Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 2 May 2017

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”  Hebrews 10, verses 15-16.

I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. That thought blows my mind.   Does it apply to everyone?

Do you think Kim Jong Un has a conscience?   This is the man who tortures nearly 300,000 of his countrymen simply for the act of thinking for themselves.   He just ordered the assassination of his half-brother in Malaysia.   He seems bent on provoking war with the West, provoking a resumption of the vicious civil war his grandfather began nearly 70 years ago.   Do you think he has a conscience?   Do you think that his conscience is inured?   He was educated in Switzerland, so it’s reasonable to assume he was exposed to Christianity at some point in his life.   Do you think he rejected it?

Or there was Sayyid Qtub.   You might never have heard of him.   He, too, was educated in the West, and he, too, was exposed to Christianity during his time in America (several years, in fact).   Sayyid Qtub was the original Islamist fundamentalist, a man who grew to hate all that the West stands for and who began to challenge the Arab governments in Egypt in the 1960s.   He founded the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood and was executed by the Egyptians in 1966.   One of his acolytes was a man named Zawahiri, who later worked with a man named Bin Laden to form Al Qaeda.   Do you think they had consciences?

Do you think God wrote His laws on their hearts and wrote them on their minds?

Has He written them on yours?

You know the answer, and it’ll make you uncomfortable to admit that, yes, these people did (or do) know God.   God loved Sayyid Qtub, Ayman al Zawahiri, and Osama Bin Laden enough that He sent His only son to die for them.   He does it for everyone, even those who commit great sins.   Just yesterday, I was at a gymnastics facility here in Paris, talking with a woman there (while waiting for my grandson to complete his gym lesson).   We were talking about the man in Dallas who had just shot the paramedic (and who was later found dead, a suicide, in a nearby home).   The woman’s young daughter quipped into our conversation that “Mommy, Jesus died for that man, too.”   She’s right.   He did.   Jesus died for that lunatic who murdered an innocent first responder and then murdered himself.

Just like He died for You.   You whose sins may be relatively tame compared to Kim Jong Un, Osama Bin Laden, or a crazed killer.  Re-read verses 15 and 16 and tell me if they say “only white people” or “The Holy Spirit testifies to Southern Baptists about this.”   It doesn’t say “This pertains only to the Catholics” or “AME Methodists know this better than anyone else.”   No, those verses say that Jesus’ Holy Spirit testifies to US, all of us, each of us, you and me.   They say that God wrote His holy laws into our hearts and minds.   They are natural law, beyond human education and not caused or inspired by human thought.   They are God bequeathed into us, innately part of us.   They are branded onto our very existence.

So do I think those horrible people, whoever they are, whoever WE are, know about God without being taught about Him?   Yes, yes I do.   I believe that God writes Himself into our DNA, whoever we are, and that our deepest yearnings in whatever culture from which we emanate are to know God more.   To learn about Him, to seek Him, to build on what He put into us and to find meaning in this life through Him.   Some reject this; let’s be honest:   most people reject this.   Yet it doesn’t make the truth less true that God loved us first and wants us first to love Him before we know or love anything else.   His Spirit speaks to us through the conscience, and we each have a conscience even if we dull it.  He loved us enough to die for us no matter what terrible things we do to each other in our lives.  He wants everyone to know this so that everyone might turn from our evil ways to embrace His Way.  Even Sayyid Qtub, the Dallas killer, and Kim Jong Un.

For further reading:  Hebrews 3:7, Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:10.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being bigger than me, more patient than me, more loving than me.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 20 April 2017

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:  “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”  Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”  And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.  Hebrews 10, verses 15-18.

There is so much to unpack here.   These verses quote Jeremiah 31, and if you haven’t read the words of that lamenting prophet, next time you are in a place of need, read Jeremiah.   He, too, knew desperate soul-crushing hurt yet clung to God no matter what befell him (and he lived in terrible times).

Perhaps the best thing that Jeremiah recorded was that quote: “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”   In remembering our lawless acts no more, God blots out the consequences of our sins and sees us perfectly through Jesus.   When Jeremiah was alive, men did not know of a man named Jesus; it was hundreds of years before Christ.  Instead, the time after Jesus is what Jeremiah was talking about in chapter 31, specifically the time when Jesus was no longer physically present as a man yet would always be omnipresent as Spirit.   He would live in our souls and reason with us through our intellects.

