December 22, 2011 Devotion Sharing (Joy To The World)

Submitted by John V. of Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

According to Romans 8, all of creation awaits the full restoration that Jesus brings, not only to those who are adopted as “sons of God” (i.e., all believers) but to “the whole creation.” Revelation 22 gives a glimpse of what that looks like, when there will “no longer … be any curse.” Write a response after each passage.

Romans 8:19-23

19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Reading through this passage, the message is clear to me that there is depravity in the world that is caused by our sinfulness as human beings. Apart from God we are hopeless to suffer the consequences of our sins. As a result of pride and selfishness, we become relationally detached and isolated from God, from others and from ourselves. Yet, even though we are flawed, full of personal failings and shortcomings, we still think that if we try hard enough we might still be able make something of ourselves in this world, that we can somehow on our own find a source of purpose or meaning to live for. However, during moments of honest reflection, one comes to the point of having to admit that there needs to be another source hope, because as we live life, whether it be through experiencing death of a loved one, being disappointment at how life has turned out, or falling short of personal goals or whatever the case may be, we experience the reality that “sins and sorrows” do in fact grow and “thorns infest the ground.” Jesus, however, comes to bring us hope, a hope not so much in the expectation that circumstances might improve for us, but a hope that for those who believe in him and receive him what we will receive in the end will be worth our perseverance.

Revelation 22:1-3

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.

True restoration comes only from Jesus. In life, so many people are led to believe that restoration and refreshment can be found in the form of success, comfort or happiness. However, this passage makes it very clear that the life that results from being nourished by the water that is “as clear as crystal” that flows from the throne of God has so much more to do than just comfort and happiness. Life that comes from Jesus is life that continually bears fruit and brings healing and blessings to nations. Again, such life has but one source–Jesus. And it is through him that all blessings are possible. As a restored “son of God” my life is no longer about my own personal ambitions and pursuits. Rather, my life, sustained and nourished by the life that comes from Christ, needs to constantly bear fruit and be a blessing to others, which means I must persevere to improve on my character, to strive toward righteousness and holiness, and be unrelenting in sharing the blessings that I’ve received.

Reflect on the following passages that highlight what it took for fallen humanity and broken creation to be saved and restored. Write a response after each passage.

John 1:1–4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.  3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

I am thankful to God that he took it upon himself to free me from the curse of my sin by sending Christ to become life and light to me. I am thankful that I have this second chance at life that I never would’ve had had it not been for God’s grace revealing to me the truth of the gospel that I was completely ignorant to. This passage reminds me that before I met Christ I may have lived but only in darkness. I did not know true life. But I thank God that he did not hold back from doing what was absolutely necessary by sending Jesus to give me new life.

John 1:12–14

12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I have a God who is not distant. He is not satisfied to simply rule over me, his created being, from “on high”. Instead, as I am sinful and imperfect, He goes to the greatest lengths of lowering himself by taking on fleshly form and dwelling upon the earth in order to connect with me. When I think about what it took for fallen humanity and broken creation to be saved and restored I am reminded of God’s graciousness. As the hymn states, “He rules the world with truth and grace.” The truth is that I am a sinner deserving of nothing less than his wrath, yet by his grace he found it necessary to spare me by sending Jesus to die in my stead.

John 3:16–17

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

It is an amazing thing to me that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. I know my sins–the kind of proud, selfish, envious and resentful person that I am. I know well the ways that I’ve turned my back to God by insisting on having my own way. I know that before God, my holy and righteous Creator, I deserve punishment, yet Jesus who was the blameless son of God (because he was without sin) died in my place. He did not deserve it, but I did. In many ways, the exchange just doesn’t seem to make sense to me–a perfect thing in exchange for something that is imperfect–and yet, that is what happened, the result of God’s grace. For that I am grateful.

Galatians 4:4–7

4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

To receive the full rights of the kingdom.

Again, it is hard for me to believe that my identity as a Christian now is God’s son, a co-heir to his kingdom. But the truth is that that is now my identity, because Christ now lives in me. The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” As a Christian, this is the life that I am also committed to, a life of faith. It is not a life of a slave, which is simply to do what I am told. It is not simply going through the motions of doing the right Christian-like thing whatever it may be. Rather, it is a life where I am partnered with God to accomplishing his will of drawing his lost children back to him, which means I need to take on a completely different perspective on my life, it’s meaning and purpose than what I am naturally inclined to. In one particular way, it means that in reaching out to others I will be subject to the same kinds of pain that God subjected himself to when as he reached out to me.

