Dear Prayer Warrior
"Paul . . . To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." (2 Timothy 1:1-2)
Of the thirteen letters written by the apostle Paul, only the three to Timothy and Titus use this three-fold greeting: "Grace, mercy, and peace." The other ten letters use the more common "grace and mercy." Why the distinction? The Holy Spirit is never whimsical nor capricious. Perhaps, since these three letters were the only ones addressed to pastors that Paul had trained, there was a more poignant emphasis intended.
Grace (charis) is the foundational core of God's gift of salvation to those who trust Him (Ephesians 2:8). It is also the essence of the "gifts" that we received from the Holy Spirit to minister to each other (1 Corinthians 15:10). The charis is the basis for charisma that we receive. Those who have been entrusted with leadership responsibilities are reminded that the measure of those gifts is still God's charis (Romans 12:3, 6).
Mercy is often understood through God's forgiveness both in justice delayed and sentence nullified through Christ. It is also what the Sovereign Godhead responds with when we ask for His help. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
Peace is much more than mere lack of anxiety. It is "not as the world giveth" (John 14:27), but rather a supernatural, non-circumstantial contentment that is only given to the Lord's Twice-Born. This peace is "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" and is specifically designed to "keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).May this grace, mercy, and peace be a regular portion of your walk in the kingdom as you serve the Lord Jesus.
Yours in Christ,
Those recovering from Surgery: including January Pointer, Ron Gray, Teresa Creamer, Frankie Isaacs, Mary Lou Peterman Fred DeHass, Susan Wolfram, Juli Wingert.
Those with Health Concerns: including Neil Wieters, Dorothy Eckhoff, Maggie Toon, Jacob Stewart, Betty Whetstone, Amanda McBee, Rachel Gibson, Janice Henningsen, Willa Davis, Sarah Sunderland, Dee Merrifield, Jesica Kuse, James Standridge.
Those with Cancer:
Those in Hospice care: including Bob Hanson, Barbara Brown
Those in Care Centers: including Willa Davis, Marie Dieckman
For Expectant Mothers and their unborn babies: including Stephanie Kuhn, Sarah (Becker) Weatherby, Staci Wolters.
Newborn Babies and Children:Thanksgiving for the recent births of Jack Brian Borsgstadt born to Michael and Shauna Borgstadt, and Luke Brian Pijanowski, born to Brian and Heather Pijanowski.
Those seeking Employment: That God would provide jobs for the unemployed and underemployed.
Prayers for all who travel: Pray for everyone who is traveling in the snowy conditions, that God would send his angels to guard his people in all their ways, and that he would send help and aid wherever it is needed.
For all who grieve: including Aaron and Betsy Cochran and family at the death of Betsy’s grandmother Nadine Burnett; for Carla Wieters at the death of her step-mother Bev Wieters.
For marriages and families to grow stronger and for those suffering from divorce or broken relationships.
For those suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and mental illness.
For 8th grade confirmation students as they prepare for the Speech Banquet and Confirmation Sunday.
That God would send many people (members and visitors) to our Lent and Holy Week services, that they might grow in faith toward God and love toward their neighbor.
That God would provide all that is needed – the time, talents, and treasures – for BSLC’s growing ministry.
For our Abounding Love Preschool and Parents Day Out program, that God would bless this ministry with many enrollments over the next few months.
Thanksgiving for the recently concluded Upward basketball season
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, that God would continue provide all they need.That God would richly bless missionaries Rev. Bob Malone in Kansas City, Missouri, and Rev. Bob Roegner at Peace Lutheran in O’Fallon, and the Ablaze Center in St. Louis.
Father, I thank You for the spotless Lamb of God who is without blemish or defect. It is I who deserved to die for my sins were many, but Jesus, Your Son, died in my place. You have washed me with Your sinless blood and now I am whiter than snow, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which You prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Keep us faithful and ever grateful for the blessing of having our sins forgiven. In Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.
Joseph Scriven was a man acquainted with grief. Born in County Down, Ireland, he aspired as a young man to follow in his father's footsteps as a Royal Marine, but his poor health made that impossible. Then he fell in love and was engaged to be married, but his fiancee drowned before their wedding could take place.
