GOD IS LOVE

1 Jn.4:16 – So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

God’s very nature is love. His love is not an idea or a belief, it is tangible. His love can be experienced and it is the experiencing of His love that radically changes our lives. Problems often arise when a person begins to hear about the love of God who has no relationship with the Lord themselves. Their only frame of reference is the different loves they may have experienced in life. Failed relationships and personal disappointments can become a major block for someone to actually receive God’s love. A failed marriage, a betrayal in a friendship, or a bad relationship with parents can destroy our perception of the love of God. Here is a quote from David Jeremiah about this.

“Those who have suffered from common abuses of love are often skeptical of love from any source, including God. If your heart is broken romantically, you face the danger of concluding that all love, including God’s, is just as unstable. If you have a troubled relationship with your human father, you might conclude that your heavenly Father is just as unreliable. These mistaken ideas about God can be devastating, but they are not uncommon. We cannot afford to make broad judgments about love or God from our limited personal experiences. Nor can we look to pop culture as any kind of authority—songs or sitcoms or soaps or cinema. We might as well get our idea of the beach from a child’s sandbox. Better to go to the ultimate authority on both God and love. The Bible must be our guide.”

So how exactly can one overcome these love disappointments that have left us scarred and disillusioned with life? There is really only one way, you must taste and see the love of God for yourself. You must put yourself in a position for His love to begin to break in to your life. Read the gospels (I love the book of John). Go to church. Find a church that focuses on worship and the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Get involved with people who love the Lord. If you do these things you are obviously hungry and are being prepared by the Lord for a major change in your life. His love is breaking through and your world is about to be majorly changed

LOVE UNENDING

Jer.31:3 – I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

The challenge of a preacher is to try to put words on the indescribable. What can be said to describe the everlasting love of God. Paul probably gave it the best shot in Ephesians 1:4 – Amp. “Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.” Somehow, before I was born, before there was a world, the Lord knew me and loved me. He has loved me with His everlasting love and has drawn me with His love. His everlasting love also loves me through everything I face. Whether there is sickness, or poverty, betrayal or demonic resistance God’s love will surround me and empower me to finish with joy. Here is how David Jeremiah describes this unending love.

“God’s love reflects His eternal absolutes. God’s love is eternal, like He is: more durable than time, wider and deeper than the incalculable dimensions of the cosmos. As He tells us, God’s perfect love for you existed deep in the depths of eternity even before time began. He created billions of wondrous galaxies, most of which no telescope will ever see; He created lovely, atomic-level worlds no microscope will ever penetrate; He knows all, He transcends all, and He is magnificent beyond human imagining. Yet His love for you is so close and intimate that it far outshines that of doting human fathers who, when they first see their newborn infant, often count the baby’s fingers and toes. God actually numbers the hairs on your head. He knows and cherishes the tiniest details of your life, He watches over you every moment, and He has a plan for your life that has been in His heart longer than the world has existed.”

His love for each of us is very personal. For Jeremiah the Lord told him He loved him and knew him from his mother’s womb. It couldn’t get any more personal. He has loved and watched over ever detail of your life. We may have been unaware of His nearness because of our blindness. Once we begin to taste His goodness for ourselves it all becomes very clear; He has had me all along.

GOD’S UNREASONABLE LOVE

Rom.5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God loves us, and yes, God loves you not because of anything you have done or can do for Him, but He loves you despite everything you have done. In other words He loves you no matter what because that is Who He is. ‘God is love’ as the Apostle John declared. His love is not conditional it is totally based on Him and not on you. He died for drug dealers, gang bangers, rock stars, street dwellers, opium smokers, prostitutes, and housewives and business people. He gave His life for students, contractors, presidents and prisoners. In other words His love makes no sense, He loves us anyway. Here is a quote from David Jeremiah on what he calls unreasonable love.

“It is possible to consider—it is reasonable, though something of a stretch—that someone might be willing to die for a good person. In Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities, we see this kind of noble sacrifice fictionally demonstrated when the British barrister Sydney Carton willingly goes to the guillotine in the place of Charles Darnay. Carton’s sacrifice seems “reasonable” because he has led a somewhat dissipated life and has little to live for, while the falsely accused Darnay is a man of great honor, courage, and virtue. In an extreme case and under certain dire circumstances and for an exceptionally good person, you or I might possibly find it in our hearts to make such a sacrifice. But for the vilest of criminals, a person who had made no contribution to society, and who seemed to delight in being an enemy of all that is good and right—would you die for that person? Your answer would probably be a quick and unmitigated “Hardly!” And that’s a perfectly reasonable answer.”

