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God Loves You!

How much do others know about you? Do you find that people begin to shy away from you as they get to know you more? How much do you want others to know about you?

I find it interesting how much some people are willing to publicize about themselves on social media or just in general conversation. Yet, in general, people do seem to be guarded about how much they share with others. Some “skeletons” just seem to be best kept in the closet away from the public eye or at best only known to few people.

Have you ever stopped to think of how much God knows about you? The Bible tells us, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He pondereth [carefully] all his goings” (Proverbs 5:21). Does the reality that He knows everything about you, even all of your shortcomings and “skeletons,” lead you to the conclusion that “He must not love me because of them?” or even, “He must not love me because I’m just not good enough?”

The challenge for each of us is that we often depend upon how we feel and in turn allow our feelings to determine our sense of reality. If we are not careful, we can allow our circumstances to define our theology—Who we see God to be—and in turn shrink Him down to a size that is too small for our problems. What good is a small God?

Keep in mind that what you know and rely upon to be true about the Lord will transform your life! The Precious Truth that we need to consider is that God knows EVERYTHING there is to know about each of us and yet He still loves us!

If others knew you to the degree that God knows you, how would your relationships with them change? If you knew your best friend to the degree that God knows you would you continue in that friendship? Sometimes the more we get to know someone the more we wish we didn’t know them.

Consider David’s words in Psalm 139,

O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”—Psalm 139:1-6

David realize that God knew him to the fullest extent that he could be known—even more than he knew himself. From this and other passages it is obvious that David was in awe of the fact that God even knew him. Consider what he says in Psalm 8.

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful [think about] of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest [to pay special attention] him?”—Psalm 8:3-4

Picture David, the shepherd boy, lying on his back looking up at the starlit sky speaking to God saying, “Lord, As I consider the great expanse of the universe that You made, how do You even know that I am here?” David was moved in worship that his infinite God took notice of his finite life. In the great expanse of God’s creation, the fact that He is intimately aware of each of our lives speaks of His greatness that is so far beyond my comprehension.

In Psalm 139, as I have pondered the reality that God knows everything there is to know about me, I am amazed to think that He still loves me. How do I draw this conclusion?

First, consider what God knows about each of us. David tells us in verses 1-4, “O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.” David acknowledges God’s full & complete knowledge of him. There is nothing hidden from God. He knows all the secrets that only we know about ourselves. He knows all our thoughts, desires, intentions, and motives. He knows the hypocrisy and lies that we may live with thinking we are fooling everyone into believing we are someone that we truly are not. In verse 2 we read, “You understand my thought afar off.” God even knows the thoughts that we have yet to think. He knows more about us than even we know about ourselves. These are the actions of a God who loves us!

With all of this knowledge that God has about us, IS it a wonder to you that HE still loves you?  It is to me! He knows all the times that I have failed Him and all the times that I will fail Him yet that does not cause His love for me to diminish.

The Precious Truth to consider here is that God’s love is not dependent upon who I am or what I do but upon WHO HE IS! God’s love does not change, “for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Next, consider what David concludes that God has done for him while possessing this knowledge. “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me” (Psalm 139:5). With this knowledge God has not run from us but, instead, has drawn near to us. He knows that we need Him—we need His grace and mercy; we need His love and compassion; we need His wisdom and protection; we need His presence—we need HIM! God knows our needs and in turn, through His grace and mercy, has made provision for those needs.

Consider what He has done for us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “But God commendeth [proved] His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “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’” (Jeremiah 31:3).

God acted upon this knowledge and sent His only Son to make provision for our ultimate need—our need of salvation. Through faith in His Son, Jesus, we can be united to God in a personal relationship for all of eternity. Through faith alone in Christ alone my heart was changed—my sins were forgiven—my guilt was removed and I came to understand the loving relationship that my heavenly Father has always desired for me to have with Him. Consider reading “How Do I Get to Heaven” for additional insight on how you can enjoy a personal relationship with God.

