Staggering Bible Truths About Godís Love
And How to Believe Them

Grantley Morris

Knowing Godís Love

Deep Bible Revelation

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What Makes This So Important

What if your walk with God and your theological knowledge exceeds that of everyone else on this planet? Even then, it is my conviction that you can increase still further your daily awareness of how special you are to God and how stupendously he loves you, and that the spiritual benefits flowing from that increase are beyond measure.

Although warm and easy to read, the following is neither superficial nor trite. If, outside this website, there is anything quite like it, I have not encountered it. It is a concerted effort to uncover and resolve everything that could be holding you back from the deeper awareness that will not just make life more enjoyable and easier but will heighten your enthusiasm for God and your spiritual fruitfulness. The exhilaration and transformation resulting from soaring higher than ever in your appreciation of how much the Perfect One loves you is magnified still more when your love for your divine Lover (and even for your enemies) skyrockets. There is experiential and biblical evidence that maximizing our consciousness of Godís love maximizes our potential to fulfil the greatest of all spiritual duties and privileges Ė to love God and everyone else (Outline of the Evidence).

Your Maker treasures your individuality and understands you like no one else does. With him as my inspiration I recoil from being so ignorant or disrespectful as to force the same introduction on everyone.

The rest of the introduction is for most of us but for it to be tailored to your needs, please click either of these links if they apply to you:

To say God loves you is like saying the surface of the sun is hot. You are loved to mind-boggling extremes. Nothing is more thrilling and fulfilling than glimpsing more of the enormity of Godís love for you. It is a never-ending adventure of discovery that liberates and transforms everyone it touches. Not surprisingly, I have devoted many webpages to this glorious subject. Each is crammed with Scripture, because Bible truths in a webpage about God are as critical as girders on a bridge. Everyone deserves a life built on things far more solid than someone saying, ďI feel . . .Ē or, ďI had this experience . . .Ē

Search long and hard enough and you will uncover exhilarating, life-changing attempts to describe the indescribable Ė indeed, inexplicable Ė love of God. These breathtakingly inspired masterpieces that apply specifically to you are found hiding in often unexpected corners of the Bible, especially the Old Testament. So why not have a webpage devoted exclusively to displaying my cherished collection of these Bible quotes?

There is little point saying anything about God unless it is thoroughly biblical, and astonishing truths about Godís love are so utterly founded on Godís own Word that I resolved to help you zero in on this by crafting a webpage devoted exclusively to profoundly moving Bible quotes about Godís love.

Instead, to my dismay, it ended up awash with my words. All those Bible quotes remain warmly tucked into the following but adding my dribble to Godís eternal word is like sprinkling glitter on a display of priceless gems. Iím so embarrassed that I feel forced to tell you what happened.

While organizing my gallery of quotes, the nagging realization grew to unavoidable levels that although some of the Scriptures I planned to unveil are not well known, the biggest issue for most of us is not unfamiliarity with the Bibleís words but with having not yet experienced the full impact of those words. My many webpages about Godís love might be easy to read but they are hard to believe. Even highly committed Christians find themselves repeatedly tempted to think that the full extent of Godís tenderness, endless love and compassion seems just too good to be true.

For a sizable portion of what became a prolonged, prayer-soaked writing process, I felt uncomfortable about a webpage I had intended to be devoted to Bible quotes now containing more and more of my own words. My distress was intensified by the acute awareness that the Bible is infinitely more important than anything I can ever say. Nevertheless, our Lord kept blessing me with such insights that the conviction has solidified that this webpage is what he wants. In fact, it is sorely needed.

All the Scriptures I intended to showcase continue to be proudly displayed below but, as your servant, I feel obligated to alert you to significant blockages to receiving these precious truths deeper into your heart. Additionally, I will seek to amplify your understanding of these Scriptures. There is, of course, no deficiency in the Bible. It is simply that it can take years of deep Bible study to uncover key biblical truths that, in turn, empower us to unlock other biblical truths Ė in this case, unlock biblical revelation about the exact nature of Godís love for you. If showing you parts of the Bible that contain these keys can speed your journey of discovery, I feel duty-bound to do so.

We will explore many different challenges that could stop us from grasping how loved we are, but permit me to use a marital example to illustrate how profoundly a blockage can affect us. Suppose your marriage partner were utterly faithful to you and loved you fervently, but someone convinced you that your partner is having an affair. No matter what loving things your partner says and does, your ability to feel loved would be crippled for as long as you continued to believe that lie. It turns out that there are many lies about God that for almost all of us seem to ring true.

Of course, you can skip my words if you prefer, but what you should not skip is prayer. I suggest your prayer should contain the elements of three of the Bibleís prayers:

    Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of your law.

    Ephesians 3:14,17-19  . . . I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know Christís love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    Mark 9:24  . . . I believe. Help my unbelief!

In other words, ďLord, open my mind to spiritual truth like never before. As I read your words, help me not to let them bounce off but to take them to heart. Help me grasp how relevant they are to me. Help me take it by faith that no matter what tricks my feelings play, Ďyour word is truthí (John 17:17; Psalm 19:7-9; Psalm 119:151) and applies to me.Ē

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Things that Stop Divine Truth from Impacting Us

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Setting the Scene

Dare to imagine loneliness stabbing your heart with perpetual agony. Suddenly, in the midst of your ceaseless torment, a stranger approaches who is so stunningly attractive that he/she seems like the fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams. The strangerís eyes light up at the sight of you and the first words dripping from his/her gorgeous lips are, ďI love you.Ē

No matter how desperate you are for love, instead of instantly letting yourself by swallowed by ecstasy, your mind should flood with questions. What, precisely, does this amazing stranger mean by those words and how honest and sincere is he/she in uttering them? Is he/she some sort of fruitcake or a con artist? Is he/she yearning for life-long devotion or a sordid fling? How much is his/her view of you built on presumptions and superficial impressions that will crash when he/she knows you better?

We all long for shortcuts but the truth is that discovering how someone really feels about us is a long process. We must listen intently to what a person says but to know if we can trust those words and be certain we have understood what he/she means by them, we must get to know him/her deeply. Itís the only way to be sure of anyoneís honesty, integrity, dependability, the purity of his/her motives, and so on. Our quandary then becomes whether we are willing to put so much effort into getting that close to someone when he/she could turn out to be a dud.

If we really knew how in love with us God is, we would not only be ecstatic, we would be as eager as the most star-struck lover to devote every available moment interacting with him, luxuriating in his presence and getting to know him better and better. Our dilemma is that prior to discovering how God really feels about us and how astonishing he is, we lack that enthusiasm, but without it, how can we ever do what it takes to make the discovery? The results of breaking that stalemate are thrilling beyond comparison but slogging through all the fears and doubts to get there can be daunting. Trudging on and on when unsure if it will be worth it is hard enough but, as I will soon explain, many of us are haunted by fears and other insidious tricks of the mind that overpower rational thought and swamp us with dread.

My conviction is that, if prayerfully and fully read, this webpage will prove not only invaluable to most readers but it will deeply touch every reader, no matter how mature in Christ. I yearn to go beyond that, however, by crafting this page in a way that perfectly suits not just some people but specifically you, so that you can instantly zero in on those insights you most need without the need to wade through parts of lesser significance to you. To my dismay, however, I find myself having to beg your patience because that goal has proved as elusive as finding the end of a rainbow. (For the curious, the practical difficulties are explained in this note: The Pot of Gold.) I can only console myself by acknowledging that all of life is like this. The one who seeks, finds but seeking implies having to look in places where it isnít before discovering precisely where it lies. Or, as I think more appropriate in this case, finding the main vein involves digging through rock that has traces of gold. Since each of us is unique, certain blockages to discovering Godís love for you will be more significant for you than for other readers but almost every blockage affects us to some extent Ė and usually more than we realize.

A compromise has been to shorten my remarks on many of the blockages and invite you to read links to more on the topic if you feel led. Where I indicate that a link is to something short, I recommend you read it immediately. It should significantly help sink deeper into your spirit the truths skimmed over in the main page. Nevertheless, I will leave that decision to your prayerful consideration.

My heartís cry is to be divinely granted the privilege of helping you thrash through all those fears, doubts and misconceptions to the glory on the other side.

The blockages we will examine overlap but they each affect us so deeply that they are worthy of individual attention.

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Blockage: Expecting God to Do what he Expects us to Do

Suppose a woman is uncertain of a manís feelings for her and desperately yearning for his love. He loves her more than she dare dream and plans to meet her at a cafť to tell her. They arrange a date but she presuming she knows the cafť he means she does not listen carefully and ends up waiting for him at the wrong place. After two agonizing hours she finally gives up waiting and leaves heartbroken, convinced he cannot think much of her. She is so devastated that she blocks his calls and never learns that he was even more eager for the relationship than she had been.

What if it is like that with God? What if the way he plans for you to deepen your grasp of how special you are to him is so different from what you expect that you totally you miss it? What if, bamboozled by a false presumption, you are expecting to meet him in one place but he is waiting for you at another to reveal how much he loves you? And what if that mistake is causing you to become increasingly frustrated and to fall more and more for the lie that he doesnít care for you as much as you had hoped?

Not only could this really happen, it is repeated with sickening regularity. A key reason for this is, as staggering as it seems, we often end up believing in prayer and in leaving everything to God even more than God believes in these spiritual exercises. That might seem like heresy until you read the next paragraph.

Suppose parents tell their teenager to tidy his bedroom. Will they be impressed if, days later, the room still looks like a garbage heap but he has been faithfully praying and fasting that the room be tidied? Should the teen be bewildered, or even frustrated with God that, despite all his devotion, the room is still a mess?

There is no question that prayer and waiting on God are of profound importance, but what if we have unknowingly perverted this into an excuse for disobedience? Likewise, Bible study, no matter how sincere and intense, is an abomination if we pride ourselves in our great Bible knowledge but do not practice what it says. To read the Bible without doing what it says is as ridiculous and dangerous as continually reading the directions for taking life-saving medication but never taking it.

For a little more on our need to act, see Too Much Prayer?

Through no fault of their own, long term welfare recipients can end up shrinking from work; not understanding that a good job Ė and I mean a good job Ė brings dignity, fulfillment and growth like nothing else.

I say this with compassion: spiritually, many of us have developed a welfare mentality. We suppose the highest thing in life is to idle our days away, doing nothing and receiving our spiritual paycheck every week, plus the occasional spiritual windfall. We honestly believe this is the ideal way to live. We have no idea that Godís way involves honorable effort.

Lest I even slightly chill you with discouragement, I must stop everything to explain why this is not the downer that some might think. This is only one of very many possible blockages and if you join me in facing them you will unearth many heart-warming, faith-building proofs of his love for you. Of course even prayerfully reading this involves effort, to say nothing about putting it into practice. I am not about to put this all on you and leave it to you to wrestle with this alone, however. The longing of my heart is to put my hand in yours and walk with you all the way on your personal journey of discovery. This is what this webpage is all about.

