“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8 (NASB)
John the Apostle of Jesus Christ is often known as “the apostle of love.” He wrote about love in his letters and it is a point of focus in the Gospel. He identifies himself in the gospel he wrote by the phrase “disciple whom Jesus loved” four times. In the original Greek, there were multiple words which are translated into our English word ‘love’. The marks of Christians are Christ’s love for us and our love to Christ. By faith the seal is set upon the us by enabling ourselves to say with the apostle, “Christ loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Love gives the countersign and stamps upon our heart gratitude and love to Jesus in return. “We love because he first loved us.”(1 John 4:19) In the heroic period of the church, this double mark was clearly seen in all believers in Jesus; they were men who knew the love of Christ and rested upon it. They were true children of God ruled in their innermost being by love. The love of Christ constrains us; we rejoice in that divine love, and by force of gratitude we love the Savior with a pure and fervent heart.
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? … But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” – Psalm 13:1, 5-6 (ESV)
The trial and testing faith believers in Jesus encounter are brought into our lives in order that we may know with certainty the faithfulness of our God. David had learned that God’s love never failed. He had gone through many different and difficult circumstances and consequently had come to know he could always sense that no matter what happened God always loved him and was always with him. Because of turmoil, many who believe in Jesus are fearful of what’s next. Evildoers seem to be taking over our world. And like David, we can know that God’s love for us is unfailing His promises are true. No matter what happens in our lives, our world, God still loves us. We can depend on it and we can trust in His love as David did. He’ll bring into our lives experiences which will be for our good. Then our hearts will rejoice as David’s heart did and like him we’ll sing to God. We have the same reason; we have the same promise of unfailing love and we can rest in the knowledge that God has promised and has been good to us just as He was to David.
“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:” 1 John 2:4-5 (NASB)
We have two verses today but are looking mostly at the second one for our promise. The use and repetition of the words know and keep emphasizes that those genuinely born again display the habit of obedience. Obedience results in assurance of salvation. God has given us many instructions in the Bible and we realize that He expects us to obey them. Someone may profess a fellowship with God but how they live their life shows they do not possess. John was not shy to call this kind of claim what it really is: a lie. Moreover, it may be said of the same person that the truth is not in him. If we truly love God we will want to live a way that is according to what He wants us to live. We obey God’s word and our love for Him is demonstrated. We show our love through obedience. When we obey God’s word His love for us is also demonstrated and His love for us is made perfected. He has given us instructions because He loves us and knows what is the best way for us is to live.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)
In the very popular movie “The Princess Bride” . Westley and Buttercup are in love and go through a great deal to be with each other. It’s a fun and uplifting story. If you search for “true love,” on the internet you will find a glut of opinions of what the world says true love is. Love is no small thing and true love is a gift. Spiritual love is from God for God is love. Covering and forgiving sins is the nature of true spiritual love, whether from God to man or Christian to Christian. God’s love is essential and so we want to know what God means in John 15:17 “This I command you, that you love one another.” This is what Jesus prayed for his disciples on the night in which he gave Himself to those who were going to kill Him. From John 17:26 He prays, “so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” Knowing Jesus is knowing true love. It is Jesus abiding in us that brings and manifests true love in our lives. Let’s be fervent “stretched” in our love for one another today.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
We’re thinking of the campfire or a wood fire burning in a fireplace. These fires provide heat and perhaps light but wood fires dwindle to coals as the wood is burned into ashes. To keep it going we add new wood and then we blow or fan the burning embers into a flame. Paul instruction to Timothy is to do the same to his spiritual gift. It’s God who gives us spiritual gifts to serve Him and others in His name and for His sake. Persecution was increasing in the first century when Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy, shortly before his execution by Nero. There was much then and much today that might cause us to react with a cowardly fear, that springs from timidity. The Spirit of God and the spiritual gifts He has promised and given to us are powerful and can overcome such fears. Exercising our faith through obedience using these gifts result in love and discipline. Self-control is essential and God promises to supply it to all who by faith believe. This is why we need to stoke our God given gifts and keep them alive and burning bright.
