Dear Heavenly Father, Than You for this opportunity to learn more about You and Your Word. Open our hearts and our eyes to receive Your Word and help us to apply it to our lives and share the truth with others. In Jesus Name. Amen
The Love of the Father
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
It would be impossible to study God's Word without considering love. Of all the truths that the Bible gives us about God none is more significant to our lives than those expressed in the three brief words of 1 John 4:8 "God is love". Everything that we know about God is wrapped up in those three words. Everything God does is because He loves us. Not only does God possess all power and wisdom, not only is He infinite in goodness and truth, but ultimately He is the source of all love. He is love.
Love is the very Being of God. Love is the nature of God and the essence of God. Our relationship with God Himself is love. If there was one word that could possibly describe God it would be love. Because of His love for us He made the sublime decision to come to earth Himself in human flesh, in the person of Jesus to live on this earth as a man. He left the splendor of heaven only for one reasonlove. Love is the only answer to why God would do this and if you had been the only person on earth He still would have done it because He loves you that much.
Because human beings are created by His Hand, He loved us. His heart was broken over the sorrow and suffering that had come upon His creation. He longed to bring us into full fellowship with Himself. There was nothing that man could do to restore that relationship with Him. Man had gone too far and had sunk too low. He was morally corrupted by sin and doomed to die.
So out of the love that God had for man He took upon Himself the penalty of sin. Imagine that. Just for a moment think about the sacrifice He made for us. It is almost too much for our minds to understand. Actually we will never completely understand it while here on earth. But what we do know is that He loved us and in that we can find joy and comfort in a difficult world. In that lies our hope for eternity.
He could have set aside His law and said that it was of no consequence; but had He done so He would have jeopardized the very foundation on which the universe depended. The penalty for disobedience is death, and this penalty had to be paid either by the offenderus, or by the Lawgiver Himself. God loved us so much that He took our sins upon Himself knowing that it would lead to Calvary.
So in His own appointed time He came to this earth to dwell among His creation. II Corinthians 5:19 God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself."
According to man's time, God's time on earth was brief. During Jesus time on earth He sought to convince mankind of His undying affection. From His heart poured love in a ceaseless stream of gentle deeds and kindly words.
Like the Good Samaritan of Jesus' parable He bound up the wounds of His enemies. Graciously He befriended the poor, the sick, and the outcast. He loved children, the young people and the elderly. He was indeed love incarnate.
Calling a little child unto Him, He said to the disciples, "It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." Matthew 18:14 He said "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for such is the kingdom of God." Only someone with a love filled heart could have used such beautiful words.
When Jesus met the rich young ruler the Bible tells us that Mark 10:21 :Jesus beholding him loved him." He knew him and He loved Him. It did not say that the rich young ruler was perfect so Jesus loved him. He just loved him. Nothing that the rich young ruler did caused Jesus to love him. Jesus just loved him. It did not say that the rich young ruler was handsome and Jesus loved him. He just loved him. Just like us---even though we are not perfectHe loves us.
Everything that Jesus taught was central to love. He told His disciples to not only love each other but to love their enemies. In Matthew 5:44 He told them to do good to those who hated them and pray for those who did them harm. He said to love God with all their heart, soul and mind and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves. (Matthew 22:37-39)
Jesus taught men to call God Father which was a brand new idea for them. They had wandered so far away from God that they saw Him as stern, cruel and inaccessible. God was not like that at all, Jesus told them. Instead He is tender, kind, thoughtful and understanding.
Jesus tells us in the parable of the Prodigal son that many people are like the son who left home too proud and too self confident. The son left home so that he could enjoy the pleasures of sin. This got him into a lot of trouble. But like the Father of the prodigal son God is always waiting with welcoming and loving arms out stretched to receive us back home.
To complete the revelation of the love of God, Jesus ultimately went to the cross. There, as the Son of God and at the same time as the one sinless man of the human race, with His divine and human natures blended, He offered up a complete, perfect, all sufficient sacrifice for the sins of men.
There on the cross the penalty was paid. And "as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" Romans 5:19
Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was in no way intended to appease an angry deity. Rather it was the utmost appeal of love. It was God offering Himself in our place. God so loved that He gave. Here was perfect love. His self surrender of His life so that others might have eternal life. The cost of the Incarnation of God we probably will never know. How much it meant for God the Son to die for the human race is a mystery. Even the angels in heaven do not understand it. But the results are clear. God "hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made righteous of God in Him" II Corinthians 5:21
The love of God made manifest in Christ Jesus is the most precious gift that God could give us. Jesus taught us everything we need to know to live the abundant life that He wants us to live. It is all about love.