You donít need me to tell you Iím no match for the uniquely insightful and supernaturally effective Spirit of God. So humble and gentle is this most beautiful of friends that often you will not even be aware of him. Nevertheless, he is your warm companion and guide who is not only with you but in you, supporting you every day and night. He believes in you and knows you can make it. He is your personal trainer. You need no other. Iím just looking to God for his permission and empowering for the privilege of accompanying you for as long as it takes for you to feel utterly secure and realize that he is actually all you need. Like training wheels on a bicycle, I will have fulfilled my role when I become redundant. Until then, if you will have me, we are on this journey together.


In Jesusí parable, the servant given a talent did not gamble it away, nor blow any of it on an orgy of self-indulgence. To his horror, however, he discovered too late that how much he ended up with depended not just on his masterís generosity but on the servantís effort. He was expected not merely to cherish what had been given and to live a clean life awaiting his masterís return but to pour all his abilities and effort into maximizing what had been entrusted to him (Matthew 25:14-30).

So it is with spiritual revelation: in his generosity, God has given us all a certain amount but how much we end up with depends not merely on God but on the effort we put into multiplying what we started with. Like the sincere woman misunderstanding her lover and ending up waiting at the wrong cafť, many of us have been looking in the wrong place for reassurance of Godís love. And because the right place involves effort, we can shrink from it, not realizing that the right kind of effort is not only the pathway to our dreams but the very thing that ends up giving us dignity, fulfillment and growth.

A spiritual welfare mentality distorts our perception of reality so that effort seems awful when, as with Olympic champions or adventurers, or any other achievers, that very effort is oneís glory. (And, yes, although technically all glory belongs to our Creator and Savior, our selfless Lord, who loves us with his entire being, longs for us to have a share of the glory Ė Scriptural Proof.) If we refuse to cower before our distorted view of effort, and we push through regardless, a whole new world awaits us.

ďDraw near to God, and he will draw near to you.Ē says James 4:8. Notice that we, not God, are the ones who are expected to move. Likewise, God frequently tells us to seek him. For example:

    Deuteronomy 4:29 But . . . seek the Lord your God, and you shall find him, when you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Note the amount of effort those last words imply. The key to pleasing God is never to ease up (Scriptures Confirming This) and to keep acting on the belief that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). This can frustrate us. We want God to prove his love by taking the initiative. But our Lord has already taken the initiative. Not only has he extended the invitation; through the agony of the cross he has achieved the humanly impossible so that we can indeed draw near to the Holy Lord. Now it is up to us. Will we accept the invitation to seek him and draw near to him?

Much of this section can be summarized this way: When we do all we can, God will do all we canít. Another principle at work is that before being entrusted with great revelation we must first prove ourselves faithful with little revelation. The arduous season of proving ourselves faithful can drag on and on until it seems endless, but in reality it is the rewards that are endless.

We often find ourselves in a stalemate, with us demanding that our Lord prove his love for us and him insisting that we must first take him at his word and accept the fact that he loves us, without the extra confirmation we clamor for.

ďIf he really loved me, he would give me more proof,Ē we tell ourselves. The God who cannot lie has put it in writing and sealed it with his own blood, and we want extra proof? But more than the sheer audacity of this, for us to be spiritually safe, we must learn to put our faith in the integrity of God and not in Ďextra proof.í Until we reach the point of what God has said in his Word being enough, we will remain vulnerable to deception. This is explained more, further on in the webpage.

Initially, the thought of having to keep relating to God as if you are uniquely special to him, despite having no additional confirmation, seems bitterly disappointing. Persist, however, and you will discover that it ends up deeply fulfilling. It turns out that naked faith is the gateway to the greatest reassurance. This, too, is explored a little more later.

Too many of us frustrate our loving Lord and stymie his great plans for us by wasting our lives lounging around hoping God will eventually get around to zapping us with some spectacular supernatural experience that will forever convince us of his love, when he is expecting us to get off our backsides and start doing what it takes to glorify him by convincing ourselves.

What if we are annoyed at God for not doing more to tell us how much he loves us, when the real problem is that we are too lazy to read his love letters (the Bible)? (I presume that you have already read When Good Christians Feel Needlessly Condemned by the Bible if it applies to you.)

What if we are blaming God for inaction when that is precisely how he feels about us?

What if we have everything backwards and God is right, after all, when he says it is more blessed to give than to receive and that the key to fulfillment is not focusing on our wants but dying to self; not in getting God to tell us how much he loves us but in us continually listing all the reasons why we love him and confirming it by our actions? What if feeling loved is a byproduct of giving love? What if God truly is unselfish and it is not for his sake but for ours that he told us to praise him continually? What if our emptiness is filled not by trying to get God to love us (as if it were even possible for the One who loves us with all his heart to love anyone more than that) but by us doing more to show him our love? What if it is only by getting this right that everything else falls into place?

Not to make God fall in love with you Ė he already has Ė but to discover how mind-blowing that love is, you need to keep praising God for his love and goodness. Likewise, we each need to quit feeding our doubts, cease looking to feelings, circumstances and intellectual understanding, and instead dwell on biblical truth day and night and keep stubbornly believing what God says in his Word.

Not all revelation comes this way, but the bulk of it does. It is like finding gold. You might stumble upon a sample on the surface but the real riches await those willing to roll up their sleeves and dig for them. My goal is to help you in this glorious quest.

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Blockage: Casual Bible Reading

Not pouring enough effort into reading a Bible passage and its context (which is the entire Bible) might not be the most dramatic blockage to revelation but it probably affects more of us than any other blockage.

Investing limited time in the Word of God is of limited value.

How much you give determines how much you get is a spiritual principle that extends far beyond finances (e.g. Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:37-38; Romans 2:6-7; Galatians 6:8), Jesus said it even applies to the way we Ďhearí his message (Mark 4:23-24). In short: a superficial reading of the Bible allows one to reap only superficial benefits.

Since the Bible is Godís Word, it must be used Godís way, to impact us the way God wants. And God insists that the Bible is not merely to be read but that it must become our lifelong project to think deeply about it as much as we can throughout the day and night, mentally chewing it over and discussing it with ourselves and with other people, treasuring it more than our essential food, absorbing it into the deepest recesses of our being, and so on.

For a deeper explanation and many Scriptures about this, see this fairly short note: Using Godís Word Godís Way.

I have been writing of Godís love for decades but my certainty of his love for me is now deeper than ever, simply because the countless hours devoted to writing this latest webpage caused me to allocate still more time to thinking about the Bibleís teaching on this subject; pondering its implications, seeing one Scripture in the light of another, wrestling with how to express it in my own words (a powerful way of absorbing a truth), and so on. Often a Bible truth would be nestling in the back of my mind and I would wake in the middle of the night with a thought. I dared not trust my memory but forced myself to switch on the light and scribble it down. Typically, that light would go on several times throughout the night.

Divine revelation might come in sudden bursts and the Lord might even happen to give you a freebie to get you started, but since the Bible emphasizes the necessity of pouring so much time and effort into dwelling on Scripture, we have no biblical basis for expecting that reaching those dramatic moments will be anything other than a slow process that hinges on how much prayer and effort we apply to it.

Before moving on, I should point out that God tells us to keep thinking about biblical truth not only because this is the means whereby we gain spiritual insight but because the more our minds dwell on anything, the larger it looms in our consciousness and the more real it seems.

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Blockage: Misunderstanding Godís Feelings

This blockage might be so significant for you that you have already responded to links that led you to a copy of the material in this section. If you find you have already read it, feel free to skip to the next blockage.

Although there are things about us that bear similarities to God, they remain a pale shadow of our glorious Lord. Unlike us, he is pure and perfect in every way, with abilities that are mind-bogglingly greater than ours. We need to know, however, that what he has done for us through Christ means that he is not scary or unapproachable or standoffish or arrogant. The way he excels just makes him all the more wonderful and lovable and trustworthy.

The mere fact that we are finite renders it impossible for us to comprehend the enormity of the purity and warmth and depth of the Infinite Lordís feelings. Like trying to get our head around the size of the known universe, the greater our understanding, the more we realize how mind-boggling the task is, until we can only gasp in awe.

Our handicap of having finite minds is compounded still more by the mind-numbing effects of our sinful nature. This plagues us all but few of us are willing to admit how profoundly it affects us. If someone knew nothing about drugs, he would be no more inclined to inject heroin than have a needless tetanus shot. After a few times, however, a craving for more would forever be etched into his brain. So it is with sin. Every type of sin we have ever indulged in corrupts us with a yen for more that will, at least occasionally, hound us for the rest of our lives Ė even decades after having successfully broken the habit. As a consequence of having once developed a taste for sin, every human attempt at love is constantly being eroded by temptations to indulge in lust, envy, selfishness, laziness, unforgiveness and so on.

Yet another factor keeping us from grasping the full beauty of divine love is the distortions imposed on us by the sinfulness of people who have significantly shaped our feelings and expectations. Unless there is deliberate, radical and prolonged intervention later in oneís life, significant experiences during oneís formative years will keep gravely affecting each of us for the rest of our lives on a level so deep that it remains virtually untouched even by huge advances in our intellectual and biblical understanding.

For insight into how profoundly this affects our reaction to Godís love, consider our reaction to food. A single bout of food poisoning could, for the rest of our lives, cause us to recoil from whatever type of food we associate with that incident, even though it is something we would otherwise relish. Intellectually, we could be convinced that a particular batch of food is utterly safe and yet the mere thought of it could make us nauseous. And forcing ourselves to eat it could cause us to vomit. The problem is not the new batch of food but just one bad experience with something vaguely similar. It is not that it is impossible ever to recover, but regaining a love for that food would be a difficult route that many people would be unwilling to take. Similarly, most of us suffer at least one phobia that makes us back off from situations we would otherwise enjoy and that we rationally know are quite safe.

So it is with God and his love. Even though we intellectually want him, we can instinctively and uncontrollably shrink from him, keeping him at a distance Ė all because of a past experience, not with him but merely something vaguely similar. Almost invariably it is because of a significant human in our lives who failed to love as he/she should have.

As explained in You Can Find Love: What your Fantasies Reveal, nothing short of the perfection and infinity of divine love, backed up by the integrity and unlimited power of God, can totally satisfy our desperate need to be loved. Sadly, the biggest barrier to realizing the astonishing extent to which we are loved is that we keep expecting Godís perfect love to be almost as defective and inadequate as human love. Even the greatest love we can experience outside of God is riddled with imperfections and limitations that cast a disturbingly long shadow on our relationship with God. Even when we think we are finally free from an inadequate understanding of Godís love, we are likely to begin sliding back into muddy thinking in just a few days.

Some people were blessed with parents who were non-sexual with them and were continually warm, gentle, compassionate, supportive, faithful and forgiving. Such people are ideally placed to understand Godís love, not merely intellectually, but on an emotional and subconscious level. The sad reality, however, is that for many of us our backgrounds are a handicap rather than a help. Our presumptions about Godís love for us are alarmingly warped, both by our shallow understanding of God and by our observations and experiences of Ďloveí from other sources.

