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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 8:38-39’

 

It’s been said, St. Francis of Assisi contemplated the love of Christ until he caught the glow of His Spirit, which he went about radiating (1).

The operative word for me is contemplated, which means to look at pensively, to ponder or consider thoughtfully, to meditate on.

In St. Francis’ case, he chose to thoughtfully consider a simple subject: the love of Christ.

And the result was quite astounding. Francis glowed with the Spirit—so profoundly that others took note of his radiance.

By contrast, it stands to reason that worry and unrest are the direct result of misdirected or insufficient contemplation. In addition, no one can glow with the Spirit if thoughts of discontentment predominate.

For some, the love of Christ might seem too simple a subject and difficult to contemplate for very long. But if we challenge ourselves to scan the New Testament, we’ll discover many worthy thoughts to ponder about Jesus’ love.  Thoughts such as these:

First, his love for humanity compelled him to leave the perfection of heaven for a life of poverty on earth. Ultimately, he laid down his life so that we might become children of God and heirs of his immeasurable, heavenly riches (2).

 

 

While here on earth, Jesus made it clear he loves everyone, including:

  • Those whom others ignore, like blind beggars and penniless widows (3)
  • Those considered unimportant, like children (4)
  • Those whose sin tends to be concealed beneath the surface, like the rich young ruler (5)
  • Those no one else will go near, like lepers with ulcerated and decaying flesh (6)
  • Those who make mistakes, misunderstand truth, and bicker among themselves—like Jesus’ disciples (7)
  • Those who commit crimes, like the thief crucified with Jesus (8)
  • Even those who would try to kill him (9)

 

 

His love compels him to:

  • Seek after those who stray, never giving up until each one is safely home  (10)
  • Knock gently but persistently at the doors of our hearts, because he dearly wants us to enjoy fellowship with him (11)
  • Offer God-enhanced, blessing-abundant living now, with eternity in heaven to come (12)

 

 

Because he love us, Jesus wants to:

  • Draw us into his protective care, like a hen gathers her chicks (13)
  • Enjoy our company forever (14)
  • Reveal himself to us (15)—not in physical form (just yet!), but in the evidence of his loving kindness, righteousness, power and glory.
  • Protect us from fear by teaching us how to let peace stand guard over our hearts (16)
  • Fill us with all the fullness of God–his perfect attributes, generous blessings, and hope-saturated promises (17)

 

 

Nothing we say, nothing we do, nothing that happens to us can separate us from the love of Christ (18).

And “we are never nearer Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement of his unspeakable love” (19).

No wonder St. Francis glowed.

*     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *   *

We do stand in awe, Lord Jesus, of the sweeping landscape of your love as revealed in scripture. And just as St. Francis of Assisi practiced careful contemplation centuries ago, may we continually ponder the expanse of your love—its breadth, length, height and depth.

 

 

Notes:

  1. Ralph W. Sockman, The Higher Happiness
  2. 2 Corinthians 8:9; John 15:13; 1 John 3:1; Ephesians 2:7
  3. Mark 10:46-52; Matthew 8:16
  4. Mark 10:13-16
  5. Mark 10:21
  6. Matthew 8:3
  7. Acts 1:6; Mark 8:14-21; Luke 9:46
  8. Luke 23:39-43
  9. Luke 23:34
  10. Matthew 18:11-13
  11. Revelation 3:20
  12. John 10:10; 3:16
  13. Matthew 23:37
  14. John 14:3
  15. John 14:21
  16. 1 John 4:18; Philippians 4:6-7
  17. Ephesians 3:19
  18. Romans 8:35-38
  19. John Owen (1616-1683), English theologian

 

(Art & photo credits:  http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.pexels.net; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.canva.com (2).

 

What contemplation of Jesus’ love makes your heart glow?  Share your thoughts in the Comment section below!

 

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what-can-separate-us

“I am convinced that neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither the present nor the future,

nor any powers,

neither height nor depth,

nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God

that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

–Romans 8:38-39

Consider the author of these lofty, poetic words: Paul—a man who endured beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, danger, sleepless nights, extreme hunger and thirst, and exposure to the elements (1).

