You can count on Him!

The Gospel Choir at my dad’s church used to sing a song entitled, “I Can Depend on God.”  The song was repetitious and simple, yet the message was inspiring.  An excerpt from the chorus went like this, “… through the storms, through the rain, through sickness, through pain, I can depend on God!”  What a powerful, faith-evoking reminder; we can count on Him!

The verse included with this recharge highlights God’s dependability.  In a sermon on Mars Hill, Paul said, “(God) gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need” (Acts 17:25, New Living Translation).  Interestingly, if you’re reading this message, then you’re a living testimony of this verse!  If you’re reading this email, then it means He woke you up today!  Then, He commanded your brain to orchestrate you heart rate, breathing pattern, and other bodily functions.  And, if you’re not at home, but still reading this email, it means he threw in some road mercy to protect you from catastrophe.  Not to mention, He does this every day!  Our God is entirely dependable!

It’s uncertain how soon we’ll climb out of the economic recession, but one thing is certain – we have an anchor in God!  You can still count on Him, for He is the Lord and does not change (see Malachi 3:6).

Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, New Living Translation).

God rejoices in truth!

1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil” (Contemporary English Version).  Since that’s the case, then I’d argue that America isn’t as loving as we assume.  If you’ve followed the recent controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees, 3rd Base), then you know what I’m talking about.  Rather than forgive and forget, the media relentlessly aims to expose the intricate details of his steroid use.  And, apparently, everyone has joined the party.  Other baseball players, sports anchors, and talk show hosts alike are taking turns adding insult to injury.

One of God’s admirable attributes, however, is that He rejoices in the truth!  One story from Jesus’ earthly experience illustrates His uniqueness – the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Some scribes and Pharisees (the religious media) caught a woman in the act of adultery and tried to embarrass her publicly.  Rather than join their antics, Jesus resorted to the truth: “…  let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone” (John 8:7, New Living Translation).  After He spoke, the woman’s accusers left her alone.  Truly, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, New Living Translation).

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t air our “dirty laundry?”  Rather than expose the skeletons in our closets, He covers our sins with love.  What an awesome God He is!

Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, New Living Translation).

God gives us a clean slate!

I teach a youth Bible study class, and each week, I’m thoroughly impressed with their memory.  They can recall biblical particulars precisely, even weeks after they learn them.  Their memory is most evident whenever I promise them something.  If I say I’m bringing candy to our next class, then I sure better have it at our next class!  If I don’t, then they’ll remind me until I honor my commitment.

I’m glad God’s memory isn’t like my Bible study students’, especially when it involves our mistakes.  1 Corinthians 13:5 notes that love “keeps no record of being wronged,” and God exemplifies this incredibly!  In the Psalm cited above, David reminds us that God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.  In a world where people hold you hostage to your past, God loves us and provides a clean slate.  When we acknowledge our errors, God will detach them from us.

I’m glad God doesn’t document our mistakes in permanent ink.  Instead, He applies the spiritual erase, the blood of Jesus, and washes us clean.  Thank God for demonstrating His love like this!

Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, New Living Translation).

God is slow to anger!

God’s power is extremely evident in my attitude, or should I say, temper.  I used to be on edge, and it didn’t take much to provoke me (can you relate?).  If you talked about me, then I knew what to say to silence you.  If you pushed me, then I’d try to push you down.  And if I couldn’t say anything or lay hands on you, then I knew how to hold a grudge.  I could walk past you, make eye contact, and still refuse to speak.

Understanding my weakness in this area makes Jesus even more impressive.  Though we treat Him horribly and ruin His reputation, He’s still “a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love” (Nehemiah 9:17, New Living Translation).  The verses cited above clearly illustrate that God isn’t easily provoked.  Matthew notes that some soldiers embarrassed Jesus prior to the crucifixion.  Had they treated me like that, then I promise you, they wouldn’t have made it past the verses cited above.  But Jesus, demonstrating the power of God, did not retaliate.  Certainly, He’s SLOW to anger!

If God’s patience doesn’t leap out of these verses for you, then consider your own life.  Think of all the times you messed up, yet God waived the death sentence and gave you another chance.  God is slow to anger; what an awesome God He is!

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable … (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, New Living Translation)

God isn’t selfish!

Have you ever been in a relationship with a selfish person?  If not, then be thankful, for it’s often a miserable experience.  Just imagine how you’d feel if you gave someone the very best gift you could afford and never received anything in return.  Or, think about how you’d feel if someone always had time to pursue their own interests but never scheduled time for you.  Better, imagine how you’d feel if someone demanded your undivided attention but had more important things to do when you wanted to share your feelings.  Just thinking about these expressions of selfishness can irritate you.

Aren’t you glad God isn’t selfish?  He doesn’t deprive us of His riches; instead, He gives as a sign of His love.  In this text, Jeremiah highlights God’s unselfishness.  Every day, God gives us something we haven’t earned – new mercies.  And most of the time, we don’t thank Him in return.  Truly, we serve an unselfish God; He gives in spite of us!

