Many women not only struggle to understand who they are, they struggle to believe Whose they are. As daughters of the King we are not just precious but deeply loved.
Babbie Mason shares her personal journey to understanding how very much God loved her, not as a singer or teacher but as His child. Here she equips readers to accept that love, and grow their confidence because of it.
The book features three sections:
• Understanding God's embrace
• A Twenty-One Day Journey to Receive God's Embrace
• Stepping Out in Faith Knowing You Are Embraced by God.
Babbie's warm, creative and friendly approach will engage readers and encourage them on this blessed journey. Mason lives near Atlanta, Georgia.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.50(d)|
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Embraced by God
Celebrating Who and Whose You Are
By BABBIE MASON
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2012 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
YOU ARE GOD'S FAVORITE
* * *
To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry Nor could the scroll, contain the whole Though stretched from sky to sky. —Frederick M. Lehman
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. —John 3:16
God loves you.
No doubt, you've heard these words before. Maybe you heard them as a child in Sunday school class. It's possible that you caught them as you surfed through the television channels. Perhaps you saw the words, God Loves You on a car bumper sticker during rush-hour traffic. Perhaps these familiar words are in a song that you know.
You might even be saying to yourself at this moment, That's a really nice thought. But have you truly considered what these timeless words really mean? Consider how a holy, perfect, infinite God could ever love someone who is sinful, unholy, severely imperfect, and hopelessly finite. This is hard to comprehend, but it's true. Not only does the God of the universe love the whole world ... He loves you. The very same God who spoke heaven and earth into existence created you, loves you, and longs for you to know that you are completely and utterly treasured without measure or condition. First John 4:10a (NIV) makes this clear: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us."
God's love cannot be compared to any other love you have encountered. The way human beings love and the way God loves are two totally different things entirely.
Human love is temperamental. When humans love, the circumstances have to be just right. Feelings are subject to change without a moment's notice, and they hinge on conditions. God's love is unconditional. To Him, circumstances don't matter. In good times or bad, when we do wrong or when we do right, God's love is always constant. His love never changes.
Human love is temporary. It can be here one moment and gone the next. People change their minds. They discard relationships and move on. Not so with God. His love is eternal. From everlasting to everlasting, He has always loved you. God loves you more than you know right at this very moment.
Human love is often tentative. People are capable of entering into relationships with caution, hesitancy, and uncertainty. Many times people give to get, having selfish ulterior motives. God's love is completely selfless. He is liberal with His affection, always giving His love sacrificially. Even now, your heavenly Father would give up everything and lay it all down, both joyfully and willingly, just for you.
God's Love for You Is Perfect
Perhaps you find it difficult to wrap your mind around the truth that God loves you without any conditions. You might be thinking, How could the God of the universe love me unconditionally? I'm flawed and scarred. I don't measure up to God's standard of perfection. I have a past, and it's not pretty. I tend to be self-seeking and prideful, even hateful at times. I have a bad temper. I can be overindulgent and insensitive. There are times that my heart is filled with greed and envy. The reasoning for not feeling good enough to receive God's love could go on and on.
Be encouraged. God knows everything about you—both good and bad—and He still loves you. He knows the areas in which you flourish and shine, and He knows where you are weak and vulnerable. Yet God loves you just the same. But that's not an excuse to become stagnant. Max Lucado said, "God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus."
You are God's favorite. That's right. I'll say it again: you are God's favorite. You are unique, special, irreplaceable, and incomparable in value to Him. God loves you more passionately than any human ever could. You might think of yourself as an unimportant, nameless face in a crowd of millions. You might even think, as I did in church that day, God has His favorites and I certainly don't qualify to be one of them.
Yes, God is all-powerful, and He needs help from no one. Yet without you, your heavenly Father's joy would never be complete. It breaks His heart when you resist His love. Worse yet, it grieves Him when you don't believe that He loves you. To think this way is to silently accuse God of having imperfect love. That kind of thinking is an insult to the work that Jesus completed on the cross for you.
In Galatians 2:6-9, the Apostle Paul speaks of Jesus' beloved disciples, Peter, James, and John. If anybody could claim to find a favorite place in God's heart, certainly these men would. John even considered himself to be "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 19:26). These great men walked with Jesus as His closest earthly friends. Each is considered a founda tional pillar of the church. Yet the Apostle Paul said of these men:
But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. (Galatians 2:6 NASB)
The Bible says you are just as important to God as His beloved disciples, Peter, James, and John. Because of Christ's finished work, you qualify for God's favor just as much as they did. Let's think about this in human terms. If you had a broken leg, you would qualify to see a doctor, right? If your tooth ached, you would qualify to see a dentist. If your sink had a busted water pipe, you'd qualify to call a plumber—even if this emergency occurred in the middle of the night.
