Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – God and You

This week the MDB articles will be written by my dear friend, Shane Blackmer. Thanks Shane!


17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17-19 NKJV)

The depth of God’s love is that it can receive and cover the sins of EVERY repentant sinner EVERY time!  What does this realization do to how we handle our relationships?

Over the past several months I have been challenged in my relationships at home and at work.  I know I am not alone is this.  All of us are challenged as husbands, fathers, brothers, neighbors, professionals…to fulfill our responsibilities, to love unconditionally despite disappointment and sorrow.  It seems we often view people for how they hurt us.  We have trouble getting past it.  We can’t forgive, forget, trust, grow…this seems like a natural response and challenge.  Further, what seems natural to us men is to “fix it”.  We try to go after the relationship problems and either fix the “issue” or even worse “the other person”.  This is a trap…and a lot of times everyone loses.  So what should we do?

I have learned that in my life I have spent a great deal of time thinking and worrying about what other people think and feel.  Don’t get me wrong…having a genuine concern for others and humbling ourselves in relationships is not a bad thing.  The trouble starts when we become solely focused on the other person or lose perspective on the relationship.  If we have an outward perspective, we are missing the most important relationship…our relationship with God.

Do you believe that this relationship is the most important?  Do you believe that if this relationship is broken all other relationships suffer?  Do you believe we can completely miss this and spend all of our time working on the wrong relationships?  I do.  I have!  What I should do is come to the realization David did:

4Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. (Psa. 51:4 NKJV)

In doing this, I can first get my most fundamental and important relationship right…be reconciled with my Heavenly Father so that I am in a position to be reconciled to my wife, children, brethren, colleagues, etc.  What this does is takes all the judgment, condemnation, resentment I feel for others and turns it inward.  I acknowledge first and foremost I am a sinner…we all are!  Yet, when we sin, come to ourselves, confess, and repent…God forgives us!  And a life forgiven is a life worth living and an empowered life in which we can forgive and love others.

And here is the kicker…God forgives me every time I ask Him with a repentant heart.  Think about that for a minute.  Think about all times you sin in a day.  Think about how many people there are on this planet.  Think about all the times we sin in a day…billions of times…and God is ready to forgive every one of them.  Is that not a deep love?

If we think about that…about how God is the first person rejected in every relationship that is in err…and He is willing and able to forgive every time…won’t that change the way we see conflict in our relationships.  Won’t we come to understand that no matter how much another person hurts us…it is no more than how much we hurt our Father every day.  Won’t we see the grace, mercy, love, and hope we have with our Father despite this terrible wrong we have committed…and think about how we might have that same kind of heart for others?

If we do, we can go from being hurt “because of” someone else and go to being hurt “for” someone else.  We realize that we are all struggling to make our way through this life and we are all rejecting our Father and bringing great grief upon ourselves.  So let’s do our part to bring Him back to the center of our relationships by ensuring He is in the center of our individual lives.

With this in mind, let’s spend the week looking at Psalm 32 (read Psalm 51 too…they go great together) and consider how David figured this out…because he didn’t get it right at first.  He struggled with trying to deal with his sin alone…the influence this had on his relationships…and how he came to repentance, confession and forgiveness and how much more effective he could be as a husband, father…as a man in the world.

We can’t expect our relationships to improve if we haven’t worked on our first relationship…with God.  Once I come to that realization, that we have first sinned against our Father and He is faithful to forgive me, I am well positioned to work on other relationships and demonstrate the same love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and hope…so let’s start with us and get that right first.  Looking forward to a great week with you.

Soot

Soot – by Jason Salyers

Many years ago, while working at mail facility, I received a piece of advice, “before you go home, make sure to blow your nose.” I thought that was pretty strange at the time, but after wading into semi-truck and tossing out box after box, I took the advice and decided I would blow my nose. Amazingly enough, black, sooty material filled the Kleenex. As a matter of fact, I had to blow my nose for 2-3 minutes just to get all of the soot out. I was not by definition soot, but carbon material that comes off of the cardboard boxes rubbing against each other.

Recently, I encountered the exact same experience at a small bedroom fire. The area had been officially cleared, there was only a light haze present, and respirators were not required. Assisting a few patients we cleared the scene and headed back to the station. I felt pretty stuffy and blew my nose, there was so much soot I was stunned! In just a few brief moments, exposure occurred to substances that can hurt or even kill an individual if they are left unattended.

In Eph. 4 Paul tells the Ephesian brethren 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ (4:17-19)!” AT the beginning of this chapter, Paul says “walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called …” To WALK the correct way, the Ephesians had to NO LONGER WALK as the Gentiles do – in the futility of mind, with darkened understanding, and hardened hearts. Instead, the Ephesians were told “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (:23-24).”

Paul then refers to very practical things which can and will get the Ephesians in trouble: Falsehood, Anger, Theft, Corrupting Speech, Bitterness, Slander, and Malice.

These things are soot. We need to recognize their effects on us as they surround us. We need to realize they do in fact surround us, they do in fact dwell readily and easily in this world, AND WE ARE EXPOSED TO THEM. We have the ability to remove these from our lives (such is the gift of God), but we have to take an active/conscious approach in their extraction.

The Walks of Ephesians

Today let us meditate upon the walks of Ephesians.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

If you are a Christian, then God has created you in Christ Jesus for good works. We are a new creation! We were dead in sins, saved by the grace of God and cleansed by His blood. Through Christ we were raised up to sit in heavenly places, and now we have a God-given purpose. God wants us to walk a new walk…His walk. But just like we are taught to walk by our parents, we are being taught by God to walk in His works. He planned and designed these works from eternity for us.

The Walks of Ephesians

Read or listen to Ephesians 4-5. Meditate today on the walk of the Christian man.

Walk worthy (Ephesians 4:1-16). When we weigh in our hearts everything that God has done for us in Christ (see Ephesians 1-3), it should stir us up to give every last ounce of energy to this walk. Take note that Paul wrote this letter as a “prisoner of the Lord.” He gave every fiber of his being to Jesus. So should we.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.

Don’t walk like the world anymore (Ephesians 4:17-32). Paul makes a clear contrast in the book of Ephesians between our former life and our new life. There should be a distinct difference.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,

Walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-7). As Christ also has loved us. That is our pattern, model and example for love. Follow those footprints.

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8-14). God spoke to our hearts and said, “Let there be light” (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus said we are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:16). Others around us who are still walking in darkness must see this light (Philippians 2:15). When we walk as children of light, we expose the darkness for what it is (Eph. 5:11).

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15-21). Circumspectly means literally to look all around you. Be careful, watchful and vigilant. We are fighting a war against Satan and the hosts of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). This is not a time to have our heads in the sand, is it?

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.