We all like to have our way. It’s a natural and normal thing that comes with being human. It’s not necessarily the best, safest, or healthiest thing for us. God has a better way. His way. But sometimes people just can’t tell us differently or convince us otherwise: our way is the best way! It’s this stubborn, inextinguishable belief that’s a huge part of the reason why we like having our way.

As you know full well by now, things don’t always go the way we planned. It’s a real downer and a source of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. But that’s life. And we find a way to go on.

But when things don’t pan out the way God said they would, then that becomes a really really difficult thing for me. I’m a believer. I take God at His Word. When He makes me a promise and I take Him up on that promise, I fully expect Him to do what He said He would do. And when He doesn’t, I go through a serious time of reflection and questioning. Is God’s Word true or not? Of course it is, silly! Then why didn’t it work?

I like to have answers. Sometimes, the answers are easy. Sometimes hard to fathom or digest. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. At least, not right now. Maybe down the road. Maybe never. But whether I understand the reasons or not, I’m still a believer. God expects me to continue believing Him. Continue serving Him. Continue praising Him. And since I’m a preacher, God expects me to continue preaching the Word of truth and life.

The Biblical characters were very much like you and me. They were, in fact, totally human. Just like you and me. Life didn’t always pan out for them too. How they responded and dealt with the mess they weren’t expecting  can be a compass, or a lighthouse, to get us back on track with the Lord. So, from beyond the grave, the dead speak and show us how to continue being faithful when it looks as if God isn’t.


When life falls apart on you, your dreams are shattered, and you’re living a nightmare that defies explanation or escape; at some point after you’ve cried and fussed and searched for reasons or explanations, you’ve got to settle down, have a quiet, pensive moment alone with God, and realize that devils unseen are lurking all around you.

These devils have either been allowed by God to wreak havoc on you in order to try or test you (as in Job’s case in Job chapters 1 & 2); or else they’re using the using the law of consequences (that is, the law of sowing and reaping) or God’s chastening hand on you to worsen your suffering and draw you away from God.

There are reasons why things happen. Understanding what these reasons are are sooo helpful because they help us formulate a proper response to our sufferings.

But whether we know what these reasons are or not, the one thing we’ve got to remember and be aware of is the devil’s on the loose. He’s likely perched on your shoulder, as it were. And he’s talking to you, he’s working you over, so that you get bitter and disillusioned with God, you cuss Him out, and walk away from Him.


We can look at the familiar story of Job because we know that the devil was definitely involved in that nightmare. But I’d like to look at someone else because, like a lot of us in our time of troubles and trials, the devil wasn’t readily seen. Let’s look at a widow living in Zarephath (1 Kings 17).

Now Zarephath was a small village located between Tyre and Sidon. This was Phoenician territory. The infamous Queen Jezebel was a Phoenician. So this widow was, in all likelihood, a heathen. I personally think she became a believer after Elijah was done with her, but that’s skipping ahead. Like a lot of the heathens back then, she was somewhat familiar with the God of Israel. Israel, after all, was a neighboring nation. And with all the miracles that God did for Israel through the years, just about everyone in Palestine and the surrounding areas knew a little something about the God of Might and Miracles and Mercies.

Anyways, the whole of Palestine was in the midst of a drought, no thanks to Elijah (1 Kings 17:1). It had been going on for some time now that it was to a point where people were starting to die from hunger and dehydration. The widow had a son. And she had enough flour and oil in the house left for one last meal. It would be their last meal. Then, like many others, they would succumb to death.

She was out gathering sticks for the fire when she met up with Elijah the prophet. She could tell right off that he was an Israelite and, judging by the clothes he wore, that he was a prophet. Anyways, you’ve either got to love this guy or else hate him. He asks the widow for some water. And, as she was going to get the water, he also asked her for some bread.

Now get this. There’s a severe drought and famine in the land. He’s a complete stranger. A foreigner. He comes to a lady and asks her for water and food. As if she had enough water and food to share with strangers! What’s even more astounding is, she tells him she’s only got enough food for one last meal for her son and herself, then they’d be completely out and dead. Yet, in spite of knowing her desperate situation, Elijah still insists that she make him food and that she make it for him first, or serve him first: her son and she could have whatever he didn’t eat. How audacious, selfish, and insensitive is that?

