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John 14:15-26
Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them” (v.23).

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• John 1:12
• Romans 8:14-16
• Ephesians 3:14-17

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The day you felt most abandoned, were you ever really alone? How will you express your love and obedience today in response to God’s embrace?

Adrian Edwards was separated from his parents as a toddler, passed along from institution to foster home, and introduced to a life of crime at a young age. As a teenager, he was convicted of armed robbery and spent time in Western Australia’s Fremantle jail. There, in a strange twist of fate, he met his father who was serving time for murder. Adrian was released but longed to see his father again.

Father and son did meet again when Adrian was convicted a second time. Adrian served his sentence and was released, but he desired to be with his father.

Finally, a string of armed robberies had Adrian back in the courts. “He is looking forward to spending a long period of time incarcerated with his father,” his lawyer informed the judge. A long sentence followed. Adrian’s plan to be with his dad was finally fulfilled.

Orphans long for their parent’s embrace and will do extraordinary things to receive it. Thankfully, there’s a God who longs for His children and goes to extraordinary lengths to embrace us.

“I will not abandon you as orphans,” Jesus once told His disciples (John 14:18). They had met their Creator-incarnate (1:3) and would soon lose Him for a time (14:1-2), but they were not to fret. He was going to prepare their heavenly room and would return to collect them (John 14:3). He was sending them the Holy Spirit, who would “never leave.” (John 14:16). And as the Spirit was received into the disciples’ obedient hearts, Jesus said something extraordinary would happen: Father, Son, and Spirit together would come and live within them (John 14:23). The disciples would be wrapped in the embrace of God—in intimate union with Jesus and the Father (John 14:20).

This promise stands for all—for Adrian Edwards and for us. Love the Son, receive the Spirit, and be embraced in the Father’s arms.

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31 Responses to “the embrace of God”

  1. rebekah zhou says:

    A good reminder.Thanks god.
    We love to be embraced by our parents, and know that they love us and take notice of us. But we must know that god is ready to embracce us anytime and anywhere.
    But the most important thing is if we know and trust this fact.

  2. lindagma says:

    This story tugs at my heart that there was no one to share Jesus with Adrian… and a lot of others out there. Where would we all be without the Heavenly Father to cling to. I’m often reminded of the powerful blessing Christians have when I see death, tragedy and difficulties in the lives of non-Christians. They lack the greatest resource… a Heavenly Father’s comfort… and that’s why we are still on earth. To tell them.

  3. hello says:

    Life is getting tough for me. I feel cant release because there’s too many things to think about now. I know God is there to help me if I put my trust on Him. But, is really hard.

    • Soldier4Christ says:

      Hello, you just do your part of trusting and leaning on God and He will do His part. I will keep you in my prayers and God will strengthen you in whatever your situation is. No matter how hard life gets you are never alone as long as you have Jesus and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

  4. graceofGod says:

    Hello, I have been through a really tough time the last 5 years, it is the darkest period of my life. It took me that long to slowly learn how to release my problem into the Lord’s Hands. I find that after praying and asking God for help, I always have the tendency to take the problem back and try to solve it myself. When the problem refused to go away, I became scared and discouraged. The Lord has been so patient with me. Now I learn ( and am still learning) that I just do what He has instructed me to do and leave the rest to Him, even if it means that the outcome is not what I hope for.
    Will pray for you.

  5. fieldlily says:

    hello and hlim,

    I understand that sometimes you just don’t “feel” a connection. I feel that way sometimes too. But, even when you feel discouraged, continue believing. Faith is not about a feeling it is about hope. Sometimes when I feel disconnected I read the psalms (13,22) and they remind me, as in Psalm 139, that even when I can’t see or feel God’s presence in my life He is there. He tells us in Hebrews 13:5 that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” So even when we can’t feel Him we need to make a sacrifice of trust and claim a belief in all of His promises. You know that old saying “count your blessings”? When I am feeling overwhelmed by fear or feeling alone, I begin to recite all I know He has done for me, beginning with saving me from my sins, and I begin to feel His presence. I hope this helps you because I do know how it feels. I will pray for you.

