Posts tagged God's Love
Gospel Love in Forgiveness

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. - Ephesians 1:7-8

 

I often get the sense that there is a growing reluctance to repent. I am not sure if that is a cultural thing or just a thing that is growing in people around me. People work hard to hide, deny, or shift the blame for any brokenness or dysfunction in their lives. I get it. Life is hard enough as is without having to face the shame or guilt from our deficiencies.

Naturally, this creates a bit of tension when it comes to faith. The line from the church for too long has been driven by a perspective of an angry God looking to punish. I’m not sure if that really is anyone’s perspective. But a lot of people assume it is part of the package.

Not long ago, I got the sense that more was going on with God than anger at sin. For one, I became convinced that repentance is a relational thing with God more than a transactional thing. What I mean by that is that it is not like wart removal where God is just trying to zap as many blemishes as quickly and efficiently as possible. Rather, he knows us. It is part of his desire to be known by us better.

That is when this verse started to reframe things for me. It begins as we would expect. There is a connection between repentance and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It is costly because it is important. It opens the way for forgiveness. But then there is this part about “the riches of his grace” and lavishing upon us. That doesn’t sound like God effectively and efficiently taking care of a problem. One does not lavish payment on a debt.

I began to wonder if God isn’t doing something else here… telling us something else. God is making a show of forgiveness. God is being lavish because our repentance is an opportunity for us to discover just how extravagant his love is for us. Perhaps it is our best opportunity to come to know the God who is not afraid to step into the darkest valleys to comfort and protect, to bring us to a place of wholeness in him.

So, maybe, just maybe, our reluctance to repent denies God the opportunity to do the thing he most desires to do. God wants to lavish upon us his love and grace. What better place to do it than where we are afraid we are least deserving.

Jesus, sometimes it is hard to believe the extent of your patience, your grace, and your love. I confess the ways I hide the worst of me from you for fear that you will not love me. Show me now the lavishness of your grace and love for me that I might believe not only for me but for the world. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Monday Message: God's presence

Reprint from Oct. 20, 2014

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18

God redefines our competencies with His gifts.  We are no longer bound by our limitations or the extent of our control in life.  When we are partnered with the Living God, our self-understanding in relation to our world changes.
 
The most basic driver of this change is that we begin to expect God to be present in our lives.  We now know that He loves us with a love that does not end.  We now know that He plans to partner with us in ways of grace and peace and restoration… kingdom ways.  As we grow in our faith, we begin to experience his presence and intercession in every aspect of our days.
 
As we experience partnership with God, the end-game of our lives changes.  No longer is life about survival or security or competition.  Instead, we begin to experience what can only be described as His glory.  We discover the potential of spiritual growth.  We discover the freedom of the Spirit of Christ.  We begin to see our lives changing from one degree of glory to another as we notice Christ at work in us.
 
Slowly, we begin to understand what the psalmist meant when he wrote: “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  As we partner with God we find our hearts desires reflect His glory.  His gifts in and through us become a delight!
 
Lord, help us to discover your presence in our lives more deeply.  Open our eyes to experience your glory in ways that change our hearts from one degree of glory to another.  Let this be done in me today!  Let me know your partnership in my work, my relationships, my play… each moment of today.  We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.
 

No Fear in Love

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.  19 We love because he first loved us. - 1 John 4:18-19

Fear is the cheapest form of inspiration.  Too many of us work in situations where our motivation comes from anxiety.  Too many of us exist in relationships where fear is the stimulation for respect.  Thus, too many of us live lives that are less than God’s desire for us.

Our text tells us that God does not motivate with fear.  Even as I type this, I know that this has not always been obvious in light of how Christians have operated over the years.  The explanation for this is simply that fear of judgment is a cheaper and easier way to get people to toe moral lines, to meet deadlines, and to sacrifice.  Even though it is cheaper and easier, it is not God’s way.

God prefers the messier way of love.  It is messier because it gives each and every one of us room to discover and grow into who he has created us to be.  It gives us space to fail and use failure to learn redemption and resurrection.  It provides opportunity for worship as we boldly live into knowing our God, knowing ourselves, and knowing the authentic meeting of the two.

This morning, note the places in your life that are inspired by fear.  Where these are related to your faith, rebuke them as the false path.  Where they are related to your job, your relationships, or your self concept, ask God to fill you with his loving vision of your life.  Then ask God to walk with you on the messier way of love. 

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me.  Thank you for loving the parts of me that seem lovable and the parts of me that seem less so.  Open my eyes today to begin to live inspired by Your love.  We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.