“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NIV
I have heard a variety of celebrities say incredulously, “Surely you don’t believe there is only one way to heaven!” Well, in fact that is true. Jesus, the perfect Son of God, said it. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enter the kingdom as children of the Almighty King. Now I find that much more incredulous.
A love like this makes the greatest love story ever told. Sadly, it’s a story that doesn’t get shared often enough. John 3:16 says “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him can have everlasting life.” He gave His Son. His perfect, gentle, loving, selfless Son. They both signed up for the tortuous death of a criminal on the cross that separated them from each other…for you and me.
There may only be one way, but that way demonstrates the most lavish love known to mankind. A love so immense that we have a hard time imagining the depth and breadth of it.
Father, thank you for making a way for us all to be a part of Your kingdom. I pray we cherish it daily and share it freely so that everyone can know the wonders of Your love.
4 Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; 5 it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs 6 or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! 7 Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. 8 Love will never become obsolete. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 The Voice
One day during my devotional time I decided to let my Bible fall open and that is where I would read. It fell open to the last page of the concordance. The words “wrong” and “wronged” caught my eye. It took me to scriptures in 1 Corinthians and Proverbs. The gist of the scriptures I read was this:
(1) Isn’t it better to be wronged than to have wronged someone else?
(2) Love covers all wrongs
This gave me pause. I still had quite a few sticking points in my heart with some folks. They felt like rough ragged edges that my feelings would get caught on. It was a place of injury. So I started to pray. I started to ask for the characteristics of love. I asked for patience, kindness. I asked to be able to rejoice in the truth, protect always, trust always, hope always and to always persevere. I asked God to help me let go of all the junk associated with these ragged edges in my heart. I began to realize that I was not the only one injured. I was able to lift others up in prayer too.
Father, show us where the frayed and ragged edges are in our hearts. Make them more smooth from experiencing and practicing Your love.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23 NIV
This prayer is a prayer for us. This blew me away when I understood it for the first time. We are the ones who heard the message of Jesus Christ all these centuries later from the messages carried on through His disciples. As Jesus was getting ready to face the most horrific of executions, here he was, interceding for us. This touches my heart so deeply. What incredible love. He wanted us to have the relationship with God that He had. He wanted us all to be together again…even before we were born.
I have always heard the scriptures of God knowing us before we were “knit together in our mother’s womb” but this scripture made we realize very practically how much Jesus was a part of that picture too. It made it very real for me. It is right there in black and white. Jesus, thank you for Your unfathomable unconditional love and sacrifice. It humbles me to a point that words cannot express.
These are weighty words. Do I feel confident placing all of them with God? Do I trust that He loves me so much that He wants the best for me in every word listed? What about my achievements? My ambitions? My concerns? My desires?
Well then do I believe His promises to me? Can I take God at His Word?
These are big questions, but the answer is even bigger. The answer is YES. We can. We can place every single one of these big words at the feet of Jesus. God knows we are not equipped to handle that long list and the pressure, stress and anxiety that goes with it. If we can release it all to Him as He intended and believe with all our heart that He loves us more than we can imagine, then we find comfort. We find our inheritance as a child of God. Our thirst is quenched. We find mercy. We see God. We find peace. We find the kingdom of heaven.
“28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
I am learning that God does not want us to walk in fear. He wants us to have fun and enjoy life! It was not His intention for us to be hampered or burdened by putting too much stock in the things of this world. He loves to watch us operate in our gifts and talents. That’s how he made us!
I have had concerns about my old patterns at times. Sometimes operating in a new way feels unfamiliar and awkward. I can’t build new patterns without practice. So, I look at it as exercise. I am simply practicing my faith in a new environment. I have to trust God. Let go of myself and any self-consciousness. I have to let go of perfection. I know that He would rather I take a step and fall, trusting in Him, than stand in a corner in fear.
“Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain.” Psalm 139:23 The Voice
I read this verse today and thought “Why in the world would I ask for this?” Search my heart and mind and soul and desires and put them all to the test. Huh. I really have to think about that.
Then I read the entire Psalm, verses 1-24. What I saw was all the beauty of intimacy and unconditional love and reliance on God. I am foolish to think that I can hide anything from Him. I am also foolish not to realize that He decided to love me long ago… anyway. He knew about every bad decision I was going to make before I did. All of them. And He loves me anyway. He still showers me with love and compassion and His tender mercy. There are days that I feel like I can wrap my head around a small piece of His love for me but I always know that it’s so much bigger than I can even imagine. It makes me thankful and gives me encouragement to continue to stretch into the person that He designed me to be. It also gives me courage and strength to love others the way He loves me….anyway.
“Those who have it easy may easily scorn the unfortunate; they have their contempt already prepared for those whose feet slip.” Job 12:5 The Voice
Have you ever been in a situation where you are an observer in someone else’s life and you feel like you are watching a train wreck? How quick are we to speak negative things over something that we don’t understand, don’t have all the facts or insight, or frankly isn’t any of our business?
I have been guilty many times of rendering an opinion on matters that did not concern me. When I have fallen on challenging times I sometimes remember how harsh I may have been with someone else. Not in their face, but in my attitude, judgment, or commentary. My own arrogance made me hesitate to reach out to that friend or acquaintance in a tight spot. Not pretty.
God give me the humility not to act like Job’s friends who accused him of sin because of his trials. Show me how to help those who are struggling so that I can give the kind of encouragement to them that You give me. In Jesus Name I pray these things, Amen.