So Loved?

Most of us are very familiar with John 3:16For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son . . .  We’ve always been taught (rightfully so) that this refers to God loving every human being, even the ones who will never believe and receive what He did for us all.  But another verse made me consider this love in an additional way.

Hebrews 12:2 NIV  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As I read these words more carefully than normal, I pondered in a different way the joy that was set before Jesus.  Jesus had great joy in doing His Father’s will1, regardless of the personal cost to Him.  In the case of the Hebrews verse, was it because He so loved us?  Certainly He did.  In addition, however, I believe that Jesus so loved His Father – our Father – and wanted to complete His joy.  Knowing how much His Father loves us all, and His joy in our unbroken fellowship with Him, Jesus willingly endured the cross to complete His Father’s joy.

Yes, we were definitely an integral part of the joy set before Jesus.  But I believe the other component was the much greater.  The Father’s joy at our reconciliation and restoration to Him was the joy Jesus could see.  His Father’s joy.  Jesus so loved His Father!  His Father so loved us . . .

So loved!

 

1 Remember the story of the woman at the well.  When the disciples came back with much-needed food, Jesus was no longer hungry . . . because He was full from doing the Father’s will.

I’ll Give Him . . .

It’s not the most well-known of Christmas songs.  I am familiar with it, though it plays only rarely when I listen to my Christmas music.  When I listened to In the Bleak Midwinter as I began to fill the house with the music of the season, though, the last verse caught my attention in a way it hadn’t before.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?  If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part; yet what can I give him?  I’ll give Him my heart.

I understand the intent of these words, and those in the previous verses extoling the amazing One Who has sent His Son.  After all, who isn’t overcome with the goodness of God when grasping the gospel?

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Who doesn’t want to give back to Him out of a thankful heart?  In reality, though, He doesn’t ask for anything from us – not even our hearts.  After all, He had to send Jesus to make our hearts pure in the first place.  What do we have that hasn’t been given to us by Him?

No, our heavenly Father doesn’t want anything from us except . . . to take from Him.  To receive, fully, what He has given, what He has done for us in Jesus Christ.

So, what will I give Him?  I will receive His finished work on my behalf.  And I’ll keep receiving every new-to-me revelation of Christ in His fullness. In that receiving, He’ll receive all the glory!

Romans 11:36  NIV  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever! Amen.

In the Spotlight

I was under that open heaven (see previous post) when the worship leader began to prepare us for the next song.  All I specifically remember was something about seeing Jesus’ face.  What happened in the coming moments was not for me, alone.  Please read this selfishly.

When looking at a packed football stadium from a blimp’s camera, you see a whole lot of spots in an oval enclosure.  You know they are people, but you can’t physically see them.  Unless you are a regular visitor to that particular stadium, you probably wouldn’t know any of the people even if you could see their faces.  They would simply be a mass of nameless people to you.

For quite some time, I’ve tried to grasp that our Abba, Daddy, not only sees individuals in a crowd like this, but that He also knows their names and everything about them.  I know it’s true, but it’s been impossible within the confines of my limited brain.  It all changed as we worshipped Him on that beautiful September night in Jerusalem.

Somewhere between 1800 and 1900 people were packed onto the steps outside the south wall of the Old City.  Nowhere near the end of a row, nor at the back or front of the audience, and with my eyes closed, what I experienced could not have been in the natural.  The shadows from the few available lights suddenly disappeared as what could only be described as a spotlight from heaven focused its beam on me.  Though I remained in the same place, everyone around me became separated from me by the light itself – so that only I was visible within its scope.

I was aware this light was not to draw others’ attention to me.  In fact, no one else could have seen it.  This light gave revelation of how single focused Daddy is where I am concerned.  He sees me clearly no matter how many people are around me, no matter how dark it is, no matter anything at all.  I wasn’t afraid of what this meant at all.  I only knew He smiled at me.  I only sensed pure love surrounding me in that spotlight – that perfect love that casts out all fear.  It was and is simple.  He loves me completely and unconditionally.  Always will.

In those few moments I was also aware that He sees everyone else in the same way at the same time, with single vision – while never losing focus on me.  This is still an impossibility in my natural mind, but those few moments in His spotlight took me out of the natural and into His supernatural – into His possible!  Can you sense His spotlight on you, too?  Will you receive His single-focused, all-encompassing, never-ending love?

John 3:16  NIV  For God so loved the world (spotlight on you!) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It’s Simply True

This post is pretty simple – definitely not eloquent.  I suspect there will be others similar to it, for the Lord has infinite ways to show what is so big in my heart right now.  He wants it personal enough that it seems as if it’s written just for you.  You see, no matter who you are, this is His personal word for you.  Abba, your heavenly Father, wants you to know He really loves you.  The simple truth in this verse is too important to be glossed over:

John 3:16  NIV  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

His love wasn’t just to get you to heaven.  It was to restore, through Jesus Christ, relationship with Him here and now – because He loves you.

God loves you.  Your creator loves you.  Jesus, your Redeemer loves you.  Just as you are.  Eat, drink, and sleep with this, beloved brothers and sisters.  Let it go deeper than ever before.  God loves you.

It’s Empty, but I’m Not!

Here is a Wow! thought I’m still pondering.  I think of this earth as being so big – and it is.  I think of the billions of people on this earth as being so many – and we are.  Then I think of the world – the entire cosmos – with all its planets, stars, constellations, and galaxies, and realize just how small is the earth, and how miniscule the inhabitants in comparison to the vast sum of the universe.

Yet, Creator God, our heavenly Father, chose earth for humanity.  He chose earth for relationship.  He chose earth for His Son to be born, live, and die on.  And, out of the entire universe – before He ever created any of it – He saw me living on planet earth in 2011, and knew I would need Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.

Compared to the vastness of all He created, this one human being isn’t even a speck.  But Daddy doesn’t compare me to anyone or anything.  He sees me, Kay Stocking, and He loves me – fully, unconditionally, and eternally.  For God so loved Kay . . .1 Wow!

That place of the skull, Golgotha, is but the end of a street outside Jerusalem now.  That nearby garden tomb is empty now.  This life that was empty and meaningless before, though, is now full and overflowing forever – because of the finished work of my Jesus Christ!  Glory be to my God!  Glory be to my Savior!

“You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.”  Mark 16:6 NIV

1 John 3:16