  6. tom felten says:

    fieldlilly, great perspective: “Faith is not about a feeling, it’s about hope.” This reminds me of what Paul wrote, “For we live by believing and not by seeing” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Or as another translation puts it, “We live by faith, not by sight.” God is aware of our circumstances and He is with us in them, even when we “feel” alone. By belief, by trust, by faith we can be filled with hope in Him even when everything in life seems to be crumbling around us. Praise God for His presence and His perfect plans!

  7. hello says:

    Dear christian brother and sister,

    i feel very touched when I read all the comments here. I will try out to think differently when I feel down again by using yours ways. I know I should let God to handle the rest for me if I have done my part. I should have no worries for now and I try not to take back the problem again. Thanks for all your encouragement, stories and prayers here. I know I will be stronger.Thanks.

  8. Invisible says:

    I can fully understand Adrian’s choice to do what he had to in order to be with his father. But I do not understand the embrace of God and don’t believe I’ve ever experienced it. Was never embraced by father or mother. That doesn’t matter but it makes it really hard to try to imagine an embrace from God.
    What bothers me is the belief that you can’t really feel the embrace of Jesus without having to include God, which seems pretty universal among Christians. Why? Why do you have to accept God if you feel drawn to know and understand Jesus. One attracts me (I feel drawn to him), one does not, I do not care to know him. Can you love the son and want to experience his embrace, but not his father. Some people don’t really long for a father figure, but do long for a friend (savior).

    • sheridan voysey says:

      Hi Invisible.

      Thanks for your comments. It’s interesting to hear about you’re being drawn to Jesus but not so much to God. The fascinating thing is that the one you feel drawn to *is* God (eg. John 8:58; 14:9). You, in fact, are feeling drawn to the one you don’t wish to know!

      You mention not receiving embraces from your own father or mother. That’s insightful. Perhaps Jesus is wanting to rebuild your image of God – showing you that God is actually just as loving, patient, radical and embracing as himself.

      Just a thought.

      Sheridan

      • Invisible says:

        thanks for your response sheridan (Voysey).

        That is an interesting thought, one that has been spoken before by a friend, but one that makes no sense to me. No offense meant to you. I’ve heard enough about the God of the old testament (The father) to have a really hard time believing that he could be anything like Jesus of the new testament. Sometimes I wonder if people who embrace the father have learned about him. I’m not referring specifically to you, so again, please do not take offense. But here’s where I have trouble with this…

        God of the old testament (the father) wiped out with vicious precision, anyone who did not qualify themselves as devout followers and believers. He ordered the killing of mankind because of their refusal to turn from sin. All but the few who were willing to believe. He ordered the death of infants in response to a kings refusal to let his people out of slavery (not the death opf the king and his soldiers who held God’s people captive). The children die instead. He ordered the merciless killing of an entire nation because, I think, they also refused to do what God wanted them to. He siad that disobediant children should be beaten so that they should not become spoiled, and later told parens of rebellious sons to stone them to death. I was taught all of the stories of the god of the old testament all throughout my young years. then…
        As an adult I learn of Jesus of the new testament. He showed kindness and love to all of the same. Rebelious people, murderers, adulturers, christian killers and the very people who sought to kill him. He came to offer love. He even died to try and save those people. He healed the sick, forgave the sinners.
        I’m not attacking your belief system, or not meaning to. I did not come to accuse or put that belief down. I simply do not understand it.
        They (God of the old testament and Jesus) are the same? My head spins with the idea of it. How could they possibly be the same? So to long for the embrace of Jesus one must also accept his father? But why?
        You say that the fact that I’m feeling drawn to Jesus means that I’m actually be drawn to the one I don’t wish to know? The father? I don’t undertsand how you would think so. They are not the same. The father is cruel and hateful, the son is loving and forgiving.
        How are they the same? I’ve heard this belief before, but can’t anyone see the difference?

