“Sheep must know their Shepherd’s Love.”In every way God wants us to know His Love for us, in the deepest sense. Click To Tweet
This statement recently made by Pastor Jason Moore sparked the flame for the theme of this post. Following it were one-liners spoken by Pastor Bruce Wright, Pastor Schaller, and Pastor Scibelli, respectively, which added fuel to the fire:
“It’s more important to think of what God is like than of what I am like.”
“Love starts with God, Who is the Truth.”
“To walk in the way of Love, you have to think in Love.”
In every way God wants us to know His Love for us, in the deepest sense. In Jeremiah 6:16 “the old pathway” was to eat of the Tree of Life, not of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, where feelings, sight, reason, peoples’ treatment of us interfere with a clear picture of how He loves us. And how does He love us?
“As the Father loved Me, so have I loved you … “For both the Father and the Son, the fruit for all eternity was worth the pain in time. Click To Tweet
In John 15:9 and 17:23 the Word of God makes it clear that in the same manner, to the same degree, with the same duration that the Father loved the Son, the Son – our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ – loves us. Amazing, hard to fathom. Yet even more difficult to grasp is that this Same Love with which the Father loved His Son sent the Latter to the Cross to suffer in every regard, bleed, and die. Furthermore, as we read in Isaiah 53:10a it actually “pleased the LORD [Father] to bruise Him [Son]; He has put Him to grief.” BUT we then read in verse 10b and 11 promised results of the Son’s suffering: “He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” The Father and Son both had Eternal Viewpoint all the while the Son was on earth, knowing that the fruit for all eternity was worth the pain in time.
Seek, find, and be satisfied.
In Song of Solomon 3 and in Jeremiah 29:12,13, we become assured that if we seek Him diligently we will surely find Him; and we are satisfied. Then we become, in actuality, salt and Light on this earth, making Him manifest to all around us, just as the Shulamite did to the other maidens once she had found Him Whom her soul so loved (Song of Sol.3:1-5; 5:2-16) May we always remember that we, the Church now, are being prepared to be the Bride of Christ, His Spouse for all Eternity! And as we trust in Him and His Love, He will totally satisfy us. People in the world – which is never able to provide enduring satisfaction (Ecclesiastes!) – will take notice, and the works of the devil in their lives will be destroyed (I John 3:8).
Two women, two ways …The woman in Proverbs 30:20, 23, is defined by her husband's lack of love, not knowing perhaps the Love that the Lord cherishes for her. Click To Tweet
Let’s look at two women who walk in opposite ways. The first is defined by her circumstances, the second by the Love of God. The first walks in the way of sight, feelings, and reason; the second, by faith in Love. Proverbs 30:21 and 23 tell us about the first one: “For three things the earth is perturbed, yes, for four it cannot bear up; … a hateful woman when she is married …”. Perturbed in Hebrew is “ragaz” and means (1) quiver with any violent, negative emotion, especially anger or fear; (2) be troubled by or angry with. Bear up in Hebrew is “nasa” and is defined as (1) forgive; (2) help, hold up; (3) honor, respect, receive; (4) unable to bear the guilt of a person. Next, hateful (“odious” in the KJV), “sane” in Hebrew, suggests being hated and then becoming hateful – i.e., in this case she is defined by her husband’s lack of love, perhaps even his hatred. Finally, married defines for us that this woman is under the authority of a man, which is supposed to be a blessing, but in this case certainly is not!
Imagine: the earth, the world, cannot bear such a woman. It doesn’t honor or respect her, cannot receive her, cannot bear her guilt, cannot forgive her; it absolutely cannot help her! Hatred is defining her, and this is ugly, even to a fallen world, and is dangerous to be around because of the serpent infecting and controlling her thoughts, emotions, and vocal cords. Yet, there is hope for such a one…
BUT GOD, and HIS LOVE!