Remarkably, and to her credit, she obeys the prophet. Imagine what faith she must have had to share her last meal with a complete stranger. If I was her, it’d have been awfully hard to share. Maybe if there was enough to share, yes. Maybe if there weren’t any children to feed, yes. But when we’re talking about a pittance and a stranger, sharing or caring just isn’t something that comes naturally. You don’t even think about it. But the woman complies with the prophet’s request.

And to her blessed surprise, the prophet miraculously multiplies her flour and oil so that, for the remainder of the famine and drought, the widow and her son ate rather well. They never ran out. They always had food to eat! Suddenly, to her blessed relief, her worries are gone. Life looked bright once again.

Now comes the part when life falls apart on this widow. Her son gets sick. He gets sicker by the day. And eventually he dies. You’d have to wonder what the prophet was doing all that time that the boy was sick. All indications are that he lived with them. He did a miracle with the flour and oil. Couldn’t he have done a miracle and saved the boy’s life?

Anyways, the boy dies. I’d like for you to look at the woman’s response to her unbearable tragedy. In 1 Kings 17:18 she went up to the prophet and asked in tears, if not in rage, What do you have against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to remind God of my sin and cause the death of my son?  In the widow’s mind, Elijah’s presence caused God to remember her sin; whatever that sin was, it must have been awful and condemning enough to gnaw at her soul; and, as a result of His remembrance, God killed the boy as a punishment for her sin. As she saw it, Elijah was directly responsible for her son’s death.

Now get this. Before meeting up with the prophet this widow and her son were as good as dead. They had only enough food for one meal, then it was curtains for them. The prophet showed up and, miraculously, the woman and her son had food enough to last them through the famine. They lived! They didn’t hunger for the duration of the famine. The widow knew this miracle of provision was an act of God. God did this for her because the prophet was a man of God. And God, being the world-renowned God of Might and Miracles and Mercies, did a wondrous, life-saving miracle for her. God showed her just how loving, gracious, merciful, and kind He is. He cared for her and her son. And He took them of them.

If God wanted to punish this widow for her sin He could have done it a long time ago. Yeah, God doesn’t always punish sin right away. But why would God give her and her son a life-saving miracle if He wanted to kill them? He wouldn’t have needed to do anything to kill them: the famine would have done that for Him. But God intervened through the prophet and saved this widow alive because He loved her and cared for her. The widow had to have known this and, if she was like some of us, she would have gone to bed every night thanking her lucky stars that they all had food to eat for that day.

The widow, I’m saying, lived every day with a miracle from God. And now, when her worst nightmare came true, she blamed God and the prophet for her terrible misfortune and unbearable loss. Does this sound like logical thinking to you? It shouldn’t. It’s a loony way of looking at the terrible things that have happened to you. God wouldn’t have saved you only to kill you. He wouldn’t have been gracious and kind, only to strike you down. That’s not how God works. And the proof of it is, God raised the dead boy back to life again (1 Kings 17:21-22). He proved to the widow, once again, that He was the God of Might and Miracles and Mercies. He corrected her mistaken theology.

So what am I saying in all this? I’m saying that even though the devil is nowhere mentioned or seen in this account, he was every bit present, working, and talking to this woman, convincing her that her son’s sickness and death was her fault; God was punishing her for her sins; God wasn’t merciful, forgiving, or forgetting; God was out to kill her and the love of her life; God was against her.

Beloved brethren, the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). When that kind of stuff is going on in your life, quit blaming God. It isn’t God who’s doing that to you. It’s the devil. You don’t see him. But he’s there with you, whispering to you, and getting you to think and say loony things so that you’ll blame God, hate Him, and turn your back on Him.

When life becomes a nightmare you need a miracle from God. Turn to Him. God’s gracious, forgiving, and kind. He’s a God of Might and Miracles and Mercies. He loves you. And He’s willing to prove it to you once again. In fact, GOD NEVER TIRES OF PROVING HIS LOVE FOR YOU! HE LOVES TO PROVE TO YOU THAT HE LOVES YOU! Don’t turn your back on God! Turn around! And watch a miracle happen!



THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. Romans 8:29 tells us that we were predestinated—that is, long before we were even conceived or born, God chose us to be His children. And when He chose us to be His children He decided that we all should look like Christ. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Jesus, in essence, tells us the same thing in Matthew 10:24-25, The disciple is not above his master, neither the servant above his lord. {25} It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.

In other words, the Christian life is all about growing and becoming more and more like Christ. THE LONGER WE LIVE THE MORE WE SHOULD BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

God, brethren, doesn’t want us to be the same ole person we’ve always been. Several months or years from now we’re not supposed to be the same person that we are today. I pray that all of us here today can honestly say that many areas of our life have been changed in the years since we first became a Christian.

Chances are, however, there are still one, two, or a handful of areas in our Christian life that have defied change. I’m talking about the nagging habits, the addictions, weaknesses, flaws, imperfections, the sin that we’ve kept hidden in the deepest, darkest recesses of our heart, that have heretofore dodged our half-hearted efforts at self-remediation or improvement. Even after all these years, there are still some aspects of our mindset, personality, emotions, behavior, lifestyle, and conduct that have remained unchanged.

So how do we change something that we don’t want to change? We love the sin too much to give it up. And we’ve got no intention of giving it up.

If we will not change, God will force change upon us. He has to—we’ve forced Him to—because we’re His children and He’s not gonna let sin destroy and damn us. If we will not help ourselves, God will help us. It won’t be pleasant or pretty. It’s gonna involve a lot of pain and suffering. But it works. Suffering has a way of changing us. It changes our mind and gives us a different, truer perspective of things.

Let’s look at how sufferings changed a guy who was remarkably very much like you and me.


There are different reasons for suffering. One of these is the law of sowing and reaping.


Galatians 6:7-8 warns us, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

When you make the wrong decisions and do things that are wrong–you may not think you’re wrong, but you are in God’s sight; God is gonna let you suffer the natural consequences of your actions and decisions.

For example, if you decide to break into your neighbor’s house and steal a humongous diamond that they’ve hidden in a tin can; and you end up getting caught; then you going to jail isn’t God’s chastisement. It’s a matter of you doing time for the crime. It’s the law of sowing and reaping.

Now there are many different ways you can respond to your sufferings. You can get mad. Get bitter. Get even. Get delusional and proclaim your innocence. But none of these responses do you any good.

The only really good thing that can come out of your sufferings is if you choose to humble yourself, admit you’re wrong, and learn from your mistake. You can use your sufferings to change you and change your mind about sin.

Let’s look at how a young man who made a lot of terrible mistakes was able to turn his life around by profiting from his sufferings and doing the right thing. Generally speaking, YOUR LIFE AND YOUR LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES WON’T START TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE UNTIL YOU HEAD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND START DOING THE RIGHT THING.


There once was a man who had two sons. The younger of these sons decided that he had had enough of the old homestead and farming as a way of life. He wanted to go out on his own, see the world, and get a taste of the good life that he felt he was missing by staying at home. So he went to his dad and asked for his share of the estate and inheritance (Luke 15:12).

Hebrews 11:25 tells us that the pleasures of sin are only for a season. They’re temporary and short lived. They don’t last forever.  The good times last as long as you’ve got money. And as long as you’re healthy enough to enjoy your sins. But when you run out of money, or when you get sick, you just can’t enjoy the pleasures of sin anymore—you’re too busy suffering and being miserable.

And that’s exactly what happened to the prodigal son. The bad times came and the young man was forced to live in a very different set of circumstances. He was basically worse off than he ever was, living at home.

Luke 15:13-16 chronicles the young man’s misfortunes:  A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  (14)  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  (15)  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  (16)  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.


And this is precisely what the young man’s misfortunes did for him. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! (18)  I will go home to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  (19)  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant (Luke 15:17-19).

