A Nice Day

How can it not be nice, knowing that our Lord has chosen us and come down through Jesus Christ, true God and true man to save us. He makes God’s love known to us. By the working of the Holy Spirit, we have faith and the certainty that God’s promises are true! Eternal life, peace with God and forgiveness! God has revealed his mystery to us in Christ. Got questions, please ask:

Ephesians 1:3–14 —3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Peace in Jesus Is the Real Thing

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

In 1971 a well-known soft drink company produced a jingle which quickly became a hit song. The television ad featured young people from many different cultures on a sunny hillside in Italy singing the refrain, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” The commercial was a huge success. Radio stations across the country received many requests for the song to be replayed. Clearly both the melody and the message resonated with people who longed for harmony among the nations.

Our world is just as chaotic today as it was in the early 70’s, if not more so. We grow tired of the constant conflict all around us. So much fighting and quarreling in the news, on the internet, at work, and in our homes. We wish there were some easy path to peace, some way to get everyone to work together toward common goals. But the human heart is naturally inclined towards selfishness and suspicion. For countless centuries we have lived in never-ending conflict. Clearly no song (or soda) alone can create true peace and unity.

When Christ Jesus calls his people to walk together in his name, he doesn’t use a gimmick or emotional manipulation to unite us. The hymns we sing as Christian congregations are not composed of empty lyrics, but lasting truths. The next time you attend worship with your fellow believers, pay close attention to the words of the songs you sing. The melodies themselves may be ancient or contemporary, the chord progressions may be familiar to you or brand new. But listen carefully to the words. Reflect on their meaning and their importance for you, for your family, for all people.

Good Christian songs will point you to the love of God in Christ which is revealed to us in the Scriptures. They recount the many blessings God continues to pour out on us: forgiveness, peace, life, salvation—all through the work of his perfect Son Jesus who came to unite us sinners with a holy God. Through his sacrifice, we have been reconciled to God and to each other. Faith in God’s promises joins us with the people sitting in the pew next to us—and to those all over the world who share a common Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t help but blend our voices together in thanking him. Peace in Jesus is no illusion. He is the real thing.

Lord Jesus, open my lips to sing your praises together with your people everywhere. Amen.

Fully Meeting God’s Standards

Without faith it is impossible to please God.  Hebrews 11:6a

Fully Meeting God’s Standards

Has there been anyone in your life who always had expectations of you that were too high—so much so that you never felt like you could live up to what they expected? Maybe it was a parent who had really high expectations when it came to your grades at school. No matter how hard you tried, your grade point average was never good enough. Or maybe it was the football coach who was never satisfied with the way you ran that one particular play in the playbook. Even when you thought your team had it down, he shook his head and said, “Run it again!” Perhaps it was the boss who was never satisfied with your sales numbers, even when you surpassed the projected earnings for the company.

Often it feels impossible to live up to the expectations that others have for us. All of the above examples are nothing compared to the expectations that God has for you and me. God is holy. The bar he has set for us could not be any higher than it is. God commands us to be perfect. He demands that we be holy as he is holy. His expectations for sinners cannot be any loftier than that.

God’s Word states that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” On our own, sinners like you and I have no hope of ever meeting God’s expectations. Because of sin, we fall short day, after day, after day. Some days we don’t even try to meet God’s standards. Scripture speaks the truth when it states that, “we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are powerless to meet God’s standards and because of that we deserve his eternal punishment.

That’s where faith comes in! The word faith in this verse describes a confident trust that an individual has in someone else. We know we have fallen short of God’s demands, but we are confident that someone else has met those demands for us. We trust that a Savior has taken our place under God’s law and fulfilled it perfectly for us. We have faith that because of our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection, our status before God has changed. In Christ, God no longer sees our failures. He no longer sees how far short we have fallen from perfection. Instead, through faith in Jesus, God sees works that please him. God sees his own forgiven children serving him in love. By faith in Jesus, God sees us as ones who have fully met his standards!

Dear Jesus, thank you for keeping the demands of the law perfectly for me and for taking away all of my sins. Help me to live in thanks for your blessings. Help me to live by faith and to serve God in all I do. Amen.

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