Monday, December 5, 2016

The Words of Advent - Love

Love is the second candle of Advent — for God so loved the world that He sent His Son to walk this earth in perfection, die on the cross for our sins and rise again to defeat hell and the grave. Love is such a powerful part of the Christmas season because true love was born that day in Bethlehem, and we anticipate the arrival of our newborn King.

There is an abundance of love written about in Scripture. Love from God to His children on earth. Love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Love of believers to God. Love among human beings to reflect God's love. You can see love woven through every page, every chapter and every verse in the Bible you hold each morning.

And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:6

The children of Israel knew from the very beginning that God would show mercy to those who would love Him and keep His commandments. These were both the inward and outward signs of a changed heart - inward love and outward obedience. Nothing says "I love you" more than listening, remembering and following through.

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:5

We can't love God halfway - it's equivalent to saying a woman is "sort of pregnant." Either you are or you aren't, either you love or you don't. God doesn't want lukewarm love or a love that comes and goes with the changing wind. He commands us to give Him our whole heart, our whole soul and our whole might. This is everything we are, everything we have and everything we will be.

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 10:18

Jesus reminded the people of this Scripture in Matthew 22, when He was asked what the greatest commandment of God is. He started with the verse above from Deuteronomy, and then adds a second: love your neighbor. Love God, love people. It's really that simple, but we've added and subtracted from the equation until it is no longer balanced. In Leviticus, Moses told the people that their personal conduct should begin with loving those around you in the same way you love your own body, mind and soul.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. John 15:9

The entire 15th chapter of John speaks of the love of God made manifest on earth. The love of God was reflected in His Son, which shone in His disciples, which was seen in those they preached to and is now passed on to us. Perfect love, true love, comes from God alone. There is nothing inside of us naturally that should love this way, so when we see and feel this love, we know automatically that it must have come from the Lord.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

But God are two of the greatest words in all Scripture. We were dead in sin, not fit to have any kind of relationship with God. Then, on that Christmas Day more than 2,000 years ago, God's great love became flesh and walked among us. It was the love and mercy of God alone that reconciled us, saved us and showed us His exceeding grace. This is the true love of Christmas - that our Lord would sacrifice everything to save our souls, claim our hearts and spend eternity with us. Praise His holy name!

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