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The Greatest Story Ever Told

September 2012
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The Gospel of John

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God’s Offer to Us

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The Gospel Cannot Be Contained

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The Cost of Discipleship

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Our Highest Priority

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Penetrating the Darkness

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Leaps of Faith

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Who doesn’t like a good story with a great ending, especially if it’s the greatest love story ever told? With so much heartache all around us, I don’t have to tell you that we live in a broken world . . . broken relationships, broken promises, broken lives. Whether it’s a spouse who has left us, friends who have deserted us, fractured family relationships, abusive work places, a bad medical report, a tragic accident, a horrific natural disaster that left us devastated . . . the list is endless.

No wonder we crave love stories with happy endings. We want to know there’s something more out there besides the heartache we’ve experienced. We want to know there’s a happy ending to the pain, the conflict, the fractured living, and fractured relationships that come with life.

The most amazing love story ever told is also the most despised by the world. But first, here’s a little background information before I get to it. Whether you believe that God created this world and everything in it or think that some big bang theory produced it and/or we are all a product of evolution, the Bible clearly states in Genesis 1:1 that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Not only that, but “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Unfortunately, by Genesis 3 sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the first humans created by God to inhabit our planet. We also have a powerful adversary who works against us (see Genesis 3:1, Job 1:6-12). And, we’ve been waging war with ourselves, each other, and with God ever since.

John 1:1-5 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:14 states that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word that became flesh is God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.

With that background information laying a foundation, the greatest love story that has ever been or ever will be told can be found in the Gospel of JohnJohn 3:16-18 states: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

In this world there is so much that keeps us from seeing the truth about Jesus Christ. He is the only Son of God, born of a virgin. He knew no sin but was crucified for the sins of the world on the cross, and He rose again on the third day victorious over death and to give us new life. It is Jesus Christ who justifies us before God, if we truly believe in Him as stated in John 3:16. I’m reminded of a devotion I just read by Diane Stewart in Open Windows titled, “Christ Justifies Us” (for September 28, 2012). Here it is:

Christ Justifies Us

Romans 3:19-24

It was such a tiny mistake. Seriously, I just looked down for a moment as I tried to retrieve my cell phone from the floorboard of my car. I’d rounded the corner and in an instant I’d crashed into my neighbor’s brick mailbox. Not only was it destroyed, but my car suffered over $6,000 damage. My tiny mistake was unjustifiable and expensive!

Spiritually speaking, there’s a more expensive mistake to be concerned about than hitting a mailbox. It’s failing to recognize one’s spiritual condition. Many mistakenly think of themselves as “good people.” They say, “Surely God will consider my merits and allow me into heaven.” Big mistake! The Bible is clear: there is no such thing as a “good person.” Instead, we’ve all failed miserably. We can never deserve heaven, and the penalty for our sin is death.

God provided a remedy. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for sin in our place. By trusting Him, we are justified before God and forgiven, even when we make mistakes and hit mailboxes!

“Failing to understand one’s spiritual condition” . . . . We live in a world that does everything possible to keep us from seeing the truth–the truth that Jesus Christ clearly states about Himself in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” His sacrifice on the cross expressed the greatest love there is on this earth. He, who was sinless, paid the penalty for our sin in His body on that cross. There is nothing we can personally do to earn our salvation. It is a free gift from God through Jesus Christ, but we have to believe in Him and what He did for us and trust in Him as the only Son of God and our Savior as stated in John 3:16.

In this world we will have trials and tribulation (see James 1). That is a given. However, Jesus says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The Message Bible states those same verses like this, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30). I can think of no better invitation to accept then His. He will come alongside us, give us the strength we need in any circumstance, give us a real rest in the midst of trials and tribulations, and at the end of this life, eternity with Him.

Jesus is truly the lover of our souls. There is no greater love, no greater sacrifice, than His. Won’t you accept His invitation today, if you haven’t already? As He says in Rev. 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

There is a great song sung by Eric Clapton and B.B. King titled, “Hold On, I’m Coming” (YouTube Video below). I want to share some of the words to that song with you:

Don’t you ever feel sad
Lean on me when times are bad
When the day comes and
you’re in doubt
In a river of trouble
about to drown

Hold On, hold on
I’m coming, I’m coming
Hold On, hold on
I’m coming, I’m coming

I’m on my way your lover
When you get cold
I’ll be your cover
Don’t have to worry
Because I’m here
Don’t need to suffer
Because I’m here

Hold On, hold on
I’m coming, I’m coming
Hold On, hold on
I’m coming, I’m coming

The greatest lover, friend, and Savior we have is Jesus Christ, and we are told in Hebrews 13:5 to Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” And that’s a promise He will keep forever.

How can you resist a love and an invitation as great as this?

YouTube Video: “Hold On, I’m Coming” (2000) sung by Eric Clapton and B.B. King:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here


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