It’s not too hard to see. “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) God is requiring our obedience and He’s saying, “Look at the world around you, this all didn’t just happen because of a big bang!” Also, it’s not beyond your abilities to read the Bible and learn of Me, ” My word is very near you; it’s in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30:14) The ultimate decision is ours though, but God makes it abundantly clear…”See, I set before you today life and prosperity, or death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16)
If you’re shaking your head at this idea, hear me out. Maybe you accepted the gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins in the past, but guilt and shame keep bringing them back up in your face. That’s not God reminding you of your past shortcomings, that’s Satan. For Psalm 103:12 tells us that, “As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” God has thrown your sins into the Lake of Forgiveness and placed a ” No Fishing” sign on the bank. The past is the past and none of us can change a moment of what has happened…let it go, accept God’s forgiveness, and move forward. Or maybe your saying to yourself that your sins are just too bad to be forgiven…too horrific for God to pardon. The Lord doesn’t place sin in different categories, classes, or degrees of severity. All of us have sinned, there is no one righteous, not even one. (Psalm 14:3) And where sin increased, God’s grace increased all the more. (Romans 5:20) All you need to do today is accept the gift of forgiveness God is offering you.
Now I know the term “special” or “You are special” has sank to the same level as participation trophies. But let’s look at what God has to say about your uncommonness. We are the work of God’s hands, (Isaiah 29:23) created and designed with unique abilities, capabilities, and capacities. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship…His exquisite craftsmanship lovingly displayed in each one of us…separate and alone. You are truly special to God…created for His glory, formed and made to be distinctively you.
You’d probably agree this past year has been especially challenging…filled with enduring hardships and persisting in spite of difficulties. We’ve all experienced suffering in one way or another…but the question is, how well have we done? In II Timothy, the Apostle Paul was exhorting the young Pastor Timothy that suffering for the sake of the Gospel was part of his job description, and that he was to ,”Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Timothy 2:3) No one wants to endure hardship, just as no one wants to suffer… it’s part of living in this broken world, but if we can hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, God is faithful. For as James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is the man who perseveres.” And we can also take great encouragement from Revelation 2:3 when it says, “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My Name, and have not grown weary.”
If I asked you what you were afraid of today, what would you say? I’m not talking about things like spiders, snakes, or mice, but things that have your stomach tied up in a knot. For me it’s COVID 19 and everything related to it. It’s being fearful about my kids and grand-kids coming down with it, or my elderly Dad, or my health-compromised family-members succumbing to the virus. But II Timothy 1:7 tells me, “God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” Fear tells me that I can’t, while faith tells me it’s already been done. For Romans 8:15 says, “You didn’t receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of son-ship.” And this son-ship tells me that through Jesus Christ, God has adopted me and you as His son or daughter thus making us a heir to His promised salvation. Thus we have nothing to fear, for the fear of death is gone…and if you really think about it, fear of death is the origin of all other fears.
Colossians 3:15 tells us, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace…His Message called the Gospel of Peace, and as He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.” (John 14:27) The fruit of righteousness is peace, (Isaiah 32:17) and we can filled with it no matter how frenzied it is around us. How you ask? Peace is a divine promise of God that transcends all human understanding …for the Lord of peace Himself gives us peace at all times and in every way. (II Thessalonians 3:16)
I Corinthians 6:20, “You were bought at a price.” That’s what redemption means, and Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for you…that’s how precious you are in His sight. For we can’t redeem our own life, let alone the lives of others…for only in Him do we have redemption through His blood shed at the Cross on our behalf. (Ephesians 1:7) Today, you may think your life is of no value…you may not feel cherished or loved by anyone…But God doesn’t feel that way about you! For if you were the only person on the face of the earth, He would have still sent His Son, Jesus, to die for your sins…You are that precious to Him.
Within the Beatitudes we find this: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) And this is shown to be so true in Lamentations 3:22-23 when we read, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning.” We can show compassion to our fellow man because of God’s compassion continually being poured into us… anew and fresh every morning. So to be full of mercy is to exhibit the same grace and kindness that God daily extends to us.
Over the landscape of the Bible, God’s words echo over twenty times…”Be strong and courageous!” and “Take courage!” But like the Lost and Found Dept., our courage can become absent only to be obtained again. Psalm 107:26 says, “In their peril their courage melted away.” But in II Samuel 7:27 it tells us, “So Your servant has found courage.” Courage can momentarily wane in the face of tragedy and disaster, but it can readily be found again when we look to God, for it tells us in I Corinthians 16:13. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” And Hebrews 3:6 also reminds us, “Hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” You are strong and courageous…established and determined by the God who arms you with everything you need.