In the same manner, we as people are flawed and scarred. We don't measure up to God's perfect standards. We have a past that is not pretty. We are self-seeking and full of pride. We lose our temper and self-control. We have all sinned and missed God's mark of perfection. Figuratively speaking, we all have something in our lives that is broken, aching, and busted. So, every one of us qualifies for a Savior.
In your own strength you could never qualify to be God's favorite, but Jesus does. And because of what Jesus did for you at Calvary, He qualified you!
This may seem to be an amazing thought to grab hold of, but your heavenly Father delights in you. He loves you just as much as He loves His own Son, Jesus. What a great truth this is! Don't just hear this with your ears; embrace it with your heart. Read what Jesus prayed to the Father on your behalf:
I am in them [that includes you!] and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (John 17:23 NLT, emphasis mine)
Some people think of God as an age-old ogre with a long beard, a perpetual scowl, and a pointy finger, who is distant, uncaring, and aloof. They picture God as being mean-spirited: Someone who can't wait for people to make a mistake so He can banish them eternally from His presence. That, my friend, only happens in the movies. It simply is not true in daily life. Remember, God not only has the ability to love, He is Love personified. The very essence of our heavenly Father's character is love. As a matter of fact, His name is Love. Read 1 John 4:7-8 with me: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
From the very beginning, God wanted you to experience His love. He sent His Son, Jesus, to the world so you could understand more clearly what love looks like in flesh and blood. As you follow Jesus' example, you will experience real love.
Do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Do you want to know how to live life to the fullest? Look at Jesus. Do you want to experience love in a personal way? Look to Jesus. When you experience the Father's love through Him, with each new day you can discover real joy and the true meaning of life.
God's Love for You Is Like Precious Gold
Have you ever read John 3:16? Not just glanced over it in passing, but have you ever really read it? This passage is considered to be the "golden text" of the Bible: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The third chapter of the book of John opens with the story about Nicodemus, a very learned man and member of the Jewish council. He came to Jesus by night, knowing in his heart that Jesus must have been sent from God because of the miracles He performed. What intrigues me most about Nicodemus is his relentless curiosity. I believe Jesus was pleased not only to answer Nicodemus's questions, but to reveal to him the key that unlocks all of life.
This story is very familiar to a lot of people, including me. Like many others, I memorized John 3:16 as a small child. Growing up in the church my father pastored, it was expected of me (and every church member for that matter) to memorize Scripture. The church even held annual contests, giving awards to the person who had memorized the most passages. And yes, I won a few ribbons for displaying this skill.
I've known John 3:16 in its entirety for most of my life. However, over the years this passage became so familiar to me that I almost took it for granted. Recently, when I read this verse again that is the central theme of the Bible, I was impacted by its powerful truth. Suddenly, I began to gain a depth of meaning I hadn't realized before. As I pondered the words I was reading, I felt led to engage in a personal exercise.
Knowing that Christ died for me, I replaced the words the world and whosoever with my own name. Completing this exercise by speaking it aloud, I felt the weight of its meaning sink deeply into my heart: "For God so loved Babbie, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [if] Babbie believeth in him, Babbie should not perish, but have everlasting life."
My eyes were opened! I was stunned at how clearly I now understood the message of God's love. May I challenge you to do the same? Right now, go ahead and fill in the blanks below with your own name; then read the sentence slowly. As you read, ask God to make this age-old promise come alive in you with fresh, new meaning.
Take a moment to grasp the implications of this passage a little more firmly. The God of the universe loves you so much that He surrendered His most prized possession, the life of His own Son, as a supreme sacrifice for your sin.
I am the mother of two wonderful sons, and my mind cannot conceive of such a selfless act! God gave up the life of His only Son, and Jesus laid down His own life, completely paying the penalty for your sin once and for all. God's only Son was crucified, put to death on a cruel, bloody cross ... what a beautiful demonstration of just how much He loves you.
Think of the price that was paid for your sin. You and I should have been on that cross, but Jesus took our place. As you ponder this great exchange, repeat these words aloud: God loves me. Now say with emphasis: I am God's favorite. You may even want to make it a practice today by saying these words aloud, repeatedly, throughout the day. Find a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say them over and over again. Let these powerful truths sink deeply into your heart.
Now say it once more, slowly this time: "God loves me ... I am His favorite."
It's amazing. Whenever I ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand the Scriptures, He does exactly that. You will find this to be true as well. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an understanding of the Scriptures, and you will begin to realize new revelation from God's word—no matter how familiar you may already be with certain passages.
