Skip to content

Do you ever feel like God has forgotten you? Do your trials just seem to go on and on, forever without end? I feel like that sometimes, and I know a lot of people who are in worse situations than I am. The good news is that God has not forgotten us, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from His love.

In Romans 8:35-39, Paul thinks about all the things that might separate us from the love of God. He comes up with a long list, two of them in fact, (Romans 8:35, Romans 8:38-39) that range from troubles on earth to powers in the heavenly realms, but after consideration, and adding the words “anything else in all creation” to cover whatever he may have missed, he declares that none of them could. If they could, it would have happened long before now.

The Bible, and history, tell us that Christians will face trouble. (John 16:33, II Corinthians 4:11) Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 to remind his readers that facing trials is not a new thing, but he goes on to say that even still, nothing can separate us from God’s love. That love is not dependent on our strength, our wisdom or anything that we have done. Because Christ was willing to give up His life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins (Philippians 2:5-8, John 3:16-17, Romans 8:32), we are forgiven of anything that might otherwise separate us from God.

Did you notice in Romans 8:38, Paul includes the present and the future in his list but not the past? Our past and all the mistakes we have made have no relevance in determining how much God loves us. Christ paid the penalty for all of those things on the cross, and they have been removed from us, as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10-14) The cross is the basis for our victory. (Romans 8:37) The New International Version says that we are more than conquerors. We not only have victory over our trials in that we can survive through them, but we will benefit from them. We learn to depend more on God, we become more like Him (Romans 8:29), and we are able to be a comfort to others when they go through similar things. (II Corinthians 1:3-4) By doing so we bring glory to God. (Romans 15:5-7)

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for our lives, a good plan, and Romans 8:28 says that God works all things together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. That doesn’t mean that only good things will happen to us, but that God can turn anything that happens to us into good. We can rely on God’s promises. God loves us more than we could possibly imagine, and He has not forgotten us.

---------
I find these verses so reassuring that I recommend memorizing them, so that no matter what situation you are in, whether you have your Bible with you or not, you can be reminded how much God loves you. For tips on memorization, read my post from March 9,2011.

I am constantly amazed at the love that God has for us. You may feel love from your family or friends, but nothing on this earth compares to how much your Heavenly Father loves you. Of course, there will be some of you who don’t feel that from anyone, and so it will be even harder for you to fathom, but I hope that today’s verses will help.

In Luke 15:3-7 Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep, which is actually just the first part of the three part parable told in Luke 15. It was in response to an accusation from the Pharisees and experts in the law who were accusing Jesus of socializing with “sinners” (Luke 15:1-2), something that just wasn’t done by upstanding Jewish men. Talk about bullying. You can’t associate with her because she’s from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s not cool enough; what are you talking to him for? To be honest, it was more like he is not noble enough so he is not worthy of your attention, but it made me think of a schoolyard bully. Jesus, however, gave His attention to the most despised of society, and He called the Pharisees hypocrites. (Matthew 23:13) In reality, the Pharisees were just as lost as the rest of the “sinners”, but they were in denial, and refused to see their need for Jesus.

The shepherd in the parable believes that one sheep out of a hundred, one per cent of the flock, is worth searching for. What did he have to go through to find that sheep? Did he have to cross streams, climb rocky crags, crawl through thick brush? When he finds the sheep, it is obviously too weak or tired or hurt or confused to find its way home on its own. He picks it up and carries it home on his shoulders. Was one sheep out of a hundred worth that effort? Yes. Jesus feels that way about us. Every one of us is worth enough that Jesus gave up His life for us. His search for us took Him to the cross. There is no greater love than that.

“When the world says you’re not good enough, get a second opinion.” These words were spoken by Nick Vujicic, a man who was born without arms and legs, and who now spends his time travelling around the world speaking to audiences that range from high school students to prisoners. He tells them how much God loves them and how valuable they are in God’s eyes. (Nick’s website is: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org)

In Psalm 139:17-18, David cannot fathom how much God cares for him. Think about this. The creator of the universe cares for each one of us so much that we could not possibly count the number of thoughts He has about us. You might think that those thoughts were just for David, because after all God chose David to be king, and David was a man after God’s own heart. Perhaps you think that these verses don’t apply to you. They do. So many other verses in the Bible reinforce this point. (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:4-5, I John 4:10, Romans 5:8, II Thessalonians 2:16, Romans 5:5, I John 3:1, Romans 8:38-39)

The psalmist elaborates in Psalm 139:1-16 how well and intricately God knows him. This is how He knows us too. God is aware of everything you do, everywhere you go, every word you say. He is with you each step of the way, and He is there to steady and guide you (verse 10). He knew you before you were born, and He is the one who formed you in your mother’s womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) He knows us this well, better than we know ourselves, and yet He still loves us. Realizing all this prompted David to give thanks to God. (Psalm 139:14) We might not always understand how awesome and amazing God is. We might not be able to get our heads around His power that is so much greater than ours, but even then God is with us every step of the way, and we should remember to thank Him for it.

