December 28 Esight, 2010

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).Doing Good Versus Being Good

With the new year almost upon us, I’d like to share a few thoughts this week that have been bumping around in my head. In the above verse, Jesus, having been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power, went about “doing good.” I am fully aware that what I am about to share may not have been everyone’s experience, but it certainly has been mine. I have too often experienced religion’s emphasis being more about “being” good than about “doing” good. “Being” good is usually more restrictive in nature. It’s about refraining from things that are bad. Don’t do this, and don’t do that. (Naturally, the list of what those things you are not to do can vary depending upon one’s religious persuasion and interpretation.) Instead of the focus being on the good that we should be going about “doing,” it too often has a singular focus on the bad that we are NOT supposed to be doing.

Read the following verse with what I’ve just shared in mind:

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:26, 27).

Did you catch it? Pure religion in the eye’s of God is more about what one does, rather than what one refrains from.

Please don’t misunderstand. Certainly there were things Jesus Himself abstained from and things we are called to abstain from as well. But too often this is ALL someone’s religion is about. It is this self-centered concern about “being good” while remaining passive about the plights of others around us in need that has left such a bad taste in so many peoples mouths about Christianity. (You can see this principle illustrated by Jesus in the parable of the good Samaritan. The Levite and the Priest possessed a religion whose focus was on refraining from evil, rather than focused on what it really means to do good, in contrast to the religion practiced by the Samaritan.) You see, too many times, religion possesses a very genuine lack of love, active love that goes about “doing” good to those it comes in contact with. The Kingdom Jesus called us to be a part of is a kingdom based on radical, self-sacrificial, proactive love. It’s a love that reaches outward and is other-centered in focus.

Jesus did not come to start a new religion, or any religion at all, for that matter. Jesus came to establish a kingdom, His kingdom, in the hearts and lives of all who would receive it. A kingdom whose very principles run counter to all we know in this world, both religious and secular.

So this new year, in the light of God’s radical self-sacrificial love for us that is revealed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, may we, too, spend this next year not religiously “being” good, but instead, lovingly going to and fro like Jesus: “doing” good. May we be intense in our effort to do good to all those we come in contact with. Love like the rain! Love like the sun! And go enlarge the Kingdom (Matthew 5:44,45).

I wish you God’s best this week, and throughout this upcoming new year.

Happy New Year to each of you!

In love,

Herb

December 20 Esight, 2010

Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the sunrise from on high will visit us . . . Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:78)From all of us here at Renewed Heart Ministries, to each and every one of you, Merry Christmas!

This week, with Christmas just upon us, Id like to take a brief moment and look at the reference that John the Baptists father makes to Jesus in the above verse. Zacharias refers to Jesus as the sunrise from on high.

What strikes me as interesting is that this is not the only time Jesus is described in this manner. Consider the following:

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. (Malachi 4:2)

Or as the TEV translates it:

. . .like the sun and bring healing like the suns rays . . . (Malachi 4:2, TEV)

Over and over again, in the scriptures, Jesus and His life here on earth are likened to the dawning of the sun in the darkness of early morning.

So we are even more confident of the message proclaimed by the prophets. You will do well to pay attention to it, because it is like a lamp shining in a dark place until the Day dawns and the light of the morning star shines in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19, TEV)

What does all of this imagery mean?

It makes perfect sense when we understand three things in Peters statement here.

Where is this dark place Peter is referring to?

What is this light which Peter desires will dawn there?

What is the darkness and why is it in this place?

First, the dark place is obvious to the careful reader. Its the same place Peter is awaiting the dawn itself. Its our hearts.

And what is the light? Well, in short, its Jesus and the new picture of God, He brings to our understanding. Its the truth about what type of a person our God really is. Its the light of His love. And just as the sun dispels the darkness in the early morning mist, so the coming of Jesus, to this world, but more importantly to each of our hearts, dispels the lies that have longed resided there concerning our God, and what He thinks and feels toward us.

What is the darkness? This is simple too. If light is truth, then darkness must be lies. Specifically all the lies weve ever believed about the character of our loving heavenly Father.

The God who said, Out of darkness the light shall shine! is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of Gods glory and character of love shining in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Jesus is the light of the world. He is the exact representation of God Himself, so complete and full, that when we see Jesus, we are seeing the Father Himself as well.