This issue is far bigger than merely reacting negatively about thinking of God as a father. Even the word love can cause some people to recoil despite the fact that, deep down, these people are desperate for the genuine article. And it might not be a parent, but someone else who has particularly damaged our emotional reaction to love. For a brief but compassionate and helpful note for those whose developmental years were marred by a sexual manipulator, see God Is Not Sexual.

Another blockage Ė more likely to occur in our teens or later Ė is having once opened ourselves up to someone who seemed to promise romantic love and commitment and then being let down so badly that even years later we keep finding ourselves regularly stalked by the fear that God might treat us similarly. This can cause us to involuntarily shrink from letting ourselves accept the depth of Godís love. This matter is addressed a little later.

In the last section of this webpage, we will explore how God in the Word describes his love in ways that are meaningful to those for whom reference to parents or men do not work. Right now, however, I feel the need to grapple with a matter than affects even more of us. Many of us have little idea of the warmth of Godís feelings. We need to know that there is nothing harsh or cold or unfeeling about him. This will be explored next.

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Blockage: Not Realizing Godís Warmth

Is God somewhat impersonal or unfeeling? Is his love for you warm, tender and passionate, or somewhat strained or cold or even judgmental? Is his love reluctant or diluted or obligatory? Does he see you as just one of millions, or as unique and irreplaceable?

These are vitally important questions and you do not have to fear looking at them in the cold light of reality because the answers are truly exciting.

Of course there are so many things demanding the attention of the Lord of the universe. Nevertheless, we shall see that the powers of his infinite intellect means it is as if all his attention were focused exclusively on you and that you are the center of his world. His love for you means that you can easily break his heart or even make him jealous but because divine love is utterly selfless and focused on your well-being, his love makes him extraordinarily patient and eager to forgive. It even means that instead of using his infinite power to manipulate or force himself on you, he exercises stupendous restraint and humility by allowing you to break his heart, if you choose to defy his wisdom.

Although Godís love is not sexual, it would be inaccurate to say that his feelings towards us are bland as that of a compassionate brother. Good brothers might feel warmly towards their brothers and sisters and passionately defend them, but even without the sexual element, Godís feelings for you are more like being deeply in love with you than merely brotherly. He is like someone whose heart skips a beat when he sees you; someone who finds you captivating and fascinating and adorable. We glimpse this here:

    Isaiah 62:5  . . . As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.

Many people believe the Song of Solomon is in the Bible because it is a picture of Godís love for us.

To explore how passionate and personal Godís love for you is, letís begin with the weakest but by no means insignificant evidence.

The Implications of Us Being in the Image of God

Although fallen humans are a finite, corrupted reflection of the nature of God, his Word affirms that we are, nonetheless, made in his image (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9). This means that, other than sin, what distinguishes us from lower lifeforms points to what God is like, except that he has it in infinite measure and purity. For instance, he is intelligent like us but staggeringly more so.

Being personal and having emotions are among the features that God not only has but exceeds us in. The God of the Bible repeatedly likens himself to a father or a mother or some other man or a woman precisely because even though his feelings are of God-sized intensity, perfection and purity, there are profound similarities between his feelings and human feelings.

For a moving but very brief perusal of this fascinating and vital subject, I invite you to see A Few Biblical Insights into Godís Feelings.

The Surprising Implications of Godís Intellect

You yearn for someone who has taken the effort to thoroughly know you and who daily Ė in fact, endlessly Ė notices everything about you. In this, your Lord exceeds your wildest dreams. He was there with your every ancestor. He was there at the moment of your conception and has been with you ever since.

It is the Almightyís stupendous intellect that powers the intensely personal nature of his love for you. He notices everything about you with greater devotion than if he were human, and absolutely infatuated with you, and did nothing every moment of every day and night but delight in every tiny aspect of your being.

For some thrilling Bible truths affirming this see this brief note: You Captivate Almighty God.

As an ant is more personal than a rock and we have a deeper consciousness and emotions than an ant, so our Lord massively exceeds us in these ways.

Far from being heartless, the infinite Lord regrets, gets disappointed and frustrated, grieves, weeps, laughs, rejoices, delights, gets angry and jealous (Scriptures for all of this) because he has an off-the-Richter-scale care factor.

Everything God does is perfectly controlled, rational and wise. This in no way means, however, that he is even the tiniest clinical or aloof about his view of us. On the contrary, his emotional intensity soars to extremes beyond anything any created being could attain, such that everything we do or suffer not only touches him but moves him to humanly inconceivable heights.

I must now face my dilemma: the more we can grasp how deeply God feels, the more we will realize the depths of his love. Nothing reveals the intensity of Godís emotions better than his wrath and jealousy but until adequately understood, the mere mention of it can undermine our ability to grasp how kind and loving he is. It is impossible to address every matter simultaneously. I will say more later to ease your concerns about divine wrath but I am forced to sidetrack myself by saying a little right now. At horrific cost to each member of the Godhead, divine fury has been extinguished by being exhaustively vented on the innocent Lamb of God when he swapped places with us on the cross so that no one need experience it but that all, by simple faith, could snuggle secure in him, blissfully unaware of its intolerable ferocity. For you, the eternal King of glory sacrificed his all, turning his entire being into the ultimate nuclear shelter to protect you from the terrifying maelstrom of righteous anger that should have consumed us all but was instead expended on him. To let the fact of wrath cause you to shrink from God would not only be to appallingly misunderstand the heart of God but it would put you in the ridiculous situation of letting danger cause you to back away from the only person who can protect you from that danger. Nevertheless, this is precisely what many of us fall into. So I will say more soon to put your heart at rest. For just this moment, however, I would like us to focus solely on how the intensity of Godís anger and jealousy highlights the superhuman depths of his feelings:

    Numbers 11:33  . . . the Lordís anger burned . . .

    Deuteronomy 4:24 For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God.

    2 Samuel 22:8 Then the earth shook and trembled. The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken, because he was angry.

    Psalm 90:7 For we are consumed in your anger. We are troubled in your wrath.

    Isaiah 30:30 The Lord will cause his glorious voice to be heard, and will show the descent of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and the flame of a devouring fire, with a blast, storm, and hailstones.

    Psalm 69:9  . . . the zeal of your house consumes me. . . . [ John 2:15-17 applies this the Son of God.]

The Highest Revelation of God

The most powerful proof that Godís love is at least as passionate as the greatest human love is found in the fact that Jesus is the highest revelation of God:

    Hebrews 1:1-3 God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power . . .

    John 14:7,9-10 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him. . . . He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ĎShow us the Father?í Donít you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works.

    John 5:19 Jesus therefore answered them, ďMost certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise.Ē

    John 10:30 I and the Father are one.

And we donít have to read much of the Gospels to know that Jesus was intensely personal and felt deeply (Beautiful Examples).

* * *

Blockage: Misunderstanding Godís Wrath

Before plunging into this critically important topic, letís orientate ourselves. We have seen that when it comes to receiving oneís own personal revelation of Godís love, anyone who has a portion of Scripture or the ability to pray has been divinely entrusted with mind-boggling spiritual riches. As in the parable of the talents, however, how much we end up with depends not on the magnitude of the riches we have been given but on how much time and effort we pour into multiplying them. Part of this effort involves not just prayer and delving into Godís Word, but acting as if God truly loves us as much as the Bible claims, even when further conformation is not forthcoming. Another, even more disconcerting aspect of this effort involves the dilemma of needing to open up to God, in order to discover how wonderful and approachable he really is, and yet being hounded by doubts and fear that cause us to shrink from him before making this discovery. Now we need to work on ways of resolving issues that can cause this impasse.

One such issue is thinking that God is cold and somewhat impersonal. We have already addressed this. Another is the fear of rejection Ė the absurd fear that not even Christís sacrifice for the sins of the entire world is enough to make us acceptable to him. We will tackle this further on. We will even consider whether God might like someone else more than you and see why such a worry is needless. Right now, however, we will face head-on the fear that God might be harsh or not as morally good as we would like him to be, and so less than utterly lovable. That fear would certainly hinder our quest to draw near to God. And nothing fuels that fear more than reading of Godís wrath. It is much less terrifying when viewed from an understanding of Godís eagerness to forgive, which we will soon explore, but in this section our focus will be on some general considerations.

As explained in the webpage Why Godís Wrath is Comforting, Godís anger not only proves that he is not emotionless but that he cares passionately. Stand alone in a desert and stare into the night sky. Are the stars shaken from the heavens when you sin? Regardless of how good or bad or significant our puny actions might seem to us; how can they touch the Omnipotent Lord? (inspired by Job 35:5-8). It is only because of his love that the Almighty gets angry when we do wrong.

God feels anger at times but he is love. Thereís an enormous difference. To say, God is angry might be true temporarily regarding a specific abhorrent situation Ė a momentary response to an abnormal occurrence Ė but God is love is true universally and eternally. It is who God is.

It is occasionally correct to say God is angry. The grammatical equivalent of God is love, however is not God is angry but God is anger, which, of course, is found nowhere in Scripture, whereas God is love is twice affirmed (1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16). His anger is fleeting; his love is endless (Scriptures).

Love fuels Godís anger (consider, for example, something that touches even hardened human hearts such as a sadist torturing a little child) but, of course, anger never fuels his love. His heart never changes (Scriptures). Everything he has ever done and will ever do is always driven by love.

It is vital for our sanity, enlightenment and relationship with God that we view Godís wrath Ė and everything about him, and us, and the entire universe Ė not through our own distortions but through the loving eyes of God. That alone is the unifying, demystifying perspective that shines the light of Godís truth upon absolutely everything, and turns fear and bewilderment into the confidence we need. Only then can we see things as they truly are.

Hereís a Scripture that is my favorite because it reveals the heart of God:

    Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all. His tender mercies [several versions say compassion] are over all his works.

Who could not love a God like that? So Godís enemy does all he can to entice us to shrink from God by flooding us with slanderously false accusations about God and doubts about his goodness. We need a God who is so good that he not only loves us despite all our flaws but loves even his most bitter enemies, while, despite astonishing patience, being devoted to justice and doing what is right. And that is precisely who God is.

We can trust a God like that. You and I can open wide to him and he will never disappoint.

I need a God who is extraordinarily patient and forgiving (and he most certainly is) but I also want a God who cares enough to be furious at all the atrocities in this world. Likewise, I do not want a God who is unmoved by what I do. Yes, I want him to be thrilled when I do well, but I also want him to believe in me so much that he is bitterly disappointed if I let him down. I want, for example, a God who loves humanity so deeply and so believes in my potential to be as kind and loving as he is, that he is angry if I selfishly hurt others. In my saner moments, I also realize that I do not want a God who judges some people less severely Ė not even me Ė than others. That would be morally reprehensible. How could I love, honor and obey a God like that?

Many of us are tempted to imagine we might be kinder or more loving than God. That is as absurd as thinking we are more powerful than God. He is infinite. He is perfect. He is good Ė so astonishingly good; so far above our highest attempts, that God alone is good (Mark 10:18). And he loves with his entire being Ė with all his infinity, perfection and goodness.

