Category: <span>thoughts by Rand Kreycik</span>

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“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

This is a familiar passage for many of us. Depending on your background, it might bring warm memories of childhood Christmas celebrations, or maybe it’s just holiday verbiage that had little meaning for you.

We must not miss the astounding message of this passage, however. In Matthew, it is quoted, giving us more definition: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

God with us.” Let that phrase sink in for a moment. Not “God above us” or “God distant from us” or “God against us.”

What does it mean, that God is with us? He wasn’t content to watch men and women, made in His image, wallowing in sin and darkness. He wasn’t content to leave us to ourselves. He fashioned, before the dawn of time, a daring rescue plan. A plan that would have Him lose His life … only to take it up again … to pay for our sins and to give us eternal life. That is “God with us” and God for us!

Each December, during the deepest darkness of the longest nights, God sends us His message year after year: “I am with you.” He is with us in the Light that has come into the world, His Son, Jesus. His Spirit dwells inside each and every believer.

“Arise, shine, for your Light has come!” (Isaiah 60:1). That is the glory of Christmas. Let us never lose this hope.

Rejoice!

Heavenly Father, even in the darkest times of the year and in our lives, you promise to be with us. That promise is celebrated in the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. Let Him shine brightly in my heart so I can be a beacon for others. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Sanctified, blameless. Those words have always seemed unreachable to me. I believe in and depend on the finished work of Jesus for the salvation of my soul. His grace covers me, of that I’m certain. But blameless?

What if the Apostle Paul looked into my brain and heart and saw all the wicked thoughts that still run through them? Forgiven, thankfully, but sanctified (made holy) and blameless? Can that ever be true of me?

Yes! Strangely, wonderfully, completely… yes.

By my own efforts — impossible. By grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) do I stand before my Heavenly Father, washed in the blood of my Lord Jesus. Walking in his resurrection power, brought from death to life, from darkness to light. That is who I am.

Perfect? Only in Jesus. How I look forward to the day that I’ll cast this flesh aside and walk forward into eternity, completed in Christ. No longer a work in progress. Walking in his healing grace, day by day, I know that it will someday be true! In the meantime, I pray that he will make my whole self — my all — as much like him as possible.

Are there days when you think that you will always fall short of God’s requirements? When it seems impossible to ever be fully his? Along with me, give him your all, each morning, confessing any known sin, and asking him to finish his perfecting work in you. He will always answer that prayer.

It just may take time for all of us to get there. And that’s okay. Never doubt he is still at work.

Lord Jesus, thank you for redeeming one as lost as I. You sought this broken soul and never let me go. Someday you will perfect me. All praise to you, my Savior. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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The Healing

More than a Father

The Powerful Reality by Ruth Calkin


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But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”  1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Our church’s pastors and staff are amazing, gifted people. Our family has been blessed in innumerable ways by their ministry to us. In recent weeks, these gifted shepherds have been frustrated by their lack of ability to care for the flock. The shelter at home and social distancing orders of our local and state governments have kept us from meeting for our customary joyful worship services. Small groups have been disbanded for now also, or they have been moved to online.

In the early days of the stay at home orders, our leadership struggled for ways to continue to serve those they loved. Online, streaming worship services were a rough affair at first as our staff scrambled to get the equipment and make it all work. But they heroically persevered, and in recent weeks, we have all felt much more connected as we’ve been able to watch our worship team, sing familiar praise songs, and be fed from God’s Word.

I’m so grateful to have pastors and staff who give so much daily to care for us. Even when the times are so very strange and challenging, they come through. They are the muscles that keep the Body of Christ connected.

Perhaps your church is trying new ways to keep everyone connected as well. Will you join me in thanking God for the “care-givers” in our churches who continually find ways to reach out to their flock and will not let the Word be silenced?

Lord, I am grateful for our amazing shepherds who have found such unique ways of caring for and feeding your flock. I am so blessed to have these faithful people in my life. Please continue to bless and strengthen your church through this stressful time. Amen.

By Rank Kreycik
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Heart Fully Committed to Him

Unity What would it take to cause Christians to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace?”

