Wednesday Devotional: The Manger and The Cross
Updated: Jan 27
If you haven't read my prior blogs and have some additional time, scroll around to read the other blogs in this series.
1 John 4: 9-10, John 3: 16
Before you can live like you're loved, you have to believe that you are loved. In this continuation of my blog series between now and Lent, extracted from my new book Live Like You're Loved, I want to touch on the scriptural basis for trusting in God's love for you.
While there are 310 descriptions in scripture of God's love for humans, and for you individually, the two images in the accompanying picture summarize God's love as expressed in sending Jesus to earth: The Manger and the Cross. The Apostle John wrote in his First Letter:
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
There's a lot to unpack in these verses. First, God loves us even when we don't love Him! God loved you before you ever became aware of Him, and God will love you even if and when you reject Him (and don't we all, at times, due to sin and rebellion).
God demonstrated His love by coming to earth in human form as Jesus, whom we identify as "God's Son" to align His relationship to God the Father. To come to earth that we might live through Him is an expression of love. There is a double meaning to "live" through Him. First is that Jesus taught us the right way to live so that we could have full lives in connection with God. Second is that the connection is intended to be eternal as we accept salvation through Jesus.
This takes our focus from the manger to the cross. As John writes, Jesus was sent to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins. God had given commandments and laws for people to follow, but because of the presence of sin and rebellion in the world, no one could perfectly do this. And God knew this all along. That's why His plan was always to send the Messiah, the Savior, to be the sacrificial lamb for us on the cross.
John 3: 16 (also scripted by the Apostle John) reads:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish, but have eternal life.
Do you know who "whosoever" is? That is YOU! It's easier to believe that God love "us" and Jesus died for "us" than it is to believe that God loves "me" and Jesus died for "me". But it's true. You are God's child. God created you and loved you and loves you and will love you. Nothing can separate you from that love, as described by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8: 38-39:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And by "us," Paul means each one of us receives this all-pervasive love.
So what do we do with this love? How can we accept it, embrace it in our hearts, embed it in our souls, and deploy it in our daily lives? That's what I want to delve into in Friday's 7-Day Practical Faith blog.
These blogs can only scratch the surface of the entirety of the work, "Live Like You're Loved." It's a book for you to read individually or with a group. It's also a video series that your group can watch and discuss. You can dive deeper with a Participant's Guide that allows you to further process the concepts with activities, questions, meditations and Bible study. Learn more about the full range of offerings at CecilTaylorMinistries.com. For just the printed materials, you can also find them at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dove Christian Publishers.