His Love For Us

As we continue to look at God’s love for us, we are focusing on Romans 5:8, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” This is something I think a lot of us have a hard time understanding or comprehending. We know how much we love our family or friends, but God’s love isn’t like human love; it goes far beyond anything we can even imagine.

I know for some, the thought that God would love us when we were mired down in sin, undesirable, and self-centered is hard to grasp. We were a mess before Jesus got hold of us, and yet He willingly gave up His life for us because of His great love! I don’t know too many people that would naturally say, “Yes, I’ll die for them.” We tend to gravitate toward people that are loving, those who may look like or act like us, those who have attributes that we find attractive and lovely. If we are honest with ourselves, we usually don’t befriend someone who may be from “the wrong side of the track”, or people who are struggling with issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or who are tattooed and pierced over 95% of their body…they don’t appeal to us. But God looks past all of that! He looks directly at the heart.

I know a gentleman, that if you looked at him at first glance, you’d think he was part of a biker gang like “Hell’s Angels”. He’s a rough lookin’ dude! But he is the sweetest guy you’d ever want to meet. He came to our church for a while, and I know it took a little bit before some people in the congregation warmed up to him and really got to know him. He’d come to church on his big, old, Harley Hog, dressed in leathers, tattooed, and a long pony tail. He is a great big teddy bear of a guy! The teenagers loved him, and he was so sweet to everyone. He loves Jesus with all his heart and is part of the Christian Motorcyclist Association (CMA). He has since moved from the area and so I’ve not seen him in a long time. By first impression, most people would steer clear of him. But God saw something in him, and loved him unconditionally, and my friend accepted Jesus as his Savior, and he spread the news about Jesus to everyone he met.

God calls us to love like He does. We are to love those who we may deem unacceptable. Jesus reaches out to them with open arms, and we should also. His love for each of us is more than we can fathom. We don’t have to make ourselves acceptable in His sight, He loves us unconditionally. My friend didn’t have to get himself all cleaned up to come to Jesus. Jesus took him just as he was, loved him and saved him, and gave him to those in his circle of influence to reach for God. My friend would reach people I would never meet. He was put in a position to identify with a certain type of people and be an influence for God. Who knows how many people he’s led to the Lord!

So, as we think about God’s love for us, how deep and wide, how vast…remember that we are to love like He loves. Reach out to the unlovable, the unreachable, the outcast, and the downtrodden. Show God’s love to them, and thereby win them to Jesus.

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You are Loved

 

Today is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air! As much as I love my husband, God loves me more! In fact, our Bible verse today is taken from Hosea 2:19, “I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion.” (CSB) To give a little background on this verse, God has asked Hosea to take a harlot for a wife. This marriage was to be a representation of Israel’s relationship with God. He loved Israel, but they were unfaithful to Him in many ways, just as Hosea’s wife was unfaithful to him. Hosea 1: 2 relates God’s instruction to Hosea, “When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he said this to him, “Go and marry a woman of promiscuity, and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the Lord.” (CSB)

Despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, God still loved her, just as Hosea loved his wife, Gomer. No matter how many times she would run to other lovers, Hosea always took her back. Hosea is an example of how God loves us. The Bible says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8) and “We love, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) We were unfaithful to Him, and yet He loved us, He loved us first!

God’s love for us is an example of what married love should be like. We are to give each other totally to the other. Their needs come first before our own. God uses the example of marriage to explain our relationship with Jesus. He is the Bridegroom and we, as Believers, are His Bride. We are to be spotless and pure. His love for us is an example of how we are to love each other. Marriage is a covenant between God, the Bride, and Groom. It isn’t just a piece of paper that says we are married, it is a contract, a covenant, promising to love, honor, respect, obey, and be totally devoted to each other and to God. Marriage consists of three people, God as the Head of the family, the husband is to be the head of the wife, loving her and being submissive, obedient, and under the leadership of God; and the wife is to honor, respect, obey, and be submissive to not only her husband, but also to God.