And what does this do in our hearts and lives? Ill give you a hint. When one truly submits to Gods great love for oneself – when one stops believing the voices in their head and instead begins to believe the voice of Gods Spirit to their heart – the first fruit of that Spirit is love. By love, is love awakened. But well cover more of that at another time. It is enough for now to remember: the Woman of Revelation 12 is clothed with the same sunlight that has dawned in her heart and set her free. She has allowed the suns rays to now be reflected off of her own person as well.

May each of us be just that this holiday season. May we find ourselves, this Christmas, reflections of that sunrise from on high till the day dawns and night is no more.

Believe His love, share His love, and go enlarge the kingdom.

Happy Holidays to each of you!

We wish you Gods best this week,

In love,

December 14 Esight, 2010

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

       “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

       The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”  (Luke 2.25-35)

Merry Christmas! 

It’s that time of year again, like it or not, when the attention of our world is drawn to the coming of God to us, in the form of a baby in a stable in Bethlehem.   Too often though, this historical event takes on a kind of fairy tale quality during this season.  More of a ?“once upon a time” feel, rather than the actual event that it was.  But it really did happen.  It’s not a mere legend or conspiracy, it’s truth, historical truth.  If you have any reason to believe anything ever happened in history, by those same standards, you have every reason to believe that God actually visited us on this planet in the person of Jesus Christ.

And once one surrenders to this mighty truth, something strange and miraculous transpires in a person’s heart.  Follow closely.  Once we accept the truth that Jesus really is who He claimed to be, the person we find in Jesus makes us reassess everything we have ever believed or been told about God.  Jesus is not only deeply kind, and wise, and sensitive with a quiet resolute, purposeful strength.  He is radically other-centered, a servant, looking out for everyone else even when at expense to Himself.  He is a giver. He is truly defined by a self-sacrificial quality, that gives even love itself a new definition The life of this man named Jesus climaxed in Him giving His life as a ransom for every person in this world.  Without getting into the complexity of this, simply stop and let the reality of it sink in. Every person on this planet has been ransomed and redeemed.  And although God will not force anyone to accept this gift, it is an accomplished fact nonetheless, and is ours, each of ours, for the taking.

But what this really accomplishes in our hearts in truly miraculous.  You see, the radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered love we find in the person of Jesus, takes on completely new meaning when one realizes that who we are seeing in this person named Jesus, is the God of the universe, incarnate.  This is God Himself come to us in human form. Jesus in not just what God is like.  No no.  Jesus IS GOD, come to us so we can see Him for what He truly is.  This is exactly what Simeon told us this baby in Bethlehem would be:  a “light of revelation” revealing the “thoughts of many hearts”, including the heart of God Himself.    A divine heart, if you will, wrapped in human flesh, so we can see, not just what He is like, but specifically what exactly is in His heart for us, dear reader.

Meditate on this great truth during this holiday season.  Let it’s transforming power go deep.  Let the love found in the person of Jesus, the love that is there for YOU, in the heart of God for YOU, bring healing and life transforming change from the inside out.  Let it do it’s work, it will, our job is simply to listen to it, and when it speaks, to believe.  You truly are precious in His sight.  He loves you, regardless of what the voices in your head tell you, more than you could possibly ever know.

May His kingdom of love be more deeply established in each of our hearts this Christmas season.

We at Renewed Heart Ministries wish you a happy Holiday.

In love,

December 6 Esight, 2010

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:8-14).

Holiday Greetings and Merry Christmas!!
 
Despite the materialistic association of reducing Jesus to simply the commercialistic frenzy of our mass consumerism, despite the fear of the religious association of Jesus with paganistic elements to a holiday that cause some Christians to question why we even celebrate such a holiday, and despite the temptation to treat Jesus as little more than a symbolic civic function, this seasonthrough Christmas songs, holiday decorations, and everything else that goes with this time of the yearwe, nonetheless, are reminded once again of just how amazing Gods love for us really is. I want to challenge you this season. This year, dont just get caught up in the traditional holiday hustle and bustle of preparation and celebration. By all means celebrate, if you feel so inclined! But I want to inspire you to make time, also, not just for celebration but meditation as well. What is this season really reminding us? What was the gift of Jesus all about? And what does it reveal to our hearts about the great Heart thats at the center of this event we call the Incarnation.
 
