Love by love

Jesus was a master story teller. The method of teaching adopted by Jesus was that of painting a parabolic picture for the people allowing it to tell its’ own story. He was never without a parable when He spoke and like a skilled potter would mold and shape His messages to fit the experience and maturity of His listeners. These parables bore the stamp of originality and were given to influence the thoughts, words, actions, and purposes of all who listened. Later, when He was alone with His disciples, He would go over everything and give them a full explanation of the truth He was attempting to convey. Since many in His audience were farmers Jesus would often speak in their language for many could grasp the concept of seedtime and harvest. One such story is “The Parable of the Growing Seed” and is found in Mark 4:26-29. Of the four gospels this story is given by Mark alone and is one of the three parables which reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of God in terms of a sowers’ work. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Much can be learned by a careful study of this parable and one of the foremost truths revealed is that our God is a God of order. One only has to look at a farmers’ field to catch a glimpse of how God does things. First comes the blade, then the head, and after that the full grain in the head. God is sequence-minded and He never puts the cart before the horse. In the book of Genesis we read that the heavens and the earth were created in an orderly fashion. God had a plan for the first day of creation, then the second day, the third, and so forth. Consider everything the high priests in the Old Testament had to do before they entered the Holy of Holies. They couldn’t just waltz into the presence of God unannounced. No, cleansings had to be performed and offerings had to be made (see Lev. 16). With much fear and trembling this was done in an orderly fashion and in a God-ordained sequence. If the proper order was not followed to the letter it would mean the end of their life. A rope was tied to the ankle of the High Priest so he could be pulled out from behind the veil in case he didn’t follow the prescribed sequence and dropped over dead. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33) and to Him sequence is a serious matter and so should it be for us.

Paul writes, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). People who wake up, get dressed, and go to work do so in an orderly manner. But the person who wakes up, goes to work, and then gets dressed is on their way to having a very bad day. Without a doubt, a proper sequence is most important in everything we do. For example, sex before marriage is an action taken out of a proper, God-ordained sequence and many lives have been destroyed as a result thereof. To get your needs met there is a sequence to be followed. Matt. 6:33 tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” There is a sequence to be followed when it comes to our relationship with God and our war against the devil. James 4:7 says, “Therefore submit to God. resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It is foolish to try to resist the devil without first submitting yourself to God. The seven sons of Sceva tried to do this and Acts 19:15,16 tells us what happened to them, “And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” James goes on to say in vs. 8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Gods’ foremost command is for each of us to love and serve one another. You were born to love and called to serve and in our relationships with other people there is a proper order to do things. Paul also used the language of a farmer when he wrote in 1 Cor. 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” The Message Bible says, “We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow.” Again, a prescribed sequence was followed thus allowing God to give life to the seed that was sown. In Lev. 19 God gave Moses the laws of social order and said in vs. 18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Jesus quoted this command to love your neighbor as you love yourself in Mark 12:31 as did Paul in Rom. 13:9. The proper sequence here is that you must first love yourself before you can love your neighbor. You must become your own best friend and rejoice in the person God made you to be. You are a one of a kind original and there is nobody on this planet quite like you. Because of the cross you have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) and Paul says in Rom. 8:16,17a, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” The Message Bible says, “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ Gods’ Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance.”

Jesus said a great deal about love but none was more important as what He said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Before you can love yourself or your neighbor you must have a divine revelation that God loves you. Then and only then can the love command be fulfilled in your life. Jesus prayed in John 17:23b, “that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” It takes faith to believe that the Heavenly Father loves you as much as He loves Jesus. Your mind can not comprehend this much love. Your mind will tell you this is not so because Jesus never sinned, never rebelled, was never disobedient, and never displeased the Father. When Jesus was baptized “suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'” (Matt. 3:17). Your mind will try to convince you that there is no way the Father can love you as much as He loves Jesus. But He does. In fact, He loves you so much that He sent Jesus to die for you (John 3:16). Your mind is limited in its’ capacity to believe such profound truths such as this so don’t try to reason it all out. Just believe it by faith. Faith is a choice and does not require understanding. You can believe anything the Bible tells you if you would only choose to do so.

It’s not enough to just believe in God and that He exists. You have to believe that He loves you. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble.” The Message Bible puts it this way, “Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads!” Faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17) so you need to hear yourself say every day, “God loves me!!” Say it again, “God loves me!!” Once more, “God loves me!!” You need to meditate on this day and night. You need to confess it, sing about it, read about it, and hear good preaching about it. There is no life as exciting as the victorious life that comes from knowing God loves you. His great love has delivered you from the guilt of sin and the shame of your failures and mistakes. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). God remembers your sin no more (Jer. 31:34) and if you confess your sins He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). If you’re forgiven, you’re forgiven. If you’re cleansed, you’re cleansed. There is no condemnation in Christ (Rom.8:1) and we have no fear of judgment and punishment. Indeed, He is the glory and the lifter of your head (Ps. 3:3).

John writes, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:15,16). There is a difference between knowing God loves you and believing that He does. Divine revelation is needed for you to be fully developed in knowing the love God has for you. John called himself “that disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7) and this should be your confession as well. Who are you? You’re the one God loves. God is love and He loves you. You can’t be any more loved than when you are loved by Love. God said in Jer. 31:3, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” God is drawing you into a love relationship with Him. He enjoys loving you and he delights in blessing you and showing you mercy. He is thinking about you today and He’s got a plan for your life (see Jer. 29:11). He’ll lead you and guide you in the way you should go and He’ll never leave you or forsake you. He cares so much about you that He keeps count of the number of hairs on your head. His eyes roam to and fro across the earth looking for someone to show Himself strong on their behalf. Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father, I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you…” (John 15:15,16a).

