|- Des Walters -
No statement is as simple as this, and yet there is none more profound, in all the pages of Holy Writ. Its very simplicity seems to become a shroud, to hide the fathomless depths contained in this statement, for its obvious meaning seems to push our feeble minds beyond their ability to grasp its import. In writing these words, I am aware that sinister forces are at work in this materialistic world, seeking to represent God to the world as a mere man, and to bring His attributes within the scope of the natural. Even the Church in ignorance has presented God as a monster who is responsible for accidents and the death of our loved ones. They tell people that if they refuse to repent and turn to God, he will cast them into a burning hell from which there is no escape.
If these things are true how could it ever be said that GOD IS LOVE? You will notice that the Bible does not say simply that God loves, but takes the matter to its extreme by saying that God IS L-O-V-E. This is his intrinsic character, out of which his whole life flows. There is no man on earth that has ever succeeded in discovering the length and breadth, or the height and depth of Godís LOVE. If we are to ever grasp the power and effect of this LOVE, it must be by embracing this love as a life changing experience. It is not possible to fully appreciate Godís love by some academic study, for it surpasses every concept of love this world has ever known.
Did you know that God has limited Himself to LOVE, as being the only power through which to accomplish everything he purposes to do on the earth. The theologians have not been able to come to grips with this wonderful LOVE, so they introduced into the Gospel a torture chamber called Hell, where they say God will put people who fail to respond correctly to him. They believe without such an alternative people will never come to God, so they feel such a threat is very necessary. How futile is the natural or carnal mind of man. It has been proved many times that man will do for LOVE what he would never do even with a gun at his head.
The TRUTH is that the greatest power in this universe is LOVE. Romans 5:8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. One of the first things we notice about Godís love is the fact that it is UNCONDITIONAL. God does not wait for us to repent or do anything before he will love us. NO, even while we are still sinners his love is toward us. There is absolutely nothing any one can do to stop God from loving them. However, as in the natural, if a person does not want to be loved there is nothing anyone can do for them. To be loved we must open ourselves to receive that love, for a person cannot receive love against their will. Many people in the world today find it difficult to receive love, usually because they have been hurt by someone, which causes them to put up a wall to keep everybody out.
So here is how the Apostle Paul sums up his discourse on LOVE, in Romans 8:28-39. "For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation will be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD in Christ Jesus our Lord". One of the classic statements on LOVE is given to us by the Apostle John when he said, "Herein is LOVE, not that we love God, but that He loves us, and sent His son to be a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world". 1 John 4:10 &2:2. But probably the most well known verse in the whole Bible says, "For God SO LOVED THE WORLD, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
LOVE IN OPERATION
Man has tried to define LOVE, but has never totally succeeded. In fact it is probably the most misunderstood term in use today. The Bible simply makes the statement, " GOD IS LOVE", and so the tremendous ignorance of this subject, shows how little we really know GOD. To define LOVE, we would need to be able to define God, and that is beyond the scope of these notes. However in order to grasp the subjects of LOVE there are some details we need to understand.
LOVE IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE
In a childrenís hospital in Malaysia, a Doctor who worked there told me of many babies being admitted suffering from "malnutrition". So I asked him what they did for such children. He said that they were given through a tube everything their body needed in terms of food and water, but in many cases they failed to respond to the treatment, and eventually they died. When asked him the reason for their deaths, if the body was given the nutriments etc that it needed, he replied, "They died from A LACK OF LOVE." As a medical Doctor he told me that the human body looses its capacity to absorb food if there is a complete lack of LOVE. From this we learn that LOVE is not an option for man, but a necessity. According to the degree of deprivation of LOVE in a childís life, so there will be a corresponding distortion in that personality, for the rest of their life.
