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God’s Love is Overwhelmingly Good

Last week we talked about John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. He used that phrase referring to himself five times in his retelling of Jesus’ life on earth – The Gospel of John.

In the first three occurrences we learn these truths about the love of God:

God’s love is relational.
God’s love is sacrificial.
God’s love is unstoppable

The fourth time John writes the phrase, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” we learn that God’s love is overwhelmingly good.

After Jesus rose from the dead the disciples were a little bit confused and conflicted. Some of them decided to go back to what they knew. They went fishing. But it was a sad uneventful fishing trip and they didn’t catch a single thing all night. In the morning, a man on the shore encouraged them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. And when they did, they caught a net breaking, boat sinking load of fish.

In that moment, John recognizes the man on the shore.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  John 21:7 NIV

John recognized Jesus in boat load of 153 large fish because it wasn’t the first time that Jesus poured out abundant blessings. He knew this kind of thing was in the character and heart of Jesus.

He had seen Jesus turn 180 gallons of water into fine wine. He had watched as Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 with just a five loaves of bread and two fish.

There was a pattern of generosity, of more-than-enough in Jesus’ life on earth. In fact, Jesus himself is the ultimate expression of the goodness of God.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 NIV

God wants us to believe that he is good all the time. He wants us to focus our attention on his goodness.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Romans 12:1 The Message

When your eyes are fixed on God’s goodness, his joy and peace, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are loved.

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

We may think that Jesus loved John a little more than the other disciples. After all, the Bible calls him, “John, the disciple that Jesus loved.” But if we read all four gospels we find that it is only in the book that John wrote where he is referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. We don’t think John was Jesus’ favorite. We think John simply had a revelation of God’s love for him.

“One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder” John 13:24

This scripture reveals that God’s love is relational. It is a beautiful picture of the disciples sharing a meal together, giving and receiving love, real love from one another and Jesus. These men were not your typical “Christians.”They didn’t grow up in Sunday school. They weren’t really the best of the best or admired among their community. They were salty fisherman and tax collectors.

People who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus. They genuinely liked him and were comfortable around him.

The reason people who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus, is because Jesus liked people who were nothing like him. Jesus not only liked them, but he invited them to follow him. He went to their house for dinner. He was not uncomfortable hanging out with people who were far from him. The truth is, if God didn’t love sinners He wouldn’t have anyone to love.

The second time John uses the phase “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 19:25-26) was at the cross. This reveals that God’s love is sacrificial. The cross is the greatest representation of love. Possibly the most famous verse in the world is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..” Sometimes we think that God dispenses his love with an eyedropper, but actually His love fills the ocean! No matter who you are, what you have done, how many times you’ve crossed the line, you have not and will never be able to “out sin” the grace of God. Jesus wasn’t just enough for or only enough for the small sins. No! Jesus was an over-payment for our sins.

The third time John writes the phrase “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2) was at the empty tomb. God’s love is all powerful. The tomb being empty was a complete game changer. It is EVERYTHING. What does the empty tomb mean? It means there is a God. And HE LOVES US!!! He rose to be with us! Her rose so we could be with him! You might be tempted to write this story off as a religious fairy-tale, but the Bible offers many convincing proofs. Jesus appeared to over 500 people. We see the truth of his resurrection in the changed lives of the disciples. They preached the gospel with boldness and died for their faith.

There are two more times that John refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Discover the transformational truth of John’s words Sunday April 23rd and 30th.

Join us on the North Campus at 9:30am & 11:30am and
on the South Campus at 9:30am, 11:15am, and 12:45pm

Bringing the Dead Back to Life

In the weeks leading up to his death, Jesus visited his friends in Bethany. The events of that visit have profound implications for our lives.

The story of Lazarus is symbolic of our lives. You can read it in John 11:1-12:18. We were dead and Jesus raised us up. The story of Lazarus is also symbolic of the journey God wants for everyone living outside his love.

