Nothing else will work

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The Gospel is the proclamation of free love; the revelation of the boundless charity of God. Nothing less than this will suit our world; nothing else is so likely to touch the heart, to go down to the lowest depths of depraved humanity, as the assurance that the sinner has been loved—loved by God, loved with a righteous love, loved with a free love that makes no bargain as to merit, or fitness, or goodness. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us!” (1 Jn. 4:10).

As the lord of the vineyard, after sending servant upon servant to the husbandmen in vain, sent at last his “one son, his well-beloved” (Mk. 12:6), so, Law having failed, God has dispatched to us the message of His love, as that which is by far the likeliest to secure His ends.

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With nothing less than this free love
will He trust our fallen race.

He will not trust them with law, or judgment, or terror (though these are well in their place), but He will trust them with His love! Not with a stinted or conditional love, with half pardons, or an uncertain salvation, or a tardy peace, or a doubtful invitation, or an all but impracticable amnesty—not with these does He cheat the heavy laden; not with these will He mock the weary sons of men.

. . . He knows that there is nothing
in heaven or earth so likely to produce holiness,
under the teaching of the Spirit of holiness,
as the knowledge of His own free love.

It is not law, but “the love of Christ,” that constrains! “The strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56), so the strength of holiness is deliverance from the Law (Rom. 7:6). Yet are we not “without law” (1 Cor. 9:21), neither yet “under the law” (Rom 6:14), but “under grace,” that we should “serve in newness of Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

–Horatius Bonar
God’s Way of Holiness

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In hot pursuit

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God is like a highway patrolman
pursuing you down the interstate
with lights flashing and siren blaring
to get you to stop–not to give you a ticket,
but to give you a message so good
it couldn’t wait till you get home.

–Author unknown

Furious love

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“So, that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, with all God’s holy people you will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; so that, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond knowledge, you may be filled with the utter fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Do we really hear what Paul is saying? Stretch, man stretch! Let go of impoverished, circumscribed, and finite perceptions of God. The love of Christ is beyond all knowledge, beyond anything we can intellectualize or imagine.

It is not a mild benevolence but a consuming fire.

Jesus is so unbearably forgiving, so infinitely patient, and so unendingly loving that He provides us with the resources we need to live lives of gracious response.

Does it sound like an easy religion?

Love has its own exigencies. It weighs and counts nothing but expects everything. Perhaps that explains our reluctance to risk. We know only too well that the gospel of grace is an irresistible call to love the same way. No wonder so many of us elect to surrender our souls to rules rather than to live in union with Love.

–Brennan Manning
The Ragamuffin Gospel

One day we shall laugh

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You will yet know the dignity of your high calling, and the love of God that passes knowledge. He is not afraid of your presump-tuous approach to him. It is you who are afraid to come near him. He is not watching over his dignity. It is you who fear to be sent away as the disciples would have sent away the little children. It is you who think so much about your souls and are so afraid of losing your life, that you dare not draw near to the Life of life, lest it should consume you.

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Our God, we will trust you. Shall we not find you equal to our faith? One day, we shall laugh ourselves to scorn that we looked for so little from you; for your giving will not be limited by our hoping.

–George MacDonald
The Higher Faith

Faith is rest

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Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth . . . that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own poor performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

—Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
“The Everlasting Righteousness”

His love is not earned

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Legalism says God will love us if we change.
The gospel says God will change us
because He loves us.

― Tullian Tchividjian

He is pursuing our heart

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The gospel says that we, who are God‘s beloved, created a cosmic crisis. It says we, too, were stolen from our True Love and that he launched the greatest campaign in the history of the world to get us back. God created us for intimacy with him.

When we turned our back on him
he promised to come for us.

He sent personal messengers; he used beauty and affliction to recapture our hearts. After all else failed, he conceived the most daring of plans. Under the cover of night he stole into the enemy’s camp incognito, the Ancient of Days disguised as a newborn. The Incarnation, as Phil Yancey reminds us, was a daring raid into enemy territory. The whole world lay under the power of the evil one and we were held in the dungeons of darkness.

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God risked it all to rescue us. Why? What is it that he sees in us that causes him to act the jealous lover, to lay siege both on the kingdom of darkness and on our own idolatries as if on Troy—not to annihilate, but to win us once again for himself? This fierce intention, this reckless ambition that shoves all conventions aside, willing literally to move heaven and earth—what does he want from us?

