Continuing Our Journey into the Heart of God…

Some of us are self-aware while others are less so.

For years, I have hidden from the fact that I am a pusher.  Of course I am not referring to the informal definition that I “sell illegal drugs”.  I am referring to the idea that I am the kind of person who pushes myself and others to get things done.

That is not all bad.  “Pushers” do sometimes get stuff done, but it is hard to step aside from life and take the time to be aware of the cost.  Sometimes relationships suffer because not everyone around you wants to accomplish what you want to accomplish at the pace that you prefer.  Sometimes life gets too stressful as you push to get what you want.   Also I know that I have set standards that are probably too high, for myself and for others.  That certainly adds to the stress.

Oh well, the life of the pusher…

Recently I have had opportunities to step back from life and examine it a bit more.  Use whatever cliché you prefer: take a breath, smell the roses or just say I have learned to slow down and push less. 

I am beginning to learn to meditate.

Being a pusher, it even affects reading.  I have found myself “pushing” myself through books, just to say “I have read it!”  Along the way, I have not paid that much attention to the words; I have just raced through the pages, never pausing to think deeply about the ideas. 

Then it happened.  God put some books into my hands that slowed me down.  I can truthfully say that I have been changed by the words of three authors whose works have touched my soul.  These three books have touched my soul even though  I realize that they may not touch yours. *

Let me be even more personal.  I read these books a lot.  I can go to a chapter, a page or even a paragraph and read it again and the thoughts make me think, make me feel, make me feel inspired to do more to make my life better.

But not by pushing…

I am getting where I need to be by accepting what God gives me, working within His framework, listening to the Holy Spirit.  It requires quiet time to get nearer to the heart of God, to feel His presence. 

This brings me to the Scripture that J.I. Packer quotes in Chapter 12 of his book**.  First John 4:8 reads “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  Twelve words.  Packer does not even center Chapter 12 on twelve words.  He concentrates or [if you will] meditates on just three words of First John 4:8: “God is love.”

He thinks that many false ideas have grown up around these three simple words: “False ideas have grown up around it like a hedge of thorns, hiding its real meaning from view.”

Three words: “God is love.”

In the last post, I referred to his definition of God’s love: “God’s love is an exercise of His goodness toward individual sinners whereby, having identified Himself with their welfare, He has given His Son to be their Savior, and now brings them to know and enjoy Him in a covenant relation” [123].  I spent one thousand two hundred and thirty words summarizing Packer’s analysis of the definition, but I did not get through the whole definition. 

Today I will continue the analysis– continue “Our Journey into the Heart of God…”

“Identifying Himself with their welfare” is a section that bears a close look.  If a person really cares for another (really loves another) they are concerned with their welfare.  At times in my life, my son has done things that disappointed me, but that does not mean that I cease caring for him.  When he has needed help, I am there to provide that help.   At times in my life, my spouse has done things that made me less than happy but that does not mean that I am ready to toss our relationship aside. 

Let’s expand this discussion to God’s relationship with men and women.  Truly we do horrible things from time to time so one would think that God would be very disappointed with us, truly “less than happy.”

Packer writes “God was happy without humans before they were made; He would have continued happy had He simply destroyed them after they had sinned; but as it is He has set His love upon particular sinners, and this means that, by His own free voluntary choice, He will know perfect and unmixed happiness again till He has brought every one of them the heaven” [125].

God saves man and woman not only for His glory but also for His gladness.  Luke 15:10 says “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  

Maybe as I love my son and my wife, God loves us: He is concerned with our welfare despite our shortcomings.

“He has given His Son to be their Savior” is the most powerful statement of God’s love for all of us.  Not only did God give His Son to man to help man understand how to live, but God gave His son knowing that he would be sacrificed for all our sins.  Jesus Christ became the mediator who can bring us to a relationship with God.  Jesus Christ became the atoner who died for us as we are yet sinners.   “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him graciously give us all things?” [Romans 8: 32]. 

Is this not the ultimate demonstration of love? 

How could we say it is not?

Finally as Packer closes his definition, we need to consider the “brings them to know and enjoy Him in a covenant relation” phrase.   A covenant relation is a pledged relationship where two parties are connected to each other in “mutual service and dependence.”  God made it clear to Abraham that He was “in it for the long haul” with the lines from Genesis: “to be your God and the God of your descendants after you” [17].  God is not going anywhere; He is omnipotent.  When Packer tacks the idea of a covenant relation on his definition, he is saying that God will be doing the best He can for man forever.  We may drop in and out of a strong relationship with God because we are not holding up our end of the covenant, but that is not God’s promise.  What He promises, He will deliver.

“God is love.”

Three little words from Scripture that mean so much…

Packer writes “Why do I ever grumble and show discontent and resentment at the circumstances in which God has placed me?  Why am I ever distrustful, fearful or depressed?  Why do I ever allow myself to grow cool, formal and halfhearted in the service of the God who loves me so?  Why do I ever allow my loyalties to be divided, so that God has not all my heart?” [127].

All those behaviors make no sense as we respond to a God who loves us so.  Jesus goes even further by saying as God has loved us, we ought to love one another.  As our love for God spills over into the relationships we have with our wives, our husbands, our sons, our daughters, our families, our neighbors, people at church and at work do you think that nonbelievers could see this and learn?

I think so.

Yes, God loves us and we should know it and act on it, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we don’t act like we have His love in our minds and hearts.  Packer’s words at the end of Chapter 12 ring so true for a “pusher” like me.“Meditate upon these things.  Examine yourself” [127].Yes God loves us and we should know it and act on it, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we don’t act like we have His love in our minds and hearts.  Packer’s words at the end of Chapter 12 ring so true for a “pusher” like me.

“Meditate upon these things.  Examine yourself” [127].

“God is love.”

*not the Bible…My special books are totally focused on me and my life.  They are all spiritual in nature.

**Knowing God

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