Ponder with me, if you will for a moment, that little baby wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a feeding trough. There He is, in a messy, overcrowded, commercial, smelly, manure-filled, unventilated, unbearably hot and humid stable in the middle of the summer, in the little town of Bethlehem. Nothing could be more contradictory to think than that this little baby is God Himself, come to us in the form of little human baby and born in these conditions. God Himself enters our human family as one of usbut also as one of us in the worst of circumstances. And to top it all off, He comes to establish His Kingdom of unsurpassable other-centered love, in a territory of His creation that has abandoned that love and set up a rebellious kingdom of self-interest and self-concern. You see, the real Jesus isnt about all the stuff mentioned in the first paragraph, and following the real Jesus isnt, either. Following Jesus is about having a realnot symbolic (and certainly not religious)relationship with a real God, through a real Savior, who brings about real transformation in and through our life through association with and reception of His unsurpassed, other-centered love for us all. Its about having a heart that, in love, is fully surrendered to a much larger Heart that, in love, is fully surrendered to us. Its about living with intentionality and purposeto swim, as it wereupstream in the ever-increasingly self-centered culture in which we find ourselves living, committed to living each day of our lives in radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered love, replicating Calvary (and Bethlehem, too, for that matter) to everyone we come in contact with. (Some have called it Loving like the rain. Loving like the sunshine. See Matthew 5:4445.) Its about responding to His other-centered, self-sacrificial love for us and living out the other-centered principles of a kingdom that were historically injected into this world through a lowly (and messy) manger in Bethlehem.
 
But dont think for a moment that any of us can live a life of unsurpassed love like that by simply pulling up our bootstraps and trying. Lets take a quick look at 1 John 4:7, 8, 19. (My comments will be in italics.)
 
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
 
Notice that this radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered love proceeds and comes from God. It does not come from us. It may flow through us, as it does throughout the entire unfallen universe, but it does not come from us. It comes from God Himself.
 
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
 
This radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered love is the natural fruit of seeing, believing in, and knowing God Himself.
 
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
 
Therefore, if we find ourselves not loving in this radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered love to everyone we meet, the solution is not to try harder, but rather to turn our attention on seeing, believing in, and knowing Him who IS love more accurately and more deeply.
 
We love because he first loved us.
 
We need NOT strive to be more loving, but rather to know more intensely how deeply we ourselves are loved. Then, by that Love for us, the same love in us will be awakened and flow forth to all we come in contact with.
 
This holiday season, set aside some time to become reacquainted with what that little stable in Bethlehem reveals. From that messy stable, and in perfect harmony with that stable, flowed the incarnation of Gods radical, sacrificial, other-centered love for us, a revelation that climaxed on a cross. Everything we see in Gods heart, as revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, began and flowed out of the truth of that original, small, dirty stable in Bethlehem. May we truly begin to see, believe in, and know Him as He really is. And may His peoplethrough that seeing, believing and knowingbecome that radical, self-sacrificial, other-centered Love, incarnate once again.
 
From all of us here at Renewed Heart Ministries: Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

November 7 Esight, 2010

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”—Jesus (John 10.10)Hello to all of you. I pray this finds each of you well. This week, rather than sending out a devotional as normal, I am writing this to you today, to ask you to pray for a special series I am beginning tonight in Honolulu. This series is for the public and I will be covering new material I have been compiling over the last twelve months. In the past, the traditional method of doing meetings, as many of you know, is to first establish the validity of the scriptures and then we launch into our various and sundry doctrinal presentations. This series, beginning tonight, will be quite different.

Tonight, we will first begin with establishing instead, the historical reality of Jesus Christ. In other words, the historical person Jesus made divine claims, healed the sick, and died on a cross. And then, as difficult as this is for many in today’s post modern world to believe, he rose from the dead. Tonight we will be establishing from history, logic and the scriptures the reasons for reflective, intelligent, rational, reasonable and somewhat critical people to believe this is exactly what it is purported to be—TRUE. If Jesus really is who he claimed to be then there are two very special truths that become inescapable:

1) The God of the universe, as revealed by Jesus Christ, is the most beautiful being that ever existed or ever will.

2) You could not possibly be more loved than you are right now by Him.

