Here are highlights from my best Bible podcast episodes in 2023
The end of the year is a good time to look back and see where you’ve come from. It’s a time to appreciate and be grateful for all the blessings from the previous 12 months. In these last few days of 2023, I’ve gone back to review some of the podcast episodes that, according to you, my listeners, were the most helpful. This week’s episode shares some of the highlights from these “best” Bible podcast episodes from 2023.
Episode 172: Living in the Holy Spirit
January 24, 2023
Every mention of the Holy Spirit in the Bible has something to do with Christ: the prophecies and fulfillment of Christ’s coming, the manifestation of Christ’s nature in the life of Jesus, and the continuation of Christ’s Cause after Jesus ascended.
The thing that really stands out to me is that the Holy Spirit never really came to someone just to solve individual problems or meet personal needs. It did those things. But it always came in relation to the appearing of Christ, his ministry, and the preaching and acceptance of the gospel.
So don’t try to invoke the Holy Spirit just to solve your personal problems. There’s something bigger going on. And it’s important to realize this.
When you’re praying about something and the Holy Spirit comes to you to teach, guard, guide, or heal you, it’s not just to solve your situation in solitary. This situation becomes a witness to others of the power of God and the saving presence of Christ. These experiences lead you and hopefully the church to glorify, strengthen, and propel forward the Cause of Christ, to redeem the whole world.
The Holy Spirit is preparing you
So, when the Holy Spirit solves and heals your personal problems, it’s actually preparing you to share the Gospel in a way that you haven’t done yet.
How do we live in the Holy Spirit? How do we let this presence influence and guide our daily lives?
Just knowing about the Holy Spirit is not enough. You can read the Bible all day long, study volumes of theological dissertations on the subject, but that doesn’t by any means guarantee you’ll be any closer to actually feeling the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life.
So, how do we live in the Holy Spirit?
Well, first we need to admit the Holy Spirit actually exists and is present in our lives, which is what we’ve just been talking about.
And then it becomes a matter of surrender to God’s will in your life. Every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, Matthew 6:10 KJV
You’re actually repeating Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not my will, but thine, be done.”
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42 KJV
Give up your will
Jesus gave up his own will to obey the Father. Every time we do that, we experience the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.
Every time you forgive someone, every time you love your neighbor as yourself, every time you obey God and surrender your agenda to His, every time you feel inspiration in your prayers or Bible study, the Holy Spirit is with you, whether you realize it or not.
And think of the time when the Christians in Antioch were praying and fasting to know what to do.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2, 3 NIV
Here’s a wonderful example of a whole church living in the Holy Spirit to such a degree that they all heard the message to send Barnabas and Saul on a special mission. This is not a mission that the church members voted on. They did what the Holy Spirit directed them to do.
What would happen if your church lived in the Holy Spirit like this?
Now you may be thinking that sort of thing doesn’t happen today. It does, but it could be happening much more than it is.
Barnabas and Saul, soon to be called Paul, had to give up their own preconceptions and surrender to a willingness to do whatever God wanted them to in order to spread the gospel of Christ to the world. That was their purpose. That was their goal. That was their vision. Usually we’re just trying to solve our own little personal problems. They had to give up any personal sense of power, intelligence and ability, or lack thereof, and rely completely on God.
The question we need to ask ourselves is this, “Am I willing to let go of my agenda, my preconceptions, my opinions about what and how things have to be done, and be completely willing to go where the Holy Spirit guides me? Is my church willing to do this collectively?”
Episode 176: How much do you love the people who will be born 100 years from now?
Jesus said more than once, “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39)
I’m realizing the people who will be born 100 years from now, or anytime in the future, are just as much our neighbors as anyone on earth today. And we can love them that way.
Is there a way I can live my life now to have an impact for good on the lives of those who will be born 100 years from now?
Living into the future
This question, too, made me think in a whole new way about my sense of purpose. Am I living my life just for the present?
Actually, Jesus had a far reaching vision for how the world would be blessed by his message. He came, not just to help the people who lived during one small slice of human history and who just happened to be on earth, in a very small geographical area where he preached for three years.
His message was for every single person who will ever live on earth. And he knew it. In fact he prayed specifically for those who would help share that message in each new generation.
