love lavished : hope brought : mercy munificent : grace given

Love, hope, mercy and grace – four words I’ve often connected to Christmas and beyond – and today, I’d like to delve

Love

A word that cannot defined my man, but by God

That being said, I looked to 1 Corinthians 13 for today’s definition rather than Miriam-Webster’s dictionary:

If I…do not have love, I have nothing…If I…do not love, I am nothing…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13

God is love.

If I…do not have [God], I have nothing…If I…do not have [God], I am nothing…[God] is patient, [God] is kind. [God] does not envy, [God] does not boast, [God] is not proud. [God] does not dishonor others, [God] is not self-seeking, [God] is not easily angered, [God] keeps no record of wrongs. [God] does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [God] always protects, [God] always trusts, [God] always hopes, [God] always perseveres. [God] never fails…these three remain: faith, hope and [God]. But the greatest of these is [God]. 1 Corinthians 13

Simple and incomprehensible at the same time.

It’s more than a verb.

It’s a noun.

He lavished his love upon us at Creation. His love enabled him to continue to pursue us even though we had flaunted our sin in his face. Love was the reason he became a man, born as a baby, who lived and died just so our relationship with him could be restored once and for all.

Love

One of my favorite words

Simple…and yet, complex.

If you read through the Psalms, you’ll discover that David knew God loved him, without a doubt. David had experienced it. We can too, if we but choose to allow Jesus to do so.

Spent time with him; sit in his presence and bask in it. Soak it in. Breathe deeply and sense his love as it fills every fiber of your being.

And it remains – yesterday, today and forever.

Hope

Hope is to anticipate or expect with confidence.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6.19

Jesus came and hope arrived.

I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying it again.

Christ is hope.

He is hope to the person out of a job, to the struggling single parent, to the dying believer. Even if you feel that you can’t find your way out of the murkiness of the struggles of this life, if you have Jesus, you have hope.

It’s not a false hope, either. It is very real.

God’s promises brought hope before Christ.

His birth confirmed it.

And his resurrection ended the argument of its legit-ness once and for all.

Mercy

In your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. Nehemiah 9.31

Mercy can be defined as not getting what you deserve.

Read through any Old Testament story and you’ll understand that without the mercy of God, we’d be finished.

Done

Over

God loves us so much and is saddened when we intentionally do things contrary to His will (when we disobey him). The pain isn’t surface level with him; it cuts deep.

It was in his munificent mercy that he extends grace to us through his son; through his coming to our world in human form to teach us how to live as his children and to die; to sacrifice himself and everything that he is just so our relationship with him could be restored.

And rarely do we see mercy without grace…

Grace

If mercy is not getting what you deserve, grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Grace is free, but it doesn’t come cheap.

It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around the grace of God. We don’t live in a world where grace is really practiced or even valued. And as a result, no one expects it — not from the people around them and certainly not for a holy and perfect God.

We often look at ourselves and see our weaknesses and where we fall short. It’s easy for us to question why God would want anything to do with us and again, this all comes down to who he is — love, compassion and mercy.

We can’t hid who we are and it ridiculous when we think we can either put on a front for God (who sees us down to the center of who we are) or toss in the towel, assuming we’re simply not worth it.

God knows you. He knows me. Deeply.

He created us and knows exactly how our minds and hearts work.

In some ways, we’re right in thinking that we don’t deserve grace. We sin and we mess up, time and time again. Humanity is a mess. A beautiful mess.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103.13

We aren’t deserving of God’s grace, but his gives it anyway – a free gift; one that we don’t deserve.

It’s not given because of who we are, but because of who God is.

He is compassion and mercy.

He is love.

He loves us so much that he was willing to die for us. What kind of god does that? Certainly not one created by man.

God chooses not to run away from our mess. He lives in it. And he lovingly helps us clean it up, day by day, moment by moment, trial by trial.

Let me ask you – as you contemplate God and who he is, what will your choice be? Will you choose the darkness that this world offers? Or will you choose light?

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