        • tom felten says:

          invisible, these are good questions you’re raising. They’re similar to questions I also once wrestled with. But I can tell you that after carefully searching and studying God’s Word, I believe—without question—that Jesus is God’s Son and that God the Father is loving and compassionate. Here’s an online booklet that I strongly encourage you to read: http://rbc.org/bible-study/discovery-series/bookletDetail.aspx?id=48152&Topic=862 Let me know your thoughts after you’ve had a chance to study for yourself the Scriptures referenced in this booklet. It’s great to have you in the ODJ community!

          • Invisible says:

            Tom Felten,
            ok, I am the one who raised the questions so I accepted your encouragement to read the online booklet. Didn’t want to but then had to decide if I just want to call foul when I perceive something that does not make sense to me, or do I really want to understand the perspective given in order to be able to make an insightful and intelligent choice in accepting or not accepting a belief or idea. Honestly, it was a toss up, leaning heavily towards choice one -the calling foul and running out of here- because I don’t like or understand the belief. But for whatever reason, choice # one wouldn’t stop bugging me so I did read it.
            So, apparently I am not the first to have these questions. No surprise really but the fact that there is an entire booklet addressing the exact topic and actually addressing a number of the exact same instances that I referred to in my post was a little… twilight zone creepy. I actually laughed when I saw the title and began reading, but the laughter died pretty quickly and was replaced by a sense of “what the blank have I gotten myself into?”
            In all honesty, I don’t like what I read. It deeply bothers me. So, I ask myself why. Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with an answer yet.
            My initial thoughts after reading this booklet are this, but not limited to these, unfortunately.
            Interesting. The way the old testament God and the New testament Jesus are seemingly inter-related, or at least presented as such, and I guess it does deserve some thought. If the belief is false then you’re the fool and I can walk away and not give it another thought. If it’s true, then I’m not even sure of what the ramifications are, or whether it really matters, but have concern that I might be screwed.
            Again, honestly, part of me feels even more uncomfortable with the thought that based on what I read and it’s reference to the last of the new testament books in which God’s wrath is said to be unleashed on the world again, and that this time it is the new testament god proclaiming his intentions, just scares the xxxx out of me.
            If they are the same (old {father} and- new {son} which I still have not concluded is true, then the son, Jesus, that I have felt drawn to learn more about, has the same potential and perhaps desire to destroy as his father.
            Would this be correct?
            I’m not lost on the implication that it would also mean that the father would likewise be loving, kind, forgiving, etc. as I see the son being. Not saying I believe it, but understanding the need to recognize both sides as possibilities.
            The biggest thought or one most prevalent at the moment is this…
            “So what does all of this mean for me?”

          • tom felten says:

            Invisible, I’m so glad you read the booklet and that something or Someone was “bugging you” until you did. It sure sounds like the Holy Spirit is working on your heart as you wrestle with surrending your life to God. Here’s the next step I would suggest: Simply read the Gospel of John in a modern translation. You can start here by clicking through to John 1:1-50. Keep reading each chapter and simply seek to learn more about God and His love and His wrath and His whole character. I look forward to your response.

        • sheridan voysey says:

          Hi Invisible.

          No offence is taken by your comments in the slightest. These are good and big questions – whole theological texts are written on them. Tom has given some great pointers below, which I see you’ve started to explore (the blog wouldn’t let me post this comment further down). I also think the gospel of John is a good next step to read.

          I’ll throw in a couple of other quick points.

          1) I really don’t think any of us want a God who doesn’t get angry at evil. Rape and child abuse make humans long for justice; it does so for God. As the booklet Tom linked to explains, this is what some of the nations God judged were involved in.

          2) Even in the Old Testament (OT), God doesn’t tend to judge on the spot. He is ‘compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…’ (Exodus 34:6). God’s general pattern in the OT was to send a prophet, perhaps a few, calling the people to change, before finally bring punishment when and if they didn’t (some nations, like Nineva, did change). Some countries (including Egypt) were actually given hundreds of years to repent before judgement came.