Mercy is like our credit line with God, and most of us have exceeded our limit (see Romans 3:23).  Aren’t you glad God hasn’t sent the “repo man” to collect the gifts He provides?  What an awesome, unselfish God we serve!

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way … (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, New Living Translation)

God doesn’t boast!

1 Corinthians 13:4 notes, “… Love is not boastful or proud …”  That is, true love is so apparent that there’s no need to announce it.  I guess we’re not excelling in the love category, for people enjoy proclaiming their loving gestures.  If you don’t believe it, then fail to acknowledge or reciprocate their love.  They’ll spend the next five minutes reminding you of their acts of love toward you!

Thankfully, God is our polar opposite; He does not boast!  In the text cited above, Jesus had a great opportunity to boast.  He had been asked, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?”  He could have cited His catalog of character, “Not only am I the Messiah, but I’m the One who woke you up today!”  Instead of celebrating Himself, Jesus seasoned His response with humility: “You have said it …”  He’s so loving that He doesn’t force Himself on us, and He’ll wait patiently until we acknowledge who He is.

Since God doesn’t boast, then we have an assignment.  We must tell the world about His love, for it’s too awesome to keep secret.  So, here are your marching orders: “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!  Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2, New Living Translation).

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud … (1 Corinthians 13:4, New Living Translation)

God is kind!

Have you noticed that kindness is not as widespread as it used to be?  It’s sad, but chivalry and courtesy have become antiquated.  “Hello” and a friendly handshake are almost extinct, for people will look the other way to avoid speaking to you.  We used to hold the door for others, but now we’re too busy rushing through it ourselves.  And definitely don’t get a flat tire.  Rather than stop and help, most people will speed by you en route to an “important” engagement.

Aren’t you glad God isn’t like that?  When others are rude and selfish, God is kind.  The parable of the Good Samaritan is an excellent illustration of God’s kindness.  Kindness distinguished the Good Samaritan from the other characters in the parable – he extended a helping hand when others wouldn’t.  Isn’t that just like God?  When our friends are few, He reminds us, “I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5, New Living Translation).  When no one else cares about our problems, God says, “Cast all your cares on me, because I care for you” (see 1 Peter 5:7).

If you think about God’s kindness, then you’ll agree with David, “… thy lovingkindness is better than life” (Psalm 63:3, New Living Translation).  Like a good neighbor, God is always there.  Thank God for demonstrating His love through kindness!

God is patient!

What if God was like us?  That might excite some people, especially those who have “arrived” in some areas of life.  But, what if His patience was like ours?  What if God was irritable or easily provoked?  What if He believed we were a lost cause or unreachable?  We’d be pitiful if God’s patience was like ours!

I’m ecstatic that God expresses His love through patience.  He’s patient, even when others throw in the towel.  Peter, the supporting actor in today’s text, is a testament of God’s patience.  Prior to this text, Peter had been rebuked for talking too much (see Matthew16:23), boasting (see Matthew 26:33), violence (see John 18:11), and he denied Jesus three times (see Mark 14:66-72).  But instead of adding injury to insult, Jesus restored Peter.  He loved Peter so much that He refused to give up on him.

Aren’t you glad God is patient?  We’re mistake-prone, yet God patiently loves the good out of us.  Thank God for being so patient with us!

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6, New Living Translation).

He disciplines us!

Punishment was one thing I dreaded as a child.  There was someting about “I’m going to tell your dad!” or “Wait right here while I get the belt.” that tore my nerves up.  I recall one punishment distinctly – the spanking I got after spitting in my cousin’s face.  My dad turned a deaf ear to my self-defense excuses, and he made sure I didn’t repeat that mistake again!  I didn’t think so then, but in retrospect, I realize that he loved me enough to steer me from the wrong path.

God also loves us enough to redirect us from evil.  In Proverbs, Solomon makes this especially clear: “… the Lord corrects those he loves …” (Proverbs 3:12, New Living Translation).  God is so loving that He sends mild discomfort (uneasiness) before we make a tragic mistake, as if to say, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”  If we ignore His warnings, then He’ll plead with us until our hearts soften (that’s conviction, by the way).  And if we still ignore Him, then He’ll send trouble to help us acknowledge our errors.

Thank God for His corrective love.  Truly, He leads us in the path of righteousness, so His name will be praised (see Psalm 23:3).

You’re His masterpiece!

Have you ever met someone who loved her/his car?  I’ve met a couple, but my co-worker tops the list.  He loves his car so much that he washes it every day!  Even when it snowed a few weeks ago, his car looked like it should have been on a dealership’s showroom floor.  The time he spends detailing his car makes one thing apparent: he loves his car!

As my co-worker loves his car, God loves you.  God loves you so much that according to Paul, you’re His masterpiece!  In other words, God spends time thinking about how to make you better.  He gives you new days, hoping you’ll dot a few more “I’s” and cross a few more “T’s.”  He carefully places hills and valleys in your path to increase your faith and develop your patience.  And when life gets rough, He knows how to lead you to green pastures and still waters.

It’s amazing that God, who’s so busy running the universe, takes time to think about us.  What a loving God He is!