Confident and Fully Convinced of God’s Perfect Love

Confident and Fully Convinced of God’s Perfect Love

What, if anything, are you confident and fully convinced of? How long did it take for such conviction to become established? In our ever-changing world such confidence might appear to be a rarity. Yet, we continually place our confidence in a variety of practices, places, and beliefs.

Many years ago, as the snow melted and small ponds dotted the land, my older brother and I would enthusiastically fashion make-shift rafts from dead tree limbs strung together by remnants of old baler twine. We would confidently push off from shore into the icy waters believing our rickety rafts would support us. More often than not, our expeditions failed. Drenched, but undaunted, we would pull our frail craft back to the water’s edge. After adding more logs and twine, we would try again and again. Spurred on by each other, we convinced ourselves that we would eventually sail open waters.

After a series of failed attempts of his own, Paul tells us of something he became fully confident of — the love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.”
Romans 8:35,37-39

A Pharisee

In Philippians 3, Paul gives us a personal perspective of his former life. I say “former” because the convictions he once held were proved just as frail as the wooden rafts my brother and I made. He says,

” … though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”
Philippians 3:4-6

As a Pharisee, Paul taught and obeyed every law with faultless precision. Or at least, he attempted to. He believed that obedience earned him the love of God. If one did enough, obeyed enough, tried hard enough, then God would love and accept you. Only then would anyone earn God’s favor. Zealous pursuit and faultless obedience ultimately proved less than reliable, even futile.

Most of us might identify on some level with this belief system. We relate to the repetitive cycle of trying harder and harder to earn or merit love.

The Encounter

At the most unexpected moment, radical love, bold and strong, confronted Paul (or Saul as he was still called then).

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”
Acts 9:1

He sounds like an unlikely candidate to experience God’s love. Yet, in this space, God entered Paul’s life, turning his direction and conviction around.

I, too, can relate to his experience. God blasted into my messed up and broken life with persistent grace. When anyone meets Jesus, nothing remains the same.

God saw something in Paul — something more than another zealous Pharisee.

” … This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”
Acts 9:15

Through His redeeming love, God turned an enemy of the cross into a megaphone for His praise. God’s “chosen instrument” came disguised as a murderous, over-zealous, religious elitist. But God views us through the lens of His perfect love. He recognizes potential no one else sees.

Fully Convinced

The initial encounter with God’s perfect love formed the starting point. What would follow, only God Himself could have orchestrated.

Under God’s instruction a brave Jesus follower by the name of Ananias courageously looked for Paul. He placed his hands on him and healed him. After Paul received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he sealed his faith with water baptism before heading into the desert.

But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.”
Galatians 1:15-17

At what point did Paul’s faith become conviction? Was it upon His dramatic conversion? Or did it take three years of Holy Spirit teaching to erase the bombardment of religious persuasions. Was it in the quiet desert places, alone with God, that an iron-clad confidence in Jesus took form?

For each of us, our eternity security rests by faith on the perfect, unfailing love of God through Jesus Christ.

Whatever the process, Paul spoke with absolute clarity, announcing to all who will grasp the truth that nothing — absolutely nothing — can separate us from God’s love.

God’s Perfect Love

Just as nothing could cause God to love us more, nothing could ever cause Him to love us less. Yes, we can choose to roam outside of His perfect will and plan, but nothing (and no human effort) can in any way elevate or diminish His love for us.

So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!
Romans 8:38-39 TPT

The Amplified Bible says, “I am convinced [and continue to be convinced — beyond any doubt].” Now that’s conviction — fully convinced that no one and no power could ever separate or diminish God’s unlimited love toward us.

Though my brother and I enjoyed brief moments of rafting success, we never became fully confident of our raft making skills. But through decades of my own desert times with the Lord, I know, that I know, that I know, His love is enough. His perfect love never fails. May you experience for yourself His unfailing, unending, unfading, perfect love.

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My Fair Share! A Measure of Faith!

My Fair Share! A Measure of Faith!

We all possess incredible ingenuity for obtaining our fair share. Preconceived paradigms of what constitutes fair varies greatly from person to person.

Whether a pie, chocolate bar or some other precious portion, our children eyed the division process with intense scrutiny. Nobody wanted the smallest piece; each hoped for the largest slice; all at the very least, desired their fair share. Generosity sometimes prevailed, but not always.

To settle any disputes, we established a simple rule: the person creating the divide received the last piece. The extra care and concentrated effort to ensure fairness often bordered on humorous!

