Category Archives: God’s Love

Does God Get Tired of Me?

Our youngest son, Caleb, is now in his mid-20s. Yet, he will always have many childlike ways. He can also, like many people with Down Syndrome, be very repetitive in his actions and conversations. If it is a rebellious trait, it can be tiring or aggravating. However, there are also those actions that can bring a smile to our faces every time.

Caleb likes trying to scare my wife and me. Most of the time, this involves putting plastic spiders or wind-up, chattering teeth under our pillows.  After doing this every night for three weeks, we obviously know it is going to happen at bedtime. And yet, he keeps on doing it. He has so much fun doing it that it makes it fun for us too. Of course, we make it into a game where we try to get him back in the same way. And so this goes on and on.

Do we ever get annoyed with it or tired of him doing it? No. Even when we are very tired, the discovery of the teeth or spiders always makes us shake our heads and smile. Why? Because he is having fun with it, and it is harmless, he loves us, and he is our child and we love him.

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think God gets tired of me coming to Him with the same thing, over and over and over. Every time I pray, it seems like I say the same things to Him. Does God get bored with me? Is He tired of listening to me? What do you think?

I would say it depends on the manner in which we come to Him. If we come to God in a prideful manner, confident in our own righteousness or asking for things for our own selfish gain, then I would think that God would not delight in this. If we are coming to God with a lack of sincerity and genuineness, like we can hide something from Him, I don’t think He would delight in this either.

But if we come to God with sincerity, humility, and even the simplicity of a child, why would God not delight in us, even if we are coming to Him with the same thing we have brought before Him so many times? I mean, let’s face it; nothing that we bring to God is going to be a surprise to Him. He knows everything we will ever say, before we even think it. So, in a way, everything is repetitious and redundant to Him. Yet, He always tells us to come to Him.

The verses in 1 Peter tell us that in God’s sight, we are chosen and precious. God longs for us to come to Him and, through the blood of Jesus Christ, He has provided us a way to come into His very presence. So, if we are feeling like God is tired of us, maybe we should examine our own hearts. We might be applying our own human weaknesses to the holy character of God.

Our feeling that God is tired of us might just be that we are tired of asking for something that God does not seem to be willing to provide according to our plans and wishes. It could be that we are coming with the wrong spirit, doing these things out of obligation rather than trust and delight in God. Maybe we are coming with hearts that are not thankful for all God has given us. It could be any number of things.

The important thing to remember is that God is not a man. He is not flawed. He loves with a perfect love. And He delights in His children. So, does God get tired of us coming to Him over and over? No. If fact, it is His desire that we come to Him, and find in Him the peace, rest, and joy that the world and our flawed expectations and perspectives can never provide.

Now, if I could just find a way to leave a spider under His pillow.

Together for His glory…

Simple Truth: Simply Amazing

As I left for work this morning, our youngest son, Caleb, was sitting on the floor in front of the bookshelf. I looked to see what he was reading. It was one of the Dr. Seuss books that we bought back when the kids were young. My wife has kept them for grandchildren and when families with kids visit the house. Also, though, our youngest son still likes to read them.

As I drove to work, I was thinking about him pulling one of those books out to read. I thought also about how he still likes to watch the children’s public television programs that are on in the afternoon. He has never grown tired of them. In many ways, he will always have the mind of a child. This is not to say that he does not also have interest in more adult topics. After he finished with Dr. Seuss, I am sure he pulled out his sport’s page from the newspaper, in addition to watching Sports Center, to get the latest updates in the sports’ world.

However, he will probably never grow tired of the simple, ordinary things of life. Even though he is in his 20’s now, he will always have a childlike outlook on life. He still holds our hand when crossing parking lots or sitting in church. It is not embarrassing to him. He rarely treats the events of daily life as if they are ordinary, repetitive, or boring.

Recently, I have been wrestling with some tough doctrinal issues, working to reconcile them in my limited, human understanding. In some ways, I have allowed the process to distract and discourage me. I realize that there are some things that I will never understand. In the realm of eternity, my pea-sized brain is never going to figure some things out. It is the impossibility of the finite grasping the infinite. But it is still frustrating.

