Friday, June 18, 2021

God's Love For God

"God's love offends us because the greatest object of God's love is God, not us."
The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love by Jonathan Leeman

Romans 11:36 "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

The statement above by Leeman surprised me in two ways. First, offended by God's love? Who would be offended by God's love? Second, God loves Himself supremely!

Let's talk about the second first...God's love for God. When God looks at the world He sees His beautiful creation and He calls it good. When He looks at us He sees those He has redeemed and He calls us children - John 1:12.  But when He looks within the Godhead, God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit see within their gaze the most, glorious, holy, pure, majestic, powerful being that has no beginning and no ending. There is no one greater to love than God. God would commit idolatry if He loved anything more than or as much as Himself.

The Father declares, "This is My Son, whom I love.." Matthew 17:5.  Jesus says before He dies "the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me." John 14:31

Everything is for God, about God, because of God. It's not about me.

When we read that, does a little voice say..."Hey, wait a minute. I'm important, too." Here is where the first surprise came in. I realized that I was jealous that God loved someone else more than me.   I was offended that the world did not, after all, evolve around me.

And yet, this is a great comfort to me.

He doesn't need my love to be contented, because He is totally complete in the joyous, rich love in Himself. God is fulfilled by God. I do not have to worry about disappointing God. He is not up in heaven wringing His hands over what I am about to do. I don't have to fear failure. His happiness is not disturbed by it.

Most certainly you and I experience God's love! But it streams first out of His love displayed in the Trinity. "Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39    The love of Christ for us is wider, longer, higher, and deeper than we comprehend. (Ephesians 3:19)

Years ago, after a busy day with people, my seven year old daughter came to me and said, "Do you have enough love left for me, Mommy?" I could grow weary, I could fail to love. But God can never run out of love for you because His love is so satisfied and complete within the Trinity. He will for eternity have enough love left for you.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Devotional 135 - Sovereignty and Zombies

“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” 
― R.C. SproulChosen By God: Know God's Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children

God is sovereign. That's a fact. Meaning nothing happens apart from what He has determined.

Psalm 115:3 Our God is in heaven, He does all that He pleases.

Isaiah 45:7 I am the Lord, and there is no other. I am the one who creates the light and makes the darkness. I am the one who sends good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.

Proverbs 16:33 We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they will fall.

Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

The second fact is that we are all spiritually dead men and women.

We are zombies. That's right. We are dead men walking. And as you know, a zombie wants nothing but to serve up the flesh on a silver platter. Zombies are as free as you and I to make their own choices. His choice will always be wrong, because his nature is dead.  So something outside of the zombie must enter in and give him a new nature. He will not go for it first. The first move will have to be another source. We all start out spiritual zombies.

Ephesians 2:1  And you He made alive, who were dead...

John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you..

Now after He touches our zombie hearts and takes the cataracts out of our eyes, then we can have the right faith and make the right decision.  And all who are touched by God WILL come to Him.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me...

So the question is: Does He decree for everyone to be saved?  The answer is: No.

Acts 13:48..and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Romans 9:18 Therefore he has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

John one can come to Me unless it has been granted to Him by My Father.

This is enough to take in for one reading. This is not a complete answer. You should have more questions that will naturally arise and I welcome them.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Devotional 134 - Joy

If you have no joy, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere.
    Author: Billy Sunday

Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience. We need to be light-hearted in what we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride.
    Author: Richard J. Foster

The aim of God in creating and redeeming us is the delight He Himself enjoys in seeing His creatures delight in Him. In other words, the purpose of the knowledge of God is the enjoyment of God because "God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him."
    Author: John Piper

Joy is the serious business of Heaven.
    Author: C.S. Lewis

Psalm 4:7 "You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound."
Psalm 21:6 "...You make him glad with the joy of Your presence."

The sun is out today as I write this. I make note of it because we have had several weeks of cloudy, dreary weather. I have had more than one person express their low spirits because of this. Rhett sleeps poorly and this affects his emotions. Charissa has some pressures with insurance companies and medical bills and this momentarily affects her happiness. I fret about past mistakes, and the ones in the future I have yet to commit, but know they are just around the corner.

But none of this is a good enough excuse to be joyless. Because weather does not give me joy. Good sleep does not give me joy. Material wealth and health do not give me joy. Sinless perfection does not give me joy. The Bible teaches that joy comes from the Lord. It comes from being loved by Christ and treasuring Christ. It comes from His glorious and wonderful presence in our lives.

Jesus told us right before He went to the cross that if we obeyed His commandments we would abide in His love, and that love would fill us full of joy. John 15:10, 11.

My prayer for you and me is that we would be so aware of our Savior that joy spills out even in our imperfect lives.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Devotional 133 - Thank You, God

"Dear God, Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.    Joyce"

"Dear God, please change the taste of asparagus. It is grass. Thanks. Sarah"

"Dear God, Thanks for loving the whole world. I have four people in my house and I can never do it. Neil"

Psalm 107: 1 "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!"

I like waking up when it is still dark. I like the crisp air, even cold air when I open the door and step outside and take a deep breath. Some early mornings the moon still lights my way and other mornings are covered with gray clouds.

In the days leading up to Christmas this is my moment to pause with God and be thankful. Thankful for what? That all my prayers are answered the way I want? Thankful that I have health? Thankful that my family loves each other? Thankful that I am not alone?

