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 Post Post subject: Devotions - Monday, August 13th, 2007
Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:02 pm 
Catspaw knows all

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Words, words, words. That’s all some people experience. None of us ever want to be accused of being merely a “talker” but often that is what we are, that is what I am, when it comes to the subject of love. Oh, some people are very good at expressing love in action but often it is from a source of duty. That duty always grows thin and it leads to bitterness and anger. Perhaps it would have been better not to love at all than to allow bitterness to grab our hearts.

“Love never fails”. We are often willing to judge other people’s love or lack of it but we are not willing to examine our own condition. We are to love as Jesus loved us, right? Did he only love those who returned his love? Was his love conditional, depending on the response of people? Or is God’s love unconditional and is it with this love that Jesus tells us to love each other as he loved us? Remember this?

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Talk about difficult, wow! Just a couple of things to point out. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Hmmm, this type of love is an indication of sonship. And note this: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What is this perfection? Love.

Okay, let’s bring this into our lives. Perhaps we do not have any enemies. Perhaps we have five minute enemies. What do I mean by that? I mean, what about when we get angry at someone we are supposed to love? What about when a child takes a knife to the living room furniture? Or when they colour all over the new 32” HDTV? Is it unconditional love we feel or is the correction directed by our anger? Anger comes from hatred.

What about when our roommate does the same annoying thing for the 100th time or the spouse refuses to respond as he/she should? What about when our boss demands too much or our pastor disappoints us by his decisions? What about when your staff fail in their duties or any number of a million negative things that would pound against our desire to love?

Now, before we all throw our hands up in the air and give up I want us to consider the only way this is possible. In fact it is the only way anything is possible for Christians. Failure to understand this will relegate us to a terrible image and understanding of God. We slip into this horrible cycle of trying, failing, repenting. The reason is because we try to do everything in our strength. Oh, I know we think we are doing it in the strength of our Lord but then explain the failures? Do you know the reason why the priests were not allowed to wear wool? Because wool makes you sweat. God told them he would not have them perspiring in service to him. Why? When do we first hear of sweat in the Bible? Is it not when the curse is pronounced over Adam? Sweat represents our own effort and there is no good thing in us, in our own effort that we can offer to God. Even love must come from him.

This is the reason why we cannot prevent sin in us. It is the reason it remains so attractive to us. Those of you who are still enslaved, who still are controlled by the power of sin, you need to hear this. Sin is powerful. It is beautiful and destructive all at once. It is a false love. It wants to distract us from the only true love. Why does it still have power when Jesus set us free? The same reason why so many people find church boring, why there is a growing dissatisfaction in the church. It is not the music. Some of the current worship is beautiful love ballads to our God which spring from very sincere hearts that desire to express love to our God. No the problem is not with the songs, it is with us, the singers. It is with our hearts that try to love God in the insincerity of our own love. We can’t love God. We can’t love anyone, not in the degree that God desires.

Then is it all a lie? Words, words, words! Did God lie to us? Has he made it impossible for us, set us up for a fall? Are those impossible words, “Love each other as I have loved you”? Are we all getting frustrated over nothing? No.

The truth is that we are a people who have lost sight of the source of all things. In our desire to please him we have turned everything around. We have lost sight of the source and have made our actions to be the greatest importance, our appearance, our words. We have turned the beautiful thing of holiness into an ugly law and because we cannot live a perfect law, we cannot live a perfect love and we are controlled by our natural nature. We have lost sight of the source.

First:

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

John knew that no one could be healed unless they first recognize their need for healing. An illness cannot be cured without first admitting you are ill. That is what has started me on this journey, the Spirit showed me the condition of my heart and it was ugly. It lacked love. It lacked his love. First, let us recognize our condition. Then:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

We acknowledge that Jesus is that source. He is the only source. He is exactly what we all need. He is the reason for our desire. He is the only satisfaction. Perhaps we have tried to fill that desire with other things, alcohol, work, drugs, sex, people...but he is the only satisfaction that we will ever find for our soul. But knowing this is not enough:

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

Now stop! Wait a second here. Don’t get this backwards. John does not say if we claim to live in him we must walk as Jesus did. It may look that way but look at it careful:

*If anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him.
*This is how we know we are in him:
*Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

It is being in Jesus that makes God’s love complete in us. When this love provokes us to walk as Jesus did then we know we are in him. Living like Jesus does not happen by our effort. It happens naturally when we allow God’s love to be made complete in us; when we fall madly and passionately in love with Jesus. Worship is not a duty; it is an expression of our love. Service is not a duty; it is an expression of our love. Obedience is not a duty; it is an expression of our love. Acts of righteousness are not a duty; they are a delightful expression of our love. Actually, it is God’s love being poured out through us. It is God loving himself through us.

This is why the church has failed for centuries to prevent sin in the world, in the hearts of people. We try to legislate righteousness which is a complete waste of time. We cannot turn a person’s heart by rules or fear. Remember this:

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

The teenaged boy sitting at his computer is not going to avoid certain web sites because of fear. He may for a time but the attractiveness of sin will prove to be too strong. However, if the love of God has been made complete in him, if he has fallen in love with Jesus then he will be too attracted to Jesus to ever be attracted by such a false and ugly love. This is true of anything that tries to take possession of us. Fear will not do it; only love has that kind of power. Only the beauty, the strength of Jesus has that power.

We are liars and manipulators without God’s love made complete in us. We try to scare and manipulate and cause people to feel sorry for us to get what we want. Pastors are some of the worst people at this. There is nothing holy or beautiful or loving about it. It is the complete opposite of God. It is ugly. The Father does not force or manipulate. He has revealed the truth to us and has said, decide. When God’s love is made complete in us this too becomes our attitude. We love without the manipulation. As we accept love from the true Source then we are able to love without receiving love from others because the love of God is more than sufficient to meet our needs. We find we can love the unlovable, we can love our enemies, we correct and rebuke in love.

So again it comes back to the how. How can God’s love be made complete in us?

“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”

We live in him and he in us! We know and rely on the love God has for us! The only way we can be who we have been created to be is to be madly and passionately in love with Jesus, to understand that we are the Bride and to acknowledge the depth of his love for us. We are involved in an incredible dance with the Groom. It is not a static relationship but a vibrant growing together. It requires us to continue falling madly in love with him so that our lives are passionate about our lover. The secret continues to be:

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.”

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

It is so much more than we have ever made it or allowed it to become. The harder I have worked the further from the vine I have grown. In my own life I have allowed my “sweat” to replace God’s love. I have brought my family, my marriage to the brink of disaster. In my zeal in service to my King I have lost sight of his greatest commandments. I have forgotten how to love. Sacrifice is not a problem for me but love is: “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

The Spirit is making me look long and deep at the ugliness of my heart. This is the purpose of my journey. So why have you tagged along?

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”


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