There’s A God in Heaven Who Loves You!

heaven 3 According to an article published in Psychology Today1, all of us have an intense desire to be loved. The article was written by Raj Raghunathan, PhD, who wrote, “The need to be loved…could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs.” But, it seems, this basic desire is a need that tends to go unfulfilled in many people. The Guardian2 reported in 2014, that one in five people feel unloved and one in ten people reported they don’t have a close friend at all.

Further, CBS News3 reported last fall on a Harris Poll that reveals 72% of Americans have experienced loneliness, and about a third of those say they feel lonely at least once per week. Perhaps it’s a result of the digital age, but whatever it is, there is no denying that people are longing for love and a sense of belonging. And with all the busyness most of us contend with, it can be hard to find the time for pursuing our needs.

But there is good news! There is a God in Heaven who loves you! His love is real, demonstrated, tangible. The psalmist, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote: “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15) The Apostle John said it even more succinctly: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Yes, indeed, we find that love is God’s very character, the essence of who He is.

And he lavishes His love on each and every person. Just read through the following verses and see how God makes evident His love for us in real and sacrificial ways:

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

When God gave us the Ten Commandments, He did so not to limit us or restrict us. Quite the opposite, His commandments are given to guide us and protect us. They are the curbs alongside the road of life that keep us from harm and they are a mirror for self-examination. In Moses’ sermon recorded in Deuteronomy chapter five, we are taught that God promises us that if we “stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow…you will live long and prosperous lives…” (Deuteronomy 5:33) And that is a promise from our Creator born out of the deepest love we can ever know. A love that wants to see us have long and satisfying lives.

As human beings we instinctively long for love, we long to know we are cared for, and in God we will find everything that we could ever ask or hope for. Yes, there is a God in heaven who loves you, and if you haven’t yet discovered “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is,” (Ephesians 3:18) may today be the day you find His perfect love – the perfect love that casts out fear, that forgives absolutely, and that promises us eternal life.

Have questions about God? Want to know more about how to experience His love? Please visit KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
1 The Need to Love, posted January 8, 2014, Psychology Today
2 One in 10 Do Not Have a Close Friend and Even More Feel Unloved, Survey Finds, published August 12, 2014, TheGuardian.com
3 Feeling lonely? So Are a Lot of Other People, Survey Finds, published October 12, 2016 by CBS News

Thru the Storm

Storm  In today’s world, it doesn’t seem to matter where you live, there are hot button issues of all kinds. News headlines, editorials, blogs, and social media feeds flow readily with various viewpoints in support of, or rallying against, just about any issue you can think of. People cry out for tolerance but often intolerance seems to rule the day. Sadly, I have witnessed in my own social media feed friendships and family relationships strained over strongly held positions on one issue or another.

Without a doubt, there are many issues that have significance in our daily lives. But no matter where you stand on these issues; regardless if you are pro-life or pro-choice, for Brexit or against, a climate change skeptic or believer, for same sex marriage or against; whether you favor a more global governance or oppose it, support open borders or don’t support them; or whatever other issue may be of specific importance to you right now, the day is coming where none of it will matter except for one thing.

That one thing is this: what do you say about Jesus Christ. Here there is no middle road, no compromise position, no negotiation. You either accept the free gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus or you don’t. Jesus plainly said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

And the psalmist wrote: “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10)

And the Apostle John wrote: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)

There’s no intolerance or exclusion here, because Jesus makes his grace equally available to all. In fact, the only way to be excluded is to opt out, but even then, you will one day realize that Jesus  is Lord.

The great prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 45:23) and the Apostle Paul (Romans 14:11 & Philippians 2:9-11) both assure us that every man, woman, and child will one day acknowledge God: “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

It is important to be involved in our world and to do what we feel best for our communities and our neighbors, but the reality could not be more clear: whether we consider ourselves conservative, liberal, or something in between; a day is coming where the only thing that truly will matter is what we decided about Jesus Christ. We all instinctively know that we are sinners and we all fall far short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) so it reasons that we also instinctively know, deep down inside, that we need grace.

So the fact remains that all those issues we feel so strongly about will one day pass away, just like the earth itself. For Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” (Luke 21:33) And the Apostle Peter tells us: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.” (2 Peter 3:9-11)

While he was here on earth, Jesus told us this plain truth: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” (John 3:16-18a)

And, dear friends, there you have it. God loves you and wants to extend his grace to you. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what storms you’ve been through, God longs for you to return to him. But to receive his grace you have to do two things: repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus. Won’t you please do this right now, before it’s too late?