Yet in spite of all these hardships, Paul never thought, Maybe God doesn’t love me anymore.  No, he was convinced otherwise.  And he wanted to assure his readers, including us today, that nothing can come between the believer and his/her God:

            “Neither death nor life…”

Every moment of our lives God is watching over us, working out his plans that will achieve the highest good. Sometimes that includes suffering, for reasons we don’t always understand.

But consider: the greatest tragedy of history, the cruel torture and death of God’s perfect Son on a cross, brought about the most glorious consequence–the eternal salvation of all who believe (2).

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And when we die? God will still be watching over us (3). Visit a dying Christian and you will be the one encouraged by their God-given peace, joy, and expectation.

“Neither angels nor demons…” 

Long ago, the rabbis believed some angels were grudgingly hostile to men, not wanting to share God with earthly creatures. Perhaps Paul was saying, “Even jealous angels can do nothing to separate us from God’s love” (William Barclay).

As for demons, they were defeated when Jesus died on the cross (4). Granted, they may prowl around and cause mischief, but they are powerless to sever us from God’s love. Their teeth were removed at Calvary!

colossians2_15

“Neither the present nor the future…”

 Sometimes we worry about the future. Will we be able to handle potential calamities down the road? Or, perhaps it’s the present that’s unbearable, and we wonder if better days will ever dawn.

But our omniscient God has never been surprised by any turn of events. What he says here (through Paul) is a guaranteed promise: nothing present or future—no circumstance–can separate us from his loving presence.

“Nor any powers…” 

All powers of the universe—whether physical or spiritual—are subject to God, because he alone is the Omnipotent One. No one supersedes him.

“Neither height nor depth…”

 Many in Paul’s day believed that the star a person was born under controlled that person’s destiny. Height referred to a star’s zenith; depth to the star’s lowest point in the sky. Paul may have been assuring his readers that the stars have no power over our lives.

By contrast, our Star of David, Jesus, is like the North Star. He never waxes and wanes; he never changes. And his love is present everywhere (5).

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            “Nor anything else in all creation…”  

No circumstance, no place, no person can remove us from God’s love. “God never loses his loving grip on his children” (Keith Krell, www.bible.org).

And so Paul covered every eventuality that might separate us from the love of God and assured us: It. Can’t. Happen. Surely, if Paul was convinced, after all he suffered, shouldn’t we be convinced as well?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *     *

Day after day, Father, you express your love to us: forgiving our sins, transforming our spirits, defending us from spiritual enemies, showering us with blessings. We praise you for the warm embrace of your love—a love that spans all time and space, overcomes all pain and suffering, and defeats every foe! “Because your love is better than life, [our] lips will glorify you” (6).

(1) 2 Corinthians 11:25-27

(2) John 3:16

(3) Psalm 23:4

(4) Colossians 2:15

(5) Psalm 139:7-10

(6) Psalm 63:3

Photo credit:  www.doughusen.com; http://www.klove.com; http://www.verseoftheday.com; http://www.pinterest.com.

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Home-is-the-nicest

(“Home is the nicest word there is.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Five years ago, as Steve and I looked ahead toward retirement, the question of where we should spend those years had no easy answer. We’d lived in Florida, in six different locations over forty years.  We were ready for something different. Tennessee or even Kentucky appealed to us, where we could enjoy new vistas, the change of seasons (although not too severe), and best of all, be within a four-hour drive of our sons.

Lots can happen in five years. Our older son, Eric, and his wife, Hilja (Hill-ya) became a family of three.   During one visit they asked, “Where do you think you’ll retire?” We shared our tentative plans. “Well, if you’re going to move that close, why not just move here?”—here being Cincinnati, Ohio.

We hadn’t even considered moving so close, not wanting to impose ourselves on either of our boys. Nor had we thought of making our home so far north, back in the Midwest where we had grown up. But family (and especially that new grandbaby) was a strong magnet.

daddy-daughter-dance

So, Steve and I now hail from Cincinnati. And it’s a glorious privilege to watch little Elena grow, and spend much quality time with our sons and their wives. (As I’ve said before on this blog: If only our daughter and her family would move here from Washington State, life would be perfect!)

