God is Love

I couldn’t sleep tonight. I just really couldn’t stop my brain from going over this passage, John 4:7-21, and a few other things. Yesterday, I visited a friend’s church and was surprised to find that the text was John 3:19 – 4:6. It was a good message, and it made me think even more of this passage that was already weighing on me. (Amazing, how God works, isn’t it?) It’s probable that this is the text for next week too! I began to think, what would it look like if someone preached on this text. Having not looked at any sermons on these verses, this is what ran through my half-asleep, half-excited mind:

What if a pastor just stood up one day at the podium and said, “God is love,” then sat down? I mean, what is that? Who could do such a thing. That statement is just so familiar, we all must have heard it quite a few times. There can be so many misconceptions of it. We generally just accept the phrase and don’t think too much of it, but if a pastor were to just say that and sit down, questions would definitely come to mind because of the boldness of the statement. What does it mean? “God is love.”

Sometimes it helps to say it a few different ways. GOD is love. God IS love. God is LOVE! God is love? What is John really trying to say in 1 John 4:8? What is love? It seems like a pretty vague topic to me. Can an eternal, infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, no-beginning God be summarized in a single term? If you think of it in today’s terms such as “he loved her” or “they made love,” is that what John is trying to say God is? It seems like I better define the terms fast, before I get into trouble. This is why context is important. All is explained in the next few verses. Is it more like, Jesus’s love, a sacrificial, selfless love? Definitely. The love of God was shown to us in Jesus. Now would probably be a good time to read verses 8 and 9: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” Perfect. I love how John teaches by example. We’ve even got a hint at the message of salvation, living through Jesus, right there. Jesus’ example is true love. John draws out the example and makes sure that we’re not thinking of human love, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” and that he sent his Son to be a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Digging a little bit deeper, in the Greek for this passage, love is translated as agapē, meaning general affection, the “feeling of being content, or holding in high regard” as Wikipedia defines it. It goes on to describe this type of love as total commitment or self-sacrificial love. This is the kind of love in fairy-tales, where a knight sacrifices everything to save a princess. (It’s an interesting illustration when you think of it in terms of Jesus and the church.) This is the kind of love children know, and this is the kind of love we are called to.

Just previously, in verse 7, and in verses 11 and 21 ironically, John advises us to have this love for one another. In the King James Version, he says “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Those that love like this are “born of God” and “know God.” Whoever loves like this knows God. And this advice or call doesn’t just mean loving those that love you or are kind to you. The word agapē is used in Matthew 5:44 where scripture says, “Love your enemies.” Again it is used in the two greatest commandments, which are, briefly said, to love God and love your neighbor.

I read somewhere that the ultimate in love is true knowledge, and it ties in well with this passage. They sort-of go hand in hand. So, if you want to know God, know love. Know agapē.

It amazes to me how bold John is being here. He captures the very essence of God in a few words, no where else do we see such a statement like this.

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Published in: on August 14, 2007 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Love


1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

“God is love.” What a profound statement that is. Is it coincidence that what we desire most in this world (love) is equivalent to God? I don’t think anyone can deny that he or she desires to love or to be loved. It seems that everything we strive for in this world is to gain the love of others or to love more ourselves. It makes perfect sense that we would be created to desire God (love) because He fills our most basic need.

Published in: on August 9, 2007 at 7:23 am  Leave a Comment  

1 Chronicles 29:11-15

1 Chronicles 29:11-15

11 Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.

13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

15 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Providence

Psalm 139:1-18
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

It’s so true that God loves us and cares about us. Sometimes it seems that we are being focused on, that everything just works. It’s amazing to catch a glimpse of His plan. There are some times in my life where I’ve just felt like God targets everything at me, caters to my needs, and grows me. I’ll hear a sermon and feel convicted, then turn on the radio the next day and hear more on the same topic. Then I’ll attend a leadership or discipleship meeting and gain yet another perspective on the subject. I’ll open God’s Word and find once again that I’m lead to a passage concerning the exact same thing! Even when I’m left to my own thoughts, as I analyze all that’s going on in my life I find myself thinking through the message He has for me. I would guess that it’s another method God chooses to communicate. Really, it’s His Spirit at work in my life.

Published in: on March 2, 2007 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thoughts…

Isaiah 55:8-9
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Of course this passage in Isaiah sounds so practical and true; my thoughts could not be anything like God’s thoughts because I’m a sinful creature. However, that means all of my thoughts are nothing like God’s. That includes what I think about the future and my plans. This passage is so comforting. Sometimes the way God changes my plans is frustrating, but learning to trust Him, and his plans, is a part of life, and it is good. How awesome it is that God’s thoughts are beyond anything we could imagine! I look forward to the day I can know Him more fully and better understand His thoughts.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Psalm 25 (NIV)

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.
Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.
See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame; for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles.

Bible Gateway

This has been my prayer almost every night for the past month. It reminds me to continually put my relationship with God first; it motivates me to trust Him, and it gives me strength and victory over my spiritual enemies.

However, this past week, I’ve fallen away from the discipline I had over the past month. Last week, I was incredibly busy, so I started to push aside some of my time with God and decreased the time I spent memorizing His word. I didn’t get back on track this week, though, and now it is what I want most.

Published in: on February 3, 2007 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment