Quiet in His Love

www.bible.com/1713/zep.3.17.csb

This seems like a funny way for God to express His love. In fact, the scholars are a bit divided as to what this means. Some say what is here. God will express His love in quiet ways. Others look to the Greek Septuagint, where it says He will renew His love, or, make His love new again like it was before they had sinned against Him. A third path some suggest is that God’s love will be expressed in such a way that He will be quiet about past transgressions.

This text follows a diatribe about how Israel has sinned against Him and how He is angry with their wickedness. But He longs to restore them and care and nurture them as before. If they would only reach out to Him He would forgive and He would save.

Such a tale could be told today, couldn’t it? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn from our sins and turn back to God? And then once He had taken us back in, He wouldn’t say a word about our transgressions. He would simply be quiet in His love. He would be a place of peace and solace where this world offers only hardship and chaos.

Could we consider His offer as we rise on this Sunday morning? Find that place to rest and find peace in Him today. God bless you.

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Rest Assured

www.bible.com/1713/psa.23.1-2.csb

What do you do to relax? Do you take in a movie? Read a book? Watch your favorite TV program? Maybe you go out with friends, or spend time alone. Regardless of how you recuperate, one thing is certain: you need rest.

Rest is more than sleep. Rest is peace. Rest is comfort. Rest is essential to our function. If we operate continually without rest, we will suffer, both mentally and physically. Are you in a place where you cannot rest?

This Psalm composed by David under the direction of the Holy Spirit tells us about rest. The Lord leads us to rest. If we are to find peace and comfort in this life, it can only be at the direction of the Shepherd. Sheep are willful, fearful things. They wander off, they do what they want, often to their own detriment. It takes a shepherd to lead them to their food and their contentment.

Yes shepherds do this to make a profit. This is how they make their living. Sheep are good for a couple things, making wool and providing meat. Sheep who are well-cared for can provide a shepherd with a good living. He knows what environment makes for sheep that are content. And he does his best to provide it. When David and Jesus apply this model to people, they aren’t taking about the profit, but the care and relationship between sheep and Shepherd. God doesn’t need anything. And there is nothing we have to offer Him that will give Him profit. God cares for us because He made us. We are His children. He loves us because He made us with His own hands. But rather than act like men, we often act like sheep.

Do you wander off and try to find your own way? You will find no rest that way. Do you seek to make yourself the center of your life? There’s no rest there either. God offers the rest of the comfort of the Father’s arms wrapped around you.

My wife showed me a video yesterday of a returning serviceman greeting his young son after a long absence. The young boy’s reaction was predictable, but precious. As soon as he recognized him, the young boy fiercely hugged his father. In front of all of his peers, as this was filmed at a school, the boy forgot everyone else. His father was all that mattered in that moment. His father’s embrace was no less. Do you long for that love? That’s the rest that our Father calls us to. That’s the embrace of heaven on the first day.

Are you longing for rest today? Spare a moment with your father. Enjoy the embrace of His love for you, even as the Father for the Prodigal. “Prepare the fatted calf! This son of mine was dead, and is now alive!” Experience the joy and rest of the Father, no longer a Judge of your sins, but Redeemer of your soul.

Enter thou the joy and rest of thy Lord.

Love Challenge

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.44.csb

I would rather be challenged to love those I already love more. I know how they will respond and it will strengthen us. But this is not that challenge.

When Jesus teaches this in the Sermon on the Mount, He is talking to the people of Galilee and more importantly, His disciples. He is challenging them to express love towards a group that they would ordinarily avoid: their enemies.

Enemies can be one of two kinds, personal and impersonal. Personal enemies are people you know with whom you may have once been friends, but have had a falling out. You may have good reasons for your animus, and they might too. But these are faces you know and respond with revulsion.

Impersonal enemies are those you don’t know personally, but hate who they are anyway, be it politics, religion, authority or some other very good reason. Many people hate Trump, but very few know him. They hate what he stands for and the things he says, though he has not done anything personal to them.

And then there is the word used here for “love”. While Jesus probably didn’t speak Greek (but Aramaic), a special Greek Word is employed here to get across His meaning. As the Apostle Matthew records it, Jesus says we ought to agape our enemies, to love with respect and honor, even to the point of sacrifice of necessary. That is the most powerful love imaginable, because that’s how God loved us.

While we were enemies, God demonstrated His own love for us by sending His Son, who died for our sins. We who were enemies of God, were loved lavishly by Him. O the grace and love we have been given. May God never ceased to be praised for His marvelous gift!

So we who have been so lavishly loved. Now we must give that same love to our enemies. We must extend the same love given to us unto others. That is the challenge today. Not to those who will love us back, but to those who may not.

How will you show this love today? Can you? For it is the unique test of the Christian to show love in gratitude for the love showed to him. If we cannot share that love, then we haven’t really understood it.

God bless you in your walk today!

Future Love

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.14.21.csb

Does it trouble anyone that Jesus promises love to those who obey Him in this verse? The love of the Father and the Son are both placed in the future for the one who keeps the commands of the Lord, rather than the present. The one who loves will he loved. Hmmm.

