• Topic > Christian Beliefs > God > Love of God >

    Outsiders

    All too soon, we’ll be hearing New Year’s resolutions. Check out this clever social media post from several years ago: “Increase my relationship status from ‘forever alone’ to ‘slightly desperate.’ ”

    Restored Failures

    A guest band was leading praise and worship at our church, and their passion for the Lord was moving. We could see—and feel—their enthusiasm.

    Then the musicians revealed that they were all ex-prisoners. Suddenly, their songs took on special meaning, and I saw why their words of praise meant so much to them. Their worship was a testimony of lives broken and restored.

    The world may embrace success. But stories of failure offer people hope too. They assure us that God loves us no matter how many times we have failed. In his book Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay, pastor Gary Inrig…

    Out of the Shadows

    Researcher Brené Brown describes encountering in her work a unique group of people who seemed able to find significant joy and purpose in their lives regardless of their circumstances. The common thread uniting such people? Vulnerability. Perhaps counterintuitively, Brown found that those most willing to face their insecurities were also those most rooted in a secure sense of love and belonging.

    Judgment and the Love of God

    The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience— preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.

    In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out— it is the sign of the love of God.

    Before the Beginning

    “But if God has no beginning and no end, and has always existed, what was He doing before He created us? How did He spend His time?” Some precocious Sunday school student always asks this question when we talk about God’s eternal nature. I used to respond that this was a bit of a mystery. But recently I learned that the Bible gives us an answer to this question.

    When Jesus prays to His Father in John 17, He says “Father, . . . you loved me before the creation of the world” (v. 24). This is God as revealed to…

    As the Father Loves Us

    One of my favorite TV commercials of all time involves a man and a woman sitting in a conference room together. The man suddenly proclaims his attraction to her. While the woman is surprised, she responds that she feels the same way. But then the man turns his head toward her, revealing that he was actually talking to someone else on the phone via an earpiece—his passionate proclamation wasn’t meant for her. Oops!

    Longing for God

    One day my daughter was visiting with our one-year-old grandson. I was getting ready to leave the house on an errand, but as soon as I walked out of the room my grandson began to cry. It happened twice, and each time I went back and spent a moment with him. As I headed out the door the third time, his little lip began to quiver again. At that point my daughter said, “Dad, why don’t you just take him with you?”

    Any grandparent could tell you what happened next. My grandson went along for the ride, just because I love…

    Spontaneous Love

    Love is not premeditated—it is spontaneous; that is, it bursts forth in extraordinary ways. There is nothing of precise certainty in Paul’s description of love. We cannot predetermine our thoughts and actions by saying, “Now I will never think any evil thoughts, and I will believe everything that Jesus would have me to believe.” No, the characteristic of love is spontaneity. We don’t deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standard, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard without even realizing it.

    The Laughter of Love

    When we first welcomed a fifteen-year-old Chinese exchange student into our family, we thought it would be for only one year of high school. But years later he’s still part of the family. And we’ve added his younger brother to our growing group. Both young men were quiet and a bit reclusive when they first arrived—adapting to a new culture. But it’s been beautiful to see their hearts open to God’s love and to our own. Their faces now typically display smiles, and laughter effortlessly spills from their lips.

    God in the Details

    When my “chocolate” Labrador retriever puppy was three months old, I took him to the veterinarian’s office for his shots and checkup. As our vet carefully looked him over, she noticed a small white marking in his fur on his left hind paw. She smiled and said to him, “That’s where God held you when He dipped you in chocolate.”

    I couldn’t help but laugh. But she had unintentionally made a meaningful point about the deep and personal interest God takes in His creation.

    Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:30 that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” God…

    Judging Origins

    “Where are you from?” We often use that question to get to know someone better. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details.

    In the book of Judges, Jephthah might not have wanted to answer that question at all. His half-brothers had chased him out of his hometown of Gilead for his “questionable” origins. “You are the son of another woman,” they declared (Judges 11:2). The text says starkly, “His mother was a prostitute” (v. 1).

    But Jephthah was a natural leader, and when a hostile tribe picked a fight with Gilead,…

    Real Rest

    Following World War I, there was no more accomplished golfer than Bobby Jones. In 1930, he achieved the Grand Slam by winning the US Open, British Open, US Amateur, and British Amateur championships—all in the same year! The golfing world was stunned, however, when shortly following those victories Jones decided to retire from golf. He didn’t decide to hang up the spikes because his skills had diminished in any way. Instead, the talented athlete made his decision because he had accomplished the greatest feat in golf at the time and had nothing left to prove. He simply chose to give…

    Unexpected

    Golf, with its myriad rules and special victor jackets, is marked by tradition and sportsmanship. But feuds between golfers can be surprisingly bitter, perhaps few more so than the rift between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. So when Garcia won his first major tournament in 2017, commentators expected Woods to scoff and point out how his own accomplishments dwarfed his rival’s. But instead, he tweeted brief but sincere congratulations to Garcia, calling the victory “well-earned.” One can only wonder how Garcia reacted to this unexpected response!

    Comfort Shared

    “God sent you to me tonight!”

    Those were the parting words from the woman standing in front of me as we exited our flight to Chicago. She had sat across the aisle from me, where I learned she was headed home after several flights in a round-trip that day. “Do you mind if I ask why you had such a quick turnaround?” I inquired. She glanced downward: “I just put my daughter in rehab for drug abuse today.”

    In the moments that followed I gently shared the story of my son’s struggle with heroin addiction and how Jesus had set him free.…

    The Way to Permanent Faith

    Indeed the hour is coming…that you will be scattered… —John 16:32

    Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life. The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and they had interests apart from Jesus Christ. After we have the…