ONE VERSE PREFERENCE
If I could have in my possession only one verse of the Bible, which one would it be? Hands down, it would be John 3:16. It is so comprehensive that it pretty well covers all the bare essentials for fallen mankind. It is the key to evangelism. Think about it with me!
It begins, “For God.” Here is the presentation of the eternal, creator deity. There is no need to try to prove God. He doesn’t! He is, and it is literally the fool who does not know this.
It continues, “So loved.” Here is the essence of what God is. I John 4:8 says “God is love.” There is one God. He is the creator and eternal judge, and His essence is love. That draws me.
“God so loved the world.” Here is the object of His love: the inhabited world. It is unlimited to the world of men. As a part of that, I am then the object of His love. I am grateful, and I rejoice!
“That He gave.” Love is giving. Love is sacrifice by its own definition. God, the Creator is a giving God, not a taker. Rather than quake in fear, I run to Him in expectation.
“He gave His only begotten Son.” Love gives! It is not a trivial gift. It is not an expensive gift that would be trivial compared to His universal riches. It is His only begotten Son. The gift is the one and only expression of mankind who could pay the penalty of sin and did so from the depths of His essence of love and grace. It is as the scriptures put it, an “Unspeakable gift!”
“That whosoever.” What a wonderful word! Whosoever includes me! Whosoever excludes no one. The invitation to goodness, righteousness, life is indeed universal to the offspring of Adam.
“Believeth in Him.” The required prerequisite to everlasting life is to believe in Him. One might quibble about the degree of belief under consideration, but the term “believeth” is present tense, and means to trust for that which is eternal, and over which no mortal has control or authority in himself.
“Should not perish” Here is the opposite outcome for failure to believe in Him. Moreover, it is a divine statement that such belief produces the opposite of whatever ideas may be associated with “perish.” But for God, to perish is absolutely, universally certain!
“But have everlasting life.” Life: goodness in awareness minus any of the evils associated with present earthly life and sin. Life! Everlasting life! It is perfection, immortality, awareness in total righteousness without interruption or end. The very idea is overwhelming, but this is the greatest story ever told, the greatest gift ever given, the greatest hope of any human heart.
If I could have only one verse of scripture in my possession to love, live by, and share with others, it would be John3:16
Tag Archives: life
ONE VERSE PREFERENCE
THE COMPOUNDED EYE
As a small child in the community of Jenny Lind, Arkansas, a particular delight infrequently occurred by having a nickel to spend at one of three local stores. Clark and Bailey General Store sat on the west side of the highway traversing the community, and Presto Skinner’s store, later Griffin’s sat on the east side directly across from Clark’s. South about a block was Marion Matthews’ General Store. They were small buildings as most country stores were in the 1940s, but each of them had a large, glass, candy counter displaying all manner of delectable delights. Spending the nickel was not going to be easy because it demanded a decision to select one above all the others that must be left behind. With nose flattened against glass, the chore began. Imaginary tasting of each potential selection took a while much to the impatience of the proprietor. Finally, a choice was made, a purchase competed, and a happy kid walked out of the store with his sweet prize tickling taste buds on the walk home. What does this have to do with anything? Think with me!
Good decision making requires correct, studied information and good judgment to achieve a single eye. The prophet Elijah saw so many of his countrymen caught in the trap of the compounded eye, I Kings 18. His challenge to them was: “How long halt ye between two opinions?” They could not serve God and Baal. Their eye of life was compounded, and as Jesus taught, they were full of darkness, Matt. 6:22-23. That continues today as the religious offerings have increased exponentially together with a thousand other things vying for time and attention, offering promises that may or may not be true.
Your life is your nickel, and the world is filled with a myriad of offerings, brightly colored and touting themselves to be worthy of your interest and your years. It is the fool who spends it frivolously, but spend it each one will while often the compounded eye remains, or is narrowed in focus wrongly.. So long as one’s eye is compounded, full potential will never be achieved, and those whose eye is single, but focused on the wrong things will suffer eternal loss. Life is your nickel. Be very careful how you spend it: what you focus on as truly important. Narrowing the compounded eye to single vision with eternal hope can only be accomplished as Jesus, His person, words, and works are the focus!
THE CALENDAR ENDS HERE
One of the universal requisites by which life among men is constantly reckoned is the passage of time. Aside from the devices that measure it in seconds, minutes, hours, there is the calendar that measures days, weeks, months, and years. The existence of men, and other life forms, is thus measured in concert with calendar changes. Fortunes are spent in vain attempts to reverse the years, but all that is achieved is a fleeting façade. Then on an uncircled date, the calendar stops, and the measurement of life is chiseled in stone from birth to death. Some of those dates indicate a lengthy life; others extremely short, but for each one, his/her calendar stopped on a specific date.
Preserved history is strewn with instances of calendar stoppage as windows of wisdom for all succeeding generations. The whole world was given 120 years in Noah’s day. The calendar would not yield another day beyond that. Destruction was indelibly marked. The calendar stopped there. The calendar stopped for all the Hebrew men above 20 years of age, as well as their great leader, Moses before they reached the destination and reason for leaving Egypt. They would not enter the Promised Land due to faithless action. Their calendar stopped there.