Of course, it takes a lot of humility and courage to admit you were wrong. You’re gonna have to swallow your pride, head back home, and apologize to your dad. But when you’re hungry and hurting, with no other options left; you do whatever you have to do to get out of your mess and return to some semblance of what your life used to be. The prodigal son had not only learned from his mistakes: he swallowed his pride, humbled himself, went home, and made things right with his dad.

Do you know what it was that brought this stubborn, selfish, self-willed, sin-loving man to his knees? Do you know what it took for him to wake up and do the right thing? The sufferings that he went through. THE LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING WILL CHANGE YOU FOR THE BETTER…IF YOU LET IT.

SUFFERING DRIVES US BACK TO GOD. It causes us to admit how so much we need God back in our life. We’re lost and undone without Christ. We can’t make it in life without Him.


Only God can give us life. Only He can fill our life with meaning, peace, joy, and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, we don’t know that—at least, we don’t admit or accept that—when we’re too gung ho on having our own sinful, selfish way.


So if you’re tired of suffering and want to be done with the heartaches and sufferings of sin, come back to God, get down on your knees, tell Him you’re sorry, and ask Him to forgive you. God’s waiting for you. You might think He’s mad at you and doesn’t want any part of you. But you’re so totally wrong! God sooo loves you still and He waiting for you to come back home to Him.

I pray these verses of Scripture will lead you back to God. Psalm 103:8-18 gives us a true picture of God’s heart and love for you. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  (9)  He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.  (10)  He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.  (11)  For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  (12)  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  (13)  The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  (14)  For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.  (15)  Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  (16)  The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.  (17)  But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children  (18)  of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!

God is a gracious, longsuffering God. He will hear you, forgive you, and receive you. He will bring the suffering to an end. And you will get your second chance to do things His way. Brethren, learn from your mistakes. Don’t suffer in vain! Let your sufferings do something good for you. Let them change you and make you a better Christian. God bless you mightily! See you at home.


Talking about sinners today is a really tricky, sensitive issue because it makes it sound as if the Christians who are talking about it are hateful, insensitive, intolerant, and judgmental. We’re accused of being unloving. Worse yet, gasp, unchristlike. Unscriptural.

Yes, there are Christians who go overboard and become unchristlike in their stance for righteousness and the truth. Some mean well and don’t know any better. Others are just plain hateful. So, yes, whenever anyone of us acts unchristlike towards anyone, the unsaved especially, we deserve a good tongue lashing and verbal trashing.

But what happens when we take a stance for truth and right and we aren’t hateful, self-righteous, judgmental, or unchristlike about it? What happens when we speak out with love and in love? Would taking a stance against sin be wrong or inappropriate? Truth be told, a lot of people would rather that everyone just shut up and not say anything about sin or sinners.

I’m not hateful or judgmental. I love sinners. I really do. I hate the sins they’re doing. But I’m concerned enough about their souls and eternal destiny to speak up against their sins and lovingly offer them the hope of salvation and the hope of a changed life found in Christ.

I was thinking about God’s love not too long ago. Namely, John 3:16, For God so loved the world. He loved the world. He loved and cared enough for sinners to send them His Son as a saving sacrifice for sin. If you had one, and only one, son would you kill your son, or have him killed, to save the life of a stranger or an enemy? God did. Jesus is God’s undeniable proof that He loves sinners and wants to save them from Hell. God is love (1 John 4:8). He loves sinners.

Only thing is, God left the gates of Hell open. He didn’t shut them up. I mean, if I saw the entrance to an underground world of eternal pain and misery I would shut the entrance up, cover it over, and secure it so that no one would ever fall in. This is love, isn’t it? You would do the same thing yourself. Why? Because this is what love does. Right? Yet God in His love for sinners didn’t shut the gates of Hell. Why? Damned souls are still falling into that pain pit at a record clip. These souls He loves He lets perish in the pit. And yet, He calls Himself, He is, the God of love.

The very talk of Hell causes many to deny God’s love. In their view, there’s no way God can be love if He sends people to Hell. Hell, to them, is proof that God isn’t love. He isn’t loving.

But God is love—even with Hell and in spite of Hell—because that’s what He says He is and I naively believe God for who He says He is. Besides that, I have human and world experience to prove it. Read on and I’ll show you.

