Speaking of God’s generous

I have been trying to see God’s generosity (Him doing more than I need) in my life. And it occurred to me that I was quick to forget His greatest act of generosity.

We needed forgiveness. We needed redemption, but surely we didn’t need to be adopted, to become children and heir. That is more than generosity. It is a crazy generosity. He gave us what we needed and didn’t deserve (we call it grace), and then give us what we would not have dreamt of.

Grace can be difficult to understand and to accept, but that kind of generosity is just impossible to understand. Some may accept it, but for me, it is not even about accepting that gift, it is about believing and standing in awe. No wonder without faith, we cannot please Him.

Doubting God’s love and grace is natural. Not doubting is faith. It is supernatural. And it is what is required from us. It is what we bring in the equation of salvation. We are saved by grace through faith because God’s holy love is beyond understanding.

In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:4-14 NIV)

What a love!

He is generous, not stingy

Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. (Romans 10:12 NLT)

When I read this verse this week, I was astonished. It was as if I have never read it before. Other translations don’t say “generous”, but “richly blesses” for the NIV, “bestowing his riches” for the ESV, “abounding in riches” for the NASB, etc.  So when I read Romans 10 in French on Monday, it was just like the first time. The version french I read says “generous”. It was God telling me, “You see, it is time for you to believe me.” Because, you see, I had a hard time trusting God’s generosity. I could see Him meeting my needs, but giving me only exactly what I need, not more.

Generosity can be described as “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected.” So God being generosity means that He is ready to give us more than we need. He is so generous that He didn’t wait for me to become mature or spiritual enough to trust His generosity blindly, but showed me in His word, in what I know is true, that He is generous. And to read it makes all the difference. I cannot question it, cannot argue with Him because I know He never lies and is reliable.

So what does God’s generosity mean for us, for our daily life?

Only this: “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18 ESV).

One more reason to run to Him.

 

 

Love so high!

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5: 6-11 ESV)

What a love! It is not just about being loved without reasons, it is about being loved despite all reasons. We were sinners, unrighteous. We had no desire to be with God, no desire to do His will, no desire to glorify His name, and He decided to find a way to be with us. He decided that He would fight for us and paid the price required to save us and bring us under the canopy of His love.

That is love! I confess I don’t understand God’s love most of the time. I don’t understand why and how He does what He does. My life seems to be an example of Romans 11:33, “ Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” But when I doubt, when the ground shakes under my feet, remembering that He loved me that way, when I was against Him, quiets me.

That is what His love does. That is true love. A love despite and even if. A love that takes the initiative, always.

No reason to love

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Genesis 25:28 ESV)

We know exactly why Isaac loved Esau. He loved him because of what Esau could give him. But we don’t know why Rebekah loved Jacob. Maybe it was because he was a quiet man. Maybe because he spent a lot of time with her. Or maybe she just loved him. The Bible gives us no reason for her love. Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for game and Rebekah just loved Jacob.

The way Rebekah loved Jacob reminds me of God’s love. Why does God love us? Why does He love you? Because of… There are just no reasons given for God’s love. Concerning the Israelites, God says: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

So God loves us for no reason, which means there is nothing we can do that will cause Him to stop loving us. His love depends on Him, and only Him. If you are brilliant, spiritual and beautiful, He loves you for no reason. If you are none of those, He still loves you for no reason. He Just loved you. And that is why Jesus died for us while we were God’s enemies. But that is another story for another day.

Worth more than many sparrows

There are so many important things in this world, and when we compare the very details of our lives to them, they seem so meaningless. In the midst of all the catastrophes our world faces every day, in the midst of all the sufferings people go through, who can possibly care about how many hairs you have on your head? God does.

Because we think that the small things that fill our days are not of so great significance, we don’t even think of mentioning them to God. Why pray about details when there is more important at stake? So we pray for what we think God cares about, and we keep living burdened and tired because we are not doing the very thing that would set us free and give us rest.

God is the Lord of the universe. He controls stars and seasons; sets up kings and removes them; deals with angels and nations. Yes, it is the God of big things. But if He were only that, He wouldn’t be God. He is God because He controls even the most meaningless things that happen in this universe. He takes care of the tiny details of our lives. If He knows the number of your hairs, be sure that He knows your smallest dreams and cares. And because He wants you to be sure of it, He asks you to cast all your cares on Him, not the biggest one, not those that seem decent, all of them. From your weight issues to your singleness, from your work problems to your cravings, God wants to hear about them all. He cares about them all.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10: 29-31 BSB)

A God who runs

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.(Luke 15:18-20 ESV)

I don’t know what you think about God, but I know that sometimes, many times, I have hard thoughts about Him. It is as if somewhere in the depth of my heart, I always have some doubts about His goodness. I cannot just see it, understand it: a God who runs to me because He loves me.