Forty days were determined on Nineveh, that great city of the Medo-persian Empire, as Jonah faithfully proclaimed. Their calendar would not admit day 41. But the God of the calendar was entreated by them in repentance, and their judgment was averted. Do you understand this?
Luke 12:20 tells us of a rich man who was, in the final analysis, a fool. He worked hard. He laid up much. He pulled down his barns and built bigger ones until at last he concluded that he had enough laid up for many years, so it was time to eat, drink, and be merry. But it was not to be. His calendar stopped on the very night of his retirement, leaving his wealth to others.
The date is not marked in red or circled on the calendar, but the swift, unalterable passage of time is consistently pressing every living thing forward to it. It is the date the calendar stops and time is no more. It is eternity where clocks and calendars are not, and the state of life is forever fixed. Soon, men will say in remembrance of you, his/her calendar stopped here. Are you ready for that? Believe me, Jesus is the only acceptable preparation for the permanent stoppage of your calendar. Repentance from sin, and placing faith in Jesus are the wisest things any person will do in the days of his calendar
“For I am in a stait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better,” Philippians 1:23.
Paul was torn between two desires. Philippians 1:21 tells us what these two desires were. Paul struggled between the desire to live for Christ and to depart to eternity.
In my life I also struggle with the idea of death versus life, but not in the same manner Paul did. My fleshly struggle is the desire to live, to keep on enjoying the earthly things. I often fear death. It is not because I want to stay here for God’s glory, I desire to stay here for my glory! Then, I look into God’s Word and search my heart.
When I understand that this life is not about me, it helps me to put life and death into its proper perspective. I can then see that I am called to live for the glory of God!
I pray that I, like Paul, will be driven to bring God maximum glory with my life on earth. I also anticipate the day that I will finally experience the great things He has laid up for me in eternity!
JUST A THOUGHT
Are you looking forward to the better departure?
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11:25, 26.
There are a lot of things in this world that can make us feel unsure. The feeling of true assurance is something that avoids us all too much. When we are able to fix our hearts on things that we know are sure, it brings security to our lives.
Merriam-Webster defines assurance as “being certain in the mind” and “inspiring confidence.” Nothing can bring more certainty to the mind and inspire more confidence in the heart of a believer than God’s Word. In today’s Scripture, we see a promise that should ease the heart of every believer, a truth that should set our minds at peace. And what is that truth?
Death will never defeat the believer!
That is a powerful truth! Through Jesus Christ, we have total victory over death. Life, the assurance of the resurrection, is a sure reality that we can rest in.
Christ has the authority to make this promise. Why? Because He is life and He is the resurrection. As believers we are “in Christ” (1 Cor. 15:22). By being placed in Him, we are also placed in His resurrection and in His life. That means we have the assurance of these promises, and “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise” (2 Peter 3:9).
JUST A THOUGHT
Will you rest in the assurance of God’s promises?
By – William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
The world prides itself in terms of excellence in science, arts, education, sports, etc. Perhaps the highest accolade bestowed on an individual, organization, or product is the label of “world-class.” That term strongly connotes, excellence, the top rung of the ladder, professionalism, expertise. The person or thing to which it is applied finds ready acceptance among men, and an abundance of favors from the same. Therefore, personal encouragement and educational processes are fashioned to aid and to promote individuals to that level, and most often at great cost. But one may ask, “Is that not what life is all about?” Please think with me about this!
Certainly, it is good to fulfill one’s talents since from the casting down of the order in Eden, it is established that men will eat their bread by the sweat of their brow. The critical error is focusing on that one thing exclusively. The story is told of a young boy impressed with the actions and appearance of an older man. He asked the man, “What do you do?” The man replied, “I am a Christian.” The boy replied, “No, I mean what do you do?” The man replied, “You mean what is my line of work?” “Yes,” the boy answered. “Well,” said the man. “I am a pharmacist part time so I can be a Christian full time.”
Here then is the proper perspective. The first great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength. It is sad, but too many today want to be labeled a Christian in name only in hopes it will increase business at the store…. or… in commissions or whatever the business may be.
The scenario has not changed. Was not our Lord tested of the devil immediately following His baptism? If Jesus came to win the kingdoms of this world through righteousness, He would not have to suffer and die. The devil had those things and freely offered them all to the Son of God if He would but worship him. Have you ever wondered how many modern day “Christians” would make the same choice that Jesus did?
