Reflections of God’s Love

Human love is a reflection of the love of Christ for His Church.  For that reason, we can learn a little about Christ’s love from human love stories.

Today’s Reading

Song of Solomon 6-8; Galatians 1

Selected Verses

 I am my beloved’s,
and his desire is for me. Song of Solomon 7:10

 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,  was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;  nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.  Galatians 1:15-17

Reflections

In Solomon’s Song, he tells us of a beautiful and passionate love between a man and a woman.  They describe each other with tenderness and awe.  Each has found in the other all they could ever want in a spouse.  No one or nothing could draw them away.  They long to be together.  They revel in being desired by each other.

In officiating weddings, I frequently use a famous prayer by Dr. Lewis Evans, the same one our pastor prayed for Mary and me.  The next to last paragraph says, “May they never take each other for granted, but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, ‘Out of all this world you have chosen me!’”  Amen.

But there is an even greater love.  It is the love of God–love which existed before time. It is love which planned our existence and, if God is pleased, chose us to be His own and to do His will.  Paul marveled at the wonder of God’s grace–His undeserved, unmerited favor.  Paul never stopped exclaiming with breathless wonder, “Out of all this world, God has chosen me!”

Think about it

It is wonderful to know that the one you love so much, loves you just as much.  How much more to know that the Eternal God knows, loves, and has set you apart for Himself before you were born!

Do you marvel that it pleased God to reveal His Son to you?  No lack or longing obligated God to do it.  He chose to do so because it pleased Him.  Like the bride in the Song, never stop exclaiming, “I am My Beloved’s and His desire is for me.”

Unstoppable Love

Love overcomes any obstacle and pays whatever price necessary for the beloved. Unstoppable is the love that Christ has for His Church.

Today’s Reading

Song of Solomon 1-3; Second Corinthians 12

Selected Verses

 The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.  Song of Solomon 2:8

I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.   Second Corinthians 12:15

Reflections

Over the centuries, Bible scholars have sought allegorical interpretations of the Song of Solomon attempting to minimize the obvious sensual language here. Yet today evangelical scholars hold widely that the poem speaks of the beauty of sexual love between a man and woman in the context of marriage. While sex has been and is abused by humanity the world over, when experienced within the boundaries set by God’s law, it is honorable and God-glorifying (Hebrews 13:4).   Paul’s comparison of the relationship of Christ and the Church to that of the relationship between a husband and wife does not denigrate the former relationship, but, rather, ennobles the latter (Ephesians 5:22-33).

The poem poignantly describes the intense desire between a man and a woman in love. This attraction is not degraded or sinful but exalted and celebrated. The beloved revels in hearing her lover’s voice. Her joy is palpable as she anticipates his arrival. He leaps over mountains and bounds over hills to get to her. Clearly, his love is unstoppable.

Paul is jealous for the Corinthian congregation as she seems to be on the verge of being seduced away from a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” by “super-apostles” (Second Corinthians 11:2-5). He has been making his case against these usurpers showing his own devotion to the Lord and to them. Though Paul is merely a messenger of Christ, he loves the Church on behalf of Christ. He loves whom the Lord loves, His elect people. So in showing that his ministry is authentic and reliable, he enumerates how he has paid and will pay a price to serve them in the gospel. “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls,” he tells them. His love, like Jesus’, is unstoppable.

Think about it

Are you married?  Consider how well your marriage reflects the godly love and commitment of Christ to the Church. Can you say to your spouse, “I am glad to spend and be spent for your soul?”  Whether you are a married or a single believer, think about the price Christ paid for your soul because of His unstoppable love for you.

The King at Home

There is evidence that David had plenty of flaws in his personal life as a husband and father.  Nevertheless, on one occasion, at least, he showed care, love and sensitivity on the home front.

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 14:1-16:43

Christian husbands and fathers are exhorted to love their wives and to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 5:25-6:4).  Having major responsibilities in their work does not exempt men from family duties and loving service.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

A God of Wrath and A God of Grace

A common view of God sees Him as all love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Is this overly simplistic?  Is He also a God of judgment and holiness?

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 11:10-13:14

Indeed the view that sees God as a cosmic Santa Claus  is not only overly simplistic, it is dangerously wrong.  God is a God of holiness and justice.  He will punish every sin ever committed by every human being.  The good news is that those who trust in the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ, for sins have His payment credited to their account.  Believers in the Lord Jesus have their sins paid in full, by His mercy and at His great cost.  David learned how holy is God.  He is not to be mocked or trifled with.  It was a sad and hard lesson, but we all need to pay attention to it.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Respect for Women

Today’s reading: Ruth 2:1-1 Samuel 1:20

Some husbands show wonderful love and respect for their wives.  It is a delight to behold.  But there is One whose love for His bride is unparalleled in all of history.

