Day 5: I have made a sacrifice for you | Love Letters

Sac·ri·fice: to make an offering of; to destroy, surrender, or suffer to be lost for the sake of obtaining something.

[Source]

True love means action.

It’s one thing for God to claim He is loving, but we can know His love is fact for ourselves, because He has demonstrated it to us. He has acted upon His love, and He continues to do so today.

But sin separates us from understanding God’s love.

It’s no secret that evil exists in the world today. By simply watching or reading the news, we become aware of tragedies, injustices, and horrific events every single day.

This is the state of mankind, which began when humans first rebelled against God. Romans 5:12 (ESV) states, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—.”

That is, after Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world. Since then, man has continued to fall into a path of sin–evil acts that have resulted in death and destruction. Initially when we think of sin, we probably think of obvious evils such as murder, stealing, and other unjust crimes that clearly lead to death and destruction.

However, sin also includes acts that may seem justifiable at times such as lying, jealousy, etc. These “little” sins have big consequences. It’s like a domino effect–one thing leads to another. Deceiving someone can cause extreme brokenness–many relationships suffer greatly because of that. Jealousy can lead people to do some pretty messed up things. I mean, think about Cain and Abel (the sons of Adam and Eve) in Genesis 4. It was Cain’s jealousy of his brother, Abel, that led him to murder him. And just like that, sin continued from one generation to another and literally led to death.

Sin is unfortunately a part of our human nature. I know I have sinned before. We all have. Just as Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, we often choose to do these things.

But I want to emphasize that we have a choice.

God did not create evil. He created us to have the freedom to make choices–Adam and Eve had a choice. We were not made to be robots. But once sin entered the world and evil acts could now exist, God had a plan to redeem His creation and provide justice for the effects of sin.

Again, sin separates us from God. Plain and simple–God is good, evil is bad. You can’t mix the two. Sin and the harm it causes has no place with God, and when mankind fell into sin, it broke our relationship with Him. We now had an affinity for things apart from God. We now wanted to do things our way, not His. Once again, sin has caused destruction and harm in the world. This is not God’s plan for you.

That’s why He sent Jesus Christ, His Son. We are all guilty of sin. Although Jesus did not sin, He took the blame for us, because He loved us. The wages, or the payment, of sin is death, and so Jesus had to die on the cross (Romans 6:23).

Hanging on a cross (crucifixion) was a form of execution for criminals at the time. Although Jesus is God, He is God in the flesh (aka as a man)–that means, He could feel everything we could feel, emotionally and physically. And so, as He hung on that cross, He felt every sting of pain, having His body beaten, His hands pierced, and His lungs gasping for air as He suffocated while hanging. But also as God, Jesus could rise again from the dead three days later, which would have otherwise been impossible. Fully man and fully God, Jesus could do what no man could do. Defeat the very thing that sin caused–death.

This is God’s true love for you: He sacrificed His own Son so that you could be saved from this very penalty of sin: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).

Now remember this: we have a choice. We can still choose to do things–good and bad. And so, evil still exists on earth–and there is a consequence for that. This is where God’s justice comes in. Sin, or evil, has to be punished. Hell is the punishment of sin, a place of eternal death, torment, and destruction, where we would be separated from God forever–again, because sin cannot exist where He is: “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV).

But death is not God’s will for you. This is why He has prepared a place for us in heaven. Heaven is a place with no sin, where any suffering we experience on earth will no longer exist–it’s eternal life: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4 ESV).

You do not get into heaven by simply doing good works. Jesus was the only One who gave His life to cover for you, and it’s through Him that you can secure your place in heaven. God clearly shows us how to do this in His Word: If you confess that you are a sinner and repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior who died and rose again for you, God will forgive your sins (Romans 10:9).

By accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can have security that you belong to God–the God who loves you and made this sacrifice for you–and you will not perish but instead, you will have eternal life. Through this decision you make, you have no condemnation, you are no longer held guilty for your sins, and you now have power in Him to overcome sin in your life. I encourage you with my entire heart to make this decision today.