          3) A good reading of the OT will have to reckon with the love and forgiveness of God as well as his justice. Read the book of Deuteronomy and underline how many times the phrase ‘so it will go well with you’ appears. He was out to look after us from the beginning. One of my favourite phrases throughout the OT is ‘I will be your God and you will be my people’ (Exod.6:7; Lev.26:12; Ezek.36:28; Jer.31:33). God longs for a people, a family, and this longing is found fulfilled at the end of time when everything that gets in the way of that happening is removed (Rev.21:7).

          4) What did those closest to Jesus and the God of the OT believe? The apostle Paul said this: ‘For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them’ (2 Corinthians 5:19). Paul, a follower of the OT God, saw Christ as the incarnation of that OT God.

          There is so much more to write! After nearly twenty years as a Christian I continue to wrestle with all of this too. But I know that Jesus is God, good, and his love is strong.

          Thanks for stimulating my thinking with your questions Invisible.

          • Invisible says:

            Ok Mr. Felton, once again I keep walking away thinking I’d rather not waste time reading the verses you posted, but I’m curious, which is all that it is, and so I’ve begun reading it. I have a question though before continuing reading it. It has to do with this portion…

            “Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.*”

            What does baptize with the holy spirit mean? Sounds wierd.

          • Invisible says:

            Sheridan Voysey, thank you for not taking offense. While I may not believe all of what’s been written, and even more so do not understand the draw to this God (the father), not Jesus, I don’t mean to put anyone else’s belief down.

            Part of your post troubles me deeply. ”
            1) I really don’t think any of us want a God who doesn’t get angry at evil. Rape and child abuse make humans long for justice; it does so for God. As the booklet Tom linked to explains, this is what some of the nations God judged were involved in.”

            I agree with the beginning of this, that no one wants a god who doesn’t get angry at evil. That is precisely my issue. I do not want to know a God who ignores and does not care about a child who is raped repeatedly and abused and does not care about or bring justice. I guess this also causes a lot of confusion for me. If indeed he was bringing justice on the people of the old testament for the evil they were doing, then it makes no sense to me that thousands of years later he can ignore the same evil being done to children. Was it possibly because these were children of Israel? His people? If so, then how is he a god of love and justice?

          • tom felten says:

            invisible, I’m so glad you’re reading through the Gospel of John. As you read through all 21 chapters, you’ll come face-to-face with God in three persons—what theologians call The Trinity (God the Father, God The Son, God the Holy Spirit.) In John 1:32 the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. Often, in the Old Testament, certain people (including some prophets and kings) would be temporarily anointed with the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s purposes. Jesus’ anointing was permanent and it was a “seal” (or clear sign) that revealed He was the Messiah and God’s Son. It authenticated His mission!

          • sheridan voysey says:

            Hi Invisible.

            I’m again struggling to post this message under your message below so hope you get the drift of my thoughts even if they’re out of order.

            You’re question about God responding to injustice today is a good and, again, tough one. I think we need to dileneate between 1) God opposing evil, 2) God’s timing in bringing judgement against it, and 3) the means God uses to do that.

            In the Old Testament God was opposed to the Amalekites and others because of their wicked ways. Yet God does give people time to repent. In Genesis 15:16 we find God delaying judgement on the Amalekites because their sin hadn’t yet ‘reached its full measure’. God doesn’t just ‘zap’ us on the spot when we do wrong. His opposition to evil, injustice and sin is sure but He often delays judgement for the sake of all involved.

            In the case of child abuse, which you’ve raised, this is a difficult point. We want God to ‘zap’ such offenders on the spot! But if He did, you and I wouldn’t have a chance either. We all sin, in various ways, and deserve His judgement. Be sure that the child abuser will be judged one way or another. We will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corihtians 5:10 etc). That will be a most horrendous day for the unrepentant child abuser.

