"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."


Audrey Aaron went IN this past Sunday morning.


Blouse: Express
Lace Skirt: Forever21
Faux Leather Trimmed Jacket: Forever21 (on sale for $5.99 during their sale+ extra 50% off sale!!)
Patent and Faux Leather Pump: Forever21 (on sale for $6.99 during their sale + extra 50% off sale!!)
Fishnet Tights: ??
Sunglasses: Betsey Johnson
Pocketbook: Express


The homey, Audrey, was asked to do Sunday School yesterday and boy did she. She taught from a personal place. Her personal struggle. I always say that it is difficult to actually know God and trust God for yourself if he hasn't done anything for you specifically, in your life, and in your situation. Once you have that kind of experience, then you know. And Audrey definitely does.

One of her scriptures was 1 John 4:8, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

God is love. Period. God doesn't just show love. God doesn't just give love. God is love. Think on that a minute.




Our life, as a believer in the God of the universe, is a love story. God is so passionate about us. He loves us so much. Everything about our lives is so important to him that he carefully designed it in order for us to be triumphant. Even those "God, I don't understand moments" are for us to overcome.

Not to get too into Audrey's personal life, but back around 2005, I believe, she said she'd really started to develop a personal relationship with God. Growing up a preacher's kid was fine and well, but it wasn't until then that she really began to know him in a real way. She began to study more and read more. She began to worship and pray more. She devoted her life to God. And this was very necessary, because little did she know, she was about to go through an extreme time of lack, loneliness, and loss.

During the years following, she lost jobs, relationships, money, her apartment, and one of the most devastating of all, her newborn daughter. (Now that I type this, it sounds a bit like a >>Job<< story). This was all real to her. It wasn't just something she'd heard someone else speak about. This was her actual life. In talking with her mom one day, she says, "Either God is very cruel or I don't understand his love." How else can you explain it? Who can take that kind of hurt and heart ache and still believe that a good God who loves me actually is?

Unless you just don't understand his love.





The main text of scripture was John 11:1-40.

This is a rather long passage. I'm not going to type it all. I'll try and paraphrase it, but you should read it at your leisure.


The story speaks of Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus who lived in Bethany. In the story, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are called Jesus' friends. They aren't just some strangers or just some people at the church. No, they know Jesus. Hung out with him. Ate with him. Spent time with him. Put it this way, they played video games and watched movies with him. Homeboys, know what I mean?

Martha and Mary, knowing Jesus as a healer, called to their friend, who was at that time, in another city. "Jesus, our brother, your friend who you love, is sick."

Jesus sent back word to them, "Your brother isn't going to die from this sickness. It is something he must go through in order for God to be glorified in it." That was it. That was all Jesus said. And he STILL didn't go see him. He actually STAYED for two whole days in the city that he was in. And if that wasn't bad enough, he said to his disciples, "Let's head over to Judaea again". Judaea being a place where they don't like him; tried to kill him, even. Instead of going to see his sick friend, he decided to go to a totally different place to see people that don't even want him around.


Let's recap. Jesus' FRIENDS tell him that their brother is sick. He says their brother won't die then he calls to his disciples to head over to another town. Really? This doesn't sound like love. This doesn't sound like a friendship. This sounds like neglect. 

Unless you don't understand God's love...


Then Jesus says to his disciples, "Our friend Lazarus is asleep. I'm gonna go wake him up."

The disciples were like, "What? If he sleep, then he ai'ight."  (Yep. I made the disciples speak in slang.)

Clearly they didn't get it. I believe Jesus sighed real big right here when he said, "No, Lazarus is dead."

Verse 15 says, 

"And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him."

So Jesus and "his boys", his disciples went to see Lazarus. By this time, he was not only dead, but had been burried for four days. When Martha heard her friend Jesus was coming, she went out to greet him. Mary? Naaaw, that chick was like, "What for?" 

Martha said to Jesus, paraphrasing, "What took you so long? We told you like a week ago that he was sick. And you just now showing up? For real? If you would have come to see about 'YOUR FRIEND' when we first told you that he was sick, he would not have died." She was a little bitter, but she humbled herself and said, "But I still know, whatever I ask from God, he will give me."

"Your brother will live again, Martha." Jesus said to Martha.