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We’ve been offered many explanations. From one religious camp we’re told that what God wants is obedience, or sacrifice, or adherence to the right doctrines, or morality. Those are the answers offered by conservative churches. The more therapeutic churches suggest that no, God is after our contentment, or happiness, or self-actualization, or something else along those lines. He is concerned about all these things, of course, but they are not his primary concern.

What he is after is us—
our laughter, our tears, our dreams,
our fears, our heart of hearts.

Remember his lament in Isaiah, that though his people were performing all their duties, “their hearts are far from me” (29:13 italics added). How few of us truly believe this. We’ve never been wanted for our heart, our truest self, not really, not for long.

The thought that God wants our heart
seems too good to be true.

–Brent Curtis & John Eldredge
“The Sacred Romance”
(emphasis added)

 

He knows it all and still loves

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How unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us; no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we knew him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us.

–A. W. Tozer (1897 – 1963)

It started with Him

Standing on fence

We could not seek God at all,
if he had not already found us;
we could not love him,
if he had not first loved us . . .

–Helmut Thielicke, (1908 – 1986)

Lurking suspicion

In all religiousness
there lurks the suspicion
that we invented the story
that God Loves us.

–Sebastian Moore

His love is a consuming fire

When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some ‘disinterested’ . . . concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love.

You asked for a loving God: you have one.

The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect’, is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.

How this should be, I do not know:
it passes reason to explain why any creatures,
not to say creatures such as we,
should have a value so prodigious
in their Creator’s eyes.

It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts, but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring…

–C.S. Lewis (emphasis added)

A tangible marker

There are times when a stake needs to be driven into the ground to establish a fact, to make a statement. It becomes a tangible marker that clarifies an issue—that ends discussion. It makes the verbal visible. It is something we can point to and come back to.

When the Maker of the planet
purposed to confirm to us
the reality of His unrelenting love,
He was kind enough to place
the matter beyond dispute.

An enormous wooden stake was hammered into the soil. It was driven home so forcefully that the whole universe felt the impact. He made His point painfully clear. It left no room for doubt.

And it had the unmistakable resemblance to a Roman cross.

–Jurgen Schulz

Overtaken by Love

The origin and cause of our redemption is the ineffable love of God the Father, who willed to redeem us by the blood of His own Son . . . who freely took our curse upon Him, and imparts His blessing and merits to us; and the Holy Spirit, who communicates the love of the Father and the grace of the Son to our hearts. When we speak of this . . . we speak of the inmost mystery of the Christian faith.

–John Wesley (1703 -1791)

Feast forever

And yet the love of the Son of God for us is of such magnitude that the greater the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us. For how amazing it is that the Son of God becomes my servant, that He humbles Himself so, that He encumbers Himself with my misery and sin. . . .

He says to me: “You are no longer a sinner, but I am. I am your substitute. You have not sinned, but I have. The entire world is in sin. However, you are not in sin; but I am. All your sins are to rest on Me and not on you.”

No one can comprehend this. In yonder life our eyes will feast forever on this love of God.

–Martin Luther

He loves to love

God loves you because he loves you. He loves you, not for what you can do for him, 
but for what he can do for you. You are of infinite worth 
to the One who gave his all 
that you might spend eternity with him.

–Grantley Morris

Published in: on 03/06/2012 at 8:48  Leave a Comment  
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Incomprehensible excess

We sinned
for no reason but
an incomprehensible
lack of love.
And He saved us
for no reason but
an incomprehensible
excess of love. 

–Peter Kreeft

It doesn’t get any better than that

GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU . . .  

Is an unfathomable love (Eph. 3:19)

       It doesn’t get any bigger than that.

Is an eternal love (Jer. 31:3)

       It doesn’t get more long-lasting than that.

Is an undeserved love (Rom. 5:8)

       It doesn’t get any freer than that.

Is an individual love (Gal. 2:20)

       It doesn’t get more personal than that.

Is a self-sacrificing love (1 Jn. 4:10)

       It doesn’t get more amazing than that.

Is an indestructible love (Song of Sol. 8:7)

       It doesn’t get any stronger than that.

It is a demonstrated love (1 Jn. 4:9)

       It doesn’t get more undeniable than that.

Is an unstoppable love (Rom. 8:35-39)

       It doesn’t get more secure than that.

THIS IS GOD’S LOVE . . .

       And it doesn’t get any better than that.


