We Do Not Get To Decide If God Loves Us

It’s Wednesday morning, and I’m really sleepy. I think I have some kind of sinus thing going on, and caused me to have trouble sleeping from about 330 on, this morning. And I’ve got this muscle twitching thing going on in my right knee. It’s weird. No pain at all. But every couple of hours, it just starts twitching. In almost perfect rhythm. Monday night, it happened in the middle of the night. It’s hard to sleep when your knee is twitching. Once every t-3 seconds. It’s not twitching right now, so I should be able to concentrate. If I can stay awake.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Matthew 21:1-22
As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, Jesus sent a couple of them to fetch the donkey and her colt. I just noticed that Jesus asked for both of them. I never caught that before. The prophecy Matthew quotes in verse 5 is from Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. The word that the crowds are saying, “Hosanna,” means “Save, now.” But when people asked the question, “Who is this?” the answer given shows their misunderstanding of who Jesus truly is. They said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” They called him a prophet. Although that may have been true, it was not the whole truth. Jesus was/is so much more than a prophet.
Jesus spoke about faith again, in verses 20-22. It’s a similar statement to the mustard seed parable. However, this time, he adds And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. This has caused much controversy in the church, as people have attempted to abuse this teaching to get whatever they want. “Name it/claim it” theology has taught that all you have to do is believe and you’ll get that new car, that new house, that new job, or whatever. I do not believe that Jesus meant anything close to that. I agree with the notes in the Reformation Study Bible, which say this: “Freedom from doubt arises from an awareness that something is truly God’s will. True faith receives what it asks for; trust in God is not presumptive arrogance but submission to His will.” My interpretation of this is that faith is more than just belief, it also assumes understanding; comprehension. In other words, I must discern what God’s will is before I pray. Now there are times when I pray for things, not knowing what God’s ultimate will is. Like those days when I pray for rain or for a break from the heat. I have faith that God can do all things. But what is really going on in those prayers is hope, rather than all-encompassing faith. But there are things that I can pray that I know are God’s will. Like prayers for his eventual second coming. I don’t know when it’s going to be, but I know that it will happen.

2 Kings 19; Isaiah 37
Hezekiah is disturbed to the point of tearing his clothes (an ancient sign of great despair) when he hears of the the Rabshakeh’s public mockery of the Lord. But Isaiah reassures him that God will take care of things. The Rabshakeh returns to Assyria, and king Sennacherib sends a letter of similar mockery to Hezekiah. Hezekiah’s prayer follows:
15 And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.
16 Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God.
17 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands
18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.
19 So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.”

I like how he ends his prayer. The main purpose for God saving them would be “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.” You see, we need to understand that everything God does is for his own glory. Even the great mercy and grace he lavishes on us are for his own name’s sake. He is creator. He has that right.
The Lord, through Isaiah issues a prophecy concerning Assyria. God planned “from days of old” that Assyria would lay waste fortified cities. It was all part of the plan.
27 “But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me.
28 Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come into my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.”

And then God tells Hezekiah that the king of Assyria will not so much as even shoot an arrow in Jerusalem because he will defend her. And here is the end of Sennacherib:
35 And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh.
37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

I think it’s important to notice that what Hezekiah did when all this started was exactly what we should do in a crisis. He turned to the Lord! He didn’t run to Egypt or other nations, like some kings before him (and after him) did. He consulted the One who has all things in his hands.

Proverbs 9:10-18
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (v. 10) If there could be a theme verse for Proverbs, that would be it. I believe that is the single most important teaching in the whole book. If we do not fear the Lord, we don’t even begin to have wisdom.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10) In Daily Devotions for Kingdom Seekers, Dennis Jernigan speaks of God’s love for us. As parents, we, of all people, should have more of an understanding of God’s love for us. Nobody love my children more than me. So why is it that I can’t seem to comprehend how much God loves me? I love this statement that Dennis has made before, “We do not get to decided if God loves us!” But yet we try to do exactly that. We “decide” that we are not worthy of his love, or that we have done something wrong that has made him stop loving us. This is not possible! God will not stop loving us. Ever. And this reminds me of something that Joel Engle said in our message Sunday morning. A proper understanding of our status before God is necessary before we can properly worship him. How can we worship God when we think he hates our guts?? The answer? WE CAN’T!!! But if we understand that we are cleansed and forgiven by the blood of Jesus, and we understand that any discipline that comes from God’s hand comes through his LOVE, then we can truly worship him, and we can worship him with abandon! “We do not get to decide if God loves us!”

Father, I thank you for loving me. I thank you that I am forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. I thank you that I am free. I pray that I might grow more and more in my comprehension of this love that you have for us, to the point that I no longer ever think you are “angry” at us when we sin, or even that you might stop loving us when we do wrong things. Help me remember that you are my Father, and that you will never stop loving me; that you will never love me less than you do right this minute. But also help me to remember that you will never love me any more than you do right this minute, as well. My works will not make you love me more. Everything I do is done because you love me and because I love you, and is for your glory.
I thank you for the examples of trust that we are given in Scripture. Examples like Hezekiah show us where we need to turn when we enter into a crisis. Too often we run straight to people instead of straight into your arms first. There’s nothing wrong with getting help from people, especially from other believers, but we need to go to you first.
I pray for the faith that Jesus is talking about in Matthew. Several times, he has referenced this faith that can move mountains. Faith that withered a fig tree instantly. It is my contention that only Jesus had that kind of faith. But I believe that we can exercise true faith as well, when we understand your will and pray in that will. Help me to not ask for anything that is not within your perfect will. Give me discernment, Lord, to understand your will.

I pray for Stephanie today, Lord. I pray that she will feel better today than she did yesterday. She made it through the day yesterday, but her stomach was not feeling well. I pray that she will have a better day today.
I pray for Christi’s work day, Lord. Let it be a good one. Also for mine. Yesterday was challenging…today could be as well. But if I remember to look to you, that could make all the difference.

I pray for a friend’s grandson this morning. Newly born yesterday, there was a possibility that something was wrong with his heart. I pray your healing hand on that little baby.

“We do not get to decide if God loves us.”

Grace and peace, friends.