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What Does the Bible Say about God’s Love?

Is it possible for us as human beings to comprehend God’s love for us? God’s love is so huge that as the song says “If we with ink the ocean filled or were the skies of parchment made…to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry…” (“O Love of God” by Frederick M. Lehman). If we caught a good glimpse, we would be absolutely overwhelmed by it.

But everyone longs for that love. I often think about a quote by Joyce Meyer that helps me picture God’s love. “Love is not something God does, it is who He is.” I know God loves me unconditionally, and yes, I realize that God is love according to I John 4:8. But still, I sometimes wonder how God can love me in his pure unconditional manner, and that love seems illusive.

It seems contradictory–God loves us without reservation but He does not love everything we do. He doesn’t. Some of you may remember the movie “Dirty Dancing” in which Frances (Baby) tells her father (and I don’t remember the exact quote) “If you love me, you’ve got to love everything about me.” Sounds good, but as with many things that sound good, Baby was wrong. Yep. You read that right. If a friend says they love everything about me, that is not unconditional love. If that same friend gently helps me see when I have done wrong—for example I might have been dishonest with that friend or they saw me take advantage of someone—that to me, is love. It is not judgment; it is loving me enough to help me correct the wrongs in my life. (Now, there is a big difference between lovingly and prayerfully correcting a person and continually nagging, constantly criticizing, or trying to “fix” someone. But that is a topic in itself.)

God loves us in spite of what we may do, in spite of our anger, disbelief, rebelliousness, bad habits, addictions, and you name it. (Something in your life probably came to mind as you read this.) But does that mean we continue in those behaviors because, after all, God will still love us, right? Yes, God will still love us, BUT because of what our sin (wrong behavior) does to us and to others, He wants us to turn from those sins. Can you see that? God loves us so much, He wants us to turn from behaviors that are not good for us. 

When we turn to him, the things controlling us will start to fade away. It may be very gradual. We might not even notice the changes, but they are occurring. I admit I have heard of people who immediately had victory over smoking or drinking alcohol. One lady’s negative attitude changed to an amazing ability to find joy in life, and her very countenance reflected this. But for most of us, change is a process. 

A Moment to Reflect

Love is who God is.

In His love God sent His son, Jesus, who died to pay the price for your sins and mine.

In repentance, we turn away from the sin and to God. That is the only way to defeat sin. We can’t just “try our best” to behave better. While we still have a decision to make regarding sin, the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us make good decisions.

Don’t beat ourselves up when we have sinned. Turn from that particular sin. Know Jesus’ arms are waiting, and He will forgive. He may not love the behavior, but He loves you.

Don’t equate mistakes with sin.  A sin is not necessarily what angers others or even what makes us feel guilty. Get that straight. If we have a difficult time distinguishing between sin and guilt feelings, we can ask for God’s guidance, and read what God’s word says is sin. God will relieve the guilt and shame as we look to Him. 

Prayer

God, I know You are here with me, and You love me as no other can. Help me be aware of that always, and help me to know that You do forgive. You are so crazy about me that it is hard to imagine the depth of Your love. Help me to turn to You for guidance and to find godly Christians who can help me in my walk with You.  

Scriptures to read:  I John 4:8; John 3:16; Acts 20:21; I Corinthians 10:13; Romans 8:1

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Christ's compassion, Christ's Love

Abundant Life

Read John 10:1-14.

Have you ever considered your life to be worthless or that people would just be better off without you? I know, I know this sounds rather melodramatic to some, but in the depths of depression, there are loads of people who feel this way. And telling someone in the throes of this despondency that God loves them may be like singing a song to a deaf ear that cannot comprehend.

Or perhaps we’ve never experienced such sorrow so we just want to tell that individual “cheer up,” “look at the bright side,” or if we’re a little more blunt, “suck it up.” Unfortunately, even with good intentions, this type of advice can cause even greater despair.

Perhaps you are in a low place right now and just want to give up. Can I tell you that your life is worth a great deal to God? Even in the midst of circumstances that seem overwhelming. Even when you have committed some horrible sin, or have been caught up in an addiction, or deserted, or wrongfully accused, your life is meant…well, to live.

Jesus promised us abundant life as we follow Him (John 10:10). An abundant or satisfying life does not mean that everything will go our way. No, we will suffer. He promises us this. But our lives still matter and are worth living, even if the circumstances are horrific.

