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Walk Worthily of Your Calling

If we are Christians, ones who are truly born again by the work of the Holy Spirit, then we have an obligation to walk (i.e., live) in a manner that is worthy of such a high calling by God. If we are genuinely saved, we must understand what we are saved from, as well as what we are saved to. Furthermore, this salvation is not something any of us achieved because we are so great; no, it is a work of God completely done by His grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

Walking in a worthy manner begins with humility, gentleness, patience, and love. 

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3

The maintaining “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is not some false peace, as promised by the United Nations. Also, it is not achieved by simply loving people apart from any confrontation, for we are told,

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other. ~ Galatians 5:16-17

The desires of the flesh are immoral, contentious, idolatrous, and selfish. In contrast, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

The goal is more than simply having a peaceful fellowship, but that we may “attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to [maturity]” (Eph. 4:13), so that we are not tossed back and forth from every doctrine and teaching from the pulpit or from the university classroom.

Do you think this is irrelevant? There are a number of “preachers” and so-called Christian authors who are promoting teachings that are in direct conflict of the teachings of Christ and His apostles. There are numerous persons who profess the name of Christ, yet who are adopting the teachings of Darwin (Darwinism is not science but intellectual dishonesty, as there is no evidence to support the theory, although schools teach such hogwash as irrefutable fact), Marxism, and the behaviors of Hollywood. But the apostle writes,

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4:17-24

It makes no sense, whatsoever, for persons to talk about Christ dying and saving them from their sins, only to continue living in those sins! This is a total misunderstanding of the Gospel message.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ~ Romans 6:1-4

The knowledge of Christ is not meant as a means to simply know some cool things about Him. No! The knowledge of Christ is to be transformative by His grace. No, none of us is perfect, this is true. However, we can—and must—certainly grow in our knowledge of Him and to be continually transformed more into His likeness.

Today, if you call yourself a Christian, are you walking in a manner that is worthy of your high and noble calling?

Recapturing the Wonder (Part 2)

I admit, so many church services are simply boring. Mind you, I understand they are not meant to be entertaining, that is not what I mean. But often they are fairly informal, nice, and passionless. Many of the songs seem to be more about how much God loves us than how majestic and awesome (in the truest sense of the word) He is. Many of today’s sermons seem either like a stale lecture or a cheesy pep rally. One will tend to hear about how cool the worship was or the fun event that went on. But how often does one hear, “God was there, today! He got our attention! It was no social club today! No sir!”

Part of the reason, I believe, is we do not go with reverence or expectancy. Furthermore, often we make church about us rather than God. In fact, there are some churches who have taken out references to the blood of Jesus in their hymnals because it is “offensive,” but take out the blood and you cease to have Christianity altogether. But I digress.

The prophet Isaiah got a glimpse of God’s glory and it changed him.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” ~ Isaiah 6:1-8

When Isaiah was in the presence of God, he was not only amazed but he was also convicted of his sin. Furthermore, he did not argue the point that his lips were not unclean. Be certain of this—any time a person is truly in the holy presence of God, he or she will not stand there trying to justify him or herself. Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me! I am lost!” The Hebrew word for lost is Damah, which means to cease, to be destroyed and left desolate. “This verb depicts a violent end.” [1]

The presence of God shook Isaiah to the core.

In the New Testament we read:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ~ Acts 2:42

It was during this time as the people devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship of believers, the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer that they witnessed astounding moves of God.

The problem today is not that God had ceased to move, bring revivals, etc.; rather, the problem is we have discarded reverence and lost our sense of wonder. When God’s Word declares something as sin, we want to fight with Him about it. We want to make everything about us and what we want, instead of coming to Him with genuine recognition that He is God (hence, we are not). 

One can only speculate as to what could happen if we were to recapture the wonder of the Lord and surrender to Him. 

[1] Spiros Zodhaites, The Complete Word Study Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG, 1994), 2310.

Jesus’ Colossal Declaration

If I were to say, “I took my boy fishing,” you would probably assume I am a father, although I did not specifically say that I am. Or if I said that I am going to a marriage conference this weekend, you would likely think I am married. If I was brought up in a conversation, someone might say, “Yes, Geno is married and is the dad of at least one child.” Why would they come to these conclusions? I did not explicitly say that I am a father or that I am married. I did not say the boy is my son, for he could be a boy that I mentor. I did not say I am married but that I am going to a conference. Yet, one used logical reasoning to come to the conclusion I have a son and that I am married (both of which are true).

Somehow, however, many chuck such logical reasoning when it comes to the Scriptures. Some deny the deity of Jesus Christ, saying, “No where does Jesus say that he is God.” Really? In John’s Gospel, we read,

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” ~ John 10:29-33

Although Jesus did not come out and say, “I am God,” the Jews knew exactly what He was implying. Yet, how do educated individuals today not understand?