"I know he'll live again. I know I'll see him in Heaven. I know that," said Martha and she went to get her sister Mary.

When Mary went out to see Jesus, she fell down and began crying, "Jesus, why didn't you come? He is your friend. We are your friends. You didn't even come see about us. If you had come earlier, he would  still be with us now."

Jesus saw how Mary was crying; how the Jews, the people who were with her, were crying, and he asked them where they'd laid Lazarus. When they took Jesus to his grave, he began to cry as well. (Yeah, that's that famous "Jesus wept" scripture that everybody seems to quote.)

The Jews, seeing Jesus cry, said in verse 37

"...Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?"

Jesus, groaning, told them take the stone off of the grave. 

Martha said, "Come on, now Jesus. Why do you want to do that? He has been in that grave four days. He stinks now."

And in verse 40

"Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"




Pretty long story, eh? And a bit confusing. Jesus seems to have completely neglected his friends. Allowed them to hurt. Allowed them to cry. Allowed them to feel the sting of loss and death. But as Jesus stated in verse 15, if he would have been there, then they wouldn't have believed. They'd already seen Jesus perform miracles and had he come earlier, this would have been just another story of "Jesus heals sick people". But that's not what Jesus was trying to get them to see. He was trying to increase their faith. He was trying to reassure them that, "I am STILL God." (Aaaaaye! That last sentence made me want to go aaaalll the way in! God is STILL God.) And why was this so important for God to get them to understand? Because he loved them.

It's as simple as that. Because God loves me.

That cliché of "He may not come when you want him, but he'll be there right on time," is because God loves me.

Those other clichés that say, "Time heals all wounds," and "Everything happens for a reason" well, they are both simply saying,"because God loves me."

The answer to EVERY question a person who has faith in God can ask is, "because God loves me."

Right now, I'm dealing with a financial situation that is going to take a huge amount of faith. It's our annual "First Fruit" ceremony at Faith on the Move International Ministries. "First Fruit", a predetermined yearly financial contribution that is given during the month of January and into February,  isn't a surprise, as our Pastor says. We do it every year. We know it's coming up. And being that it is a rather large contribution, we should prepare for it throughout the year. But this past year, it completely slipped my mind. I did not prepare for it. If I had an accountant, he would tell me that I need to skip it this year. But my faith tells me that I can't. I began to ask all these questions and go back and forth and try and reason with God.

"God, you know my heart. If I don't give it, you know I wanted to. God, I want to trust that you are my source. I want to trust that you are my provider. I want to believe that you will take care of me even if I make this HUGE financial sacrifice."

And I ask that oh, so BIG, three letter word question, "Why?"


"Whyyyyyyyy?!?" 


Why do I have to go through this? Why me? What's it for? What's the purpose?

The answer to all of those questions, is "because God loves me." Yeeeeees. Say it out loud, "It's because God loves me."

If everything aligned into a perfectly straight path, there would be no need to call God. If I could afford every spiritual financial obligation, there would be no lesson learned in what it means to sacrifice. If everything was smooth sailing, there would not be a chance for God to perform a miracle. And if none of these things happened, there would be no opportunity for us to see and come into a belief of just how much God loves us.




This Sunday school lesson taught me something monumental. It taught me to answer all of my confusing life questions with "because God loves me." Do I think this will be an easy thing? At first, no. But I do think it becomes easier. Once God does one thing, it increases your faith and belief that he will do it again. That makes it easier and more real to believe that this is simply "because God loves me."

To help her with this, Audrey told the class of a very helpful tool she uses when reading and studying the Bible. It goes back to the first scripture I mentioned, 1 John 4:8, that states that "..God is love."

That's who and that's what God is. God is love and love is God. The two are interchangeable. In reading scriptures replace one with the other to see who God really is.

Pslams 23
Love is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Love maketh me to lie down in green pastures: Love leadeth me beside the still waters.
Love restoreth my soul: Love leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for Love's name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Your Love is with me; Your Love's rod and Your Love's staff they comfort me.
Your Love preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Your Love anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of Your Love for ever.

Selah.


After a much needed nap, I headed back to the church for the Super Bowl party. Tasty chicken wings, hilarious conversations, and an edge-of-your seat football game was the perfect way to end my night.




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