NOW is the day…

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

In Kentucky, people still go to the grocers, take their kids to school or get them ready for a school-bus; they attend church meetings and school assemblies for their kids; city councils still meet and debate whether to widen a road or how to change the construction code; my neighbors hired guys to put in a new fence and I am going to the garden center to discuss what to plant in front of my house to replace the yews I may remove tomorrow.

In fact, life in these United States and most of the world still plods on for most of us without houses crumbling in from missiles nor energy plants being shelled.  No convoys of invading tanks, only a peaceful bunch of truckers who want to protest vaccines and masks that are about to be ended so the politicians will face less voter wrath next year.  (I was told that state legislatures are considering bills to order men in city subdivisions to pair up with each other and go get a coffee or beer together once a week; but they are not going to call them laws… they’re going to call them man-dates. 🙄)

See, we even make lame jokes here, while an entire country is evacuating except for those willing to put their lives at risk and kill invaders from the neighboring nation.  Some are kneeling in public squares to fast and pray for safety.  Reports of deaths range from a couple hundred to a few thousand when you include invaders that have been crushed.  Nuclear arms stand ready for a diabolical finger to push a button and blow an entire city off the map in a nation that does not have nuclear weapons.

Digression: On July 28, 1914, Serbian puppets of Russia assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo.  Exactly one month later, August 28, with German support the Austrian emperor declared war, followed by Russian retaliation and World War 1 began, eventually leading to over 100 countries from every continent becoming involved. 
“The War to End All Wars?”
Only in 21 years, in August of 1939, Hitler’s Germany amassed troops on the border of Poland and demanded a meeting in Berlin with the Polish ambassador (a plenipotentiary).  His feet were hardly warmed at a fireplace when Germany invaded Poland on September 1 with a “blitzkrieg” to begin World War 2.  This time 191 nations entered the war!  (There are only 195-199 in the world, depending on who is counting.)
In the meantime, WW2 resulted in changes in China that culminated in Mao Zedong claiming the founding of the PRC, chasing his opponents (about 3 million) to Taiwan.
And the world has been at war ever since, whether in Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Kashmir, “Kurdistan,” Iraq, Iran and much of Africa and the Mideast.
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  (Matthew 24:6-8)

Back To The Point: All this is to say the end is still to come!”  And the question on everyone’s mind is, WHEN?  With a conflict that could easily erupt into World War 3, which a Russian spokesman says will be nuclear, this is not a time to play games with life and with The God Who Is.  Such an event would happen so suddenly, that while diplomats try to lie and say it is unlikely, most of the world will be shocked and caught off-guard. 

So the question that should be on everyone’s mind is not when the end will come, but “Will I be ready if it happens tomorrow?”  You can know that you are ready, and such knowledge removes the fear that is motivating so many political debates and military discussions.  Knowing Jesus is not just knowing about Him, like reading a biography (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and getting the facts together.

Knowing Jesus is to meet Him.  Granted, most of us will not have visions or dreams in which we actually shake His hand or see His face.  But by praying and inviting Him to come into your life, if you ask with belief that He will answer, He will come into your heart.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

This invitation is to you.  No matter where you have been, what you have done; there is no ethnicity, color, language group or nationality that is excluded.  You can come to Jesus just as you are.  Simply repent (i.e. turn away from your selfish choices and anything opposed to godliness) and ask Jesus to come and live in you by His Holy Spirit.  And HE WILL!   Invite Him to lead your life from this day forward and be submissive to what He tells you.

He will usually speak first through the Bible.  Read it!  It is not a single book, but a collection and there are tons of helps for reading and studying it, to understand the basics of what it means to become a disciple of Jesus.

He also speaks through your conscience, if you have not seared it with persistent sin or disobedience to what the Bible teaches.

Be open to instruction by followers of Jesus who have been following Him longer than you.  They are not “the last word” on how you should live for Jesus, but rely on their wisdom to begin to consider how you should live.

Even if a world war is not imminent, no one gets a guarantee of tomorrow. “Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (Isaiah 46:10, New Living Translation) And He is not telling most of us how many days we have left on earth.  And even if you are younger than 70 years old, no one here gets out alive!

So do not wait.  Do not hesitate.  Do not say, “l’ll do it tomorrow.”  Do not put it off for “a more convenient time.”  Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT)  Do not let anything stop you.  Trust in Jesus today.

Email me (capost3k@gmail.com) if you want to connect to Christ-followers in your city or discuss anything else about this decision. 

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

Who Does God Love and Do I Love Them, Too?

God Loves His Adopted Children
This is an obvious one.  God loves His adopted children.  He chose you before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless.  He predestined you to be adopted into His family.  Of course He loves you; you are His, and He has provided an inheritance for you as His child (Ephesians 1:4-12)!  What parent would look on his adopted child and decide he/she was no longer wanted?

Jesus Loves the Little ChildrenAdoption carries with it even more significance than natural birth.  The adopted child was chosen!  There is a natural love of a mother, and usually of a father, for a child she carried for nine months (give or take), and in the context of the family, it takes either a sin-hardened parent or an unconscionably rebellious child to break that bond.  But for the adopted child, there is an extra layer of love because he/she was selected.  The parents could have skipped adoption; they could have picked a different child . . . but YOU were chosen.  That is how our heavenly Father looks at us.

