Category Archives: God’s Love

A Shiny New Lexus or Jesus. Which to Pick?

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The answer is Jesus, of course. For me, there was never any question.

The holidays are approaching, always the most difficult time of year for me, though thankfully, they’ve gotten a whole lot easier in the last couple of years since God has been working in me.

It used to be that from the beginning of October through the middle of January I would fall into a deep depression that was so bad that it was hard for me to get out of bed, and it was difficult for me to blink and breathe. I’m so grateful to God that He’s healed me enough that I don’t go through that anymore. Now the worst it gets is a mild sadness, and sometimes a feeling of anger at people in general for the fact that they’re missing out on the real meaning of Christmas by focusing so much on the material aspects of it.

Of course it’s not hard to understand why people are so focused on spending money to buy the most expensive gifts possible. Seems to me there are a number of possible reasons.

The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that focusing on surface issues like how much to spend on gifts distracts people from looking at the deeper issue of the true meaning of Christmas, which is that God sent Jesus Christ as His Gift to mankind to set us free from our sins, and bring us back into relationship with Him. Most people don’t want to be reminded that they’re sinners. They prefer to deny that fact by spending lots of money on all their friends. If they buy expensive gifts for everyone they know then they can say, “Look what a good person I am. I just bought you this snow white Lexus for $30,000 and parked it in front of your house with a giant, ostentatious red bow on top. Aren’t I wonderful? I spent more on you than I did on my children!”

That thought process reminds me of the passage in Matthew 6 where it talks about doing good deeds,

Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. ~ Matthew 6:1-4, NLT.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but if advertising trends are any indication, then I’m not far off the mark. Every year Lexus trots out the same ad with the same ostentatious red bow on top of a shiny new Lexus, with someone handing over the keys to an ecstatic soul, who now loves their new best friend, whether that friend is the new car or the person who bought it for them.

And then there’s the Great Christmas Light Fight put on by ABC. Season 7 begins on December 2, and ABC is so sure of its success that they’ve already scheduled Season 8 for December of 2020. Basically it’s a competition to see who can come up with the most outlandish Christmas light display, and entries are accepted from all across the country. My problem with it is that, as with the Lexus ads, they’re missing the whole point of Christmas.

As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing is utter madness.

The purpose of Christmas is to celebrate and honor, and express our gratitude to God for His one-of-a-kind and precious gift of Jesus Christ to mankind for the remission of our sins.

There has never been a gift like this, and never will be again. I mean, Who gives His own and only Son, who allows Himself to be murdered in the most vile, shameful, and painful death ever known, even though he’s a completely innocent and perfect human being, because He’s taking the punishment for the rest of humanity for our sins.

Who does that? Only God, Who did it because He loved us SOOO incredibly much.

And in the process of dying, the Son has to experience the abandonment of His Father because He has to take on Himself the sin of the whole world, and His Father can’t look at Him at that point because the Father is too holy and pure to be able to look at sin, so He has to turn His back on His Son.

I think that was the most painful part of the crucifixion for Jesus, and why He cried out from the cross,

Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” ~ Mark 15:34, NLT.

This post started out being about Christmas, and it’s ended up being about Easter, and while that wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing on my part, I think it was on God’s, because Jesus came to earth so He could die on a cross for our redemption, and three days later He was resurrected from the dead, once again for us, so He could return to Heaven and sit at the right hand of the Father, where He intercedes for us always,

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25, NKJV.

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. ~ Romans 8:34, NLT.

We celebrate Christmas and Easter as separate holidays, but I think they could easily be celebrated as one huge observance commemorating the Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. It could done over a two week period, with a few days devoted to each period, and then a final huge bang-up party at the end.

I know this will never happen, because people are way too entrenched in their traditions. Plus, in reality, the Life of Christ should be lived out and celebrated in our everyday existence all the time.

I know this is kinda long. Sorry…

I think I’m done with this rant for the time being, but I’m sure I’ll have more to say at a later time.

A Hidden Bit of Divinity

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Have you ever had the experience of reading through a passage of Scripture, and coming to a verse you’ve read many times, but this time God shows you something in the verse that makes you feel like you’d never seen the verse before? I had that experience recently when I read John 17:5,

And now, Father, glorify Me at Your side with the glory I had with You before the world was created. ~ John 17:5, NET.

I like the way the New Living Translation puts it,

Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. ~ John 17:5, NLT.

