Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – God and You

This week the MDB articles will be written by my dear friend, Shane Blackmer. Thanks Shane!


17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17-19 NKJV)

The depth of God’s love is that it can receive and cover the sins of EVERY repentant sinner EVERY time!  What does this realization do to how we handle our relationships?

Over the past several months I have been challenged in my relationships at home and at work.  I know I am not alone is this.  All of us are challenged as husbands, fathers, brothers, neighbors, professionals…to fulfill our responsibilities, to love unconditionally despite disappointment and sorrow.  It seems we often view people for how they hurt us.  We have trouble getting past it.  We can’t forgive, forget, trust, grow…this seems like a natural response and challenge.  Further, what seems natural to us men is to “fix it”.  We try to go after the relationship problems and either fix the “issue” or even worse “the other person”.  This is a trap…and a lot of times everyone loses.  So what should we do?

I have learned that in my life I have spent a great deal of time thinking and worrying about what other people think and feel.  Don’t get me wrong…having a genuine concern for others and humbling ourselves in relationships is not a bad thing.  The trouble starts when we become solely focused on the other person or lose perspective on the relationship.  If we have an outward perspective, we are missing the most important relationship…our relationship with God.

Do you believe that this relationship is the most important?  Do you believe that if this relationship is broken all other relationships suffer?  Do you believe we can completely miss this and spend all of our time working on the wrong relationships?  I do.  I have!  What I should do is come to the realization David did:

4Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. (Psa. 51:4 NKJV)

In doing this, I can first get my most fundamental and important relationship right…be reconciled with my Heavenly Father so that I am in a position to be reconciled to my wife, children, brethren, colleagues, etc.  What this does is takes all the judgment, condemnation, resentment I feel for others and turns it inward.  I acknowledge first and foremost I am a sinner…we all are!  Yet, when we sin, come to ourselves, confess, and repent…God forgives us!  And a life forgiven is a life worth living and an empowered life in which we can forgive and love others.

And here is the kicker…God forgives me every time I ask Him with a repentant heart.  Think about that for a minute.  Think about all times you sin in a day.  Think about how many people there are on this planet.  Think about all the times we sin in a day…billions of times…and God is ready to forgive every one of them.  Is that not a deep love?

If we think about that…about how God is the first person rejected in every relationship that is in err…and He is willing and able to forgive every time…won’t that change the way we see conflict in our relationships.  Won’t we come to understand that no matter how much another person hurts us…it is no more than how much we hurt our Father every day.  Won’t we see the grace, mercy, love, and hope we have with our Father despite this terrible wrong we have committed…and think about how we might have that same kind of heart for others?

If we do, we can go from being hurt “because of” someone else and go to being hurt “for” someone else.  We realize that we are all struggling to make our way through this life and we are all rejecting our Father and bringing great grief upon ourselves.  So let’s do our part to bring Him back to the center of our relationships by ensuring He is in the center of our individual lives.

With this in mind, let’s spend the week looking at Psalm 32 (read Psalm 51 too…they go great together) and consider how David figured this out…because he didn’t get it right at first.  He struggled with trying to deal with his sin alone…the influence this had on his relationships…and how he came to repentance, confession and forgiveness and how much more effective he could be as a husband, father…as a man in the world.

We can’t expect our relationships to improve if we haven’t worked on our first relationship…with God.  Once I come to that realization, that we have first sinned against our Father and He is faithful to forgive me, I am well positioned to work on other relationships and demonstrate the same love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and hope…so let’s start with us and get that right first.  Looking forward to a great week with you.

Why God Made Moms

A good friend, Dave, shared this with me over the weekend and I thought I’d share it with you. Very funny things written by little kids about moms. Enjoy.

Why God Made Moms

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you Your mother and not some other mom?
1. We’re related!
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

Who’s the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What’s the difference between Moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller and stronger, but Moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend’s.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don’t do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I’d diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that.
2. I’d make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

And the prophets of God were with them

Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them (Ezra 5:1-2).

So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. (Ezra 6:14)

When the Jewish exiles began their first wave of return from Babylonian/Persian captivity, they were led by Zerubbabel the governor and Jeshua the priest. Their mission was to come back and rebuild the temple of God. They laid the foundation, but then strong opposition came and the work on the temple ceased (Ezra 4:24). All the men just went to working on their own homes and neglected the house of God for years (see Haggai 1).

Then two prophets were sent by God, Haggai and Zechariah, to stir up the people to complete what God called them to do. It is encouraging to me to see that both the leadership (Zerubbabel and Jeshua) and the people all listened to the prophets and got busy again doing God’s work.

