Jump Start # 1977
John 14:3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Counting trees in our garden—that’s what we are doing this week. Satan got Eve to focus upon one tree in the garden of Eden, the forbidden tree. That’s all they talked about, that one tree. Had Eve remembered all the other trees that God had provided for her, had she counted her blessings, she would have realized that God was very good to her. Instead, she felt cheated. She felt that God was holding out on her. She felt that she ought to be able to eat from all of the trees. Rather than being thankful, she became rebellious and sinned.
We do the same. Instead of looking at what we have, we look at what we don’t have. We want what is off limits. We convince ourselves that we will never be happy until we have what we currently do not have. Looking at forbidden trees makes us feel that we are missing out. We are not very thankful when we are focused upon what we do not have. To overcome this, our Jump Starts, this week are taking a stroll through our garden. We are looking at the trees that God has provided.
Yesterday, we looked at godly friends and fellowship. What a help they are. How needful they are.
Another tree in our garden is the love and fellowship we have with God. This should never be assumed nor taken for granted. It is an amazing thing that God loves us and has done so much for us. Our verse is one of many in the Bible that illustrates this. “Where I am, there you may be also.” This is not so much about Heaven, as it is being in the presence of Christ. He wants us around Him. He wants us to be where He is.
The scenes of Heaven from Revelation shows the righteous surrounding the throne of God. Together. Close. Fellowship. Unlike some homes, God is not sending us off to play in our rooms. God is not telling us to go outside as He remains inside. Where I am, there you may be also.
Several things stream from that expression.
First, God chooses to love us. When God chose Israel to be His people, He didn’t pick a powerful nation that was making a name for themselves. They began as captives in Egypt. They needed God’s help to break free. Then they needed God’s help to sustain themselves in the wilderness. Then they needed God’s help to win battles. God had made promises and God loved them and God knew what was coming in the future. It’s easy to jump on the band wagon of a winning team. The true fan stays with that team when they are struggling and in last place.
God’s story with Israel isn’t much different than our own story. God has loved us before we loved Him. God has loved us when we were smart mouthed, rebellious teenagers. God has loved us while we doing the very things that breaks His law. When we finally came to our senses, it was God who forgave us through the blood of Jesus. It was God who adopted us as His children. It was God who opened the door of fellowship with His people. It was God who hears our prayers and continues to bless us. Sure we worship God and we try to walk in righteousness, but it doesn’t take too much to see that God has poured a lot more into this relationship than we have. And when things do not work out very well, we often blame God, turn our backs on God, or wonder why He doesn’t do something.
The largest and most massive tree in our garden is the love of God. I wish Adam and Eve had seen that. It was God who created them. It was God who provided the garden for them. It was God who walked with them in the cool of the garden. Satan hadn’t done a thing for them. He didn’t have a history with them. He hadn’t blessed them. He hadn’t helped them. There was no reason for Adam and Eve to pay any attention to what Satan said, but they did. And so do we. Satan has done nothing for us. He doesn’t even love us. He uses us. He abuses us. He covers our eyes so we don’t see the true picture of sin. And he smiles when we slide into eternity with a heart that no longer believes.
Second, God has demonstrated and proven His love for us. “Do you love me?” A young couple may ask that. They are looking for some proof. Love is more than a feeling, it’s an action and a choice. It is demonstrated by good deeds. When someone looks at their life, they may wonder, does God love me? The choices that they have made in life may have made their life messy and riddled with problems. That wasn’t God’s doing. How do I know God loves me? Jesus. That’s the best proof. God sent Jesus. God sent the best of Heaven for us. God sent Jesus to be like us, only better. Jesus, wasn’t like the “Undercover boss,” who hides his identity for a weekend to spy on his workers. Rather, Jesus told and showed all who He was. Jesus didn’t stay for a weekend. He was here for decades. He was a child. He was a teenager. He was a young man. He was a man. He walked through our world and showed us how we ought to have been. We failed. When tempted, we caved in. Jesus didn’t. When accused, we fought back. Jesus didn’t. When rejected, we got upset and depressed. Jesus didn’t. We lost focus. Jesus never did. We got side tracked. Jesus never did. We forgot. Jesus never did. We got confused. Jesus never did. And, not only did Jesus show us what we ought to have been doing, Jesus went to the cross for our wrongs. He was perfect. He didn’t deserve the cross. It was our cross. Jesus rose and we have our verse as a promise, that where I am, there you may be.
Folks sometimes feel that unless every whim and dream comes true, then God doesn’t love them. Like a spoiled child, they expect God to lift them out of every jam, and solve every problem that comes their way. Failing to realize that trials and testing build character, they doubt that God really loves them. How wrong they are.
Thirdly, God has equipped us with the means to love as He loves. Through the Scriptures our hearts change. We learn to be kind and forgiving. We learn to offer grace. We learn to speak as Jesus spoke. We serve and ask nothing in return. We help. We fellowship. We become like Jesus. We look back and we see the changes. We notice how our attitudes have improved. We think better today. Our words are not so sharp and mean as they once were. We have learned to be patient. We are a better us, because of God. He has molded and shaped us as we have walked with Him through the Scriptures. We worry less. Fear doesn’t consume us. Even death, is nothing more than a door we pass through to get where Jesus is. Our outlook is better. We are not weighed down with politics, bad news and the things of this life. Our inward man is being renewed day by day. We walk in the newness of life. Christ lives in us. Those wonderful Biblical expressions define us. We are a new and improved model thanks to Jesus Christ.
Satan wants to take us to the gutter of life. God lifts our hearts heavenward. Satan has nothing but evil and wrong to put on his plate. God shows us the best way, the best life and the best us. We even feel better when we are walking with God. There is a sense of confidence and knowing that one is right, because he is walking in righteousness.
What a powerful and large tree that stands in our garden. God loves us. There is nothing that Satan has that even comes close to this. Why focus on what is forbidden when we can partake of what is good and right?
God loves you. He knows you and He knows your history and yet, He still loves you!