This does not mean we have to accept the things we have suffered in this life as somehow orchestrated by this God. These things were wrong and should have never happened to us. And it doesn’t mean we have to blindly embrace a “religion”, especially one like Christianity which holds the record for being the most violent on the stage of human history. All it means, is that there is a God, He came to this planet, and He came to show YOU one thing and one thing only: He loves you! And although there are many questions still to be answered, His love, when seen as it truly is, is really what each human heart has been searching for.

From this foundation, which we will lay tonight, we will spring-board into the remaining presentations on God’s character of love, revealing from the scriptures how surrendering to His selfless love for us, ushers each of us into life and life more abundantly. In other words, Life Unlimited!

Thank you sincerely for each of your prayers. This series will end the 16th this month and I would deeply value your covering of it in prayer during this time.

I wish you God’s best this week.

Thank you.

October 1 Esight, 2010

But Jesus was saying, ” Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. (Luke 23.34)Have you every truly stopped and thought about that prayer?

You see, what strikes me as startling is that Jesus was asking God to forgive these specific individuals who were yet in a state of unrepentance. This flies in the face of much of what is taught today in modern Christianity about the nature of God’s forgiveness. Too many times it is taught that God only forgives those who repent. And this is used to justify ourselves in withholding forgiveness toward others till they repent. (If they don’t say they’re sorry, we don’t have to forgive them, and this I believe is truly disastrous.) But my question is this? Can we really believe that Jesus is the express image of God, that Jesus is expressing the heart of God in this prayer He prays while suspended on the Cross? Is God really this beautiful? Is there a sense in which God really has forgiven all? And can we live in that forgiveness and extend that same forgiveness toward others.

I have found in my own experience that we are truly very skilled in setting parameters around how “good” God truly is. And it takes courage to believe that God is as good and beautiful as He reveals Himself to be, especially on the cross. (I would like to encourage all to go back and listen to the presentation we have on our website entitled Charizomai, where this concept of forgiveness is covered in more detail,)

There is an aspect of Forgiveness in the New Testament where forgiveness is simply the releasing of someone who owes you a debt. It doesn’t matter whether the person wants to be released or not. It doesn’t matter if they have repented or not. It doesn’t matter whether that person is willing or refuses to reconciled or not, there is an aspect of God’s forgiveness that is unilateral, unconditional and universal. And although there are aspects of God’s forgiveness that intrinsically require our involvement (i.e. our faith, repentance, and confession), there are other aspects that do not. They are universal! They have already transpired in God’s heart for everyone, repentant or not!

Jesus over and over in His ministry revealed that God’s attitude toward all is forgiveness. Many times people weren’t even asking for their sins to be forgiven, Jesus simply volunteered it saying, “Your sins are forgiven.” Not as a carrot, to motivate a response, but simply as an already occurred fact to which Jesus was simply communicating the news.

On the cross Jesus is not praying for God to forgive them if they repent, He is simply saying Father forgive these unrepentant ones. We find this same kind of prayer in the death of Steven when he too was being murdered. Jesus and Steven both were simply saying, “Father, let this go, release them of this. Even though they have not repented, God please don’t hold this against them, let this go.” This is the type of forgiveness that flows from Calvary and I believe it’s truly beautiful. But do we realize what this means?

In Jesus’ name and on the authority of the Cross, dear reader, It doesn’t matter who you are and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, God is not holding your sin against you. The Father Forgives you. (see 2 Corinthians 5:19) The abortions you’ve had. The Father forgives you. Maybe it’s a relationship you destroyed or a person you harmed, the Father forgives you. Maybe it’s a wasted life with drugs or substance abuse, the Father forgives you. Maybe it’s sexual promiscuity, the Father forgives you. Maybe it’s a marriage you walked away from and family you destroyed, right now, the Father releases you from that, He doesn’t hold that against you. The murder you committed, maybe a child you killed while driving drunk, you may owe a debt to society, but from your heavenly Father, He releases you. Every lie you’ve ever told, every piece of gossip or slander you have spread, every pronouncement of self righteous judgment you’ve pronounced on others, you’re released. He’s not holding that against you. Receive that. Walk in it. It’s time to be done carrying that baggage around all your life. Every sin of every person throughout history, on the authority of Calvary, we can say to all, “You are released!”

Yes, your sin may be very, very bad. But will you trust that God’s mercy, God’s grace, God’s forgiveness is greater than your sin? That where sin abounds His grace much more abounds! Will you receive that grace today?