Colossians 1:21-23; 26-27

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

I am thankful to God that I’ve been given the opportunity to enter into a right relationship with God, and that I am no longer alienated from Him. Before becoming Christian, the only purpose I had in life was to pursue my ambition and live a comfortable life. In my mind I knew God was there. I could not ignore him. But at the same time I wanted as little to do with him as possible. I made feeble attempts give God what I thought he wanted from me by vainly putting on the appearance of being a moral, upright person, even being regularly involved in church. However, deep down my disposition toward God was ultimately one of estrangement, and one that would’ve left me condemned. But now, I thank God for reconciliation that he made possible through Jesus. I thank God for the invitation of the gospel that exhorted me to let go of my fraudulent, two-faced life and embrace the hope that Jesus offered, a life where I could experience the freedom of being forgiven of my sins and shortcomings, of not having to strive to prove myself or come up with ways to make life meaningful for me. I thank God that he offers me hope that all I’ll ever need in life for meaning, purpose and fulfillment found in Jesus.

Romans 8:31–39

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I reflect on what it takes for fallen humanity and broken creation to be saved, I learned from this passage that it requires a well-founded confidence in Christ. I can personally testify that it is absolutely true that many of life’s experiences can be characterized by the words from v.35–trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword. Unless I put my confidence into the right thing, or rather, into the right person in Jesus, I will never be able to experience true life, because apart from Jesus, life’s troubles inevitably overtake me, occupying my thoughts, leading me to fear and insecurity, turning me into self-absorbed person, detached from others. But, when I am able to remember what God has been able to do in my life from forgiving me of my sin to leading me through some of the toughest times in my life, I know that God is good, faithful and trustworthy. And it is in that knowledge that I can place my confidence in him.

How have the grand, cosmic themes of creation, fall, redemption and restoration been worked out in your own life through Christ.

I was alienated from God when I used to believe that I was a Christian simply because of the fact that I grew up in a family that went to church, that I believed that God existed, and because I thought I was “good” for not having committed any truly offensive crimes. I was completely alienated from God, being totally ignorant of how my insistence of living my life doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, practically denied any acknowledgement and acceptance of God’s authority over me. But through God’s grace I was brought to this church at the start of my freshman year in college, where through hearing God’s word afresh and through the testimonies of the brothers and sisters here, the truth of the Gospel was disclosed to me. That year, I was made aware of my rebellion against God and of the just punishment that I deserved for it. I remember the relief of learning that Christ did not come to condemn me but to save me, to help me. Jesus says in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” At the same time, I encountered the fear of not being able live up to God’s standards, of “failing” as a Christian, and not being able to put away the sins and habits of my past. But with encouragement from my leaders and what courage I could muster up, I placed my hope on the gospel, accepting Christ as my Lord and savior. Over the years, I’ve learned how to appreciate God’s grace as I’ve experienced his redemptive work in my life over and over again. I’ve experienced receiving forgiveness from the very people I’ve hurt deeply by my selfish actions and now partnering together with them in doing his work. I’ve experienced God using some of the most difficult times of my life to help me relate to the struggles and sufferings of others. I’ve experienced a change in my personal attitude and outlook on the world and people. I’ve experienced my heart changing. Now, by the confidence I have that God’s grace covers over my sins, my failings and shortcomings, and that he desires only the best for me, and with deep gratitude for how he has restored my life, I commit my life to him and give him my service.

PRAYER

God, thank you for your love, and for your grace. I thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die in order that I would have second chance at life. Lord, you know my sins. You know me in all of my imperfections, my failures and shortcomings. In my sorry state I deserved punishment. You had every right to lay it upon me, but instead, out of your love and compassion for me, you took it out upon Christ. It is sobering to me what had to happen to Jesus for my sake, but I thank you for going to such lengths to reach out to me. I praise you, God, that Christ was raised from the dead and made restoration of my life possible. I was once a selfish, rebellious, angry and aimless person, but you’ve changed my outlook on life, given me hope and a true purpose to live for. Still, it blows my mind that I go from being a slave to being an heir. It is an identity that will require your continual grace for me to really live up to, so help me God. Thank you for these passages that leaves no doubt about the kind of life that you want to restore unto me.

