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.

Advertisements

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.

 

Twice Born

Therefore if anyone belongs to Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold new things have come (2 Cor 5:17).

The term “born again” has been used so flippantly that the depth of these words has been blurred. When we choose a spiritual rebirth through accepting Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as a personal gift from God, the old person has passed away. We become a new creation with new spiritual DNA.

There is a renewal of the mind that urges us to live in accordance with God’s word and will, doing or avoiding things we may have never before even considered. If we choose to disobey, an inner conflict signals a warning.

For some, the change is dramatic. I would think for most the changes are gradual, but in hindsight we can look back and recognize spiritual growth. We can look back even as older believers, and see the gentle guiding hand of our loving Father whose mercy is new every morning.

 

Chosen

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16).

I would like to share with you part of a story from Crosswalk. I hope I can do it justice without getting too lengthy.

A women’s ministry speaker challenged her audience by asking them to be still and listen to their hearts in order to recognize the lies about themselves that either knowingly or unknowingly linger there. It may have been something spoken by a parent, teacher, spouse, school kid, or something not even spoken at all, just believed. The ladies were asked to write them down, then symbolically (and not so symbolically) place them at the foot of a wooden cross and replace them with a “truth card” that she had prepared citing a promise or positive affirmation from God’s word.

After the retreat, the speaker gathered the cards and noticed that over and over again the word “worthless” appeared. This big, fat, ugly lie is one that the enemy throws in our face time and time again.

As parents, we were intentional in instilling a positive self-concept in our children; in fact, one spouse says that we went a little overboard. But it really is not based on anything we do or are. Self-worth is only meaningful when we recognize who we are in Jesus—beloved, precious, wonderfully made. We are not only worthwhile, but we are a necessary part of His perfect plan; and to believers, all mistakes and sins are covered.

Next time a negative self-thought pops in, recognize that it is not from the One who made us just as He wanted us, “complete” and filled with all His fullness and power.

Those Who Seek

I love those who love Me; And those who diligently seek Me will find Me (Prov 8:17).

In discussions with other believers, the topic of God’s will never fails to eventually come up. God, for sure, wants us to know His will, to desire to do and say things that align with His word. But more than even that, He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son. In other words, not to just seek His will, but to KNOW Him.

To understand concepts like this, I have to relate it to my experiences, in this case, as a wife. When my husband and I first began building a relationship, we learned things about each other—likes, dislikes, annoyances…. Later, as our relationship grew, we learned about each other on a much deeper level—what we valued, what was in our hearts. Because of this, we could each anticipate how the other might react to a situation.

The great thing about our perfect Father is that the more we know, the more amazed we are. He is the author of every good thing, the very definition of love. And as knowledge of Him grows, it is both astonishing and humbling to be considered His dearly beloved child.

Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.