February 8, 2016

God’s Love Defined

I love God. I love my husband. I love my kids. I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I love chocolate ice cream. I love your hair. I love your house. I love my church family. I love that dress. I love this song. I love this movie. I love this game. I love this t.v. show. I love potato chips. I love my mom. I love my dad. I love my hair. I love God’s Word. I love those flowers.

When we speak of love it ranges from the everyday things to precious family and friend relationships. It can be a food or our spouse, Our dog or that new restaurant we tried last week. When we consider God’s love, we often bring it down to our level, to something we can grasp or understand or manipulate. We want it to look like us and do like us and be like us. And yet, is that what we really want in a world that has wounded us, creating fear of relationships and every next step or decision? Can we trust our kind of love to save us or heal us or sacrificially give to meet our greatest need? I wouldn’t trust MY shallow, fickle, unpredictable ability to love if my life, peace, joy, or eternity depended on it.

You see God’s love is defined by His very character – holy, righteous, faithful, just, eternal, all powerful, everywhere present, merciful, gracious, patient.

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:4-5)

His love is not fluffy and mushy and excusing of sin. His love shoots straight from His truth, righteousness, and holiness. He loves us in keeping with His righteous justice, changing our broken state. He doesn’t love us by leaving us in a state He cannot forgive. He loves us by changing our status from justly condemned under our sin, to forgiven on the basis of His Son’s death and resurrection applied to our sin.

“God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin (completely sinless), to become sin for us (in our place) that we might become (not earn) the righteousness of God (acceptable in God’s holy sight) in Him (Jesus).”       (2 Corinthians 5:21)

God’s love is unfailing, dependable, a refuge in the face of our own sin and in the face of our greatest fears. As wounded survivors, why is it so important for us to understand God’s love? When we get to a place where we know AND believe His love is trustworthy, we can begin to let go of our deepest wounds, releasing them to Him, resting in His unfailing arms.

So how do we get there? What is the first step? KNOWING He is love and BELIEVING He is love is a very large step. Our trust has been broken. Our feelings of betrayal run deep to the core of our being? Will He love us like humans have “loved” in our lives – to meet THEIR needs and fulfil THEIR wants at the expense of ours? Let’s go to the Word and see how different saints through the ages answer that question.

It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”           (Deuteronomy 7:8-9)

“He brings the clouds to punish people, or to water his earth and show his love“.                                    (Job 37:13)

“I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.”                                                         (Psalm 40:10)

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.”         (Psalm 42:18)

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Timothy 1:14)

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.                            (1 John 4:16-18)

Moses reminds the people of God’s faithfulness to keep His covenant of love. Suffering Job speaks of the Lord showing forth His love in the rain He sends. David, hounded by Saul and the consequences of his own sinful choices, recalls God faithfulness and saving help – the Lord directing His love by day and being in a song by night. Paul in the New Testament tells us how the Lord has poured out His love on him abundantly – this as he is persecuted, accused of wrong, imprisoned, physically attacked and hounded. Lastly we see John, the disciple Jesus loved and eventually sent off to exile on the island of Patmos for spreading the gospel of Christ, telling us we can rely on the love the Lord has for us, having confidence in the day of judgment because in this world we are like Jesus. How are we like Him? We are wounded, misused, accused, but we belong to Him who loved His own Son and yet gave Him for our salvation. He gave His only Son that we might not live in fear of punishment, embracing His love because it has met our greatest need in Christ.

We will speak more of who we are in Him because He loved us, but this week, I just want you to understand that no matter the wounds, the isolation, the insecurities that have been formed in us because of a broken world, God’s love is unfailing, reliable, ever-present, ENOUGH FOR OUR EVERY NEED.

If these men in the trenches believed that – and they most certainly did – how can we not believe that? They had every reason NOT to if you looked at their circumstances. BUT they did not do that. They looked at the One who was bigger than their circumstance and had the power to love them and keep His words of love to them while their circumstance seemingly remained the same. His love is at work. They would tell you to trust Him as One who is faithful to His covenant of love, because HE is true, holy, righteous, just, merciful, good – something human love can never faithfully deliver on. It is for our very good that He pours out His love so abundantly.

He is in this to do the very best for you THROUGH the storm, THROUGH the pain, THROUGH the hurt. His love works FOR our good, not our wants or comforts. His love is perfect and His love should drive out all our fears as He is the One who is unchanging and a keeper of His Word to the end.

  • How can believing this make a difference for you in your current situation?
  • How can I pray for you on this journey from fear to knowing God to believing He is for you and His love is holy, just, faithful, and true?
  • In what way could I walk through this journey with you as a fellow wounded sister, life coach, teacher?

Please don’t walk this journey alone. I am here to lead you into His heart for you if you are ready. Lean into all He has for you – you can trust Him.

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