You and I are living in that time now.   When you say you believe in Jesus, you’re lining up with Jeremiah.   You’re choosing sides, and you’re acknowledging that you desire for Jesus Christ to live in your soul, reason with your mind, and work through your hands.   When you choose sides and choose Jesus, you’re acknowledging that all your wrongs have been forgiven.   Everything that you’ve ever done in sin is forgiven, washed away.   No longer do you need some stranger priest to sacrifice an animal in your stead so that you might make atonement for what you’ve done.

Most of all, you aren’t guilty any more.   You’ve been declared ‘not guilty’ and you are permanently not guilty.  Jesus took ALL of your guilt and negated the need for you to carry it around.   This is perhaps my toughest sin; it’s the one I all too frequently commit.   Years ago I laid the guilt of my sins at the cross, yet I seem to constantly walk back there every now and then and pick up the writhing, nasty sack that contains that guilt.   I throw it over my shoulder and walk away.   With each step it feels heavier, smells worse, threatens more.  All the while, it feels like Jesus is looking at me from His cross, staring down at me, imploring me to put the bag down again and walk away from it.  It’s like He’s saying to me “I’m forgiving all that.   It doesn’t define you any more.   I define you now.   You can put it down.”

Years of faith, years of study, years of therapy, years of prayer confirm this truth to me, that Jesus fully, freely declares me not guilty of even the worst things I’ve ever done.   Yet I still commit the sin of trying to carry around that guilt again and again, long after he’s forgiven it.   It lures me back, welling up feelings of remorse, inadequacy, hurt.  The harsh truth is that it is a sin to keep picking it up.   It’s a form of idolatry, and it’s like saying to Jesus “I don’t believe You really can do this.”

He forgives that sin too.   That’s the point where my head is blown.   I’m completely befuddled at how He does that, how He forgives me when I mess up the first time, then how He reminds me that He’s forgiven those later sins too.   It’s because of His sacrifice that He reminds me of how He loves me, how He’s forgiven me, how He’s written that love on my heart and in my mind.   How that divine love defines me now.

We’re living in the time when that is the norm.  It has been the norm for over two thousand years since the days when Jesus walked the earth.   These days, He still walks it, but does so through the feet of a billion believing souls.   We are living in the time Jeremiah prophesied, and before the time when Jesus will return to walk again on His own feet.  The same feet the Romans nailed to the cross…the same cross where we daily lay down our sins and work to walk away from them knowing all the work we really need has already been completed.   Somewhere in my head I hear that song from “Frozen,” trilling me to ‘let it go.’   How I wish it felt that easy.

For further reading:  Hebrews 3:7m, Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:10.

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I constantly relive, re-carry the guilt of all the sins You’ve forgiven.   You did it completely, fully.   Help my unbelief.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 19 April 2017

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.   Hebrews 10, verses 11-14.

Do you feel like you’ve been made holy?

“HOLY” is a song on country radio now.   Florida Georgia Line sings it, and HOLY stands for “High On Loving You.”   You may or may not like country music; you may or may not like Florida Georgia Line (not my favorite).   But the song uses a word with which many country music fans might typically be familiar.   Holy.   Invoking a stereotype, it’s commonly accepted that country listeners have more exposure to gospel music and gospel themes than some other genres.   Thus, it seems reasonable to surmise that folks who listen to the song are familiar with the idea of holiness.  This particular ditty may be a young man’s paean to love (or something like it…that’s a Kenny Rogers song), but it made me think of the theme from verse 14.

You and I have been made holy.

My Concordia makes the point that this section of scripture contrasts sitting with the actions of Jewish priests, who stood in the tabernacle and the temple.  They never sat down while on duty.   They didn’t ‘rest’ in front of God.   Instead, they stood, walked, or performed all their duties while in the standing position.   Not so Jesus, who conducted His ministry as He did.   Then, after His ascension, “sat down at the right hand of God.”   That isn’t rhetoric or allegory:   it’s a point.

The point of it is that Jesus makes us holy.

