12-24-2016 NO GREATER LOVE
No greater love. John 15:13 tells us that no man can express a greater love than he lay down his life for his friends. Jesus came into this world over two thousand years ago to do just that – and more.
While we were yet sinners (separated from God) God s showed His love towards us as Christ died for us (on the cross) (Romans 5:8). And He showed us the relationship He wanted with us when He explained to His apostles and disciples (John 15:14-17) that He doesn’t want ‘just’ servants, but He wants friends (like David and Johnathan, 2 Sam.1:26), someone He can share His thoughts with and who will share our lives with Him.
This is Jesus who was with the God and was God (John 1:1), who was made flesh and lived among us and the disciples saw His glory as the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14). So Jesus became a ‘man’ under the law to redeem us from the law (Gal. 3:13) by being born a human (Gal. 4:4-6) to deliver us from the bondage of the law. He had everything in heaven, yet He came to earth to bring us back into eternal fellowship with the Father (Romans 10:9).
He did this by going to the cross for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22), becoming cursed for us so that we might attain righteousness and have eternal fellowship with the Father (Gal. 3:13).
But we know that Jesus not only died for us, but overcame death and the grave (1 Corinth. 15:55-57) and ascended to the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55) and is patiently waiting to come back for all His brothers and sisters (the church) so we can be with Him forever and ever (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
So how do we return this love to Jesus?
We read the bible to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15). There are many voices in the world. If we don’t learn something about the nature of God, how can we know what voice we are hearing? Samuel had to learn to know that it was the voice he was hearing in the night (1 Sam. 3:1-11). We learn how God interacts with us, comforts us and guides us through reading the bible.
There are three ways in which we can read the bible:
Content – From Genesis to Revelation, what’s in the bible? We learn the stories of the bible, about creation, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, King David, King Solomon, Jesus, the apostle Paul and etc. We may not understand all that the stories mean or involve, but we do become familiar with them so we know what has happened in the bible and have an idea of how God has dealt with man in the situations.
Depth – What lessons can we learn, should we learn, from reading the bible? How to speak, how to act, how to interact with other people and the world around us, who is God, who is Jesus (really), our relationship with HIm and so forth. We begin to understand the meaning of the contents and truths of the bible, how they impact us and how we can apply them to our own lives.
Revelation – A much deeper insight into what God wants us to learn from His written Word. Our relationship with the world around us. Our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Our relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and the role of the Holy Ghost in this relationship. How we can walk with the Father/Jesus through the Holy Ghost. The apostle John reminds us that Jesus said and did a whole lot more than what is recorded in the bible (John 21:25), so we know that there is more to learn that what is literally written in the bible.
As we learn about God, we need to become familiar with how to communicate with Him. Communication is how we build relationships. If we don’t talk with someone, we don’t learn anything about them, things they like, their interests or their basic nature.
To develop our relationship with God, we need to learn about Him, not just in reading the bible (that’s just the beginning) but really to get to know Him and we call our communication with Him “prayer”.
Communication (prayer) is a two way street:
Us petitioning God – What’s on my mind? What needs do I have? We can bare our hearts, our thoughts, our needs: money, guidance, help, to God even though our heavenly Father already knows our needs are (Matt. 6:8) He still would like us to honestly, sincerely and plainly, verbally express (speak out loud) those needs to Him and ask.
God speaking to us – God answering our prayers. God answers prayer three ways:
The bible: We may not be able to ‘hear’ God’s voice so Father will speak to us through His written word (the bible), giving us the answer we need. We have a problem, the Holy Ghost will lead us into the bible showing us the answer we need.
The world around us: He may provide circumstances, situations or people who will express the answer to our prayer request. We just need to look and/or listen and to receive His response to our prayer through the things around us.
Personal Revelation: As with Samuel (1 Sam. 3:7-10), God may speak to us directly, or put a thought in our heart or mind (the Holy Ghost lives within us (John 14:16-17), which is His response to our situation. And this response WILL BE consistent with the truths of the bible, so we have the assurance we are hearing from God.
So we find that God can answer our prayer by sending us into His written word, things or people around us or by speaking directly to us through thoughts or ideas expressed using an audible or internal (thought or feeling) or external voice. Now I personally have yet to experience an external voice from God, but I’ve talked with those who claim this experience. I cannot divide yea or nay so I accept their testimony based on their relationship with the Lord.
There are four aspects to our ‘prayer life”
Praise and worship
Our prayers life should always include praise and worship. Acknowledging God for who He is, His characteristics, qualities, His love as expressed towards us (Psalms 34:1). We enjoy others giving us praise for the good things we do for them or for our successes in life. We get that from our heavenly Father – He too enjoys our acknowledging His works in our lives (Rev. 4:8).
We should continually thank Him for all that He has done and does do for us (Psalms 50:14). How do we feel when our children (or anybody) thanks us for something we’ve done for them? God relishes the fact that we appreciate what He has done for us, as well.
God wants us put our request before Him (Phil. 4:6). As we’ve already said, He knows our request before we even ask Him, but there’s just something about speaking them out before Him.
Our listening to the Creator of heaven and earth
Once we’ve had our say, we need to ‘zip our lips’, sit back and listen for whatever revelation Father has for us (Job 37:14, Psalms 46:10). What does He have to say that He wants us to know?
All of this is our following the lead of the Holy Ghost in building our relationship with our heavenly Father so we can walk with Him and talk with Him in the cool of the evening and hear what He has to say to us. Having a true relationship with our Creator.
All of this is how we can show our love to God in appreciation for His giving us life and the promise (not just hope) of eternal fellowship with Him, through Jesus Christ (our Lord) and sealing us with His Holy Ghost – for ever.
God showed us His great love by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, on Christmas Day. We can return our love to/for Him by living for Him in this world. John chapters fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen give us a good start on how to live for Father through Jesus Christ. We remember that God is love (1 John 4:7) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) so we can be a true beacons of his love to a lost world (Matt. 5:16).
No greater love? God, the Father, towards us and us returning that love to Him to the best of our ability and God helps us here too. Apart from Jesus we can truly do nothing (John 15:5) but in Him we can do all things (Phil. 4:13).