Monday, July 28, 2008

God's Love part 2

Please see the post below if you have not read it.  Today's is a continuation from that one.  Seriously, you need to start with the one below.  :)

2.  God's Love for sinners:  Black

Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Even though God us all in His own image, we have all tarnished that image through sin, represented by the black bead.  It started with Adam, the first man, of whom the Bible says that "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned..."  This means that just as ALL of us were made in god's image, now ALL of us are sinners who have blown it and forsaken God.  "There is none righteous, no, not one."  We have messed up, and now there is nothing we can do in our own strength to fix it.  Our righteousness is called filthy rags, and even the man who tries his hardest, working and serving and helping, cannot do it on his own:  he is just as bad as the drunkard, the thief, the murderer, for all, ALL have sinned and all are in the same boat together.  But here is where love intervenes: the Bible says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."  "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."  This is God's love for sinners: there was nothing good, we were all rotten, but God still loved us.

3.  God's Love died for sin:  Red

That brings us to Romans 5:8:  "But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while were were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  Jesus Christ loved you so much that he died for YOU.  The Bible says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends..."  This means that God showed the greatest love possible by giving his life for us, shedding His innocent blood for our guilty sins, blood that the red bead stands for.  Sin had mastered us totally, and God had to fight such a huge battle with sin that Christ Jesus had to die on a painful wooden cross.  But Jesus came out victorious: after he died, he rose from teh dead in victory.  Do you believe this?  The Bible says that "if thou shalt confess with they mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, though shalt be saved."  We have tarnished God's image, but Jesus can restore our sinful life if we will confess and believe in Him.  The Bible says, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved."  This means that just as ALL men sinned, now ALL men have a way to be reconciled to God.  As Jesus said, there is no greather love than God dying for sinners."

I'm stilling thinking this is some of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen painted with words.  I think what's so amazing is so much of what he speaks comes straight from God's word.  

Sunday, July 27, 2008

God's Love part 1

I know I should probably build my way up to my favorite moment of ministry this summer but I'm going to start with one of my favorites instead...

I've been working with this ministry since 2002, a few years.  I've been  using the salvation bracelets, power bands, or what we call ud' bracelets which means to testify to share the Gospel with lots and lots of people.  It's a great conversation starter but it's also a free gift.  Being in many of the touristy areas we work at people see them as free souvenirs.  Of all my years in doing this I have NEVER heard someone explain the bracelet in the way that a 18 year old did this summer.  I was literally just in awe as he used the bracelet to share Christ at a senior adult community we were  ministering to.  It gets a little long but below you'll find a copy of what he spoke.  I was so amazed I had him share it with my boss and the whole group again the next day.  Chris ask him to write it down so we could share it with others and he emailed us a copy of it.  So, now I'm sharing with you the greatest love story ever told...  Rather than throw out tons of verbage I'm going to break it up and share his words with you over a couple of days.  Keep in mind as you read this was written by a 18 year old young man of God.  He knew God's word in the depths of his heart and firmly believed every ounce of it.  It was amazing!


"When someone first handed me one of these bracelets, I wasn't quite sure what it was:  perhaps Joseph's coat of many colors in bracelet form?  Maybe a representation of the rainbow?  Maybe even some sort of Baptist rosary?  But when someone took the time to explain it to me, I realized this bracelet meant much more than just a few colors strung together.

It is called an ud' bracelet, from the Hebrew word which means to testify, or to witness.  That is what we are doing with the bracelets:  we are using them to testify to you right now, and we are testifying about the most wonderful, beautiful, and indescribable thing in the universe:  the love of God.  1 John 4:9-10 says, "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 (someone taking our place) for our sin"

We use the word love very often, and all too often we use it lightly, or even misuse the word.  So then, when we speak of the 'love of God' we are speaking of a type of love so special that we have a unique word to describe it:  Agape love.  It is a totally selfless, sacrificial, and perfect love.  It is not a love that we initiated or deserved. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us..."

This Agape love is revealed to us in seven different ways that are represented on this bracelet.  Each bead is a unique color; each color stands for a different way God loves us.  Yet, each bead is bound together as part of the same bracelet, because God's love for us is complete.  It is perfect and unified, and we can trust that God's love is enough for all of life's problems.  But this love doesn't end with life:  God's love is also endless and is eternal, just as the bracelet forms a circle, the only shape without an end.

Let us examine seven ways God reveals His love to us:

1.  God's love through creation:  Clear
John 1:1-3 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same as in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him:  and without him was not anything made, that was made."

God created us from nothing, as the clear bead represents.  God existed by Himself with no need of anything else, but He chose out of love to create you and me.  he made all things, but he made men and women in a special way:  the Bible says He made us in His own image.  That makes us different from animals, plants and everything else: we have a special imprinting of God's very image.  But even though all humans share this amazing gift, God took the time to make each of us unique.  The Bible says he "formed us in our mother's womb..." and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  God even says he has a plan for everyone of us.  God is not distant, unreachable, impersonal, imaginary, or dead.  No, He has a unique and personal love for us individually, as His creation of us shows."  

Maybe it's just because I've been using that bracelet for so many years and have never put it together like this guy did but I think this was definitely the highlight moment for me this summer.  As I said I'll be putting up the other parts of the bracelet over the next few days.  Maybe I can even get a picture up so you can see what I'm talking about for those who have never seen one.  

Think about that reality today that YOU were made in God's image!  YOU were made with a unique everything!  YOU were known by God even before you were being knit together in your mother's womb!  

Monday, July 21, 2008

Still here!

Yes, I am still alive.  :)

It's just summer time around here in East Tennessee which equals to lots of fun stuff all the time! I'll be posting more in the weeks to come hopefully as things transition to a somewhat slower pace.  It has been a good summer.  Our numbers are down somewhat.  Not as much as we expected with the economy and gas prices.  What has been wonderful is the powerful number of encouragements Chris (my boss) or I have directly received in regards to how they have seen the Lord through this ministry.  I don't mean personal comments about Chris and I but just how God has really gotten their attention through the ministries here.  That of course for Chris or myself is the absolute best compliment we could ever hear.  It's for those reasons that we do this crazy job.  it's for those reasons that we love what we do!  

More to come in the days ahead.