God is love. And He works very hard and long to try and save sinners. 2 Peter 3:9 shows us God’s heart of love towards sinners, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins.

No, God doesn’t send people to Hell. All of us are free to choose our way and make our own decisions. God honors and respects our choices.

But choices have consequences. We suffer whatever consequences our decisions bring. We can blame God and everyone else for the consequences we suffer. We can choose to reject all blame or responsibility for our decisions and actions. But doing so will not relieve us of the self-inflicted consequences of our choices.

It’s like the crook who cries Foul! behind prison walls. He’ll ramble on about the unjust nature of his  incarceration and blame a cop, a lawyer, a jury, and a judge for being in prison. But for us who know better, the guy robbed a bank. He got caught. His imprisonment is his fault and no one else’s.

Generally speaking, a crook doesn’t commit a crime with the intention of going to prison. He figures he’s gonna make a clean getaway. If he gets caught he’s smart enough to beat the rap. Yet, for all his smarts and swagger, he lands up in the prison he never thought he would see.

This is the way it is with sinners and Hell. For all their bravado, sinners don’t want to go to Hell. But they end up there because of their sins. Now, really, whose fault is that? God’s or their’s? God didn’t make them sin. They chose to sin. They wanted to sin. So if Hell, like prison for a crook, is where sinners go to be punished for their sins; why do we blame God for sending sinners to Hell? If, in our right minds, we don’t blame a cop, lawyer, or judge for a crook’s incarceration; why are we so otherwise minded to blame God for all the damned souls in Hell?

God is love. In our preferences of love, He could have covered over Hell’s gates. He could have done away entirely with that miserable place and make it non-existent. But what good would that do? Seriously, stop and think about it. What good would that do?

Let’s translate the question into the reality of our day. What would happen if we closed all our jails and prisons? What if every prisoner was freed and loosed? What if no rapist, murderer, or pedophile was locked up or put away for good? What would our society and community look like then? Would we want to live in such a dysfunctional, No Hell, “utopian” society? The fact is, we’re already surrounded by gobs of people with criminal tendencies. That’s scary enough! Would we want to add to that sense of insecurity by emptying our prisons and letting every criminal go free? Life wouldn’t be normal as we know it now: it’d be a war zone where everyone’s attention would be riveted around self-protection and preservation. You can choose to live in such a society if you like. But I believe I speak for the majority when I say that that’s not the kind of place I’d like to live in.

It’s lamentable that people choose to be criminals. It’s sad when criminals are locked up. But it’s for everyone’s good. It’s what we call a necessary evil. A necessary evil that’s spurred by society’s care for its citizens, its efforts to promote the common good, and it’s vigilant, unceasing work to preserve peace, security, and the pursuit of happiness.

Turns out, God is similarly-minded. He really is a God of love. He has the smarts on us. He knew what He was doing all along when He made Hell and He was doing it for everyone’s good. Hell is undesirable and unpleasant. It’s a necessary “evil” if you want to call it that. But necessary nonetheless.

Hell’s existence doesn’t deny God’s love, any more than all our jails and prisons are a denial of society’s need to protect itself and promote the common good. If anything, and to the contrary, in my thinking, Hell proves God is love. When you do everything you can for everybody’s good—Calvary and Hell included—that is good and that is love.


A lot of Christians struggle with God’s love for them. They don’t believe God loves them. Not after they’ve failed Him. Not with all the bad stuff that’s happened to them. They want so much for God love them. But they think God’s turned His back on them. In their eyes, they’re the living damned. It’s a hellish existence and my heart goes out to these tormented souls. How can I possibly help them? How can I convince them God loves them no matter what they’ve done and no matter what He’s allowed to happen to them?

Let me put God’s love for you on hold here. I’m changing scenes, but stay with me to the end because it’ll all come together. Scene 1. I honestly don’t struggle with God’s love for me. That doesn’t make me any better than you. I just found a way to get past the doubt and rest in God’s love for me. It goes back to the fundamental core beliefs that I live by. Maybe if I share these beliefs with you it’ll help make it a whole lot easier for you to accept God’s love for you.