The point of the verses is that Jesus was both divine and complete.  He completed His tasks because, in Him, life found full completion.   In and through Jesus, redemption and forgiveness are complete, and we have been made holy by Him.  No further sacrifice is necessary.   No further effort is required.   Where Jesus is, He is done.   Indeed, the Gospel of John says that some of Jesus’ last words were “it is finished.”  It is finished.   Everything that needed to be done was done.   He did everything necessary to make you holy.   Jesus, sitting at the right hand of God, lives and reigns today, resting but interceding with the Father through their Spirit on our behalf.   They do that because everything Jesus did was to make you holy.   Where Jesus is, He’s high on loving you.  Florida Georgia Line aint got nothing on that.

So I’ll admit that, sometimes, I don’t feel holy.   In fact, most of the time I don’t feel holy.   I can’t ‘feel’ it at all; I can’t seem to sense it.   I realize that this is a problem with me, not with God.   He’s already done His part and nothing more needs to happen.   It doesn’t matter whether I feel it or not:   God has still done everything that needed to be done to make me holy, to make me blameless in His sight.   Because I believe in Jesus, when God sees me, He doesn’t see my sins.   He sees me through the prism of His perfect Son.   What I don’t feel through emotion now is still reality in fact forever.   All I have to do is believe.  Yet I’ll admit:   sometimes this is a challenge.

It’s also moot.  Even when I don’t feel holy, Jesus looks at me as holy and bids me to turn from the temptations that lure me or the guilt that plagues me.   He reminds me that I’m loved perfectly, made clean perfectly, and that He sits and the right hand of His Father to tell him “consider our child and friend, Dave.   I’ve made him holy for You again.”   Florida Georgia Line can’t do that and it’s no less of a fact even when I don’t feel it.

For further reading:  Hebrews 5:1, Mark 16:19, Joshua 10:24, Hebrews 1:13, Ephesians 5:26, John 19:30.

My Lord, I praise You for making me holy.   For loving me so unconditionally, cleansing me from my sins, giving me the courage to live here again for You.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 17 April 2017

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.  Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God.’”  Hebrews 10, verses 5-7

A happy day after Easter to you.   Here in east Texas, it’s pouring rain.   I’m thankful that the rain held off until today because yesterday it would have drowned out everyone’s Easter plans.   On the homestead north of Paris, after church my wife cooked a great dinner while I went outside to do some overdue yard work.   I cut down some nuisance bushes and thinned out plants all around the property, and it gave me time to think about a thought God had put on my brain during church.

Think about Easter Saturday.   Maundy Thursday we understand.  Good Friday we understand.   Easter Sunday:   we get it, and even the days between Easter and Pentecost, when we observe God imparting His Spirit to us so that we can live life as Jesus’ eyes and ears.   Historically we know what happened on those days.   Ecclesiastically we comprehend the meaning of their events.  What about that in-between day?   Who ever thinks about Easter Saturday?

Have you ever really noodled the idea that God provided everything on Easter Saturday?   On Friday, we humans, His ‘very good’ creation, publicly and desperately murdered God who lived among us as a man.   We didn’t just murder Him:   we brutalized Him physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally in the worst ways possible.   If you haven’t watched “The Passion of the Christ,” I urge you to do so because it is as close as you’ll get to actually watching Jesus being crucified.   Me thinks the real thing was even worse.

He who bore that torture had only come to do His Father’s will.   The man Jesus lived perfectly to do that perfect will, then died perfectly on a gruesome torture tree to do that same holy will.  He came to atone for all the things He never did wrong because we, as a people, simply didn’t ‘get it.’   Animal sacrifices, burnt grain offerings, good works, even clean living didn’t atone for sins.   They still don’t and never will.  Yet people clung/cling to them as if doing so will please God and bring us closer to Him.   Perhaps it’s just another way we try to be God instead of living our lives to reflect Him.   Jesus understood all that and yet He still chose the nails so we wouldn’t have to take them.

