The First Son

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Matthew 21:28-32 ESV

It matters far less where we’ve come from, or even where we find ourselves than where we are headed. God is in the business of reconciling lives. He rescues and redeems. He takes broken and imperfect people and restores them and uses them in the story He’s writing. I believe that this parable of Jesus illustrates that. The two sons described are then related to sinful people and religious people, but not in the way they would have expected. Jesus confronts the religious leaders of the day who refused to see the Kingdom of Heaven standing before them in the person of Jesus and continued in their spiritual blindness to operate contrary to the call of God. Then there were the tax collectors (one of the most hated in society) and prostitutes (one of the most dejected in society). They were the broken and lost who saw the Kingdom of Heaven in the person of Jesus and believed and surrendered their lives to Him.

Obviously, we have a stark contrast between these two groups of people. But I believe the point Jesus is making, is that He is the source of life and salvation, and even those of us who started off life with the worst possible choices, can still find redemption through Him. Even today, if you find yourself in a lifestyle contrary to the God’s calling on your life, you can choose Jesus and find life and restoration. No one is beyond His love. No one is beyond His grace. No one is beyond His reach.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17 ESV

The whoever means whoever. I was once living a life apart from God. Self-seeking. Pleasure-seeking. Honor-seeking. But not God-seeking. But just as the first son did, I changed my mind. I have gone to work in the vineyard where the True Vine is and where I hope to be for the rest of my days. And the grace I have been shown I hope to never take for granted. Do you know someone who is living the way I once did? Walk with them. Listen to them. Speak life to them. Pray for them. Live a life that reflects Jesus to them. They aren’t ever beyond hope. None of us are. Let’s choose life and finish strong!

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.


Jesus and the Garden: Part II

Courtesty Bible Project

In the first part of this series, I focused on how Jesus is a reflection of the living water that first appears in the Garden of Eden. Today’s post looks at another image that shows up in the Garden: The Tree of Life. You can see it introduced in Genesis 2:9. Both the river of living water and the Tree of Life also show up at the end of the text in Revelation chapter 22, specifically verses 1-14. If you’d like a little more context, check out my previous post.

The Bible uses tree imagery repeatedly. Look at Proverbs three. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18 ESV This is contrasted with the idea of seeking wisdom on our own. Essentially, that’s the choice that Adam and Eve had in the beginning. There were two trees in the middle of the Garden. One of them represented man reaching for understanding on their own, apart from God. The other led to life, and that life comes in the form of godly wisdom. Later in Proverbs eleven, we see another reference to the tree. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30 ESV. Righteousness, in simple terms, means to live rightly. How do we do that? Through godly wisdom. By not determining right and wrong on our own. By eating from the right tree.

So what does that mean for Jesus and for us? What other tree do we know of in scripture that holds great significance? How about the cross? The cross is also referred to as a tree…a tree that carried great significance. That significance is portrayed all the way back in Isaiah 53:3-6. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5 ESV. Because we continue to eat from the wrong tree, just as the first humans did, God came down and planted yet another tree that would heal our brokenness and provide the life that the original Tree of Life was meant to do.

Let’s look at this in another way. In Psalm 1:1-3 people are compared to a planted tree. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 ESV. Perhaps this is a great description of the one who has first experienced the gift of the Tree of Life and now reflects that through their very own life.

So what’s the main idea that both of these objects, the water and the tree, are putting forward? We have the tree of LIFE and the water of LIFE. And Jesus is our source of LIFE. Remember back to Colossians chapter one?

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Colossians 1:16-17 ESV

Or back to John chapter one?

“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

John 1:3-4 ESV

Jesus is the source of the Water. Jesus is the Tree. Jesus is the one who both authored and offers life. Jesus, Himself, made so many statements about this subject.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 ESV

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 ESV

In John chapter six Jesus makes several comparisons between Himself and the bread from heaven that gave life to Israel in the wilderness.

“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…“I am the bread of life.”