            Now to the third point on how that judgement may come. As just mentioned, it will come in an eternal sense when we die and stand before God. But God often brings judgement on earth too, and this is usually through other people. Romans 13:3-5 says that God judges through civic authorities. When a child abuser is brought to justice in this life, that in some sense is God acting in a secondary way. Romans 1:24-32 suggests that God judges by ‘handing us over’ to the bad things we do, allowing us to face the consequences of an evil life too. On the positive side, God’s people are called to be part of God’s work of restoring justice in the world – seeing people like child abusers transformed into whole people through the power of Jesus living in them (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 3:18 etc). In the end God’s justice involves making things right – both for victim and, if they’re willing, by restoring the offender.

            God is opposed to evil, His judgement against it is coming at some point through earthly means and heavenly, and the invitation is for all of us to be forgiven for our evil through Jesus and be part of his ongoing plan of redeeming the world.

            I hope that helps, Invisible!

            Sheridan

  9. above rubies says:

    Totally agree with blocking out time and being still before the Lord. I recently was introduced to “Lectio Davina” through my local church and had a powerful experience of God’s love for me-having also had a difficult time with parent attachments. God also revealed to me that I need to stop trying to be in his presence and just let it be…A “lectio Davina” is where someone other than yourself repeats a chosen scripture several times say 6 to seven times with 5 minutes silence in between to allow God to reveal himself to you and speak into your heart. It’s an ancient christian meditation prayer.

  10. above rubies says:

    Totally agree with blocking out time and being still before the Lord. I recently was introduced to “Lectio Divina” through my local church and had a powerful experience of God’s love for me-having also had a difficult time with parent attachments. God also revealed to me that I need to stop trying to be in his presence and just let it be…A “lectio Divina” is where someone other than yourself repeats a chosen scripture several times say 6 to seven times with 5 minutes silence in between to allow God to reveal himself to you and speak into your heart. It’s an ancient christian meditation prayer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectio_Divina

  11. R R Kelkar says:

    Invisible and Tom Felten, I have been following with interest the exchanges between the two of you overt this post. I would like to say here that I too have a lot of questions about many things in the Bible. In fact the more I read it, and the older I grow, more questions arise in my mind! Many times I do find the answers eventually, but not always. I also know that my questions are not original and they must have been encountered by others in the past.

    There is just one thought that I wish to share here with Invisible and Tom John 3:16 epitomizes the whole philosophy of Christianity in just one verse and places the greatness of God’s love above everything else. But our excessive attachment to this verse makes us overlook another important aspect of God’s character – justice. People in this world have suffered, and continue to suffer, injustice in their lives but what gives them a reason to live on is the fact that our loving God is also a just God. The Christian hope is that the loving God will ultimately mete out justice and wipe away every tear of his people. But justice includes punishment and not only mercy or love.

  12. fieldlily says:

    Just to add a few more thoughts to all that has been said, God has always been faithful even when punishing His enemies and His chosen. When those of His enemies declared a faith in Him, He saved them from the punishment pending. Think of Rahab, who was even in the linage of Jesus. There is also Ruth, also in the linage of Jesus. There was the Roman centurion, whose faith brought healing to a servant.

    Then there is the thought of God disciplining His children. In today’s society, where children are rarely disciplined and there is so little respect, I can fully understand where he is coming from. If children or adults are not held accountable for their actions, then they will have no respect for the authority or law.

    Often we feel uncomfortable when what we believe is threatened. It is hard to let go of something we have held to be true. Letting go of a long held belief is basically a matter of pride. I know how painful, from personal experience, letting go of pride can be.
    I know this is just rambling be I felt compelled to speak up.

  13. summer says:

    I realize that I came in a couple of months late for this discussion, but I decided to add a few thoughts.
    I too would love to know every answer for every question that crosses my mind, but I realize that’s impossible because only God is all-knowing. We can, however, be like Solomon and ask God for more wisdom than what we currently have.
    I often remind myself of the saying “if we knew all of the answers, faith would not be necessary”.
    As far as the whole sin thing…yes, it really bothers me that innocent people suffer at the hands of wicked ones. This has been going on through out history. I too have been victimized many times. For that reason, one of the most read pages in my bible is the 37th chapter of Psalm.
    I also must think about a great man who suffered an agonizing death because of my sins. He didn’t deserve what he went through, but he loved me enough to take my place. That man was Jesus Christ. And one thing that proves to me that his father is a loving God is the fact that he gave us his son. Without that sacrifice, we would all be destined to spend eternity in hell.
    I hope this comment helps a little bit.

