UNENDING LOVE

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!

In this passage Paul connects discovering the love of God to being filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. That is exactly what or Who our God is, He is love. There has been an eternal bond and enjoyment of love between the Father and the Son of God. This love is not just a feeling or divine energy, the love of God is a person, the beautiful Holy Spirit. Turn your eyes and your heart toward Jesus, you will be swallowed up in His love. This is just another way to say you will be filled to overflowing with His Spirit. This love will be our portion and our life in heaven, check out this snippet from Jonathan Edwards on this passage.

“Heaven is a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven fills heaven with love, as the sun placed in the midst of the hemisphere in a clear day fills the world with light. The Apostle tells us that God is love. And therefore seeing he is an infinite Being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient Being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing and an inexhaustible fountain of love. Seeing he is an unchangeable and eternal Being, he is an unchangeable and eternal source of love. There even in heaven dwells that God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is or ever was proceeds.”

What a statement, “for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light”.

The sun can’t stop shining, that is impossible. God can’t stop loving, love is Who He is; that too is impossible. The amazing thing to me is this, the eternal nature of this love. If we are overwhelmed here by one taste of His matchless love for us then it may be time for a spiritual tune up. The kingdom of heaven is at hand and I have heard that it is a world of love.

JESUS LOVES ME

Jn13:1 – Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

I love the last part of this verse, “(Jesus) loved His own until the end”. In this passage Jesus displayed His love for His disciples by taking on the role of a servant and washing the disciples’ feet. He was washing the feet of fishermen, tax collectors, political activists, and even the one who would betray Him. Not only was Jesus displaying love to His followers, He was mirroring the coming work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. That’s what this whole night was about; foot washing, instituting the Lord’s Supper that would prepare the world for the Holy Spirit, and finally an extensive teaching on the One He called Another Helper.

In this teaching on the Holy Spirit that is really over our heads and past comprehension, Jesus began to describe the love the Father has for Jesus. He was now saying that that infinite love enjoyed by the trinity is now becoming available to us. Jesus said it like this, Jn.15:9 – “I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts”. This is unending love, eternal love, the love that is enjoyed between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus proclaimed the unthinkable, this love is now available to us. Here is a description of this love from the Passion Notes.

“Unconditional love flies in the face of the most basic drives of human nature. We tend to love conditionally; we love only those we consider worthy. God’s love is nothing like that. Christians see the unconditional quality of God’s love displayed on the Cross. It is love for the utterly unworthy, a love that proceeds from a God who loves simply because He is love. Such a love could never be conceived by men. Only God would dare to love in such a way.”

So when we meet Christ we are confronted with a totally different kind of love than we have ever known before. He loves us despite us being us. He loves us because that is Who He is. God is love and the Holy Spirit is the outpouring of God’s love on whosoever will.

FOUR KINDS OF LOVE

1 Cor.13:13 – And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I had the privilege of spending a lot of time over the years with an awesome man of God by the name of Dick Mills. Brother Mills had an insatiable appetite for God’s word and spent endless amounts of time researching Bibles words. I caught an appetite for studying the scripture in a different way from spending time with my old friend. Every time he came to New Orleans he would bring me a new translation of the Bible, a word study book, or some old commentaries he may have picked up in Europe. When Brother Mills came to town it was kind of like Christmas. One of the first word studies I remember Brother Dick ministering on was the word love. I was amazed that there are four Greek words that we translate love in English. Those words are storge, Philadelphia, Eros, and agape. Here is a brief definition of these four words.

Storge –

Storge or familial love refers to natural or instinctual affection, such as the love of a parent towards offspring and vice versa. In social psychology, another term for love between good friends is philia.

Philadelphia

Loving one’s brother, brotherly affectionate. In a wider sense it meant love of one’s fellow countrymen. In the strictly Christian sense of loving as brothers. Philádelphoi sums up the bearing of Christians to each other, and the adj. which follow describe what their behavior should be.

Eros

This is the passionate love that desires the other for itself. The god Eros compels all but is compelled by none. In Plato érōs symbolizes fulfilment, in Plotinus desire for union with the one. What is sought in érōs is intoxication or ecstasy. Reflection is good, but ecstatic frenzy, while sometimes viewed with horror, is greater. érōs masters us and confers supreme bliss thereby.

