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Posts Tagged ‘#theloveofgod’

Who do you love?
a spouse? children? friend? parent?

Why do you love them?
how they make you feel?
what they have done for you?
they are yours?

To what extent would your love go for their benefit?
do things they like to do?
move to another city?
sacrifice time? money?

There is a story that always reminds me about the greatest gift of love:

There was a little girl who was suffering from a rare life threatening disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had somehow survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

That story always reminds me of the love of God, for us, his children. It is the love spoken of in John 15:13, which tells us, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

In Ellicott’s Commentary, on this verse, we read that, ” … the highest reach of love is the self-sacrifice which spares not life itself.”

If I think about it, I can imagine being willing to sacrifice my life for a handful of individuals … maybe a few more. I care for those people, have a relationship with them, seek the best for them and desire that they have future, a hope.

The thing is the love of Christ for us goes the next step further. God made this sacrifice because he cares for us, seeks the best for us, desires a future and hope for us. But, he made this sacrifice for those who have relationship with him, as well as those who have not chosen relationship with him … and his sacrifice was his own son.

It is the greatest love … there is no greater.

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Cinnamon hearts, Hallmark cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, flowers priced double (triple) what they will be in a week … the consumable expressions of love in our society.

If they are consumable, they don’t last … so what are the lasting expressions of love?

I look at my ‘ring finger’ on which is my gold wedding ring sits. Though it is not my original wedding ring, it does symbolize the vows we took, the promises made thirty plus years ago.

If he were to die ahead of me (which is not my plan), it would provide a constant reminder of the love we shared for each other … it does that now while we are both still alive and well … well, most days.

The Bible speaks of an expression of love that lasts into eternity.

“Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is a verse which tells of the expression of love from Jesus, through the willing sacrifice of his life on the cross. It is also the model of love for us all.

Jesus’ expression of love for us is the example of the Golden Rule,

Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31).

And we read it, and we quote it, and we post it on social media … like it’s easy!

It’s not easy!!

When Jesus went to the cross, as the ultimate and most everlasting expression of love he did so for ALL people!

He did so for :

  • his mother
  • his disciples
  • for the sweet church lady
  • for the child with special needs
  • for the man who gave wealth to care for the homeless

But he also gave his life for :

  • the Jewish leaders
  • Pontius Pilate
  • Adolf Hitler
  • the addict who just stole a purse to buy more drugs
  • the man convicted of child abuse

I struggle to even write that Jesus gave his life for … these people. For I struggle to see them as worthy of such love. And that is where the lesson of love rests, for me and you. The love of God is greater, goes farther, reaches lower all to reconcile, to pardon, to redeem the vilest of us all ..

me … with my hard heart (and matching hard head), my selfishness (opposed to his selflessness), my judgemental attitude.

God gave his life for me … even if I choose to not receive his gift of love, even if I choose to not be transformed by his love … he gave anyway.

The love of God is the greatest, most lasting expression of love.

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Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 7.30.45 AM

A good story teller, a good poet, will always include visuals for our brains to hold onto, so that, though we may forget their words, we will not forget their story, their message.

I have always believed that the best story-teller, the best and most creative writer of the poetry and stories of our lives is God, the creator, father, redeemer.

His story is even grander than the Grand Canyon.

Recently an old hymn (about one hundred years) has been playing in my head, but I didn’t hear it until the other morning.

… actually, I heard it, but I wasn’t listening

As I awoke Saturday, with the morning sky still awaiting to break, with the rains pouring down, I began to listen and hear the words, the message,

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
  And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
  And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
  Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
  Though stretched from sky to sky.

The words began to form images in my mind, that kept me from thinking of anything else (perhaps that was the intent of God, who had a message).

The evening before my mind was full of a good message on the phone, a bad message on social media and a most frustrating message via email. I was too inwardly focused to even pray, so I did all that I knew to do, and asked that sweet handful of trusted friends to pray.

My early morning alone, became a reminder that joy comes in the morning … after the storm, after the storming down of heaven’s gates by faithful friends. After my eyes were refocused … off of myself.

Those words from the hymn, The Love of God. The first two verses and chorus written by Frederick Martin Lehman, but the third (above) goes back much further into history.

The words of the third verse were found, inscribed on the wall in a room of an insane asylum, after the patient died. It was later discovered that those words were written by  Jewish poet, Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai, in 1050, and can be found in Rabbi Hertz’ “Book of Jewish Thought” for the synagogue Pentecost celebrations.

Perhaps it is because the Hebrew language is a spoken one, stories and poems told, over and over again, from generation to generation. Those which have survived the ultimate test of time, often the ones which create visuals in the minds of hearers. The word pictures searing eternity onto the minds and hearts of those who heard.

The longevity of those words, perfectly inserted into a song about the vastness of the love of God.

Words, written just a millennium after the death of Christ … the greatest imagery of the promise of redemption, of love, used in the prophesy of the Old Testament.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Refrain:
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

 

 

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