Ephesians 2:19: “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”

Inside of us lurks a deep desire, the wish to be distinguishable and special. We don’t want to be seen as a little pointless grain of sand on the seashore. We would like to stand out in some way, and actually, we do. Each of us stands out in God’s eyes because we matter to Him so much!

Human recognition on the other hand is fickle, a lot less gratifying, and certainly does not replace God’s favor; yet a lot of people crave accolades. They join exclusive clubs, a group of insiders separating themselves from what they perceive as outsiders. Falling prey to the illusion that the end justifies all means further cheapens the life of human beings while idolizing a selected few. However, that’s definitely not the way it goes in God’s kingdom.

Here is how God sees us, rich and poor alike: in God’s eyes we are all under-privileged, lack the full potential that eternal life can give us, are subject to mortality and caught in the net of our selfish point of view. Stuck in our own little world, we struggle to see a bigger picture as we venture out to make it in this world. Still, no fame or fortune prevents old age; no riches can buy us eternal life; and at the end of the day, we all lose out without God.

Since we all need a Savior, God worked it all out – and His salvation plan went viral with the Jews! Jesus was born a Jew, lived and ministered to people all over Israel, died and rose from a tomb outside Jerusalem, and went to Galilee, where He charged His followers with the Great Commission before returning to the Father (Matthew 28:18-20):

“Then Jesus came to them [His disciples] and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

With the Great Commission Jesus officially went international. Salvation was always meant for the entire world to share. God’s salvation is no exclusive right to be claimed. There is no privileged group God is targeting. God wants to save everyone, not just a selected few.

God wants to save us because that’s His passion. He loves everyone, and not just in a superficial way. As our Creator, God naturally has insider knowledge about everything we see. Each one of us is a personal creation of God. Why would He cast anybody aside? Why would He prefer one person over another or one people group over another? It does not matter where we are from, what gender we have, which age group or ethnic group we belong to – we are all human, and we equally need a Savior. This is our common denominator, and this brings all humankind together – no rationale, no political efforts, or scientific progress does that. Instead, a member of the Trinity was sent to Earth to help people in every nation. His Hebrew name is יֵשׁוּעַ, which translates: “Yahweh saves”, aka Jesus. He is the greatest peace movement the world has ever seen.

“Name above all names worthy of our praise. My heart will sing how great is our God!” (Chris Tomlin)

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus is written all over the universe. He was there when the Trinity came up with a plan to create living beings, planets, space, time, and dimensions. He fathered every life form, which is why He is intrinsically connected to everything that lives. He understands life from the inside out, which makes Him the prime candidate for reconciliation. He brings oneness to diversity.

Jesus is the heartbeat of creation, and He loves its variety. He is the God of crocodiles and ants, antelopes and snakes, frogs and dinosaurs, birds and snails, humans and angels, water creatures and land creatures, need I say more?

We have a very big God who encompasses our heritage, our past, present, and future. In His eyes there is no need to separate simply because we differ in opinions, physical appearance, cultural background and/or worldviews. For some reason it’s a human tendency to think that there is only one right way to do things, and I for one don’t think so – not after observing God’s ways, which are mysterious. God certainly has more than one way to do things right – and we won’t accuse Him of doing things the wrong way, won’t we? I deduct that we too have more than one way to do things right, and this is huge! It means we can relax on opinions for instance. There is no such thing as one correct political way to do things. I believe what counts is the motive. It’s important that we have the best interest of this planet at heart.

We live in a global community. No country is independent. We need each other, we cannot exist without one another. It’s similar to the outdoors. Tropical rainforests are called lungs of the Earth for a reason. The Sahara has global impact as well as the polar caps, not to mention the oceans. Disturb one particle of the globe, and the entire planet will sense its impact. The same is true with the animal kingdom. From top to bottom link of the food chain, each link is needed and contributes to the global community.

Notice that the global community is diverse.

So is the multilayered universe.

We are all not the same but we belong together. As we realize the profoundness of this truth we see the dawning of God’s Kingdom.

John 6:29: “Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.’”

If we’re part of Western society we are perhaps familiar with the term “rat race”. Wikipedia defines a rat race as:

“An endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit; it conjures up the image of lab rats racing through a maze to get the ‘cheese’ much like society racing to get ahead financially.”

All too often we get caught up in the material way of thinking – bills have to be paid, we need food on the table, and in order to pay our bills and get food on the table we need to work. It is very human to think that the kingdom of God is set up the same way, i.e. we have to earn our way to heaven. That’s what people think nowadays, and that’s what people thought in Jesus’ day, hence the question came up (John 6:28):

“Then they asked him [Jesus], ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’”

Now, that’s an understandable question. We assume we have to do something so that God can bless us. “There is no such thing as free lunch” is what we typically say. Well, actually, there is – When Jesus fed 5000 people He did not get paid.

Obviously, we don’t have to pay God to love us. There is such a thing as unconditional love. God loves us, period.

So, what is there left to do? Nothing! Absolutely nothing – and this is the rationale of Jesus’s reply when He basically says: ‘All work is done!’ Interestingly, He puts it this way (John 6:29):

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Even the one condition that grants us salvation: believing in the One God has sent – is God’s work, not ours, and that makes perfect sense. Have you ever tried to love someone because you were told to? How did that work out for you?

In all reality, both faith and love are a gift from God. We love the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit not because we worked hard to believe but because it was given to us as a free gift.

That’s God’s amazing grace in action.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” (John Newton)

Romans 8:32: “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”

The root cause of all worries is lack of trust.

Maybe we have a problem with trust because we got burnt. Whatever the cause of our disappointment, here is the bottom-line: We need to trust again. We have to trust someone or we are just like dust in the wind, blown up whenever a storm front approaches. Trust is as essential as oil to machinery. Well-oiled machinery runs smoothly, so does any relationship that is built on trust.

We have a God who entrusted Himself into our hands. Think about that for a minute.

The Son of God came as vulnerable as a tiny embryo placed into the womb of a teenage girl who at the time lived in a society that not only frowned upon babies born out of wedlock but who also acted upon it with a vengeance by carrying out the death sentence after such conviction. Despite the precariousness of the situation, Jesus trusted His Father in Heaven that He would see them through. He also trusted Mary and Joseph to keep Him safe, and they did. Jesus was barely born when the family had to leave for Egypt to escape the wrath of an insane monarch who slaughtered all newborn babies in His vicinity.

Three is a prime number, a whole number whose only factors are 1 and itself. The Trinity is such an indivisible unity. And yet, the Trinity separated because they were willing to let go of each other. When the Father let go of His cherished Son something wonderful happened: God became man. It seems that Jesus felt it was a badge of honor to become a human being. The gospel writers report that Jesus loved to refer to Himself as the Son of Man.

If the Trinity is as generous as that, we too should be generous and open our homes and hearts to the people knocking on our doors. There are reasons why things happen. We are here for a reason, but we have to stop distrusting to open up and see the opportunities coming our way.

May the Trinity be our inspiration today as we go about our business!

Psalm 94:18-19: “When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Unrealistic expectations can put us under a lot of pressure. Anxious minds are often fed by such unrealistic expectations. It’s the kind of stuff that keeps us up at night and has us restless throughout the day.

The reality is, we can’t be strong all the time. Everybody has a weak moment. And as odd as it may seem – viewing ourselves in a more sobering light, we are more likely to experience peace of mind.

Unfortunately, lack of objectivity may get in the way of a sane self-assessment. As much as we need a mirror to comb our hair, we need other people to see ourselves clearly. I believe this is one of the reasons why God created Adam and Eve. In His wisdom He said (Genesis 2:18):

“It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will create a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner.”

More than once, the book of Psalms paints a picture of distress essentially caused by loneliness. Lonely, we are at our weakest point. Prolonged loneliness almost always leads to self-destructive activities. We slip and fall; we feel broken; we cry out.

God is famous for being Three in One. In other words, God is never lonely. He is the first to know that community is essential. Community in fact came from the Trinity. God created more than one human being so that we have one another. And yet, there are no guarantees that there’ll be always people around to help us along. Human bonding only goes so far!

