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The Cradle and the Cross

The Christmas season is once again upon us. The hustle and bustle of last minute preparations, presents and planning seem to monopolize our time. Yet as I sit and ponder both the reality and meaning of this season, I wonder if we have fallen into the trap of the busyness and gift-giving, that we have forgotten what makes this season so great. I’m not against giving gifts and planning our gatherings with friends and family, frankly I love these aspects of this season. But I would like to take a moment, in between the phone calls, keystrokes and internet searches to direct our minds toward “the Gift”—the Greatest Gift ever given in the history of mankind.

Unfortunately, in many ways, Christmas has been hijacked by some reindeer who supposedly can fly, pulling a sleigh filled with presents to deliver to every “good” child in the world, in one evening, being driven by a jolly old man, who clearly has had one too many cookies, dressed in a red suit, who slides down chimneys to deliver presents even in homes with no chimneys. Quite a believable story, right?!

Somehow, in many homes, this story has replaced the story of the birth of the Child born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. The story of the Greatest Gift ever given. The story of grace and mercy, hope and love. The story of humility and sacrifice. The story of the God of heaven looking down upon His creation and sending His Son to be the Gift of life to a lost and dying world. This amazing story is the story of Christmas. It is the story of the cradle and the cross.

The “Cradle” and the “Cross” — What do these words mean to you? A cradle brings memories to parents of the early days with their children. Memories of anticipation of “what this child will become” among the sleepless nights and delirious questioning of my own abilities as a parent handling this great responsibility. The cradle is a picture of innocence and expectation. The cross on the other hand brings to mind pain and suffering, torture and death.

How can these two words be brought together especially in the context of Christmas? Truth be told, the greatest story the world has ever known is wrapped up in these words, of innocence and expectation, of pain and suffering, torture and death.

These two words, when boiled down reveal a profound contrast yet powerful and life-giving reality. The cradle is a picture of new life while the CROSS is a picture of death. As we consider the cradle and the cross, we see the true reason for this Christmas season—it is all about CHRIST.

The story unfolds as the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. ”—Luke 1:30-33

Talk about anticipation and the weight of responsibility this announcement brings. Yet Mary humbly responds as a willing servant, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

Next, we find Joseph struggling with the news of his pregnant fiancé and what he should do.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy GhostAnd she [Mary] shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.”—Matthew 1:20-21

I remember back to those days as I was anticipating the birth of our first child. The thoughts of this soon-coming responsibility of fatherhood, at times, were heavy and oppressive. I can only imagine what went through Joseph’s mind as he hears this announcement. I’m sure to some degree, this put Joseph’s mind at ease, yet he too has just received a heavenly announcement, filled with anticipation, being weighted down with the greatest responsibility—“I will be raising the One who will save His people from their sins?” But yet, without delay, he obediently took these steps of faith.

In the second chapter of Luke, additional characters are brought into this narrative. The anticipation finally reaches a crescendo with the birth of this Child, followed by more angels, this time singing and praising God, making a heavenly announcement of the birth of the Lamb of God to some lowly shepherds.

And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”—Luke 2:10-12

The cradle is the focus of the first act in this narrative while in the second act the curtain opens revealing the purpose for this cradle as the cross takes centerstage.

One of my favorite Christmas hymns was written by Ron Hamilton titled, “Born to Die.” The message of the third verse with the chorus sums up the message of the Cradle and Cross.

From His throne Jesus came, laid aside Heaven’s fame
In exchange for the cross of Calvary;
For my gain suffered loss, for my sin He bore the cross—
He was wounded and I was set free.
Born to die upon Calvary, Jesus suffered my sin to forgive;
Born to die upon Calvary, He was wounded that I might live
.

In these words we see the cradle and the cross. The cross cast its shadow over the cradle as Jesus was born and laid in the manger. This was the purpose for which Christ was born—He was born to die. Remember the angel’s words to Joseph, “And [Mary] shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins”?

Jesus was born so that He could die. This sounds quite depressing as far as stories go. Clearly this wasn’t written for any awards or block-buster movie deals. Up until this point it captivates our attention. It is filled with twists and turns that make for a good story yet at this point many choose to disembark this story train—Jesus was born so that He could die! See, if the story ended here then I would agree but give it a chance, keep on reading. The great reality is that Christ’s death was not the stories’ end but a pivotal moment within the narrative of Christ’s provision for our salvation. It was part of the process of securing our salvation. The cross is empty and so is the tomb as it could not hold Him. Christ has conquered death and has risen from the grave, just as He said He would (Matthew 16:21).

The purpose for which Christ came to this earth was to die, to pay the penalty for our sin—which He did. BUT then He rose again the third day, claiming victory over death leaving the tomb empty as evidence of a risen, living Savior.

Don’t overlook the journey from the cradle to the cross. Stop and look upon the empty cross and see all the suffering Christ bore on your behalf. Then keep going from that tree to the tomb. Again, stop and look inside and see Him there no more and rejoice for He lives! But there is more…continue on from the grave to the glorious mount as He ascended, returning to the Father.

From the cradle to the cross we see how Christ lived as a perfect Example and He died as a perfect Sacrifice. In that He triumphs over the tomb, we see that He lives as a conquering King and He saves as a perfect SAVIOR.

Remember that there is a Christ in CHRISTmas for a reason. HE is the REASON for this season. Celebrate HIM as the Greatest Gift ever given. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can enjoy the cradle of a new birth in Christ—a life with Christ that never ends—a life with Him here on this earth and in heaven for eternity.

Do you have a relationship with Christ? Have you received this Greatest Gift that is eternal life? Consider Christ’s words to a religious man searching for answers about life. Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again [from above], he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) The Bible says elsewhere, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Have you responded to Christ when He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest [peace]” (Matthew 11:28). Christ’s invitation demands a response. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “But as many as received Him [JESUS], to them gave He power to become the sons of Godeven to them that believe on His name:” (John 1:12)

If you haven’t placed your faith and trust in CHRIST alone for salvation won’t you consider doing that today? This Christmas enjoy the Greatest Gift ever given—His name is JESUS. He will never fail you for in Him alone is contentment, peace, joy, and love that truly transcends all understanding. In Him alone is true life that never ends.

Join with me this Christmas season and make JESUS the center—put CHRIST at the center of your CHRISTmas.

For more information, consider reading “How do I get to heaven?

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“It Is Finished!”

The last words of a dying soul often tend to be heavy with meaning, weighted with such great significance in their heartfelt genuineness. Especially without the heavy sedation compassionately given by modern day hospice care, these last words picture for us a glimpse into the soul—a view of unobstructed insight into the most important matters of the heart as one awaits their final breath.

Stories are told of the torment of souls as they stand at deaths door not knowing what will meet them on the other side. With gut wrenching agony loved ones have watched them fight the inevitable slide into eternity. But there are also stories told of triumphant songs sung by souls prepared for what lays before them. Souls who willingly and joyfully step into glory with great anticipation and expectation knowing that their Savior awaits them with open arms. With sorrow they leave their loved ones behind but with great joy they look forward to the welcome embrace of their loving Shepherd.

It is the last words of this loving Shepherd that have arrested my thoughts in anticipation of the services of remembrance and celebration that lay before me. With pen in hand, and the unfamiliar sound of silence in my ears, I sit with an open Bible before me pondering His triumphant last words, “It is finished!” The apostle John records these last words of triumph (John 19:30). Words filled with meaning that plumb the unfathomable depths of life, love, and sacrifice of the Son of God.

Approaching this glorious time of the year my mind is flooded with thoughts as I ponder the steps of a Man who undeservedly walked a path and carried a cross that was not His own. A man who carried the weight of the world upon His bloodied back; a man who wore a crown fit not even the worst of kings let alone the King of Kings. He walked my path; He carried my cross; He wore my crown; He bore my sin with each step on His way to Mount Calvary to lay down His life on a cross made for me.

The passage that lays open before me is Isaiah 52:13-53:12 where it speaks of the “Man of sorrows” long before this undeserving world laid its eyes upon the “Word made flesh.” As we allow the Gospels to shed light upon these words of prophecy we see a bruised and broken Man whose “visage was so marred more than any man” yet robed with love and grace, with gentleness and humility as He endured the shame and disgrace that my sin demanded of me. It is in my place that I see Christ walk. It is in my place that I see Him die. It is in my place I see His love on full display unlike the world has ever seen. Such grace so undeserved yet so abundant and free.

Isaiah’s words are rich with theology and meaning. Each time I read through this passage I come to rest on verses 4-6, personalizing it as I read,  “Surely He hath borne [my] griefs, and carried [my] sorrows: yet [I] did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for [my] transgressions, He was bruised for [my] iniquities: the chastisement [for my] peace was upon Him; and with His stripes [I am] healed. Like [a] sheep [I] have gone astray; [I] have turned to [my] own way; and the LORD hath laid on [Jesus Christ all my] iniquity.”

These words cut to my heart to think of the consequence of my sin, my selfishness, demanding my own way. The flood of emotions rush into my heart as at times my eyes begin to overflow. What sadness and heartache to consider the suffering that my Savior chose to endure because He knew that I would choose my “own way” instead of His good and righteous way. My “own way” is the way of sin.

God tells us the consequence of sin is death(Romans 6:23). This death speaks of separation from God. If I would have continued my “own way” I would have been separated from God for all eternity. The reality is that God provided a way by giving His Son. The consequence of my sin brought about death as God sent His Son to die in my place as my substitute. “For [the Father] hath made [Jesus] to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The hymn writer, Charles Wesley so aptly put it:

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?

Died He for me who caused His pain? For me who Him to death pursued?

 Amazing love! How can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me?”

God’s love is nowhere on display more greater than on the cross of Calvary. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the atoning sacrifice] for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

With great sadness I see the suffering my Savior endured in order to show His love for me. Yet it is also with great joy that I hear Him say, “It is finished!” Just before Christ breathed His last breath upon the cross He stated a single Greek word, “tetelestai,” which is translated, “It is finished!” It was a statement of triumph overflowing with rich meaning. What is so profound about this statement? What is finished?

This word, “tetelestai,” was used in everyday life back in Biblical times. It was used by a priest as he would examine a lamb brought for sacrifice and found it to be faultless. Jesus Christ was the perfect Lamb of God who was without spot or blemish. It was also used by merchants who would declare that a debt was “paid in full.”

The work that the Father had given Christ to do was now complete—it was finished. While hanging on cross, looking like a defeated victim, He celebrates victory—the greatest triumph in the history of all of God’s creation. With His death He paid our debt of sin in full. He bought our salvation with His blood—with His life. He had fulfilled every requirement that the law had required on the behalf of sinners. Christ’s atoning work was complete thus satisfying the justice of God.

You cannot add to a finished work. Someone once approached the great evangelist D. L. Moody and asked him, “Mr. Moody, what must I do to be saved?” He said, “I’m sorry, sir, you are too late. As a matter of fact, you are hundreds of years too late. All the doing has been done!”

Consider this Gift that has been given. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). As with any gift, in order to enjoy it you must first believe that it is for you and then simply receive it as your own. The same is true for God’s Gift of eternal life—the gift of His Son. God made provision for the penalty of our sin but until we believe and receive this Gift it cannot take effect in our lives. The decision is left up each of us. In order to enjoy this gift the Bible tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

Do  you see what Jesus did for you? Do you see His great loving sacrifice to provide for you the greatest gift anyone can ever receive? Do you see that “It is finished”?

During this Easter season my prayer is that you too would sorrow in what Jesus went through for you but that you would also rejoice in what He accomplished for you. “It is finished!” Your ransom has been paid in full as the Gift of eternal life is set before you. The decision is yours—choose life!

It is finished!”—the work is done! Simply believe it to be true and receive it on your behalf. Then with great joy you can sing:

“Man of sorrows!” what a name for the Son of God who came,

Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood,

Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we, spotless Lamb of God was He;

Full atonement! Can it be? Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die, ‘It is finished’ was His cry;

Now in heaven exalted high, Hallelujah, what a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew this song we‘ll sing, Hallelujah, what a Savior![i]

What will your experience be when death comes knocking? Will you with great joy look forward to the loving embrace of your Savior? Or are you unsure of what will meet you on the other side?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

For more information please consider reading the article, “How do I get to Heaven?” or you can also write me at pastor@pibcny.com.

[i] Philip P. Bliss, “Hallelujah! What a Savior”

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Do You See the CROSS?

It is quite interesting to look out upon God’s awesome creation and see reminders of the CROSS—an amazing demonstration of the love of God in sending His one and only Son to pay the penalty of sin upon the CROSS. The Bible tells us that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth [proclaims] His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). The created world in which we live is evidence that there is a God who made it all and reminds us of Himself by what we see.

Take a moment and look at the picture above and see the light of the sun casting its rays east and west and upon the waters below. Do you see the CROSS? The image of a CROSS is unmistakable. This picture is an illustration of the SON of God as the “Light of the world” humbling Himself so as to cast the rays of His light into the hearts of those who by faith trust Him as Lord and Savior.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). This light is for all; from the east to the west and from the north to the south as it emanates from Himself on the CROSS upon which He died. And it was from that CROSS that He was buried and three days later He rose from the grave, victorious over death.

In this world, the CROSS is an instrument of cruel death—a very dark reality. But for those who place their faith and trust in Christ Jesus, the CROSS is a picture of life and light. It is upon this cruel instrument of death that our Savior died in our place taking away our penalty of sin and in turn giving us the gift of eternal life.

How do you see the CROSS? Is it just a religious symbol that Christians get all worked up over? Or is it a picture of God’s gift of eternal life and light to you?

If you see it is just a religious symbol, won’t you consider what the Bible says about how much God loves you. How sent His Son to die upon that CROSS to take your penalty of sin upon Himself? The Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Why was this necessary? “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “The wages of [this] sin is death; BUT the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). We earn the payment of death because we all have sinned.  This death speaks not only of physical death but also of eternal death in the torments of hell being separated from the holy God for eternity.

So what can be done? The answer is simply, nothing! The reality is that payment has been made for you and me—Christ has DONE it all upon the CROSS. We must simply respond by faith trusting in Him to be the only way of salvation. We cannot save ourselves. The Bible tells us, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that NOT of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). In Romans 10:13 we further read, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Please think about these words and consider their eternal ramifications.

If, on the other hand, you see it as a picture of God’s gift of life and light to you then “Let your light [the light of Christ in you] so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We have such a privilege of living as lights in this dark world. Be a light that reflects Christ and encourages others to step into the light by trusting Christ as their Savior.

As you walk through this life, look for reminders of God’s love in the form of a CROSS. Let it encourage you as gaze upon the light of the SON until it begins to glow in you.

For more information about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please read this article here.

Have It Your Way??

Pragmatism has been defined this way, “if it works it is true, if it succeeds it is good.” Unfortunately, this is the moral compass that drives much of our society. In the end the basis for truth is our own determination of whether or not we think it works. The reality is that this kind of thinking leads to a fluid moral system—“What’s right for you is not necessarily right for me.” Where does this lead us—where has this led us?

The simple truth is that we live in a generation of this “my way” kind of thinking. The popular slogan of a popular fast food chain saying, “Have it your way” catered to this “my way” generation. The sad reality is that this “my way” mentality is not new. Frankly it has been in the minds of every soul that have walked the face of this earth since the beginning of time. Where does it lead us—what does it get us in the end?

Consider what the Bible says about this “my way” mentality; “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

The Bible is clear about this “my way” mentality and what that leads to. “My way” is not “God’s way.” My way is selfish and self-serving. It is rooted in pride and self-glory. It seeks what is best for self and we are enticed by what “my way” can bring me, but when it is fully realized, the Bible says that it results in death.

James puts it this way; “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his OWN lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

In context, this “lust” is sin.  The natural progression of giving into temptation due to one’s own lustful desires will eventually end in death if left unchecked.  The biological imagery is very vivid and familiar.  As a person gives into temptation, sin is conceived.  It grows internally for a period of time before it manifests itself, eventually in the form of death.

Death is separation.  Physical death is the separation of the body and soul. Spiritual death is the separation that exists between a soul and God while physically alive. Eternal death is the separation that exists between God and a soul who died in the state of spiritual death.

My way” brings death which separates us from God. Back in the beginning, Adam and Eve went “my way.” They sought the way that “seemed right” to them but ultimately ended in death as their sin separated them from God.

