by Joe Leavell

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, 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 sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:35, 37-39

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My dad often tells the story of a little boy who was being picked on in a school yard by his classmates.  All the kids were making fun of him, backing him into a corner where he cowered as they jeered and laughed.  As they taunted him and threw insults, one person said the ultimate offense, “Nobody cares about you! Nobody loves you!”  Immediately, the cowering little boy stopped and stood up tall and defiant. With red cheeks, clenched fists, and with all the volume he could muster, the little boy shouted back boldly, “MY MOMMY LOVES ME!” The little boy knew better than his accuser. No matter what his circumstances, no matter what anyone could say, no matter the ridicule, no matter what he might do, the little boy was confident in his mother’s love for him, no matter what these bullies could say. Remembering his mother’s love was a game changer.

No matter what the adversity you may be facing today, are you, like this little boy with his mommy, confident in your God’s love for you? Can you, no matter what the difficulties of life, no matter how strong the enemy might accuse you, stand tall and firm and shout to the heavens, “My Father in Heaven loves me!!” That should count for something in your day today. Frankly, it makes all the difference in the world every single day!

I recently heard the question posed like this: If God had an office, and you were called into see Him, what’s the expression on His face when He sees you step in the door? Stern? Angry? Frustrated and exasperated? Or is it a look of complete, sheer joy, and love? How you answer that question says a lot about how you perceive God’s love for you, and in turn, where we place our hope and our confidence for all of life. Why? The reason is because how we perceive all aspects of our lives depends directly on how we view God and believe God views us.

As an example of how this plays out in our relationships, our own capacity to love God is based on His loving us first. 1 John 1:9 tells us this truth, “We love Him because He first loved us.” In addition, our love for others is also sourced in the security of God’s love for us. Jesus said it this way to His disciples, “Love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34). Their love for one another was to be reflected to the degree that Jesus loved them. Since God demonstrates His love to us freely, without our deserving it, we are given the ability and the freedom to demonstrate the same love that He gave us. Because we have been freely given grace and mercy, we are given the capacity to give grace and mercy to others who don’t deserve it. Those who struggle with loving others often struggle with their own concept of God’s love and forgiveness for them.

Jesus loves you. Like a parent who loves their child apart from their performance, God did not wait until we earned His love before He gave it to us! We did nothing to earn His love and grace! We brought nothing to the table worthy of anything but our sin and self, which deserved His wrath.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Did you catch that? God loved you so much, even when you were unlovely, that He was willing to send God the Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a barbaric cross, to be buried, and rise again. He did this so that He might forgive you of your sin, and so that you might enjoy eternal life with Him. If you have placed your faith in Christ, nothing can separate you from God’s love! Stand tall in the face of those who call you worthless and unloved. Stand firm, upright, and confident. Your Heavenly Father loves you! Nothing and no one can change that! It matters! It changes everything!

 For Further Study, see my dad, Monte Leavell’s devotional book:

Steadfast and Stable: The Biblical Foundation for Your Faith http://www.amazon.com/Steadfast-Stable-Biblical-Foundation-Faith/dp/1606829351/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460486828&sr=8-1&keywords=monte+leavell

John Piper’s teaching on this passage: http://www.desiringgod.org/labs/nothing-can-separate-us-from-god-s-love