THE SOURCE OF LOVE

On Sunday we celebrated Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love.  The word love stimulates a flurry of images, but what is love?  When I first encountered love, I was willing to put aside all other things and become single focused.  Love was about receiving.  Now I know that love is giving as well as receiving.  I have learned that love is caring for and giving to someone else.  Love inspired me to step beyond self-concern and focus on the needs of another.  Love is about relationship.  Yet I wonder how love got into my heart.  Where did it come from?

This whole topic has been stirred by reading 1 John chapter 4, and I think it provides answers for the above questions.  The apostle John first tells us that Love comes from God (verse 7).  In verses 8 and 16 he states that God is love.  I conclude that the reason I have love in my heart is that God put it there.  In verse 19 John says, “We love because he first loved us.”  When I love someone, it is because God loves me.  I am, though imperfectly, a reflection of his love.

The Apostle Paul clarifies for us what love is in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, “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 with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  Since God is love, these verses highlight his character.  God loves us with these attributes.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  God made the eternal declaration of his love for us via the cross.  The Bible tells us of his love, but on the cross he demonstrated his love.  The great source of love has given his love to us in an irrefutable act.  God loved us in this sacrificial way in order to restore our relationship with him.  His command to us, love one another.  May his great act of love grow and flourish in our hearts.

WHAT JESUS DID

A couple of weeks ago my wife was reading to me from Revelations chapter 5. 

It starts:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”  But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.  I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.  Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep!  See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals”

As I listened to these words the significance of what Jesus did on the cross expanded from an occurrence on the earth to a universal, infinite event.  Jesus’ work on the cross is pivotal in God’s plan for his creation, and Jesus alone is worthy to bring about our transition to eternal life.  Jesus’ sacrifice has blossomed in my understanding to something awesome and everlasting.  The cross will forever remain at the center of our existence.

Having this broader understanding has refreshed for me the coming Easter celebration.  Everything for Christians is centered upon Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.  Nothing else can compare with this.  He alone is worthy to bring to us salvation and eternal life.  Everything of eternal significance rests on what Jesus did. 

VALUABLE INSIGHTS

Situations come upon us from time to time in which prior information would be quite valuable.  Say you come upon a situation where two people are engaged in a quarrel.  What should you do?  If you don’t have much income, but you’re living comfortably, should you still give to the poor? Are you a person who has to have something to say about every subject?  A wealthy but stingy man invites you to dinner, should you go?  At work there’s a group of party animals that go out 3 or 4 times a week.  They spend the next day talking about the great time they had. When they invite you to join them, should you go?

These are just a few of the situation addressed in the Book of Proverbs.  Our God has provided us with a rich source of information for our daily lives.  Proverbs is not outdated wisdom, but it is full of wisdom for all times.  Provers contains 31 chapters.  By reading a chapter a day you can read the whole book in most months.  Try filling your day with rich practical information for your daily decisions.

You can find valuable insights into the situations I mentioned above by looking at these verses:

Proverbs:         26:17,  21:13,  21:23,  23:6-8,   23:20-21        {these are listed in order}

The End of Separation

In the beginning there was no separation between man and God.  When man sinned God withdrew his presence.  This separation lasted until Jesus’ death on the cross. The restoration was signified by the tearing from top to bottom of the temple curtain.  (See Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45)

One of the churches in our city does the Stations of the Cross each year on Good Friday.  My wife and I find this experience a great way to begin Easter Weekend.  The stations take you from the time they arrested Jesus to the crucifixion. I am always deeply moved as I walk from station to station remembering what Jesus went through.  This year the tearing of the temple curtain stood out to me.

At the moment when Jesus said it is finished and gave up his spirit, the temple curtain was torn in such a way that it could only have been done supernaturally.  The curtain was 16 feet tall and 4 inches thick, and it was torn from top to bottom.  As it was torn it exposed the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s presence in the temple.  No one could enter the Holy of Holies except the high priest, and he could only enter once a year after going through an extensive ritual of preparation.

Jesus gave up his life so we could be restored to the presence of God.  We who are redeemed by Jesus’ blood can now enter into God’s presence. I was overwhelmed by the significance of the tearing of the curtain.  God’s redemption of fallen man was complete, and he opened for us access to his presence.  This tragic day had underlying glory.  God’s created ones could now return to the closeness that Adam and Eve had with him before the fall.  Jesus restored our relationship with his amazing act of sacrificial love.  Can I do anything but spend eternity expressing gratitude to my blessed savior?  Thank you Jesus!

The Pivot Point of Eternity

Kneeling at the cross

Such a wondrous place to be,DSCN1330

I find my greatest freedom there

At this place called Calvary.

 

For here is where it all begins,

If you are willing to receive.

At this pivot point we each decide

Our eternal destiny.

 

Yes, God took our greatest evil,

The murder of his son,

And with his loving power

Salvation for all He won.

 

Now kneel with me if you will,

And receive this very hour,

The salvation offered freely

Enlivened with resurrection power.