God is . . . not jealous

1 Corinthians 13: 4

Love is patient, love is kind, and [love] is not jealous.

We have heard that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20: 5), so how does this make sense? Well, it is true. As the song says, “God don’t play second fiddle.” He will have no other gods before Him. However, His love is not jealous and in a general sense He is not. He just will not abide idolatry and that is very different. I think you can easily distinguish these expressions of God’s preeminence as your God from jealous love.

He is more than happy for you to have many loves. In fact, He has told us that we ought to love one another even as He has loved us (John 13: 34). He desires that we be unified in love even as He and Jesus are one (John 17: 21). You see, love is not jealous.

Love, and therefore God, always wants the best for us. It isn’t selfish or controlling. It doesn’t take things or people away from us because it wants all of our attention. If someone in your life demonstrates these traits, then their love for you is not mature. This should be an immediate danger sign for you. Jealousy is not of God and is not godly. Further, there is no place in love for jealousy. What that person feels for you may be need or desire but it is not love.

God wants your time but He does not want to dominate your time or attention. His plan would be for you to take Him along on your run or your dinner out with friends. He does not have to be the center of attention and He does not want you to neglect the other parts of your life. His is a healthy love and as such is the model we should use in our interpersonal relationships. If people need to control us, they don’t love us. God wants you happy and healthy. His is a true love. He is not jealous.

God Is . . .

1 Corinthians 13: 4

Love is patient . . .

Would you like to know the character traits of God? Did you realize they are listed in the Bible? Yep, they are. You see 1 John 4: 8 tells us that God is love. Then we read here in Corinthians that “love is” patient . . .. So translate that and you get God is patient. Are you with me?

You can prove He is patient. One way is by reading the Bible. When you read the Old Testament you begin to wonder how humanity survived. The people sorely tried God’s patience but His patience won out and here we are. Then read the New Testament. Was not the people’s treatment of Jesus enough to provoke even the most patient of people? Yet God’s love prevailed. He and Jesus endured the ignorance and abuse hurled at them for the prize set before them. And what was that prize? Us. Wow. That doesn’t sound like much of a prize to me; certainly not reward enough to endure the cross. Apparently, that is what love does.

Another way to prove God’s patience is to look in your own life. Sometimes as I look back in my own life I shudder at my complete foolishness. I shout, “Glory” to God that He had the patience to wait out my wandering years and “Thank you Lord,” for His continuing patience as I try to find my way daily. Do you feel the same way? Can you feel His patience and love coating you right now as you think about the trials you put Him through? He will never fail you, never forget or forsake you. God is patient.

No Fear Here

1 John 4: 18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

We have heard this verse often enough but I wonder how deeply we understand it. People don’t come to Christ because they are “afraid” of what they will have to give up. In other words, they are afraid of the punishment if they call themselves Christians and yet continue in their lifestyle. That is all backwards. God doesn’t call people to the fold in order to punish them. The weight of their sin is on them now. Jesus came and died that their sin might transfer to him. They are under the judgment of the law now. Christ came to set us all free (Galatians 5: 1).

God is love and there is no fear in love. There is no fear in God and no fear in those who are in God. You have been set free from fear and death. Moreover, you have been freed from the curse of the law. You needn’t have fear of punishment. Being in the house of God is to be in the house of liberty. Christ has freed us from the fear of judgment by shedding his blood for our sins. The question is no longer about punishment but rather reward.
Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11: 6). God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, not a punisher. He has saved you by His grace and Jesus’ blood in order to remove you from the bane of punishment and instead put you in the house of His good mercies so that He can pour out on you the rewards of His household. Can someone shout?

What we should learn and make known is that we haven’t given up a thing to follow Jesus. We have only gained. If we clean up our act a little bit, it is because we love God and want to be with Him. He does not require us to change in order to love us. However, I want good rewards and that is motivation, and much better motivation than punishment. “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done” (Matthew 16:27). Give me some of that! I want to see Jesus in all his father’s glory and I want to feel good about standing with him. He will love me regardless but I want to clean up and I want to follow him and I know you are the same way.

As the revelation of God’s love blossoms in our hearts, this will be our only perception. We will have no fear of any kind much less the fear of retribution from our Father. When we understand a love so deep that it is sacrificial, then there is no way we will concern even one cell of our brains with the fear of what God will do to us. He sent Jesus to save, not condemn so there is therefore no longer fear. There is no fear in love, no fear in God.

From Christmas to the Cross

Romans 12: 10        (Amplified)

Love one another with brotherly affections [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.

