God Is Love

“When I was just a lad of ten, my father said to me,
“Come here and take a lesson from the lovely lemon tree.”
“Don’t put your faith in love, my boy”, my father said to me,
“I fear you’ll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree.”

Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”

– Peter, Paul & Mary, Lemon Tree

lemonsRomantic love is not always reliable, brotherly love is not always trustworthy, familial love can let you down. Love in almost every relationship we can have on earth can be strained and leave you hurting. This folk song speaks about the woes of that reality. Love from the outside, love desired, can be very pretty and appear so sweet. But when actually partaken of, it’s not always what we expected it to be.

There is a passage from the book of 1 John that blows holes in this mindset that we can fall into regarding love, and it’s worth sharing and expounding upon.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:7-11

Don’t miss the power of those three little words wedged into the middle of this passage I shared.

God is love.

There is a tremendous difference between the idea that God is loving and the assertion that is made here.

Your friend can be loving. Your boss can be loving. Your neighbor can be loving. Your mother can be loving.

But none of the men or women in our life are love itself.

God is not simply loving.

That being said however, it is a wonderful thing that He is loving, but that is not all that God is in the context of love. God has shown that He is loving, namely in the fact that He sent His one and only Son Jesus into the world to bring us life. We don’t inherently love God. We don’t inherently and naturally pour out praises and adoration to our Lord. Instead, before we even sought out His love, He gave His Son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. All of them.

When things don’t go smoothly in my life, when things don’t go exactly as I would like, it’s naturally easy to immediately start to question or doubt God’s love for me.

It’s easy to say, “if You love me, why is this happening? If You love me, why aren’t you responding to my cries?”

Yet when you doubt God’s loving nature, look to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross. There will you see the unadulterated message of God’s love for you. Even while you were an enemy of His, He gave Himself for You.

God is loving, and He is perfect in that love.

Yet, what calls us to deeper action is the reality that God IS love. That means that God is the perfect embodiment of what love is. Because of this, all love comes from Him. Because of this, we cannot claim to be in an intimate relationship with the God who perfectly embodies love if we do not strive to love our brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way that He loves us.

Because God is love, love comes from God. God is the source of love. Like the electricity running through electrical wires, love comes from God to us, then flows through us to others in the community. When John exhorts his readers, let us love one another, he is encouraging them to allow God’s love to flow through them. – Marianne Meye Thompson

If my phone charger is plugged into the outlet, it will charge my phone (I’m a genius, I know). My charger cannot charge my phone without being plugged into a power source. If it is not charging my phone, it is not plugged into a power source.

If we as disciples of Jesus are abiding in, connecting with, and communing with God, we will overflow God’s love out onto our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We cannot be a conduit of God’s love to our Christian community if we are not abiding in, connecting with, and communing with God.

If we are not loving our Christian community, we are not in full connection with the God who is love.

That is what John is stating in this passage.

Now if you’re anything like me, there are bumps in the road. It is not easy to love our brothers and sisters in Christ at all times. There are times where I feel like I’m walking with the God who is love but still struggling to allow His love to come through me. In the case of my phone charger, sometimes I have to untangle the wires and make sure the connection is coming all the way through. In the case of my spiritual life, sometimes I have to take the time to untangle the dark recesses of my heart and mind as I allow the gospel of grace to deal with any bitterness or unconfessed sin in my life.

We are imperfect followers of Jesus. We are still on the journey of learning to love like Jesus.

I implore you to spend daily time with the Lord, meditating upon His great love for you. The more you come to terms with His love for you, the easier it will become to share His love with others.

And unlike the lemon, when you truly taste the love of God, you will see that it is good.

God is love.

I appreciate any and all feedback, and you can follow my blog via the menu.

– Nathan Roach

 

 

 

The Glow Of God’s Grace

The glow of my smart phone lights up my face as I lay in bed, I even drop it on my chest a few times before finally falling asleep; but not without my phone being within arms reach. I wake up in the middle of the night and reach over and grab it, scrolling through social media as if people have said anything important ever or at all in the wee hours of the morning. I wake up and grab it again checking to see if Jamie has texted me or if I have any pertinent e-mails. And so it goes evening after evening. I wonder if you struggle with the same things?

Yet it has not always been this way. In my life before a phone bedtime was one of the best times for me and for my relationship with God. I would lay in bed and read, feeling watched over by the Lord of all. I would be at peace with Him and would rest in His presence. I wouldn’t be reading a book about theology or doctrine or singing praises to Him but in those quiet evening moments I was worshiping Him. My peace and stillness and quietness was an act of worship. Sure I thought about things other than Him. Sure I wasn’t actively listening. But I had allowed myself to be free of distractions for just a few moments to close the day and to start the day.

It’s the close of the year and as I’ve thought about 2016 I realize that while God has changed a whole lot about my life (oh how glorious his mercies are), there are some things I haven’t matured in as much as I would have hoped. Part of me wonders if that is because I haven’t given Him my undivided and quiet attention as I once did.

I was reading the Psalms earlier this week and it amped up my thought process on the subject.

Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. – Psalm 4:4

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my request before you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3

The spiritual discipline of solitude and silence is one that I’m pretty atrocious at. Yet it is seen throughout the Scriptures and even modeled by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Here we have David encouraging the people of God to search their hearts and be silent when in their beds. We then have David testify to the reality that in the mornings he calls out to the Lord and lays his requests before Him. What a way to end the day and begin the day.

How much of my spiritual growth do I shortchange because I fail to sit in silence before the Lord of my life? How can I refer to Him as Lord of my life if I don’t heed His Word and instruction and seek to rest in His fully accomplished work?

The glow of my smart phone is distracting me from the glow of God’s grace.

Internet Addiction

Right thinking leads to right actions. Yet there are snippets of my life where I’m not acting in line with God’s grace because I’m not operating in the mindset that coincides with God’s grace. And these seasons of not operating in the mindset that coincides with God’s grace usually are lengthened because I don’t take the time to search my heart and be silent. I don’t take the time to lay my requests before the Lord in the mornings. And I’m thus not expecting to see God show up in my life that day.

What about you? Do you practice times of solitude and quietness before the Lord? Do you have moments set aside where you just simply be? Do you give yourself moments where your mind is at peace and you trust the Lord in the midst of deadlines and responsibilities? Or is your mind constantly running and distracted by the things of earth.

This is definitely not the intention of the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, but a verse in this song took on a brand new implication or thought in my mind.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

The glow of my smart phone pales in comparison to the glow of God’s grace.

To you this may seem cliche and over-thinking my life, but to me I miss those moments of bedtime peace with the Lord of all.

So tonight I’m going to leave my phone in the kitchen. Tonight I’m going to meditate on and be silent in the light of God’s grace.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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