Today, my thoughts are on the very core of Christian faith: the love of God, God’s love within us, our love for God, God is love. This is a theme that I expect to repeat often, as this is a repeat of that theme from earlier posts. But, as the core of my faith, it should be the theme of my life and at the forefront of my thoughts. I am linking my verses to Bible Gateway, and the New American Standard Bible translation. You will see that it is easy to change translations at the top of the page if you prefer a different version, or wish to read alternate translations.
The first passage Matt 6:19-21 is not so obviously about love – but where our heart is, is what we love. 1 Timothy 6:6-11 shows us the wickedness of having the wrong sort of treasure. The passage begins with the blessings of contentment, and climaxes with the oft misquoted passage about the love of money, and then brings us back, gently to the pursuits of righteous men.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 is again, not so obviously about love. But as I think on this passage, as I do often, I realize that our love of Christ, and our respect for what he has done in laying that foundation of redemption and salvation, is what should motivate us to build beautifully, with God’s help. The precious materials used to build, speak to me of the purity of the love God gives us, and wants from us in return. As our love is corrupted by the cares and desires of the flesh, the purity and beauty of our building materials diminish. The eternal value decreases, the fire finds more fuel, our heavenly reward dwindles.
I see in myself a direct correlation between love and faith, which is why I have included Mark 9:23,24. This man’s faith in Christ’s power saved his son. It helps me to substitute in this verse: Lord “I do love you; help my lack of love.” When I put those words in, I clearly see Peter’s face, his love of Christ and his struggle for faith. As our faith in God, in His provision though Christ, in the power and magnitude of salvation, grows, can our hearts fail to burst forth in “shouts of acclamation”? I cannot talk or think of God’s love, and our faith, without one of my favorite hymns coming into my mind, from which “shouts of acclamation” comes – How Great Thou Art (outside of me singing it on the tractor, I have never heard a better rendition than Tennessee Ernie Ford’s – I kid, not about singing on the tractor, but about the quality of my song compared to TEF’s). I want to quote here the 3rd and 4th verses, which are my favorites – although the most difficult for me to remember:
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
When Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, “My God, how great Thou art!”
Those verses say almost all about the how and the why of God’s love for me, and mine for Him.
We often hear the phrase, “God is love”. And that phrase always bring to mind my high school’s production of “Oliver”, where, in the opening scene in the orphanage, a sign with those words hung behind Mr. Bumble and his crew as they served gruel to the orphan boys. This usage exemplifies how little thought most of us put into this familiar declaration.
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Timothy Keller, in his book, Jesus the King, describes the trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as a dance of perfect love. Their interaction is so pure, so true, so complete – the essence, the glory, the magnificence, the power of love – and they are completely fulfilled in that dance, that relationship. However, their joy in that dance of love is so great that they invite us, through the blood of Christ, to join them. We, as we learn to dance, are halting, stumbling and ungraceful, BUT Christ, God, the Spirit, teach us to dance, and share their great joy. 1John 4:7-14.
And finally, Paul’s great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.
I will just let that chapter stand in its beauty.