Tag Archives: God’s love

Today’s Scripture – November 27, 2017

Luke 11:5-8 (NIV) Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”

Since Jesus is teaching His followers about prayer, He goes on to teach them about persistence in prayer as well. Many people believe that only one petition is necessary to see an answer to prayer. Still others teach that to pray more than once for something shows a lack of faith. But that is not what Jesus taught.

In Jesus’ illustration, a man goes to a neighbor’s house to ask for bread to feed some unexpected guests. The need is real and, according to hospitality norms in the Middle East, urgent. It would be a strong insult to a visitor to not offer travelers something to eat after their journey. But the poor host has nothing to set before them; not a single loaf of bread.

So the desperate man goes to his neighbor, despite the lateness of the hour. The need is that urgent. He knocks at the door and calls out for help. But the answer that he receives is not encouraging: “Don’t bother me!” The hour is late, the house is dark, and everyone is packed together in the small sleeping area of the house. If the home owner was to get up, he would jostle everyone, possibly waking the children. If he were to light an oil lamp to try to locate the bread left over from the day before, that would rouse the whole household. It’s too much trouble; he is not willing to waken his whole family to get bread for this inconsiderate neighbor.

But the desperate man will not give up. He would rather be shamed before his friend, this sleepy irritable neighbor, by asking for what he desperately needs than to be shamed before his visitors by returning empty handed. So he knocks and calls out louder and more desperately, until his friend stirs himself and gives him what he needs.

The short lesson is not that God is irritated when His people ask for what they need each day, or that we must rouse Him from His slumber before He is willing to grudgingly accede to our requests. It is simply that if the friend is willing to get up and disturb his whole family in response to the persistence and shameless boldness of his friend in need, how much more will God respond to the persistent and shamelessly bold request of His own people when we are in need.

Father, I really appreciate this word, and the encouragement to not only ask persistently, but boldly for what I truly need each day, my “daily bread.” I don’t have to come to You ashamedly, because You Yourself have instructed me to come before You daily and ask. Thank You for the promise, and the encouragement. Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – July 17, 2015

John 3:35-36 (NIV):  “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John reveals another reason why it is such a serious thing to reject Jesus:  God loves Him, and has placed everything in His hands.  To spurn Him, to reject Him, is to reject the one that God Himself loves deeply, and the one who holds the lives of every person on the earth in His hands.

Since God the Father and Jesus are one (along with the Holy Spirit), to be in relationship with Jesus is to be in relationship with the Father, and to receive the love of the Father just as Jesus did.  It is also to receive eternal life, because to be in relationship with Jesus is to be in relationship with the one who has life in Himself (cf. John 1:4).

Verse 36 is parallel to John 3:17.  With Jesus’ coming, those who have heard of Him and what He has done are polarized into two groups:  those who believe in Jesus, and those who reject Him.  Those who believe in Jesus, believing that He really was who He claimed to be (God in the flesh – cf. John 8:58, 10:30-33, 12:44-45, 14:9-11, 17:5), and that He really did what He said He came to do (die to pay for the sins of the world – Mark 10:45), are not condemned, but have eternal life.  But those who reject Jesus, who do not believe in Him, are condemned already, even while they live.  They will not see life because God’s wrath is on them.

Many people, when they see the word “wrath” see in it an emotion – that God is angry with that person.  And many wonder how that kind of anger can be compatible with the love that God has for the whole world.  But neither God’s wrath nor His love are primarily emotions.  Instead, those terms talk about God’s actions toward others.  His love is best described as His actions to bless others.  This is the agape love that He revealed to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7, pouring out blessings, even forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin for those who truly repent.  It is the same love that moved God to send Jesus to earth to die for the sins of all humanity.  And it is the love that bestows eternal life on all who believe.

On the other hand, God’s wrath is His actions in opposition to those how oppose Him.  Those who refuse to believe in Jesus, who reject Him and His work on their behalf, fall under God’s wrath, experiencing His opposition, even while they live.  They are living as condemned because of their rejection of Jesus, and thus their rejection of God.

