Mar 30, 2013
Everlasting Love by Keith Rath
Mar 30, 2013
Everlasting Love by Keith Rath
My husband, Jay, and I have a new family member—a 2-month-old tabby cat named Jasper. To keep our new kitten safe, we’ve had to break some old habits, like leaving doors open. But one thing remains a challenge: the open stairway. Cats like to climb. Even as kittens, they know that the world looks better when you’re looking down on it. So whenever I have Jasper downstairs with me, she is determined to go upstairs. Trying to keep her confined to a safe place near me has tested my ingenuity. Gates that work with children and dogs do not work with cats.
My cat gate dilemma brings to mind the metaphor Jesus used to describe Himself: “I am the gate for the sheep,” He said (John 10:7 niv). Middle Eastern sheepfolds were enclosures with an opening for the sheep to go in and out. At night, when the sheep were safely inside, the shepherd would lie in the opening so that neither sheep nor predators could get past him.
Although I want to keep Jasper safe, I am not willing to make myself the gate. I have other things to do. But that’s what Jesus Christ does for us. He places Himself between us and our enemy, the devil, to protect us from spiritual harm. By Julie Ackerman Link
John records several instances of the exclusive claims of Jesus. In today’s passage, Jesus says that the only way to relationship with God is through Him (John 10:9). Later, speaking to His disciples, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (14:6).
Thank You, Jesus, for being my gate. Through You I have salvation and by Your power I am safe from spiritual harm. Surround me with Your protection. I trust in You.
The closer to the Shepherd, the farther from the wolf.
Ephesus was home to a tremendous ministry. Despite opposition and harsh persecution, the church planted by Paul spread the gospel and was quick to challenge false prophets. But 30 years after the apostle left, John’s revelation included a stern warning for those believers.
Imagine how these words must have struck the Ephesians. After complimenting their service for the gospel, Christ said, “But I have this against you . . .” (Rev. 2:4). That phrase was, without a doubt, extremely disconcerting. The Lord warned them that they had left their first love. In other words, all of their work was being done with wrong motives.
Christ called the Ephesians to remember their love for Him and their delight in His salvation. Service is no substitute for an intimate relationship, but modern believers continue to fall into this subtle trap. The commendable things that we do count for nothing unless they stem from a vibrant personal connection with God. Our work cannot be effective or fruitful unless He is in it.
In fact, God is more interested in you and your personal relationship with Him than in a thousand lifetimes of good works. He desires to be the satisfaction and delight of His children so that their service is a result of loving devotion.
There are plenty of wrong reasons to labor for the kingdom. God wants all believers with selfish intentions to return to their first love. In that way, hearts and minds can be renewed, and service to the Lord will be more effective.
“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Perhaps no doctrine in Scripture is as clearly stated as that expressed in our text and in many other passages. God loves us! His love is an “everlasting love” and compels Him to act strongly and lovingly on our behalf. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). This theme finds glorious expression in the grand hymn of the last century entitled “I Am His, and He Is Mine.”
Loved with everlasting love, Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace, O this transport all divine—
In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.
Jesus prayed, “I in them, and thou in me, . . . that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am” (John 17:23-24). The Father will never allow us to part from Him or our Savior.
These precious facts are taught to us by the “inspired” (literally “God-breathed”) Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), and “the Comforter . . . , the Spirit of truth [who] will guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:7, 13). He drew us to Himself “in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself” (Ephesians 1:4-5). “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). In His grace, we come to Him, experiencing sweet forgiveness and everlasting love. Cradled in the security of His undying love, we have peace. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3). JDM
But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. —1 Thessalonians 2:2
It is good for us to remember how strong [God] is—and how weak we are. I settled this issue a long time ago. I tell you I have talked to God more than I have talked to anyone else. I have reasoned more with God and had longer conferences with God than with anybody else.
And what did I tell Him? Among other things, I told Him, “Now, Lord, if I do the things I know I should do, and if I say what I know in my heart I should say, I will be in trouble with people and with groups—there is no other way!
“Not only will I be in trouble for taking my stand in faith and honesty, but I will certainly be in a situation where I will be seriously tempted of the devil!”
Then, after praying more and talking to the Lord, I have said, “Almighty Lord, I accept this with my eyes open! I know the facts and I know what may happen, but I accept it. I will not run. I will not hide. I will not crawl under a rug. I will dare to stand up and fight because I am on your side—and I know that when I am weak, then I am strong!” ITB146
Lord, I’m convicted by Tozer’s statement that he has “talked to God more than [he has] talked to anyone else.” Help me to talk with You more. Amen.
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:28
The Christian faith engages the profoundest problems the human mind can entertain and solves them completely and simply by pointing to the Lamb of God!
The problems of origin and destiny have escaped the philosopher and the scientist, but the humblest follower of Christ knows the answer to both. “In the beginning” found Christ there at the creation of all things, and “the world to come” will find Him there at their regeneration.
There is about the Christian faith a quiet dogmatism, a cheerful intolerance. It feels no need to appease its enemies or compromise with its detractors. Christ came from God, out of eternity, to report on the things He had seen and heard and to establish true values for the confused human race.
Then, He drew a line between this world and the world to come and said, in effect: “Choose ye this day.”
The choice is between an earthly house which we can at best inhabit but a little while and the house of the Lord where we may dwell forevermore.
The church is constantly being tempted to accept this world as her home, but toward the world to come we are all headed.
How unutterably wonderful that we Christians have one of our own kind to go ahead and prepare a place for us!
That place will be in a world divinely ordered, beyond death and parting, where there is nothing that can hurt or make afraid.
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest. 2 CORINTHIANS 4:10
Not everyone agrees with me that full qualification for eternity is not instant or automatic or painless.
I can only hope that you are wise enough, desirous enough and spiritual enough to face up to the truth that every day is another day of spiritual preparation, another day of testing and discipline with our heavenly destination in mind.
I hope too that you may begin to understand why many evangelical churches are in such a mess. It has become popular to preach a painless Christianity and automatic saintliness. It has become a part of our “instant” culture—”just pour a little water on it, stir mildly, pick up a gospel tract, and you are on your Christian way!”
“Lo,” we are told, “this is Bible Christianity!”
“It is nothing of the sort!”
To depend upon that kind of a formula is to experience only the outer fringe, the edge of what Christianity really is. For when the new birth is real and the wonder of regeneration has taken place, then comes the lifetime of preparation with the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
Dear Lord, I’m not interested in putting on a religious façade for people to see. I want to make progress in becoming more like You today.