Notice the second passage above. It says “they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai…and Zechariah.” The first passage above says “the prophets of God were with them, helping them.”

And the prophets of God were with them

Today, I first of all encourage the men to be a Haggai and a Zechariah. Help stir up someone with encouragement from God’s word to fulfill the work God has called them to do. It may be a fellow dad. It might be one of your kids as they are going to work and school. Your spiritual leaders at church might need some encouragement to rise up and build. Maybe your wife needs some extra encouragement today from God’s word. You see the work on the temple was successful and prospered because God’s prophets were there encouraging and teaching with God’s word. It is both powerful and effective!

Secondly, be a Zerubbabel or a Jeshua. If someone comes to you with God’s word and seeks to encourage you to rise up and build and fulfill the purpose to which God has called you, then listen to it! This work on the house of God wouldn’t have gotten started unless the leadership and people actually listened to the prophets were were trying to encourage them. Be that Zerubbabel today. Say “thank you for that encouragement, I do need to step up, rise up and build.” Have the humility to listen and to accept that maybe there are some areas in which you need some encouraging or teaching. But also have the courage to stand up and make those changes.

Do Not Go to Glean in Another Field

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn” (Ruth 2:8-9).

Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also said to me, ‘You shall stay close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ” And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field.” So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:21-23).

The book of Ruth is about redemption. To the Jews, it told the history of King David’s great grandmother, and to the Christian it tells us where Jesus came from (Matthew 1). Ruth and Naomi were “redeemed” by Boaz. He was their savior or redeemer in a sense. Because of Boaz, the family line of Naomi’s deceased husband and sons would go on through the child of Boaz and Ruth. Moses’ law was designed by God to help widows in situations like this so that their family line, inheritance and properties would not be lost.

Just like Boaz was Ruth and Naomi’s redeemer, Jesus is our redeemer. He paid the price with His own blood when we were powerless and enslaved to sin.

What I want to focus on this morning in connection to this redemption is the advice that Ruth received from both Boaz and Naomi. “Do not go to glean in another field.” Make sure that “people do not meet you in any other field.” If you want Boaz’ redemption, then stay on Boaz’ property!

Take that advice and apply it to our relationship with Jesus. Stay in Jesus’ field! Do not go to glean in another’s field. People should not meet us in any other field. If we truly desire and honor the redemption given us through the precious blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18), then we won’t be trying to harvest the devil’s crops.

Jesus is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; 2 Corinthians 11:2). He instructed us by saying, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

Paul follows that concept up with the idea of us eating at two different tables.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:21-22).

The exhortation for us today is to stay in Jesus’ field and live in full gratitude of His redemption. Let’s harvest on His land today. Our friends should not meet us on another field. No more planting, cultivating and reaping in the Devil’s field. That means keep our minds pure when we are on the internet and watching TV. Don’t be reaping in the Devil’s field. It means keep ourselves loyal to Christ in our business decisions and associations. Being in Jesus’ field means that we go to Him first for comfort, support and advice.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:7-9).

His Disciples Did Not Understand These Things At First

His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.  (John 12:16)

The disciples did not understand these things…at first.

Jesus said and did a lot of things that the disciples just did not understand. There were also prophecies about the Messiah that these Jewish men were unable to connect to the events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Many reasons can be found in the 4 gospels as to why they didn’t fully understand.

Part of it was poor teaching, wrong assumptions and false conclusions on the part of the Jewish leadership (Matthew 16:1-3; Luke 12:54-56). Another part was the mindset of the disciples themselves; they were at times setting their hearts on the things of the world (Matthew 16:23). Jesus, on more than one occasion corrected them for their slowness to believe and their hardness of heart (Mark 7:18; 8:17-18; 16:14; Luke 24:25). I’m so thankful in knowing that even with all of their “issues” Jesus was patient with them as they grew.

With time and events, though, and the working of the Holy Spirit, and the plain teaching from the Word, the disciples finally understood.

Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said (John 2:22).

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He (Jesus) expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).

And He (Jesus) opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

They didn’t understand at first, but in time with God’s patient guidance, they understood. A dear friend of mine, Charles, who serves as a shepherd, showed me a passage years ago in connection to this concept.

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you (Philippians 3:15).

We all begin our spiritual journey as immature babes and as babes our reasoning is sometimes way off base. Paul says that if we need growth, God will “reveal” that to us. I don’t believe that means God will give us some new truth that is not already revealed in the word, but with His patient guidance as we walk and grow in Him, He helps to open our eyes to see the truth that was always there in the Word in the first place.

