“from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” Psalm 61:2 Over the past few days, …When my heart is overwhelmed
Category Archives: Love of God
To begin, let me first apologize for the horribly weak audio of me speaking. The video I’m attaching was recorded, as usual, on my iPhone, but for some reason the corded external microphone attached to the pulpit didn’t work!
Ironically, you can hear everyone else clearly.
But beyond the audio issue, I’m attaching this video from Sunday night in order to encourage you. You see, even preachers need preaching to.
Did you know God loves you? He does.
If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Either comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This afternoon I did a live video on Facebook.
I normally do one, a short “Encouragement Time,” every weekday around 2pm.
The subject of today’s video was that of the prodigal son in Luke 15.
You know, I’m not perfect. Are you? Do you ever do things you’re ashamed of?
Do you ever sin? I do. I know perfectly well what it’s like to wonder whether God even wants to hear you confess and repent. I mean, really, hasn’t He heard it all before?
But the story Jesus tells of the Prodigal is one that displays the wondrous love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of the Father. Yes, the story is really more about Him than the wayward, muddy, starving son.
When the young man reached his lowest point, there in a hog lot, starving and alone, he remembered the goodness of his father.
When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.'” – Luke 15:17-19 CSB
Because he had already spent his inheritance (he thought), and since he had treated his own father like he was dead, there was no reason to expect a “Welcome home!” However, he knew his father’s slaves had it better than what he had – which was nothing and no one. He’d have to take his chances.
So, when the broken and filthy young man returns, the reception he receives is more than he could have ever hoped for. Already looking for him, the father spots his son on the horizon and runs to him! No doubt expecting the worst, the son falls on his face and attempts to make the case for indentured servitude. Maybe this would keep his father from killing him outright.
Humble, prostrate in the dirt, not even looking up to see the tears in his father’s eyes, he expects – or rather hopes for – the customary foot upon his neck, the accepted symbol of becoming a slave. But, instead…
…the feeling of a bristly beard upon his ear…
…an arm on his back…
…a rough palm cradling the other side of his head…
…and tear-drenched kisses?? Not the sole of a sandal? KISSES! Yes, kisses on his neck!
More joyful to receive his son back home than determined to reclaim his honor, the exuberant father drowns out the pitiful son’s pleas and cries out, “My son has come home!”
Instead of putting his foot on the boy’s neck, the father had humbled himself and descended to the place where his lowly child lay in the dirt. Instead of justice, He showed mercy.
And then Amazing Grace called out for a party!
God is the Father. You and I are the Prodigal. No matter how far we’ve drifted or run, He is still looking and waiting.
Let’s go home.
Watch the sermon from last Sunday and find out 🙂
But here’s a hint…. YES!
What does it mean when you say “Love Is Love”?
Let’s change the words a little and see if the same way of defining love works with other stuff.
- Rock is Rock.
- Lamb is Lamb.
- Bob is Bob.
- Cola is Cola.
- Dirt is Dirt.
- Poison is Poison.
- Hate is Hate.
As you can see, the words above are not as easy to define by stating that one is what it is. To say that a rock is a rock is to say a diamond is a piece of driveway gravel. To say that dirt is dirt is to equate what my flowers are growing in with stuff people dig up to smear politicians.
Is every Bob the same as every other Bob? Is Coke really as nasty as the generic stuff? Is a stuffed lamb in a toy store the same as the living, breathing, pooping animal capable of growing wool?
If “hate is hate,” then is it equally immoral to hate murder as I could hate my neighbor?
LOVE IS LOVE tells us nothing. All it does is confuse, belittle, elevate what is not the real thing, and degrade what is priceless.
Is there no standard for what love is supposed to be? Is self-love the same as sacrificial love? Stating that “love is love” doesn’t even clarify whether or not love is a verb or a noun?
That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to write (1 John 4:8,16): “God is love.”
What love is supposed to be is directly related to the nature of God. God is the standard. God is the Definer.
Love without God in the equation is a scary, vague, unstable, dangerous, self-serving, undefinable, always-changing emotional term that can be used to justify anything (which can be verified by doing a Google search of “Love Is Love” memes).
Poison isn’t just poison, but love without God is a poison that blinds the heart.
How many things are more impressive than a huge end-to-end double rainbow after a major downpour?
Can’t think of many.