To learn more about accepting God’s free gift of grace, please visit:

KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Your Stalker

stalker threatening-1541063_960_720   Your stalker is out there. You may not ever see him, or even know that he’s lurking about, but he’s watching you. He watches you when you wake up in the morning, he watches while you shower and while you dress. He follows you on your morning commute and he watches with steadfastness while you go about your daily work activity. He’s got eyes on you when you stop at the gym after work, when you’re having a drink with friends, and on your way home. And as you settle into bed after a long day, he’s there waiting. Your stalker never rests, always watches, always waits. In broad daylight and creeping around in the dark of night, he’s there. He’s always there, a shadow lying in wait.

Your stalker’s name is Death and Death is a hunter. A patient hunter, stalking his prey with precision and endurance. He never worries about missing his quarry, for he knows they all succumb eventually. It doesn’t matter how adept his subject is at survival, Death will introduce every victim to his partner, the grave. And all your efforts to avoid Death are in vain. It doesn’t matter if you eat right or work out regularly. Neither the fitness guru nor the glutton can avoid their common fate. Some things we do may help delay the inevitable, but even then Death often strikes without warning. Auto accidents, cancer, storms, and fire are just tools in the hands of Death.

Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

It may seem this subject is a bit grim but let’s face it, the one statistic we can be sure of is that 10 out of every 10 people will die. That’s you, me, them. Everyone. Most people don’t like to think about it, but almost all of us have already faced death with the loss of a friend, family member, or coworker, so we know how real death is. But it is so much easier to focus on our careers, our hobbies, our friends, our social lives, our favorite TV shows, our vacation plans, or just about anything else. Death is not a subject we like to think about.

But the fact remains, death is stalking us, and as much as we may not wish to think about it, it may come much sooner than we care to imagine. We all know someone who died much too young and tomorrow anyone of us could be that person, so time is short. And we all instinctively know that death is not the end, so making sure we are ready for it should be our highest priority. So how can we be ready?

First, we must admit that we are a sinner. That should be really easy, for who among us would ever consider themselves perfect? Indeed, we all know deep inside we have made mistakes, we have done things that have hurt those around us, so let’s not waste any time with denial. Next, we must repent. This is also really simple; we just acknowledge that we are sinners and we turn from doing things our way and we start doing things God’s way. Lastly, we put our faith in Jesus Christ. For “if you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Please, please take these steps today, for everyone likes to think they have another day, or year, but the reality is we may not even have another minute. May God bless you richly as you consider your eternal future and the reality that God loves you enough to send his only Son that you might be forgiven.

Learn more at: KnowGod.org

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Before Anyone Else

BAE couple-1599046_960_720

BAE. Before anyone else. A term to describe the most important person in your life. Most use the term to describe their significant other; so, for example, I would say that my wife is BAE. And she definitely is…in human terms. But there is one who comes before her, and should be BAE for all of us, and that one is God. This is not just my opinion, it is one of God’s commandments, one that God gave us for a very specific reason. Let’s look at God’s Word:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” (Exodus 20:2-6)

Now, some people can find the meaning of these verses from the ten commandments a bit troubling, but in reality they are not so difficult at all. God is communicating to us his intended design that places Him first in the order of all things, and especially as it relates to our relationship with Him. Any difficulty in understanding often comes when we bring our own, modern day understanding to the text (a poor practice called “eisegesis”, which space doesn’t allow us to discuss in detail here). When we use the technique of understanding the text in terms of the original writer’s perspective (a more acceptable practice called “exegesis”) then we begin to understand what God is saying to us.

When God is described here as a “jealous” god, the word in the original language is “qannā,” a word that refers directly to the attributes of God’s justice and holiness. He is to be the sole object of human worship and he does not tolerate man’s sin. Understood this way, we see that the term “jealous” in Exodus 20:5 is not the same kind of jealousy we might feel in our lives, rather, it reflects God’s ordained order of things, and His rightful place in that order is before anyone else, or BAE. Anything less will not be tolerated.

