“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.
“…but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:” 1 John 2:5 (ESV)
This season can be distracting, stressful, confusing, and difficult. The message from the world out there does not always give us the truth. The passage we have today is part of a longer sentence in which the Apostle John compared those who claim to know God but fail to keep His commandments and those who manifest God’s love through their obedience. John repeats the words “know … keep” to emphasize that those genuinely born again display the habit of obedience. Obedience results in assurance of salvation. God has revealed Himself to us through His Word, our Bible. All this comes from the Lord because He loves us. When we follow the standards God has shown us in His Word that His love for us is made complete. Let’s be willing to let God’s love work in our hearts and obedience becomes a part of our lives. So when we learn of something in the Bible that God wants us to do or a principle He wants us to follow remember, He wants it because He loves us, not because He is a dictator. His promise to us is to make us complete through our faith in Him.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16 (NIV)
Three of the most comforting and encouraging words ever, “God is love.” We know it yet we don’t always understand it. One of the many great truths revealed to us in the Bible is God’s love for us. The writer of these words in our verse today is the Apostle John. John knew of God’s love and he had experienced it as he walked and talked with Jesus. He had seen Jesus heal sick, raise the dead and he had seen Jesus weep. He also watched Jesus die as he was nailed to the executioners cross. He saw the resurrected Jesus and he saw Jesus rise up into heaven. John knew God’s love and he relied on it. We today also know God’s love because we have believed that Jesus died for us, rose again to new life and accepted him as our Savior and Lord. We experience His love in our lives and we depend on Him each day because we know how He loves us with a perfect love. We live in the love of God and God lives in us. A wonderful and encouraging promise we can depend upon to be true. Be thankful and rejoice!
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35 (ESV)
The word for commandment in this verse could also be translated ‘precept.’ The people of the time when Jesus was on earth understood the word and John uses it to identify three connections. It identified a legal order issued by the Sanhedrin or Jewish Supreme court¹; It also identified a charge or instruction Jesus received from the Father²; And it identified a commandment given by Jesus to his disciples³. A legal order is issued by men who may or may not have a warm, personal interest in those who are required to obey it. The charge or instruction given by the Father to His Son; from the Sender in his love to the Sent One. Therefor this precept is a rule, a new commandment from Jesus. It is illustrated by his own life and example, it becomes a directive of conduct and attitude of how His disciples, behave toward all people. To Christ, to one another, and to the world, a genuine, deep-seated and self-sacrificing love for one another is the distinctive trait of the Christian. It is by this that all others will recognize that we belong to Christ and no other deity.*
²John 10:18; 12:49 -50; 14:31
³John 13:34; 14:15, 21; 15:10, 12
[*] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 2:253.
“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:26 (ESV)
Our verse and promise come from the Lord’s Prayer. No, not THAT Lord’s Prayer but the prayer our Lord offered up to the Father on His last night. Soon to be arrested, Jesus prayed for all his disciples and included all who ever will be. Can you imagine being able to enjoy what is most pleasurable with unrestrained energy and passion forever? This of course is not our experience now. Too much blocks our satisfaction in this world. Is there anything in this created world that has a personal worth great enough to meet the deepest cravings of our hearts? Do we possess the strength necessary to treasure the best resources to their maximum worth? Do the joys we have here and now come to an end? No, No, and Yes. Nothing lasts. Jesus prayed “that the love with which you, Father, have loved me may be in them.” God’s infinite love for his Son in us! If God’s pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure in the Son, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth. Never become boring, disappointing, or frustrating. No greater treasure can be conceived than the Son of God.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)
When the Apostle Paul packed the promises into what he wrote, such as today’s passage, we end up with long sentences and more verses. Sometimes the verse divisions* break up Paul’s intended flow. Four verses today are full of promises. Reading the parts of this long sentence together will help us to see the inclusive promises from God. All that God has done for us and all that He will do comes from His mercy and great love for us. We were dead when God made us alive in Christ. The power that raises believers out spiritual death and makes us alive spiritually is the same power that energizes every aspect of Christian living. It is by grace of God we are saved being raised up and seated – we know from the tenses used – “raised” and “seated” that these are immediate and direct results of salvation. Salvation of course, is very much for our blessing as believers, but even more its purpose is to demonstrate God’s eternal glory for giving believers His endless and limitless grace and kindness. All of these promises are only ours because we have by faith been permanently placed in Christ.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. ” – John 14:15 (NASB)
“And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” – 2 John 6 (NASB)
There are more than a few essentials that we need to know and understand if we seek to live our lives as Christians in a manner worthy of our Savior Jesus Christ. Honestly, don’t we actually have a tendency to avoid thinking too much about some of the essentials. One essential is loving God. Having been born of God and having received eternal life, God the Holy Spirit lives within our spirit. Jesus the Son of God is with us in Spirit as well. Now, here it is: Love for Christ is inseparable from our obedience. When Jesus says in John 14:15 “My commandments” these are not only Jesus’ ethical commandments in context (John 14:23-24), but the entire revelation from the Father. In his second letter John defines love, not as a sentiment or an emotion, but as obedience to God’s commands. If we are obedient to the truth as contained in God’s commandments, the fundamentals of the faith are identified as walking in love. There is no “falling in” and “falling out” of love with Jesus. There is only our love by our obedience to His Word exactly as He gave it to us.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” – 1 John 5:1-2 (ESV)
We have been promised a victorious life. Tomorrow we will consider the substance of this promise in the following verses but today we have the promise of what it takes to have that triumphant life. All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Anointed One, the Messiah who was promised from the beginning to make a way for our reconciliation with God the Father. Everyone who believes this is born spiritually by the power of God. We who have been born into God’s Spirit will manifest love for God the Father. We also will have and show love for all others who have been born of God. Our love of others is made possible by our love and obedience to God. Our promise is this, we can know that we love each other when we obey His commandments. These are the precepts in the teaching which Christ gave to all when He was on this earth. Recorded and written by the Holy Spirit into the inspired writings of our Scriptures, we know what the commandments are from the Bible.
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” – 1 John 3:1 (NASB)
What a wonderful promise of hope we have today. It is something to think about and rejoice in. The Apostle John just bursts out this good news as he introduces to all readers why our hope is a sure thing. Our hope as believers in Jesus Christ is strengthened by the fact that God initiated his salvation out of His love for us. There is no other way for any person to be called a child of God. This is a promise and as one said “We who are in Christ are there because God took us out of the world and put us in Christ. But there is another promise here and that is the world we live in, that which is not abiding in Christ or following His commandments does not really know us. The world can’t figure out how or why a person is a Christian abiding in Christ because they do not know Christ. For that reason we are to not love the world or try to look like the world. Let’s be thankful that God has called us His children and such we are because of the Love He has for us.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” – Luke 6:35 (NASB)
The fuller context of our passage is Luke 6:17-49. Some will say this is the same discourse as the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. Others call it the Sermon on the Plain. It could be the same or it could be at a different time and place. That Jesus taught these important lessons on unconditional love more than once is likely. Jesus repeated his lessons many times to different crowds of people who followed Him around. It would be fair to suggest that the commands given here by Jesus on how to live in difficult circumstances with difficult people are too often overlooked, ignored, or deemed too difficult to do. Yes, if we try to exercise love of this kind in our own strength. But it can be done. Jesus never commanded us to do the truly impossible. He is with us always as he abides with all faith believers. This love is unconditional, the love that God demonstrates to us every day. As God’s children we should bear the indelible stamp of His moral character. Since He is loving, gracious, and generous—even to those who are His enemies—we should be like Him.