Like me, you may often doubt God’s goodness and love for you even though the Bible says it’s true. As my friend Alex Early said when preaching at Life Centre Church in 2016, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so – is the deep end of the theological pool. Not the shallow end.’ You can listen to his message here (https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/alex-early-reckless-love-god/id455195706?i=1000369351776&mt=2). The love of God is central to the Christian faith and crucial to our Christian experience. In my previous post I looked at three evidences of God’s love and I’d like to look at three more in this post.
I’m not sure whether this is more of a guy thing than a girl thing, but I really enjoy the challenge and process of helping my kids develop into who God has designed them to be. They are all unique and consequently they all learn differently. However one key component to each of their growth is instruction. As a culture we are resistant to instruction. We feel it implies incompetence on our part (think men and instruction manuals) and superiority on the part of the one giving the instruction. Both of which just highlight our insecurity. In the Bible however it is commonplace to see people viewing God’s instructions as delight. The Psalmist wrote,
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments… 68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes…70 their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law…72 The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:66-72
God’s instructions are not his attempt for control but his desire for our joy. As our creator he knows what’s best for us and as our Father he wants what’s best for us. God’s goal with giving instruction is fruitfulness and joyfulness as seen in Psalm 1 above – prosperity describes frutifulness. We often doubt God’s intetnion as Adam and Eve doubted in the garden (Gen. 3). Don’t fall for the same lie. God loves you and is for you, that’s why he has given you good instructions.
Psalm 25:8 says, ‘Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.’
Notice he doesn’t abandon the sinner, nor condemn the sinner. What does he do? He instructs the sinner. Why? Because he cares and loves the sinner. His intention is to help the sinner not harm the sinner. This is great news and evidence God is for you. Only a good God would choose to instruct you rather than abandon or condemn you. God is for you and his intention is to guide you towards fruitfulness and joyfulness. His word (instruction) is a ‘lamp to your feet and a light to your path’ (Ps. 119:105). All through the Bible God is leading and guiding his people through his word because he loves them and wants what’s best for them. Likewise God is instructing you through his word because God loves you.
Where would we be without God’s intervention? Seriously? Consider for a moment a destructive path that you are grateful you ‘almost’ took. What stopped you taking that path? What led you to make a better choice? I guarantee, that even if you are unaware, God was involved in intervening on your behalf. I promise you God’s grace was all over that situation. It takes great wisdom as a parent to know when to intervene, how to intervene and when to allow a child to learn through personal experience. God is a perfectly wise Father who knows precisely when and how to interact with us in order to keep us on the right path or get us back on it. Whether it is affirmation, encouragement, correction or even discipline, God will intervene out of love. Now let me be clear, not all pain in life is God’s discipline. In fact much of the pain we experience in life is because of choices that others or we made ourselves. But the Christian faith makes room for good Godly discipline, which can be painful, but is always beneficial.
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. Hebrews 12:5-6
Nobody enjoys discipline. But it is proof that God is for our good. If it is true that our hearts are prone to wander away from God and away from what is good, then it would be unloving for God to allow us to drift without intervening. James Macdonald often says, ‘God’s love is not a pandering love, but a perfecting love’. God is not the grandparent giving ‘billy’ more and more ice cream and fairy-floss. He’s the parent that gives the child what they need not want they want. He will not allow us to remain on paths that can affect our earthly or eternal experience. The gospel promise is this: whether our pain is due to our own foolish decisions, the decisions of others or the discipline of God, God will use it all to intervene for our good (Rom. 8:28). God’s sovereignty is such that he will not waste anything in our life. As Joe Thorn writes in ‘Experiencing the Trinity’ we can be sure of two things in our suffering and afflictions
Either God is teaching you to rely on his grace and sufficiency through your pain, or he is teaching you to return to his grace and sufficiency through your pain. Joe Thorn
- GOD IMPARTS
The most famous verse in the whole Bible begins by saying, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave’ (Jn. 3:16a). God is a giver. It’s in his nature. He loves to give. In Christ, God hasn’t just done something for you, but he continues to give to you. God designed you from before the foundation of the world to do something. Whatever your something is, God promises to help you with it. He hasn’t just pointed in a direction and instructed you to do it. He has and continues to impart what you need in order for you to do it.
‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’ Eph. 2:10
This makes much more sense to me now that I’m a father of four. I don’t just want to give instructions to my kids, I also want to give them the tools to succeed in following those good instructions. I want to set them up to win. So too is God’s intention towards us. The personality you have is God’s gracious gift to you. The story you have is God’s gracious gift to you. The skills and gifts you have are God’s gracious gift to you. God hasn’t only instructed you to do good works; he promises to give you the grace you need in order to actually do the good works.
‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work’ 2 Cor. 9:8
Often we feel unloved because we feel ill equipped. We look at where we should be and look at where we are, and see the large chasm. But here in lies the secret. Don’t look in yourself to measure whether you are equipped for the journey ahead.
- Look down to the scriptures that remind you that God in ‘his divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness…’ (2 Pet. 1:3).
- Look up and thank God for his abundant and sufficient grace in all things and at all times
- Look out and see what God is calling you to and be confident that he is for you because he has imparted to you all that you need to live your life.
As the Danish Proverb goes, ‘The next mile is the only one a person really has to make.’ Knowing that God loves you and is for you will keep you going when the next mile seems impossible. Look at all the evidence of God’s love and grace and be reminded that God is for you.
In closing consider the greatest gift God has given us – HIMSELF!!! This is the focus of my next post – Gospel Promise #2 – God Is With Us.