This is a good point for us to be reminded that when God says “don’t,” He means “don’t hurt yourself.” There is a clearly designed order in God’s creation, of which we are a central part, and when we stray outside that order we begin to experience consequences that may take many forms. To stray from God’s intended order in any way is to sin, and sin always comes with repercussion. And this is where we see God warning us in Exodus 20:6 – “I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected…” So maybe the cliché “don’t means don’t hurt yourself” might better be stated: “don’t means don’t hurt yourself and others”.

As human beings, we often have a strong tendency to think only in terms of ourselves, but our lives are not our own, and our choices and the actions we take affect those around us as much as they affect us, and this is especially so within our families. Most of us have known family dysfunction at some level, and we see here that the ultimate root cause of that dysfunction stems from not recognizing God is BAE. So when we lose sight of God in His rightful place as Lord, and we pursue all those things that we desire, we really make ourselves BAE (even if we don’t realize it) and all those things, those pleasures, they become idols to us.

So what are we to do? How do we escape this tendency to put ourselves in the center of our lives? Simple, really: we accept God’s forgiveness and we start doing our very best to keep God at the center of our thinking and our lives by reading the Bible, praying, and trying to follow His commands. Psalm 119:1-9 offers us this encouragement:

Joyful are people of integrity,

who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Joyful are those who obey his laws

and search for him with all their hearts.

They do not compromise with evil,

and they walk only in his paths.

You have charged us

to keep your commandments carefully.

Oh, that my actions would consistently

reflect your decrees!

Then I will not be ashamed

when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations,

I will thank you by living as I should!

I will obey your decrees.

Please don’t give up on me!

How can a young person stay pure?

By obeying your word.

We can see that when we keep God as BAE, and follow His commandments, then we experience joyful living. That doesn’t mean we will be without trials or difficulty. Quite the contrary, it means we will be joyful despite our trials and difficulties, and that joyfulness will bear witness of God’s power to all those around us, and to our own families, and family dysfunction will start to fade away. And that seems an admirable goal, doesn’t it? So…is God BAE in your life?

Learn more at: KnowGod.org

We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Everyone Needs Jesus…Even You

jesus-lock-1670164_960_720

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.” -Thomas Merton

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you believe (or don’t believe), you need Jesus. This is true whether you are wealthy, middle class, or poor. It is true regardless of the language you speak or the color of your skin. It is true whether you are male or female, young or old. It is true regardless of your religious background, whether you grew up Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, atheist, or any of the myriad other possibilities. It is true regardless of any lifestyle choices you have made and it is true whether you are willing to acknowledge it or not. You need Jesus.

You may be trying very hard to live a good life, donating money, helping others, serving your neighbor. Compared to others you might stand out as one who truly has compassion and genuine love for others. You may even be a social worker, medical professional, first responder, or a pastor or religious leader whose very vocation is to help and serve others. Even so, you still need Jesus. Because the truth is – we cannot be good enough. The Bible says: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) The prophet Isaiah wrote, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6)

We tend to compare ourselves to others, whether consciously or subconsciously. It helps us stave off the feelings of guilt we might otherwise experience; because deep, deep down inside our souls, we know we are sinners. God designed us with a built in sense of right and wrong, but we frequently ignore it, deny its existence, or we rationalize our actions because we want our own way. We “feel” something is right rather than rely on God’s Word to inform us; and in an effort to further justify our feelings, we recruit others to our point of view. There’s safety in numbers because if everyone’s doing it, we tell ourselves, then it must not be wrong.

We would never claim to be perfect in front of others, so we are being disingenuous when we deny our sinful nature, even if we are only denying it to ourselves. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8) There must be a standard for right and wrong and there is, in God’s Word. When we’re honest with ourselves, we know it is not found in our self-comparison to others, or in how we “feel”, or by what we see others doing with seeming impunity. But then isn’t that why many of us do not read the Bible or go to church? Because when we do we may be confronted with the truth. Jesus said, “All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” (John 3:20)

Yet the purpose of God’s laws is to protect us and to show us how sinful we are. When God says “don’t” he means “don’t hurt yourself.” As our loving Father, He sets boundaries and rules so that we may have life, abundance, and happiness. But like a small child testing his parents, we push the boundaries and do our own thing because it “feels” right. Convinced of our moral superiority and reliant on our self-knowledge, we rationalize our behavior until we are convinced God doesn’t exist or his Word is flawed. We start telling ourselves that all roads lead to heaven and we resent those who tell us there is only one way. In other words, our sinful desires drive us to buy into a lie rather than accept the truth.