“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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)

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14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.
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Day 4: I can give you Life | Love Letters

Life-giving: having the power of providing sustenance, spirit or life.

[Source]

One of the most fascinating things about the world is how one thing can give life to another:

  • A mother can give birth, giving life to her child.
  • A flower can leave pollen behind to reproduce, giving life to other flowers.
  • A cell can divide itself to multiply, giving life to other cells–which give life to life.

In all cases, the source is vital. One living source is necessary to provide life to other things.

This fact about nature also reflects a fact about the Lord. God manifests His love for us by remaining the Source in, of, and for our lives. 

If you need to be filled, He fills you: “and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19 ESV).

If you are searching for answers, He provides answers: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5 NIV).

If you need peace, He gives peace: “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11 NIV).

In short, He’s the living Source who will sustain you in this life, and the next one.

The next one? Huh?

Death is real. But life after death is as well. God gives us plenty of heads up about it in His Word–because just as God doesn’t want to hide Himself from you, He doesn’t want to hide this from you, either. He loves you so much that He wants you to find life in Him. And He wants you to know that you need to receive life in Him for later.

God provides security after death. He offers a place for you in heaven, because He loves you. And it’s free for you to take today.

This is not a place that is hidden from you or can be taken from you. When you make a personal decision to trust in God and live for Him now, you have this place in heaven forever.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done in the past. He provides renewal, a new life. And He freely offers Himself for you to receive Him.

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ (John 11:25-26 NIV).

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Day 3: I can offer you more | Love Letters

More: to a greater extent.

“Maybe this is as good as it gets.”

Have you ever found yourself saying that? That you have no choice but to stay where you are, because it will only get worse from here?

You might feel you must stay within a bad relationship, because there’s no one else for you. Or, you feel you have to hang out with toxic friends, because otherwise you’d be alone. Maybe you feel you need to sacrifice your health to get perfect grades, because you’re convinced you’ll fail if you don’t. You feel you have to perform perfectly at work, or else you won’t be valued.

Whatever the case is, you feel as though if you don’t hold onto something, you have nothing.

Any of these things–relationships, grades, or careers–can disappear at any moment. And you probably know this, which is why you feel the need to maintain them constantly.

These are all things you can enjoy, if they are good things. But when you find your entire worth in them, you’re going to find yourself empty.

You were not made to find your security in temporary things. God has more for you than that. He provides more, or to a greater extent. But how do we get to this “more”?

Understanding God’s love for you is the first step. His love for you is unchanging, and it lasts forever. When you secure yourself in God–a sure and permanent thing–you’re able to make better use of non-permanent things in life.

You won’t put pressure on others to reassure you. You won’t feel defeated over your mistakes. You’ll be able to walk away from negative people and situations, because you know your worth is not in them. You’ll be able to enjoy your blessings–knowing your worth is not in them, either.

Your value is not based on what you have or don’t have. God sees your value. He created you with value.

God can do more for you than what you can do for yourself.  What you see with your own eyes is the surface. When you commit your life to Him, you’ll find that good moments in life can get better. And better.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 ESV)

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14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

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Day 2: You can give Me your burdens | Love Letters

Bur·den:

  1. Something that is carried.
  2. Something that is emotionally difficult to bear; a source of great worry or stress.
  3. A responsibility or duty.

[Source]

You were not made to carry everything. But it’s quite easy to think you’re supposed to.

We live in a DIY culture: Do it yourself. Make it happen. Figure it out. Find a way. Solve the problem. Don’t wait for anyone.

Now. There is some value we can take from these thoughts: Don’t just lean on anything. When the storms come, you discover what is made of substance and what is not. A house set on an unstable foundation is bound to crumble when a natural disaster strikes. A boat built with weak materials will sink when it’s tossed to and fro on the ocean.

We need to stand on something with substance–something that is stable enough to hold us up, to keep us afloat no matter what.

Leaning on yourself can’t do that.

