Ultimate Perfect Love!

Jesus Christ cross. Easter, resurrection concept. Christian cross on a background with dramatic lighting, colorful mountain sunset, dark clouds and sky and sunbeams

Christ’s death on the Cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love. ALL real love (agape; unconditional; others before self) comes from God. He allows and enables us to express His unconditional love to others only to the extent that we cast aside pride. Even that ability to cast aside pride comes from God.

Happy Independence Day!

Declaration of Independence Close Up

Two Powerful Founders’ Quotes Connect Patriotism and Biblical Faith

July 3, 1776 “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.

“You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory I can see that the end is worth more than all the means; that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even though we [may regret] it, which I trust in God we shall not.” Founder John Adams

July 4, 1837 “Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day. Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before.”

“I speak as a man of the world to men of the world; and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read in small portions of one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity.”

“Posterity–you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” Sixth President John Quincy Adams

Famous Scientist Stands Up for God!

Wernher von Braun

“Some…challenge science to prove the existence of god.. But must we light a candle to see the sun?…It is difficult for me to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe…Viewing the awesome reaches of space…should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator.” Wernher von Braun, Director of NASA and U.S. guided missile program (launched America’s first satellite)

I Must Decrease So That You Can Increase!

man looking at his big boss

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30 KJV] John the Baptist’s humble statement about his relationship with his cousin Jesus the Christ resounds loudly down through the ages. It applies to each of us today, regarding our relationship with the Lord and also our relationship with others.

Each of us must decrease so the love of God and the light of God can shine through each of our lives, becoming abundantly and conspicuously visible to others. Each of us must decrease so that others might increase. I (Lloyd Stebbins) must decrease so that YOU might increase. Humility demands it! God commands it!

Today, our schedules are voluntarily overcrowded with self; we have deliberately allowed little or no time to serve the needs of others. But wait! Serving others is an overarching Biblical imperative. Jesus, our perfect role model said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” [Mark 10:45 NIV]

We cannot draw attention to self and others at the same time. We cannot serve self and others at the same time.

Some say we must sacrifice self for the benefit of others. But scripture guarantees that the benefits returned outweigh perceived sacrifice. He said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you…” [Luke 6:38 KJV] The Apostle Paul, quoted Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive. [Acts 20:35 KJV] What do we have to give? Time, talent, and treasure!

It is a blessing to serve others. God blesses both the giver and the receiver, the benefactor and the one who benefits. If doubts linger, note that serving is not optional.  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37040 NIV] Service is an expression of love; service is love in action; serving others is love made visible.

The world says, “Have it your way” (old Burger King commercial and Frank Sinatra’s popular song, “I did it my way.”). It is YOUR choice, your way or God’s way.

As for me and my house, we will acknowledge that Jesus is THE WAY–“I am the way, the truth and the life…” [John 14:6 KJV]—and whole heartedly strive to live accordingly.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

The Birth of the Light of the World

The Nativity scene.

The Christmas season reminds us of some curious lyrics about love and light, in the most enduring Christmas carols. A closer look reveals that the curious lyrics are rooted in Scripture. Consider two examples:

  • Silent Night, Holy Night-3rd verse

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing-3rd verse

Light and life to all He brings…”

There is a linkage between love and light and something very special about the linkage. Light has fascinated mankind since Creation; artists and scientists have had a complementary interest in studying light. But the highest source of information is Scripture. A look at what Scripture reveals about love and light may save artists and scientists considerable time and effort. We can do that right now:

  • “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5 NIV]—All electromagnetic energy that we perceive as light comes from the Sun. Since the light that illuminates the eyes was created by God, He is the physical light. God is also the spiritual light that illumines the soul.

 

  • “…God is love…” [1 John 4:16 KJV] and “…love comes from God.” [1 John 4:7 KJV]—Love is spiritual energy that comes from God, illuminates the soul, and fuels all interpersonal relationships. All love comes from God, whether the one loving gives God credit or not. Our greatest responsibility is to pass it on.