The night before his crucifixion Jesus prayed for his disciples to experience their inseparable oneness, their relationship with God and with him. But then he added,
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. John 17:20 NLT
Jesus prayed for you
Jesus has prayed for you and me. Every time I read or hear that verse, it deeply comforts me.
Jesus was looking into the future much further than just 100 years.
During his time here on earth, Jesus was living, teaching, healing, he was crucified, he was resurrected and ascended. All those things he did were not just for himself. They were for all mankind. He had such far-reaching vision to know that his life purpose and message would continue down through the ages to bless and bring salvation to mankind.
If Jesus could have this far-reaching vision, and live his life accordingly, isn’t it possible for you and me to do so as well?
Think of how so many people in the Bible have blessed you. You’ve learned a lesson. You’ve been inspired by something they said or did. Sometimes we know their names. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it’s one of the children of Israel. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s a man, sometimes a woman, and sometimes a child.
These people were probably not thinking of the effect their lives would have on people who came after them thousands of years later. Some may have. But most were probably just trying to survive in the immediate situation they were involved in.
How will you bless people in the future?
So how does all this apply to you and me?
I think the best way for you and me to bless people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, now and into the future, is to follow Christ, in every detail of our lives, to deny ourselves, take up our own cross, not someone else’s, not even Jesus’s cross, and follow him. And we need to do this without comparing ourselves to other and regardless of what others say, do, or think.
The more closely we follow Christ, and I think our walk with Christ evolves as we mature in Christ, the more we’ll bless those in our immediate circle of influence, as well as those who have not even been born yet.
If you’re doing what God has called you to do, that will have an influence on those you know and they will pass it along to the people they know. And that’s how the gospel of Christ has come to us down through the ages to this present moment.
This same process will continue. Even if people 100 years from now never know your name or that you even existed, the influence you have on the people you love and bless right now will have a ripple effect into the future.
Episode 177: You are on the pathway to healing
If you’re looking for healing in your life, and there are lots of ways healing comes to us, but I’m talking about the spiritual transformation that comes as a result of God’s presence in our lives, if you’re looking for this spiritual approach to healing, I’ve got some good news.
You are not so far away from healing as it might seem on the surface. In fact, you are, this very moment, on the pathway to healing. It’s not so much about where you are on this path, but the fact that you are on it.
And it’s not a path you have constructed or carved out in uncharted territory. It’s actually the path God has created for Christ to come to you on. All too often we think of a path that leads us somewhere. Jesus even refers as himself as the Way to come to God.
Jesus is the Way
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NLT
But a pathway goes in both directions. When you are in the Way, or pathway, of Christ, wherever that is, Christ is also coming to you–to find you, to help you, to heal you.
I’m going to repeat this idea: you are on the pathway to healing, the pathway of wholeness, right now. Through all your prayers and efforts to follow Christ, to be more obedient to God, and to focus on things of the Spirit, you’re becoming more aware of Christ’s presence, but Christ is also seeking you, just as a shepherd searches for his sheep.
The beautiful thing is, Christ finds you where you are: geographically, environmentally, physically, socially, financially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. You cannot hide from Christ. Christ knows all the places, actions, and attitudes where you think you might hide.
Where ever you are, you are on the pathway to healing. Christ, the Good Shepherd is coming to meet you and bring healing. There is always a direct line between you and Christ.
Christ knows where to find you
Now this is really just a metaphor because there is actually no distance between you and Christ.
We may feel separated from Christ. We may feel far from God. It might be because of things we’ve done or things that have happened to us. But nothing can separate you from Christ. Nothing can take you off the pathway to healing.
You may feel like you have been on the pathway to healing forever, always, and still, searching for healing but not finding it, tempted to give up.
Maybe what we really need a fresh definition of what healing is. All too often we formulate in our minds what a particular healing looks like. We cherish this preconception and if the healing appears in some different manner, we may miss it.
Healing occurs in your thinking. Every time a spiritual thought replaces a material one, every time you become just a little more spiritually minded and focused, healing is taking place. Every you have a moral victory, even a little one, like not getting angry with someone, this is evidence of healing in your life.
You are on the road to healing
Every time you express more humility or love, healing is taking place. You are always on the road to healing. Because Christ is always coming to you.
