Monday, May 11, 2009

Devotional 110509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is a blessing to have another compulsory day off from work because of the financial crisis, so that I can spend more time to meditate on God’s words. Out of God’s gracious provision, Loretta is still working even though she was supposed to be laid off on May 1st. Somehow the City managed to keep her in office for a little bit longer. Who knows how long she can keep her job? It does not really matter to us. We learn to trust in His provision one day at a time. Afterall, this is what our Lord wants us to learn from day one: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt 6:33). Amen?

"Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7) Love is indefinite to most of us, we do not know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that that preference be for Himself. He said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ is easily first; then we must practise the working out of these things mentioned by Peter.

The first thing God does is to knock pretence and the pious pose right out of me. The Holy Spirit reveals that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now, He says to me, show the same love to others - "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). “I will bring any number of people to you whom you cannot respect, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you." Honestly, it was not easy if not impossible. You won't reach it by your own strength. Some of us have tried to, but we were soon tired.

"The Lord sufferes long. . . ." Let me look within and see His dealings with me. The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way. God's love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God's love to me. Growth in grace stops the moment I get huffed or intimdating. I get huffed because I have a peculiar person to live with. Just think how disagreeable I have been to God! Am I prepared to be so identified with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness are being poured out all the time? Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.

The more we reflect on how unworthy we are for God’s love, the more we are reminded to love with the same kind of Grace we received freely. We don’t just thank God for His grace with our lips but with our lives – Live out God’s grace by loving others just as Christ loves us. The Holy Spirit commits to internalize His love into our nature, so that we love not because others are lovable, but because it is the nature of God that dwells within us. Once His love grows within us, it changes our paradigm on things and with people. It changes our value system and priority in life. It spurs us to do things beyond we normally would; we are willing to walk extra-miles for people. We gradually realize that unconditional love is possible and attainable for mankind. That’s how Paul prayed for the Ephesians, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:16-19). In a magnificant and most ‘sexual’ city like Ephesus (famous for their fertility goddess - Artemis , along with their ritual sexual activities with her female priests in the house of pleasures) during Paul’s time, the church truly needed to grow in genuine love for one anothers, because the definition of love had been so distorted in the culture of that city. I am sure it is the same in ours today if not worst. There is no way Paul could change the popular culture of his time by his own strength. He could only pray that the love of God would grow within this small community of believers in Ephesus, so that their lifestyle and testimony would shine and gradually delivered people from the bondage of lust into the family God’s love.

Let’s pray for ourselves in the same way in America…

Love you because of His love within me,

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