After entering into the gifts of Grace and Faith (Eph 2:8), we begin to learn the most important attribute of God—His love! As time progresses we eventually realize that all is contained in and by His love, which makes it the center point of concentration concerning everything eternal, and that the learning of understanding its expression will doubtless be unending.
Steps in Love
The great turning point in the history of a saint is when he becomes consciously an object of divine love. Mercy and goodness are often apprehended long before there is any true knowledge of love. The perfectness of redemption may be known with clarity and certainty, and all the common difficulties and exercises of a convicted sinner may find such an answer that the conscience is at peace, and the heart may not have yet found its perfect rest in divine love.
It is well when our hearts learn to put things in this order—“who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Many know the Lord Jesus as an infinite Benefactor, and are deeply grateful to Him for what He has done, without having realized that all has been the outflow of His measureless and everlasting love. In such cases there is no true response to His heart (in comparison to the degree in which we eventually learn—NC), and He looks in vain for the answering affection which the knowledge of His love would kindle.
This love-awakening is a wonderful epoch in the saint’s history, and by this I mean not conversion or peace, but the first consciousness of being loved by the Son of God. To know Him in the greatness of His Person—in the brightness of the Father’s throne—supreme in heavenly glory—and to know that there is a living link of inconceivable love between Him and me! Such knowledge as this revolutionizes the affections; throws the dim and worthless, though often cherished, idols of the earth into the shade to which they properly belong and makes heaven supremely attractive because of the One who is there!
But this does not come all at once. It seems to me that there are three distinct steps in the appreciation of His love. First, I learn that He loves me so much that He has saved me. I survey all His grace to me as a vile sinner—I consider His amazing work—my soul explores the vast range of its blessing—and I see it all as the outflow of His personal love for me. This kindles the heart, and sets it all aglow with responsive affection. “My Beloved is mine” becomes the rapturous utterance of the soul. His love kindles the heart which is filled to overflowing with a sense of what it has got in Him. The thought of Him is uppermost. He is the soul’s treasure, and it is the heart’s delight to think of Him in His all-varied excellence and beauty.
The second step of affection is the consciousness that He loves me so much that He has a right to me. All believers will admit this, but it is another thing to reach it in affection. I may acknowledge the right of the Lord Jesus to command me—he would be a strange Christian who would not—but this does not bring in any power if I do not reach it in affection. His Lordship is not a measure of duty or responsibility alone; it is a claim acquired by love and gladly rendered in love. “I am my Beloved’s” (Sng 6:3; 7:10). He would have me for Himself. When this love is known it produces true devotedness (desired obedience instead of obligatory obedience—NC), and maintains the heart in liberty.
The third step is the consciousness that He loves me so much that He wants my company. “His desire is towards me” (Sng 7:10). Love’s delight is found in the company of its object, it is to secure this that He acts as our Priest—lifting us above the pressure here that we may join Him in the sanctuary. To this end He is presented to us by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and all true ministry, that our hearts may be drawn away from the place where He is not to the scene of His exaltation and glory. He yearns for our company. His love delights to share with us the joys of that blessed realm—to make us familiar with the Father’s presence even now—in a word, to have us near Himself. May we know in a deeper way the sweetness of personal intimacy with “the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
— C A Coats (1862-1945)
MJS devotional excerpt for March 18:
“Bridge the gaps! A bridge means something—generally a life laid down. The very simplest bridge, a plank thrown across a stream, was once part of a tree standing erect, sapping life from the earth, and beautifying all the area around it. Now it is dead, but perhaps saves other lives; anyway it helps to make others useful, and is content to push others on, unnoticed, unthanked. ‘Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not,’ just be a bridge. It is so simple. See that others are placed on the right track with God through the Lord Jesus. When they get there, they will not thank you, will never look back probably at the bridge; but the Great Architect will know and love and care.” -E.W.
