Posts Tagged ‘the love of God’

Just how much God loves us

February 10, 2017

1 Corinthians 13--1-3

The New Year continues to unfold, and our thoughts turn toward “love” as the 14th of February approaches. Not just on Valentine’s Day but every day, we should seek to soar to the heights of a love supreme, the love of God or agape, the highest form of love. This love differs from eros or passion or sensuous love of the flesh and is even beyond philos­ or love of friends or family. The root of philos is found in the designation of Philadelphia, which is known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” On the other hand, agape, a term that is used exclusively in the New Testament, reveals the uniqueness of God’s love which is so clearly defined in I Corinthians 13, a passage of scripture that is often excerpted or quoted in its entirety at weddings. The Verse of the Day for February 10, 2017 is the opening section of this celebrated expression of God’s love:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The Greatest Gift] Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

This passage makes reference to magnanimous spiritual accomplishments or “great spiritual exploits” related to the ability to speak  in tongues, whether a language spoken on earth or the heavenly language of angels or being able to prophesy and demonstrate a depth of spiritual understanding or being able to live a life of self-sacrifice to the ultimate degree. No matter how impressive these endeavors may be, they ultimately do not benefit the individual who performs them if that person’s underlying motivation is not love.

With love, as with any other emotion, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. Believers speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Indeed, all love is giving. The essence of love as defined by giving is also seen in these words from John Oxenham:

Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,

And while it stands with open hands it lives.

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give

The book of I John also elaborates on the love of God:

1 John 3:16

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.

The love of God is “perfected” or made complete or brought to maturity in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love. This demonstration reveals the depth of love that God has for us. May we always remember:

“. . .  Just how much God loves us.”

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath].

1 John 4:10

Father, expand our mind and widen our comprehension

To recognize your ways to an even greater dimension.

As we call upon your name and bow in humility,

Deepen our understanding, as you give us eyes to see.

Enlighten our souls with the wisdom that comes from above.

You call us your beloved, worthy of your endless love.

When we are tempted, knowing that you love us dispels all fear.

As we seek to please you, open our ears that we might hear

Your word and endeavor to hide it deep within our heart.

Despite past failures, misdeeds, and shortcomings on our part,

Your love is constant and never changes but ever grows,

Unfolding in matchless beauty as a dew-kissed rose.

You say do not love worldly things or pleasures they may bring.

You show us God’s love is to be prized more than anything.

Listen to these heart-strengthening lyrics of “The Love of God” offered by Mercy Me:

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God’s unfailing love

September 2, 2015

Psalm-119-64The Verse of the Day for September 2, 2015 speaks of the love of God that never fails:

Psalm 119:64 (NLT):

O Lord, your unfailing love fills the earth; teach me your decrees.

The Power of God’s love is profoundly expressed as a verb in the following poem:

 

To Love

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies,

they will fail; whether there are tongues,

they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:8 (New King James)

Above all else, nothing is greater than to love.

Beyond all limits, nothing is better

than love.

When it comes down to the salient points of life,

Nothing is free. Everything has it price

but love.

No one can make you do what you don’t want to do.

Each day you decide if you are going

to love.

Searching for the right words and the right melody:

Ballads, show tunes, doo-wops, and blues–all songs

of love.

Been round the world from pole to pole and back again,

Looking here and there and everywhere for

true love.

Find it, mine it, and then define it, if you will.

If you seek it, you will find it, for God

is love.

Although we may graduate, learning never stops.

It is only by loving that we learn

to love.

“Dear ones, keep on and you will lose your mind for sure.”

To put on the mind of Christ is to put

on love.

Ultra refined, untainted, in its highest form:

Strip away all pride and you have

pure love.

Beyond display, far more than merely show and tell,

With every decree from God’s Word we see

God’s love.

This constant, ever-enduring quality of God’s love is described in Romans 8 which relates the constancy of the love of God which never fails. No matter the circumstances of our lives, whether on the pinnacles of success and dreams come true or in the pits of disappointment and failure, we are assured that God loves us. I often recall a statement from the late Dr. Adrian Rodgers, “God cannot love us any more than He does, and He will not love us any less.” The chapter concludes with this assuring reminder expressed in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 8:37-39

37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,

39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The vastness of God’s love is revealed in the song “The Love of God,” rendered so powerfully, yet poignantly, by “Mercy Me,” an appropriate way to conclude this blog entry.

