2 Peter 1:3-4
‘According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and to godliness through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be ‘partakers of the divine nature’ having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust’
In all our searching for the authority and power of God that is our inheritance we need to balance the gifts of the Holy Spirit with love; not human love which is at best fickle and seeks a reward but Agape love which is from above and pure. Love is Gods divine nature of which we have become inheritors, it is a part of our born again spirit for ‘the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (Romans 5:5)
We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3) we have been given exceeding great and precious promises, we have been given the same precious faith as the apostles (2 Peter 1:1) but without love all our labours are in vain.
‘Faith works by love’ (Galatians 5:6) not by following man made traditions nor the law.
The early church moved not only in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power but in love.
Jesus himself said ‘by this shall all men know you are my disciples, that you have love one to another’ (John 13:35) he did not say that they will recognize us as Christians through the working of miracles, through healing the sick nor any of the gifts of the Spirit, rather through love.
Love is the ‘more excellent way’ (I Corinthians 12:31) it’s the very nature of God flowing through us because ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:7) it’s the very fountain from which miracles spring forth and without it we cannot operate in faith.
We are called to be ‘followers of God… and to walk in love’ (Ephesians 5:1-2) to labour in love (1 Thessalonians 1:3) and to love one another; for ‘love is of God and every one that loves is born of God and knows God’ (1John 4:7)
Faith may be the doorway to the power gifts of the Holy Spirit gifts that puts Satan’s armies to flight (Hebrews 11:34) but love, Calvary love is the key which opens the door to all the blessings and gifts of God.
Gods love working in and through us is the greatest expression of power we can ever display.
We may boast of our ability to speak in different languages and indeed with tongues but without love we are like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
In Exodus 28 we read of God’s instructions of how the priest’s robes were to be made, verse 34 tells us that around the hem of the garment were to be sown pomegranates and bells of gold between them round about. A golden bell, a pomegranate each in turn, why? Well; if you have ever rattled two bells of each other you will know that they make an unclear sound they need something in between them to make them ring clear. So it is when we as Christian’s try to minister without Calvary love, we send out an unclear sound to those we seek to minister to, the gifts work with love as the oil that makes them flow freely to those in need, without Calvary love they just do not work.
‘We may have the gift of prophecy and indeed may understand all mysteries and all knowledge, we may have enough faith to be a ‘mountain mover’ but if we don’t have love we are nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:2)
‘We can give all we own to the poor, we can sacrifice our lives on the altar of humanism but without love it will profit us nothing’ (v.3)
That’s why God gave nine gifts of the Holy Spirit and nine fruits of the Spirit; it was so that a clear signal would be given to the world that faith works by love, that miracles and love go hand in hand and that without love you cannot ever be sure that the signs and wonders are even of God.
Agape love, Gods love in us has no ulterior motive, no hidden agenda and no other purpose but to glorify Christ Jesus. It’s was love that gave His life for us rather than live in eternity without us, it’s the same love that gave Gods Son as ‘an atoning victim’ for the sin of whole world. (1 John 4:10)
We are to try every spirit whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone into the world (1 John 4:1) just because someone heals a sick person does not mean they are of God.
There are many who heal through ‘charms’ and their source of power is not God, they may well pray as some do, some even would say the Lords prayer but the god behind such healings is Satan himself.
I remember well one evening at a crusade held in our barn when an elderly lady came for prayer, she was wheel chair bound, we prayed for her and she got out of the chair and walked away totally free. The following evening however she returned and to our amazement she was in the wheelchair again, later as we began to pray the prayer of faith the Lord stopped us.
God revealed that she had been for a charm for healing (this in spite of her being a Christian) when we asked why she had gone to such a person she said it had been 40 years previous when she had sprained her ankle. When I asked her were her pain started and how it progressed she saw it straight away, yes the charm had healed her sprained ankle but the arthritis had started in the same place and had progressed until she could barely move without severe pain. As soon as she repented before God of the sin of using a charmer she got out of the chair and to this day is still free.
In another incident a lady came for prayer, she was dying of cancer and as we began to pray we discovered by the Holy Spirit that she had a charm, when asked she told us it had been handed down through generations and always thought that she was doing good and helping people. You see her heart was right, her motives were right but the spirit behind her works was a wrong spirit, as soon as she repented of working with this spirit she was healed of cancer.