 Yes, these are good things. But like the children above, if God doesn't answer my prayer, if I am surrounded by disease and turmoil, what am I to be thankful for?  Let me give you three reasons.

1. Psalm 118:1 "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good..."  We live with a good God. He is not moody like we are. We never, ever have to fear He will make a mean or vindictive decision in regards to us or the world. He is good and whatever He does is good.

2. Psalm 7:17 "I will give to the LORD the thanks due to His righteousness..."  "God is always consistently “Godly.”  God is not measured or defined by the standard of righteousness; God sets the standard of righteousness"... (Bob Deffinbaugh). He always does what is right. He can be trusted to make perfectly holy, just, right decisions for us and the world. As wars and rumors of wars occur we can be assured that He is working out of His righteousness even in this.

3. Psalm 107:21 "Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love..." A love that can never be lost is the love we have from the LORD. God's love for you and me does not depend on how good we are at loving others. We fail everyday at being like Jesus and yet His steadfast love remains. Isn't this something to be thankful for? Christmas love is a demonstration of how far God will go to redeem His people.   We should thank Him everyday for this marvelous, unchanging love.

"The way out of despair and loneliness is to give God thanks." Jonathan Bernis

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Devotional 132 - Anxiety

"Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God...All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God." Having a Merry Heart in a Martha World  by Joanna Weaver

Proverbs 16:20 "Who so leaneth on the Lord, happy is he."

Our pastor gave a sermon entitled "The Cure for Anxiety". He used the text, Matthew 6: 25 - 34.  I never tire of hearing these sermons. I need the constant reminder of confessing this sin of worry that so easily crops up.

In the Amplified Bible, verse 25 states "Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life." Isn't that an exact way to describe it - perpetually uneasy. It's like a drag on our soul, a thought that won't go away, a nagging fear. As Proverbs 12:25 says "An anxious heart weighs a man down..."  

When we are weighed down we are not fully experiencing the joy of the Lord. We are missing out on Him. We are missing out on life! Stop living like God is not trustworthy! That's what we do when we insist on coddling anxiety. We should rebuke it! Refuse it entrance into our thinking. We should say when worry threatens to ruin our joy: "Let God take care of it!"

100 times a day we should repeat: "God is in control". That should be our mantra. My God lives. My God loves me. My God is good. My God is in control. What should I fear?

Not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father's will as we read in Matthew 6:29. He has His eye on us and He is able to take care of things.

"Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in the earth, in the seas and in all the deep places." Psalm 135:6

We have a cure for anxiety.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Devotional 131 - Fear

"We have one, and only one, reason not to fear---the presence of Christ in our circumstances; but He is more than enough reason." Beth Moore Living Beyond Yourself

"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."   Matthew 14:22-27

What do I fear? I am afraid of man's opinion of me and I am afraid of failure. As I keep my focus on Christ He can help me not to be afraid of failure in job, as a friend, as a parent, as a wife. With Christ ever present I can handle the distance of misunderstandings or differences. Jesus cries out to His men: "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Why should the disciples not be afraid in so great a storm? Because their Lord, their eternal friend, the Creator of the storm was near.

Notice Jesus was "walking" on the stormy sea. There was no hurry or worry to His gait. What must that have been like? If I was unafraid, I would have walked leisurely also, to soak in all the majesty and power of the moment. I love the dark and rumbling clouds, the wind whipping my hair back, the spray of water on my face. The dark swirling pool beneath my feet and the great swirling sky above.  I imagine the water felt soft and padded around Jesus' feet. He walked because He was enjoying His creation, because the storm was His will, because He had a purpose which was being worked out to the smallest degree.

Remember this when I am tempted to fear.

What do you need to remember when you are afraid?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Devotional 130 - Free Again

"Oh what freedom, the Word of God and the love of friends."  Carol Totten

"How much more will the blood of Christ... cleanse our that we may serve the living God." Hebrews 9:14 

"Dear friends, since God so loved us , we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11

I had returned from eight days on a tree-studded island in the middle of a cool spring-fed lake in Canada with a burdened heart instead of a refreshed and joyful spirit. I was ruminating like a cow on her cud about a mistake I had made. I had asked the Lord's forgiveness but kept getting the bad taste of the moment regurgitated back up into my mind.

The island was just as moss covered and fragrant with the smell of pine and jasmine, the sunrises continued to glow golden, the loons made their morning and evening music, the water shimmered and reflected the sun and clouds, but my heart wasn't free to enjoy it. My conscience accused me over and over. The last three days I saw the beauty with cloudy sight.

Not until I joined a few sisters-in-Christ in Bible study, right here in my small town in Kansas, did I find freedom again to let the joy return. 

Our study in Hebrews 9 clearly reminded me of the complete forgiveness of Christ. It is a done deal for all eternity. His blood cleanses my accusing conscience. It shuts up the whispers of Satan that wants to keep me chewing on dirt. Jesus cleanses.

And my friends...well they just loved me. They spoke encouraging words to me. 

Somedays we need to be encouraged by our friends. Somedays we are called to be the one who encourages. But everyday we need to replace our thinking with the Bible.

Oh how wonderful the Word of God and the love of friends! I pray you experience both today!