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Sunday, October 02, 2016

Why Are People So Important To God? Why Is God's Attention Fixed On Us?

Ephesians 3:19 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) I want you to know all about Christ's love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.

The Love of God for mankind is something we cannot fully understand yet. He loves us not because we are lovable. The state of mankind since the fall is one of rebellion and disobedience. In our human condition we do not love God, we do not seek God, we do not desire God.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (Bible In Basic English - BBE) The heart is a twisted thing, not to be searched out by man: who is able to have knowledge of it? (10) I the Lord am the searcher of the heart, the tester of the thoughts, so that I may give to every man the reward of his ways, in keeping with the fruit of his doings.

Romans 3:10-18 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) As the Scriptures say, "There is no one doing what is right, not even one. (11) There is no one who understands. There is no one who is trying to be with God. (12) They have all turned away from him, and now they are of no use to anyone. There is no one who does good, not even one." (13) "Their words come from mouths that are like open graves. They use their lying tongues to deceive others." "Their words are like the poison of snakes." (14) "Their mouths are full of cursing and angry words." (15) "They are always ready to kill someone. (16) Everywhere they go they cause trouble and ruin. (17) They don't know how to live in peace." (18) "They have no fear or respect for God."

Isaiah 64:6-7 (ERV) We are all dirty with sin. Even our good works are not pure. They are like bloodstained rags. We are all like dead leaves. Our sins have carried us away like wind. (7) We don't call to you for help. We aren't excited about following you, so you have turned away from us. We are helpless before you, because we are full of sin.

Romans 8:7-8 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can it be. (8) So then they who are in the flesh cannot please God.

So, Job 7:17, asks the question,  "What makes You (God) so concerned about us humans?"

I don't know about you, but when I look at the sea of humanity, I don't see much that would cause someone to love human beings. And I know, when I look at myself, I'm not too lovable either. There are some beautiful/handsome human beings but not all of us are beautiful/handsome. And, with age, sickness, stress, life experiences... we grow old and we no longer are beautiful/handsome. Then there is the physical nastiness of human beings. We pee, poop, fart, sweat, have boogers, bad breath and we tend to leave the jetsam and flotsam of our existence, in the form of trash, wherever we go. And then there is the inside of human beings. We sin, rebel, hate, carry grudges, are greedy, full of arrogance and hubris, selfish. We seem to be pretty disgusting inside and out. So why does God love us? As our sinful selves, we are not lovable.

If God loving us was based on how lovable we are, we'd be in trouble! If you were God, would you love us? Because we are human beings and NOT God, we cannot understand the love of God. We tend to love someone because they do something lovable. We have to have a reason to love someone. "I love you only as long as you are what I need and want." Sometimes, we can even do better by loving someone even though they are no longer attractive or young or meeting some of our needs. But we still will only love as long as there is something we get out of it. Human beings, on their own and without God, cannot love unless they are getting something out of the relationship. So our love is conditional. "You give me what I want/need and I will love you." As soon as we think our "loved one" is no longer meeting our wants/needs, we are ready to walk away. Sometimes we stay awhile to see if that person will once again meet our wants/needs, but once we think it's never going to happen, we tend to emotionally and physically walk away. It's the way of fallen human beings. It's why there is divorce, torn families, abandoned elderly, abandoned children, severed friendships, broken partnerships, etc. Since we are born in sin, we can't really be blamed for our conditional love. It comes with the package. And it makes it very difficult for the unsaved to understand that God loves them and loves every human being. If we can't, how can He?

But this is a misperception based on our own experiences. We must adjust our paradigm. Instead of looking at it through a human perspective we have to look at God. God doesn't just "love". God IS love personified! God cannot NOT love. He loves because it is who He is.

1 John 4:8-10 (CEV) God is love, and anyone who doesn't love others has never known him. (9) God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. (10) Real love isn't our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - on Love: The love of God is that part of His nature - indeed His whole nature, for “God is love” - which leads Him to express Himself in terms of endearment toward His creatures, and actively to manifest that interest and affection in acts of loving care and self-sacrifice in behalf of the objects of His love. God is “love” (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16) just as truly as He is “light” (1 John 1:5), “truth” (1 John 1:6), and “spirit” (John 4:24). Spirit and light are expressions of His essential nature; love is the expression of His personality corresponding to His nature. God not merely loves, but is love; it is His very nature, and He imparts this nature to be the sphere in which His children dwell, for “he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him” (1 John 4:16). Christianity is the only religion that sets forth the Supreme Being as Love. In heathen religions He is set forth as an angry being and in constant need of appeasing.

God doesn't love us because we are lovable, He loves us because He is love. Love permeates His very being and infuses all His other attributes.