Serving the Lord Wholeheartedly

Do What You Can!


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“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  Galatians 5:14

The COVID-19 virus has changed life for many of us. I still go to the store for essentials, and sometimes it’s awkward, as when a lady and I were both eyeing items on the same shelf. I couldn’t get close enough to look at prices, so I kept my distance until she had moved on. I also found myself not pushing my cart down an aisle that already contained another shopper. No way I can keep the six-foot rule! Things are surreal!

Many Christians rightly see this as a unique time to reach out to those around us who may be frightened and confused. But how? How do we “social distance” the Gospel?

Our daughter has a new puppy. I got the early morning shift, and the other day, as I waited on our front step for the puppy to do all her sniffing around and finally do her business, I surveyed our neighborhood. I began to think about the current isolation and wondered how I could love my neighbor as myself. And a simple but powerful thought hit me. Every house I saw had people with problems, anxieties, and needs. I might not be able to touch them right now, but I could touch the Throne of Heaven on their behalf.

How are you loving your neighbor these days? I felt like “I can’t do anything but pray.” But I see now that prayer is the most powerful and effective thing we can do!

Lord Jesus, you know I am not good at loving my neighbor even in the best of times. Thank you for showing me that I can do so powerfully by lifting each one up to your Throne of Grace. May I be faithful in doing this each day. Now, and after this pandemic subsides. Thank you. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

I am kind of freaked out right now. Not supremely, but a bit.

It’s the empty shelves. Having never lived outside the United States and having always had enough … this is weird and a trifle scary for me.

Okay, I’m one of those people who stresses about having enough toilet paper in the house. My family makes fun of me, and it’s been an inside joke for years. And now the shelves are empty. Always! Oh, there are signs on them that say things like, “We are getting new deliveries of paper goods daily.” But usually, between the time of the delivery and when I can make it back to the store, the locusts descend … and the shelves are once again bare.

Apocalypse!

No, it’s not. It’s still a First World Problem. Stop, think about what people used to do. We can still use the Sears catalogue (wait, do they make those anymore?). The point is, we are spoiled. The rest of the world finds a way to survive every day without even one-tenth of the conveniences some of us deem vital.

And what does this say about my faith? What about Philippians 4:6-7, which many of us have memorized? Are these nice, comforting platitudes, or is God’s Word real, active, and sharp? (Hebrews 4:12).  Do I believe it? Will I ever truly be without the things I really need?

This passage makes it clear that our Heavenly Father will always care for us. All we need do is ask. Will we rest and trust in him alone? Good question.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have this! None of these things surprise you, and you promise to care for your beloved ones. May I and all who know you rest in your love today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  2 Timothy 1:7

From a very young age, I’ve always battled fear and anxiety. No doubt there are many reasons for this, but perhaps foremost is because my parents divorced when I was young. I remember feeling alone and vulnerable after my father left. I came to believe that I had to face life on my own, but didn’t have what it takes to do so.

So, for decades, I would avoid challenges and what seemed like threatening situations out of fear that I would not know how to handle them. This avoidance kept me trapped in anxiety for most of my life. Honestly, it is a battle I still face daily. But I have now found an antidote!

Five years ago, after spiralling into depression and sin, I surrendered to God’s grace, love, and salvation. His Holy Spirit came to live in me.

Since that time, 2 Timothy 1:7 has become very precious to me. Now there is hope. Though I still struggle with fear, I am indwelt by God’s own Spirit — a Spirit of power, love, and self-control. I can now face my fears with the sure knowledge that he has provided the resources I need to conquer them.

Are you captive to fear, as I was? Please know that you don’t have to go it alone! God’s Holy Spirit is near, and he will make his home in you. He will set you free. All you need to do is ask!

Holy Spirit, thank you for coming to live in this messy heart and life. Thank you for daily enabling me to face my fears and find victory in the battle. Please draw me closer every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Read: How You can Walk in the Spirit:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/docs/walk_spirit.pdf

By Rand Kreycik
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Many of us were taught the “balance principle” growing up. You know, the belief that if our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds at the end of the day then we will be entitled to get into heaven. I can clearly remember my mother admonishing us to live right so that we could tip the balance in our favor someday.

