He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: How to Know God Really Loves You | Desiring God

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Does Your Heart Need to be Pierced?

20161019_165242I don’t think that any of us have even begun to comprehend the enormity and wonderfulness of what God has done for us.  I wish that I could wrap my brain around it, but I just can’t.  I don’t think that any of us can.  It’s just so incredibly amazing!  That God would choose a messed up, sinful person like me and adopt me as His daughter, a daughter who will share in the inheritance of Christ Jesus!
Truth be told,  I live my every day life taking it for granted.  It’s just something that I don’t think about every day and if I’m not thinking about it every day, then I’m not thanking Him for it every day either, and I most certainly should be.

Looking and praying for that to change, I have begun to read Ephesians chapter 1 verses 1-14  while asking the Holy Spirit to pierce my heart with the reality of what God has done for me through His son Jesus.  I am learning that it greatly helps me as I read the scripture verses where the pronouns “we” or  “us” are used, to replace the words with  “me” or “I”.

This is how I read the verses:  Blessed be the God and Father of my Lord and Jesus Christ, who has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose me in Him before the foundation of the world, that I would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined me to adoption as a daughter through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on me in the Beloved.  In Him I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of my trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on me.  In all wisdom and insight He made known to me the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him………In Him also I have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined accordng to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.  In Him,  I also, after listening to the message of truth,  the gospel of my salvation – having also believed, I was sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee  of my inheritance until I acquire possession of it with to the praise of His glory.

Now, lets really, really mull over the incredible richness of what this is saying.  First of all, I love that this starts out by blessing the Lord, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ……..The supreme duty of creation is to give praise and to commend our God.  Who has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ……….I’ve been blessed!  I’ve been giving complete and total blessing by the total source of all blessings, God, through the realm of God’s complete heavenly domain thanks to Christ.  Just as He chose me in Him before the foundation of the world…….. Wow!! God was thinking about me, making plans for me first, before He created the world!  His concern for me was more important than His creation of this magnificent world! I came first!  That I would be holy and blameless before Him; God chose me, an unrighteous and unworthy sinner to stand before Him and be declared holy, righteous, and worthy of His salvation!  In love He predestined me to adoption as a daughter through Christ Jesus to Himself……….. God’s reason for choosing me?  Love. There was nothing in me to make Him want to choose me, nothing but sin.  My salvation, my being made God’s daughter,  is all about His love and grace, nothing else.  What a humbling, wonderful feeling it is to be loved that much!  No one here on this earth could ever begin to love me that much! Again, all of this is through Jesus Christ.  It is He, who through His atoning death made this possible.  Thank you Jesus!  According to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace………Again, it was God’s kindness, it was His will for me to be saved.  I had nothing to do with it.  That is why it’s to the praise and glory of His grace.  If I at all had a part in it,  if my salvation in any way shape or form was dependent upon me, then I guess I could receive some of the credit, right?  But no!  That’s why it’s to the praise and glory of His grace.  God gets all the praise and glory!  It was His grace, His umerited favor, a complete and total gift!

Is your heart being pierced yet? Is the enormity of God’s love and amazing grace leaving you awestruck?  Let’s dissect some more of these amazing verses.  Which He freely bestowed on me in the Beloved.  In Him I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of my trespasses……Again, I am reminded of Jesus tremendous sacrifice, the total emptying of Himself through the shedding of His precious blood in order to cover for my sins.  Jesus paid the price that I was supposed to pay for my sins so that I would  be forgiven!  Forgiveness was freely bestowed on me in the beloved Jesus Christ!  According to the riches of His grace which He lavished on me……These are the only kind of riches we should want or need, the riches of God’s grace, His unmerited favor.  There is absolutely nothing I could ever do to earn even a tiny fragment of God’s grace.  Not only has God lovingly and mercifully shown me grace, but His word says that He lavished it on me!!  Wow!!  To lavish means to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.  God has been extravagant in the grace that He has chosen to bestow upon me!  In all wisdom and insight He made known to me the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him……God has also freely bestowed upon me in Christ Jesus, wisdom and insight as to His will for my salvation and for the church.  How? Through the illumination of His Word with the help of the Holy spirit who now dwells within me, another free gift of God through Christ Jesus.  God shares with believers His purpose for our salvation and His purpose for His church.  In Him also I have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will……Through Jesus I have obtained a divine inheritance that is so much more than any earthly inheritance I could ever want or hope for.  This inheritance is eternal and filled with an abundance of God’s riches.  This divine inheritance is so certain that it is spoken of as if it has already been obtained! God set this in motion before the foundation of the world and in His sovereignty is working all things according to His will, including my salvation, my inheritance!  In Him, I also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of my salvation-having also believed , I was sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of my inheritance until I acquire possession of it to the praise of His glory.  God’s word says that after I heard the message of salvation and I, in faith, believed in Him (that faith is also a gift from God, lest I should boast.  Ephesians 2:8,9), that He sealed me with His Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of my inheritance.  Not only did God, through His amazing grace save me, but He gave me the Holy Spirit to guide me so that my salvation should never be lost!  I am forever sealed as God’s own!  I know that if left up to me, I would lose my salvation.  In  my sinfulness I would surely mess it up!  But God in His infinite love and wisdom has taken care to make sure that I will always be His!  All this is to the praise of His glory!

