by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries
Week 4 of Advent: Love
The Good News Of God’s Great Love is Offered to All Mankind
The message of God’s great love was originally given to Abraham and his descendants, who we know as the Jewish people. We find this promise in Genesis 12:2, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” From that time on, the descendants of Abraham felt this promise was given exclusively to them. They believe that they alone would be given the Messiah.
However, in the very next verse, we find the good news that this promise would be for all mankind. Verse 3 says, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God promised Abraham, but the promise extended to “all people on earth” who would be blessed through Abraham. Jesus, the Messiah, would eventually be born through Abraham’s seed and Jesus’ birth is the blessing God promised. God’s plan for our salvation was given and offered to the Jewish people, but also to all peoples of the world.
God had to remind the Jews they did not have exclusive rights to the Messiah
More than once, God had to remind the Jewish people that the Messiah would be for all people. Through the prophet Isaiah, God said, “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; and I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). And in Acts 1:8, Jesus commanded the disciples, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jerusalem and Judea were the Jewish people. Samaria was made up of Jews who had intermarried with Gentiles. The End of the earth means everywhere else – the Gentile people. And if you are not Jewish, then you are gentile.
In Acts 10 and 11 we find Peter is given a vision to go the Gentiles. He obeyed, but the other apostles quickly Called Peter to account for his actions. In the first century of the church, the greatest persecution was because Jewish Christians believed the Gentiles were to receive the benefit and blessing that God had given to the Jewish people and the stout Jews who believed in the old traditions and customs, could not accept that. However, it has always been part of God’s plan. They were not chosen because they were the only people to receive the Messiah. They were chosen as the race who would bring the Messiah to the rest of the world.
God’s great love is for the whole world and this truth is summed up in John 3:16. “God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
The Blessings of God’s Great Love are only Received by those who Choose to love God
God never forces his love on anyone. It must be received. His love is received when we repent of our sins, turn from our sinful way of living and ask Jesus to forgive us of our sin and by faith accept His free give of salvation. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
We each must choose what we will do with God’s gracious, extravagant love. Joshua 24:15 says, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The choice has always been given and left with each one of us to decide if we will follow Jesus Christ, or reject Him.
The simple truth is that God loves each one of us enough that He sent Jesus, His only Son to die for us so that we could have a relationship with Him. His love for us is far greater than any one of us could ever imagine and yet He never forces His love on anyone. With a love so great, how it must break His heart when people choose to reject Him, but still he gives us the freedom to accept or reject His gift of salvation.
The Love of God is only enjoyed by those who have chosen to receive it
When we initially chose to accept Jesus as our Savior, we began a relationship with him. One that holds us eternally secure in our salvation. Yes, we can still sin and when we do, we need to turn and repent. But once we accept Christ as our savior, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
However, this promises is only for those who are children of God. If you have not yet accepted Christ as your Savior, you are already separated from God because your unforgiven sin stands between you and God. But God loves you too and he stands ready to forgive you when you come to him by faith acknowledging that you are a sinner and repent of your sins and ask Jesus to save you from your sins. The moment you choose to make Jesus your Savior, then nothing will be able to separate you from God from that moment on.
The Extent of God’s Great Love is Greater than we can Comprehend
As we go through life, we experience many things that can cause us to doubt or wonder about God’s love. In those moments, we only need to look at the baby in a manger and the Son of God on the cross to see just how reckless and extravagant God’s love is for us. God desires to have a relationship with us. He desires to conform us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29). Because of God’s love for us, he makes us joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17). So not only does God conform us into the likeness of Jesus, but God sees us as full brothers and sister of Jesus, making us children of God and heirs to all the blessings that God has for those who are His children.
Do you question God’s Love for you?
Most of us at some point in life question God’s love for us. Maybe its as you go through a trial or perhaps its when you think you have done something too awful for God forgive. Regardless of what makes you question God’s love for you, if you are a Christian and child of God, than the voice of doubt is the voice of Satan who wants you to live a defeated life as a Christian. It has always been his way. He tries to fill our minds with doubts, fears, and questions to make us doubt the promises of God.
We find Satan doing just this in Zechariah 3:1-5. The Bible says:
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire.” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.”
God wants us to know the depth and height of His Love for Us
My friend, God wants you to live a victorious life and to understand the depth, height, and width of God’s love for you. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. Just as God rebuked Satan with Joshua, God will also rebuke and dismiss the accusations of Satan when he tries to bring us guilt for anything that Jesus has forgiven us of. Who shall separate us from the Love of God? Absolutely no one or nothing. Not tribulation, distress persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword.
These things can test our faith and even challenge our very being. They can make life hard, humiliate us, and make us worry and anxious. But as we come back to the promises we have in Christ, these things can also make our faith stronger so that nothing can shake or destroy it. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
So when you face times of illness, pain, sorrow, loneliness remember the resounding assurance Paul gives us about the power of the love of God. Do not allow these things to make you forget God’s love or to make you feel like God has forsaken you. Instead, rest on the promise that we have victory in Jesus and that He has promised to never leave or forsake us. The forces of evil have already been defeated (Colossians 2:15). God’s great love for us is that no circumstances of life and not even the demons of hell, or anything in all of creation is great enough to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Emmanuel God With Us
So this Christmas, as you think about the baby in the manger, remember that his name is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” And in the moments of life when you doubt God’s love, remember he wanted you to know that He is always with you, so he named his son Emmanuel – because nothing can separate us from God’s love.
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:
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