Posts Tagged With: First Epistle of John

Encountering the Love of God

A talk about encountering the love of God and then being the encounter with God’s love that others so desperately need:

I recently came back from a men’s retreat. As soon as I got home I started judging in my heart other guys that I knew who had no interest in serving or loving God. I got angry… and then I realized something. These guys just don’t know how much Jesus loves them and some don’t even know that he loves them at all. We cannot and should not expect anyone to love Jesus or serve Jesus without first encountering his love. Right? After all, “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John)

But, in our self seeking and sinful hearts, we tend to avoid the love of God like the plague. Even as Christians we sidestep his love, avoid intimacy, and incessantly distract ourselves from God’s love. I think many of us are afraid of the perceived “strings attached” to his love (little knowing that there aren’t any – please disagree with me and comment if you can think of any), OR, that we will only disappoint God.

This is one of my greatest fears. That I will fail him. That I will be a sad disappointment to him. And that he will abandon me. I fear his rejection. But here’s the truth that calmed this fear:

Jesus suffered all of my rejection for me already.

Yes, I absolutely deserved rejection by this Holy God because of all the shameful things I’ve thought, done and said but I can instead rest assured of God’s glad welcome and open arms for me!


The cross.

So, what are we so afraid of? 1 John 4 tells us that God’s perfect love drives out all fear. Don’t you find it odd that the very think we avoid because of fear is the very thing that will drive out all fear?

Do we trust him? Do we believe that God loves us so much that he would rather die than to be without us? Why don’t we really believe he has our best interests at heart?

It seems to me that most people hold out from giving ourselves or surrendering to God’s love and instead pursue the fleeting pleasures that sin can offer us, little knowing that it is our sin that prevents us from experiencing the lasting pleasure of knowing God and his love.

God’s challenge for us is this: “I dare you to trust in my love for you. Just the way you are.”

Say it with me. “God, I trust you. Jesus, I receive your love.”

We need to be pursuing encounters with the love of God. While it is awesome to get alone in prayer and experience the love of Jesus, or to seek out an encounter with Jesus and his love in a time of worship, we often neglect the best way and the way Jesus reveals to us to experience and to remain in the love of Jesus. It is simply this: To be the experience and encounter of God’s love to others. This is the very thing Jesus tells us is the primary way to experience his love.

“Abide in my love”, Jesus says. How? “By keeping my commands”, Jesus says. What are your commands? “To love others”, Jesus says. (John 15)

I was reminded of the story of Jean Valjean and his encounter with the priest in Les Miserables (Read a really insightful blog about this story here):

“The story starts in 1815 in Digne. The peasant Jean Valjean has just been released from imprisonment in the Bagne of Toulon after nineteen years (five for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family, and fourteen more for numerous escape attempts). Upon being released, he is required to carry a yellow passport that marks him as a prisoner, despite having already paid his debt to society by serving his time in prison. Rejected by innkeepers, who do not want to take in a convict, Valjean sleeps on the street. This makes him even angrier and more bitter.

However, the benevolent Bishop Myriel, the bishop of Digne, takes him in and gives him shelter. In the middle of the night, Valjean steals Bishop Myriel’s silverware and runs away. He is caught and brought back by the police, but Bishop Myriel rescues him by claiming that the silverware was a gift and at that point gives him his two silver candlesticks as well, chastising him to the police for leaving in such a rush that he forgot these most valuable pieces. After the police leave, Bishop Myriel then “reminds” him of the promise, which Valjean has no memory of making, to use the silver candlesticks to make an honest man of himself.” (From Wikipedia)

This “encounter” with the grace and love of God changed Jean Valjean’s life. We too can be encounters with the love of God that others need for it is only the love of Jesus that can transform our lives and make us into the loving people God created us to be.

So, what do you think? Does this ring true? How will this affect your approach to experiencing the love of Jesus?

Categories: Love of God, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Does God Hold a Grudge?

What if God held grudges? Most of us, I think, thinks that he does. For those who confess their sin and repent, the bible says differently, but still we often fail to believe that God forgives so freely. At least I do.

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of his favored relationship with their father Jacob. Offended by his dreams of grandeur and air of superiority which he freely and foolishly shared with his family, they plotted their revenge. Murder was discussed but in the end, they sold Joseph into slavery to Egypt.

After years of testing and character development Joseph went on to become second only to Pharaoh in Egypt and was instrumental in providing the wisdom and guidance the world needed during a seven-year long severe famine.

Through a series of events which you can read about near the end of Genesis, Joseph was reunited with his father Jacob and his brothers in Egypt. He became their benefactor, protector, and savior.

Years passed and so did Jacob. Now, with their father gone, Joseph’s brothers thought for sure that Joseph would exact his revenge for how they had treated him and so they lied to Joseph. Here is the story from Genesis 50:15-21

But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.  So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.

But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.

I think that in many ways we are like those brothers of Joseph. We know we have done God wrong. And we wonder, will God remember and punish me for my sins? Will God make me pay for what I’ve done?

Many of us, including myself, are often like Mel Gibson’s character Benjamin Martin in the Patriot when he says, “I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.”

We are just waiting for the hammer to fall. But, when we think like this, we forget the cross. We forget that the hammer already fell long ago and drove nails into the holy perfect loving Son of God.

This is why God no longer holds our sins against us. They were already held against his dear Son, our savior Jesus.

So, we don’t need to live in constant suspense thinking, ‘When will I be punished?’ But instead we can do as Paul recommends in Romans 5:12:

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (NLT)

I read this the other day and underlined it. Do you ever read something in Scripture and wish you could just grab the words off the page and put it in your heart and live it? That was my experience as I read this. I wanted to download it to my brain like the Matrix, and start being a good friend to God.

But in the meantime, while I may be a ways off from being a good friend to God, it’s important just to know that God isn’t holding a grudge, that once confessed, my sins aren’t going to come back upon me, that his forgiveness is real and can be trusted.

Here are a few thoughts from Scripture to encourage you:

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)

“God is love” and love “keeps no record of being wronged”. (1 John 4:16 & 1 Corinthians 13:5)

Categories: Love of God | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a website or blog at