Tag Archives: God’s love

Noticing. And Remembering.

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.
Psalm 40:5, NLT*

We recognize the truth in verses like these. And yet we forget.

We forget who God is – how strong, how full of love and mercy, how trustworthy.

We see the troubles and stresses in our lives and in the world around us, the looming danger and darkness, and we lose sight of the truth that God is bigger.

Remembering what God has done helps us keep perspective. Look at what He’s done in the Bible and in the lives of Christians around the world. Think back on how He’s moved in your life, the lives of friends, in your church.

For every big thing God does, how many small ones might we overlook? A parking spot when it’s needed most, a lost item found, a phone call at just the right time?

To know and rely on His love (1 John 4:16, NIV**) we need to notice and remember the evidence.

O Lord our God, Your power and goodness are beyond human understanding, and truly we could never list all that You have done. Teach us to remember, and open our eyes to see what You’re still doing. No matter what the day brings, help us to be secure in trusting You.

This week’s song is “The Goodness of the Lord,” by Travis Ryan.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

** New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


In Awe of God’s Goodness

But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the Lord their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.
Hosea 3:5, NLT*

We’re a pretty unfaithful bunch, aren’t we, as humans?

It’s worth noting that the people whose return to the Lord is anticipated in this verse only come back after a serious intervention on God’s part. Their choices lead to consequences.

The Book of Hosea is a beautiful picture of how much God loves His people and desires a relationship with us – and how easily we’ll turn away from Him.

Even those of us who know and love Him need to be careful not to drift away. Those who don’t know Him yet don’t want to get closer in the first place.

But God…

Read Hosea and see God’s love, mercy and grace – and the impact of human unfaithfulness. See how God takes it upon Himself to bring us back, because He knows we won’t come on our own.

And see the promise of how it will be when we “finally know Him as the LORD (Hosea 2:20)”

God our determined and loving Rescuer, thank You. May we who know You devote ourselves to You. Overwhelm us with Your goodness. Keep us close. Please draw those who don’t yet know You, even through the many struggles in the world today. Open their eyes and hearts to who You are, so that they will tremble in awe of Your goodness.

Todd Agnew’s song, “You are Good,” points to how we see God’s goodness in Jesus’ willing sacrifice to save us.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God Stepped In

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
Romans 8:38, NLT*

Paul says not even “our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow.” Fear wants to tell us we’re cut off from God, but fear lies.

Circumstances can be painful, overwhelming. But God is with us, and that is our hope. His love holds us, His grace sustains us, and He refuses to leave us to suffer alone.

We can get angry at Him for allowing our pain, but that doesn’t help. All it does is reduce our capacity to experience His presence.

Or we can press into Him and pray to see Him at work in our trouble – and when we see evidence of His care, we can praise and thank Him. Our faith will grow, and others will see that He makes a difference.

“The love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39b, NLT*) At Christmas, we celebrate the beginning of that revelation. God incarnate stepped into our pain.

Creator and Redeemer God, thank You for Your strong love that can never be broken. Teach us to rely on Your character and Your promises, and to anchor on the truth that You will never leave us.

Michael Card‘s song, “Immanuel,” reminds us of the wonderful truth that God is with us.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The One Opinion of You that Matters

The fear of human opinion disables;
trusting in God protects you from that.
Proverbs 29:25, MSG*

“Disable” is a strong word. Even though many levels of disability don’t incapacitate a person, they do affect and interfere in some way with that person’s ability to function. And some disabilities increase over time.

We all know how fear of others’ opinions can cause us to self-censor, to put up walls or wear masks, to hide our true thoughts and feelings. In contrast, certain people make us feel safe to be ourselves.

No matter what people say or think about us, whether they misunderstand us or see the truth, God loves us. In His eyes, we have such great value that Jesus came to rescue us from life (and death) cut off from relationship with God.

We can trust His love. We can trust the things He says in the Bible. Things like “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV**) And “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20, NIV**)

Even if everyone else rejects us, God delights in us. We’re His favourite part of creation. Don’t believe me? Take time to read Alisha Gratehouse’s post, “The Lord Delights in You” and Carolyn Watts’ post, “God’s Favourite Part of Creation.” You may have to pray about these truths for a while to let them sink in.

Rejection, snide remarks and misunderstanding from others will always hurt. But security in God’s love can keep us from being disabled by the fear of human opinion. Our best defence is to get closer to Him.

