Ryan leaned against the tree and stared at the dying embers inside the ring of rocks. “Don’t stay up too late,” Dad had said as he crawled into the tent to join Mom and Emily. Ryan shook his head. Any other night, he’d be in bed by now, but tonight was different. Mom and Dad knew he wanted a little time alone with his thoughts.
Ryan sat down on a log as he thought about his dog. King had been a wiggly little ball of black and white fur when Ryan got him for his tenth birthday. Since then, King had grown into a big dog and a faithful friend. Today King had shown his friendship in a dramatic way.
Shortly before supper, Ryan went to gather wood for the campfire, and King went with him. As Ryan stooped to pick up a large limb, he immediately heard the furious sound of a rattlesnake who had been disturbed. When he turned, he saw that the snake was ready to strike. Suddenly a black and white blur passed between him and the snake. It was King. The rattler struck King in the face, but the dog fought bravely, biting and shaking the snake until it was dead. Then King collapsed, too.
Ryan’s heart ached over the memory of running back to camp carrying his unconscious pet-hoping someone could help. But there wasn’t anything anyone could do. King had given his life to save Ryan.
A tear ran down Ryan’s cheek. He longed to hold King, ruffle his fur, and thank him for saving his life. A Bible verse popped into his mind-“He laid down His life for us.” That verse is talking about Jesus, thought Ryan. King gave his life to save me, and Jesus did, too. Ryan sighed. I can’t do anything for King now. Like Dad said, I can just remember the good times we had together. But there is something I can do to thank Jesus for dying in my place. I can live for Him each day and show His love to my friends and everyone I know.
Ryan stood up and covered the cooling embers of the fire with dirt. Then he crawled into the tent and into his sleeping bag. He thanked God for King and also for the salvation Jesus provided. He asked God to help him not miss his pet too much and to be a faithful witness for Jesus. Then he fell asleep.
Romans 5:6-11 is a description of God’s love for us, and it was expanded on in John 3:16. God loves us just as much on our bad days as He does on our good days. On our worst days, when we commit the worst sins possible, when we turn our backs on God-those are the days God loves us the most.
God not only loves us now, but He loved us before we acknowledged Him. He won’t force us to accept His love, but He empowers us through the Holy Spirit to receive it and rejoice in it. God’s call to us is always present. It is often buried under personal ambitions, cares, problems, daily routines and the busyness of life, but it is always there. When we are tempted to question whether or not God cares, we are reminded of the word of Romans 5:8: “God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If we let God into our hearts and lives, He will fix the messes in our lives. We are sinners who can’t do anything ourselves to change ourselves. We can’t do anything ourselves to change our destiny in hell. The only way we can change this is to accept Jesus as our Saviour.
When we tell other people about what God has done for us, we are sharing our testimony. A testimony is when we share our story of how we came to faith. Each and every one of us has a testimony. Our testimony is not about what we gave up for Jesus. It’s about what Jesus gave up for us. Don’t share what you have done for Jesus. Share what Jesus has done for you. Jesus is the one who did the work. It is Jesus whom we are proclaiming.
We have to step out of our comfort zones and tell people about Jesus. We have to get Bibles in the hands of those who don’t have them or who have never even seen one. We have to show the love of Jesus by bringing the Good News to those who have lose hope, to those who are living in the mess that has been made of this world. What messes have you made? God is in the business of fixing messes. AS I mentioned earlier, He will fix the messes in your lives if you’ll let Him.
Some of you might be going through some major changes in your lives right now. Perhaps some of you are even experiencing deep suffering from the loss of a loved one or some other circumstance. It’s vital for us to remember that God loves us! His love isn’t based on how good we are. Jesus paid the price for our sins. For example, someone once wrote to Billy Graham. His parents were elderly and suffering, but every day they rejoiced that God was with them and they prayed for people who didn’t know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. The person wondered why God didn’t relieve their suffering.
In his reply, Billy Graham wrote the following words:
“God is always with His people through thick and through thin. He is with us when we are well, and God is with us when we are sick. He is with us in pleasure and in pain. He is with us now, and will be with us to the end. Some of our troubles are but for a short time, while others are for a longer time. It is important to keep our eyes on Christ and it is equally important that we thank God in the good times of blessings and in the times of distress. His strength will uphold those who trust in Him.”
Jesus’ death reconciled us to God, and His resurrection saves us. It gives us everything we need, especially eternal life. The phrase “much more” means “from the heavier to the lighter.” God has done the harder thing in dying for people when they were enemies. Will He not do the easier thing in living for them now that they are His friends?
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, p. 1550)
- “True Sacrifice.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Daniel Darling, “A God for Your Bad Days.” Retrieved from www.danieldarling.com
- Bayless Conley, “Inwardly Compelled.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Receive God’s Love.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Pastor David McGee, “But God.” Retrieved from www.crossthebridge.com
- Anne Graham Lotz, “God Cares.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pastor Ken Klaus, “Jesus Receives Sinners.” Retrieved from www.lhm.org
- Greg Laurie, “The Purpose of a Testimony.” Retrieved from www.harvest.org
- Billy Graham, “Why Doesn’t God Relieve My Suffering Parents’ Misery?” Retrieved from email@example.com