I believe that the grace of God is much more amazing than we as humans can comprehend, and yet it is available to each one of us. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the dire situation that the human race was left in because of Adam’s sin. Then verse 4 starts with “But God”. It begins the explanation we find in Ephesians 2:4-7 of God’s mercy and grace. Mercy means that we are not given the punishment that we deserve. Grace means that we are given the salvation that we don’t deserve. Both are given to us because of Christ, a fact that is repeated three times in these four verses, and they are gifts that are available to anyone, even the thief who was minutes from death on the cross beside Jesus. Because of Christ we have been transformed from spiritual death to spiritual life. We have been raised up in Him, and when this life is over we will be with Him in the heavenly realms. Spiritually, we are already there. This was made possible only because He loved us enough to die as a sacrifice in our place. Can you even begin to imagine this?!

I am also encouraged by Ephesians 2:7 which tells us that the surpassing wealth of His grace will be demonstrated to us in the coming ages. It is only going to get better and better. We will continue to know God more and more, but what I find most uplifting is that we are not expected to know it all right now. God’s love and grace is beyond what we can fathom, but there is a lot that He has already made known to us as well. He has given us the gift of the scriptures, His Holy Word, so that we might learn more about Him and His great love at our own pace. No pressure. It’s a gift.

I was having a conversation with my husband the other day, and I said, “The opposite of love isn’t hate; it is the absence of love. It is indifference.” He pondered that for a moment, and then did what every good techie does: he googled it. It turns out that, even though I was processing that thought for the first time, others had said it before, most famously holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel.

So, how do we know whether we are truly being loving or not? It’s not about feelings; it’s about conscious decisions. It is a choice. I John 5:2-4 tells us that we know we are loving others when we love God and keep His commandments. His commandments as summarized by Jesus are to love God and love others. (Matthew 22:37-40) Jesus also said that obeying his commandments is a natural progression of love for Him. (John 14:15) Later in the Gospel of John we read that if we obey Christ’s commandments, we will remain in Him just as He has obeyed His Father’s commandments and remains in His Father. (John 15:10) One assists the other: If we love God we will obey His commandments, and if we obey His commandments His love will remain in us.

These days, we use the term “love” quite loosely. I love chocolate. I love blue skies. I love my husband. These are examples that represent emotions and expressions of enjoyment. The kind of love discussed in these verses is unconditional, from the Greek word agape. A good summary of what that means and how it can be demonstrated practically is found in The Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13, particularly I Corinthians 13:4-7 ), but in general it means that we choose to love. Our love is not based on what we can get out of it, or even what we can give (and then feel good about). It is about loving others because God commands it, whether we particularly like them or not. That is something that is not easily done even if we really want to. It is only possible if we let the love of our Heavenly Father flow through us.

John 3:16 is probably the best known verse in the Bible.  Lots of children have memorized it in Sunday School, perhaps because it sums up the whole gospel so succinctly.

God loved the world so much that in order to redeem the world, He allowed His only son to die as a sacrifice for us.  That kind of love is hard to fathom.  And it was for the whole world.  When Jesus spoke these words, the people of the time thought that the Messiah was coming only for the Jewish people, and that the Gentiles would be condemned.  They expected judgement, but John 3:17 clarifies for us that Jesus did not come to condemn us, but to save us. All we have to do is believe in Him.  It is our choice.  The creator of the universe could choose to make us do whatever He wants us to, but He doesn’t.  He loves us so much that He lets us do whatever we want.  When we do choose to believe in Him though, we are rewarded with eternal life.  The Greek word used here for life represents not only life after death, but life here and now, and it represents the quality of life as much as the quantity—the more abundant life that John 10:10 describes.

