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Day 199

How to Feel God's Love for You

Wisdom Psalm 86:11-17
New Testament Romans 4:16-5:11
Old Testament Amos 6:1-7:17

Introduction

Robbie Williams’ evocative lyric in the song ‘Feel’ echoes the deep longing of the human heart: ‘I just wanna feel real love’. God wants you to feel his love for you. He wants you to accept his love in your heart. You can receive his love in a new way today.

I remember an occasion when our grandson, aged two, wanted to feel his father’s love. He raised both hands in the air and said, ‘Hugga Dadda’. My son picked up his son, lifted him into his arms, embraced him, kissed him and hugged him. It is a wonderful thing to hold a parent’s hand but an incomparably greater thing to have their arms wrapped around you. This is an illustration of the experience of God’s love.

You know that God loves you through the cross: ‘God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). You experience God’s love through the Holy Spirit: ‘God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us’ (5:5).

‘The whole Bible,’ St Augustine observes, ‘does nothing but tell of God’s love.’ Father Raniero Cantalamessa writes: ‘This is the message that supports and explains all the other messages. The love of God is the answer to all the “whys” in the Bible: the why of creation, the why of the incarnation, the why of redemption. If the written word of the Bible could be changed into a spoken word and become one single voice, this voice, more powerful than the roaring of the sea would cry out: “the Father loves you!” (John 16:27). Everything that God does and says in the Bible is love, even God’s anger is nothing but love. God “is” love!’

Wisdom

Psalm 86:11-17

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
        that I may rely on your faithfulness;
    give me an undivided heart,
        that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
        I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
        you have delivered me from the depths,
        from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
        ruthless people are trying to kill me—
        they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
        slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
        show your strength in behalf of your servant;
    save me, because I serve you
        just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
        that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
        for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Commentary

God’s love is great and personal

When you know the greatness of God’s love for you the response is worship: ‘I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever’ (v.12).

David knew it was the love of a personal God who cares for each individual. He writes, ‘For great is your love towards me’ (v.13a). Like David, you are God’s ‘dear, dear child!’ (v.16, MSG).

It is God’s nature to love. ‘But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love’ (v.15, MSG). He prays, ‘Make a show of how much you love me’ (v.17, MSG). He prayed, in the light of God’s love for him, for an ‘undivided heart’ (v.11b). He wanted to respond to God’s love for him by committing himself totally to God.

Prayer

Lord, you are compassionate and gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness (v.15). Thank you that your love for me is so great and so personal. Give me an undivided heart.

New Testament

Romans 4:16-5:11

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead —since he was about a hundred years old —and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Peace and Hope

5Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Commentary

God’s love is demonstrated and poured out

Do you believe that God really loves you? God’s love will never let you down; he will never stop loving you. His love for you is greater than your failings and he wants you to receive his love by faith.

Contrary to what many people think, God loves you and wants to give you life. He gives ‘life to the dead’ (4:17). God raised Jesus to life from the dead. One day all who have died, in Christ, will also be given resurrection life. In the meantime, Jesus said that he came so that you might experience life, and life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

Paul continues to describe Abraham’s faith. Abraham believed God’s promise that he and Sarah would have a child, even though it was no longer a human possibility.

We learn of Abraham that ‘no unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised’ (Romans 4:20–21, AMP). In other words, Paul reiterates, Abraham was justified by faith.

But justification by faith was not only for Abraham, ‘but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead’ (v.24). You too are justified by faith. ‘The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set right with God’ (v.25, MSG).

Paul moves on to speak of the staggering consequences of this fact. Because you are ‘justified by faith’, you have ‘peace with God’. You have ‘gained access’ to his presence (5:1–2, MSG). You can draw near to him and speak to him each day, knowing that there is no barrier between you and him.

‘There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles’ (v.3, MSG). We can rejoice in our sufferings: ‘Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us’ (vv.3–5).

God’s love has flooded your innermost heart. This experience of God’s love is deep and overwhelming. It is the regular ministry of the Holy Spirit to help you feel God’s love. If you have never had this experience of the Holy Spirit filling your innermost heart, I would encourage you simply to ask God to fill you now.

Paul has still more to say about God’s love. He says that even when you were against him, he sent Jesus to die for you. ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (v.8).

The essence of love is giving. The more the gift costs and the less the recipient deserves it, the greater the love involved.

This is how you know God loves you. The Father allowed his only Son to be taken from his embrace and sent to the cross. Even though we did not deserve it – we were ungodly sinners – Jesus died for us. God did not spare his own son. He loves you that much.

