When you are troubled, when you are perplexed or confused, come to Me. Lay your head on My shoulder. Find your comfort in My eternal promises. Listen to the words that I will speak to your heart and mind. Find your strength and peace in Me.
If I were to ask you to describe Jesus’ ministry to people, what would you say? It’s an important question, because He’s called us to be His representatives in this world, and we need to consider how we can best reflect His love as we follow in His footsteps.
I read once that a good father prepares us for our relationship with our heavenly Father, God.
My father may not realize it, but one thing that shaped my life was a conversation he and I had sitting on a hill overlooking our home the summer I was 18. He probably doesn’t even remember it—so simple and yet so typical of him and his wise and loving way of guiding me without overtly giving advice.
Loving others can be extremely difficult at times. A common phrase to refer to those people that we consistently find ourselves challenged to love is “extra grace required” people. But even people we generally like can sometimes be difficult to love. The main reason we run into difficulties in loving others is sin, both ours and that of those we try to love. … Battling both our own selfishness and sin tendencies and dealing with the selfishness and sin tendencies of others can make love a chore.
He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy.
—Titus 3:5 NIV
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
—Matthew 5:7 NIV
I have always liked the disciple Peter. He made a lot of mistakes, opened his mouth at all the wrong times, didn’t want to have to forgive his brother, and ultimately even denied Jesus—three times.
Yet, Peter appeals to me because I am a lot like him. Like Peter, each of us makes mistakes, each of us has times when we don’t forgive our offenders—and most certainly, each of us has disappointed our Savior. I know I have many times.
We often hear our life of faith compared to running a race or being on a journey. Countless songs, books, and sermons are based on those concepts. As a runner, I find inspiration in the verse “run with endurance the race that is set before us … looking unto Jesus.”1 But recently it came alive to me from a whole new perspective.
Have you ever wondered why the sky is blue and why that specific color gives you a feeling of peace when you look at it? Have you ever wondered why the scent of a pine forest or the grass after rain brings calm and refreshing to your spirit? Is there some magical reason why the simple sound of a bird singing makes you feel happy inside?
God’s unconditional love has no bounds, is unchanging and without limitations. It is given freely, no matter what. Each of us has sinned, and sin brings separation from God. Nevertheless, God loves us. It doesn’t mean He loves all that we do, but He loves us. In fact, He loves humanity so much that He made it possible for the breach caused by our sins and wrongdoing to be bridged through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”1
When I think about how to sum up who God is in a single phrase, “unconditional love” comes to mind. Of course, God is many things and cannot be confined to one phrase or term, but as we know from 1 John 4:8, God is love. That is His very nature; it is intrinsic to who He is. It is one of His fundamental character traits. While that doesn’t mean that He loves everything we do—we are sinners, after all—nor that He overlooks or turns a blind eye to our sin or wrongdoing, nonetheless He loves His children unconditionally and forgives us if we are humble enough to ask Him to.