Last month we began a short series on "knowing God loves us." We said that it's critical to know He loves us, not just in our heads, but in our every day life experience. We need to know God loves us "experientially" so that no matter what happens to us circumstantially, emotionally or physically, the security of His Love is always there.
We also need to have the assurance of His Love in order to move ahead in our Christian walk. Not knowing if He loves us or not, will hinder our being able to-moment-by-moment-surrender our wills and our lives to Him and love others as He desires.
"Okay, Nancy," you might say, "Prove it to me that God loves me personally. I don't feel it. I don't see it. I don't hear Him. So, how can I know and believe it's true? What proof do I have?" One person even said to me years ago, "Nancy, God's Love is a gift that only some people receive, not all of us are that lucky." Well, I believe she's wrong. I believe we are all that lucky, and I believe, with the Holy Spirit's help, I can prove it! In this short article, I would like to focus on four major reasons why we can "know" that God loves us personally:
1) The first reason we can know that God loves us individually, is because He says so in His Word. Listen:
"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn thee."
"Since [you are] precious in my sight...and I have loved thee...Fear not: for I am with [you]."
"As the Father has loved Me [Jesus], so have I loved you."
"Behold what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." (1 John 3:1)
These are just a few of the many Scriptures that tells us that God loves us personally. At the end of this article, I have listed some further Scriptures on His Love. Since God's Word is "the Truth," we need to believe and trust in what He says .
An Example: Discovering God's Love
Let me share a beautiful example of someone who learned not only how much God loved her, but also went on to experiencing God loving others through her.
Linda was brought up in a church that taught that God was a God of Righteousness, Justice and Judgment - not a God of Love, but One to be feared. (The truth is, of course, that God is a God not only of Righteousness, Justice and Judgment, but also of Love, Mercy and Compassion.)
Therefore, when Linda's personal life began to fall apart, she found no consolation from a God of Justice and Holiness. She needed Someone who personally loved her and cared for her. Finally, one of her friends (from another church) showed her from Scripture, that God is a God not only of Holiness, Justice and Righteousness, but also a God of Love, Compassion, Forgiveness and Mercy. He told her that God not only loved her and would forgive her for all her transgressions, but that He also wanted to heal her and fill her with His Love so that she could pass it on to others.
Linda could hardly believe what she was hearing; it was too wonderful to even comprehend. Was God really like this? Did He really love her like that? Could she really learn to love others with His Love?
The first few weeks after that conversation, Linda tried to believe in a God who unconditionally loved her. Each time she chose to step out in faith, however, the old nagging doubts came rushing back in and the overwhelming fear of condemnation and guilt consumed her.
She finally ended up - out of pure desperation - writing down all of God's promises of Love in the Bible (like the list at the end of this article) on 3x5 index cards, and carrying these cards with her wherever she went (in her pocket, in her purse or in her car).
When the doubts, unbelief, and the enemy's taunts came in, she quickly confessed and repented of them, whipped out those cards, and read out loud how much God loved her. Finally, she chose to step out in faith and believe what God's Word said. Even though she didn't "feel" anything yet, she persevered by faith and God honored her obedience by eventually aligning her feelings with her choice.
In His timing and way, she began to have "living experience" that God did, indeed, love her. And, upon that solid foundation, she was able to continue her walk with God and learn to love others.
Linda, to me, is a perfect example of a Christian who believed in God, but didn't have living experience that He loved her. Therefore, she was not able to move forward in her Christian walk.
The Christian walk is a faith walk, not a feeling walk.
Can't Move Forward
So, it doesn't matter how long you have been a Christian, how many people you have led to the Lord, how many Scriptures you have memorized, or how many Bible studies you have taught. If you don't know that God loves you personally, you're not going to be able to grow.