But moving back to the Midwest has been a coming home in other ways. We’ve reveled in familiar experiences from long ago:

  • The miracles of transition from one season to the next
  • The grand oaks, maples, and elm trees spreading wide through our neighborhood, over some of the streets, and in the numerous parks
  • The dance of the fireflies on a summer evening (Hundreds of them blink in the trees behind our house, resembling a Christmas display.)
  • The explosion of color on the hillsides as summer gives way to autumn
  • The silent beauty of a snow fall, especially as the accumulation creates frosty lace among the trees
  • The heavenly fragrance of lilacs in the spring
  • The clean scent of freshly cut grass (Florida grass produces no scent at all!)

Even the common robin causes delight as he hops across the lawn, pauses, and cocks his head to listen.

AmericanRobinBirdTurdusMigratorius

There is something heartwarming about home—the way we respond to the familiar and to the memories that surface.

Memories are the crucial element, aren’t they. Surely if Steve or I had experienced great difficulty growing up, our reaction to this Midwest relocation would be much different.

But both of us grew up in strong Christian homes—such a wondrous privilege. And most of our recollections are positive ones. We associate the word home with peace, security, acceptance, and love.

I wonder…

…when we enter the gates of heaven, will we experience a similar warming of the heart? Will we almost burst with elation to realize that we’ve finally arrived in our true forever home?

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At last we will be in a place of:

  • Perfect peace, with no strife or harsh words (Revelation 21:4)
  • Total security, because we’ve reached our eternal destiny (John 6:37)
  • Complete acceptance by our Heavenly Father (Romans 8:1)
  • Absolute love, to be expressed over and over in countless ways, forever and ever (Romans 8:38-39)

As I enjoy all the beauty of God’s creation in this corner of the world, and glory in the companionship of family, I want to remember: these are just glimpses of the wonders that await!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

What glimpses of the wonders-that-await do you enjoy? Tell us about them in the Comments section below!

(Photo & art credits:  www.quoteswave.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.greenwoodwildlife.org; http://www.youtube.com.)

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Not long ago I came upon this Bible verse:

 

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“May your  unfailing love rest upon us” (Psalm 33:22a).

 

Not exactly a new concept for those of us who know God and have entrusted our lives to him.  We know that God loves us.

But that day, each word (with a bit of tweaking!) spoke particular truth from my Heavenly Father. Below are the impressions he laid upon my heart. I pray that a thought or two will bring encouragement to you as well.

My:

My love for you is holy — totally separate from any human love — because it is:

  • Pure – never the result of ulterior motives
  • Sacrificial – proven at Calvary when I, God the Son, gave up my life for you
  • Unchanging – in the past (because I loved you before you were born), in the present (even when you’re not at your best), and into eternity (when my love will be expressed in total bliss).

Unfailing:

Never will I “fall out of love” with you. There is nothing in this world that can stop me from loving you. No matter what you do, nothing can separate you from my love.

And remember, my love is an unfailing, all-powerful force. I make all things work for your good – even when you go through pain and trials. Cling to that promise, child. Good will always prevail in the end.

Love: 

My love for you is much more than warm affection. I am passionate about you and devoted to you. My faithfulness to you will never fail.

I am your Heavenly Father. Think of all the ways I express my love to you every day – through kindness, grace, mercy, faithfulness, blessing, wisdom, guidance, strength, comfort, peace and more. It’s a long list, isn’t it.

Neither are these love-expressions infrequent or intermittent. Constantly I am expressing my love to you.

And everything I say and do comes from a heart of holy, perfect love.

Rests: 

My love comes to rest upon you. It’s attached to you, never wanes, and never will be removed.

And because I am continually expressing my love, you can rest in confidence that I will care for you. When worry and fear start to creep in, turn your spiritual eyes on me.

Start recounting all the ways I’ve expressed my love to you in the past, and rest in confidence that my pure, sacrificial, unchanging love will see you through – not just to survive, but to triumph!

Upon: 

My love is not earned; it is bestowed upon you. You do not need to perform marvelous deeds for me. Nor do I withdraw my love because you are not perfect.

What gives me pleasure is love-motivated progress toward spiritual maturity. I also revel in your efforts to seek my presence. But even these actions do not cause me to love you more. My love for you is already total and complete.

You:

Yes, you. I made you. I created your inmost being and knit you together in your mother’s womb. I prepared all the days of your life before even one of them came to be. 

And I love you – completely and forever.  My unfailing love most assuredly rests upon you.

 

(Romans 8:28, 38-39; Psalm 89:33; Psalm 139:13-16.)

 

 

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