Monday, September 14, 2020

You are loved!

For whoever needs this today – you are valued greatly and loved deeply.

I know the stress right now feels overwhelming. I know the nights are painfully lonely. I know the regrets of past mistakes haunt you.

But there’s a greater love. It’s the love of the almighty Maker of heaven and earth, the One who carved the seas and filled them with all kinds of living creatures. It’s the affection of the majestic Author of life, the One who set His glory above the heavens yet cares for every single sparrow and every single sunflower and every single spider that weaves such fascinatingly designed webs that it leaves one in wonder over the wisdom of its Creator.

And more than these – by a long shot – the Father in heaven loves those whom He has created in His own image. And that includes you.

You are not here by accident, chance, or coincidence. No, you were carefully, thoughtfully, skillfully “knit together” in your mother’s womb by God. You were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Every single one of your days has been written in His book before you drew your first breath (see Psalm 139:13-16).

Oh, friend, if you could see yourself through the compassionate eyes of your Maker you would never again have reason to hate your life. Despise the sin within? Sure. But to detest your life? How could you, when you’re loved with an everlasting love by the One who is good and merciful, faithful and true?

Let me give you an illustration.

A man in Dundee, Scotland, was confined to bed for forty years, having broken his neck in a fall at age fifteen. But his spirit remained unbroken, and his cheer and courage so inspired people that he enjoyed a constant stream of guests. One day a visitor asked him, “Doesn’t Satan ever tempt you to doubt God?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the man. “He does try to tempt me. I lie here and see my old schoolmates driving along in their carriages and Satan whispers, ‘If God is so good, why does He keep you here all these years? Why did he permit your neck to be broken?’”

“What do you do when Satan whispers those things?” asked the guest.

“Ah,” replied the invalid, “I take him to Calvary, show him Christ, and point to those deep wounds, and say, ‘You see, he does love me’. And Satan has no answer to that. He flees every time.”    

You see, He does love you! No matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’re going through – look to the cross and see how much He loves you.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Why not join us this coming Sunday at Petersburg First Baptist Church, and we’ll bask together in the riches of God’s unfailing love!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Yes, you can memorize Scripture!


When was the last time you tried memorizing Scripture? You can’t, you say? I say you can! If I gave you a million dollars for every verse of the Bible you memorized, would that motivate you to give it a shot?

You’ve memorized the Pledge of Allegiance. You might have learned the Gettysburg Address. You probably know the Lord’s Prayer and maybe the 23rd Psalm by heart. I think you can do it! 

Let me give you a few helps to encourage you to try to memorize one chapter from the Psalms. 

1. Choose a Psalm that you love. If your heart is engaged along with your mind, you’ll find great joy in the experience.

2. Remember the value of Scripture memorization. A soldier would never go to battle without his weapon at hand. When you have God’s Word abiding within, you’ll always have His truth at the ready. I could say much more on this point, but that’ll have to be another article. 

3. Set a deadline. This can vary by the length of the text as well as your own desired pace, but give yourself a month to memorize the 21 verses of Psalm 145, for example. But see No. 6 below. 

4. Be accountable to someone. This will keep you from quitting or putting it off. If you know that you’ll have to recite it in your Sunday School class or in a worship service, that will keep you moving forward. 

5. Ask God for help. Don’t neglect the power of God’s Spirit to impress His Word in your heart. Spend much time in prayer seeking the Lord. 

6. Read the passage out loud and often. Even before you start working on committing it to memory, read the entire chapter out loud at least 20 times. Maybe 50 times. 

7. Write it out by hand. This will help ensure that you are getting every word, comma, and period in place. 

8. Record yourself reading it, then play it back often as you’re out walking or driving. Try to read it with appropriate passion, emphasis, and context. 

9. Study the Scripture you’re working on. Who’s the author? Who’s the audience? What’s the occasion? What is God saying? How does it lead you to respond? 

10. Line by line, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, start memorizing it word for word. You might be surprised at how quickly it all comes together. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Trusting in the King of kings

Who are you voting for in the upcoming Presidential election?

It’s already been a grueling election year – I suppose they all are – but the next couple of months could get ugly. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could learn to be nice to each other even when we see things from different points of view?

Certainly in terms of the future of our nation, however, there’s a lot riding on this election. The left and the right are fundamentally divided over the direction we should be heading. Differing philosophies, differing values, differing goals. It’s not just about the next four years; it’s about who we are as a country.

Yes, it is important that we vote. Christian, pray about your vote. Seek to align your vote with the principles of the God’s Word (as much as possible in an imperfect, fallen world with imperfect, fallen candidates). Honor the Lord with your vote. Love your neighbor with your vote. Seek the well-being of your city, your state, your nation with your vote.

But let me say that no matter what happens, our ultimate trust ought never to be in a mere mortal man, nor in a system of government, nor in the strength or prosperity of a nation. Our help is the God of Jacob and our hope is in the Lord our God.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright” (Psalm 20:8).

Nations rise and nations fall, and even the United States of America will not last forever, but the Kingdom of heaven will never fail.

“The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations” (Psalm 145:13).

“The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 146:10).

In a world of much uncertainty and chaos, a world of turmoil and upheaval, a world of violence and wickedness and suffering, I say why wouldn’t you turn to Jesus as King of your life? Why not trust Him to rule in perfect righteousness and justice as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace?

No politician ever gave his life on a cross for the forgiveness of your sins, but the King of Glory did. No other world leader conquered the grave by rising from the dead, but the King of the ages could not be defeated.

So let us “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Let us pray for those in leadership positions (1 Timothy 2:1-2), let us strive for godliness as sojourners in this world (2 Peter 3:11), and let us keep our eyes on the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16), who will come again in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

He’s got my vote!