Opposing Sin With Love

In a world with so much sin, so many broken lives, we can draw comfort from this one amazing fact: Jesus loves us and accepts us as we are. He calls us to turn from our brokenness and follow him, and He promises to redeem us to his glory. Amazing Love.

When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:10-11 (HCSB)

JESUS CLEARLY TELLS US to love our neighbors as ourselves, but not to love our neighbor’s sin and certainly not to embrace it. The Lord showed mercy on the woman accused of adultery, which is sinful behavior, but he admonished her not to continue in her sin. Loving our neighbor means helping our neighbor through his or her struggle with sin, not by supporting our neighbor’s sinful behavior.

Today, we’re faced as a country with a cultural divide regarding homosexual or same-sex marriage.

The secular battle lines are drawn between political liberals who believe legally sanctioning “marriage” between two men or two women represents equality and freedom from oppression, that oppression being the bigotry of the majority heterosexual population. They reasonWoman Caught Adultery that the free-flowing love that one man or one woman may feel for a same-sex partner is no threat to their neighbors’ heterosexual marriage and that, after all, society should not be able to dictate their expression of love.

They are opposed by political conservatives who argue that marriage between two men or two women violates long-standing human experience in all parts of the world and, by so doing, upsets or discards received wisdom in favor of current prevailing passion. They say that tradition mandates continuing a marriage arrangement that works, regardless of the divorce rate, and scoff at providing tax breaks for those who want to experiment with settled practice.

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THERE IS A THIRD VIEW and one that too often is ignored: the view of Christ’s followers. For faith-based Christians, homosexual behavior is unnatural behavior contrary to God’s law and contrary to how He made us (Leviticus 18; Romans 1). He has warned us repeatedly from the writings of Moses and the prophets through the teachings of Jesus and the apostles to refrain from sexual immorality.

Such immorality, the Bible says, includes sex with children, the neighbor’s spouse, a close relative, the family pet, or a same-sex partner.

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THE BIBLE ALSO IS CLEAR that we are to love our neighbors and pray for them. Nowhere does it say we are to embrace their sinful behavior, condone it, or codify it into law, nor are we are called to look down upon our neighbor’s sin or rank-order their sin — we have enough sin in our own lives to atone for. All of us have fallen short of God’s glory and are in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23).

Love means joining hands and raising our eyes to the Lord, asking his forgiveness for our sins, and joining in fellowship with others to serve him. Some among us may struggle with homosexuality, some with alcohol addiction, some with lustful hearts or immodest dress, some with uncontrolled anger, but our Lord calls us into fellowship with him and one another to encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

We long to hear our Lord say to us, as He said to the fallen woman, “Don’t continue in your sin, but I do not condemn you. I love you, and my mercy abounds.”

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PRAYER: Lord — Help us to see our neighbors they way you see them, as lost sheep in need of a Shepard. You call us to model Christ-like behavior by showing love for our neighbor but that love should manifest itself in helping our neighbor overcome sin, not in supporting our neighbor’s sinful behavior. We’re also called to refrain from judging our neighbor because we also sin. In the Name of Him who knew no sin.  Amen

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Juan 8:10-11 (EM) Entonces Jesús se enderezó y le preguntó: –Mujer, ¿dónde están? ¿Ninguno te ha condenado?
Y ella dijo: –Ninguno, Señor. Entonces Jesús le dijo: –Ni yo te condeno. Vete y desde ahora no peques más.

Touching Christ’s Cloak

Touching Jesus’ cloak. A simple act. Such power in his response. Problem brought; problem solved. What makes the transaction possible? Faith, trust, confidence. ‘Heal me, O Lord, if You will.’ ‘I will,’ He says. ‘Be healed.’ His healing power and our trusting faith yields positive results. Amen

 

Mark 6:56 (HCSB) Wherever He would go, into villages, towns, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him that they might touch just the tassel of His robe. And everyone who touched it was made well. 

 

THROUGHOUT THE GOSPELS, we read that common men and women sought just to touch the tassel of the Lord’s robe or let him lay hands on them to make them well, yet in every case, the illness or condition they wanted healed was limited to their physical  bodies.

Woman Touching Jesus
“She came up behind him and touched the edge of his clock, and immediately her bleeding stopped.” Luke 8:44 NIV

Only those religious leaders seeking to trip him asked the important questions about their souls. Even the disciples, who journeyed with him daily, failed to understand who He was (Mark 6:52).

How often do we ask the Lord for limited gifts — an end to sickness, a new job, grace in our marriage, strength during tragedy — when the King of the Universe longs to give us living water. We come so close to receiving everything, yet stop short because we don’t see beyond our immediate physical need.

The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians (3:20) that the Lord can give us “above and beyond all that we ask or think” and yet, because of our limited faith, we ask for so little. We fail to see the bigger picture.

So often we’re content to touch the Lord’s robe for immediate healing and ignore him when He calls us to follow him. His plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 2:10) are far grander than what we seek.

