Monday, September 6, 2010

"Loving Well"

First of all, I must say that from beginning to end, this is not my material. I have been reminded of a lesson this morning that I simply must share. I have been listening to a recording of Water’s Edge Sunday School class and Beth Moore’s teaching on the book of Romans - specifically, this morning, on Romans chapter 5. I say “reminded” because a few years ago, I heard this teaching in greater depth through a video series by Beth entitled “Loving Well”. That said, let these truths from the Word of God resonate in your heart and mind…

By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. Christ has also introduced us to God’s undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with His love. (Romans 5:1-5 CEV)

Okay, so here are some things that we need to understand about the love of God. First, 1 John 4:16 & 18 tell us that, God is love. We tend to define the love of God by human frames of reference. For us, love is an emotion and a choice. We either feel love or we choose to love but God IS love. We must grasp the ramifications of this. Love is the character of who God is. Just like there is nothing that I can do to alter the fact that God is All-Powerful or that He is All-Knowing, there is absolutely nothing that I can do that can change Who God is! God is love. I am not that good of sinner, that big of a screw-up that can make Him stop being love! Let that sink in!

Just in case that isn’t enough for you, Romans 8:35, 38-39 says, Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? … nothing can separate us from God’s love – not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Do you know why this is so important to come to grasp? Proverbs 19:22a (NIV) tells us, what a man desires is unfailing love. God created us that way. The Hebrew word translated here as desire is “ta-avah.” It could be defined as the “longing of one’s heart.” ( Strong’s 8378) The longing of your heart is to know that someone loves you unconditionally - that no matter what, someone will be there to love you. Think of the messes that we get ourselves into trying to find that kind of love or medicate the fact that we haven’t found it and received it. God tells us that He has “poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV)

Now, are you ready for this? Our capacity to receive the love of God is set by us. There is no shortage of love being poured out to fill our hearts. The real question is how much of your heart are you giving God as a reservoir? Satan whispers of how selfish it would be to sit each morning and just listen to, read, celebrate, delight in how much God loves you. God can’t wait to tell you! The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV). God wants nothing more than for you to begin each day by sitting with Him and marveling in His great love for you. He wants to quiet your fears with His love. Reread the passage at the top of this page (Romans 5:1-5 CEV). He wants to remind you (by His love) that you have been made acceptable to Him. He wants you to remember that Christ has made it possible for you to live at peace with Him. He wants you to take your stand on the fact that Christ brings that undeserved kindness. He wants you to be happy as you look forward to sharing in the glory of God. But that’s not all! He wants you to realize that because He loves you, you can even gladly endure the suffering in this life and the character of Christ that this produces in you. He wants you to have that hope because it will never disappoint you! And you know what? There’s more…

1 John 4:19 says that we love because God first loved us. The thing about that is that we tend to understand it this way, we love God because God first loved us. That is not the context of the passage. It’s not just God we love but we love others because God first loved us. If I believe the depths of God’s love for me and receive it and allow it to fill the vast reservoir of my heart, I will be able to love others as Christ wants me to. I will be free, enabled, to love others no matter the circumstances because I do not need them to fill my love tank. It’s already been filled. Profound!

Romans 8 (see verses 5-6) says this, People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. You want to know the secret for living a life that honors Christ? Really believe and receive His unfailing love. Allow Him to satisfy the longing of your heart. Spend your life trying to fathom the depths of His love.

Like the apostle Paul, I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).


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