Here are a few observations:

God is hopelessly and forever in love with the human race – Besides his disciples, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were perhaps Jesus’ best friends. Lazarus got very sick. His life was on the line. Mary and Martha sent a simple message to Jesus. “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They knew what moved Jesus. It wasn’t their love and devotion to him; it was his love for them.

Lazarus was dead. Not only was Lazarus dead. He was dead for four days. He was really dead. I wonder if we look out amongst our friends and family and neighbors if we see people who are living spiritually dead. It may seem hopeless to us but it’s not to Jesus.

Friends need to roll away the stone. Jesus asked Lazarus’ friends to take away the stone. Lazarus was dead on the inside. Jesus was speaking on the outside, but there was something blocking the message. The stone had to be rolled away. From this story, we discover there is something we can do for our friends that are separated form God. We can remove the barriers and roll away the stone of performance, the stone of distraction, the stone of fear, the stone of selfishness and the stone of intimidation.

Jesus raised Lazarus to life. Jesus is in the miracle business. He is in the saving business. He brings dead things and dead people back to life.

Friends helped him get out of his grave clothes. Christianity is never about perfection. It’s about grace, forgiveness, encouragement and love. Jesus called Lazarus out of the grace but he asked Lazarus’ friends to free from the things that bound him. He was resurrected but he still carried the odor of his previous condition. That’s what the community of a church is all about. Life is the journey of living out the freedom Jesus provides.

Lazarus’ transformation was an attraction. A large crowd gathered to see Lazarus. A transformed life is always an attraction. Your transformed life is an attraction. You’ve probably touched more lives than you could ever imagine already!

Lazarus pointed people to Jesus – Lazarus didn’t need to debate the facts or argue to convince people of his beliefs. All he needed to do was live his transformed life! All you need to do is tell the story about what Jesus has done for you. You don’t need to have all the answers just extend an invitation. This Easter weekend would you join us in inviting your friends, family and neighbors to hear about the transformational love of Jesus?

We can’t wait to see you and your friends this weekend!

Love is Spelled T-I-M-E

Jesus said that people will know that you are His follower by the love you have for others. An important part of loving people is spending time with people. Time is needed to pause and assess the needs of the people around you. The culture within God’s family, which includes all believers, is love.

A side effect of being busy all the time is a diminished capacity to love. If the devil cannot make you “bad,” he will try to make you busy – too busy to make time to love others. In contrast with what the devil or the world would have you do, in order to truly love, you need to carve out time – create a “margin of time” – to love on another person. Love the person who is right in front of you. Treat them the way the Lord would. Be unselfish. And when you are done loving that one person, love another.

In the biblical story about the Good Samaritan, a person was in need on the road, but the religious leaders, respected citizens and self-centered people were all too busy to stop and help him. They couldn’t be bothered. They refused to spend any time helping the person in need. They refused to love.

It took a Samaritan to stop and carve out a margin of time in his schedule to help the person in need. The Good Samaritan, as noted in the Bible, decided that it was okay to be interrupted in his life to help another. It reflected the culture of the kingdom of God – the culture of love.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 NIV

God wants to shape you and transform you to make you part of a movement to bring every person into the love they are currently living outside of. We need to bring love to people. They will know that God is dwelling within your spirit and empowering you by your love.

The United States has largely turned into a nation of tired, frustrated people who don’t make enough time to do what is the most important, which is love. Dare to be different and get blessed as a result. Put loving others in a godly way on top of your priority list today and see the kind of impact it makes – one person at a time. Spell out “love” in action with your T-I-M-E.

What Defines Us

A healthy church culture is defined by love – authentic love for God, authentic love for each other and authentic love for an unbelieving world. If Shoreline is a great church, it’s because we are great at loving. Love is the only measuring stick that matters.

The win for Shoreline is love. Sure, we want to have a clean building. We want services that are fresh, creative and insightful. But the bottom line is that we are good at loving.