But when I grew up, I saw a problem. How do I ever know I’ve done enough? When will I have earned the right to waltz through those Heavenly Gates?

Well, of course, never! The Bible makes it clear that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Uh-oh. No balance principle there. How can I, a sinful man, condemned to death, draw near to God? How should I live now?

The only way, the Book of Hebrews teaches, is by entering where our Priest, Jesus Christ, went before us and made a way to break down the wall of sin that separated us from God. The above passage makes it clear. I must have the faith in full assurance that the way has been prepared for me. When I have faith that nothing stands between me and God — not because of my efforts, but because of Jesus’ faithfulness — I can hold fast to hope and not waver in faithful faith because of His faithful promise.

So can you. Don’t assume it will all balance out.

Lord, you looked down through eternity and saw this sinner, who would struggle to be free. And in your love and mercy, you saved me by sacrificing yourself on the cross and becoming my High Priest. Thank you for faithfully making the way so that I could know you by faith and live forever in your presence. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, and would like to know Him in the way the author does,  you can start today. Simply say this prayer and your journey with Christ will begin:

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to trust you from now on. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me be the person You want me to be. Thank you for enabling me to trust you in these uncertain times. Amen.

Another Sample Prayer:

Dear God, today I bring you my life, my hopes, my dreams, my deepest yearnings … You know me intimately. You knew me even before I was formed in the womb. You called me into this world to do good and live the life I was uniquely and specifically created for. I ask for Courage and Wisdom to live this life–the life of my dreams. Show me where to start and help me be open to hearing your Voice today. I ask for a greater consciousness of your Presence, today and every day of my life. Amen.


If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.


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“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 

This passage has always struck me as one of the grandest promises in Scripture. In fact, it is so amazing that I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

You see, I deserve condemnation. In me is nothing that is worth saving. In me is no power to resist sin and conquer death. In me is only brokenness and hopelessness.

But this rich, beautiful passage makes it clear that being set free from sin and death has nothing to do with me. “In Christ,” it says two times in two short verses. Yet those two words, to those who will believe and receive it, hold the key to the most incredible restoration and healing of all.

In Romans chapter 7, Paul writes that the law shows us just how sinful we are. We seem to be without hope. But with the turn of the chapter, he glories in the truth that, in Christ Jesus, a greater law can reign in our hearts — the law of the Spirit Filled Life Though we deserve it, we are no longer condemned. As the old hymn from Elvina M. Hall (1865) states,

“Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain; he washed it white as snow.”

Do you carry a burden of guilt and self-condemnation?

Know from God’s Word that those who are in Christ can lay that burden down and never, ever pick it up again. Walk forth in the freedom Jesus bought for you. Receive his love and then rejoice every day that you are in Christ Jesus!

Lord Jesus, I don’t deserve and never could deserve your love. Yet you loved me enough to ransom me from sin and make me free. Thank you that in you I can never be condemned. Thank you for that amazing promise. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”  Mark 1:18

I’ve often thought of the Gospel of Mark as the “book of immediately.” This is a favorite term of the author when describing the actions of our Lord and those around him. In the first chapter alone, he uses it nine times in describing the launch of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I think his point is that that Jesus was on a mission and did not have time to waste.

Really, he didn’t.

He had about three years to fulfill the work his Father had given him, to choose and disciple a handful of followers who would be his witnesses and establish the Church. To proclaim freedom to the captives and the nearness of God’s darkness-conquering Kingdom. And finally, to pay the price for sin and break its power through his death and resurrection.  Three short years.

I am now sixty, and I’m hoping to retire this year. I’m not driven by a desire to leave my job as much as by a yearning to make the last years of this life count and to invest them as strategically as possible. So, I get the term “immediately.”

All Christ-followers should.

In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus told his disciples,

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.

All farmers know that when the harvest is ripe, time is of the essence. Our time on this stage is short, no matter our ages, and the harvest is ready. It won’t last forever.

