Perfectly Loved

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection]. (1 John 4:18, Amplified)

No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us! (1 John 4:12, Amplified)

The Bible tells us that the Body of Christ is to grow up in love. The two scriptures here speak of reaching the full maturity of love, of being perfected in love. We are to reach the place where we love perfectly. That sometimes sounds so hard or impossible. What is our hope of ever loving like that?

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19, NIV)

…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5, KJV)

…Christ in you, the hope of glory… (Colossians 1:27, KJV)

Our hope of loving like that is that we were and are first perfectly loved. Our hope of loving like that is that His very love is in our hearts now by the Holy Spirit. Our hope of loving like that is that Love Himself has come to dwell within us and we simply allow Him to run His full course in us and through us.

We love because He first loved us. I don’t focus so much on loving others. I don’t try and strive to love others. I focus on that fact that He perfectly loves me. I press to know, believe and receive His love for me. And the more of His love that is allowed to run through me, the more fear and selfishness is driven out and the more my love for others is perfected.

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you’ll obey me.” My focus is not on obeying. My focus is on loving and I find that His love in me, for me and through me, empowers me to obey.

When you hear those words perfected love, don’t stress about loving perfectly, meditate on the fact that you are perfectly loved. And you will love perfectly.

Obedience

So, how many of you were excited when you read the title of this post?

Why is it that the word obedience causes many to cringe or maybe choose not to read a post entitled Obedience? I think it’s because obedience may mean you may have to do something you don’t want to do. Or you may not get to do something you’d really like to do. But I believe for many, a change of perspective may make it a lot easier to obey.

Let’s take a look at a passage of scripture found in the book of Leviticus.

If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments and do them, I will give you rain in due season… you shall lie down and none shall fill you with dread or make you afraid… you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you… For I will be leaning toward you with favor and regard for you, rendering you fruitful, multiplying you, and establishing and ratifying My covenant with you. (Leviticus 26:3, 4, 6, 7, 9; Amplified)

For time and space sake, I did not include the entire passage, so I encourage you to go back and read it all. In my Bible the heading just above this passage reads The blessings of obedience. There are blessings that come when you obey. Yes, Jesus paid the price and made the way, but one of the things He made possible for us was the ability to now obey God’s Word by His grace in our lives.

But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). (James 4:6, Amplified)

Now, let’s talk about children and obedience. Most children if allowed to do whatever they wanted would play video games and not go to school. They would choose chips, sodas, and anything with sugar in it over vegetables, water and anything without sugar in it. But we as parents make good choices for them as they grow and require obedience because we love them and want the best for them.

When I hear the word obedience in God’s Word, I’m eager to hear what it is He is asking of me. Why? Because whether I understand it or not, whether I like what He’s asking of me or not, I know that the only reason He requires obedience in that area is because He loves me and wants the best for me.

I trust my heavenly Father. If He says do this, I know there is a blessing in it for me. If He says don’t do that, I want to avoid it, because I know He is simply watching out for me.

If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. (John 14:15, Amplified)

When you read that scripture, don’t think about a god who is somewhere-out-there and whose ways you just don’t understand. Instead, hear the heart of a Father Who loves His child and Who wants to bless His child.

A Friend of God

And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11, Amplified)

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23, KJV)

You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. (John 15:14, Amplified)

What is a friend? According to the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster (1828) a friend is “One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity…”

Receiving Jesus makes each of us  a child of God, but there is something more to becoming a friend of God. Jesus told his disciples “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

Two men that were called “a friend of God” are Abraham and Moses. What did these men do? They believed God. They trusted God. And they did exactly what God asked.

Abraham left his land, left his people and traveled to an unknown land simply because God asked him to. Moses left a peaceful life, headed back to Egypt and led the nation of Israel out of Egypt.

Both of these men yielded their lives to God. They trusted Him and did whatever He asked of them whether they understood it or not.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, KJV)

These two men did just that. They laid down their own lives, their own comfort, their own desires and simply did what God asked. Abraham was so committed to God that when God asked him to sacrifice his own son Isaac, Abraham was fully determined to do so.

God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, but then God turned around and did that very thing for His friend Abraham and for his descendants. (Both his natural and spiritual descendants, see Romans 4).

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, KJV)

This was not just about these men laying down their lives for their Friend. Their Friend turned around and laid down His life for His friends.

This is my beloved, and this is my friend… (Song of Solomon 5:16, KJV)

The Spirit of Love

I had a few discussions over the last week concerning tithing and 401K plans. I just wanted to make sure that I was tithing correctly. One of the people I discussed it with, a pastor, mentioned not getting into fear about it. I stopped and thought about that for a moment. I searched my heart and found that there was no fear in my heart about making a mistake in tithing. However, I did find that because of my love for God I wanted to make sure I was doing things right by Him.