However, the following passage is more explicit, and to miss it seems to be a deliberate denial. 

Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. ~ John 8:56-59

Abraham lived around eighteen centuries before Jesus, yet He says that Abraham rejoiced that he would see His day. “What?” the Jews said, “You are just a young buck, younger than many of us!” Jesus answer? “Before Abraham, I AM! When Abraham was talking to God, that was Me! And that was Me who revealed Myself to Moses in the  burning bush!” (See Ex. 3:14)

For Jesus to declare, “Before Abraham, I am!” He was not simply saying He is God, He is stating that He is the Jehovah God! This statement is, in fact, far more emphatic than simply saying, “I am God.” The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was stating. So again, how do so many educated people fail to understand today? It is one thing to deny He is God, but it is quite another to say He did not claim to be God. He most certainly did.

Recapturing the Wonder (Part 1)

One of the delightful things to observe in toddlers is their sense of wonder, to see a smile on their little faces when beholding the seemingly trivial, and hearing them utter, “Whoa!” along with giggles. They laugh at a sneeze, they delight in an intimate game of peek-a-boo with Mom, and they are amazed watching a butterfly.

Somehow, as we grow older we become more “sophisticated” and our sense of wonder becomes atrophied. Sadly, this happens in the lives of believers, too. Why? For certain, life does not become less marvelous. 

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. ~ Psalm 19:1-6

When I was working on my undergraduate studies, I was in a class on human anatomy. It was fascinating to me just how complex the human body is. From the various systems (e.g., cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, etc.) to the cellular and DNA. Although our teacher is a Christian, he never opened or closed class with prayer, nor did he ever reference the Scriptures. Yet, the class was a very theological class to me. I marvel that anyone in the medical field remains an atheist. Throughout my studies in anatomy I continuously remembered the words of the psalmist, 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. ~ Psalm 139:13-14

Is it not strange that people will marvel over the latest technological gadget (of which no one ever questions or denies there being a creator behind the scenes), yet the human brain and mind still baffle the best of doctors and educators? Is it not unfortunate that people can be so impressed by others dunking a ball or acting on a screen, while being totally oblivious of the true wonders all around them (e.g., a baby being formed in the womb, the blossoming of flowers, a tree coming forth from a seed, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, the strength and productivity of ants, etc.)? The complexity and orderliness around us constantly declare the glory of God, so how have we lost our sense of wonder—even within the walls of many of our churches?

Our loss of wonder (and for some unbelief) is neither trivial nor a mistake. We allow ourselves to become busy and distracted, we close our eyes, we shut our ears, or we harden our hearts. Blaise Pascal observed that our distractions, in part, stem from having not to think about our wretchedness (fallen condition) and mortality. The Bible declares our lack of wonder and rejection of it is inexcusable.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. ~ Romans 1:19-21

As Christians, our lack of wonder is sin, plain and simple. If we have lost our wonder, then it means our hearts have been wooed and distracted by the vain philosophies (see Col. 2:8) of this world and/or by the desires of the sinful nature. If we have lost our sense of wonder and taken our focus off the glory of Christ, then we need to repent.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. ~ Revelation 2:4-5

May the Holy Spirit blow upon the embers in our hearts and rekindle an awakening and passion for Christ! May He help us to recapture our sense of wonder, and help us to see the glory that is continually manifested all around us.

To Love Like Jesus Does

Jesus was not delusional about human nature. He did not view people as “basically good” but made bad by society. The Scriptures tell us,

But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. ~ John 2:24-25

Elsewhere, Jesus states plainly,

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. ~ John 7:7

Nevertheless, Jesus has a profound love for people. Mind you, He does not love the sinfulness (the selfish, self-indulgent, God-defiant part of us). Yet, He loves and values the actual person of individuals. Consider just a few instances. 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. ~ Matthew 9:36

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ~ John 8:10-11

After a night of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, torture, scourging, and then after being nailed to a cross for several more hours of excruciating pain and asphyxiation, only to lift the following prayer for his tormentors:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ~ Luke 23:34

Humanity, being created in the image of God, is not completely void of compassion, kindness, or sacrifice. While the news continually blasts us with humanity’s depravity, we still hear stories of its reflections of the image of whom it bears: a youth helping a senior up some stairs; citizens surrounding a police officer to protect him during a riot; or a person rushing into a burning building to rescue another.

The love with which Jesus loves, however, is of such an unattainable caliber that we are unable to possess and distribute it apart from abiding in the very Source of such love. In fact, many of those who profess to belong to God do not have such love for others. Mind you, I do not profess that I possess this love, so rich and pure. 

