Monday, October 11, 2010

Thankful For The Love Of God

At the Gospel Mission, we finished a series on Ruth, and started a couple of weeks of messages on a Giving Thanks in preparation for our Canadian Thanksgiving (which is today, October 11th). I preached the main part of this study for the lunch devotional yesterday, and added more verses today to round out it out.

Thankful For The Love Of God

Love is not an emotion (though it may effect them) - love is a choice. Love is an action verb. Always seeking the best for others.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 15:13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 5:6-10  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

When we were at our worst, God gave His best! He proved/showed/demonstrated His love to us by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

1 John 4:8-10  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. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:19  We love him, because he first loved us.

We learn love through the Lord Jesus Christ's example for us - He loved us first!

Consider each point of the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, thinking about Christ’s/God’s love as an example for us, and how our love is to be towards others and towards the Lord in return.

The word translated as charity here is the Greek word agape. It means "love," and is often referred as the deep love of God, a self-sacrificial love that desires the best for others. Matthew Henry points out that the word charity was used by the translators to indicate when they believed love towards BOTH God and man was in view in that particular verse or passage.

1 Corinthians 13:4  Charity suffereth long, - Longsuffering, forbearing. Webster's 1828 Dictionary gives this as one of his definitions for forbearance: "The exercise of patience; long suffering; indulgence towards those who injure us; lenity; delay of resentment or punishment."
 
In the Gospel Mission, we often see people at the lowest point in their lives, and there are some that are extremely difficult to handle at times - but love forbears and still reaches out to them, helping them and caring for them.

The Bible speaks in various places of God's forbearance towards us. Several references are:

Colossians 3:13-14 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

and is kind; - Webster’s: Kind: "1. Disposed to do good to others, and to make them happy by granting their requests, supplying their wants or assisting them in distress; having tenderness or goodness of nature; benevolent; benignant.
2. Proceeding from tenderness or goodness of heart; benevolent; as a kind act; a kind return of favors."

Real love is not just wishing others well, but putting shoe leather on our intentions and doing good to others.

Psalm 92:1-2 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

charity envieth not; - Webster's: Envy:  "v.t. [L. invideo, in and video, to see against, that is, to look with enmity.]
1. To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another's prosperity; to fret or grieve one's self at the real or supposed superiority of another, and to hate him on that account.
2. To grudge; to withhold maliciously.
EN'VY, n. Pain, uneasiness, mortification or discontent excited by the sight of another's superiority or success, accompanied with some degree of hatred or malignity, and often or usually with a desire or an effort to depreciate the person, and with pleasure in seeing him depressed. Envy springs from pride, ambition or love, mortified that another has obtained what one has a strong desire to possess."

Love does not hate/despise someone else because of what they have or because they are better off in some way than you. The love of God in believers - produced through the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit in us - enables us to desire and work towards the best for others, just as the Lord is working out all things for good in our own lives.

Romans 5:5b ...because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

1 John 3:17-18 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

charity vaunteth not itself, - Is not boastful; doesn’t brag about themself.

is not puffed up, - Is not inflated with pride.

I have seen many in our community and even some that come through our doors that look down on others - whether these others are clients or staff at the Mission - because the image of homelessness or low income families disgusts them. That is pride - agape love cares for others and does not elevate themselves above those in need. Neither does it look down on those who are struggling with sin in their lives, knowing we are just as prone to wander, and just as much in need of the Lord's forgiveness and cleansing in our own lives. There is no place for pride in the heart of a saved individual - the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

1 Corinthians 13:5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, - Does not act in an inappropriate manner towards others.

True love will do what is right around others, will not treat them wrong or act towards them in an ungodly way.

One passage that comes to mind about our Saviour shows that He did not flip out or act inappropriately, even when dealing with lost sinners. I cringe whenever I hear shouting in the hallways where I live, where a husband and wife (or parents and children) are yelling at each other, cursing each other out, but Jesus never did that when He ministered here on earth. He showed His love towards those around Him (and still shows it towards us), even when He needed to correct their sin.

Matthew 12:18-21 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and a smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

seeketh not her own, - Is not selfish, self-centered, is looking out for the best for others, not simply for themself.

is not easily provoked, - Not easily exasperated with others.

Following up on the book of James (which we covered at the Mission last month), love is slow to wrath, slow to be angry or frustrated with others, slow to retaliate or respond in the same manner (leaving vengeance in the Lord's hands). Sometimes it is hard not to react badly when someone is cursing you out or dumping on you (as we sometimes say), but true love tries to react in a Christ-like manner. And, no, that does not mean we never get upset at sin or someone's bad behavior - but we learn more how to bear it and deal with it it a right way that honors the Lord and responds appropriately.

thinketh no evil; - Strong's Concordance: Thinketh: "to take an inventory, i.e. estimate...:--conclude...."
- Strong's: Evil: "worthless (intrinsically such...), that is (subjectively) depraved, or (objectively) injurious:--bad, ...harm[ful], ...wicked."