If God loves you so much, you can be certain that your future is secure. ‘If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life!’ (v.10, MSG).

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you love me so much that you died for me. I ask that you would, again, pour your love into my heart by the Holy Spirit, and help me to feel your deep love for me.

Old Testament

Amos 6:1-7:17

Woe to the Complacent

6Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
        and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
    you notable men of the foremost nation,
        to whom the people of Israel come!
2 Go to Kalneh and look at it;
        go from there to great Hamath,
        and then go down to Gath in Philistia.
    Are they better off than your two kingdoms?
        Is their land larger than yours?
3 You put off the day of disaster
        and bring near a reign of terror.
4 You lie on beds adorned with ivory
        and lounge on your couches.
    You dine on choice lambs
        and fattened calves.
5 You strum away on your harps like David
        and improvise on musical instruments.
6 You drink wine by the bowlful
        and use the finest lotions,
        but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
        your feasting and lounging will end.

The Lord Abhors the Pride of Israel

8 The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself —the Lord God Almighty declares:

    “I abhor the pride of Jacob
        and detest his fortresses;
    I will deliver up the city
        and everything in it. ”

9 If ten people are left in one house, they too will die. 10 And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn them asks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will go on to say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.”

    11 For the Lord has given the command,
        and he will smash the great house into pieces
        and the small house into bits.

    12 Do horses run on the rocky crags?
        Does one plow the sea with oxen?
    But you have turned justice into poison
        and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness —
    13 you who rejoice in the conquest of Lo Debar
        and say, “Did we not take Karnaim by our own strength? ”

    14 For the Lord God Almighty declares,
        “I will stir up a nation against you, Israel,
    that will oppress you all the way
        from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah. ”

Locusts, Fire and a Plumb Line

7This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. 2 When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small! ”

3 So the Lord relented.

“This will not happen,” the Lord said.

4 This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. 5 Then I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small! ”

6 So the Lord relented.

“This will not happen either,” the Sovereign Lord said.

7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos? ”

“A plumb line, ” I replied.

Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

    9 “The high places of Isaac will be destroyed
        and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;
        with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam. ”

Amos and Amaziah

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying:

        “‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
        and Israel will surely go into exile,
        away from their native land.’”

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom. ”

14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say,

    “‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
        and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says:

    “‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
        and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
    Your land will be measured and divided up,
        and you yourself will die in a pagan country.
    And Israel will surely go into exile,
        away from their native land. ’”

Commentary

God’s love and grief

Do you know that God’s anger is nothing but love? Here we see an example of that. God’s anger is directed towards ‘complacent’ leaders (6:1):

‘Woe to those who live in luxury
        and expect everyone else to serve them!
Woe to those who live only for today,
        indifferent to the fate of others!
Woe to the playboys, the playgirls,
        who think life is a party held just for them!
Woe to those addicted to feeling good – life without pain!
        those obsessed with looking good – life without wrinkles!
They could not care less
        about their country going to ruin’ (vv.4–6, MSG).

It is not so much that they enjoy the good things of life – none of which are sinful in themselves. Rather, it is because they don’t care about the state of the people of God. God hates pride and arrogance (vv.6,8) that fails to acknowledge our need of him and keeps us from experiencing his love for us and loving others as he loves them.

If the leaders had loved God’s people as God loved them, they would have grieved over their country going to ruin.

Amos was an example of someone who did care and did do something. He interceded for the people (7:1–6).

Amos was an ordinary person: ‘I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, “Go preach to my people Israel”’ (vv.14–15, MSG). God was not content to simply watch injustice flourish. He loves his people too much for that. He raised up Amos to warn them of the consequences of what they were doing and to call them to turn back to his ways.

Like Amos, let’s pray and intercede for our nation:

Prayer

‘Sovereign Lord, forgive!’ (v.2). In your great love, have mercy upon us. Thank you that you love your church and that you have power to bring life to the dead (Romans 4:24). Lord, we pray that you would raise up more people who hear your words and speak them with courage, power and love.

Pippa adds

Amos 6:4a

‘You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches.’

The chance would be a fine thing!

Verse of the Day

Psalm 86:13a

‘Great is your love towards me’.
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References

St Augustine, De Catechizandis Rudibus 1,8,4; PL 40, 319, quoted in Raniero Cantalamessa, Life in Christ (Liturgical Press, 2002) p.7.

Raniero Cantalamessa, Life in Christ (Liturgical Press, 2002) p.7.

Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, ‘Feel’, from Escapology (Chrysalis, 2002).

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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