Let me illustrate this fact from my own ministry:- Some years ago I counselled a woman of twenty two, who had tried to account suicide several times, and was incapable of taking her place in society. Her problem resulted from the fact that her mother "gave her away" just after birth. The reasons for this action were not known, expect that it was probably due to economic circumstances. However the result in the life of that girl was devastating. Her mind kept telling her she was of no value to anyone, seeing her own mother did not want her, then why should anyone else. She could only see herself as useless, worthless and of no consequence, and with no future. What was it that changed her life and restored her sense of self-worth? I explained how her heavenly Father formed her body in her motherís womb, molding that little form with his loving hands, bringing the parts of her being together when there was nothing there. Then at the time of her birth it was her Father that called her forth into his loving arms declaring to all creation, "This is my precious daughter, I have made her for myself." The idea of being abandoned began to fade, as she realized Father had never left her not for one minute of her life and he had been waiting for her to open her heart for him to pour in his healing love. I told her to read Psalm 139 every day for one month, until she understood the truth.
It was only when she could see herself as coming from a heavenly Father, who purposed in Himself to have a daughter exactly like her, knowing all of the traumas she would endure, in this imperfect world, but being capable of meeting every need, both physical and emotional. At that time there was a communication of Fatherís LOVE, and I watched the transformation take place in the days and months ahead. Unfortunately, most people only see the Love of God in theoretical terms and rarely do they consider it to be a genuine reality. What would be the point of having a God who is LOVE, if He has no power to communicate that LOVE in a meaningful way to me. Let me assure you, HIS LOVE can satisfy every need of the human heart, in a way that no other love can.
LOVE CANNOT BE MANUFACTURED
The youth of today have very little appreciation of the meaning of true LOVE. Love and sex have been deliberately confused by the media and Television etc. Young people speak about "Falling in Love," like it just happens and you can do nothing about it. Love is kind and does not force itself on anyone, neither is it proud. Love behaves itself seeking only to bless others, and cannot be provoked, and is incompatible with evil. But the prime issue with regards to Love is that , LOVE IS GIVING and not GETTING. This is demonstrated by God when the scripture says. "God so LOVED the world that he G-A-V-E!" You cannot love without GIVING.
Why do many young people get married? Because they have a NEED TO BE LOVED. But that is not a good prescription for marriage, because your relationship is based upon GETTING something from your partner. But after you have been married for a while the partner says, "I have given you all I can, and I do not have anything more to give." So the marriage breaks up, because they entered into the marriage relationship wanting to GET something instead of expressing true LOVE, which is G-I-V-I-N-G. If you are short on love please do not get married to try and fill that void in your life, because the relationship will not last.
Why are so many people today short of love? Because LOVE must first be received, before it can be given. Hence the scripture clearly states, "We love God, BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US. 1Jn 4:19. If you have been raised in a family where there was not sufficient Love expressed to satisfy you, you will suffer a lack in your life and you will continually seek to fill that empty place in your life, perhaps through pornography, or illicit sex or drugs among other things. But I will tell you there is only one place where that empty space within you can be filled and that is to open your heart to your heavenly Father and let him love you. The TRUTH is that you cannot manufacture LOVE, or MAKE LOVE as the youth say, you must RECEIVE LOVE or you will never have it, and the only one who has to ability to LOVE someone who has no love, is GOD.
It is a fact that you cannot love God or any one else, until you first receive love into your heart. If you have not received Godís LOVE, you have no capacity to really love anyone. The fact that God LOVES you, is not in question here, but rather are you willing to received His Love. Over many years of counseling I have met many mothers, who do a wonderful job in caring and providing for their children. They do not hate them, but simply cannot express meaningful love to their children, because they do not have the ability to LOVE. There is a human sense in which you may say these people in fact do love their children, in as much as they can, but the most important thing in a childís life is meaningful LOVE that meets a deep need in their heart. There are so many young people who have problems in relationships today, many of which stem from a lack of "meaningful love" in the family as children.
The Bible speaks of mankind as the, "Children of God," which means that God never intended that we could supply the love we need for ourselves. A child is only happy when they receive love, for then they have a sense of fulfillment. God is LOVE, and He is the only sources of true LOVE in the universe. ALL LOVE in this world is from God, love in marriage, love in the family, love in society, yet these expressions of LOVE are on a much lower plane than that LOVE expressed by God Himself, towards this world, and every member of the human race. Human love is based upon response. IF someone is loving towards us, we will generally respond in the same fashion. We find it very difficult to love someone who is not lovable, and impossible, if they are antagonistic.