As David ponders this truth he erupts in such unrestrainable joy and worship as he says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:6). This knowledge was outside of his realm of comprehension. It brought David to his knees in humility and awe as he worshipped his all-knowing, awesome God.

Get to know the God of the Bible. Read God’s Word and then take God at His Word. He means what He says and He says what He means! Our understanding of the knowledge of God should bring us to our knees in worship of Him. It should humble us and in turn we too should be in awe of Him.

As you consider what God knows about you also realize that He continues to stay with you and draw you. When others may distance themselves the more they learn of you, consider how the Lord draws near, fully knowing who we are. David continues in the following verses saying, “Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10).

Our intimate knowledge of God will shape our response to the trials of life. In spite of all our shortcomings God promises, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed [or disheartened as you consider your circumstances]; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).

Is this “knowledge too wonderful for you?” Does it move you to worship your God as it fills your heart with joy? Let us seek to be intentional about remembering who our God is. Jeremiah writes, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope” (Lamentations 3:21). “This is what I intentionally remember about my God, therefore I have patient confidence.” The truths of God will stabilize you as you meditate upon them.

GOD LOVES YOU!” Let this transforming truth settle your heart.

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The Cradle and the Cross

The Christmas season is once again upon us. The hustle and bustle of last minute preparations, presents and planning seem to monopolize our time. Yet as I sit and ponder both the reality and meaning of this season, I wonder if we have fallen into the trap of the busyness and gift-giving, that we have forgotten what makes this season so great. I’m not against giving gifts and planning our gatherings with friends and family, frankly I love these aspects of this season. But I would like to take a moment, in between the phone calls, keystrokes and internet searches to direct our minds toward “the Gift”—the Greatest Gift ever given in the history of mankind.

Unfortunately, in many ways, Christmas has been hijacked by some reindeer who supposedly can fly, pulling a sleigh filled with presents to deliver to every “good” child in the world, in one evening, being driven by a jolly old man, who clearly has had one too many cookies, dressed in a red suit, who slides down chimneys to deliver presents even in homes with no chimneys. Quite a believable story, right?!

Somehow, in many homes, this story has replaced the story of the birth of the Child born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. The story of the Greatest Gift ever given. The story of grace and mercy, hope and love. The story of humility and sacrifice. The story of the God of heaven looking down upon His creation and sending His Son to be the Gift of life to a lost and dying world. This amazing story is the story of Christmas. It is the story of the cradle and the cross.

The “Cradle” and the “Cross” — What do these words mean to you? A cradle brings memories to parents of the early days with their children. Memories of anticipation of “what this child will become” among the sleepless nights and delirious questioning of my own abilities as a parent handling this great responsibility. The cradle is a picture of innocence and expectation. The cross on the other hand brings to mind pain and suffering, torture and death.

How can these two words be brought together especially in the context of Christmas? Truth be told, the greatest story the world has ever known is wrapped up in these words, of innocence and expectation, of pain and suffering, torture and death.

These two words, when boiled down reveal a profound contrast yet powerful and life-giving reality. The cradle is a picture of new life while the CROSS is a picture of death. As we consider the cradle and the cross, we see the true reason for this Christmas season—it is all about CHRIST.

The story unfolds as the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. ”—Luke 1:30-33

Talk about anticipation and the weight of responsibility this announcement brings. Yet Mary humbly responds as a willing servant, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

Next, we find Joseph struggling with the news of his pregnant fiancé and what he should do.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy GhostAnd she [Mary] shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.”—Matthew 1:20-21

I remember back to those days as I was anticipating the birth of our first child. The thoughts of this soon-coming responsibility of fatherhood, at times, were heavy and oppressive. I can only imagine what went through Joseph’s mind as he hears this announcement. I’m sure to some degree, this put Joseph’s mind at ease, yet he too has just received a heavenly announcement, filled with anticipation, being weighted down with the greatest responsibility—“I will be raising the One who will save His people from their sins?” But yet, without delay, he obediently took these steps of faith.

In the second chapter of Luke, additional characters are brought into this narrative. The anticipation finally reaches a crescendo with the birth of this Child, followed by more angels, this time singing and praising God, making a heavenly announcement of the birth of the Lamb of God to some lowly shepherds.