And isn’t that what the world needs?

Our world keeps spinning ever-increasing spirals of hatred, prejudice and segregation. Into this world Jesus comes with a radical message about courageous love.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. a But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Matthew 5:38-42 NKJV

So what is Jesus saying?

Love Unconditionally –A slap in the face is the ultimate humiliation. Just imagine you’ve been insulted or humiliated and your honor is at stake. What do you do? Jesus says to turn the other cheek. What a courageous expression of risk, unconditional love!

Love Generously – In the first century, a law was made that you could sue someone for their tunic but never for their cloak. The cloak was so necessary for survival that it was off limits to lawsuits. Jesus challenges us to give over and above what is asked of us, to love generously and without limits.

Love Perseveringly – Under Roman oppression, first century Jews were at the beck and call of Roman soldiers. Soldiers had a legal right to coerce people into service. The Jew’s negotiated a one mile limit, but Jesus shows us that love goes the extra mile. Love goes for as long as it takes. Love perseveres.

Love is not hard when people are lovable. Real love is expressed when people are difficult to love. Love like that will never fail to draw people into the Kingdom of God.

Thank God That Life Is Unfair

When something in life happens to us that goes against us, causes us a problem or seems unfair to us, we tend to complain.  One might even say it is the natural response – even a “logical” response in order to demand “fairness” in the universe, no matter how arbitrary it actually is.  However, when unfairness works to our advantage and for our good, we ironically have a special name for it – “answer to prayer.”

Some people say that Christianity is all about fairness, as in “good people go to heaven while bad people don’t.”  Let’s be clear: this is not in the Bible.  People do not go to heaven based on their “goodness.”  Flipping this false teaching on its head, Jesus would not have gone to the Cross if “human goodness” was good enough.

It would be “fair” for a holy, righteous and perfect God to look upon all of us, judge us and treat us based on our imperfections as people because we have not measured up to His standards.  Do we really want God to treat us based on what we deserve in life?

Remember that God knows all our mistakes, missteps, bad decisions, bad attitudes, broken promises, wrong intentions and other sins.  At this point, receiving God’s unmerited favor – in other words, His mercy — to unlock a flood of His blessings into your life by giving you what you DO NOT deserve for your benefit seems like the kind of “unfairness” that is desirable as well as humbling.

The kingdom of God is based on unfairnessunfair to our benefit.  Even when we deserve God’s sharp rebuke, stern judgment or casting away, God gives us His kindness, patience and acceptance.  Jesus set up a new system, not based on works, but based on grace.

Jesus demonstrates His grace on a one-on-one basis.  Luke 23:39-43 tells the story of the thief hanging on the Cross next to Jesus.  In the natural, “logical” realm, you’d think that this thief had a one-way ticket to eternal darkness.  After all, the guy had not lived a “religious” life.  He had broken the law numerous times and was considered an outcast, hovering at the bottom rung of the social ladder.

In a twist that stunned both the secular and religious world, Jesus said to the thief:

“I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NLT)

Now, that would appear unfair to people like the Apostle Paul who wrote a large part of the New Testament and was persecuted for Christ.  This promise of heaven is also the same promise that Jesus had offered to Stephen, who died a martyr’s death for the sake of Christ.  It seems so unfair, doesn’t it?

It was offensive to the Pharisees, who were the dominant religious order of the day when Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago.  The Pharisees could not believe that God would ever let a sinner like that thief into heaven.  (You may even hear the cries “Unfair!  Unfair!” in your imagination.)

But the Truth will set you free.

The kingdom of God is not based on the beauty of performance, but on the beauty of Jesus’ performance of dying on the Cross to pay the price for your sins once and for all.  Unless you build your life on the magnificence of God’s grace, you’ll never know your standing with God.  In the back of your mind, you’ll always wonder, “Am I good enough to go to heaven?”

