Friday, April 29, 2016

the fluency of our faith (part 4)

Lots of scripture today, gals.  Please don't overlook it.  Take time to read every word and consider what it is saying as it is crucial to this study and your new life in Christ.  OK, here we go...

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1)

I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1-6)

When last we met, we discussed the genuine, unwavering, agape love of Jesus Christ and His astounding offer to save us from death and restore us to full holy health in God's Kingdom.  What a gift!  And as John so eloquently writes in the verses above, it is a gift that we can claim today and live out immediately under the security of Jesus' Name.

John recaps the validity of Christ's existence and power while encouraging us to recognize the loving fellowship made available again with our Creator due to Jesus' sacrifice.  His agape love is what we must follow in order to move closer to God's holiness and further from our own sinfulness.  But while here on this earth, we are not without sin.  Sadly, sin is still very real and present in our lives.  It consumes all areas of mankind's existence and corrupts everything it touches.  Thankfully, Jesus has promised to faithfully forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness... and He is the only One with the authority to do so!  With Jesus as our atoning sacrifice, we receive a new Name... a new Life... a new Way to live and know God's love.  And once again, our gracious Maker allows us the freedom to choose His perfectly planned path instead of our own.  To love Him.  To follow Him.  To obey and worship the Righteous One who advocates on our behalf in order to make us complete once again.

So, how does comprehending Jesus' love help us express love well?  Let's read a little more from John's letter...

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.  Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. (1 John 2:7-11)

Mentioned in several of the gospel books, Jesus gives us the most important commandment to follow.  This is what John is referring to above.  Read with me from Mark 12...

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34)

Friends, true love always leads men to the Kingdom of God!  We cannot survive without it.  We cannot overcome sin and death without Him.  We cannot live fully, holy, healthy without God WHO IS LOVE.

With all our heart... with all our soul... with all our mind... with all our strength...  God Almighty calls mankind back to the life we were originally created to live.  We were made to know and worship His perfect, healthy, wondrous agape love.  From the very beginning, we were designed to live in perfect fellowship and peace together.  And despite our foolish betrayal, Jesus sacrificially demonstrates and makes available His salvation, grace, hope, health.  He is our living, loving, lighted life manual, if you will! He is the only Way, Truth, Life to the Kingdom of God.

So, let's break it down.  What exactly does true love in Christ look like in real time?  How does God's Word instruct us to love well?  Consider the mature characteristics He invites us to learn/adopt as we surrender our old nature upon His altar.  (When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me...)  Read more from 1 Corinthians with me...

Love is patient, 
Love is kind. 
It does not envy, 
It does not boast, 
It is not proud.  
It does not dishonor others, 
It is not self-seeking, 
It is not easily angered, 
It keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Wow.  That is quite a wonderful list for each of us to obediently choose as we live worshipping Jesus!  Clearly His love is uplifting to anyone it reaches.  His love is the guiding light in a world blinded by sinful darkness.

In our next discussion, we will break down God's mature love further.  We will look at His nature verses our own sin-filled nature, and consider why the fruits of His Spirit are the only path to reunite us into His Righteousness and restore us into His Holiness.  I hope you will continue to join me in this study.   I also pray that you will consider how you choose to love one another more specifically and sacrificially as it relates to Christ's example.

Until then.... always choose His LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

God bless!

Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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