Three Simple Words, One Amazing Story

unknown“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” –John 3:16

Jesus loves me. These are three words so often heard that over time, they have lost their meaning. We have forgotten the power and significance of this one simple phrase. Just like any other phrase, there is a story behind these three words. A story that must be told. A story that must never be forgotten. So today in this post, I am going to remind us of the story behind these words.

Jesus’ love for us is unlike any other. The kind of love the world offers is a selfish love; one that only thinks of itself. Jesus’ love is sacrificial. It is putting everyone before yourself. And that is exactly what He did: He healed the sick, lived among outcasts, and loved those who others thought were “unholy.” His whole life was based on sacrificial love. But the best part is that His love is not something you have to earn or be worthy of but accept with open arms as a free gift. (Ephesians 2:8) Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God did not begin loving us when we believed in Him and accepted Him as our Savior. No, He began loving us long before we were even born. That is what makes His love so amazing. He loved us and died for us before we loved or knew Him. (1 John 4:19)

There are many ways throughout Jesus’ life that prove this love to us, but the most significant is the cross. Through this one act of sacrifice, He showed the world how much He truly loved them. I remember when I was a little girl my dad would ask me how much I loved him. I would then stretch my arms out as far as they would go and say, “I love you this much.” As Jesus stretched His arms out to be nailed to that cross, He was saying to us, “I love you this much. I love you so much that I will die for you, so I can see you again one day in paradise.” Every cut and bruise on Him is a sign of His love. Every beating He received was proof that His love is real. Every time He spoke nothing when lies were being spoken against Him showed that nothing could come between His love for us. This is what the phrase, “Jesus loves me” means. These three simple words are filled with more sacrifice and love than any other. Do not take them for granted. The next time you hear them, instead of letting them go in one ear and out the other, savor its meaning. Remember the story that made them true. Remember how much He truly does love you and then go share that love with others.

In Christ,

Callie

 

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

“For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved”
-John 3:17

One of my favorite songs is “Jesus Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns. This song does an amazing job of comparing the human’s spirit of condemnation versus God’s spirit of love. Every time I hear it, it makes me strive to have the same love and compassion for unbelievers Jesus had. The first verse says,

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away,
We cut down people in your name, but the sword was never ours to swing.
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see,
The world is on their way to You, but their tripping over me.
Always looking around but never looking up, I’m so double minded,
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided.

Too often, instead of having the same love for unbelievers Jesus did, we have a spirit of condemnation. We stay as far away from them, afraid that their “unrighteous” lives might somehow make us unholy. But if you look at Jesus’ life, He did not shun the unbelievers. No, He spent His whole life among them. Now, He didn’t participate in what they did, but He did show them love, not condemnation. When we have a spirit of pride, we become a stumbling block instead of a witness. Love convicts, but judging condemns. Only when we let go of our condemnation and love the unbelievers are we truly showing them what Christ’s love looks like.

The second verse says:

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who is writing in the sand,
Make the righteous turn away, and the stones fall from their hands.
Help us to remember, that we are all the least of thieves,
Let the memory of your mercy bring Your people to their knees.
Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded.
What if we put down our signs, crossed over the line and love like you did?

When the Pharisees were wanting to stone a woman who had been caught committing adultery, Jesus looked at them and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:1-11). Jesus showed the Pharisees that they had no authority to judge her because they too were sinners. It is the same with us. We should have the same mercy for those around us that Jesus had for us. He has given us so much more mercy and grace than we deserve. The least we can do is to share what God has so freely given us with others.

The chorus says:

Jesus, friend of sinners,
open our eyes to the world and the end of our pointing fingers,
Let our hearts be led by mercy,
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors,
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break out hearts for what breaks yours.

Jesus spent His life on earth loving sinners. He ate with the tax collectors. He healed the unbelievers. He died for those who blasphemed and spoke against Him. Instead of keeping His distance and looking down on them full of condemnation the way some Christians do today, He loved them with His everlasting love. The same love that saved us from the punishment we deserve. And in return, Jesus asks us to share the love He has given us with the people in our lives- both Christian and non-Christian. He asks us to “let our hearts be led by mercy.” To be truly sorrowful over the things that make Him sad. To see everyone around us the way He sees them: His own precious children. I pray that every one of us would abandon our pride and condemnation and love unbelievers the way Jesus did.

