Friday, February 8, 2013

LET THE PEOPLE SAY, “HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER”

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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.”

Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.”

Psalm 118:1-4

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

The 117th Psalm had a simple message within its mere two verses: The Lord is forever faithful. As we look to the 118th Psalm, we see something else eternal about the Lord we worship and serve: His love endures forever. Look at these verses:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.”

Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.”

Now while forever faithfulness speaks us to us saying that the Lord is always there for us, loyal and true, ever ready to hear and answer our prayers and provide for us in accordance with His will, forever love is a completely different matter.

I say this because we can feel love. We can sense and experience faithfulness but love is something personal and intimate, something we all covet so very much. To not be loved would leave us in a place where we would be void of others who cared for us. We would feel alone and isolated, abandoned and forlorn, cold and deserted.

Yes, one of the darkest, most dreadful places to be in life has to be where one is not loved.

The good news is that we will never be in this place if we turn to the One who ever shows us a love that endures forever. To think about what this means, let’s use an excerpt from the scriptures completely centered on love, the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, often referred to as the Love Chapter. I will look at each aspect of what the Bible says love is, as well as what it isn’t, and convey how the Lord perfectly exemplifies each trait as He brings us a love, not just for a moment, but a love that endures forever.

The following comes from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

1. Love is patient.

Think about how sinful we are. Then think about how much God hates sin. Finally ask yourself why God didn’t just wipe us off the face of His creation a long time ago as we continued to choose our own desires over His. Can you see how much patience our Lord has for us, all out of love? Maybe we should try and show just a fraction of that patience when we deal with one another.

2. Love is kind.

We serve a God who is ever so kind to us and when we allow His Spirit to come and abide within our hearts, then we begin to reap what is referred to as the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians, Chapter 5, of which is kindness.

3. Love does not envy.

The Lord sure doesn’t envy anything about us because He is above us and over us. Yet He loves us in such a special way and when we seek to allow His love to be our love, then we too will find ourselves in a place where we will not envy.

4. Love does not boast. Love is not proud.

When we look at the life of Jesus, we find a humble servant who never boasted about anything except perhaps His Father. I’ve always felt that the humility one shows is a good indicator of where someone is in their Christian faith. One who lives in humility, checks their pride at the door, and lives in a way that Jesus did, in a way that the Lord expects us to live.

5. Love does not dishonor others.

True love seeks to build others up and treat them as Christ would. It’s the very reason that the scriptures, when talking about marriage, command the husband to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This is a love that honors and esteems, not one that cheats and discredits.

6. Love is not self-seeking.

Anyone who loves and lives as Jesus did will find themselves always self sacrificing and not self seeking. It’s what defined Jesus all the way to death for us and it will define anyone who is faithful and obedient to Christ’s will and way.

7. Love is not easily angered.

Going back to the Lord’s grace, we see where we should have been consumed by His wrath and yet we find that He is able to temper His anger so that we don’t face the full brunt of it. Out of His love for us, the Lord corrects but does so in a way that teaches us and guides us toward living the way He longs for us to live. Too many relationships in life are wrecked by anger. We would be well served to love all like the Lord in a way that would ensure that we are not easily angered

8. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

What is the Lord kept a running ledger of our sins? Would we be able to stand up to the evidence that could be presented against us? Thank goodness that the Lord, out of His love for us, is willing to forgive and forget when we repent of our sins. He doesn’t continue to add our sins and hold them against us. He wishes for us to learn from our mistakes and move on to carry out His will in service. Do you hold a list of grudges against someone? Maybe you, like the Lord, should erase the record and allow someone a fresh start out of His love within you.

9. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

To live for Christ out of our love for Him leads us to live for truth and goodness and righteousness.

10. Love always protects.

When you truly love someone, you care enough for them to ensure they are protected, even if it means dying to save them. This most powerful kind of love, agape love, is the same love that Jesus had for us and as we live for Him, it’s the same love we’ll have for others.

11. Love always trusts.

A strong loving marital relationship is built on the foundation of trust. Two people vow to be loyal to one another, to have and to hold for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad. When we love the way the Lord expects us to love, we do so in trust.

12. Love always hopes.

Losing your hope is one of the worse things that can happen to someone. When we love the Lord and in turn love others as He loves, then we find ourselves living and loving in hope and not just any hope but an eternal hope through Christ Jesus.

13. Love always perseveres. Love never fails.

Love in its truest sense does not give up. It always believes and always hangs in there because the Lord’s love endures forever and thus there are no gaps in the love He lavishes on us. It is eternal and continuous.

Friends, the psalmist called on the people in his day to proclaim and let all know that Lord was good and was the source of an enduring love that would last forever.

Today, the call is no different. The Lord is love and without Him in our love, we have no hope to love the way He expects us to. We should not only be embracing His love and put it into action within our own lives but we should be testifying about His love to others.

With this, let all people say this day forward, “The Lord’s love endures forever.”

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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