The greatest gift of encouragement I can give is to introduce you to Jesus. I’ve known him almost 52 years now, and my understanding of him has grown with time. When I was young, I saw God as a stern Father, waiting to pounce on me when I failed. I no longer see him that way. As a matter of fact, when I look at God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, I see only the greatest love.
- God showed such immense love, that when Jesus came to earth to dwell with us, his first public words as an adult told of his heart to set all aright. (Luke 4:14-18 NLT)
- Jesus chose to allow himself to endure every heartache and difficulty we endure. In doing so, he loved God and us perfectly. He was tempted in every way we are, yet never once fell prey to selfish motives or evil’s intentions. (Isaiah 53:1-3, Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT)
- Jesus came to make a way for us to return to God, no matter what drew us away from God. (Romans 5:6-9 NLT)
- Jesus dwelt among us knowing ahead of time that his ultimate purpose was to be
- turned on by a friend,
- turned over to blood thirsty religious leaders who reviled and beat him senselessly, and
- turned away from those he came to save, to face a cruel Roman crosspiece
- So that through his death and resurrection three days later, any who come to him will find rest in restored relationship with Almighty God. (Matthew 26-28 – the story NLT, Luke 19:10 NLT)
- When Jesus returned to heaven, he promised he would one day return to take us to be with him forever, to a place where sorrow, pain, and suffering can’t touch us any longer. (Acts 1:11 NLT, John 14:2-3 NLT, Revelation 21:4 NLT)
- After Jesus returned to heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to live inside us, to empower, teach, guide into all truth, convict of sin, comfort, heal, and restore. (John 14:15-18 NLT, John 14:26 NLT, John 16:6-8 NLT)
- God did all this so he can give us a new life and orchestrate an amazing plan for our lives, in spite of life’s messes! (Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT)
- We must all come to the place where we realize that our way doesn’t work – that we’ve messed it all up on our own, and need a Savior. (Isaiah 53:1-6 NLT)
It isn’t about religion, it is all about relationship – us with the God of the universe, through his Son Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Plain and simple.
How would our lives change, even in the struggles, if we began to live this way?
This relationship has been the most influential relationship of my life.