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“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”


-Daniel 2:44

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:16)

How can we KNOW as this verse says, that we are indeed, “God’s children?”

He is intentional: God is love. (1 John 4:8)

I believe that for those not grounded in the word of God this phrase often gets misinterpreted. It says: God is love, but based on conversations I’ve had over the years it is often interpreted as: “Love is God.” And that is a very different statement. As an example, I have a friend who believes there is not a God but rather a “life force” or “energy” that is love itself. In one conversation I pointed out that love alone can’t be just some energy or force emanating through the universe. Love is an action. Action requires intentionality… and intentional action can only come from a source of personhood. She smiled at me and said: “You got me… you got me there with intentionality…” She did not mean that I’d won an argument, but that I’d spoken to her heart.

Here is the hard heart truth that we have such a difficult time facing and which we must admit: We are a mess of sins— we are dead in them. If we are honest, often even our good deeds have selfish motives. Whether languishing in indulgent sin or climbing the ladder of success by the pride of our “good deeds,” we are at the heart: not good, not even close to good, not any one of us: for as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23)

AND YET…

This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin. (1 John 4:10)

Even in the midst of our sin and brokenness God loved us, even when we did not love Him. Why? Just because He does! He’s proven it. Every other religion and its leader says you must climb the mountain to get to God and hope you are good enough and can get close enough to be accepted. But the Christian faith says: God came down to us! He made himself incarnate, in the form of Jesus, to save us from our mess of sins. He was willing to sacrifice everything to bring us home to the Father. It is faith in this truth that will give you and I the unshakable confidence to know: In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. (Galatians 3:26)

God did not remain distant from us. He came to us and laid down his life for us. That is love in action. Jesus said: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) This is what Jesus did for us on the cross. He died in our place. He lived the life we should have lived- perfect and blameless. And then he died the death we should have died- accused, wretched and outcast. Why? Love.

Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive through the power of LOVE— a real, unconditional, sacrificial tenderness of grace that says: “I’m giving up my own life for you. Because I die now, you may live forever. Not because you earned it. Not because you deserve it, but just because I love you.” Who can gaze on that moment and not be brought to awe and adoration? If we have any love in us at all it is only because we embrace this truth. 

We must learn to love our Lord God and Savior first, by gazing constantly on this truth. Then we can learn to love others.


This is an excerpt from its original publication here and is shared with the author's permission.

Monica is her husband’s adoring wife, her little girl’s “Mama,” a crazy dog lover, and everyday falling more deeply in love with the Lord! In September of 2008 the Gills were blessed with a fifth tiny addition to the family (this time a baby instead of a puppy!) Grace is an ever-present wonder and a constant source of joy. Monica has been an active Bible teacher, writer and speaker for women's ministry and youth for twenty years. She loves to combat every challenge of life with this truth: Jesus is the answer! Jesus is always the answer!

 You can find Monica at www.lifewithgrace.net or contact her at monica@lifewithgrace.net

More of Monica Gill: www.lifewithgrace.net

I’ll Always Be There For You -  

This devotional was written by Jim Burns

 

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” —Hebrews 13:5

 

A parent’s unconditional love is often the closest illustration we have of the “I will never leave you nor forsake you” kind of love from God. Yet even a parent’s love pales compared to the depth, breadth and integrity of God’s love and passion for you. I love how one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, describes this kind of love in a story about a father, a son, a tragedy and a great victory.

 

The 1989 Armenian earthquake needed only four minutes to flatten the nation and kill thirty thousand people. Moments after the deadly tremor ceased, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw that the building had been leveled. Looking at the mass stones and rubble, he remembered a promise he had made to his child: “No matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.” Driven by his own promise, he found the area closes to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks. Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. “It’s too late,” they told the man, “You know they are dead. You can’t help.” Even a police officer encouraged him to give up.

 

But the father refused. For eight hours, then sixteen, then thirty-two—for thirty-six hours he dug. His hands were raw and his energy gone, but he refused to quit. Finally, after thirty-eight wrenching hours he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He called his boy’s name, “Arman! Arman!” And a voice answered him, “Dad, it’s me!” The boy added these priceless words, “I told the other kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive, you’d save me, and when you saved me, they’d be saved too. Because you promised me, “No matter what I’ll always be there for you.”*

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Can you imagine your heavenly Father possessing this kind of passion for you, His child? He does! Read Hebrews 13:5 and let the words sink in about what it means for your life.

 

2. What does it mean for God to never leave you nor forsake you when problems and struggles still come to all humans?

 

FURTHER READING:

Deuteronomy 31:5-8; 1 John 4:10

 

* Max Lucado, When Christ Comes (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1999), pp. 21-22.

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com. 

Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California. 

More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com

I’m Not Moving -   

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

 

Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say? —Luke 6:46

 

It was a sunny, and unusually warm autumn Sunday afternoon, so I thought I would take advantage of it by going fishing on a local river. As I took the dirt-road cutoff that would take me near my favorite fishing spot, I rounded a bend in the road and slammed on my truck’s brakes.

 

There, in the middle of the road, was a woman lying on a blanket, working on her tan. I was both taken by surprise, and quite relieved that the truck had stopped without running the woman over. When the dust from my sudden stop had cleared, I got out of my truck, and approached the woman.

