How Long, How Deep, How Wide, & How High Is God’s Love For Us?
As I have shared many times, I brought havoc and pain to my relationships not only with my administrative assistants, but with my adult children, by making sideways comments, endeavoring to change their course. When I saw that this was the sin of manipulation, I have repented and rarely do it — and all of my relationships are so much better. But I wouldn’t be able to turn from this sin, especially with those I deeply love, like my adult children, if I didn’t trust that God’s love was longer, stronger, deeper, and wiser than my own. My firstborn son and his wife just visited for two weeks, and I marveled how much better our relationship is than it was twenty years ago. They want to be with me. They seek me out. I even took my daughter-in-law shopping for her birthday — something that I don’t think would have happened before my turn seemed certain to her.
I realize that the root reason I nag or manipulate is fear. I fear the path they are on and desperately want to change it. I’m not talking about sin, but about what I perceive as dangerous. If the Spirit allows me freedom to speak the truth in love about something I see as dangerous, such as not getting colonoscopies, or riding motorcyles, or being lax in parenting — then I can do so once in love, but then I must zipper my mouth and shut down any non-verbal communications. Anything else will be inefficacious and destroy intimacy.
My ability to surrender is growing as I grow in the confidence that God’s love is longer, stronger, deeper, and wiser than my own. I must not try to be the Holy Spirit. And even if the choices we make or our loved ones make lead to suffering, those are stepping stones to glory.
Paige’s lecture, like her lecture on adoption, was so reassuring about the love and purposes of God. She began with this book to address our fears that when we are feel unloveable, God might withdraw His love. But no! His love is deeper than that.
This is next week’s lecture — this week’s is over. This one up til Tues. night.
Questions in Purple are for those simultaneously reviewing Revelation 1-11.
Questions preceded by a * are Paige’s.
Sunday: Getting Started
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Name an area where you tend to be anxious and speak to your soul based on what you know about God’s love. If it is too personal to do here, do it somewhere else!
- Read Romans 8:28-39 and share anything that stands out to you or becomes radioactive!
Monday: How Long?
Prepare your heart with this:
4. Read Romans 8:28-30
A. Find the verbs associated with God. Do these assure you of His love and commitment to you? Explain.
B. Paige told a story about a girl who found out later in life she was adopted — and she ran off to be by herself. Do you remember what happened and Paige’s point?
C. Paige made a point that this is all of God, and said: “If we started it, then we have no assurance.” What did she mean? Do you agree? Disagree? Explain.
*D. How do we define good? The good life? The good day? The good year? The good job? What is the “good” for which He works all things? Is this the good that we seek? That we pray for?
*E. What if God desires this good, but it just never happens for us? See Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:24.
F. What is the good? Do you see this happening in your life?
*5. Read Colossians 1:15-20. Jesus is twice announced to be “the firstborn.” Of what? Given His rightful firstborn status in both of these ways, how does the purpose of His firstborn status in v. 29 show God’s amazing love for us? Refer back to v.17.
6. How many brothers does God show John he will have in Revelation 7:1-17? What does this number 144,000 symbolize?
Tuesday: How Deep? How Wide?
I so identified with Paige’s story with her kids, when they say, “You just don’t want me to be happy.” They’ve forgotten how she loves them, feeds them, clothes them, bears their stretch marks!
When I was about 12 I said those words to my dad after he forbade me from doing something. I still remember exactly where we were. I was sitting in my walk-in closet, pouting, and he was standing at the door. When I spoke those words, he began to cry. It startled me. He said, “Everything I do, the reason I work and give and try so hard, is because of the overwhelming love I have for you, your mother, and your sisters.” I never forgot it. What more could he say?
*7. In Romans 8: 31b-35a Paul poses 5 questions. They are all found to be rhetorical because each of them contains an included or attached truth that makes them “unanswerable” (J. Stott). Look at each—the question and the unshakeable truth. Conclude by sharing your answer to the question in v. 31a.
8. Read Romans 8:33-34 again. Who could accuse us before the Father? Who is constantly interceding for us? Do you remember what Dean Ortland said about “refresh?”
*9. Read Zechariah 3:1-5 about Israel’s own high priest standing before Him. What defense can be offered? How strong is this defense? Refer to 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:26-27 for an understanding of the new garments. What about Revelation 19:14?
10. Paige told a pretty dramatic story about what she brought to show and tell. What was the point of her story?
*11. We sometimes talk about “covering” something or someone in prayer. Do we ever consider being “covered”? Think about what Romans 8 has told us about Who intercedes for us—vv. 26-27, 34 (Hebrews 7:23-25). Where is the Spirit (vv. 9-11)? Where is the Son (v. 34)? So is His intercession very personal and intimate? Or transcendent and powerful? Is there any aspect of our lives not “covered”?
Wednesday: How High?
Once when speaking to a primarily black church in Chicago, I started quoting Romans 8:35. I asked “What shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
A woman cried out, “Shall tribulation?”
I thought — oh my, I hope I can remember these verses. I said back: “Shall distress?”
They cried, “Shall persecution?”
I said, “Or famine?”
They cried, “Or nakedness?”
I said, “Or danger?”
And they finished, “Or sword?”
And we all laughed, assurred that nothing, no nothing, could separate us from His love.
12. Read Romans 8:35-39.
A. What is the promise?
*B. Do you live your life in the insecurity of your love for God or in the assurance of His love for you?
13. Paige told the story behind George Mathison’s Hymn “Oh Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” Do you remember the story? How do the lyrics of that song help us overcome our sorrow when humans let us down?
*14. What do you FEEL like separates you fro God’s love? When are you most prone and most quick to doubt or even deny His love?
Thursday: Weight of Glory
15. Paige told about St John Chrysostom being brought before the emperor and threatened by him in many ways. Do you remember how he responded when told he would be banished, that his riches would be taken, and that he would have no friends?
16. As you look carefully at the words in Romans 8:37, what is the promise? What is not the promise?
17. Paige quoted Lewis several times.
A. Once, in Narnia, when the children were so afraid their “faces were like cold gravy” what happened to overcome their fears?
B. In the Great Divorce Lewis writes: “Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even agony into a glory.” What does that mean. How does that give you hope?
18. Do you remember Paige’s conversation with her 4 year old daughter? What was the point?
19. What assurance of God’s love can you find in Revelation 5:9-10?
20. What is your take-a-way and why?