Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son – the One who is at the Father’s side – He has revealed Him. John 1:16-18 HCSB
My son owns a 1966 red Mustang car. It is beautiful and whenever we drive it we always receive comments like, “Nice car!” His car may be rare, but it is not unique. There are thousands of older Mustang cars available even though they are no longer produced. There are some things that are unique and one of a kind. Every person’s DNA is unique. Every snowflake is unique. Every person’s fingerprint is unique. The rings on a tree are unique.
These verses tell us that Jesus is the One and Only Son of God. The emphasis is on the uniqueness of Jesus. There is only One Son. Jesus is a one-of-a-kind. There is no one like Him. He enjoys a special and unique relationship with God, the Father. Even though as believers we are children of God, we are not like Jesus. He is the perfect Lamb of God that never sinned. He alone died on the cross so our sins could be forgiven and God could accept us as one of His children.
Challenge: Thank God that you are unique and that He loves you for who you are. God made you unique with special skills and abilities. Use your unique talents to serve the Lord. Thank God for the grace and blessing you have received from Him.
The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 HCSB
I once heard a story of a man who saw a large ant hill with thousands of ants crawling all over it. Some ants were carrying food into the ant hill. They seemed to be busy preparing for winter. The man also observed an anteater nearby. His first thought was, “How can I warn the ants of the impending danger?” but there was no way to communicate with them. His second thought was, “If only I could become an ant and go down into their hill and communicate with them and tell them that danger is lurking nearby. Maybe then I could save the ants from destruction and death.”
God loved us and wanted to communicate with us and help us to know the depth of His love. He also wanted to help us know how to live on earth and how we could have our sins forgiven and live eternally. Therefore God became a human in the form of Jesus Christ. It was through Christ that man could more fully know God because He was visible and tangible. Jesus, the Son, was the perfect expression of God, the Father. Jesus was not half man and half God. He was fully God and fully man.
Challenge: Too often people minimize Jesus’ humanity, but it is important to understand that Christ was our perfect sacrifice because He was just like us but without sin. Jesus was our perfect teacher who taught us through His earthly example how to live life to its fullest. He was also our perfect example. He lived a life that set an example for all people to follow. Thank God that He sent Jesus to the world to teach you, set an example for you, and die in your place so your sins could be forgiven.
He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13 HCSB
God has blessed me with four wonderful children, all of whom I am very proud. They have grown into responsible adults who are making a positive contribution to society and in God’s Kingdom. Even if one of them had chosen a path that would have brought dismay to our family, he or she would still be my child. Once my child, always my child. There is nothing one of them could ever do that would remove my love and mercy for him/her as my child.
Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior become children of God. Once God’s child, always God’s child. We cannot do anything that would change that fact. It is not by birth or by our own will that we become children of God but only by God’s mercy and love. We do not deserve to be His children, but by God’s grace we are chosen.
Challenge: Praise God that you are His child. You have been adopted into His family and you cannot do anything that will cause a change in your status as a member of God’s family.
Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:4-5 HCSB
A few years ago my family vacationed at Hilton Head, South Carolina. One of our activities was to climb the winding staircase to the top of the lighthouse. The view from the top was breathtaking. The sun was setting in colors of pink and blue as its rays pierced through the clouds on the horizon. The boats sitting in the harbor with the light reflecting off of the water made it a very picturesque scene.
A lighthouse serves the vital function of shining light in the darkness to warn ships that land is near. Its bright light also enables ships to properly navigate dark waters. In these verses John tells his readers that Jesus is the light or lighthouse that is shining in the darkness of sin to show people the way and to help them to navigate the dark waters of temptation and sin.
Challenge: Jesus is the Light of the World. He has overcome sin and death. The darkness of our world cannot overcome or defeat the Light of Jesus Christ. Thank God that as a believer you have overcome darkness and you have the promise of eternal life. Look to Jesus and follow His light in our dark world of sin.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. John 1:1-2 HCSB
While in college I wrote a paper for a religion class entitled, “Jesus as God and Man.” My paper revealed the truth that Jesus was fully God and fully man. As a man, He experienced the same emotions of joy, sorrow, fear, pain, and excitement that we experience. As God He was able to resist the same temptations every person faces, yet without sin. He also was able to heal the sick and perform other miracles. The main point of my paper was that Jesus had to be fully man and experience all of the feelings and temptations that every person encounters, yet remain without sin in order to be our Savior. He is the perfect lamb of God that was sacrificed for our sins.
Although Jesus existed from the beginning of time and took on flesh to become a man, He never ceased to be God. He could not do anything without God the Father. John wrote this book to help all of his readers understand that Jesus was the One and only Son of God, but He was also human. John addressed this book to those who had a Greek background. The Greeks of that day believed in a variety of gods, and John’s point was that Jesus was above all of the numerous gods of mythology.
Challenge: Believe in Jesus, the One and only Son of God. Praise God for who He is, the Creator of the universe, who has existed from the beginning of time.