God’s love seen clearly in His only Son, Jesus of Nazareth, is what stopped me in my tracks. Someone shared the cliche with me, “Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life”. The words were not cliche or trivial to me, they were the most powerful words I had ever heard. Somehow the very love of God was encompassed in those words and penetrated my cold, callous heart. His love was unreasonable, there was no reason that He should love me. That is exactly what won my heart.

GOD’S FIERY LOVE

1 Cor.13:1 – If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.

Many people miss the whole meaning of this beautiful passage of scripture. It could very well be the most well known passage of the Apostle Paul’s writings, we simply know it as the love chapter. A little digging will get us to Paul’s intent in this passage. He is actually correcting a problem with the use of spiritual gifts in the church in Corinth (at least they were still using the gifts). Chapter 12-14 in 1 Corinthians is an extended teaching on the purpose and proper usage of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 13 gets to the heart of the matter. The gifts are supernatural in nature but they are instigated and permeated with the love of God. The purpose of the gifts are to help hurting people. The gifts are intended to be a display of the love of God. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this passage.

“The Aramaic word for love is hooba, and it is a homonym that also means “to set on fire.” It is difficult to fully express the meaning of this word and translate it into English. You could say the Aramaic concept is “burning love” or “fiery love,” coming from the inner depths of the heart as an eternal energy, an active power of bonding hearts and lives in secure relationships. The Greek word is agapē, which describes the highest form of love. It is the love God has for his people. It is an intense affection that must be demonstrated. It is a loyal, endless, and unconditional commitment of love. Feelings are attached to this love. It is not abstract, but devoted to demonstrating the inward feelings of love toward another with acts of kindness and benevolence.”

If you take into account Jonathan Edwards’ teaching on this passage it really clears things up. He said that the Holy Spirit is actually the personification of the love of God. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit we become saturated with God’s love. The gifts of the Spirit are the outflow of this love. Stir up the fire of God in your belly. The result will be God’s love touching hurting people through you.

DROPS OF MERCY

Eph.3:18,19 – Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!

This is one of the most amazing prayers in the Bible. Paul is praying that each one of us would have a revelation of God’s unending love. In tasting His love for ourselves we are filled to overflowing with His presence. This is the Expositor’s Commentary on these two verses.

“That love, exemplified in Christ’s magnanimity to the Gentiles, is too large to be confined by any geometrical measurements. It is “wide” enough to reach the whole world and beyond. It is “long” enough to stretch from eternity to eternity. It is “high” enough to raise both Gentiles and Jews to heavenly places in Christ Jesus. It is “deep” enough to rescue people from sin’s degradation and even from the grip of Satan himself. The love of Christ is the love he has for the church as a united body and for those who trust in him as individuals.”

I love this explanation of Paul’s prayer. God’s love is wide enough to reach the whole world. There is no culture or ethnic group that is excluded. The Father’s love embraces everyone. His love is long enough to reach from eternity to eternity. His love was there for us when we were born, carries us through all of our challenges and adventures in this life, and will be with us on our final day to usher us into our heavenly reward. It is high enough to raise all of us into heavenly places. His love takes us into heavenly realms now, not just when we die. His presence, the manifestation of His love, carries us away into places of heavenly encounter. His love is the fountain of all visions and dreams, the unfolding of His plan of love for our lives. His love is deep enough to reach into the depths of depravity that sin could take you to. There is no sin too great or hole too deep to keep you from the love of our Heavenly Father. Today His love is falling on all of us, it is fall like great drops of mercy on all who call on His name.

EYES OPENED BY LOVE

Matt.20:34 – Jesus was deeply moved with compassion toward them. So he touched their eyes, and instantly they could see! Jesus said to them, “Your faith has healed you.” And all the people praised God because of this miracle. And the two men became his followers from that day onward.

The humanity of Christ is shocking to me. The Creator became one of us. How is that even possible? Why did He stoop so low and enter His creation? The answer is clearly seen in this passage, He “was deeply moved with compassion”. He saw us groping in darkness, helplessly and hopelessly trying to find our way. He became one of us because of our blindness. One of the frequent miracles in the ministry of Jesus was healing blind eyes. Like everything the Lord does, the physical miracle was just pointing to even greater miracles. It was pointing to the blindness of our souls and the reason Jesus became a man. We were all born with that horrible spiritual blindness until the day His love flooded our whole being with light and we too became followers of this One who loves us into the light of His new day. Here is how Spurgeon described this miracle.