Agape

Love, affectionate regard, goodwill, benevolence. With reference to God’s love, it is God’s willful direction toward man. It involves God doing what He knows is best for man and not necessarily what man desires. For example, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave.” What did He give? Not what man wanted, but what God knew man needed, i.e., His Son to bring forgiveness to man.

I was amazed when I first saw this. Agape, of course, is a supernatural love. Storge, Eros, and Philadelphia, can all be experienced by the natural man. Agape is supernatural in nature. When we are born again the love (agape) of God is poured into our hearts. It is from this love that we love and worship God and also love and serve our neighbor. Stay filled with Him and you will begin to live in the agape love of God that pours from the Lord.

EYES OF LOVE

Matt. 9:22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

This poor lady was afraid, she had been afraid for a long time. That is what rejection will do to you. She could still remember the hurt she felt when she had been banished from the house of worship. The man who banished her probably had a robe like the one Jesus was wearing. This time as she touched the edge of His robe, she felt love and acceptance rather than the rejection and scorn she had felt for twelve years. Jesus was different from that other rabbi. He was different from anyone she had ever known. When Jesus turned and looked at her she felt the love in His gaze. Rather than eyes of condemnation and rejection she was caught by His look of love. When He called her daughter, she knew she was home. She had found that place of rest she had longed for for a very long time. Charles Spurgeon was known as the prince of preachers for a reason, here are his thoughts on this verse.

“Jesus knew all that was going on behind Him. If His back be toward us now, it need not always be; for He ‘turned Him about’. Even when fear would hide from Jesus, He spies out the trembler. His eye found her speedily, for He knew where to look. “He saw her”. His voice cheered her with joyful tones of acceptance. He did not chide the blundering of her ignorance, but He commended the bravery of her faith, and consoled her trembling heart. A piece of fringe and a finger sufficed to form a contact between a believing sufferer and an Almighty Savior. Along that line faith sent its message, and love returned the answer. She ‘was made whole’, and she knew it; but she feared when she was found out lest she should lose the blessing and earn a curse. This fear soon vanished: Jesus called her ‘daughter’. He fathered her because He had created faith in her. He gave her ‘good comfort’ because she had good faith. It was His garment which she touched, but it was her faith that had touched it; therefore our Lord said, ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole’; and thus He put the crown upon the head of her faith, because her faith had already set the crown on His head. The moment we touch Jesus we are made whole; yea, ‘from that hour’. May we touch Him now, and may this hour be as memorable to us as that hour was to her!”

So maybe you have had a taste of rejection yourself. Maybe you know that look, you know the look that says you don’t belong here. You will never get that look from Jesus. Maybe it seems like He doesn’t know you exist, believe me, He does. Go ahead, try to steal a touch for yourself. Before you know it you too will be looking into those eyes of love.

PRAYERS OF LOVE

Rom.8:34,35 – Who then is left to condemn us? Certainly not Jesus, the Anointed One! For he gave his life for us, and even more than that, he has conquered death and is now risen, exalted, and enthroned by God at his right hand. So how could he possibly condemn us since he is continually praying for our triumph?

One of the most encouraging and shocking revelations in the Bible for me is seen in this passage. Jesus Himself is praying for me. Recently I was at an outreach in the French Quarter with our worship team. One of the songs they began to sing was ‘JESUS LOVES ME’. It seems that the simplicity and the power of this song connected with people more than anything else we did. As I watched a mom with her children on the outskirts listening to the music she began to wipe tears from her eyes. Obviously the words of the song penetrated her heart and began to minister personally to her. When we see that Jesus loves us personally suddenly everything changes. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this verse.

“Not only does the Holy Spirit pray for us, so does Jesus Christ. Two divine intercessors are praying for you each day. Two-thirds of the Trinity are actively engaged in intercession for us. This is typified by the incident of Moses interceding on the mountain for Israel’s victory with one hand held high by Aaron (the high priest, a type of Jesus, our High Priest) and Hur (or “light,” a metaphor for the Holy Spirit, who prays with divine illumination for our good).”

