Handing Out Awards Like Hotcakes

We have a God who loves to hand out awards. And because he is as gracious as he is generous, these awards are lavish — and completely undeserved.

After all, God created us in the first place. He gave us our hands, feet, eyes, ears, minds and hearts. Every good and perfect gift, James says, comes down from the Father of heavenly lights.

Then God redeemed us from our empty way of life under slavery to sin. He bought us back from a certain and eternal death — freeing us from sin, guilt and shame. And he did it at great cost to himself. He sacrificed his one and only Son, Jesus, to make that redemption become real.

God also gifted us with our talents, abilities, and various personalities. He shaped and molded us into the individual we are today, both through nature and nurture. Our inner “wiring” all belongs to him.

By grace, God has saved us for eternity. Even more shocking, he is building a personal home for each of us in the life that follows this life. He gives us this heavenly home for free. No mortgage payments. No savings account needed in this life. What provides this gift to us is the grace of God. No more. No less.

And finally, God promises to bless us in heaven when we use the bodies he’s given us, express the freedom he’s won for us, apply the gifts he’s chosen for us, all while living in the hope of eternal life that he’s made available to us.

And where do you think the motivation and energy we need to do this comes from? You got it. Like everything else, it comes from him. By grace.

God is that guy. He’s indiscriminate and unrelenting in his grace and generosity. So much so that the outside observer looks on and wonders if God is not way too generous.

But please understand God’s heart. All of this is because what God really wants for us is to share in his happiness.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21, NIV).

Lord, thank you for your amazing generosity and grace which we get to personally experience each day. Thank you for wanting us to share in your happiness.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, February 7, is Job 40:3 – 42:17, Matthew 25:14-46 and Psalm 18:43-50.

Header image based on "Trophies" by Paulus, CC by 2.0

All In

Jesus makes it clear that eternity is on the line. And when the stakes are high, most of us realize that it’s time to be “all in.”

We do it all the time. When deciding on our educational path. When meeting our future spouse. When selecting our career. When opening our business.

In areas of life like this, we know that whatever we decide upon, we need to put our back into it and go for it.

Wholeheartedly.

Well, Jesus says that there will come a day when all mankind will be judged. And following that, heaven will be the eternal home of those who have been declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly–no, devastatingly!–for those who do not believe in Jesus there is only hell.

The stakes are most definitely high. Whatever it takes, Jesus tells us, obtain the kingdom of heaven. It’s worth everything you’ve got!

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46, NIV).

Lord, help me never to take you, or your kingdom, lightly. You want to give me eternal life. And you have already won heaven for me. By your grace, you want to give a “pearl of great price” to me as a gift. Amazing. Send me your Spirit so that I can be all in!

Our Bible reading for Monday, January 19, is Genesis 38:1 – 39:23, Matthew 13:36-58 and Psalm 11:1-7.

Header image based on "Mabe Pearl Ring" by Rutz, CC by 2.0

Stay Thirsty in 2015

One day soon, it will happen (Revelation 22:10). We’ll ring in not just a new year, but a whole new universe (Revelation 21:1-2). Everything we see now, every possession we hold dear in this life will disappear.

But—and here’s the best news—it will be replaced. It will be replaced by something and Someone far more beautiful, and way more perfect.

And this will come along with every blessing imaginable. In fact, it will come with every blessing unimaginable as well.

How do you participate? Jesus says you’re invited! The ticket in is his gift to you. And drinks are on him!

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17, NIV).

Stay thirsty, my friends! Stay thirsty in 2015.

Lord Jesus, you are the water of life. Keep me thirsty for you in 2015. Thank you for the free gift of eternal life, and for the invitation for all of us to join you there.

Our Bible reading for Wednesday, December 31, is Malachi 1:1 – 4:6, Psalm 150:1-6, Proverbs 31:10-31 and Revelation 21:1 – 22:21.