That thing that is vital to understand is that a person can move from being under God’s wrath to being a recipient of His love and His eternal life merely by turning away from their lives of sin and believing in Jesus, receiving His sacrifice on their behalf.

Father, it is sometimes puzzling to me that some would choose to live under your wrath by rejecting Jesus instead of repenting and receiving Him so that they can receive Your love and Your eternal life.  But then I remember that I was there myself, and chose to live in darkness rather than to turn away from those things so that I could receive Your light.  I guess I thought that the price was just too high.  But, Lord, now that I have moved from darkness to light, from wrath to love, from death to eternal life, I can see that all of those things that I thought were so precious were really just garbage!  Thank You for the gift of Jesus, and for making it available for all who want it, even me.  Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – April 30, 2014

Mark 3:13-19 (NIV):  Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.  He appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.  These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus had entered the next stage of His earthly ministry.  The crowds were too numerous, and there were simply too many places still for Him to go for Him to do it all Himself.  After spending the whole night in prayer up on the mountainside (Luke 6:12), Jesus called twelve of His disciples, and appointed them to take the next steps alongside Him.  Their job would be to be with Him – to officially leave everything behind and live their lives with Him – and to be sent out to preach (Greek: apostello, the root of our word “apostle”) in the many places that Jesus had not yet gotten to.  Jesus also gave them authority over demons so that they could drive them out.  (This demonstration of God’s power working through the disciples of Jesus would be the hallmark of the early Church after Jesus’ ascension – cf. Acts 1:9, as well as the whole book of Acts.)

The twelve that Jesus chose for the next step are, in some cases, counterintuitive.  Peter, James, and John (and sometimes Peter’s brother, Andrew) are usually accepted as good choices because of the prominent role they played in Jesus’ ministry and in the early Church.  But Jesus didn’t choose them because they were great men; they became great men because Jesus chose them and brought them into intimate relationship with Himself.  The same can be said of the rest as well.

Judas is the one who usually raises eyebrows.  Why would Jesus pick Judas out of all of His other followers (which surely measured in the hundreds at least) to be one of His most intimate companions?  Why not hold him at arm’s length, let him follow at a distance if he had to follow at all?  Some believe that Jesus didn’t know that Judas would be His betrayer, but He knew (cf. John 2:24-25).  Some think it was an effort to win Judas over to Him and prevent the betrayal.  But Jesus already knew where His future lay, and who would play all of the key roles.  No, in bringing Judas close to Himself, inviting Him into intimate fellowship with Him, providing for him, and showing him all of the wonders of God’s kingdom, even though He knew that he would betray Him one day soon, Jesus was showing all humanity God’s love and His grace.  It is God who causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, even though the evil will never acknowledge it, and would spit in His face if He showed up.  It is God who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (cf. Matthew 5:45), even though the unrighteous will claim that the rain that moistens the ground and causes their food to grow is just a natural phenomenon, and will never give Him thanks for it.  And it is God in Jesus who called Judas into intimate fellowship with Himself, allowing him the unimaginable opportunity to associate directly with God’s one and only Son, even though He knew that Judas would use that opportunity to betray Him into hands of sinners to be killed.

Father, it seems amazing that Jesus is that loving and that full of grace.  But He also chose Peter, knowing that he would deny Him.  He also chose Thomas, knowing that he would doubt His resurrection.  And today, he calls people to Himself, inviting them into intimate fellowship with Himself, even though many of them will ignore Him, others will spurn Him directly, and still others will follow for a while and then turn away to follow their own agendas.  But for those of us who accept His invitation wholeheartedly, who choose to follow Him all the way, who remain steadfast through thick and thin, the blessings are inconceivable!  Amen.

1 Comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – December 17, 2013

Revelation 3:19 (NIV):  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Nobody likes to be rebuked, to have their wrongdoing exposed and pointed out to them.  Yet every parent understands the need to confront their children with their wrongs and sins as soon as they are discovered.  If they don’t, the children will continue to run in the tracks of evil, and will only get worse and worse.