You see, Jesus opened the disciples understanding to see what was already in the Scriptures for centuries. It wasn’t new truth, it was just that the light went on in their souls and they got it and believed. These new “revelations” were life-changing. They just had not seen it there and understood it until time and events had taken place to open their eyes.

It is the same for us today. There are things you can’t or don’t understand now that one day you will see. The same old truth has always been there, but maybe you just weren’t ready for it yet (for whatever reason). Thankfully God in His longsuffering and mercy gives us that wiggle room (as my mother-in-law calls it) to grow as Jesus did for His disciples.

Breaking Out of the Shell

Breaking Out of the Shell. The picture you see is of one of our chicks that hatched this morning. These chicks came from the chickens that died in our barn fire. We are having all kinds of thoughts this morning as a family as we witness this joyous event.

Breaking Out of the Shell

God’s Design and Creation. God is marvelous and awesome. It is just amazing to watch a chick work to hatch itself out of its protective shell. No one but God teaches the chicken how to do this. God programmed it with wisdom and instinct.

A New Life Brings Hope. Spring is such a hopeful time of year. Watching chicks hatch, grass green up, trees bud, and flowers spring up is all part of the hope that comes with each spring season!

Stuck in a Spiritual Shell. My daughter, Jessica, mentioned the concept that sometimes as Christians we get stuck in a comfortable place spiritually and we stop growing. She said we need to break out of it. God wants us to grow, and just like that chick, it takes work. More than one example can be seen in Scripture where God wants us to grow and to avoid being stuck in baby-hood spiritually (See 1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 14:20; Ephesians 4:14; Hebrews 5:12-14). That shell is there, designed by God with everything that chick needs for around 21 days, but after that the chick needs to break out of the shell. God expects growth, and that requires us to become uncomfortable.

New Life from Tragedy. The parents of this chick died in our barn fire, but life goes on, doesn’t it. New birth comes. Hope and light comes out of darkness. It doesn’t replace the grief, but it does bring comfort. Have you ever studied Joshua’s ancestry? Joshua the great conqueror of Canaan was born into a family that had experienced great tragedy. Read this following passage and meditate upon it today.

The sons of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eladah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead. The men of Gath who were born in that land killed them because they came down to take away their cattle. Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house. Now his daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon and Uzzen Sheerah; and Rephah was his son, as well as Resheph, and Telah his son, Tahan his son, Laadan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, and Joshua his son (1 Chronicles 7:20-27).

Hope comes from tragedy. Comfort comes after the pain. Light comes after the darkness. We just have to hold on to God and trust in Him.

A Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

A Living Hope. This is such an encouragement to me, and I pray that this passage will be an encouragement to you today as well. Peter began his letter with praise to God. Why? Because of His abundant mercy and what happened because of God’s abundant mercy.

We are born again, and by being re-created by God we have been blessed with a living hope. Our hope lives because Jesus lives. The hopes based solely in this life are dead hopes, uncertain hopes, hopes that fade away and disappoint. God’s “living hope” is connected to the eternal inheritance we receive through Jesus Christ.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).

This inheritance from God through Jesus Christ is:

  • Incorruptible.
  • Undefiled.
  • Does not fade away.
  • Reserved in heaven for you. There are two observations about this statement I’d like to make. One is that it is reserved. We are not going to miss out on this inheritance if we are in Christ. Through the blood of Christ and the grace of God, it is reserved for us. The second is that it is reserved “in heaven.” It would have to be, because everything on this earth becomes corrupted and defiled and things fade away. Not so with God’s inheritance in heaven.

This hope also lives, Peter adds, because God is keeping us through this life by His power when we believe and trust in His salvation. If this hope was based upon my power to keep it, it would be a dead hope in a hurry. But this is God’s power, God’s mercy, God’s working, God’s salvation, God’s inheritance, and God’s hope.

Finally, keep this in mind today at work or at school or wherever you walk today. If you are in Christ, you have a living hope. May we behave, talk and think like those who have that living hope.

The Word of the Lord Endures Forever

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grace, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grace. The grace withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you (1 Peter 1:22-25).

Look at the above passage and see what God’s word says about itself. It is incorruptible. The word has power to transform someone so that because of the word a person is “born again.” God’s word “lives.” The word abides forever. Everything else on earth perishes, but God’s word endures forever. This word includes the gospel which saves men’s souls.