“But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” – Psalm 13:5-6 (NASB)
This psalm, written by King David is a prayer for help in time of trouble. Before he became King he frequently faced such troubles which threatened his life. “How long?” he asks will the Lord seem to forget him and turn away from him. But David shifts radically from turmoil to tranquility in the space of this short Psalm (6 verses). One commentary describes David’s attitude being in three levels. The first two verses he was expressing Despair for he was below “sea level.” Verses 3 and 4 he is at “sea level” expressions of Desires. In the last verses, which are our selection today, David’s expressions are of Delight and rejoicing in a “mountaintop level.” Why can he move so quickly from “How long?” to “I will sing?” The answer for him is the same for us – Trust. David trusted God’s steadfast love. He believed God’s promise of forever love. Another way to say this would be that David understood and believed in God’s mercy, His lovingkindness. It is the also a promise we can trust in. God does and will deal abundantly with us His children because of His lovingkindness, His mercy, His steadfast love.
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;” – 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (NASB)
It was about A.D. 51 when the Apostle Paul wrote from Corinth this letter to those believers in Thessalonica. They constituted the church which was founded on Paul’s second mission trip. With Paul was Timothy and Silas, so it is those three that make up the “we.” Paul was a man of prayer and he with his companions prayed frequently for the all those who were in the church. Paul uses a favorite three-fold combination of faith, hope and love. The Thessalonians’ response to the preaching of the gospel in their midst established indisputable proof of their salvation. The evidence of God’s love for the Thessalonian believers was His choice of them unto salvation. From the Greek word translated chosen (eklogēn) comes our English “election.” That God has chosen to bless some individuals with eternal life is clearly taught in many places in both the Bible. Likewise clear, is the fact that God holds each of us personally responsible for our decision to trust or not to trust in Jesus Christ. Verse six affirms their choice as they followed Paul and in his submission to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
With this post we begin the seventh year of writing and sharing these brief devotionals. We hope they continue to be an encouragement for all who choose to follow them.
“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” – John 21:17 (NASB)
Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him. He does not humiliate us. He does not criticize us; He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder. Jesus takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him. It was the third time Jesus asked Peter if He, Simon by name, loved Him. First in verse 15, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Second in verse 16, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Third in verse 17 – our verse for today. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used a word for love that signified total commitment. Peter replied using a word for love that signified his love for Jesus, but not necessarily his total commitment. This was because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past after a bold declaration of being committed. The resolution we might do well to consider this year would be to submit to Jesus’ demand of total commitment as His follower. Place our love for Jesus above our love for all else in our lives.
“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”” Psalm 40:16 (ESV)
“The Greatest of All Time” or “The Great _______,” fill the blank. Being great at anything seems to be a driving passion of many people. Not all who are declared to be Great or the Greatest actually are. But there is one who is truly Great and is worthy of calling him Magnificent. So we are called, if we seek God and love the salvation God has provided for us we should shout, “The LORD be magnified!” God wants all of us who follow Him to find real joy in doing so and real joy in living for Him. He wants the Christian life to be a life full of true joy. He wants us to be satisfied in Him so much that we are also satisfied in our life. Our verse also reminds us when we are happy in living for the Lord, it results in much praise to God. When we enjoy the Christian life we will want to exalt the Lord. We will want that His name receives much glory and praise. Today, let’s seek Him and rejoice and be glad in Him. Let’s also say with the Psalmist, “GREAT IS THE LORD!”
“He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” Psalm 107:20-21 (ESV)
Needing to be ‘healed’ or ‘delivered’ from something destructive happens. Some have experienced God’s benevolent grace and love this way. All of us have had serious needs from time to time where we felt the need for deliverance or healing. We have reason therefore to be thankful to God. No one is without something that they have thanksgiving for. This day we celebrated Thanksgiving Day in the USA. Our brothers and sisters north in Canada, celebrated Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. Whenever we pause for a national day of thanksgiving, it is good to remember and keep in mind the reason we do that. We all have reasons to make every day a day of Thanksgiving. Today’s verses provide examples of reasons for giving thanks to the Lord. He is certainly worthy of our thanks. He has done so much for each of us. He has loved us and because of His great love. He offered His Son and He went to the cross for us. He has brought us into His family. Even if we are not with our physical family let’s be thankful that God has brought us into His family.