Our world will continue to sing and write about love, but will always fall short of genuine love’s grandeur. The highest and purest form of love (Gk. agape) is defined in the Bible:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The only way to genuinely display this selfless and sacrificial love is to be connected to the Source of this love (Christ) and continually being filled with His Holy Spirit.

Indeed, to err is human, and we know this all too well. But to love like Jesus does is truly a work of the Divine within. I admit, I am not there yet. Perhaps you are not either. May we draw close and abide in Christ because of our own obvious deficiencies, but our world is in serious need of the purest love that He provides.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:1-5

The Way to Keep Racism Alive Is by Not Killing It

Recently the Coca Cola Company came under criticism for an online training seminar for staff to “try to be less white.” I am reminded of a line in the movie, The Shadowlands, (starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger). A professor shares with Joy (played by Winger) a chauvinistic opinion, to which she replies, “I don’t know if you’re trying to be offensive or just simply stupid.”

So many people in the political, business, and entertainment realms profess to abhor racism, while in truth, they do not. If our society truly wanted to eradicate racism, it would try to kill it and not simply turn it in a different direction.

“Try to be less white,” say some of those in the Coca Cola world. First of all, what does this even mean? Second, could you imagine a company telling select employees, “try to be less black,” “try to be less Latino,” or “try to not be so Asian”? Such statements are, in themselves, racist. So, if we really want to see racism die, directing it to another group is not going to kill it. It merely continues to feed and breed it.

“I’m so ashamed to be white,” some of those in Hollywood and Washington have said. Liars! If they were truly ashamed of being white and having “white privilege” they would truly hang their heads in shame instead of trying to seek more attention. They would distribute some of their well overpaid salaries to help the less fortunate communities. They claim to be so “ashamed,” yet still they love the limelight.

The statements that really upset me, however, are those that claim caucasians are bad, on the basis they are white. This is not an attack on Aryan-ism, but simply a turning it in a different direction or redefining it. It is simply a shifting in saying, “Blacks are criminals, based on they are black.” Of course, this statement is just as malicious and wrong. But we do not deal with racism by shifting words. Rather, we begin treating one another, regardless of pigmentation, with dignity and respect.

The color of a person’s skin is never what defines him or her of their personality or character. Over the years, I have seen the humanity of persons, regardless of their color. I have met some very wonderfully kind, generous, intelligent, and funny whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian, etc. I have also met some very rude, selfish, ignorant, and vulgar whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian, etc.

“Honor everyone,” the apostle Peter tells us (1 Pet. 2:17).

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. ~ James 2:8-9

To hate or belittle any person on the basis of their skin color, ethnicity, or heritage is to trample on the heart of God. We are granted an amazing glimpse surrounding the throne of God in heaven:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” ~ Revelation 7:9-10

The way to keep racism alive is by not killing it. As long as we continue to belittle, attack, and speak condescendingly on one another based on our color or ethnicity, we simply keep adding fuel to the fire instead of letting the embers finally die out.

The Challenge

Typically, challenges and competition feed our egos. Who does not like to have points added to the “one up on you” scoreboard? So it might seem surprising to receive a challenge from the apostle Paul. In one of his letters to believers, he writes,

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. ~ Romans 12:10

Did you catch that? Outdo one another in showing honor. “What? Are you kidding me?” some will say. But think about it, what would happen if each of us tried to outdo one another in showing honor, giving respect, displaying brotherly love? Each of us would receive honor, respect, and love. Each of us would be granted help, encouragement, patience, and the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, if each of us tried to outdo one another showing honor, we would not have to be concerned about being cheated. It is a win-win situation where each person benefits.

I double dog dare you to outdo showing honor to others. And if you truly want to be a master, let us up the ante. The fact of the matter is we live in a world where people do not strive to outdo showing honor. Some people are outright mean. Yet Paul tells us to repay no one evil for evil, because God will deal with them in due time. But another challenge is given: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).

Are you up for the challenge?

The Tool of the Tongue

“Sticks and stones … but words will never hurt me,” we used to say, but we know that it is not true. In fact, many are emotionally crippled from words spoken many years ago. Broken bones have healed and scarred, but the heart is still wounded and bleeding from angry words or cruel jesting spoken yesteryears. And time does not heal all wounds.