So, no matter what the circumstances you find yourself in, whether they are positive or negative from your perspective, from the perspective of what’s true about you in the kingdom of heaven, you are always whole, harmonious, loving, and complete in the presence of the healing Christ.
Christ is meeting you wherever you are, or rather wherever you think you are, and revealing to you where you truly are, the pathway of healing, the pathway of your wholeness. Christ is revealing your presence in the kingdom of heaven.
That’s why you are always on the pathway of healing.
Episode 180: You are standing on holy ground
Have you ever felt like you’ve been wandering in the desert for weeks, months, even years, hoping and waiting for a sign from God to give you an answer, solve a problem, heal you, or maybe just give you clear direction and a deeper sense of life purpose?
Or maybe you just want to make sense of life. You’ve got questions and you’re looking for answers.
Maybe you’ve just lost your job, or a relationship has ended, or you’ve made some very bad choices. Maybe you’re at the end of your rope. And you just don’t know what to do next.
Whenever you find yourself in any of these situations, even though it may not seem like it, you are in a very good place. You are standing on holy ground. And what you do next is so important. You have the opportunity to hear God’s voice and follow His guidance.
Always on holy ground
Whenever you’re at a crossroads in life and turn away from the distractions and decoys toward God, whenever you listen to and obey His voice, you are standing on holy ground. It’s not the dirt, the grass, or the gravel under your feet that’s holy. When you hear and obey God’s voice, you’re standing on the Rock of Christ, and that is holy ground indeed.
Your holy ground is not a geographical location. If you went to the exact spot Moses saw the burning bush, it would not be holy ground for you, unless you had the humility to hear God’s voice.
The fact is you are always on holy ground. You are always a nanosecond away from hearing and obeying God’s voice, no matter how far you may feel from God at the time.
Right this moment, you are standing on holy ground. Take off your sandals, anything that would make you feel separated from God, or keep you from standing on the Rock of Christ. Be quiet. Be still. Be humble. And listen. God will tell you what to do next.
Episode 181: How to See Spiritually
Jesus constantly and patiently encouraged his disciples to be more spiritually minded, which would enable them to see more spiritually.
And even though he did rebuke them from time to time, Jesus also blessed his disciples and their ability to see things spiritually.
blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Matthew 13:16, 17 NKJV
So how does all this apply to you and me?
Well, let’s start with the idea that Jesus is saying to you, just as much as he said it to his disciples, “Blessed are your eyes for they see.”
This is really a blessing and a promise that we can see things spiritually. It’s not just for people 2,000 years ago who knew Jesus personally.
Take a moment for an honest evaluation of the thoughts in your heart that either help you or hinder you from seeing spiritually.
It doesn’t have to be an enormous undertaking and it should never be a time for either a self-righteous or self-condemning attitude, depending on what kind of thoughts you find tucked away in your heart.
Offer a simple prayer of gratitude for all the good, pure, and loving thoughts. And as for the thoughts and attitudes that would keep you from seeing spiritually, don’t be too impressed or discouraged. Simply think of what the opposite quality is and focus on that. Look through the lens of love and forgiveness instead of hatred or revenge. That’s just one example.
We see what God reveals to us. To the degree you and I are pure in heart, to the degree that you and I listen for and obey God’s voice, and are unselfish and loving, to the degree we follow Christ in our daily lives, we see the things of the Spirit, which God reveals to us. We see spiritually.
Ask God to show you what He sees. Ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to see. You are capable of this right now.
Episode 189: How to Pray When You Feel Rejected
So what can you and I learn from all these folks in the Bible about how to deal with being rejected?
Let’s come back to what I mentioned a few minutes ago, the beatitude about how to respond when you’re persecuted and maligned. Jesus said, “Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.”
As I said, this seems a little bit counterintuitive. But actually, it reminds me of something Jesus said to the seventy disciples who came back from a preaching assignment Jesus had given them.
Jesus had a higher perspective
They told Jesus about all the healing they had done while preaching, and were pretty excited about it and rejoicing. But Jesus put things in a different perspective.
But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Luke 10:20 NLT
Jesus is really saying, whether you’ve been ridiculed and rejected, for whatever reason, or you’ve had great success in your ministry and been accepted and praised by people, the important thing to remember is that your name is registered in heaven. Your identity is secure in the kingdom of heaven, which is present, here and now.
