FFH - Found A Place - Devotional #11
- Thursday, March 02, 2000
by Jeromy Deibler
Read John 3:16-21
Shortly after we began preparing this devotional book (which, by the way, is the first we've ever ventured to prepare), my world was rocked with a startling question Why? Why should we live like this study is supposing we live? Why, if God is so loving, can't we just coast, do the best we can, and allow God's love to give us comfort? Why can't His tractor-beam of grace just pull us into heaven? Isn't that why Jesus came?
In preparing for this study I was going in a totally different direction when God stopped me in my tracks with these questions: Why, Jeromy, do you do this for me? Why do you travel in a bus with ten other people, including your in-laws, 200 days a year? Why do you write the songs that you write? Why do you sing what you sing and say what you say? Why do you do what you do? And why on earth should the people who are reading this feeble devotional have any inclination to change the way they live? And being the patient, loving God that He is, after allowing the questions He gave the answer. Here's why
He is Godperiod. That alone should be enough! He, who formed the earth and all that is in it in six days was, and still is, GOD. He, who parted the sea for Moses, who protected Daniel in a den of lions, and who affirmed His Son with a voice from heaven, is GOD. And He who knew you before the foundations of the earth and then knit you together in your mothers womb, IS GOD. How then can we put God in the back pocket of our designer jeans and just pull Him out when we need Him? We can't, but we so often do! God is not just a card we can play when the right conversation comes up. He deserves more than a trite lyric or clich. He is God. A God of power - just ask Moses and the Israelites. A God of extremes - just ask Abraham. A God of justice - just ask the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. A God of love - just ask the eleven. A God of patience and forgiveness - just ask Peter. And finally, a God of heaven - just ask John. You see, even though God has proven Himself all throughout history, He didn't have to. Creation alone would have been enough. (See Rom 1:20) God answers our "whys" when "because I told you so" would be plenty. His is GOD, and that alone is enough to convince us to live for Him, but there's more
SO LOVED THE WORLD...
Not only is God a God of love, He is Love. (See 1 John:4) Everything that is at the core of God is love. When He went looking for Adam and Eve in the garden it was because of His love for his creation and His desire, even after the introduction of sin, to have a relationship with those whom He created. At Jesus' baptism God reaffirmed His love for His Son in an audible, discernable, voice. And when one of the thieves that shared Golgotha with Jesus begged Him for mercy, it was the unending love of a Savior that caused Him to painfully utter the words of eternal security. Has God proven Himself to be loving? Unmistakably. And He still does. Remember, He is not willing that any of His children perish. That's why no one, not even the Son, knows when God will chose to end this chapter in history and send Jesus to claim His own. But there's more
THAT HE GAVE
Have you ever thought about what makes our beliefs in God so different from all of the other beliefs of the world? What makes our religion so special, so significant? The answer is found in those three little wordsThat He Gave. The thing that separates our God, the "I AM", from those other phonies is that He has proven His unconditional love for us by giving us something which we did not deserve. From Buddhism to Mormonism to Islam, all the other so-called ways to heaven have one thing in common - you've got to do something to earn your ticket there. That's not love! Think about it. You don't wake up on Christmas morning to open presents that you deserve. No, they are gifts. Just like our salvation and eternal life is a gift. There's nothing we've done or could ever do to earn it. If we could jump high enough to get to heaven we would have to touch the moon. If we could run far enough we would have to run from coast to coast in thirty minutes, barefoot. If we could sing well enough we would have to sing the entire Hymnal from cover to cover in perfect pitch, in one breath. It's absurd. And God knew that we were dead in the water of sin, SO HE GAVE.
It is God's loving, giving, grace that gets us to heaven, not anything we have done, are doing, or will do! Remember what Paul told the Ephesians"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one could boast." Did you hear it - it's a gift. It's not something you earn. It's not something you create. It's not something you dig deep and find inside of yourself. It's a gift! And just like that gift waiting under the tree on Christmas morning, God's gift is waiting there for us. We have two choices, open it or ignore it. We can either believe in God and the sacrifice His son Jesus paid on the cross and receive that gift, or we can deny that it is there and go on living like we don't need it. Listen to John 1:11-13. "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."
Becoming a Christian is more than just hearing a story and knowing the ending. It is understanding who God is, knowing Jesus as Lord, believing in the truth of the scripture, and surrendering to it. God so loved, that He gave, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish. God loved and gave so that we would believe and surrender. It sounds so simple, but so many still do not understand.
After reading the past several pages you may realize that you have never understood who God is like you understand now. You might be just starting to get a glimpse of God's heart and how much it took for Him to sacrifice His Son, Jesus, for your sins. You might, for the first time, be getting an understanding, even just a tip-of-the-iceberg understanding, of who Jesus is and why He came. That's ok, sit back and relax. When you are born you don't come out full-grown, and you don't need to have it all together to get started and read on. Like a friend of mine often says, "I don't understand electricity, but I don't plan on sitting in the dark until I do!" You don't have to understand it all for the lights to come on today.
You may, however, know exactly where this is going. You might be like me - been in church all your life, know lots of hymns, sat through lot of sermons. You've been to youth group meetings, choir rehearsals, and plenty of potluck dinners, maybe even a camp meeting or two. My parents were faithful in raising me up in church, and for that I will be eternally grateful. It wasn't, however, until I was nineteen years old that I ever truly, with a full understanding of what I was doing, asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. I knew about Jesus, but I didn't know Jesus. I was churched but I wasn't saved. You see, it's not enough to merely hear the truth, you must believe it, receive it, and surrender to it to be destined for heaven.
If you are realizing that you are in one of those two categories and have never prayed the prayer to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, read and pray this simple prayer. If you have prayed this prayer before, you don't need pray it again. Do take some time, however, to look it over and pray for those who might be reading it and, for the first time, be surrendering their lives to the Lord.
"Dear Lord Jesus, I understand that I am a sinner. And now, more than ever, I know I need You. So here's what I believeI believe You are God's one and only Son. I believe that You came to earth and walked as a man. I believe that You died on a cross to pay the price for my sins. And I believe You rose again. Now, Lord, with that faith, I confess my sins to You and ask You to forgive me. I believe in You, Jesus, so I receive You into my heart as my Lord and Savior. From this moment on, You will be my Lord and I will live for You. For once and for allI surrender. In Your name I pray Jesus, amen."
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