His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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How Does God Feel About You?

How does God feel about you? How does Jesus feel about you?

In my quiet time this morning, while trying to empty my chaotic mind of the usual crap that steals my thoughts, I found myself thinking of someone I dearly love, and imploring God to help them as they go through a tough time right now. My friend really needs Gods help, because they don’t know God or Jesus, and they’re trying to deal with life alone. Then I felt something. And I think it was God, showing me how He feels about the person I was praying for. I’ll try to show you.

How does a parent feel about their newborn baby? For me, it was a long time ago, but the memories remain vivid. My arms ached to hold my son, to gently squeeze him to my chest, and pour all the love I could muster into him, somehow filling him with my love. The words escape me still. I can’t find a good way to express the love I felt for my newborn son, and the magnitude of love I wanted to give to him. I never wanted to let him go.

I still don’t. Both my sons are now several years on their own, both leading their own lives. And my arms still ache for them. My love hasn’t diminished—only been calmed a bit by the years. But I miss the days when they were small enough to lay on my chest and drool onto my ever-smiling face, as my arms squeezed them close.

Can God love less? I don’t think so.

Maybe what I felt this morning is true. Maybe more than anything God wants to wrap His arms around you, protect you, care for you, and pour His love into you, with a love that words cannot express. And like any true-loving parent, Gods love for you does not depend on how you feel about Him. Try picturing that in your mind. How does it make you feel?

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Opening Our Eyes for Easter

He was accused a sinner, then judged guilty of sin, and not just any sin… ALL sin. He was then sentenced to death—the ultimate penalty for all the crimes of humanity. Then, He was executed.

But who accused, and judged, and sentenced, and executed? It was humanity who executed the Son of God for the crimes of all humanity. Some of those who committed the crimes were the ones who did the accusing, judging, sentencing, and executing.

And Jesus humbly took the place of those who carried out His punishment. He took our place too.

Oh I know it was His fate. I know the justice of God had to be carried out somehow. And I understand why the penalty had to be laid on Jesus. But in thinking of the irony that Jesus suffered at the hands of people He was sacrificing Himself to save—well, it magnifies my gratitude.

Easter approaches, and maybe that’s why my mind is questioning the circumstances of Jesus’ death. I think my prayer for this Easter is that God opens our hearts and minds a little more to see how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Jesus. I hope you have an eye-opening Easter.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)


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Looking at Love Through a Cardboard Tube

Under weird circumstances I stumbled across these verses in Ephesians: “I pray that you may grasp the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:17-19, abbreviated)

I found myself wondering about the magnitude of Jesus’ love for us. Why does His love “surpass knowledge?” Why is it hard to comprehend the truth and scope of Jesus’ love? This is what I believe:

First, Jesus loves like no other human. For example, my love (being solely human), is marred by my natural human flaws. My love is polluted by my pride and selfishness. Why do I love someone? Well, there is always a reason, such as they are funny, friendly, attractive in some other way, etc. I need a reason… it’s just how my emotions and mind work. It seems harsh to me, but my love is motivated by “what’s in it for me?”

Yet for Jesus, He needs no reason to love. He has no flaws to mar His love for others. He loves because He is the Son of God, and He can do no less than the same as His Father.

Also, Jesus’ love comes from a mixture of his humanity and his divinity. As God, He unconditionally loves. But as human, He loves us other humans with a human intimacy. He’s one of us, without the natural flaws that is. But He knows what it’s like to face our temptations, weaknesses, flaws and problems. He loves with a sympathy that comes from intimacy.

The final reason I can’t comprehend Jesus’ love is that I can only consider His love through the lens of my own humanity. I am only able to see love through my own pride and selfishness. It’s like I’m looking through a cardboard tube of gift wrapping paper at a broad panoramic scene. All I see is what comes through my pretend telescope. I miss everything else in the scene. I think it’s this way when I try to look at and comprehend Jesus’ love. I only see a small piece of a wide and long and high and deep vastness of love.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Maybe we can’t see the extensiveness of Jesus’ love for us, but I pray that we all can at least accept the truth of it.


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A Love in His Image

Painfully obvious fact: being a parent isn’t always easy. A parent’s love for their children can be so huge, it almost hurts. And as I think about it, this parent-child relationship is really unique.

Yesterday was my younger son’s 26th birthday, and I thought about our relationship a lot during the day. I thought about the bond we have. I believe this bond is partly rooted in the mundane fact that he is biologically made up of parts of his mom and me – his DNA comes from us. I think it’s that biological bond that feeds my emotional bond… somehow.

Whether it’s the DNA thing or something else that creates this bond, the feeling is real and often intense. I sometimes don’t know how to express the love I feel for my sons, a love that I think gets a lot of its strength from this bond we have.

But why does this kind of love sometimes hurt – where’s the pain come from? Well, for me the pain comes from this bond that craves closeness. And as my sons have grown into men and launched off into lives out on their own, we’re never close enough. My love wants my little boy back, where I can cradle him in my arms, toss him in the air, and delight in his infectious giggle.

