A lot of people, even non-Christians, can quote John 3:16 in their sleep. We love it because it seems like the ultimate expression of God’s unfailing love. And in a lot of ways, it is. But we do the Bible such disfavor when we believe that God’s love is only evident in some verses and not in others.
This message came to a head for me recently as I read The Other 3:16s by Malinda Fugate and I’d like to share some of the takeaways with you.
What Does God’s Unfailing Love Mean?
Before we can truly appreciate the gift of God’s love, we have to understand what God’s unfailing love means. Now I hate to be one of those people who define something using a derivative of the word but here we go…God’s unfailing love is love that never fails. It doesn’t fade. It doesn’t give up on you. It keeps showing up and putting up.
God loved us before we were born. He loves us even when we refuse to admit He exists. He loves us when we refuse to serve Him or when we don’t worship Him as He deserves.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 ESV).
We don’t deserve His love and there’s nothing we can do to earn it. Yet, it’s freely available to us every day, all day. It’s an amazing concept especially in a world that hinges on conditional love. God’s love pursues us whether we chose to love Him back or not.
My Review of The Other 3:16s
John 3:16 is one of those foundation verses in the Bible. It’s one that most people can quote from memory and it’s usually the verse people reflect on when they think about the love of God. But can we learn about the love of God chapter 3 verse 16 of other books in the Bible? That was the concept of The Other 3:16s and man, it’s a doozy.
Malinda Fugate takes us on a slow walk from Genesis to Revelation highlighting the way God has loved His people from the beginning of time and how He loves us still. But don’t think she’s just pulling the verse out of its context to prove a point…oh no, she gives you the context so you can understand what it meant historically before giving you the spiritual references.
Know God–if you’ve spent any time on this blog you may already know that I love the phrase to know Him is to love Him. What better way to fall in love with God than to learn all the ways He loved you first? I admit it, The Other 3:16s will have you thinking about the Bible in new ways. It will encourage you to look for–and find–the evidence that God loves you…that He loves all of us…and it will change the way you think about yourself.
Know yourself–the best way to learn who you are is in relation to the God who created you. It doesn’t matter what you believe about yourself or what people say about you…when you understand how loved you are–truly understand–it changes something inside. It causes you to celebrate and worship the Creator who made you in His image and loves you with an everlasting love.
Run your race–the Bible is God’s love letter to us but it’s also a story about people…people who have had to figure out their unique purpose on earth and do it. That expectation remains the same. God has created each of us for a purpose and He’s waiting for us to accept our assignment and start working on it.
I found The Other 3:16s to be a great addition to my Bible study time. By first reading the related chapter and meditating on it, I was able to see new wonders in God’s Word. I received an advanced reader’s copy through the publishers and Celebrate Lit; a positive review was not required. Get your copy of The Other 3:16s.
About The Other 3:16s
Book: The Other 3:16s
Author: Malinda Fugate
Publisher: Ambassador International
Genre: Christian Living
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Print Length: 286 pages
“For God so loved the world . . . “
Many of us could finish that sentence in our sleep. John 3:16 is a beautiful Scripture that neatly and simply sums up the message of the Gospel. But what do all the other 3:16s in the Bible have to tell us?
The words of the Bible weave a tapestry of love, particularly the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children. But a love so deep and so wide 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.
The Other Three Sixteens by Malinda Fugate examines each third chapter and sixteenth verse in the Bible and invites a fresh, new perspective to help readers uncover surprises or remind them of forgotten truths of a faith that has become routine.
Through Genesis to Revelation, we can soak in its depth, wonder at its intricacies, and be moved at how much the Lord truly does lavish upon us. Together, we discover God’s love under the weight of Eve’s sin in the garden. It’s there in front of Moses, burning in a bush that is somehow not consumed. God’s love sits in the dark with Job, rebuilds a wall with Nehemiah, and encourages a young pastor named Timothy. Together we will find a deeper understanding of the way our Heavenly Father cares for each of us today.
About Malinda Fugate
Malinda Fugate grew up in Children’s ministry. Now, after two decades of dedicated volunteer service, she now serves full-time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California. Malinda studied communications and theatre at Azusa Pacific University, then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA.
Her writing includes The Other Three Sixteens, Bible Time for Active Kids, commercial copywriting, various faith-based stage and screenplays, as well as co-producing A Single Girl’s Guide To, a lifestyle blog, and web series. Her lifelong study of God’s Word continues to reveal more about the Lord every day. She lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi.