A Heart Like Jesus':
Because of love, we live. We exist because of the love of God. Our hearts must be motivated to love others in the same way that God has loved us. In considering the love of God and how we can actively apply it to our lives we know that centering all our actions towards others based on love is first and foremost. Loving others starts with our own families and friends but it must extend to others, those outside our comfort zone. Each one of us is called to be the hands of Christ extended. We are His body, His hands, His feet, His heart. It is a high calling for each of us as Christians to spread His love to those that might otherwise not know Him. When you accepted Jesus, you accepted the call. He reached out to you and now it is up to you to reach out to others. Nothing we do in this life will be more important that sharing the love of Christ with those that do not know Him. No other gift we could give, no other thing we could do for them is more important than sharing the truth that we know.
His Hands Extended
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.
Easier said than done? Yes, it is. In our own strength loving our enemies seems to be impossible to do. How can we love people that are unkind to us? It is so difficult for us to see past the hurt sometimes. But God gives us the power to love as Christ loved us. Of course as Christians we strive to be like Christ. Loving others especially those who appear unlovable is something that we learn in our journey to be Christ-like. Being like Jesus is not something that happens over night. It is a life long journey. Jesus came and taught us and we learn by His Words. We learn by His ways. We do not automatically become tolerant patient loving people. We do this person by person, experience by experience.
It is easy to remove our selves from others and only love those that love us. It is a stretch and a challenge to love people who are unkind to us. It is not easy to have patience with someone who has the warmth of a Tasmanian devil and the grace of a skunk. How can we love the thieves, murderers, terrorist? How can we love as God loves? We really do want to, we strive to, but how can we?
We can because Jesus loved us first. We can reach out to others because Jesus reached out to us. He extended His hands and His love to us and we can extend His love to others. It is not our love that shines through. It is His love. Through our hands and our hearts His love shines though. Others may not respond to us in love. They certainly didn't always respond to Him in love, but that didn't stop Him from loving and reaching out. Just remember His response to the thieves that were being crucified with Him on Calvary. Even when He was dying He extended love, forgiveness and hope.
We may not be too happy with someone's behavior but we have to do as Jesus did and see past their behavior and see that they too were created by God and for God. We may be the only love they ever see. People live in horrible situations sometimes and they are all looking for love. We have to be very careful that we show love whenever we are afforded the opportunity. It may be the only love the person has ever seen. It may be their last chance to see Jesus. And it may be our last chance to offer His love to someone else. It may be just a smile or a greeting. It may be that you take off your coat and give it to a stranger. Whatever the opportunity to love is, don't let anything get in the way of loving someone else.
Years ago my husband came home with a small statue of Jesus for my flower garden. He was so pleased with the purchase and knew that I would love it. I did like it but I thought he must have gotten it at a good price because it was broken. The statue seemed perfect except for one thing. Jesus had no hands. I put it in the garden and one day I was talking to my Mother about it. I told her how it was broken but I didn't say anything to my husband about it. She said, "it is not broken. The sculptor intended it to be that way. We are His Hands". "Of course we are" I replied. "Of course we are."
Spread The Love:
How can we be sure that we show the love of Christ to others? We know that He is perfect love. He loves us with perfect love. To love others we first must know what the Bible says about love and put ourselves into the mix. Consider the following scripture:
I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.
In considering this description of love let us relate it to the Jesus that we know:
Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. Jesus does not envy. Jesus does not boast. Jesus is not proud. Jesus is not rude. Jesus is not self seeking. Jesus is not easily angered. Jesus keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil. Jesus rejoices in the truth. Jesus always protects. Jesus always trusts. Jesus always hopes. Jesus always perseveres.
Now let's relate this to our lives and the love that we show everyday to others.
Put your name in the blank.
__________________________ is patient.
__________________________ is kind.
__________________________ does not envy.
__________________________ does not boast.
__________________________ is not proud.
__________________________ is not rude.
__________________________ is not self seeking.
__________________________ is not easily angered.
__________________________ keeps no record of wrongs.
__________________________ does not delight in evil.
__________________________ rejoices in the truth.
__________________________ always protects.
__________________________ always trust.
__________________________ always hopes.
__________________________ always perseveres.
I don't know about you but in doing this exercise I realize that I have some work to do on the way that I relate to others. My name does not always fit in those spots. Whether it is the grocery check out person or my neighbor, every encounter I have with others is an opportunity to show the love of Christ.
When I was a child I attended our Church camp every summer and one of my favorite songs that we sang there was one that has stuck with me through the years. They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love. The words to that song are so true. People don't always get love this day and time. As disciples it is the love of Christ that we have to offer others. Show them this love in all that you do. In giving love we get love. That is the abundant life that the Lord wants for us. Live a life of love.
I Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind.
Prayer For Today:
Dear Father Thank You for Your love. Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for reaching out to us in loving kindness and help us to reach out to those who need You. Give us the strength to live from day to day in the embrace of Your love. Use us as instruments of Your love and shine Your light through us to others. We praise You and we love You. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.
Angela Posey-Arnold is 47 years old. She is a writer, published author and the resident pianist at her church. She lives in beautiful north Alabama in a log cabin on the edge of the Bankhead National Forest. Peaceful surroundings are conducive to writing and music to which she devotes her life.