a tiny thing to ever grow into! Yet, a number of weeks after the initial planting, these vines have climbed all the way to the top and are about to climb OVER the trellis!
It reminds me of a small seed spoken of in the Bible; the tiny mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Although small, it can grow into a bush as big as a small house! That’s amazing! And to think that it all started from an itty bitty seed. God is amazing and His creation points to the goodness of God to make a way where there seems to be no way.
John 15:5…Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from Me, you can do nothing…”
If you feel as though you are just stuck…and simply not going anywhere in life–look to the vine of Jesus Christ. If you have accepted Jesus Christ and you honestly see how you have walked away from Him—confess your heart to Him and reconnect to the vine. If you do not know Jesus, may you have the sincere privilege of getting to know the God who LOVES YOU SO…right here and right now. Ladies, may we realize that our power doesn’t come from cleaning our closets, having the tightest tummies or even knowing the most Bible verses—nope. TRUE and ETERNAL power comes from the one and only living and eternal God. We have access to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and when we accept Him as our personal Lord and leader of our lives (believing that He died and rose from the grave on the third day)…you will be saved!
And it is at that point, that very moment that you call out to Jesus Christ to take your life and take over, that you are given the power source of life—the Holy Spirit of God. A person can go through all the motions, but POWER comes from the Holy Spirit of God—and you can access this eternal and personal power of God through coming to Jesus Christ this very night. Pray the following if you want to throw away all other attempts of securing power in this life—and confessing that nothing else has brought lasting joy…not people, not places, not things.
Prayer of Salvation and Rededication:
Dear Lord Jesus, I have screwed up—again and again. I want to have power that this world cannot supply. I want to have right standing before Almighty God. I do not have the power to purchase this, negotiate this, or even take it wrongfully. I simply must ask You for it. I confess that I am a sinner—I have screwed up and have hurt people…not forgiven people…taken revenge on people—and I am wrong for this. You are God and I am not. I have proved it over and over again in my life. I am tired of feeling POWERLESS against desires to need to always satisfy my own wants and continually feeling empty inside. I turn away from all other things I have tried to gain power, place and prestige in the eyes of God. I believe that You are who You say You are, Jesus—the One and only Son of the Living God. I believe that You lived a perfect life to ransom and redeem me from my captivity to my sin. I believe that You rose from the dead on the third day to offer eternal life to all who call upon Your name. And right now, as I read this, I am calling upon Your name. Save me from myself, Jesus. Please forgive me. I need You in every area of my life—for every second of my life. Please come into my soul, right now, and take over…guide me through the Holy Spirit in how to act, think and react to the situations and people in my life. Give me the power to do what would honor You in each situation. I want to live for You, Jesus. I’m all in. Thank You for coming into my soul and for power-washing me from all my sin. It’s in the name of MY SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST that I pray, amen.
Regardless of our endeavors today, may we keep this in mind as we remember that God is GROWING US through the lessons we learn each day (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and even the challenges along the way (James 1:2-4)!
Have you ever been ticked off about something that you know really isn’t a big deal? I mean, it’s really gotten under your skin, but to even acknowledge it out loud would show just how ridiculous it really is…well, you’re not alone! Allow me to share my ridiculousness! Hahah!
While playing in the backyard with our children one day, the bird feeder that my husband had filled the night before was being burglarized by two fury tailed thieves! Yes, they were grey and cute, but the point was, they were taking the birdseed of the gorgeous red cardinals! I grew up in California and did not see cardinals—ever. So, when I would gasp out loud and call my husband to the window to see them in one of our first moves to the southern parts of America, he would just chuckle under his breath each time he would hurry to see the familiar southern sight. He had grown up in the deep south of America and cardinals were a very common sight there—like doves, pheasants and magpies in Northern California. But for me, it was something truly special to see such bright red plumage contrasted by a mighty oak. Anyway…back to the bird feeder!
While getting very ticked off that these squirrels were taking the food of the cardinals in our tree, the Lord taught me a lesson about the people in my life and the need to “share the seed”. Allow me to explain.
Sometimes it’s easy to get frustrated at the squirrels for repeatedly taking the birdseed from the feeder and not leaving much of any for the colorful birds. Yet, may we remember, there is enough for all. And there will be people in our lives (like squirrels) who require a “little bit more” from us—more time, more effort and more energy than say…the “birds” in our lives.
Yet, rather than getting frustrated with those who need more attention, more instruction and take more “seed” of encouragement and resources than the average seed consumer…pray for God to open your eyes to see things as He does (Ephesians 3:16).