 

Me (fairly calm given the situation): What are you doing?!

Her (startled and angry): What does it look like I’m doing?!

Me: You are lying in the middle of the road.

Her: So?!

Me: I don’t think it’s a great idea to lie in the middle of a road. I could have run you over!

Her: [Bleep] you. I’m not moving!

Me [sarcastically]: Okay. Have a nice day!

 

I got back into my truck and backed it down the road until I found a safe place to park.

 

I’ll admit that I was frustrated. Sure, there are certainly times when people ought to take a stand, regardless of the consequences. But, I didn’t feel that this qualified as a great example, for either one of us. To me, it was a moment of stubbornness and will, and while the woman didn’t back down, I did.

 

This experience caused me to reflect on all of the times when I know there are things that God is asking of me, and I, in effect, say to Him, “I’m not moving!” Yes, I want all of the good things that God has for my life, but I want life to be easy. When it becomes uncomfortable and difficult to obey, too often, I turn stubborn.

 

In one way or another, we all have these stubborn moments with God. No person is immune from them. The question becomes, how can we minimize the times when we won’t budge? I don’t know the complete answer. I wish that I did. “Just say yes to God, whatever the circumstance,” is the right answer, but most of us already know this, and still struggle in carrying it out.

 

The long journey toward consistently saying yes to God is found in taking small steps. Perhaps the first small step is in the realization that taking the easy road in life rarely takes you where you want to go, nor leads you to becoming the person God wants to make you into. Obedience to God is not always easy, but whatever pain it brings, it also reaps the benefit of molding us more completely into the image of Jesus.

 

Today, take some small step when you find your first response to God is to say, “I’m not moving!” Get up off the road, pick up your blanket, and walk toward Jesus.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Reflect on your life. In what situations are you most likely to say to God, “I’m not moving!”

 

2. How do you feel that saying no to God has affected your journey as a Christ-follower? How has saying yes to God affected your journey as a Christ-follower?

 

FURTHER READING:

Romans 6:16; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 14-15; 1 John 5:1-5

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Just Because -  

If you ask Gracie if she has any siblings she’ll tell you she has a sister in college. This sister happens to be her God-sister, Brie, the daughter of our best friends and Grace’s God-parents. Brie is one of the most amazing young women I have in my life. I’ve known her since she was five. Brie was 12 when I was pregnant with Grace and I remember her telling her mother: “I love the Gills so much that I feel just like I’m having a sister!” In spite of the 12-year gap, you’ll find no more loyal pair of sisters- paired not by blood, but by bonds much stronger, the bond of Christ, who’s unconditional love is the love we were meant to mirror.

Jesus tells us: “Love one another as I have loved you.” A love with no strings attached.

For Valentine’s Day Grace’s teacher had the students choose someone and list out: “Ten Reasons Why I Love You.” Grace chose Brie. Among the reasons she listed were: “You are fun” “You are a crafty artist” “You are smart” and “Your hugs.” But as I looked at the list the one that struck my heart most was number 7 on her list:

“I love you.”

Do you see the utter unconditional nature of that statement? “I love you because… I LOVE YOU!”  It reminded me immediately of echoes of the Gospel.

In essence, God says to us in every moment with each breath: “I love you because I love you. It’s not anything that you’ve done to earn it. It’s not your deeds, your appearance or your success that make me love you. I just do… just because you are mine.”

He calls us children:

Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

If you are a parent, you know the wave that washes over you the moment you hear the news that you’re expecting a child. I remember in Labor and Delivery class listening to one beautiful woman as she caressed her plump belly saying: “I just love him so much already….” I remember thinking- “How true! Me too! And I have not even met her yet!”

I understand the truth of this analogy of God as Father can be hard for some. I have watched many a friend struggle with being outright rejected by a parent, and that pain is utterly devastating. But in the midst of that pain, there is one hope, and only one. No parent is perfect, save one- Your Father in Heaven- and His love IS utterly unconditional. No matter what situation exists with your earthly parents, The Lord of the Universe is your One True Father. The Lord says: “I knew you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart for me before you were born;” (Jeremiah 1:5)

King David writes of his amazement at God’s creative power of love in Psalm 139:

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well. (Psalm 139: 13-14)

He knit you together in your mother’s womb and saw you in the secret place- before your own parents even knew you existed. He is the Father who loved you- just because, and He calls you His precious child.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:16)

 



This is an excerpt from its original appearance here and is shared with the author's permission.

Monica is her husband’s adoring wife, her little girl’s “Mama,” a crazy dog lover, and everyday falling more deeply in love with the Lord! In September of 2008 the Gills were blessed with a fifth tiny addition to the family (this time a baby instead of a puppy!) Grace is an ever-present wonder and a constant source of joy. Monica has been an active Bible teacher, writer and speaker for women's ministry and youth for twenty years. She loves to combat every challenge of life with this truth: Jesus is the answer! Jesus is always the answer!

 You can find Monica at www.lifewithgrace.net or contact her at monica@lifewithgrace.net

More of Monica Gill: www.lifewithgrace.net

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