Grace,love, and fellowship: A three-fold cord

September 21, 2014

2-Corinthians-13-14

The Verse of the Day for September 21, 2014 can be seen as a benediction to close out the second epistle to the Corinthians, rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

This verse was also the inspiration for:

Grace, Love, and Fellowship: A Three-fold Cord

                                      

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above.

Dr. John Fawcett

 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (New Living Translation)

 

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

These three traits never diminish but only increase.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Grace: a priceless gift that no one on earth can afford.

God’s great grace abounds toward us and shall never decrease.

Grace, mercy, and fellowship bind our hearts as three-fold cord.

 

That the love of God never fails cannot be ignored.

Spanning from age to age the same, this love shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Fellowship with God abounds when we live in one accord.

All those who are bound the Word of the Lord will release.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

 

All who seemed forsaken, God, our Father, has restored.

We commune with God and find that in His will is our peace.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Boundless love and favor are waiting to be explored,

For we are so designed to shine as God’s masterpiece.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.                

 

Here are three songs that express the essence of these three spiritual qualities:

Grace:

A song with a simple title is “Grace,” written and performed by Michael W. Smith

Love:

The Love of God, as performed by Mercy Me, is among the most recognized songs describing God’s love:

Fellowship:

The contemporary Christian group A cappella describes “Sweet Fellowship” in song:

Love one another . . . one more time

February 26, 2014

1 John 4 9-10The Verse of the Day for February 26, 2014 reminds us that love must be demonstrated, as 1 John 4:9 relates to the love of God:

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

How do you know that someone loves you? Listen to what the individual says and watch what that person does. There must be a demonstration of love, first of all with God, and secondly with others. God didn’t just say, “I love you, world” and blow the earth a kiss, He communicated His love when He so loved that He gave His only begotten son.

1 John 4 goes on to discuss the love of God in more detail, exhorting believers, likewise to show their love to one another:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

This time Steve Green offers yet another reminder to love one another:

The love of God always endures

February 12, 2014

1-corinthians-13-4-7In the Verse of the Day for February 12, 2014, we find two more verses from 1 Corinthians 13 further describing “charity” in the King James Version or agape or the love of God:

1 Corinthians 13: 6-7 KJV:

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Here are two variations of these verses from two other Bibles:

New Living Translation:

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Amplified Bible:

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

As I thought about these verses from 1 Corinthians 13, a passage from Romans 8 (my favorite chapter in the whole Bible) also came to mind, relating to the constancy of the love of God which never fails. No matter the circumstances of our lives, whether on the pinnacles of success and dreams come true or in the pits of disappointment and failure, we are assured that God loves us and that His love endures. I recall a statement from the late Dr. Adrian Rodgers, “God cannot love us any more than He does, and He will not love us any less.” The chapter concludes with this assuring reminder expressed in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 8:37-39

37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,

39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The vastness of God’s love is revealed in the song “The Love of God,” rendered so powerfully, yet poignantly, by “Mercy Me,” an appropriate way to conclude this blog entry.

Celebrating the love of God: every day, not just on February 14

February 14, 2012
I Corinthians offers the quintessential definition of true love–God’s love.
Valentine’s Day is set apart to celebrate love, but we must recognize various forms of love, including the love of God or agape, the highest form of love. It differs from eros or passion or sensuous love of the flesh and is even beyond philos­ or love of friends or family. The root of philos is found in the designation of Philadelphia, which is known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” There is a love which is “more intimate than friend, or kin or wife;” this close-knit love is known as agape.

This particular term which is used exclusively in the New Testament, reveals the uniqueness of God’s love, so clearly defined in I Corinthians 13, a passage of scripture that is often excerpted or quoted in its entirety at weddings. This section from verses 4-7 of the Amplified Bible illustrates the distinctive power of the love of God:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act  unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self- seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

The first part of verse 8 reiterates that “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].”

