“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The God of love and companionship

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” (Jn. 17:24).

In this most private communion we hear the real Jesus. He had said some tough things to the religious leaders and even to His disciples, but back of it all was love, the love we hear in this pivotal thought.

Father, I wish that My friends could be with Me. I want more than anything for them to be with Me. Oh, how I would like them to be with Me! My deepest yearning is for them to be with Me. I would love to have them with Me forever. Father, please make this happen. I’m going to leave them. They must remain in a world hostile to the friendship they have in Me. I don’t want to lose them. My love meant so much to them. They were the only ones who loved Me back. They were the only ones who believed what I shared. They were the only ones who received what I taught them of You. They and I have a bond that no one else on earth has with Me. You gave them to Me.

“I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word….

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.

And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.

And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (Jn.17:6,9-12).

“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37). The Father gave them to His Son; He wedded them to His only Begotten; He welded them to His side. They saw Christ and trusted in His holy love. “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:40).
But, not everyone had a heart ready to receive Him. To them He had to give the warning, “But I said unto you, That ye also have seen Me, and believe not.” (Jn. 6:36).

What did they not see in Him? The Messiah? The Lawgiver, one like Moses? Did they not see Shiloh? Did they not see the Lamb of God as John had announced with great animation? No, they saw Joseph’s son, the poorest of the poor, and the least significant of all the Jews. Even in the face of His lessons that no one had ever heard before, things deeper than Solomon’s, things that enthralled His friends, the religious leaders could not see in Him anything extraordinary. To them He was a fraud, a low-life, a friend of publicans and sinners, the scum of the earth.

Love did not control their minds. Their sight was selfish and self-centered. Therefore, He had to expose their hearts. “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.” (Jn. 5:42). Nevertheless, He rejoiced in His many friends who would do anything for Him.

“And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto Him of their substance. And when much people were gathered together, and were come to Him out of every city…” (Lk. 8:1-4).

He had many friends.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them. And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.” (Matt. 4:23-25).

But He chided with the leaders because He wanted their friendship too. “Provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24) was His purpose behind all the strong language. He loved those wealthy religionists as much as the publicans and sinners, the downtrodden and the poor. He wanted to love them all and see them all at peace together. Like a mother hen, He longed for the day that His friends and His enemies would all see eye to eye and help each other with their unique gifts. “For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” (Eph. 2:14).

These friends of His were true, die-hard friends. He could say things that they were completely OK with, things we might question because we haven’t quite yet known the tightness of bond with Him that they had. “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (Jn. 15:14).

Jesus wasn’t making an ultimatum. He was simply stating a reality that goes with every close friendship. Friends do everything together. When one within a large friendship begins to draw away and not do what the one says whose love drew them all into one group, then that person isn’t being a true friend or member of the group.

I met a woman who is very vivacious and loving. Hospitality and welcome race through her veins, and always have. Since she can remember, she always had people gravitate to her, and her family consisted of her own children born to her and their friends. She had many adopted children, kids who adopted her as their other mother. And they are very respectful of her and her wishes. They “do whatsoever [she] command[s].” Now she is moving to another state, and some of her friends are uprooting and moving with her! She has proven her love to them, and they can’t get enough of it.

Jesus loved multitudes. He never met a stranger. He had thousands of friends. Amazing love! How can it be!

There is an odd thing about love—it doesn’t grow weaker with increasing demands. This is because love is spiritual. Love is eternal. It’s not like when you put a drop of black food coloring into a cup of water and watch it turn the water blue or red or yellow. The color in the drop was so concentrated that it looked as dark as the color black. But, when spread out into a larger volume, it weakened in hue and the true color came out. If dropped into an even larger volume, say a ten gallon aquarium, the red or yellow would become so pale as to be hardly noticeable.

This is because food coloring is material, corporeal, earthly. But love is spiritual and heavenly. It doesn’t weaken with quantity. It just keeps dividing and multiplying. Like the cells in our bodies, each newly created cell is identical to the one from which it split. The growing baby doesn’t look increasingly see-through the bigger it gets. It remains just as solid, tangible, active as the day it was born. So is love.

Once I met a woman with seven children. I asked her, “Do you love each one of your children?” She replied in the definite affirmative. Then I asked, “When you had six children, did you ever wonder if you wouldn’t have enough love for a seventh?” She laughed as such a preposterous question. Then I rejoined, “If you had an eighth child would you be able to love it and still love the other seven just like you always have?” With certain delight in her voice, she said she definitely could without any extra difficulty.

“[Love] never faileth.” (1Cor. 13:8). For everyone who has retained the image of God, love is the gift that just keeps on giving and giving and giving.

Jesus was like His Father. There could never be a family too large to love them all and teach them all the principles that are eternally enduring—the principles of self-sacrificing love.

“I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.” (Eph. 3:14-16).

Wouldn’t you like to be a member of a huge family like that—the family of heaven and earth? We can be, and to all who see the Son and believe on Him, we are members of such a large family. His love imparts love in us, and His gigantic family is our family. His love creates our ownership in the biggest family this world has ever known. We can stake our claim in tightly knit friendships that never quit. New brothers and sisters endlessly introduce themselves to us. Some are not in the church. But they are our brothers and sisters, nonetheless; and we love them into the church. Our love is not imaginary, its not cool and platonic. It is genuine and self-sacrificing. It is the gift of God. It loves to be loved and does the will of its friends in response to being loved. This is what the angels have, and God’s children have it too.

Children love to be loved. “Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set Him in the midst of them… Whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me.” (Matt. 18:2,5). “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mk. 10:15). Those who become like little children will love.

They have seen Jesus’ love and trusted in His love. He has quickened their faculty of love, and as they keep Him fervently the object of their greatest love, they never run out of love for each other.

What does love do? “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isa. 58:7). Most assuredly it is.

And what is the reward for loving? “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy [rearguard].” (Isa. 58:8).

When we love, we have no fear of danger. Lost in love, we do what love makes us do. David runs up to a towering enemy because of love and honor for the God of love. Paul couldn’t stop preaching about the God of love, because “the love of Christ constraineth us.” (2Cor. 5:14).

Peter the loving and loveable, earnestly sought to multiply love in the church. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (1Pet. 1:22).

Striving against the Spirit of truth and finally surrendering to it leaves us filled with gracious, tender-hearted love. “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5).

“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (Jas. 5:11).

“I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He hath bestowed on them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.” (Isa. 63:7).

It all ends up where we started. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1Jn. 4:19).

“Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” (Jn. 17:24). 


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