(Last minute note from Steve) This letter was scheduled to go out last night or this morning, but in light of tragic events that recently transpired I waited to send it out. But as I prayed about this topic, I recognized it is appropriate in any situation.
Jeremiah lamented over the horrific events taking place in Jerusalem. When he was tempted to despair the Good Spirit came along side and helped him to have hope.
“This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)
While we weep with those who weep, we also derive hope from meditating on the steadfast love of the LORD which never ceases, and never changes regardless of current events.
For most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is a time to recharge. It is a break from the normal routine and we often plan our vacations for this time of year to spend time with family and be refreshed.
In that spirit, this missive will not have any exhortation to do anything. Rather it will be an encouragement to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. I have selected several passages of scripture to provide meat and drink for your body, soul, and spirit. It is my hope you will marinate, bask, revel in the love of God for you. Rest in His care. Be still and know that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit love and like you.
You have two options. You may read one passage of scripture a day and chew on it (biblical word is meditate) and/or you may read a short commentary as well. In either case I pray you will have a faith filled summer where God’s affection and care for you continue to grow as you become more rooted and grounded in the knowledge of His perfect love.
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
“This is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
God took the initiative. He loved us first. He sent His Son before we were aware that we needed a Savior. The love that this act on His part engendered love and gratefulness in our hearts, but every good and perfect gift comes from above. Later in this same chapter we read “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). “God loved us” you and me.
“While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
When God sends Jesus to die for us, we were a mess. There was nothing attractive about us. We were without God and without hope. We were separated and estranged. Yet (great word) God chooses this moment to to be a teaching moment and “reveals, demonstrates, shows” His unconditional love.
There is nothing we can do to make God loves us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less. While we were sinners Christ died for us. “When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy,” (Titus 3:4-5)
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16)
God defines true love. The highest expression of devotion is to lay down our life for another. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
There is more to this inspired verse. We “know” love. Throughout the book of 1 John the word “know” is used 38 times. I believe John is writing His epistle so the church would have the assurance of knowing the love of God. I think of Hosea when He writes “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;” (Hosea 6:3) May God help us to know and apprehend the true nature of His love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Probably the most quoted verse which documents the love of God is John 3:16. God so loved us, He gave. God took the first step to woo us and win our hearts. He gave. Love is not receiving but giving.
He gave what was most precious to Him, His own Son. Not only did the Son endure the agony of the cross, He experienced the first separation from His Father since the beginning of time. The Father and the Son were inseparable throughout eternity. Because of bearing our sin, the Father had to turn His back on His only child. Jesus then cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This incredible sacrifice was so the world could be saved.
“O LORD, you have searched me and known me! How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” (Psalms 139:1, 17-18)
I have an easier time believing God loves the world than me. If I am able to articulate my feelings the reason I struggle with knowing the love of God for me personally is because I know my dark secrets and the unlovely aspects of my character that I hide from everyone.
But we are not strangers to our Creator. He made us and formed us. He knows us inside and out. And He loves us still. His thoughts toward us are fully informed and yet precious. They are so numerous than the sand. It seems too good to be true, like a dream, but when we awake, we find God is still for us.
Day 6 “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
Often we know in our minds that God loves us. We can quote scripture to document this truth. But sometimes what we give credence to in our heads does not find its way into our heart of hearts. Some have said the longest distance is from our head to our heart.
Thank God His Good Spirit is on hand to help us in our weakness. For the Holy Spirit helps us assimilate this great love by pouring God’s love into our hearts. I have no doubt that my awakening in 2012 to the truth that God likes His children is a fruit of the ministry of the Spirit.
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.” (Psalms 143:8)
I don’t know why, but I often struggle to believe God loves me when I first awaken. To combat this unbelief I have committed this passage to memory. I am not usually a memorizer, but after quoting these words multiple times, I now can begin each day by asking God to “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love.” Over and over He answers my request and my morning doldrums are becoming a thing of the past.
I also appreciate the word “steadfast”. Webster defines it as fixed, constant, firm, resolute, firmly fixed or established. God is love. God never changes. God’s love stands fast. It does not waver.
PS You can download a PDF here if you could like to print out these scriptures for your refrigerator 🙂
For the past few years I have been in the process of writing four books which I believe are important to building a family of faith.
Learn more about the books here.