The Loving Care of God

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

This passage in Luke comes within an extended exhortation by Jesus about acknowledging Him in our lives and living fearlessly in the face of persecution. Yet right here, in the middle of that bracing word, is a profoundly comforting word about the way God relates to us. The way that God knows us, says Jesus, is with loving care and attention. Like a purchaser paying attention to a group of sparrows he buys or a person trying to count the number of hairs on their head, God’s loving care goes all the way down to the details of you and me. God knows us and God also cares for us. What a wonder!

In comparison to God’s ever-aware care for flighty sparrows and innumerable follicles of hair, as humans made in God’s image we are far more valuable and worthy of care. How valuable? As the gospel story continues, we begin to see just how valuable we are to God and just how far His care will go toward us. The Apostle John summarizes it in bold truth:

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

Today take time to remember the loving care of God. Whether on the mountain peaks of joy or the shadowed valleys of despair, know that God is tenderly present and lovingly caring for you, whether you see it or not.

Every Life Made in God’s Image

Makoto Fujimura - Splendor

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Each and every life is made in God’s image. Because of this great truth, no life is either less valuable or more valuable than another. To speak of the value of each life reminds us that in God’s eyes each of us is treasured and loved beyond measure. God gave Himself for us in Jesus Christ and that shows us just how far He will go to display His selfless love for us.

Let us not lose sight of the precious wonder in each other person made by God and treasured by God. Let us not fail to honor the wondrous work of God in each other human being we encounter. Let us look for God’s handiwork and do our best to preserve and honor the treasure that God has given us in one another. Let us stand against anything that hinders such preservation and treasuring while simultaneously working for the upbuilding of each life into God’s greatest potential for them.

When voices of hate rise up, let us counter them with words of love.
When misunderstanding and misrepresentation blaze, let us be willing to slow down to hear and understand the other.
When pain surges in lives around us, let us not rush past but dwell with the other in their pain and salve their wounds with the compassionate love of God.
When fear grips human life with wild uncertainty, let us instead walk by faith and not by sight.
When acts of violence fuel the flames, let us work steadily for peace through self-sacrifice.
When human efforts fail, may we seek to redirect all eyes to the Living God revealed in Jesus Christ.

May we do this because our God came in and brought salvation in His very flesh that all might experience the abundant life through Him.  May we do this so that God’s glory—His goodness and greatness—might be made manifest upon this earth. May we do this until the day when a new heaven and a new earth are brought forth in fullness and we see Him face to face.

Praying to the God Who is Involved [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

During the European Enlightenment of the 18th century, a strong separation can be discerned between theists – those who believed in a God who exists and is actively engaged in the world – and deists – those who believed some sort of God or deity exists but who is not actively engaged in the world, instead creating our world as self-sustaining under the operation of its orderly powers. The deistic concept of God is often described as a “divine watchmaker,” who designed the world, wound it up and then left it to run on its own power.

The God of the Bible is not like the God of the deists. From beginning to end, the Bible is the story of a God who is intimately involved in the world. Yes, He creates the world with His power (Genesis 1-2), but He continues His involvement within the world in general and within individual lives as well. The Bible is, in one sense, the story of God’s engagement with the world, people groups, families, and individuals. As Paul the Apostle says, quoting a Greek poet, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Prayer is part of that story of God’s involvement in the world. Prayer is not only the invitation to approach a holy and powerful God, but to interact with a God who is involved. One major assumption of Christian prayer is that God is involved enough in the world and our lives to want us to draw near to Him and voice our praise, thanks, confessions, needs, and desires. As we consider the glory of God, His involvement in our world and lives suddenly takes on deeper significance. The writers of the Psalms understood this, even as David writes in Psalm 23:

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Lord, the God of heaven and earth,
  You know me and I want to know You more.
When I forget, remind me
  of Your presence in my life.
And teach me how to understand
  Your involvement in the world around me.
It astounds me just how great
  and good You truly are.
I thank You for that
  and for the gift of prayer.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

The Good Life

Good Life bannerThe next two weekends at Eastbrook I will speak about “The Good Life” from Psalm 23.

In a world the trivializes nearly everything and mocks both meaning and depth, what sort of truths do we encounter in Psalm 23? While much of our contemporary American Christianity relegates Psalm 23 to either sentimentalism or the closing days of our lives, what would it look like to truly enter into the realities found in Psalm 23 in our daily lives? What does it mean to live the “with-God” life where He is our Shepherd daily and all lifelong? I have a hunch that it would be the good life which so many people are desperately trying to find.

July 19/20 – “Living the Good Life” – Psalm 23:1-4

July 26/27 – “Sustaining the Good Life” – Psalm 23:4-6

Saturday Prayer 27

Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? (Ezekiel 34:2)

Lord, help me to be a true shepherd like You:
to take care of the flock,
to strengthen the weak,
to heal the sick and bind up the injured,
to bring back the strays and search for the lost,
to give of the best,
and shepherd with servant love.
By Your grace, oh, Lord, may it be so.

[This is part of a series of prayer posts in 2012 that began here.]