SALVATION; AN EXPRESSION OF GOD’S LOVE
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
The greatest demonstration of God’s love was the gift of His Only Son. God did not send Christ as a reward to the obedient, but rather as a ransom for the defiant. We see Jesus display His love throughout His life and ministry. He healed the sick without a requirement of gratitude. He displayed humility even though He was King of Kings. Even while on the cross, Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of the ones who placed Him there. Salvation is open to all who believe in Christ. God’s love does not discriminate. His love provide salvation for the vilest of sinners. He loves us while we were yet sinners. The aim is to make us righteous.
To truly love, we must first know God. Love starts with God and ends with God. God does everything out of His love. He cannot and does not do wrong. His display of love is the purest and truest there is. He loves perfectly. And because we are made in God’s image, we can love. God has called us to love as He loves and this can only be achieved by His help.
Dear Father, please forgive us for the times when we have forgotten the cost of Your love; the life of Your Son, Jesus. I pray that we will live confidently today, knowing that we are Your children who You have chosen with a plan and purpose in mind. Help us live for You. Amen.
LOOKING OUT FOR OTHERS
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:10
Have you ever been in a situation where it seems like a challenge will overwhelm you? Have you wished that someone shared your burden with you? Yes, we all have been in such situations at some point in our lives. We need people to carry our burdens with us, but how often do we carry other peoples’ burdens? “…love your neighbour as you love yourself….” (Mark 12:31) also includes sharing in the pains of others. In our text Christ gave a parable of a friend who went to his friend at night requesting food for another of his friend that just arrived from a journey. Note that the food was not for him but his friend, yet he risked his life, inconvenienced himself and went in search for food for his friend. Often, we are so busy about our own challenges and we find it difficult to render support to people around us. We often give excuses that we have our own challenges. Sometimes we use phrases like; “everyone is running their own race’, ‘let everyone carry their own cross,” and so on, to justify not sharing in other peoples’ burdens. Apostle Paul told the Galatian Church that a way to fulfil the law of Christ (which is the law to love one another) is to carry the burdens of others. Let us make conscious effort to carry others’ burdens either through prayer, financial support or even our physical presence.
Dear Lord, please help me to see other peoples’ problems as mine and share in their burdens. Amen.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD’S LOVE
1 Corinthians 13:4–8
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34
The word ‘Agape’ is translated into the word “Charity” in the King James Bible of our text. This is the perfect English word to describe God’s selfless and unconditional love. Sin is the enemy of love. God’s love conquers sin. Agape love makes eternal salvation possible. Our Lord not only gave us a command that we should love one another but also told us how to love one another. The love of Christ is the central element of Christian belief. It refers to the love of Jesus Christ for humanity, the love of Christians for Christ, and the love of Christians for others. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)
Jerry Bridges wrote, “God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His Beloved Son.” Believe God’s love and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your rock is Christ. Measure not God’s love and favour by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds, which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof.
Father Lord, please help me to love unconditionally.
WALK IN LOVE
“And walk-in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” Ephesians 5:2.
The fifth chapter of Ephesians opens with the startling, unrelenting admonition to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). The word translated imitators is the same word from which we get our word “mimic.” What a command! “Be like God.” How can we take this in? Where do we even start in such a daunting pursuit to have this God-likeness? Thankfully, Paul doesn’t leave us to ourselves to determine the best route to resembling God, he follows the command to “imitate God” with the concise instruction to “walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2-7). It is no accident that the directive to walk in love is immediately and inseparably coupled with the example of Christ: “walk in love, as Christ loved.” If we want to imitate and look like God, Paul says to look at Christ. Christ is the only way to God and the only path to being like God.
To be like Christ, then, is our ultimate motivation and goal, not just to be different. We as Christians often forget this when we make Christianity out to be a legalistic system of prohibitions and criticisms. We are not to strive merely to be starkly contrary to the worldly people who are around us but to be strikingly like Christ who is inside us. “Imitate God,” Paul instructs. And the first way he instructs us to do this is by being consumed by God’s own zeal for God’s pleasure and God’s glory. And when we put God first in our affection, attention, and ambition, then our love for everyone else around us will necessarily be self-denyingly and sacrificially for their good.