Yet in contrast to our imperfect love response, we find God, "Loving us WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS AND ENEMIES". Rom 5:8-10. God does not have to receive a "Love response" from us in order to express love, but he freely gives of Himself to the whole human race. Such a LOVE reaches far beyond the scope of "human love" being sufficient not only to satisfy us, but to provide us with the capacity to express love to others also. Therefore after having received Godís love we are directed to, "love our enemies" and to love one another with the same kind of Love we received from him. Many parents who claim to be Christians have a problem loving our children when they are disobedient, or rebellious, usually resorting to anger in order to try and correct them, because we have never understood the UNCONDITIONAL aspect of Godís love.
As a child I can tell you, I did not respond to anger, or the infliction of punishment. Of course I had sense enough to cease from letting my parents see me doing anything that would increase my pain, but I assure you nothing changed in the desires of my heart, because of the discipline I received. But some years later, I began to understand GOD LOVED ME as a person. It was this LOVE that began to mould my life. When I became convinced God loved me, I found it easy to please Him. This principle is recorded in Johnís Gospel Ch 14:23, if a man LOVE ME, he will keep my commandments. Let me tell you the truth, you will NEVER please God until you LOVE Him, and you can never LOVE Him until you first let Him LOVE YOU.
It did not matter what Jesus said, the pharisees condemned Him, because they hated Him. This is the psychology of man. Beloved, the preaching of the Ten commandments will never make your children holy, neither will the threat of a burning hell turn mankind to God, the only power in this world that can change a person in his inner being, IS LOVE. If you have any problem in your life, over which you seem to have no control, I challenge you to look into the eyes of your heavenly Father and receive the embrace of His LOVE in spite of that "sin", and feel the change taking place within you. You see God does not stop loving you because you sin! God loves every sinner in the world, even though he does not like their sin. It is the consciousness of that LOVE that keeps a man from sin.
Some years ago I was introduced to a woman, who had married a man and had two children to him, but he left her saying he had enough of marriage and just wanted to be free. This woman came to know the Lord at this time and was growing in him. A lovely young Christian man eventually proposed to he asking for her hand in marriage. This young man was a friend of mine, and told me about his new found friend and said she was coming to the conference meetings with him and wanted me to meet her. A few days before the meetings he told me he was no longer interested in marrying this woman. The reason for his change of mind was that a former male friend had called in to see her one day and had stayed with her that night.
However, she came with him to the conference meetings and I asked my friend to introduce me to her, which he did. This was out in the beautiful gardens of the Conference center. She walked over to me with her head down and obviously waiting to be condemned. I simply put my arms around her and held her speaking into her ear I told he of her Fatherís love that had never changed, and even at that moment the arms around her were in fact the arms of God. She cried until my shoulder was wet with her tears. Then we sat together on a seat as she told me about the night when her old friend came to see her.
She said, I have been married but after my husband left me I have been so lonely, and she said this man showed some affection toward her and she said I just could not resist him. She said, I knew it was wrong but I so longed to be loved. Through her tears she looked at me and said, "Can God really forgive me?" I said have no fear for today as you open your heart to him he is going to poor in all the love you can handle, and much more. As I put my arms around her I felt her whole being relax as she experienced the miracle of the greatest love this world can ever know.
Some have questioned me in these things, who do not understand this LOVE, but I remind them of a similar woman brought to Jesus in John 8. Listen to His words, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more". The legalists cry out, what about the law? Well, what about the law, it says that what she did was wrong, and the penalty is death, for there is no other answer as far as the Law is concerned. But LOVE could rescue her and bring correction and salvation.
Not along ago a mother rang me, being very distraught over her daughter who had just told her she was pregnant. I asked her what she said to her daughter and she replied, "I told he to get out of the house and never come back." Now this mother loved the Lord and would assert that she was a Christian. But through her tears she asked me what she should do, so obviously she was not happy with what she had done. I asked her if she knew where her daughter went and she said yes, so I said you need to go there straight away and put your arms around your daughter, and tell her that you love her, and that Godís love towards her has never changed for she is precious unto him. At the same time ask her to forgive you for your angry outburst when she told you the news.