God is magnificently unfair — for our good.  We do what we do as believers and followers of Christ because we are grateful and our hearts are full of love.  God is not calling any of us to be on a treadmill of religious activity, relying on our own hopes to earn our way to heaven.  We never have to be concerned about the way God views us.

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1)

God’s mercy is like a glorious unfairness, giving us good things in life that we don’t deserve and holding back what we assuredly deserve when we are measured by the standard of God’s holy perfection.  But if there is one thing that we could say is “fair” about Christianity as a faith based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is that everyone is invited to come into and be covered by God’s grace.

How about you?

How to Build Your life on the Word of God

The Word of God is powerful – so powerful that years ago, religious leaders opposed translating the Bible into the language of the people. They know the Bible would bring freedom to the masses. In response, the pioneers of the reformation cried out for only grace, only Christ, only faith, only the glory of God and only scripture.

The Word of God is a treasure. It is the foundation we can build our lives on.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. 2 Timothy 3:16 The Message

The Bible is God-breathed. It is the life breath that flowed out of his heart through human authors to us. It is living and active and there is nothing quite like it. God wants us to read it, believe it, meditate on it, memorize it, speak it and act on it.

How do you build your life on the Word of God?

Use it to see God’s love  – The whole book points to Jesus. The Bible is a story of God’s great love manifest in the gift of his Son. Through Jesus something happened that changed the world forever. We were all held captive to sin but Jesus paid our ransom and we are free.

Use it as spiritual food – The Word of God is described as milk, meat, bread and honey. It provides the spiritual nourishment that we need to flourish in our daily lives.

Use it as a guide – The Bible is the field manual for life. There is so much wisdom in this one book, wisdom we can build a life on. Through the Word of God we learn how to live with integrity. We discover the pathway to joy, peace and love. It guides us in relationships, in business and in leadership. Through the Bible you’ll learn how to live for God’s glory.

Use it to discover the promise – The Bible is full of God’s promises. One scholar counted and found 30,000 promises. God is faithful to his word. As you discover the promises of God and put your trust in him, peace will saturate your heart and mind.

Use it as a sword – There are forces on the earth that oppose us. Ephesians 6 describes the life of the believer as spiritual warfare. We are encouraged to put on armor to defend and protect ourselves. But we are also instructed to pick up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Something supernatural happens when we speak God’s word.

Use it as a mirror – The Word of God is like a mirror. It reflects back to us the truth of who we are and how we are made. You may not feel like a son or daughter of God. You may not feel like an overcomer. You may not feel like a new creation. But if you look in the mirror of God’s word you will see that you are.

The Bible is not an ordinary book. It is alive and powerful. It is transformational. And God wrote it so you could build your life on it

How to Start the New Year Right

Do you have regrets from bad decisions you made last year? Do you find yourself feeling worried or anxious about the year ahead?  One of our biggest issues is that we don’t have strength for today because we use it up on yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s worries.

We will equip you with three steps to help you meet today’s challenges with today’s strength.

Release the Past – You only have a certain amount of energy every day. Wasting it on past regrets is not a wise investment. We have to let go of what others have done and what we have done.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Isaiah 43:18 NIV

Resist the Future – It’s important to plan for the future but we must resist the energy drain that comes from preoccupation with future fears and worry. The future may seem uncertain and uncontrollable. But here are two undeniable truths about your future:

  1. God knows everything

 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 NIV

  1. God has a plan

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Live Joyfully in the Moment – This is the only way to truly live. God wants you to enjoy this life and to rest in his provision. He is Jehovah Jireh – the God who sees the future and makes provision today.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 the Message

When you rest in God’s daily provision, he will guide you and help you to do the right thing in each moment.

Here, at the beginning of this near year, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, the decisions you’ve made in the past or the worry you lived with last year. You can have a fresh start today.

