God Adores You

Have you ever wondered what God thinks about you? 

At first, it may seem like a complicated question and one that’s not easily answered. However, all we have to do is turn to the Bible to find the truth. It is full of uplifting verses that tell us exactly how God feels about us.

We are of supreme importance in our Heavenly Father’s eyes. Just read these words found in the book of Matthew:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matt. 10:29-31

Does it surprise you that God keeps track of each and every bird on the earth? But even more importantly, He regards us much more highly than any bird. So we should never worry about our worth in God’s eyes.

As we find out in Jeremiah, God planned for us even before our conception:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…

Jer. 1:5

There’s really not much more that can be said about this verse. It perfectly explains that God had a plan for each of us before we were ever conceived. 

Plus, He mapped out our lives ahead of time, as we read here:

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16

God knows the exact length of each of our lives and knows what He wants our lives to consist of long before we were ever born.

Perhaps one of the best known verses, and one of the most quoted, is John 3:16. Take a moment to really reflect on what this verse says about God and His feelings for us:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God loves us so much that there is nothing He wouldn’t do for us. Just take a look at this verse:

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Matt 7:11

We are His most prized creation. He even formed us in His image:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

Gen. 1:26

No other part of God’s creation is fashioned in His image—only mankind is. We are the preeminent creation of God. He values us above everything else in the universe.

These are just a few of the many verses that explain how much God loves us. 

If you’re ever in doubt about your worth in the eyes of God, just pick up your Bible and begin reading. You’ll soon discover the truth that God loves you immensely! 

Kick Worry to the Curb

God doesn’t want you to worry. Really—He doesn’t.

Over and over in the Bible we read where God tells His people not to worry, not to have anxiety. Here is just one of many examples I could name:

Do not be anxious about anything.

Phil. 4:6a

This command is hard for us to accept in the hustle and bustle of our busy lifestyles. If you’re like me, you tend to feel guilty if you’re not worrying about something. 

It seems like you should be worrying, else you’re neglecting your responsibilities.

However, worrying doesn’t change anything—except maybe to make you feel less guilty. 

You don’t need to feel guilty in the first place. Guilt causes you to worry even more—and you can’t do anything about most of the things you worry about anyway.

So, how do we not worry?

First of all, you have to realize that defeating worry is not a one-time thing. Quitting worrying takes daily effort and a resolve to live in freedom in Jesus. 

Although you may feel like you’re in an uphill battle and that you’re not seeing any results—keep at it. 

Eventually, you’ll find yourself worrying less and living with more joy and peace.

On one of his excellent “In Touch” radio broadcasts, Dr. Charles Stanley lays out three steps to eliminating worry in your life

Pray over and meditate on these steps. Really think about them and let them sink into your spirit. 

Doing so will help you beat worry and guilt. 

Step #1 – Realize That God is With You

God knows and sees your situation. He is with you every step of the way. 

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Heb. 13:5b

You are God’s child, and He loves you dearly. Just as you would never leave your own child, God will never leave you.

And how much more He loves you than you are able to love your child!

You don’t need to worry about God’s awareness of your situation. He is omniscient and has known that you would experience whatever trial you’re in even before time itself existed.

He has promised that He will always be with you, so take Him at His word.

Pray to your Heavenly Father and ask Him for help. He won’t let you down.

Step #2 – Maintain Proper Vision

View your situation in context of your faith.

God is Lord of the entire universe and can be fully trusted to help you through any problems you might face.

You can hold on to your faith that God is good and that His will is always in your best interest. As we are told in Romans 8:28:

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

When everything seems to be going wrong and all you have is God to fall back on, that’s when your faith is truly put to the test. 

God is all we need. And when He is all we have, we are presented with the opportunity to stand firm in our faith. God’s will WILL prevail.

Step #3 – Seek God’s Kingdom First

If serving God and following His will for your life are your priorities in life, He will make sure that you have everything you need.

Matthew 6:33 tells us:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

To put it another way, God takes care of His own. If you belong to Jesus and faithfully serve Him, your needs will be met.

Keep in mind, God’s provision might not always look like you think it should, but He will always come through. 

God wants to be your provider. His desire is for you to rely on Him and Him alone—not your job, your bank account, or even your own abilities.

Just Him.

When you know that God will meet your every need, you don’t need to worry about having enough. 

You’ll have what you need, when you need it. And you can count on that.

So, to sum up Dr. Stanley’s advice for overcoming worry:

  1. Trust God.
  2. Have faith in God.
  3. Seek God.

Here’s to a worry-free, joy-filled life pursuing God!

It’s Easy to Be Mad at God

It’s easy to be mad at God. There are multiple opportunities every day to blame God and distance yourself from Him. 