The consequence of being filled with the Spirit of God Ė having God manifesting himself in oneís life Ė is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). That is because this is who God is. He is love. And love is kind and patient (1 Corinthians 13:4) and all the other fruit of the Spirit.

God is joyful. He is no grouch or kill-joy. He is a peace-maker. ďIf it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men.Ē says Romans 12:18 (2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:13 and Hebrews 12:14 are similar). Thatís the fruit of the Spirit. Thatís Godís nature. He is patient. He is kind. He is good. He is faithful. He is gentle. He is self-controlled.

God is love, and love does not nit-pick. Love thinks the best of a person. Rather than fault finding, ďlove covers a multitude of sinsĒ (1 Peter 4:8). It keeps no record/account of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5, several Bible versions). Unlike lust, love is utterly selfless (1 Corinthians 13:5). It is humble (1 Corinthians 13:4). Love is Jesus humiliating himself, sacrificing his dignity and his all; enduring unspeakable agony to forgive people who hate him and break his heart. The cross is Godís greatest glory because it most powerfully reveals the loving heart of God.

The more we get to know God as he really is, the easier it is to trust him, the more we will fall in love with him, and the more certain we will be of his astonishingly fulfilling love. Our challenge is to keep pushing through our doubts and fears, and even our laziness, so that we get to truly know God.

We can make a little progress in trying to understand why everything happens (several webpages that help with this are listed at God & suffering: Understanding the Goodness of God) but just as little children will not always perceive the love and wisdom in their parentís decisions Ė why parents want them to eat vegetables, go to a dentist, and not play with chainsaws Ė we will eventually reach our limit in understanding the infinite intelligence of God. What happens then? Will we close off from God? We donít have to know all the answers to know that the One who has all the answers is good and loves us. We donít have to understand all the intricate workings of Godís mind to keep growing in our understanding of Godís heart, but what is needed is to keep opening ourselves up to God. To close ourselves off from God is to rob ourselves of on-going opportunities to know him better. And, alarmingly, every time we give in to a fear, we give it more power.

* * *

Blockage: Not Realizing the Extent of Divine Forgiveness

A failure to grasp the extent of Godís forgiveness makes us highly vulnerable to satanic attempts to dupe us. Godís Word repeatedly insists that the holy Son of God died not just for ďminorĒ sins, but for the sins of the entire world:

    John 1:29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ďBehold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

    1 John 2:2 And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    More such Scriptures

This has to mean that every possible sin Ė no matter who committed it and how deliberately and frequently it was repeated before or after salvation Ė is covered by Jesusí sacrificial death. It has to mean that full cleansing for all sin is freely available for everyone Ė no exception Ė who, before dying, eventually comes to the point of repenting of his/her sin and would like never to sin again and trusts in the power of Jesusí salvation to secure his/her forgiveness. No matter how appallingly and/or often you have messed up, for as long as you are this side of Judgment Day, the One who died for you is endlessly yearning for you to want to start again and for you to accept his full forgiveness and cleansing.

For vast quantities of Bible proof for this, see all the webpages listed at The Ultimate Cure for Guilt. If you keep working through all those links you will eventually come to Unforgivable? The Unpardonable sin of Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost and other pages about Scriptures that might, at first glance, seem to contradict the clear teaching of the rest of the Bible about the unlimited power of Christís salvation.

If, despite, all the biblical affirmations, you keep feeling unforgivable, the problem is with your feelings, not with the magnitude of what Christ accomplished on the cross. The devil has a vested interest in manipulating our feelings. As I have written:

    The enemy of our souls is the master deceiver because that is all he can do. The devil cannot change reality. He cannot change the fact that God loves you with all of his unlimited love and that Christ died for the sins of the entire world, which has to include every sin you have ever committed. So all he can do is mess with your feelings, hoping that you will start to believe them rather than believe in the cleansing and forgiving power of Christ and the love of God.

    Even if you feel you are beyond Godís forgiveness, that feeling is a lie from hell as serious as claiming that Christ did not die for the sins of the world.

    Until you realize that false feelings will continue no matter how devoted you are to Christ, youíll be so vulnerable to false feelings that the tempter will keep piling them on more than ever. None of us ever gets to the point where we are no longer tempted. Unwanted thoughts and feelings would only slightly taper off if the tempter has tried so often without ruffling your feathers that he begins to believe that such an attack will never succeed with you and is a complete waste of his time. If he got mileage out of that approach in the past, he will take a lot of convincing.

    Satan is a sore loser. Once he finds something that shakes us up he keeps trying it over and over relentlessly until he is absolutely convinced that his tactics will never again work with you. When, finally, he seems to leave, it is only to bide his time for a surprise attack. His persistence is so very unpleasant. The positive side, however, is that this will make you stronger and stronger as you keep resisting his lies.

    One of the most important things is to focus on Godís great love for you and not let deceptive spirits trick you into thinking that God frowns on you when you fall into sin. Yes, God is disappointed, but when a little child with good parents runs off and falls, whatís the first thing he does? He looks to mommy or daddy for comfort. You, too, should run into Daddyís arms for the comfort you need. God is on your side. He cares deeply for you. Your spiritual enemies, however, want to make you feel uneasy about running to God. They know we instinctively recoil from anyone we fear might be angry or displeased with us and we will keep that person at armís length. Your enemies want you to be standoffish from the only One who can truly deliver you and defeat their attempts to bring you down. They donít want you to rejoice in Godís forgiveness but to feel miserable and isolated from the warmth of Godís comfort.

In fact, there exists a relatively common medical condition Ė an anxiety disorder Ė that the devil can readily exploit to make you feel unforgivable. For much help with this (itís not short but most important if you suffer this affliction), see Scrupulosity: Worried about Salvation and/or Blasphemous Thoughts.

* * *

Blockage: Feeling Unlovable

It might shock you to see low self-esteem listed as a blockage to divine revelation. Arenít we meant to die to self? We are indeed. But donít forget that this includes dying to our own self-image. It means denying that the way we view ourselves is a more reliable source of truth than what God declares to be true. Regardless of whether we inflate or debase ourselves, we cannot humble ourselves before God without recoiling from the pride that treats Godís view of us as a lie and replaces it with our own opinion of ourselves. If, for example, the Holy One declares us forgiven, it would be the height of arrogance to act as if we had loftier standards of holiness than the Exalted One by refusing to forgive ourselves. Likewise, if God sees us as priceless, dare we think it humility to contradict and insult the God of Truth by telling ourselves that we are trash?

Earlier, we considered a womanís heartbreak through misunderstanding where her lover wanted them to meet. But there is an equally tragic possibility. What if it were not his directions but his heart that she misunderstood? What if low self-esteem fueled her fear that he wanted them to meet to tell her there is someone he likes more? Or what if bad experiences with other people had tainted her expectations, causing her to fear he has a mean streak or cannot be trusted?

Fears are just feelings. They donít have to ruin our lives. But what if she gave in to her fears and, instead of dispelling her suspicions by getting to know her lover better, she rebuffed him and thereafter avoided him like long grass in a snake pit. Her fears, no matter how unfounded, would hurt her and her lover for as long as she let them stop her from opening her heart to what he has to say.

Low self-esteem becomes an exceedingly dangerous spiritual stumbling block when the way we see ourselves clashes so much with the way God sees us that it sabotages our ability to believe what God says about his love for us.

Our upbringing and life experiences might cause everything within us to scream that we are unlovable or insignificant. If so, we face a major battle when it comes to accepting the truth of Godís Word about how he sees us.

For much more on this (itís a long webpage), see How to Change Your Self-Image.

* * *

Blockage: Fearing God Will Disappoint Us

We are continuing to confront matters that, if not addressed, can sap our determination to draw near to God and so receive all the spiritual benefits that flow from doing so.

If you have read the following in an earlier link, feel free to skip to the next blockage.)

Many of us consciously or unconsciously hold back from accepting the reality of Godís love because we fear we will get our hopes up, only to eventually end up being rejected by God. Behind this is the needless fear that God might be like fickle, fallible humans. It is as ridiculous as fearing the holy Lord might sexually abuse us. But fears donít have to be rational before they haunt us, and caving in to fear drastically erodes our quality of life.

A friend of mine had a beautiful relationship with God that most of us would envy, but instead of it being grounded on the bedrock of stubborn faith in God, it depended on feelings and dramatic encounters with God. Eventually, an unpleasant experience caused her to fear that God had left her, and her panic drowned out all ability to feel Godís presence or hear his voice. Instead of stabilizing by clinging to Godís vow that he would never leave any of us, her panic grew even more as warm feelings failed to return despite desperately praying and fasting for signs that God was still with her. She never thought she was insulting God by asking him to prove to her that he is not a liar, but that was what she was doing.

For as long as our faith is not in Godís dependability and integrity but is tossed around by flimsy feelings, we are highly vulnerable to deception because although our spiritual enemy can never change the power of the cross or the character of God, the deceiver can easily tamper with our feelings.

You will not find the Bible saying we can coast along with a half-hearted attitude to God because eventually he will suddenly zap us with a revelation of his love. On the contrary, God in his Word keeps pleading with us to seek him and call upon him so that he will respond. Him drawing close to us is conditional upon us drawing close to him (James 4:8). This is so critical to truly knowing God that the Bible repeats it over and over. For some examples, see Keep Seeking God and Staying Open to Him.

Our Lord tolerates baby Christians putting their faith in feelings but eventually we must all grow up and learn to live by faith alone. For him to keep pampering us with feelings would keep us spiritually weak and vulnerable.

Not realizing this fundamental spiritual truth, this dear woman suffered years of thinking God had abandoned her until finally she came to her senses and realized that God never leaves those who want him and that she had put herself through years of needless torment by not accepting this fact.

Everyoneís journey with God is unique but although some start off with a honeymoon with God, we all eventually hit obstacles that flood us with doubts and fears. It is then our choice whether we back off or rise to the challenge and heroically keep seeking and serving God regardless. For those who choose the last option, the rewards are immense.

Suffering fear is awful but giving into it is exceedingly worse. It is like surrendering our weapons to a ferocious but unarmed assailant, so that not only are we left defenseless but we have now armed our opponent. We need to push through our fears Ė to take back our weapons by reclaiming that truth that Godís love makes him totally faithful, no matter how torturous our fears.

    Hebrews 13:5  . . . for he has said, ďI will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.Ē

God never lies. A solitary statement from God is all it takes for it to be set in stone. Out of compassionate mindfulness of our weakness, however, the above Scripture is worded exceedingly strongly in the Greek. My version of the Amplified Bible renders it ď. . . [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not, in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake you, nor let you down . . .Ē It does this because the verse contains a triple negative.

Consider how much it cost our Lord to save us from hell. Having invested everything to save us, our rational and resolute Lord is not going to throw it all away when the going gets tough. If he went to inconceivable extremes while we were his enemies and wanted nothing to do with him, it is impossible that he would abandon us now that we want him as our friend.

