Friday, September 5, 2014

The Lord Loves You

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I was thinking this morning about a time in Youth Camp where I made a special commitment: to completely surrender to the will of God. I felt so close to the Lord at that moment. It was a “high” of sorts, the likes of which I have rarely experienced since. Perhaps you have had that kind of experience when you, too, felt exceptionally close to Jesus.

As great as those moments can be, they are unsustainable. God didn’t create us with the capacity to remain on such a “high” as that. The feelings subside and often we find ourselves longing for that feeling to return. Unfortunately, some Christ followers misinterpret the lack of feeling; they suppose the Lord doesn’t care for them or love them any longer.

The Israelites experienced those same feelings. They had been in Babylonian captivity for 70 years until God did something huge! He rescued them, and they returned home. And just like my “camp experience,” they felt a closeness to God: they were overjoyed and worshipped God because He had shown His love for them by taking them home. 

The next thing in the storyline is a nation of people that worshipped the Lord like never before. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story: they rebuilt the Temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the walls around the city. And, hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, some of their worship services lasted ALL DAY! On certain occasions, Ezra literally preached for hours on end, and the people fell on their faces to repent and worship God. They felt close to Him. They felt loved by God. 

Then the inevitable happened. You guessed it, the feelings wore off. After all the excitement, work, and worship, Israel began to feel that God hadn’t shown up for a while, therefore, He didn’t love them anymore. God had to speak to them and He asked them a serious question, “I have loved you, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’” [Malachi 1:2]

The audacity of their question is beyond credulity. They questioned the love of the God who called them as a nation, who redeemed them from Egyptian bondage with a mighty show of strength, and who had just set them free from the mighty Babylonians! But before we rebuke them, let’s remember that their sentiment is normal. I think all of us can relate to those feelings. In fact, some among us may be feeling that way right now!

God has a word for anyone with feelings of doubt and abandonment. It is simply this, Remember what I have done for you! 

If you are feeling far away from God’s love: 

* Remember that Jesus died for you 
* Remember that He saved you by His grace and nothing else 
* Remember that the Lord is no farther away from you now than the last time you felt close to Him 

I have loved you, says the LORD. But you ask: “How have You loved us?” Malachi 1:2a

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