The Father’s Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). 

A short time ago, the message at our church impacted me so much that even though I may not do it justice in these few words, I would be remiss for not sharing and will prayerfully try.

Although God’s word never goes out and returns void, I chose a verse that even non-believers can quote. John 3:16 is so commonly used, the depths of its meaning has been lost.

How many of us as loving parents would choose to suffer pain, emotional hurt, or even death rather than see our child experience it? The anguish suffered by that parent is often more excruciating than the physical pain.

Our loving Father gave us His most precious, precious gift. His only be-loved Son was sent from a heavenly paradise to live on earth for the sole purpose of assuming our sins on His perfect humanity in order to pay the penalty for what we did. As a parent, the depths of His pain would have to be immeasurably greater than if the Father could do it Himself.

And then, because God cannot be in the presence of sin, the already grieving Father had to turn away from the Son. Many parents cannot even leave a child’s hospital bed to eat or sleep, but the Father, who is the very definition of love, had to for a time abandon the Son. He could not complete His purpose if “the cup passed” from Him.

Can there be any greater love than to give His Son–His dearly loved child?

The depths of this love story can only be matched by the joyous ending. Sin and eternal death are defeated. We are redeemed by the most costly price imaginable—the Father’s love.

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Fitting God into My World

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).

A Venn diagram is an illustration used as a way of picturing the relationship between two different groups of things. It is made up of two or more intersecting circles. The intersecting parts of the circles show characteristics that they share; the outside parts of the circle show characteristics that are unique to each.

Let’s compare dogs with cats as an example. The outside part of the cat circle might have “climbs trees” or “grooms itself.” The outside part of the dog circle might have “barks” or “has to be bathed.” The intersecting or overlapping parts of the circles would have characteristics they share like “has four legs, a tail, fur.”

Where am I going with this (Please tell me that your brain leaves the box sometimes, too)? I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s place in my life. There are obvious things that I can’t do without God’s “intersection” like breathing and living in the world that He created. And we definitely intersect on Sunday morning. But there are areas where I more or less ignore God, telling Him, “I got this one.”

How do we enlarge the intersecting parts of the circle? The scriptures give us some great guidelines—Pray without ceasing—recognize God’s presence in every situation; Work as unto the Lord—not unto our boss; In all things give thanks—those dirty dishes mean that I ate today.

Jesus desired for us to have this relationship with God when He prayed, “I in them and You in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity.” One with the Father.

We really don’t need to fit God into “our” world. He is already there, waiting patiently for us to recognize that His circle completely covers or interposed on ours—a total eclipse.

For in God we live (physically), are moved (emotionally), and are (intellect and will).

 

Distorting the Truth

Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).

 One of the enemy’s most effective weapons today is the perversion of the truth–making evil seem attractive, or good, or even ambiguous. This is not a new strategy. It all started a few years back in the Garden of Eden, and it is flourishing in our world today. You can fill in the examples, but let’s refocus and look directly at God’s word.

People often point out “contradictions” in the Bible. I have personally questioned concepts many times and have found over and over and over again, that I was pulling a phrase totally out of context. Has anyone ever repeated something you may have said and without “the rest of the story” the meaning not only changed, but was even the opposite? The enemy delights in twisting God’s word and having us blindly believe it.

Much of the Old Testament concerns the Jewish law, over 613 rules, impossible for the even the most devout Jewish high priest to follow. Many of these Jewish rules are good guidelines for our health, for cleanliness, or like the Beatitudes, for our own righteous behavior. Some, like animal sacrifice for atonement, are fortunately unnecessary because of Jesus’s sacrifice that totally paid the price for our redemption. Because of grace we are free from those laws.

Contradictions? No, just a different context.

God wants us not only to comprehend the truths of His word, but to apply them in our lives. It is the formula for joy, peace and confidence for every believer.

Lifting Others

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves (Phil 2:3).

If you look back a couple messages ago, I referred to this same scripture. God has been speaking to me lately about acknowledgment and appreciation of others as well as humility. Also, a bible study that I attend has been focusing on submission these past few weeks.

God designed the family as the most efficient foundational institution here on earth where we are not alone, but support each other by providing love, nurturing, learning and stability. The enemy knows exactly the areas to attack that will make us most vulnerable to sin, and submission is the one concept that has been more than misunderstood— it has been perverted.

It has been used in some cultures to place others, especially women, in positions of little more than indentured servitude. This is clearly NOT what God had in mind. Think of the parent who willingly sets aside his/her own needs for the needs of a small child. It is not motivated by coercion, but quite the opposite. The motivation is love.

The one who is submitting is actually in control, choosing that course of action. We have all read about mothers who have chosen to give their last bit of food, or their coat for the comfort or life of their child. Or men who have sacrificed their own desires and needs in order to provide for their families.

Valuing others above ourselves requires confidence in God’s love in order that we can willingly yield to others. It can be as simple as relinquishing our place in line to giving away our prized possession (probably our pride).

With loving humility, submission involves willingly placing ourself beneath another in order to lift that person up.

Hope

The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put heir hope in His unfailing love (Ps 147).

When Jesus asked the Father if it was possible for “this cup” to pass from Him, what He was about to face involved even more than the suffering, it was even more torturous than the crucifixion. It was what would happen when He assumed our sins—He would have to be separated from the Father.

Although I’ve never come anywhere near close to what Jesus faced, I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I couldn’t go to the Father. Although, in reality, I don’ t control much, the lack of hope would be unbearable. I call on Him so often in my minor emergencies and He is always there, faithfully, lovingly guiding me in the way I should go if I choose to obey.

If you think about it, it truly boils down to hope. A person who is about to call it quits in any situation, or on life itself, can do an about-face when given the smallest glimmer of hope.

It is unfortunate when we chose to anchor our hope in money, power, armies, governments, or even loved ones. These are all shifting sands, as fickle as an adolescent.

The old hymn was right on—my hope should be in nothing less …wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

 

Qualified

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship (Rom 12:1).

The Gennesareth Gospel Team listed the resumes of the following biblical saints: Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zacheus was too short, Abraham was old and Lazarus was dead.

Their premise was that God doesn’t just call the qualified. The fact is that those who have the highest qualifications, the most talents, and the greatest intelligence are actually harder for God to use. What we have to offer God is minus-a-billion compared to what He can do with us if allow Him to use us. Our intelligence, our motivations, our logic, even our passions often get in the way of His perfect work.

I often have to remind myself when it seems like God is nudging me to do something uncomfortable, that it is His work, not mine. And He certainly meets all requirements to do the task perfectly.

He doesn’t just call the qualified. He qualifies the called!

 

Diverse

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves (Phil 2:3).

Another spiritual concept that has been compromised and distorted is “diversity.” Not only are we unique, but we are each so very special to the Father that even the hairs on our heads are numbered. Can you imagine?! There are 7.5 billion of us, and I know that my number changes hourly.

Grouping us by any one characteristic makes no sense at all. We are more unique (can I say that?) than a snowflake, the traditional symbol of diversity. Stereotyping, even by positive qualities is wrong because it strips away our individuality. We are all distinct, a minority of one, each differing in looks, talents, motivations, fingerprints, DNA, and each designed by the Father for His one-of-a-kind plan for us.

We work best whenever we work together—whether it be a family, a workplace, a church, or a country. Unity is possible when we learn to value each other. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I do not need you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.

We are all created special, and are a witness to God’s diversity.