The First Coming

Before the world was created, Jesus already existed (23). He was with God, and he was the same as God. Jesus has always been with God.  God made all things through Jesus.  Nothing, nothing in all creation, was made without him.

Some people, who don’t want to know God, favor other notions of how life began.  But consider the intricate & amazing beauty of creation.  This life didn’t happen by chance; we didn’t just get lucky!

Jesus is the source of all life, and his life brings light to all people.  His light still shines into any darkness, and no darkness has ever put it out.

About 2,000 years ago, God did send another messenger, a man named John the Baptizer, who came to tell people about the light — so that people would hear about Jesus and believe in him.  John the Baptizer was not the light; he came to tell about the real light that Jesus was bringing into the world.

Then, at about the same time, Jesus himself came, physically & miraculously, into the world.

But even though God made the world through Jesus, people in the world didn’t recognize him.  When Jesus came back as an adult to the place where he had grown up, even the people there didn’t recognize him.

Creating God, please help me to love seeing You in Jesus.

(23) John 1:1-11

In The Beginning

The earliest books of the inspired Jewish scriptures (4) reveal much to us about the nature of God & about his ways.

The story of Creation, with which Genesis begins, reveals God’s immense power — in creating everything, from absolutely nothing.   Genesis also reveals God’s immense love — in the creation of humans in his own image, so that we might be loved by him & that we might love him in return.

CreationLaura Sotka 2008

The story of Noah reveals that God has extremely high expectations for his created people, and that there are consequences for ignoring those expectations.

The story of Job reveals that the immense power & love of God, and his ways with humans, are not always fully understandable to his people.

The story of Abraham reveals the supreme importance of trusting & obeying God, even when we do not fully understand what he is doing.

The story of Jacob reveals that God will bless those who surrender to him – even if that surrender is made slowly, in baby steps.

And the story of Joseph reveals that God works his will in our lives & in our world, even when we cannot see everything he’s doing.

In all these stories, emphasis is given to the tremendous value of trusting God to accomplish his will, regardless of the uncertainty or the difficulty of our immediate circumstances.

Creating God, please help me to love being created in Your image.

(4) Genesis & Job


 

Paul’s Letter To Christians In Rome

During his last stay in Corinth, Greece, Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome, Italy, a place he had not yet visited in person.  This letter lays out the basics of the Christian faith, and its implications for Jews & Gentiles.  It is, in effect, the gospel, or the good news about Jesus, according to Paul (296).

Paul reminded his readers that all people are separated from God by our natural inclination to sin, or to resist the rule of God over our lives.

We often like to pretend that God isn’t real, but the evidence of creation should convince us that God is real.  Yet we all – both Jews & Gentiles — tend always to worship the creature (ie, ourselves) instead of the creator (ie, God).  And we cannot fix this; we do not have the power to save ourselves from this self-inflicted condition of being separated from God.

So, in our natural state, we are all walking on the broad way that leads to hell.

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Paul emphasizes repeatedly that, in our natural rejection of God, we are destined for eternal suffering in hell, which is ultimate separation from God.

The good news is that – despite our sins — God still loves us & still wants us to be reconciled to him. God wants each person he has created to experience eternal joy in heaven, in ultimate communion with God.

In the person & work of Jesus, God has made a way for this reconciliation to occur.  Jesus died in our place, to pay the penalty for our sins, thereby satisfying the holy wrath of God against our sins.

In the person & work of Jesus, our sinful flesh has been put to death, and our spirits have been raised to new life.  Whereas we once lived as slaves of our flesh, we can now live as slaves of God’s spirit.  When we believe that, when we trust Jesus to make that happen every day, then we have entered into the narrow way that leads to heaven.

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We can stay on that narrow way, says Paul, because God’s Spirit fills & guides the lives of all who believe in Jesus.  The Holy Spirit helps us live righteously, in the narrow way marked out for us by the life & ministry of Jesus.  For Christians, being narrow-minded in this way is a good thing.

As long as we live here on this earth, our tendency to sin – mainly by worshiping ourselves instead of God – remains.  But God’s Spirit gives us the power to overcome our sinful tendencies.  Nothing can ever separate us from God, as long as we are following the leading of God’s Holy Spirit.

God, please help me to love following Your Holy Spirit — all day, every day.

(296) Romans 1-8