God has called every man for a specific purpose, you didn't just see it coming, you'd never expected it to come that way. God uses the foolish things in life to call us into the path He has set for us. An angel or even Jesus might appear to a man, but that actually isn't his call, it was only meant to keep his heart fixed in a vision that God is more interested in him.
Many don't like the situation "trial." Our call, begins actually from a place of trial, because it is through prayers we are then built in intimacy in God, in other for that which had been hid in God concerning us to be unveiled. Every trial you've faced in life was a call from God, when God allows the devil to tempt a man or when God tries a man, He actually wants Him to pray the more, not necessarily to come out of that situation, but in reality, God wants to restore such a man back into the path He has originally set before Him. We all began In a wrong path, our will, until you get off that path God will never have any business with you.
When you're faced with trials, you'll have to be wise to tarry in prayers without being weary or in doubt. When that trial comes, you'll begin to pray at first, not in God's will, but yours, ( your selfish will ) because you want God to deliver you from it. You want God to deliver you from it all, but you don't yet know what God wants in reality, "His will." That trial is the trigger of your greatness in eternity and partly in life. God is more interested in building you eternally, because you are His building stone, a block in His building.
When you begin to pray for God to Have His way in that situation, He won't answer you at first, He'll cause you to tarry there in prayers for months. Here, if you doubt God, you'll only increase the time duration, or if you find other means, you've cut yourself off completely from God's calling. As you tarry in prayers, you must be faithful, never doubting, for God is making His own way, not yours. Eventually, months will pass by, it might seems God's no longer hearing you. Meanwhile, what you don't know is that, when God seems silent, a season of silence in God is the moment God wants to decide your future in eternity. if you're wise you'll continue, but if you're not, you'll stop in your prayers or grumble against God, because all you care about is flesh and not God's will.
If you're wise then, your prayers will be controlled by the holy spirit, no longer to pray for deliverance, but rather, you'll naturally find yourself praying God's will, and what is God's will? " Intimacy."
You'll then have a new heart which says;
" Lord! I don't care any more, let your will be done, it doesn't matter where my future ends up, but let your will be done."
If you can be faithful in this, this is where prayers in the dimension of intimacy comes in. When the season of planting is over, then the harvest will come and God will not only deal with that problem, rather He'll reveal Himself to you and that which he has created and designed you for.
There you have it, the mystery of God's calling in a man's life. I believe with this, many will become wiser by the spirit of wisdom and invest more in prayers, not for anything, but for God's will, " Intimacy."
Intimacy then, reveals all that is to be revealed hid in God as we Journey deeper in Him.
The more one enters into understanding (via the Spirit and His Word) the presence of the enmity God has placed between believers and unbelievers (chiefly between Christ and His, and Satan and his, which are unbelievers - Gen 3:15), the more potential there is for the tendency of loneliness, due to that fact that there will always be less of the former in comparison of the latter (Mat 7:13, 14).
Little is it realized but truly it is so, that only those who are believers are literally connected with many others, which includes the Sovereign Trinity and all who are reborn now in heaven and still on earth! Knowing and understanding this is a significant enablement against vulnerability to loneliness. Sadly though, this also means that unbelievers are not connected to any other single soul—in heaven nor on earth—which makes it a big universe in which to be alone.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of blessing others. Despite being unfairly treated by the Pharisees and even His own people, Jesus reached out to those in need of God's unconditional love and compassion. How did He respond when He was insulted? 1 Peter 2:23a (NIV) states, "When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate..." What did He do when He was paying our sin debt on the cross? How did He handle the suffering and the intense pain? 1 Peter 2:23b (NIV) states, "...when He suffered, He made no threats." In fact, He prayed. What? He prayed for the people who had Him crucified. But, what was His prayer like? Did He pray for God to destroy the people. No. He simply said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34, NKJV).
How can we be like Jesus in the sense of blessing others, especially those individuals who don't like us? In His Sermon on the Mount, He addresses this issue. In Matthew 5:43 (KJV), He says, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy." It was probably a widespread rumor that the proper response to an enemy was hatred. That is to say, if the enemy hates you, you hate him/her in return. Yet, Jesus states in Matthew 5:44 (KJV), "But I say unto you, Love your enemies..." This is a 180-degree turn from the rumored response. Love our enemies? How are we supposed to do that? Jesus provides us with three specific ways to love our enemies.
