Deeper Than the Deepest Ocean

3d06055663be44f3828b322f75a3e139Someone once wrote, “God’s love for us is like the ocean, we can see only the surface, but we cannot perceive it’s great depth.” 

“Love”…. is a word carelessly tossed about today in many movies, books, and the internet. Sadly, it’s real identity continues to be obscured. In many ways, it’s been trashed by so many attempts to use it describe just about anything a company can possibly market. However, in Christ,  we see God radically redefining love to be “cross-shaped” rather than our cultural “heart-shaped” images.

To be sure, we learn that it is only in Christ where “love” losses it’s confusing cultural baggage but gains a cosmic, pristine beauty which takes everything we think we know about love to new, dizzying, heights of heavenly glory reserved only for those who deeply long to experience love “on a whole, new level.” Growing in Christ means growing in the love of God. (I Corinthians 13), the famous love chapter, strips the common misnomers away from our minds the more we seek after God and reorient our lives to His will, as followers of Christ today.

How wonderful is this love that brings healing instead of the typical hurt from shattered relationships that leave us broken! From the hopelessly saccharin overtones of the secular world’s attempt to personify love, God turns all that on it’s head, and shows us that it isn’t saccharin, but sacrifice that underlines the greatest love a human being can ever know.  As God opens our eyes to His holy love, the way we see everything and everybody in our world suddenly deepens, enriches and adds a dimension of color we never knew existed before. We become warmly “embraced” by His magnificent love which transcends all rational explanation, confounding the critics, but cherished as a priceless treasure to those fortunate, blessed ones who simply cannot dispute it’s reality because they experience it everyday.

Yet, a supernatural miracle begins to take place, once God brings us to the cross of Christ; His love “informs” our very being and we slowly begin to see our love for Him and others “transformed” by His indwelling Holy Spirit. Interestingly, as we continue to seek God, through His Word and resolve to do His will in our lives, we become increasingly “conformed” God’s cross-shaped sacrificial, unconditional love. It is there that the unbelieving cynical, postmodern world, which seeks to dismiss God as incredibly irrelevant, begins to sit up and take notice at God’s kindness, mercy and compassion flowing out of us to others for no other reason except God’s own glory. Clueless and confused as most are, it never ceases to grab their attention if for no other reason than it’s highly observable contrast to everything else which seeks to call itself “love.”

Is there anything more needed in a world today with a bone-chilling lack of respect for others? In a world where people are pre-judged by Twitter tweets and social media, often cruelly, could anything be more important than the understanding and spread of real love for others? In a world more concerned with dramatic showboating of one’s cause, whether it be feminism, racism or political ploys, than with demonstrating a selfless concern for others who differ in their views, will we ever know what love is, much less be able to experience it?

Good questions for a world and a nation, like America, at this hour in history when violence, mass-shootings and continued sexual allegations dominate our headlines. I believe that we have proven to ourselves there is no hope for hope outside of the God of all hope; the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to clearly show us how our Creator God defines the one thing we humans think we have already; real love.  Probably, the most visible picture of selfless love is seen in the undying devotion of a loving mother towards her child. Yet, as beautiful as that is, it desperately fails to encompass the absolute perfection and depth of God’s eternal love for us seen in and through the giving of the life of His only Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But, where can we start? At His cross. When we realize we have caused God more trouble and heartache than others have toward us, forgiveness, patience and peace will fill us with the same mercy God has shown toward us. It is only when we see “our sin” on “His Son” that Christianity unveils it’s true identity; not as a religion, but a personal relationship with Jesus. This is what we need to grasp. This is who He wants us to become. This is Who He is; love, unconditional, unearned, undeserved and unusual in a world that feels it can do without it. This love heals our deepest hurts and saves us from ourselves. Best of all, He is extending that same love to you, right now, who have never known it or wish to know it for yourselves deeper than ever before.

Dive into His ocean of love today! But, don’t ever expect to find bottom. His love is eternally bottomless and immediately available. The Water is perfect. 

“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (I John 4:10)

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Turn Your Worries Into Prayers

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When you wake up in the morning and don’t know what to pray for, here’s an idea; turn your worry list into your prayer list.

What is bugging you now? What concerns are on your mind? A relationship? Your job? Finances? Your health? A problem you’re having at home? A needed exercise program? Hoping to get married one day? A personal, spiritual struggle? Your children? Grandchildren? Your husband? The future? The salvation of someone you love? All of us deal with anxious thoughts daily. However, there’s a better way.