And still, on the day when Jesus’ body lay cold and dead in the Arimathean’s tomb, God again provided.   Air, water, food, shelter, love, friendship, vocation:   for everyone living on planet Earth that day God still showed up.   Just as He had every single day since He spoke life into being, God provided all that people needed to get through the time between midnights.  The Roman soldiers who flogged Jesus then nailed Him to that cross?   Alive and thriving.   The Sanhedrin that had cajoled a death sentence?   Alive and kicking with hot food in their bellies.   The crowds who cheered and cried as Jesus agonized along the Via Dolorosa?   Alive, breathing, going on about their business.  God.  Still.   Provided, and He provided to those who deserved it least.  Can we even begin to comprehend that kind of love?  In the whole story of Easter and the miracle God provided through it, perhaps that’s the most overlooked miracle of all.  God showed up when we least deserved it.

Like He’s showing up now in the miracle of rain pouring down outside my office door.   It’s filling up my pond, the same pond I wasn’t sure would ever fill again.  Nature really is a miracle, you know.   Watching trees bud and bring forth leaves.   Fish swimming in the pond and young chicks just hatched growing feathers in just a few short weeks.  The sun that warms us and brings weather to nourish and rejuvenate the planet.   These are all daily miracles we see.   They’re all ways God still provides.   If you try to count all the ways God provides for you in just one day, you won’t get anything else done.   That’s a miracle, too.   In the days when we deserve it least, God still provides everything we need.   And after living, dying, and then rising on that day we commemorated just yesterday, He still lives on in our hearts, minds and hands, still saying “here I am” as both identification and proclamation.   That’s the biggest miracle of all.

For further reading:  Hebrews 1:6, Hebrews 2:14, 1 Peter 2:24, Ezra 6:2, Jeremiah 36:2, Psalm 40:6-8, Matthew 26:39, .

My risen Lord, thank You for providing for me when I’ve so not deserved it.   Thank you for life, air, food, shelter, and love.   Thank You for dying for me, then living for me.   Teach me ways to live for You today and every day.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 13 April 2017, Maundy Thursday

Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Hebrews 10, verses 2-4.

Today is Maundy Thursday 2017.   Today is the reason why animal sacrifices became unnecessary.  Today we commemorate God giving Himself up so that they would no longer be necessary.   That sacrifice we commemorate tomorrow, on Good Friday. But for now, today is a sad day of celebratory mourning, a time when we remember Jesus instituting the miracle of communion and forgiveness while facing the spiritual torment of Gethsemene, then Golgotha tomorrow.

As part of my own remembrance, yesterday I watched “The Passion of the Christ.”   I try to do this every year during Holy Week because it keeps my faith edgy.   The movie is so graphic and rightfully so since it portrays the most graphic murder ever perpetrated on a man.  I kept it on the TV in my office while I worked, and glanced over at it throughout the afternoon.  The more I watch the movie, though, the more I reach the same conclusion.

I feel sorry for Judas.

I’ve written this before but I feel sorry for Judas Iscariot.   He brought his woes on himself.   Nobody forced Him to betray the Son of Man but Judas did it willingly, even enthusiastically.  I know:  he was a greedy, selfish, sinful, detestable bastard.   Conniving, evil, deceitful; sounds like many of my friends and fellow sinners, actually.  No, I’m not equivocating because I’ve never sold out the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver.   My sins are my own and they have denied Jesus as surely as did Judas, Peter, or any of His other best friends who abandoned Him in His most desperate hours.

Yet I feel sorry for Judas because he is pathetic.

When Judas absorbed the guilt of his sins, he forgot all about Jesus.   Maybe it was that he couldn’t bring himself to even think about Jesus or what he had done to his friend and savior.   Perhaps the guilt was too crushing and he simply gave in to the worst temptation.   It’s possible that Judas didn’t understand the new covenant that Jesus had just explained to him in that Passover supper that first Maundy Thursday evening.  Or how it would supersede those sacrifices that dated back to the days of Noah or before.

Whatever happened, Judas snapped and killed himself.   He was cold and dead before Jesus was even nailed to the cross that Good Friday.  I feel sorry for him, have pity on him, and I honestly hope something in him turned back before the life snuffed out of his body.   It isn’t up to me, but I hope there’s a place in heaven for Judas.   If there isn’t a place for people who do things as supremely reprehensible as what Judas did, then there isn’t a place for any of us.   The key is belief.   Judas lost his belief, his faith, in Jesus if he ever really had it in the first place.