The Original Design for Heath

Happy New Year!  How many of you had just a tad too much holiday culinary consumption? The average American gains 10-15 lbs. between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  Yikes!  That explains why new gym memberships go through the roof in January.  Listen, we all have challenges with diet, but that’s not all we need to consider when we’re trying to be healthy.

There are four major pillars of the foundation of health that control your overall wellness: Chemical, Physical, Mental, and Spiritual.

The Chemical pillar is comprised of every substance that goes into your body: from the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat and the supplements you take to the chemicals you’re exposed to in the world around you.

The Physical pillar encompasses the alignment of your body’s frame (Spinal and all other joints), exercise, stretching and the rest and sleep you get each day.

The Mental pillar encompasses all of the things that have to do with your mind, your relationships, your perception, your attitude, how you think and the stress you deal with.

The Spiritual pillar encompasses all of the matters of faith, your belief in God and the part of you that will live on forever.

Balance of those pillars is critical to attain.  No one can be as healthy as God designed them to be by focusing all their energy on one pillar.  For example, if you were to workout all the time, but eat donuts and drink soft drinks all day, how healthy would you be? Not so healthy, right?

You’ve got to know that God already figured out everything you need to be extremely healthy.  We just have to learn a few things and refocus on his Word to find the keys to having the abundant health that he intended for us to have from the very beginning!

Listen clealy: YOU’RE NOT STUCK WHERE YOU ARE!  YOU CAN CHANGE and the perfect and easy plan to do that has been around for a long time.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Jesus said “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)

Start studying biblically sound information that can guide you to the health you were always meant to have.  Get some good resources like The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin, Fit for the King by Pastor Laura Koke and this new, amazing book called The Original Design for Health by a really handsome author (at least his wife thinks so) named Dr. Mark Shannan.

You know, without your health, you simply can’t be who you were designed to be or live the life you were designed to live.

And the bottom line is: None of us can rewrite the beginning of our story. We can’t go back. But all of us can start making better choices today and change the ending of our story.

Go to www.DrMarkShannan.com for more info. God bless!

We Three Kings

Many legends have grown up around the story of the wise men who visited Jesus. One is that there were three of them. The Bible doesn’t actually give us a number. The idea of three kings came from the mention of three gifts. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that each gift was offered by a different giver.

We are not even sure if they were kings. We do know they were people of influence, most likely philosophers and astronomers. Regardless of exactly who they were, there are four things they did that can inspire how we live our lives.

They Sought Him – These men travelled quite a distance following a star, that’s not much to go on. They ventured out in faith and it was a challenge. It can be a challenge for us to find the child in the manger in the middle of everything Christmas as turned into. The sad truth is that many will miss Jesus this year. But the promise holds true:

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:8

Everyone who sought Jesus that first Christmas found him. Likewise, anyone who seeks Jesus now will surely find him.

They Humbled Themselves – As people of influence and means, the wise men were probably  used to others falling down before them and yet the first thing they did when they found Jesus was fall on their knees before him.

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground Matthew 2:11

Some say that humility is the greatest virtue. The wise men humbled themselves before Jesus, we would be wise to follow their example.

They Worshiped Him – Humility leads to praise.

they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Matthew 2:11

How can we not worship Jesus? Look what he as done for us. He left the glory of heaven and stooped to become a man. He offered his life as a sacrifice for our sins and gave us a brand new identity. Worship is how we express our ultimate allegiance. Some people worship their jobs, their families, fame or power but blessed are those who choose to worship Jesus.

They Gave – These wise men offered the best they had to Jesus.

Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Many scholars believe that each gift had significance:

  • Gold because Jesus was King
  • Frankincense, because he was God
  • Myrrh, an herb used for burial, because he was born to die

They were moved by adoration and love to give generously. That’s what love does. Love gives. Let love give birth to generosity in your heart.

These three kings hold the secret to the ultimate Christmas celebration. If we follow in their footsteps we will experience true joy. Seek him. Humble yourself. Worship him. Give him your best.