Jesus Is for You: Stories of God's Relentless Love

Jesus Is for You: Stories of God's Relentless Love

by Judah Smith

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Overview

Jesus Is for You: Stories of God's Relentless Love by Judah Smith

What would it be like if someone were completely, 100 percent for you?

The loser. The rising star. The drug addict. The good Christian kid gone bad. The undeserving overwhelmed with gratitude. Whoever you are and wherever you’ve been—Jesus is for you.

Not when you clean up your act

or when do the right thing

or when put your life back together.

Jesus is for you—in the midst of now. Whether you woke up amazed by your blessings or shamed by the worst mistake of your life. Jesus is for you and with you, and He’s not going anywhere.

The heartfelt and honest stories in these pages reveal what it means to experience Jesus and discover the real life He promises. With insight from New York Times–bestselling author Judah Smith and backed by Scripture, this book will allow you breathe deeply the profound truth that Jesus is for you.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718023102
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 10/20/2015
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 781,949
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 5.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Judah Smith is the lead pastor of Churchome, formerly named the City Church. Churchome is a thriving multisite church noted for its cultural relevance, commitment to biblical integrity and faith, and love for Jesus. Judah is known around the United States and the world for his preaching ministry. His fresh, practical, humorous messages demystify the Bible and make Christianity real. Judah is also the author of the New York Times bestselling book Jesus Is _____ and coauthor of I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook.

Read an Excerpt

Jesus is for You

Stories of God's Relentless Love


By JUDAH SMITH

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2015 Judah Smith
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-2310-2



CHAPTER 1

Part 1

JESUS IS ...


For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

— Ephesians 2:8–10 NKJV


Religion says: "Behave, believe, and then you will belong." The gospel says the opposite: "Belong, then believe, then behave." Another way of saying that is: "Amazing grace, great faith, and good works."


GRACE


My mother was saved back when she was a teenager, and she raised us in church. Going to church wasn't optional. We went! We went to church all day on Sunday — every Sunday. We went Friday nights, Wednesday nights ... lots of nights. So I didn't really get a choice as a kid whether to serve Jesus. I was born into Jesus, you might say.

When I was young, I loved God and I loved the concept of church. I would play during the service until the preacher started; then I would tell my friends, "Quiet, I need to hear this." I'd tell the usher to get my friends in trouble if they weren't quiet.

But our church was full of rules, and you had to meet certain standards or requirements. It turns out that lots of those rules weren't in the Bible. They were just human ideas used to control people. Even at a young age, I could see that the rules were a lot of show. It was easy to look and act a certain way in front of people but be an entirely different person behind the scenes.

I used to view Jesus as a taskmaster. He was the mighty "I Am," whose goal was to control me. Fear kept me on the straight and narrow. If I messed up or didn't read the Bible enough one day, I felt damned to hell. I felt like Jesus was a dictator.

I accepted all of this as a kid, but at some point in life, God began tugging at me, helping me see that there is more to Him than I had been shown. I began to get to know God and Jesus for myself. I realized that God loves me regardless of my mistakes or whether I meet all the criteria or rules or standards people make up.

Now Jesus doesn't seem like a taskmaster to me — He is my friend. I like to call Him my homey. Before, there was this huge separation between us, like He was completely different from me and I was just supposed to be meek and lowly. But now I know that He loves me no matter what. Nothing I can do or say, or be or not be, will make Him love me more or love me less. He chases after me and pursues me. He's my friend and He has my back.

— Allen


For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. — Titus 2:11


Jesus embodied grace. He oozed grace. He was grace.


We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

— John 1:14 ESV


Jesus was full of grace and truth. That means that grace and truth aren't enemies. They are on the same side. We don't need to balance grace with truth or truth with grace, because they are both personified in Jesus. If we just get more of Jesus, we will have both grace and truth.


THE TRUTH


I was raised in a Christian home, but I really didn't know Jesus personally. By the time I was thirteen or fourteen, I had begun looking for affirmation, identity, and self-worth in the wrong places. I began drinking and partying and got into some really bad relationships. When I was fourteen, I started dating a nineteen-year-old guy, and when I was eighteen, we moved in together.