Have you ever been in a situation where you stop and think, Wow. I can’t do this…? Have you tried pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline only to realize you fell asleep hours in? Have you promised a friend a favor only to realize days later, I can’t believe I forgot to do that!

We get tired, we get faint, we run out of energy. We fail, we break promises, we forget. It’s normal. But it shows how human we are.

You were not made to carry everything.

God provides access to Him because He knows this. We can go to Him freely. God takes joy in talking to you. He loves providing a way for you, opening doors, and seeing you fulfill your purpose. He sees you in your challenges, and He wants to help.

It’s not your duty to carry your burden on your own. Whatever you’re carrying today, give it to the Lord. What does that mean? Go to Him about it. Talk to Him about it like you would talk to a friend. Humans can only do so much.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

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14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

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Day 1: I have good intentions towards you | Love Letters

Char·ac·ter: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

Character makes up a person’s core. One’s thoughts and intentions–why we do the things we do. There’s nothing more shocking than discovering someone was not who she/he claimed to be. We don’t always get a chance to know the truth up front.

But you know what’s comforting? God intends to reveal His true character to you.

He does not want to be a mystery to you. He wants to come near you. He wants you to identify His traits, to understand His thoughts towards you. You, the individual. You.

The basis of God’s character is that He wants the best for you. He has the best for you. And He’s on your side. He’s not an enemy, not a tyrant. You don’t need to be scared of Him. He’s not here to manipulate you or lead you on a path of confusion. He’s actually your biggest support-system.

His intentions are to provide good for you. He wants you to live a good life you can’t imagine.

His character, or His mental and moral qualities, are good. He’s the Creator of good things.

When struggles arise, remember this: Evil is the devil’s job. God’s not the author of the struggle, but the solution to it.

If you’re looking for God, know that He’s here–whether you believe in Him or not or are unsure. He wants to reveal Himself. Just ask. Psalm 86:5 states we will know of His steadfast love when we call upon Him.

God’s love is free-for-all. And He’s reaching out for you. Are you ready to grab a hold of His goodness?

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. (Psalm 86:5 ESV)

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14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

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Introducing: Love Letters

Do you know your love language? You know, the way you really receive love?

If you’re keen on receiving gifts, and someone brings you flowers, your heart might soar for a while. Or if words of affirmation are your thing, and your friend compliments your new haircut, you might be feeling fly for the next few hours.

In other words, every one of us has a unique way we recognize we’re loved by someone else.

So, when someone communicates this exact way, we feel supported, cared for, and cherished.

However, when someone doesn’t communicate the way we’d like, we can feel forgotten, overlooked, and invisible. Even though it’s not true.

It’s often a matter of someone knowing us well. Ever see a funny joke, and think–wow, so-and-so would die if they saw this!–to yourself? It’s probably because you know that person very well. The better you know people individually, the more you know what they appreciate. But even if we know each other well, we don’t always do the best job of showing our love to each other–or knowing how to.

There is Someone who knows you quite well, better than you can ever know yourself. We may not always feel loved by others, but no matter how many failed or broken attempts at love you’ve witnessed in your life, God cannot fail you in His love.

God loves you. Like actually loves you, and He wants you to recognize His love for you. He knows you inside and out, and He knows what you need. He knows your love language…your deepest needs–even the ones you haven’t uttered.

So, why don’t we always feel this love? It could be a matter of not knowing who He is.

For the next 14 days, I want to challenge you with this: what would happen if every day, you took time out to understand God? To learn how God views you? To learn His love for you? His purpose for you?

How could your life change?

That’s where these Love Letters come in. For the next 14 days, the LizMargaret blog will share a statement from God’s Word itself (not my words) about who God says you are. The Bible, His Word, is His love letter to you.

You deserve love. I know that experiencing true love can change the course of your life. I invite you to join me for the next two weeks to take a closer look at God’s true love for you.

Starting tomorrow (Valentine’s day!), we’re going to embark on a daily journey of truth, discovery, and transformation.

Subscribe to lizmargaret.com to get a Love Letter delivered to you every day for the rest of February!

I look forward to walking along this journey with you!

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