Dear Lord, help me to live a God-centred life as I earnestly walk in love.
“But I say unto you which hear, love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,” Luke 6:27
In our society, people tend to show love and care for friends, family members and well-wishers. We tend to help and offer assistance to people who have in times past assisted us. However, as Christians, the narrative ought not to be so. Christ said “if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.” (Luke 6: 32). We must note that we are not normal people, thus we should not do things the ‘normal way’ but the ‘Christ’s way’. We should show love to people that ordinarily we would regard as undeserving of our love. Remember that we were undeserving of God’s love, yet He loved us and gave us Jesus (Romans 5:8). Yes, it is difficult, but with God all things are possible. When we find those we consider as enemies in need, we should lend a helping hand and assist them. Unusual love is about seeing a need and meeting it.
Love is not a feeling that you feel. It’s what we see in Mark 6 and Mark 8 when Jesus feeds the 5000 and then the 4,000. Christ said He felt deeply for them because they were hungry. That’s love. We must not necessarily have any form of relationship with people to show them love bearing in mind that our reward comes from God and not man. Therefore, we should not be bothered if our love is not reciprocated. God’s grace is sufficient to help us.
Lord give me the grace to love even when it seems difficult and abnormal.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT 2
Luke 1:26-35, Galatians 5:22-23
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee …” Luke 1:35
In our previous meditation, we emphasized the importance of abiding (fellowship) to fruitfulness or productivity. This was necessary in order to set things in their proper order. Today, we will probe further into this divine conception (fruit of the Spirit) brought about by the interaction of God’s Spirit and our born-again spirits. The Holy Spirit was given to produce God’s nature in us. The communion of our spirits with the Spirit of God makes this possible. The Holy Spirit deposits the seed of God into our spirits thus making us carriers of God’s seed. This is the only way that we can ‘give birth’ to the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23. Mary’s encounter with the angel provides further insights. Angel Gabriel’s answer to Mary is instructive, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you.” This settles all issues concerning how anyone can bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is produced in a person by the power of the Spirit. Do you want to experience and radiate love, peace, joy? Do you want to exhibit longsuffering, goodness, kindness, faithfulness? Do you want to demonstrate self-control and gentleness? Then dwell in the atmosphere of the overshadowing power of the Highest. Only what is born of the Spirit pleases God. If the flesh, in its usual way of counterfeiting what is of God, produces these character traits of the fruit of the Spirit; God will still not be pleased. Anything done for God that is not produced of the Spirit is nothing before God.
Do I portray these character traits of God’s Spirit?
Lord, help me to manifest the fruit of your Spirit through the power of your Spirit, today and forever. Amen.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT 3
“For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;” Ephesians 5:9
The scriptures point us to the fact that we have the fruit of the Spirit as against fruits. Our text describes the different shades of one fruit and not nine (9) fruits of the Spirit. There are standards or procedures that authenticate a thing. Whenever those standards are not met, the thing or product is taken as fake. The Lord has given us standards to judge if a fruit is by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit must pass the standards of God’s goodness, righteousness and truth. This is how we separate what is born of the Spirit from what is born of the flesh. Some have expressed love but with ulterior motive. Others have acted gentle but with an intention to manipulate. Some observe decorum due to background and training but this should not be confused with the gentleness and self-control of the Spirit. Good and motivational speeches are good but they are not necessarily “born of the spirit.” The love, joy and peace of the Holy Spirit is different from the happiness caused by happenings, the momentary excitement of sensations, and the fickle calm that the world calls peace.
We must know that our Father is not interested in the mechanical production of this fruit, that is why the Spirit’s power is available. He is more than willing to produce His fruit in our lives if we surrender to His leadership. As He is, so are we in this world; because we have and express the fruit of His Spirit.
Can the fruit I bear reflect God’s goodness, righteousness and truth?
Lord, by your Spirit I express your character in all goodness, righteousness and truth. Amen.