If you have difficulty really believing and intimately experiencing this in your own life (just like Linda did), then see the Scriptures on Knowing God Loves Me at the end of this article. Make up 3x5 cards, just like Linda did. Keep these cards with you at all times-in your car, in your purse, on the mirror in the bathroom, etc. Then, when doubts, fears, unbelief, insecurities, etc., come over you, whip out those cards, confess and repent of the things that are not of faith and give them to God. Then choose by faith - not by feelings - to believe what God says and in His timing, He will align your feelings to match your choices.
Jesus Died for us
2) Not only does God's Word say that He loves us individually, but He also has proven His Love by sending His Son to die so that we might live.
It's a proven fact that Jesus did come and that He did die on that cross 2,000 years ago. Flavius Josephus, who was a Jewish authority, a Roman scholar and who lived from 37 A.D. to 100 A.D., has recorded this for us in his work, The Antiquities of The Jews. Josephus verifies that Jesus was an historical figure who was called Christ, who was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and who rose again on the third day. Listen: "He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first, did not forsake Him, for He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him..."1
This passage is very controversial because of its testimony of Jesus. Some critics claim that it was a Christian insertion. However, there is strong evidence from a number of ancient manuscripts that this passage was in the original. In fact, it is even quoted by early church fathers, such as Eusebius, as early as 325 A.D.2
God sending His Son to die on the Cross for our sins is the boldest expression of His Love. Even when we were at odds with God, He still sent His Son to die for us. His Love for us was not determined by "our" actions, but on how much He loved us.
Listen to 1 John 4:9-10: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Propitiation simply means "to atone or make amends for." In other words, Jesus came and died in our place (atoned for our personal sins) so that we could be freed from sin's penalty, which is death. Jesus died so that you and I could be saved. To me, this is ultimate Love!
John 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
All we have to do is reach up and receive His incredible gift.
He Has Given Us His Spirit
3) Not only does the Bible say that God loves us personally, that He has proven His Love for us by dying on the cross 2,000 years ago, but the Bible also says that if we choose to believe and accept Jesus' pardon (His provision) for our sins, then we'll receive His Spirit into our hearts .
God's Spirit is like the guarantee or the down payment (the pledge or the voucher) that confirms God's Love for us and assures us that His promises are true.
We receive His Spirit when we first accept Jesus into our hearts. His Spirit unites with our spirit giving us a brand, new "life source" or "power source" or "energy source."
It's the Spirit of God that bears witness or validates to our spirit not only that we are His children, but also that He loves us. (Romans 8:10) It's God's Spirit that empowers us, teaches us, guides us, gives us discernment as to how to walk and enables us to commune and fellowship with Him.
He Has Given Us Abundant Life
4) God loves us so much that He not only has told us so in His Word, sent His Son to die for us, given us His Spirit to confirm His Love, but He also loves us so much that He has given us His abundant Life.
Remember John 10:10 which says, "I [Jesus] am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Abundant life is experiencing God's Life (His supernatural Love, His supernatural Wisdom, and His supernatural Power) in place of our own. Abundant Life is simply an exchange of life . We give Him ours: He gives us His.
By "abundant Life" I do not mean the eternal life that we will experience when we die and go to heaven. The kind of abundant Life that I am talking about is God's supernatural Life that we can all experience here and now.
It's experiencing God's Love for a person we know that we can't love in the natural; His Wisdom shedding light in an area we know naturally we don't have; and His Power getting us through circumstances we know in our own strength we couldn't manage.
All Christians have eternal life, but very few Christians experience abundant Life.
God wants us to have this kind of Life, even in the midst of our trials. Experiencing His Life in place of our own, I believe, will convince us more than anything else that God is real, and that, yes, He does love us.
A Little Example
I've been traveling and teaching for about 20 years now, and as I am getting older, my body is beginning to go through many changes. About seven years ago, I had a medical condition that would come upon me unexpectedly, last at least a half a day and then be gone. I never knew when it would occur, but when it did, I was immobilized - I literally couldn't function. During these down times, there was "no way" that I could even think about traveling.
