This book will remind you of this love, and that you are beloved by God.
I thought I'd share a few quotes that really moved me.
From the first chapter, the author says here:
"We may be unlovely, yet we are not unloved."
He continues here:
"Love is why God created us in the first place. Theologians speak of the fact that God created everything freely, not out of necessity. This is a very important idea - it means that God did not make us because he was bored, lonely, or had run out of things to do.
God did not create us out of need. He created us out of his love.
C.S. Lewis wrote, 'God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.'
But the full extent of God's love was shown not so much when he chose to create us. It was shown when we had become sinful and unlovely."
He quotes Isaiah 64:6:
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."
"God proposed to take the human race to where he could change filthy rags and remove the guilt and sin that left the objects of his love so unlovely.
There really is such a place. It is called the cross."
The Desert Experience
In chapter seven, Ortberg writes about the desert experience, which is basically a time in life when you feel God is nowhere near, it's a time we can often feel alone in the world.
He shares these encouraging words to those who may be going through this time:
"...sometimes the desert seems to come for no discernible reason at all.
In these times, even faith is hard. you pray, you pour your heart out to God, but there is no response. No sense of nearness. The Bible is no comfort. You are confused, and you wonder why, but you receive no answer. It is your spirit, your soul, that feels dry and barren. You are not just in the desert. The desert is in you.
In the desert all we have to cling to is the promise.
God has not forgotten you. you have not been abandoned. He leads his children in roundabout ways. He is not in a hurry.
God is at work in the roundabout way of the desert, in ways we do not see and cannot understand. God's way is rarely the quickest way. It is seldom the easiest way. But it is always the best way."
'In the desert all we have to cling to is the promise.' ...This is so true.
There was a short time years ago I questioned if God was real, are you really there God? And who are you really? I see now God allowed that time so that I would sincerely ask these questions and not just believe what I'd been taught. I mattered to Him and He wanted me to know Him, not just know about Him.
The author continues later in the chapter with this:
"In the desert, though, the word of God's love can speak to a deeper place in your heart. in the desert you come to God and you haven't prayed well (or maybe at all), you have been battered by temptation, rocked by doubts, and feel you may be more hindrance than help to whatever work God may be doing in the world. Yet even so you hear the words, 'I still love you. I could not love you more than I do now. I still want you for my child. Haven't you learned? You are the object of my undying affection. You are the beloved."
I never tire of hearing this...You are beloved of God.
The Grace of God
In chapter eight the author writes about love and grace.
He says of remembering we are loved by grace:
"God did not save me by grace only to decide that now he will base how he feels about me on my spiritual performance yesterday, God's love is always a gracious love."
He then talks about Paul.
Paul, the one who killed Christians, until God struck him blind and poured His grace upon him. The one who couldn't stop talking about grace. The one who started and ended his letters with grace.
The author says here:
"Grace is what knocked Paul to the ground on the road to Damascus.
Grace is what brought him to his knees over his sin, and grace is what took his sin away.
Grace was the light that blinded him, and grace was the power that took the scales from his eyes.
Grace gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being destroyed by his own arrogance, and grace made Paul's weakness the very home of God's strength.
'My grace is sufficient for you.' God said, and for Paul grace is the first word and the last word and all the words in between. Paul never recovered from the wonder of grace."
We are loved by the grace of God.
Safe in God's Love
Chapter ten speaks of being safe in God's love. What he says particularly on anxiety really spoke to me:
"There is a close connection between anxiety and prayer. we see the same thing when Paul says, 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.'
Many times anxious people read words like this and feel more anxious because they worry too much. But you can't make anxiety go away by an act of the will.
The idea is to allow anxiety to become a cue for prayer. Use anxiety to strengthen your prayer.
...Don't worry about how much anxiety you feel. Simply direct your anxiety towards God.
The anxious feelings may subside. They may not. Don't beat yourself up about that. Your job is not to make sure your feelings are 'spiritually correct.'
Your job - and mine - is to practice constant casting.
You can start right now. Think of the greatest burden on your mind. Maybe it's a problem where you lack wisdom, guilt that plagues you, a task that overwhelms you, a loss or disappointment that seems too much to bear.
You have been carrying it by yourself. cast it on God."
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
He later writes about the cry of our hearts to be loved:
"You are the beloved of God.
This cry of our hearts to be loved is only the faint echo of God's desire to love us. Before you were ever born, you were beloved in the mind of God. This is the deepest secret to your identity. It cannot be earned or won, only gratefully embraced.
Nothing you will ever do could make God love you more than He does right now: not greater achievement, not greater beauty, not wider recognition, not even greater levels of spirituality and obedience.
Nothing you have ever done could make God love you any less: not any sin, not any failure, not any guilt, not any regret.
The irony is we spend our lives trying to earn the love that we can only receive when we admit our poverty of spirit.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1
To learn to live in the love of God is the challenge of a lifetime."
I'll end with a quote by Martin Luther on the love of God:
"This is the ineffable and infinite mercy of God which the slender capacity of man's heart cannot comprehend and much less utter - the unfathomable depth and burning zeal of God's love toward us."
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