The ultimate death that results from “my own way” is the death of the Son of God. I needed Him to die in my place because I decided that “my way” was best. “My way” is against God’s way. The prophet Isaiah put it this way; “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his OWN WAY; and the LORD hath laid on Him [The Messiah] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Sin separates us from God BUT salvation reconciles us to God. Through faith in the death and resurrection of the Son of God in my place I can be forever reconciled to God because this is not “my way” but “God’s way.” Jesus said, I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)

Consider the amazing love of God in sending His Son to die in our place. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“BUT God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [to make us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

What a sad reality but also what a glorious truth! The sad reality is that my choosing “my way” resulted in the death of the Son of God as well as the death of many souls who die going their own way because they lived a life separated from God. The glorious truth is that God’s Son willingly died in our place, so that we would not have to experience the “death” that “my way” requires—we do not have to experience separation from God in this life and for all eternity. Is there a greater truth than this?!?

 

 

The God Who Knows Me and Still Loves Me

How much do others know about you? People tend to be guarded, to varying degrees, about what they share with others as we all have those areas in our lives that we don’t want others to know about. Although I find it interesting how much some people will publicize about themselves whether it is on social media or general conversation.

Have you ever stopped to think of how much God knows about you? Does the reality that He knows everything about you, even all of your shortcomings lead you to the conclusion that “He must NOT love me because of them?”

The challenge for each of us is that we often depend upon how we feel and in turn allow our feelings to determine our sense of reality. If we are not careful, we can allow our circumstances to define who God is and in turn shrink Him down to a size that is too small for our problems. What good is a small God?

Keep in mind that what you know and rely on to be true about the Lord will transform your life! The Precious Truth that we need to consider is that God knows EVERYTHING there is to know about each of us and yet He still loves us!

If others knew you to the degree that God knows you, how would your relationship with them change?  If you knew your best friend to the degree that God knows you would you continue in that friendship? Sometimes the more we get to know someone the more we wish we didn’t know them.

Consider David’s words here in Psalm 139:1-6. “O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

To what extent did David realize that God knew him? The first thing that jumps out at me is that David was in awe of the fact that God even knew him. Consider what he says in Psalm 8. “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful [think about] of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest [to pay special attention] him?” (Psalm 8:3-4) Picture David the shepherd lying on his back looking up at the night’s starlit sky speaking to God saying, “Lord, As I consider the great expanse of the universe that You made, how do You even know that I am here?” David was moved in worship that his infinite God took notice of his finite life. In the great expanse of God’s creation, the fact that He is intimately aware of each of our lives speaks of His greatness that is so far beyond my comprehension.

In Psalm 139, as I have pondered the reality that God knows everything there is to know about me, I am amazed to think that He still loves me.  How do I draw this conclusion? Well first consider what God knows about each of us.  David tells us in verses 1-4, “O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.”

David acknowledges God’s full & complete knowledge of him. There is nothing hidden from God.  He knows all the secrets that only we know about ourselves.  He knows all our thoughts, desires, intentions, and motives. He knows the hypocrisy and lies that we may live with thinking we are fooling everyone into believing we are someone that we truly are not. In verse 2 we read, “You understand my thought afar off.” God even knows the thoughts that we have yet to think.  He knows more about us than even we know about ourselves. These are the actions of a God who loves us.

With all of this knowledge that God has about us, IS it a wonder to you that HE still loves you?  It is to me!  He knows all the times that I have failed Him and all the times that I will fail Him yet that does not deter His love for me.

The Precious Truth to consider here is that God’s love is not dependent upon who I am or what I do but upon WHO HE IS! God’s love does not change.

Next, consider what David concludes that God has done for him while possessing this knowledge. “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5) With this knowledge God has not run from us but has drawn near to us. He knows that we need Him—we need His grace and mercy; we need His love and compassion; we need His wisdom and protection; we need His presence—we need HIM. God knows our needs and in turn through His grace and mercy has made provision for those needs.

Consider what He has done for us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) “But God commendeth [proved] His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee’.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

God acted upon this knowledge and sent His only Son to make provision for our ultimate need—our need of salvation.  Through faith in His Son, Jesus, we can be united to God in a personal relationship. Through faith alone in Christ alone my heart was changed—my sins were forgiven—my guilt was removed and I came to understand the loving relationship that my heavenly Father has always desired for me to have with Him. Consider reading “How Do I Get to Heaven” for additional insight on how you can enjoy a personal relationship with God.

