Timothy W. Berrey is the Director of Graduate Studies at BJMBC.
Have you personally experienced the gift of God's love?
HOW MUCH DOES GOD LOVE YOU?
1. He loved you long before you loved Him.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:4-5).
2. He refused to just let you perish in your sins (like you deserve).
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
3. He sent His Son into the world to take on humanity so that you could have eternal life.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).
4. He poured out His wrath against your sin on His own Son.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
5. Because His just wrath against sin has been completely satisfied, He now offers you mercy instead of wrath, life instead of death, eternal kindness in Christ Jesus instead of inescapable bondage to sin and to Satan—all (because of His grace) through faith alone.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:1-9).
6. He wants to rescue you from your current sinful lifestyle, apart from any works of your own, by the cleansing and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, freely available through Jesus Christ.
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:3-6).
7. He allows all who have received His Son Christ Jesus by faith to be called one of His children.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God (I John 3:1).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
8. He is calling you through the Gospel (through what you are reading now!) to enjoy the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and experience eternal comfort and genuine assurance.
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ….Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace… (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, 16a).
9. He will not make you wait until you arrive in your home in glory in order to enjoy His presence but will instead make you His home during your life on earth.
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
10. He guarantees you victory over anything that you think might separate you from His love.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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 created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
God Loves You!
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Dr. Philip Kamibayashiyama is the Director of BJMBC.
How can you find genuine happiness in the new year?
Are you happy this new year? We wish people a happy new year, but are we fully happy ourselves?
Actually, relatively few people are happy, even those who seem to be full of fun and excitement.
Why is this?
Often we are unhappy because, as we look back over the past year, we see that things in our life have not improved the way we wanted them to. Your circumstances have probably not significantly changed. Your pressures and problems are still there. Even if your circumstances have changed somewhat, many people in your life remain the same. Most of all, you yourself have not changed much in a year. If you admit that, at least you are humble and honest about yourself. That humility opens the door for change. God does give grace to the humble – those who honestly admit that what God says about their sinfulness is true.
What is the root reason why people are unhappy?
It is because a person becomes like his god. Emptiness is the nature of idols, and our hearts are idol factories. This is why not only pagans but also God’s people worshipped false gods and idols. OT history repeats over and over as if in a loop that people want a god besides Yahweh. Idols can be in the heart; therefore, John wrote near the end of the New Testament: “Brethren, keep yourselves from idols.” The point is that idols are empty (“vain” tôhû; see 1 Sa. 12:21). Therefore, those with idols in their hearts become empty and unhappy in heart.
But it doesn’t have to stay this way! This new year can be different. You can be different. But how?
First of all, realize that the answer is not ultimately in removing problems and pressures from your life. You should avoid overextending yourself, but your God can also do miracles beyond imagining. Secondly, the answer is also not in reforming yourself by your own willpower. You probably know that many New Year’s resolutions--even good ones--do not last past January, because our flesh and our heart fail.
Surprisingly, the answer and means to change is renewing your mind. Your mind includes the thoughts of your heart – having different desires, different values, a different view of life, and a different response to what you will face this year.
Biblically speaking, we cannot change ourselves. But God changes us when our heart is focused on Him. Isaiah 26:3 sings to the LORD, “Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusts in Thee.” God keeps us in peace (shâlôm: wholeness; contentment; happiness) when our minds are on Him. Our minds stay on God when we trust in Him. Where our thoughts dwell tells us where our hearts are.
Consider this application: when you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you want to see? The honest, humble answer of many people would be posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media. What you set your mind upon indicates where your heart is. When it is on vain or empty things, that moment of pleasure will end with an empty, unhappy heart.
Instead, to truly find joy, we need to set our hearts and minds on our glorious God and Savior Jesus Christ. Set your affection on things above. This means to delight in God’s Word and meditate on it day and night. If you do that, this year will be significantly different because you will be changed. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed…” (2 Cor. 3:18a).
May you have a truly happy new year.
A Free Gift for you: 12 Resolutions for Glorifying God this year.
Reading, learning, growing. God calls us to be changed through His Word. At BJMBC, our goal is to speak truthfully and clearly about that Word, while we prepare a future generation of students to proclaim it.