Jesus was always reminding us that we need to keep our focus on the kingdom of heaven.
So that’s really the most important thing to keep in mind when you feel rejected, that your name is written or registered in heaven.
Even when people reject you, they can’t erase your name from heaven. That’s really pretty comforting when you think about it.
How to respond when you’re rejected
And when you’ve been rejected, the attitude you bring to the situation is more important than the rejection itself.
If you’ve been rejected because you’re not the right person for a particular job or activity, be humble about it. Maybe there are some lessons you need to learn, some things you need to deal with in your own life. Maybe God has something better for you. Maybe the folks making the decision misjudged you or honestly thought someone else would be better.
Whatever the situation is, try not to take it personally. I know, that’s easy to say. But when you realize there’s a bigger picture and that God is working in ways you might not see, it’s easier to trust God to show you how to go forward for what God is calling you to do, and not be discouraged by what others say or do to you.
And however hard it may seem, pray to love and forgive those who have rejected you. In fact, take it the next step and bless them. Pray for them to feel more God’s presence in their lives.
Jesus, as always, sets the supreme example. On the cross his simple prayer was,
Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. Luke 23:24 NLT
God never rejects you
One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes the human mind feels a sense of rejection even before a particular incident occurs. If you have what I’ll call a “rejection mindset,” you may feel rejected by people or God, even when you’re not. This is a time to surrender that feeling and know God loves you and is always ready and willing to help.
What God rejects are the thoughts and actions unlike Him. But God never rejects you. He sees through all the layers of wrong doing and thinking to the way He originally created you in His image and likeness.
The more you can see yourself in this way, as a child of God, always loved by God, and included in the kingdom of heaven, which is right here and right now, the less you’ll be affected by someone rejecting you.
You’ll get to the point where you realize it’s more important to love and obey God than to have the approval and acceptance of people. And sometimes, being rejected is actually proof that you are obeying God’s will.
The next time you feel rejected, or remember a time when you felt that way in the past, think about some of these folks in the Bible we’ve talked about today. Ask God to show you the bigger picture of what He is doing. Ask for more grace to deal lovingly with those who have rejected you. But most importantly, ask God for guidance and inspiration to do what God has called you to do.
Episode 192: Jesus’s Recipe to Stop Worrying
Have you ever known someone who constantly worries about everything? Have you ever been that person?
There are lots of ideas in the Bible that help dissolve the tendency to worry so much.
The first thing I think of is something that applies to almost any situation you’re in, but it’s especially appropriate if you’re worried about something.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5, 6 NLT
Another favorite is
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT
That’s a pretty tall order and not always easy to do, but it is possible to stop worrying so much.
The power of gratitude
And one little hint there: gratitude. Tell God what you’re grateful for. That helps dissolve worry.
It’s not really a surprise that Jesus gives us the perfect remedy for worrying. In fact, he gets right down to the root cause of worry in our lives and removes it.
It’s the cornerstone and focus of Jesus’s ministry, the fact that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Because the kingdom of heaven is at hand, there is no need to worry about all those things you worry about, because in the kingdom, your heavenly Father is taking care of you and giving you absolutely everything you need. I’ll repeat, it’s not way off in the future. It’s here and now.
So, why do people worry?
Basically, it’s because they don’t know God or they don’t trust Him. They think they have to manipulate events, circumstances, and people to get what they want and need. It’s all on their shoulders. You can have faith in God, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’re trusting Him in every situation. But when you know and understand that God loves you, that He knows your needs even before you ask Him, you can trust Him to take care of you.
Sometimes we get prayer and worry mixed up. We tell God what we are worried about and think we’re praying. Somehow, we think that’s enough to get Him to fix all our problems. There are times when it may seem the only way to start a prayer is tell God what you’re worried about. But if you end your prayer with the same worry on your heart, you haven’t really turned it over to God.
The way to stop worrying, is to seek and find the kingdom of heaven at hand, to experience being in God’s presence. Jesus would not tell us to seek this kingdom if we couldn’t find it. The implication is that we can be conscious right now of heaven’s presence and dwell there.
In heaven there’s nothing to worry about. And that is where you dwell. You have everything you need and God is in complete control.
Episode 193: Quietly surrendering to God
So we’ve talked about some of the things we can surrender to God, but I want to talk about how we go about it. This can be just as important as what we surrender.