Seventh sons of seven sons may heal some folk but the spirit behind them is not of God, rather it is from hell itself and if hell ever did you a good turn you may be sure it will extract something from you in return. Like the lady who had a sprained ankle you may end up with full blown arthritis or rheumatism or indeed worse by turning to such people, so always use the magnifying glass of God’s love and try the spirits whether they are of God. (1 John 4:1)
God is love (1 John 4:16)
It is God’s nature to love; there is not one evil thought, word or action that can come from Gods heart, he is love personified, he is love in action for true love itself is from him, ‘the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through Christ (Romans 5:5) such love in Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8)
It was love that formed man out of the red dust of the garden of Eden, it was love that pursued Adams fallen race all the way to Calvary and on that lonely hill love purchased a pardon for all who would simply believe on Christ.
Some deluded bible teachers would tell us that God sends sickness or that God allows someone to have an accident, how foolish to make such a statement of a good God, a God who is love.
Thank God for his word that never changes, praise God for faithful witnesses like James the apostle who wrote, ‘Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man’ (James 1:13)
I remember one occasion being at a meeting when one young man stood up to give his testimony, he began with words that struck me like a fiery dart; he declared ‘God broke my back and put me into hospital for months so that he could speak to me’
I was stunned and ached against such an accusation for I knew it was accusing a good God of an evil deed. I sought the Lord and he brought me to the scripture above, the young man was awestruck at the word when I revealed it to him and said it was a revelation of truth to him.
Look at the next few verses of James chapter 1 and see that ‘Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed’ (v.14) ‘then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin, and sin when it is finished, brings forth death` (v.15) Instead of blaming God we need to look to ourselves and our own actions which bring about accidents and injuries and indeed sometimes sickness.
When we blame God we are as guilty as Adam was when he blamed God for making Eve who Adam in turn blamed for sin.
When we ask, ‘why me God’ we are accusing Him of some evil thing which has touched our lives, when we say God allowed it we do the same thing, its time we realized that God is good all the time instead of just singing about it.
God is not into evil works; see verse 16-17 ‘Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the father of lights with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning’
Its good things that come down from above, they come from an unchanging God of light not from the god of darkness, Satan.
Ask your self would you as a mother or father hurt your children in order to teach them something? Would you allow them to get cancer? Or would you allow someone to abuse them? Of course not, then why accuse a good God of hurting those he loves?
Jesus put it this way ‘What man is there of you if a son asks bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will he give him a serpent?’ If you then being evil know how to give good things unto your children, how much more shall your father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?’ (Matthew 6:9-11)
Does that sound like God wants you to suffer? No; goodness cannot flow from an evil heart a good tree brings forth good fruit because it is its nature, goodness flows from a heart so full of love that it overflows and gives good things to all that ask. Is sound health a good thing? Then it is a love gift, is sufficient finances a good thing? Are peace and joy good things? then they are a love gift from a good God.
If you still doubt that God is good then Christ coming into the world to save sinners must surely convince even the most carnal Christian that He is love, if not surely a glimpse of Calvary’s atoning victim would open the eyes of the most blinded of eyes.
Love and Compassion go hand in hand, if love is the glove then compassion is the fingers that reach into the dark recesses of human misery and sets men and women free.
Compassion is not pity for pity is a source of many fine words while compassion works to alleviate suffering whatever its root.
In Psalm 86:5 David writes about the Lord’s nature saying; ‘ For you Lord, are good and ready to forgive; plenteous in mercy to all them that call upon you’ and in verse 15 ‘But you O lord are full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and plenteous in mercy and truth’
I love the Psalms, there is something about them which all of us can identify with, the struggles of the psalmist and the goodness and mercy of God intermingle in every page. That’s why the bible is such a rich source of truth, it never glosses or skims over sin, instead it paints it in wide screen multicolour for all to see.
God’s word exposes the weaknesses of mankind, the ease in which he falls into sin and sufferers its consequences but it always balances it with good news about a loving God who forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:3) Every time the psalmist bemoaned his sinful nature, every time he spoke of his sufferings he spoke of Gods great mercy (Psalm 86:13) and reminded himself of Gods compassion, his grace and long suffering.