Look to the cross and hear me, The Father Forgives you. You are released. This is not going to be held against you. There may be all these “buts” going off in your head right now, but will you hear the voice of the Lord saying right now, “Trust me, just trust me, you’re released.” If you are not reconciled into salvation with God, it’s is no longer because of your sin. That issue has been dealt with by God on Calvary. If any are lost at last, it will only because they refused to be reconciled.

Receive His forgiveness. Live in the year of Jubilee! All charges are dropped. All debts cancelled. All rights of restitution relinquished. The creditor [God] has born the loss, and debtors [us] can now go free. THIS is what Calvary is all about! THIS is the gospel!

And in light of how God has released you in this way, will you too extend this same kind of letting go to others. Will you release all others of all debt? I pray you will. This is what it means to imitate God. (More on that next week.)

I wish you God’s best this week. Walk in God’s forgiveness. And go enlarge the kingdom!

September 20 Esight, 2010

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. Romans 5.15(Part 3 of 3)

Let’s finish up this week with a final look at Christianity’s history regarding the concept of Grace.

First, too often religion has been used to control or manipulate the masses. We have used hope of reward (heaven) or fear of punishment (a skewed view of hell) to motivate and even manipulate the behavior of the adherents of the faith. This should not ever be done.

During the Dark Ages, the church, under the above pretense, painted a picture of God’s grace that made it very expensive. Through performing religious duties or disciplines, even sometimes paying money, a person could secure God’s grace. But these “commodities” were never easy. Religion was difficult. And God’s grace was costly, expensive, something that must be earned.

Then came the Reformation. I want to say from the beginning that I believe the Reformers were moving in the right direction, but they did not go far enough in their reasoning. First, let’s see what they taught. God’s grace, to them, was not something difficult to procure. All a person had to do was believe, repent, or confess being a sinner in need.

Please note that although this sounds very familiar, because the practice is rampant in modern Christianity, whether something is true or not has never been decided by how many are preaching it. The question is, “Is it biblical?”

You see, this view did make God’s grace less expensive. Yet, inadvertently, it only served to make God’s grace “cheaper” as the coined phrase “cheap grace” indicates. The problem is that even though those espousing this view use correct lingo like “faith,” “confession,” and “repentance,” they still make God’s grace dependent on “something” we do before we can receive it.

The Bible teaches that God’s grace is neither expensive nor cheap. It’s FREE! It is not simply bestowed on those who do something first, whether that act be difficult or easy. God’s grace is right now being bestowed on ALL people, regardless of whether they have believed or not.

Remember our two verb orders.

Love Give Believe

Love Believe Give

God is right now giving to all regardless of whether they have believed with the hope that they will!

Moreover, the law stated that while offenses might abound, where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. (Romans 5.20)

Another verse tells us: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. (Titus 2.11)

God is right now giving to you, simply because He loves you. He is giving to all right now, simply because He loves all. His giving is based on His love! It is not based on whether the object of that grace has believed yet or not.

Does this mean that all will be saved? No, not by any means. However, the judgment will reveal that full and free salvation was given to every person and that if any are lost, this would not occur because they did not do enough to procure God’s grace but because they threw away the grace and the salvation that had been given to all.

I wish you God’s best this week.

September 10 Esight, 2010

He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.—Ephesians 5:2, The Message(Part 2 of 3)

Okay, before we finish up on the different types of Grace, let’s pick up where we left off last week and look at those ten lepers first.

To refresh your memory, we were looking at the order of verbs in John 3:16.

Love Give Believe

Remember that, with the verbs in this order, a person’s giving is based solely on his or her love. However, one’s belief—or, rather, one’s response—is a completely different subject. Although it does play an important role, it is not a factor in whether or not a person loves you and gives to you.

Let’s look at a quick story.

“While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’”

—Luke 17:11-19

Only one man came back and said “thank you”; only one responded. But please note: did Jesus take back His healing of the other nine who didn’t believe? No, He had given to them because He loved them, regardless of whether they loved Him back.

We glimpse a similar kind of love in the story of the woman at the well, which we looked at a few weeks ago. Jesus was seeking to give this woman the “living” water of His love. Although some people have unjustly used this story to prove that we have a right to point out others’ sins, I’d like you to consider it more honestly. Why did Jesus bring up the fact that this woman had been repeatedly married and divorced? Look at it carefully. What was Jesus really revealing? I believe with all my heart that He was saying to her, “Listen, I know everything there is to know about you, and my offer is still on the table.”

