Week 1/Day 5: Respect

Day 5: God’s Unique Love

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:34 ESV

Stacy says:

Parenting three unique humans taught me so much about God’s unique love for us. While they are similar in many ways, they each have distinct needs and receive love differently. I learned quickly that each of my children required discipline in different ways. What worked for one often didn’t work for another. And sometimes absolutely nothing worked and they would have to face the consequences of their choices.

God is the perfect parent. He knows what circumstances and situations will work together to bring His children closer to Him. His unique plan for our lives is created with the utmost probability that we will come to understand His love for us fully.

I may not see what good can come from a child’s bad choice. There are times I just don’t get it. But God does. I’m learning to respect His way in this. Even when it looks hopeless, like there’s just no good in something, respecting His unique love for me and others gives me hope.

Carol says:

Sometimes, His unique brand of love comes across in painful confusing ways.

He captured my heart April of 1994. By August of the same year He allowed me to jump into a pit of fear and anxiety that grew deeper for years and took just as many years for Him to lift me out. The whole season lasted about a decade.

At the time, I didn’t understand what was happening. Weren’t things supposed to get better when you followed Him? But in hindsight (which is always 20/20) I see how He allowed the enemy to attack me in a vulnerable spot attached to many heart wounds and lies.

He used the difficult season to refine me spiritually, free me up, and grow me in understanding who I am and who He is. He did it all because He loves me and couldn’t leave me in the mess I’d made.

Once settled in their promised land, God commanded His people to love the strangers who came in their midst like one of their own. Not because of who they were or what they had done, but because of who He is and what He had done.

He demonstrated His love for the Israelites by freeing them from the Egyptians who enslaved them as strangers in their midst. God’s people were to respect His love by loving others. They were not to treat others as they had been treated, they were to treat others in the same way God treated them. He has a unique love and unique purpose for every person on earth.

Think about the strangers, foreigners, sojourners in your midst, i.e. illegal aliens, homeless, those new to your community. How do you feel about them? Do you treat them with respect? indifference? contempt?

When you consider God’s love for “strangers” and His command to love them, how does that make you feel about God? What do your feelings reveal about you?

In God’s eyes we are all sinners, yet He loves us dearly and wants all to be saved.

For 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.

John 3:16-17 ESV

God’s love is not exclusively for Believers. He sent His Son to die for the whole world. The entire despicable population of earth for all time. Including you.

List some of the worst in our world’s history who rebelled against God.

Now, consider God’s love for them as demonstrated through Jesus’s death on the cross. Record your thoughts.

Can you respect God’s love for all? Believers and unbelievers alike?

Read Romans 5:10

Who were we in relationship to God when Jesus died for us?

What was the result of Jesus’s death?

God calls us to love our enemies because He loves His. Being like Him requires us to love our enemies and work toward reconciliation, because we were all His enemies at one time.

Respecting God’s unique love includes respecting His sovereignty in allowing both good and evil in the world.

Some stand firmly in their unbelief of a good loving sovereign God, because of the presence of evil in the world. Yet, God is love. And somewhere in all the seemingly disproportionate doling out of good and evil, God has a plan to bring His people to Him through what He allows.

Read Acts 17:26-28

What does God determine for every person on the face of the earth?

Why?

God loves everyone and wants everyone to find Him. He places each person strategically in the exact time, space, and circumstance which will most likely compel them to seek Him and find Him.

Whether He places them in the middle of the Bible belt or the heart of a war torn third world nation, in a loving home or an abusive environment, He is revealing His love toward all people in the world in a wide variety of ways.

He alone knows what each person needs to draw them to Himself and we should not judge His means, but trust His unique love and eternal perspective.

His unique love is different from the world’s because He is not concerned with our current comfort, success, or happiness. He is most concerned with our hearts, our spirits, and our eternal destiny.

Read Isaiah 48:10

How does God refine the people He loves?

Trouble speaks volumes in our lives and draws our attention to the one thing that truly matters. The One who can truly save. God.

While the world says love means protecting others from pain, God uses pain to lovingly draw those far from Him to Him.

God’s love is unique for each individual and very unique compared to what the world calls love.

To respect His unique love is to embrace His love for the stranger and the lost, and to choose His definition of love and its purpose as our definition of love, too.

Talk It Out

Talk it over with yourself:

What stirs in your heart as you consider God’s sovereignty in placing people in difficult, oppressive, abusive situations? Does it look like love to you?

How have you felt toward God when He lets hard things come into your life? affliction? oppression? abuse? Do you believe He still loves you?

Talk it over with God:

Ask God to open your eyes to see His unique love in all people’s lives, including your own, and to open your heart to His unique brand of love.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

Psalm 36:7 ESV (emphasis added)

Work Out Your Faith

Respect:

Looking back over your life, have you recognized a circumstance or situation God allowed for your good? to bring you closer to Him? When we stand on the other side of a difficult circumstance, we have a unique opportunity to love someone who is currently in the same situation.

Those who have been abused as children can offer much hope to others who have experienced similar circumstances. A recovering alcoholic has much grace for the one still imprisoned by their drinking.

Consider the circumstance God has overcome in you. Is there someone you know struggling in the same way you once were? Seek them out. Have lunch or coffee and if God opens the door… share what He has done for you.

Reflection Scripture: Memorize

No hints today. Not even blanks. Write or recite the week’s verse from memory. Include what you learned about yourself and God as you reflected on His Word this week

[Feature Image Photo on website by Christoph Schmid on Unsplash]

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