Love saved that family from being ripped apart, and kept the bond intact so that sooner or later that mother would be able to help her daughter when she is in need. Many Christian families have allowed hate and prejudice to destroy their relationships, because they only know LAW and not LOVE. Remember LAW was added only UNTIL the Seed should come, to whom the promise was made, which was Christ. Law is impotent to break the power of sin. Perhaps this is the reason why the heathen are still heathen, because no one has told them that God loves them.
LOVE IS A THING OF THE SPIRIT
LOVE is not simply an emotion of the soul. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 13:8 that LOVE NEVER FAILS. It is an impossibility for true love to fail, and that is why God cannot fail, for God is LOVE. However, what we call love, according to our human understanding is an emotion, which can change from minute to minute, according to circumstances. Two people can express love one to another one minute, and then because of a word or an action, can be filled with anger the next. This is certainly not what the Bible is speaking about, when it says, GOD IS LOVE. We must bear in mind the fact that God is NOT A MAN. Num 23:19. So many Christians do not understand Godís Love, because they consider He is just like us. Godís Love is not an emotion, but an intrinsic part of His very being. To see Godís Love as an emotion, allows us the concept of a God who loves us one minute, then because of something we say or do, suddenly God stops loving us today, so that it is impossible for anyone to establish a genuine relationship with Him.
Let us be honest, you cannot love someone, who loves you one minute, but is angry with you the next! Even in the natural we need to know a constant attitude of love, even though we are imperfect. But LOVE never fails, for LOVE is eternal, because God is Love. How wonderful that LOVE is the only thing said to be eternal. Sin is not eternal, not hate, not anger, or else we make these things to be equal with God! Remember LOVE is a fruit of the Spirit, and not just a soulish expression. Godís LOVE by comparison, is as wide as the ocean, high as the heavens above, and as deep as the deepest sea, with a dimension only understood by those who have received it.
LOVE IS GIVING
Many people are desperate for LOVE as the world is full of people that have been hurt in some way by parents or others. Unless they have found the true fountain of all LOVE in God they will be short on love, and so there will be little or no true expression of love in their lives. Here is the reason for the increasing number of marriages that fail, for there is an inability in many people to express the kind of love that can sustain a marriage relationship. You cannot LOVE without GIVING. If God had simply said, "I LOVE YOU", and left it there, we would have never taken very much notice. But His declaration of LOVE was followed by, such an action of LOVE that it completely overwhelms us, for in his death on the Cross, the innocent Son of God died for those who were guilty, setting them free.
Many young girls would be saved the heartbreak, of broken relationships, if they understood better this aspect of love, and checked the credentials of their suitors, and not just listened to their glib statements. Divorce is at an all time high, even among Christians, simply because most only see Love as an emotion, and so one morning they wake up and realize they no longer love the one they married. Love in a COMMITMENT, and without that commitment love is simply a word that can mean whatever you want it to mean. Love is also GIVING, not simply in terms of money, but is a commitment of ALL I AM, TO THE ONE I LOVE. It works in exactly the same way towards God. Love does not work on a "tithe" as being sufficient evidence of a personís love for God, but requires a total commitment. God himself sets the standard of LOVE, and His love to you is absolute, and so is His commitment to you.
Did you k now God loves you perfectly right at this moment, just as you are with all your faults and failings, and that there is nothing you can do, that can stop that LOVE. I am telling you the truth even if our minds find it hard to comprehend. There is not a more liberating truth that you will ever hear than this, GOD LOVES YOU. So many Christians live under a cloud of guilt, because preachers tell them, God cannot love you because you do not live according to their own personal religious standard. But today I write these words to encourage you and to tell you, GOD LOVES YOU.
God has so ordained that he is the only one on this earth that can meet your need for LOVE. No man can ever meet the need of a woman for LOVE, and no woman can ever meet the need of a man for LOVE, only GOD can do that. So that in marriage, God intended a man to find his need for LOVE met in Him, and for the woman to also find her satisfaction in Fatherís LOVE, then together they are ready to enter into marriage in order to GIVE what ever the other needs, without the desire to be GETTING. This is real LOVE. You can have sex without LOVE, which is really lust, and you can have LOVE without sex which is a constant expression of Godís perfect love towards others.