To put as much distance as possible between himself and that tragedy, Scriven then moved to Canada. While living there, he became engaged again, but his fiancee became ill and died before they could be married.
In his grief, Scriven determined to devote himself to a life of service. He was especially known for carrying a bucksaw and cutting firewood for people in need.
Scriven received word that his mother was ill. He couldn't afford to return to Ireland, so he sent his mother a poem in the hope that it would comfort her. The poem began, "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!" He later submitted a copy of his poem to a religious journal, where it was published. A few years later, in 1866, he died.
But his poem lived on in ways that he could never have imagined. Ira Sankey, a musician who worked with Dwight L. Moody, published it in a book of hymns, and Moody had it sung in his evangelistic meetings. Soon "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" was one of the best-known hymns in America. Missionaries took it abroad, where people sang it in many languages.
This hymn has maintained its popularity for a century and a half –– probably because a man acquainted with grief –– who happened also to be acquainted with faith –– helps us to see that faith can triumph over grief.
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.
Words: Joseph Scriven (1857)
by Henry Morris III, D.Min. *
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ( John 3:16 )
This poignant passage has become one of the most well-known of all Bible verses in the English-speaking world. Via national television, the reference routinely appears on placards in demonstrations and banners in stadium bleachers and in the eye-black of famous athletes. But sometimes, as the adage says, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Perhaps a quick focus on this marvelous promise would encourage you and your family.
The key to this verse is the little adverb “so.” The end product—everlasting life—and the means, His only begotten Son, are absolutely important. But it is the quality of God’s love that is stressed. It is how God loved us that governs this promise.
Those familiar with the passage will recall that this is part of the conversation between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus, one of the scholars and leaders of Israel. Nicodemus had just asked about the second “birth” process that made one part of the Kingdom of God. In His explanation, Jesus brought Nicodemus back to the time of Moses when those who had been bitten by deadly serpents were promised life if they looked at a brass serpent lifted up on a pole (Numbers 21:5-9). In the same manner, Jesus said He would become the one “lifted up” so that anyone who “believed” in Him would not die but have life “into the ages.”
Jesus explains to Nicodemus, “For”—and here is the connection to the application — “God so loved the world, that–” His Son became the payment that made possible what was always in our Creator’s heart to do for us. Because God’s love was so fashioned and part of His very nature, He made possible the gift of His “only begotten son” and the priceless grant of eternal life.
This love and the gift that was fulfilled in history was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20). This was no emotional reaction on God’s part. This was a unilateral love shaped by the character and design of the Triune Godhead. To say that “God is love” is to state the eternal reality of God’s very nature. To say that “God is holy” is to express the unfathomable, unchangeable essence of His character. Exemplified by the gift of the Lord Jesus, this “love” was “so” demanding that the holy God must give the Son in order to exercise His love and maintain His unchangeable righteousness (Romans 3:26).
This love was given and foreordained “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8). You and I are birthed in sin, live lives immersed in sin, and cannot possibly understand the agony of the holy Son of God who prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). Surely the cruel torture of the cross would have frightened any human heart, but the groaning that Jesus uttered was from the profound understanding of becoming “sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The atrocities of history, the horrible thoughts and actions of every evil deed were plastered and infused in His sinless body and soul. No wonder Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” (Mark 15:34).
These extreme measures were taken because God “so loved” the world.
We rightly think of God’s love in terms of what He has provided for us through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. Concrete confirmation of that love is demonstrated by Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week. Were it not for the clear expression through the life and work of Jesus Christ, we would be hard pressed to “see” God’s love. Indeed, “We love him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Yet, there are unique aspects of God’s love expressed to us in salvation.
For those who respond with repentance and belief to the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, the immediate act of God’s love is to birth a “new man” who “is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). No emotive feeling of “sweet love” is here. This is the personal act of almighty God that creates “a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Once implemented, the immutability of God makes it impossible for God’s love to ever change. The new eternal spirit of the twice-born is forever secured.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
No creature, no circumstance, no contrivance can ever destroy God’s love. Yet this is only part of the little “so” that defines the love of God.