God tells us in His Word, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness and peace, everything coming together for your good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7, The Message).

Shape your worries into prayers! Whatever is troubling you, be it a minor irritation to a major fear, talk to God about it. He cares, He’s interested in hearing from you and He wants to help you. No have nothing to lose except your anxiety and everything to gain including God’s deep sense of peace. Because we will either worry about it or pray about it. If we pray about it, we won’t worry about it. So, we have a choice; pray or worry. 

When we are praying about our concerns, we leave them at the feet of Jesus. We can trust He will work everything out. He is our Burden-Bearer and His shoulders can bear what ours cannot. Every time the anxiety and worry returns, we just lift them up, with praise, to our God and He fills our hearts with the inner security and peace we crave.

Jesus did not just come to save our eternal souls. He came to give us “life and that more abundantly.” Allow the Lord Jesus Christ to help you with your daily schedule, goals and dreams. He knows the good plans He has for us. We cannot go wrong when we are seeking the right way in Him.  

Funny, But True.

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One Sunday morning, a Pastor was preaching on the fact that when we start living for Christ, our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit and belong to God, not ourselves” in (I Corinthians 6:19). So he decided to get creative and use a visual demonstration to add emphasis to his Sunday sermon using “earthworms” to represent living things, like our bodies, that sin can harm.

Four worms were placed into four separate jars.

The first worm was put into a container of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.

The third worm was put into a container of Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:

The first worm in alcohol . . .Dead

The second worm in cigarette smoke . . .Dead .

Third worm in chocolate syrup. . . Dead.

Fourth worm in good clean soil

. . .Alive and Doing Fine!

So the preacher asked the congregation, “What did you learn from this demonstration?”

Suddenly…..Maxine, a sweet little elderly woman, was sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said . . .I know Preacher! As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate….you won’t have worms!

Millions of sincere Americans have made positive New Year resolutions to lose weight, cut back on this or that. According to the latest studies, however, after a couple of months, most people fall back on their regular routines and their resolutions end.

“May I suggest a better idea?”

Begin to view your body as the “living temple of God’s Holy Spirit.” Start to visualize taking the best, most healthy care of God’s Temple, for more than just a New Year’s resolution or vanity, but because God has given you a great gift and He trusts you to respect your body and give Him the most glory by honoring Him with it.  His Holy Spirit has literally taken up residence in your body, as a follower of Jesus, just as He promised.

Understand, the Son of God came to us in a human body. Our bodies are sacred, they are not evil. They deserve to be treated with holy respect. Christianity is not just a faith of the soul, but faith of the body. We come to Christ with our minds, hearts…..and bodies. This is how we honor God. Our bodies witness the truth of Christ to an unbelieving world all around us.

The writer Elizabeth Elliot said, “We cannot come to God with our minds and keep our bodies to ourselves.

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Predictions or Prayer for 2018?

vision-prophecy-crystal-ballEvery year there are scientists, business moguls, psychics, soothsayers, fortune-tellers and even some preachers who attempt to foretell what we can expect in the coming year. And, in that regard, 2018 is no exception.

Some leading scientists, for example, are saying that in 2018 they will begin testing reverse aging techniques on humans after having success with mice. Others contend that within the next year aquaculture will provide the majority of the world’s seafood. It is also predicted that the James Webb Space Telescope will be launched into orbit to discover liquid water on other planets.

Business tycoons say that in the future businesses like Amazon and Alibaba won’t replace shopping malls, but will merge with them creating “smart stores” that will have supercomputers that know everything about their customers and sales representatives better trained and educated than those found in today’s retail environments. The future technology will make shopping at physical stores feel as seamless as shopping online.

Psychic medium Kelle Sutliff predicts that a major news outlet will be hit with a huge defamation lawsuit that will almost ruin its network and this suit will shape up all news media. Sutliff also predicts that President Trump’s tweets will calm down and he will continually be investigated until year 3 when his detractors give up trying to incriminate him, because of their failed attempts in the past. She also declares that more cover-ups will be found on the Clintons in 2018.

In sports, Darron J. Phillips of the New York Daily News has stated that “Oklahoma will defeat Georgia in the semi-final round of the NCAA Football National Championship game and that they will also beat Alabama in the final game.”  And, Baker Mayfield will “plant the OU flag in the middle of the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.” As a big fan of Alabama, I will have to say I disagree on his prediction. Roll Tide!

Phillips further predicts the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl, Duke will win the NCAA Basketball Final Four Championship and the New York Yankees will win the World Series.