Perfection in Love
There are two opposing forces in LOVE, and these are clearly identified in Godís expression of LOVE. The first is a desire to give oneself to another for their benefit, while at the same time expressing a desire to possess the object of our LOVE until these two become one.
This is perfectly illustrated in Christ as John the Baptist saw Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the whole world." He did this even though he knew there was none righteous no not one, for every one had turned "to his own way." However in spite of this, "the Lord laid on Him, the iniquity of us all." Such an exhibition of LOVE has never been eclipse in the history of man. But this is not the end for Jesus said, "I if I be lifted up I WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME". Here God demonstrates His desire to draw ALL MEN unto Himself. Surely you must agree, this is a LOVE without comparison that not only reaches out to every man, but at the same time seeks to lift us out of the mud and the mire and into the heavenly realm of God Himself. Can you beloved comprehend such love? We who were "ENEMIES" are caught up in a LOVE embrace and elevated to the position of, "Heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ", and all because of a demonstration of Divine LOVE which demands nothing but gives everything. This is what the Bible means when it says GOD IS LOVE.
THE POWER OF LOVE
This is demonstrated in the statement that is so often repeated in both the Old and the NEW Testament, "It is written, as I live sayeth the Lord EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS that Jesus Christ is Lord." What power is there in the universe that could possibly bring such a thing to pass? The answer is not threat of punishment, or subjection by force, but L- O- V- E. Modern theology suggests man will be forced to bow the knee before Him like some vanquished foe, but the Greek word used here suggests a bowing in worship, which of necessity must be a voluntary act of the will. LOVE is the greatest force in the universe, for a man will do for LOVE, what he could never be forced to do, even at that point of a gun.
The human mind can only conceive of POWER in terms of superiority and domination, as is practiced by the world today. This is the reason why man introduced an eternal burning hell into our bible, for it was not conceivable that man would of his own will turn and worship God without some dreadful alternative to force the issue. However Paul tells us, "LOVE NEVER FAILS", and then proceeds to inform us, that the three greatest things are FAITH HOPE AND LOVE, and of these LOVE is SUPREME. 1Cor 13. In keeping with God's divine order Jesus said to His disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you that you ye LOVE ONE ANOTHER as I have loved you, and by this LOVE ALL MEN WILL KNOW YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES". How important it is for us to note, that the true mark of discipleship, is not the ability to quote the bible or discuss doctrine and preach, but the ability to LOVE.
The Apostle John issues a solemn warning to the saints of his day when he says, "Little children keep yourselves from IDOLS". An idol does not have to be a physical object but can also be a FALSE CONCEPT OF GOD. How many of God's people have lived under a false idea of an unforgiving God, who banishes to HELL all who fail to meet His standard. Such people allow similar attitudes to dominate our own personal relationships. In this way husbands and wives have been separated and parents and children divided, and in many cases this has been on the advice of Christian leadership.
These attitudes are the result of "IDOLATRY" or false concepts of God. There is probably no more devastating example of the gross damage inflicted by these false concepts of God, than that which we see in the lives of so many Christian families. Strangely enough, it is those who claim to have experienced the Love of God who seem to suffer the most from this problem of family divisions.
It is most important for us as Christian parents to understand the principles which should govern the raising and discipline of our children. Unfortunately we have looked to the clever thinkers of this world for direction, instead of looking to our Heavenly FATHER, to see how He handles His family. Let it be very clear that there are only two means at our disposal by which we can raise our children and cause them to respond to us in obedience, and these are, by LAW or by LOVE. Many Christians have never understood the difference between these two methods. Children will obey you only on the basis of one of these two methods, but the final results will be totally different. It is an established fact that children will obey you for only one of two reasons, either because they LOVE you or they FEAR you. Unfortunately most parents follow the pattern their parents set not knowing that there is an alternative. My personal experience was simply to follow the pattern my parents my parents set in these things. We were told to obey "OR ELSE". So because they we did not like the "or else", we tended to obey at least outwardly. As I became a Father with small children I followed the same pattern, explaining that I was the Father and they were the children and whatever I said, I expected them to do without question or they would be subjected to discipline. Now there is no question this system worked for many people remarked on how obedient our children were, and my chest would expand with pride as I considered I was doing everything right. Does not the Bible teach that we are to have our children in subjection?
