Friday, September 5, 2008

LOVE is it!

'What comes first, the chicken or the egg?'
It's a classic mind bender for Zaxby's lovers. There's another like it only more profound, 'What comes first, God's love for me or my love for others.'
That's the question left ratling around in my mind after Pastor Shawn threw down on everyone with this post on his blog 'Loving People...'
Love, I’ll admit as a guy it eludes me!! However it was like finding a lost piece of a 5000 piece puzzle when I read and reread a number of times Romans 13 a few years back. It reads in the NIV;
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11And do this, understanding the present time…
Paul’s driving it home. Following Jesus each day is our spiritual act of worship. And when you boil it all down Paul says following Jesus can be summed up in ONE – “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Ultimately the litmus test we need to be applying to our hearts is, “Am I genuinely growing by God’s grace in practical love for others?” And for Paul, the ‘by God’s grace’ is no throw away line. It is core. It is only as we know, experience and receive God’s unconditional love for us in and through Jesus Christ that we can ever spiritually worship God and love others as ourselves. Earlier Paul wrote;
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Bottom Line : It is God’s love that reaches out and rescues us while we hate Him and others. It’s God’s love that floods into our hearts by His Holy Spirit when we place our trust in Jesus. And it’s God’s love present within me that will flood out in practical love for others as I daily walk by His Spirit. I hate to admit it, but I can pretty quickly assess how closely I’m walking with Jesus, it shows by the way either His love IS or ISN’T present in the way I interact with the people God places around me. I thank God that He is gracious to me, always forgiving and ready to smother me in His love and impact others through me.
By the Way - Whenever I need to understand the times I'm called to Pastor in, I need to be reminded of that little verse Romans 13:11. I'll never be able to speak with God's power into others lives if I do not have His love for them.

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