The Greatest Love Story

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.       Colossians 1:13-14 ESV

Okay, so along with most guys I am pretty convinced that Valentine’s day is a gigantic scam concocted to manipulate us into buying chocolates and flowers one more time for our wives or girl friends. But I confess it is actually a lot of fun seeing her opening up my annual offering and who doesn’t love a good love story? Whether it be Cinderella and her slipper or Snow White and the Prince’s kiss we are all delighted when it gets to the wedding and happily ever after part. Though at first glance, it may not seem very romantic, the greatest love story of them all is in the Bible. Today’s verse points out that unlike the beautiful princesses, in the fairy tales, the ones God rescues are not innocent beauties. Instead, God has fallen in love with a bunch of scruffy, sinful and selfish human beings – yup that’s you and me!

Wondering why God would ever do this is a great question for another day, but for now, let’s just look at how God went about making us His own. Our verse begins by saying that, just like Cinderella God rescued us. We were also prisoners, except that we were in that condition not because anyone tricked us, kidnapped us or put us under a spell but because we chose to live a selfish life. But amazingly, God didn’t just leave us there, instead He came to our rescue. And the verse goes on to say that next God redeemed us. Just like going into the pawn shop to buy back something that we put in hock, God found us, and willingly paid the price for our sin, by the cross of Jesus. Now we are His because He bought us with His own blood. Then comes the happily ever after part, when God brings us home, and rather than punishing us for our selfishness and sin, He forgives, washes us clean and sets us down by His side to live forever. Now who doesn’t think that living in Heaven with a God like that is not the greatest love story of them all?

All Our Needs in His Own Way

For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need... And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:16 & 19 ESV

As I read my bible this morning, I was excited to see how the story of Paul’s missionary work is woven together with the little church in Philippi. When God first sent a vision to Paul to leave for Europe- he saw a man from Macedonia calling for help. So Paul went and bought a ticket, got on a boat and sailed across to Philippi. Rather surprisingly after obeying God’s call, Paul was promptly thrown in prison. But, on that famous night in the jail, while Paul and Silas sang hymns, God sent an earthquake and the church of Philippi was founded – with the jailer possibly becoming the first deacon! Now, many years later, Paul finds himself sitting in a Roman prison, but he was still concerned about the needs of that church in Philippi. All through the time Paul was establishing churches in Macedonia, Greece and Asia Minor, the Philippians had stayed in touch with him. Their leader Epaphroditus even visited Paul regularly, both bringing offerings and staying with him to help out. We do not hear of even one of the large rich churches sending help to Paul, but the Philippians continued doing all they could, because they considered Paul to be more than just an apostle. He was a part of their family. And just like when we send care packages to a son off in college, they were determined that as much as they were able they would take care of Paul.

Sure, God could have used larger churches or he could even have sent an angel with anything that Paul needed. But God chooses to use his people to take care of each other, so that we can experience the life of Christ for ourselves – and that experience begins with our learning how to give. Learning to give means learning to love and our greatest need of all is always love!

All Our Needs in His Own Way

All our needs in His own way
Jesus promises to meet
But He often uses hands of clay
To give the things we seek

So when God chooses us to lift
A load from off our brother
Remember it was from His cross
He showed how to love each other

All Our Needs in His Own Way by Peter Caligiuri 
copyright 2021 all rights reserved

Let’s Change the World!

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

It is popular to say that, “We want to change the world.” and considering all the changes brought on by the Corona virus, the elections and the ongoing divisions in our society,  we have certainly seen a lot of change. “But we are talking about positive change!” you might respond, so then I would ask, “How would you suggest we change the world for the better? Would you propose building a large social media platform, or inventing a new product or service? Should we run for political office or join others in the street to protest for change?” Amazingly the one person who has changed the world the most did none of these things. Jesus Christ never held a position, owned a home or traveled the world.   He talked about the kingdom of God, healed the sick and encouraged the rejected people of his day. But when His popularity grew till large crowds began following Him, He sent them away to go up on a mountain and pray.  

If we carefully read the New Testament accounts of His life we find that; yes Jesus was interested in changing our world, but He had a tactic far different than ours. Instead of finding the best arenas to fill, He went to obscure places filled with people in need, and when He got there, Jesus usually chose one single person to talk to. The woman at the well and another about to be stoned each left His presence, changed forever. A young man about to be buried was raised from the dead (Now that’s a change!) and a leper on the outskirts of a village was cleansed and healed. But perhaps the most notable – since the Bible devotes an entire chapter to him- is the blind man in today’s verse who was sitting at the corner of a busy city street. Maybe the Bible does not reveal his identity because God wants us to know that any one of us can be like him.

We don’t need to be important, well financed or talented for God to take an interest in us. It doesn’t matter to Jesus what other people’s opinions about us are. God wants us to know that He hasn’t forgotten about us. He reassures our hearts that our problems are not too hard for Him to solve and that if we just put our trust in Him, that He will change our world forever. Then through our lives, no matter what anyone else thinks, God will be glorified. Now tell me, “What change is any better than that?”!