Wednesday, February 3, 2021

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. —1 John 5:20

I’m so thankful that the New Testament contains letters from the early church. Realistically, the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) would have been enough. Actually, based on how well the Christian movement grew in the time right after the resurrection we know that even one gospel would have been enough! What I appreciate about the letters in the New Testament is that they build on the good news of Jesus by providing encouragement to followers of Jesus as they live out their faith. The early Christian letters regularly encourage followers to persist in their belief and trust in what God has done through Jesus. 1 John 5:20 is the perfect example of this.

John uses the word “true” three different times when talking about Jesus:

The truth of Jesus is that he shows us God’s true character.

The truth of Jesus is that he is the Word made flesh.

That truth of Jesus is that he has defeated sin and death.

John knew Jesus personally. John saw the resurrected Jesus! John wants us to know that anything we believe about Jesus that is contrary to the truth he outlined is a lie that comes from the enemy. To believe the enemy’s lies will not only rob us of eternal life, but of life right here and right now. Satan knows the truth of Jesus and knows how the story ends. John wants to make sure we know it too.

So today, may each of us find encouragement from John, offer encouragement to fellow believers, and trust in the truth of Jesus.

Monday, February 1, 2021

“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” —Genesis 18:14

Sometimes I catch myself saying “can’t” or “couldn’t” or “wasn’t able to” when I really mean “didn’t.” I’ll say that I “wasn’t able to work through my email inbox” when it would be more accurate to say “I did other things instead of working through my email inbox.” Those “other things” may or may not have been more important than the unreplied-to emails, but the point is that it’s not quite right to say that I was incapable of getting to my emails. What I really mean is that I couldn’t get through the emails and do the other things, so I chose to leave emails unread.

The actual can’t/couldn’t/wasn’t able to stuff is in a whole different category. Life has a way, again and again, of reminding us that we have limits. We shortchange rest until we crash and burn. We ignore time with God until we realize we’re running on empty. We overconfidently skip steps until we realize our work is riddled with mistakes. I probably could keep on top of my email inbox, but I genuinely can’t do that and everything else that might be worth doing every single day. Time is limited. Energy is limited. Ability is limited. Of course we can—and should—work to expand our abilities and capacities, but we never stop being limited creatures. We weren’t intended to.

God, of course, doesn’t have the same limits that we have. Still, it’s tempting to think that a problem is too big or too small for God. It’s tempting to think that God might eventually face an obstacle too great to overcome. It’s tempting to think that perhaps we’ve come up against an evil that God can’t defeat.

But it isn’t so. Our faith rests in a God who is always able, who is always free, who is always greater than anything that rises against him or his people. This, of course, does not mean that God will always do the thing we want him to do. But as soon as we imagine that there is something that is too difficult for God, we need to pause and recognize that we’re no longer actually talking about God at all. The true God has met no challenge he cannot overcome.

“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Of course not. And that truth is what allows us to face the future with strength and courage, no matter the obstacles we face.