Wednesday, November 23, 2016

3 Simple Words

In Vancouver over the weekend we came upon a young, pregnant woman begging for money at a stoplight, holding a sign that said she was hungry. We happened to have a $50 Visa gift card in the car, brought along for just such an occassion. The interaction didn't leave time for much conversation, just 3 simple, yet profound words: "Jesus Loves You." 

It is unfortunate that there are some Christians who would hesitate to say those 3 important words because of certain theological belief systems. In this post I will answer 4 key questions: Does Jesus love her? Did Jesus die for her? Does God want her to be saved? How do We know for sure?

Does Jesus love her?
This question is simple to answer and the answer is a resounding YES! 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

Most of us can quote this verse by heart. I learned it from the old King James version. But notice a couple of things. Firstly, the word "world," or kosmos refers to the whole earth and everyone in it. It comes from a root word that describes belonging and ownership. God did not disown his creation. Jesus poured out His love on the cross for a world that did not deserve it. When God had every right to destroy us, He chose to love. Secondly, it says that "whoever," believes in Him will not perish. This word, pas, in Greek, means ALL. It means that anyone who believes can be saved.

Did Jesus die for her?
Again, the answer is a confident and resounding YES!

Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. -1 John 2:1-2

The word "propitiation," means "atoning sacrifice." Many versions of the Bible even translate it that way. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice to pay the price of our sin. He stepped in as our substitute in our place to suffer what we deserved. In this letter being read among Christians, John points out that Jesus did not only die for us, but he also died for the whole world. Jesus already paid the price for the sins of that woman on the street corner. He died so that she could be saved. In fact, Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient to save all who are willing to be saved, but 2 Peter 2:1-2 warns about those who teach falsely and follow their own desires even denying the Master who bought them. Jesus has paid the price for sin, paid the ransom for all people, but each person must make the choice to follow Him. As Christians, we can confidently look into the eyes of any person and tell them that Jesus died so their sins can be forgiven and they can be put into a restored relationship with God. 

Does God want her to be saved?

In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul writes: I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be offered in behalf of ALL people.  Verse 2 exhorts us to pray for leaders, Verses 3-4 tell us that This is good and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

God desires all people to be saved. In translation to English, the idea of the Father's delight is not as evident as it is in the original language. The word "good," describes these prayers as being beautiful in God's sight and very precious to Him. When I pray for that poor soul begging on the street corner, my heavenly Father is pleased. God gladly receives and accepts such prayers. Because of Jesus sacrifice, God is overjoyed when we operate according to the New Covenant. Jesus already died for their sins. God wants us to pray on their behalf. This passage reveals the Father's delight in the deal He has made with us. He was a co-planner with Christ in our salvation and when it says he "desires," all to be saved. This means that He is willing for this to happen and earnestly wants all people to accept His covenant of salvation.

How do we know for sure?

2 Peter 3 speaks about Jesus coming back to fulfill His promises to us and about heaven. It also speaks about God's ultimate judgement coming on the earth when those who refuse His offer of salvation will be destroyed, along with Satan and all evil. But look at why He delays this event:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. -2 Peter 3:9

God is being patient. He is not "wishing," or not "willing" that any should perish. Jesus wants to save that pregnant woman on the street corner, just as He wants to save any person that we come across. We can boldly look any person in the eye and tell them God wants you to be saved. Jesus died for you. JESUS LOVES YOU. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Top 10 Ways To Pray For Our New President

It can be really hard to pray for people that we don't like or disagree with. I am sorry to admit that I rarely prayed for President Obama. But, regardless of feelings, the Bible is clear, we must all pray for our leaders. 

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a peaceful and tranquil life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Here are 10 ways that we can pray for our new President:

1. Pray for them to have wisdom and understanding. 
         -Ephesians 4:17-18 warns about people becoming futile in their thinking and darkened in their understanding because of sin and refusing God. 
              -Romans 1:20-25 also warns about people becoming futile in their thinking, having their hearts be darkened, professing to be wise but becoming foolish and exchanging the truth of God for a lie. 
              -Daniel 2:21 He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.

2.  Pray for them to have clarity of thinking, discernment and good decision-making ability
       -In addition to the references above, The Bible also warns about people becoming spiritually blind and deaf who refuse God. This is a dangerous position for a President. We need to pray for our leader tho think clearly and make wise decisions.

3. Protection from Deception and a Desire for the Truth
        -John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the father of all lies. Jesus is the Truth.  John 14:17 tells us that The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. 

4. Humility

5. Compassion

6. Safety, Protection and a Heart for Peace
        -Safety is a basic human need. If a President lives under constant fear and in danger, their decisionmaking ability and productivity can be compromised, but more importantly, our President needs to stay away from the warfare spirit. Vengeance belongs to God. Our President must not seek vengeance but must to seek to provide peace, safety and protection for our nation. 

7. Moral Integrity and a Love of Justice
        -By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice -Proverbs 8:15
8. Wise Advisors
        -Proverbs 11;14 informs us that Where there is no guidance, a people/nation falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety and victory (deliverance) 
9. A Sense of Purpose
        -1 Peter 2:14 tells us that those who govern are to punish evildoers and praise those who do good
            -Romans 13:3-4 describe just rulers: For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; For government is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God's servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. 
            -Pray that our new President will govern fairly and fulfill the godly purpose of leadership
10. Salvation
        The best case scenario we could hope for is to have a President that has a heart full of God's love and the wisdom that comes from above. Isaiah 11:2 tells us that the Holy Spirit is the The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us power, love and sophronismos, which means to have a sound mind, self-discipline, sound judgement, a calling and the ability to hold to ones duty. To pray for our leader's heart to be softened by Jesus is, above all else, what we need to pray over our leader. 

While it is our duty to stand up for truth and serve God first, suffering the consequences of necessary, in every way that we can, we should cooperate and work together with authority. This does not mean compromising on issues, but it does mean being good citizens and bright shining lights in this world. 

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. -Romans 13:1-2

It is not our place to rebel, secede, stir up trouble, say ugly things or smear the name of our new President. It is our place to pray for our new leader, remember that God loves them and desires them to be saved, and to cooperate with leadership in all ways where we are morally able to do so. 

I ask that you join together with me to pray for our new leader, in the hope of a peaceful and tranquil life where our dignity is preserved and we remain free to live godly lives and to share the good news of Jesus Christ openly without fear of persecution.