There are a number of places, especially in the Gospel of John, where Jesus declares Himself to be the Son of God, and/or to be equal with God, and John 17:5 is a clear statement of Jesus’ divinity. I’d never seen it before, but there it is. And now, everytime I read it, I get excited, because I understand what He’s saying there. John 17 is what many people call Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer to the Father before He went to the Cross. While most people think of Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 as being the Lord’s Prayer,

Therefore, you should pray like this: our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as Holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ~ Matthew 6:9-13, CSB.

I think of John 17 as being the Lord’s Prayer more than Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. The passages in Matthew and Luke are important because they’re where Jesus gave us a roadmap on how to pray to the Father. But to me John 17 is more literally the Lord’s Prayer because that’s where Jesus spoke directly to God, and He spent the whole chapter doing so.

There is so much rich meat in this chapter!

I won’t talk about all of it here because there’s so much, but there is one little tidbit I want to mention.

In the second verse Jesus says that God gave Him authority over all flesh,

When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.” ~ John 17:1-2, ESV.

In context, the authority over all flesh is referring to the fact that God gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to everyone that God had given to Him. But I think it could also be said that the authority referenced here could be authority over other things.

For instance, when I read that God had given Jesus authority over all flesh, the very first thing that popped into my mind was that it was no wonder healing came so easily to Him. God gave Him authority over all flesh, so all He had to do was exercise that authority for healing to happen.

I think we can have little hidden bits of divinity as we go about our everyday lives. For me these bits of divinity are unexpected encounters with God ~ moments where I happen on a beautiful bit of scenery that takes my breath away, or when I read a particularly lovely poem or portion of prose, or when I hear an especially joy-filled piece of music. I call these times bits of divinity because they’re unanticipated, and because they make me think of God when they happen. It’s like God gives me a little gift out of the blue, a little bit of beauty that just pops up seemingly out of nowhere. And the only response I can give Him in return is to praise Him.

Another hidden bit of divinity might be when we help someone in need,

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! ~ Hebrews 13:2, NLT.

How cool it would be to know that you actually helped an angel when you thought you were helping a human being.

That would be pleasing to God, and there’s nothing better than that!

1 2 3 4 5 6

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It doesn’t take much to entertain me. Almost nothing, in fact. My stepdad used to tell me that he could make me laugh just by saying, “Pass the mustard.” And of course, because he’d said that, I’d laugh, so he’d say, “See? I told you so!” It used to make me mad, but then I realized that it was probably a good thing, because laughter is good for the soul. So if I laugh easily, then maybe I have a healthy soul. Proverbs says,

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. ~ Proverbs 17:22, NLT.

The Bible also says that God laughs (for example, Psalm 59:8, where God laughs at His enemies), and if God laughs, then it must be okay for me to do so.

All of that is to say that God cares about the little things in our lives as well as the big and important things, things that don’t make a difference or mean anything to anyone at all. For example, I love numbers, at least partly because God created them. Also, I drive a 2012 Toyota Matrix. As I was driving down the freeway the other day, the odometer turned over so the numbers read, 1 2 3 4 5 6.

Now, I realize that event doesn’t mean anything to anyone, and is of absolutely no importance to anyone, but I had been hoping to notice when the numbers on my odometer read that. It was exciting to me. And if I keep this car long enough so the odometer reads 3 1 4 1 5 9 (the first six numbers of Pi), that will be an exciting event for me as well.

I also love it when palindromes show up on my odometer. A palindrome is a number or word, or even a sentence, that reads the same forwards and backwards. An example of a numeric palindrome would 123321, or 24566542. Radar is an example of a palindromic word, and an example of a palindromic sentence is “Madam, I’m Adam”.

I think palindromes are, dare I say it, beautiful. That might sound kind of silly, but I do, because they’re so wonderfully ordered, and God is a God of order.

The reason I’m writing about this is because, as I said above, God cares about what we care about. As silly as it sounds, I had asked God to let me see it when my odometer turned over to read that number, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you have to be in the right place at the right time to catch it. That number, 1 2 3 4 5 6, will only happen once in this car, and it felt like a special thing for me. And God allowed me to see it. I’m very grateful to Him for that. It might not mean anything to anyone else, but it meant a lot to me, at least partly because it was a small indication of just how much He loves me.

1 2 3 4 5 6. How cool is that!! Jesus loves me!!