Standing on God's Promises

Standing On His Promises: Ever Loved

“As the father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love….no one has greater love than this; that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:9, 13, HCSB

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I am the girl in the meadow, plucking the daisy. He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not…

Where will the petals run out? Will I believe the testimony of a flower? How can I determine His love?

See, my life isn’t going the way I had hoped. I wanted something….desperately. It was a good thing, a pure hope and honest ambition. Life is dousing that spark, and the waves of disappointment make me feel unloved.

“Don’t you love me?” I cry.

His gaze settles unwavering on me, but I hear nothing.

“I don’t feel your love.” I weep again.

Still, that soft look holds steady, but His voice does not fall on my ears.

I’m exasperated now, and in frustration I spit, “Why won’t you speak! How can I know that you love me?”

He smiles, the sad sort of smile, like I’ve injured His heart. His soft voice drifts across my anger. “Beloved, I have shown you.”

“But I want to hear the words.”

“I’ve shown you.” He stretches His hands forward, beckoning me to His arms.

I see the evidence, the scars in His hands, my name engraved there. I look back to his face and there is love in His glistening eyes. I know now, I remember. How foolish of me to seek truth in the passing moments of life. Flowers stretch forth from their stems, bloom, and then die all in a matter of months…why would I discern His love from their fading petals?

“Do you believe me?” He asks.

I crash into His arms. “Yes,” my tears fall, this time without anger, “I believe that you love me.”

I am not my own

Called to Unfailing Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but
do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~1Cr 13:1-3

How well-known is the love passage that follows these three verses? I’ll bet you could recite it-at least some of it. “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast…” These words cover wedding invitations, wall art of every variety. They find their way into music stanzas, and perhaps most notably this time of year, are scripted into countless Valentine’s Day cards.

But very often these lovely words are minimally applied. Love–agape, is the call of every
believer. Paul wrote this passage to a church, and it directly follows a section in which he fleshed out spiritual gifts. So, when he begins with, “if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love…” It is an extension of what he’d been addressing before. The church, every member, expressing the agape of God by how they live, what they do, how they serve.

See, back in chapter 12 of the book of Romans, Paul wrote that we, believers, are to living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. In other words, we are supposed to live a life that resembles Jesus. A life of service, of sacrifice; of love.

Love isn’t the warm fuzzies of an emotional moment. It’s not flowery and poetic and pretty. It’s hard. It gets down on its hands and knees to wash what no one else wants to touch. It offers kindness to the most undeserving gentile sinner. It forgives a traitor, one who has denied Him in the face of agony. It flings the wrongs done against Him as far as the east is from the west. In this evil-infested, fickle world, love never fails.

Unfailing love. That’s a little more than hearts and roses and pretty penmanship. It’s a tall, gritty order.

And it is the life to which I have been called.

I am Precious

I Am Precious

David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly.”

Again he prostrated himself and said, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” ~2 Samuel 9:7-8 NASB

From Jen:

Imagine a story—any story where there are kings and noblemen, castles and suits of armor. Got that story in your mind? Good. Now put yourself in it. But instead of the castleprincess of the realm, you are the peasant. The maid who does all of the work, who is dressed in rags and smells bad and can’t read or write.

How do you feel?

Now, imagine that you are still that lowly peasant, but you’ve received an invitation. You know enough that it carries the seal of the King—it’s actually from him. Are you going to put it on a shelf, unopened, and let it live there?

No way! You’re going to find a way to discover what’s written inside—and a good thing, too. You’re invited to not only see the King, but to stay with Him. To live with Him and become part of his household.

Now how do you feel?

From Susan

Like Cinderella.  I’d be so awed by that invitation that I’d use my sharpest knife to just barely lift the seal, mindful not to crease it.  I’d hold the creamy paper in trembling hands.  I’d sign up for literacy classes just so I could read the thing myself, and then I’d stare at it until the words were engraved on my heart.  I’d show it to every one of my stinky peasant friends.  “Look.  The king has invited me to the palace, and he wants me to become … a princess.”