My husband is such an awesome man. He loves God with all his heart and carries that love for God to me. He realizes that my first love MUST be God and he comes second, just as I recognize that his first love MUST be God and I come second. As we love each other, we in turn love God, and together, we serve Him. When we faulter in our walk with the Lord, God loves us still, and draws us back to Himself, just as Hosea pleaded for Gomer to return to him. No matter how many times we turn our back on God or choose to be rebellious, God still yearns for us to come back to Him and love Him just as He loves us.

God is the total embodiment of love, the Bible says, “God is love” (I John 4:8). Love describes God, it is His total essence. The description of love is God! He is the ultimate example of pure love. He is our example! We are to pattern ourselves after Him.

God’s love to us is Agape love, that unconditional, selfless, sacrificial kind of love that Jesus showed as He hung on the cross for our sins. That is the kind of love we are to have for each other – selfless, unconditional, sacrificial, giving ourselves for the other.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day with our spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, remember to love as God loves us.

His Love Leads Us

 

As we continue to look at aspects of God’s love, today’s verse tells us that His love leads us. Exodus 15:13 says, “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them in Your holy habitation.” (NASB) I love the idea that God leads us through each mountain and valley of our lives.

As I was thinking about this verse, I began to think back at my own life. I can see God’s hand guiding me and I see where He led me even though I had no clue which way to go. I became a Christian at the age of 11 in a Youth Group meeting on a Sunday night. I had been having disturbing dreams for a few weeks, dreams of not being a Christian and finding myself in Hell. I know God was talking to me through my dreams, trying to draw me to Himself. I don’t know why I didn’t accept Jesus after having those dreams, but I didn’t. One Sunday night, a guest came to our Youth Group and asked this question, “Why are you a Christian?” She asked it to the whole Youth Group. Each person gave their reason for why they asked Jesus to be their Savior. When it came my turn, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t give her an answer because I wasn’t a Born-Again Believer, and I admitted it. It was then that my pastor asked me if I would like to ask Jesus into my heart, and I said yes. God just wouldn’t let me get out from under His loving invitation.

He guided my life in a miraculous way, at least I think so. When I was in my mid 20’s I wasn’t in the habit of listening to the Christian radio station in our city, but one day I was having a really bad day and decided to tune in. It was then that I heard a promo for their singing group, asking those who wanted to join to come to an audition. I decided I didn’t have anything going on, and it might be nice to be part of the group. I went to auditions and was accepted and it was there I met my first husband. God led me to decide to listen to that station at that particular time, and it changed my life! It began almost 40 years of ministry in broadcasting as my husband and I served Christian radio and television stations for the majority of our lives. I’ve often said God has taken me on an adventure. I had no inkling that broadcasting would be in my life. In high school that was the farthest thing from my mind.

The hardest day of my life was when my husband died. God led me through that dark valley for six years. Being a widow was very hard for me, but God was right there carrying me through that dark time. In the midst of that valley a guest speaker came to our church and he spoke a prophetic word over me, telling me that I would minister to people all over the world using journaling. That troubled me, because I wasn’t a good journaler…very sporadic. But his words haunted me, and about 2½ years ago I found Bible Journaling. Another one of the ways God has led me.

He also led me to get on the Internet and do some online dating and at the end of that six years, I met an incredible man on a Christian dating site, and six months later we were married. God led me to him and birthed a new ministry for me. My new husband has a ministry online and I have a blog into which I incorporate my Bible Journaling.

As I look back, I see God’s Hand so plainly in my life. He has led me every step of the way. It’s good to look back and see from where God has led us. His love is so incredible!
It is because of His love for us that He leads us along the pathway He has chosen for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) He guides us in His strength Exodus 15: 13 tells us. He leads us right to the gates of Heaven, His holy habitation. Oh, how I praise Him for His guidance!

He Carries Us


One of the ways God shows His love toward us is found in Deuteronomy 1:31, “And in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.” God shows His love toward us in that He carries us.