This is a tall order to fill. Nonetheless, God would not have given us this directive if He had not also empowered us to do it. This, being the season of ultimate love, it is worthwhile to look at love from the author of love, our own dear Father. Even as we celebrate the birth of Christ, our sight drifts forward to the sure knowledge of Calvary. While the angels sang and the shepherds rejoiced in pure delight for the arrival of the Messiah, God in heaven knew the destiny of the babe, though men did not know. They did not realize that the Messiah would save all by sacrificing himself. Men thought of a conquering Lord of war. Little did they know that Jesus would overcome by his stripes and it was his deep and abiding love for you and me that gave him the strength to receive those stripes. It was love that brought him into the earth and it was love that put him on that cross. And it is love that will carry us all home.

He now lives inside of us. Because of that, his love also lives inside of us. We are able to love in a holy, self-sacrificial way because love has come and made its abode with us. Because He first loved, we love. And not because anyone deserves our love. Many do not deserve yours or God’s love, but He showed us how to love even when we were undeserving and unworthy. Now by his grace and because of His love and mercy, we love others, even the unlovely; those who are difficult to love. He loves them so we allow His love to work through us. Because He first loved a people; a person, who was unworthy of love and even unwilling to be loved, we allow him to express himself through us. During this season, His love is more touchable than ever. Let your heart be soft allowing him to fill you to overflowing with His goodness and love. Then pass it on. In his name.

Happy Days are Here

Psalm 30: 5

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Some people spend their whole lives in bondage of guilt and torment because they fear God’s anger is against them. This seems to be true even of people who are Christians. It should not be. God is love (1 John 4: 16). He sees you with favor. In other words, when He looks at you, He looks upon you with fondness. Anger is not the emotion that wells up in Him when He looks at you. We are His children and dear to Him. While we certainly do things which can provoke His anger, His disappointment in us and with us is always overcome by His great love and affection for us. We are His people. He made the choice. He knew what He was getting when He chose us. We did not choose Him, He chose us. His love burns like an eternal flame; it cannot be quenched. I figure that is His problem. He is the almighty. He knew I was flawed when He chose me but His great grace is working in me and in all of us to transform us into the image of His dear son. I am willing to give myself to Him to allow Him to work Himself out in me. You will have a very difficult time doing that though if you think your relationship with the Lord is based on His anger towards you. While we all may deserve His anger, His grace has given us favor. Bask in your favor and be grateful that we are not getting what we would have deserved if it had been up to us to earn anything. Praise God for His love and Jesus’ blood and let the favor of God completely envelope you. After all, the weeping was for last night or last year. It is a new day so shout.

In Hot Pursuit

Proverb 21: 21            NIV

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Yesterday we saw from verses 17 and 18 of Proverb 21 that the pursuit of pleasure leads to poverty. Today we are fortunate to get to see the other side of the coin. If we wish to have abundant life, prosperity and honor then we must pursue righteousness.

Now, before we fall on our faces, let us review our thinking on righteousness. Many of us were trained in the notion that righteousness equates to good works. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, that kind of “righteousness” is repugnant to God. It is a rancid odor in His nostrils. Righteousness, in a word, is Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5: 21 reads, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This means that Jesus, who is and was the righteousness of God, traded his righteousness for our sin. He became our sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. Therefore, our pursuit of Jesus, is necessarily a pursuit of righteousness.

There is an interesting passage about this very topic from the Apostle Paul. “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone” (Romans 9: 30 – 32). The stumbling stone was Jesus. I find this passage amazing. The Israelites, the chosen ones, who pursued righteousness through their works failed while the Gentiles who by faith sought Jesus attained righteousness. Wow!

Shall we, though, take it one step further? The verse for today also says that those who pursue love find life, prosperity and honor. This one is really easy, isn’t it. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4: 8). Yeah, you don’t need a theology degree in order to knock this one out of the park. God is love. Therefore, if one pursues God, then that is a pursuit of love and thus the result is life, prosperity and honor. 1 Corinthians 14: 1 says “Pursue love . . ..” It really is that simple.

So, what is the conclusion of all this? Our happiness, prosperity, peace, joy, well-being, life, and honor are found in the pursuit of the Father and the Son, merely in the pursuit. It is not in the tracking down or even in the finding. Your Father and God does the revealing. Your only part is to pursue. “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him” (1 Chronicles 28: 9).

Let Love Speak

Isaiah 58: 6 – 7

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

This is the service the Lord prefers; that we would serve our fellows rather than empty and meaningless rituals. God does not call us into works. We are not justified by works. We are justified by love but in that love let us serve our Lord and God by not turning our faces from those in need. It is in our capacity as “His” body that we reach out to the lost and broken. We are His hands in the earth. We have the power in Him to break the bonds which tie people and destroy the yokes which keep people oppressed. What small part can we each play? Let the love of the Lord be seen in the earth, not because you are compelled to out of a sense of duty but rather out of the love that was first given you. Let the love of the Lord that has taken up its residency in your heart flow out to other people. Do not hide the righteousness of the Lord in your heart but rather let your heart express it to others.