Being a parent can be difficult and painful and weird… and absolutely fantastic!

Okay, now what about God… our spiritual Parent? Since we were made in His image, our love is an image of His love – a blurry and weak reflection of God’s true love. Imagine the strength of the bond He feels with us. Imagine the love He feels for His children, and the pain of that love. Imagine the magnitude of His craving for closeness.

How does that make you feel?


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The Wild Child and the Unusual Parent

One day God bought himself a huge ranch, with a massive house, several barns, and lots of rich, fertile land. It was like a garden. And then God invited his adopted children to move into the ranch house with him.

One of the adopted sons eventually got bored with ranch life. He craved something more exciting. Now being an adopted child of God, this son knew that when God died, he would inherit his portion of God’s wealth (okay, God can’t really die, but this is a made-up story, so please stick with me). Anyway, this son went into God’s study where he found God looking at the newspaper, frowning at what he was reading. The son then demanded his share of the inheritance.

Okay, at this point it helps to understand something about the country where God’s ranch was. The people there had strong beliefs about family. Families were powered by mutual respect and love. And to ask a parent for your inheritance, before the parent was actually dead, was the same as telling the parent you wished they were dead. The society there even had laws intended to punish people who showed such intense disrespect. This greedy son now faced the death penalty. All God had to do was call the police, and the son would be hauled away. But God didn’t do that. Instead, God gave the son what he asked for (yep, I don’t get it either).

So with a backpack full of money, the son took off for the big city – Las Vegas. Many parties, prostitutes, and wild nights later, the son was broke. Unable to pay his bill, he was kicked out of his lavish hotel room. Now he was on the streets, learning what it was like to be homeless… in Vegas.

Eventually, he overcame his resistance to admit his mistakes, and decided to go home, back to the ranch. He figured he wasn’t worthy to be treated like a son (got that right), and decided to ask God if he could just be one of the ranch workers. At least he’d have a place to sleep and regular meals.

He begged enough money to get a bus ticket to a town near the ranch, but not enough for an Uber ride from the bus stop to the ranch. So he had to walk the final 15 miles. Now that was a long, humiliating hike. He really dreaded seeing God again. But his empty stomach pushed him on.

He came up over a rise and entered the long, shallow, grass-covered valley where the ranch house was, still about three miles away. Within a minute or two, he noticed someone coming toward him – it looked like they were running. He was scared. Was this person sent to chase him off God’s land? He was so hungry, and tired, and as he imagined being turned away, he started to cry. He almost fell to the ground, but the little pride remaining kept him on his feet.

He started walking again, rehearsing his apology speech. He really didn’t need more rehearsal – he’d been working on it for over a week. But he felt he needed to keep his mind busy, or he’d start crying again.

He’d practiced all kinds of excuses, but now decided to give them up. It had to be easier to just admit how wrong he was and ask for forgiveness, and a job.

Within a few minutes it became clear that the approaching runner was actually God. Wow, he runs pretty fast for such an old man. But at the sight of God, the sons dread turned to absolute despair. How could he face God again, after telling him he wished God was dead? This was too much. The son collapsed to the ground and began sobbing – any remaining pride left him, running down his cheeks, mixed with tears. In an instant, God was upon him.

God dropped to his knees in front of the son. With one hand, he reached out and gently squeezed the sons shoulder. With the other hand, God lifted the sons quivering chin and looked into his tear-filled eyes. There was no anger in God’s gaze – only love. God then pulled the son to him and hugged him. With tears in his own voice, God said, “My son, you’re alive! I had given you up for dead.”

There were no questions. There was not condemnation, no blame, no guilt-trip. Only love, and forgiveness, and joy. And then, God threw a big party for his lost child who had come back home.

 

(Blatantly lifted from a story Jesus once told. Yep, the Prodigal Son.)

 


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It’s Love…

… His love for you, and your love for Him.

That’s what connects you to the Spirit of Jesus, living within you.

It’s not your mind… too many distractions in this life God gave you.

But where there’s love, true love… when you mind turns away from distractions and looks inside to Jesus, He’s always there, waiting for you, holding fast to your love.

And you will truly feel Him – no more doubts.

It’s love, true love, unconditional and humble love that surrenders you heart and life to Him.

Do you crave His presence?

Then look to your love.

With a dedicated and humble heart, love grows, and true love will blossom.

And you will never feel alone again.


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Time Travel… to the Very Beginning

What was the essence of humanity in the beginning? I mean way back, right after the creation, but before sin polluted our spirit.

Well, God created humanity in His image, and God is love. Therefore in the beginning, humanity was love. Love was the complete meaning of what it was to be human. The only emotion Adam and Eve felt was love… until selfishness took over, and the sin that spawns from it.

When you see two people truly in love – humble love – you are seeing back in time, to the beginning. In this way, love is a portal to the past, to the time before selfishness and sin, and to a time when humanity lived in the very presence of God. So maybe when you see true love, you are also seeing through that portal all the way to God. When you see love, you are seeing God.