  • I believe God exists. Every one of us has to settle it at some time or another whether there is a God. And if there is a God, which ones of these gods, or which one in particular, is the true God. The world offers us a ginormous pantheon of gods to choose from. I grew up in a Christian home. But even after studying the world’s major religions in college, I chose to place my faith in the God of the Judeo-Christian faith.
  • I believe the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible Word. Every one of us have had to wrestle with whether or not the Bible is wholly true, partly true and partly wrong, or wholly fable and fiction. Going to seminary, I had lots of chances to doubt the historicity and validity of the Bible. For so many Bible scholars, the Bible was nothing but a work of men—not God. And since it was written by men, without God having any say or hand in it, then, yes, it’s only inevitable that we would doubt the Bible, either in whole or in part.

Doubt is tormenting. It’s hellish. It’ll drive anyone crazy. Faith is the complete opposite. It’s a peace and rest.

I choose to take God at His Word. I believe He inspired the entire Bible, it’s true, and He’s managed to preserve it through all these generations so that we today can know what He wants us to know. I don’t doubt the Bible because I don’t doubt God. It’s as simple as that. Until you come to this point of faith you’ll always have your doubts about some things that God said in His Word.

I went through nearly a year of doubt and argumentation with God when I was a teen searching for answers to life’s most puzzling mysteries and contradictions. But when it was all said and done, God showed me He was God, not me. His thoughts weren’t my thoughts. He was so much smarter than me. And even though I didn’t know or understand everything, His Word was still true. From that day on, I chose to believe the Bible at face value simply because God said it. End of argumentation, doubt, or debate.

For some, it takes a lifetime of wrestling and seeking to come to this point of faith. Many never come to faith. But if you profess to be a Christian you owe it to yourself—and God—to believe God exists, He’s the one and only real, true God, and His Word is true in every way without any falsehood or lie. If you come to this point of faith, then everything else about the Christian life and experience becomes a lot whole easier. You won’t understand everything. I don’t. We’re finite creatures with limited brain capacity. We’ll never understand God totally. But we can believe even without understanding. That can be challenging at times. But all that God has ever asked us to do from the beginning is believe Him.

Change of scene.  Now we go to Scene 2.  There’ve been times when we’ve thought a lot about someone. Sometimes fear causes us to do that. Sometimes it’s jealousy. Lust. Or worry. But the one thing that most of us can easily relate to is love. If you’re married to the love of your life, like I am, you remember all the pre-dating, dating, and courtship time you spent dreaming, day-dreaming, visualizing, and thinking about the love of your life.  Longing for the next time you’ll be together again. The point is, a lot of your time was spent thinking about your love. It’s still the same way today, even after all these years of marriage. You think a lot about the one you love.

Change of scene again. Scene 3. Picture yourself at the beach. Just for curiosity’s sake, you make it your life’s ambition to count how many grains of sand there is on the beach. On all the beaches in the world. Impossible!, you say. You can’t possibly count each grain of sand that’s on all the beaches in the world. The point is, there’s so much sand in this world that it’s beyond numbering. And that’s just the sand on the beaches. Think of the enormity of the impossibility of counting each grain of sand in all the deserts of the world. That’s a lot of sand!

When it comes to God’s love for you, let me put these scenes altogether for you. Do you know that God spends a lot of time thinking about you? Yes, you my friend. I’m talking to you by name.  God spends an awful lot of time thinking about you! I know a lot of times we think that God’s so busy—like we are—that He can’t possibly think a whole lot about me. He’s got gobs of other people to be thinking about!

But no matter how many people there are in this world, the simple fact of Scripture is this: God is thinking about you. Remember that familiar verse in Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Wow! God is actually thinking about you! You’re on His mind! He hasn’t forgotten you! He hasn’t ignored you! He’s thinking about you just the way you think about the people you love. Now why do you suppose He’s thinking about you? Because He loves you!