John 6:33 & 48 ESV

We are left with the same option as the first humans. We can choose one tree or the other. We can drink from the water of life or dig our own cisterns. The results of our choice will be revealed throughout our lives. Being connected to the vine will result in bearing good fruit. Drinking from the water of life will cause life to spring forth from us. The question that the Lord is asking all of us is, “Will you take the life I offer you? Will you drink from the waters and eat from the tree that I give to you? Or will you try and find your own way? A way that doesn’t lead to life, but away from it.” Choose Him. Choose life.

Peace and Life in Christ brothers and sisters.

Jesus and the Garden: Part I

In John chapter five, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” Later in that same chapter, He says, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.” In Luke chapter 24, after His resurrection, it says, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” He explained, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” The Bible, from front to back, is a story that leads to Jesus. This is according to what Jesus testified to Himself.

In this series, we are going to look at a few themes from the Book of Genesis, the Garden of Eden specifically, and what they tell us about the character and mission of Jesus. Let’s start by seeing how these two passages, separated by 64 books, overlap.

“then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.”

Genesis 2:7-10 ESV

Now look at this passage at the end of scripture.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”‬‬

Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭1‬-‭5‬ ‭ESV

What are some things that these two passages have in common? For starters we are going to look at the Water (or River) mentioned and a Tree of life. This first post will just break down significance of the waters and trace that theme through the Bible and how it relates to Jesus and us.

One of the early examples of living water in the Bible comes from Jeremiah 2:13 where God says, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Later in Jeremiah 17:13, Jeremiah says of God, “Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”

Isaiah also speaks on the topic. “”Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:2-3.

Here in these passages we see that something about the water equals salvation and the source of those waters is God Himself. So what does this mean for Jesus and for us?

In John, we see Jesus at the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles). On the last day of the feast there was a tradition to pour out water as symbolism of the springs of life provided by God. Enter Jesus…

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'””‬‬

John‬ ‭7‬:‭37‬-‭38‬ ‭ESV

Jesus, here, asserts Himself as the source of living water. In an earlier passage of John, He said something similar during His conversation with the woman at the well.

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.””

John‬ ‭4‬:‭10‬-‭14‬ ‭ESV

When mankind sinned, they were exiled from the Garden. They were separated from the living water. God continued to offer it throughout the story of Israel. But over and over again they filled to drink from the waters. They built their own cisterns. They went their own way. So God came to them, in the person of Jesus. And Jesus, being the Word of God made flesh (John 1), through whom all things were made snd hold together (Colossians 1), can offer that living to every heart surrendered to Him. Jesus brings the river to you and me and says come and drink. The water of life brings life. Jesus brings life since He is the source of that water. In Revelation it says that the waters flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb. That leaves us with the invitation. Will you come and drink? Will you take the invitation to life?

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

God’s Redemptive Love Part IX: The Prophets

Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. 

Isaiah 59:1 NKJV

For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. 

Jeremiah 30:3 NKJV

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Matthew 23:37 NKJV

Even in the midst of their depravity, God looked upon Israel with compassion and a desire to save them from themselves. He sent prophets to them such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Ezra, Micah, and several others. These prophets gave stern warnings to the people and encouraged them to abandon their sinfulness. They reminded the people of God’s love for them and His future glory that awaits. Even once Israel was taken away to bondage God used prophets such as Daniel to speak words of hope.

As prophecy was being fulfilled and the people were being gathered by God from captivity, He raised up more prophets such as Ezra and Zechariah to remind them of God’s goodness and His call on their lives as they enjoy their newfound freedom. But as Jesus states in Matthew 23, God was so much desiring His children, and they would not listen.

Despite our hard hearts at times, God is still whispering (sometimes shouting) His love in our ears. In my darkest days, I still saw God moving in my life. Even at my worst, God still loved me and didn’t abandon me. Whether you are started down a bad road, caught up in bondage, or experiencing your freedom in Christ, God is constantly after your heart. The stories of the prophets are just that much more of a reminder that God does not leave us nor forsake us. It is also a good lesson in listening to God, heeding His voice, and following His path which will keep us from stumbling. God and His word will never leave us no matter our circumstances because His heart is always seeking the redemption of our souls.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

God’s Redemptive Love Part VIII: Hezekiah and Josiah

He (Hezekiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. 