Jesus told a parable about how each bird of the field is taken care of by God and they do not store up for themselves what is needed for tomorrow—rather, they trust in God to provide for their needs each day. Not a single bird falls from the sky without the careful notice of the Lord. Jesus then added that if God takes such detailed care of the birds, how much MORE does He take care of our needs? (Matthew 10:29-31).
We will all experience times of “needing a little extra” in our lives—more time, more encouragement, more guidance…you get the point. But the reality is, regardless of the season we are in, God will supply our needs over and above our expectations.
“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)
When you don’t know how you will have the strength to do another sleepless night with your little one, or another heavy flu season, or another long series of “but why?” questions…may you be encouraged to DIG DEEP into the promises of God.
Before we come to a close, may I encourage you to whip out a good old fashion piece of paper and a trusty pen…and actually look up these following verses. If you do not have a Bible, no sweat. I love and highly recommend Biblehub.com as a fantastic online resource that is great for quick access to multiple Bible translations, commentaries and even Hebrew and Greek! So, with that said, allow us to actually pause (contrary to the pace of our modern culture) and actually STEEP OUR MINDS in the beautiful truths of God’s Word regarding those moments when you just need a serious reminder that you are not in this alone:
I am convinced that parenthood was created to bring us to the end of ourselves—in order to realize, that in our great love for our children, we MUST reach out to the Lord for daily guidance, moment by moment instruction and wisdom that only can be supplied by the Almighty God who loves us with an unyielding zeal—and whose compassion, mercy and grace are endless (Hebrews 4:16). Be encouraged that you are not on this journey called motherhood alone—I’m also asking the Lord Jesus Christ for daily guidance! And if I could give a praise to wrap this up, He is faithful to address each and every one of my husband and I’s questions, concerns and need for guidance both in parenting as well as within married life—because the Lord Jesus is just THAT good (Nahum 1:7).
If you do not already believe on the perfect life, innocent death and resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ to have eternal right standing before Almighty God, this is your moment to add the greatest asset to your family life—as well as your eternal life—being the one and only Son of the Living God, Jesus Christ.
“9 [a]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, [b]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [c]resulting in salvation.”
Romans 10:9-10 (NASB)
To the mamas and the papas who dare to raise this next generation as the Lord Jesus Christ commands us to, this one goes out to you.
In a time in history where the children of our own country are not valued, but rather mass celebration in government as well as neon pink display on the side of the World Trade Center at the declaration of legislation to allow the death of children seconds post-womb, may you be encouraged that you are a champion of life.
Late-term abortion is not a matter of a “woman’s choice”—to what–commit murder? It’s a matter of removing God so far out of the equation that we deny even the preservation of our own kind–humanity–and loose sight of the beautiful fact that each breathing human both inside and outside of the womb is fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).
” 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 (NASB)
Christian parents, it’s time to get involved and teach our children what is right…and not wait for the media or even “scientists”–regardless of what letters may or may not be behind their names–to define when life begins…or more to the point…at what point a life has worth…Praise God that the Bible is very clear on this issue. ALL pagan religions of the time of Abraham practiced murder of their own children as sacrifices to their gods–and this is why when God asked Abraham to give up Isaac as a burnt offering (his only legitimate son), Abraham was thrown for a major loop. Yet, in obedience, Abraham intended to go through with the murder of his own son…but God stopped his hand and his son was spared (Genesis 22:1-19).
Why does that matter and why should you care? Well, simply put, God was testing Abraham…did he love God more than even the gift of legitimate lineage through his son Isaac…his actions and God’s later praise showed that Abraham chose correctly…fear God above the reproach of humanity (Matthew 10:26-33) and through the lineage of Abraham we meet another man, the God-Man, Jesus Christ by name, who would fulfill the covenant of Genesis 12:1-3.
“26“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27“What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.30“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:26-33 (NASB)
The Abrahamic Covenant we just spoke of:
” 1Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to a land which I will show you;
2And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;
3And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB)
Abram (later known as Abraham) was promised a people (descendants), a land and that through his lineage would come one–The One–who would be a blessing to all people All people of all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed…through confessing our own screws up and believing that Jesus Christ is in fact the one and only Son of God and raised from the dead to redeem any and all who would put all their faith, trust and belief in Him (Romans 10:9-10).
If you have had an abortion—KNOW YOU ARE LOVED.
If you are considering an abortion–KNOW YOU ARE LOVED.