And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”—Luke 2:10-12

The cradle is the focus of the first act in this narrative while in the second act the curtain opens revealing the purpose for this cradle as the cross takes centerstage.

One of my favorite Christmas hymns was written by Ron Hamilton titled, “Born to Die.” The message of the third verse with the chorus sums up the message of the Cradle and Cross.

From His throne Jesus came, laid aside Heaven’s fame
In exchange for the cross of Calvary;
For my gain suffered loss, for my sin He bore the cross—
He was wounded and I was set free.
Born to die upon Calvary, Jesus suffered my sin to forgive;
Born to die upon Calvary, He was wounded that I might live
.

In these words we see the cradle and the cross. The cross cast its shadow over the cradle as Jesus was born and laid in the manger. This was the purpose for which Christ was born—He was born to die. Remember the angel’s words to Joseph, “And [Mary] shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins”?

Jesus was born so that He could die. This sounds quite depressing as far as stories go. Clearly this wasn’t written for any awards or block-buster movie deals. Up until this point it captivates our attention. It is filled with twists and turns that make for a good story yet at this point many choose to disembark this story train—Jesus was born so that He could die! See, if the story ended here then I would agree but give it a chance, keep on reading. The great reality is that Christ’s death was not the stories’ end but a pivotal moment within the narrative of Christ’s provision for our salvation. It was part of the process of securing our salvation. The cross is empty and so is the tomb as it could not hold Him. Christ has conquered death and has risen from the grave, just as He said He would (Matthew 16:21).

The purpose for which Christ came to this earth was to die, to pay the penalty for our sin—which He did. BUT then He rose again the third day, claiming victory over death leaving the tomb empty as evidence of a risen, living Savior.

Don’t overlook the journey from the cradle to the cross. Stop and look upon the empty cross and see all the suffering Christ bore on your behalf. Then keep going from that tree to the tomb. Again, stop and look inside and see Him there no more and rejoice for He lives! But there is more…continue on from the grave to the glorious mount as He ascended, returning to the Father.

From the cradle to the cross we see how Christ lived as a perfect Example and He died as a perfect Sacrifice. In that He triumphs over the tomb, we see that He lives as a conquering King and He saves as a perfect SAVIOR.

Remember that there is a Christ in CHRISTmas for a reason. HE is the REASON for this season. Celebrate HIM as the Greatest Gift ever given. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can enjoy the cradle of a new birth in Christ—a life with Christ that never ends—a life with Him here on this earth and in heaven for eternity.

Do you have a relationship with Christ? Have you received this Greatest Gift that is eternal life? Consider Christ’s words to a religious man searching for answers about life. Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again [from above], he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) The Bible says elsewhere, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Have you responded to Christ when He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest [peace]” (Matthew 11:28). Christ’s invitation demands a response. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “But as many as received Him [JESUS], to them gave He power to become the sons of Godeven to them that believe on His name:” (John 1:12)

If you haven’t placed your faith and trust in CHRIST alone for salvation won’t you consider doing that today? This Christmas enjoy the Greatest Gift ever given—His name is JESUS. He will never fail you for in Him alone is contentment, peace, joy, and love that truly transcends all understanding. In Him alone is true life that never ends.

Join with me this Christmas season and make JESUS the center—put CHRIST at the center of your CHRISTmas.

For more information, consider reading “How do I get to heaven?

There Is No God?…REALLY?

Do you believe this? Please consider what the Bible says:

“The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ …” (Psalm 53:1)

Please consider what the beauty of the earth around you says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork.” (Psalm 19:1)

Would anyone consider a beautiful painting and say, “No one painted that!” or an architectural structure that you stop and admire and say, “No one built that!“? Then why would we look upon this amazing earth that we call home and say, “It happened by chance—there is no Creator!”? The vibrant colors of spring…the complexity of every living organism…the consistency of the cycle of day and night along with the season…the similarity of the orbital structure of the microscopic atom to the planetary activity in our universe—ALL proves and proclaims that God EXISTS! that HE created all of it.

