God's Love Letters to You: A 40-Day Devotional Experience

God's Love Letters to You: A 40-Day Devotional Experience

by Larry Crabb


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780849946479
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 05/09/2011
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 927,893
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Dr. Larry Crabb is a well-known psychologist, conference and seminary speaker, Bible teacher, popular author, and founder/director of NewWay Ministries. He is currently Scholar in Residence at Colorado Christian University in Denver and Visiting Professor of Spiritual Formation for Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta. Dr. Crabb and his wife of forty-six years, Rachael, live in the Denver, Colorado area. For additional information please visit www.newwayministries.org

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God's Love Letters to You

A 40-Day Devotional Experience

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2010 Larry Crabb
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8499-4939-5

Chapter One

Day One: Genesis

I Have a Plan: Trust Me

* * *

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "... God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ... God will surely come to your aid." —Genesis 50:24–25

God says: I want you to realize that I never underestimated how thoroughly you'd mess up your life or how painfully you would struggle and suffer, and I don't want you to underestimate your failures or struggles either. They're all part of the story I'm telling.

But neither have I underestimated My determination or ability to enter both the mess you've made and the pain you feel, then turn everything around. I can, and I will, make everything good again. Never, ever underestimate Me. I have a plan, a very good one, and it will move ahead to completion. Guaranteed! Trust Me. Why? Because I love you even when you're messing up badly. I love you in the middle of your pain even though I don't relieve it as quickly as you wish. I am worthy of your trust, no matter what happens in your life. I have a good plan, and nothing will stop Me from carrying it to completion.

You must live now in the tension between anguish and hope.


* Recall a mess you've made at some time in some area of your life and how God may have entered into that mess with you. How has the experience added to your life story?

* What possible reason could God have for not relieving our troubles more quickly? How do the difficulties we face serve the purposes of God's love?

* What do you believe is the center of God's good plan for your life now, before you get to heaven?


God, it's hard to believe that everything that goes wrong in my life is part of Your good plan. It's even harder to believe that everything I do wrong can somehow lead to something good. God, I believe ... a little. Help me believe more. In Jesus' name, amen.

Chapter Two

Day Two: Exodus

Consider the Lengths I got To, just to be with you

* * *

Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. —Exodus 25:8 NKJV

God says: I can and I will detach you from everything that numbs your sacred hunger for Me and makes you feel hungrier for something other than Me.

You will never on this earth depend fully enough on My power to live exactly as I want you to live. When you see how particular I am about all the rules you should obey but never do, let the weight of My holiness draw you into the delights of My love. I still want to be with you.

Don't ever forget: I do have a plan, a plan to make you deliriously happy in the circle of My love. As you read Exodus 25–40, where I record all those architectural details about the tabernacle, realize the lengths I'm willing to go to be with you. Imagine Me, the God of the universe, clothed in splendor and arrayed in glory, living in, by My standards, a simple tent set up in a barren wilderness. Sure, it was fancy, but compare it to what you imagine heaven to be. But that's where I lived, just to be near people like you.

As you consider all the laws I gave that you've never kept, and as you see My willingness to go camping to be with My people, know this: I will do whatever it takes to fully restore My family and to be with them forever.


* Unknowingly, we often find ways to numb our hunger for God with things like coffee, shopping, sex, sports—you name it. In what ways might you numb your sacred hunger?

* How is our failure to keep God's rules intended to draw us into the delights of His love?

* What does the final sentence—"I will do whatever it takes to fully restore My family and to be with them forever"—provoke in your heart?


Father, give us the courage to identify and live in our deepest hunger for You. Redeem the truth that You as a holy God desire to live with us even amid our sin. In Jesus' name, amen.

Chapter Three

Day Three: Leviticus

Solving your worst problem

* * *

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. —Hebrews 2:11

God says: You want Me to solve your problems, but you don't know what your worst problem is, the one responsible for all the others. You don't yet realize that distance from Me is the most lethal problem you have.

You assume we're doing just fine together while you run off, trying to make life work for you, and you expect Me to cooperate. When you read Leviticus, notice that I never solve anyone's secondary problems. In all those verses about skin infection, for example, I never prescribed ointment or simply cured the disease, which I easily could have done. I simply told people they couldn't enter My Presence with an oozing sore. The issue was worship and intimacy with Me, not health, wealth, or personal comfort.

So many people miss that. They identify their needs and then view Me as a God who wants them satisfied and happy before I deal with their unholiness. But because I love them—and you—I've made a way for you to revolve your life around Me as your first thing. Everything else—your marriage, your checkbook, your self-esteem, your cancer—is a second thing. When the first thing (namely, Me) is in first place in your life, every second thing will be taken care of.

You've got a long way to go before that's true in your life, but I have a plan to get you there, to make you holy.


* If you didn't feel the need to "spiritualize" or worry about what others think, how would you define what your worst problem is?

* What are some of the second things in your life that you long for God to address?

* The second things of our lives often take priority over what God says matters most. How would you describe, after reading these words, what God's deepest commitment is in our lives?


God, I would settle for far less than Your commitment to make me holy as You are. Too often my commitment is to use You to make my life comfortable. Forgive me. In Jesus' name, amen.

Chapter Four

Day Four: Numbers

Persevering on the rough road to my party

* * *

These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don't repeat their mistakes ... Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence. —1 Corinthians 10:11–12 MSG

God says: The road to life is rough. You will begin every new adventure in life with naive hope and excitement. Every wedding will begin with passion, then move into problems. Every decorated nursery will receive a baby who will present unanticipated challenges. Every church plant, every new ministry, every small group starts with happy hopes. Everything you do, no matter how well organized and well intentioned, will run into trouble.

The road to life will expose you to terrible failure and crushing conflict. But only that road leads to the life you want, the life I give you. Spiritual leaders who teach that I am here to solve your problems and make your lives comfortable and prosperous underestimate the energy (and badly misunderstand the nature) of unholiness in the human heart that I must severely deal with to get you to My party.

And that underestimation leads them to underestimate the severity of My love. My servant C. S. Lewis got it right: I'm not safe, but I am good. I will not coddle you any more than a good surgeon only hugs a cancer-stricken child. I will not coddle you, but I will purify you. And that takes more, not less, than a hug.


* How do you respond to the statement that everything you do "will run into trouble"?

* Where have you known this to be true?

* What makes it difficult to believe that the road to life inevitably goes through "terrible failure and crushing conflict"?

* What are you assuming is the deepest problem of the human heart when you would rather be coddled than purified?


Lord God, thank You for Your dogged commitment to purify me and get me to Your party. Open my eyes to see where I am more committed to my comfort than my holiness. I ask in Jesus' name, amen.

Chapter Five

Day Five: Deuteronomy

I'm faithful to you anyway

* * *

He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers. —Deuteronomy 6:23

God says: I am the only true God. There is none other. When you don't like what I'm doing, there is no plan B. I brought you out to bring you in. You were locked in the prison of self-centeredness, just as Israel was in painful bondage to Egypt, where all they could think about was themselves—how can we get a better life? Not, how can we love God?

I brought you out of that prison to bring you into the freedom of love. If you love Me only when I immediately satisfy your desires, your love is merely one more form of self-centeredness. Your love becomes trust only when you choose to believe that I brought you out of something bad to bring you into something good before you experience that something good. Then your love is sustained by confidence in My character, not by enjoyment of current blessings.

I ask nothing of you but that kind of love, which includes respecting Me for who I am, following Me wherever I lead, serving Me with your whole heart, and obeying every command I give.

But that's asking something neither you nor Israel could give. You are not capable of loving Me like that. No one can please me unless I put the life of My Son, who always pleases Me, into his or her heart. And that's what I promised to do. That's what I have done. I'm faithful to faithless people. Believe that, and know that now you can be faithful to Me, not perfectly, but you can learn to live in rhythm with My Son, a little more gracefully each day.


* Given the verse in today's reading, out of what do you think God is bringing us? Into what do you think God longs to bring us?

* Think of a situation that currently "ties you up in knots." How does the sentence, "Then your love is sustained by confidence in My character, not by enjoyment of current blessings," speak to that situation?

* What do you believe is the ruling passion at the heart of every redeemed image bearer?


Oh, Father, I would easily settle for a blessed life here ... trying to use You to cooperate with my agendas. You have such a higher vision for me than I am capable of pulling off in my own strength. Thank You for having done all the work, which includes giving me a heart that loves You as Your Son does. In Jesus' name, amen.

Chapter Six

Day Six: Joshua

Victory requires discernment

* * *

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9 NKJV

God says: Invite Christians to live for Jesus and imply that the Christian life is all about blessings, about entering a land filled with milk and honey with no real battles, and they all will come forward. Churches that never deal with the real fight that following My Son requires often grow large but mostly with small Christians.

Defeating their enemies involved conflict for Israel, failure, and the need for discernment, just as it does in your life. Israel had to fight real battles with real swords that shed real blood. Some of the people, like Achan, preferred blessings to battle. That preference led to failure as it will in your life.

Discernment, too, is hard to come by. Even Joshua mistook an enemy for a friend, a terrible lack of discernment. And despite Joshua's best efforts, My people sometimes squabbled over their enjoyment of blessings. Pay attention to that. A spirit of entitlement and jealousy will plague you until you die. You'll need discernment to identify it, recognize it as wrong, and know how to navigate your way through it.

Your leaders, all of them, are imperfect, but you will need them to more effectively fight the real battle, to resist compromise and deception, and to enjoy your blessings without the spirit of entitlement corrupting your gratitude. Substantial victory is available in this life but only with struggles that remain until heaven.


* How would you define the real battle that following God's Son requires?

* Within our lives and our churches, we see conflict and failure as our enemies. How might these instead be the context for discerning the real enemy from which God seeks to free us?