The Gospels are adorned with the accounts of ordinary people (in fact, often despised people) who became spiritual heroes and won both Jesusí praise and eternal fame through refusing to be deterred by finding it frustratingly difficult to get Jesusís attention and/or even seeming to be ignored or spurned by him (for a brief but inspiring overview see Undeterred). Your devoted Lord yearns for your name to be added to this glorious Hall of Fame.

God asking us to magnify him is not so that he can boost his ego (how ludicrous that would be for the self-sufficient, omnipotent Lord!). Nor is it merely to deepen our love for him (as beneficial as that would be for us). It will deepen our awareness of his boundless love for us.

Expressing to God our love and praise and thanks cracks open the door of our heart. An opening allows not only sights and sounds to flow out but to flow in. The more we open up to God, the more open we are to his loving whispers, and, regardless of how much it irks us, itís a psychological fact that the more we praise God the more open to him we become.

* * *

Blockage: Not Understanding How Much Godís Love Exceeds Our Own

The enemy of your soul is unfazed by you believing how much God loves anyone else. What will most hinder your relationship with God is for you to suppose that you are some sort of bizarre exception to Godís love Ė as if Godís perfect love has but one flaw and you are its victim; as if biblical truth applies to everyone but you.

Have you really supposed you have been singled out for special rejection? Do you really think your inadequacies are so unique and astonishing as to have taken the all-knowing Lord by surprise and rendered the all-powerful One unable to cope? Do you consider yourself so special as to have managed to find an end to the endless love of the infinite Lord? Are you trying to tell me you are so omnipotently evil as to have overpowered the Almighty and somehow defiled the Holy One, forcing the One who cannot lie to violate his sacred Word and break promises he has put in black and white and sealed with the blood of his own Son?

We have already explored two of the three most common things the deceiver loves to exploit in luring people into this treacherous delusion. They are a distorted self-image (seeing ourselves as the devil would like rather than through the eyes of our loving Savior) and not understanding divine forgiveness. We are about to stare down the third: thinking Godís love is almost as puny as our own. Any of these three is such a disturbingly powerful source of deception that it is astonishingly resistant to logic and repeated biblical assurances.

We might find ourselves too undesirable to love, but that says nothing about Godís feelings for us.

Even highly tolerant humans find only certain people highly lovable. We might force ourselves to be kind, but it overshoots our meager store of love to go as far as being passionately in love with everyone who hates us and does things that disgust us. In fact, even among people we highly approve of, it is beyond us to be deeply in love with everyone. For us to love an individual at our maximum intensity, such love must be reserved almost exclusively for that person.

Just as our mental capacity is far too limited to think deeply about a thousand unrelated matters simultaneously, so our ability to love many different people is subject to severe limitations. The infinite Lord, however, knows no such limits. We touched on this earlier but until you can get your head around this, you will grossly underestimate the intensity of Godís love for you.

To demonstrate how much divine love exceeds our own, it is highly beneficial to examine Godís love for his enemies. Investigating this astonishing matter will achieve several things, including changing our attitude to everyone around us. Of particular relevance to this webpage, however, is the realization it will bring that although everything you do is vitally important to God and impacts him immensely, nothing can cause the slightest fluctuation in Godís steadfast love for you. Neither achieving things God highly approves of, nor sinking into the most atrocious, repeated and inexcusable sins will rattle his love. This is because divine love has only one setting. Just as his stupendous power never wavers, nor his moral integrity, neither does his incomprehensibly extreme love.

There is a downside to contemplating this aspect of Godís love, however. Divine love does not just soar beyond human comprehension, it bewilders us. Nowhere is this confusion more obvious than in God loving his enemies. Even if we find it somewhat comforting, until correctly understood, God loving those who act appallingly seems to detract from his holiness and to devalue his love. We will grapple with this in the section after this one but until it becomes clearer there, please try to put your concerns on hold.

No matter what: Godís love is always locked on its highest possible level Ė an intensity infinitely beyond the capacity of the greatest human lover. In the entire cosmos, nothing is as thrilling and fulfilling as this. Exciting beyond words, this is something to kick off oneís shoes and go to extremes celebrating and reveling in. Alongside this, everything else Ė winning a trillion dollars, becoming the most admired person on the planet, having your every dream excelled Ė pales into insignificance.

There are those whose actions disgust and infuriate our Lord, and yet he keeps on loving. If divine love were so imperfect as to be within the scope of the greatest love we could ever muster, the Almightyís love for despicable enemies would be strained. It would be stretched too thin to quench our burning desire to be loved so fervently that our lover knows us fully and yet remains head over heels in love with us.

But the everlasting love of God has no such limits. Our most atrocious sins cannot cool his red-hot love for us. It was when we were at our worst that Christ died for us. He suffered the unthinkable not for the holy but for the ungodly Ė those who were the very opposite of all that he stands for. While we were still his enemies, he wept for us, sweat for us and bled for us. While our sins mocked and tormented him, he clung to his gibbet of pain for us, was humiliated for us and shed his last drop of blood for us.

    Romans 5:6  . . . while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly

    Romans 5:10  . . . while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son . . .

    Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses . . .

    Colossians 1:21-22 You, being in past times alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil deeds, yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without defect and blameless before him

Hereís a verse to ponder:

    John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

If there can be no greater love than that, then God loved us to the greatest possible extreme even when we were his enemies.

We might do things in the heat of the moment that we would not do if we soberly considered the cost. We might expose ourselves to danger because we think there is a slight chance of escaping unscathed. We might offer ourselves up for torture and then intensely regret it but have no means of escape. But Jesus did none of those things. His actions were carefully thought out before planet earth was even formed (Revelation 13:8; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4). He could have called upon legions of angels, not only when he was arrested (Matthew 26:53) but when nails were being driven through his hands and, instead of praying for angelic intervention to end his torment, he was praying for his torturersí forgiveness.

* * *

Blockage: Supposing that God Loving Everyone Renders his Love Almost Meaningless

The scope of Godís love is so enormous that it can seem to the human mind to fade into meaninglessness unless we employ all our mental powers to try to understand it. We need to look at two aspects of this puzzle.

Love Versus Approval

With people who are incapable of loving their enemies, love and approval of the loved oneís character/behavior are almost identical. Not so with God, whose love is so vast that he loves even those who act despicably and appall him by their actions. His love drove him to the extreme of the cross to force forgiveness and justice to embrace each other so that a simple change of heart is all it takes for the guilty to be treated as if they had never loved sin.

Love means God wants no one to perish and for everyone to come to repentance (Proof). Delaying justice to give those who keep acting wickedly opportunity after opportunity to repent does not mean, however, that the Holy Lord ceases to be passionate about justice and about the need for every one of us to act in love towards those he loves (which, of course, is everyone).

Loving the sinner Ė be it the most horrendous child molester, an honored entrepreneur who rips people off in the name of profit, or a celebrity adulterer Ė does not mean ceasing to care about those who are sinned against. It does not mean there will not be a terrifying Day of Reckoning for those who keep refusing to repent. But neither does it mean that the God who is love will ever stop loving them. Divine love renders the execution of justice so painful to God that he would rather die than have to do it Ė and the cross is the ultimate proof of this fact Ė but it cannot lessen the necessity of judgment upon those who enter into eternity having rejected the escape God has provided at such enormous cost.

Love Always Makes the Loved One Special

To perceive divine love accurately, we need to merge our understanding of the all-inclusiveness of Godís love with our growing understanding of the intensity of his love.

Just as God loving everyone does not remove the need for justice to be executed on those who refuse to cooperate with God in becoming godly, neither does God loving everyone detract from your uniqueness. No matter how many children the best human parent has, each child is special and irreplaceable to him/her. And that love is but a dull reflection of Godís love.

* * *

Blockage: Thinking God has Favorites

We have already glimpsed enough to strongly suggest that God canít have favorites but this matter is too treacherous not to attack head-on.

Letís start with some Scriptures that demolish this notion. Then we will plunge still deeper.

We have noted how no one is excluded from the universeís most stunning manifestation of love. In even the most extravagant display of love, God made absolutely no distinction. The eternal Son was tortured to death as much for the most disgusting and hopeless person as for the most Ďholy,í likable, spiritually remarkable human ever to live:

    1 John 2:2 And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. (Emphasis mine.)

And we have provided many similar Scriptures earlier.

Consider also:

    Job 34:19 [God] Who doesnít respect the persons of princes, nor respects the rich more than the poor; for they all are the work of his hands.

    Ephesians 6:9 You masters, do the same things to them [slaves] . . . knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with him.

These verses declare that God shows no favoritism to anyone, regardless of whether people are powerful leaders (princes) or rich or poor or masters or slaves. The same is true of race, spiritual heritage, and gender:

    Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Colossians 3:11 where there canít be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.

The precious truth that God displays preferential treatment or bias to no-one over anyone else is emphasized throughout the Bible (Seven Examples). For me, however, what rams this truth home like no other is Paul, who was thinking of the greatest leaders in the early Christian church, when divinely moved to declare that God has no favorites. ďThose who seemed to be something Ė whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man . . .Ē is the New King Jamesí rendering of Galatians 2:6. The classic Amplified Bible puts it this way: ďBut from those who were of high reputation (. . . God shows no partiality Ė He is not impressed with the positions that people hold nor does He recognize distinctions such as fame or power) . . .Ē

Paul was affirming that there are no exceptions to the truth that God has no favorites Ė not even Peter, James and John, the so-called pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9), who, above even the rest of the twelve, were the most intimate friends of Jesus during his time on this planet (Mark 3:17; 5:37; 9:2; 14:33). He was referring to apostles ranked with the greatest and most spiritually gifted leaders the church has ever known when declaring, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, ďGod is not impressed with a manís office,Ē (Galatians 2:6, J. B. Phillips translation).

If, like me, you crave still more assurance, see this brief note: Having a divinely ordained prominent position in the body of Christ does not mean prominence in Godís affections.

Not only do we differ in our God-given gifts and our role in the body of Christ, we can differ markedly in the severity of our trials and spiritual attacks. But, again, that says nothing about how loved of God we are.

Speaking from the most profound personal experience, the Apostle Paul declared, ďWho shall separate us from the love of Christ?Ē The original Greek then uses seven different words for the calamities that could hit us without affecting Godís love for us. As an indication of the range of meanings of those words, placed in brackets is how different Bible versions have rendered the previous word. Because some words might pluck your heart strings more profoundly than others, I have gone to this extreme to help personalize it for you. Hereís what might happen with Godís love for you remaining as intense as ever: oppression (trouble, suffering, affliction, tribulation) or anguish (calamity, hardship, distress, imprisonment) or persecution or famine (hunger) or nakedness (inadequate clothing, being destitute) or peril (danger) or sword (threatened with death) (Romans 8:35).

No matter what hits you, be it pain, poverty, demonic attack Ė you name it Ė nothing means that Godís love for you has waned.