As David ponders this truth he erupts in such uncontainable joy and worship as he says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” (Psalm 139:6) This knowledge was outside of his realm of comprehension.  It brought David to his knees in humility and awe as he worshipped his all-knowing Savior.

Get to know the God of the Bible. Read God’s Word and then take God at His Word. He means what He says and He says what He means! Our understanding of the knowledge of God should bring us to our knees in worship of Him.  It should humble us and in turn we too should be in awe of Him.

As you consider what God knows about you also realize that He continues to stay with you. When others choose to distance themselves the more they learn of you, consider how the Lord draws near, fully knowing who we are. David continues in the following verses saying, “Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

Our intimate knowledge of God will shape our response to the trials of life. In spite of all our shortcomings God promises, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed [or disheartened as you consider your circumstances]; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Is this “knowledge too wonderful for you?” Does it move you to worship your God as it fills your heart with joy? Let us seek to be intentional about remembering who our God is.  Jeremiah writes, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” (Lamentations 3:21) “This is what I intentionally remember about my God, therefore I have patient confidence.” The truths of God will stabilize you as you meditate upon them.

The Most Precious Truth

When you think of “Precious Truths” which is the greatest of them all?  For me the answer is simply God’s love.

Consider this…without the love of God, would He have sent His Son to pay our penalty of sin? Without the love of God could we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ? Without the love of God could we have hope of eternal life?

It is the love of God which sent Christ to the manger.  It is the love of God which sent Christ to the cross.  It is the love of God which gives the gift of eternal life.

“For God SO loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

It shows us that God loves us enough that He would send His beloved Son into this lost world in order to reconcile us to Himself through His Son’s death.

The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). We are also told that our sin separates us from God as we earn the penalty of death (Romans 6:23).

“But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [made us alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

This is an amazing reality…this is amazing love! “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:…” (1 John 3:1)

I picture the apostle John writing these words and saying, “Wow! This is amazing! God loves me so much that He made a way possible for me to become His child!”  It still shook John to the very core, even at the end of his life, as he considered what his Savior did for him.

In the Gospel of John the apostle is only mentioned as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  This title was what he wanted to be remembered by because of the precious truth that it displayed. What title do you and I want to be called? What do we want to be known for?

The Bible further explains how God’s love was displayed in Christ’s death.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the atoning sacrifice] for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

God “manifested” or displayed His love to us by sending His Son into this world to pay the penalty for our sin.  God poured out His just and divine wrath upon His beloved Son in the place of all of us sinners.

“But God [demonstrated] His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

Christ said to us in His actions, “I love you this much” as He willingly spread out His arms upon the cross and died in our place.

One of the ways the Bible defines love is found in John 15:13 where it says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Christ Jesus laid down His life for us.  He sacrificed His own life so that we could have a relationship with the Father as our Father.  In John 17, Christ prays “for them also which shall be believe on Me” (v. 20).  His desire was for us to have the same relationship that He has with the Father.  He says, “That they [those who believe] all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us:…” (v. 21) He goes on to say in verse 23 that He desires that we would be loved by the Father just as He is loved by the Father.  This self-sacrificing love was expressed upon the cross—it was done so that we could live—truly live.

As I consider the extent of the love of God I realize that these words only begin to scratch the surface, if even that.  I pray that as you read these words that you would stop and meditate upon God’s love. What does it mean for you?

The apostle Paul’s prayer was “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which [transcends] knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

This prayer of Paul is for his audience to “know the love of Christ” which transcends human understanding. Knowing the “love of God” brings change. To be “filled” is to be controlled. Being “filled with the fullness of God” is to be controlled by God as He transforms us into the image of His Son. This speaks of becoming more like Jesus Christ. Knowing the “love of Christ” leads to the likeness of Christ. The more we rest in God’s love the more we are changed by it.

Do you know the love of God? Have you entered into this wonderful relationship with God by placing your faith and trust in Him alone for salvation?

The Bible clearly says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

I close with words from a favorite hymn of mine called, “The Love of God.”  Consider the third verse and chorus…

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry.  Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saints’ and angels’ song.”  – (hymn by Fred­er­ick Leh­man, lyr­ics are based on the Jew­ish poem Haddamut)