The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

“Do you know how much I love you?”

For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. – John 5:20


“Grandma?  . . . . Papa? . . . . Grandma?. . . . Papa?” the active little voice sounded through my sleepiness. It was the sound of vibrant life. It was reviving to me. It was the voice of my grand-daughter Nevaeh (that’s “heaven” spelled backward).  Early in the morning, near daybreak, that cute, precious little voice broke through my sleep. My wife and I looked at each other with sleepy eyes and an acknowledgement of what must be done. Then she went and got our little two year old grand-daughter Nevaeh; (Thank you honey.) She brought that precious little girl to our bed. As she crawled over to Papa and came close to my face she kissed me and snuggled in with us. Now, a two year old can only snuggle for a little bit, (especially in the morning when the day is fresh and there’s so much fun to be had.) But in her fidgety excited giggling snuggling I called her close and said to her, “Nevaeh, do you know how much Papa loves you?” She smiled and giggled some more. She knew what was coming. I affectionately told her, “I love you so much that there isn’t even a word to describe it! There isn’t even a word to describe how much I love you!” Then little Nevaeh turned to my wife and said, “Grandma, do you know how much I love you?” My wife said, “How much?” Nevaeh paused a moment and said, “I don’t know.”  We all laughed. Grandma said, “I love you high as the sky and deep as the ocean.” Then it was off to breakfast.

Grandparents will tell you those are precious times. It brings back memories of when your own kids were small. (I can still remember the sweaty feet of Nevaeh’s mother when she came to snuggle with my wife and me years ago.) Precious; precious times. But as precious as those moments of affection are they don’t come close to the love our Father in heaven has for us. The love God has for us is a fantastic eternal personal love. It is the greatest love.


There’s so much about the Father’s love for us in the Bible. His love is poured out from beginning to end. You can find His love lavishly expressed throughout the Bible. For instance in the Old Testament it states, “And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power” (Deut. 4:37). God loves us and preserves, promotes and helps us persevere with His love. His love is empowering. Another love note from God states, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. . . .  And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; . . . .” (Deut. 7:6-8, 13a). The Lord loves the “least.” He treasures His people.  He loves us with a faithful love.


In Deuteronomy the Father spoke of His love particularly to Israel. But His love extends bountifully to those who are not Israel too (cf. John 10:16 and Ephesians 2:4, 11-22). We see God’s love richly fulfilled in the New Testament. We discover God’s love in prayer (Eph. 3:14-19). It is the Holy Spirit that helps us bear fruit of God’s love (Gal. 5:22-24). Nothing can separate the child of God from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39). And that love of the Father is best expressed in Jesus (Romans 5:8). Deuteronomy is the Old Testament book that most frequently speaks of the Father’s love. Deuteronomy is the most referenced Old Testament book by Jesus. That’s not an accident.


There was something about Jesus that drew people to Him. The gospels frequently speak of the attractiveness of Jesus with words like, “Then great multitudes came to Him” (Matthew 15:30). It states, “and they came to Him from every direction” (Mark 1:45). And, “Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him” (Luke 21:38). And again, “Then they went out of the city and came to Him. . . . Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and he sat down and taught them” (John 4:30 and 8:2). People were attracted to Jesus early and from great distances. People were drawn to Jesus. They wanted to hear what He had to say. They wanted to be near Him.


Why was Jesus so attractive to people? Some simply sought Him for food (e.g. John 6:26). Many came for healing (Matthew 15:30). Others came to Him to see a show of miracles (John 2:18). Some came to Him for selfish reasons (Mark 10:35). His opponents came to find fault with Him (Mark 12:13; Luke 11:54). But all of these reasons for coming to Jesus miss the mark. I believe Jesus was magnetic because of His love. There was something of God’s love in all He did. Jesus set an eternal example of love. Love had been spoken of before. But the love lived and taught by Jesus was deeper and fuller, more clearly defined than ever before or ever since. He told His disciples to love, “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). He said love was the mark of His followers (John 13:35). This was a love that gave one’s life to the fullest extent (John 15:13). It was a love that went all the way – “He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). The disciple of Jesus is to be known by love? Are you known for your love? Do you claim to be His disciple? Do you love like Jesus?