I have faced this reality many times before. Once again, it reminds me of the vastness of the person and work of the eternal, almighty God. And I will continue to strive to understand the God Who created and redeemed me. However, in the midst of that pursuit, I must remember to not lose sight of the simple, amazing truth that “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

During my remaining years, I will continue to wrestle with the depths of God and the truth of His Word. I will never fully grasp His perfect love and perfect justice; His compassionate mercy and grace and His wrath. I will never completely understand how to balance election and free will in God’s perfect plan. The problem of evil. I could go on with many other topics and issues. I am sure you have your list also.

I believe God provides us with all that we need, including truth and wisdom, for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-8). And we need to strive to grow in wisdom, love, and holiness, becoming more like Christ. But in the process, we can’t forget this simple truth shared by Jesus Himself:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I learned this verse before I even knew how to read. It is taught to children in Sunday School classes almost from the time they are born. However, as we grow older, I think we forget the amazing wonder and truth in those words of Christ. Amazing love. Amazing grace. Amazing sacrifice. Amazing promise. Simply amazing.

I could write for a long time on the depth found in this verse, but I will leave you to reflect on that yourself. Reflect on the wonder in these words as we celebrate the coming of Christ. I was reminded of simple wonder by watching my man-child sit and read a children’s book. God reminded me that I don’t always have to have all of the answers. Sometimes, I just need to sit at His feet and listen to Him sing over me. Or maybe I just need to hold onto His hand as we cross the parking lot, trusting and delighting in Him and His love for me.

Together for His glory…

Is it Possible to Obey the Greatest Commandment?

I am far from perfect. For some of you who know me well, this is no great revelation. I have many flaws and I am frequently discouraged with what I perceive as my lack of progress in growing in my relationship with God and my love for Him. It can be very depressing at times. I can very hard on myself. I am sure some of you can relate to this. You don’t need anyone else to criticize you. You are your worst critic.

Self-critique can be helpful. However, it can also be unhelpful in a couple of different ways. First, if we are only looking at the here and now, we forget where we have come from. It is kind of like when I look and my children now. I don’t always remember what they were like when they were younger. However, then I look at some old photos or movies and I am amazed by how much they have changed and matured. In our spiritual lives, it can be like that. If we could see a snapshot of how we were 10 years ago, we would see that we have grown.

On the other hand, we can overestimate our growth and maturity, especially if are filled with pride and overly impressed with our own abilities and accomplishments. We can think too highly of ourselves and, therefore, look down on those who are less “spiritual” than us.

This is why, in both cases, it is important to have God’s perspective. This is especially when it comes to living out the greatest commandment to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). As Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, this is what we are called to live out on a daily basis. All of our life, every breath, is to be a pursuit of loving God with all that we are. This is a high and daunting calling. That is why it is important to keep in mind how God views the fulfillment of this calling.

We do not initiate love for God. In our fallen human nature, we do not love God. Ultimately we do not even know what true love is. We are dead in sin apart from Christ (Ephesians 2:1). Dead things do not love. They are incapable of love. Therefore, the love we are called to give to God is impossible. However, love was revealed to us by God when He sent His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). Love was demonstrated to us through the life and perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God came to us, to show us what true love is really like.

We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). The only reason we can love is because God loved us first. Therefore, we do not initiate love for God. Our love for God is a response to His love being poured out into our hearts. We can’t whip it up or create it on our own. It is made possible by the work of God in our lives when we receive the gift of His salvation through Jesus Christ. We are made new and, as a result, are able to love Him in response to His love for us.

