God So Loved the World V

Lent 2011

imageFor God so loved the world… John 3:16

so adv 1. In the way or manner indicated. 2. to the extent or degree indicated or suggested. 3. very or extremely. 4. very greatly. 5. most certainly…

Immediately before speaking the familiar words of verse 16, Jesus had expressed the horror that salvation would entail, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Reading how God so loved the world takes an added dimension when it is placed in this context.

Go back to your Bible, and as you read, substitute the word “thus” or the phrase “in this way” for “so”. The depth of the love of God takes on a new weight when considered in this light. Rather than the abstract God so loved the world, we are confronted with Because God loved the world, the Son of Man must be sacrificed on their behalf. We’ll never read ‘so’ in the same way again.

Grace and peace to you.

image gritphilm

God So Loved the World IV

Lent 2011

imageFor God so loved the world…  John 3:16

so adv 1. In the way or manner indicated. 2. to the extent or degree indicated or suggested. 3. very or extremely. 4. very greatly. 5. most certainly…

The small word so carries a lot of weight in this passage as it modifies the verb loved. In Greek as in English, the word has a wide range of usage. Reading this verse in a wide range of translations finds the interpreters seeing it differently as well.

Today, we read the word in its emphatic sense. God so loved the world … God loved the world so much that he sacrifices the most precious thing, his Son, Himself, a member of the Holy Trinity. His loves translates to loss on His part but gain for the world He loves.

Jesus’ words “Go and do likewise”, though they appear once, lie at the heart of His entire ministry. As God loves sacrificially, so we are called to love sacrificially. Our love is to spread outward without concern for its return. As God gave all, so we are to love likewise.

Grace and peace to you.

image joodmc

God So Loved the World III

Lent 2011

imageFor God so loved the world… John 3:16

The first thing that catches your attention in the verse is the expression of God’s love for the world. We hear or read the word love and it passes over our personal filters for interpretation. Whatever definition for the word dominates our thinking, proper or improper, is applied to the words of the Lord.

Take a moment to let the word tumble over in your mind. What is love to you? Mere infatuation in its immature form? Is there a physical aspect to love? Does the word conjure up negative feelings, borne from bad experiences in the past? All of these impressions color the way in which the word is heard in our hearts and minds, and it becomes our interpretation of God’s love.

Focus on that word alone today. Say it aloud, not to anyone in particular, and let it hang in the air. As it reverberates, let your heart work on it. What does love mean to you? Are there negative connotations that you need to release? God will replace your notions with His own if you will simply expose them. Does your interpretation need maturing? He will show you a deeper love than you can possibly imagine when you are ready.

Grace and peace to you.

image sheknitsone

God So Loved the World II

Lent 2011

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

imageThough there is an almost universal familiarity with this verse amongst the Christian family, many forget the speaker and the context of His words. It becomes trite to many, an expression of immeasurable depth and meaning that is reduced to the shallows in which we wade.

Jesus refers to Himself in the verse, following his revelation in the preceding verses of the sacrifice yet to come. In verses 14 and 15, Jesus has informed Nicodemus that He is to be lifted up as the only source of eternal life.

Consider the first few words then, in this context. Rather than the common reflection on the word ‘so’ in its emphatic sense, we can read it directly translated from the Greek as ‘in this way’. Jesus informs Nicodemus, and centuries of readers to follow, that the sacrifice the father is making in seeing His Son lifted up is rooted in love for the fallen and corrupted world.

When we reflect on our personal sacrifice during this Lenten season, this idea informs it. Do we display our love for others in a sacrificial manner? Requited love is easy. Giving of self for the good of others when it is not recognized nor appreciated, not nearly so. Yet this is the disciple’s calling, to follow closely in the shadow of our Savior.

Grace and peace to you.

image fergal claddagh

God So Loved the World

Lent 2011 image

It is a fact of life that the most familiar things in our lives tend to fade to background, receiving little attention and often being taken for granted. We assume we will awaken tomorrow and that our significant others will continue to love us as they have. Our lives in Christ are not exempt from this trend; truths that we are most familiar with receive little meditation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Verse 3:16 in John’s gospel is recognized as the most familiar verse in the Bible. It was probably the first verse that you committed to memory, and since it pops up at ballgames each week, it is probably has reached the most people outside of the faith community. It is a simple, straight-forward truth, foundational to the Christian life.

When was the last time you spent an extended time of reflection in this verse?

I’m willing to bet that it has been some time, if ever. And yet, this truth lies at the heart of the Lenten season. God’s sacrificial love is evidenced in the Cross and the resurrection of the Savior. It is the promise from which we draw strength in the storm and pass on to our children. It is everything.

My Lenten reflections for this season are going to be rooted in this passage. The Spirit has brought this back to my attention for a reason and the approach to Easter is a perfect time to meditate on its many and varied messages. I hope you will join me.

image mandy jansen

Lent Spent with the Psalms, the Waiting

imageAs modern Christians, we can scarcely imagine the cloud of darkness that enveloped the early disciples of the Lord. He had died and been placed behind the stone in the tomb. All hope had gone, at least for today. It was a test for which they were not prepared. It led to a dawn that was beyond anything imaginable.

We will have times of darkness when it seems that God is far away. He is not, but for whatever reason, His plan calls for us to endure. The advantage that we have is our distance in time. We have seen that our Lord rose and walked among us a second time before rising to His rightful throne. This day before Easter is symbolic and ceremonial. We wait and we watch. We do not allow our hearts to sink into despair in our own moments of darkness.

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;

I will sing and make music.

Awake, my soul!

Awake, harp and lyre!

I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, O Lord among the nations;

I will sing of you among the peoples. (Psalm 57:7-9)

Grace and peace to you.

 

image taivasalla

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Thirty Nine

imageBut man, despite his riches, does not endure;

he is like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,

and of their followers, who approve their sayings. (Psalm 49:12)

We will all face death one day. Our choice in life is to wait on that day for the benefit of redemption as though Christ died for nothing but an insurance policy with us as the beneficiary or to be free today.

But God will redeem my life from the grave;

he will surely take me to himself. (v15)

You have been redeemed and set free. Will you walk up out of your self-made tomb? Will you live as a free man or woman in Christ?

Grace and peace to you.

 

image john thurm

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Thirty Eight

image Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.

You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. (Psalm 86:1-2)

The Cross in view and many are still waiting. The Psalmist did not have the Cross in view. He pleaded and prayed and praised and cried out for God to save him. You have the Cross in view and yet many still wait.

For God to save them.

The Cross is in view.

Grace and peace to you.

image crazyfast

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Thirty Seven

image When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

In God, whose words I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.

What can mortal man do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)

Make me confront my own cross?

Cry out for the love of God to flow through me?

Both can be equally terrifying to us. Jesus knew what lie ahead and yet set His face like flint towards Calvary. When we consider what His sacrifice bought, can we do anything less?

After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)

 

Grace and peace to you.

image hcii

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Thirty Six

imageRemember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.

“Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” (Psalm 137:7)

In the midst of Passion week, as we walk the final steps with our Lord feeling the weight of the Cross atop our shoulders and sensing the increasing tension, the world mocks what we purport to stand for. They shop for candy, baskets, and spring clothes without a sense of the sacrifice that the holiest of days represents and we are to blame. We often don’t live out what we say we believe.

If your faith is not being actively lived, today is the day to meditate on why. We should walk quietly in whatever circumstance God brings us, showing our faith as guiding our purpose. The absence of protest on our part will both warn and attract.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Grace and peace to you.

image Lawrence OP