God loves you unconditionally. Do you really believe that? Do you believe that your salvation is totally outside of yourself and there is not one single thing you can do to make God love you more than He already does?

How we answer those two questions speaks volumes about how we perceive our relationship with God. What I am going to say next may offend some of you but I need to say it.

Too many of us think God plays games with us. We think that if we do good things and act right and don’t get in trouble that God is going to love us more than He already does. We think we can shame God into giving us the love that He would naturally withhold if we didn’t prove our worth through hard work.

The truth is I am a condemned sinner, not because of the action of sin in my life, but because I have a sinful nature. If it were possible for me to stop sinning it wouldn’t matter because I am still a sinner by nature.

God is Holy, passionate, kind, just, fair, loving, merciful, joyous, redemptive and compassionate. We are selfish, self-centered, argumentative, greedy, unloving, judgmental, and merciless. And yet in spite of all our failures, sins, indifference, and hostility, God loves us regardless.

Do we really understand that? We are precious in His sight, we are all He thinks about, and we are the apple of His eye, the center of His attention and the love of His life. Do we really think that God turns away from us and abandons us because we mess up in our lives? Well He doesn’t. He never turns away from us.

I know many hurting people who struggle to believe that they are worthy of love and grace. Because of their history, upbringing, and a host of other reasons they can’t get their head around the fact that they are loved unconditionally. They bend under the weight of despair and discouragement always grasping for the grace that seems just beyond their reach.

My heart breaks for these people that I love so much. I want to cry out, “ you are precious in God’s sight. You can’t do enough bad things to make God stop loving you so why fight it?” Just accept His love and live in the glow of His mercy and grace.

The wonder of the Gospel is the Gospel. God loves me and He proved it when He carried my sins, my shame, my guilt and my judgment to the cross. How could I ever doubt after the cross?

When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror I see a sinner and that is a good thing. If I looked in that mirror and saw a righteous Christian worthy of God’s love I would only be fooling myself. Remember I am talking about the reality of sin here not the idea that I can live any way I want and God will wink at my sins.

Of course we grow as Christians and turn our back upon sin but that doesn’t mean sin disappears in our life. All I am saying is when I see myself for who I really am (a lost sinner in need of grace) that is when I am motivated to come to Christ through the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit.

So the bottom line is simply you and I are sinners; we sin, we err, we do wrong but that is the very reason Jesus died for us. He knows we fail in our battle to be Holy, righteous and perfect. So He came and did it all for us as our substitute. He paid the price of rebellion and sin by giving His life on the cross.

That is not the God who is going to throw me away because I sin. This is the God who sees me a long ways off and comes running to me with the cloak of His righteousness and throws it over my shoulders, hugs me, kisses me, holds me close and says “welcome home my son.”

Instead of struggling with feelings of inadequacy and failure let us place our eyes on Jesus and put our trust in His unconditional love. It blows me away to dwell upon the reality of God’s love for us. Every time I take time to think about His love I am overwhelmed with awe and overcome with thankfulness and joy.

My sins will not keep me out of heaven and even my sinful nature won’t keep me out because I have a great High Priest in Jesus who makes atonement for me through His blood. My role in all this is to come to the foot of the cross with a humbled heart, repentant for my sins, and a willingness to trust God with my very life. This is called faith.

* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped.  If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  Pray and stay informed and inform others.  Please take the time to read some of their stories at  http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…