(1) Bless individuals who curse you. Again, we see that we are to be a blessing. Even when people say or do bad things to us (curse us), our first response should be to bless those people in some way.
(2) Do good to individuals who hate you. There are some people who simply do not like us because we are followers of Jesus Christ. To paraphrase 1 John 3:13, "Do not be surprised if the world (referring to individuals who do not know Jesus Christ) hates you." Jesus states in John 15:18 (KJV), "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." Our response to a world that hates us is simply doing good to those who are of the world. We let our lights shine before them (see Matthew 5:16) even though they try to suffocate us with their darkness.
(3) Pray for people who despitefully use you and persecute you. Has Jesus suddenly become absurd? Of course not! Praying for people who hate us to the point of hurting us (physically, mentally, and/or emotionally) is the most effective response. What should we pray? We should pray that the individuals who persecute us will experience God's grace like we have when we got saved. So, instead of getting even with an enemy, we may be able to gain a brother or sister in Christ.
In Matthew 5:45 (KJV), Jesus states the reason why we are to love our enemies: that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven. As children of God, we are to imitate Him and walk in love (see Ephesians 5:1, 2). This means that we are to bless the individuals He blesses and to do good to people whom He does good. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:46, 47 that it is easy to love those who love us, but the real reward comes when we love people who do not love us. As Jesus clearly points out in Matthew 5:48 (KJV), "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." The word perfect means "complete". What Jesus is saying is that we are to be a blessing to everyone we encounter and love each person as God loves him/her.
May God bless you today and every day and be sure to be a blessing to others!
In a previous three-part blog, I discussed how God wants to bless us and shared many of the blessings God bestows on us. Among these blessings was His ultimate blessing of His Son Jesus Christ. In this blog, I will answer the question, "Why does God want to bless us?" An obvious answer would be, "Because He loves us." Yes, this is true. But, I believe there is another reasonable answer. God wants to bless us because He wants us to bless others.
Zechariah 8:13 (NKJV) states in part, "...so I (God) will save you, and you shall be a blessing." God saved us by His grace for the purpose of working in, with, and through us to be a blessing to other people. As Philippians 2:13 (KJV) states, "For it is God which worketh (not the -eth ending) in [us] both to will and to do of His good pleasure." This means that God is continually at work in us to give us the desire and the ability to do His will. Part of God's will for us is to be a real blessing to people. What a great reason for filling us with His Holy Spirit!
The first part of 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV) states, "Do not repay evil for evil, insult for insult..." Repaying someone evil for evil means that when that person does something bad to us, we get even with that person in some way. Often I am tempted to repay evil for evil when I am driving and another driver cuts me off, passes me on the double line, or runs a red light the moment my light turns green. The temptation is to confront this idiotic individual and let him know how stupid I think they are. But, what's the point in doing all that? All that would do is fuel negative emotions and possibly lead to violence. Therefore, the best course of action would be to let the driver move on without incident (at least, that is what my mother tells me to do).
Rendering insult for insult is quite a different matter. I am sure you have heard that phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (insults) will never harm me." If we are truly honest, names and labels do hurt. I have been called many insulting names because of my height (I am 5 foot 1 1/4 inches tall). I have also been ridiculed for having a mild form of autism (Asperger's Syndrome). Despite the name-calling and the ridicule, I remind myself that God loves me no matter what.
So, how are we to respond when someone does something bad to us or mislabel us? The second part of 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV) answers this question quite well: with blessing. Say what? Yes, we are to do or say something good even when we are mistreated. But, why are we supposed to respond with blessing. The reason is also included in this verse: because to this you were called. We are called to bless others even though they insult us.
In the next part of this blog, I will relate how Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of blessing others and how we can follow His example in being a blessing to others.