What are the implications of Jesus love for us? Ultimately it brings us to the revelation that nothing can defeat or overcome us. God’s love keeps us and leads us in triumph in every arena of our lives. Here is another statement from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“Clearly implied in the text with the Greek word hupernikao. The love of God gives us “a glorious hyper-victory,” more than can be described or contained in one word. God’s love and grace has made us hyper-conquerors, empowered to be unrivaled, more than a match for any foe!”

So no matter what you are facing God’s love is more than you need. If He is for you and is praying for you everything is going to turn out okay.

CALLED INTO LOVE

1 Cor.1:8,9 – He will keep you steady and strong to the very end, making your character mature so that you will be found innocent on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is forever faithful and can be trusted to do this in you, for he has invited you to co-share the life of his Son, Jesus, the Anointed One, our King!

At the end of the day all we all really want is to be loved. That’s what makes the gospel and all its promises so attractive and ultimately rewarding. The whole point of the message of Christ is His calling out to us. He is calling us out of the world’s darkness and rejection and right into His world of love. We are the church, the called out ones, called into a life of intimacy with God and a partnership with fellow believers sealed by His love. This love is communicated to us by the Holy Spirit. Look at today’s verse in the Passion Translation, we are called to co-share the life of His Son. There could be no greater honor or no greater joy. I am loved by God and am called to enjoy Him forever beginning right now. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes.

“Or “a life of communion with his Son.” That is, a co-participation (communion, fellowship) of the Son. The Aramaic can be translated “You have been called to the (wedding) feast of his Son.” We see a clear picture here that believers are called to share in the sonship of Jesus. By God’s grace, we will share in the Son’s standing and position before the Father. We are not only blameless but made holy by the co-sharing of the life of God’s Son.”

Throughout the earthly ministry of Christ we see Him calling individuals to follow Him. He was calling these chosen ones to be with Him in His day to day fellowship. He is still doing that today. Adam Clarke say He is calling us into a participation with Christ

“Into the communion or participation of Christ, in the graces of his Spirit and the glories of his future kingdom.”

Wow! Wow! Wow! We are called to enjoy the graces of His Spirit and actually begin to participate into the glories of His future kingdom. What are you waiting for? Let the enjoyment of His love begin today.

ALL INCLUSIVE LOVE

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!

Ever since the beginning of our fallen race there has been discord and division among the people of the world. In Genesis there was Cain killing Abel and then the scattering of the nations at Babel. We have been dealing with division and racial strife since the beginning of mankind. Some think it is based on color but history proves otherwise. In Burundi we were horrified as the Hutu and Tutsi tribes decimating each other. In Europe there was the Croatians and the Serbians. Today, the Sunni and the Shia in the Islamic world are at each other’s throats.

The strife amongst people is spiritual. We are not only alienated from God as a result of the fall of man, we are alienated from one another. The answer lies not in war or in peace talks. The solution to this strife is the love of God poured on us and in us. Only a change in our nature can finally solve this problem.

I have seen the fruit of the outpouring of the love of God with my own eyes as the Lord has allowed me to visit the nations of the world preaching the gospel of Jesus. In Korea, I have seen thousands of South Korean Christians praying for hours for the restoration of their country. In Japan I have seen ancient hatred between the Koreans and the Japanese disappear in the presence of the Lord. In Russia, I witnessed hundreds of Americans preaching to the Russians as the walls of distrust vanished in the atmosphere of His love as Russians streamed into the kingdom of God. In Africa, I have seen Christians and pastors from many different tribes come together and worship the Lord and share the communion that flows from the cross. I have seen the Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans dancing together in the joy of the Lord. But my greatest experience of this love that knows no bounds is the privilege of pastoring a multi-racial church in New Orleans. “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 us until we are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!”

WHO DO YOU LOVE

Col. 3:1-3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

This scripture has been one of my favorites since my earliest days as a Christian. My days of pushing chicken manure at B and C Egg Ranch and planting trees in the mountains of Oregon and Washington often brought me right to the edge of the breaking point. This scripture was one of the ones the Lord used to strengthen me in my most difficult days. The KJV used the word affections rather than mind in this verse Actually the word for mind or affections is the greek word phroneo. That word encompasses the concept of mind and affections. Here is Zodhiates definition of this word.