We were once naturally His, but Adam’s and Eve’s rebellion broke that natural connection.  Then He sent Jesus, born of a woman, to make a way possible for us, His bastards, to be reunited with Him, and incorporated into His family once again.  And when we do what pleases Father, when we live holy lives, listen for His voice, obey the Spirit’s leading, what is there not to love!?  You are becoming like your Father and Brother, Jesus.  He loves His adopted children.

God Love Those Who Are Searching
Ah, but we were not always obedient children (and sometimes we are still not fully obedient to Him; He has not finished us yet).  There was a time that we were “seekers” after Truth.  Born of Adam and Eve, we were “bent,” inclined to their rebellion.  My wife did not understand “Original Sin” until she babysat for some missionaries’ toddlers.  One child would be playing happily along until another child would pick up a toy untended by #1.  Almost instantly Child #1 wanted what Child #2 had found for amusement.  No reasoning was able to dislodge the greed and selfishness that ate at the “innocent” toddler’s heart.

We were all this way at some point in our lives.  We were separated from our Father because of our sins, and our sin.  “Sins” here refers to those actions of disobedience to what is right.  “Sin” here refers to the natural inclination to those acts, at the bottom of which is pride, the sense that I should be fully in charge of my own life . . . and anyone else’s who is near me.

But somewhere along in our lives, we realized something was amiss.  Maybe a Sunday School teacher (if you are old enough to remember those days) told you about Jesus and His love for you.  Maybe a Bible teacher preached a sermon that the Holy Spirit amplified to your heart and mysteriously He made the written word become the Living Word in your desires.  And so you sought His forgiveness, and you were found by Him who was searching for you even more than you were searching for Him.

Possibly a friend of yours spoke with you over coffee or at a leisure event.  Maybe a conversation on a bus with a stranger sparked your interest and you began to seek what would fill “the God-shaped vacuum” in your life.

Blaise Pascal“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

God loves those who are searching, and if you search with all your heart, you have Father’s own promise that He will satisfy your search (Deuteronomy 4:29; Matthew 5:6).

The World
But God’s love extends beyond the borders of His adopted children and those who are seeking Him.  As we mentioned, when we ask for forgiveness from Him, we will find He has been searching for us more than we have been searching for Him.  The classic verse (you may know by heart) that confirms this is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus Loves SeekersWe do not understand everything about His love; we are not HIM!  There is a mystery to His love that is beyond our very small minds’ comprehension.  For He loves even the sinner, while he is still in his sin!  Not because He sees what we will become, because some of the world will not become what He desires them to be.  Nor do we understand how a sinner violates the will of a sovereign God, yet we know that He gets no pleasure from the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) and that he would prefer that everyone would be saved from His day of judgment (2 Peter 3:9).

So He goes on loving, raising the sun on good people and on bad people, sending rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).  He loves even His enemies, even those who refuse His love till their dying breath.  We do not understand it all, but He really, reeeeeally, loves the world!

The Unloveable
But there is one more category who are the objects of His love, and this is most important that we understand in order to begin to love the way He loves.  These are the lowest of the low, the outcasts, the “untouchables” in some societies.  These are the unattractive, the deformed, the diseased, the self-wounded disgusting people who smell bad, smoke cigarettes, have obscene tatoos on their faces.  These are the men with multiple wives, the Hindus with jewels embedded in their foreheads, the evangelistic evolutionist who argues for abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and rails against everything Christian in our history and culture.  These are the ones who tell lies about Christ-followers and try to make everything we do sound like we are the narrow-minded and bigoted.  These are the unlovable.

Yes, God loves them.  Put in the “them” anyone you avoid when you see them in the supermarket.  Count “them” as the ones you will not sit beside in an auditorium.  Look at “them” as the ones you would prefer to avoid looking at when you walk down the street.  God loves them!  Jesus Loves Osama.jpgBack in 2007, before Osama bin Laden had been found and killed, a pastor in Florida posted a sign similar to this one that popped up in Sidney, Australia, and received death threats from “Christians!”  I do not have the time nor interest to explore hypocrisy in this blog, but ask yourself, “Did Jesus die to save only those like me, or did He die to save those like Osama?” (Mark 2:17)  A moot point for bin Laden, as his fate is now in God’s hands, but what of the people different from you and me that God has brought into our communities?

Recognize the difference between despising the sins (or “the sin” that contaminates and identifies these “undesirables” to you) and loving the sinner.  Because before you came to know Jesus, you were as unlovable as any of those at whom we would now look down.  They are the deceived, not the Deceiver, and are in danger of losing their lives with no one telling them about the love of Jesus (2 Timothy 3:13).  Yes, God loves the unlovable, even you . . . yeah, He even loves me.

Theoretically, I may be disgusted by some of the people I can imagine, but when I meet them, I must love them with the love of Jesus.  The next time you see someone you find hard to love: the man wearing a miniskirt and heels, the woman with a hijab, the driver who cut you off from your right-of-way, remember who God loves, and love them the way He does.

Next week, , I will discuss how God’s love and holiness interact.