God is good.  He’s good when I don’t deserve it.  I will never be able to fully grasp the measure of His love, mercy and grace.  How deep, how wide, how infinite.   There is nothing  more humbling than God’s umerited favor upon my eternal soul.  Oh how I long for the realization of what He has done to sink in more!

My friend, if you are a true believer, these verses apply to you just as much as they do to me!   Does your heart need to be pierced?  If so, perhaps you’ll consider joining me in the practice of daily reading and inserting yourself in these rich and powerful verses.  I’d love to hear from you whether or not it begins to  make a differnce in your heart and in your thinking.

Nothing more to be said here except, “Praise God!”

When Life Gives You More Than You Can Bear

wp-image-729923988 I had been struggling to cope with our then, barely 17-year-old daughters pregnancy and her having left home against our will to live with the baby’s father.  I was devastated! Sometimes love hurts. On top of that, I had received a phone call from my father in law’s wife, distraught over the painful news of her daughter’s untimely death in a car accident. Sometimes love hurts.

I couldn’t begin to imagine the immense pain she must have felt and as I lifted her in prayer to my heavenly Father, I thought about how He was there as that awful fatal car accident happened.  He was there when my father in law’s wife received the horrifying news of the loss of her daughter and He was there as I laid on my bedroom floor trying to catch my breath, sobbing uncontrollably after my precious daughter, with child, left home.

“Father”, I whispered. “I know You are a God of love and compassion. You see and feel my pain and anguish. You are witness to people suffering and in pain every day; people hurting one another, people hurting themselves. You are there to see the pain of marriages and relationships crumbling, of families being torn apart, people sick, starving, lonely and in despair. You see and hear the grief-stricken cries of overwhelming pain when people receive the news about the death of their loved ones. You see it all, Lord!”

Our God, in His never-ending love, indeed  bears the pain and anguish of not just me and my father in law’s wife, but He bears the pain and anguish of the entire broken world!    From my own weak and limited human perspective I find myself asking God how He copes, how He endures the pain.

As I ponder it all in my heart, I’m reminded that my Heavenly Father sees the big picture, the final outcome of His perfect plan; the plan that I, cannot yet see.

If we could see the outcome of His perfect plan, one for our own good right up front, how different things might be for us.  But the reality is that some of our time here in a broken world will be spent in pain not finding the answers that we so desperately hoped for this side of heaven. The purpose may not be clear until we stand face to face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I feel led to turn to 1 Corinthians 13 and as I do I can hear His still, small voice. “Yes, Rebecca, love can cause us pain, but it’s my perfect love that gets us through that pain.”

And as I read 1 Corinthians 13, these words leapt off the page: Love is patient, love bears up under anything and everything that comes, it’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, it endures everything without weakening and never fails.

Yes, that’s how our loving God endures the pain of love. We can too, through His perfect love for us!

If you are experiencing  pain and heartbreak in your own life as you read this, take heart. You are not alone. God does in fact, feel your pain and anguish.

Look to Him and His never-ending, perfect love. Let Him love you through it with His perfect love for you.

 

 

I am really looking forward to reading this book! Thank you,  Anna Voskamp for sharing. Daring to Hope When It’s Not Happy Endings: How to Sing in the Dark

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/09/daring-to-hope-when-its-not-happy-endings-how-to-sing-in-the-dark/

When Life Gives You More Than You Can Bear

wp-image-729923988 I had been struggling to cope with our then, barely 17-year-old daughters pregnancy and her having left home against our will to live with the baby’s father.  I was devastated! Sometimes love hurts. On top of that, I had received a phone call from my father in law’s wife, distraught over the painful news of her daughter’s untimely death in a car accident. Sometimes love hurts.

I couldn’t begin to imagine the immense pain she must have felt and as I lifted her in prayer to my heavenly Father, I thought about how He was there as that awful fatal car accident happened.  He was there when my father in law’s wife received the horrifying news of the loss of her daughter and He was there as I laid on my bedroom floor trying to catch my breath, sobbing uncontrollably after my precious daughter, with child, left home.

“Father”, I whispered. “I know You are a God of love and compassion. You see and feel my pain and anguish. You are witness to people suffering and in pain every day; people hurting one another, people hurting themselves. You are there to see the pain of marriages and relationships crumbling, of families being torn apart, people sick, starving, lonely and in despair. You see and hear the grief-stricken cries of overwhelming pain when people receive the news about the death of their loved ones. You see it all, Lord!”

Our God, in His never-ending love, indeed  bears the pain and anguish of not just me and my father in law’s wife, but He bears the pain and anguish of the entire broken world!    From my own weak and limited human perspective I find myself asking God how He copes, how He endures the pain.