Submitted by Ray W. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

According to Romans 8, all of creation awaits the full restoration that Jesus brings, not only to those who are adopted as “sons of God” (i.e., all believers) but to “the whole creation.” Revelation 22 gives a glimpse of what that looks like, when there will “no longer … be any curse.” Write a response after each passage.

Romans 8:19-23

This passage encourages me in my struggles against my own sinful nature. When I face recurring sins or painful truths about myself that I have hard time changing, it’s easy to get discouraged and frustrated at myself. Many times I just want God to do something quick to change me so I don’t have to struggle anymore. I ask “why this, again? I thought I got over this.” This passage helps me see that it’s ok to be frustrated now. It’s ok because God is ultimately in charge of the process of sanctification. As I struggle to obey and follow, as God picks me up again after another failure, I can take comfort knowing that ultimately God is leading me through this time to liberate me from bondage and decay and into glorious freedom as a child of God. At the moment I may just see the frustration, but God sees the whole picture ahead, and it’s a wonderful picture of freedom and redemption. Therefore, I can’t be cynical and negative with my limited sight, but I can have faith that God will lead me there as He promises. The cynical mindset blocks out the possibilities of what God can and wants to do within me. Therefore I need to push on and do my best to obey today. Sin is not the final word. It is God’s redemption that has the final word.

Revelation 22:1-3

One day, there will be no more curse of sin! In my life now, sin is so tiresome. It always finds a way to negatively affect my relationships with others such as when I do something selfish, fail to see how my choices negatively impact others, fail to love someone, or say something mean. And as a consequence of my sin, I feel distant from God and I am filled with the inner turmoil of guilt and shame. But one day, because of what Jesus has done on the cross for me, there will be no more curse of sin. What a day that will be! My relationships will no longer suffer from sin, we will no longer hurt each other, and I will be healed from this curse.

Reflect on the following passages that highlight what it took for fallen humanity and broken creation to be saved and restored. Write a response after each passage.

John 1:1–4

Since God is life and light for me, without him I have no life. God made me, and He knows what is best for me and what I need most to thrive. This verse makes me see that I have so much to be thankful for in that I know God today. I didn’t know God until college. Before college I was running away from Him without even knowing it. I denied He existed and claimed my life for myself and while doing whatever I wanted. God is life. Therefore it sinks in for me how utterly helpless and aimless I was before I met God. God was the one who sought me out during college, through all the genuine Christians that came into my life to tell me about Him. To find life in God requires a personal encounter with Him, and I am thankful God deliberately came to humanity and me 2000 years ago on Christmas day and I experienced my personal Christmas when Jesus came into my life.

John 1:12–14

There are so many astounding truths in this passage. When I received Christ as my Lord and savior, I was adopted into God’s family as His child. In my day-to- day life, it’s so easy for me to forget this fact and live life as an orphan. Sometimes I’m filled with worries and fears. Sometime I worry about my job. Many days I’m harassed and bullied by my sinful nature and thoughts. My default thought process is to think that I have to tackle life alone, on my own power and merit. As a result, I often end up frustrated, consumed by more worry, and unable to find what I am looking for. Children are taken care of, protected and provided for by their parents, and what a heavenly Father I have in God! It’s this day-to-day relationship God offers me as his child and this relationship can never end. This father-child relationship is how God intends to bring me life. The text says, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…He was full of grace and truth.” God was emphatic about making this possible by becoming flesh to be with us! If I ever doubt God is my Father, or fear and worry shakes my faith, knowing God intentionally came in the flesh solidifies my faith. Even in the midst of my daily struggles with sin, I can take heart in the relationship I have with my heavenly Father.

John 3:16–17

God had to give up his one and only Son so that I could be restored to him. I see that the condition I was in was very dire. I was perishing because of my sin, but God wanted to save me from the mess that I got myself into. He traded the life of his Son for me. By giving up his own Son, I can now be restored and become a son too. This tells me my sin is very serious. Someone actually died on account of my sins, and it wasn’t just anybody, but God’s very own Son.