When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 HCSB
There is a children’s Bible song that says, “O be careful little eyes what you see. O be careful little eyes what you see. There’s a Father up above and He’s looking down in love. So, be careful little eyes what you see.” Casting Crowns has a song titled “Slow Fade” that reflects these same words and message. We need to be careful what we say, what we do, and where we go because there are others watching, and they will follow in our footsteps. It is important to set a good example for others to follow.
It all boils down to fearing God and keeping His commandments. Life is filled with many opportunities and temptations. Every day we are faced with decisions that affect our lives and the lives of those who follow us. Many times our sins affect our family and friends. We all need to follow the advice of the song and be careful what we see, what we say, what we hear, what we do with our hands, and where our feet go.
Challenge: Know that others are watching you and ultimately God knows everything you say and do. What type of example are you setting for others to follow? Ask God to give you wisdom and direction so you can overcome temptations and set a good example for others to follow. Watch this video on GodTube http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=2EF11NNU
Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment. Ecclesiastes 11:9 HCSB
Our church just had a new gym floor installed that is solid rubber and painted gray and purple. Today the workers painted the lines on the floor for basketball and volleyball. The lines exist to set some boundaries during play. If a player goes out of bounds or the ball lands out of bounds, there are consequences or penalties.
Solomon encouraged people to enjoy life while young, pursue desires of the heart, and to find pleasure through sight. One translation of the Bible says, “Take it all in”. But Solomon goes on to warn that there will be a day of judgment from God when each one must answer for his actions. Solomon’s directive was not a license to stray outside of God’s boundaries. When a person is outside of God’s will for his life, there will be consequences just as surely as exceeding the boundaries on a basketball court.
Challenge: Seek God and His will for your life; this is where you will find your purpose and meaning. Some think God’s boundaries are intended to spoil the fun in life. To the contrary, they are designed to give you a more enjoyable and abundant life. Read John 10:10. Following God’s plan keeps you from the troubles and pain associated with sin. His mandates will keep you safe and free from guilt. Living according to God’s plan will bring eternal peace and freedom.
Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how bones develop in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you don’t know the work of God who makes everything. Ecclesiastes 11:5 HCSB
My oldest daughter, Bethany, and her husband Matt had a little girl named Ella Grace in December, and my youngest daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Dale had a little boy named Logan in June. Of course I am a proud grandfather. It was so exciting when both of our daughters sent us pictures of the sonograms showing the development of Ella Grace and Logan. It was amazing to see their tiny hands, fingers, and toes. We could even see each infant’s nose and ears. I can’t imagine how anyone who can see a sonogram and visualize the development of her baby could possibly consider having an abortion.
Even though sonograms were not available in Solomon’s time, he was amazed at the mystery of God and how God created a human being in the womb of a woman. There is nothing more exciting than to be a part of a birth. I can remember when my oldest child, Bethany, was born. The feeling of excitement and wonder was unforgettable! Just to think that God allows us to be a part of His creation of a new life is unbelievable. No one can fully understand God’s ways, but we can be assured that God is always in control. Psalm 139 proclaims, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Romans 11:33 tells us, “How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways.” We cannot fully understand God’s ways, but we must trust Him because He knows what is best.
Challenge: Praise God for how awesome He is. He is the Creator of the Universe and the Creator of every person. Thank Him for giving you life and a purpose for living. Do not try to understand God’s ways, just trust Him.
One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4 HCSB
While in the 8th and 9th grade I participated in the organization, Future Farmers of America. One of our assignments was to plant and grow a garden. Achieving a garden that was fruitful required perfect conditions, including rich soil, the seeds being planted at the right depth, and the proper distance between seeds and rows. The seeds also needed just the right amount of fertilizer and water to grow. Keeping the garden weed-free was essential for optimum growth to occur.
Waiting for the perfect conditions in life can paralyze a person. One who watches for the wind or looks to the clouds will not reap. If he waits for the perfect time to begin to have a quiet time, he will never start. If he waits for the perfect church, he will never join. If he waits for the perfect ministry in which to be involved, he will never serve. Do not wait for the perfect conditions; they may never exist.
Challenge: Take steps to grow spiritually even if the conditions are not perfect. If you wait for perfect conditions, you will not be able to reap or grow to your fullest potential as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Send your bread on the surface of the waters, for after many days you may find it. Give a portion to seven or even to eight, for you don’t know what disaster may happen on earth. Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 HCSB
When my son, Nathan, was in high school he participated in a team project with his school. His team competed against other teams from around the state to invest imaginary money into the stock market. The winning team did the best job of investing and making money. This project was to help the students learn how the stock market worked and how to invest wisely. Nathan’s team came in second in the state. Since that time he has applied the knowledge he learned to invest real money in a wise manner.
When referring to bread, Solomon was talking about making overseas investments and trade agreements. He also warned that it took time to make money on one’s investments and it required patience. Diversity is a key to success when investing. Putting “all of your eggs into one basket” can be disastrous. Solomon recommended that one invest in seven or even eight different ways. God’s Word provides some good advice on investing, but one should always remember that God is in control.
Challenge: Whether you have money to invest or not, you can always invest your time and your talents wisely. Look for a way to invest your life into the lives of others.