Read Jesus Is “Here” chapter 11 & 12.
“Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything new?”
1. Don’t Count The Ways You Love God, Count the Ways He love You.
In this week’s chapters Judah Smith talks about the story of Lazarus dying and how his sisters had to call on Jesus and get him there. They knew the way to appeal to him was to say, “The one you love is sick.” It was such a refreshing reminder when Judah Smith says that when we pray we should say, “Lord the one you love, xyz.”
God did none of this because we are “good people.” [We all know how much I’m against that saying.] He didn’t send his son to die for us because we have some awkward list of achievements and think it will impress him. We’ve discussed that what impresses him is us loving his Son & therefore when we call on him let’s just remind ourselves in the process how much he loves us.
I think that John 3:16 is a verse that we learn so young, that the meaning becomes watered down. We forget all the ways God loves us, and how he went to such an extreme to give us an example.
God did not send his Son to be our savior and then be crucified so that we would have a holiday once a year [Easter] in remembrance.
But God sent his Son to be our savior for so many reasons, all of which are backed by love. And a huge reason was so that we would understand how to love and what love is. He sent us a direct model and basically said, “You are all my favorites. I love you so much that I want you to see how I’m sending my son to walk amongst you, die for you, save you and so when you question if other people love you, you have a model.
That might sound extreme, but after reading this chapter my girlfriend came over. We were sitting on the couch having our usual weekly girl talk and the discussion got brought up about how a guy she was dating had said he loved her. He’d been hot & cold their whole relationship and she couldn’t really figure out if what he had said was true. We went over all the hot & cold details [You know, the usual ones. A guy is obsessed with you. Then some days are off and he doesn’t really say much.] We’d give this guy an excuse and then 5 minutes later be going over something he did poorly again.
Finally it hit us. I said, “God did not send Jesus to this Earth so that we would be confused about what love is.”
God loves us in SO MANY ways and The Bible is this guide with stories that says, “Hey so one time this happened and look what God did!” And if it seems like someone else’s love is a far stretch from the purity of God’s then we are able to know that’s probably not what he intended.
God sent his Son, so that we would know all the ways in which he loves us. God’s love is so much greater than our accomplishments, so when we need to call on him let’s keep that the focus. His love > Me.
2. “We Need To Be in Awe of God, Not Our Problems.”
Jesus said, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It’s a lovely thought, but definitely not our first when we go through problems. When we bought this house and I moved in and EVERYTHING broke the first two weeks I did not sit and say, “Lord!!! You are with us! I feel you in this place! I feel you so much that must be why the repairs cost more than our downpayment! That must be why!” It was a little bit more like, “Uhhhh Lord. Did you see what we just did? Do you see how expensive this is? Lord are you missing a couple of zeros on the bill when you look down from heaven?”
But problems go deeper than physical ones of bills or home problems. We all have problems that relate to people and human beings. Last week at church we talked about divorce and relationships. The pastor said, “I know you see me standing here and you think, ‘But you don’t know how bad my situation is!’ and I’m here to ask why you are putting more faith in sin than the power of Jesus Christ to change a situation.
Woah. Y’all. Woah.
Lord the one you love is guilty of that about a million times over. I.e. ME.
When we face a difficult situation let’s regain focus and perspective on him. Let’s stop looking at the consequences we are facing from an issue and look to him to change. We as believers call on him in stress to fix a situation and then spend then next 5 hours worrying about Earthly solutions. God changes circumstances. God changes hearts. So instead of us focusing on the magnitude of the problem, let’s focus on the magnificence of our constant solution: Him.
3. No Matter What We Go through, God is With Us & He is For Us
In this section Judah Smith says, “So no matter what I go through, he is with me and he is for me. Even if it doesn’t make sense, he is with me and he is for me. Even if I can’t cross every t and dot every i, he is with me and he is for me. No matter what anybody says, he is with me and he is for me. No matter what my emotions tell me, no matter what my bodily aches and pains tell me, no matter what my bank account tells me, he is with me and he is for me. He is on my side.”
And just like last week with the Pastor, it’s so easy to respond to this and say, “But why did this have to happen?!”
We view our circumstances as lessons we have to learn from God. I say this all the time about my mom [and IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!]
“My mom has never done anything wrong to deserve this sickness. I can’t even understand what lesson God would be teaching her.”
God doesn’t sit on his throne and think, “Ugh, XYZ has been a bit rude to her parents lately. Let’s give her a slice of humble pie. Okay so she is going to get some devastating news. She will cry. And I think by 7:30 her attitude will be in check.”
He sits in heaven with such love and compassion for us that he has us become like his Perfect Son, Jesus. Our job is to become like Jesus. And sometimes the chisel that molds us into him hurts.
I’ll be the first to admit I show my compassion through actions and not words. I’m loyal and if you get sick I’ll be the person to come over at 2 in the morning to take care of you. But I probably won’t know what to say to you [sometimes I’m awkward] and you might even think I don’t care if Im not around, which is the furthest from the truth! But it’s something I have got to get better at. And while my mom has been sick the past few months I’ve been given this opportunity to become more like Jesus and show compassion verbally.
It was a few months in her treatment that my mom said, “I know you come over and take care of so much for me, but could you sometimes just ask me a few more questions about how I’m feeling?” I was a little thrown off. I thought, “But I picked up my sister from school, got her medicine, made dinner, ran her errands. How does she not see I care?”
But to be more like Jesus would be to show compassion in every single way through words, through actions and through prayer. And this chisel [my mom’s sickness] while SO painful, is teaching our entire family how to be more like him. And the only way it is working is because God is with us and for us every single day. He is with us and for us at her doctor’s appointments even when we don’t hear what we want. He is with us and for us when she feels better. And he is with us and for us when we start to see changes in each other that allow us to love each other like the model God sent us: Jesus.
1. Do you think it’s more difficult to count the ways God loves us because we don’t humanly understand or because we think it comes across as vain?
2. Why do you think it’s easier to be in awe of our problems than it is to be in awe of God?
3. If you are comfortable sharing, have you had any moments lately where the chisel molding you into Jesus seems to be so painful you think God isn’t with you or for you?
I’m all for good discussion! I’m a human. I’m not perfect. So none of what I wrote was perfect, either. If you disagree with me or someone who comments below please respond with kindness! We all allow barriers in our minds to come down and see other viewpoints when our comments are coming from a place of love, not pride.
Be sure to read Jesus Is Alive for next week!