If I were an outstanding woman of faith, I would understand. But I am just like the other heroes of the Bible, weak, messy, and fearful. And I doubt. I doubt because I give Him no reasons to rejoice over Him, but He says He does. I doubt because He does not need me but want me. I doubt because how could He wants me, seriously? It just does not make sense.

But in the depth of my heart, I also know that it is true; that as incredible that it is, His love is the real thing. I know He is good and merciful, gracious and full of compassion, and He runs. When I come back to Him, ashamed of who I am, He runs to me. No questions asked, just His arms around me.

The Holy Spirit made it clear: the love of Christ surpasses knowledge. So we need to pray that we will understand it. There is no other way. So I pray for me, I pray for you, that we will understand that incredible love more and more and more.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Self-esteem according to Christ(3)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

God planned and created us and we rebelled against Him. We decided that we knew better and betrayed Him. Doing that, we ruined His workmanship, us. But God has a plan, another one. He planned to make us holy and blameless and to adopt us.

That means God loved us so much that He found a solution to a problem we created, our separation from Him. It means God wanted us so much that He found a way to put our betrayal and our rebellion behind. And He made sure that we would not destroy everything again by forgiving us, giving us a new relationship with Him through Christ. Because of Christ and in Christ,  our relationship with God does not depend on our righteousness.

Moreover, He did not just plan all of that for the humans, but He chose us. He planned all of that for each of us individually. He said, “This is my plan for Kelly. “; ” This is my plan for Anne.” And I guarantee you that if the general plan is the same for all, details differ from people to people. Because our God knows us and loves us personally.

So do you feel that you don’t measure up? Oh, you don’t. But Christ does and that is enough. The Love of God is enough. He knew who you were, all you are, and everything you will be, but chose you. And He is not ashamed of you.

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers… (Hebrews 2:11)

 

 

Self-esteem (2)

Have you ever looked in the mirror and hated what you saw? Have you ever looked at your personality and wished you were different? If you are a little like me, you did. The good news for all of us who don’t like much who we are and what we see in us is that how we feel about us does not change who we are. We are people created according to a plan and a purpose.  We are not accidents. Who we are did not come about by chance. True, we live in a fallen word and our sins disfigure the perfect workmanship of God that we are.However, that does not change who made us, how and why. Created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), we were planned. God thought of us, of how we ought to be before our conception.

The next time you feel worthless, the next time you are treated like the bottom of the barrel and think it is normal, remember who made you. Remember that you are not a mere accident. Remember His purpose. No one will never be able to take that away from you. Remember who you look like. Remember and rejoice. Remember and give thanks.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

Self-esteem according to Christ(1)

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. (Isaiah 62:3)

Self-esteem or confidence in one’s own worth or abilities is very trendy. How we assess our worth, how we judge ourselves and our attitude toward us are deemed to be the reason we success or fail.

I have a very low self-esteem and many people tried to help me view myself differently in the past. I tried different things on my own. But even if there were some improvements, there was no radical change.  Then Christ came into that weakness of mine. He began to teach me what true self-esteem was and how to assess myself.

He told me things as:

  • You are a sinner.
  • You can do nothing apart for me.
  • Everything you have (skills, qualities, beauty), you received them.
  • You are an unworthy servant.
  • You are undeserving.

But also:

  • I planned you.
  • I chose you.
  • I love you with an everlasting love.
  • You are the apple of my eyes.
  • I died out of love for you.
  • I will never forsake you or leave you alone.
  • Through me, you can do anything.

It is not always easy to believe those last truths. But I know that when I completely do, I will be able to walk with my head held high, outside and inside.

Yes, my success and my failure depend on my self-esteem, but not on a self-esteem based on my abilities or qualities, on a self-esteem based on who Christ is and on whom I am in Him.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

 

 

Beauty-giver?

Months ago, I decided to bring beauty in this world instead of complaining about the ugliness of everything. I decided to be a beauty-giver. But I quickly learned that there is a big difference between dreaming of being a beauty-giver when lying on my couch and giving beauty.

When my coworkers began to bully me, I locked myself into my fears, making things even worse. No beauty came from that.  When I had to keep going to work even though things were getting worse, I let my fears lead me on roads of loneliness and stress. I could not see God, His love, His care in the midst of oppression.

Then God reminded me of who I was. I was His, meaning I am never alone. He is always there and there is a great big family around me. I don’t think so many people have ever prayed for me before. People have been praying for me from all around the world. And beauty I was not able to give has come to me through words of encouragement and grace, through other’s testimonies, faith, strength, and trust. I am easily frightened by what is frightening, but I have an army carrying me beyond fears and threats. I am not alone. I am a citizen of heaven and a member of the family of God, and for that, my heart is filled with gratitude, and I can smile, and through it bring beauty into this world.

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:17-22)

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:3-6)