Jesus gives a hint at this when he says not to fast in way that makes it obvious to others that you’re fasting. This is from the Sermon on the Mount.
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18 NIV
This really sets the tone for how we are to surrender to God. It’s a quiet process between you and God and no one else. You don’t need to tell anyone else about it. You don’t need to announce it at church to show how spiritually minded you are, or to impress anyone.
Let them see the changes that take place in the way you live your life. When you surrender to God in the ways we’ve just been talking about, anyone who is the least bit perceptive will see a difference in you. You don’t need to tell anyone.
Why is it hard to surrender to God?
Now you may be thinking,: Hey James, this all sounds wonderful and I want to do this but I have a hard time actually surrendering to God. I try to but I end up taking back what I gave over to Him. And I take my life back and end up doing what I want to instead of what God wants me to.
I totally hear you. I know exactly how you feel. I’ve struggled with this as well.
Paul explains why it’s hard to surrender to God. It’s when we’re more materially minded than spiritually minded. In other words, are you approaching life with a spiritual mindset or a material one?
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7, 8 NIV
If you’re having a hard time surrendering to God, maybe what you really need to focus on is your spiritual growth and progress, a more spiritual perspective on life.
The first priority
Jesus speaks right to this point in the Sermon on the Mount. He says to quit striving for all the material things in life,
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; Matthew 6:33 KJV
That’s almost a one size fits all solution to any problem we have.
Here’s something else that’s been incredibly helpful to me.
One of the things I focus on a lot in my life and encourage others to do is embrace the mindset of Jesus to the best of our ability.
Jesus knew the kingdom of heaven, this kingdom of God that he wants us to seek first, is at hand, now and always.
If there is something in your life you need to surrender to God, or if you’ve realized you need to surrender your whole self to God’s purpose for your life instead of trying to force your own plans, I encourage you to set aside some time to ponder this deeply.
Go into your prayer closet. Be still. Ask God for help. Be quiet. Listen for God’s direction. And I would encourage you to write down everything God tells you. You’ll be so grateful later. Put yourself at God’s disposal. Put your life completely in His hands. Close your physical eyes and open your spiritual eyes to see what is already true in heaven about God’s purpose for you and how you can and are fulfilling that purpose as it is in heaven, right now, here on earth.
Episode 203: What if Jesus preached at your church?
Several Sundays ago, an interesting idea came to me on the way to church. What if Jesus was the preacher that morning? I started to think about what might different.
Would I listen more earnestly to the sermon? Would I be more inspired? Would I see myself in a new light and have a deeper sense of purpose? Would I be afraid he would read my mind and see all the things I worry about or the problems I haven’t solved? Would he heal me? How would I respond? How would it change my life?
I decided to listen to the sermon that morning and engage with the ideas the way I would if Jesus was the one preaching. There was nothing different about the way the church service was conducted, but there was a big difference in me.
During the sermon that morning, as Bible verses were read and then expounded upon, I heard everything in a completely new light. There were not really any new ideas in the sermon. And it was a good sermon, by the way. But I was experiencing it on a whole new level.
Sometimes church services can seem a little formulaic. The order we sing and pray and listen to the sermon, is pretty much the same every Sunday.
That Sunday, the sermon had so much more authority for me. There was so much more spiritual depth. As I said, on the surface, nothing was different. But the message that morning was alive for me in a way I had never experienced before because I felt Christ was speaking directly to me.
I’ve been thinking about my motive for going to church.
Do I go just because I’m supposed to? Or am I going to hear Christ, the Word of God, preach to me about the kingdom of heaven?
The more I study how Jesus preached, it’s clear to me that one of the things that made this preaching successful was that Jesus knew he was the Christ. This was his divine nature and authority given to him by God. People felt that authority and responded to it.
Jesus is the Messiah
Recognizing that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, is a crucial part of a successful sermon. Now I don’t mean just saying those words and expecting or demanding that someone believe them. The actual words may not be spoken. It’s the spirit of understanding that Jesus is the Messiah, which gives a sermon its real power and baptizes us into a more spiritual approach to life, in what we say, think, and do.
When a pastor of a church, along with the membership, is clear who Jesus is as the Son of God, not in a dogmatic, doctrinal way, but in the spirit of this great truth being a revelation from God, you and visitors to your church will experience Christ, the Word of God, preaching directly to your hearts.