God perfects His love in us. In spite of receiving this new life and the ability to love God, we are still far from perfect. We have been declared righteous through the blood of Christ. But God’s sanctifying and perfecting work continues in us until the day we die. We abide in God and He abides in us, and through this process, this love is perfected in us (1 John 4:14-17). As we seek to live out this love for God in our daily lives, He gives us the strength and wisdom to grow and be filled with the love and fullness of our God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

As we respond to His love and seek to live a life of worship and to love our God with all that we are, we need to remember that it is not by our wisdom and strength that it will be accomplished. We are called to follow and pursue. We are called to love God, but it is God Who will perfect this in us. Our strength is failing. God’s strength is perfect. Our love is fleeting. God’s love is never ending. We are called to abide, or dwell, in Him. He is the One Who will accomplish His perfect will in us. So, yes, it is possible to live a life in obedience to the greatest commandment. It may not always be pretty, but God will continue to demonstrate His love to us and work in us to help us to live and love more like Jesus.

Together for His glory…

Not Without Hope

Resurrection day. The first reports began to come to the disciples. They were fearful and unbelieving. The gospels tell that they were behind locked doors because of fear (John 20:19). The disciples refused to believe the report brought to them by the women. They thought they were idle tales (Luke 24:11). It did not matter that Jesus had told them numerous times that He would be betrayed, crucified, and would then rise again. Jesus was not with them now. They were without hope.

What a change would take place over the next days, weeks, and months, as these trembling, fearful followers of Christ would become bold spokesman, giving testimony to the risen Savior. The transformation was startling. These disciples were propelled into a glorious mission, often forsaking comfort, provisions, status, and even life itself, for the sake of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. What was the difference?

Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no real hope (Ephesians 2:12). The disciples were fearful because Jesus was no longer with them. He had been beside them, day after day. Now, He was gone. He had been the source of their joy, hope, and confidence. That hope died on the cross. It died because they did not see the plan and salvation God had for them and for the world. They did not see Jesus for Who He really was and what it was He came to accomplish. If they had, the disciples would have been waiting with joy and anticipation, not fear and trembling.

Like many people today and throughout the centuries, the work of God in Christ is often missed. It is frequently ignored. Or the focus is on religious activities or rituals. They may see Jesus as a wise teacher, bringing good principles to live by. If they try to treat people kindly and live a good life, they may be convinced they are doing their duty. They may attend church once in a while. They may attend every week. Again, they miss the true work of God in Christ on the cross.

We are dead in sin apart from Christ. Apart from Christ, we are subject to wrath of God and without hope in this world or the eternity to come. God’s wrath was poured out on Christ on the cross. Jesus received the penalty for the sin of the entire human race. God’s view of sin was displayed by releasing His judgment on His own Son. There is no amount of good works we could ever do that could compare or replace the payment that was made by Jesus. And if we do not receive God’s gift, we are left to stand before God on our own merit, dead in sin. We are without hope.

When we are saved, we are born again into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). When we repent and turn to God for forgiveness, He gives us new life in Christ. Our old life is gone and we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our old life is crucified and Christ now lives within in us (Galatians 2:20. We now have a hope that is not based on our own goodness or our ability to earn God’s favor by our good works, which is an impossible task anyway. The standard is perfection. We must be holy, as God is holy. This is something that we cannot obtain.

Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice, fulfilling the requirement for the penalty of sin. God paid the price Himself. Jesus came, as God in human flesh, to dwell with us and pay the price for our forgiveness. Remarkable. God gives to us life when we deserve death. He gives us forgiveness when we deserve wrath. He gives us hope when we deserve despair. How great the Father’s love for us. It is beyond our comprehension.

Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). As I said at the beginning, the disciples went from fearful to bold, and from hopeless to being filled with hope. The reason for this was because they now had the living Christ within them. When Jesus died, they were separated. When He arose and ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit. They now had the living Christ dwelling within them. They would never be apart again.

When we receive the gift of God’s salvation in Christ, He now lives within us. This new life we receive is the life of Christ within us. All of the promises of God are ours in Christ. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He is with us, forever. We have the promise of His presence with us during the remainder of our lives and that when we breathe our last breath, we will be transported into His glorious presence.