Recently a story was shared about a woman whose husband was a serious drinker and a brute. But the wife remained very kind and served him uncomplainingly and with great equanimity and Love. Her children, who knew well their father and his behavior and who watched their mother closely, asked her one day: “How can you be so kind to Dad when he treats you so roughly and is always so mean and drunk?” Her response was something like: “I love him with God’s Love, and because he will go to Hell if he continues to reject Jesus Christ, I want him to experience the lovingkindness of the Lord now as it might be his only opportunity to see how much He loves him.” I believe the question the children asked their mother was also asked her by the husband, the response being the same. He ended up coming to the Lord and becoming a beautiful, active member of their church. This woman somehow had gotten ahold of God’s Love and let His Love define her. Maybe in her times of being alone with the Lord she had heard, albeit inaudibly, words like “O woman, greatly beloved!”, as Daniel did in Daniel 9 and 10, three times. Or perhaps she simply believed what Romans 8:38,39 says, that NOTHING could separate her from the Love of God, and nothing could remove her from that security, even the absence of love from her husband.
Let’s imagine now an unmarried Christian woman who just can’t seem to get ahold of God’s Love for her. She simply doesn’t believe what the Word of God says, perhaps because sight, reason, and feelings have for so long seemed to contradict what the Bible clearly declares. For example, in Jeremiah 31:3 she reads that God has loved her “with an everlasting love”. “But”, she reasons, “I no longer see or feel it, Lord, and it seems that You love me less now than when I first met You, because, well, I haven’t been the greatest Christian!” Or maybe I John 4:8, 16, is brought to her attention, “God is Love”, and yet she talks herself out of believing it because of feeling that He is mad at her and is distancing Himself from her more and more. But how the Lord would want her to know what is written in His Word in I Thess.5:9 and Isaiah 53:5, and maybe He would say to her: “I already poured out My wrath against your sins and iniquities, upon My Son. I cannot, will not, do it again, because when I do something, I do it forever (Eccles.3:14)”. Perhaps then she would counter with: “Then show me, Lord, that You love me!” And He would perhaps answer with, “I clearly showed and proved My love for you by the fact that while you were yet a sinner, I permitted, mandated actually, that My spotless, perfect Son die for you, though you were unGodly and certainly didn’t deserve what I gave.” (Rom.5:8) Even if this precious woman continues to doubt the pure, unchanging Love of her Savior for her and begins to resort to sublimation to attempt to quiet her fears and doubts and to fill the emptiness and even pain of feeling separated from the Lord, still there is hope offered by the Word of God: “Your Love is better than wine” (Song of Sol.1:2), and “Your kisses are sweeter than wine” (v.4) She has only to believe.
“Keep yourselves in the Love of God” (Jude 21)
This is the solution for: (a) being unloved by an earthly husband; (b) having no husband and wanting one; (c) or having left “first Love” (Rev.2:4) – which is not a matter of our loving Him as we did when we first received Him but rather of our remembering, rehearsing how He first loved us (I John 4:10,19), and always has from Eternity Past. Let’s pray for each other as Paul did for the believers in Ephesus, that we may “be rooted deep in Love and founded securely on Love, that [we] may have the power and be strong to …grasp with all the saints [ … the experience of that Love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; … to know the Love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge…; that [we] may be filled [through all our being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” (Eph.3:17-19, AMPL) God wants more than anything, I believe, for His people to really believe, rely upon, be consistently conscious of the Love that He cherishes for us.
“The Love that Christ has for me …”
In II Corinthians 5:14 Paul wrote, in the Wuest translation, ” … the Love that Christ has for me presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive …” Again, it’s not first and foremost that we love Him, because we simply won’t if we aren’t first persuaded that He unconditionally, unchangingly loves us. But if we, like Paul, allow this unduplicatable Love to define who we are, to ourselves first, our lives will bear fruit and our Father in Heaven will be glorified, and thus shall His purpose for us on earth be fulfilled (Isa.43:7; Rev.4:11). As we continue in His Word may it always be in the context of this Great Love with which He has loved us, that we might bring forth much more fruit!