Fruit Food Apple Refreshment Dessert Fresh - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

Too Little or Too Much

I’m glad God portions to each of us what we need. No one receives too little or too much. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in the desert gathering manna. God supplied. They gathered. Some gathered little, others gathered much, but all received sufficient quantity (Exodus 16).

Whatever the need, we can trust God to supply. There are no shortages in His Kingdom!

“For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Romans 12:3

The King James Version says, “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Apple Pastries Cake Puff Pastry Apple Turnover - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

The Passion Translation says it like this: “God has given me grace to speak a warning about pride. I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem.”

Paul hits the target, doesn’t he? Hiding behind the expectation of “more,” whatever the more looks like, pride lingers and demands.

Look Up

As long as we focus on “the piece” we don’t possess, we lose. The Roman church had as much trouble understanding the concept of fair as I sometimes do. Paul encouraged them to look up before they looked around.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever? Amen.”
Romans 11:33-36

Muffins Pink Cream Delicious Pastries Eat Tart - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

Now with a realigned perspective of God’s majesty, Paul gives a grand, “Therefore . . .” (12:1-2). Because of who He is, therefore, worship Him. Therefore, offer yourselves sacrificially and holy unto Him. Therefore, change your mindset and begin thinking like He does.

A Measure of Faith

Just like with my children or the children of Israel, I sometimes attempt to “gather” more than my fair share, stashing it away for another day. God knows exactly what I need — for today and tomorrow. He also knows faith is one of our greatest needs.

So He “has distributed” to each one a measure of faith — our fair share! This word “measure” or “metron” in Greek means “a portion, measure off or allotted” (1). Thayers Greek-English Lexicon says it this way, “a determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit” (pg 408).

Fruit Dessert Food Drink Snack Smoothie - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

God knows more than anyone what is necessary. He assures us that the smallest portion, even mustard-seed-sized, will suffice. We humbly receive and draw from His rich resources

“. . . in accordance with the faith God has distributed . . .”
Romans 12:3

I have it! You have it! We all possess a measure of faith — a grace gift. No one claims credit for a gift received. Because He has predetermined exactly what I, or you, or we, need, no gloating or boasting allowed! All the faith I operate under came from Him, to be used by Him, for His glory, and the furthering of His kingdom.

Fair Share

Paul connects our portion of faith to our portion of service to others in the body.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith, if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Romans 12:6-8

What God first gives to us, we willingly and liberally give to others.

Where do I struggle, needing faith the most? In the great faith chapter of Hebrews, I’m reminded that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (11:6). That means I need faith everywhere, all the time, to live life honoring to God.

 Apple Pie Woman Kitchen Baking Food Delicious - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

What demands the most faith from me? Right now, I’m assisting in a new church plant. Honestly, my humanity didn’t want to go there! I knew it would require far more than my aging body was comfortable to give. I understood all too clearly how much work establishing a new church would require, and definitely needed increased faith to step into the fray!

In everything I do, faith forms the foundation: in prophesying and speaking boldly into my culture; in serving others; by accurately teaching the Word of truth; in sacrificially offering encouragement to those carrying burdens and weighed down by pressures; in generously giving of my time and resources; or through being God’s hands of mercy.

God gives His fair share of faith to accomplish whatever He asks of me. But, whatever the portion, little or great, God intends it for the good of others. It’s in the activation of our faith that God’s purposes are fulfilled.

The Piece in the Middle

It’s significant that God sandwiches this little passage about faith between a beautiful doxology of worshiping Him and serving others. It illustrates the purpose of faith clearly!

I can’t claim credit for the faith I possess. I daily open the gift of faith, drawing from the measure He distributed, pouring it lavishly out to others. As I do, faith never diminishes. Actually, the flow increases, becoming fresher and sweeter through use.

Cooks Confectioner Children's Sweets Cake Baking - Pixabay - OCC Public Domain

We will never exhaust the measure of faith God has already given to us. Though we spend our entire lives tapping into and drawing from the rich resource, it continues to flow.

In humility we lay ourselves low, worshiping Him and serving others, until the beauty and fragrance of faith reaches and touches countless lives. Faith comes from God and operates through Him for His praise.

Let’s take the measure of faith He has given us and use it today for His intended use, combining it with the gifts He graced upon us. Oh, what God will do. Trust me, we have more than our fair share!

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References:
(1) Spiros Zondhiates, Th.D., Ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary, For a Deeper Understanding of the Word; New Testament, (AMG, Chattanooga, 1992), 975