God has always lovingly disciplined His people when they have sinned.  His intention initially is to show us where we have gone wrong; to speak to our hearts with conviction, giving us an opportunity to repent – to turn away from the sin and to turn fully toward Him again – before the sin takes root in our hearts.  If we do not respond, more drastic measures become necessary.  He will bring the sin into the open, so that it will be clearly seen.  The opportunity to repent is still there, though at this stage there will likely be other consequences for the sin.  If we still will not repent, the consequences will continue to accrue.  Ultimately, the hardness of our hearts will cut off our communion with God.  He will leave us to our own devices, giving us over to our sin and depravity, until we hit bottom, when some will finally turn back to God.

Some of us who are on the receiving end of God’s conviction and discipline seem to think that the unpleasant things that He brings or allows into our lives when we sin is a sign that He doesn’t love us.  Actually, the opposite is true!  They are a sign of God’s abiding love for us, even in the face of our rebellion, our spiritual adultery against Him.  Because God wants His people to be holy and pure, solely devoted to Him in every area of our lives so that we can spend all eternity in His presence, He rebukes us when we sin; He disciplines us when we rebel; He puts us through the fire to purify and refine us.  If God merely left us alone in our sins, THAT would be the sign of an uncaring heart – it would mean that it didn’t matter to Him if we ended up in hell.  But it does matter.  It makes a massive difference to God that those He loves, those He died for, should end up suffering eternally, separated from Him by our sins.  So, as a caring parent, God rebukes, He disciplines, He reproves, all in an effort to get us to change our direction before we are lost.  Our job is to be earnest in our own spiritual development, and to repent at His first rebuke.

Father, it is easy for us to see as parents that rebuke and discipline are actually signs of love.  Give us soft hearts, Lord, hearts that immediately respond to the gentlest rebuke with sincere repentance, so that nothing more drastic will be required.  Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – November 19, 2013

Romans 8:31-32 (NIV):  What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

So many Christians today are discouraged by the news that they hear:  wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, persecution of Christians all around the globe, and they become discouraged and afraid.  They feel a tide of anti-Christian sentiment in their own nation and their fear grows.  They wonder if God has lost track of what is going on in the world – if He has suddenly deserted them.

But God’s promise to never leave or forsake us, to be tangibly with us to the very end of the age has not lapsed.  He has not forgotten it nor turned away from it or from us.  It has been engraved on the palm of His hands with iron nails (cf. Isaiah 49:16).

The fact is, God has already given His very life for us, the life and blood of His only begotten Son.  He has sacrificed Him for our sins, to wash us clean so that we can walk with Him, live in His presence, hear His voice, and receive the living presence of His Holy Spirit.  After making that depth of sacrifice for us, how could we think that He could ever forget us, ever forsake us, ever leave us to the world?

God has loved us to that degree already, so we can be confident that He will provide for us ALL that we need; that He will be powerfully present with us every moment; that He really will never leave us or forsake us.  As He has been with His people through the ages, so now He will be with us every moment of every day.

Father, thank You for Your presence, Your guidance, every moment.  I rest in the assurance of Your provision, Your promise to graciously provide EVEYTHING I need each day; the daily bread for both body and soul.  Thank You SO much!  Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – November 18, 2013

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV):  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It is a truth that is easy to lose track of:  Jesus died for the ungodly and sinners.  Those same people, the sinners and tax collectors with whom He hung out a lot of the time.  THEY are the ones He died for – they are the lost ones that He came to seek and to save.

It’s not that God doesn’t WANT to save the self-righteous, the Pharisees of every generation who, whether they are truly righteous or not, see themselves as “just as good as anybody, and better than most.”  God wants EVERYBODY to come to repentance (cf. 2 Peter 3:9).  But those who are confident of their own righteousness will not accept the sacrifice made on their behalf.  They will insist on standing before God on their own merits, and will fall miserably.

The ones for whom Jesus’ substitutionary death is effective are the spiritually bankrupt, the “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3) who know that they are lost, that they don’t have a prayer before God.  In Jesus’ day, these were the one who flocked to Jesus, those who had been written off by the “righteous” as hopeless cases; the ungodly, for whom no one would dare to die.  No one but THE One.  He died for those ungodly.  To demonstrate God’s love for all mankind, He died for those sinners.