However, it took a revelation of God to see what was happening in my family. I only had a picture of my natural father in my mind so I followed the pattern he set in raising me. But I realized I did not love my father and this attitude greatly affected my ability to love from that time on. Yes my children were obedient, but their obedience was not based upon L-O-V-E, but F-E-A-R. Fortunately this revelation came to me before my children came into teenage years, so the correction became effective in their lives as I slowly allowed Love to be expressed more and more. To Love your children does not mean that we let them do anything that might want to do. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.
I have watched a three year old in a Christian family, do a dance on a dining room table that had been set with glassware, cutlery and plates ready for a meal. I was sitting and speaking with the boyís father in the same room, and with plates flying off the table etc, he calmly looked at me and said, "What can you do with a boy like that????" I said, "Take him off the table." But his father replied, NO, if I do that he will scream the house down." I said to this man, "The problem with your boy is YOU. Your boy is crying out for you to set some bounds for him, so he is going to keep pushing the boundary out further and further, until someone stops him. They had taken this boy to the doctor as they were convinced he had a medical problem. So the doctor gave them medicine for him that slowed him down but scrambled his brain.
I was able to show them how to pray over that lad while he slept and almost immediately they saw a difference in him. But I had to show that father how to cuddle his son, and tell him how much he loved him. They did not need the medication after that for a new power began to take over and that was called LOVE. Let me repeat again the truth concerning love, "If you do not receive LOVE you will never be able to express that kind of love that brings healing and wholeness to others."
I had still to learn what it means to LOVE your children, in the true sense of the word. Firstly I had to discover that God's love, which is the only true love is UNCONDITIONAL. Tell me, do you stop loving your children in order to discipline them? Most parents chastise their children in ANGER, and the desire is to HURT because the theory is if the hurt is bad enough they will do not it again. But "HURT" in most cases does not result in repentance, but is stored within the child as anger, and often results in a desire to hurt others. There are many ways we use to try to get obedience from our children, but the first is usually by hurting them, and then as they get older we graduate to making LAWS. We write up our "ten commandments" and say these are the rules of this house, keep them or else! Do you know anyone who became righteous by learning the "Ten Commandments," because I don't know.
Law is powerless to make anyone righteous, how much less the laws we write for our families. Judson Cornwell told us one day in ministry, how as a boy if he did something wrong his mother would stand him in the corner. So one day he misbehaved and found himself standing in the corner, and after some time his mother called out from another room, "Judson are you standing in the corner?" To which he replied, "Yes mum I am standing up in the outside but I am sitting down on the inside". What an incite this gives us into obedience. Most of us believe if we obey God outwardly, then God is happy, but this is totally false. Obedience is a thing of the HEART, and must be centered in the will, before it can have any reality. If we cease from doing something, but then continue to crave inwardly for that thing does not constitute true obedience. But even for Christians this is all we seem to be able to achieve under our human concepts. How many Christians have "obeyed" the command to REPENT and be converted, but only in order to escape the fires of HELL, with "Self" still in control of their will.
The tragedy is that we have ascribed to God these same attitudes making Him altogether a MAN. First of all God's love is unconditional, so it NEVER changes. Even when we fail Godís love remains the same, but because we think God is like us we hide from Him fearing the consequences. Many Christians are sick and we often find that they believe that their sickness is the result of Godís discipline in their lives because they failed in some area of their lives. How stupid are such thoughts. We fail in some area of our lives so God says now I am going to give you cancer so you will not do that again.
If sickness could be the instrument of righteousness in our lives I would have given my children every disease possible to make them perfect. But such thinking is from the snake and not of God. We need to realize, that SIN has its own "built in" retribution. What ever you SOW, you will REAP. The wages of sin, is DEATH, but this does not mean that God says, I will kill you if you sin, because this would make obedience to God a matter of LAW.
