How much does God love you?
By Bill Holland
As our spiritual values become more centered on God, it’s normal to start looking forward to our eternal existence. For those who are in Christ, how exciting it is to know that our heavenly Father and His Son Jesus, our loved ones, our new name, our glorified body, inheritance, citizenship, and crowns and rewards are all a part of our glorious future. We are briefly passing through this world and the only thing we will take with us when we depart is an account of how we lived and loved. How wonderful to know that heaven will be filled with endless praise, everlasting joy, perfect peace, and contentment without darkness, suffering, worries, or sorrow. It’s true that God loves everyone, but we will not enter heaven just because we are good or deserve it. We are given eternal life when we repent, confess, believe, and accept by faith that within God’s grace, the blood of Jesus is the only price that can pay the ransom for our sins. Redemption is all about God’s plan that was accomplished on the cross. Listen to these lyrics from the song “East to the West” by Casting Crowns: “In the arms of your mercy, I find rest … You know just how far the East is from the West … from one scarred hand to the other.” I cannot imagine a more optimistic and exciting thought than going to heaven and spending an eternity in God’s presence. For the Christian, this promise should be a wellspring of joy reminding us that our trials cannot be compared to the glory that awaits us. May we tape this to our bathroom mirror to remind us every morning of how God’s amazing grace provided a way for us to live with Him forever. The fundamentals of our salvation can be basically described as God’s love intervened as a rescue mission of mercy in order to save those who were hopelessly lost. I Peter 1:3-4 promises, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born-again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” Our busy schedule is filled with distractions and for most of us, it’s exhausting to keep up. As our daily routines weigh us down with stress and frustration, it’s important to be aware of a much higher reality. If we only consider eternity when we attend funerals, we are missing a vital component of our relationship with God that can keep us excited and rejuvenated with His joy and hope. I’m giving the eulogy for my aunt this week, and it’s truly going to be a celebration as we rejoice that her eternal life is just beginning. She loved the Lord and always said that spending time alone with Him was never intended to be a last resort but rather a daily privilege. She was always happy and loved to laugh. She had her share of struggles, but we can live in a positive state of mind and stand strong in our faith no matter what trials we are going through as Titus 2:13 reminds us, “Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” Do you have a happy place when facing a crisis? In Psalm chapter 91, there is actually a secret place under the shadow of the Almighty where we can be filled with His peace and safety. This awareness of His presence is a state of mind that can be attained for those who enjoy having a personal relationship with Him. God desires to abide in the conscience of His children and this, in turn, allows Him to be our Lord and King. Being attentive to His voice will not come without serious determination. He must be our highest priority or the distractions of this life will slowly turn our eyes away from His promises. Many do not realize that as Christians our allegiance is to King Jesus and our citizenship has been transferred from this world to the spiritual reality of His glorious eternal kingdom. The concept of abandoning our independence has everything to do with trusting His plans for our lives. How much does God love you? How far is the East from the West?