The Bible says that someone who looks at this beautiful earth around him and concludes, “This happened by CHANCE—that there is no God” is foolish.

The sad reality is that when you don’t believe in God’s amazing work of creation, how will you ever believe in His amazing love that He displayed in His saving action? As a result you will never enter into a personal relation with the GOD who made you.

The Bible says, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

“But God commendeth [proved] His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

THERE IS A GOD…REALLY!!

He loves you enough to let you enjoy this amazing creation of His that you call “home” even though many are so ungrateful and don’t even give Him credit. He also loves you enough to send His only Son to die in your place, paying your debt of sin as well as mine.

“For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)

“For the wages of sin is DEATH; but the gift of God is eternal LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

There not only IS a God but this God wants to have a loving relationship with YOU!

“And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

For more information about “KNOWING GOD” and having a personal relationship with Him consider reading this article: “How do I get to Heaven?“.

The Most Precious Truth

When you think of “Precious Truths” which is the greatest of them all?  For me the answer is simply God’s love.

Consider this…without the love of God, would He have sent His Son to pay our penalty of sin? Without the love of God could we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ? Without the love of God could we have hope of eternal life?

It is the love of God which sent Christ to the manger.  It is the love of God which sent Christ to the cross.  It is the love of God which gives the gift of eternal life.

“For God SO loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

It shows us that God loves us enough that He would send His beloved Son into this lost world in order to reconcile us to Himself through His Son’s death.

The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). We are also told that our sin separates us from God as we earn the penalty of death (Romans 6:23).

“But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [made us alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

This is an amazing reality…this is amazing love! “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:…” (1 John 3:1)

I picture the apostle John writing these words and saying, “Wow! This is amazing! God loves me so much that He made a way possible for me to become His child!”  It still shook John to the very core, even at the end of his life, as he considered what his Savior did for him.

In the Gospel of John the apostle is only mentioned as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  This title was what he wanted to be remembered by because of the precious truth that it displayed. What title do you and I want to be called? What do we want to be known for?

The Bible further explains how God’s love was displayed in Christ’s death.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the atoning sacrifice] for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

God “manifested” or displayed His love to us by sending His Son into this world to pay the penalty for our sin.  God poured out His just and divine wrath upon His beloved Son in the place of all of us sinners.

“But God [demonstrated] His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

Christ said to us in His actions, “I love you this much” as He willingly spread out His arms upon the cross and died in our place.

One of the ways the Bible defines love is found in John 15:13 where it says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Christ Jesus laid down His life for us.  He sacrificed His own life so that we could have a relationship with the Father as our Father.  In John 17, Christ prays “for them also which shall be believe on Me” (v. 20).  His desire was for us to have the same relationship that He has with the Father.  He says, “That they [those who believe] all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us:…” (v. 21) He goes on to say in verse 23 that He desires that we would be loved by the Father just as He is loved by the Father.  This self-sacrificing love was expressed upon the cross—it was done so that we could live—truly live.

As I consider the extent of the love of God I realize that these words only begin to scratch the surface, if even that.  I pray that as you read these words that you would stop and meditate upon God’s love. What does it mean for you?

The apostle Paul’s prayer was “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which [transcends] knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

This prayer of Paul is for his audience to “know the love of Christ” which transcends human understanding. Knowing the “love of God” brings change. To be “filled” is to be controlled. Being “filled with the fullness of God” is to be controlled by God as He transforms us into the image of His Son. This speaks of becoming more like Jesus Christ. Knowing the “love of Christ” leads to the likeness of Christ. The more we rest in God’s love the more we are changed by it.

Do you know the love of God? Have you entered into this wonderful relationship with God by placing your faith and trust in Him alone for salvation?

The Bible clearly says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

I close with words from a favorite hymn of mine called, “The Love of God.”  Consider the third verse and chorus…

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry.  Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saints’ and angels’ song.”  – (hymn by Fred­er­ick Leh­man, lyr­ics are based on the Jew­ish poem Haddamut)