In college, I met a Christian guy who introduced me to the gospel and Jesus. I was still living with my boyfriend and was dealing with a lot of brokenness. This Christian man amazed me because he respected and honored me. He introduced me to a new way of seeing myself by the way he treated me.

I realized that his actions were a result of his relationship with Jesus, and I began to study the Bible for myself. I finally discoverd that it wasn't about rules, regulations, or a religion to be followed. It was about a person: Jesus.

When I met Jesus, I finally encountered a love set me free. that didn't enslave me but instead set me free. I had never before understood the concept of love. I fell in love with Jesus as a response to His love for me.

My journey with Jesus began there, but I realized I couldn't do it alone — I needed community. I began attending a local church. I had been going for about two months when I met a woman who was one of the leaders of the church. She invited me to join the team of greeters who welcomed people as they arrived to church. With some trepidation, I agreed.

I loved it instantly.

I began to get more involved with other groups and activities in the church. And in all of this I discovered relationships — real, authentic relationships where I could be truly honest. I joined a small group and got to know some women in the church who became mentors to me. For the first time, I learned that honesty and accountability do not bring shame or guilt, but freedom and healing.

Because I was the one who had gotten my life into such a mess in the first place through my poor choices, I had believed that maybe Jesus didn't want to heal me. After all, my problems were my own fault. But He continued to show me that whether something bad happened to me or whether I made a bad decision myself, He wanted to heal me and set me free, and His grace was there for me time and time again.

Jesus is so faithful. And it's His work, not my own, that has led to my life being healed and whole.

I had known Jesus as my Savior for a long time ... but now I know Him also as my healer.

— Diane


It's not about how much we love God. It's about how much He loves us.


We love Him because He first loved us.

— 1 John 4:19 NKJV


God's love is so extravagant and so inexplicable that He loved us before we were us. He loved us before we existed. He knew many of us would reject Him, hate Him, curse Him, rebel against Him. Yet He chose to love us. God loves us because He is love.


Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.

— Psalm 23:4 NKJV


Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Jesus is the victorious King of ages. Jesus rules and reigns, and He's sovereign, and He's big, and He's majestic, and He's strong, and He's able to help you with anything you are facing.


VICTORIOUS


Growing up, I never felt very gifted, at least not at anything tangible. That produced a lot of fear in my life. I didn't think God wanted to use me. I felt inadequate. These feelings escalated until my life became completely crippled by fear.

Despite these fears, I joined the intern program at my church. One night I heard a message about sin and the power of the cross. I remember thinking that it wasn't sin I needed to be saved from at that point. I needed to be saved from fear.

That night I encountered Jesus like never before. I realized the vast greatness of the cross Jesus like and what Jesus had done for me. I finally saw that Never before. Jesus' death didn't conquer just the big sins. It also covered all the little things I struggled with, all my inadequacies and fears. I was set free that night.

Before that encounter, I often refused opportunities offered to me because I was too afraid to take them. I said no to everything. Now I am able to confidently say yes to the opportunities God gives me and to know that He will make me capable and give me everything I need.

God conquered everything for me. He loves me from the inside out. He chose me and He wants to use me for His kingdom.

My focus used to be only on my own fear, but now I'm able to love Jesus, to focus on Him, and to love other people who are still trapped in fear themselves. I am free!

— Katie


Jesus didn't come to condemn the world; He came to save the world. If He thinks there is hope, if He believes in humanity, we should too.


"I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices."

— Matthew 9:13


Jesus came to reveal a God who defines us not by our actions but by His love.


When we focus on His goodness, His power, and His grace, we are hardly even aware of what is happening, but we begin to change. We begin to be more like Jesus.


THE LIFE GIVER


Ten years ago, I was involved in some very dark relationships. It was a pattern in my life. I kept telling myself I would change, but the only changes I ever made were superficial. Nothing changed deep inside me.

I eventually found myself contemplating suicide. I realized I either had to change or I would die.

I ended up at church. The moment I stepped in, I felt some-thing awesome in the atmosphere. You could breathe it and feel it.

The pastor was preaching about holiness. The darkness I had been living in was eating me up, and his message hit home. God is holy — I need to be holy. God touched my heart, and I wanted to change. I knew with certainty that the answer was to god touched change, not to kill myself.