Your claim to fame is that you are loved by God and it is an insult to Him when you don’t know and believe that. One day Jesus and His disciples were in a boat crossing over to the other side of the sea. “And a great wind-storm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?'” (Mark 4:37,38). These disciples questioned whether or not Jesus loved them and fear gripped their heart. After rebuking the storm and a great calm fell upon the water Jesus turned to His disciples and “said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have ho faith?’ And they feared exceedingly…” (vs. 40,41a). One way to know if you truly believe God loves you is whether or not there is fear in your life. If you fear you won’t be able to pay your bills this month then you’re not fully convinced in your heart that God loves you. If cancer runs in your family and you fear that one day you’ll catch this dreaded disease, then you are not totally persuaded that God loves you as much as He loves Jesus. But if you’re walking in love you’ll have no fear. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

Faith works by knowing how much God loves you. Faith works through love (Gal. 5:6) and this is the key to your victory in life and for overcoming the trials that come your way. Heb. 11:6 tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” The Message Bible says, “It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.” Faith is a choice. You chose to believe in the goodness of God, that He is, and that He will reward you if you seek Him diligently. David wrote in Ps. 27:13, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Faith is activated and works by love and it’s this perfect love that will cast fear out of your life. The word “cast” means ‘to throw out not caring where it lands.’ Without fear in your life you won’t be afraid of the devil, people, death, car crashes, cancer, or of losing your job. Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” When you’re fearless you’re a problem to the devil because he can’t scare you. Rom. 8:37 says you “are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Gods’ love gives you the victory every time. Paul writes, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14).

The closer you walk with God the more He’ll manifest His love in your life. Just walk outside and look around and you’ll see the goodness of God fully displayed. All that you see He made for you. He made the sun and the moon and all the planets so that the earth could be here and He made the earth so that you could be here. He made it all for you. That magnificent mountain range is for you as is that beautiful rainbow and the green grass that grows near your home. The reason the sun shines by day and the moon by night is for you. The reason the ocean rolls onto the sand is for you. The stars twinkle at night and the wind blows and the trees sprout their leaves all for you. The flowers bloom across the fields and the birds sing their beautiful harmonies for you. All these things say with a loud voice, “God loves you!!” Every meal you eat God is saying “I love you!” Every breath you take and every time your heart beats God is saying “I love you!” Rom. 8:31,32 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” The birth of Jesus said to the world, “God loves you!!” and if He gave you Jesus He’ll heal your body and give you a sound mind. He’ll give you a nice house to live in and a car, a job, and a family. He’ll help you comb your hair in the morning and He’ll help you drive to work each day. He is the living God “who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17b). All things are yours because of the great love He has for you. It is because of His unfailing and never-ending love that you have been crowned with glory and honor (Ps. 8:5b).

Never doubt the love of God. When you do, you doubt God for He is love. Every day you’re alive He demonstrates His love for you beyond question. John writes, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:19). He could give no greater gift. He loved us while we were His enemies and not for what we were doing for Him. He does not have to do one more thing to prove that He loves you. He’s already done it. Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35). He answers his own question in vs. 38,39, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Message Bible says, “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and Gods’ love because of the way Jesus our Master has embraced us.” As Jesus hung and bled on the cross the Father was showing you how much He loves you. The cross is a picture of love, it’s what love looks like. Jesus paid the highest price that could ever be paid. And He did it all for you.

1 John 3:1a says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” The word “behold” means ‘look.’ Look how much the Father loves you! You are an amazing, one of a kind, child of the living God! He bought you with a price and you are most valuable to Him. You are the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8) and you can have boldness on the day of judgment because the One sitting on the throne loves you. You are loved by Love and God is not quiet about how much He loves you. He wants the whole world to know it. Jesus said in John 17:22,23, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” In the book of Revelation Jesus told John to write these profound words to the church in Philadelphia, “Indeed, I will make these of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you’ (Rev. 3:9). Imagine that. The enemy will be brought to your feet and shown that God loves you. The Message Bible states it like this, “And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan – watch as I strip off their pretensions and they’re forced to acknowledge it’s you I’ve loved.”

God wants the whole world to know that he is a God of love and that He loves you. Go public and tell people all that God has done for you. Love your neighbor and tell them if you draw near to God, he’ll draw near to you. If you seek Him with your whole heart He’ll be found by you. If you’ll ask, you’ll receive. If you knock, it will be opened unto you. He is a good God and when you reach out to Him, He will respond back to you. If you believe in the love and mercy of God you can enjoy your life even knowing you’ve sinned and come short of the glory of God. Mercy means you don’t get the punishment you deserve but rather get the blessings you don’t deserve. All this and more because God loves you so much that He gave you Jesus. You are loved by Love and Gods’ grace will pardon and cleanse you and make you whole. 1 John 4:10,11 tells us, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Herein is the threefold sequence of fulfilling Gods’ command to walk in love. God loves you, you love yourself and then you love your neighbor. Loving other people is the stamp of approval that you have been born again and believe that you are loved by Love. John writes, “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 4:14).

John, the apostle of love, the one who openly confessed that he was loved by Jesus, tells us in 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” He went on to say in vs. 16-24 (MSG), “This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed His life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to Gods’ love? it disappears. And you make it disappear. My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in Gods’ reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what He said, doing what pleases Him. Again, this is Gods’ command: to believe in His personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep His commands, we live deeply and surely in Him, and He lives in us. And this is how we experience His deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit He gave us.” Without question, God loves you. You are loved by Love and by faith you believe that and love Him back. Now, when the shouting subsides, go out and be a blessing to someone else. It’s what He paid the ultimate price for you to do.



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