Many of us have strayed far from biblical truth into imagining that divine approval means having an easy life. One of the downsides of this mistake is that we would conclude that God must be displeased with us if we faced even a fraction of what the great Apostle Paul endured.

    1 Corinthians 4:11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. (NKJV)

To this we could add three shipwrecks, including a night and a day in the open sea (2 Corinthians 11:25). Persecution is one thing, but natural disasters are another. Being shipwrecked would tempt us more than ever to think God must be against us. But Paul refused to fall for that lie.

Actually, the Bible insists that Godís discipline is proof of his love (Job 5:17; Proverbs 3:12; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19). Coaches reserve the most grueling training for those they believe have the greatest potential.

I might be envious of Josephís position of power in Pharaohís court and of David ruling Godís people from a royal throne, but Iím not so envious about the route they had to take to get there. Note that their stories are not about before and after finding God or discovering some life-changing spiritual truth. It is impossible to argue that God loved Joseph more or approved of him more in Pharaohís court than when he was languishing in prison, falsely accused of being a rapist. Nor can it be said that the Lord thought more highly of David after he ascended the throne than when he was the nationís most wanted fugitive.

For other moving examples, see this brief note: Jealous?

We are Godís children and the longing of the Fatherís heart is that we grow up to be like him. And in the crucified Lord we see the heart of God. Stirred by compassion so intense that only the Almighty can contain it, our tender-hearted Savior is infuriated by evil and all the suffering that selfishness inflicts on others. The Perfect One had every right to end all suffering by destroying everyone contributing to this worldís evil. Tragically, thatís every single one of us. Instead, God in the flesh exposed himself to all the suffering inflicted by this worldís evil. And he is eternally honored and exalted for it. So it is for all who heed his call to follow his path to glory.

For more about God, evil and suffering, see this medium length article: Why I Hate the Myth of a Cruel Christian God

Have you noticed how often the Bible sets up God as our role model for love? (Scriptures)

The Lord says not merely, ďDo as I say,Ē but ďDo as I do.Ē In the words of Jesus: ďFollow me.Ē

It doesnít take a genius to realize that in everything good, the Holy One far exceeds us. In fact, he soars so far above our highest attempts that no one but God is good (Mark 10:18).

    Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways . . .

And of course, this applies to Godís love as much as anything else (Psalm 36:5; 103:11 Tiny note on these verses).

Jesus told us to give, not because God might slightly compensate us, but because he would give us abundantly more Ė ďpressed down, shaken together, and running overĒ (Luke 6:38).

He used a parable about forgiveness to show that what God expects of us is far less than what he has done for us. The amount representing Godís forgiveness was not twice as much as what the servant was asked to forgive. It was not even seven times as much. Nor twenty. It was more than half a million times what the servant was asked to forgive.

Our Lord is the glorious over-achiever who goes way beyond all that we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

If God is no hypocrite but the perfect leader, he who expects us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) he must love us as fully as he longs for us to love him. And if he loves with all his heart, he keeps nothing in reserve to love anyone more than that.

No matter how incomprehensibly enormous the Almightyís capacity for love, if he loves you with all his mindboggling capacity, not even he can exceed that. If he loves you with all that heís got, he can love others to the max, just as he loves you, but he can love no-one more than he loves you.

Look at it from another angle. Can you believe that God gave his only Son for you? Consider what that means. Nothing could be more precious to a loving God than his matchless, eternal Son. As Paul argues:

    Romans 8:32 He who didnít spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things?

If God paid the highest conceivable price for you, sacrificing that which was infinitely precious to him, then you must be infinitely precious to him, and not even the Infinite Lord can exceed infinity. It is impossible for him to treasure anyone more than he treasures you.

The Scripture just cited saying that since God has not withheld from us his precious son, there is nothing he would not give us, reminds me of the jealous brother in Jesusí parable of the prodigal son. So extravagant was the fatherís delight at the return of his foolish, selfish son that he slaughtered his prized fatted calf as food for a celebratory feast. The older brother sulked, complaining that his father had never so much as given him a baby goat, much less a highly-valued calf. Despite having spent what had seemed his entire life slaving away, desperately trying to win his fatherís approval, he had never seen such a lavish display of love. The fatherís reply, however, blew his mind: ďall that is mine is yoursĒ (Luke 15:31). Despite the son supposing his father was tight-fisted, everything the father had was for him.

Have we, too, put ourselves through needless torment by not realizing the magnitude of Godís generosity toward us; wrongly thinking it is reserved for others?

There is no question that at any point in time God treats people differently but that cannot mean differing levels of love. For a brief explanation, see Treating People Differently but Loving them Equally.

* * *

Blockage: If I were Really Special to God, he Would . . .

Well, what would God do if he really, really, really loved you beyond your wildest dreams? Do you have the audacity to dare imagine that the exalted Lord of the universe might endure being tortured to death for you? What proof could possibly top that? We should devote all eternity to probing the depths of the highest conceivable proof of love; the cross.

And yet we break Godís heart by having an insatiable lust for still more proof. I tolerate your madness only because I have been equally insane.

Alongside the mindboggling enormity of what God has already done for us it might seem petty to the extreme to say, ďIf I really were the apple of Godís eye he would (or would not have) . . .Ē Nevertheless, the deceptive power of this thought inflates alarmingly when the blank is filled with something we crave (or abhor) as intensely as a man thirsting for water in a desert. Then it morphs into a deadly enemy blinding us to spiritual truth. Usually, it starts off fairly harmless but by letting it fill our dreams (or nightmares) we keep feeding it until it grows into a monster.

No matter how compellingly logical it seems to our pea brains that our current circumstances prove or disprove the truth of Godís Word, taking that slippery slope is as smart as hoping a broken umbrella will work as a parachute as we leap from a plane into a snake pit far below that is writhing with deadly vipers Ė all in the hope of winning the prize of tongue-kissing twenty man-eating crocodiles.

Ē[Skydiver

The insidious lie that our current circumstances disprove Godís love for us must be rejected as emphatically as we would spurn a terrifyingly addictive drug. Every time we indulge in the fantasy, it tightens its stranglehold on us and wreaks spiritual havoc in our lives.

Refusing to believe this lie is not burying oneís head in the sand. On the contrary, it is raising oneís head heavenwards and basking in the light of Godís goodness and divine revelation. It is refusing to be defeated by the delusion that we must be smarter and more loving and of greater integrity than the perfect Lord (Proverbs 3:5-7). It is no more escapism than obeying Godís directive to flee seductive sexual sin (Genesis 39:12; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22) or to think on those things that are true, honorable, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). It is deciding what you will exalt as your source of truth Ė the fleeting or the eternal; our harebrained guesses or Godís pronouncements as to what motivates the infinite Lord Ė and then having the guts to live by those convictions.

When everything is finally revealed, every mouth that has railed against God will be hushed (Isaiah 45:24; Romans 3:19). Everyone who has been incensed against him will be ashamed of the foolishness of their false presumptions.

Will you let temporary disappointments rob you of eternal joy? Should you let them trick you into twisting Scripture to fit a twisted view of life?

When the inexplicable happens, will you allow things beyond your understanding to corrupt your interpretation of Godís sacred words? Will you bow down to adverse circumstances, letting them bully you into pushing God aside and worshiping unpleasant things as your source of truth? Or will you stand up to the bully by exalting God and making the truth of his Word the standard by which you judge everything life throws at you?

Will you let the tears in your eyes blind you to biblical truth or will you let biblical truth dry your tears?

If you sense that grasping this could be important to you, see a little more. You might find it quite helpful.

1: Misinterpreting Godís Apparent Inaction or Silence

There comes a point where giving more assurances and explanations becomes counterproductive and instead of building faith it keeps us addicted to seeking more and more assurances. It is not enough for us to feel secure about Godís love because we happen to have a neat explanation for everything life has so far thrown at us. Maturity is about stubbornly accepting the reality of Godís steadfast love no matter how inexplicable our current circumstances.

Our confidence in God must not depend on our ability to understand everything that happens. Instead of being crippled by our finite intellect, our faith must be founded in the unshakable character of God. Only then can we soar to the heights we were born for.

That God loves us no matter what happens should be obvious from everything written above. Nevertheless, it is common to be rattled by times when we frantically want our Lord to intervene and he seems to say or do nothing. This can be so distressing and perplexing that I feel moved to pamper you by specifically addressing the matter.

At such times, everything within and without seems to exclaim that God had deserted us and cannot love us. Read the Bible, however, and we will find ourselves in holy company.

People today are probably less patient than in any other era in human history. We do not have to walk to the village well when we want water, wait for the sun to rise to see clearly, wait almost a full year before we can again enjoy the flavors of our favorite fruit, and so on. So itís disturbing how often, even back when they had to wait ages for almost everything, the Bible records people of God getting frustrated with God and asking him, ďHow long?Ē (Twenty examples).

Abraham conceived Ishmael and King Saul lost the throne because they did not wait long enough.

ďHow long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?Ē is the pained cry of someone so inspired that at that very moment he was writing Scripture (Psalm 13:1). In the midst of his anguish and despair he declared that he would sing because God had been good to him (verse 6). Thatís faith in action. Itís refusing to be fooled by the blindingly obvious Ė and it truly can blind us.

ďBut those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength. . . .Ē is a famous Scripture (Isaiah 40:31) but have you noticed how often the Bible speaks of waiting for God?

    Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.

    Psalm 33:20 Our soul has waited for the Lord. He is our help and our shield.

    Psalm 37:7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Donít fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen.

    Proverbs 20:22 Donít say, ďI will pay back evil.Ē Wait for the Lord, and he will save you.

    Isaiah 8:17 I will wait for the Lord, who hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.

    Isaiah 64:4 For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides you, who works for him who waits for him.

    Romans 8:25 But if we hope for that which we donít see, we wait for it with patience.

To see just how much Scripture emphasizes waiting, quickly glance at 35 more examples.

The bottom line is that anyone wanting a relationship with God can expect times of feeling like ripping oneís hair out because God seems to do nothing. This has everything to do with the superior wisdom of Godís timing and nothing to do with failing love.

Iíve felt tormented for most of my life over all the times I hear people say that God told them various things. Itís more disconcerting than thinking they have a hotline to God that Iíve never had. Hotlines are typically reserved for emergencies. These people seem to have something far beyond that. The Lord seems to chat with them almost continually, even about minor matters. In stark contrast, despite my countless pleas, I get nothing but stony silence or a busy signal. The result is more than just frustrating. It is more than just making me feel spiritually second-rate. It mocks me. It humiliates me. The deceiver (well named the accuser Ė Revelation 12:10) rubs it in my face and screams that it means Iím neglected by God and less loved by him. But no matter how convincing his con job, itís a filthy lie that insults not just me but God.

One of the things that has brought me peace on this matter is getting to better know a few of the people whose relationship with God I have envied. To my surprise, I discovered that they eventually have times when assaulted by more doubts than I imagined about hearing from God and at such times they actually envied my relationship with God. Talk about the grass looking greener in someone elseís field!