In John 10:1-14, notice what Jesus says about thieves, and contrast it to what He says about the good shepherd. The thieves (the enemy, Satan and his forces) want to steal and kill and destroy. So, there may be literal attempts on our mortal lives, attempts to steal our joy, or attempts to destroy our very reasons for living. There will be hard times but that does not mean we can’t have an abundant life. Not if you think of abundance as having a rich and wide variety of experiences.

Mankind dreamed of flying for millennia, and there were some rather humorous attempts at flight in our not-so-distant past.* Did you know an airplane (or bird for that matter) essentially “struggles” to get in the air? Lift and thrust must overcome the forces of gravity and drag. But once at cruising altitude we probably feel only the forward momentum, and if we are not afraid to look out the window, we can view mountains, forests, farm land, cities, all from a new and exciting perspective.

Consider that Jesus knows us in our struggles and is with us as we struggle through our daily lives. The thieves may be right outside the gate or climbing the walls, but the Good Shepherd is fighting for us. He has already laid down His life so that we may have a full, abundant, and satisfying life. Yes, we will face obstacles. Yes, we may face real danger. But remember Jesus has overcome the most powerful enemy…that of death.

Even now, He fights for you.

He loves you. Yes, really. Walk with Him. Just walk at His pace, in His path, and let Him guide you to abundant life.

A Moment to Reflect

Do you believe the Good Shepherd fights for you?

Have you ever survived something that was a real danger to your life? Do you feel as if God intervened?

Take a few minutes to laugh:

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Grief and hardship come to us all.

The heartache you and I face helps put comparatively minor circumstances into perspective. I have friends and relatives who are suffering, those who now have an empty place in their lives due to the loss of a spouse or loved one. There are others who are waiting—waiting for a job, waiting for news concerning their health, or waiting for a son, daughter, spouse, or sibling to return safely to them.

Grief is something all of us will face at some point or another. While nobody in my family has passed on this year, I have experienced some losses and have been reminded of the shortness of life. A few months ago, I lost a dear friend to cancer. She used to tell people that I was her special friend. Not only did we attend church together, we seemed to understand each other. We laughed at many of the same things, enjoyed coffee together, and her sweet spirit helped sustain me through some rough spots. But now she is in the arms of Jesus. I imagine she is happy in the extreme to be with the One she loves so dearly. Three more friends have also left this earth since then, all of them Christ-followers, all of them showing evidence of that fact. I am happy for them, but I grieve also—mainly for their spouses, children, and other family they left behind.

Two other friends face serious health issues. One has had a stroke and at a rather young age (I consider late fifties “young”). She made it to church after 8 months of absence. Another was awaiting a lung transplant when I originally wrote this. Just a few days ago, he got the call, and has successfully received a lung. He is doing well, but has a long road of recovery ahead.

Yet another friend surprised me when I saw him at church one Sunday morning, and he told me he had resigned his pastorate. He has no prospects right now, but made this decision because “it was time to leave.” He must be hurting even though he knows he is following God’s direction.

Hardships and struggle come to us all. This is an imperfect world, and we will face tragedy, loss of jobs, health issues, and a myriad of other disappointments.

Does this mean we have done something to displease God? Does it mean He is punishing us or is mad at us? Perhaps we even question if He still loves us.

I do not believe God is mad at you or that you have displeased Him. Yes, we can be disobedient but as a Christian, Christ has done all that is needed to please the Father and He is not punishing you. Realize that Christ suffered the punishment for our sins. Disciplining? Perhaps. Remember that discipline can be Him redirecting us, giving us a different perspective, or leading us to repentance. But realize that He continues to love you.

If you are suffering or grieving or struggling or fighting an impossible battle, realize you may be doing just as God wants. Don’t believe me? Allow me to point to Job who God said  was a righteous man (Job 1:1). As a result of his righteousness, he suffered terrible losses. God also told Job’s friends they were wrong in their criticism of him. He told them to ask Job to pray for them and He would accept Job’s prayer (Job 42:8).

While I cannot answer your big questions in time of heartache or tragedy, I will suggest what God may want from you. He may just want to draw you close as He invites you to sit with Him. (He has a HUGE lap.)He may want to take your worries, exhaustion, and nightmarish circumstances upon Himself. Perhaps He just wants to love on and comfort you. The Bible says that He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1) who comforts us in all our sorrows so that we in turn can comfort others.

Take a moment today to ask God for His comfort, for His direction in whatever situation you face. And do not isolate yourself from others who want to comfort you or just be with you.

When God comforts you, try to find someone who needs comfort, and pass what God has give you onto them. It may take time to be able to do this, but eventually, through your own sorrow, through your own tears, you will be able to see the needs of another.

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).

Sorrow

God Loves You in Your Sorrow

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