The visible earthly expression of God’s love is in and through the Son (Jesus, Y’shua). He provided “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” [Luke 2:32 NIV] “In him was life, and that life was the light of men…The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” [John 1:4 & 9 NIV]

After forgiving the adulteress, Jesus (Y’shua) confirmed “…’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. But will have the light of life.” [John 8:12 NIV]

Albert Einstein was famous for thought experiments. As a young man, he imagined riding a beam of light. Of course, Jesus could not ride a beam of light; he is the light. Instead, he chose to arrive in a stable through the humble darkness of a virgin’s womb. He was laid in an animal’s feeding trough called a manger. For 33 years, the “King of the Jews” lived a humble life serving others, ultimately exiting this life in the humblest way possible, dying virtually naked on the excruciatingly painful Roman cross.

King Jesus (Y’shua) came as a humble servant to model the life God intended for us to live and to pay the penalty for Adam’s first sin and all the sins in your life and mine. One day, the King will return as the conquering Messiah.

Don’t be afraid of any form of darkness; God is the light! Don’t fear any form of threat; God is love!

As for me, “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” [Psalm 27:1 NIV]

Won’t you join me?

Do You Think Joy and Happiness Are the Same? Wrong!

joy-of-the-lord

For unbelievers, there may be a certain interchangeableness of joy and happiness. Indeed, there are even some passages in the Bible that use the words for joy and happiness somewhat interchangeably. The overarching point here is that the pure joy that continuously comes from the Lord is vastly different than the occasional happiness that comes from man.

For believers, joy in the Lord is the persistent, upbeat, sense of peace and delight that arises, because the Lord first loves us and we in turn love Him as best we can. Joy arises from the continuous operation of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and longsuffering in our lives. The joy of the Lord is permanent, dependable, reliable, and therefore an anchor of the believer’s life.

Some—especially prosperity TV preachers—claim that God wants everyone to be happy all the time. Really? Then why does God say that suffering is the most powerful tool for building strong godly character? Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” [James 1:2 ESV]

Clearly, God wants us to experience the inner joy that comes only from Him. That joy persists despite suffering and attracts others to a saving faith in Jesus. Suffering itself is not fun; it is often painful physically, emotionally, spiritually or all three. Suffering and happiness cannot coexist; for believers, suffering and the joy of the Lord MUST exist simultaneously. It is the most powerful route to building strong character and becoming an effective witness for God.

Happiness is a temporary response to the words and actions of others who will always let us down. In short, all-embracing joy comes from God, but fleeting happiness depends upon others. Consider the comparison of joy and happiness in the table.

joy-v-happiness

Happiness cycles frequently according to the ebb and flow, of outward circumstances. Happiness depends on others who are fickle and will always let us down.

The joy of the Lord should be rock solid. “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.” [Nehemiah 8:10 NIV] Nevertheless, since all people are flawed and sinful, there may be an occasional lapse of joy, but in a believer, it should be very rare.

Most believers are familiar with at least one stage 4 cancer victim who seemed to radiate the love of the Lord in the days just before death. Stage 4 cancer is no fun and can at times be very painful. Happiness becomes very scarce. When pain arrives, happiness often leaves. But true inner joy—the kind that only comes from God—can shine through despite the pain. It is the joy that shines through the pain that often draws people to Jesus.

The pervasive, immediate and eternal benefits of seeking God’s incomparable joy so far surpass man’s fickle, short-term happiness, that the choice of which to pursue is inescapably clear. Yet, we seem to devote most of our waking hours chasing man’s flawed and undependable happiness, often missing God’s sustained, perfect joy simply due to lack of time.

The joy of the Lord should and must be a permanent characteristic of every believer. It is simply a matter of getting pride out of the way and allowing God’s light and love to shine through. God’s light and love will attract others to Jesus, even, or perhaps especially, when outward happiness is at a record low.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?