We look at Jesus and we are intimidated by His love sometimes. We think how could I ever love like that? Maybe we are presumptuous thinking we love like Jesus while being filled with envy, resentment, unforgiveness and pride. That is not Jesus’ love. What was it about Jesus that enabled Him to rise above the world’s lesser love? How can we love like Him? What was it that filled Jesus so that He was able to exude love with an endless spring of love?


The secret or key to the depth of Jesus’ love is that Jesus knew He was loved by the Father. He knew, “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel” (John 5:20). Jesus was secure in the Father’s love. He did not find His security in what others thought of Him. He was freed in that love to fulfill His Father’s will. So great was the Father’s love and Jesus’ comprehension of His Father’s love for Him, that it freed Jesus to function independent of the need for people’s approval.


Jesus didn’t disregard the love of others or love for others. Jesus wasn’t dispassionate toward others; far from it! “Jesus wept” with those who wept (John 11:35). Jesus was not aloof to emotion. But Jesus knew the Father and that His Father loved Him. Jesus had a close intimate relationship with His Father; one where the Father showed Him and shared with Him what Jesus should do. Jesus found His way in the Father’s love. Because He was so loved by the Father, Jesus was able to love others. He could love others even when they were nailing Him to the cross. Jesus was able to love, no matter what.


Jesus was a conduit of the Father’s love. That’s the same way we should find our way. That’s the same way we should love. Jesus lived to please the Father who loved Him. His priority and what determined what He did was pleasing the Father who loved Him. In the end Jesus was able to say He had completed the work His Father gave Him and it glorified the Father (John 17:4).


It was the security found in the Father’s love that fueled Jesus joyful magnetism. If the Father was for Him, who could be against Him? (E.g. Romans 8:31-32). If the Father loved Him, then He could put up with the attacks and hatred of His opponents because He knew nothing would shake His Father’s love for Him. All He did was in the Father’s love. Jesus’ awareness of His Father’s love steadied Him in every circumstance of life, even the cross, because the One who loves you only has your best interests at heart.  Our loving Father will get us through, even the crosses of life.


Do you know how much God the Father loves you? He loved you and me even when we were living in the deep darkness of sin (Rom. 5:8). The Father’s love is unconditional. He proved it by giving His most precious only Son Jesus to redeem us from our sin. When the Father loves He loves completely; perfectly; totally. That is agape love. And that means we can’t do anything to make the Father love us more than He already does.  You don’t have to earn the Father’s love. He already loves you as much as is possible for Him to love you. That’s what we see in Jesus.


God loves us so much that He wants us to spend eternity with Him! God’s love is greater than our love. Where we can’t find words to express our love, (like me with Nevaeh), He has the perfect words to express His love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That should make us feel very, very secure in His love. He loves us now, just as we are. He loves us so much that He will take us now, just as we are, with all our weaknesses and flaws and make us into something great and perfect. The Father giving His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sin is the eternal evidence of the extent of His love for us.


But how can we love like that? The Father has made a way for us to be given spiritual life filled with His love. But for that to happen we must experience an eternal make over. We “must be born again” (John 3:5, 7). To be born again we must admit and turn from our sin and ask God to forgive our sin trusting Jesus as the only reason for God to justly forgive us. Jesus, because He loves us, died on the cross to pay our debt of sin. He paid a debt He did not owe for a people that owed a debt they could not pay (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).


When we trust Jesus as our sin-paying Savior God in love forgives our sin and gives us new life and a fresh start. This is the work of the Holy Spirit who will come into our heart. And when that happens – “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). Then He begins molding and building us until one day He will set us perfect, in glory, with Him, for eternity. Now that’s love!


Do you hear God asking, “Do you know how much I love you?” Do you know now how much He loves you? We should never question God’s love for us. He allows certain things like trials and afflictions into our lives. We don’t always understand why the Father allows certain things into our lives the way He does. But one thing we should never question or doubt is that the Father loves us. Now, when He says, “Do you know how much I love you?” Our reply can be, “Yes Father, I know that you love me; no matter what. Thank You so very much.”



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