I think this sounds like a great offer.  There is no need to perish.  The gift of life has been given; all we need to do is accept.  Why is it that there are people who don’t want to accept?  Fear, maybe?  Fear of losing control of their own lives?  Ironic when you think about it because God has given us so much freedom.  (II Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:13-14)

I chose this verse for today because I think of it as a Valentine verse.  I will share the Valentine with you here just in case you have never received it in an e-mail.  Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Today’s verse continues the theme in my last post (January 5, 2011) from John 1:1, where we learned that Jesus was referred to as the Word.  After John 1:14, John no longer uses the term Word to refer to Christ, perhaps because this is where John tells us that Christ became a man and took up residence on earth.  This is an incredible thought.  Think about it.  What in this plan could be of benefit to Jesus?  He gave up every good thing to come to earth, not to live in a palace with all the blessings of great riches, but to live the life of a nomad, one who was pursued by both the most needy people and the self-righteous haters of the day.  The term that is here translated as  “took up residence” comes from a Greek term that means to pitch a tent.  He left heaven to live in very lowly conditions for us.  He did this because He loved us.  He did this because He knew it was part of the bigger plan, the one that the Father has to redeem us.

So, there was Jesus, the only Son of the Father, living among the people.  The Message paraphrase of this passage says that He “moved into the neighbourhood”.  How would that change your life if Jesus moved in next door?  What if he moved in to your spare room, and joined you at your dinner table, or more significantly on your sofa as you watched TV?  Would you do things differently?  Many people of that time didn’t recognize Him as God, just as many people today don’t.  But He is still here with us today, no longer in flesh but in Spirit.  He is there with you at your dinner table, while you watch TV, while you surf the Internet.  And He still loves us just as much as He did when He put on flesh to walk among us.  Amazing!

Jesus is referred to as the only Son of God, unique because He is in fact God.  When we receive His gift of grace, we also become children of God.  (John 1:12)  We are adopted into the family.  God the Father has just as much love for us as He does for Jesus.  Because of Jesus, John and others of his day were able to see God’s glory, His grace and truth.  Jesus was the personal revelation of God.  He still is today.  He still represents the goodness and love and light and life of our Heavenly Father.

When I was young I had trouble understanding John 1:1.  I didn’t really get what word was with God.  Finally I figured out that “Word” represents Christ.  It makes so much more sense now.  Christ has been with God since the beginning; He is with God, equal to God, and is in fact God.  It is interesting that this verse begins in the same way as the account of creation, but Genesis 1:1 goes forward from that point and tells us of creation.  John 1:1 goes back from that point and tells us that Christ existed with God before God created the universe.  Ah, but you might say, “Wait a minute!  Didn’t Christ come as a baby, born in Bethlehem, in a manger?  Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?”  Well, yes, but that is exactly what helps us to figure out the “word” part.  Why did John call Christ the “Word”?  Christ is God’s representation of Himself to humanity.  Christ is how God chose to reveal Himself to us.  Christ came not only to redeem us and bring us salvation, but He came to show us the Father and how much He loves us.  So God has given us His word in two ways—through His son, and through the words of the Holy Scriptures.  The latter will help us to know the former, and both will help us to know the Father for Jesus says in John 10:30, “The Father and I are one.”  That’s all the more reason for us to look at Memos From God together.

Now that I’ve committed to studying the messages that God sends to us, the next question is where to start.  The first thing that came into my mind was, “In the beginning…”.  I know of two verses in the Bible that start that way:  Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1.  I will look at Genesis today and John in the next post.

As I see it, Genesis 1 is the whole basis for faith.  If we don’t believe that God created the universe, and us, there would be no reason to believe anything else in the Bible, or that we have any relationship to God, let alone that we could have a relationship with Him. Conversely, if we do believe that God is the creator of the universe, it allows us to believe that He is all-powerful, and therefore we can have confidence in what follows in the rest of the Bible.

Interestingly, the account of creation assumes the existence of God; it doesn’t try to prove it.  It is more concerned with telling us who created the earth and everything in it than with how it was done, or how long it took.  There is no exhaustive explanation of creation, so whatever you believe requires faith.  Not understanding how it happened actually makes it easier for me to believe that a higher power was involved.

The reassuring fact here is that we didn’t happen by accident.  God chose to create us, and He chooses to have a relationship with us.  From the very beginning God has been involved with His creation.  He interacted with Adam and Eve, and He gave them freedom.  They had the choice to accept or reject God, to follow Him or not.  He interacts with us today, and gives us the same freedom.  We can choose to accept or reject God, to follow Him or not.