But how many even know what a rainbow is? It’s not simply a beautiful phenomenon or the symbol of a social advocacy movement.
It’s a PROMISE!
Genesis 9:12-17 (NLT) 12 Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” 17 Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”
What if it’s a double rainbow? My guess is God needed a little extra reminding today.
This morning my prayer for you (and myself) will be the same as what the apostle Paul prayed…
I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 CSB
Oh, that we might comprehend the width, the length, the height, and the depth of God’s love through Jesus Christ! If we could only even slightly comprehend the vast, expansive spread before us, mercy and grace for every need; the never-ending, eternal, infinite promise of his love and care; the heights to which we are raised, far above the lowly, humble truth of our natural condition and state; and the depths of Christ’s love – humble depths to which the love of God had to reach down in order to pluck us from the pit of sin… If we could only even slightly comprehend them!
Yet, through His strength (v. 16), and being rooted and grounded in His love (v. 17), it is possible! Hallelujah! Because He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us! (v. 20 NKJV)
This morning, and every morning, to God the Father be all glory in the church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, wherever they may be, forever and ever, “world without end” (v. 20).
And all the people said… “AMEN!!”
I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1
There’s an old saying, “good things come to those who wait.” Where did it come from? Who said it first? I don’t know, although I’m sure it’s traceable. All I know is that the first verse of Psalm 40 says almost the same thing, only what comes to the one waiting is better than anything this world can offer.
Let’s think about some things that have to be going on for this verse to make any sense. First, something is wrong. Why else would David be crying out to God? Something is wrong. Why else would he be wanting God to do something.
Last night I dealt with some serious prayer requests. One thing led to another and I brought up the question that so many ask: “If there’s a God, then why is there pain? Why do good people suffer?” Here’s another question, though: If there is no God, and still there is pain and suffering, then what’s the point? Either there is pain and suffering and people going through bad times for no reason whatsoever, or there is a great plan beyond our understanding, one being worked out by a loving God.
The pain is there, regardless. Why not believe there’s hope?
In God’s Time
The second thing to observe is the fact that God works on His own time table. David cried out, for how long we don’t know, but God’s response was not immediate.
How often to we find ourselves calling out in prayer, “Do something! Do it NOW!” In David’s case, whatever was wrong was more than he could handle on his own; he needed divine intervention. How often do search for immediate answers? How often do we question God and His timing all because we know more about what is really needed at the moment?
David waited patiently. Patience requires faith. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Are you waiting patiently?
To Those Who Wait
To those who wait patiently on the Lord; to those who have faith that God will indeed do what is best; to those who wait God gives something that most do not realize they never truly have – His undivided attention. David waited patiently on the Lord, and He “inclined” unto him.
Picture two people sitting at a table. Lots of other people are at the table, too, just going on and on about all manner of stuff. One person tries to talk to the other, but there are so many distractions. Eventually, when the other notices how much the one wants to talk, he leans over, rests on an elbow, bends an ear, and says, “Now, what were you saying?”
God is omniscient; it’s not like He can’t hear all prayers. But within this verse we get a glimpse into the reality that there is something special, a sweet privilege that comes to those who “wait patiently on the Lord.” To reach that point of communion with the Creator of the universe, to know you have His ear: now that’s a good thing for which to wait, don’t you think?
Today is Good Friday. The following is the outline I shared this afternoon on Facebook Live. It is based on the song “In the Cross” by Fanny Crosby. The idea is to be a question: How near are we to the cross?
“In the Cross” – A Sermon
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
1. Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain;
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
What do you see when you are near the cross? To begin with, you’ll see BLOOD.
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: – 1 Peter 1:19
Christianity is a “bloody religion” because it takes sin seriously and sin requires a penalty – the death penalty.
Hebrews 9:22 – And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Hebrews 10:18 – Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (It is finished! Hallelujah!)
2. Near the cross, a trembling soul, [fear, repentance, humility]
Love and mercy found me; [this is a testimony]
There the Bright and Morning Star
Shed His beams around me. (…I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. – Revelation 22:16)
“Unless you see yourself standing there with the shrieking crowd, full of hostility and hatred for the holy and innocent Lamb of God, you don’t really understand the nature and depth of your sin or the necessity of the cross.”
― C.J. Mahaney
“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”
― John R.W. Stott
3. Near the cross! O lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
The Scenes: Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19
The sheen of the golden pendent disguises horror of the mechanism.