God’s love comes with the faith to maintain the relationship on our human side (Ephesians 6:23). We have precious assurance that the grace extended in the salvation event is not a “work” that can be accomplished by human effort. It is delivered by “faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Even this faith to believe is a necessary gift because “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44) and because “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Since we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), it is then absolutely necessary that our great Creator God makes possible the supernatural change from a “dead” unbelieving heart to an eternally living spirit, made alive by the grace of God’s love administered through faith in God's gift.
And if saving faith is God’s gift at salvation, God’s kind of love would ensure that our weak human wills would be shored up by an ongoing faith to “endure unto the end” (see Matthew 24:12-13).
Since God’s unchanging love is great (Ephesians 2:4), it also comes with kindness (Titus 3:4) and with peace (2 Corinthians 13:11). Jesus spoke of His peace as being distinctly different from the temporary and unstable peace given by the world (John 14:27). God’s love is found and continually experienced in relationship with Him. It is the living tie between the vine and His branches. The Heavenly Father and His beloved Son exemplify that kind of love (John 15:9). And this holy love “so” loved us that we are now entwined with it.
Perhaps the sum of all the aspects of God’s kind of love is this: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). Stunning! Our sin-cursed lives are transformed, and we become sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. We who have fallen into the arms of God’s love will become “joint heirs” with this King in the “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13).
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Even before the foundation of the world, God “so” loved us, that while we were dead in our sins, He sent His “only begotten son” at the fullness of time to redeem us from the curse of the law. Payment was finished on the cross and demonstratively accepted by the resurrection. “Whosoever” would believe this gracious love-act would not be destroyed but be made the very holiness of the Creator Himself! The wonder of His love is bestowed upon us through Christ. One day—perhaps soon—we who have been made the sons of God will stand together in grand celebration as our brother, the Lord Jesus, accepts His eternal Kingdom. What a marvelous day that will be for those of us who rest in Him.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2013. The Wonder of His Love. Acts & Facts. 42 (2): 5-7.
by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D.
At the end of Day Six, God said all was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), which means no death existed on earth because death is not good (Romans 8:20-22, 1 Corinthians 15). No animals died or were eaten before Adam sinned (Genesis 1:29-30, 9:1-4). Likewise, the Bible doesn’t mention the existence, much less the death, of any pre-Adamite subhuman primates before Adam sinned.1
Adam’s sin triggered the curse of death, fulfilling God’s warning (Romans 5:12-21). Only then did Adam experience the death that God had warned about. But dying was not limited to Adam! The animals under his authority (Genesis 1:26-31, Psalm 8) also became cursed with death (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 8:20-22).
Theistic evolutionists argue that animal death existed before Adam sinned, alleging that because God foreknew Adam’s sin, He justly imposed death on creation before Adam actually sinned (retroactive punishment).1 Yet the Bible never says that God punished Adam or animals before Adam sinned—to do so would be unjust. To punish a bad choice in advance would negate the decision as a true test of faith and loyalty.
Consider how people are tested by their choices.2 Joseph tested his brothers (Genesis 42-44), not revealing himself until after they made character-revealing choices. Daniel’s three friends were also tested (Daniel 3), yet they could not foreknow whether their godly choices would be rewarded with miraculous deliverance or agonizing martyrdom.
So why do theistic evolutionists teach death before Adam’s sin? They reject the authoritative truth of Genesis and Romans in order to accommodate evolutionary teachings (e.g., eons of death before Adam sinned).3
But the Lord Jesus Christ did not accommodate false teachings when He physically walked this earth. Rather, He healed the blind on the Sabbath (see John 9) to prove that the Pharisees taught bad theology.
Why does it matter? The New Testament directly links sin’s cause and its cure by tying the gospel of salvation to Adam’s sin (Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15). Paul’s definition of the gospel of Christ contextualizes the gospel as being “according to the [Old Testament] scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The gospel depends on the Old Testament being true!
Indeed, the Old Testament is authoritatively relevant, true, and perfect—every “jot and tittle” (Matthew 5:18) of it. Christ Himself said that Moses would judge people after they die according to whether they believed the words of Moses (John 5:45-47).
If the books of Moses, which include Genesis, were authoritatively good enough for the Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:35, John 17:17)—and they were—they are authoritatively good enough for us. What we believe about death being the consequence of Adam’s sin in Eden is a test of our own loyalty to God.
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