With love, as with any other emotion, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Indeed, all love is giving. The essence of love as defined by giving is also seen in this poem by John Oxenham:

            Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,

            And while it stands with open hands it lives.

            For this is love’s prerogative:

            To give and give and give

 

To learn more about three essentials of Christianity—faith, hope and love, click on the following links:

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/faith-hope-and-love-three-essentials-christianity

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/christianity-101-what-is-faith

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/christianity-101-what-is-hope

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/christianity-101-what-is-love

Mercy Me, contemporary Christian musical group, offers a most poignant portrait of “The Love of God”  in their version of the hymn with that title:

Friday, the 13th—but have no fear

January 12, 2012

Some people have a negative reaction to Friday, the 13th, but believers are encouraged to have no fear.

The second Friday in the New Year is actually Friday, the 13th, a day that some react to in a negative way.  Some even have an abnormal fear of Friday, the 13th, actually expressed in the psychological term paraskevidekatriaphobia. While not everyone harbors an ungrounded fear of Friday, the 13th, we cannot deny that fear seems to abound during these intense times. We all recognize that fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that limits and inhibits. Proverbs 29:25 makes this clear:

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

Fear is a tool of the Enemy used as a barrier to stifle our confidence in God, as it attempts to limit our access to the Father’s throne of grace. Satan tries to instill fear in believers in the same way that a ferocious lion roars, seeking to instill fear that paralyzes its victim, described in I Peter 5:8:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

It has been said that fear is the only thing that defeats the promises of God. Pastor Rick Warren describes fear as “. . . a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”                                               

The Bible addresses the issue of fear with numerous reminders that as believers we are not to fear. The comforting exhortation to “fear not” or “do not fear” occurs 365 times in the Bible, indicating a daily memo from God that we are to have no fear.

We also find great encouragement in Isaiah 41:10, 13:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

When we encounter stressful situations that cause us to respond in fear, we are encouraged to seek the strength to overcome any obstacle that attempts to block our path to success. Again the Psalmist offers this reminder:

Psalm 34:5

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

In 1 John 4:18 we find the perfect antidote to fear:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this “self-imposed prison” from which Christ came to set the captives free, as this poem indicates:

Self-imposed Prison

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you

 from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

— Rick Warren

  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,

  because fear involves torment. But he who fears

  has not been made perfect in love.

  I John 4:18

  

This self-imposed prison, not made with bars of steel,

 Nor formed with bricks, yet each subtly constructed wall

 Restricts the mind, scars the soul and cripples the will

 And impounds us to a state of constant free fall.

 Held captive by past mistakes that seek to instill

 Fear: this deadly acronym binds, confines the heart,

 So disguised as “false evidence appearing real”

 Keeps us from being all God intends us to be.

 But Christ, our sovereign Lord, pardoned each life sentence,

 Commuted penalties, declaring not guilty.

 With his blood, having blotted out every offense,

 Displayed undying love: key to set captives free.

 Pure freedom to serve awaits those with ears to hear,

 For perfected love destroys all walls built by fear.

In a previous blog, I also discuss “toxic fear and its antidote—love.”

https://drlej.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/toxic-fear-and-its-antidote-love/

In his book Consider Your Ways, Apostle Eric L. Warren, Founder and Overseer of Equip U Ministries, Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, contrasts a number of positive character qualities or virtues with their corresponding opposite vices. He points out that the opposite of fear is courage, a trait God continually exhorts believers to take upon themselves. Christians are to be bold and take courage, not just on Friday, the 13th but every day of our lives. Friday, the 13th, is just another day to remind us to put on our “no fear gear”, as we walk in the love of God which casts out all fear.

http://gospelrhythms.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/no-fear-in-love.jpg

Everyday we are reminded that "perfect love casts out all fear," for there is no fear in love.

To read about the awesome power of God, an understanding of which should also dispel fear, take a look at

http://www.examiner.com/x-20264-Columbus-Christian-Spirituality-Examiner~y2009m10d12-Massive-ring-around-Saturn-displaying-the-power-of-God

Listen to this powerful rendition of “The Love of God” by contemporary Christian band, MercyMe:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjj2kZ1qoqw&feature=player_embedded