Transformation takes place in God’s embrace

EmbracedIn a meeting recently, one of our worship leaders shared how she had lived most of her Christian life trying to love God, but now is finally learning how to be loved by God.

Because we’ve found that loving God is one thing, but it’s in our receiving His love that we’re truly changed.

And that difference is like the difference between going East or West, being in the life Jesus promised or trying to get the life.

I talked before about how everything with God comes by receiving. We can only truly love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Everything with God starts with God.

As C. Baxter Kruger puts it, we’ve been looking into the wrong soul…ours. We’ve been trying relate to God while stuck in our own heads. What Kruger says about this is profound (emphasis added)…

“It’s not our inner feelings that are to guide our thoughts about God but His inner feelings…we fail to see that through Jesus what we’ve been given are His inner feelings, His inner knowing, His communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit.” (From audio recording, “The Light of the Cosmos“)

This is related to what I was talking about in “Let HIS perception of you guide your affections.” This was from a devotional by Graham Cooke.

The strange thing is, everyone who has received God’s grace for salvation has experienced the joy of receiving His love. But then we set out on this absurd us-focused journey of us trying to love Him, us trying to obey Him and us trying to please Him. It’s us committing ourselves to bullet points that promise us freedom but never quite deliver.

It’s really just us trying to be a new creation under an Old Covenant paradigm. So, while we got saved, we gradually wither away and lose our soul.

If you’re a rule-following, orderly and disciplined sort, this striving feeds your need to perform but like the elder brother in Luke 15, you won’t have the life that’s yours as a beloved son. If you’re the “go with the flow” undisciplined and a bit rebellious type, the frustration and boredom of this empty pursuit will eventually run you off the rails like the prodigal son. (My wife and I should know, she was the former and I was the latter!)

Why do we live under this illusion that abiding in His vast ocean of love is optional to living the life of freedom and fullness of joy promised by Jesus? That our Bible gymnastics and spiritual striving, or just trying to live a nice normal life like everybody else (except we go to church and do volunteer work), will eventually get us there and keep us there?

Then we lament when one day we find ourselves disappointed, frustrated, confused and feeling like a failure, but still trying to convince ourselves that this was meant to be the normal Christian life. Oh, we’re so very close yet so very far away!

Transformation is only found IN Him. It’s His life not ours that defines the Christian life. All His promises IN HIM are yes, and IN HIM amen (2 Cor.1:20). Get it? Not in our doing more for Him, studying about Him…but in being in Him. Which, ironically, we’ve already been placed there but we won’t perceive it or understand it until we’ve learned how to receive Him–not just on the day we were saved but in our everyday life.

And, as John said, receiving Him is receiving the same love from Jesus that the Father has for Him (John 15:9).

Or as Mike Bickle would put it, we’re learning how to be loved the same way God loves God. And that should be very happy thought!

Beloved, I know that your heart is sincere. You really love God and make every attempt to express your love for Him. But this is my question today…

“Have you learned how to receive His love?”

Are you guided by His perception, His affections, His inner feelings for you? Because learning to be in the Father’s embrace is the only place where you’ll find the transformation you’re longing for. Everything begins and ends there.

See your Heavenly Papa smiling over you today with open arms! He loves you so much. The only thing required from you is to jump in and receive His embrace.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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18 Responses to Transformation takes place in God’s embrace

  1. In some ways, loving God is easier than receiving His love – for we are physical creatures that crave tangible feedback. It’s one thing to express our love for God and quite another to say that we have experienced His. Until we learn how to discern His love through tangible and intangible evidences, we will always have this lopsided relationship that you have described.

    I’m being honest when I say that sometimes I too long for a physical evidence of His love. Then I remember Christ stretched out on the cross. Yup. That’s the evidence right there.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You’re right, Stephen. We need the tangible and God wants to give us that. He doesn’t want it left to some a mental assent or philosophy. But it is a journey of faith. And seeing Jesus stretched out on the Cross is where it starts! It tangibly reveals God’s love for us and how much He values us (He gave what was most precious to Him for us!) I can’t think about that without having a tangible reaction. Probably more meaningful to me now that ever before. 🙂 Again, we have all experienced a level of tangible love when we first came to Christ, when we realize what He did for us.

      The main thing that leads to this revelation is focusing our attention on God’s affections toward us. The feelings will follow. The best tool to start with is seeing His affections for us revealed in the Word of God. To me the love of God is sometimes more real than physical human love, but it took a while and many personal encounters to get here, to get out of my orphan thinking. But it’s as simple as focusing on His affections instead of ours.

      I try to help people receive this revelation of the Father’s love by doing simple exercises, like saying out loud, “Father, you love _____(say your name) so much that You gave what was most precious to You, Jesus…” I’ve actually had people do this in the microphone on a Sunday morning and it struck them so deeply that they couldn’t speak for a long time afterward! For when we personalize the Word of God for us, especially when we hear ourselves say it out loud, the Spirit can reveal His love deeply through this. And opening our hearts to what He says about us in His Word leads to other encounters with the Father’s love on a personal level.

      Thanks for your comments. Blessings.

  2. Nate says:

    I really like this post. Focusing on receiving God’s love, makes it easier to respond with love. It is a hard job to keep loving God when we aren’t feeling loved back.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, His love empowers us to love. It was always meant to be that way. That’s where the fullness of Joy comes from, because it’s HIS joy that Jesus wants to remain in us, His fullness! (John 15:11). It’s rest and joy and peace. I tried it the other way for years, I like like this a LOT better. 🙂
      Thanks for your comments, Nate. Much appreciated. Blessings.

  3. Ayanda says:

    “Are you guided by His perception, His affections, His inner feelings for you? Because learning to be in the Father’s embrace is the only place where you’ll find the transformation you’re longing for. Everything begins and ends there.”.

    This is a moment of truth question!

    I had this dream where my clothes caught on fire with no particular source for the fire, I tried to put out the fire but it just kept on moving, I took off my clothes and put different clothe but the fire moved to different areas of the house causing a panic. It didn’t matter what we did to the fire it only seemed to be extinguished for a moment before starting up again.

    So when I woke up it occured to me to go to The Cornerstone echurch and obviously was drawn to the teaching that was titled ” God wants to light a fire in you”. As I listened to what you were doing ( Making a fire tunnel) and listened to the praise and worship I drew a picture ( looked more like what my four year old would draw) 🙂 so it was not about the art. In the picture I am on the ocean on fire with my hand out stretched to Jesus who is the source of the fire and His arms open wide and I am in His fire.

    So naturally I asked myself why am I not already in His embrace (so performance orientanted) and the conclusion I drew was what we spoke about on your last blog Mel. My very own mindset about sin. See so long as I put conditions on God’s love and affection, I haven’t fully ambraced Him.

    So I have made up my mind to fall on Him and trust Him completely. This is not as easy as it sounds because all my ” impress God programmes” are going out of the window, so I have no idea what my life is going to look like.
    ( I’m not being a bummer I’m being real!)

    I read somewhere in one of the letter Paul wrote to the churches, on the JB Phillips translation (my own person bible for dummies 🙂 ) God gives us the will and the power to do the work that He has called us to do.

    So I’m stumped I have nothing to give God, man its a vulnerable feeling. I have nothing left in my arsenal, He exhausts all my attempts to earn His love. I take it its His way of showing me that His love has never been dependent on my ability.

    So consider me adrift in God’s ocean.

    Sorry for such a long and emotive post!

    • Mel Wild says:

      No problem at all, Ayanda, you are expressing beautiful theology here! 🙂 I love what you said…”So I’m stumped I have nothing to give God, man its a vulnerable feeling. I have nothing left in my arsenal, He exhausts all my attempts to earn His love. I take it its His way of showing me that His love has never been dependent on my ability.” Amen! Hallelujah! You got it!

      The hardest thing about faith is that it requires faith! For we ARE embraced right now, whether we realize it or not. We struggle to accept it because we can add nothing to it. I will write a separate post on this but what pleases God is believing Him (Heb.11:6), believing on Him who was sent (John 6:29). Period.

      What is meant by “believing on Him?” It means that we agree with God that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough for the Father, so it’s enough for us. Case closed! We are forgiven…FOREVER! The issue of sin separating us is over FOREVER! To bring it up again and again is to contradict the finished work of the Cross. Do we still sin? Yes, but it’s no longer an issue of needing forgiveness or separation from God but indications that we still don’t get something about who we are in that area (That’s a whole other subject! More on that another time.) Confession literally means agreeing with God, not being really sorry. It means we choose to believe what God says about us in Him, that not only are we forgiven but we died with Him on the Cross and now our life is hidden in Him. We agree that sin has no more power over us, that we are seated with Him, that we are the beloved, adopted heirs and sons, that the Father loves us the same as He loves Jesus. He values us the same as He values Jesus. To put conditions on this (other than to believe it) is us trying to save ourselves, redeem ourselves, no matter how subtle it may be. It’s not grace but some devilish mixture to keep us from His embrace. God will have none of that!

      This is what it means to enter God’s rest. We give up our misguided notions of trying to be accepted and accept Him! Rest in His affections. Jesus’ answer is, come to ME, take MY yoke and rest in MY embrace (Matt.11:28-30).