This is the hope of glory. Christ within us. We stand before God in the righteousness of Christ. We have the promise of blessings beyond measure, stored up for those who come to God in Christ. This world has nothing to offer that can compare to this. All pleasures, prosperity, and power fall far short of the wonder and glory God has stored up for us. But more than that, we have the very presence of God within us through Christ. Our highest joy is found in Him. We are not without hope. Hope has come to dwell within us forever.

Together for His glory…

The Incredible Impact of Love

A couple of weeks ago, my family attended the funeral of my wife’s grandmother. She was 97 when she died. The visitation and funeral were attended by many family and friends. As we were driving to the cemetery following the service, I looked at the long line of cars in front of us. I looked in the rearview mirror to see the long line of cars behind us, going out of my range of sight. I looked at the cars stopped on the other side of the road, watching the long procession go by. I could tell, by the expression on some of their faces, that they were wondering who this person was, that so many people were attending the funeral. It must be someone really important.

As we continued to drive, I asked my wife if she knew what was significant about this long procession of cars. She gave me an answer or two, but it was not the answer I was looking for. Grandma Ray had a large family. Her obituary states that she had nine children, twenty-two grandchildren, thirty-two great-grandchildren, and twenty-three great-great-grandchildren. The sheer number of this group, especially if you add in spouses, could make for a large turnout. However, I have known of people with large families who would not have many attend their funeral. In Grandma Ray’s case, many of the family did attend. Many friends attended as well. Why?

Grandma Ray cared for others. With a family this large, it would be easy for people to fall through the cracks. But no matter how old or young, whether you came by frequently or seldom, whether your life was a mess or you seemed to have it all together, whether you had been in the family more than 70 years or just a day, you were always welcome at Grandma’s house.

Grandma Ray probably did not think that she was anyone of great importance. She was just a regular person. In the eyes of the larger world, most people would not know who she was. Neither Hollywood nor Washington DC ever came knocking on her door. But if you ask her family and those whose lives of families she touched over the years through babysitting or ironing (which she did almost up to the very end), they would tell you that Grandma impacted their lives significantly. And they will tell generations to come about their mom, mother-in-law, grandma, babysitter, and friend, and about what a special person she was.

This is the message I wanted my wife to hear. Many people do not see themselves as great persons, highly gifted and influential. They don’t figure that their lives make much of a difference. And yet, I believe that, most of the times, it is the regular people that God uses to make the biggest impact in other’s lives. I think that Scripture teaches this.

The Bible teaches that it is servants who make the biggest impact for the kingdom of God and that to be the greatest, you must be a servant. Only if we humble ourselves will we be exalted in God’s eyes. Even Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life up as a sacrifice (Matthew 20:25-28; 23:11-12). In fact, God chooses to use those who not viewed as great in the eyes of the world (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). God uses these people to demonstrate His love to others. I believe this is why Grandma Ray’s life impacted so many. She was trusting in God and the sacrifice of Jesus for her life. And God’s loved worked through her life in a loving and sacrificial way that impacted many others.

God’s love is amazing, beyond our comprehension. When we receive the life He offers us through Christ, He pours His love into our lives. But it is not just for our benefit. It is for the benefit of others as well. Therefore, we become a means of God showing His love to others. He uses our lives to touch others with His love. By His grace we are saved, not by our good works, but as a gift from God, in order that we might do the good works that He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:8-10).

I believe that Grandma Ray’s life was an outpouring of this love from God. The impact of her life could be clearly seen from those who came to pay their tribute to her that day. It is a reminder that God has specially created each one of us. Today, if you think you are not specially gifted or talented and that you will never be able to do great things, you need to think again. In fact, if you think you have anything to offer to God, you also need to think again. Those who come with empty hands before God can be used to share His love in ways that will impact others for generations. The life of worship is not doing big things for God. It is being faithful to share the love of Christ as we walk along the way. God may use us to do some big things, but most of the time, it will involve being faithful to serve and touch the lives of those we meet. God will use us in ways we could never imagine. The world may never notice, but our eternal reward will be great. And God will use us to impact others with His love.

Together for His glory…