This is Eternal Life

We’ve been reading through 1 John at our Thursday evening small group Bible study. Last night we read 5:13-14. But verse 15 is my focus:

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Three things are implied:

1) The readers of this letter (1 John) believed in Jesus.

2) Know= We can have confidence that we have eternal life. It’s implied by 1 John 5:13 that the readers had doubts or didn’t know that they had eternal life. At least some of them did. How often do you doubt that you’re saved? There’s more to just believing to be saved. Even the demons believe that God exists and who Jesus is and yet, they are not saved.  (James 2:19) BUT our salvation is not dependent on our good works/deeds/ what we do or don’t do. It depends on God’s grace (Ephesians 2:18-19) and our response is baptism (Acts 2:38). And so BECAUSE of God’s free gift, we are saved from the ultimate consequence for our sins, that is eternal separation from God. And we get to have a confident relationship with Him.

3) Have= we HAVE eternal life. It’s not something we have to wait for to get someday. Maybe. If/when we’re in Christ we have eternal life right then and there and it’s present tense. Not “I’ll have it when I die.” I have it today–at this moment.

But the question remains: What is eternal life?

I’m glad you asked!

“Now this is eternal life: that they [you, me, everyone] may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” said by Jesus to God, the Father (John 17:3)

Eternal life is having a relationship with God through Jesus. We can know that we have it. He gives it to us freely. We just have to receive it. A gift not received is gift not opened. You can receive the blessings of an unopened gift if it just sits there. You must respond in order for the gift to be opened. It won’t open itself. Neither will a relationship with God happen unless you respond. And that response occurs at baptism (Acts 2).

gift

Receive the gift and open it. And then enjoy the blessings of a confident present day relationship with God. He loves you.

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Interrupt Me

How do you handle interruptions…especially when you’re busy? I usually don’t like them, especially when I’m talking or sleeping. But if work needs to be interrupted, then by all means…. come interrupt me anytime!

Our time is pretty valuable these days. Busyness is not distinctive to today.

Jesus was a very busy man. He often prayed alone, but was sometimes interrupted (Mark 1:35-39). I’d a bit annoyed if someone came to interrupt me while I was doing/being spiritual. But Jesus didn’t respond that way because He was still Kingdom focused.

People surrounded Jesus and His disciples while they were trying to eat. (Mark 3:20). I get annoyed more easily when I’M hungry. But Jesus didn’t.

Even Jesus got tired and fell asleep in a boat…. in a raging storm. “Don’t you care if we drown?!” asked the disciples (probably with fear and anger) as they interrupted His precious sleep. Jesus had been caring all along! And they’d missed it.

The Pharisees, Sadducces and scribes often came to interrupt Jesus’ ministry for the purpose of tricking him into a trap so they could arrest Him if He answered incorrectly.

Jesus was flexible. And I mean in attitude, not physically.

But Jesus took notice of the interruptions by a person who needed (and usually wanted) healing. In Mark 5:21ff, Jesus was interrupted several times in one event: He crossed the lake to go who knows where to do who knows what (it doesn’t say). The synagogue ruler interrupts him to heal his daughter. While they were on the way, the woman who’d been bleeding for 12 years interrupted Him. She didn’t mean to. She meant to be healed quietly and secretly. But Jesus noticed.

Then while Jesus was still speaking to her, He was interrupted by servants of the synagogue ruler to tell him that his daughter was dead. But Jesus took notice still and healed the daughter.

Interruptions can be a good thing. Jesus saw the faith, courage and even persistence people had to bring the sick to Him and was moved to pursue healing action.

Jesus saw interruptions as opportunities not as annoyances. Even when the Pharisees and other “righteous leaders” came to question and trap Jesus, He took advantage of the moment to teach them and those listening nearby. But did not indulge them in their criticisms for very long if even at all. But He often took the time to take notice of those who

No one else in that moment could see what the woman was healed from. But she knew. And I’m sure she told many others about it.

Jesus had that kind of affect on people…even today And people may have followed Him because He healed them and didn’t fully understand His Kingdom purpose. But that was okay.

Take advantage of interruptions. It may lead you to be used by God to share the Good News and lead them to spiritual healing through Jesus because everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God  (Romans 3:23).

And everyone can have the free gift of grace-filled eternal life (Romans 3:24-26)….if they want it.

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What if we put down our signs?

Political season is well in bloom. The presidential elections will come and go in a few months. Between now and then (and probably well after), there will be and have been many discussions, articles, opinions, tv ads and the like about what politicians and parties stand for and how they will (supposedly) make a difference in the lives of the everyday American citizen if they are elected.

But what about the people who are hurting today that political agendas can’t fix?

Like the hurt from a neglected childhood. Loneliness. Brokenness. Unseen heart-wrenching pain.

Laws and agendas can’t fix those.

I’ve heard that people are unfriending and even blocking their “friends” on facebook. I don’t know why but I suppose it has to do with that one doesn’t agree with the other. What if, as Christians, we could agree on something?

Like Jesus came for sinners.

And that, we all are.

I don’t know what it’s like to be an outcast. I’ve always had friends.

I don’t know what it’s like to have leprosy and to be humiliated publicly. Or to never be touched again.

To never be touched. I can’t even imagine that. But it would seem pretty emotionally painful in the loneliness. To never be with your friends and family again. To die a slow death. I think the emotional pain would be far more traumatic than the physical experience. But then again, I’ve never had to endure this kind of trauma.