The last chapter of human history is revealed in prophecy. The world and all that is in it will pass away, but the Word of God abides forever, and so do those who love the Lord, and seek His holy will for their life. Here then is peace profound that the world does not, and cannot know because of the blindness of sin. Here is the great blessing of God that allows His people to outlive the world, and to survive the world in the heavenly environment of life where time is not known.
cheseḏ [and] chānan
While not interchangeable, cheseḏ (mercy) and chānan (grace) are closely related. While mercy is the withholding of what is deserved (e.g., death and hell), grace is the bestowing of what is not deserved (e.g., life and heaven). 2 Samuel 9 gives one of the most graphic pictures in all the Bible of both mercy and grace, with ten startling parallels to the Savior and sinner:
First, Mephibosheth, the son of King David’s friend Jonathan, was crippled by a fall (2Sa_4:4), just as each of us was crippled by Adam’s fall, even rendered “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph_2:1-3).
Second, as David wanted to show Mephibosheth “kindness [cheseḏ] for Jonathan’s sake” (2Sa_9:1), God has shown us mercy and grace for the sake of the Lord Jesus (Eph_4:32).
Third, that kindness was neither deserved nor earned by Mephibosheth, who could do little for himself, much less do anything for the king of Judah and Israel. We in turn deserved nothing but death, and there are not enough works in the universe to save a single soul (Eph_2:8-9; Tit_3:5).
Fourth, Mephibosheth was sought by the king (Tit_3:1; Tit_3:5), again picturing unmerited favor. Likewise, not a single person has ever “[sought] after God” by his own power (Rom_3:11). “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” Jesus declared (Joh_15:16). A dead man can do nothing, so “no man can come to [Christ], except the Father which hath sent [Him] draw him” (Joh_6:44; cf. Joh_6:65; Act_16:13-14).
Fifth, David ordered and empowered servants to fetch Mephibosheth (Act_16:5), a graphic picture of evangelism. God has likewise called and empowered each of us as witnesses (Act_1:8; Mat_28:19-20).
Sixth, a result of all this was that Mephibosheth reverenced the king (2Sa_9:6), a challenge to us to worship Jesus.
Seventh, he became a servant of the king (2Sa_9:6), as are we of Christ (e.g., Rom_6:16).
Eighth, he was given riches and security (Rom_6:7), just as we have spiritual riches (Ephesians 1) and security in Christ (Joh_10:28-29; Rom_8:29-39).
Ninth, he was made a king’s son (Rom_8:11), as we are God’s children (Joh_1:12-13). And tenth, his physical condition was hidden from view when he sat at the king’s table (Joh_1:13). We, too, have been sanctified by Christ (Heb_9:12-15) and “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph_2:6).
Scriptures for Study: If you haven’t already done so, read this wonderful account and rejoice in God’s mercy and grace.
1 John 2:15-17
“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever,” 1 John 2:17.
The United States Declaration of Independence states that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are our God-given, “Unalienable Rights.” I am thankful for the freedom we have in this country and for the men and women who have fought to protect them. I also really have no problem with the pursuit of happiness; I think everyone is on that journey. The question we need to answer is, What provides the most happiness? The answer to that question is found in God; that is, the utmost enjoyment to be had in life is found in the presence and pursuit of God. Unfortunately, many people are trying to satisfy their hunger for God with worldly pursuits.
In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis put it like this, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The world, along with its desires, is fleeting. The way to overcome the temptations of the world is to find ultimate satisfaction and pleasure in the person and will of God. Do not be satisfied with merely worldly pursuits and pleasures. The pleasures of God are eternal.
JUST A THOUGHT
Will you find ultimate satisfaction in God today?
In stark contrast to Cain, whom we studied yesterday, there was his brother Abel, whose name also tells us much. The Hebrew is Heḇel (H1893), which is identical to heḇel (H1892; ) and has an interesting etymology. It literally means “wind, breath, or vapor,” while another form speaks of vanity or emptiness, as is true thirty-eight times in Ecclesiastes alone (e.g., “vanity of vanities; all is vanity,”), showing the total emptiness and utter futility of life without God (Rom_8:20-22).
While this word at first seems odd when applied to Abel, it in reality is quite appropriate. Why that name? One commentator offers this reason: “By the time of Abel’s birth, Eve had become thoroughly impressed with the impact of God’s curse on the world. God had indeed made the creation ‘subject to vanity.’” Abel’s existence itself was a vapor, that is, short-lived in comparison with the life spans of the day. Adam, for example, lived 930 years (Gen_5:5). By the evil of his own brother, however, Abel’s life was cut short. As vapor is present one moment and gone the next, so it was with Abel.
The application of this word to each of us is challenging. James writes on this very subject: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (Jas_4:13-16). Compared with the long life spans of people in Genesis, each of us is on this earth for a very short time. In light of eternity, it truly is only a vapor. How, then, should we live? Should we live a life of arrogance and self-determination? Or should our life be one that seeks God at every turn, whether it be in business decisions, personal living, or family life? To believe truly in the sovereignty of God is to believe He is in control of all things and that we are to bring ourselves into conformity to His will.
Scriptures for Study: Read what Job writes about the fleeting nature of life (Job_7:6-7; Job_9:25-26; Job_14:1-2). What wonderful encouragement do Peter and John give us (1Pe_1:24-25; 1Jn_2:17)?