“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24-25a)

Everyone needs Jesus because there is only one way. And that way is Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” And in 1 John 5:12, we read, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” The fact that Jesus is the only way is nothing anyone should be upset about, though, because it is an act of the purest love that God sacrificed his very own Son that we might be saved. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” (John 3:16-18a)

Read the words of John 3:16-18a again very carefully. God loved you so much that he made provision for your redemption by sacrificing his one and only Son. How is it that love like this would make someone mad? And it is very inclusive, too, because God doesn’t exclude anyone – He desires that everyone should be saved.

So you need Jesus. And you can avail yourself of him right now and it couldn’t be easier. Just admit you are a sinner (remember you are being disingenuous if you say you aren’t) and ask Jesus for forgiveness. For “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” And remember, you are dearly loved, more than you will ever know.

God bless you.

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Wages

Romans 6_23 God’s rules are like the boundaries a parent sets for his or her children, they are for our benefit and protection (though, like a child, we often seem to think we know better). And when a child breaks their parents’ rules, they can usually expect consequences, some naturally occurring and some in the form of disciplinary measures. Similarly, there are consequences of breaking God’s laws.

But I’m not going to discuss the obvious consequences such as emotional pain, financial loss, broken homes, lost jobs, drug addictions, STDs, or any of the overly numerous ways we manage to mess up our own lives. (Proverbs 19:3 comes to mind: People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.) No, for this entry I’m going to stick to the bigger picture – which is the eternal consequence of our sin.

Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death…” This is an understandably difficult verse for many people. “How can a loving God sentence someone to death?” one is tempted to ask. I have had the same question myself. And this could lead us into some very deep theological territory, but I am going to attempt to avoid this with a simple analogy that will show that a god who doesn’t punish sin is actually an unloving god. Yes, it is precisely because God is so loving that He punishes sin.

How so?

Glad you asked. (Well, I assume you asked.) Let’s posit that a criminal has been apprehended and tried for an especially heinous crime against an especially defenseless victim. Perhaps it was a small child or an elderly couple who were viciously attacked, beaten, or killed. The prosecution’s case was airtight and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this perpetrator was culpable. The jury has come to a unanimous verdict of guilty on all counts.

The day has come when the judge will hand down the sentence. The family of the victim stands in the courtroom, tightly holding hands, anticipating the justice they will finally receive. They nervously look at each other, sure of the outcome but wary none-the-less. The tragedy of this atrocious crime has taken its toll and the lives of the family members will never be the same. Finally, the judge enters the courtroom and announces his sentence: “No punishment. You’re free to go.”

Can you imagine the horror that would pass through the family and all those in the courtroom? No punishment? Wouldn’t that be the most nefarious, unloving act the judge could possibly take? Of course it would! A horrible crime demands an appropriate punishment. And it is no different with God. When we break laws, the only fair, just, and loving thing God can do is hand out punishment. And, eternally speaking, that punishment is far worse than the temporal consequences we inflict upon ourselves.

And lest we should begin to think that we are not guilty, let’s be reminded that “all have sinned, all fall short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) And let’s also not try to minimize our crimes, either, by claiming that God’s standards are unreasonably high. A simple reading the Ten Commandments reveals rules that are reasonable in every regard, and are clearly for our own good and for the good of those around us.

Yet we steal. We commit adultery (Jesus said that if we look upon another with lust we have committed adultery in our heart – Matthew 5:28); we murder (Jesus said if we even are angry with our fellow man we are subject to judgment – Matthew 5:22); we lie; we covet; we fail to honor our parents; we fail to hold God in proper esteem. If you disagree with the concept that you are a sinner, then you are being disingenuous because we all inherently know we are guilty. No, as is explained to us in Romans 1, God has made the truth plain to us through His creation, we all intrinsically know that God exists and, therefore, we are without excuse.

But there is good news, Romans 3 says, in verses 24-26: “Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”

And that’s how loving God is. He sacrificed His own Son to pay the price for our sins so that we can be made righteous. The question is: have you availed yourself of God’s forgiveness? If you want to know how to be sure you are forgiven, please write us at reigndropsblog@gmail.com.

Until next time, God bless.

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