I don’t know why life is this way. I suppose a theologian would say it’s because we live in a fallen world. It’s imperfect, so there are naturally going to be situations every day that we’re unhappy with.

And since God is omnipotent, He’s the one to blame for all our troubles, right?

That’s the trap so many of us fall into, myself included. 

Even though I know it’s wrong, I still often blame God for the little annoyances of life. Like when I went into a restaurant recently to pick up a carryout order and only grabbed one of the two bags I was supposed to get.

I thought to myself, Why couldn’t God have prompted me somehow that there was another bag I needed to pick up?

I mean, that’s a logical thought, isn’t it? He knew I was only picking up one of the bags. He could have whispered to me to double-check that I got everything, couldn’t He?

Certainly, He could have done that. But He didn’t. I don’t know why, other than that He was using the situation as a teaching tool of some sort. Perhaps He wanted me to learn something from the experience or to grow my faith. 

Maybe he was hoping that I would indeed have the thought that He could have prompted me about the second bag, but that I would then remember that it doesn’t matter because He is all good.

Alas, this isn’t what happened, because I found myself questioning Him and His ways.

But, at least I eventually did come to the conclusion that He is good, even though it took me a while. I’m a work in progress for sure.

What about you? Do you blame God when things don’t go exactly as you think they should? 

If you do, why not just go ahead and accept His goodness now, without waiting? Cut out all the steps in the middle and realize that He loves you and is looking out for you. 

I believe that’s what He’s hoping you’ll do.

What Is the Meaning of Life?

We’ve all asked the meaning of life; we’ve all wondered what our purpose is for being placed on this big ol’ ball of mud to live for a few decades. 

There are many ways you could try to explain the meaning of life, but I think the best one is to simply go to the Bible and read what God has to say about it. 

Rather than everything happening by happenstance, there is a method to the supposed madness. God planned everything out way before any of us were ever here. 

He knew exactly who was going to be on this planet and when. He knew everything that was going to take place with each of us. Some good, some bad, but He knew it all beforehand. 

Why, you ask? Now I certainly don’t know the full answer to that, but I believe I can answer it in part. 

Simply put, we were put here to worship God. We are an outpouring of His love. 

God IS love, so He created human beings so He could bestow His love on them and we could, in turn, love Him back. 

Of course, this is all in preparation for the eternity that He wants each of us to spend with him. He wants us all to spend forever with him in Heaven/The New Jerusalem. 

The meaning of life on this planet is to prepare us for that, at least in part I think. 

However, our lives in eternity will be so vastly different from anything we can fathom now that there won’t be any real comparison. 

Personally, I can’t wait to get to eternity. Many days I’m so done with this life that all I can think about is how much better life in eternity will be. This life here is just a trial run after all. 

THAT is what the meaning of life is, as far as I can tell anyway.

9 Verses About God’s Love That Will Lift Your Spirits

Perhaps you’re like many people in today’s hurry-scurry world and you feel completely all alone. If it’s been a while since you really connected with anyone else, you may feel like there’s not a single soul on the planet who cares about you. 

While it could be true that you don’t have anyone else to call a friend, who you can go to for advice or just for a hug, you always have God. He loves you unconditionally, no matter how bad you think you are. He’s always there and is longing for a relationship with you. 

Below are nine of the best verses that detail the depth of God’s love for us, in no particular order:

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.

This is one of the most, if not the most, famous verses in the entire bible. The reason is because it describes God’s deep love for us, so much so that He was willing to allow His Son to be tortured and killed before resurrecting Him. His punishment paid the price for the sin we all commit every day.

1 John 4:9

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 verse also details the depth of God’s love for us, explaining that He sacrificed His son so that we might live eternally.

1 John 4:16

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

In this verse, we’re told that God is in fact love Himself. Wherever there is true love, that represents the very essence of God.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Here we see that Jesus loves us so much that He willingly gave His life so that we might live.

Ephesians 2:4-5

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.

God loves us so much that he gave us new life even when we were mired down in our sin.

Psalm 86:15

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

God always acts with compassion because His love is overflowing toward us, His creation.

Psalm 136:26

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

So strong and powerful is God’s love that it will indeed last forever. Nothing you do can stop Him from loving you.

Psalm 36:7

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

God’s love is an ever-present shelter for us during all the trials and tribulations of life.

Romans 5:5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

God gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could experience the full measure of His love for us.

This is just a starting point, as these verses only scratch the surface of all the verses in the Bible that demonstrate how much God loves us. Whenever you’re feeling down or blue, spend some time meditating on these verses. Then dig deeper and find more passages that speak to your heart about God’s deep, everlasting love for you.