Spiritually, no one stays on a sunny mountain top forever. Eventually clouds move in until the grand vistas are no longer visible and one is left with nothing but sheer faith. If someone has become addicted to lots of spiritual props, thatís a most disturbing time.

I will explore this no further. It is enough to say that whenever we start feeling less loved by God, the deceiver is at work. No matter how ingenious his con job, itís a blasphemous lie; spiritual poison that we must refuse to keep swallowing.

* * *

Blockage: Oneís Limits in Knowing the Unknowable

This is the final section, and I believe I have saved the best till last.

We have blinked at the reality that Godís love is so staggering that Ephesians 3:19 says it ďsurpasses knowledge.Ē Despite Godís love defying human comprehension and being without equal, however, the Almighty keeps trying over and over in his Word, using many different word pictures, to convey how much he loves you.

Nevertheless, in seeking to convey to our darkened minds the blinding light of spiritual truth, our Lord is compelled to use things we have encountered in our pathetically limited experience as a bridge to us gaining a glimmer of understanding of things that are beyond knowing. If striving to know the unknowable were not sufficiently impossible, everything we have known is finite and fallen, while what God longs for us to know is infinite and infallible.

Despite having been ď. . . caught up to the third heaven . . . [and] heard inexpressible things . . . that man is not permitted to tell,Ē (2 Corinthians 12:2-4, NIV), even Paul, that great powerhouse of biblical revelation, was forced to include himself when stating, ďFor now we see . . . dimly . . . Now I know in part . . .Ē (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Of necessity, Scriptureís every attempt to bridge the expanse between the known and the unknowable fails to stretch the distance needed to achieve the impossible. The only difference between any of us is how far short the bridge stops for us (and hence our view from the end). As we squint from the furthest point we can manage, our ability to glimpse what lies beyond varies according to how far from the heavenly ideal our personal earthly experience has been. It might seem unfair, but usually this limit has nothing to do with our own choices but the choices of people who have impacted our lives.

Those so fortunate as to have known human relationships that edge towards how God expects people to treat each other Ė or who at least havenít had crushed out of them all hope of such a relationship Ė can be helped to understand Godís love through analogies that simply do not work for other people. We shall see, however, that God by no means limits himself in Scripture to portraying his love by word pictures that do not work for those tragically let down by key people in their lives whose actions have fallen abysmally short of Godís loving standards.

For some of us, certain bridges only go far enough to stir our imagination. That can be worse than nothing, if oneís imagination is dangerously off. So in this, the final section, my goal is to do everything in my power to maximize for you the benefits of divinely inspired bridges to the unknowable: both to help keep your imagination from going astray and to sharpen your long distance vision, as well as to scour every page of Holy Writ on your behalf to find those Bible-based bridges (divinely chosen analogies) that work best for you.

We will all benefit, even though we differ as to how much help we need and which analogies work best for us.

So this section has two goals. One is to unpack profoundly moving Scriptures about Godís love and to explore their implications in the hope of touching you deeper than you have ever before experienced. This makes it important reading for everyone.

The second goal is, at the same time as fulfilling the first goal, to help those whose ability to grasp Godís love has been damaged by grievously wounding human relationships. I have already addressed some of these peopleís needs but here I intend to go deeper by searching for other divinely inspired analogies that better work for these dear people. We will visit some of the extremes to which the Bible goes in helping us see how loving God is, so that we can all draw comfort from these biblical insights.

I will commence with a brief attempt to orientate the thinking of this smaller audience and then we can all join in the rest.

My wife adores spiders. She is fascinated by their behavior and physiology, and captivated by their beauty. Average people think this is crazy. Why? Because, even putting aside those who are terrified of spiders, people who find spiders as alluring as bird droppings are unlikely to start investigating and discover the intriguing variations between species, how gorgeously colorful some are, and so on. (Iím trying to walk a fine line between making my point as powerful as possible without veering off-topic, but for a tiny glimpse at what I mean, see Spiders.)

The take-home message is that even a very mild aversion can rob people of knowledge or experiences they would otherwise genuinely enjoy. What makes that so relevant to this webpage is that, through no fault of our own, many of us have been lumbered with a slight aversion to parents or males that is causing us to remain a little aloof from God Ė perhaps not a lot, but enough for us to end up robbed of more than we realize.

If oneís experience with parents or men has been less than perfect and one thinks of God as being a parent and/or male, one is likely to instinctively transfer negative feelings about inadequate humans to the God of perfection. This, of course, is particularly common among innocent victims of child abuse Ė even if some are reluctant to label their upbringing as abusive. Victims of marital abuse can also be deeply scarred. Abuse is particularly damaging spiritually when the offenders claim to be godly.

Like the shepherd in Jesusí parable who treasured all his sheep but was particularly concerned for the one that was lost, Godís heart reaches out in a special way to victims of any form of abuse. As is typical of our stupendously intelligent and loving Lord, Godís Word wisely and compassionately caters for people who are freaked out by the thought of God being like a parent or a man.

Godís precious Word frequently refers to God as a father because although it does not always work, most of us feel a deeper connection to people and love for them than to objects. Moreover, even if it does not match your personal experience, peopleís love for their children is usually particularly intense. You have probably seen portrayed in fiction, and in real life accounts, the prolonged devastation parents feel at the death of one of their children. It typically gnaws away at them year after year after year. The loss is often portrayed as being deeper and more tragic than an adult losing a parent or even than the loss of a best friend or life partner.

As explained, however, all analogies break down when applied to the One who is so good and perfect that he is in a class of his own (Mark 10:18). When, for example, God is seen as a father, he is so much better than any other that alongside him even the best of fathers suddenly looks evil.

    Matthew 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Emphasis mine).

2 Corinthians 1:3 speaks of God being ďthe Father of compassion and the God of all comfortĒ (NIV). Personally, I am deeply moved by that, not because of the reference to Father Ė thatís more neutral for me Ė but because of the rest of that expression. But what about those who had such harsh fathers that their emotions go into a tailspin at the very mention of ĎFatherí?

It will by no means help everyone, but some people are touched by Jesusí use of the word Abba to describe his relationship with his heavenly father, and the New Testament twice applying it to the uniquely intimate relationship we Christians have with him. Let me explain the significance by citing what I have written elsewhere:

    Three times, the New Testament in its original Greek refers to God as Abba. The peculiar thing is that it is not even a Greek word. It was the word Jesus used when speaking his native language. Mark, apparently because he felt there was something precious Ė almost sacred Ė about the expression, left Jesusí choice of words untranslated. We canít be sure whether Paulís use of the term was influenced directly from Jesusí earthly preaching or came from the apostleís own revelation, but he, too, clearly felt there was no Greek equivalent that adequately reflected the depth of Abba.

    It is popularly thought that Daddy is the best English approximation, but we can do a little better. For the people Jesus addressed, Abba was a babyís first attempt to call out to its father. The closest English is Dada. It is not entirely coincidental that it even sounds a little like Abba. It is derived from baby talk. To be one of the very first words a normal baby ever utters, it must be easy for a baby to say. (In some households the word would be Papa, but again youíll recognize the similarity. In fact, all these baby words are somewhat similar: abba, dada, papa, momma, mama, bubba (baby), nanna).

    The significance of this choice is that Dadda engenders feelings of tenderness and intimacy and trust that might not be there with the more formal Father. The word Dad might suggest someone a little boring or taken for granted, but Dadda or Daddy has connotations of someone who is special; maybe even exciting. Names used by older children might also bring with it overtones of a disciplinarian, since fathers are likely to be stricter with older children than with babies. The point is that this tender expression was Jesusí and Paulís choice of the most appropriate form of address to God.

    If thinking of God does not elicit within you warm feelings of love and acceptance and security, then you are missing a significant aspect of what God was wishing to convey to humanity by the use of this word. When things get tough, God would like us to have the carefree confidence of a little child leaving her broken bike with Daddy and happily running off to play, certain that Daddy will fix it.

What makes this special for some people is that even though their relationship with their father deteriorated later in life, they can recall a time in their childhood when their Daddy was their infallible hero and ever-dependable provider and protector; their problem solver and warm source of security and delight. They thought the world of him and he thought the world of them. Neither put big demands on each other; they just relished each otherís company.

As children grow, they usually perceive their parents less and less as flawless heroes, and their yearning for independence grows. At the same time, parental expectations of their children tend to grow, and what parents had tolerated when the children were younger are no longer tolerated.

Scriptureís pronouncement that Godís love ďsurpasses knowledgeĒ is found in one of Paulís prayers (Ephesians 3:17-19). As brilliant as the apostle was at communicating, he found himself forced to resort to prayer because he wanted his readers to gain insight that no amount of explaining or describing could ever achieve. He longed for them to experience the supernatural miracle of knowing that which was beyond knowing.

With this in mind, note that each time Paul mentioned Abba, he did so in the context of receiving a revelation from the indwelling Spirit of God.

    Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ĎAbba, Fatherí.

    Galatians 4:6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ĎAbba, Fatherí.

So the only hope we have of truly knowing Godís love is by a spiritual miracle that begins with new birth and is nurtured through prayer and relationship with God.

Mark 14:36 alone records Jesus calling God, Abba. Almost certainly Jesus used the word much more frequently but this subtlety was lost when the Gospel writers translated his words into Greek. As a child, however, I misunderstood the uniqueness of this word and the following Scripture to imply that the entire concept was a new revelation and foreign to those familiar only with the Old Testament:

    John 5:18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

In reality, the Old Testament is replete with the most touching pictures of God treating his people with the tenderness of a proud, doting father with his little child. Let me steal from another of my webpages to show you:

    Feel yourself carried by the most comforting and protective arms in the universe:

      Deuteronomy 1:31 . . . the Lord your God bore you, as a man does bear his son, in all the way that you went, until you came to this place.

      Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place. Underneath are the everlasting arms. He thrust out the enemy from before you . . .

      Isaiah 46:3-4 Listen to me, house of Jacob, . . . that have been carried from their birth, that have been carried from the womb. Even to old age I am he, and even to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear. Yes, I will carry, and will deliver.

      Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them. He bore them, and carried them all the days of old.

    As a little child is frequently lifted by its parent, so God lifts you up into his arms:

      Psalm 40:2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

      Psalm 145:14 The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all those who are bowed down.

    Picture yourself as a little, trusting child holding the strongest, yet gentlest hand in the world:

      Psalm 37:24 Though he stumble, he shall not fall, for the Lord holds him up with his hand.

      Psalm 63:8 My soul stays close to you. Your right hand holds me up.

      Psalm 73:23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You have held my right hand.

      Psalm 139:10 Even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand will hold me.

      Isaiah 41:10 Donít you be afraid, for I am with you. Donít be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.

      Isaiah 41:13 For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ĎDonít be afraid. I will help you.í

      Isaiah 42:6 I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand . . .

    The Bible shows the Lord not as a father who only becomes involved with his children when they get older, but someone who tends to a babyís needs from the moment of birth, even teaching the baby to walk:

      Psalm 22:9-10 But you brought me out of the womb. You made me trust at my motherís breasts. I was thrown on you from my motherís womb. You are my God since my mother bore me.

