- Beyond Worthiness
”God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.”-Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Many times our conception of God is too small. And our vision of God’s love for us is faulty. We think God loves us the way we love: based on performance, with ups and downs, depending on the day, the hour, the mood. God is so completely Other, that it can be hard for us as finite people to fathom the depths and constancy of His love for us.
The Bible tells us that God is love, so we can’t really separate our concept of God from the concept of unconditional love. Valentine’s Day is coming up, so in your journal today, write yourself a love letter from God’s point of view. If you need inspiration, go to the Psalms – there are many verses there about how important you are to God and how fervent His love is.
- Canyon Filled with God’s Love
“Jesus seeks us out. Whatever our poverty, whatever our pain, His plea to His people is, “Come now wounded, frightened, angry, lonely, empty, and I’ll meet you where you live. And I’ll love you as you are, not as you should be, because you’re never going to be as you should be…Do you really believe that He loves you…beyond worthiness and unworthiness…without caution, limit or regret? He can’t stop loving you. This is the Jesus of the Gospels.” -Brennan Manning
Jesus meets you where you are, as you are. He accepts you as you are. If you have problems focusing when you pray during your quiet time today, place an empty chair beside you and mentally place Jesus in the chair. See the love and compassion in His eyes as He looks at you, His delight that you have taken time to spend with Him. Tell Him what’s on your heart: your fears and worries, your concerns, and how much He means to you.
Today in your journal, write God a love letter.
- Meets You Where You Are
I pray that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you.-Ephesians 3:17b-19
Imagine that you are rock climbing in the Grand Canyon.
You are dwarfed by everything around you. You can’t see the top of the wall you are climbing; you can’t see the bottom. You might feel a little insignificant in that situation, as well as a little scared. But if you imagine that huge canyon filled with God’s passionate love for you, you won’t feel insignificant at all, but cherished, treasured, and safe.
In your journal today, write adjectives that describe how God feels about you. If you need help, go to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (the love passage), and replace the word “love” with the word “God”.
- You Are Forgiven
The parable of the Prodigal Son is familiar to many people. Most of us can relate to the prodigal son. We’ve made poor choices and turned from God and His constant love. It can be hard sometimes to remember that those are forgiven and covered by God’s grace. I sometimes will remember some stupid thing I did or said over twenty years ago, and will feel so guilty, until God reminds me that sin is forgiven, and He doesn’t remember it anymore.
One of the most powerful moments in liturgy for me is when the pastor says, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” That moment is so freeing for me.
Today, in your journal, if there are some poor decisions in your past that still trouble you, write phrases to represent those decisions in your journal. Then take a red crayon and write the word, “forgiven” over all of those.
If you are secure in having been forgiven, write God a thank-you note for His encompassing forgiveness.
- His Love Endures Forever
Yesterday, we thought about how we were similar to the Prodigal Son. Today, let’s think about how we are similar to the elder brother in the story, who got mad that his father threw a party for the returned prodigal.
“He said to his father, ‘Look, for all these years I have worked like a slave for you. I have always done what you told me to do, and you never gave me even a young goat for a party with my friends. But then this son of yours comes home after wasting your money on prostitutes, and you kill the best calf for him!’”
Tim Keller, in his book The Prodigal God, says, “The elder brother’s problem is his self-righteousness, the way he uses his moral record to put God and others in his debt to control them and get them to do what he wants. His spiritual problem is the radical insecurity that comes from basing his self-image on achievements and performance, so he must endlessly prop up his sense of righteousness by putting others down and finding fault.”
We get in trouble when we find ourselves trying to earn God’s favor, or when we catch ourselves comparing our spiritual walk with others’. In your time with God today, ask Him to reveal any areas of pride in your life. Confess those and receive His forgiveness.
In your journal today, write the first couple of verses from Psalm 136, and the personalize it by filling in the blanks with things God has done for you:
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.His love endures forever.
To him who ____________________ His love endures forever.
Who __________________________ His love endures forever.
And who _______________________ His love endures forever.
- God is Crazy About Me
Imagine that you are living in first century Israel. You’ve heard about Jesus, the young preacher who is travelling around talking about God and doing miracles. Suddenly, your neighbor runs in and tells you Jesus is in town and is on his way to your house to see you.
What is your first response?
If you’re like me, it’s dismay, because my house is usually not tidy. I would run around tidying as much as I could to get ready before Jesus arrives. And I would feel nervous, because, you know, Jesus is coming.
Once we really absorb the fervency and constancy of God’s passion for us, I think in that situation, we would feel only joy and delight, because Jesus would be there to see us, not write His name in the dust on the coffee table.
Today in your journal, write, “God is crazy about me even though…” and then list all the things you feel insecure about.
- A Reckless Love
“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy I cannot find in my own And He keeps His fire burning To melt this heart of stone Keeps me aching with a yearning Keeps me glad to have been caught In the reckless raging fury That they call the love of God.”
Rich Mullins, lyrics to “The Love of God”
This song has been running through my head lately as I’ve been writing these devotionals. The way Rich describes the love of God is this song is so evocative: A reckless raging fury. A reckless love doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I see the image of the father in the Prodigal Son parable, lifting up his robe so he can run faster to be with his son. He didn’t care what other people thought to see this old man running. He just wanted to be with his son. And God wants to be with you.
All of us want to be more like Jesus. To be filled with His love. This will come through spending time with Him. In your journal, write down any changes you want to make so that you spend time every day with God, soaking in His love for you.
Written by Terri Welch, Drama Coordinator and Production Assistant at Cypress United Methodist Church