* A spirit of entitlement exists in all of us (God, You owe me an understanding spouse ... children who follow You ... good health ... a fulfilling career). It often only surfaces during times of prolonged pain and suffering. Where have you seen this spirit in your life?


God, often my battles are about securing blessings that I believe I deserve. I long for Your discernment to be about the real fight within me and others that will lead us to gratitude. In Jesus' name, amen.

CH7[ Day Seven: Judges

Understanding authentic love

* * *

God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. —Hebrews 12:10 MSG

God says: I never heal superficially. Many of My people wish I did and think I do. I don't. My plan is to change you from the inside out, to change your motives—why you do what you do—and to change your impact on people so that how you relate to others will make them thirsty for Me and will draw them to dependence on Me.

When you love Me above all else, what you do will bring Me pleasure because your motives, though never pure, will be holy. And when you love others with an authenticity and passion that draw them toward Me, you will feel a little of the pleasure I feel.

Only when people look deeply into themselves will they truly repent. My people in Judges never repented. They remained in love with their own sense of well-being, with no understanding that love, real love, the love that defines Me, involves suffering the loss of well-being for the sake of another.

That lack of understanding is epidemic, not only in culture but in churches today. And it is in you. You and everyone else are inclined to depend on Me for the good life of blessings and to mistake that dependence for love. You're more afraid of losing the good life than of losing (or never gaining) a close relationship with Me. You do not yet see that being with Me is your greatest blessing, no matter what else may be happening in your life.


* It is far easier to expend our energy on our behavior, cleaning up the outside of the cup as indicated by Jesus in Matthew 23:25–26. What makes it difficult to turn and honestly face the motivation of our hearts?

* Based on the reading, what do you think true repentance involves?

* Unknowingly, what we call love is often intended to get something from another. Recognizing this can lead to another type of love. How would you define that love?

* As you reflect back over today's reading, what sentences create an anticipation that you could share in the pleasures of God?

(Continues...) ]CH7

Excerpted from God's Love Letters to You by LARRY CRABB Copyright © 2010 by Larry Crabb. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. 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


Hearing God's Life Words....................xiii
Day One: Genesis I have a plan: trust Me....................1
Day Two: Exodus Consider the lengths I go to, just to be with you....................4
Day Three: Leviticus Solving your worst problem....................7
Day Four: Numbers Persevering on the rough road to My party....................10
Day Five: Deuteronomy I'm faithful to you anyway....................13
Day Six: Joshua Victory requires discernment....................16
Day Seven: Judges Understanding authentic love....................19
Day Eight: Ruth My love can overcome all obstacles....................22
Day Nine: 1 Samuel Moving from emptiness to holiness ... to laughter....................25
Day Ten: 2 Chronicles Struggle to trust Me....................28
Day Eleven: Ezra You will make it to the party....................31
Day Twelve: Nehemiah Small obedience is great work....................34
Day Thirteen: Psalms The stakes are high....................37
Day Fourteen: Song of Songs Come to My feast of love....................40
Day Fifteen: Jeremiah I will rescue you....................43
Day Sixteen: Daniel When you're ready to meet Me....................46
Day Seventeen: Jonah I demand your cooperation....................49
Day Eighteen: Habakkuk You must stumble before you dance....................52
Day Nineteen: Zechariah Believe what you cannot see....................55
Day Twenty: Malachi Beneath your doubt, you long for Me....................58
Day Twenty-One: Matthew Jesus takes over....................61
Day Twenty-Two: Mark Moving toward the kingdom....................64
Day Twenty-Three: Luke You're standing at a crossroads....................67
Day Twenty-Four: John The surprising route to joy....................70
Day Twenty-Five: Acts A new purpose in freedom....................73
Day Twenty-Six: Romans Discovering the truth that sings....................76
Day Twenty-Seven: 1 Corinthians The ongoing moment of decision....................79
Day Twenty-Eight: 2 Corinthians My truth reveals your profound need....................82
Day Twenty-Nine: Galatians Your freedom makes you vulnerable....................85
Day Thirty: Ephesians Celebrate My Spirit within you....................88
Day Thirty-One: Philippians Empty, broken, thirsty, grateful ... and empowered....................91
Day Thirty-Two: Colossians Fully seen, fully wanted by an inflexibly holy God....................94
Day Thirty-Three: 1 Thessalonians Blessed by frustration, weariness, and futility....................97
Day Thirty-Four: 2 Timothy A joy that frees you to endure hardship....................100
Day Thirty-Five: Titus Living between two epiphanies....................103
Day Thirty-Six: Hebrews Strengthened to believe, wait, and love....................106
Day Thirty-Seven: James Saving your soul from a wasted life....................109
Day Thirty-Eight: 1 John The dance of love, the life of joy....................112
Day Thirty-Nine: Jude In brokenness, you will know My power....................115
Day Forty: Revelation Become caught up in My story....................118
About the Author....................121

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