This is only one of many places in the Bible where such claims are made. The Psalmist wrote, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalms 119:89). Jesus Himself claimed, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

The apostle Peter, as he knew his time was short on earth, promised to the brethren that they would always have access to these words which came from God. Read 2 Peter 1:12-21. Atheists, skeptics, and even some claiming to follow Jesus will claim that things have been lost over the years. They claim we cannot have any assurance that the Bible we have now is what they were given then.

A claim is not true just because someone makes it. A claim must be tested. So, test the claims of the Scripture. The truth never suffers from investigation.

The Word of the Lord Endures Forever

We just finished a meeting last week with Dr. H.E. Payne, Jr. (most know him as Buddy Payne). He is the President of Florida College. Among his other lectures on microscopic and macroscopic evidence for intelligent design, Dr. Payne also presented two lessons on “Can We Trust Our English Versions of the Bible?” I encourage you to listen to these two lectures. The overwhelming answer at the end of part 2 is “YES!!”

Can We Trust Our English Versions of the Bible? Part 1

Can We Trust Our English Versions of the Bible? Part 2

They Are New Every Morning

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him (Lamentations 3:19-25).

Many of you reading this already have heard that last Tuesday night our family suffered a tragedy in that our barn and riding arena burned down, and we lost our horses, sheep, goats and chickens. The family and our house is safe, praise God. But the pain we are experiencing is just hard to put into words. We certainly welcome your continued prayers to God on our behalf as we walk through this trial and seek healing and comfort. The outpouring of love and support from neighbors, the church family and from friends around the country has been overwhelming. God is good, and His love is seen in the people He has made in His image.

They Are New Every Morning

The picture I have attached to this post is of the sun beginning to rise on Friday morning. You know the sun rises every morning? Even when there is devastation and pain, the sun rises every morning. Seeing the sunrise made me think of the above passage in Lamentations written by Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was standing in the midst of Jerusalem after its destruction. An entire city including the temple Solomon built for Israel to worship the Lord their God was destroyed and burned. I can only begin to imagine the devastation he saw. I can only begin to imagine the deep pain Jeremiah experienced as he surveyed the carnage. Fires take a long time to go out. The smells and sights are things you will never remove from your mind. Worse than that for Jeremiah was that he preached for decades warning of this event, yet the people did not listen nor repent. The book of Lamentations is structured such in the Hebrew that Jeremiah is literally weeping from A to Z.

Yet in the midst of all that pain, Jeremiah called to his mind some very important qualities of God. When we are in the depths our pain, we must also call to mind these qualities of God. I will leave you with these hopeful phrases from Lamentations 3.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning.

Great is Your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul.

Therefore I will hope in Him.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

Abhor What Is Evil

“Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”  Romans 12:9

It really is a simple concept, isn’t it?  Abhor, detest, or hate evil.  Cling to, adhere to, or cleave to what is good.  Who gets to define evil and good?  It has always been and will always be God.  God, the creator of all things, established good and evil from the beginning and ever since man has been confusing the two.

Why is that?  What motivates us to pervert such a simple concept?  Why do we, “call evil good, and good evil…substitute darkness for light and light for darkness?”  (Isaiah 5:20)

I submit to you that the main reason is shame.  Psychologists and therapists make very good livings trying to help people overcome their shame.  The alcohol and prescription drug industries are fueled by people intent on medicating their shame.  We will do everything we can to avoid shame.

Shame is the product of violating a set of standards that people and society holds.  We manipulate those standards, change laws, redefine marriage, and crucify morality to avoid shame.  We get so wrapped up in marginalizing sin to overcome shame that we fail to see it as a gift from God.  “Guilt is the fact of men doing wrong.  Shame is the God-given response to that fact.” – Andy Cantrell

Even though our culture is in a free fall and godly principles are openly mocked, it doesn’t change the fact that right is right and wrong is wrong.  We deceive ourselves as Christians if we think this is just a problem in the world.  The church faces the same challenge and is slowly being conformed to the world’s way of thinking.  God’s standards are being eroded in the body of Christ and too often we don’t even notice.

Brothers, we can do better…we must do better.

  • We must do better in the things we meditate on.
  • We must do better in the movies we watch.
  • We must do better in the language we use.
  • We must do better in how we treat each other.
  • We must do better in the clothes we wear.
  • We must do better in the priorities we set for our families.
  • We must do better.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” I Peter 2:21-24

Jesus lived in a broken world, among sinful people, and was crucified by evil men yet He never compromised His Father’s standards.  We must reach for that same standard, following in His footsteps, being driven by deep appreciation and profound gratitude for our Lord’s sacrifice.