It reminded me of this scripture.

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (2 Corinthians 3:6; KJV)

I thought about the spirit behind God’s instruction on tithing. It is God’s Spirit that is breathed into His Words to us and He is love. When we become legalistic about doing things and get into fear about doing the things of God we miss the Spirit of God behind the instruction. And He is the life in the Words. God loves us and His commands to us are for our good because He loves us. His commands lead to life.

This scripture was part of my daily reading this morning and I believe it gives us an insight into His words and His love.

“Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom; develop good judgement. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.” (Proverbs 4:4-6, NLT)

Follow my commands and you will live. The spirit behind that instruction is one of love. It is not saying, “Follow my instructions or else I’ll take you out.” God is saying, “Follow My instructions because they lead to life. I love you and I want you to live an abundant life.”

Here is a good example of the letter of the law killing.

And He entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. and he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straight way took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6, KJV)

Just a few verses before this account, Jesus had said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27, KJV). The Pharisees had become so legalistic about the command to rest on the sabbath, that they lost sight of the spirit behind it. “I love My creation man and I have created a day of rest for him.”

The Pharisees were upset that someone was healed on the day of rest because they considered that work and work was prohibited on the sabbath. They were so upset that it drove them to plot to kill the One Whom they believed was breaking all the rules. I guess they forgot about “Thou shalt not kill”. But Jesus being led by the Spirit of God, demonstrated the heart of God.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, KJV)

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world… (John 3:17, Amplified)

God is not trying to find a reason to judge, reject or condemn you. He has given us commands because He loves us and wants us to live abundant lives. Read and meditate about how much He loves you. Follow His commands, not because you are afraid not too, but because you realize He loves you.  Obey Him because you love Him.

If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. (John 14:15, KJV)

Hear the Spirit behind the command. It is the Spirit of Love.

The Outpouring

I recently heard a Bible teacher explain the Mezuzah. It’s a small case, attached to the doorposts of Jewish homes. It contains two small scrolls with these scriptures written upon them.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with ll thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto they children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on they gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, KJV)

And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain in your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in the corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you. Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:13-21, KJV)

Both of these passages speak of loving the LORD your God. Both say teach them to your children. Both say keep them before you, including on your doorposts, thus the Mezuzah.

But what can we as Christians learn from this? Many in the Body of Christ have been looking for an outpouring of the Spirit to come in the last days. A time when the former and later rains come together. A time when there is a great awakening to God. In Deuteronomy 11 it tells us that He gives the rains as His people obey His commands. What is His command to the church?

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Mattew 22:37, 39, KJV)

The very command He told the Jewish people to keep before them always. And it was obedience to His commands that would bring the rains.

He’s calling us up higher for a reason. He is calling us to obedience to the command of love. He wants us to teach our children. Why? There’s an outpouring coming as we walk in love.

Because I Love You

As parents we have rules for our children. Don’t play in the street. Don’t run with scissors. Don’t hit your brother in the head with that.

We often have a whole list of do’s and don’ts. Like “Do eat your broccoli” and “Don’t go out in the cold without your coat”. Why do we tell them what to do and what not to do? Because we love them, we know what’s best for them and we want what’s best for them.

So when God says, “Thou shalt not kill”; “Thou shalt not commit adultery”; “Thou shalt not steal”; why is He telling us these things? Because He loves us, He knows what is best for us and God wants the best for us.

He tells us to “love one another as I have loved you.” He says to forgive seventy times seven. Or the biggie “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (I’m sure this will elicit an “ouch” from feltsdia in the comments 🙂 )

We find many do’s and don’ts in the Bible. There are commands in the Old Testament and in the New. Why? He is our Heavenly Father. And just as earthy parents instruct their children for the benefit and well-being of their children, our Heavenly Father instructs us.

I remember a minister once saying that unforgiveness is like you taking poison and expecting the other person to die. God tells us to forgive because He wants us to live. I was going to say “live happy lives”, but the question of forgiving or not can become a question of living or not.

Doctors have found a connection between our state of mind and our health. (For more on this I recommend the book Deadly Emotions by Dr. Don Colbert.)

God loves you and He wants the best for you. Many of the do’s and don’ts we find in the Bible may seem so hard at times, but don’t they seem a little easier to obey when you know that if Daddy is saying to do it this way, it’s only because He loves you and wants the best for you?

Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it-because it does. (1 Corinthians 14:1, The Message Bible)