Now I have other Scriptures, like Romans 5:8 that say God loved us do much and proved that Love by sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. I have John 3:16, same book, where Jesus says God loved the world before He sent His Son, so I am not worried about not being loved. It’s just that this verse places obedience and our own love for Him as necessary prerequisites for His love for us. Out of context this would be troubling. In context it tells me that additional love awaits me for my obedience and love for God. A father loves all his children, but he also has extra love for those on the same page as he is, who share his interests and pursuits.

My children tell me all the things they are interested in. I can follow some of their conversation. I find myself more drawn when they are talking about things I am interested in. It’s human nature. When my children and I share a common interest, I find extra enjoyment sharing it with them.

I believe God loves all of his children equally, proof being Christ Jesus. But I believe He likes spending time with those who share His interests. Those who by their obedience to His commands and love Him in return find themselves loved by Him even more. This is something that I would not understand if I was not a father myself.

What can you and God do together today? What are the things that interest God? And would we be pleased to do the things that bring Him joy?

If you have kids, you know that one thing they like to do, when they are young, is bring you their artwork. I feel like we do that with God, because we want to feel His approval. But our artwork is satisfying what she has told us to do, so that we might present Him ourselves. We don’t do this to earn His love, but because He loves us first. He only loves us more.

Put your stock in this future love. Look for opportunities today to please your Father, and He will love you more.

God bless you today.

What Love the Father Holds for Us

www.bible.com/1713/mic.7.18.csb

I cannot conceive of this love. It is too powerful, too awesome for me to comprehend. It is an overwhelming love, such that I’ve felt from anyone. No human love, not even mother to child, can compare with this love. For this is God’s love for His creation. He enfolds it and envelops it in His Being. He is Love. He inhabits His love. We benefit from this love daily. How great the Father’s love for us, for it is beyond all measure.

On this day of worship, I want to encourage you in your walk. No matter what you are going through, what trials you face, what heartbreak you experience and still labor to be free from, God still loves you with an everlasting faithful love. He holds you in His arms. You are not enduring this pain and suffering alone, but that your Father holds you close. We have but to open our eyes to Him and feel the warmth He brings to our soul. God loves you more than anything, more than the majestic stars and galaxies, more than the heavenly host. He loves you as He loves His own Son, because you are His child. We are co-heirs with Christ.

My kids introduced me to “Rick-roll”-ing yesterday. But Rick Atchley’s famous song is descriptive of God’s love for us. Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. 😁

Love you all. God bless you today.

True Love

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.15.13.csb

What is true love for you? There is the romantic ideal of popular media that true love is the one who is your soul mate, the one who speaks your love language and is devoted completely to you and you to them. It includes the ideas of honesty, loyalty, passion and truth. This is often touted as the greatest kind of love. But, . . .

Jesus has something different to say. There is no greater love that one who lays down his life for his friends. I don’t want to disagree with the Lord on this one, it I also remember Romans 5:8, where the love of the Father was demonstrated in this: while we were still enemies, Christ died for us. I might argue that this kind of love is greater still. And perhaps in league with these is this from John 3:16, for God so loved the world (friends and enemies) that He sent His own uniquely-begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him does not perish, but have eternal life. Which is these is the truest love?

We find that true love, while experienced in the small scale between couples always involves sacrifice and exclusion. We exclude all other from this relationship. That’s what makes it true and faithful. We devote to one another our time, talk, listening and effort to make it work. That is sacrifice. And so it must be so in the greater love. We are exclusive in our relationship with God. We take time and effort, talk and listening, sacrificing as He did to make it work.

Do you have this true love with the Father? Do you love Jesus? I encourage you to make it a true love, not shadowed by devotion to other gods, but true alone to God. (Yes, loving your spouse and your family is included, and every other relationship that honors God) God loves you so much He have the Greatest Gift He possesses. What do you have to give?

God bless you today.

Sacrificial Love

www.bible.com/1713/eph.5.1-2.csb

Many talk about love, but fewer experience it. Men are often mocked for refusing to say “I love you” to their ladies because that leads to marriage. The idea goes that women are more likely to tell their significant others that they love them, while their male counterparts hesitate. There is truth here, for love is a powerful word with powerful implications. To love, as a man would understand it, is commitment. Commitment is sacrifice. For a man who isn’t ready to “settle down” commitment carries a great deal more weight.

Our text today brings with it that same weighty commitment, for to love as God’s child is to love as Christ loved. Jesus loves everyone. How do we know this? He died so that everyone might live. He gave His most precious commodity, His own blood, for the benefit of those He loved. This was not a flippant “love you!” cast at someone’s back. This was a fully committed “till death do us part” kind of love.

So the command is clear. If we are to be children of love, walking in love, serving the One who loved us, then our love must imitate His. Our love must be real, not fake. If we show this love to one another, it matters what we say to each other. It matters how we treat each other. If we love, it must cost us something: our time, our effort, and our right to be right among other things.

If you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, and coming up empty, don’t give up. Jesus loves you like this. His people do too. I encourage you to keep looking until you find it.

God bless you today.