Today, when we see someone who is NOT among the “godly,” someone who is an out-and-out sinner, a conspicuously ungodly person, we need to remember that it was precisely for that person that Jesus died.  It was out of God’s love, out of His passionate desire to save people exactly like him or her, that Jesus suffered, and bled, and died.

Father, I remember very clearly who I was when You saved me.  I was most definitely NOT a righteous man.  I was poor, and sinful, and totally lost.  But You gave Your Son for me, to take on Himself the punishment I deserved.  You reached down and touched my heart with powerful conviction of my lostness.  And when I surrendered to you, You saved me and changed my life forever.  Thank You for dying for poor, sinful me, and for not leaving me poor and sinful!  Help me to reach out to others today who are just as poor and sinful as I was, so that they, too, can experience Your life-changing love.  Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – June 22, 2013

Matthew 5:7 (NIV):  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

 Those who want to receive mercy from God must continually extend mercy to others, just as those who want to receive His forgiveness must continually extend forgiveness to others.  This extension of mercy to others begins with a solid recognition that we require mercy from God ourselves – that unless He extends His mercy, we are forever doomed.  When we recognize our own dependence on God’s mercy, it become utter nonsense to withhold mercy from someone else.  But if someone does withhold mercy from another, it betrays a self-centered, unforgiving heart that far from God!

Thus showing mercy to others does not actually originate from a soft heart, as much as from a sense of our own forgiven indebtedness.  He who has been forgiven much loves not just the forgiver, but also others who are in his debt.  Likewise, he who has been shown much mercy shows love not just to God, the merciful One, but also to others who are in as much need of mercy as they were.

If a person notes a troubling lack of mercy in their own heart, the first place to look is at their own sense of having received mercy.  Are they grateful to God, or do they see themselves as somehow more worthy or more deserving of mercy that some others.  Or do they somehow see their offenses against God as less serious than the offenses of others against them.  In either case, their worldview and their view of their own inherent goodness are seriously warped and twisted.

The Bible speaks the absolute truth when it says, “There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3b)  Every single person on earth who has come to the age of accountability has chosen to sin more than once and, as such, is deserving of eternal separation from our holy God.  The only reason that we are not immediately condemned forever is because of God’s great mercy toward us.  There are NO grounds for anyone to feel that they are somehow superior to others, because they were just as lost, just as hopeless, just as condemned as anyone else before God showed them His mercy.  There are no grounds for anyone to withhold mercy from another, because each of us stands in just as much need of God’s  continuing mercy and saving grace as anyone else.  But only those who continually remember the depths from which God saved us, the foulness from which He Holy Spirit rescued us, will truly show mercy to others, and continue to receive mercy from God.

 Father, I DO remember the depths of sin in which I was buried when You saved me.  I DO remember the bitterness of rebellion that was in my soul when You forgave me.  And for that reason, I am Your loving servant forever.  Help me to pass along that same love, mercy, and forgiveness to others.  Amen.

Jesus’ prayer was, “Father, forgive them;
They know not what they do.”
A prayer born in death, writhing with pain.
A prayer risking faith, facing the sorrow.
A prayer living in hope, seeing the future.

My prayer was, “God, how can I forgive them;
They know what they did.”
A prayer saying, “It still hurts.”
A prayer wanting vengeance.
A prayer seeking direction.

My prayer became, “God, help me forgive them;
They know what they did.
A prayer saying, “They were wrong.”
A prayer wanting reconciliation.
A prayer seeking courage.

My prayer became, “God, forgive them;
They know what they did.”
A prayer that wrestled with injustice.
A prayer that acknowledged weakness.
A prayer that found hope in God’s love.

My prayer remains, “God, forgive them;
They know what they did.”
Because forgiving recreates life from death.
Because forgiving cleanses the healing wound.
Because forgiving builds the bridge of freedom.

Jared P. Pingleton
The Role and Function of Forgiveness

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations