God’s love

A GRANDFATHER’S LOVE

Grandad and Wyatt 2017

I am watching my 2-year-old grandson, Wyatt, as he sleeps. 

My heart is bursting with affection for him. 

My mind is active with thoughts of how I want to spend time with him. 

My hopes are big for how his life will unfold in fruitfulness.

My concerns are deep for how he will navigate this troublesome and broken world. 

My joy is overflowing with the memories of what we have shared together. 

My willingness to sacrifice anything he needs from me, is real. 

You have probably watched your little ones with similar thoughts beaming in your heart.

But have you ever taken time to ponder how God looks at you with similar thoughts – only better!

The love I have for Wyatt, causes me to wonder why we struggle so much to accept how richly God loves us. Our Heavenly Father who is all perfection, loves far better than we who are all limitations.

I love much, but my love also is often interrupted by selfishness. My love at its best is hindered by my ignorance and weakness. As much as I love Wyatt, I cannot always be with him. I will never be able to share all his experiences, and I will not be able to stand with him in every burden.

But my Heavenly Father has none of these limitations in his love. God is always loving me in the ways I love Wyatt, but far greater. His love for me is not only greater in its degree of perfection, he loves me with greater intensity.

I think most Christians fail to appreciate the sheer intensity of God’s affection for us. This causes us to doubt the intensity of his commitment and care for us. We misinterpret the difficulties he allows and we are not convinced that God’s intentions are always wonderful.

As a son and a grandson, I knew that I was loved, but my grasp of that love was incomplete until I became a father and then a grandfather. We will never be able to fully grasp God’s love for us, but we should be able to rest in knowing that his love for us must be far greater than what we have for our loved ones.

It is good to ponder how we love those who are dear to us. And it is even better to ponder how dear we are to God!


 

AMAZING LOVE, HOW CAN IT BE!

John 15:9 is one of my favorite be-amazed-passages-of-the-Bible

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

What a comparison! We are loved exactly as God the Father loves God the Son

How does the Father love the Son?

It is beyond our comprehension, but whatever it entails – only God is capable of it. This means we are loved constantly, inexhaustibly and beyond description.

If we are loved as the Father loves the Son, then it is impossible for us to be loved more

Why don’t we always feel this loved?

1.  We really don’t understand love all that well

We equate love with kindness which means we focus on how God is meeting our immediate comforts. God is concerned with more than just our present comforts; He is committed to working on our character and eternal good. 

If we equate love with kindness, we will doubt God’s love when life is hard. Don’t look for God to imitate our patterns of loving

2.  We tend to judge love by how we feel

We are not told pursue feeling loved.  That leads to craving emotional experiences instead of learning to trust God’s faithfulness.

We are commanded to believe God when He says that He loves us. God’s actions have proven the depth of His love for us

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” I John 3:1

 “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8 

 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” I John 4:9 

3.  We need to separate God’s love for us from our unlovableness

If you think, ‘I can’t see why God would love me’, that’s good. Anyone who can see why God should love them – is deceived. God loves us out of his character, not because of ours

God loved YOU at your worst!

God loves YOU with His best!

Jesus tells us to “abide” in his love

To abide means to remain in a particular condition. Jesus is not saying it’s up to us to keep God’s love for us; he is urging us to keep living according to the reality of God’s love for us

 

THERE IS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT HUGS

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I remember as a child when I felt sick, there was something restorative about my mom’s hugs.

When my children were little, having them run up and throw their arms around me was one of the greatest feelings in the world.

They don’t run up to me anymore, but I still love hugs from my girls; while Jordan and I settle for grunts and a punch in the arm or a pat on the back.

When I travel to Belarus or Guatemala, I joyfully receive bear hugs from my dear friends.

Then there are the wondrous hugs from my wife that make it seem as though all is right with the world. Sometimes when I am feeling worn around the edges, I ache for a hug from Debbie

There truly is something special about hugs

This is because God made us to love them. Love, security, peacefulness, reassurance, affection, friendship, contentment – and any other good association we have with hugs are all qualities that come from the heart and character of God.

These feelings exist because God has expressed them to us.

God is the one who invites us to call Him “Abba Father” which is an intimate expression of saying Dad. He is the most wondrous of Fathers and He loves to hold us. Psalm 139 describes how in remote places, even there “your right hand shall hold me”.

Maybe you feel it is too presumptuous to think of God holding you in a strong and safe hug – but is not God an even more loving parent than ourselves?

If we love to give hugs, this is because God loves to hold those He loves. 

Do you need a good hug, don’t be hesitant to receive the embrace of your heavenly Father who loves you more than tongues can tell or thoughts imagine.

Learn to rest in the strong and secure arms that do not let us go.

A DAY AT THE BEACH

A day at the beach is not just time away from our routines
It involves a gratifying array of sensory experiences

The sound of waves rolling onto the beach,
And the cry of gulls

The warmth of the sun on your face,
And refreshing cool breezes

The tangy smell of salt air,
And the drifting smell of boardwalk fried foods or backyard grills

The satisfying pleasure of cold water in a parched mouth,
And the taste of potato chips with your packed sandwiches

The sight of an endless horizon with miniature sails in the distance,
And little shore birds scurrying after departing waves

Anyone can enjoy these sensations,
But for those who know God – it should be so much more

God is the person, whose mind thought up each of these experiences,
And He alone is the One who created us with the senses to enjoy them

God designed all these things along with “every good and perfect gift”

Next time you have a day at the beach,
Make it a time of wonder and worship, as well as rest and relaxation.

Consider the goodness of God, who brought all this wonder into existence,
And contemplate the love which did this for our joy

This is a Person worth Praising,
Worth following,
Worth trusting,
And worth getting to know better!

EXTRAORDINARY THOUGHTS ON LOVE

I have had some extraordinary new thoughts on love. 

These are not new realities about love; they are just thoughts that I can never remembering hearing or reading until now. I was grabbed by them while reading “Delighting in the Trinity” by Michael Reeves for my Growth Group.

In chapters 2 and 3 are where the treasure was found. There the author points out that we (believers) are part of how the members of the divine Trinity express their love to one another! Michael doesn’t go into much depth on this subject, but I keep going back to it during my morning worship.

God the Father shows his love to the Son by giving Him the people who will be His eternal possession.

The Son demonstrated his love for us and the Father, when He embraced the Father’s will and took the wrath that belonged to us.

The Holy Spirit expresses love to the Son and Father as He transforms us into the glorious Bride of Christ

I don’t know about you, but the thought that I am part of how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit show their exalted and perfect love for one another, brings amazement beyond words.

May our incredibly loving Lord lead your soul to new heights of rejoicing as you ponder this brilliant and glorious truth!

TOO LOVED FOR SELF-PITY

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I was praying a few days ago when I realized my mind had wandered off – again! I was disappointed in myself and wondered how God felt about my foolish weaknesses.

My next thoughts became much darker as bitter disappointment grew in my heart. Suddenly the awareness of failures in how I handle every aspect of life loomed over every other thought. My failures jeered at me like evil gremlins in a cheap horror movie.

Then, just as suddenly, God’s grace interrupted my self-pity with a different scene. I was reminded of a series of drawings that I saw hanging in the lobby of Bethlehem Church the week before when I was in Belarus. These drawings all featured the church building and they were obviously created by children of various ages with different skill levels.

Some of the pictures were a fairly good representation of their unique church building, while others were a little harder to figure out. Okay, they were a mess!

Yet, even though I was only a visitor to the church, I didn’t distain any of those drawings. In fact, I can remember the cheer in my heart that these children had a church home to draw! These little ones had not yet developed all their drawing skills, but they knew Bethlehem Church was their church. And because I know this church proclaims Christ boldly, those children also know about the God and Savior who came and died for them.

The Holy Spirit in that moment reminded me of the great ocean of love that my Heavenly Father has for me. Oh, yes, He is fully aware of ALL my weaknesses. He sees the scribbles of my life’s work. However, He does not distain me and He does not reject me. This is not because I am so lovable, it is because He is so loving.