God our gentle Shepherd, You understand the pain of rejection. You know our fears. When others hurt us, help us to anchor in Your deep love. Help us remember—and believe—what You say about us. Help us pay more attention to Your opinion of us than to those of the people around us. Help us live confidently in Your care.

A good song for this and for the other stresses we may face: Geoff Moore‘s “I Believe

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

**New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Prayer for Every Day

Finish what you started in me, God.
Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.
Psalm 138:8, MSG*

Wouldn’t this be a great prayer to memorize? To print out and stick on the bathroom mirror, on the car dashboard or somewhere else you’d see it every day?

I love the trust in these words. David knows that God has started a work in him.

God has started the work. God has started the work. David can count on it, and so can we, as believers in Jesus.

God’s love is eternal. That includes His patience, His wisdom and His creativity. We often lament that we’re slow learners with God. Let’s draw closer to Him in trusting surrender, so that He can work unhindered, but let’s also relax and rejoice in the knowledge that His timing is perfect.

God never quits. He finishes what He starts. We have His promise. As we pray “don’t quit on me now” what we’re really expressing is the confidence that He won’t quit on us—now or ever.

Wonderful and all-powerful God, because of Your great love You’ve begun a work in each of Your children. We praise You that You finish what You start, and that Your love is eternal. We rejoice in Your promise to never leave nor forsake us. Help us to cooperate with You in the renovation of who we are—because of Whose we are.

Paul Baloche‘s song, “Because of Your Love,” is a great reminder for our spirits.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Is God Enough?

“Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”

1 Samuel 1:8, NLT* 

In a culture that measured a woman’s worth by her fertility, Hannah was barren—and her husband’s other wife twisted that knife as often as possible.

This verse always made me want to smack Elkanah. He loved Hannah, but how could he be so clueless? How could he not understand the pain of Hannah’s longing? Not pick up on her rival’s smugness?

Last week’s post made me see this passage differently. If we’re trusting in God’s unfailing love instead of in self-pity, anger, anxiety, whatever—if we can grasp just a bit of God’s love, won’t we say it’s enough?

What if Elkanah and Hannah are a picture of God and us? Don’t we often hold onto other desires—real, deep and painful—instead of being satisfied by all that God is? The irony is, we can’t discover His depths while we’re focused on what we don’t have.

I’m not trying to minimize our longings. Love, employment, children, publication, whatever it is that’s the empty place in our hearts, these things matter. Some longings, like Hannah’s, are God-planted. He’ll fulfil those. Others, equally strong, He won’t. And we won’t know why. Or which are which, until some come to fruition.

The lesson for me is this: we need to trust His unfailing love. We need to let God be enough for us in the now.

God our Provider, our Sustainer and Redeemer, forgive us for letting unmet longings take our hearts away from You. Teach us to trust Your unfailing love, and open our spirits to realize that You are enough. Please fill what’s empty in us and help us trust You with the desires of our hearts.

Let Chris Tomlin remind us of these truths with his song, “Enough“.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Proof that Jesus Loves Me

Good Friday is a difficult day. How do you balance the ultimate, willing sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save us all: His pain against our rich benefit?

One thing I know: Good Friday proves His love for me. For you. For us all.

Let this song from the David Crowder*Band bless you: Shadows. Take in the words: “When all seems lost, remember the cost. Rest in the shadow of the Cross.” [paraphrased]


Review: The Prodigal, by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett

The Prodigal, a novel by Brennan Manning and Greg GarrettThe Prodigal, by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett (Zondervan, 2013)

“America’s Pastor.” That’s what they call Jack Chisholm, founder and leader of Seattle’s Grace Cathedral. Jack is a high-profile preacher and an organizer of good works. He’s also human. When a lapse in judgment leads to sin and disgrace, his image shatters and his life falls apart.

Despite the name of his megachurch, Jack’s best-known phrase is “We have got to do better.” His focus on humanity’s shortcomings and our need to work harder for God’s approval comes from his father, a man Jack walked away from years ago without looking back.

A man who now comes to rescue Jack from the pit of misery he’s dug for himself.

With nowhere else to go, Jack goes home to small-town Texas, where everyone knows everything about everybody else. Some people will forgive him, some won’t. He needs to learn to live with himself, to reconcile with his family if they’ll have him, and to decide what to do with the rest of his life.

Churchless, is he still a pastor? Does he even still believe in God?

