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Monday, July 17, 2017

Love And Grace

Recently I read about an experiment done with a group of women. They were told to turn to each other and say, “God loves me so much.” Instead, most of the women turned to the woman next to them and said, “God loves you so much.” The switch in words was brought to their attention and the women were asked to do it again correctly this time. They were visibly uncomfortable with the switch in words.

Why? Why is it that we easily accept that God loves others, but we often have trouble accepting that truth for ourselves?

I love Beth Moore’s answer to this question in her Bible study called “Breaking Free.”(1)

“Because we relentlessly insist on trying to humanize God. We tend to love people according to how they act, and we keep trying to recreate God in our image.” – Beth Moore

We forget that God doesn’t love like we do. I’m SO grateful he doesn’t!

God is love – (1 John 4:16)

God is Spirit – (John 4:24)

When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, His Spirit lives in you. Wherever God’s Spirit is, so is His love.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19 (emphasis mine)

How do we know he loves us? Long before we were born, God demonstrated his love for us by sending Jesus to earth, and to the cross. Jesus gave everything for us. He gave his life so we could be free. Yes, he was obeying his Father’s will and plan...and, he also did it out of his great love for us.

That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see him or know him, but you know him because he abides with you and will be in you. - John 14:17 (NASB)

The Holy Spirit inside us is the One who helps us receive and grasp the depth of the love God has for us!

Another quote from Beth Moore: “God cannot make a decision for my life outside of his lavish love for me.”

I love this quote and it gives me great courage. He is for me. He is for you. For is the opposite of against. That may seem simple (and it is), but let that truth sink deep into your heart.

Not only is it important to understand and receive God’s love for you, but do you love him back? If you made a list of all your “people,” would God be at the top?

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life… - Deut. 30:19-20

Will we choose life? Will we love him, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him?

When a teacher of the law asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, I think it would be wise to pay close attention to his answer (he’s getting ready to say the most important commandment in Scripture).

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. - Mark 12:29

So basically love God with everything you’ve got. Are we living this out?

Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. - Psalm 17:7-8

Would you be willing to ask God to show you the wonders of his great love toward you? And can we ask him how to love him back with all our heart , mind, soul, and strength?

I’m so thankful for his grace toward us. I believe his love and his grace go hand in hand. Grace is favor given to us even when we deserve judgement. God isn’t obligated to show grace toward us. He doesn’t owe us anything, which makes his graciousness even more amazing. He shows grace because he loves us.

Recently, my ten-year-old son blatantly disobeyed my husband Michael by playing with, and breaking, the hand-saw he told him not to play with. My son was also disrespectful when questioned about it. Michael walked away quietly. A few minutes later he was back with some money in his hand. Gently he sat down by my son, handed him the money, and said, “Here is some money that we are going to use to go and get ice cream, instead of me giving you the consequences you deserve. I’m doing this to show you what grace looks like. Grace and love is what Jesus offers to us every day because of the cross.” My son’s face looked stunned, and then the tears came. He was very quiet and gave Michael a hug. My son will not soon forget that moment. That is simple, but profound, example of love and grace in action...

Of all the things you must earn in life, God’s unending affection is not one of them. We are freed up to be loved for what he has done (on the cross), and not for what we do. I love that, and I can rest in the truth of it.

Rest. More days than not I feel such a deep exhaustion, all the way to my core. Do you ever feel like that? The kind of tired that makes you whisper, “Oh Lord Jesus, come back soon.”

We can find rest in the gift of his love and affection for us, and his grace toward us. This is truth that breathes new life into me and brings me peace. It calms my racing thoughts and lessens the anxiety that creeps in way more than I’d like to admit. His grace covers us when we mess up, fail miserably, and fall short. I always feel like I’m apologizing for my shortcomings. One day my mentor said, “Hey Tam, it’s okay. There’s grace for that…” It’s kind of stuck. Now I say it to myself often.

There is so much grace, and so much love from our Father. More than we could ever understand, or use up. His mercies are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness (Lam. 3:22-23).

And for that I am so thankful.

 

Sources:
(1) - Breaking Free by Beth Moore. LifeWay Press. Nashville, TN; 1999, with revision in 2009.

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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