Galatians 4:4–7

Many times my new identity as a Son is fuzzy in my mind. It’s possible that after being a Christian for many years I can get used to the routines of being a Christian. Or at times I forget to take myself seriously as a son of God. Sin can beat me down and make me feel like I am not a son of God. There are times I think “how can I be a son when I have failed so many times?” This passage reminds me of how intentional God was in redeeming me so I could be his son. It was an all out rescue mission for me. God planned it out and waited for the right time to send his Son Jesus. He left heaven to become like us under the law. He willingly sent his Son to die so I could have the full right as a son of God. He deliberately put the Spirit of his Son in my heart, so I may also call out to God as my “Abba Father.” I didn’t deserve anything but condemnation under the law but he calls me “son”.

Being a son of God means I don’t need to make a name for myself in the world. I don’t need to rely on what others think of me to feel secure. What higher title is there than to be a son of God? What greater love is there than to be loved as a son of God? I don’t need to settle for lesser things. Being a son of God also means I have a higher purpose for my life than just my own goals or worries. Because a father-son relationship is based on love, being a son means I don’t need to have a slave mentality. I want to strive to grow up to care for what the Father cares about.

Colossians 1:21-23; 26-27

When I see that I was alienated from God and I was an enemy to God because of my evil behavior, it amazes me that God would choose to reconcile with me. It’s even more amazing when I consider that it took the highest cost of Jesus’ death, his own son, to present me holy and free of blemish in his sight. No wonder Paul calls this the glorious riches! If I have any doubt that God loves me, or is good, or is for me, it is erased by these facts above. I can therefore trust him with all of my life, even when obedience to his word seems very costly at the moment.

This mystery of God’s grace in Christ was kept hidden for ages and generations. Yet somehow in history, I am a recipient of this amazing gospel now. It’s easy for me to think that by random chance I was born in this time after Christ, and in America where the gospel is freely shared, but this text says otherwise. God was intentional in making this gospel known me. When I look back on how God led me to him, it was through his people deliberately sharing the gospel with me at the right time when I was open. There were many events and circumstances God orchestrated to turn my heart towards finding him. I see that the story of Christ and God’s grand plan ultimately boils down to his care and faithfulness for one person. This changes the way I see each person I meet. Each person is someone who God intentionally wants to reveal himself to as well. As a recipient of the riches of knowing God, the only appropriate response for me is to share it with each person God brings into my life.

Romans 8:31–39

This passage perfectly and eloquently captures what it means to receive Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for me. It is the deepest expression of love possible that a holy God would die for a sinful man like me.

Whenever I go through a difficult struggle, when circumstances in life are painful and I am tempted to doubt God’s goodness, verse 32 reminds me that God’s character is holy and He is love. Therefore I can have faith that God can turn my situations for good, even though I can’t see it yet. God already took care of my greatest problem, my sin and my alienation from Him. How will He not also be there to take care of the lesser issues I face? Indeed, nothing can separate me from Him. This has proven true so many times in my life. When I look back, the most painful and broken times of my life were also the times I felt closest to Him. Those were the times when I experienced Him clearly as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. I can look back now and thank Him for it, even though at the time, I could not see the good in it. I know that God’s love goes deeper than the pain and He will carry me through.

How have the grand, cosmic themes of creation, fall, redemption and restoration been worked out in your own life through Christ.

God’s redemption plan is so grand, deliberate, and far reaching with eternal consequences for everyone. At the same time, I see this grand story in how God led me to a restored relationship with Him. My story begins with the fall. I was an atheist by the 4th grade, and I lived a life with the only purpose to advance my own interests and myself. God was just a fairytale to me, and I openly tried to “de-convert” Christians thinking to prove they were all naïve. I was definitely an enemy of God in my mind and alienated from him. I had him all wrong. Morality was secondary to my own agenda. I lived as if I was the master of my own ship, the very essence of sin. By my fifth year in college, I had gotten all that I desired, yet I was still dissatisfied. I noticed that no matter how much I improved in my situation or status, there was still a lot of guilt and shame. There were many longings that I could not do anything about and I would eventually wreck any joy I had attained because of my bad actions or character. Through Bible studies, I learned that I was created to be in a relationship with God and not a biochemical accident of nature. I learned that God wasn’t a fairy tale, and that Jesus was historical. He didn’t come to condemn me for my wrongs, but rather, he came to save me from them. This was so opposite of what I knew of God from popular culture.

