Fearless Friday

Here’s this week’s Psalm. Meditate on it. Memorize it. Marinate in it.

The Lord is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life —
of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalm 27:1)

Sunday Prayer

Here’s a great prayer from the Apostle Paul to pray for the people in your life who may not know God. Personalize it and pray through it with all your heart.

I keep asking
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart
may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope
to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in his saints,
and his incomparably great power
for us who believe.
(Ephesians 1:17-19)

Top Ten Verses: #1

We’re counting down the top ten Bible verses of all time, based on an exhaustive study conducted by research scientists with very large brains (and apparently a lot of time on their hands) who determined how often each verse appears in print.

Drum roll, please. Here’s the absolute #1 most popular Bible verse in the history of the world. You learned it in Sunday School. You’ve seen it on banners at sporting events. Maybe you’ve even got it tattooed on your biceps.

But don’t let familiarity rob it of its power and truth. Pray through every single precious word right now with all your heart.

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.
(John 3:16)


Jesus’ Last Words

This week, we’re walking in Jesus’ footsteps to the cross and beyond.

In the last 24 hours, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, abandoned, mocked, beaten, condemned and hung on a cross to die. According to eyewitness accounts, these were his final words:

Forgiveness. Jesus’ first words on the cross were “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Even in agony Jesus embodied God’s amazing love, echoing his earlier words from the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Salvation. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One hurled insults at him. The other repented and begged, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Compassion. Seeing his mother, Mary, and the disciple John grieving near the cross, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to John, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27) John followed Jesus’ instructions and took Mary into his home.

Forsaken. Witnesses reported that, beginning at noon, “darkness came over the land” for three hours. Then, at about 3:00 p.m., Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46) Jesus endured the darkness of separation from the Father to pay the penalty for our sins.

Thirst. Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28) Jesus thirsted on the cross for us so that we would never have to thirst again (Revelation 7:16). As he said earlier: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37).

Finished. Jesus declared: “It is finished.” (John 19:30), conquering sin forever (Hebrews 10:5-13).

Surrender. Finally, Jesus cried out, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” and then breathed his last (Luke 23:46). Jesus submitted to his Father’s will up to his very last breath. And he did it for us.


How to Get Saved

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Here’s the choice:

1. Life apart from God in sin, anxiety and eternal torment OR

2. Life with God in eternal peace, joy and love.

Hmm. Seems pretty obvious to me.

But how do we get there?

By God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

OK, but what exactly is “faith”?

It’s all about a loving relationship with God. Even though sin broke that relationship, God provides a way back through Jesus.

Faith isn’t mere knowledge of facts. We’re saved when we believe deep in our hearts that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected and we trust him alone to save us.

Here’s a prayer you can pray right now. But it can’t be mere words — it has to come from your heart.

Dear Jesus,
I admit that I’m a sinner
and that I need your forgiveness.
I believe that you died to pay for my sins
and that you were raised from the dead.
I want to turn from my sins and follow you.
I ask you to come into my heart
and take control of my life
through the Holy Spirit.

So, what happens next?

Let the Holy Spirit work in your life. Pray continually. Read the Bible. Hang out with other believers. If you truly let the Holy Spirit take control, you’ll start to see amazing things: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)


Everybody Falls

. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . (Romans 3:23)

Everybody sins and falls short of God’s glory. You. Me. Your pastor. The President. Billy Graham. Mother Teresa. The Apostle Paul. Everybody.

God makes it 158% clear that we can’t work our way into Heaven on our own no matter how hard we try. If that’s the way you approach life, it’s a bit like being in a high-jump competition where after years of training, vitamin supplements and maybe even some blood doping your best effort barely clears five feet but the qualifying height is a googolplex times infinity plus a zillion miles. You’ll always come up short.

So, what’s the solution? The Apostle Paul grappled with that very question in the greatest Bible tongue-twister of all time . . .

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Praise be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the  law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:15-8:4)

As if that wasn’t enough, Paul adds this:

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace . . . (Romans 8:5-6)

So, stop jumping and let Jesus carry you. It’s a matter of life and death.