Astonishing Love!

The Story

The divorce was over. 

Since then, Anita had done a lot of things she was not proud of but she had been rejected so long that she was looking for affirmation from anyone.  She used her body to get relief from the words that had played over in her head.  Her ex-husband had told her that ‘no one would ever want her’and she had believed him.  Somehow, now there was vindication.  Everyone wanted her body, but maybe he was right; did any of them really want her?

She had two little children and she was always careful to see that they were cared for, but this last time, when she didn’t know where they were frightened her.  She tracked them down and loaded them into the car.  They stopped at McDonald’s and got hamburgers and fries for everyone.   The drinks she had at the bar before she went home were wearing off.

She drove straight home and put the kids to bed telling them that she loved them.  As she did, she wondered how she would get off this crazy path she was on.  Anita loved her children and knew that the way things were now; she was cheating them of her time and training.  She had given that responsibility to others.

Going Home

When the call came that her Grandmother had died, she left work, picked up the children and put some things in a suit case and began the 28 hour trek to get back home.  She didn’t know it then, but she was headed toward love and freedom.

At the funeral, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Anita took stock of her situation.  She determined in her heart not to go back to the crazy life she had been living.  She was making good money, but that didn’t make up for the longing in her heart.

Following Her Heart

She quit her job and sold her house over the phone.  She made arrangements with her parents to move in with them until she could get established.  She got a job right away.  Her Sister stepped up to watch the children when she was at work.  She would come home, tired and hurting.  Her bunions throbbing from all the time she was on her feet.  Her dear Mother would get a pan of sudsy warm water and kneel down to lovingly wash her feet.

Love

Her folks never asked questions.  They knew she was different; not the sweet innocent girl who had left their home.  She was worldly and sensual.  It drove them to their knees.  Yet to Anita, they never offered criticism or condemnation.  They only gave love and acceptance.  She was their daughter and they loved her and that was unchangeable.

What Anita did not know was that her Mom was not well, and soon she ended up in the hospital.  The doctor removed her gallbladder and with it 300 gall stones.  Anita had been so self-absorbed; she hadn’t noticed her Mom’s pain.  What remarkable love her Mom had sacrificed to her oldest daughter.

Today’s Lesson:

Anita’s parents showed the love of family.  They accepted her even when their hearts were aching at her condition.  This is a picture of the love of God for His family but it is only a small peek at the astonishing love that Father God has for His kids.

We Have An Enemy Who Lies to Us

Satan and his demons have taught us to believe that everything bad that happens is ‘an act of God.’  We have accepted the idea that God is just waiting for us to make a mistake so that he can lower the boom on us.  We fear Him but we don’t understand that we are supposed to reverence Him.  (That is what the word ‘fear’ means in the Bible – reverence and awe.)

When things are bad, we bargain with Him.  God, If only You will . . . and we make our request and  .promise to be good if only . ..  Father God knows that we can’t be good with our own effort.  He only wants us to love Him by accepting His Son Jesus and then He will change our hearts and our spirits; then being good will become second nature.  It is not about what we do.  It is about Who He is. 

The Truth – God Loves US

  • Every good and perfect gift is from above and from the Father . . .
  • He loves us with an everlasting love.
  • He is good and only does good.
  • He is love.
  • He has promised ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’
  • His love endures forever.
  • We are His family.
  • We are children of the King.
  • He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
  • He has forgiven ALL of our sin – past, present, and future!
  • He has made us ‘new creations.’
  • Our old life has passed away and all things have become new.
  • Even when the old habits in our flesh act out, He gently nudges us to turn to Him so that He can help us to be free.

We Live Far Below Our Privilege

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 is haunting.  It says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”  In church, we don’t see many people who were truly free.  Learning how much Father God loves us brings us to that freedom.

If you are struggling, join me in singing, “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me,  yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”  Whenever we mess up, we can know that God’s love is always available.  Go to Him at once and receive His forgiveness.  It is always available.  Then sing that little chorus over and over again, until you begin to understand His astonishing love.