God loves human beings, His creation. He made each of us to be unique. There is not one human being who is an exact duplicate of another. God created us with different physical features such as the shape of our ears, the fingerprints on our fingers, the way we smile, the matrix in the pupil, our DNA, etc.

We also are a unique creation as far as our personality. We like different things, have different talents, are shy or gregarious, etc. God took His time in making each human being and we are a part of Him because He made us, made us in His image and blew His breath, the breath of life, into each of us.

Genesis 1:26-27 (CEV, parenthesis mine) God said, "Now we (the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost) will make humans, and they will be like us. We will let them rule the fish, the birds, and all other living creatures." (27) So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women.

But God also cannot love us because of our sin. He is separated from us because we are sinners and we reek with ungodly, unholy sin. We are born that way and we proceed to live that way. We are rotten, spoiled, with sin!

Psalms 5:4-6 For You are not a God that enjoys wickedness; nor shall evil dwell with You. (5) The foolish shall not stand in Your sight. You hate all doers of iniquity. (6) You shall destroy those who speak lies; Jehovah will despise the bloody and deceitful man.

How do we understand this?

God created us lovingly. But sin mars His creation. Sin, in us, is what God cannot abide. He is so holy that He cannot be in the presence of sin. But, here we were, hopelessly locked in sin. God's creation, mankind, was utterly ruined because of sin. We were forever separated from Him and our eternal condition was one of doom, condemned to eternal torment in hell.    Because. Of. Our. Sin.

Psalms 5:4 (CEV) You are not the kind of God who is pleased with evil. Sinners can't stay with you.

God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. And God did not forget us.

Isaiah 49:14-15 (CEV) The people of Zion said, "The LORD has turned away and forgotten us." (15) The LORD answered, "Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you.

The love of God had an answer to this dilemma. We couldn't save ourselves. But He could save us by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in order to save us from our sins. With the work of Jesus, we could once again be sinless and therefore no longer separated from our God. Jesus' righteousness has become our righteousness, therefore God no longer sees us as sinners but as His dear children. He is no longer separated from those He loves.

John 3:16-17 (CEV) God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. (17) God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!

Romans 5:6-8 (BBE) For when we were still without strength, at the right time Christ gave his life for evil-doers. (7) Now it is hard for anyone to give his life even for an upright man, though it might be that for a good man someone would give his life. (8) But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us.

Titus 3:4-7 God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is. (5) He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning. (6) God sent Jesus Christ our Savior to give us his Spirit. (7) Jesus treated us much better than we deserve. He made us acceptable to God and gave us the hope of eternal life.

We are sinners and unlovable, doomed to eternity of punishment, and we could not save ourselves even if we wanted to. But God is love and He loved us enough to set us free from sin and bring us back into relationship with Himself. He found the way through Jesus and Jesus loved us enough to go through the agony of the cross for us.

1 John 2:2 Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world's people.

There is no sin that Christ's righteousness cannot cleanse. Therefore, there are no human beings who cannot be saved. All are able to be saved. The worst human can still be saved because the work of Christ is not limited. Yes, even the Hitlers of the world could be saved. But the caveat is they must believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in the work He did on the cross. Do we believe in Jesus? It is a matter of faith. The only thing that keeps us from being saved is refusing to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. We must make that choice. If we choose Christ and Him alone then any of us can be saved. The only unpardonable sin is the sin of refusing the work Christ did on our behalf.

John 16:27 (CEV) God the Father loves you because you love me, and you believe that I have come from him.

I still can't really understand why we were valuable enough to God, that He would sacrifice His Son for us. I think it's because I'm a limited human being. But God is love. He created us and loved us, enough to do it. And, now, I am forgiven, set free from sin, saved to an eternal life in blessing and bliss with my God! I can only be eternally grateful.

My response to God's love:
Psalms 63:3 (CEV) Your love means more than life to me, and I praise you.

Romans 11:33-36 (ERV) Yes, God's riches are very great! His wisdom and knowledge have no end! No one can explain what God decides. No one can understand his ways. (34) As the Scriptures say, "Who can know what is on the Lord's mind? Who is able to give him advice?" (35) "Who has ever given God anything? God owes nothing to anyone." (36) Yes, God made all things. And everything continues through him and for him. To God be the glory forever! Amen.

Now for the application to our daily lives:

First, love God for what He has done for us! Worship and praise Him for who He is - LOVE! And for what He's done because of His love nature - SAVED US!

Second, love yourself. I don't mean in pride and arrogance, thinking that you are far superior over others. But I mean to see yourself as a unique creation, made specifically by God. That you have His life-giving breath in you. You may not look like a Hollywood movie star, but whatever you look like, God loves. He made you that way and He loves you just as you are. You are unique, different from any other human being that has ever existed. He made you!

