God’s Incredible Love
From our Publisher’s Desk
As the seasons change from summer to fall and the air becomes cool and crisp, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes verse three, chapter one, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” During the past months, we have seen and experienced things none of us could have imagined or predicted. There has been much fear of the present and the future. But as Believers in Christ, we can be at peace. This verse reminds us that there is a time, place, and reason for everything…even sickness and unrest. Although this year has taken many of us by surprise, we would be foolish to think that God, in all of His glory, did not see it coming. And even though the seasons and everything around us may change, God “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We cannot blame Him for current events because the Bible clearly states that, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” (1 Chronicles 16:11-12). If God is the same and gives good and perfect gifts, and there is a time for everything, then even in the year we have experienced, we can be at peace and at rest in Him. We can find comfort in His Word by searching out and memorizing the many truths that it offers us. Malinda Fugate’s book, The Other Three Sixteens, does precisely that. Many of us can recite John 3:16 from memory with no prompt. However, were we to be asked to recite Genesis 3:16 or Romans 3:16, we would be at a loss. Throughout Malinda’s book, she dives into each book of the Bible and expounds upon each chapter three, verse sixteen to show the numerous truths that can be found throughout the God’s Word and not just in John 3:16. She shows how a loving God and His mercy are woven throughout each chapter and verse of Scripture in seemingly unexpected ways.
“John 3:16 is a central sentence, one of many anchors we find in the pages of Scripture. But every single chapter and verse has eternal value, from the eloquently poetic to the seemingly mundane, historical details. The words of the Bible weave a tapestry of love, particularly the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children. A love so deep and so wide that it cannot be contained in one memorized phrase. It takes multiple authors of sixty-six individual books to begin to explore the mystery of God’s care for us. I propose an adventure. It will be an expedition through the living and active Scriptures we hold in our hands and yet can’t truly contain. If every phrase in God’s word connects us to His love, then there are gems to uncover wherever we dare to seek them. Let’s take a cue from John and look at the third chapter and sixteenth verse in each book and see what we find. Now, it should be noted that “3:16” is not a magic code. The books of the Bible were written as individual documents and letters, only to have chapter and verse notations added after for our reference purposes. 3:16 will be the guide we choose for this particular quest.”
“Genesis 3:16 is one piece in the first story we read when we open the Word. Almighty God has masterfully created an entire universe and then concentrated His efforts on planet Earth. He carefully crafted sky and sea, mountain and tree, and creatures beyond imagination. Then it was time for His most precious creation – human beings – specifically, a man named Adam and a woman named Eve.
The devil, as a serpent, offered Eve the very fruit that God previously told His children to avoid. After brief hesitation, Eve decided that the serpent was on to something. She took the fruit and shared it with a willing Adam. There was no avoiding the consequence of sin.
Jump back to Genesis 3:16: “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very sever; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’” Where is God’s love in these harsh words to Eve? We must remember the subtle differences between punishment and discipline. Punishment seeks to somehow even a score, answering a negative action with another equally bleak negative action. Discipline allows for necessary consequences, but it makes way for growth and redemption. Relationships are damaged by punishment, but they mature through discipline.
On the surface, the curse of Genesis 3:16 appears to be nothing but pain and suffering. Yet, it is rooted in the care of a loving God who refused to cast aside His daughter, Eve, despite her disobedience.
We know for certain that the Lord disciplines His children because He loves them. He loved Eve. He loved Adam. And He loves you.”
“’For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice’ (James 3:16). A heart focused on self is toxic. We have only so much energy and effort available to us, and if we focus it all on ourselves, little to nothing is left for others and God. Few things are more destructive to our souls than selfishness. God knows this and will not tolerate anything that is harmful to His children.
Envy is another beast that needs to be tamed. If we allow jealousy to consume us, it will destroy us from the inside out. It transforms our hearts from caring for our neighbor to viewing our neighbor as a competitor.
Because God loves us, He wants to protect us from the toxins of envy and selfish ambition. First, He calls attention to the problem with Scriptures like James 3:16 and Romans 2:8. Once we recognize that our heart is poisoned by selfishness and envy, we are moved to do something about it. We must reach out beyond ourselves to the One who is able to break that cycle and bring us into freedom.
God lovingly designed this world and our existence. His gifts are good and for our benefit. He is not about to allow even one of His precious children to waste away in the desert of selfish ambition and envy. He loves us far too much for that.”
“So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). The Laodiceans thought they were rich but didn’t realize they were in poor shape. They needed to return to the Lord once more. Jesus reminded them that He disciplines those He love and that He is figuratively standing at their door and knocking. He was available to them, but they needed to welcome Him into their church and into their hearts again.
Throughout time, God has gone to extreme lengths to actively love His people. He is a passionate God. When His love fills the hearts of His dear children, we display His zeal in our own lives. Enthusiastic, exuberant love spills over onto everyone we encounter. It is not like any earthly love and is immediately recognized by anyone who experiences it. The Laodiceans were missing this love, and many of us miss it as well. It wasn’t too late for them to turn back to it, and it’s not too late for us. When we ask the Lord to pour out His fiery love on us, He is happy to fulfill our need. When we ask for anything in the name of Jesus, the Lord will provide. The passionate love of God is intended to overwhelm us, and it is limitless. Like a blazing fire, we are consumed by love. It is a love that cannot be tamed and a love that will satisfy our deepest longing as we constantly cry out for more. A love so extreme is beyond accurate description, but we can know it intimately. It is alive and crashing over us like unrelenting ocean waves.”
During these trying times, we need remember who we serve. We serve a God of second chances, a God of restoration, a God of forgiveness and peace, a God who disciplines those He loves for their benefit and growth, and most importantly, a God of love. If we are to be imitators of Christ, then we need to have a character like His. We can do this by accepting His peace in the place of the fear the world tries to tie us down with, by forgiving even when we feel wronged, and by accepting God’s love so that we, in turn, can show that same love to our neighbor instead of putting them down when their views or ideas are different than ours. We need to remember the other three sixteens in the Bible and how they show the love and mercy of God. Then, as Melinda Fugate states in the closing remarks of her book, we can “rest in the promise of His love that is faithful from generation to generation. Amen.”
To learn more about Malinda and The Other Three Sixteens, visit HERE.