Category Archives: Love of God

the difference between me and “them”

I love the Psalms.  They express worship.  They speak of God’s attributes and character.  His holiness, His awesome majesty, His great power, His unending mercy, His lovingkindness.  They show the sinfulness of man.  The wickedness of the human heart.  The struggle to follow God.  The temptation of the world and the lure of evil.  They pretty much cover everything.  They even expose the pride and bigotry of the fleshly mindset.

It was Psalm 5.  I was reading it and loving those opening verses.  The plea for God to hear.  The worship of sacrifice.  Then the description of evil men.  They’re despicable.  Evil.  They don’t please God.  Then, the psalmist turned the attention on himself.  Well, kinda.  He really didn’t focuseon his actions or character.  Well, take a look at verses 4 – 8:

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors.

But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies– make straight your way before me.

Psalm 5:4-8 NIV

Did you catch what he said (emphasis mine, of course, I’ve never heard my MDiv friends discussing the bold type in Hebrew)?  “By Your great mercy…in Your righteousness.”  The focus is all on what God has done and who He is.  He is righteous.  His mercy has granted us access to His house and the privilege to boldly approach His through.  Then, the contrast hit me.  The only difference between David and those guys in verses 4-6 is God’s mercy and God’s righteousness.  We all know that David’s actions were just as bad as those other guys at times.  But God’s great mercy made the difference.

So what about me?  I see those “other guys.”  Often, they don’t look like me.  They don’t act like me.  They certainly don’t act Christian.  Then again, I don’t always act Christian either.  What’s the real difference between me and them?  Nothing to do with me.  It’s God’s great mercy.  I have it and they need it.  So why do I so easily look on them with judgement?  That’s the battle.

Lord, help me to see all people as Your precious, treasured creation.  Help me to be ready with love, a helping hand, and the gospel message.  Thank you for Your great mercy.  Without it, I would be lost and doomed for destruction.  Your lovingkindness knows no end.  Thank you.  Amen.

Brian

 

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Romans and Titus//definitely written by the same dude

I’m reading through Paul’s letters and I must confess that I thought I would just breeze through Titus.  I don’t know why I thought less of the book, I mean the Word of God is the living, active Word of God.  But for some reason I did.  Now, I’ve spent a whole week in this three chapter book.  I love it.  Chapter’s 2 and 3 are like a mini Romans – the Cliff’s Notes version.  Look at these verses in chapter 2:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (11-14)

Can’t you see Romans 12:1 in there?  He’s saying that we should think about the grace of God.  Think about our salvation and what that means in our lives.  We should be different.  Because of our salvation: we should live differently and we should be eagerly working for our Lord! (“zealous for good works)”.

Look at what he says in chapter 3 verses 4 through 8:

But 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, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

What a description of the gospel.  But remember, he’s not writing to lost people.  He’s writing to the church, the saved, the saints, His servants.  He’s saying that we should be talking about the gospel.  We should be discussing God and who He is.  His love.  His goodness.  His grace.  We should explore His attributes.  Understanding who He is makes what He did for us even more amazing.  Then we should explore what He did for us.  Talk about salvation: our sin, Jesus Christ, the cross, the resurrection.  We should search the scriptures to know what that means for us.  Is it just fire insurance?  Or is it more?  Are we just waiting on heaven or does it change us here?  We are heirs now!  We are His children through adoption by His blood.

Why should we continually teach these things?  Did you see the “so that?”  Of course you did, I put it in bold print.  So that we – the church, the people of God, His children – would devote our selves to good works.  It’s Romans 12:1.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

What’s he saying? Something like, go serve like it’s worship to a holy, loving God who wondrously saved you by the sacrifice of His Son and has showered you with blessings beyond our finite human imaginations.  Something like that.

Brian


o, it’s friday, but you know that sunday’s coming

Tonight we worship around the cross.  Everything will be focused on Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  On His mercy and grace.  And on our response – surrender.  Join us at 6pm at MeadowBrook Baptist.