The Bible tells us,

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. ~ Proverbs 18:21

How many have been so deeply wounded, and parts of them killed, because of words? We casually speak hurtful words, dismissing the seriousness of any wounds or consequences. We justify our anger,  as we delight in another’s hurt feelings. “The idiots deserve it,” we say. We jest and make fun because it makes us, somehow, feel superior. We claim, “It was only a joke, they need to get over it!” Even though another was verbally and emotionally abused and molested; they were humiliated and shamed, pieces of them robbed and broken. Death is in the power of the tongue. So is it any wonder Jesus tells us,

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. ~ Matthew 5:21-22

Elsewhere, Jesus says,

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. ~ Matthew 15:18-19

Obviously, there is nothing intrinsically evil about the tongue. Like a rock, knife, machete, or nail gun, the tongue is but a tool. If used properly, it has the potential of such beneficial good. However, if misused, it can do unbelievable damage. In fact, Jesus equates abusive speech with murder, and tells us the words we speak reveal what is already filling the heart (murder, adultery, theft, etc.).

James writes of the destructive wickedness of the tongue in his short epistle:

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. ~ James 3:5-6

Consider all the malicious, abusive, and slanderous talk permeating and  being absorbed throughout our society and world on social media, in our schools, in political arenas, etc. This is not simply venting. Much of it truly is murderous and violent, creating such division and flames set ablaze by hell.

May God help each of us to learn to control our tongues, and to start using them for healing and mending. Have we not seen and heard enough destructive talk?

Not Too Far Gone

My wife and I used to be involved in jail ministry. Those incarcerated are often viewed as monsters or worthless. While such a ministry has its challenges, my wife and I did not minister to monsters or worthless ones. We ministered to men who made poor choices, yet had families they loved and cared about. 

Many of the men we talked to grew up in the tough parts of a notorious city. Numerous times persons would tell us, “My daddy is a gangbanger, and my uncles, and my brothers, and my cousins are all gangbangers.” Such criminal living is all they have ever known. I remember looking at my wife one night and saying, “If I grew up in this city and all my family was gangbangers and drug dealers, I doubt my choices would be any bit different.”

Something that broke our hearts is how many men would say something like, “Don’t pray for me, I’m too far gone. But pray for my kid(s), that they don’t make the choices I’ve made and wind up here.” Numerous times we would have to tell them, “We will certainly pray for your kid(s), but you are not too far gone! Jesus loves you so much He died for you!”

No one, no matter what they have done, is too far gone if they truly turn from sin and turn to Christ in faith. The apostle Paul writes,

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. ~ 1 Timothy 1:15-16

Understand, Jesus is not a “get out of jail free” card. His love does not minimize the seriousness of sin or its consequences. However, His love and compassion reveal at least two things. First, they reveal the great value of the souls of people; and second, they reveal that human depravity does not come from a vacuum. Besides the complexity of original sin, there is the intricacies of personal makeup and various life experiences.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. ~ Hebrews 4:15

Perhaps you feel that you are “too far gone.” If so, Jesus gives this promise:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. ~ John 6:37

Do not let your fear or shame of feeling too far gone prevent you from responding to Jesus’s good and gracious promise.

Wonderful Love

The wonderful love of Jesus is quite welcoming of misfits, ragamuffins, and scalawags. He is not indifferent to our pasts, failures, hurts, or shame. While He will not condone sin, He is not harsh with one’s shortcomings. His love is all inclusive. His mission? To seek and find those who are lost (see Luke 19:10).

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ~ Matthew 11:28-29

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. ~ John 6:37

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

While His love is transcending, it is not intrusive. Jesus welcomes any and all who will come to Him in genuine faith, but He will not force His love on those who do not want it. His love is able to cover the most vile and evil of sins, but He will not force a person to loosen their grip on their beloved sin in order to take His saving hand. His wonderful love grants each of us the choice to respond it or reject it.

Jesus is gentle with persons. For example: Peter (who had denied Him); the centurion who had sent one of his servants (a foreigner); the Samaritan woman (a multi-divorced “half-breed” who was an outcast even of her own people); Zacchaeus (a tax collector, considered a traitor to the Jewish people; and the woman found in the act of adultery. Each of these received warm and honest acceptance from Jesus.

Still, Jesus did not pander to people or cater to their expectations. He let persons reject Him and His love. For example: the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of the day); the rich young ruler (who wanted salvation on his terms); Herod (a leader addicted to his own lusts and who wanted Jesus only for entertainment); and Judas (who, apparently, was disappointed with the kingdom Jesus had in mind).

Nevertheless, Jesus extends His love to each of us. The question is, is His love worth surrendering ourselves and our sins? For many, this is too much, too demanding. Still, others feign to receive His love while holding firmly to their sin. However, in doing so, they have not really received anything at all. It is a shame that sin is so deceptive in that it can bring pleasure, all the while leaving so much destruction in its wake. Sometimes we are unaware of the destruction that it brings to others later.

But then there are those who do recognize the hideousness of their sins. How on earth can God love them? Oh, but He does, my friend! There is not a sin God is unwilling to forgive, if we will but look to His Son Jesus Christ in genuine faith.

I hope that you have come to know this wonderful love of Jesus!