Though God had every right of ownership over my life as the Creator of all things, I had lived like it was mine all along. I had already caused so much damage to other people and to myself when I was the one in control. I realized the depth of my sin and how I was an enemy of God. But at the same time I realized that it was for this very sin and rebellion that Jesus came to die for me and to save me. God wanted to save me from the consequences of my sin, and he wanted me to surrender being the driver of my life so that He can be Lord to restore and redeem me. Trusting that Jesus had redeemed me through his death and resurrection, I entrusted my life to Him. Putting God at the center of my life was the best decision I ever made. I found healing and redemption from my greatest regrets and pains. He has given me more joy, life, people, and love than I ever expected to receive that day. As I get to do his work now and see the same change God did in my life happen in others, it’s been the greatest joy I have. I didn’t know it at the time back in 2004 when I made my decision, but my new life was made possible because of God’s initiative to save me by sending his one and only Son on that first Christmas day 2000 years ago.

PRAYER

Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for the depth of your love for me. I see today how grand is your plan to save me from my own sins. I truly don’t deserve this. Thank you God for thinking of me when you sent your Son and bringing the Christmas story down into my life when you sought me out. Thank you God for seeing my own sin with compassion and responding by sending your Son to us so he could die for my sins ~2000 years ago. Now I know the truth today about you and about me. Thank you Jesus for taking away my sin so I maybe a son of God and be forever a part of your family! My life is so full, joyous, and rich now because of what you have done. Thank you Father for having this loving heart and for having mercy on me.

Submitted by Eunice L. of Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

According to Romans 8, all of creation awaits the full restoration that Jesus brings, not only to those who are adopted as “sons of God” (i.e., all believers) but to “the whole creation.” Revelation 22 gives a glimpse of what that looks like, when there will “no longer … be any curse.” Write a response after each passage.

The world as I see it is full of decay physically, morally, and spiritually as we see the effects of sin ruining people’s lives including relationships and families, various manifestations of hostility, crime, violence and addictions. It’s hard to ignore these realities as I interact with people of various backgrounds every day and have been burdened to hear so many stories of their lives. In the past, the full spectrum of human decay and brokenness were stories I used to read about in the news or from other people, but as I am faced with these realities in front of me, I feel more desperate, and I see that this fallen creation’s only hope is in Jesus alone, who can liberate them from bondage and decay and bring them into the “glorious freedom of the children of God.” It causes me to eagerly pray and have the patience to wait to see how in heaven God will ultimately redeem humanity back to wholeness and restoration as He intended our lives to be, where there will be that final reversal of the curse.

Reflect on the following passages that highlight what it took for fallen humanity and broken creation to be saved and restored. Write a response after each passage.

John 1:1–4

Our lives exist because God sent His Son, that through him we were created and given life. Only in Jesus do we have true life, and life worth living, life that was redeemed from condemnation and death into life that is eternal. God did not remain in Heaven but made himself known through creation and through the life of Jesus who brought light to each of us once living in darkness and decay, exposing our true nature so that we can see ourselves for who we really are. Because Jesus’ light came into my life, he has stripped away all my masks, deceit, and pretenses so that I can see my true state of my sinful condition and need for forgiveness and salvation. Without the light of Jesus, I would have remained hopelessly stuck in my dark and broken state separated from the source of true life.

John 1:12–14

Jesus made his dwelling among us, he came in the flesh, so that we can know him personally, and concretely experience the fact that God wanted to be with us. We see God’s relational nature by this very act, not only being with us but adopting us to be children of God. He extended that same personal invitation to me to receive and believe in his name, so that I too can become his beloved child.

John 3:16–17

God saves fallen humanity through the greatest act of love towards mankind as revealed in this verse. He not only loved the whole world but also loved me, and made it possible for whoever to come believe and have eternal life. Unlike human love, that is often fickle and mere words, God took action and sent His one and only Son to suffer and die to bear the penalty of all the sins of the world. God’s wondrous gift of eternal life was made available to anyone. God really wanted to save the world, save me. Even though I grew up knowing these famous verses, every time I come back to these words, it impacts me in a fresh way. It speaks to me once again, that I am an undeserved recipient of this amazing, sacrificial love.