      So, enjoy your float on God’s ocean! You can drift all you want, for there are no shorelines and you can’t escape His embrace. You are unconditionally loved. 🙂

  4. isaiah41v10 says:

    I guess God’s trying to tell me something. Yesterday I was in a battle, fighting suicidal thoughts and mad at God for not healing me of my mental pain. I wanted to be done with striving to be good, done with the guilt of not telling others about Jesus. So many regrets, so much guilt! All these expectations and it is too heavy for me. I told my husband I wasn’t going to try to be good any more, but just rest. I found that God wasn’t angry at me. His love is still there. I don’t want those extra burdens and expectations any more.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I think God has you in a similar place as what Ayanda was saying. It’s time to shove all those burdens into the sea of God’s affections and just jump in Papa’s lap and learn to rest.

      The truth is, we all carry a yoke. The question is WHOSE yoke will we carry. We were never meant to carry our own yoke. We’re always much too hard on ourselves and will drive ourselves until we’re like burnt toast! As I mentioned to Ayanda, hear Jesus saying, “Come to ME, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take MY YOKE upon you and learn FROM ME, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For MY yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt.11:28-30). Notice where the burden goes. And we do this by focusing on His affections, what He says, not what’s driving us to try to win His love. It’s believing we already have it. And whatever we need to do will be empowered from that place in Him.

      Know that you are loved, and that all that you need is found in His embrace. 🙂

      • isaiah41v10 says:

        Thank you – God gave me that verse this morning, and what you have said is confirmation that the burden I’ve been carrying is not from Him.
        I’ve been learning how God loves me by the love that He gives me for my children. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by love for them, just watching them being themselves, and then I think, “Father, You love me like THAT? Wow!”

  5. TK says:

    This makes me think of the stereotype of Catholic guilt (I come from a Catholic background). I think a lot of denominations make people feel guilty about their humanity and their mistakes so that they feel unworthy of God’s love. As a matter of fact, before Communion in every mass (in my experience) the congregation would proclaim their unworthiness. With that drilled into our minds, it’s no wonder we have trouble receiving the love of God.

    • Mel Wild says:

      How true, TK. I grew up that way too and ran away from God’s love. Guilt will never endear us to the Father’s heart, only receiving His unconditional love. And it’s not just in the Catholic churches but in a lot of protestant and evangelical churches as well. There is so much Old Testament mixture in our gospel message. So, when we hear a real grace message it’s hard for us to believe it. And it’s also hard for a preacher to resist a little “carrot and stick” manipulation to get people to respond so God will love us. It’s really like the proverbial headmaster at an old English orphanage. It’s a Santa Claus, you better watch out…he knows whose naughty and nice gospel! What religious bondage!

      But God dealt with our unworthiness on the cross. Now His arms are wide open! It actually IS GOOD news! 🙂

      Thanks for your comments, as always.

  6. Knowing that we are loved by the Father makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it? Nothing to earn, no need to pacify or mollify a capricious entity. In the same way that we love our children (only way better because His is unconditional love), we have security and find rest. God is so good. I’m glad He persisted with me until I understood that He gave me everything I need, expects me to fall, and loves me anyway. Knowing that I am His beloved made all the difference in the world…and as you pointed out, true transformation takes place once we can receive His love as truth.

    Thanks for this wonderful post. It explain the change in my relationship with Him perfectly!

    \o/

    • Mel Wild says:

      You’re welcome. And thank you for sharing your experience in learning how to receive God’s love. We’re finally learning how to rest in God and that it actually IS good news! 🙂

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  8. I love this truth; “I talked before about how everything with God comes by receiving”. I was going to request if you can share with us how to receive His love, then I saw the answer on the comment tread.

    You said; “The main thing that leads to this revelation is focusing our attention on God’s affections toward us. The feelings will follow. The best tool to start with is seeing His affections for us revealed in the Word of God. To me the love of God is sometimes more real than physical human love, but it took a while and many personal encounters to get here, to get out of my orphan thinking. But it’s as simple as focusing on His affections instead of ours.

    I try to help people receive this revelation of the Father’s love by doing simple exercises, like saying out loud, “Father, you love _____(say your name) so much that You gave what was most precious to You, Jesus…” I’ve actually had people do this in the microphone on a Sunday morning and it struck them so deeply that they couldn’t speak for a long time afterward! For when we personalize the Word of God for us, especially when we hear ourselves say it out loud, the Spirit can reveal His love deeply through this. And opening our hearts to what He says about us in His Word leads to other encounters with the Father’s love on a personal level”.

    Thanks for sharing, Pastor Mel. The body of Christ needs these essential truth to overcome Satan and to worship God without any sense of guilt or condemnation.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thank you McDaniel. Really appreciate your comments. I’ve used this simple and practical truth everywhere I go. I love to see freedom light up in people’s faces, who were so bound up in shame and condemnation a moment before, when they finally get this startling reality. It’s a great pleasure to share the over-the-top love of God! Everything begins and ends here. Blessings.

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