It's not what you have done, but what he has done!
God's love for us is beyond our ability to fully understand, but not beyond our ability to realize, accept and enjoy. The apostle John wrote in I John 3:1,"See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did no know Him." Can you feel the warmth of God's love shining on you today? You can get out in the sunshine and the sun's rays just warm you through and through, but you must get in the sun. That is how it is with God's love. When you let it shine on you it warms you through and through. Many people have told me how they could feel God's love; that they could feel a warmth which was just wonderful. Well I have felt the warmth of God's love also. God's love is wonderful. But sometimes we do things that sort of put us in the shade, so to speak and we can't feel the warmth of God's love shining on us. We are the ones who put up the umbrellas which shade us from the warmth of God's love. Paul told the Church in Romans 8:38 - 39, "For I am persuaded that neither death, nor live, 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."
The question is why do we feel unloved by God? Almost any child of God, young or old can tell you that sin brakes our fellowship with God. Whether our sin is some gross moral sin, or a sin of the mind, like pride, envy or jealousy, sin seems to be the culprit which puts up the umbrella and causes us not to feel the warmth of God's love. Yet there is still a puzzling question. Why when fellowship with God is not in order do we feel unloved by God? Why do so many Christians when they sin feel driven away from God? When they should feel driven toward His great love, with a repentant heart. I have known Christians who let one sin drive them away from God when in fact they were truly sorry for that sin, but because of it felt unloved by God. This is a great problem with pastors and ministers today as they see their flocks eaten away little by little with no explanation plain or clear cut. What too many Christians lack today is a real understanding of the Grace of God. Paul truly had a revelation of the Grace of God like no other. He wrote in Romans 11:33-36. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen." Paul truly knew what were the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge which God has concerning man and his spiritual needs. But the Holy Spirit revealed something else very great to Paul and that was the unsearchable judgments of God, that is the Grace of God in dealing with man and the problem of sin. Paul listed some things which could not separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, so why does sin, when it is so easily taken to God and dealt with. After all, when we are not able to receive God's love on the end are we not in effect the same as separated from God's love, even though he is loving us just the same. Where does our problem lie? Paul told the Church in Ephesus he was praying for some things concerning them. His prayer, which was led by the Spirit of God, is recorded in his letter in Ephesians 1:17-19 he says he prayed, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power" What does it mean to receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God? What is the hope of his calling? If the reader searches for the real issue in Paul's prayer and what Paul desires for them he will certainly discover that what they really need to know is the grace of God. To really know God is to receive a revelation of his grace.
The Psalmist said in Psalm 103 that God made his acts known to the sons of Israel but he made known his ways to Moses. What Moses knew about God that the others did not know was his grace. Many times today we have received God's grace, but we have only known his acts, much like the children of Israel who Moses led. We know his acts, but do not know and understand his ways, that is, his grace. We must know his grace if we are to succeed in the Kingdom of God. We as individuals must have a revelation of the "Grace of God" or we will not know just how accepted we are. The letter to the Ephesians tells us in Ephesians 1:6, "To the praise of the glory of his grace, where in he hath made us accepted in the beloved." There is much which lies in the realm of being accepted in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 2:13-14 we are Admonished to,"Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace." The Lord tells us in I Peter 2:9-10, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but now are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." We have been taught much about what it means to be a child of God. We have learned much about how it is by the blood of Christ that we come to God and how without his shed blood no man could call himself anything but a stranger to God as the gentiles were once strangers to covenant and promise which was made to Israel. Peter tells us just how accepted we are, but do we really know in our hearts what it really means to be accepted by God? Do we really understand all that is contained in the thing we have termed "The Grace of God"? Sigmund Freud was the first psychoanalyst and considered the father of understanding human behavior. Freud said there were three urges or desires which controlled all human behavior. The strongest human desire which motivated more of human life than any other Freud said was the sex urge. This is indeed a very strong motivating force in our lives, however if we look closely we will see another desire stronger than the sex drive. It is a desire that Freud did not list. It is the desire to be accepted. The desire to be accepted is the strongest desire in the human life and that desire literally dictates every area of human behavior. The desire to be accepted by others determines what we wear, what we drive, where we go, how we act, what we do, and add infinity.