Apparently, humanity was not created self-sufficient. The human community is designed to stay in touch with the Trinity. Bonding with the Godhead, we finally feel complete. It’s a circle that shouldn’t be broken. Nevertheless, ignoring our Creator will compromise this blessed circle, and failing human relationships make matters even worse. A circle twice broken represents the epitome of human isolation and misery.

The question is, can a badly bruised and broken circle be unbroken? Thankfully, the answer is yes. Jesus came to un-break our brokenness. Thanks to Him, we’re back in touch.

Our finest promoter is God whose unfailing love picks up our broken pieces and makes us whole again.

Psalm 42:8: “But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.”

The sound of the ocean is like a breathing mechanism. Breathing in and breathing out, the waves come and go. Rolling in, they regularly toss the coastline by rhythmically retreating to make way for yet more waves to come. Back and forth it goes, day and night.

And just like the ocean, there’s a rhythm to many things. There’s the drumbeat of rainfall on the roof, the pitter-patter of naked feet hitting the floor, the rhythm of rustling leaves caressed by a persistent breeze, or the forceful knock of howling winds shaking everything in its path.

I believe life is rhythmic because the Lord has rhythm. Wave after wave His mercies wash all over us and renew us from within. Walking with the Lord we learn to ride His waves. Breathing in His love and breathing out our song, we receive and give back and then receive some more. Blessed rhythm of Life!

As time goes by we learn to appreciate God’s timing and His seasons. Looking at life this way feels a bit like dancing. Rather than jumping through the hoops trying not to miss a beat all we need to do is look up. Fixing our eyes on the Lord we’ll find a sense of rhythm – and we’ll find an expert dance partner too. The Lord of the Dance asks every one of us: “May I have this dance with you?”

We all dance a bit differently to the drumbeat of life. We are all loved by God, but our dances are not the same. We learn our dance steps as we go. Life is full of surprises. The Lord will teach us how to take one step at a time and not to shy away from big leaps of faith. We learn how to navigate the sea of life as the love of God carries us along.

God and His children are indeed a dream team: He is the Lord of the Dance and we are the song He whistles.

Psalm 16:8: “I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

It’s one of these no-good-really-bad days. Everyone has them – hopefully not too often, but we do experience days when something happens that pulls the rug from underneath our feet. We stumble and fall, naturally. We feel sore and heartbroken. Instead of the predicted rainfall we’ve got some tearfall going on. Once those tears start falling it’s hard to stop crying.

I’m speaking for myself of course. This morning was such a no-good morning. Our cat threw up. Everything she ate, everything she drank found its way out. We had vomit on the bed, vomit on the floor, and this little poor thing, a shadow of herself, crawled into our bedroom closet and rubbed her face into one of our shoes. Sick as she was, she just loves our stinky feet.

I cried all the way to the doctor. Our cat is in her senior years, so I’m half suspecting this will be our last trip to the vet. Well, it wasn’t, but perhaps her next to last trip. Who knows!

It’s in moments like these, crying like a baby, that a Bible verse like the one in Psalm 16 makes sense to me.

“He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

A salt shaker is created to be shaken. How else would one gain access to the salt? Life on Earth is set up to shake us up. How else would we gain access to the Rock of Ages? He is the reason we hold on. We’re shook by life-changing events, but we are not shaken to the core. Our core being knows that the last word hasn’t been spoken. This is not the end of a story, but maybe it’s a new beginning.

The Rock of Ages provides us with one precious commodity: Hope – that’s the one thing we all need. Take hope away from anyone, and we’re bound to die.

If up is up and down is down, then it doesn’t matter whether or not our world is turned upside down. We still look up. Life maybe hell, but there’s still heaven. There’s madness happening all around us, but there’s sanity of mind in a quick prayer. There’s bad things happening but there’s good things happening also. We might not see it at this very moment, but with God operating behind the scenes there’s good things happening every single hour.

Keeping the Lord in mind is keeping His goodness in mind, especially in times of adversity. Keeping Him in mind we will not be shaken.