A Loving God

There is a film about the life and conversion of Martin Luther – the 16th century monk famous for starting the Protestant Reformation. In the film, Luther lives in fear of God because he believes God to be primarily an angry judge who will condemn him. When Luther’s mentor asks what he wants from God, Luther replies, “A God who loves me.”

It seems that many people have Luther’s outlook on God. They assume that God is distant and harsh. But, nothing could be farther from the truth! The Bible says that God calls to us: “Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.” The Bible also says that God did not come to condemn the world but save it through Jesus.

Do you know someone who thinks or acts as though God is an angry tyrant? Go to them today. Show them God’s love in tangible ways. Pray for them. Then explain who God really is – a God who loves them unconditionally and wants to have a personal friendship with each of us. That is the God we serve, a relational loving God, not a dictator or tyrant. Today, reach out to those who have this imbalanced view of God. Explain to them that, just as Luther desired, the one true God is a God of love, compassion and restoration.

The Ultimate Question

One of the biggest questions in life is: Where do we go when we die? I bet you can sit down with any a group of people and ask them this question, and you’ll get answers ranging from, “I don’t know,” to “I’ll go to Heaven because I’m a good person.” The responses to this question may vary, but there is only one right answer. And God loves us so much that He actually wrote down the answer for us in His inspired, inerrant Word, the Bible.

When we read the Bible, we discover the solution: Where we go when we die depends on whether or not we have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation. Those who do not put their faith in Jesus will be shut out from the presence of the Lord forever. What a terrible thought! But that’s clearly what it says in 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

On the other hand, Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ’Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So why don’t you invite your friends to coffee? Ask them this ultimate question about where we go after we die. Then discuss these verses and show them how to find lasting hope.

Biblical Hope vs. Positive Thinking

More than we need food or water or air – we all need hope. A hopeless existence just isn’t worth living. Humans instinctively know this, so we spend our days searching for hope. However, sometimes we settle for something a little short of hope. In a legitimate desire to feel good about where we’re headed, we mistake positive thinking for genuine hope.

The real difference between the two comes down to their sources. Positive thinking flows from the human will, from the choice to believe that everything will turn out all right (whether it actually does or not). But Biblical hope rests on the unchanging character of God, that He will keep all His promises (whether it looks that way or not). In other words, positive thinking depends on us, while hope depends on God.

In Isaiah 49:23, God says, “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Maybe you have a family member who does not know the Lord and is trying to get by on “positive thinking.” Don’t knock positive, it beats negative thinking any time. But the next time she is struggling, explain to her the promises in God’s Word. Pass on your experiences of God’s great love, because hope in Jesus Christ is infinitely more powerful than any amount of positive thinking.

A New Creation

Wilson, a successful Hong Kong businessman, had a degree in engineering and became an architect. He married a Chinese woman, a non-practicing Buddhist like him. Within a few years, he had two daughters–and an affair on the side. Then things began to fall apart.

He discovered a business partner had cheated him out of ten million American dollars. Furious, Wilson resolved to murder the man. Then, Wilson’s wife found out about his affair. Desperate and without hope, Wilson decided to end his life. As he thought about how to shoot himself, Wilson saw a city bus go by with our festival advertisement on the side. It said, “The Hope of Man.”

Wilson thought, “Boy, do I need hope!” He came to our event, accepted Jesus Christ, and became a whole new man. Months later, Wilson even fell in love with his wife all over again! Now, he and his wife are both believers. And all the glory goes to the Lord! 2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” If one of your friends is in trouble, share this verse to him. Explain to him the message of hope – that each one of us can be made new in Christ!

Renewing Our Hope

The late author, Norman Cousins, somewhere said that human beings can live for a few weeks without food, a few days without water, a few minutes without air, but not one second without hope. I think he was right. We live in an age when people all around us are desperately seeking for real hope, but they don’t know where to find it.

They are harassed and helpless. They are like sheep without a shepherd, as the Bible says in Matthew 9:36. But, the Good News is that Jesus came looking for us so that we might have the all-surpassing hope of eternal life. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Do you know someone who is stuck in a rut in life? Someone who is weary and looking for answers? Take your friend aside and ask him how you can pray for him. Check in with him to see how he’s doing and ask the Lord to show you when to share the Good News with him. You’ve got nothing to lose and he’s got everything to gain.