This love and acceptance is not something I need to wish might be true. It is an absolute confidence, because faith in Jesus who removed all the barriers has brought me near.

The One who adopted me as His child sees the scribbles of my life’s offering and receives it as any loving parent joyfully does from their child.

Living by faith includes persisting even as I am failing, because I trust that God really does love and cherish me.

Living by faith does more than persist, it takes joy in knowing that my Heavenly Father is right now working on perfecting my character, so that one day the scribbles of my life will become true works of holy art!

AND YET

Lord

I have doubted 

    and acted like one who does not believe

I have ignored you

    and pushed you away

I have heard your voice

    and closed my ears

I have chased after things I know you hate

    ugly things which brought sorrow to your heart

I have obsessed over what does not matter

    and minimized you who are everything

Failure and weakness have been my offering

    my best has been coarse

My shame has been as consistent as ocean waves

    my foolishness as bountiful as rain

And Yet

You have never ignored me

    or had me anywhere but in your eyes

You have never rejected me

    or erased my name from Your heart

You have never let go of me

    not for a moment have you loosened your grip

Your love has been lavished on me

    grace has been my fixed companion

I have you always because you chose me

    a mystery, who can comprehend

From eternity you have known me

    despite all, all my sin, you pursued me

For eternity you will always love me

    for you have made me your own

  Kyle Huber 2011

NOW THAT’S LOVE!

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My favorite biblical declaration about love was made by Jesus and is recorded in John 15:9

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love”

What an extraordinary reality! Jesus loves us exactly the same as he is loved by the Father. We cannot adequately define such a love, but we can draw a few helpful implications from it

This is a love only God is capable of giving

It is impossible to be loved more

No one in the universe is loved more

This love will never change

This love is big enough to fill our heart and saturate our life

This love should overflow our lives and splash up against anyone near us

Despite these realities of love in our life, we often and incorrectly do not feel loved. The fault in this is never some lack on God’s part, it is our failure to clearly see what Christ has wonderfully shown, on the cross most of all.

Doug Plank, who is a pastor at Crossway Church in Millersburg, PA wrote this article on the Sovereign Grace blog entitled “What does Jesus really think about me?”. Doug provides some helpful thoughts and reminders for us.

Jesus is deserving of our having an accurate perspective of his love for us. A love so big, it should impact how we live every day, because every day we are loved to the fullest degree possible – by God!

Jesus ended his statement in John 15 saying “Abide in my love”. This means we walk in the recognition of Jesus love for us. Since Jesus never stops loving us, we should remain secure and comforted by his love.

 

MAKING GOD’S HEART SMILE

How do you feel inside when one of your children or grandchildren call out your name as they see you and run up with a wide open embrace? Now if we are talking about teenage children, well, there is a good chance they are after money, the car, or permission for something you will think is a sketchy idea. However in talking about kids in general – this makes us feel wonderful.

I can still here the cries of “Daddy!” from my preschool children when I would come through the front door after work. They would wrap themselves around my legs, as I tried to make my way to the kitchen to greet Debbie, who was usually there preparing a delicious dinner.

When my daughter, Jillian was around 7 or 8 years old, she would appear next to me every week sometime after the Sunday morning service. Usually I would be in the midst of a conversation, when suddenly I would feel her little hand slip into my own. She would not ask or say anything; she just wanted to be with me.

These are precious memories. Indeed they fall into the “priceless” category. They also have a precious instructive value about God. He is the perfect Father, who is filled with abounding love “that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).  Here is the wonderful lesson: if our hearts which are marred by selfishness feel these great delights of love when our children show their love to us – how much more does God’s heart burst with joy, when we run to him, and when we just want to be with Him.

We can be uncomfortable thinking that God has strong positive emotions toward us. We know He has strong negative emotions when He judges evil.  In a similar way, God has strong emotions when He delights in our godliness. It is true – we can make God’s heart smile by coming to Him with hearts wide open to know and obey Him.

This perspective can help bring us to our prayer time, when our flesh is trying to convince us how boring and wasteful it will be. Remind yourself of the pictures you have experienced in the delights of sharing life with loved ones, and know that God, who made us in His image, delights in this as well.