What really clinches it for me is this. God is not only thinking about you, but He spends an awful lot of time thinking about you! He’s always thinking about you! Like the innumerable sands in life’s beaches and deserts, God spends a ginormous amount of time thinking about you! Read it for yourself in Psalm 139:17-18a, How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!  (18a)  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand. Wow! How awesome is that! God’s thinking so much about you that, if you were to count how many thoughts He’s thought about you, His thoughts would number more than all the sand that’s in the world! That’s an awful lot of sand! And that’s an awful lot of thoughts that God has thought—and is still thinking—about you! God must love you an awful lot to spend a lot of His time thinking about you!

Think He doesn’t care about you? Think He doesn’t know what’s going on with you? Look at what David wrote in the first four verses of Psalm 139, O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.  (2)  You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  (3)  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.  (4)  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. Dear friend, God knows you inside and out. God sees you every moment of every day. God cares a lot about you.

That’s easy for you to say, you might say. David was a man after God’s heart. God loved him. But I’m no David. If you knew all the things I’ve done, you’d know there’s no possible way God could love me.

But you’re wrong, friend. David was a man after God’s heart. But he was deceptive with the Philistines (1 Samuel 21). He got so angry one time that he was bent on killing a man (1 Samuel 25). He committed adultery with another man’s wife and ended up murdering the man to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11). His General warned him not to count the army, but David insisted and, as God’s punishment, 70,000 innocents died in a plague (2 Samuel 24)! 70,000! I guess you’re right after all. You’re not David. You haven’t killed 70,000 people.

God chastised David sorely for his sins. But He still loved him dearly! And that’s the same kind of love that God has for you, my dear. Your sins, your past, or your present, do not keep God from loving you. He loves you still in spite of it all! And the amazing thing of it is, God’ll never quit loving you! You can read it for yourself in Lamentations 3:22. John 13:1 is my very most favorite verse of all time. I’ll let you read it for yourself. It’ll floor you. What these Scriptures are saying is, you can’t stop God from loving you!

God loves you, dear friend. He loves you lots. And He’s spending an awful lot of time thinking about you. Don’t doubt it or question it. Don’t resist it. Just believe it! Because that’s the way it really is.


How well do you know Jesus? We all like to think we know Jesus pretty well. I’ve had close to fifty years of wonderful, sweet communion with Jesus. I’ve devoted over forty years of my life to studying and teaching His Word. I’m talking about going back to the original languages and learning as much as I can about Jewish culture, institutions, and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Know-It-All. And you can ask my kids: I’m not inerrant or infallible. But still, knowing what I know, I’d like to think I know Jesus pretty good. To my pleasant surprise, however, I don’t know Jesus as good as I think I do. To this day, He still shows me more about Himself. Here, let me give you some snippets of the Jesus I never knew. 


For those of you who have real, true love—the love of family and friends—you are so blest. You are richer than the richest guy around! Here, let me tell my story.

My name is Legion. And for as long as I can remember, no body loved me or wanted me—not even my family. Of course, I was a nut case and there really wasn’t much to love about me. That’s because I was a demoniac. I had all kinds of demons living inside me. You may scoff at the idea and think I’m off my rocker. But believe me, and you can ask my parents and all the townsfolk, I was possessed. That’s why my name is Legion—because there were gobs of demons living inside me. (Just so you know, a legion of the Roman army in Jesus’ time was about 600 soldiers.)

Anyways, I very clearly wasn’t normal. I was full of demons. I’d act like an animal and howl like a hyena. I’d constantly be hurting myself, cutting myself. No, I wasn’t suicidal. But long before Leopold von Sacher-Masoch came along, I was the ancient poster child for masochism. Every part of my body was tattooed with the scars of self-inflicted abuse. I looked like a monster right out of a horror movie. I was a danger to everyone. That’s why nobody wanted me around. They were all scared of me. They tried all sorts of ways to restrain me. One time, people even tied me up in chains. But I tore the chains apart as easily as if they were made of paper. That’s the kind of power I had because of these devils. That’s when my parents and the townsfolk decided that I couldn’t live among them anymore. I was so strong and violent that I was a real danger to everyone. So, in one of my saner moments, they took me to the cemetery at the outskirts of town and that’s where I lived.