Love is like that, I mean true love; it always is willing to forgive and to show mercy and compassion, true love does not hold grudges, it runs to help the wounded even though they are suffering at their own hands.
Psalm 103 tell us that when we deserved death, love redeemed our lives from destruction, when we deserved wrath it crowned us with loving kindness and tender mercies (v.4) when we deserved Gods anger and wrath he poured out mercy and grace (v.8) for as high as the heaven is above the earth so great is his mercy toward them that fear him’ (v.11)
When we view God through the Psalms and indeed throughout the Old Testament we see his divine nature, a Father who loves his children, who would do anything to save them from their sins, a Father who gave them a blue print for living while warning them that departing from it would cause them great pain and death.
In the New Testament we see the Son Jesus doing exactly the same because ‘He worked the works of God who sent him (John 9:4) in the same measure as the Father loved, he loved, he showed the same mercy and grace, he revealed the Fathers compassion and healed the sick and fed the hungry.
Matthew (9:35) records the compassionate side of Gods nature, ‘Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people’ that’s what love does, it heals the sick, it never walks away shaking its head or hides its eyes from the hurts of others. It reaches out and touches the deepest need of every human being; the need to be loved, the need to feel wanted; the need to be counted worthy of someone’s time.
Compassion however goes deeper than the physical needs of the human soul; it delves below the mask of human misery and goes to the root of the problem desiring to bring total freedom.
In the next verses (36-38) Jesus was ‘moved with compassion on the multitude because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd’ He had provided the physical needs of the people who had come seeking his help but the thing that moved him most was their spiritual hunger, their need of salvation, their need of a saviour. In spite of all the religious laws which many strived to keep they were dying in that no one could show them the way of salvation, they were like sheep without a shepherd, lost and wandering.
That’s what religion offers, laws instead of grace and mercy, manmade offerings of impure grace and purchased mercy, it offers freedom in chains, shackled liberty and false hope. Christ on the other hand showed compassion, he was physically moved when he saw how the people were lost, he came to save were suffering and told the disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth labourers into his harvest.
In Matthew 15:32 we read that ‘Jesus called his disciples and said ‘I have compassion on the multitude, for they have been with us three days, and have nothing to eat, I will not send them away fasting in case the faint in the way’
Here we Jesus interested in the practical needs of those who had sought to hear him speak, they were so hungry for His word they had spent three days hanging on his every word.
Now he looks and sees the hunger, hears the growls of churning stomachs and is moved again with compassion to feed that need also, with compassion he took seven loaves and a few fish and when he had blessed the food he fed 4000 men as well as women and children.
That’s what compassion does, it does more than just talk, it feeds the hunger in every heart, it meets mans deepest desire and fulfils his greatest need, the need to be forgiven and to be loved.
Compassion like love cares nothing for itself, it cares only for the needs of others, it was the Samaritan who when he saw the wounded man stopped and bound up his wounds while religious men passed by waging their tongues and pointing their fingers.
Compassion is the divine nature of God revealed in Christ and in every believer whose heart has been melted by Christ’s love, it’s a mark of the born again spirit of once dead men and women being allowed not only to weep over the hurts of others but to care enough to meet their deepest need.
Love is passionate;
There is nothing cold or dead about real love, it is passionate in all that it seeks to do, and it expends its every breath living to reveal its Christ like nature even to the unlovable, it willingly lays down its life for the sake of friends (John 15:13) it chooses to believe the best about the worst of us for ‘while we were still sinners Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6)
Love lives to lay down its life for those that seek its embrace; it is driven by zeal to rescue the perishing, to heal broken hearts and ruined lives even of those who scorn its approaches.
Love stands in the gap and offers itself as a sacrifice for those that despise and reject its advances, it offers no defence when accused, it accepts wrong judgements in silence, and it is imprisoned by its own burning desire to pour out its healing ointment to the sick and to give hope to those without hope.
Love does no violence, it never tries to deceive regardless of cost, is willing to be rejected all the while
and mock its advances, it’s the best of God meeting the worst of man and refusing to return the scorn.
Love is God caring for the uncaring, loving the unlovable, it’s a Holy God meeting unholy men with a smile that says ‘come unto me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28)
Love is righteousness clashing with a mountain of unrighteousness and saying ‘grace, grace unto it’ (Zechariah 4:7) and in doing so reducing it to dust.