He lived in a time when people still fully believed that animal sacrifices atoned for human sins.   The whole purpose of the Jewish temple was to worship Yahweh, the almighty I AM.   Integral to that worship was the Mosaic sacrificial system where doves, lambs, and bulls were slaughtered and brought to the altar.   There was even an annual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, which is still commemorated by Jews today) in which the high priest took that animal blood and sprinkled it on the articles in the Most Holy Place.   By the time of Jesus and Judas, the Ark of the Covenant (God’s mercy seat) was long gone from the temple, having disappeared hundreds of years before.   Yet the Temple still contained a Most Holy Place – a Holy of Holies – where worshippers thought God was still present.  Once a year, the priest went into the Most Holy Place and sprinkled animal blood.

And it did nothing.  Yes, I said that.   It did nothing.   Even from the start of sacrifices it was only faith in God that would bring atonement.   Only God could fully atone for man’s sins because imperfect man could not.   The sacrifices were an expression of that faith, not the actual atonement.  Thus, when Jesus died, He and only He fully atoned as a true sacrifice for the terrible sins of His most cherished creation, man.

This was the world in which Judas lived and from which he committed suicide.   Even as a disciple closely walking with the incarnate God for years, he never made the connection between Jesus and sacrifice.  I feel sorry for him.   “The Passion of the Christ” shows him to be mentally anguished up to the end, tortured by demons, tortured by his sins.   The Bible doesn’t insist that people who commit suicide are damned, though it does paint suicide as a sin.   If Judas felt such terrible anguish that he couldn’t go on, I sincerely hope that, in his final seconds here, he found comfort in repentance and a place in paradise beyond.   That isn’t up to us:  it’s up to God.   Someday, hopefully many years from now, we’ll learn what happened.

For further reading:  Hebrews 9:9.

Lord, I praise You in mourning and celebration for the sacrifice You gave of Yourself.   Have mercy on Judas and others, and .

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 12 April 2017

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.  Hebrews 10, verse 1.

Mamma Mia:   poke out my eyeballs, please.   My wife and I have a running thing about the movie “Mamma Mia.”   Me, being (I believe to be) the typical American male would like to never see this time-sucking waste of celluloid expense ever again.   My wife, on the other hand, loves the movie and gets peeved with me when I say that (she might get peeved after reading this today).   I suppose it’s because I don’t care for Meryl Streep, or because I have testosterone in my system, or because, well, the movie just isn’t my cup of tea (or, since it takes place in Greece, Ouzo).  But the movie was on HBO this morning while I was writing this.   After watching a few minutes of Pierce Brosnan trying to sing, I drew a parallel between the badly acted ABBA movie and Hebrews 10, verse 1.

Bad things here don’t last because there’s so much more good that’s on the way.   Bad things are illusions even when they are actual events or things.   Those things don’t define us unless we let them because we are part of the promise of greater things to come.

In “Mamma Mia”, Meryl (in her best Merylish fashion) is a single mom forced to face the consequences of her past.   Her daughter is getting married and the three men who might be said daughter’s dad all show up for the wedding.   She feels bound and imprisoned by her past choices, defined by them, committed today to a course of action determined only by them.   In reading Hebrews 10, however, I saw that this is simply foolish.   It’s also just a movie plot.

But movies are supposed to reflect real life.  How many of us are stuck on our past?   I can’t tell you how many times my own mistakes have come back to haunt me.  Even when those days are long gone, sometimes it still hurts, and sometimes I let it hurt.   I forget that Christ redeemed me once and forever.   Those things that I’ve done that were so wrong don’t matter anymore.   Even when they still play out as consequences in my life, I don’t need to bear the guilt of them anymore.

Does this ever happen to you?   I bet I know the answer.   When it does, here’s another movie song:   channel some pitch perfect Anna Kendrick and be “Bulletproof” to your past.   It doesn’t define you.   It may have defined you before but it doesn’t have to now.  The laws of God that convict us are designed to point us to our need for God, our crucial dependence on Him.  The tabernacle and the churches in which we worship today (which are derivatives in structure from those in ancient times) were given to us as representations of greater glory in heaven.   Christ sealed the promise of that glory for us, ensuring once and for all that those who believe in Him share in that promise.