Galatians 4:4–7

God restores humanity by bringing us out of slavery into sonship. I was once that slave, a slave to human approval, a slave to seeking personal significance in the world’s system of what is valuable and desired, whether being self-sufficient, competent or productive, to even the internal struggles within like being a slave to various forms of fears and insecurities. But because Jesus came, I am no longer a slave but a daughter (son), a child of God. That is good news for me that I no longer need to prove my worth because I am God’s beloved child and can experience eternal security in God’s love for me. This truth continues to set me free whenever I may find myself going down this path of being enslaved at different junctures in my life and I go back to God and embrace His unconditional love for me again. He is my heavenly Father whom I can cry out “Abba Father.” I don’t have to prove my worth or perform. Growing up whenever I was at home with my family, I remember I always felt very free to just be myself, not needing to perform or prove myself as I did when I was at school. Even though at times I felt I messed up, in the end I was still secure in my father’s love for me. But how much more, my Heavenly Father who created my life, who knows everything about me, who calls me his precious child, who has given me eternal life and has made me an heir to all of his resources through Jesus, can I come to him without any pretenses, and be free to receive his unconditional love and freely share that same love with others. The fact that God knowing all my sins and failures and still forgives me and reconciles me back to him and pours out his love is wondrous to me. I don’t have to fear condemnation from God, but I can approach him as my Abba Father, returning to his love for me again.

Colossians 1:21-23; 26-27

God restores fallen humanity by reconciling us to Him through Christ’s death. He gave us a new standing before him, holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusations. This means I no longer have to remain in my guilt and shame, keeping my distance from God out of fear of condemnation, but only through what Jesus has done I can be reconciled to Him. My relationship with God has been restored and I can freely draw near to Him.

Romans 8:31–39

God restores fallen humanity by interceding for us through Jesus’s death and resurrection, forever securing us to Him through His love that is in Christ Jesus. If God gave us his one and only son Jesus, he isn’t going to hold back anything from those he loves. Sometime I may get caught up with my own inadequacies and limitations and want to shrink back when new challenges come whether in ministry or even working on my character issues, but when I consider God who did not spare even his own son, how will he not also graciously give me all the resources to help me grow as His child no matter what I think are my personal setbacks and failures. Christ Jesus intercedes for me, it’s not about my own efforts to change. No matter how much I may feel that I don’t measure up or have failed to even fully live up to my commitment of following God, His word says who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Even on a day to day basis, when I feel I don’t have enough wisdom or emotional capacity to handle a situation or I face difficulties of pain, burden and hardships, I can be assured that God will not withhold anything I need to continue on securely in Him for nothing will be able to separate me from the love of God. In the end what matters is that I remain in Jesus’ love, which ultimately sustains me through whatever circumstances in life. He is my ultimate source of security and assurance.

How have the grand, cosmic themes of creation, fall, redemption and restoration been worked out in your own life through Christ.

My life exists because God created me. He not only created me physically, but created me for a purpose to have a relationship with him. But as a sinner, I broke that relationship with him, by rejecting Him, by wanting to live my life my own way, trying to seek some significance of my own apart from God. I was an utterly broken person, proud, self centered, and insecure at the same time. I viewed this world as a place of uncertainty and scarcity, and I would ultimately have to just look out for myself and live a self preserving life to sustain stability for myself. I was enslaved by a fearful orphan like mentality, that in the end I would be alone and have to look out for myself. This would have been the reality of my life disconnected from God, a life without hope. I would have been enslaved to darkness, selfishness, shriveled by fears, and burdens of guilt and shame. I would have remained lost and tirelessly striving to prove myself and add value to my worth, ultimately heading towards meaninglessness and spiritual death. Yet God sent Jesus to take my place for my sins and died a cruel death, so that I can live. His death, brought true life to me and reconciliation with my Heavenly Father. Jesus brought wholeness to the broken pieces of my life, and redeemed my life from the pit. He adopted me as his child, and gave me a new identity and purpose. I have hope and true peace because I have been saved through Jesus, eternally safe and secure in the loving hands of my Heavenly Father. The message of God’s salvation plan for the world throughout history was personalized for me. I am forever grateful that God included me in that salvation plan allowing me to experience His wondrous love, inviting me to a life full of His abundant joy and blessings in the present time and for eternity.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for showing your immense love for the whole world by being with us. You knew our desperate situation and saw the brokenness and decay in our lives because of our sins. You could have left us alone, but instead you intervened by stepping into history, sacrificing your one and only son Jesus, so that we would not perish but have eternal life. Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy that took such pity on us, redeeming us, and reconciling us to you again and calling us to be your children. You have personally rescued me from a life of being alienated in darkness, burdened by my sins, and have brought light and true life through Jesus. Only in Jesus can I find true joy and wonder of your amazing love.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response