Then, Sunday.  O, Sunday we celebrate the resurrection.  The amazing display of God’s power, proving that Christ was indeed God and man, when He raised Jesus from the dead.  Conquering death and hell.  Amen!  It is my favorite day of the year.  Here’s the set list:

Jesus is Alive (choir and band)

My Savior Lives

For All You’ve Done

Alive Forever Amen

Arise (choir and band – with the resurrection)

Oh, I can’t wait to gather with the body of Christ and celebrate.  If you are in the area, come.

He lives!

Brian


what can separate us?

The love of God has been my theme for that past couple of weeks.  I’m amazed at how He loves us.  I read Crazy Love.  The song Your Love from the North Point Louder than Creation album has been playing over and over again in my car.  Then Monday, I hit chapter 8 in my read through Romans.  That familiar passage in verses 35 – 39 just sang to me.  It is so beautiful, comforting and poetic.  And its truth just floors me.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Can anything separate us from His love?  Persecution or troubles?  No.  Hunger or poverty?  No.  Death or the threat of death?  No.  Demons, the past, the future, distance, or anything in this world or heaven?  NO!  Nothing.  His love surrounds us and guards.  And..

…even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with Me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Nothing, people.  Did you hear me?  Even in death.  Especially in death.  God is right there with us.  And even if you feel distant, He is right there.  Though you may not be aware of Him, He is there.  Just turn to Him.

Thank You, God, for Your incredible love and faithfulness!  Amen.

Brian


what do we do?

So, God has been leading me to consider His incredible love for us.  How should we respond?  Obedience?  Witnessing?  Giving?  Serving the poor?  All good answers, but none of them the most important.  Jesus said that this is the number one thing:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind and with all your strength.

Mark 12:30

Our first response should be to love Him with all that we are and all that we have.  We, I, should fall in love with my Savior above all things.  That’s a real challenge to me right now.  Can I say that I love God that much?  Above my wife?  Above my family?  Above me?  Furthermore, do I really love God or just His stuff?  Do I love Him or what He gives me?

More questions than answers, I know.  But right now my focus is on loving God.  I want to know Him.  I want to love Him.  When my love is right, all these other things will be too.

Brian


how can it be?

Think about it.  How can God love us so much?  I’ve been overwhelmed by the thought of His love for us this week.  I’m reading the book Crazy Love and at the same time God is leading me through passages of His Word that hit home on the same themes.  In my daily Psalm reading I hit Psalm 139 last Thursday.  The first six verses just keep ringing in my head:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

ou discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay you hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:1-6

The intimate knowledge God has of me is staggering to realize. That out of almost 7 billion people on earth, in the midst of a universe that is larger than I could ever comprehend and goes “who knows how far” beyond our most powerful telescope, God knows every word I say before I even say it.  Not only that, He does it on purpose.  He has “searched me and known me.”  He even knows when I sit and when I get up!  Wow!

Then, while I’m reading this, God has me in the first few chapters of Romans which reminds me that I deserve non of it.  I deserve only the wrath of God.  Even David knew this as he wrote in Psalm 143 that “no one living is righteous before you.”  But by God’s grace, His marvelous, wonderful grace, I am saved.  He is my Redeemer and Friend.  My Father.  His intentional, crazy love for me goes beyond anything I can imagine.  It goes so far that while I was still a wretched, rebellious sinner, He died for me (Romans 5:8).

How can this be?  And how in the world do we respond to such knowledge?  Total surrender.  Nothing held back.  Lay it all down.

More on this later.

Brian


good question

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

Luke 6:46 (ESV)

Good question, isn’t it?  What Jesus was asking makes perfect sense.  If some one is your lord, then you are their servant.  A servant does what the master, or lord, says whether he/she is one by choice or by force.  If we have fully submitted to Christ, if He is our Lord, then why would we not do what He says?  Why wouldn’t we do what His Word commands?  Jesus also said,

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.

John 14:23a, 24a (ESV)

It’s pretty simple.  If we truly love Christ we will obey His word.  We will do what He says.  If we don’t, we won’t.  It’s a great heart check.  Let the Holy Spirit take a look at yours right now.  What is He saying?

I’m reading Crazy Love right now.  There is so much to say.  I’ll be reflecting on it for awhile.  If you are ready for a holy kick in the gutt, go buy this book.

Brian