Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life
Love Is No Accident
From: Our Daily Journey
One rainy autumn day, my son’s vehicle left the road, went airborne at 70 mph (112 km), and found a lone tree beyond a drainage ditch. For the next hour, rescue workers toiled to pry him from his shredded car. By God’s grace, he survived.
While processing that event with friends, I shared a bit about my own youthful indiscretions. “Do you feel this accident is God judging you for your sins when you were young?” one asked. “No,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt God’s judgment.”
That got some attention. But if by judgment my friend meant punishment, I stand by my statement.
The ancient prophets show God pleading with His people to return to Him so they wouldn’t suffer judgment. Yet God still permitted them to go their own way. They chose idolatry and sexual sin over His life-giving commands. “I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I had given them,” God said (Ezekiel 20:26). But He didn’t leave them there. “Go right ahead and worship your idols, but sooner or later you will obey me,” God told them (Ezekiel 20:39). Invasion, destruction, and exile were coming. Yet they would one day return to Him.
Sometimes accidents are just accidents. Sin, however, always carries a high cost. When we suffer the inevitable consequences, we may think we’re receiving God’s judgment. In reality, it’s His love.
God sometimes permits me to slam into the results of my sin. He pulls me out of the wreckage, brushes me off, and sets me back on my feet. I sense Him gently say, “Let’s go this way now.”
Our son for the time being is walking with a cane. I look at that cane and watch those painful steps. I observe his resilient, God-given spirit. And I see a clear metaphor for my own walk with God.
Prayer in the Father’s Honor
If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Son of God’s birth on earth is true of every saint. God’s Son is born into me through the direct act of God; then I as His child must exercise the right of a child— the right of always being face to face with my Father through prayer. Do I find myself continually saying in amazement to the commonsense part of my life, “Why did you want me to turn here or to go over there? ‘Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ ” (Luke 2:49). Whatever our circumstances may be, that holy, innocent, and eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.
Am I simple enough to identify myself with my Lord in this way? Is He having His wonderful way with me? Is God’s will being fulfilled in that His Son has been formed in me (see Galatians 4:19), or have I carefully pushed Him to one side? Oh, the noisy outcry of today! Why does everyone seem to be crying out so loudly? People today are crying out for the Son of God to be put to death. There is no room here for God’s Son right now— no room for quiet, holy fellowship and oneness with the Father.
Is the Son of God praying in me, bringing honor to the Father, or am I dictating my demands to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the time of His manhood here on earth? Is God’s Son in me going through His passion, suffering so that His own purposes might be fulfilled? The more a person knows of the inner life of God’s most mature saints, the more he sees what God’s purpose really is: to “…fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). And when we think of what it takes to “fill up,” there is always something yet to be done.
|August 8, 2017
How I Know That It’s Never Too Late
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV)
Twenty-five years ago, I held a newborn baby in my arms.
She was beautiful, tiny.
And I was young — 19 to be exact.
I was a unmarried teenage mom and a sophomore in college. The year of my daughter’s birth was one of the most difficult years of my life. It was hard — very hard.
A positive pregnancy test set off a string of new realities in my life, one of which was a strong feeling of a lack of worth. I had messed up and disappointed the people I loved. I was on my way to being “mom” in a season of life where I planned on being a kid. I was no longer the “good girl” I’d once tried to be.
I wondered, sometimes out loud, Does God still love me?
Pain mixed with a little shock, a ton of remorse, and lots of uncertainty left me feeling unlovable, unredeemable and out of God’s good graces.
I knew He loved me, but didn’t feel it. Instead I felt alone, in the dark and cold.
During one of those lonely moments, I reached for my Bible and searched for reassurance of God’s love for me. I believed God loved me no matter what, yet I just needed proof. I needed a reminder to rest in and rehearse so I wouldn’t forget or doubt the reality of His love in my life.
I wrote one verse down on a sheet of notebook paper. That one verse became two, then five, then over time became two pages of Scripture to remind me how God loved me.
I kept those notebook papers with me at all times — folded in my pocket or my purse or my backpack as I went to class.
Over time, I’ve learned to believe God’s love for me is unconditional. While He does indeed desire for me to obey His Word and walk in righteousness, His acceptance of me does not ride or die on whether or not I measure up. Consequences ebb and flow with my choices, but His everlasting love does not.
As I rehearsed those verses that represented a lifeline to His love, I learned to believe in His love for me in a very deep and real way. And the more I understood His love, the more I wanted to live a life that exemplified the love I desired to offer to Him in return, just as our key verse reminds us: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
I recently dug out those pieces of paper. They’re still intact, though they’ve yellowed with time. As I held them in my hands, I was overcome by the gift of God’s love to an imperfect person like me.
Not only does God love me unconditionally, He loved and always loves me first. God doesn’t wait on me to come to Him ready with everything together or with all my ducks in a row. He’s loved me — and continues to love me — to live the life of the girl He created me to be.
Since those college days, I have had my fair share of hard times. But one thing hasn’t changed.
I know He loves me. And I’ve learned more deeply over time to believe in my value to God and trust what He thinks of me, regardless of where life has led me thus far. I understand more about how He wants me to live my life, knowing He has made me beautiful, strong and powerful in Him.
As long as I still have breath in my lungs, it’s never too late to choose to live her life … the life of the girl who feels lost. Or forgotten. The girl who’s made mistakes.
Or the life of the girl who simply needs to stop wasting time and move forward with what she knows she should do.
How do I know it’s never too late to know the love of God? Because it wasn’t too late for me.
And here’s what I know — it’s never too late for you to seek His Word, His face, His heart and His hopes for the life of the girl in you.
Dear Father, sometimes I struggle to believe You love me and You can redeem my story and life, however it’s played out thus far. I want to be exactly who You created me to be. Give me the confidence to believe in Your love for me and Your plan for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.