Did You Hear the News?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV
I believe that every person on the planet from every people group was created by a God who loves them as the perfect Father with a passion greater than we can think or imagine.
Why, then, is there so much evil and violence in the world and people don't experience the wonderful plan God has for their lives?
He [Jesus] put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?'… Matthew 13:24-28 ESV
Why is there evil in the world? Why were there weeds in the field?
An enemy did this. A thief came to steal, kill, and destroy the field (the world).
He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels… Matthew 13:37-39 ESV
The bad news is that we all at one time are weeds--the sons of the evil one (1). Consequently, we are influenced by our father, the devil, carrying out his desires (2). That's why there are school shootings, drug addictions, family discord, divorce, mental problems, diseases, learning disabilities, etc. We have a common enemy whose mission is to prevent God's wonderful plan for our lives--a relationship with a Father whose perfect love casts out fear, guilt, shame, condemnation, depression, and evil (3).
The good news is that Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full. He came to seek and to save that which was lost by restoring us to that wonderful plan for our lives that our enemy stole from us. Jesus came to destroy the devil's work and to rescue us from his evil clutches on our lives (4):
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Luke 4:18-19 ESV
The good news is that Jesus defeated the devil by beating him up with two sticks. (5)
[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV
Our Father paid a big price to legally adopt us into His honored family, gaining permanent legal custody over us from our old father, the devil. In fact, He went bankrupt. Heaven went bankrupt when Jesus left heaven to come to earth on the Father's rescue mission for our sake.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV
After Jesus died on the cross in our place as a sacrifice, satan's legal custody over us was broken. God raised Jesus up from the dead three days later, proving the validity of our purchase into God's honored family by the blood of Jesus Christ. We were worth a Son to God.
Now we have a choice to make:
God won't force us against our will to leave our old father, the devil, to join God’s family. He as a loving Father gives us the choice. Why would anyone want to remain as a child to a wicked, perverted, abusive father who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy? People remain in abusive relationships if it's all they've ever known and are consequently afraid of love. In the same way, there may be some resistance in our hearts about leaving our old lives behind, receiving a new Father, entering a new family, and receiving a new identity.
But let me tell you it's worth it. Jesus is better than you think. He really does have a wonderful plan for your life--plans to give you a hope and a future, to prosper you and not to harm you (6). The devil's plans for your life are the exact opposite.
Will you respond to God's loving invitation to enter His family?
The following is a suggested prayer. If it expresses the desire of your heart, I encourage you to read it out loud to God as if He's standing right in front of you, because He is (7).
Heavenly Father, I want to know You personally. I'm sorry I disobeyed Your commands, rejected You, and lived my own way. I realize that I have followed satan, thought his thoughts, and carried out his desires. I thank You for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to destroy the devil's work. Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross in order to forgive my sins, to rescue me from satan's kingdom, and to bring me into Your kingdom. I now submit my allegiance to You, Lord Jesus, believing that God raised you from the dead, has now forgiven all my sins, and will raise me as His child. Thank you, Father, that I am no longer a child of wrath, but Your child. Now I want to carry out Your desires. Just as Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because You were with him, teach me how to walk closely with You. Teach me how to walk as Jesus walked. Because You first loved me, I ask You to unleash Your power and presence in my life as I commit to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen (“Let it be so”).
If you prayed that prayer from your heart and meant it, then satan's legal custody over your life is officially broken, and you can rest assured that you now have a new Daddy!
He [Jesus] came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13 ESV
[B]ecause, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:9-13 ESV
Welcome to God's honored family! Let me encourage you to remain in your Father's love (8).
Here are a few suggestions to help you do so:
Spend time with Him through His love letter that He wrote for you called the Bible. Ask Him to teach you what His Word is saying, to make it real in your life, and to empower you to obey it by His power that now lives in you.
Get to know the Holy Spirit, God Himself living inside you to help you fulfill the destiny for which He made and saved you. (9)
Also, spend time with your new brothers and sisters--the church. Get to know your Father better alongside those who eagerly desire and pursue that same thing--hating what is evil (the kingdom of darkness) and clinging to what is good (the kingdom of God) (10).
Please don't hesitate to ask me or whoever showed you this good news any questions about growing in your relationship with God.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 ESV
See Ephesians 2:1-3
See John 8:39-47
See Romans 8:1; 1 John 2:28; 4:17-20; Isaiah 61:1-3
See John 10:10; 1 John 3:8-10; Luke 19:10 Colossians 1:13-14
That's paraphrasing something Todd White said.
See Jeremiah 29:11. Although this verse applies first to the Jews under Babylonian captivity during the time it was written, it likewise applies to us today in that Jesus came to set us free indeed from any captivity to demonic oppression. C.f. Romans 1:16; John 8:36; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
See Revelation 3:20; Luke 15:11ff
See (and soak up) John 15
See 1 Corinthians 2; John 14:12ff
See Romans 12:9; 14:17; Hebrews 10:24-25