To give a little background on this verse, the children of Israel had arrived at the Promised Land. God, through Moses, tells them to go in and possess the land. Ten scouts were sent in to spy out the land and they came back with a report. All but two of them allowed their fear and rebellion against the Lord to influence them, and they told the people that it was too hard, the people were giants, the cities were fortified with tall walls…on and on, giving excuses as to why they couldn’t go in and take the land. Only two came back with a good report, telling the people it wasn’t something they couldn’t do, but encouraging the people to go in and take the land as God had said. Moses reminded the people that God was with them, He had been with them the entire journey from Egypt, and He wasn’t about to abandon them now. Moses tells the people that “The Lord your God carried you” all through the wilderness. But the people let their rebellion win out and refused to go in. They spent the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness until that rebellious generation had all died off. God lovingly carried them through all of that despite their rebellion.

Have you ever watched a father carry his child? That child is precious to him, and lovingly holds that child so that it is safe. I remember as a little girl, my Dad carrying me on his shoulders, he made sure he had a tight grip on me so that I wouldn’t fall off. God holds us like that, with a firm hold on us so that we are safe. It makes no difference what it is we are experiencing in life; His love carries us through every situation. When we are going through mountain top experiences, He is there holding us, when we are in the valley, He is there carrying us when we feel like we can’t take another step. His love for us keeps Him right by our side.

God promises that He will hold us in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you, Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (NASB) Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” (ESV) His love for us causes Him to protect us, guide us, and carry us through life.

I find that reassuring. God knows my every step because He is right beside me, and when I stumble, He holds me so that I won’t fall. He walks this pathway of life with us and we have no need to fear or wonder where He is. He has a tight grip on us, and He keeps us safe from the attacks of the enemy, from the things that life throws at us, and even sometimes from ourselves. Like the children of Israel, we can be our own worst enemy. But He loves us even when we are rebellious, and He keeps His Hand on us. So, remember today, God’s love for you is carrying you. Be encouraged.

His Love Endues Forever

 

As we look at love this month, we must look at the love God has for us. Psalm 136 is a chapter that echoes one theme, “His love endures forever!” Psalm 136:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (NASB) The Amplified Bible says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever.”

We’ve already talked about the fact that God IS love. Now we look at how long His love lasts. Forever is a very long time. It’s great to know that He loves us no matter what. He loves us even though we are unlovable. In fact, the Bible says He loved us before we loved Him. (I John 4:19) Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’” (KJV) He gently leads us with His love. When we are wandering around, not knowing which way to turn, His love is poured out upon us as He guides us in the pathway He has chosen for us. To those who don’t know Him yet, He draws them to Himself with love that lasts forever.

Even when we turn our backs on Him, He still loves us. The children of Israel were such a rebellious people, constantly trying God’s patience, and yet, despite their disobedience, He still loved them. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34 KJV) Jesus looked over Jerusalem in sadness because they didn’t recognize Him, they were still disobedient, and they rejected His love for them.

His love isn’t like human love. As humans, we tend to love only those who are lovable, or those who can give us something we want, or those who only do good to us. God loves us regardless of those things. Even when we shake our fists in anger at Him, He loves us. It’s His love that sustains us in the difficult times. It is His love that holds us when we are in despair. It is His love that rejoices with us in times of great victory. It is His love that compels us to come to Him when we recognize that it is only through Jesus that we are saved.

God has directed us to have the same kind of love for others as He has for us. Ephesians 5:2 says, “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (NASB) John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (KJV) The reason for this is found in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.” (KJV)

God has an enduring love for us that surpasses any that we’ve ever experienced, and we are to pattern ourselves after Him. We will never achieve that level of perfect love that God has for us, but we are to strive for that mark of excellence. He knows we will never be able to love Him like He loves us, but He wants us to endeavor to be more like Him every day.