2 Kings 18:3-4 (NIV)

He (Josiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

2 Kings 22:2 (NIV)

In the book of 2 Kings chapter 17, the fall of the northern kingdom (Israel) to Assyria in 722 BC is recorded. Alone and vulnerable, the southern kingdom (Judah) remains intact until its fall to the Babylonians in 586 BC. During this 136-year period, Judah experienced blessing and reform during the reigns of two of her greatest kings, Hezekiah and Josiah, recorded in 2 Kings chapters 18-25. We are reminded that obedient kings have a profound and positive impact on God’s people. These two kings attempted to re-establish righteousness and obedience to God’s commands. Sometimes God just needs to clean house and these two men most certainly did that for Judah. God sent them in the midst of their distress after witnessing the fall of their comrades in the northern kingdom who, after refusing to abandon their sinful ways and pagan worship, were taken away into captivity. This was an opportunity for the people of Judah to get things right before it happened to them as well.  Out of God’s love for them He extended this opportunity to be guided on the right path, to cling to Him once more. However, Judah was disobedient in their own right once these two kings had left them and eventually fell into their captives’ hands. That doesn’t take away from the fact that God was trying to reel in their hearts and save them from their own ways. My story tells the same message, as I’m sure yours does too. We need to listen and allow God to remove things from our lives and not go back to pick them up again, only to be carried away by them. Praise God for His redemptive heart towards us. Praise God for His pursuit.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.


There are multiple voices that can keep us from the destinies Christ has planned for us. Through my journey of rediscovering Christ, I have had to learn which voices to listen to and which not. I’ve also had to learn how to speak to myself and view myself, which I think is equally as important. What the world and others tell us we are is often based on several factors. Two of the biggest are what we’ve done right, and what we’ve done wrong. Some people like to measure us by our past. I know lots of people who have relocated or moved jobs just to start over. That’s because most people I’ve ever met have a really hard time allowing someone to start over after making mistakes (small or big). I find that those people really haven’t grasped the concept of grace, for themselves, or for others. But God brings us encouragement.

“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.””

Hebrews 8:12

And also…

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Our society is also very success driven. I was raised in an athletic-minded family and academically-driven family. My life was pushed in a way that anything short of an A in a class or a medal at a tournament was not success. I developed an identity based on how good I was at school, sports, relationships, my career, etc…Nowhere in that was the true measure of success found. But God reminds us that our success is tied up in His success and that we have been individually crafted by Him for a purpose He’s prepared for us.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:10

In the tech world re-imaging is the process of installing a new operating system on a machine. This process includes wiping, or clearing, the hard drive entirely, and installing a fresh operating system. When the reimage is complete, it is almost like getting a brand new machine. We, as believers, go through this same process. Check out what it says in Titus.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Titus 3:4-7

It can be hard at times to believe this. But we are being washed, regenerated, and renewed from within. We are becoming something brand new. We are neither a sum of our mistakes or of our accomplishments. We are heirs of eternal life. We are Christ’s. And because of that, we are a sum of Who He is and what He is making us into.

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-17

We are meant to be compelled by love. To be reimaged means we are no longer viewed the same, and by extension, not viewing others the same either. Christ is literally installing a new operating system in us. The new system means we no longer live for ourselves. This process also means we’ve been given a new calling as ambassadors for the gospel.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

We all have a story. In that is the story of God’s goodness and grace. We can display the before and after stories. We can live out our faith so even the doubters can see what a changed heart looks like. God is in the business of remaking lives and using broken people. That’s something I find very encouraging. Just listen to some of these names from the Biblical story:

  • Moses (murderer/fugitive)
  • Samson (promiscuous)
  • David (adulterer/murderer)
  • Rahab (prostitute)
  • Jonah (ran from God)
  • Woman at the well (sexual sin)
  • Saul (murdered/prosecuted)

Each of these people, today, are not looked at by what they did, but by who they became in and through the grace of God. They all serve as powerful stories of repentance, mercy, love, and a passion for the Lord. Everyone loves a redemption story. They are the most compelling. I think that is because we all long for that in our own lives. The good news is, that same thing is extended to all of those Bible heroes is also extended to us. No matter where we meet Him, at a well, a burning bush, the road to Damascus, a car ride to work, or in front of the bathroom mirror. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the response.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:8-14

There is nothing more precious than the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. The very thought that Christ has made you and me His own is overwhelming. It’s time we lay aside our past and keep pressing on toward Christ and His call on our life.