Jamie Greenbean, pastor of a Baptist Church in Central Texas, makes predictions every year and has announced his belief that two or three mega-churches will close their doors in 2018, beginning the coming wave of emphasis upon small, neighborhood, community churches.

I have no particular insight or overwhelming inclination toward prophesying what may happen in 2018. And I need no other reason than the one given in (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) where it is decreed that if a prophet fails in his prophecy, he must be put to death. (Seriously, it really says that!) I have a funny feeling, if that was enforced, there might be a few less “prophetic predictions.” But, that’s only a prediction (smiles).

Recently, I have been asked about the most important thing I am praying for in 2018. If you would like to know, here it is; that God’s people will feel the burden for our critical need to unite in prayer for America and our churches. 

Church leaders from across the United States tell us that many church members have become lukewarm and are not that concerned about our predicament now. Studies reveal that the majority of church members are attending Bible study opportunities and worship services less frequently. Evangelism has been put on the back burner. Membership in most mainline denominations is terribly hemorrhaging at an alarming degree. The standards for church membership have been lowered to make church more seeker-friendly. Compromise has replaced commitment in many cases. The church is seriously losing its influence in the community. Media talk show hosts constantly crack jokes about the lack of difference in the lifestyle of Christians versus non-Christians today, even to the point of embarrassment. America desperately needs now a historic spiritual awakening and our churches need a God-sent renewal, an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.

Predictions are a calculated risk at best; but prayers link you with an omnipotent God with whom nothing is impossible. In studying great moves of God and spiritual awakenings in history, I can attest that the power behind them all rested with God’s people crying out to Him in prayer, “If My people who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:17).

Will you join the hundreds of thousands of concerned believers, like me, who are standing together, uniting our prayers for a spiritual awakening of epic proportions for America? God has clearly promised that IF we will meet His demands, then He WILL HEAL our land. It’s that simple. This promise from the Old Testament is just as relevant today as it was back then. God has not changed. Jesus Christ “is the same yesterday, today and forever.” It’s going to take us getting on our knees in humility and interceding for this land. A simple, “Thank You Lord for this food we ask You to bless” is not going to cut it.  God wants to know how serious we are about seeing Him move in our generation. I think it’s time to show Him we mean business, Amen? 

That is why you and I must “have a burden” (or deep concern) for God to move in order for us to pray. If you don’t have that, I ask you to ask God to help you have that concern because whenever God’s people urgently, desperately need God to act—you don’t have to beg them to pray. Think about the times in your life you cried out to God (impending death of a loved one, a child, a friend in trouble, financial need, etc). God is seeking His people to have the same deep concern for this country as we do our own crisis that we face.

I am confident you and I do share this same concern over what is happening right in front of our eyes. We don’t have to “take this lying down” as they say, nor will we either. It’s time, now in 2018, for God’s people to rise up and do battle with the spiritual enemies of our land that are relentlessly attacking our government, our churches, our schools, our families and our hopes for the future. We do this spiritual battle on our knees my friends (Ephesians 6).

Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet of Judah, was in a similar situation. Judah had drifted away from the holy God of their fathers. He realized the people, in their affluence, pride, sin and self-interest, had turned away from God. He sensed God was ready to discipline His people, but rather than ask for escape from correction, Habakkuk accepted God’s will that Judah needed to learn a lesson about respecting God, as they once did. Yet, through it all, he pleaded for God to help their nation as He did in the past.

“I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by Your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as You did in years gone by. And in Your anger, remember Your mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

May I challenge you to ask God to discern the areas of spiritual need He desires you to be open to change in your own life, first? If our prayers are to be the most effective and powerful, we must first be willing to change what needs to be changed in our lives. Our Heavenly Father deeply loves us and is grieved when we gloss over our own sins thinking everyone else needs God more than we do. The Psalmist David knew this fact first hand when he wrote;

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of Everlasting Life” (Psalm 139:23-24).

For 2018: Predictions or Prayer—-I choose prayer and I sincerely hope you will too!

Happy New Year Friends!

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Wishing all my reader friends, both new and those I have known some time, a blessed and most prosperous 2018 New Year! Thank you for partnering with me as I obey God’s call on my life to teach God’s people the riches of His Word as we together grow deeper in our personal relationship to our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are here to serve one another in the love of Christ and I am committed to helping you move forward with God’s plan for your life in 2018.  Please stay tuned for new developments to unfold throughout this new year.

Prayerfully yours,
David Crews