Of course, love means we should not be thinking wicked or harmful thoughts about/towards others - but I find the definition here interesting. We are not to think of others as "worthless." In this ministry, we have many coming through our doors that no longer feel they are of value to others - YET God considers them of worth, and we should too - if we claim to have love for them.

1 Corinthians 13:6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, - Strong's: Rejoiceth: "to be full of 'cheer',... be glad."
- Strong's: Iniquity: "(legal) injustice (properly, the quality, by implication, the act); morally, wrongfulness (of character, life or act):--iniquity, unjust, unrighteousness, wrong."

Not glad for injustice done to others. There are many in our society, even on the street, that take pleasure when wrong is done to others, when someone is ripped off, when others are treated unfairly (kind of like bullies in school). Part of the definition refers to legal injustice done - we see a lot of that in our world, when a judge lets the wicked off and the righteous or innocent get charged falsely and lose what they have. Love does not rejoice in this!

but rejoiceth in the truth; - Strong's: Rejoiceth: "to sympathize in gladness, congratulate:--rejoice in (with)."
- Strong's: Truth: "true (as not concealing)."

Real love rejoiceth when the truth comes out, when the righteous and the innocent are vindicated. The Lord will right the injustices we face in life - whether now or in eternity.

Psalm 37:5-6 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

1 Corinthians 13:7  Beareth all things, - Strong's: Beareth: "to roof over, i.e. (figuratively) to cover with silence (endure patiently)."

Love covers the sins of others, overlooks them, does not hold them against someone.

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

One of the main themes of the Bible is Christ's atonement for our sins. Atonement means "to cover." Jesus' blood covers the repentant believer's sins and washes them away; therefore, they are no longer held against that believer. Only God's love can do that!

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Psalm 103:10-14 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

believeth all things, - Strong's: Believeth: "to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ)."

How is your walk with the Lord? Are you growing in your faith? Love towards God is believing all that He has said.

hopeth all things, - Hope means "confident expectation."

Loving God is believing and receiving His promises - confidently expecting Him to fulfill them as He is working in your life.

endureth all things. - Strong's: Endureth: "to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere."

Loving the Lord is enduring the trials He allows in your life - knowing every single one of them has a purpose, and one of those purposes is to make you more like your Saviour. Are you trusting in your Heavenly Father - believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things He has planned for you?

1 Corinthians 13:8a  Charity never faileth: - Never: "Not even at any time, i.e. never at all."
- Strong's: Faileth: "to drop away; specially, be driven out of one's course; figuratively, to lose, become inefficient:--...take none effect."

God's love will NEVER, EVER fail! He will ALWAYS fulfill His work in your life. He will NEVER be driven out of course in His plan for you. His love will NEVER lose its power, NEVER become inefficient, NEVER be of no effect in your life.

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, when His love is shed abroad in our hearts and we are actively showing that love to those around us in a Christlike and Biblical manner (emphasis on loving others in a Biblical manner, because there is much fluff in our modern thinking of love), it WILL have a lasting, powerful, transforming effect on others - just as the Lord's love has had a life changing effect on you (if you are His child).

Loving others is in accordance with obeying the Lord and following His Word - ie. loving others is doing right towards them.

1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

2 Peter 1:3-11 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Right now, faith, hope, and charity (love towards God and man) abide - they remain, are lasting, endure. In eternity, faith and hope will be done away with, they will have fulfilled their purpose. There will be no more need for faith, as we will be walking by sight, we will see our Saviour and our saved loved ones face to face. There will be no more need for hope, for confidently expecting the Lord to keep His promises, as we will see the fulfillment of all He has promised and all Bible prophecies come to pass.

However, charity - love towards God and man - will last forever. We will be dwelling in God's presence, worshipping and loving Him, and living in love with our brethren in Christ. Charity will endure forever - no wonder the greatest of these is charity (love)!

1 John 4:16-17 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect (complete), that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Most of us are quite familiar with John 3:16, but how many of us know 1 John 3:16?

1 John 3:16  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Are you thankful for God's love? Have you responded to it by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Are you showing that love to others?

Ah, the love of God - one of my favourite themes, and one of my favorite hymns:

The Love Of God
(Lyrics: Frederick Lehman)

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Chorus:
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Preached October 10th/2010
Written October 11th/2010
Jerry Bouey

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