“Phroneo” – implying not only thought but also the affections, will, or moral consideration. Related to phrénes as contrasted with noús, mind. In the Scripture it is most commonly applied to the actions of the will and affections.”

Adam Clarke brings out the idea of our affections and the part they play in our Christian walk. Our affections are the very source all of our actions. Here are some of Clarke’s thoughts.

“Set your affections on things above – Love heavenly things; study them; let your hearts be entirely engrossed by them. Now, that ye are converted to God, act in reference to heavenly things as ye did formerly in reference to those of earth; and vice versa. This is a very good general rule: ” Be as much in earnest for heavenly and eternal things, as ye formerly were for those that are earthly and perishing.”

Now its time to act on this word. Maybe you have been struggling with your thoughts and maybe even slipping into compromising situations. As Jonathan Edwards said, “Put yourself in the place of spiritual allurement”. Put on some intimate worship music. Spend some time reading the Psalms or maybe the book of John. Go on a walk and sing to The Lord. If you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, sing to The Lord with your heavenly language. Before you know it you will be caught up in the great heavenly romance. Your thoughts and actions will no longer be a problem.

FRIEND OF GOD

Jn.11:3 – So his sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, our brother Lazarus, the one you love, is very sick. Please come!”

This has to be the greatest assurance we can have, I am one whom He loves. Notice, the sisters didn’t mention their love for Him or their faith, they didn’t even mention how Lazarus loved Jesus; what they were hanging all their hopes and prayers on was His love for Lazarus. That’s where everything starts for all of us. My love for Him was birthed from His love for me. He has loved me from before time began. This eternal love is very intentional, not casual. He has fixed His affections on me before I was ever born. This is how Paul describes this love.

Eph.1:5,6 – “For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One, so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace —for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. And this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure!”

So my trust and faith hinges on His love for me. That’s why Martha and Mary could ask for the unthinkable, they knew Jesus loved Lazarus. This is how Matthew Henry describes this.

“Though God knows all our wants, and griefs, and cares, he will know them from us, and is honored by our laying them before him. The message they sent was very short, not petitioning, much less prescribing or pressing, but barely relating the case with the tender insinuation of a powerful plea, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. They do not say, He whom we love, but he whom thou lovest. Our greatest encouragements in prayer are fetched from God himself and from his grace. They do not say, Lord, behold, he who loveth thee, but he whom thou lovest; for herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. Our love to him is not worth speaking of, but his to us can never be enough spoken of.”

This love is what grabbed me in the beginning, it has been why I have followed Him all these years, and it is why I can depend on Him no matter what I face. He loves me, that settles everything.

JESUS LOVES YOU

John:11:3,5 – So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

“Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life”. Those were the words that finally broke through the hard, callous heart that had resisted the gospel for so long. I thought it would have to be something profound or some austere spiritual discipline that I would have to endure. Jesus loves you. Really! That’s all there is to it? Those Jesus freaks at the Lakefront in New Orleans were convinced, Jesus loved them and that strange love was somehow getting all over me. My heart was won that night by the precious love of Jesus. In today’s verse we see Martha and Mary, friends of Jesus, basing their future hopes on His love. The sisters had used the word phileo for love, the Greek word for friendship. When John wrote in down in verse 5 he used the word agape, the Greek word for supernatural love. Jesus loved them with the love of God, much more profound than human love or emotion. This is the love that draws us and surrounds us and gives us total confidence in our prayers. Here is how Adam Clarke describes their simple request.

“Nothing could be more simple, nor more modest, than this prayer: they do not say, Come and heal him: or, Command the disease to depart even where thou art, and it will obey thee: – they content themselves with simply stating the case, and using an indirect but a most forcible argument, to induce our Lord to show forth his power and goodness: – He is sick, and thou lovest him; therefore thou canst neither abandon him, not us.”

When you taste God’s love for you, you are done. You know that no matter what obstacles you face or enemies try to hinder you the Lord will see you through. The sisters had no idea what was going on when Jesus took four days to answer their appeal. They knew that when everything was said and done that Jesus loved them and that would be enough. It is always enough. His love is enough when you are facing sickness and death. It is enough when you are facing temptation. It is enough when bills seem to be piling up with no visible solution. Just remember, Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life.