WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?

An old joke told by my husband goes something like this:

After a long discussion about serious matters confronting our country and our businesses, one man asked another “What do you believe?”  The response was “I believe I’ll have another cup of coffee.”

While the humor is superficial, the real question hangs in the air like Spanish moss hangs from tree limbs – what do you believe?  Of course you need to complete the thought … what do you believe about ____fill in the blank_______?  We can believe any number of things about any number of topics: politics, military necessity, recipes that are tempting, education, how much to drink at any given time, etc. but the only belief that is of eternal consequence is “What do you believe about God?”

“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. 

Cross
The cross, a reminder of the glorious gift of God provided to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

While there are many additional concepts involved in God’s salvation for His people, the Scripture of the Holy Bible encapsulates them concisely and definitively in the John 3:16.  Christians can argue about the finer points, the details and the doctrine, but ultimately, eternal life comes down to believing in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

In our church, we recite The Apostles’ Creed each week.  It is a statement of the common beliefs of the Christian community that is a bit longer than John 3:16.  

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into Heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic* church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

*Catholic means “universal”.

It is appropriate for us to remind ourselves of that which we believe because what you believe about Jesus Christ determines your ultimate destiny.  Why do we need Jesus as a Savior?  See Romans 3:23.

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” 

According to Dr. R. C. Sproul our sin is “cosmic treason” against God.  [For more from Dr. Sproul on this topic, see the post Good and Bad Together?, posted January 27, 2017.]  

Unfortunately, we cannot save ourselves from the consequences of our rebellious sin.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 

Ephesians 2:8-9

If you receive Him as your Savior, through grace alone, as you believe in His atoning death on the cross and His resurrection and ascension into heaven, if you confess your sins and repent, Scripture says that you will be saved.  Your position in Heaven for eternity is guaranteed and you will be a new creation in Christ.

Think about the Apostles’ Creed and each of its elements.  Do you believe this?  Does it make a difference in your life?  Pray that you will be more aware of how your beliefs determine your actions, because they do.

Here is a song entitled “I Believe” sung by the Bar J Wranglers For God and Country.  I pray that you would be encouraged by its beautiful message.

Father, I thank You for Your grace that was extended to me by Christ’s death for me on the cross of Calvary.  I thank You for the mercy and forgiveness you granted to me and I praise Your holy name for the gift of salvation.  I pray that these words would challenge those who may not know You, and I pray that Your Holy Spirit would touch their hearts and bring them to You.

 

 

IT’S ALL AROUND US – DO WE SEE IT?

Just can’t get away from it this week.  One of our grandsons turned 13 and the next day our daughter turned … well just say she is still less than 40.   Then we have Valentine’s Day, and the next day another grandson has a birthday, turning 9 years old.  Just can’t get away from it.

 

Child sleeping at the table (C)
Child asleep at the porch table.

This little guy on the porch just turned 13!

 

Baby Liz standing at table (C)
Young child standing by holding on to the side table, taken a while back!

This little girl is … well, several decades older than she was in this picture!

 

 

And this little guy is now 9 years old.

Asleep in swing
Child asleep in swing at the day care center. To tired from playing!

 

I really am not talking simply about aging, although that certainly stares you square in the face sometimes.

 

 

I’m talking about LOVE.  When birthdays come, we rehash and revisit the day of that blessed occasion.  Pictures sometimes are produced but, even without the Polaroid or digital image, we remember and we smile.  Children are God’s gift to us.

 

 

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5 ESV

 

I have heard it said that grandchildren are a gift from God presented as a reward for not killing your own children when they were teenagers!  I don’t believe that for a moment, but I do believe that there is a special bond between grandchildren and their grandparents that the children cannot understand.  How often do we hear (usually with a fake pout on the face) “You didn’t let me do that when I was a kid!”  Our response is, of course, “You don’t understand. This is not my child — it is my grandchild.  There is a difference!”

 

And, of course, love between parents and children, between grandparents and grandchildren, between husband and wife and between all the other significant people in our lives is celebrated at Valentine’s Day.  I understand  that this is a day most likely created by the greeting card industry, but it is a good day and I’m glad we have it.  In our hectic world, we don’t take the time to say “I love you” often enough.  So celebrate your love with your Valentine and then remember to continue the celebration for more than one day!

 

The reality is, however, that our celebration of love upon one’s birth or throughout the child’s life, or on the special day created for such celebration, pales miserably when compared with the love that God has for His children.   Consider just a few of the hundreds of passages in Scripture that speak of God’s love:

 

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,… “

Exodus 34:6 ESV

 

 

Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 136:26 ESV

 

 

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:7-8 ESV

 

Easter in Canterbury (C)
Easter in Canterbury, England

 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 ESV

 

 

Notice that last passage — Paul says that he is convinced, he is sure, that nothing in creation can separate us from the love that God has for us through Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

The world may think we are irrelevant.  Society may write us off as being of no value.  Your boss may not value the effort that you put into your work every day.  Your family might take your service to them for granted, never saying a positive word about how you look, what the meal was like or anything that you have done for them.  You may have been abandoned and rejected by those you love.

 

 

But, Beloved, you are loved.

 

God, the creator of the universe and the One who holds the universe, including your life, in His hands, sent His only Son to be a sacrifice on the cross in an act of atonement for sin.  He did not die as an atonement for His sin as He was sinless.  No, the wondrous truth is that Christ was the sacrifice for your sin and for my sin.  Read Romans 5:7-8 again.

 

 

What incredible love God has for us that He would send His Son into this filthy, sinful world so that God’s justice would be satisfied when sin was paid for and so that His grace could then extend to sinners who believed on the name of Jesus as their Savior, Lord and King.

 

 

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 ESV

 

 

I pray that this offering by Selah of the song “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” [with lyrics] will be a blessing you.

 

This Valentine’s Day while you tell those around you that you love them., be sure to praise the Lord for His love and grace.  In fact, let praise to God be the first thing you express every day!  Try this as an experiment. I suspect your day will take on a whole different dimension!

 

 

Father, I praise your holy Name for your love and mercy extended to me on a daily basis.  I thank you for sending Jesus to be the sacrifice required to pay for my sins, and I thank you for your Holy Spirit’s presence in my life to guide and comfort me as I walk through this world.   May I worship you in thought, word and deed and may praise be continually on my lips, even the first thing in the morning.