Lord, ignite my heart and open my eyes to see the harvest of precious souls that need to be brought in. Use me, use all of us, your people. Wake us while there is still time. Then may we rejoice with full hearts when you return or call us home. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2

Persevering isn’t my strong suit. It seems like, in life’s journey, I am more apt to give up and give in when the going gets tough, believing the obstacles are just too hard to get past.

One of the sharpest tools the enemy of my soul uses at those times is the weapon called “regret.” When I find myself lagging, languishing, or looking back, that sinister voice whispers that I should quit, that I’ll never be strong enough, or that I’ve let those I love down every time. He always uses some truth and mixes it with a large dose of deception.

When I begin to wallow in regret, however, Hebrews 12:1-2 comes to my aid. I’m never isolated, never alone in this race. Not only are all the saints who have gone before cheering me on, but my Founder and Perfecter sits by his Father, watching, encouraging, calling, “Press on and share my joy!” And the voice of the enemy fades in the light of my Lord, my Endurer. Because he finished his race and purpose on earth, I can as well — in and by his power.

The next time you hear that malicious whisper accuse you as your strength is draining, remember all those who have finished the race. Remember and rest in the One who endured it all to set you free. Ask him for the joy that helped him keep going. Resist your enemy and press on in your Lord’s strength and freedom.

Lord Jesus, thank you for never giving up in your pursuit of your people. Thank you that you have never given up on me, even when I want to give up on myself. Thank you for showing me the way to joy. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up […] And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:4, 17

This story of the prophet Jonah and his misadventures has captured the imaginations of generations of children. It was one of the first Bible stories I became familiar with as a youngster.

While being swallowed by a great fish sounds like an amazing and scary adventure — and it undoubtedly was — what strikes me now as I read this powerful story is how unrelentingly God pursued his reluctant prophet. Instead of a lifeboat, God brought a “life fish”!

Notice the verbs “hurled” (the wind) and “appointed” (the fish). These things didn’t just “happen” to Jonah. They were the intentional actions of the pursuing God. The book of Jonah, from beginning to end, reveals the God who loves men and women enough to pursue them until they repent (turn around), surrender, and give their hearts to him.

Who do you relate to in the story of Jonah? The reluctant prophet who runs from God, not fully surrendered? The people of Nineveh who were wandering in darkness? Maybe the unbelieving but good-hearted sailors who did everything they could to keep from throwing Jonah overboard? How about the big, obedient fish that was willing to be used for God’s purpose?

Wherever you find yourself today, you can take comfort from the book of Jonah that the Creator God who commands the wind and the fish will also care for you!

God of the storm, who cares for every human life, teach me to trust you whatever comes. Thank you for pursuing me with your love! Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Psalm 8:3-4

The maiden voyage of our travel trailer looked to be inauspicious, or maybe even disastrous. We had left later than anticipated, not used to getting an RV ready. Now, long after dark, we were pulling uphill in driving rain, buffeted by a strong head wind. Oh, and did I mention that the gas gauge was on empty? We hadn’t yet learned how much fuel our 4Runner would guzzle while towing.

Finally, blessedly, we reached our campground, and after struggling to park in the dark, we grabbed our toothbrushes and headed for the restroom. As we made our way, the clouds began to part and the most amazing night sky I have ever experienced appeared. Maybe it was the dark of the Oregon high desert — or maybe Creator God had put his magnifying glass in the sky — I’ll never know why, but the stars were enormous!

We were lost in darkness but our God showed us his mercy and grace and shone his saving light on us. It was as if our Father was saying, “The journey has been tough, but here’s your reward!”

Have you ever felt puny, lost, and wondered if God could ever find you? Yes, our God is the majestic maker of the Milky Way, but he is also the seeker of our hearts. What an amazing truth! Romans 5:8 tells us: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Thank him and rejoice in his greatness and love today.

*Majestic God, Heavenly Father, I have never deserved and never will deserve your amazing grace and love to me. Help me rest in that love — as high as the heavens and as close as my heart — every day of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips… And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”  Isaiah 6:5-8

Ever feel out of your element? Not long ago, I was asked to work in an area filled with rough and ready guys whose language matched their demeanour. I am usually a “desk jockey,” surrounded by more genteel folk. After a few days in this barrage, I considered telling these men that their language was offensive to me. Instead, not wishing to risk confrontation, I tried to ignore it.

