God demonstrated His love for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life...God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us...In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10; cf. Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:4; 5:2; 1 John 3:1, 16; 4:19; Rev. 1:5).
A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air. “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to Him.”
Love is the only word that could possibly explain what God has done for us. When God sent His Son into our world He knew what would happen to Him. He knew He would be rejected and ridiculed. He knew He would be tempted by Satan. He knew He would be betrayed by Judas. He knew He would be crucified between two thieves with nails in His hands and feet. He knew His Son would cry out in His pain and suffering and that He would not rescue Him. Yet, God sent His only Son. Not because anyone deserved Him but because everyone needed Him.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord...Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all...God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them...For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Isa. 53:4-6; 2 Cor. 5:19, 21).
God proved His great love for us at the cross 2,000 years ago. He doesn’t change (Mal. 3:6) but loves us today with that same love. Remember, God didn’t just say, “I love you.” He showed us.
It was one of the darkest times in the history of God’s people. Because of their shocking sinfulness they suffered untold horrors from the Babylonians especially during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. In Lamentations (3:21-25), Jeremiah mourns over them, but he also shines four rays of light from the LORD upon them to brighten their future.
Hope is the first ray of light: “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope” (v. 21). Jeremiah brought a message of hope to the people. It was not a just the wishful thinking of a naïve optimist nor was it based on chance like that of the gambler. No, it was the LORD that he had in mind. His hope rested upon the LORD. Without Him there is no hope but with Him there is always hope.
Hebrews was written to Christians who were suffering persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, some were leaving Christ and falling away from grace. In Hebrews 11 the writer reminds them of the heroes and heroines of faith from the Old Testament who suffered persecution and trials. In chapter 12 he uses their example to encourage the Hebrews to keep their faith as Christians and to keep their eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-4). In the verses that follow he helps them to understand what God is doing with their trials and it will help us to understand what God is doing with the coronavirus pandemic and the trials we face, today.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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