Now if you can understand these things, you can see, that we also have made obedience, a legal matter, for our children, and as a result they consider LOVE has nothing to do with obedience. Beloved, GOD IS LOVE, and EVERYTHING He has made and everything he does, is an expression of that LOVE. When Adam sinned in the garden, God did not say, "Now you have disobeyed me, I am going to kill you". NO! The death he had to endure, was the result of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil. When God told Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that was not a L-A-W but an expression of Fatherís love for him because he knew what the result would be for HIMSELF as well as for Adam.
Now I have said all that to show you, how God's love works. Even after Adam sinned the Lord God went looking for him searching for him among the trees. Paul brings this thought up to date for us when he says, "While we were YET SINNERS Christ died for us". Can you not see, that if God does not LOVE SINNERS who then can he love for ALL have sinned. So here is the example for us as parents, in training our children. Our LOVE towards them must never change, regardless of what they do and this will gender in them a reciprocal love for us. Remember what the scripture says, "We love Him BECAUSE HE first loved us". We would never love God, expect as a result of the fact THAT HE FIRST LOVED US.
It is a fact that children who are not loving, are the products of parents who have not given them the love that satisfies them. Children cannot manufacture love, if they do not receive it, they will not be able to express it. The reality may be devastating for some, but you will get back from your children the kind of love that you have given them.
I have never spoken on this subject without being accused of a total imbalance. Pastorís have told me that I fail to preach the JUSTICE of God, which is the balance of His love. For them the two are totally distinct but the truth is that Godís justice is based upon his LOVE. God is not Law because GOD IS LOVE, and yet because of that HIS WAYS ARE PERFECT. However, God's purpose is to restore relationship with all His creatures, and that is why, God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD unto Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES unto them.
Does God correct His children? Of course, for every son whom He loveth He scoureth. Heb 12:6. However, the natural mind sees these scriptures as being an expression of the justice of God, but the Greek word used in this passage means "CHILD TRAINING." It is discipline with a view to blessing, and not to inflict hurt. Even our penal system is based upon the principle of CORRECTION, and not simply locking people up just to hurt them, even though I admit man has not been very successful, but God's correction always results in blessing, for God is LOVE. How often is man's discipline destructive, failing to even provide the correction would desire. Our children will only obey if they LOVE us. Hence Jesus said, "If you LOVE Me, keep My commandments", for He knew that without LOVE obedience is impossible. But because God is LOVE, there is coming a day, when EVERY knee shall bow, and EVERY tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, for such is the power of LOVE.
The love of God is not something we can imitate, but is the fruit of the spirit. Only through the Spirit of God dwelling in us can we manifest that love for then its expression is as natural as breathing. Love is not something we have to learn to do, but rather is the natural outworking of the indwelling Christ, who is the express image of God, WHO IS LOVE. For hundreds of years Israel failed to keep the law of God but Christ fulfilled the law in one word, LOVE. When the God who is LOVE dwells within us, the out working of His love will fulfill the law in us.
Looking back over these notes, I realise I have failed to adequately present the LOVE of GOD, but I must rest in the knowledge that WORDS are totally insufficient to tell the whole story. In fact you will never know the HEIGHT, nor the DEPTH nor the length and breadth of God's great LOVE, until you open your heart and receive it for yourself. The truth is beloved, that GOD LOVES YOU perfectly without reservation regardless of what you may have done for His love is unconditional. His love received in your heart will bring healing and wholeness to you in a way that nothing else ever could. His LOVE will remove your fears and anxiety and fill your heart, and then you will know, that the half has never been told.
There is a little chorus we used to love to sing as children, the words of which go like this,
Wide wide as the ocean, high as the heavens above,
Deep deep as the deepest sea, is my Saviour's love,
O though so unworthy, still I'm a child of His care,
For His love reaches me, EVERY WHERE.
There is another hymn, the words of which have remained in my heart since childhood, and I would like to share them with you in closing.
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.
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stork 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.
May the Spirit of the Lord give you understanding of these things.
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