As I ponder it all in my heart, I’m reminded that my Heavenly Father sees the big picture, the final outcome of His perfect plan; the plan that I, cannot yet see.

If we could see the outcome of His perfect plan, one for our own good right up front, how different things might be for us.  But the reality is that some of our time here in a broken world will be spent in pain not finding the answers that we so desperately hoped for this side of heaven. The purpose may not be clear until we stand face to face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I feel led to turn to 1 Corinthians 13 and as I do I can hear His still, small voice. “Yes, Rebecca, love can cause us pain, but it’s my perfect love that gets us through that pain.”

And as I read 1 Corinthians 13, these words leapt off the page: Love is patient, love bears up under anything and everything that comes, it’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, it endures everything without weakening and never fails.

Yes, that’s how our loving God endures the pain of love. We can too, through His perfect love for us!

If you are experiencing  pain and heartbreak in your own life as you read this, take heart. You are not alone. God does in fact, feel your pain and anguish.

Look to Him and His never-ending, perfect love. Let Him love you through it with His perfect love for you.

 

 

Assuming the Worst When God Seems Silent

My husband is a hard working carpenter. He is in the business of making people’s homes beautiful. So one can imagine my zeal when the occasion comes my way in which I’m able to be a recipient of his gifts and talents for our own home.

Our latest project has been remodeling our old worn out kitchen. Long overdue and years in the coming, needless to say, I was more than anxious and excited for the job to be completed.

Lying in bed every  night, my eyelids heavy as my consciousness begins to ebb away ,  I can envision in my sleepy mind, walking into my new kitchen with the freshly painted walls, tin backsplash that’s reminiscent of an old farmhouse kitchen back in the day, new bright white cupboards and drawers neatly organized with the pots, pans, plates, bowls and utensils and such, comfy in their new home.

But for the time being, I’ve had to settle for cupboards with no doors, displaced pots and pans sitting on the table, taking the silverware from the old drawer sitting on the floor in the corner by the stove and bowls and plates sitting out on the counter.

Maybe when I get home from my shift at the hospital tonight some more of the cupboards will have been installed. That night, as I wearily trudge down the stone path toward the house after a long, frustrating evening at work,  as tired as I am though,  I’m excited about what I will see when I walk through the door and into the kitchen.

What?  Seriously?!  What had he been doing all night while I was at work?   I tried not to let my disappointment, and yes, my anger at not seeing any visible progress show as I inquired as to how my husbands evening was.

“Fine,” he answered. “How was yours?”  I ignored his question and instead sent a rapid-fire succession of questions mingled with complaints in my poor husband’s direction. “Is there any reason the cupboards still aren’t up on the walls?  What could possibly be taking you so long to finish this?  What are you doing the whole time while I’m at work every evening?  Why can’t we just get this kitchen finished already?”

After I finished my tirade, I glanced over at my husband. He didn’t utter a word. He didn’t have to. The look on his face said it all.  I knew he was irritated, to say the least, at my childish outburst.

After a few moments of awkward silence, my husband stood up and graciously explained, “Well, first of all, I’ve been replacing our old worn out plumbing lines as well as updating the electric behind the walls where the cupboards will go so I can install a ceiling fan like you’ve always wanted. Oh yeah, I forgot that I had asked for a ceiling fan.  He continued on, “and I’ve been cleaning, caulking and repainting inside the bottom cabinets to make them look better inside and help to guard against those destructive mice.”

My husband continues to explain,  but I’m not listening.  Not because I’m not interested in what he has to say, but because I’m berating myself for my audacious behavior and assumptions about my husband’s hard work in our kitchen.

I assumed the worst because I saw no outwardly visible progress. I assumed nothing was being done when in truth, my husband,  the carpenter, was busy at work accomplishing so much more than I could have ever imagined, behind the scenes.

As I  reflect upon my chronic short-sightedness, I’m reminded of Jesus, the master carpenter, and how so often it may seem to us as though He’s not working in our lives at all.  It’s as though God isn’t listening,  He’s not answering. It seems as though He’s just not there. It seems as though He just doesn’t care.

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Even though there are no outward signs of visible progress in our prayers or in our lives, our Lord and Savior is in fact hard at work, taking care of all the details, both little and big,  that we’re not aware need to be taken care of.

Perhaps while you’re waiting,  God is working behind the scenes preparing someone whom He’s going to bring into your life to encourage or bless you.  Maybe He’s working on giving you more than you’ve requested, or perhaps, like my ceiling fan, blessing you with something you’d forgotten that you’d asked for.  Could it be that you’ve got some cracks that need filling in so as to keep out destructive things in your life?

Whatever you are waiting on, know and believe that God is diligently and faithfully working behind the scenes, building and repairing.   And don’t forget, God works based on our believing, not our seeing.

In his defense, Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at work to this very day and I too am working.  John 5:17