Aug21MonAugust 21, 2023
When darkness tries to roll over my bones
When sorrow comes to steal the joy I own
When brokenness and pain is all I know
I won't be shaken, no, I won't be shaken
Shame no longer has a place to hide
And I am not a captive to the lies
I'm not afraid to leave my past behind
Oh, I won't be shaken, no, I won't be shaken
(Verses 1 and 2 from Stand in Your love by Bethel Music)
Hello Beloved Ones,
There is an unshakeable anchor for the soul when times are tough – a tether that keeps us secure when life seems unbearable. It is a truth for the ages which God has revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. What is that truth? Simply, God loves us – me and you – and has demonstrated His love in a way that no one else has: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). While enemies of God, steeped in sin, blasphemous and rebellious, God in His great mercy reached down and chose us for salvation, reconciling us back to Himself through the blood Jesus, His Son shed on the cross. Friends, this glorious truth ought to be our meditation day and night! It was the great apostle Paul’s constant motivation through all that he endured. The love of God is what kept him in the game while he endured persecution, rejection, betrayal and all matter of pain and sorrow. I also am learning this, that it is God’s love that keeps us as an anchor when times are tough. It is easy to become bitter and angry with situations and people, but not so when I keep focused on the love of God in Christ Jesus. Paul was able to say, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5) According to the word of God, His love is in my heart. That means I have the power to forgive, to keep no record of wrongs, and to extend grace and love to others as God extended it to me in Christ Jesus, while I was undeserving of it. His love is in my heart! Why? Because God - Holy Spirit dwells there. While in prison for his faith and ministry of the gospel, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus these incredible words:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. 17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Eph. 3:16-19 NLT)
Paul’s focus while incarcerated for the gospel is not his current condition, it is the love of God. First, he states that inner strength comes from Holy Spirit, who is the source of love, and He is abiding in us. Secondly, Paul states that Jesus is in our hearts through faith, and it is the love of Christ we are to discover in ever greater measure. Thirdly, the pursuit of the love of Christ will lead to being “filled with all the fullness of God” which leads to life and power. What has Paul taught us…that when the trials come, our thoughts should not be on the people that hurt us, the brother who offended us, nor on how bad life is and how hard it is to follow Jesus. No, the meditation of our heart should be God’s great love for us! And by the way…God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all living on the inside of us! And if God is love (1John 4:8), true love indwells us!
Because God dwells in us, as does His love, can anything separate us from this love? Paul deals with that very question in Romans 8. First Paul states the great gospel truths that we are foreknown and predestined by God, called, justified and glorified – in other words…saved! If He saved us, He is for us, and if He is for us, who can be against? The conclusion is no one can be against because God purchased us with the blood of His Son – we don’t belong to the world, or satan or anyone from our past – we belong to God. Since we have been redeemed and forgiven and welcomed into God’s family as a son or daughter, no one can accuse us, bring a charge against us, nor condemn us! We are the elect and justified sons and daughters of God – How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!!! (1John 3:1). There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). Based on all that God has done for us and all that He says about our new identity in Christ, and the certainty of the finished work applied to us, Paul concludes as ought we, that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ…nothing! Not even the words and actions of people close to us…yes it may hurt, but it should not dislodge the anchor of God’s love. Why? Because my hope is not in people but in God who loves me! The need for approval and affirmation from people will lead to fear of rejection and people pleasing – that is bondage. Anchored in His love, nothing can move me….that is what Paul affirms in Romans 8. No accusation; no condemnation; no separation when one is standing in the love of God! Because of this security in His love and not in people, we are more than conquerors, who overcome every trial listed in verses 35-38. Paul concludes as ought we, when we really discover how much God loves us, that “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39 NLT). Based on the truth of God’s word, we can boldly declare with the author of the song “Stand in Your love”, “My fear doesn't stand a chance, when I stand in Your love”.
God’s love is what kept Paul going in life; it is also what kept Jesus going in His ministry. Both experienced lots of hardship – persecution, betrayal, and abandonment. We are encouraged as they were with this one truth – God the Father loves me, and nothing can separate me from His love.
Have a blessed week!
"Advancing the Kingdom of God by releasing Spirit-filled followers to serve Jesus in freedom and joy."