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Friday, July 24, 2009
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For the last couple of days we've been visiting Marilyn, a friend of ours here in the DC area. She has a book on a coffee table by one of our favorite writers, Max Lucado. The book has an interesting title as seen in today's message title, simply "3:16".
The Bible is a wonderful book, the divinely inspired Word of God. A testament to its value is a method of referencing. We may take for granted the chapter and verse system that makes it so helpful in finding passages quickly.
To a newer follower of Christ or a non-follower such a title may seem unusual or even cryptic. Many of us have seen the witness attempt at major sporting events using this reference along with the book.
For those of us who deeply cherish the Bible this simple combination of numbers and punctuation stirs our hearts. Even without the book title and words to the verse many of us realize it’s speaking of the most famous 3:16 in the Bible, although there are plenty of other 3:16s! When it is quoted in a worship service most in the congregation will either lip or speak the words voluntarily since it rolls right off their lips from deep in the heart.
Well by now you either know the verse we are writing about or you don't have a clue! John 3:16 is a foundational assertion of God's love. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
"3:16". How often has this verse been proclaimed! It is the gospel in a nutshell! This verse conveys God's immense love for His creation and the incredible sacrifice He would make on behalf of the fallen race so that we do not have to perish due to our sins, but instead we can experience eternal life if we choose to believe in Jesus. It's probably the most memorized Scripture verse in all of God's Word since it is the essence of salvation and is often taught in our early Sunday School years. We do well to not only memorize 3:16 but also V. 17 as well, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
An old hymn has a marvelous stanza that always blesses me:
"That God should love a sinner such as I,
Should yearn to change my sorrow into bliss.
Nor rest till He had planned to bring me nigh
How wonderful is love like this!"
It's great to love and to be loved isn't it? Some have described God's love as a relentless love since God speaks to us again and again compelling us to receive Jesus as our Savior. Some of us have a loving supportive family and homes filled with love. What a blessing. We may also have many friends, an extended family and a church characterized by AGAPE love.
John 3:16 begins with the glorious phrase, "God so loved the world". Amen, He sure does and He specifically loves you and me this day and every day. Some of you have not experienced a loving earthly family as I have. Undoubtedly some have had a very difficult time in life and still do. There are those reading this who've been abused and carry deep scars. The sacred trust between an earthly spouse, parent or sibling was violated.
Those who bear deep scars especially take note. You are now learning to trust your heavenly Father who is altogether trustworthy. His steadfast love never ceases. I know many of you have long ago memorized the daily verse. Hide it deep in your heart. I find it helpful to personalize it. For God loved me so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that when I believe in Him I will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Indeed…. such love, such wondrous love!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, Your love is somewhat relentless but never forceful since You give to all a free will. You come to us again and again through the working of the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sins. But that's only the beginning, for once we respond there is the reassuring work of the Spirit that reminds us that we are no longer condemned but saved through the sacrificial death of Jesus who died in our place. We appropriate Christ's redemptive work on our behalf and receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven. Thank You for Your marvelous provision and wondrous love on our behalf. Amen.
A Scripture Reference Quiz
Today's message prompts a quiz regarding other references of well-known Scripture verses that many of you may be able to identify simply by the numeric reference even without the book title:
Just as 3:16 brings to mind John 3:16 what well-known verses do the following numeric references go with?
Today's message recalled an experience many years ago:
I saw a young man with a T-shirt emblazoned with "3:16" and was drawn to read it a bit more closely. I wondered if perhaps it was a new type of Christian witness-wear. However the rest of the T-shirt message gave no indication of faith and in fact had some rather wicked looking art.
It turns out it was the slogan for a very popular professional wrestler with the nickname "stone-cold". Indeed he makes no pretense to being a believer, but for some reason "3:16" was his slogan.
Of all the possible numeric sequences to select as a slogan why would a pagan wrestler choose "3:16"? You know, I think he knows. Somebody may either correct me or verify this assumption but I just suspect that this is another "in your face" scorning of the Christian faith.
A Special Week
Marilyn & Brooksyne
This Scripture plaque hangs above the piano in Marilyn's home. Our family has sure enjoyed our visit the last couple of days here in her home in the DC area. She has a wonderful testimony which she describes as a Damascus Road experience and her vibrant faith in the Lord is very evident. She first came across our ministry about ten years ago when a friend forwarded a message to her. It was also a blessing to visit her son and his family on Wednesday who now also follow this ministry.
Our dinner setting
For the first time in our lives we had lamb chops that Marilyn prepared. They were tasty and tender along with the fresh produce we enjoyed last night!
Deer outside the kitchen window. We found the deer interesting but for local residents they are a nuisance eating plants and beautiful flowers on a daily basis.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"Come Ye Sinners Poor And Needy" Video Todd Agnew Video Original tune. Brooksyne led in this hymn last Sunday at church. Its minor melody along with stirring words has stayed with us throughout this week.
"John 3:16,17" Audio From the Integrity Scripture Memory Series. (after opening the page click on "play")
"The Love Of God" Video MercyMe
"Your Love (Psalm 139)" Video Oslo Gospel Choir
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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