Psalm 139: 13-18a (Amplified Version - AMP) (13) For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. (14) I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. (15) My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. (16) Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. (17) How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (18a) If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 (Amp) (4) Then the word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah], saying, (5) Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

God knows YOU! There is NOTHING that He doesn't know about you. He knows every hair on your head, every freckle on your skin, every wrinkle in your face. He knows every action you've ever done, all your motivations, every thought you've ever had, every life event you've gone through. He knows you for who you are... the real, unvarnished YOU! And He still sent His Son to die for YOU. Knowing you were a sinner, He loved you enough to sacrifice His Son for YOU! He cannot abide the sin we carry but He loves you so much that He provided a way to take away that sin burden and bring you back to Him, sinless and free! Once you accept Jesus as your Savior and trust in His saving death on the cross, God sees you as sinless and righteous as Jesus. Jesus took our place and took on all our sin so we could be sinless before our Father God, so we could become one of God's Children!

Love yourself as God loves you. Begin to remind yourself that you are now of royal birth, a child of the King of the Universe. One so loved that God gave His Son to save you. Love yourself as a unique creation of God.

Third, love others. They are also uniquely and lovingly crafted by the Father. He knit their DNA just like He did yours. He breathed His life-giving breath into them just as He did you. They are made in His image just as you are. They deserve respect as a creation of God. And, if they are saved, they deserve respect as a brother or sister in the Lord. As human beings, we will never get it all right or do all the right things and love is an attribute of God that we will struggle with since we are mere human beings. But we must try to love like He loves and the more we try, the better we get at it. Making fun of others, putting others down, mocking them, ridiculing and bullying another person is really making fun of God because He created them. It is really mocking, ridiculing and bullying Him as He is the artist who created that person. Who are we to say God made a mistake in creating another human being? As though God's creative work was not good enough? How dare we!?!

We should not be "haters". We should love the sinner without loving the sin, like God. A murderer is still a human being who deserves respect. Now he/she may have to pay the consequences of his/her sin (and in the Bible, the consequence for murder is the death penalty) but he/she still deserves a modicum of respect because they were created by God, unique and individual. Christ died to save them too. If they turn to God for forgiveness and salvation, they are saved and are our brothers/sisters in Christ. God prescribed the death penalty not to damn people but to keep order to save as many innocent people as can be saved from murderers. It is to bring order and security to the masses and protect us from each other. If we allow murderers to go free, then innocent people are at risk and we live in chaos. The same with war. Due to our sinful condition, wars are inevitable. If we are in it to try to establish peace again, as America has always done, then it is for the good of innocent people. Therefore, our military has to be able to kill. This does not excuse when someone in uniform loses control and does atrocities. Those should (and in America, they usually are) punishable by laws and court systems. But, if we are trying to establish peace for others and for ourselves, then sometimes it means war. It shouldn't be gone into lightly (and America doesn't) but if it has to be, it has to be and our military is called to do what the rest of us cannot. They do a job that is essential and put their lives on the line to do it. They deserve our respect.

God loves us and our enemies. Because they are humans He created, He loves them too. His ultimate desire is that all would accept Jesus as their Savior and be saved. Unfortunately, not all will and He knows who they are. He knew that I would accept Jesus and become His Child. He knew it before I was born. He also knows that Person X will not accept Jesus, even to their dying breath. They will refuse Him and His free gift of salvation. God knew that before they were born.

This week we had a tragic event in which a young person killed their father and then went on a school playground and opened fire on teachers and little children. A teacher and a child were hurt and a second child (6 years old) was killed. I've already heard people say that this killer should rot in hell. I can certainly understand their sentiments. It was so senseless and seemingly had no motive to kill that 6 yr old or hurt the others. As a human being, I also feel like reacting the same way. But then I felt convicted. I pray for those hurt, those traumatized and for the family of this 6 yr old because of their grief. I pray that all involved would come to know and accept Jesus as their Lord. But I had to realize that the killer is also loved by God and in need of salvation. If this killer turns to Jesus and asks for forgiveness, God will forgive them and they can be saved and spend eternity with God in heaven. It has to be sincere repentance and sincere believe and faith in God, but this killer can be saved. Knowing hell, as described in the Bible, I wouldn't want that for my worst enemy. So, I felt convicted for my anger and judgment. I pray for this killer. I pray that this sinner won't go to hell but will turn their heart to God. This person will have to pay the penalty for their sin but that doesn't mean they can't be saved. God can forgive even when we can't. This person needs to go through the court system that we have so that it's as equal and innocent/guilt proving as a human institution can be. Then they need to serve their time or be put to death as the law requires. But this person can be saved. They can be forgiven by God. I hope this young person is and that we will meet in heaven. Meanwhile I pray that we can also find it within ourselves to forgive them because it makes us a better people and releases us of the toxins of unforgiveness, bitterness and anger.

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