The Essence of the Gospel

OK, here’s your tough question for the day…

What is the true essence of the Gospel? What is it all about anyway?

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Perhaps the Good News is about forgiveness. If we have placed our faith in Christ, then we know that we have forgiveness for our sins. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

His death and resurrection atoned for our sin (a fancy way of saying that He paid the price for our sin).

Or, we could say that John 15:12 sums up the Gospel: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Surely, if we don’t have love, then we don’t truly have the Spirit of Christ living in us. 

We are even told in Matthew 22:37-40 that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So, love is definitely a big part of the Gospel.

But so is salvation. We learn in Romans 10:9 that, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

We have to conclude, therefore, that the Gospel is about salvation.

However, that’s not all. In arguably one of the most famous and often-quoted verses in the Bible, we are told that, “For God so loved the world

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that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Eternal life is a key part of the Good News for sure.

So, what then is the essence of the Gospel?

Simply put, it’s Jesus. He is the “pioneer and perfecter of faith,” as Hebrews 12:2 is rendered in the NIV. The NKJV calls him the “author and finisher of our faith.”

So, yes, the Gospel is about all those other things. However, it is undeniably, unmistakably about Jesus our Savior, the One sent by the Father to make us right in His eyes.

All we have to do is believe

Guard Your Plateau

There is a principle I like to call “Guard Your Plateau.” It means simply that once you’ve worked hard to gain some ground over depression, anxiety, fear, worry, and doubt, do all you can to maintain it. 

Living a happy, carefree, worry-free life can be extremely difficult and takes a lot of hard work; it can be exhausting mentally and emotionally. 

The day may come when you’re thinking to yourself, You know, I feel pretty good right now. Things are going OK.

When you have thoughts like that, take extra precaution. Never let your guard down and never quit doing the things that got you where you are. When you’re worn out emotionally, it can be easy to relax and “just let go.” 

Don’t do it, however. Be watchful that you don’t slip back into old habits and old thought patterns. Reverting to behaviors of the past will drag you down quicker than anything.

Keep thinking positively. Keep saying uplifting things to yourself. Never let your foot off the gas. As I heard Joyce Meyer say in a podcast, “Gain and maintain.”

The “Guard Your Plateau” principle is just as important if you find yourself in a pit of despair. If your life seems a mess lately and nothing is going right, stand your ground. Don’t give in to more feelings of doubt, gloom, anxiety, and depression.

Build yourself up to keep yourself from falling deeper. Don’t let your situation spiral out of control and get even worse. The more ground you give up, the more momentum you give to the negative in your life. 

When you think you’re at the lowest point possible, you’re not. Things can always be worse, just as they can always be better. 

During the low times, work even harder to get back to a point where you can see the light again.

More importantly, remember that God is always with us, especially during the hard times. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on him [God], because he cares for you.”

Here’s hoping that today is a better day for you than yesterday, and that tomorrow is even better than today.

God Understands

I was lying in bed last night preparing to fall asleep and praying, like I often do. I was trying to figure out my actions of the day. I’d gotten angry about circumstances and lashed out at my wife and daughter – twice each. I’d felt bad after the first time for each, of course, but that didn’t seem to stop me from doing it again later.
As I prayed, I was trying to explain it all to God. My actions, my thoughts on my actions and what motivated them.
Then I realized I didn’t have to “explain” anything to God. He understands me much better than I ever could myself. He made me. Nothing I could ever say to Him would help Him understand my situation any better. My explanation to Him is really only for my benefit, kind of like talk therapy.
Anything I can think about anything is far below His infinite knowledge. He is, was, and will be – forever. As a mere human—a creation—we will by definition always be less than the creator. We can never see, know, or experience more than the One who created us.
That is very freeing to think about. When I turn to God after sinning (like last night), I don’t have to have all the answers. I just have to go to Him and seek His forgiveness. He understands what the human experience is like, so I don’t have to fill Him in on the details.
Plus, as one of the billions of people who have walked this earth, I’m sure I’m not the first to struggle with these exact feelings. The confusion. The turmoil. The frustration of failing over and over to live the life that I should. Countless others have been through it before.
And God understands.
I will fail again. I can count on that. I’ll let God down and let myself down. But it’s nice knowing that He’s always there to pick me up afterward.

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“Greatest Love of All”, or why “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”

Captain and Tennille were confident that “Love Will Keep Us Together”, while the Bee Gees asked, “How Deep is Your Love?”

The Supremes cautioned us, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, while Foreigner pleaded, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

What do you love? Most people use the word “love” every day, usually very casually.

“Oh, I love chocolate ice cream,” some might say. Or, “I loved that movie.” We could also say we love a dog or cat just like it was a member of our family.