God’s Love

In this month of February, we are focusing on love, particularly God’s love for us. I John 4:8-10 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (CSB)

God’s ultimate demonstration of His love for us was the sacrificial death on the cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus did this because of His great love for us. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NASB) When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, God’s love is put in us, and we should exhibit that love to everyone in our realm of influence. John says that anyone who doesn’t love, does not know God. That means we are to love our enemies as well as our friends and family. Loving our enemy is not easy, it isn’t supposed to be. It’s a conscious choice. By choosing to love our enemies, those who have hurt us, those who seem to delight in our failures, we are exhibiting God’s love for them.

Jesus set the example for us. Even when He was being beaten and hung on a cross, His love showed for those who tortured Him. He asked God, the Father, to forgive them. If He can forgive those who killed Him, we can forgive those who come against us in horrific ways. It may not be easy, but He is with us and will help us to show love to those who are against us. In this way, we can show the light of God to those around us.

I look around at the world we live in today. I see so much hatred, violence, discord, and complete anarchy. The Bible says the end times will be as in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26), and we are seeing it played out right in front of our eyes. My sister emailed me today and shared a news story. In the city where she lives, a police officer was shot and killed while delivering a search warrant. This is the third officer shot in the last eight months in that city. I can remember growing up there, you hardly ever heard of a police shooting. In fact, you hardly ever heard of a shooting! But today, violence is out of control. These people do not have love, and it shows in their actions and in their speech. My heart breaks for this police officer’s family. The pain they must be going through is unimaginable!

The only solution to this epidemic is God! I know it probably sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. Without the love of God in the hearts of people, there is no peace, no light, no harmony; there is only pain, darkness, violence, hatred, and confusion.

We can rejoice in the love God shows toward us. He shows us in so many ways- Salvation (John 3:16), blessings above and beyond anything we can even imagine (Ephesians 3:20), guiding us through the pathway and plans He has set before us (Jeremiah 29:11), and the promise of being with Him in Heaven one day (John 14:1-3). God is the ultimate in love, for He IS love!

Oh, How He Loves Us!


Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (NASB) This month we are focusing on God’s love for us. I love this verse because it tells me that He loves us to a thousandth generation! His love is never ending, He is faithful, and He keeps His covenant with us.

As I was working on my journaling, I kept thinking about His love for a thousandth generation. That’s a long time! I can’t even fathom that! Over and over again the Bible tells us how much God loves us, He just keeps reminding us of His love for us. The Bible gives us 310 verses in the King James Version about God’s love, 131 times in the Old Testament, and 179 times in the New Testament (info from Google). That’s a lot of reminder for us! He never wants us to forget how much He loves us!

He loves us with an everlasting love! (Jeremiah 31:3) His heart breaks when we turn our backs on Him and decide to go our own way. Our rebellion causes Him great pain. (Jeremiah 8:18-9:3) Just as when we disappoint or rebel against our earthly parents, they are in great pain, because despite everything they’ve tried to do, we rebel and go against their teachings, leading, and guidance. Then there must be discipline. When we rebel against Him, God disciplines us, and He disciplines us in love. (Hebrews 12:3-11)

He lovingly guides us along the pathway He has chosen for us. We must remember that His plan is the best plan for our lives, and that His guidance is given in overwhelming love. Agape love…unconditional love. No matter what, He loves us! When our hearts are breaking, He lovingly wraps us in His arms and comforts us. When we are rejoicing over something that brings us joy, He is right there rejoicing with us! In our quiet times, He lovingly whispers His Word to us, teaching us so that we can become more like Jesus.

His love is far above anything we can even imagine. He showed us His love by sending Jesus to die for our sins. (Romans 5:8) The Bible says that He loved us before we loved Him. (I John 4:19) John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) He gave Himself for us! John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (NASB)

He stays close to us! He keeps us in the palm of His Hand! (Isaiah 49:16), in fact the Scripture says He inscribes us…carves us into the palm of His Hand. He can never let us go! What awesome love the Father has for us!

So, as we focus on God’s love this month, remember, you are never alone, for He is always with you. When you hurt, He hurts, when we laugh, He rejoices with us, when we are in despair, He is right there to offer comfort and loving arms. HE LOVES YOU!