  14. sheridan voysey says:

    Hi hlim.

    Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability here. I am very touched by your situation. If the resurrection of Jesus actually happened then your faith for the last forty years has not been in vain. But I share your sense that experience has a role to play in the Christian life. Given that there is only so much we can do via this wonderful blog forum, a few questions come to mind:

    Have you spoken to your pastor about this? Have you recieved specific prayer for the problem, perhaps with the laying on of hands, from your church’s leadership or other Spirit-led friends (James 5: 13-16)? I am more and more convinced that we (that’s me too) too often deal with our spiritual problems alone, to our detriment. God’s presence and touch is so often mediated through other people (eg. Acts 9:17-19).

    Personality may definitely play a role here. Some of us with more ‘logical’ wiring may be more sensitive to other signs of God’s activity around us – in the order and design or creation perhaps. Another possibile cause of not ‘feeling’ this sense of God’s presence or love may be due to unresolved family or parent issues, perhaps with one’s father. Christian counsellors and psychologists can help here. Of course, I don’t know if this is your situation.

    Do know that you’re not alone. During a similar experience once, I was comforted to know that Psalm 77 described the very same experience for Asaph. Asaph was Israel’s worship leader – used to feeling the presence of God – but couldn’t see or feel God for a time. Notice how the tone of the psalm changes as he reflects on the acts of God in history.

    Here’s one other suggestion. Block out a few hours in your schedule (quick ‘quiet times’ with God are not often conducive to experiencing God. We’re too rushed) and privately, slowly, quietly, prayerfully, meditatively read the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15:11-31. Watch the father character hitch up his skirts and become a laughing stock in his community by running to his long-lost son. This *is* how God feels about you. Sit there and soak it in. Don’t rush away to the next thing.

    Praying for you. God bless.

  15. vrhorne says:

    Hello I to have felt and sometimes feel this way but what let me know that God is with me and is close to me is when the unexpected comes. He is an on time God and I can always depend on Him when everyone else has turn a deaf ear to me. The enemy like us to think that God is not in our corner but He is. So rebuke Satan when you are feeling this way because God has brought us too far for us to doubt or give up on Him.

  16. tcarr89 says:

    Hope this post is still active, cuz I’ve had the same problem for a while now. I feel doubting of my salvation because I have a prideful and unbelieving streak a mile wide, I haven’t learned how to love other people, I don’t have that yearning for God’s presence like David describes in the Psalms, and it’s really hard to believe that God loves me because I am so unwilling to do things I feel He wants me to do.

  17. jsscgoh says:

    I think I know what you are talking about. Been there and from time to time it still hits me.

    I am not sure that I will ever be free of doubt. But I know this faith is a journey. A journey that is unique to each person.

    The way I see it at least you are struggling. And that translates to a faith that is a work in progress.

    For me when I reach a break through, it takes me to a different level. When I look back I do see that I have grown some. But hey it doesn’t mean I don’t have any doubts any more.

    I believe that it is when we struggle that our faith gets fortified. So press on and don’t lose heart you have fellow believers with you who struggle along as well and we shall press on together. That is why we are church

  18. Hi tcarr89.

    I can feel the concern you have through the words you’ve written. Have you spoken to your pastor about these feelings? I think you need to have a deep and honest heart-to-heart with someone at length about what you’ve shared. It sounds to me like there are many things going on at once for you right now, and not all of them can be solved online.

    Please read my comments to Hlim below. In addition: if we are in Christ there is no condemnation for us (Romans 8:1). I don’t think you’d be concerned about your relationship with God if you weren’t in Christ, so this verse is for you. Take it.

    And nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). He loves you, friend.

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