Love is an emotion God blessed us humans with to make our daily lives here on earth more pleasurable and meaningful. People with no one to love are lonely and often desolate. For those people, without someone to share the ups and downs of life with, life often holds little meaning.

But for all the different types of love we can feel, there is one love that we will never be able to experience—the love that God feels for us. It lies beyond our comprehension and is one we’ll never experience first hand.  

We can never look down on our creation—the entire universe—and feel good about it. 

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Gen. 1:31a, ESV)

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But God does more than just feel good about what He has created. He in fact adores us.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This kind of powerful love is reserved for God alone. It infinitely exceeds the love a husband and wife feel for each other, or even the immense love any human parent is capable of feeling for their own child.

Think about that the next time you are tempted to express your love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

 

God’s Judgment, God’s Love

 

Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you…And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” (Gen. 3:16-17).

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4: 7-8).

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I recently listened to a podcast in which pastor Greg Laurie commented that God is a happy God. His statement caught me a little off guard — I’ve never thought of God as happy.

My earliest childhood conception of God was of a man clothed in white, with long white hair and white beard, sitting in a control booth of sorts in the sky, watching carefully over His creation. In front of him was a panel with hundreds of small buttons that he was furiously but thoughtfully pushing one after another, so that just the right thing at the right time in the right place would happen to the right people in just the right way. After all, that was His job — running the universe and calling the shots.

I never thought of Him as loving or intimately involved with the humans He had created. The God in the control booth actually seemed rather aloof to me now that I think back on it (of course, I didn’t know what aloof meant when I was five years old).

As I got a little older and began reading the bible on my own, God began to seem like more of a judge to me — a big, huge Judge-in-the-Sky ready to pronounce sentence on anyone he saw misbehaving (see the verse from Genesis above).

Love? That didn’t seem to be what God was all about. He was surely too busy telling all the birds which way direction to fly and managing thunder and lightning to be concerned with much else. How could He find time to love and nurture us?

Why have I always struggled with this particular image of God while others see Him only as loving and kind, like a good earthly father?

I’ve actually been pondering this question for some time now. Of course, in reading the New Testament we find numerous verses describing God’s love for us. In particular, we read that He loves us so much that he allowed his only son to die for for our salvation.

Even so, it just never really clicked into place that God loves me personally, that He cares for me, or that He gazes down from Heaven at me with a gleam of love and compassion in His big eye — like my father might have.

Then one day my mind drifted back to my early bible reading days. When I was in elementary school I had a Living Bible my older sister had given me for Christmas. As I pictured that big old bible with its soft, green cover I had a revelation. If I were to go find that bible right now and look at the edges of the pages, I would notice a clear demarcation between the more worn, dirty pages and the cleaner, white pages. That division would be close to the beginning of the bible, somewhere near the latter part of Genesis.

It would be clear from even a quick glance that most of my reading from that bible had been from the very beginning of the scriptures. Over the years each time that I had decided I needed to start reading the bible I started at the beginning, Genesis, just as I would read any other book.

In the beginning is where we find a representation of God not only as Creator, but also “Judge of all the earth” (18:25). Besides the story in the Garden of Eden referenced above, we find the account of the tower of Babel where God disperses the prideful people and confuses their language. We also read how God sends fire to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin, and He turns Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt because she looks back at the destruction of the two cities.

dinosaurs However, in Genesis perhaps the most powerful image of God as a Judge is found in the account of the great flood. God sees that man has a penchant for wickedness, so He says, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” (6:7). After reading the story of the flood I vaguely remember wondering how God could kill all of the living creatures on the earth. That seemed so mean and cruel to my young mind.

Furthermore, God’s love is not very well-represented in Genesis. The word “love” is found several times in the book, but only once is the word used of God: “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love…” (Gen. 29:31a).

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I recently attended a discipleship class led by a very godly man. He exuded peace, and I could tell by talking to him, even briefly, that his walk with God was of utmost importance to him.

During one of the sessions I happened to glance down at his bible. Even sitting several fee away, I couldn’t help but notice that its pages were worn and dirty beginning about 3/4 of the way through, roughly near the beginning of the New Testament. I certainly have no idea of the entire history of his bible reading, but one thing was certain — most of his reading in that bible had been from the New Testament.

I suspect that this man’s underlying image of God is quite different from mine.

I’ve heard new Christians (or those investigating Christianity) told to start reading the bible at John, not Genesis. As a small child, what if I had done the same? As an adult would I now have a significantly different image of God?

I’m betting I would see God as a happy God, just as my discipleship class leader sees Him, and just as Greg Laurie describes Him.