Dear Friends,

Recently, as I drove home from meeting with a friend who is earnestly seeking
intimacy with the Lord and his wife I saw the invitation on the church marquee:
"Come learn the Biblical Principles on Financial Management" or something
to that effect. As important as financial management is I was struck by how
desperately my friend and all of us need to know how much our God loves us so
that we can respond to Him in love and worship and then, out of cups filled
with His love, we can freely and fearlessly love our spouse, our friends and
even our enemies. It reminds me of Charlie Duke’s profound comments when,
as an astronaut, he had reached the zenith of his career as he stood on the
moon. He said as he looked down on the tiny earth from his lofty position that
he realized that though he could conquer space travel, he didn’t know
how to love his wife. By God’s grace He came to Christ and began to learn
how to love. I can feel Paul’s pleading with God in prayer for the people
in his day and for us today that we may know the intensity of God’s love
for us and then love others out of the fullness of God. "I pray that
you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all
the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the
measure of all the fullness of God.
" (Ephesians 3:16-20) But as all
the great saints of the past have taught us the only way to experience this
love is much time alone with God soaking in His Presence. We seek peace, happiness,
affirmation, self-worth in so many other places rather than in the one and only
place we can find it – in His Presence. "Be still, and know that
I am God.
" (Psalm 46:10) "Be quiet and rest in My good and
sovereign care of your life. Trust Me. I am Your Father. You are My beloved
child and I know everything you need. If I gave My precious Son to die for you
to give you eternal life will I not take care of your needs in this brief life?
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how
will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
(Romans 8:32)

Yet there is one thing God won’t do. He refuses to meet our selfish and
sinful desires. God never spoils His children. If the things we want and even
get are not God’s will for our life we take them to our harm. "And
he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

(Psalm 106:15 – KJV) "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile
to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do
what ought not to be done.
" (Romans 1:28) Sin may bring short-term
pleasure but it can never satisfy our soul. And so in the quiet times alone
with our Father He shows us our sin and calls us to repentance to deliver us
from the poison that is destroying our very soul. For our sins are idols and
false lovers, and our God is a Jealous God and Husband. "She said,
‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my
linen, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore I (God) will block her path with thornbushes
(trials, suffering, God’s discipline); I will wall her in so that she
cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she
will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to
my husband (God) as at first, for then I was better off than now.’
(Hosea 2:5-7) God loves us just as we are but loves us too much to leave us

There is no relationship that compares to marriage where we see God so lovingly
but firmly deal with our sinful and hurtful ways of relating. To paraphrase
what Mike Mason says in my favorite book on marriage, The Mystery of Marriage:
"The intense fires of marriage will either wreck your ego (a needed thing)
or shipwreck your Christian soul", i.e., if we harden our hearts in pride.
Loving our spouse as God commands us to love them (Ephesians 5:22; 25) is impossible
without an intimate relationship with our Lord. Human love, without God’s
powerful love flowing through us is like giving a man dying of thirst a thimble
full of water. Yet a marriage filled with the love of Christ not only waters
the man and wife but also those around them and their children, family and friends
get the spill over. It’s such a witness to Jesus that He compared it to
His love for His bride, the church – you and me. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Yet marriage seminars, books and tapes alone cannot empower us to love in this
radical way. This kind of love can only be found by sitting at Jesus’
feet in adoration and listening to His words of love and truth. "She
had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet (adoration) listening to
what he said (words of love and instruction).
" "Martha, Martha,"
the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but
only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and
it will not be taken away from her.
" (See Luke 10:38-42) Here we see
from the Lord Himself the priority of spending time alone with Him. It is "the
one thing needed
" in order to love God and others. If Jesus
says it is so needed how do we think we can possibly live and love as He calls
us to without it?

"This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew
3:17) "Jesus listened to that voice all the time and He was able to walk
right through life. People were applauding Him, laughing at Him, praising Him
and rejecting Him. Calling ‘Hosanna’ and saying ‘crucify him’!
But in the midst of that, Jesus knew one thing (the one thing needed),
‘I am God’s beloved’ and He clung to that voice." (Henri
Nouwen) "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he (God)
hath made us accepted in the beloved (Christ).
" (Ephesians 1:6 KJV)
In Christ, we are God’s beloved. That is our core identity. We are God’s
children, God’s beloved first and foremost before any role we have as
husband, father, businessman, mother, homemaker, etc. But without spending time
with our Lord and hearing Him say "You are My beloved" on
a regular basis, we will listen to all the other voices that in some form or
fashion say "prove yourself: do something productive, something relevant,
make a name for yourself". And we must say as Jesus said when Satan tempted
Him in the wilderness, "No, I don’t have to prove anything. I
am God’s beloved.

Recently as I spent a day alone with the Lord, He gave me a song and one of
the verses expresses this blessing of hearing His voice in my spirit:

Oh that I could feast on You in solitude and prayer

To still my heart before You to hear Your voice declare:

"You are my beloved child in whom I do delight

I’m jealous for your love for Me, I long to hold you tight"

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any
comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness
and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same
love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or
vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of
you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of
others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 2:1-5) Why? Because you are His beloved.

God’s beloved in Christ,

Len and Kristen

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