At his commissioning, the prophet Isaiah was certainly feeling out of his element. He recognized what was in his heart, and he knew he was undone in the presence of a Holy God. Yet in a few short moments, the prophet was transformed and could proclaim, Here I am! Send me (Isaiah 6:8).

What made the difference? Atoning grace! It changed a cowering man to one eager to go with God’s message. Out of the prophet’s heart came willing words of obedience. Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 15 that the mouth reveals what is in the heart. When my heart isn’t right, I often express my irritation about other’s words or actions – usually through sarcastic comments. If I had voiced irritation to my coworkers about their speech, it would have shown the pride in my heart. My lips would have been unclean as well!

What if, instead of being offended by the lost ones around us, we said to God, “Here I am! Cleanse my heart and enable me to speak gracious words to them.” Maybe a good question to ask ourselves at such times is, “How is my heart?”

Lord, so often I show little compassion and much irritation toward the people around me. Please cleanse me and tune my heart to yours. May my mouth speak words of grace – from a heart purified by you. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
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How’s the battle,” I asked my wife as she was sewing a hem under time pressure.

Why’s it a battle?” she looked up, quizzically.

Hmm, guess I always think of things as a battle,” I replied. ” But aren’t I supposed to be a warrior?”

Yes, but most of the time you go around all hunched, worrying.”

A Strong and Mighty Worrier, eh,” I joked.

Are you like me? Do you have trouble understanding and applying Paul’s admonition to the Philippians:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

But you see, Lord,” I might counter, “I’m responsible for many things. I’ve got to love my wife, raise my kids, provide for my family.” If I don’t worry about these things, who is going to? Well certainly not God! When will I learn that He’s got this? That I’m called to work hard, yes, but in the end, I’m also called to let go, cast my cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7), and rest.

Peace I leave with you,” Jesus told his disciples, just before he surrendered His life to the cross. “my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Wow, with all these promises and exhortations from Scripture, what’s my problem? Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?

Control, that’s my problem. When it comes down to it, I want to be in charge, and if I’m in charge – frankly – I’ve got a lot to worry about!

Surrender is the key. Surrender to His love, surrender to His grace, surrender to His plan. If He is in charge (and ultimately He is, whether we accept it or not!), then I don’t have to be. As I trust and rest in Him and His good plan for me and for my family, His peace will come. As I speak with my good and loving Father daily, lifting my concerns to Him – His peace will naturally begin to rule my mind and heart.

Now that sounds like a better place!

Lord, please help me trust and rest in you … so I can be the Strong and Mighty Warrior that I long to be … loving and fighting for my King, my wife, my kids, and my neighbor, near and far. Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
Used by Permission

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This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14

 I’ve never had someone risk his life to pull me out of a fire or step in front of a bullet for me. As I think back, though, there have been plenty of people who gave their lives for me in various ways. My mother sacrificed much to raise her children after a painful divorce. Friends all along my life path have spoken hard words that I didn’t want to hear… because I needed to hear them. In recent years, my dear wife, faithful pastor, and several friends have died to self in order to step into my rebellion and speak truth to me because they loved me enough to get in my face.

Yes, if a friend gave his or her physical life for me that would be amazing. But for the Son of God, the Sinless One, to pay my penalty — death, so that I could walk free and experience relationship with God — now that is astounding, unthinkable, truly amazing. Nothing in human language is adequate to express gratitude for such love.

The refrain from the Charles Wesley hymn, “And Can It Be” comes close: “Amazing love! How can it be That Thou, my God, should die for me!”

Do you ever feel like you are not worth saving? Perhaps you have made so many mistakes in your life that it seems there is no way back. God wants you to know that it is never too late to return to Him. Receive His amazing love today!

Lord Jesus, I don’t know why you loved me enough to give your life and sacrifice your relationship with your Father to save me and reconcile me to God. I am so grateful that through your obedience you were not only restored to your Father, but you also rescued me. With the hymn writer, I proclaim your amazing love today! Amen.

By Rand Kreycik
Used by Permission

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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Rand Kreycik