Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 23 March, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 9, (Chap. 9)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 65-72)
Discover the Magnitude of God’s Love – The degree to which God loves us, is greater than anything we could ever imagine. Because God loves us, He will not leave us. When we consider taking an important new step in life, we should not fear, for God has promised to be with us. The presence of Jesus Christ in our hearts, assures us of the magnitude of God’s love. God’s care for us is so great that we could never be too far from His love. The roots of our faith in Christ, dig deep into the tap root of God’s love (cf. Ephesians 3:17-19, NLT). The Apostle Paul explains that the more we come to understand God’s love, as it is expressed through the life of Christ, we will become more mature in our faith. Jesus told His disciples that a person who obeyed and loved Him, would also be loved by the Father. The Father and Son would be at home in the heart of the believer (cf. John 14:23, NLT). God chooses each of us because of his great love. In his devotion, Begin Again, Max Lucado differentiates God’s love in this way: “Others love you because of you, because your dimples dip when you smile or your…charms when you flirt. Some people love you because of you. Not God. He loves you because he is he. He loves you because he decides to.” God reminded Israel, that they were not chosen as a special nation because of their greatness. Rather, the choice was God’s alone, and that choice was an expression of His great love (cf. Deuteronomy 7:7-8a, NLT). God sets each of us apart for His work, and He does so indiscriminately, as an act of grace. The more we experience God’s love, the deeper our relationship grows with Him. A deepening relationship with God summons us to His presence. In a lament that was sung in the Jewish community, and likely written during the exile in Babylon, the psalmist speaks of a “longing” to be closer to God (cf. Psalm 42:1:8a, NLT). The love we develop for God will cause us to appreciate His presence, and to genuinely desire fellowship with Him. It is when we are nearer to God that we desire to seek Him more. Max Lucado spoke of the renown Cuban diver, Pipin Ferreras, who has descended the length of five stories, 531 feet, into the depths of the ocean. Most people could not survive such a plunge, but Ferreras accomplished this in 3 minutes and twelve seconds! In preparation he filled his lungs with air. It was Ferreras’ determination to go as deep as possible. How deep is God’s love?
Growing Deeper – The deeper we grow in our relationship with God, the more prepared we will be for change. The Apostle Paul told the Colossian Christians that they must journey to the depths of their faith to establish a more secure relationship with God (cf. Colossians 2:7, NLT). Jesus invites us to “abide in [His] love.” Jesus is saying to become spiritually strong we must understand the relationship between the Father and the Son (cf. John 15:9-10, NLT). Max Lucado comments, “When you abide somewhere, you live there. You grow familiar with the surroundings… To abide is to be at home.” Dr. Howard Thurman said, “To be at home everywhere, is to be a home somewhere.” Some people may find it more difficult than others to chart a different course in life. One reason could be that they are not fully mature, where they are presently. Jesus said that a level of spiritual maturity which strengthens our faith, and gives us confidence, can only be attained through our consistent relationship with God (cf. I John 4:17, NLT). In 1875, William Earnest Henley wrote the celebrated poem, titled Invictus. Henley wrote the poem during the late 19th century, when there was a great belief in human progress. One line of the poem has been debated: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” Many interpreted this to mean, humans are invincible, and by their own powers can accomplish anything. The scriptures remind us that it is through our relationship with God that we come to attain our destiny, and not through human effort alone (cf. Psalm 73:24-26, NLT). Seeking God’s wisdom and ascertaining discernment of His will, does not rob us of attaining beneficial or great things in life. As we grow deeper in a relationship with God, we become more familiar with His voice and plan. The psalmist spoke of the benefits of being near God (cf. Psalm 73:28, NLT). Jesus described our nearness to the Father and Son as being similar to the relationship of the vine to the branch. Jesus said, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me,” (John 15:4, NASB).
What We Believe
We are nearer to God when we experience His love.
1. God’s love can’t be measured, only experienced!
2. Experiencing God’s love, helps us grow deeper in our faith!
Ephesians 3: 17-19, NLT “Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all of God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the soulfulness life and power that comes from God.”
John 14:23, NLT
“Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”
Deuteronomy 7:7-8a, NLT
“The Lord did not set His heart on you and choose you because you were numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations. Rather, it was simply because the Lord loves you…”
Psalm 42:1; 8, NLT
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you,O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before Him? But each day the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night sing His songs, praying to God who gives me strength.”
Colossians 2:7, NLT
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
John 15:9-10, NLT
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”
I John 4:17, NLT
“And as we live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”
Psalm 73:24-26, NLT
“You guide me with your counsel, leading me to glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you?I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart;He is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:28, NLT
But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter.; and I will tell