Thursday, May 26, 2016

God's Love Demonstrated Part 1

Every so often I find myself in need of revisiting the great love of our God so for the next few weeks I will be writing on the different ways God has chosen to demonstrate His love to us. So often we say we know God loves us, but our actions don't convey that we truly believe it. When trials and temptations come we often find ourselves hearing the enemies voice trying to convince us that we have been forgotten, deserted, or at the least less loved than others we know.

As a young believer, I believed God loved me only because He created me. That belief didn't translate into a passionate, radical, and personal love that a perfect Father has for His children. In my mind it was more like a love of obligation and a sense of "I will put up with you" because I have to kinda love.

One day when my first child was waking up from his first nap in his "big boy" bed, he realized he could get out of the bed by himself. I heard his little feet hit the floor and he ran down the hall and slowed just as he got to the corner and peaked around at me to see if it was okay for him to come to me. I remember my heart beating faster as I heard him running down the hall and I held my arms out for him and he smiled big and ran into them. I sensed in my spirit the Lord saying to me that that was the same love He had toward me. That mean that His attitude when I approached Him in prayer, wasn't impatience. That meant I wasn't a bother demanding His attention. That meant He felt towards me the same kind of delight I felt towards my own child. I realized at the time that I had a hard time accepting that God delighted in me. Over the years I have tried to notice all the different ways God shows us His love. Today, I want to look at one of the most significant ways God demonstrated His love towards us--that is in the person of Jesus. We know God's word says Christ demonstrated His love by dying for us, but He also demonstrated His love by living among us.

The coming of Jesus was in no way a new plan conceived at the last minute by a desperate God watching His children walk in sin. No way! For in eternity past the plan was born in the heart of God. The Creator, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Sovereign God, chose to veil His glory and leave the incomprehensible beauty of His heavenly home and grow in the dark confinement of a human womb. While His heavenly position entitled Him to be born in a palace and wrapped in purple linens, He opted to be born in the middle of a sheepfold, wrapped in swaddling clothes. He by-passed a gold inlaid cradle for a simple manger so prophetic of His mission as Jehovah's sacrificial Lamb. He chose to limit His limitless abilities and powers to show us He understands us and is a sympathetic High Priest tempted in every way we've ever been tempted, yet without sin. To put it simply, to tell us He loved us Jesus chose to become a man.  

It is hard to comprehend a love deep enough that it would motivate Christ to leave His heavenly home as a baby and become dependent upon a woman who was His creation. It is also hard to understand how He would choose to grow up in a home with half brothers and half sisters who didn't recognize Him for who He was or what He came to do. It's hard to comprehend a love so outrageous it would cause Him who spoke the universe into place to become an apprentice in His stepfather's shop. There He no longer could use His limitless creativity as His medium was hardwood and His tools were tools made by human hands. Rather than speaking things into being, He chose to be limited to the use of His human hands--hands that now became dirty, callused, and rough--just like ours. Yet, those same strong hands revealed God's tender compassion by gently reaching out and blessing the children that followed Him. They were also the same hands that restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and mew life to leprous flesh. They were the same hands that washed His disciples feet and healed hurts that were buried in the deepest parts of men's souls.

It is hard to understand a love so outrageous that it would motivate God to take on a human body and become vulnerable enough to experience physical  discomfort like our own--He was prone to hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. He even experienced emotional needs and found it necessary to ask three of His friends to pray for Him as He was facing His impending death. It is hard to understand a love so outrageous that it would motivate Him to set aside His own needs to meet the needs of those pressing in on Him. If they needed food, He provided it. If they needed healing, He healed them. If they needed comfort, He wiped away their tears. If they needed knowledge, He taught them through sermons, parables, and life lessons. If they needed courage, He encouraged them. If they needed rest, He took them aside to get it. If they needed freedom, He fought for it by casting out demons that vexed their souls. Even when His own emotions were raw and painful, He still ministered to others.

With the same voice He had used to speak the universe into place He comforted those who mourned. With the same voice He had used to calm the angry seas He dispelled the fears of His disciples and offered forgiveness to sinners. With the same voice that confronted the Pharisees, calling them vipers, He offered blessing to the children  and mercy to the guilty. It was the same voice He had used to comfort two sisters whose brother had just been laid to rest that turned the situation around with power and majesty, ordering the Lazarus to come forth from the tomb. It was the same voice that spoke with authority to cast out legions of demons that spoke so kindly that it healed the deepest shame of an adulterous woman.

It was His eyes that were capable of seeing everything that could penetrate the hardest of hearts. His eyes that sparkled in the early morning light as He communed with His heavenly Father also shed human tears when He saw the people were like sheep without a shepherd. It was His eyes that were the only eyes that had a right to condemn, but instead, being motivated by outrageous love, chose to use His eyes as instruments of saving grace. For as He gazed into the eyes of people broken by their sin and shame, it is obvious He conveys the heart of the living God--a heart so full of tender mercies, beating with a passions so strong and so outrageous Jesus chose to be the one to make it known by becoming a man. Oh, that we would truly begin to comprehend the outrageous love of God from which we can never be separated. It is not a high and lofty love, it is a rich deeply personal love that has that power to save, heal, and transform.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!