We celebrate that love during the Easter season.  Have a blessed Easter!

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Bringing Delight to God

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 30:1-32:47

Parents (as well as other authority figures in our lives, like teachers) can be hard task masters, difficult to please. God is not so. Although He is perfect and His law demands perfection, He is delighted with obedience in His children. Our obedience begins with repentance and faith in His Son who died for our sins and lives for our sanctification.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Resting, Worshiping, and Feasting

Today’s reading: Leviticus 21:1-23:25

All of our time belongs to God. He has the right to require that we use it as He specifies. But He does not drive us relentlessly as we, workaholics, drive ourselves. While these Old Testament feasts have been fulfilled in Christ, the principle remains that we are to take time to rest and celebrate. See how God loves His people and tenderly looks out for their best.

For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on-line.

Selfish or Selfless?

Today’s reading: Genesis 19:30-22:24

Anyone who thinks that people are basically good will find the Bible to show otherwise. The lives portrayed in Scripture are full of conflict. Abraham has tensions with Abimelech. Lot fathers two sons by his conniving daughters. Those sons are the patriarchs of tribes that would be hostile to Israel. There is conflict between Ishmael and Isaac.

What’s the problem?

The heart is the problem. Just as we can see in the lives of Lot’s daughters, merely changing our surroundings does not solve our heart problems, our pride, lust, impatience, and all the rest. We need much more than a fresh start in Zoar, we need new hearts.

What is the solution?

As Abraham said to Isaac, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering…” And He has. God tested Abraham to the limit, but, at the last moment, provided a ram for the offering. God spared Isaac but He did not spare His own Son as an offering, so great was His love for His people and for His own holiness (Romans 8:32). Through the offering of His Son all who believe in Him are given new hearts and reconciled to God.

This is the path to salvation and the solution to the perpetual conflict in human existence.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 7 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

 

His Wrath and His Joy

Scripture reveals a God of wrath and joy.  He is angry with sin but also delighted with His redeemed people.

Today’s reading: Zephaniah 1-3; Revelation 15

16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:16-17

1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.  Revelation 15:1

The prophet Zephaniah described the anger of God against all the sin and corruption of, not only Judah but, all the nations of the world. He warns of the coming of the day of God’s wrath. That day would come and the judgment would be complete. Is there no escape? Yes, there is a hope for those who humble themselves before the Lord.

John’s vision in Revelation confirms that the wrath of God does have an end point. There would be seven plagues applied to the earth by seven angels. We are then told that the seven plagues, “are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.”

Finished. That is a good word to hear. Zephaniah has given us a beautiful picture of the delight which God has in His own. Several phrases show the completeness of His care and describe His presence (in your midst), His power (mighty one who will save), His joy (He will rejoice over you… exult over you with loud singing).

If we are to be biblical in our understanding of God we must grasp these realities of His being. He is absolutely holy and will not let the wicked go unpunished. He is also a God of love and mercy and will save all who come to Him in faith through His Son, the Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world.

Be sure your understanding of God is accurate. Know Him in truth as He has revealed Himself in His Word.  His attributes include His wrath and His joy.

A Time to Love; a Time to Hate

To hate what God hates is good, but not if we do not love what God loves.

Today’s reading: Hosea 9-11; Revelation 2

8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.                                                     Hosea 11:8-9

4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.                                                                                         Revelation 2:4-6

God’s love for His people is relentless, though He reveals in His Word how His heart recoils with the sinfulness of His people. Ultimately, God restrains His justice against His people and does not destroy them.

Hosea was sent to warn Judah and Israel of her impending judgment. This intervention by the Lord was another act of His patience and mercy. He gave them a chance to repent. He showed them through the sad, painful marital relationship of Hosea and Gomer, how God saw the unfaithfulness of His people toward Him. They repaid His goodness and blessing with idolatry and worship of false gods. Even after all that, God’s compassion toward them was aroused. As He said through the prophet Ezekiel, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” ( Ezekiel 18:23).

The Lord gave the Apostle John messages for seven churches of Asia Minor. Most of them contain warnings of impending judgment for their sin. In the letter to the church in Ephesus, He commends them for several qualities including their hatred of an heretical group called the Nicolaitans. While it was good to hate evil, they were also found to have abandoned the love they had shown earlier. Jesus tells them to repent of this attitude lest they lose their standing as a church completely.

Let this be a warning to us as well. Do not let hatred of evil drive out the love of God for those He is graciously calling to Himself. There is a time to love and a time to hate. (Ecclesiastes 3:8).