I have a confession to make.

Coming up next week, I will be speaking at a men’s ministry event, and later that week, at our church. Several days ago, I came to the conclusion that I devote so much more time and energy to prayer, study, journaling, and meditation, when I am preparing for something than I do normally. This time around, that realization brought with it a conviction. I tried to shrug it off by telling myself that it makes perfect sense to devote more time during a preparation period. However, I knew deep down that this wasn’t true.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 

2 TImothy 4:1-2 NIV

Paul’s words to Timothy can be applied to every believer. Whether we are speaking in front of an audience, or living our everyday life, we are a kingdom of priests called to witness Christ. To do that, our hearts and minds need to be intuned and prepared. Delivering a message at a church or leading a bible study are important, but not more so than the message our lives speak to our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. As I was doing my mental gymnastics a few days ago, I felt the Lord opening me up to this idea. I need to carve out the same kind of time in my day-to-day that I do in preparation for speaking.

The Bible speaks so much on the topics of prayer. More than that, it says how prayer should be a constant. The connection with Christ shouldn’t be seasonal or circumstantial. I had to confess to my wife also that I spend more time in prayer when things aren’t going smoothly. How sad is that? Prayer and contemplating God’s word, are supposed to be ingrained in our lifestyle. Check out these passages.

  • Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12)
  • Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6)
  • Meditate on the Word day and night (Joshua 1:8)
  • Fix our eyes and meditate on God’s words (Psalm 119:15)
  • Delight in God’s words and meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2)

I owe Christ more. I owe Him everything. I owe Him all of me. How could I be so inconsistent? How could I be so misguided? Conviction can produce one of two outcomes. I will either learn and grow. Or I will retreat due to guilt. May the latter not be so. If any of you reading this are convicted as I am, join me in trying to draw nearer. Let us pursue a more consistent connection to the Vine. Thank you Jesus for your patience and grace.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Walking Billboards

It may seem like an odd concept, but we are all marketing something. The way we dress, speak, act, and carry ourselves, are all sending messages to those around us. The question is, what are you advertising? For those bound to Christ, the answer is given to us. God’s purpose for all of us is to be image barrers. That is far more than our physical appearance. It entails a lifestyle. Our entire beings are wrapped up in this. No one did that better the Jesus of Nazareth. He is God in the flesh. The full radiance of God contained in Him. He breathed out the life of God everywhere He went. Once we take on the name of “Christian” we are devoting ourselves to display the life of Christ through our very own. What we wear, how we speak, and our actions should all announce the One our hearts are devoted to. This is just as challenging to me as it is to anyone reading this. There are days I fall flat. In those moments too, we can display humility and experience the grace won for us by Christ.

There are those in my life who have helped me along the way. They are the ones who show me Jesus day in a day out. My hope is, that you too can think of people in your own life who have pointed you towards Jesus by their devotion to Him. So many people have been introduced to Christ through the lives of others. The world is watching. Our family is watching. Our friends and coworkers are watching. We have chosen to be clothed in Christ. Lets wear it well.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Meditation and Memorization

Image from Grace Chapel

During the Cold War, many Christians in Eastern Europe would memorize entire books of the Bible and then destroy their copies. They had to do that because they would have either been arrested, sent to prison camps, or disappear. There was no room for God in the Soviet Union or their satellite states. To have any God other than those in power was akin to a crime against the state itself. Still, in places like North Korea, China, Vietnam, Iran, Indonesia, and more, the persecution towards believers forces them to absorb as much of God’s word as possible because they can’t risk being caught reading openly. For those of us not living under the tyranny of a radical theocracy or a commnunist system, memorizing scripture can still serve an important role in our journey of faith.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 ESV