“He touched their eyes. What hands were those which undertook such lowly fellowship with human flesh, and wrought such deeds of power! Immediately their eyes received sight. Only a touch and light entered….Oh, that the reader, if he be spiritually blind, may ask for the touch of Jesus, and receive it at once, for immediately he will receive sight! An inward light will in an instant shine forth upon the soul, and the spiritual world will become apparent to the enlightened mind….If the reader fears that he, too, is spiritually blind, let him cry unto the Lord at this very instant, and he will see what he shall see, and he will for ever bless the hand which gave sight to the eyes of his soul.”

The only way a blind person knows he is blind is because others tell them of this amazing gift of sight that they enjoy. How can you tell if you are spiritually blinded? Listen carefully to what others are saying about the Lord, their story of the beauty of Christ may show you there is a beautiful world of light that you are missing.

SPIRITUAL BOND -KOINONEA

Acts 2:42-45 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

When we first started our church in 1979 I found myself stuck on this passage for today’s devotion. I was mesmerized by the supernatural community that formed after that initial outpouring on the day of Pentecost. It amazed me that people from all the different countries mentioned in this chapter as being effected by the Pentecostal outpouring were able to become such a close knit spiritual family so quickly. It wasn’t the nation they were from or their age or even their gender, even their Jewishness did not come into play. The bond of love that they shared is seen in this passage. If I had to boil it down to one word I would say it was the word fellowship. In the Greek New Testament it says koinenea. Koinenea is at the heart of the true union found in a truly spiritual congregation. This union is not based on being poor or rich, young or old, or even black or white. Let’s look at this word koinenea and discover the secret of the early church. This is how Dick Mills describes this word.

“fellowship, koinōnia: Sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society, a communion, a fellowship, contributory help, the brotherhood. Koinōnia is a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit. In koinonia the individual shares in common an intimate bond of fellowship with the rest of the Christian society. Koinōnia cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other.”

This union that is at the very heart of the New Testament community is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our love for the Lord birthed in us by our conversion is what we share in common. The fruit of this is called fellowship. We love the same things now; things like the Bible, worship, sharing our faith, and the preaching of the Word of God. Our former relationships were shaped around natural or cultural things. Our fellowship was controlled by the things we loved then; things like certain types of music and alcoholic beverages. Often times our relationships came out of interests such as fishing, motorcycles, cars, or and endless list of other interests. Today all of that has changed. We have been born again, we have been captured by the love of God. Our love for Him is what produces this incredible koinenea in our community.

INFINITE

Jn.3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Everlasting, or infinite, is totally incomprehensible to the human mind. I am sure not everyone would agree with me at first but just come with me, for a moment, down this path that leads to infinite. Simply spoken, infinite is without beginning or end. That being true, everything that is infinite would be uncreated or already existing from eternity. There is only One who fits into that category who is the Lord Himself. Everything else, galaxies, black holes, planets, solar systems, and even time itself is part of God’s glorious creation. That puts us in the created category not being able to fully understand the only infinite being. We are given glimpses of Him in our fallen condition by revelation through the Holy Spirit. Jonathan Edwards described infinite in regard to his first glimpse of his own sinfulness in the light of an infinite and holy God. Check this out.

“My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and infinitely swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge, or infinite mountains over my head. I know not how to express better, what my sins appear to me to be, than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. I go about very often, for this many years, with these expressions in my mind, and in my mouth, “Infinite upon infinite. Infinite upon infinite!” When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell. And it appears to me, that were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fullness and glory of the great Jehovah, and the arm of his power and grace stretched forth, in all the majesty of his power, and in all the glory of his sovereignty; I should appear sunk down in my sins infinitely below hell itself, far beyond sight of everything, but the piercing eye of God’s grace, that can pierce even down to such a depth, and to the bottom of such an abyss.”

So the amazing thing about humans, we were created in the image of God to enjoy Him forever. This is made possible by faith in the sacrificial death of the Son of God. Since we are created in the image of God we will all continue to live on through eternity. The only question that has to be answered is this, will we be at peace with God when we step over? The consequences are infinite upon infinite either way; joy unspeakable or unthinkable sorrow.