When you go to church this Sunday, I encourage you to give this a try. Imagine Jesus is preaching the sermon at church. How would you listen? How would you respond? What would be different? Would you invite someone to come with you the next week?
During the service, listen to your pastor’s sermon the same way you’d listen to Jesus.
This Sunday, Christ is preaching at your church. Blessed are your ears, for they will hear the Word of God..
Episode 216: Does God really love everyone? Christmas is the answer
Now, it’s pretty straightforward to say that God loves all His children, that God loves everyone. But, it might be a surprise to you that all Christians don’t actually believe God loves everyone, There are those who think He loves some and hates others. This can actually be a rather controversial topic depending on what theological perspective you hold onto, or rather, what theological perspective holds onto you.
But every time I hear some so-called Christian authority, teacher, or leader explaining why God doesn’t love everyone, it sounds very academic. They turn it into a theological debate about the nature of God and how He loves or doesn’t love people.
Now I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t have all the answers and do not understand every single detail of the Bible’s message. But it often seems to me that these people debating whether God loves everyone or not are actually projecting their own beliefs, their lack of love for everyone, onto God.
They know who they don’t like and then try to find reasons why God doesn’t like them either.
You can’t put God in a box
They force God into a theological box of their own understanding and can’t imagine God acting or existing outside of their limited concept of Him. They back up what they say with some Bible verses, but ignore other Bible verses. And they speak with such authority.
Whenever I see this kind of theological conflict about any important topic in the Bible, I try, and it’s not always easy, to let go of my preconceptions and see what Jesus has to say about the subject.
This is the very first Bible verse I memorized as a kid. It’s probably quoted more often than any other verse in the Bible.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT
This is a very clear declaration of God’s impartial and universal love for all mankind. No one is left out. He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.
Does God love evil people?
So, does that mean God loves all the wicked, evil people in the world who are causing great harm? Absolutely.
It doesn’t mean God loves or approves of the wicked deeds and attitudes of these people. But God does still love them as His children.
God didn’t wait for everyone on earth to be perfect human beings before He loved us by sending Jesus to show and be the Way of salvation. God doesn’t wait for you and me to be perfect human beings today before He loves us. He loves us first. He loves us always.
If you want to get a good idea of how God loves all His children, all you really need to do is look at how Jesus loved people.
He reminded his disciples, and that includes you and me,
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19 NIV
How does this apply to loving everyone? Well, when Jesus loved someone, it meant that he had seen the Father love them.
Who did Jesus love?
And just who did Jesus love? Well, take a minute or two and think about all the people Jesus expressed love to. Obviously his disciples, and those who would listen to him. He even loved those who didn’t understand or accept what he had to say. He kept pouring out his love on them.
He loved men, women, and children equally, which you can see by the way he ministered to and healed them. And when he saw multitudes of people reaching out for help, he loved them.
He loved the people who were discarded by society and rejected by the religious authorities. He ministered to sinners and healed lepers.
He came to help the people who needed help. That’s called love.
I think you could even say he loved the Pharisees and those who rejected him. When Jesus rebuked them, it was really an effort to help them, to expose their hypocrisy so it could be healed.
Can you “see” God loving all mankind? Whenever that seems like a giant leap of faith, I remind myself that God loved the whole world so much that he sent Jesus to us. When I look at things from this perspective, I can see that God loves the whole world. And that helps me begin to love all mankind.
What would happen if you felt so powerfully God’s love for all His children, that everyone you came in contact with experienced God loving them?
I hope you enjoyed these highlights from 2023. See you in 2024.
Photo credit: Irina Muller
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Matthew 6:10 KJV
10 Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,
Luke 22:42 KJV
42 Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Acts 13:2, 3 NIV
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
John 17:20 NLT
20 I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.
John 14:6 NLT
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Matthew 13:16, 17 NKJV
16 blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;
17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Luke 10:20 NLT
20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke 23:24 NLT
24 “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Proverbs 3:5, 6 NLT
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Philippians 4:6 NLT
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Matthew 6:16-18 NIV
16 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Romans 8:7, 8 NIV
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Matthew 6:33 KJV
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
John 3:16 NLT
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 5:19 NIV
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.