May 24, 2013
(C) 1999 CBS Broadcasting Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
May 24, 2013
(C) 1999 CBS Broadcasting Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20
Rembrandt’s final great painting The Return of the Prodigal Son, hangs in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the painting, the father’s face is full of compassion as his son kneels at his feet and presses his head into the man’s chest. The dad’s hands rest on his son’s shoulders, and the father literally enfolds his son within his red cloak. It’s believed Rembrandt pictured himself as the son and that this painting was a sort of testimony of his own journey.
Like the father of the prodigal, God yearns for His children to run to Him. He is full of compassion, eager to forgive, ready to fellowship with us, and He longs to enfold us into the red robes of His grace.
If you’ve had a bad year so far, a bad month, a bad week, or a terrible day, take it to the Lord. Repent of sin. Kneel and confess your need. Cry out to Him, and you’ll find that even while you are a great way off, your Father will see you and run to you with His arms of mercy outstretched to you.
The profound thought of God’s love should begin and end your every day. David Jeremiah
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9
When a series of pink “I love you” signs mysteriously appeared in the town of Welland, Ontario, local reporter Maryanne Firth decided to investigate. Her sleuthing turned up nothing. Weeks later, new signs appeared featuring the name of a local park along with a date and time.
Accompanied by a crowd of curious townspeople, Firth went to the park at the appointed time. There, she met a man wearing a suit who had cleverly concealed his face. Imagine her surprise when he handed her a bouquet and proposed marriage! The mystery man was Ryan St. Denis—her boyfriend. She happily accepted.
St. Denis’s expression of love toward his fiancée may seem a bit over-the-top, but God’s expression of love for us is nothing short of extravagant! “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
Jesus is not merely a token of love, like a rose passed from one person to another. He is the divine human who willingly gave up His life so that anyone who believes in Him for salvation can have an everlasting covenant relationship with God. Nothing can separate a Christian “from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).
Dear God, thank You for showing me, in the greatest way possible, that You love me. Help my life to demonstrate my love for You.
We know how much God loves us because He sent His Son to save us.
To learn more about the love of God, take a look at the Discovery Series booklet God Is Love: Reflections on the Character of God at discoveryseries.org/q0612.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Divine love empowers us to respond calmly to difficulties, demonstrate patience in seasons of waiting, and sacrifice without complaint. We offer God’s love when we can:
Forgive others. The son wasted his money in riotous living and discovered both the empty promises and destructive quality of sin. Upon the boy’s return, his father forgave him completely. Love made it possible to wipe away the past (Ps. 103:12).
Act generously. The son, having just fed pigs, arrived at his father’s estate with few expectations. The forgiving dad greeted him most warmly and dressed him in the finest garments. Godly love, which keeps no record of wrongs, enabled the father to show generosity.
Serve joyfully. What a celebration the father had upon the prodigal’s return! His joy in his lost son’s homecoming overflowed to others. Love expresses itself in willing service.
Restore those who fall. The one who both abandoned his father and squandered his inheritance was again given full rights as a son.
When we mess up, our heavenly Father patiently waits for us to turn back to Him. He accepts our repentance, rejoices in our return, and restores intimacy with Him. The elder brother in this parable missed the point because of his self-righteous attitude (1 John 1:8). He didn’t recognize his mistakes or the many times his father had shown him love and forgiveness.
God calls us to a lifestyle of agape love. To whom could you extend the divine love that forgives, restores, and serves with generosity and joy?
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
According to Jesus, this is “the great commandment of the law” and this is also the first verse in the New Testament to associate “love” and the “heart.” This “love,” of course, is not romantic love (the Greek word for that love is never used in the New Testament at all), but the divine type of love (Greek agape), as in “God so loved the world.”
The “heart” (Greek kardia, from which come such English words as cardiology) is mentioned often in the Bible, but almost never means the actual physical organ. It refers to the emotional and spiritual components of man’s nature—“the hidden man of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4). We use “heart” for the same purposes in English. Just how this particular date came to celebrate the heart as a symbol of romantic love and to be called Valentine’s Day is uncertain. There were various emperors, popes, and religious leaders named Valentine in the early history of Christendom, including two Roman Catholics designated as Saint Valentine. In any case, Christians should remember that true Christian agape love should be manifested in our lives every day of the year. To that end, “see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22). True Christian love can only be expressed out of a heart that has been made pure. As Paul wrote young Timothy, “Now the end of the commandment is charity [that is, agape love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5).
And remember that, first of all, we must “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). HMM
Jacob reached the house of Laban, and there married his two wives, Leah and Rachel. After toiling hard for Laban for years, he felt a longing to see his father’s face again. Besides, he felt that Laban had treated him badly, and that it was time to separate and become his own master. He therefore stole away with his family and his goods, but was hotly pursued by Laban, who evidently intended him no good. The night before Laban overtook Jacob the Lord visited him in a dream, and warned him against doing Jacob any violence, or attempting to entice him back to Haran. This was a very gracious interposition, and the patriarch had abundant cause to bless the Lord for it. Laban was thus providentially restrained from doing mischief. However, he accused Jacob of having stolen his images: Jacob did not know that Rachel had concealed them, and when Laban could not find them, the patriarch upbraided him for bringing such a groundless charge against him.
Laban was a great boaster, but a miserable churl. He claimed credit for leaving Jacob unharmed, but the patriarch saw through his pretences, and knew that he had only been harmless because the Lord had laid an embargo upon him.
