I John 3:1-2 (NIV)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
The last couple of days, my thoughts have been wrapped around the extravagant love of God that He lavishes on us every day. The world tries to gloss over it and the enemy tries to bury it in bad news but the Truth is that the Love of God is lavished on us every day. There was a surge in the community of Christians recently because the government buildings would not display the nativity this year. Huge hoopla over a wooden manger, plastic people and tradition in my opinion. It is easier to get all worked up over that than really get to the heart of the matter and go share the Love of Jesus with other people. Why? There is only one way to share the Lord with other people effectively. One must lay down their life to do so.
Our church youth kids are preparing for the annual Christmas program. Working together to portray the birth of Jesus has been fun and entertaining with this group of nuts. They are truly Children of God. During an already hectic time of the year, they are skipping sports practicing, foregoing extracurricular activities and sacrificing study time to make sure the message they share is clear, concise, and well put together. Many of these kids are facing the normal challenges of being a teenager, and others have more significant problems at home. Gathering together each night, they lay them at the feet of the Cross for their cause. What would happen if we all lived like this every single day? His Amazing Love did not come in a manager and die on the Cross. But His Love came to live inside each one of us forever until we can be forever with Him. What will it take for the Light in our hearts to reach the world?
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us” before anyone will have a convincing message, one must have a confident heart. Do you know the Love of God firsthand? Salvation introduces us Jesus but it is our relationship that makes us believe in His Love for us. My husband has told me for years that he loves me, but if his actions did not line up with those words there would be no marriage. See many will come to Jesus desiring grace, but few truly want a relationship with Jesus Christ on a daily basis. Wanting what He has in His Hand, they have no interest in His Heart. Oh, Jesus! Please do not let that ever be me!
I John 3:3-6 (NIV)
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
The obvious challenge for people is sin. We classify sin in shades of black, white and the every expanding and highly attractive gray. We recently painted my youngest daughters room a lovely shade of gray. When we first attempted it, I was at the paint store and found some $5.00 returned painted that was way darker than she wanted so but I was convinced that if I added some more white paint that it would be the right shade and a bargain. I bought the paint and began adding white paint to it day by day. I would paint a strip on the wall letting it dry to evaluate the color. Finally when I had added all the white paint I was willing to pay for I convinced her it was perfect. We painted her room and pretended it was lovely. Well, it wasn’t. I don’t think prisons are painted as dark and foreboding. Back to the paint store, I went finally resigned to doing it right this time. I grabbed a gallon of white paint and took it to the counter with my paint chip. The color is more of a silver gray and perfect. Lesson learned.
When I bought the “bargain” paint, it was to save money. I didn’t want to pay the price. But in the end when I counted the cost, it was more than double what it would have been if I had done it right the first time. Welcome to our life as Christians. We try to cut corners and compromise because true repentance and radical obedience costs us “too much” but in the end we do not have complete satisfaction. It is not God’s Fault. Jesus didn’t mess up. We did. We do. When we decide to dwell in the “gray” areas of life rather than choosing to live in right standing with God by avoiding sin at all costs and making the decision not to entertain it again. His Grace is enough to cover our mistakes and missteps in life that are unintentional. Grace is not offered to those who choose to live contrary to the Lord for they are not God’s Children.
Oh see now you are mad…don’t be mad. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. The Lord just keeps loving us until we get it right. I spend my fair share of time in the prayer closet trying to rationalize bad choices, offering half-hearted obedience, and asking God to fix my problems rather than fix me. The church today pets people. It tells them that God loves them no matter what. Agreed. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love. Sin will always eliminate us from God’s Presence. If you love the darkness more than the Light, it will keep you (and me) from moving any closer to the Lord in life. God hates sin. Always has and always will. Sin brutally tortured and killed His Son, Jesus. Why would God condone or accept such behavior when He provided a way out? That is not logical or biblical. (I John 3:7-10)
I John 3:16-18 (NIV)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
People will never be compelled to lay down their life outside of Christ. It is not human nature. We cannot give to others what we are withholding for ourselves. Humanity gives from its surplus but shirks back from sacrifice. Believers live the same way every day. We hold on to our lives. God has lavished His Love on me. Lavish means expended, bestowed or occurring profusely. It means to give great amounts without limit. This is the kind of love we live in. It is found in the Presence of God which is a place on those who believe can ever go. Sin separates us from that place. Salvation is only the beginning. Through daily repentance continually turning back to Christ despite our war with our flesh and demanding radical obedience of ourselves backed by self-control until faith grows strong enough with confident hope confident to keep us in place, it is then and only then that the lavish love of God overflows and becomes the surplus that we give from. “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
I John 3:19-24 (NIV)
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
I belong to the Truth. If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, then you do too! Have you set your heart on Him? I have. I did when I asked Him to be my Savior…and then wandered away. I did that a few times in fact. I decided about 17 years ago to make Jesus my Lord. Things began to change from that moment that I realized there was more to this then me trying and failing repeatedly. His Love somehow began to make more sense as I pursued Him wholeheartedly. God has lavished His Love on us. His Extravagant Gift of His Son for us was more than enough, wouldn’t you agree? We struggle every day with commitment and I still don’t understand why I cannot fully apprehend my flesh no matter how hard I try but God understands and each day just lavishes more and more love on me to draw from. I find it in His Presence. I will never make it through life successfully into forever with Him if I do not learn how to live in His Presence now. It must be a desirous place that draws me from this world to sit at His Feet and let Him tell me more about His Love. The only commandment that He has given me is to lay down my life for others. I cannot do that until I fully understand, accept and appreciate the lavish love that I have been given. It is the source that I draw from to love others sacrificially and completely. It is what He desires of me to live a lavish lifestyle.
John 15:12-14 (NIV)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.