Monday, February 14, 2011

LOVE

I confess, Valentines Day is not one of my favoite holidays. But this year I took some time to think through all the verses I know by memory about God's love. Let me tell you, it was a beautiful exercise!

God has told us so many times, over and over again, about His love -- His unfailing, everlasting, unconditional, surpassing, satisfying, perfect...(there are more adjectives in the Bible, but I'll stop with those)...LOVE!

Perhaps if we spent a little more time meditating on His love for us, we wouldn't spend quite so much time unconsciously looking for other things to satisfy our hearts.

And when we come to that place where we have nothing else, perhaps our eyes will finally see that God's Love is truly all we need.

I could never say it better than George Matheson, in the words of one of my favorite hymns:

"O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be."


Happy Valentines Day, my friends. You are dearly loved!

Blessings,
-Joanna

Friday, February 4, 2011

Signs

As human beings, corrupted by the sinful nature, faith does not come naturally to us. It is only a supernatural act of God that enables us to believe in things we cannot see.

Faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) At the same time, I think God often gives us 'signs' to confirm, strengthen, and encourage our faith.

For me, there are three basic 'signs' that I love to remember.

1) Creation is the sign of God's existence.
Anyone who spends even a few minutes studying nature must soon conclude that the vastness and intracacies of creation never could have just "happened." There must be a Creator who designed and made all these marvelous things!

Paul expressed this idea that God's existence is evident in His creation in the book of Romans.
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Rom. 1:20)

Whenever you feel doubts creep in and wonder if God is there, just step outside and look around. You will see everywhere the sign of His existence.


2) The cross is the sign of God's love for us.
Also in Romans, Paul wrote this:
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)

Only a powerful, divine love could have kept Jesus on that cross...taking my punishment, enduring the pain I deserved, laying down His life for me.

If I ever start to feel like maybe God doesn't love me, all I have to do is look at the cross. There I see the greatest possible sign reminding me that, indeed, I am deeply loved.


3) The resurrection is the sign of God's goodness.
In 1 Corinthians Paul wrote,
"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (1 Cor. 15:19)

If this life is all there is, then we can easily argue that God is not good. There's too much pain, heartache, injustice, and suffering in this world to justify a good God.

But the resurrection is our guarantee that this is just a temporary residence. For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, we have the promise of an eternity of perfection with Him! The resurrection reminds us that one day God will make all things right. Every injustice will be taken care of, every evil destroyed.

In light of Jesus' resurrection, death is no longer an enemy, but a gift. Because of the resurrection, we are not stuck in this sin-cursed world forever. We won't just "disappear" when our bodies die. No, we will be brought into a new life - we will be made perfect!

The message of the resurrection often leads me to weep with joy! It is so full of meaning and gives us many precious promises to hold onto.

Anytime you wonder about God's goodness, spend a few minutes meditating on the resurrection. I guarantee it will completely change your outlook!


I think it is incredibly gracious of God to give us different 'signs' to remind us of what we know is true, to encourage us to press on in faith.

In Psalm 86:17 David wrote,
"Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me."

Daivd didn't ask for a sign for himself. No, he had already received God's help and comfort by faith. Instead he asked that God would give a 'sign' for his enemies to see.

Those who don't know Jesus have many of the same 'signs' we do - creation, the Bible, etc. But perhaps what they need is one more 'sign' - again described by Paul.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory...." (2 Cor. 3:18a)

Read that verse again slowly.

We are a 'sign' to others of God's glory! Isn't that an amazing thought? Praise God for this awesome privilege!


May you be encouraged today by the 'signs' God has given you. And may you be a 'sign' to those around you of our glorious God!


Question:
What other 'signs' have you seen that encourage your faith in various aspects of God's character and work?
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