Friday, December 24, 2010

Loved Before the Earth Was Formed . . .

I wanted to wish each of you a very merry, joyous, peaceful, Spirit-filled Christmas tomorrow, and to thank you for sharing in my life through reading my blog, making me richer with your thoughts and sharings, and blessing me with your prayers. May God pour out His Spirit upon you this Christmas, and may the coming year be, for you, one of growing closer and closer to Him as your relationship with Him deepens and deepens.

As a simple gift to you, this Christmas, I want to share with you the thought that will be at the core of my sharing this evening at our candlelight Christmas Eve celebration. May it take you to a place of deep reflection, and may you rise from that place with a joy and security deeper than any you have ever felt before . . .

As Christians, we all know that the birth of Jesus was for a purpose—and that purpose took Him to the cross where He died for our sins. We also all know that it was love that took Him to the cross. John 3:16–18 are our guidon verses that we raise up to let others know that, ". . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."

The Apostle John shared this recognition of God's love in 1 John 4:9-11 when he wrote, "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." John shared his awe at such love when he penned 1 John 3:1, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God . . ."

I know this, and I am filled with gratitude for God's love, that He would give me such a gift. That love is, in itself, so astounding that I could never capture with words or in my heart the amazing wonder of a God who loves me that much when I have loved Him so little, and sinned so much. But, there is something that makes it even more astounding to me, and this truth is found in Ephesians 1:3-10 in which Paul writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

The "fullness of time" is Christmas, and the cross. Galatians 4:4-7 makes this clear when it uses the same expression: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

So, when God said the time was "full" (or had come) He sent Jesus to complete His plan—to unite us with Him through Jesus. And He did this from love. And, and here's the thing that rocks my mind, He did this from a love He had for you and I before He even formed the earth! Read again those Ephesians words, ". . . even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ." Do you realize that before He even formed the earth—before even your grandparents a hundred generations back were born—He knew you and loved you so much that He established a plan to unite you back with Him through His Son, Jesus?

How can we comprehend such love? To be loved before we were even concieved!?!

He LOVED me before He even formed the earth! He loved me before He even formed me in my mother's womb! Back when ". . . the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep" He already knew me and loved me so much that He established a plan to bring me back to Him—a plan that would cost Him His life. Then, as He watched and waited, came "the fullness of time" and He sent forth His Son on that first Christmas morn to complete His plan to unite me with Him, still, long before I was born. Of course, that applies to you as well—not just me—He knew and LOVED you before He ever formed the earth. If that doesn't tell you and I how absolutely special we are to Him, then I don't know what will. To be known, and loved so deeply that He would lay His life down for us, before He ever even formed the earth—wow! Our God is so amazing, and His love for us so incredible—it is a revelation that should alter the very fabric of our lives, focus, anxiety, values, and aim. To be loved like that, by a God who could know and love us before we ever were born. It is a wonderful God we have to lay our lives before. All praise and glory be to Him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

God bless you all. Merry Christmas! You are loved!

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