When I decided to change, I turned 180 degrees: I left my old friends and those dark relationships. That was painful. I felt like it was just Jesus and me at that point. But it paid off.

The community at church accepted me and supported me. Even though they knew the wrong things in my life, they still accepted me. God put people around me, and I am no longer alone. He planted me in a church where I am a member of a family. I couldn't ask for more.

Before Jesus got hold of my life, I refused to be involved with anything. I wanted to hide. But now He has given me so much that I have to give something. I can't keep it to myself! I volunteer every Sunday as a greeter at my church. I also do volunteer work with the elderly. If they are in pain and I cannot help them, I pray for them. Many have wanted to accept Jesus, and walking them through that at the end of their lives is really so amazing. I was not this person in the past, but everything changed because of Jesus.

— Marlette


Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

— Colossians 3:10


Jesus gave me a new way to be human. At the core of my being, I am holy, righteous, godly, compassionate, generous, loving, and sensitive. I have a new nature, and it mirrors the God who created me.


What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else? — Romans 8:31 32


God is with us because God is for us. He's here to make sure we're taken care of. He's here to hook us up and back us up. He's here to provide, protect, and empower.


A GREAT HEALER


We have three boys. Liam is our youngest. While he was in the womb, there were no complications — both mother and baby were healthy. We anticipated soon holding him in our arms. But to every-one's shock, when Liam was born, he wasn't breathing.

One nurse kept saying, "It's gonna be okay," as the medical team performed CPR on Liam, but she looked very scared. We trusted that Jesus is our healer and knew that the only thing we could do was turn to God for help.

The medical team was able to revive Liam, our healer but the doctor told us he would probably have to remain in the hospital for several months. But every step of the way — in fact, almost every single day — Liam made astounding progress. One month after he was born, we took him home. It was an emotional day for us with plenty of excitement and happy tears. It was truly a day we were thankful for.

The whole ordeal made us realize how important our church is to us. We were so blessed by the way everybody came together and supported us during that time. They truly have been like a second family for us.

— Cory & Melissa


God is not in a hurry to fix us. Our behavior is not His first priority. We are His first priority. Loving us is His main concern.


Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.

— Romans 5:1–2


Grace is Jesus, and Jesus is enough.


OUR GREAT COMFORTER


Several years ago, we received the middle-of-the-night phone call every parent dreads: our daughter Stephanie had been in a car accident. Police officers came to our door, and an officer drove me to the hospital while my husband, Don, woke up our three other children and prepared to follow in our car.

I was praying on the way to the hospital, and when the police officer driving me noticed, she offered to pray with me. So we prayed together.

When we reached the hospital, Stephanie was already in the operating room. Soon Don arrived with the kids. They had passed right by the scene of the accident and had seen the mangled wreck-age and the flashing lights of emergency vehicles. They knew the accident was bad.

We waited while the doctors tried to save Stephanie. They had revived her several times on the way to the hospital, but they couldn't stabilize her. Eventually we were given the news that she had passed. That was so hard.

By then our pastor and his wife had arrived to be with us. I couldn't handle the thought of going in and officially identifying my daughter's body, so Don and our pastor did it.

We went home and began to experience the whole gamut of emotions and grief. Our church community was really supportive. They brought us meals for several days, until after the memorial service.

We continued going to church and letting God heal us. Everyone grieves differently, and we can't get inside each other's skin. But Jesus can. He was able to help Don where he was and meet me where I was as a mom. We tried to rest, even as i made the we walked through the process — and it was a process.

During that time, we learned how truly important community is. We can't shut people out. We need to be open and allow them to grieve with us.

As God came alongside, He began to heal us very gently, with time and with people around us. At first I remember thinking, I don't think I can go on. This is so hard. But I made the choice to trust God, even though my emotions were all over the place. And He helped us.

There are times, even now, when the wound comes back, and I can touch it again. But Jesus has been so faithful. I'm ever so thankful for that.

— Pat & Don


The Bible calls death the final enemy. It's a bigger enemy than sickness, doubt, fear, sin, poverty, or pain. Jesus conquered this final enemy in the resurrection. That means we don't have to fear anything — even death.


"How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me."

