Never Separated!

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38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Belonging to Jesus means nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God. In Christ you are firmly in the grip of His love. And that is a reality yours by grace to never be changed by death, authorities, powers, fears for today or worries about the future. You are loved!

What if you lose your job?

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29And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Luke 12:29-34

Yesterday I phoned up a friend who lives in Alberta. Eight years ago he moved from Vancouver and our church where we had shared the beginning years of his family’s discipleship journey with Jesus. His job was secure, but with the downturn in the price of oil, he like many others has lost his job.

What do you do if you lose your job?

Well no doubt its been hard. The internal struggles where apparent in his voice. But what he said next stuck joy in my heart.

He is pursuing Jesus.

He is studying God’s Word. He is taking Biblical studies classes.

He is assisting weekly with an outreach to students on a university campus.

And of course he is looking for work, not with panic, but with an ear on the heart of our Heavenly Father.

He showed me the delight of having Jesus as our treasure! In Jesus all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden (Colossians 2:3). Nothing can compare to the incredible worth of knowing Him. Jesus calls us out:

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.  (Matthew 13:44-45)

Not Your Own Doing

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8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8

As I ride the bus and listen in to the few conversations among the people-with-no-ear-buds I hear a common theme of achievement: What have you done lately? What have you accomplished? And even, What are you going to do?

Now with the best of them, I love progress, growth, and change. Following Jesus is not the death of ambition. However, the foundation of our relationship with God must not be based on what we have done.

Knowing we are loved and accepted by God comes by grace, it is a gift of God. There is nothing you can do to get God to like you more. Jesus has done it all. Its not your own doing that got you into God’s good graces.

You don’t have to do anything to get God on your side. Rather by faith in Jesus we enter into the sufficiency of His life, death, and resurrection. We can sit secure with Him, because of His work. This can by the end of comparison, boasting, and using people or our achievements in order to be somebody. In Christ Jesus we are deeply loved.

What starts now.

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27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”  John 10:27-30

Jesus is talking His relationship with the people who become His disciples.

They know Him. Now.

He is speaking with them. Now.

They are following Him. Now.

They have life. Now.

They have a victory over death. Now.

They are securely in His grip. Now.

They are the gift of the Heavenly Father to Jesus. Now.

They are simultaneously in the Father’s hand. Now.

I’m so glad for the grace to be living what starts now.

 

You, Success, & Exams

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

~ John Wooden, English teacher and basketball coach.  Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success  

John Wooden moved success from the realm of comparison with others to a kind of self-awareness or knowledge regarding the effort you have exerted.  Through the application of his view, Wooden became one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history.  He coached teams to ten national basketball championships.

Grades are a product of comparison.  While they are important for some moments and opportunities in life, they have a short shelf life.  Your character will last much longer and will go with you far beyond your university years.  Pursuing your studies for the grade is short-sighted.  Jesus Christ called for a longer view of life when He said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?”  (Matthew 16:26 NLT)

You have to be secure.

John Wooden’s definition of success and Jesus’ long-view of life requires an incredible sense of security.  Security is a product of assurance in relationships.  As Wooden grew as a coach, he sought to give a sense of security to his teams by assuring them that he wasn’t looking for wins; he really was looking for them to give their best effort on and off the court.

Assurance of God’s love for you can become a constant in your life.  At Origin, Born for More, we believe Jesus came to show God’s love for us as a reality that we can daily experience.  His love, demonstrated through the Gospel of Jesus, creates lasting security.  In His love, we don’t need to compare ourselves to another.

Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”  Jesus lived the life of “the beloved” and now invites us to live the same by receiving His love poured out for us through His death on the Cross.  God’s love becomes a constant that makes comparison less powerful and ruling.  Responding to His grace and love doesn’t destroy ambition as some might accuse.  Rather, by trusting in God’s love for you through Jesus, you will possess a security that empowers you to keep growing, keep learning, and actually risk becoming the person God created you to be, no matter “the grade.”

You were made to be loved.

We do hope you succeed on your exams.  But more than that, we hope you will experience God’s love in Christ Jesus as the constant that gives security and shapes your life.

(I wrote this article for our exam care packages that we are delivering this week at UBC.)