The Love of God

by: Bruce Cook

This article is about love, for you see, Life could not exist with out love.

The choice of what to love, and what to reject in the world is what the Bible is all about in one form or another, when we read the Bible we are always reminded of our choices between doing things our way and directing our ways to God's design for all of us. Our way might be to do things in a comfortable worldly fashion without paying much attention to God's plan at all.

If we love God first, we will find that we will be able to love others as we should. We need to remember that:
Love is a commandment.
Love is a choice we make.
Love is a commitment we keep.
Love is a concern we have and love is primarily a desire to give to another that which God would want them to have.

One way of looking at God's plan for us is to look at it through the eyes of love. It is love that binds us to God, one to another, and the material things in this world. It is not love that binds us to everyone and everything that we come in contact with. Love indeed creates a bond. We say I love coffee, I love coca cola, I love to go to the ocean, I love to go to church, I love the way she wears her hair or clothes, I love the way she treats me. And we could go on and on illustrating that we use love as a bond between ourselves and the people and things around us. On the other hand when we use the word hate, we indicate a gap. We indicate a pulling away, we indicate disassociation, we indicate a rift.

Harmony brings us together and initiates the motivation of love, which is good. Hate on the other hand, results in deeds adverse to the good of all creation, and thus it destroys creation. Again I say that life could not exist without love. God radiates love, and makes it possible for life to exist at all. We as human beings can choose to love, and grow as human beings, or we can choose hate and destroy the world and other human beings with it. Love and compassion are gifts from God that are offered to everyone. We are to practice them and perfect them.

Chapter 3 of 1st John, Verses 11-18 make it perfectly clear that one of the Most important characteristics most essential to a Christian life and a Christian church is love. It is not hard for God to love, but it is impossible, given His nature for Him not to love. We are also told in 1 John 4:19 " We love because He first loved us.

Author Victor Hugo: Wrote, “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.” We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake. Loves contrary is malice, and its simple absence is indifference.

Love is not the same thing as desire. I may desire something without even wishing it well, such as cookies and ice cream.

Through out the whole Bible, the supreme message of the Bible is that God loves us. And as an individual or a church we have the opportunity to share love with others and to receive love in return. When we know and believe that God loves us in a sacrificial way this enables us to love others sacrificially. Loving other people the way God loves us is not easy. We don't always make it easy for God or other people to love us - We all have our moments when we can be difficult. God's love is amazing and unchanging, and God's love sets us free from sin and shame and brokenness. 1 John 3:16 says: We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us - and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 14 times we are told in the New Testament to "Love one another."

Loving one another by laying down our lives is shown in less dramatic, more worldly, every day little things in how we treat people. Loving one another is shown in being kind, forgiving, listening, protecting and strengthening. There are many ways to demonstrate love in a church including the most basic, how we interact and treat and speak to one another, including going out of our way to greet and talk with new comers and guests to help them feel welcome. Loving one another in the same way Jesus loves us is a sign of authentic discipleship.

John Swift wrote many years ago, and is still sadly true today, that we have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

We all need God's help to love.

In his book "Life after God" Douglass Coupland writes. My secret is that I need God. That I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, Because I no longer seem capable of giving, to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness, to help me love, as I seem to be beyond being able to love.

We all need God to help us love, because without God's love in our hearts we will prove ourselves utterly incapable of loving others as Jesus does. And the cost of failing to express love, whether verbally or non-verbally can be devastating. Perhaps that is why a poet wrote the following poem:

If ever you are ever going to love me,
Love me now, while I can know
The sweet and tender feeling
Which from true affections flow.

Love me now while I am living.
Do not wait until I am gone
And then have it chiseled in marble,
Sweet words on ice cold stone.

If you have tender thoughts of me,
Please tell me now.
If you wait until I am sleeping, never to awaken,
There will be death between us,
And I wont hear you then.

So if you love me even a little bit,
Let me know it while I am living
So I can treasure it.

There are many practical ways to express love and as Gary Chapman says, we each have love languages that mean more to us than others. He suggests that, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts and physical touch are five love languages we can use to express love to others. Which of these means the most to you? It is worth finding out as we seek to love others. 1 John 4:12 says, "If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us."

Love never ends, Love is the gift that lives on because the power of love is so transforming.

There is a favorite story told by Rev. Douglas Scalise about a student as a reminder how one never knows the whole story behind each student or each teacher. Teddy Stallard certainly qualified as "one of the least" disinterested in school, musty, wrinkled clothes, hair never combed, one of those kids with an expressionless, glassy, unfocused stare.

When Miss Thompson spoke to Teddy in her 5th grade class, he always gave one-syllable answers. Unattractive, unmotivated, and distant, he was plain hard to like.

Even though his teacher said she loved everyone in her class the same, down deep inside she wasn't being completely truthful. When ever she marked Teddy's paper, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of putting X's next to the wrong answers, and when she put F's at the top of the papers, she always did it with flair. She should have known better, she had Teddy's records and she knew more about him than she wanted to admit. The records read:

First Grade: Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but poor home situation.

Second Grade: Teddy could do better. Mother seriously ill. He receives little help at home.

Third Grade: Teddy is a good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.

Fourth Grade: Teddy is very slow but well behaved, his father shows little interest.

Christmas came and the boys and girls in Miss Thompson's class brought her Christmas presents. They piled their presents on her desk and crowded around to watch her open them. Among the presents there was one from Teddy Stallard. She was surprised that he had brought her a gift, but he had. Teddy's gift was wrapped in brown paper and was held together with scotch tape. On the paper was written the simple words, " For Miss Thompson from Teddy."