More than a Shadow – It Must Be Carried
Matthew 16:24 – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 14:27 – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
4. Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed (raptured) soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…- Galatians 6:14a
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. – Colossians 2:13-15
Can you see His outstretched arms? Can you see the blood flowing down? Can you see His eyes looking down? Does it affect you?
How near ARE you to the cross?
Do you ever wonder how to tell if you have been born again, saved, or renewed by the Holy Spirit?
Well, I found the lists below in a John MacArthur study Bible a while back, and I thought I would share them with you.
Do a self-assessment (2 Cor. 13:5), if you’re concerned. If you’re NOT concerned, yet you fit more in the bottom half of the list, I’m concerned for you! It might be good for you to check out the tab “Eternal Life” at the top of this blog. Seriously!
Again, this is not original on my part, but I thought it was worth sharing. If nothing else it can shine some light on areas needing improvement.
Heart, Character of the Renewed
Prepared to seek God. 2 Chr 19:3; Ezra 7:10; Ps 10:17
Fixed on God. Ps 57:7
Joyful in God. 1 Sam 2:1
Perfect with God. Ps 101:2
Upright. Ps 97:11
Clean. Ps 73:1
Pure. Matt. 5:8
Tender. 1 Sam 24:5
Single and sincere. Acts 2:46; Heb 10:22
Honest and good. Luke 8:15
Broken, contrite. Ps. 34:18; 51:17
Obedient. Ps 119:112; Rom 6:17
Filled with the law of God. Jer. 32:40
Meditative. Ps 4:4
Circumcised. Rom 2:29
Void of fear. Ps 27:3
Desirous of God. Ps 84:2
Enlarged. Ps 119:32; 2 Cor 6:11
Faithful to God. Neh 9:8
Confident in God. Ps 112:7
Sympathizing. Jer 4:19; Lam 3:51
Prayerful. 1 Sam 1:13; Ps 27:8
Inclined to obedience. Ps 119:112
Wholly devoted to God. Ps 9:1; 119:10,69,145
Zealous. 2 Chr 17:6; Jer 20:9
Wise. Prov 10:8; 14:33; 23:15
A treasury of good. Matt 12:35
Heart, Character of the Unrenewed
Hateful to God. Prov 6:16, 18; 11:20
Full of evil. Ecc 9:3
Full of evil imaginations. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Prov 6:18
Full of evil thoughts. Jer 4:14
Fully set to do evil. Ecc 8:11
Desperately wicked. Jer 17:9
Far from God. Is 29:13; matt 15:8
Not perfect with God. I Kings 15:3; Acts 8:21; Prov 6:18
Not prepared to seek God. 2 Chron 12:14
A treasury of evil. Matt 12:35; Mark 7:21
Darkened. Rom 1:21
Prone to error. Ps 95:10
Prone to depart from God. Deut 29:18; Jer 17:5
Impenitent. Rom 2:5
Unbelieving. Heb 3:12
Blind. Eph 4:18
Uncircumcised. Lev 26:41; Acts 7:51
Of little worth. Prov 10:20
Deceitful. Jer 17:9
Deceived. Is 44:20; James 1:26
Divided. Hos 10:2
Double. 1 Chr 12:33; Ps 12:2
Hard. Mark 10:5; Rom 2:5
Haughty. Prov 18:12; Jer 48:29
Influenced by the devil. John 13:2
Carnal. Rom 8:7
Covetous. Jer 22:17; 2 Pet 2:14
Despiteful. Ezek 25:15
Ensnaring. Eccl 7:26
Foolish. Prov 12:23; 22:15
Deceitful. Prov 17:20
Fretful against the Lord. Prov 19:3
Idolatrous. Ezek 14:3,4
Mad. Eccl 9:3
Mischievious. Ps 28:3; 140:2
Proud. Ps 101:4; Prov 6:14
Stiff. Ezek 2:4
Stony. Ezek 11:19; 36:26
Arrogant. Isa 10:12
Stubborn. Isa 46:12
Elated by sensual indulgence. Hos 13:3
Elated by prosperity. 2 Chr 26:16; Dan 5:20
Studies destruction. Prov 24:2
Often judiciously stupefied. Is 6:10; Acts 28:26,27
Often judiciously hardened. Ex 4:21; Joshua 11:20
John MacArthur Study Bible, © 1997