— Matthew 23:37


Jesus isn't standing aloof, yelling at us to climb out of our pits and clean ourselves up so we can be worthy of Him. He is wading waist-deep into the muck of life, weeping with the broken, rescuing the lost, and healing the sick.


That is the gospel: God is with us. Jesus is God in the flesh, here on earth, hanging out with sinful people.


A VERY PRESENT HELP

When I was nine, my mother died and my father had a stroke. It was very rough — even more so because it was so unexpected and happened all at once. When I was growing up, we were so poor that I often ate only when I had school meals or when I could get myself invited to a friend's house for a meal. Then I would eat everything I could.

My mother was half-Thai, but she only spoke to us in English. My dad was full Thai, but he didn't speak English. Since I never learned Thai, I grew up unable to communicate with my dad. I was never able to get advice from him or learn from him how to deal with issues as a child and a teenager. That was a tough spot for a young man to be in. I felt so alone.

When I got older, I joined the army. I was in the service for about five years, including a tour in Iraq. The military is a challenging environment. God isn't really talked about; you do things on your own. I had gone to church with my mom as a child. During my time in the military, I lost touch with those Christian roots.

But seeds had been sown during those child-hood years in church, even if I didn't know it, and they eventually bore fruit. God led me out of the military. It was like He said to me, "You followed the call of the nation, but I have something bigger for you — the call of God."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Jesus is for You by JUDAH SMITH. Copyright © 2015 Judah Smith. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction, x,
Part 1 Jesus Is ...,
Grace, 4,
The Truth, 10,
Victorious, 18,
The Life Giver, 26,
A Great Healer, 32,
Our Great Comforter, 38,
A Very Present Help, 46,
The Keeper of the Sparrows, 52,
Part 2 Jesus Gives ...,
A True Home, 60,
Good News in Dark Places, 68,
Relief from Worry, 74,
New Life, 80,
A New Beginning, 88,
A Way Out, 94,
The Strength to Go On, 104,
Part 3 Jesus Is There When ...,
We've Messed Up — Big, 114,
An Idea Seems Crazy, 122,
We Follow His Will, 128,
We Serve His Friends, 136,
I Am Afraid, 144,
Someone Needs Rescuing, 150,
We Need the Impossible, 156,

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Jesus Is for You: Stories of God's Relentless Love 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
KatyMessier More than 1 year ago
I adore coffee table books but I’ve grown fairly picky with them as I’ve grown my collection. This book is perfect for any person of faith. It’s a very quick read if you sit down with it. I think it’s much more enjoyable to pick it up and read one or two of the stories at a time and really think about them for a while. This book also makes an excellent gift for the holidays for any Christians in your life. It’s a beautiful book, filled with lots of photography on glossy paper. This is the perfect encouragement for anyone going through a rough patch. It helped me with some anxiety of my own and I’m looking forward to passing it on to a friend! Thanks to BookLookBloggers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
PJtheEMT4 More than 1 year ago
Jesus Is For You Stories of God's Relentless Love By Judah Smith is a beautiful gift book perfect for giving to a special friend or relative. This small hardcover book features personal stories as well as beautiful photography. The stories are short- and can be read in under a minute. But they are perfect for those short on time and will capture the attention of even the most casual browser. Bible verses as well as selected excepts are highlighted and featured along side soothing, peaceful nature photos and still life. This is the perfect outreach gift for those unfamiliar with the bible or church. If you are looking for a small but meaningful gift for a special person, friend or acquaintance, this is the perfect opportunity to spread the first seeds of the gospel message. As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this book published by Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing this review.
GCWineholt More than 1 year ago
JESUS IS FOR YOU Stories of God's Relentless Love By Judah Smith A collection of stories, Bible verses and quotes all arranged in a very easy reading order. The illustrations and photos are very beautiful and adding them adds to the book theme of God's love. Judah is the author of a series of books titled Jesus is ______, but with this book, he has finished the title and lets you know about the relentless love of Jesus. He has a collection of stories that were shared with him by people who have had some very special and interesting things take place in their lives. He adds Bible verses and quotes that add to the stories. I found the stories, as well as the verses, to be very inspirational and even worth re-reading. The photos and illustrations are of God's creation and I think they add a great deal to the book. By reading a little each day it may add inspiration to the day. I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255