But, may you also remember, the one inside your womb–is ALSO LOVED by the God who made you both.
There is forgiveness of such acts…for God sees all rebellion against His holiness on an equal playing field—and the price of all types of sin is death, but the free offer of eternal life is through Jesus Christ the Risen Messiah (Romans 6:23).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NASB)
Thus, if you are on the fence about making the choice to CHAMPION LIFE or chop up a baby human, may I encourage you in the strongest and warmest of ways, SIDE WITH GOD and CHAMPION LIFE.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)
From deep within the underwater hotel of the fish’s belly, Jonah cried out to the LORD to save him after three days and three nights. Jonah (meaning “dove” in the original Hebrew) confessed that he was wrong to have not taken the message to the people of Nineveh as God had instructed and was now ready to make the journey to give God’s message to these brutal people. God was pleased and caused the giant fish to spit Jonah onto dry land and the message of urgency for repentance and turning from the evil practices they were engaging in to receive God’s forgiveness was in fact preached by Jonah—and received gladly and with gratitude by the Ninevites!
This story is familiar for a lot of us, but confusing for most of us. Why would God tell one of his prophets to go to a land where the people (of the Assyrian empire) were committing such wicked acts (e.g. chopping people’s head off and stacking them in pile, hanging people naked on poles, sodomizing pretty little boys and pretty little girls from conquered lands, etc.) when God stated that He was going to destroy them if they did not stop acting in such wicked ways and repent to God? The answer goes back to a Hebrew word; ḥesed. According to Dr. Ron Allen of Dallas Theological Seminary, “Next to the actual name of God in the Bible, ḥesed is the second most important word in all the Bible.”
Well, seeing as it is super important, allow us to define the term. Ḥesed as defined by Dr. Ron Allen is loyal love. The very things that God had revealed about Himself to Moses many years previous, were now the very things Jonah was struggling with as he had debated whether or not to deliver God’s message to the barbaric people of Nineveh. God described His own nature to Moses in Exodus 37:5-7 in three main ways:
- God is compassionate beyond imagination
- God is patient beyond expectation
- God is filled with grace and truth
It is because of God’s ḥesed that anyone is able to be forgiven by God for all the wicked, crazy and shameful things that we do. It is because of God’s ḥesed that John 3:16 is at play for any and all who call upon His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. It is because of God’s loyal love (ḥesed) that the people of Nineveh were told to turn from wickedness or God would destroy them; by stating destruction, God was displaying His ḥesed in the fact that He was delaying the punishment for sin by giving them the ability to repent to God and turn from their evil ways. It is because of the ḥesed of God that Jonah was shown mercy to be swallowed by a great fish, rather than simply drowning in the ocean after being thrown overboard by sailors for running away from God. The LOYAL LOVE (ḥesed) of God is all over the book of Jonah! And if we are honest, it is all over our own lives, too.
You see, the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all centered upon this beautiful fact: Jesus paid the price of death for you, for me and for any and all who would believe it through offering up His (literally) perfect and sinless life to die upon a Roman cross, to be buried in a tomb and to raise from the dead on the third day so that in exchange, we would receive what we do not deserve nor merit—the imputed righteousness of God (Romans 3:23). Now, does that mean that now I am perfect and I am so much better than everybody else? Nope. It means that I did not have a righteousness of my own (and am aware of my own deficiencies); only filthy rags of futile attempts to “be good enough” on my own is all I –or any human for that matter—can bring to the table when approaching God. What it does mean is that when God looks at me, He no longer sees my shame, my guilt and my rebellion—He sees the punishment that Jesus Christ took for me—paid with His own blood (Isaiah 53:5)—and I am seen as pure and clean before Almighty God (Psalm 51:7). Imputed righteousness means that I did not earn right standing before God, but by believing that I need someone to deal with my sin problem and that Jesus Christ did in fact die on a cross to pay from the rebellion of each person of every country and culture around the globe—including me—including you—(Romans 5:8, Romans 8:1-2, 1 John 4:9-10), each believing soul will in fact be saved (Romans 10:9-10).
“9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.11For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;13for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” -Romans 10:9-13 (NASB)
“ 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” -1 John 1:8-10 (NASB)
As we close our brief study on the gloriously eternal implications of the ḥesed of God in the Holy Bible, may we savor and truly rejoice in the reality of God’s LOYAL LOVE, through Jesus Christ, offered freely to any and all who would choose to place their eternal hope and security in His hands as we read Romans 8:33-39:
“ 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36Just as it is written,
“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:33-39 (NASB)