When she opened Teddy's present, out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing, and a little bottle of cheap perfume. The other boys and girls began to giggle and snicker over Teddy's gift, but Miss Thompson at least had enough sense to silence them by immediately putting on the bracelet and putting some perfume on her wrist. Holding her wrist up for the other children to smell, she said, doesn't it smell lovely? And the children taking their cue's from their teacher, readily agreed with oohs and aahs.

At the end of the day when school was over and the other children had left, Teddy lingered behind, He slowly came over to her desk and said, Miss Thompson-Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother - and her bracelet looks real good on you too. I'm glad you liked my presents. When Teddy left Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her.

The next day when the children came to school, a new teacher welcomed them. Miss Thompson had become a different person. She was no longer just a teacher; she had become an agent of God. She was now a person committed to loving her children and doing things for them that would live on after her. She helped all the children, but especially the slow ones, and especially Teddy Stallard. By the end of that school year Teddy showed dramatic improvement. He had caught up with most of the students and was even ahead of some.

Miss Thompson didn't hear from Teddy for a long time after he finished fifth grade. Then one day she received a note that read. "Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class. Love Teddy Stallard

Four years later, another note came. Dear Miss Thompson, They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The University has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Teddy Stallard

And four years later - Dear Miss Thompson, as of today I am Theodore Stallard M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I wanted you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were here alive. You are the only family I have now. Dad died last year. Love Teddy Stallard

Miss Thompson went to that wedding and sat where Teddy's mother would have sat. She deserved to sit there, she had loved Teddy in a way he could never forget.

Rev. Dr. Linner E, Carnes: Gal. 1:13-15

The love of Jesus Christ is what truly transforms the human heart. This is the love that God pours into our hearts, and we in turn love God and Jesus, and others as well. The love that conquers sin and wipes our shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies, it patches broken dreams and utterly changes the world, one life at a time. When we let God love us, we will have love to share with others. We don't love others because they are lovable, anymore than Christ loved us because we are lovable. If we love only those we feel deserve our love we'll never get around to showing others Christ love. Love others because God loves you. Every time we choose Christ's way, rather than the world's way, the light of Christ in us shines a lot brighter. And when Christ's light is shining in us, just like a candle, "It will give its light to everyone in the room. It is not selective, it shines for all, it includes all, and that's the way love is. Love reaches out to do good to all people, even the unlovable.

We Christians are called to show others Christ's love. Don't just talk faith-Don't just talk hope - Don't just talk of goodness - Don't just talk of God - Show me! Show me with your love. Jesus said that it is by our love for others that people will know we are his disciples. Can people really tell by your words, your attitudes, your actions, your love that you are filled with the Spirit of Christ.

Galatians 5:13 -14 says, For brethren ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another, For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. We as individuals may put limits upon ourselves as to how, or if, we will receive or give love. But true love has no limits. It is the application of love or lack of application of love that puts limits on it.

Proverbs 10:12 tells us that hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions. Only love can overcome and solve our fears and hatreds, and allow us to forgive.

Evil is self-destructing, but Love repairs and builds.

1st. John Chapter 4 tells us much about love, verse 7 says friends let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Verse 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, Because God is love.

Verse 11 Friends since God loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Verse 12 No man has ever seen God: but if we love one another, God lives in us and this love is made complete in us.

Verse 19 We love because He first loved us.

Deep down inside, all of us desperately want to be loved.

Ernest Hemingway wrote a story once about a father and his teenage son. In the story, the relationship had become somewhat strained, and the teenage son ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of that rebellious son. Finally, in Madrid Spain, in a last desperate attempt to find the boy, the father put an ad in the local newspaper. The ad read, "Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you, father." The next day, in front of the newspaper office, 800 "Pacos" showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness. They all wanted to know that their father loved them. Love us a very powerful thing.

Did you know that love makes a person actually begin to grow physically more lovely? Psychologists tell us that this is true, that the excitement of being in love increases your heart rate so that your face glows, your lips more red, and those circles under your eyes actually become less noticeable. Heightened emotions of love cause your pupils to dilate, so that your eyes look brighter and clearer. That’s the power of love.

God did not create us out of need. He created us out of His love. C. S. Lewis once said, " God who needs nothing loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. But the furthest extent of God's love was not even so much in His decision to create us. It was seen when we disobeyed Him and became sinful and unlovely and He chose to love us still.

Paul tells us in Romans 5 that "While we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” God demonstrated His own love for us in this. That while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.

But do we ever take the time to stop to think about how much He Loves us? Do we really know how much he loves and cares about us? Let me ask you this question. Could you give up your son or even your daughter, or maybe even your grandchild to die on a cross for the sins of the homosexuals, rapists, murderers, child molesters, abortionists, thieves and all other sinners in the world? Think about it could you really do it? I can't even begin to imagine trying to make a decision like that. But God did when He gave up His Son to die on that cross for all of our sins, and He did it for each one of us. What a tremendous love this is, His agape love.

Aren't we fortunate that we don't have to pass the test like Abraham did with Isaac in I Gen. 22:2 when God said. "Take your son your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah, sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.

You all know the rest of the story, but how many of us would or could even take the test, let alone pass it.

The next time someone tells you or you read that God loves you, STOP! Think about it, and try to drink it all in and understand just how deep His love for you really is. That He gave His only begotten Son to die on that cross for your sins and mine. So how much do you love God in return?

How much do you love your Spouse, children and family? Do you love your neighbor or co-worker? God's love is the greatest and most perfect love of all.

Let me close by saying this, if you have never felt the joy of loving someone, or feel that no one loves you, draw near to God, study the bible and see how much he loves you and wants you to love him in return, and watch the change that will take place in you life.

However, if you do not, or will not accept His love you automatically accept His wrath at judgment by the law and order angels that punish sinners that have not repented. So please don't let this happen to you.

Accept His love and love Him in return, you will be glad you did. May God bless you as He has me.

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