Jesus came to do the “unthinkable”: be friends to the sinners and outcasts because they are the ones in need of emotional, physical and especially spiritual healing. Yes?

I love the song by Casting Crowns “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”. There’s a heart piercing line that says:

Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

I wonder how much more the world would be changed if we put our signs down AND loved like Jesus did (does). I’m not saying don’t have political opinions and the like. Some great things have been accomplished through political endeavors.

But what if we, as Christians, followers of Jesus, disciples, put down our pointing fingers and loved like Jesus? Jesus crossed so many socially taboo lines.

He touched the untouchable when He didn’t have to. But they needed it.

He loved the unlovable when people weren’t kind to Him. He came to save them from their sins, too. Yes, even the Pharisees. Jesus loved them despite their political agendas to kill Him.

He ate with the outcasts (aka sinners and tax collectors).  Because it’s probably lonely in their outcast world and they needed love, too.

He granted mercy to the adulterous woman when death was merited according to the Law.

Everyone has a need to be loved. Find the need and meet it in a way Jesus would.

And to love like Jesus, so we should do likewise as grateful lepers at Jesus’ feet.

I WAS that outcast. I WAS that lost cause. 

Because we were those outcasts when we were outside of Christ. We were without hope, objects of God’s wrath. Separated from Him. And God sent Jesus to save us from our sins. There are so many out there who are burying themselves in sin and they don’t even know they’re dying spiritually! They don’t even know there’s hope! We have a chance to offer hope and healing to the world through Jesus!

So, because we were those outcasts once and Jesus saved us, we have hope to share with others! Because Jesus loves every “lost cause”. Present tense. He loves every “outcast”. Today He loves them. And that is God’s grace exemplified beautifully.

Thank you, Casting Crowns for the beautiful song and reminder of who we are before God.

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What We Can Do with Grace

Receive it for ourselves. (Rm. 1:5)

Forfeit it. (Jonah 2:8)

Choose to leave it. (Gal. 5:4). (Ack! Don’t leave it!) 

Let it fill us up. (John 1:14, 16; Acts 6:18)  Yes! 

Stand in it. (Rm. 5:20)

Find it. (Heb. 4:16)

Be under it. (Rom. 6:15)

Speak of it. (1 Peter 1:10; Acts 20:24; 2 Cor. 8:1) Share it with others! 

Set our hope fully on it. (1 Peter 1:13)

Administer it. (1 Peter 4:10)

Commit to it. (Acts 14:26)

Give it to others. (Rm. 16:20; I Cor. 1:3)  God gave to us when we didn’t earn or deserve it. 

Receive it in vain. (2 Cor. 6:1)

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Who Receives Grace?

The humble (Pr. 3:34; James 4:6)

The wicked (Is. 26:10)~ Yes, even God gives them things they don’t earn or maybe even “deserve”. The wicked may not have eternal life, but God certainly extends it to them if they so choose it. (Because while you and I were even God’s enemies He gave us grace through Jesus, by Jesus death on the cross to defeat death and reconcile us to God).

Not the proud (James 4:6)

To Christians (as evident in the letter greetings by Paul “Grace and peace be with you”)

God’s pretty gracious with His grace.

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Where Grace Comes From?

from God (1 Cor. 3:10; 15:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; 12:9)

Through Jesus, not through the law (2 Cor 1:17; 1 Cor. 1:4; 2 Cor. 8:9; 13:14; Gal 1:6. 15)

Enough said.

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Where do weeds come from?

Indeed. Good question.

While visiting my dad, brother and his family this summer, my dad’s garden needed a little weeding. It had rained a lot and the weeds were taking over. Seriously.

So since I had time on my hands, I went out and weeded a couple different times. The 2nd time weeding I asked my nephew to come help me. And so he did. (he’s 10 btw)

As we were chatting and weeding he asked, “Where do weeds come from?”

Perfect!

“There weren’t always weeds,” I said.

“There weren’t?” he inquired. “Then where’d they come from?”

“Nope. In fact, weeds came about because of 1 person’s bad choice. When God created the Garden of Eden, it was perfect. Man didn’t have to work it–not until Adam and Eve made a bad choice to eat from a tree God told them not too. And God gave them many consequences, one of them being man has to work the ground, implying they didn’t have to before they made their bad choice to sin,” I said.

“One person’s bad choice can affect other people for a long, long time,” I continued.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat of it
    all the days of your life. 
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field. 
By the sweat of your brow 
    you will eat your food 
until you return to the ground…”

Genesis 3:17-19 NIV 1984

“Oh why did they have to do that?!” asked my nephew in slight anguish. “We have weeds still today!”

“Indeed! I ask myself that sometimes, too,” I said, “BUT, the awesome news is that even though we make bad choices, God sent Jesus to take care of that for us. Our bad choices may still affect other people. But God says, ‘I want you to be with me in heaven and I can’t be around sin.’ So God sent Jesus to suffer the punishment for us, so that we can be with God. If we choose. But we have to choose Him.”

And so I told him that one person’s good choices can also affect other people for good for a long time… like what Jesus did for us.

 Adam sinned, and that sin brought death [and weeds] into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die…

There is a lot of differences between Adam’s sin and God’s gift. That one sin led to punishment [death and weeds]But God’s gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times. [sweet!]

Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus…

Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned. But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life. Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners. But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God.

The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God’s kindness was even more powerful. Sin ruled by means of death. But God’s kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life. [Awesome!]

Romans 5:12-20 CEV

Isn’t grace amazing? 🙂

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