Friday, August 17, 2012

How Have You Loved Us?


Do you know that you are intimately known and loved by your Creator and Sustainer?
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I have four beautiful girls, ages 9-1. A couple of years ago, God gave me this illustration as I was pouring out my heart to Him and my inability to receive His unconditional love for me. He tenderly asked me, "What if Hollen, who is my oldest, questioned your love for her. What if she thought your love for her was dependent on her obedience to you? What if she believed her acceptance in the family was based on her ability to perform for you? What if, she thought you loved her less when she was disobeying you and more when she obeyed perfectly. What if she only obeyed you out of fear and not love? Wouldn't it break your heart to think that no matter what you did for her and how much you loved her, she still questioned your love and in turn rejected it? Daughter, receive my perfect love, knowing that although your love is imperfect, my love is perfect." You see, I obeyed God out of fear not love, thinking that by my service and performance, I was loved. 

The book of Malachi opens up with God declaring to His people, “ I have loved you”, but His beloved’s response to His lavish declaration was, “How have you loved us?” The same people He chose as the recipients of His divine and perfect love doubted His love and refused to receive it. 
The same God who spoke to His beloved through the Prophets and promised redemption even before judgement, spoke restoration before exile. Throughout the Old Testament, God exhorts His people to return to Him. Malachi, being the last book of the Old Testament was written 400 years before Christ and shows us the condition of His beloved after they were brought back into the land and their worship restored in Jerusalem. Even after restoration and deliverance, His people still refused to believe and trust in God's love for them. In their failure to believe in God’s love for them they bowed down to many idols and walked in disobedience to God’s commands. 

All sin is rooted in unbelief. God has declared His love for sinners, for you and for me, by sending His Son, Jesus, in whom all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form. Colossians 1:19. We fail to believe in two ways, the first one is obvious, we try to secure for ourselves love, acceptance, validation and justification from the world. Most of the time, this involves us looking to the world to satisfy the cravings within us that only Christ can satisfy. The second way unbelief shows itself is by having a form of godliness but denying it's power- 2 Timothy 3: 5. Colossians 2:23 says that self-made religion, thinking we are saved by what we do, on the outside has the appearance of wisdom but in God's eyes are elementary principles of the world and have no value. Only Christ is of value. We are not better versions of ourselves, we are a new creation.

Colossians also tells us, He is the image of the invisible God and the Creator, Sustainer of all things. Colossians 1:15

John tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. John 1:14. The same God who created the universe wrapped HImself in the robe of humanity so that we could wear His robe of righteousness. He came and revealed to His people the love of the Father. He obeyed perfectly the Law because we couldn’t. God is infinitely Holy - Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:3, and without Christ’s performance for us, we stand condemned. Only when we see God in all His glory, will we begin to see ourselves in our total depravity. Christ not only died for our sins but was found to be without sin. The perfect, Holy undefiled Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. John 1:29
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God made Him, who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that IN HIM we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Gospel is the glorious announcement that He created, He came, He did, He died, He rose. He performed and accomplished by His perfect life and death on the cross. The original Greek word for Gospel literally means, “Good News”. It was used when declaring victory. It is fundamentally about Christ not about us. It's about His perfect life, His scandalous death, His glorious resurrection, ascension and constant intercession to God on our behalf. 
The Gospel is the catalyst of inner change. It’s Christ’s love for us IN Christ that compels our daily obedience to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:14
Because, the Bible tells us that everything we need we already have in Christ, we don’t need to secure for ourselves anything because in Him, we already have everything we need. We are free. Free to serve one another, free to give and not take, free to love and not expect anything in return. You see, God doesn’t just care about what we do, He cares about why we do what we do. Are we serving Him fully assured of His love for us and out of the abundance that we have been given or are we serving Him thinking that by our service we are loved? If we are serving HIm, thinking that by our service we are loved then our works are dead and nothing but filthy rags in the eyes of God. Out of the abundance we have been given, we serve. It’s Christ’s love that compels us to serve Him. His love within us is the transforming power and the catalyst to change. Change that begins on the inside of us and then pours out from a new heart and transformed life. 

Everything we do, we do for the praise and glory of another. Our lives should be about making Christ of first importance. Each of us find ourselves on different journeys and in different seasons of life. We serve and love the same God and yet each of our stories look different. Each of our journey’s are unique and Christ who is intimately acquainted with all our ways has prepared our path and hems us in. We are to walk in obedience to His word, trusting Him to guide us in our journey toward righteousness. We are in the process of beginning practically what we already are positionally. We live between the now and the not yet....
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