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Prayer: Lord, forgive our limited and selfish visions. You offer us living water and a future glory that far surpasses the struggles and failures of our present lives, yet so often we neglect to ask your help in our daily walk. Too often, we’re content to ask for  earthly healing and then we’ll be good on our own. Help us to see our daily and constant need for you. Amen

Marcos 6:56 (EM) Dondequiera que entraba, ya sea en aldeas o ciudades o campos, ponían en las plazas a los que estaban enfermos, y le rogaban que sólo pudiesen tocar el borde de su manto. Y todos los que le tocaban quedaban sanos.

Rejoicing in God’s Grace

The Lord grants us his grace as a gift to us. He will not abandon us.


A Short Devotion on God’s Amazing Grace … and Our Response

Nehemiah 9:5 (ESV) “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”

Galatians 1:10 (GW) “Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.”


The Lord God wants us to take the narrow path that leads to life. He warns us that few will find this path and ensures us that (a) without Him we can do nothing and (b) He will be with  us always. Through Him, we can take the narrow path with confidence because He will light our path and guide our steps.

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“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

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Prayer: O Lord, be our constant guide. Hold us close when trouble strikes us. Let us know that You will not abandon us but will lead us along the straight and narrow path — the one that leads to life. Amen


Regocijo en la fuerza de Dios

Nehemías 9:5 (DHH) «Levántense, alaben al Señor su Dios por siempre y siempre. ¡Alabado sea, con bendiciones y alabanzas, su alto y glorioso nombre!»

Gálatas 1:10 (DHH) Yo no busco la aprobación de los hombres, sino la aprobación de Dios. No busco quedar bien con los hombres. ¡Si yo quisiera quedar bien con los hombres, ya no sería un siervo de Cristo!

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Oración: Nuestro Señor, sea nuestra guía constante. Sostenemos a cerrar cuando los problemas nos llama la atención. Háganos saber que usted no nos abandonará, pero nos llevará por el camino recto y estrecho – el que lleva a la vida. Amén

God Tells Us: ‘Go’

The Lord requires us to “Go” and live lives reflecting his glory — his love, his mercy, his justice. We are to act in his name.


Bible Verses to Help Us Through the Week

The message of “GO” is woven throughout the Bible’s 66 books so that providing one week of  devotions will leave out important verses. You might have selected God’s command to Abram (renamed Abraham) to leave his home for Canaan or His command to Moses to confront Egypt’s pharaoh on behalf of the Jewish slaves. More important than the verses we select is how we respond to God’s command in our lives to “go.” Meditate on these verses—and your personal favorites—and spend time with God this week, asking him: “Where do You want me to go?”

Continue reading “God Tells Us: ‘Go’”

God’s Grace Is Enough

THE BIBLE IS CLEAR that our salvation is not a product of our good works because none of us, except for Jesus Himself, is worthy. Instead of allowing us to be discouraged because of our unworthiness, the Lord gives us a magnificent gift: His grace is sufficient for our salvation.That means our good works come as a result of our salvation, not as a cause of it.
JESUS WILL WORK through our hearts to transform us into the men and women He wants us to be, and as He does a perfect work in us, we will respond more and more to his call.

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“Let us draw near … with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” — Hebrews 10:22 (ESV)

 

OUR GOOD WORKS, then, will be a natural outpouring of our gratitude for his love for us, not an attempt to match an impossible standard.

THE LORD, through his work on the Cross, satisfied our debt.

 

“But may those who love the Lord be like the sun when it rises in all its brightness.”
— Judges 5:31 (GW)

God Gives Us Choices     

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Verses From the Bible to Guide Us Through the Week

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MondayGenesis 2:16-17 (NIV) “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’”

MEDITATION: The Lord provided paradise to Adam, the first man, and gave him a job to do: to tend the garden. He also gave Adam a choice: He could follow God’s commands and remain in the garden, or he could rebel against God and lose paradise. Adam, through Eve, rebelled against God’s law, setting up man’s estrangement from God. To reconcile man, God sent His Son to be our Savior.

PRAYER: O Lord, how grievous it must have been to see how quickly your proudest creation — man, made in your image — rebelled against your beneficial rule. Yet, without free choice, our obedience would be forced. To complete the gift of life, You let us reject You. Yet, in your love and mercy, You provided a way to reconcile the world to yourself, through your Son. Thank you, magnificent Lord. In His Name. Amen

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Tuesday — Matthew 7:13 (NASB) “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.”

MEDITATION: There are two life choices: obey God and enter the narrow gate or disobey God and enter the wide gate. The narrow gate is more difficult, and fewer people will find it, because it requires us to give our lives to God and turn from our natural, worldly ways. But if we do follow God, we will reap the reward of eternal life.

PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus Christ taught us to seek the life of eternal reward by entering the narrow gate, yet it can be so difficult to follow You. Our worldly hearts are tugged toward the wide path. By staying in prayer to You (1 Thess. 5:17), we can overcome the world as Jesus has (John 16:33). In Jesus’ Name we lift our prayer. Amen

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WednesdayDeuteronomy 30:19 (ESV) “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”

MEDITATION: Once again, the Lord sets up a choice for man: he can choose God and have the blessings of life and companionship with God or he can reject God and lose the blessings that God offers. God does not compel man to choose Him. God will call to man, but, in the end, He will let man choose his fate.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You have shown such mercy toward us, when we deserve only punishment. Our hearts are dark, our thoughts are evil, our actions are self-serving and harmful to others. You have been so clear in giving us choices, that obeying your commands leads to life and disobedience leads to death. Thank you for showing us mercy and patience as so often we make the wrong choice. In Him. Amen

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Thursday Romans 6:23 (NLT) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 10:13 (HCSB) “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

MEDITATION: Once again, God gives us a choice. It is a choice between everything and nothing, life and death, obedience and rebellion. The choice and payoff are always the same: If we choose to obey God, we will be blessed and have life; if we choose to reject him, we will lose the blessing and life. What amazing love, to let us choose — even to reject him! But even more amazing is that the Creator of the universe promises to give life to all — everyone — who chooses to obey. 

PRAYER: O Merciful Father, thank you for providing a way out of the dilemma we’ve created for ourselves. You sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin (for my sin). He who was without sin took on my sin and the nails meant for me. When He died on the Cross, He said, “It is finished.” Jesus had overcome the sin of the world. Thank you! Loving Jesus. Amen

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FridayJoshua 24:15 (GW) “If you don’t want to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. … My family and I will still serve the Lord.”

MEDITATION: At some point, we all have to make a choice in relation to those around us — our families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Unfortunately, our closest family members can make an opposite choice from ours. If we choose life, they might choose to reject the free gift. The choice to obey God is an individual choice. It is not made on our behalf by anyone, not even a parent. It is ours, and it is part of our individual reaction to the reality that is Jesus Christ.IMG_0055

PRAYER: O Lord, our human history is filled with rebellion against your commandments. We are grateful that You allowed the Bible to report that sinful history so that we can see our need for a Savior, that only Jesus can save us from the death we deserve. Lord, forgive us when we fail to honor You and bring us back into your fold. In the Good Shepherd’s Name. Amen

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Saturday John 15:16 (MSG) “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.”

MEDITATION: One of the greatest traits of the God we worship is that our God is an active God, one who searches for us, as He demonstrated in the garden after Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit. While He lets us choose whether we want to follow him, He doesn’t sit back and wonder if we’ll find him. He lets us know where He is and makes it very clear He will seek us out.

PRAYER: Dear Father God, thank You that You are a God who comes looking for us. You love us so much that You will forgive us for our sins and take us back to your heart. Send your Holy Spirit to live in our hearts that Your love may shine through the cracks in our lives so that it may illuminate a fallen world in desperate need of Jesus’ love. Amen

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Sunday  Revelations 22:17 (NCV) “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears this say, ‘Come!’ Let whoever is thirsty come; whoever wishes may have the water of life as a free gift.”

MEDITATION: God completes the circle of creation. In the beginning of man’s life on earth, God places Adam and Eve in the garden and tells them to multiply and help him govern the planet. He lets them choose their destiny. When He returns, He will gather his own and take them to the New Earth, which will be paradise forever. Those whom He gathers will be those who have chosen to follow him.

PRAYER: O Lord, our Father, there are so many ways You tell us in your Word of your love and your reaching out to us. Build the faith within us to place our trust in You and your promises. Without the assurance of Jesus’ love, our lives are barely more than a flicker of candlelight. With his love, we face a joyful eternity in your embrace. Thank you! In Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen

 

 

 

Finding Strength

 

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“And it shall come to pass, that everything that lives, which moves, wherever the rivers shall come, shall live.” Ezekiel 47:9 (NKJV)

Our Strength Comes From the Lord

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Verses From the Bible to Guide Us Through the Week

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This week, meditate each day on the beauty of the day’s verse. We’ve culled from a variety of Bible versions to give a glimpse into the richness of God’s word. The Western world is blessed to have available God’s word in many translations for daily instruction. You might find a version that you’d like to learn more about, or you might prefer to stay with the version of your personal Bible. God speaks to us in many ways. Our job is to listen … and obey.

MONDAY — Philippians 4:13 (NLT) “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

 TUESDAY — Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV) “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

WEDNESDAY — John 15:5 (GW) “I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.”

THURSDAY — Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV) “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

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FRIDAY — Nehemiah 8:10 (NCV) “Don’t be sad, because the joy of the LORD will make you strong.”

SATURDAY — 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NASB) “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

SUNDAY — Isaiah 40:30-31 (MSG) “For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.”

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, as we meditate each day on Your Word, which tells us that You, Lord, and You alone, are our source of strength, we pray that You will lift our hearts. Create within us a desire to soak up Your light and let it shine through our broken lives to illuminate a world hungry for Truth. In Jesus’ Name. Amen