How God Reminds Us of His Unfailing Love
As we focus on some of these reminders of God’s love for humanity, you may find it helpful to spend some time reading or listening to the chapter in question. This will give you context and the chance to get deeper into God’s Word.
Reminder #1: God equips and reassures those He loves
Our first stop on this journey is Exodus 3:16, “Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you” (NLT).
Before we start talking about how God’s love is evident in this verse, let’s look at the big picture. In Genesis 3, Moses has his burning bush moment. God appeared to him in a flame that burned but did not consume the bush it engulfed. Moses and God have a conversation about the children of Israel who had spent the last 400 years or so as slaves in Egypt. He was about to deliver them and He chose Moses to be His mouthpiece.
But Moses did not feel qualified to do the job he had been given. Like many of us, Moses wanted a new assignment. What Moses would eventually come to realize was that God had given him all the resources he needed to do the job and then He stuck right by him and did not leave him to face the challenges on his own.
My friend, I know the thing God has called you to may seem beyond your skillsets–it is, but allow God to equip ou and call on Him often along the journey. He is always with you.
Reminder #2: Miracles still happen
Our next stop on our tour is the story of Joshua. After Moses’ death, the leadership of the Israelites fell to Joshua and he was now responsible for leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, maybe there were some people who wondered if God was still with them.
They had gotten used to the miracle of daily bread sent from heaven. They had stopped considering how blessed they were that they had been wearing the same sandals since forever and they had not worn out. The sight of the column of fire by night and the cloud by day had become a part of their lives and they were used to it.
Maybe the Israelites wondered, as we do if God still works miracles. My answer to you–to us–is that He still does. We only have to open our eyes to see the daily blessings and miracles to know that God is at work.
Reminder #3: We have access to the throne of grace
In 1 Kings 3, we meet two women who were prostitutes. Both of them were mothers but one of them had a dead son. The two quarreled because the woman whose son was dead had switched her son for the one who lived. These two women knew they would not be able to settle their dispute by themselves so they took it to a higher power. They went to the king.
It’s amazing to me that these two women felt they had the right to appear before King Solomon to have him hear their case. I mean, prostitution was illegal in Israel. Fornication was an offense punishable by death. Yet these two women knew they were able to stand before the king and he would hear their case and give them justice.
My friend, you and I can also stand before kings. We have an invitation to obtain an audience before our Heavenly Father:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).
The beautiful thing is that God doesn’t ask us to clean up our act before we come to Him. He invites us to come as we are knowing that He has the power to change us.
Reminder #4: There is a purpose in your pain
Okay, so this one may seem like it doesn’t fit in this list. I mean, we are still talking about the unfailing love of God, right? What does pain have to do with love? We’re going to spend a little time in Acts chapter 3. Here Peter and John meet a man at the gate of the temple. This man had been born lame and had spent most of his life begging for his sustenance.
When the man sees Peter and John, he expected a handout and if that was what he had gotten that day, he would have been happy. Instead, Peter gave him something greater. He gave him a reason to praise God.
Peter gave this man the gift of physical healing. Now maybe this is a gift you have been praying for. Maybe you have asked God for healing but He has not given you the physical healing that you crave. I know how hard it is not to have that particular prayer answered but maybe God wants to use your pain to draw you closer to Him. He told Paul:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV).
His grace is still sufficient for you today. Maybe He will heal your ailments here on earth or maybe you will have to wait until after Christ’s second coming, in either case, God’s perfect love is available for you right now. Will you accept it?God's grace is still sufficient for you today and His perfect love is available for you right now. Will you accept it? #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet
Reminder #5: God’s unfailing love prompts us to love others
For our final stop, we will spend some time in 1 John 3. I love how that chapter starts:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1 NIV).
God lavishes His love on us. Doesn’t that image just make you think of extravagance and bounty? Well, here’s the thing, the same way God lavishes love on us is the way He wants us to shower others with love.
As we come into a better understanding of God’s unfailing love, we begin to realize that we were all created by His hand…and if we are all His creations we all have the same rights and deserve the same treatment. Just as the Jews had to learn to make space for the Gentiles in the family of God is the same way we ought to make space for persons of other nations, creed, and ethnicity in our hearts.
Experience God’s Unfailing Love
The Other 3:16s got me looking at familiar Bible passages in a new way. I encourage you to actively look for God’s love as you read the Bible and study His Word. Ask yourself what new trait you have learned about God or how what you have studied has deepened your understanding of who God is.
But don’t just stop there. Find ways to share what you’re learning. Ask God to provide ways for you to share His love with others. My prayer for you, for us, is that we experience God’s unchanging love in a new way and that our lives will be changed for the kingdom.
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