The sweetest words

loveson“I love you.” It is a phrase loaded with meaning, isn’t it? Who does not find their day brightened, their heart lightened by a genuine expression of affection and caring?  A song that was number one in the year that I was born, 1955, says that “Love is a many-splendored thing; it’s the April rose that only grows in the early spring, love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living …“   The song celebrates romance and attraction, and with good cause. Who does not love ‘falling in love?’

Love needs to be celebrated! Yesterday some of the people in the congregation I serve left cards for me as part of “Pastor Appreciation Day.”  Most referred to ways in which I have touched their lives – teaching, care, being there in tough times – and many were signed with this line, Love!  I read each of them several times because those expressions of affection and care so meaningful to me.  My son signed off on a Facebook post to me this morning, “Love you.” I seldom close a phone call with my adult children who live far from me without saying, “I love you.”

On this Monday morning, I want to remind you that you are loved!  You may feel alone. Life may be difficult at this moment. You may be facing a workplace that seems like the lion’s den of the book Daniel. Your family may be going through a difficult season. A friend may be angry with you right now, so let me point you to an unchanging fact:  Your heavenly Father loves you!  He does not just like you, nor does He only tolerate you. He loves you, desires you, and receives your respondent love with delight.  That is the most transforming truth we can ever know.

Skeptical? How do I know this about Him?  John, inspired by the Spirit writes – “God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:8-10, NIV)   Paul, who is not exactly a man of romantic gush, never the less writes of the Love of God – “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:5-8, NIV)

 But, it is a story that Jesus told that reveals the heart of our Father best!  Luke records it in chapter 15. A man had two sons. The younger, full of rebellion, claimed his inheritance and went off to do his own thing, spending it all until he was broke, alone, and starving. As he sat among the pigs that he was hired to tend this man remembered his father’s household. The fact that his Dad’s farm help lived better than he did stuck in his mind. “I should go home,” he thought, but guilt paralyzed him. At long last, he came up with a plan to go back but not to be a son. “I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.”  Now, here is the part that always stirs me from the depth of my being – I am tearing with emotion even as I write these words!

Can you feel the divine love that pulses through Jesus’ words about our Father and His welcome to us when we finally ‘come home?’  “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him.  …  for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”  (Luke 15:20-22,24 NLT)  No, the kid did not get what he deserved; he found grace.  And, that story is true about YOU, today.

The Lord of the Universe loves you.  Ask Him to reveal that to you today.  Soak in this truth. It will made life worth living, rob death of its terrors, and make you a better person for the rest of the journey.

Here is the word from the Word, among the sweetest words ever. “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT)

_____________________

How He Loves

(worship with this video)

He is jealous for me loves like a hurricane
I am a tree bending beneath
The weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware of
These afflictions eclipsed by glory
I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me

Oh how He loves us so
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us so
He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So Heaven meets earth
Like a sloppy wet (unforeseen) kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way that

He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

John Mark McMillan
© 2005 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music [DC Cook]))

CCLI License # 810055

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