God Loved Us First and Most

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10 AMP

In giving up His only begotten Son, God proved the infinite love He has for us and that His mercy is available to ALL. God did not send Jesus to die because we loved Him – He sent Him because He loved us! He was not motivated to sacrifice Jesus because of our merits – because we had no redeeming qualities to deserve such love – but He did it because of His own goodness and graciousness. In this is love: not that we loved God first, but that HE loved US first! And He wants to make it abundantly clear – we did not seek Him out – He sought us first – we are simply responding to the love He has shown to us.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. 8 But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.
  Romans 5:7-8 AMP

God clearly proved His love for us by sending Jesus to die on that cross for us while we were yet sinners. Never, in the history of the world, has there been such an unselfish sacrifice as this. People might be willing to give their lives for those who love them, but only God’s love gives His life for those who do not yet love Him. Love took a huge risk – love gave it all, holding nothing back – with the confident expectation that men could not resist such a great love, and indeed they could not! Thank God that we can find mercy and forgiveness, wholeness and restoration through His love!

See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! 1 John 3:1a AMP

The Wuest translation says: “Behold what exotic [foreign to the human heart] love the Father has permanently bestowed upon us.” This is a love beyond human experience or comprehension. A great love; a marvelous love; an incredible quality of love! Through Jesus, God introduced us to a new kind of love – His agape love. He sees us valuable and precious. We are His precious treasure. His love gives us our value.

Human love is limited, flawed and often selfish. Because of manipulation and control and a lack of demonstrated love in their formative years, many people have grown up to be emotionally unhealthy. They have a negative self-worth. This results in negative and destructive patterns of behavior, which in turn cause more heartache and pain for all concerned. However, as they grow in their knowledge of the Father and the love He has for them, they begin to be restored and made whole. As Christians, our sense of self-worth comes from knowing how much God loves us. He is not just our God – He is our Father, Abba, Daddy – and He calls us his children! The Father loves each and every one of us with the exact same infinite love, but the depth (or shallowness) of our understanding of His love determines the level of our confidence in His love and our responses to Him.

Your concept of yourself affects ALL your relationships. As you grow in your knowledge and understanding of how much the Father loves and accepts you, you will also begin to act and respond in a healthier, more constructive way in your interactions with others, which will have a positive effect on their lives as well. We must have a revelation of the Father’s nature and character. He does not merely show love – He IS love! We must realize and understand how much He loves us. We must learn to see ourselves through His eyes – as valuable and precious. We must learn to love, accept and forgive ourselves. Then we will be able to see others as He sees them and we will be able to love them as He does.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  
Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV

God is SO rich in mercy, and because of His great love, He reached out to us to bring us from our fallen, sinful, alienated state into His Kingdom and into His family. Not only are we adopted as sons and daughters, but we are also given an inheritance together with Jesus. We are seated in heavenly places with Jesus, at the Father’s right hand! None of it is because of our merits, but purely because of the greatness of His love, grace and kindness! We are created by Him and prepared to live and walk in His ways. By accepting His love, through Jesus, we step into this wonderful inheritance that He has prepared for us! How boundless, endless, fathomless, exhaustless and measureless is His love for us and how rich is His mercy!

 

THE GOODNESS OF GOD – PART 1

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

“Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce]. 2 [But] we know that the judgment (adverse verdict, sentence) of God falls justly and in accordance with truth upon those who practice such things. 3 And do you think or imagine, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment and elude His sentence and adverse verdict? 4 Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)? 5 But by your callous stubbornness and impenitence of heart you are storing up wrath and indignation for yourself on the day of wrath and indignation, when God’s righteous judgment (just doom) will be revealed. 6 For He will render to every man according to his works [justly, as his deeds deserve]: 7 To those who by patient persistence in well-doing [springing from piety] seek [unseen but sure] glory and honor and [the eternal blessedness of] immortality, He will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and self-willed and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, there will be indignation and wrath. 9 [And] there will be tribulation and anguish and calamity and constraint for every soul of man who [habitually] does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile). 10 But glory and honor and [heart] peace shall be awarded to everyone who [habitually] does good, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile). 11 For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another].” Romans 2:1-11 AMP

There is no excuse, before God, for those who judge others, especially when they are doing the same things themselves. Those who are judgmental of others show that they have underestimated, and even perhaps despised, the riches of God’s grace. They either do not realize or they have forgotten that it is the goodness of God that leads all men to repentance, including them themselves. If we deny that God is a good God, then we are being disobedient to the truth. Your stubbornness is opening the door for the judgment of God to come upon you. Remember that God is not a respecter of persons. That means that He loves us all the same and He treats us all the same. No matter what a man or woman has done; no matter how bad they have been; if God can have an opportunity to show His goodness to him or her, He will. It is His goodness that melts hearts and draws sinners to Him. How can you fight with someone who is only kind and loving toward you? It is a hard-hearted person indeed, who can reject such a wonderful Lord!

“Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: 34 Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. 35 For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.” Nehemiah 9:33-35 KJV

Only the wicked despise God’s goodness. In God’s goodness, He blessed the Israelites and forgave them over and over, because of His love and because of His covenant promises to them as a nation. He was only good to them and blessed them with everything they could possible want and need and yet they rejected Him over and over. He did not reject them, they rejected Him, therefore He had to lift His hand of blessing and protection off of them and the enemy was able to afflict them. However, when they came to their senses and genuinely repented for their wickedness and rebellion, He always received them back into His blessing.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-11 NKJV

People quote this scripture out of context to explain tragedies: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.” They blame God for the bad things that happen. However, in context, we can see that it is God’s love, mercy and forgiveness that is higher than our thoughts and higher than our ways. We have a hard time grasping how God can forgive certain people, because we think that some sins are too great to be forgiven. Sometimes we don’t want God to forgive someone, because we don’t want to forgive them. But God is good! And He never changes! Psalms 145:9 NKJV says, “The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.” The Lord is indeed good and He is good to ALL!