God's Love is a forever love
Dear Christian friends,
Were you nervous on your wedding day? Those of you who are still going to experience that day, understand that you will perspire. Take precautions. I was nervous. Why was I nervous? Perhaps some of the nervousness had to do with the plans. Judy’s mother was in heaven by the time we got married. The planning was on Judy and me…okay, it was on Judy. There were all kinds of details. Did we forget something major? Are the guests going to be comfortable? Did the logistics make sense? Would they be followed?
But there was more to the nerves than that. This was a huge red letter day for me. I was making a huge commitment, one of the biggest in my life. I was promising that I would love Judy with a love that never quits - not just for a year to two or five or ten, but for the rest of my life. That commitment is awesome.
Maybe what causes the nerves is that Judy was making the same commitment to me. Certainly I don’t doubt that commitment, but did she know what she was getting into? I lived with my parents and my family, in dormitories with classmates. They were ready to throw me out a few times. I knew my weakness. I got on the nerves of people. I got on the nerves of my own family and my siblings. They had to live with me; they had no choice. But Judy was walking down a dangerous road. Is she really ready to love me no matter what?
Today we are discussing one of the great passages of scripture. It is not about our love but God’s love toward us. “God’s Love is a Forever Love.” Each of us needs to know that 1) God loves me now; 2) God loved me from eternity; 3) God loves me to eternity.
Songs by the boat load have been written about love. I would think that of all the songs ever written, love is the predominate theme. We crave love; we want to be loved. Whether it is a love by child or adult we simply want to be loved.
God asks us to love him…more than anyone or anything. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind.” God asks that our relationship with him to be more noble and deeper than any other. He asks us to love no matter what comes to our lives. We are even asked to believe that his love is free and dependable and changeless. We are asked to believe that his love is forever. The problem with God’s love is not with his loving, but with us believing that his love is free and dependable and changeless and forever. We are the spiritually and emotionally scarred people. We have those things in our past, in our present, and we know in our future. We know that don’t deserve the love of God. Things lurk in our minds that lead us to ask, “Will the Lord really love me forever?” I sin. I sin big. I am greedy. Will he love me even if in my past I committed adultery or even in my future? Will he love me even if my life goes really bad? Does he love me if I drank too much or will drink too much? Does he love me even when my love seems to get cold and apathetic? What if I have been hooked on drugs, will he love me then? Do you know the answer? Let me say it loudly! Absolutely YES!
Listen to the promise of God‘s love now. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I wonder how many times this passage has been used over the centuries. When people are lying on their backs in a hospital, or awaiting surgery, after a tragic accident, the loss of a child or loved one, even when a spouse decides to desert the family and leaves a fistful of bills and crying children. All things work together for good to them that love God.
The passage is not hard to understand. The passage is hard to believe when humanly speaking the situation makes no sense. Our God promises that he takes every situation in life, whether sickness or death, natural catastrophe or depression or recession or whether jobless or woefully underemployed, and works it out for the good all who love him.
Remember that it also applies to the other side of the fence when there is something good going on too - when there is a new job or a big bonus or hope given after a miserable illness too. God makes all things work for the good of them who love him. He takes every situation in life to strengthen us, to focus us, to build us up, to make our faith grow.
While I have heard people say in time of tragedy, “Don’t tell me that this happened for a purpose,” the simple fact is it has! The prophet Jeremiah wrote to the people of Israel who were facing 70 year of Captivity in Babylon, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Under the same circumstances the prophet saw the deserted and destroyed Jerusalem and said, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust— there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”
While hard to accept when experiences the tragedies of life, remember God knows things that are hidden. He has purposes are way beyond what our minds would think and comprehend. He accomplishes outcomes we would never have thought of.
One day a member of ours in Florida invited my family to see up close the space shuttle. Dave worked for NASA. He was a brilliant man who wrote a 100% on a test to be employed by NASA to work on the shuttle. People said that was impossible to do. He took our family in the work area where they would get the shuttle ready for the next mission. He said that the engineering on the shuttle was incredible. He was explaining his work. As he was explaining certain things, I had no idea what questions I could ask. He was operating in an area where I was not all qualified to even think. For us to question the mind of God and dispute his counsel is foolishness. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways, says the LORD.” It is so much less troublesome to simply accept the route that God has laid out for us. Give me faith LORD to know that you love me now.
His love is a forever love that loved me from eternity. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” For those God foreknew he predestined.” This is the doctrine of election. It causes us to scratch our heads and ask questions instead of letting it do what it was intended to do – to put a smile on our heart and lips. What is the doctrine of election? Simply put, it is the teaching of the Scripture that says that before the world began, our omniscient God knew us and chose us to be his own. It says that when we were born into the world, God caused all things to work out in such a way that the Holy Spirit was sent to us through word and sacrament to be his own. IT is no fluke we are believers. He made it work that way.
The problem is that have a lot of questions. We ask about those who don’t believe. We wonder if we are really one of God’s elect.
Stop it. Let’s sit back and enjoy. What the Lord is saying to you and me is this: He loves you; he loved you from eternity. It is not some fleeting feeling. He is not like a fourth grader who loves someone one day and the next day that person has cooties. Even when we get cynical and we are battle-scarred from the difficult times; even when our loved one who committed his/her love to us dies and can’t say it anymore or even turned his/her back on us, the LORD’s love won’t fail. If he loved us from eternity he will continue to love us now. He will love you five years from now, ten years from now, fifty years from now because he loved you before the stars were in place, before a single tree was planted, before there was even dirt. His love was from forever.
While our sinful nature objects and says there was the time when I went too far, the times when I had too much to drink, the thousands of times when I lied to get out of the consequences, he says that it won’t stop because it began from eternity.
This was his choice and certainly not based on some action of ours. He made that election sure when we were brought to the baptismal fount and were washed in the cleansing waters of baptism. This was made sure when he sent his Spirit to touch our hearts with every Bible reading and Sunday School story we heard. With every Bible based sermon and Bible class the Spirit draws even closer. Every time we step up to the altar to receive his body and blood our tie that began in eternity is strengthened.
In fact, we are brought into conformity to the likeness of his Son Jesus Christ. We become more Christ-like. God’s love is a forever love – it is from eternity.
God’s love is “to forever.” I think the most important aspect of his love is that he will not withdraw his love. It is like the energizer bunny. It just keeps going and going and going. Jesus is called “the firstborn from the dead.” He was the first to rise from the dead and remain alive. More will follow. We will follow. The loved ones who died in the Lord will also be in that number. When he arose on the third day, this was not some divine drill; he was not just flexing his omnipotent muscles. This was his plan, the one about which he said, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” His plan is to give us hope and a future, an eternal future. That’s why we need to be on board with his plan.
It is easy to be thinking of where does this or that situation fit in with my life, in my professional goals or educational goals? Where does this fit into my retirement goals? You see, dear Christians, retirement doesn’t mean a Florida townhouse. It means one of the many rooms in reserved in heaven where nothing will perish, spoil or fade. This is where God’s elect are going. This is where you are going where God’s love will indeed be shown to be forever.