Published in: on 05/26/2011 at 22:26  Leave a Comment  
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More than you thought

If you recognize the gift that you are forever loved, claim it, share it, and celebrate it, it multiplies. In sharing your love with others you suddenly discover there is more than you thought and you only begin to know how much more there is when you give it away.

–Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932 – 1996)

Published in: on 04/19/2011 at 12:37  Leave a Comment  
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The wideness of God’s mercy

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in his justice
Which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are felt more than up in heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

But we make his love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify his strictness
With a zeal he will not own.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take him at his word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

–Frederick W. Faber
(1814 – 1863)

Does God crave recognition?

I am doing a study course on missions and yesterday in my readings I ran into this sentence: “God wants to be more than globally famous—He yearns to be truly worshiped.” I found that phrase rather troublesome. God is “yearning” to be worshiped by people of all the nations? Is God on a huge ego-trip? Is it acceptable for God to crave recognition just because He is God? Does being the Most High make vanity appropriate?

A musician would attract criticism if he produced music with the express purpose of getting applause and fame. Most would agree that he should be driven by the higher motive of love of music rather than the benefits that accrue from producing it. If he performed merely with a view to getting applause, would he not be stooping to serve his own vanity and pride? Could we conceive of God as being driven by similar motives?

The Scriptures command us to imitate our heavenly Father. If He passionately pursues the purpose of seeking His own glory, I guess we should all follow suit. Or should we? Seeking our own glory sounds a whole lot like self centered carnal ambition, and you don’t need a doctorate in theology to realize that is not something Scripture encourages us to do. If we began to crave praise and recognition would we not be falling prey to our sinful pride and personal vanity? Seeking our own glory is definitely not an appropriate motivation. To think, then, that our Father in heaven is filled with passion to be worshiped surely must be a misunderstanding.

Our concept of God needs to be
rooted in Jesus Christ.

The Son of God is the visible image of the invisible God. As we look at him we see what God is really like. And what kind of God does Jesus bring into view? We see a God who stoops to wash feet, a God who says: “I did not come to be served but to serve and to give,” a God who bleeds on a cross for sinners. Never did he seek applause or insist upon receiving recognition, although he had every right to receive it. He was all about blessing, and loving and serving. He was the epitome of humility and compassion.

The God that Christ revealed
was not yearning to receive worship;
he was yearning to serve.

The central revelation that Jesus gave us about God is that God is love. And if God is love, does that not mean that He is completely other focused? Is not love by definition self giving, self sacrificing, and self forgetful? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that what God yearns to do is to love, bless, give of his unending abundance. And in so doing, does He not magnify the goodness and greatness of his Person? Perhaps this display of goodness and grace is what most “glorifies” him.  And is this outpouring of God’s blessing and goodness not what prompts people to become grateful admirers and worshipers of this wonderful God?

If there is a sense is which God desires to be worshiped, is it not because worship is the only reasonable response to who He is and what He has done, and the only healthy and sane attitude for His creatures? To worship anything or anyone else is absolute foolishness, it is to walk in darkness, it is to walk in death. To worship God is to be rightly related to the only fountain of life and goodness and beauty. It is to enjoy the One who is infinitely enjoyable. It is to find with joy the purpose of our existence. It is not so much that worship is something God craves (as if He needed to have His self esteem built up) but something He wants by His grace to lead us to because it is the place of joy and blessing and glory.

Perhaps it would be better to think of God as focused on carrying out his marvelous purposes of goodness rather than craving worship. It is right and proper and beneficial that He be worshipped. Good artists deserve recognition. Our Creator is worthy of all praise. But worship is generated because God has given Himself to a creative outpouring of his undeserved and extravagant goodness. The performance is breathtaking. God is all about displaying the riches of his grace—and worship is what happens as a result. We are captivated by the music and cannot but respond with praise. It is irresistible.

–Jurgen Schulz

Love beyond measure

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Jesus said, “He who sees Me sees the Father.” From our brother Jesus, who alone knows the Father, we learn that there is a welcoming love, unconditional acceptance, a relentless and eternal affection that so far exceeds our human experience that even the passion and death of Jesus is only a hint of it. Think on that for a moment: the torn, broken, lacerated, spit-covered, blood-drenched body of Jesus is only a hint of the Father’s love. The very substance of our faith is an unwavering confidence that beyond the hint lies love beyond measure.

–Brennan Manning
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