Jack learns about grace from the townspeople, especially from his much-changed father and from the local priest, Father Frank. I don’t know much about Brennan Manning, but Father Frank seems to be the voice of Brennan himself speaking to Jack’s pain. It’s not always an easy voice to hear, because it speaks truth and it challenges Jack with that truth.

My favourite Father Frank lines:

When we acknowledge that we are all beggars at the door of God’s mercy, God can make something beautiful out of us.

…broken and worthless as we are, we are nonetheless loved beyond all reckoning. (p. 48)

The Prodigal isn’t a preachy novel. Frank doesn’t dish out this kind of teaching very often, and only when Jack needs it. Jack, of course, disagrees.

It’s a novel for anyone who knows the bitterness of failure, men and women both. It’s a novel of hope—not for glitter and rainbows and happy endings, but for the strength to go on and to find our true selves in the ruins of what we’ve tried to be. It’s a novel that affirms the love of God the Father and the fundamental goodness that lives in most people’s hearts—a goodness that may need some digging to find.

The Prodigal is a heart-warming, soul-encouraging read. My one regret is that I’d like to have seen some closure between Jack and his former assistant, Danny. [Jack. Daniel. Does anyone but me find this funny, given that Jack tries to find the answer to his problems in a bottle?]

Brennan Manning, who died in 2013, was best known for his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel. Greg Garrett is the author and co-author of many books, both fiction and non-fiction. The Prodigal is available in paperback, electronic book and audio formats. I highly recommend it.

[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]

God’s Urgency

How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
Matthew 23:37, NLT*

Jesus came because we needed rescuing. I love Mark’s description of Jesus’ reaction to a large crowd:

“He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6:34, NLT*)

He had compassion on them. The Good Shepherd saw their need and longed to meet it.

Hear His longing in our opening verse, where He laments over the city of Jerusalem. He’s lamenting still today, calling out to so many lost and confused souls who don’t even realize their state.

Sometimes I catch an echo of his heart… the Creator, the King, calling… almost begging… for souls to turn His way.

It matters that much to Him. We matter that much to Him.

And I feel like time’s running out.

We can’t convince people to trust their hearts to Jesus. That’s His work. But we can pray for them, we can demonstrate His care for them, and we can speak a few words when they’re open to hear.

Fierce and gentle Shepherd, call Your lambs and help them to listen. Rescue them from where they’re trapped, from menacing predators, and let them experience the true and good care that only You can give.

Here’s Don Francisco‘s song, “Adam, Where Are You?” Hear the urgency in the final verse, and pray for those still in the darkness.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Kindness of God

What can I offer the Lord
for all he has done for me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
I will keep my promises to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Psalm 116:12-14, NLT*

The kindness of God has been on my mind a lot lately, and the depth of love He inspires when we see how good He is to us. I think that’s where the psalmist is going here with his question.

Earlier in the psalm he talks about the hard place he was in, and how God answered his desperate prayer. There’s no way he can repay his Rescuer, except with his life.

How then will he live?

He’ll accept and embrace the salvation. No holding it off because he’s not worthy and can’t earn it. Neither will he keep it to himself. He’ll declare God’s praises publicly so others will know God’s character.

And he’ll keep whatever promises and vows he makes to the Lord. I don’t think this is about any bargains he may have tried to make with God in the troubled time. I think it’s about integrity in his ongoing relationship with God and in the presence of witnesses.

He also commits to be part of corporate worship as well as private worship. I’m not sure if it’s for his own need or in honour of God, but despite any irritating, flawed or hypocritical people in his faith community, he won’t walk away. His example of faithfulness and his declarations of praise will encourage others’ faith, and theirs will encourage his.

As I pray for people struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and other disasters, and as I pray for people digging themselves deeper into trouble of their own making, I’m sad that sometimes we  have to reach despair before we cry out to God for help. Yet He’s waiting like the prodigal’s father, arms outstretched, longing to bring good into our lives.

God, You are our Creator and Sustainer, our Saviour and our King. Your kindness reaches for us even while we’re running away from You. Soften the hearts of those who know You and of those who don’t, and help us all to look to You for help. Yes, we can fear Your discipline, but it’s when we experience Your love and Your mercy that our hearts are undone. We love You because You loved us first. Help us live in light of Your love.

Todd Agnew’s song, “Kindness,” is one I’ve been singing in prayer for some of those I care for who are still running. May His kindness draw us all nearer.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.