In Christ,

Callie

Laying Aside Every Weight

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Laying aside sin is something all Christians are called to do. But notice how in this verse it not only directs us to lay aside sin, but “every weight which so easily ensnares us.” Too often we neglect this truth and try to step as close to the line as possible without actually sinning. We become trapped in a rut of asking, “Is it a sin?” or “What’s wrong with it?” These questions are in no way the right ones to be asking ourselves. So, what should we be asking? Hebrews 12:1 clearly states to lay aside anything that slows us down. The questions we should be asking ourselves are: “Does it help me run?” and “Does it get in my way when I’m trying to become more like Jesus?” Just because it is “not a sin” and there’s “not anything wrong with it” doesn’t make it right. While Jesus does ask us to lay aside our sins, He doesn’t want us to stop there. He wants us to cleanse our lives from any distractions so we can “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

After hearing this, you might be thinking how this looks like lots of loss. Maybe you feel God telling you to give up something, but you don’t want to. Well, I have something to tell you. There are many times I find myself struggling to let go of worldly pleasures. At times, it is even painful to give them up. But I can promise you one thing: the pleasures of this world are nothing- absolutely nothing- compared to the place Jesus is preparing for those who love and follow Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). Yes, it will be hard to give up your fleshly desires. Yes, it may feel like loss. But over time, God will take the feeling of loss and turn it upside down. In the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” Helen Lemmel gives a wonderful example of this:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of his glory and grace.”

When we let go of our sins and every weight that stands in our way, it may feel hard at first. But slowly the enjoyments of the world will grow distant, and God will shine brighter in your life. So let’s lay aside every sin and every weight, and let’s run with our Savior.

In Christ,

Callie

 

Defeating Fear’s Foothold

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7

A few weeks ago, I was reading the story of Jonah for my Bible time. As I was reading, I found myself wondering why Jonah felt the need to run from God. I mean, he was a prophet! Didn’t he know that his job would call him to do dangerous things? As soon as the thoughts crossed my mind, God convicted me of something- how many times do we, like Jonah, run from what God has called us to do because of fear? This conviction led me to think why we as Christians let fear hold us back from obeying God. This thinking led me to a conclusion of three reasons why fear holds us back and how we overcome these reasons.

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The Armor of God- Part 2

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” –Ephesians 6:13

In my last post, I talked about the importance of the Armor of God. Now, I’m going to focus on how to use the armor and how it helps us have victory over our enemies.

-The Belt of Truth

The first weapon Paul directs us to is the belt of truth. (Ephesians 6:14a) So, what is so important about this particular weapon that Paul would make it the first one we learn about? Take a look at John 8:32 which says, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” How does truth make us free? Not only does it free us from the bondage of guilt that comes from lying, but it also sets us free from sin. Without truth, we would never know the difference between right and wrong and therefore would forever be in bondage of sin. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Sin holds us back from running the race God has given us. We have to be set free from sin to be able to run with endurance. Without being set free from sin, we would profit nothing from our other armor.

-The Breastplate of Righteousness

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The Armor of God- Part 1

Have you ever wondered why Christianity is hated by so many people? Why would a gospel full of peace and love be outlawed is so many countries? The answer to these questions lies in Ephesians 6:12 which says, “For we do not wrestle against the flash and blood, but against principalities against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Satan knows that Christianity is the one and only true way, but he doesn’t want the world to know that. So he tries to feed them lies about Christianity so it will be hated and looked down upon. That is why prayer has been taken out of our schools. That is why the name of Jesus is forbidden in some countries. And it is also why we must learn how to fight against evil.  Continue reading

Taming the Tongue

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” –Colossians 4:6

Words are essential to life. They are how we communicate and get to know one another. They are how we express our feelings.  But most importantly, they are powerful and very influential. There are two different ways we can influence others with our words. They can either be used to encourage and build others up, or they can be used in ways that cause destruction and pain. God makes it very obvious in His Word that our words should influence others in an encouraging way. But, although we have become new creations through Christ, our old fleshly desires are still there warring against the Spirit. The tongue is something our flesh and Spirit war over frequently. To be able to follow God’s Word, we need to know how to win the war of taming the tongue. Here are a few steps we need to understand to be able to do it. Continue reading