As you would imagine, I didn’t get very many visitors. People didn’t want to die because they didn’t want folks coming to the cemetery. I guess I can’t blame them. It was a pretty lonely life. It was just me and the demons, constantly hurting me and driving me nuts, that I really wanted to die. It’s a miserable way to live. What’s even more miserable is not being able to die. The devils got a big kick out of hurting me that there was no way they were going to let me kill myself.

One day, several guys came by the cemetery. I was genuinely surprised! It wasn’t a funeral. There was no bier. No women wailing. They were headed my way! It was like they were coming to see me! One Guy in particular, at the forefront, seemed unafraid and intent to see me. I didn’t know Him from Adam. But strangely, at the sight of Him, I ran towards Him. When I reached Him, I promptly fell prostrate at his feet and said, What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the most high God? I beg you by God, please don’t torment me (Mark 5:7).

Apparently, the demons in me knew who the Guy was and they were genuinely scared of Him. Imagine that! Demons scared of a Fellow! It was always the other way around: it was always people who were afraid of demons. But, for the first time in my life, these devils inside me were genuinely afraid of the Guy! He must have been someone special. Someone powerful.

The Guy started talking to me. What’s your name?, He asked. My name is Legion, because we’re many, I said. Really, it was the devils in me that were speaking. Anyways, Jesus looked me straight in the eyes and commanded all the demons to come out of me. I couldn’t believe it! No one had ever done that to me before! I didn’t even know it could be done! I always thought the devils were gods that couldn’t be pushed around. But here was this Guy, telling these demons what to do. And He was calmly standing there, waiting, and expecting, these demons to comply with His order. He definitely acted like He was the Guy in charge. No wonder the demons in me were afraid of Him!

To make a long story short, all the demons came violently out of me and headed towards a herd of swine nearby. The pigs all ran off a cliff and drowned in the Sea. But I felt a strange calm and relief. For the first time in my life, I felt peace and rest. I was a human being again! I laid there in the dust, savoring a peace that I’d never known.

Jesus picked me up and, for the next few minutes, we talked. The love and care that He had for me brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t think anyone could ever love me. I didn’t think anyone cared. For some unknown reason, I mattered to Him.

The townsfolk came up a short while later. They were shocked to see me in my right mind! But they were afraid of Jesus and they asked Him to leave. I guess they didn’t want any more pigs getting killed: that would surely ruin the town’s economy.

So, like a Gentleman, He complied with their request and He, His disciples, and I started walking back to the coast where Jesus’ boat was moored. I wanted to get in the boat with Jesus and serve Him. But Jesus told me I could serve Him more by going around the district and telling everyone what He did for me. So, with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, I waved them off and thanked God Almighty for setting me free.

No one ever loved me the way Jesus did. I didn’t think this kind of love was possible, or that it even existed.

I forgot to tell you that Jesus lived in Capernaum across the Sea. He sailed across the Sea last night and a furious storm arose that nearly sank their boat. Come to find out, it was the devil trying to kill them and stop them from coming to me. Anyways, Jesus knew what was happening. So He rebuked the storm and there was an immediate calm on the Sea Mark 4:34-41).

Anyhow, He came to see me. He set me free. Then He got back in His boat and sailed right back to Capernaum. In other words, as busy a Teacher and Healer that He was, He dropped what He was doing and made a special trip across the Sea—and nearly got Himself and all His disciples killed—just to set me free!

That, dear friends, is love. And who was I? I was a nobody. A worthless reject. A vile sinner and abject demoniac. I walked around in the buff: I was stark naked. I hadn’t had a haircut or shave since time immemorial. I didn’t shower or clean up after myself, so I stunk to high Heaven. I was truly a sight to behold. My scraggly looks and body odor would have driven everyone away!

But Jesus came and loved me! He saw worth in me! And He went through death’s doors to save me, give me back my humanity, and make my life worth living. I’ll never forget Him. I’ll never stop serving and praising Him. I never knew this kind of love existed.

I know He loves you too! Jesus is Love Incarnate. He can help you, save you, and change you. Like me, He’ll give you a life who’ll never forget or regret. I didn’t think life could be so fun. So meaningful and worthwhile. That’s because I didn’t know Jesus. But thanks to Him, now I know.