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Share the Love of God with Others at All Times

baby boy

He was such a cute baby.  His skin is so soft and his eyes so round and innocent.  She loved him with all her heart.  He cried when he was hungry or when he soiled his diapers.  In all of this, she loved him and cared for him.  She would feed him tenderly and just as tenderly change the dirty diapers.

As he grew a little older, he became more mobile and began to pull himself up on things.  Unfortunately, he  pulled himself up on her Mother’s antique table and because it was a bit unstable, it fell over and a cherished Hummel figurine shattered.  He sat on the floor and wailed.  She ran to him, picked him up and comforted him.  She regretted having lost the items, but his welfare was more important than the pieces of history.

Soon he was toddler and full of fun and mischief.  She couldn’t be everywhere at once and it seemed like he could find things and was truly ‘destructo’ in motion.  Sometimes she would scold him or even give him a swat on his well-padded behind, but most often, she would just laugh.  He was her own precious child after all.

The pre-teen years came and things settled down somewhat.  He had become interested in learning and was always will to help her as she worked around the house.  He went fishing with his dad and spent time with his grandparents.  He loved Sunday School.  Everyone doted on him.  When he would get into trouble, he was so sad that he had done something wrong, that it was hard to punish him.  She just continued to love him and cover his mistakes with love and encouragement.

As time went on, he became a teenager and suddenly, things seemed to change.  He began to sass her and thought he knew more than she and his Dad.  It was a difficult time for the family.

One night the police came to the door, her knees buckled in fear that he was hurt or worse.  Was he okay?  The officer explained that he had been with two other boys and they had decided it would be fun to try shoplifting.  Her heart broke.  The policeman brought her precious boy in and they all sat down and talked.  She knew this was serious and that it needed her to respond in just the right way.  After the policeman and her husband had their say, she looked him in the eyes and said, “You know how much we love you and that we always cover you, but when you step outside of the family and do your own thing, you will find that we will still love you – always love you – but you will have removed yourself from our ability to cover your mistakes.  You will have placed yourself under another authority over which we have no control.  The next time you make a decision to break the laws of the world, there will be consequences.  This nice officer has given you another chance.  We pray you will remember the grace that has been extended to you this day.”

Having survived the crisis, he grew into a young man, left home and entered college.  He encountered many new freedoms and many opportunities to choose wisely or to do just what felt good.  His high school lesson with shoplifting was one he had not forgotten.  His parents’ love of God had done its work and he began to go to church on his own.  There he found a sparkling brown-eyed girl with blond hair.  He was immediately taken by her sweetness and kind way.  Upon graduation, they married and soon, they had their own baby.  And the cycle began again.

Today’s Lesson:

Christians lead others to the Lord.  The new Christian is essentially a baby although he may be twenty years older than we are.  We must take care that our expectations are realistic.  We must not forget that there are stages to the Christian life just as there are stages to our natural lives.  That baby needs to be loved and the errors that he makes in effect fill up his ‘dirty diapers’ which need to be changed and he needs to be covered again with a blanket of love.  As he matures and the mistakes continue, we can choose love or condemnation.  When we choose to condemn him for his actions, we have joined demonic forces called the ‘accuser of the brethren.’  Everyone knows what is wrong in their lives.  They need to be encouraged.  The Lord will lovingly correct him.  If we do it, he will feel hopeless and won’t understand why he isn’t more like you.  This is why a period of discipleship training is important.  It is to be done with love.  When he messes up, tenderly restore him taking care that you don’t join in his error.

This life as children of God requires the same love and encouragement tenderly given by parents and authorities give to natural children.

We need to remember that we ourselves are somewhere in this continuum and to be kind to ourselves when we err.  We need to remind ourselves that ‘love covers a multitude of sins.’

There is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  Condemnation and deception are the only tools that the devil has in his tool box.  Sin was forgiven and we were released from its hold when we asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior.  Don’t be quick to judge or condemn, but be quick to cover lavishly with grace.  We are promised that the work God has done in us will be completed.  Rejoice!

Will you share the love and grace of God with someone today?