You can believe this whole Christianity story is just mumbo jumbo.   You can hold that it’s myth and that it’s preposterous for one man to be either sinless or to die for everyone.   You can even insist that the archaic laws of long ago no longer matter (even if all western civilization stems from those Judeo-Christian laws and values).   In the end, those things are all just shadows, illusions that can either distract us from our journey with God or point us ahead in living life for Him.   What will you choose?

Someday I’ll regale you with the story of how my wife forcibly dragged me off an airplane and immediately took me to a movie theater to watch Mamma Mia; good times, good times.   But, like the movie, everything really does have a happy ending…especially our one-way death trip here on the Third Rock.  Mamma Mia:   next time it’s on, please pass the salt shaker so I can salt my eyeballs instead of watching it.   But before pouring the salt, next time I’ll also remember that, mamma mia:  good things are coming indeed.

For further reading:  Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:23.

Lord, thank You for the things of this life that You give us which point us to You.   And bless Meryl Streep, too.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 11 April 2017

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  Hebrews 9, verses 27-28.

More mumbo jumbo if you don’t believe it’s real.   Human sacrifice, fairy tales, pipe dreams, unkept promises from 2000 years ago:   if you don’t believe in Jesus then these are logical things to you.  They’re all that Christianity is (oh and don’t forget that part about the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition…radical Islamists have a lot of fun with those two).

Yet the essence of faith is belief.   Believing is the only thing that’s asked of people who follow Jesus.   Yes, He asks us to keep His commands, but we can’t perfectly do so even if we live our lives dedicated to doing good works for Him.   Yes, He asks us to love God above all else but we can only mimic the kind of grace that God bestows on us without our even asking.   Yes, believing in Him stretches our concept of logic because, according to the world, it isn’t logical to believe that someone can live again after they’ve died.  All these things and more Jesus asks of us who believe in Him, but ALL of them are impossible without faith.  Only by believing do those other good fruits begin to bear in our lives.

Without faith, there’s no need to believe He will appear a second time.   For all you know, that may be just another myth from antiquity.   Without faith, waiting for Jesus becomes a useless exercise in self-delusion.   Without faith, there will be no judgment of our sins.

Can you see, then, that without faith in Jesus, there are no limits on human behavior?   At first glance, that seems like sweet freedom; the uninhibited ability to do whatever we want.   Carry that a bit further and that uninhibited freedom becomes unstoppable anarchy.   Imagine the chaos and complete lawlessness if all 7 billion of us here on the Third Rock did everything we wanted all the time with no consequences.   The depravity you and I can imagine would quickly become a reality of horror without end.  Faith in Jesus is the first backstop against that.    Only with faith does hope become more than just a wish.  Only with faith does just law become a constructive boundary to protect that freedom.

And the longer you believe, the more you learn that it is impossible to have faith apart from Jesus.   Indeed, it’s His Spirit that first touches us when we even think of accepting that Jesus died once for all to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.   You and I can’t even form the desire for that thought without God first touching us saying “I’m here.”  Everything that is good comes from God, and when we even enjoy that goodness, we’re reflecting feelings of satisfaction towards God even when we don’t intend to.   That’s the start of faith and it’s no accident or spurious emotion.  Enjoy a Big Mac?   Thank God.   Enjoy your favorite TV show?   Thank God.  Enjoy music, the company of friends, having the door held for you, a rainy night in Georgia?   You know what to do:   thank God.

You can’t even thank God without having faith in Him.   That faith starts with Him first coming to you, touching your heart, inspiring your soul, engendering good feelings in you.  It’s love because God is all love.  It started because Jesus ho loves us first sacrificed Himself once for all so that our eternal debt could be paid once and for all.  When you believe, that mumbo jumbo the rest of society rejects begins to become the only real truth on which you can build a wholesome life.

For further reading:  Genesis 3:19, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 7:27, Matthew 16:27, 1 Peter 2:24, Hebrews 5:9, 1 Corinthians 1:7.

Lord, You are magnificent.   Thank You for touching my heart, for planting the seed of hope to grow into the living organism of faiths.