Knowing God’s word…I mean really knowing it…helps us in the war against sin. Satan, our flesh, and the cultures of the world are constantly whispering, and often yelling, messages in our ears that lead us into sin. By memorizing scripture, we give ourselves a weapons cache to fire back. Jesus demonstrated this when He allowed Satan to tempt Him in the wilderness. Every temptation was met with God’s word. The only way we can do the same is to know how to distinguish messages that line up with scripture and those that do not. A huge fault I see in so many Christians is an utter lack of biblical knowledge. I’m not referring to seeking a degree in theological studies. I’m talking about a lack of knowing what is said in the Bible. When we don’t know what God says, we’ll believe what those opposed to Biblical principles say.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Joshua 1:8 ESV

We can’t live out scripture if we don’t know scripture. Every believer should be a student of their Master. To meditate on scripture is to meditate on the Lord Himself. The more we focus on the story of God the more we know Him. The more we know Him the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we live for Him. Just as any relationship thrives on attention and communication, so to does our relationship with the Lord. Our lives of devotion should be a pattern of prayer, reading, and praise.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 NIV

Our mind is a battleground. Our mind is also malleable. We have the ability to make it into what we want. And since so much of what we say and do is determined by the mind, why not pour more energy into making it a core of light. From the moment we start absorbing things as a child, negative things creep in. We have to fight for hope. We battle for purity. We war for compassion and generosity. The nature of the fallen mind is to look inward, preserve self, seek comfort, elevate self importance or dwell on self pitty. Our minds need transformed. One of the best ways to do that is through meditation and memorization of scripture. That, in turn, will help us to focus on pure and truthful things. Our eyes will turn outwards towards those around us. Our self importance will diminish, yet at the same time, we will feel more loved and valued than ever before.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:7 NASB

To abide in Christ is equated to having Christ’s words abiding in us. This isn’t a reference to Christ dwelling in us, it’s a call to know His words. To abide means to obey, stick to, hold to, and follow. When we are so intuned with Christ and His words, then our desires will be His desires for us. The things we ask for in prayer will align with the holy life that Christ is calling us to in the first place.

So whether we live in an area where the Christian faith is heavily restricted or even persecuted, an area where affluence and apathy attempt to shadow the call of piety, or an area where freedom allows us to live out our faith, it is equally important to pursue a rich understanding of God’s word. As followers of Christ, we are called to love Him and to make Him known. We can’t do either if we don’t know Him. No one else has ever loved you more. No one else crafted you. No one else pursues a relationship with you like Jesus does. The greatest gift in this life will be to know Him.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

God’s Redemptive Love Part VII: David

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.  They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

1 Samuel 8:4-5 (NIV)

But now your (Saul) kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man (David) after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

1 Samuel 13:14 (NIV) [my emphasis]

As we open up to the book of Psalms and read through the prayers of David we can see what it is like to have a true heart after God. He was the man that God would use to unify and strengthen the nation of Israel. David was by no means a perfect man but his heart was often in the right place. He was humble and repentant before God. Two of the most important characteristics required of a child of God.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me, or I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.

Psalm 86:1-6 (NIV)

Towards the end of the time of the Judges, the people had longed for a king and no longer wanted a judge over them. They wanted to be like the nations around them, even though God had called them to be separate. However, the Lord gave them what they wanted. He rose up and anointed Saul. But Saul had a problem with following through completely with what God asked of him. In ways, he served the people before he served God. So God raised up another in his place.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

Acts 13:22 (NIV)

David was chosen to be the seed of the Messiah of God’s children. The Lord brought the nation together and empowered them over their enemies. God gave them a leader, ultimately, in order to bring the nation back to Himself. God wanted them to recognize Him as their King and Judge. But the people lost sight. Even so, God used people, like the Judges, prophets, and certain kings, as part of His plan of redeeming a wayward people.

It’s incredible to see how God will redirect our lives after we make demands of Him. We, at times, will take a path that we think is best for us. Only an awesome God would allow us free will, knowing full well He can restore us and He can make us new. Just as He did for Israel, God has brought people into all of our lives to help guide us on the right path. Maybe we’ve embraced it, maybe we haven’t. But as the Good Shepherd, the Lord is constantly trying to reach us and lead us in the path of life. He doesn’t abandon us to our own despair. He doesn’t walk away from us even when we walk away from Him. Just as the father of the prodigal son God is waiting with open arms to embrace His wayward children. That is redemptive love.

Celebrate your redemption brothers and sisters. There is no greater gift.