God Loves You So Much
On another occasion, I read John 3:16 again and the same thing happened. As I read, slowly and deliberately, a tiny word seemed to leap off the page. In and of itself, this word doesn't appear to mean much. At first glance, it can even seem to be rather non descript and insignificant. Not so!
This time as I read John 3:16, I was compelled to look up the definition of those two small letters cuddling closely to each other, and I found a huge meaning! By the way, the word I'm talking about is so. Think about its meaning and context as you read the definition: "To a great extent or degree; very, extremely; exceedingly, enormously, tremendously. To an immeasurable degree."
Do you understand this passage a little more clearly now? God loved you so very much—to such an extent, so extremely, enormously, and tremendously—that He sent Jesus to the ends of the earth and back again, conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave for one reason and one reason alone. You.
Rock 'n' roll legend Tina Turner's classic hit asks the question, "What's love got to do with it?" According to God's word, love has everything to do with it! Love has everything to do with the way God sees you. It has everything to do with the way you see your past, present, and future. Love has everything to do with the way you treat others, and yes, it even determines the way you see yourself.
Because God loves you, regardless of what your day holds in store—good or bad, the best and the rest—absolutely nothing can separate you from His love! Romans 8:38-39 explains this beautifully in THE MESSAGE:
I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (emphasis mine)
I'll say it again. God loves you. May I challenge you to never get to the place where knowing this doesn't have a comforting, lingering affect on you? Don't ever take this eternal truth for granted. Never allow these three vitally important words to become old, cold, or so common that they no longer move you. As a matter of fact, my friend, as time passes you must allow them to do exactly the opposite. Let this life-changing phrase become like a magnet, always drawing you closer to your heavenly Father's heart.
As you come into a deeper understanding of the power this truth holds, it will not only change the way you perceive God's love for you. It will change you.
When I was in the third grade, I got my first love letter from a boy in my class. He sat two rows over. Billy (not his real name) wrote the letter in a way that only a third grader could do. Then he folded it up, origami-style, in the shape of a paper cup. Risking being caught and severely reprimanded by our teacher, he then carefully passed the letter to me when she turned her back to write on the chalkboard. I unfolded it and began to read. This is what it said:
I love you.
Do you love me?
Yes or no?
Then, using a number two lead pencil, he signed his name ...
I don't remember how I responded to Billy's proposition to be his sweetheart. But I do remember how it made me feel. I felt preferred and uniquely chosen, knowing that someone in that classroom thought I was special. Even though it was only a third grade crush, I clearly recall, even now, how it felt to know someone loved me. Even more, that someone thought enough of me to tell me so.
The Bible is God's love letter to you. From cover to cover, He's calling your name. From the table of contents all the way to the maps in the back of the Book, He's charting your life's course. From the words, "In the beginning God ..." to "Behold, I am coming soon ..." God desires to write His love story on the tablets of your heart. Oh, yes, from the first hallelujah to the last amen, God is singing your victory song.
Can you hear it? I heard it one day and captured these words in a beautiful song, "I Love You, I Do." Listen with your heart and experience God's eternal love for you:
I love you, I love you, I love you, I do
I love you through the darkest of night
And in the daytime too
Just as roses are red and the violets are blue
Never doubt for one moment that My love is true
And if you need to be reminded of how I feel about you
I'll tell you again, I love you, I do ...
Excerpted from Embraced by God by BABBIE MASON. Copyright © 2012 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction—Before You Begin: The Overture,
Theme One—God's Passion for You Is Unconditional,
Day 1: You Are God's Favorite,
Day 2: You Can Start Again,
Day 3 : You Matter to God,
Theme Two—God's Picture of You Is Beautiful,
Day 4: You Are Validated,
Day 5: You Are Vindicated,
Day 6: You Are Valued,
Theme Three—God's Presence in You Is Perpetual,
Day 7: God Is Near,
Day 8: God Hears,
Day 9: God Cares,
Theme Four—God's Provision for You Is Immeasurable,
Day 10: The Name to Trust,
Day 11: The Courage to Stand,
Day 12: The Place to Rest,
Theme Five—God's Plan for You Is Exceptional,
Day 13: When You Know God's Plan,
Day 14: When God Is with You,
Day 15: When Life Is the Pits,
Theme Six—God's Power in You Is Accessible,
Day 16: Take a Big Leap of Faith,
Day 17: Stage a Big Comeback,
Day 18: Make a Big Difference,
Theme Seven—God's Promise in You Is Incomparable,
Day 19: Encourage Yourself,
Day 20: Equip Yourself,
Day 21: Envision Yourself,
Epilogue—The Encore: A Legacy of Love,
The First Note How to Receive Christ as Savior,