It's always amazing to me to see just how very much God loves us. Even when we stray from Him - even in the midst of our worst sin - He is always there, waiting with open arms to embrace us the moment we turn back to Him.
In my work at the Women of Hope recovery house I am privileged to witness the grace and the love of God every day in the lives of the women who come here to live and to heal and to grow. My prayer for them - and for all of us here - is that God would open our eyes to see the grace He is pouring out on us today, His caring and His provision in our lives. When I turned away from self-pity and became able to have an "attitude of gratitude" for the things that I had instead of focussing on all of the things I didn't have, my life was changed and my recovery from sexual addiction became established on solid ground.
Grace is not earned, it can only be received. It is God's love and blessings poured out freely on us every day, even though we have done nothing to earn it. There is nothing we can ever do to earn it; but in order to experience it we must open ourselves to receive it. When we choose to see God as a punishing, condemning God, we close ourselves off from His grace.
The Bible says "God is love". That is truly the essence of His character and His relationship to His creation. 1 Corinthians 13 says that love does not keep a record of wrongs, and John 3:17 says that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Jesus came to rescue us - not to punish or condemn us - and He willingly died a torturous death on a cross in order to demonstrate God's love to us. Even those who tortured and crucified Jesus are not outside of God's love; even as Jesus was dying on the cross He forgave them so that they too could receive God's grace.
There is no one and never will be anyone who could love us more than God loves us. If you are believing the lie that God is just waiting to pounce on you and punish you for the wrong things you've done, I pray that you will open your heart to the truth and receive God's free gift of grace today.
At the end of the Bible, Jesus extends an invitation to us; it is open to every person, but this invitation was extended to the Church - to those who think they know Jesus and believe they already possess all that they need. I pray that whether we feel "poor in spirit" or not, all of us, with humble hearts, will respond to His invitation and invite Him to come into our hearts and our lives today. Only by opening our hearts to receive Him and His grace, will we inherit the Kingdom of God.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends." Revelation 3:20
PS: Please pray for Connie. She is not able to receive God's grace at the present time. Through a prophetic word in church on Sunday God set before her life and death. He said that He is calling her to "choose life" (see Deuteronomy 30), but she is so lost in self-pity, and so focussed on self-will that she is unable even to realize the significance of the decision that God has set before her. Her situation is very serious and I believe that her life hangs in the balance. Page 62 in the AA Big Book, the chapter called How It Works, speaks so accurately about the spiritual state that Connie is in at the moment. If she refuses to let go of her self-will and thereby refuses to "choose life" as God would have her do, I despair that she will be by default literally be choosing death (Romans 6:16). For now, thank God, she is safe from harm and back in the hospital again.
Update: Connie has been released from the hospital and is on her way to a shelter where she will have help available to her through social workers and psychiatrists - if she wants to receive it. We plan to stay in touch and invite her to join in our social and spiritual gatherings as often as possible, but at the moment she is very angry with us.
Blessings and thanks so much for your prayers!