The invitation is, of course, the Bible.  It shows me the way to the place of my King.

In the verses Jen chose for us today, King David invited the grandson of his predecessor to the palace.  Poor, lame Mephibosheth must have been terrified.  Was this powerful king going to run him through with his shiny sword?  Mephibosheth was, after all, the grandson of King David’s rival.  Did David want to make sure Mephibosheth wasn’t going to try to usurp the throne?

But no.  David welcomed him not as an enemy but as a precious member of the royal family.  “So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, just like one of the king’s sons.” 2 Sam 9:11b HCS.

I, too, was an enemy of the King.  Not only an enemy, but a hygiene-challenged peasant.  God sent me an invitation to dine at his table daily as a princess. I treasure that invitation.  I read the Bible daily, because I treasure the time in His presence.

The King looked at me, his enemy dressed in rags, and found me precious.

I am loved

I Am Loved: Loved With Joy

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, he will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV

I wondered what that meant–“He will be quiet in His love”. Does it mean that because He loves me He will cease rebuking? No, I don’t think that’s right. The proverbs tell us that The Lord rebukes the son that He loves. I needed to do some digging.

I’m so glad I did.

It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew word used here was commonly used to denote the love between a man and a woman. Love like what we think of in human terms. Love that is deeply felt and pursued by choice.

Have you ever been told that you’re difficult to love? Ouch. I mean, really, ouch. That sting doesn’t quit.

Maybe sometimes we read of God’s agape– his unique, divine love–and we think in the secret, wounded places of our hearts “I like that, but He loves me because He must. . . Because He is love.” Something in that robs a bit of the sheen from that truth.

Listen, oh my tender heart, to what Matthew Henry writes of this verse:

“I know not where there is the like expression of Christ’s love to his church. . . The great God not only loves his saints, but he loves to love them, is pleased that he has pitched upon these objects of his love.”

This is the kind of love a bridegroom lavishes upon his bride as he stares into her eyes with wonder and joy and LOVE.

And my God looks at me like that? My heart just melted. He loves me with a joyful love!

I am loved

Knowing I Am Loved

“I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width and height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19, HCS

My grandmother lived in Illinois, and she reached age 70 without ever once seeing the ocean. She’d read about the sea, seen pictures of its waves, could even point at a map and show you the Atlantic. My grandmother knew there was an ocean.

But then, my parents moved to Florida. When my grandmother came to visit, they took her to the beach. She stepped out on the sand, took in a gulp of salty air and listened to the roar. The sky curved down to meet the water, arching in a planet-sized semi-circle around her. She stumbled, nearly toppling. My parents both scrambled to catch her. They had to stand on either side of her, holding her arms, so that she could take in the dizzying sight before her. “It is bigger than anything I have ever – ever – seen.”

It was at that moment that my grandmother really knew the ocean.

God loves me. I know that. I’ve read it and sung it since childhood. But being able to explain it or quote verses about it or even believing it – all that is my grandmother before she boarded that train to Florida. It’s head knowledge.

I want more than that. I want to be so awed by the depth and length and width and height of God’s love that I stumble in awe—that others must hold me up while I just stand there and marvel. I want to take in great gulps of his love, to be so filled with fullness of it that peace washes over me like the warm waves of Florida’s ocean.

Lately, some circumstances in my life have been bathing me in sadness, and quite frankly, a few weeks ago, I slipped into the first kind of knowing. I believed God loved me. But I didn’t feel like it. Then one day as I folded laundry, matching socks and worrying, God whispered to my heart, “I love you.”

It was the ocean again. I sat down, right on top of the rumpled laundry, and sobbed. I got it. The God of the universe loved me. And with that heart knowledge, that experience-kind of knowing, came Atlantic–sized peace. I write this so that next time I slip, I can go back and re-read it and remind myself how fiercely God’s love for me roars.