He made a merit of necessity, and so, by the good hand of the Lord, what might have been a fearful slaughter ended in a friendly compact. The Lord can make the wrath of men to praise him, and restrain it when he pleases. This event reminds us of one of David’s grateful songs.
In all times of danger from men our wisest course is to fly to the Lord our helper. He has ways and means for delivering us which we know not of. He can either turn our enemies into friends, or else so check all their efforts that they shall do us no real injury. Blessed are those men whose trust in the Lord never wavers.
Israel, a name divinely blest,
May rise secure, securely rest;
Thy holy Guardian’s wakeful eyes
Admit no slumber, nor surprise.
Should earth and hell with malice burn,
Still thou shalt go, and still return,
Safe in the Lord; his heavenly care
Defends thy life from every snare.
Has there ever been anything you wanted so badly that you just couldn’t get it off your mind? Every time you tried to think about something else, your mind just kept drifting back over and over again to that thing you desired. Finally, your urge to possess it became so intense that every fiber of your being wanted to reach out and capture it before anyone else had a chance to snatch it first!
Let me use a different illustration to make this point. If a drug addict or an alcoholic abruptly decides to stop doing drugs or drinking after many years of chemical abuse, what happens? Unless that person has a miraculous deliverance, it probably won’t be too long before his body begins to crave those chemicals. In fact, his appetite for drugs or alcohol might get so forceful that he doubles over in agony. That’s how much his body yearns for a “fix” of what it has habitually received in the past.
In the New Testament, the images above would be depicted by the Greek word epipotheo, which is a compound of the words epi and potheo. The word epi means over, and the word potheo is the word for desire. But when these two words are compounded together, the new word epipotheo portrays an intense desire, a craving a hunger, an ache, a yearning for something a longing or pining for something. More specifically, it describes an intense, abnormal, excessive yearning.
Usually this word is used to indicate an intense yearning for something that is morally wrong and sinful. It is the pitiful picture of someone, such as a drug addict or an alcoholic, who needs his “fix” so seriously that he is doubled over, racked with pain, and crying out, “Please, someone, give me what I need!”
Remarkably, this Greek word epipotheo is the same word found in James 4:5 to describe the desire of the Holy Spirit when it says, “… The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy….”
The word “lust” in this verse is from this same Greek word epipotheo. Only this time the word is not used to describe the painful addiction of a drug addict or alcoholic; rather, it depicts the Spirit of God! There is obviously some object that the Spirit of God craves. In fact, this Greek word pictures Him as desiring it so desperately that He is like one who needs some type of “fix” to satisfy an addiction. He is crying out, “I have to have it! I can’t wait any longer! Give me what I crave! Give me what I am aching and yearning to have!”
But what does this mean? What is James 4:5 saying to us? What does the Holy Spirit yearn for so sincerely that the Bible would picture Him in this way?
In James 4:5, the Bible reveals the intense yearning the Holy Spirit possesses to have us entirely for Himself That should be no surprise to us. He is our Indweller, our Sealer, our Sanctifier, and our Source of power. His attention, His gifts, His power, and His Word are all directed toward us. He is in love with us!
The Holy Spirit is so in love with us that He wants more, more, more, and more of us. Every day He wants our time, our attention, our devotion, and our fellowship. If we deny the Holy Spirit of what He wants from us, He cries out, “I need you! I must have you! I want to fill you, empower you, and flood you with My divine life!”
James 4:5 conveys this compelling idea:
“… The Spirit has an all-consuming and passionate desire to have more and more of us. In fact, this desire to possess us is so strong that He literally yearns, craves, and pines after us.”
Never forget that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Lover who lives on the inside of us. He passionately yearns to fulfill His responsibility to the Father to help, teach, guide, and empower us. The word epipotheo emphatically means that when it comes to you and me, the Holy Spirit can never get enough!
The Holy Spirit desires to possess you—all of you. Because of this intense desire, He is focused on changing you, empowering you, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, and helping you fulfill God’s plan for your life.
Learn how to yield to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to have more and more of you each day. Satisfy the yearning of this Divine Lover. Let the Holy Spirit love you! Let Him control you! Let Him exercise His authority in your life and flood you with His divine desire!
Lord, help me to be mindful that the Holy Spirit lives inside me and wants to possess more and more of me every day. Please help me learn how to surrender to the Spirit’s power and to yield to His sanctifying Presence. I know that as I yield to Him, He will fill me full of every good thing I need to live a happy and successful life in this world. I want to begin today by opening myself to the Holy Spirit completely. Holy Spirit, I ask You to fill me anew right now.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that the Holy Spirit loves me! He thinks of me, dreams of me, and wants to fill me with His Presence and power. The Holy Spirit was sent into this world to be my Helper, my Guide, my Teacher, and my Leader. Therefore, I am learning to lean on Him and to let Him lead me through all my affairs in this life. I surrender to Him, yield to Him, and depend on Him for everything I need.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT GOD’S WORD CALLS US TO A LIFE OF HUMILITY:
“Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
How do I know if my life is laced with PRIDE or graced with HUMILITY:
THOSE DRIVEN BY PRIDE ARE :
THOSE GRACED WITH HUMILITY:
Moses, considered by many to be the greatest leader of all time:
“… was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)
As Christ’s followers we choose to embrace Moses’ example rather than emulate prevailing market-driven values. Right?