A year and a half before this condition began, I was asked to speak in Northern California. It was a wonderful opportunity and I really wanted to go. I prayed about it and felt confident that God, too, wanted me to go, so I accepted the invitation. But when the actual weekend came, it happened to be one of those "weak" spells where I needed to be confined to my bed.
I cried to the Lord, "There is no way I can go now! I'm afraid to go - I can't even walk, let alone lift my suitcase or run to catch the plane. But, Lord, a year ago, You told me to go. I can't let these people down-hundreds of women were involved. What am I to do?" I even asked the Lord if I shouldn't stop traveling and teaching so much, because of this problem.
The answer to confusion and anxiousness is always prayer. I "took my thoughts captive," gave my fears and apprehension over to the Lord and told Him, "I will do whatever You want me to. If You want me to go, I will trust You with my physical problems and know that You will be faithful to accomplish Your will in and through me.
The first thing God did was to confirm His Love for me over and over again through His Word. I kept getting James 1:12, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation [trials]: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life."
Then, God confirmed His Love for me by literally taking away my fears, my doubts and my anxieties, as I repeatedly gave them over to Him. Then, He confirmed to me, that it was His will for me to go, regardless of how I felt.
The air trip there was absolutely miraculous - it was a breeze (no pun intended). Even though I was so weak, God made it easy.
At the retreat, God again reconfirmed His Love for me by the witness of His Spirit. The girls at the retreat knew nothing of my physical condition or the fears that I had had because of it. And yet when they prayed for me, the Spirit had them pray exactly what my own prayers had been.
But, the thing that convinced me more than anything else that God truly loved me, was that He allowed me to experience His abundant Life as I taught. I was so weak in my own physical strength that I could barely stand, but God completely filled me with His supernatural strength, His Love and Wisdom. And, I was able to teach in the power of the Spirit like I never had before.
As 2 Corinthians 12:10 says, "...when I am weak, then [He can be] strong." When we are truly open, yielded and cleansed vessels, then God can pour forth His abundant Life through us!
The neatest part of the whole story was that when I got home, there was a FAX waiting for me, with an invitation to tour and speak in Europe, all expenses paid. This, to me, was God's answer to whether or not, I should quit teaching. The whole incident again proved to me, that God loves me, that He hears my every prayer and that He knows my every need before I even utter it.
If we know that God loves us, we never need to fear what He might allow into our lives.
God Loves Us
Each of us needs to fully grasp and understand just how much God loves us. How He is intimately concerned about every single detail of our lives. Reading that God loves us in His Word and understanding that He died for our sins, can still be merely intellectual pursuits. But receiving His Spirit and experiencing His Life in and through us, is something we can never deny as being ultimate, personal Love.
Ephesians 3:17-19 says, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height; And to [intimately] know the Love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
God's Love is not a gift that only some receive, but a gift that we all receive when we are born anew by His Spirit. Therefore, if you have asked Jesus into your heart to be your Savior and Lord, then not only is Jesus in your heart, but His Love is there also.
"And I have declared...that the Love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
Additional Scriptures on God's Love
He loves us so much that, "He bowed the heavens also, and came down." (Psalm 18:9)
And, "He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters." (Psalm 18:16)
He loves us so much that, He has engraved us upon the palms of His hand. (Isaiah 49:16)
He loves us so much that, He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
"For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; but my [Love] shall not depart from thee, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:10)
"As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His [Love] towards them that fear Him." (Psalm 103:11)
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers them out of them all. He keepeth all his bones; not a one of them is broken." (Psalm 34:19-20)
"When you pass through the waters (trouble) I will be with you; and through the rivers, they won't overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you won't be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord...You are precious in My sight and I LOVE YOU." (Isaiah 43:2-4)
"God commendeth His Love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." (John 3:16)
"...having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." (John 13:1)
"What shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 38-39)