      Psalm 71:6 I have relied on you from the womb. You are he who took me out of my motherís womb. I will always praise you.

      Isaiah 1:2 Hear, heavens, and listen, earth; for the Lord has spoken: ďI have nourished and brought up children . . .Ē

      Hosea 11:3-4 Yet I taught Ephraim to walk. I took them by his arms; but they didnít know that I healed them. I drew them . . . with ties of love; and I was to them like those who lift up the yoke on their necks; and I bent down to him and I fed him.

Your childhood might have been cruelly robbed of such a wise, patient and protective parent or guardian. If you are willing to let go of the hurt and fear, however, then instead of the past holding you back you can emotionally enter into this type of warm and good and delightful relationship with God, and enjoy it unceasingly for all eternity with the One, in comparison with whom, even the best of fathers seems cold, evil and inadequate.

Picture a child brought up in a slum who is rejected by his parents and pushed out of home. While he is wandering the streets, envious of all those who have a loving home in the slum, he ends up being rescued by a wealthy, childless couple who adopt him, pamper him, shower him with love and give him not only a home far superior to anything in the slum, but an education and inheritance that keep him in honor and luxury for all his years. In contrast, those whose loving families he used to envy end up having to live their entire lives in slums and, with good reason, are envious of the one who had been driven out of his home.

Emotionally, thatís what it will be like for you, if you let your past drive you out of your current situation and deeper into the arms of God. Instead of envying others, you would be the envy of them, if only they (and you) realized what you have in God.

More than anyone else, however, the mind-bogglingly compassionate, all-knowing Lord understands if you to continue to react to thinking of God as the perfect father like someone raked with fear of spiders would squirm at associating the Creator with eight-legged creatures. To those traumatized by the very word Ďfather,í he provides this Scripture:

    Isaiah 66:13 As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you. . . .

What if, even then, they are unmoved because of having a bad mother as well?

    Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

    Isaiah 49:15 Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you!

Even those still traumatized by having had bad parents are usually sure they could have done better. So Jesus turns things around by helping us to focus not on our own inadequate parents but on how kindly we would want to treat our own children:

    Matthew 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Emphasis mine).

If that still misses the mark for anyone, our indefatigable Lord tries yet again:

    Matthew 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

    Romans 8:29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

I have an entire webpage about Jesus being our brother.

If that lacks passion and excitement for you, consider this:

    Isaiah 62:5  . . . As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.

For those who recoil at the thought of any human relationship, but feel warmly towards animals, consider this divine attempt to portray Godís love:

    Isaiah 40:11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom. He will gently lead those who have their young.

The Twenty Third Psalm is touching but not nearly as powerful to us in urban environments as it was to former times when people were more connected with the land and flocks were small and a special bond existed between sheep and shepherds. Even if we miss some of the full impact, we can still be moved by such Scriptures as:

    John 10:11-15 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesnít own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesnít care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and Iím known by my own . . . I lay down my life for the sheep.

And letís not forget

    Luke 15:4-6 Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldnít leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ĎRejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!í

What to some might be just one woolly blob in a hundred was all-important to the person in the story whose heart points to Godís heart. He keeps seeking, seeking, seeking until he finds it. Sheep are not light. Nevertheless, after his long search ďhe carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing

Hereís another New Testament portrayal of Godís softheartedness:

    Luke 13:34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . How often I wanted to gather your children together, like a hen gathers her own brood under her wings, and you refused!

And here are some Old Testament parallels to that touching picture:

    Deuteronomy 32:10-11  . . . He surrounded him [the children of Israel]. He cared for him. . . . As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, he spread abroad his wings, he took them, he bore them on his feathers.

    Ruth 2:12 . . . The Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.

    Psalm 36:7 How precious is your loving kindness, God! The children of men take refuge under the shadow of your wings.

    Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge. His faithfulness is your shield and rampart.

If even these fail, God has still not exhausted his efforts to portray his love:

    Matthew 12:20 He wonít break a bruised reed. He wonít quench a smoking flax, until he leads justice to victory.

Matthew was citing a Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 42:3) and declaring that it is fulfilled in Jesus.

In Jesusí day, reeds had certain uses but were so common that a single reed was of almost no value. Likewise, in sense of fetching no money in the marketplace, air is virtually worthless. Nevertheless, air is useful for so many things and is even essential for life. A bruised reed, however, is not only worthless but useless. Likewise, a tiny piece of flax used as a lamp wick is of little value. A smoking flax, however, is worse than nothing; it irritates oneís eyes and offends oneís nose.

Everyoneís instinctive reaction is to ignore and reject a damaged reed, and snuff out a smoking wick. But the Son of God is so different from other people that he carefully preserves what everyone else dismisses as useless and annoying. Jesusís sensitivity and compassion for people that everyone else overlooked or even despised kept shocking even his closest friends. He is the one repeatedly criticized by the Ďgodlyí for befriending people they arrogantly considered to be scum (Five Examples) and whose divine mission is to ďheal the broken hearted,Ē (Luke 4:18).

As I once wrote of the Son of God:

    It was the common people who heard this Man gladly (Mark 12:37). And it was from their ranks that he hand-picked the ones to fire the world with his glory. He chose hotheads with provincial accents, a tax man Ė a small-time turncoat any self-respecting citizen would spit on Ė and logheads with the stench of fish on their callused hands.

    Christ was continually aware of the invisible people, whether it was a despised tax collector peering through the leaves, or an unclean woman pressing through the throng; a wild-eyed madman in the Decapolis back-blocks, or a luckless loner at the pool; a sightless misfit, or a stinking leper; a cripple, or a mute (Scriptures) To a tired and hungry Jesus, befriending a spurned woman Ė giving hope to a Samaritan living in shame Ė was more important than food (John 4:6-7,13-14,31-32). Societyís rejects warmed his heart.

    It seemed wherever there was a paltry act of kindness youíd find religious people simmering with contempt, and Jesus glowing with admiration. A pauper slipping a pittance into the offering (Mark 12:41-44), a street womanís pathetic washing of his feet (Luke 7:36-50), a boyís fish sandwiches, (John 6:9-11), thrilled him. Mary just sat on the floor in rapt attention. That was enough to fill him with praise (Luke 10:39-42).

    Jesus was forever shocking his observers by selecting non-entities for special attention. Society saw a dirty beggar, a nauseating blotch on the neighborhood, a curiosity for theological debate (is it right to heal on the Sabbath? who sinned, he or his parents?). Jesus saw a worthy recipient of his powerful love; a precious work of God brimming with beauty, dignity and heart-wrenching need; someone to die for. While crowds turned up their noses, he poured out his heart. The masses tried to silence blind Bartimeus, the loud-mouthed groveler (Mark 10:46-52). They sneered at Zacchaeus, the money-grubbing runt who soon towered over them by displaying exceptional generosity (Luke 19:2-8). Jesusí followers wanted to push aside snotty children (Mark 10:13-16). They opposed the Canaanite woman whose incessant nagging was driving them to distraction (Matthew 15:23). No one could guess who Jesus would next honor. It was sure to be some faceless loser they had not even noticed, or an embarrassing nuisance they wished would skulk away.

    Jesus came to show us the Father (John 14:9). Today, the religious world still looks at the big names, while God treasures the Ďunknownsí. He delights to endow them with eternal grandeur.

There are still more extremes to which God in his Word goes in helping each of us grasp the exceptional care and tenderness with which the Almighty treats us. Scripture speaks of each of us as being part of Christís very body:

    Ephesians 1:22-23 He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

    Ephesians 5:31-32 ď. . . The two will become one flesh.Ē This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly.

Even if we feel Ė or are treated Ė as if we donít belong in Christís body, we are still an irreplaceable part of it.

    1 Corinthians 12:15-16 If the foot should say, ďBecause I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,Ē it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ďBecause I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,Ē it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. (NIV)

And being part of that body means:

    1 Corinthians 12:26 When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. Or when one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

It is sadly true that some parts might not be conscious of your suffering, but the Head is acutely conscious of it. Some parts might be unaware of how much they are missing out if one part is wounded, but nothing escapes the attention of Jesus, the Head.

The Bible speaks of you as being part of Christís body because:

    Ephesians 5:29-30  . . . no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly; because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones.

Since God is perfect, when Scripture says it is as if we are part of the Lordís very body, the allusion, of course, is not to some defective relationship between head and body but to the highest conceivable ideal. Tragically, some people get so depressed that they contemplate killing themselves, or so distressed that they sometimes engage in self-harm, but even these dear people spend most of their lives seeking their bodiesí well-being. To understand this analogy, they have only to remember all the times they have striven to nourish their bodies and to protect them from cold or discomfort or pain or tiredness or danger or injury. Even someone moments from killing himself is likely to attend to his bodyís slightest discomfort, such as rubbing an itch, shooing a fly away, or shielding eyes from glare.

A related biblical expression of Godís love for us is to say we are the apple (pupil) of his eye.

    Deuteronomy 32:10  . . . He kept him [the children of Israel] as the apple of his eye.

    Psalm 17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye. . . .

    Zechariah 2:8  . . . for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye.

A mere speck of dust or the tiniest eyelash in the eye makes us instantly want to give top priority to attending to it. At the slightest threat to our eye we so instinctively blink that we couldnít stop if we tried, and we duck and do all we can to protect that part that is so precious to us. We shield it even from glare. Thatís how sensitive God is to your tiniest need. Through the miracle of new birth, you are spiritually one with him. And, emotionally, you are the most precious part of God; the part he instantly and instinctively rushes to help. He hurts whenever you hurt. You are Godís top priority.

Links

Much More About Godís Love

Important Links Mentioned Above

Too Much Prayer


Godís Longing to Share the Glory with Us: Scriptural Proof


When Good Christians Feel Needlessly Condemned by the Bible


Using Godís Word Godís Way


God Is Not Sexual


A Few Biblical Insights into Godís Feelings


You Captivate Almighty God


Beautiful Examples (Scriptures)


Why Godís Wrath is Comforting


God & suffering: Understanding the Goodness of God)


The Ultimate Cure for Guilt


Unforgivable? The Unpardonable sin of Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost


Scrupulosity: Worried about Salvation and/or Blasphemous Thoughts


How to Change Your Self-Image


Undeterred: Heavenís Hall of Fame is Filled with People who Kept Persisting Despite it Seeming Hopeless or Seeming to be Rejected


God Wants No One to Perish (Scriptures)


God Shows Preferential Treatment or Bias to No-One Over Anyone Else: Seven Biblical Examples


Having a Divinely Ordained Prominent Position in the Body of Christ does Not Mean Prominence in Godís Affections


Jealous of those who Seem to be Godís Favorites?


Why I Hate the Myth of a Cruel Christian God


God: Our Role Model for Love (Scriptures)


Treating People Differently but Loving them Equally


If God Really Loved Me . . . (Very Helpful)


Spiders


About Jesus as our Brother

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