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“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NLT)

Some of the toughest choices father’s make are in regards to their children. We, especially as men, grow up with dreams. We play games in which we always want to come out the winner. As we grow older, reality sets in. Sometimes it sets in hard. We can’t keep rewinding the game clock until the ball swishes through the basket or goes into the empty net or splits the uprights.

It’s no wonder then, that when our son(s) come along the dreams start over again. No offense against the women of our world. They have accomplished great things, fantastic things. Even so, there’s something special about the bond between a man and his son, just as there is between a woman and her daughter. Gender doesn’t really matter. Parents grow up with the hope that their children will somehow attain all they had hoped to attain when they were kids. But sometimes life deals cruel blows.

It’s always been that way really. Abraham had the tough decision to send Ishmael and his mother into the wilderness. Later he had to lay his son of promise, Isaac, on an altar. Only the last minute call of an angel and rustling of a ram in the thicket saved Isaac from being offered up as a sacrifice.

David had the tough choice of going to war against his son, Absalom. Even though he pled for the safe return of his son, the young rebel was killed in battle.

But perhaps the toughest test of love came from God himself. From the day he decided to create this world we live on he longed for relationship. He created beauty from trees and flowers, majesty from mountains and valleys, power from weather and the seas and the wonder of life from innumerable life forms, both seen and unseen.

All that he created gave him great joy. He looked and saw it was good. But it lacked the one thing he longed for above all else. It lacked relationship. So God created mankind to bring him relationship the relationship he’d always wanted. But mankind failed. There was only one thing Father God could do to restore that relationship. It was the hardest thing any of us parents would be called upon to do. He had to give up his only son.

He looked down through the ages and saw the pain his son would suffer. He saw the guilt that would be placed on his shoulders. He saw the physical and emotional abuse that would be executed on his innocent son so that my sins could be forgiven. He watched him die on a tree so I could live forever.

That’s love. That’s tough love. Tough love says I’ll do whatever it takes. Tough love says I’ll give up whatever I need to get the relationship I want to have with you. That’s what God is saying to each of us. He gave all he had so he could have a relationship with you. All he asks in return is for your love through obedience to his word.

PRAYER: Father God, as a parent I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to give up a son so others could live. Especially when the ones who benefit have nothing to give in return. I have nothing to offer you in thanks for your salvation. Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for sending Jesus so I can have a relationship with you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

It’s a verse many of us learned in Sunday School, and perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible. ‘For God so loved the world.’ What an awesome promise. What an incredible thought. Not a god, THE God. The creator and sustainer of the universe loves us. Make it more personal. He loves me. Insignificant as I am, a stubborn, selfish, weak-willed person. Yet He looks down from heaven and smiles when He sees me.

Fantastic as that truth is, so often we focus our attention on the first part of the verse and relatively little time really thinking about the next part of the verse. ‘He gave his one and only son’. If you are a parent, ask yourself, “If I knew my only child was going to be killed, what would I do to protect him/her? How much money would I spend to keep my child protected? What would I sacrifice to make sure I could enjoy my child’s presence?

It might be easy to say, “Yeah, but He’s God. Sure, He knew Jesus would die, but He also knew Jesus would rise again.” But remember that we are made in God’s image. Our emotional make-up and intellect comes from Him.

A friend of mine (I’ll call John) recently lost his infant son to a rare disease. The disease struck in the morning and took the little ones life before sundown! It was incredibly hard for the family and all those close to John. I hadn’t seen John in several months since the funeral of his one-year-old little boy. As we sat over coffee, John told me how the morning of his son’s death he’d been spoken to regarding sacrifice. “It was as if God was saying to me, ‘will you give me everything?”

John remembers thinking, I can give you everything except I have to admit I’m not sure I’d give you my son. That day God took his son from him. John learned a valuable lesson about what it must have been like for his Heavenly Father when he was separated from His only son.

When Jesus was on earth it was as though He was imprisoned in a foreign land. While His Father could see Him, the relationship was different. When Jesus was dying on the cross, even His Father turned His face from His one and only Son. That’s why, with agony Jesus screamed, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

John 3:16 doesn’t just tell us that God loves us. It shows us that God understands what sacrifice means. When we are asked to give everything to God, it’s not an idle statement by a God that hasn’t sacrificed. He loved me so much that He literally gave the only thing He could possibly give, His only Son.

The next time you think the pain of the journey is too great; remember that Jesus endured pain beyond imagination so He could comfort you. When you wonder if you can go on, remember that Jesus’ agony was so great that He sweat great drops of blood. During those times you feel all alone, remember Jesus knew what it was like to have all of his family, and friends reject Him. Even His heavenly Father turned his back on him.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you that you understand my deepest pain. Thank you that in my loneliness you are desperate to be my friend. Thank you for the promise that Your love is eternal and unconditional. I’ve made many mistakes. I struggle with trying to do the right thing. Empower me by your Spirit to learn to live the life of sacrifice for your sake. Amen.

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