Love is passionate about the abused and hurting, it spends time with drunkards and adulterers willing to give them a new way of living (Hebrews 10:20) it speaks with scorners and sinners declaring ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34)
Love ‘gives its back to the smiters (Isaiah 50:6 )so that ‘they may make long their furrows’ (Psalm 129:3) it stands ‘wounded for the transgressions of others’ (Isaiah 53:5) It accepts wrong judgements against its own purity and willingly lays down its life for the sake of those who hide their faces from it. (Isaiah 53:3)
Love stands at the entrance to every pub and pleads with the drunkard; it gives itself as a signpost to freedom at the very gates of Hell, it looks with pleading eyes at the weary and offers them life, to the hungry it offers the bread of life, to the thirsty living water, to the perishing, hope of a better tomorrow.
Love does all these things willingly with no thought of its own life, its own welfare because God is love.
Love is perfect;
Love, Calvary love is a perfect love, not sullied by selfish desires, not shadowed by ambitions, and has no hidden agendas. Love gives all it has and expects nothing in return, it gives the best it has not counting the cost because love is of God.
In Luke’s gospel we see such love demonstrated by a sinful woman, the writer does not go into her sin (something we today could learn a lesson from) rather he reveals her love for Christ.
‘Jesus went into a Pharisees house and behold a certain woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew of Jesus sat eating in the house she brought an alabaster box of precious ointment. And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Mark records her as breaking the box and pouring it over Christ’s head (14:3) the ointment cost a life time’s wages and yet she came and poured it out without a thought to the cost, she cared little about money she just knew she needed to worship Christ.
This sinner so scorned by the Pharisees because of her profession and so rebuked by the disciples because of her perceived wastefulness did more in the name of love on that day than all those gathered in to hear Christ speak. In Verse 47 Jesus spoke saying; ‘her sins which were many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to who little is forgiven, the same loves little’
The Pharisees and the disciples so filled with their own self righteousness they could not see that the hardness of their own heart was a stumbling block to forgiveness of their own sins, they has condemned the woman out of hand, Christ accepted her just as she was. He accepted her offering and because of her faith in him she was saved, rescued from sin while the Pharisees were condemned by their actions.
Her love was a perfect love, a love which threw caution to the side and simply believed that Jesus would accept her just as she was, she had nothing to offer the Son of God except herself and thus she gave all she had.
Perfect love acts like that, we see it demonstrated by the widow who threw two small coins into the offering giving all she had while religious men gave out of their abundance (Luke 21:1-4)
We see such love in the words of the Apostle Paul when he writes; ‘I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh’ ( Luke 9:3) What amazing love Paul reveals, a love that would give up an eternity in heaven if through such giving the people of Israel would be saved.
Of course the greatest vision of love is a dying saviour who says to a dying sinner that repents with his last breath, ‘today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43) who asks his Father to forgive the world ‘for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34)
The greatest testament of love is without doubt found in John 3:16; ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life’
Perfect love, the love of God flowing through believers can melt the hardest of hearts, it can destroy the strongest of strongholds for it pours out compassion instead of hate; it reveals mercy instead of bitterness and grace instead of accusations.
We are called to walk in this love (Ephesians 5:1) ‘wives are to submit themselves to their own husbands as unto the Lord’ (5:21) ‘husbands are to love their own wives to the extent that they would willingly die for them’ (V. 25) to ‘love our neighbours’ (Matthew 19:19) and to ‘love our enemies and bless them that curse us and do good to those that hate us; we are called to pray for those that despitefully use us and persecute us’ (Matthew 5:44)
Ouch; ouch, ouch, I hear myself say how can one ever attain to such a love? The answer is we cannot, not in ourselves because ‘in our flesh there is no good thing’ (Romans 7:18) but we can love like Christ loved by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have been made partakers of Gods divine love, his divine nature dwells within each one of us, we have the ability and power to overcome our fleshly desires and lustful ways, and as we yield to the Holy Spirit he will change us into the character of God.
The world will never see Christ in us unless we are dressed in robes of his righteousness and bathed in the light of love and the glory of God, unless we become love the world will never believe that we are his.
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