He gives simply because He loves!

He loves you, dear reader. Do you believe this? He knows everything there is to know about you. His love is not blind. On the contrary; it is well informed. Even with knowing all there is to know about you, He is saying to you today, “Yes, I know about that, but my offer is still on the table. Take my hand, and let me give you all of Me.”

“He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.”—Ephesians 5:2, The Message

“As our Mediator, Christ works incessantly. Whether men receive or reject Him, He works earnestly for them. He grants them life and light, striving by His Spirit to win them from Satan’s service.”—The Review and Herald, March 12, 1901

Something to think about.

I wish you God’s best this next week.

September 3 Esight, 2010

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son (1John 5.11).(Part 1 of 3)

I am convinced that the judgment will reveal that salvation full and free was given to every man, woman, and child. If any people are lost at last, it won’t be because they didn’t do enough to convince God to save them, but rather that they threw away the salvation God had so fully placed in their laps.

It’s a question of verb order. But it’s more than just grammar. Upon this subtle difference depends everything.

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, emphasis supplied).

God loves, and therefore He gives. His gifts always precede our belief in them. Yes, our belief is, in effect, a “receiving” of those gifts; from God’s perspective, His grace has been given to all.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men (Titus 2.11).

Yes, but although He is the Savior especially of those who believe, this does not change the fact that He is also the Savior of all men, believers or not, as well (see 1 Timothy 4:10).

What does all this mean in regards to our picture of God?

Much!

God loves, and therefore He gives. His giving isn’t dependent on our acceptance. His giving is based on His love for us. It is universal in its scope. And yes, it’s with the hope that we will believe, but God’s grace must needs precede our belief in order that grace be not cheap but free (more on the comparison of expensive, cheap and free grace next week).

But God’s grace is right now being poured out on all “as real as the air we breathe.”

I want you to write two verb orders down on a piece of paper this week.

1) Love Give Believe

2) Love Believe Give

Look at both of those orders carefully and ask yourself the following questions:

What type of person is each of these orders describing? Write down one adjective at a time. What type of person loves you and therefore just simply gives to you based on that love? And what type of person, by contrast, loves you, but requires you to do something first before they will give to you? There is a comparison to be made between reservation and extravagance; calculation and generosity; someone conservative in the expression of love, and another liberal. One efficient, the other wasteful.

We’ll pick up here with your list next week and a story about Jesus and two leapers.

I wish you God’s best this week. Happy pondering.

August 27 Esight, 2010

I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them . . . Hosea 14.4-7Recently, I received an email thanking me for the affect the presentations online had made on the their picture of our heavenly Father. The writer went on to share information about a series of meetings he was trying to put together and asked for feedback about the advertising. (Honestly, I think I’m going to steal some of it.) I’ll share the phrase that jumped out at me.

“We are a group of Christians apologizing for how the church has misrepresented Jesus. We’re sorry.”

I wonder how much respect we would gain in the world if Christian leaders, no matter how much good their religion has brought to the world, would stand up and apologize for the times when they have misrepresented God and, honestly, messed things up.

I remember that when I was little my mother made a huge mistake one day and quickly sat me down and said she was wrong and she was sorry. I remember my level of respect for her dramatically soared that day. I remember a time my oldest daughter was very young, and I lost my cool with her and spoke to her in an exasperated tone. I quickly dropped to my knees in front of her, took her face in my hands (wiping away the little tears that were just forming) and told her I was sorry. She’s much older now but recently shared how much it had affected her that I immediately recognized my error and owned it, simply saying I was sorry.

Too many times, when it comes to religion, we live in denial, afraid to admit where we have messed up for fear that others may lose confidence in us. (I have often wondered what would happen if my own church would simply stop rewriting its history and simply admit where we have erred, apologize, and move forward.) Only God and the angels are infallible. We here are earth are not. We will make mistakes, and when we do, it’s not the mistake that will cause others to lose respect for us. Our ability to confess a mistake and apologize for our living in denial will determine how effective we continue to be in this world. I think a lot could be accomplished if Christians around the globe would simply say, “I’m sorry.”

I’ll close this week with the following verse. Pay close attention to it and see if you spot what I see here.

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel 36.22-27

It may help our cause greatly to simply say, “We’re Sorry.”

Something to ponder.

I wish you God’s best this week.