Thursday, September 14, 2017

True Love - John 16:27

John 16:27    No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (NIV)

            We live in a world where many people believe that God loves everyone, therefore, we can do whatever we want and God won’t mind. Sadly, it’s the biggest misconception that good folk have, and may even be a questionable idea which promotes a teaching of false assurance. It’s very easy to embrace this impression because none of us are comfortable with the notion that some folks are not loved by God. Even as a pastor, I struggle with this one but when I see the consequences of a carefree, casual approach to faith – moral anarchy, self-indulgence, and narcissism -  I question the veracity of such a popular misconstrued philosophy.

            As usual, when I get perplexed about this, I look to the Gospels and try to focus on what Christ actually taught, as opposed to common misunderstandings of what He said and did. In today’s passage (John 16:16-33), I am intrigued by Christ’s remark that God solely loves the disciples simply because they love and believe in Jesus. As a parent, I can understand this – whenever I see my daughters in the company of good and reliable friends, I love those friends dearly for loving my daughters. I think God, as Christ’s Father, felt the same way about the disciples who truly loved, believed, and supported Jesus. This, in turn, causes me to ponder on the whole idea: does God truly love us when we faithfully love and believe His Son?

            If this is the case – and remember, it comes from Christ’s lips – then doesn’t the Church do a disservice to Jesus, as well as to the world, when we dilute the faith by presenting it as a vehicle for being nice to others rather than being true to God? As I see congregations dwindling in mainline Christianity, it makes me wonder if our one-god-fits-all message has lulled us into a false sense of security and sadly doomed many people, including our own loved ones, into being separated from God forever for not truly loving and believing in His Son.

Point to ponder

Who do I truly believe that Jesus is? Is this what God expects me to believe?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, Your words often challenge us and Your ways confront our choices. Open up our hearts and minds to Your Gospel. Help us to read Your life story and teachings carefully, so that we may live our lives by loving You faithfully. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the church website at If you would like to communicate with John, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s psalm drawings based on Psalm 149. If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Psalm149.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Crucial Event - John 12:32

John 12:32 (Jesus said) “And I, when I am lifted up from the Earth, will draw all people to myself.” NIV

            The Cross is what makes us Christians because we humbly accept that Jesus died for our sins. Whether or not we are repulsed or deeply saddened by the brutality of His crucifixion is not important; what is absolutely crucial - a word that has its roots in the Latin term for cross – is that we understand our salvation can only be offered to us because of Christ’s death on the Cross at Calvary.

            It would be a lot easier for us if God would just accept who we are without getting His Son involved. We could all make a strong case for ourselves and give plenty of reasons why God should allow us eternal life, but the truth of the matter is this: we can do nothing by ourselves to earn salvation; it only comes to us through Jesus, our crucified Lord.

            This is why Christ told His disciples and people that when He would be lifted up – hoisted on a cross – He would draw all kinds of people to Himself. Today, we know this is true because all over the world churches exist and within almost all of them, we will find a cross.

            Wherever we are today and whatever we do, let’s take time to reflect on Christ’s Cross and be truly thankful for how it has given us the wonderful opportunity of being restored to God for all of Eternity.

Point to ponder

When I look at a cross, what does it mean to me? How crucial is Christ’s Cross in my life?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we can never repay the everlasting debt that we owe to You for dying for our sins. Instead of being eternally separated from God, You have graciously allowed us to be restored to His Kingdom and favor. Thank You for this outstanding and undeserved gift. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can read the church website at You may also send John an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s Good Friday drawings called ‘Powerless.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Powerless.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Blessed Beatitudes

An updated version of the Matthew 5 Beatitudes

Blessed Beatitudes
Happy are those who are spiritually empty,
for they shall be filled with the fullness of God’s love.
Cherished are those whose loss is painful,
for they will be supported by loving friends.
Respected are those who seek to be humble,
for they will make the Earth a better place.
Empowered shall be those who long for justice,
for all their prayers will be fully heard.
Favored are those who act graciously,
for they will be embraced by the grace of God.
Truly loved are those who are simply sincere,
for they will know God’s faithfulness.
Anointed shall be those who strive for peace,
for they display the heart of God.
Encouraged shall be those who suffer for what is right,
for all God has, will be given to them.
John Stuart, September 2017