Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Like" Jesus?

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command" (John 15:12-14).  

Let me ask you a pointed question.  Do you like Jesus or love Jesus?  I think it's safe to say that most people in our world probably like Jesus.  Most people probably would actually have Jesus as a "friend" on Facebook too!  But do they love Him?  Do I love Him?  Do you?

The only way to properly answer that question is to reflect on what Jesus says here as well as elsewhere in the Bible (which by the way is His love letter to us).  His command is to love each other.  He says love your enemies.  He says love your spouse even when he/she is difficult.  He says love your kids even when they are driving you up the wall, that never happens in my household...ok, yeah it does...  He says love your co-worker and your boss even when you're being treated unfairly.  He says love your extended family members even when they are treating you poorly.

And notice what kind of love Jesus described?  Not just the I'll treat you well if you treat me well kind of love, because that's not love!  It's the "I'll lay my life down for you" kind of love!  That's Jesus love!  Jesus laid His life down for you!  For me!  And for every single person we can't get along with!  Jesus laid His life down for everyone!  Jesus did so that we could have a better relationship with Him, so that we could have our fear of judgment removed, because Jesus removed our sins!

Jesus isn't an angry judge, He's our Savior and our Friend!  His love is the motivator to think differently, speak differently and act differently!  He says, "You are my friends if you do what I command."  Liking Jesus isn't an option.  Lots of people "like" Jesus but won't do what He commands.  We really "like" Jesus when we love Him.  We really love Jesus when we do what He commands willingly, not because we have to.  We really love Jesus when we get it that He loves us no matter what, that He forgives us no matter what, that because of His sacrifice and His victory over death by His resurrection, we are saved forever!  That makes Jesus worth loving, doesn't it?  So tell me, do you like Him or love Him?

-Pastor Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pray Persistently!

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15). 

It's amazing how many times a day my children can come to me or my wife and ask us for something.  "Dad, can you fix my toy?"  "Mom, can you help me tie my shoes?"  "Mom, do you want to play outside?"  They confidently come to us anytime, anywhere with any circumstance, knowing that we will listen to them.

If only we could be that way with our heavenly Father.  I must confess that too often I fail in my prayer life.  God is always listening.  He always wants to help.  He always wants to bring more blessings into our lives than we can possibly imagine.  But we also need to understand that sometimes when He says "No" to our prayers, it's not because He doesn't care or because He wants to make us suffer.  It's because He loves us.

When this passage says that we have confidence in approaching God by asking according to His will, we need to realize that His will is best for us.  His will is that we stay safe in our faith in Him.  His will is that we live lives that have a profound eternal impact on those around us.  His will is that everyone comes to faith in Him and is saved.  So tell me, what does God want you to persistently pray for today?

-Pastor Chris Johnson, Outreach and Young Adult Pastor