Every religion man practices is man's effort seeking to be accepted by God what ever they conceive him to be. Ephesians 1:6 says we are accepted by God. I do not live my life seeking acceptance by God, because through Jesus Christ I am completely accepted by God. Oh, how we as children of God have missed this point in our preaching, teaching and personal revelation. Many Christians are living their lives with the deep inner motive of being accepted by God. So many Christian fear that they will not be accepted by God, when the Word of the Lord plainly states we are already accepted in Christ. If I live my life seeking to be accepted by God, when I sin or come short of what I know God wants me to be, there is only one way I can feel and that is unaccepted. One of the Most puzzling questions facing Pastors today is why so many active Christians who are diligent workers in the Kingdom of God seem to grow cold and even become unchurched. What happens to their desire to serve God and work in his church? Have they become weary in well doing? Sometimes that is the problem, but usually that is not the problem. Many times it is because they are never able to become all they know God wants them to be so they feel unaccepted. No one ever makes it completely into the likeness of Christ, yet the scripture is plain we are accepted because of him and not because of us. Why does it seem like a Christian who commits a sin, which may not have great consequences, can not accept God's forgiveness and go forward in the Kingdom of God. God's forgiveness should be easy for us to accept, but if our sin makes us feel unaccepted by the Lord then our feeling of acceptance can be a difficult thing to restore. Although we can not live on how we feel, we need to feel accepted by God and not feel unaccepted. In Hosea 4:6 God's people were perishing for lack of knowledge. God's people today are being trampled down because of lack of knowledge. Paul not only knew he was accepted by the Lord, the Holy Spirit also had him record much for us. Philippians 3:8-10 says: "More than that I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death." Like Paul we must quit striving to be accepted by God; and strive to know him.
We must seek God's face not his will. When we realize we are first and foremost accepted in Christ and expand our energies and efforts seeking to know God we will know his will. Christians can spend much time and energy seeking the "will of God" as if it were some commodity or some data statistic to be written out, or even worse it seems to many as if it were the will-o'-the-wisp never to be found. When we realize as we seek God's face his will becomes natural for us and even spiritually logical, in not only the walking of our everyday lives, but also in matters which are no normal everyday decisions. As with all things there is a balance; while we must know we are totally accepted in Christ. We must also know the call of god is clear from Genesis to Revelation. That call is holiness unto the Lord. The Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:14-16, "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be ye Holy; for I am holy." If we are indeed saved by grace and not by works and Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Then, why must we live holy lives? There are certainly many answers around to this question. Some say well if God saved me the least I can do is live holy; or one might say we are to be holy because we love God. I guess the foremost is to say that it is a commandment of God. And we could add many others. All of these reasons are scriptural and serve to call many to seek a holy life; but they also cause many to feel unaccepted. We feel we must live holy because it is a command, or to show God we love him and when we put aside holiness and become guilty of sin we feel unaccepted because it is so easy to base our acceptance on our holiness. None of these reasons are the actual reason to live a holy life although they are indeed a part of the whole; but only a part and give us a distorted view. Like the three blind men who were asked to tell what an elephant was like. The first blind man felt of the elephants leg. He said, "an elephant I believe is much like a tree." The second felt of his trunk. He commented that an elephant must be something like a snake. The third felt of his side and said, "an elephant is somewhat like a house." Each had an incomplete view of the whole. God's reason for creating man was for fellowship. He redeemed man from darkness and moved him into light and fellowship. It is God's desire to have fellowship with us; yet it has been so hard for us to keep foremost in our thoughts that we must live holy lives so we can have fellowship with God. We must be the kind of people the Holy Spirit is comfortable being around. There are some people, because of the way they are, or the way they do, or because of their attitude, who we are not comfortable being around. We must be the kind of people the Holy Spirit is comfortable being around. The Holy Spirit was sent to reveal Jesus and the Father to us. Jesus said in John 15:26 that the Holy Spirit would testify of Him. If we are to learn more about God, learn more of his nature, his love, then we must live our lives in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then God can be revealed to us and therefore through us to those around us.
The problem of acceptance is difficult to deal with because it is often deep within our natures. Many people grow up never having felt accepted a children, and often parents cause children to feel unaccepted. The number two cause of teen age deaths second to traffic accidents is suicide. There are many causes of teen suicide; but a big one is that they feel unaccepted. Let us look at an example which might happen in any Christian home. If a child makes an "F" on their report card, we say you should at least have had a "D". They make a "D" and we say that is below average you should make at least a "C". The child then brings home a "C", and he or she hears it wouldn't have taken much more to make a "B". Then they make a "B". We might reply to the "B" with something like; well you are capable of making an "A". Then if perchance the child brings home an "A", we might say an "A" is very good, but you should have had an "A" to start with. We are never satisfied and unintentionally we make our children feel as though we do not accept them. If out children grow up feeling this way, and if we grew up feeling this way, is it any wonder Christians feel as though they are not accepted by the Lord when they fail to perform in a certain way? A certain way they believe is expected of them. When a person feels unaccepted he sometimes figures, the Lord probably gets tired of his repentance again and again. Instead of being driven to God by his sin; he is driven away, where he can not find peace or forgiveness. We need to know more than ever that we are accepted in Christ. When we really get this down into our spirits then we can accept others. We can accept others only to the degree that I realize I am accepted. How much more harmony there will be as we learn how accepted we are and how to accept others, even with their quirks, their ways, and the things about then that have not yet become like our master. If you are a Christian and have been born again you are "accepted in the Beloved!"
The Struggle is over!