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Romans

13:8-14

 

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

 

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. 
(ESV)

Experience God's Love

Monday of Pentecost 7

13 July 2015

I marvel at the intensity of the love of God for sinners! To what extraordinary lengths He goes to love us and then to prove to us that love. His love is so intense that He does not withhold His own dearest treasure, His only-begotten Son, offering Him into death that He might ransom sinners like us from death and damnation. But there is more! Our God not only wants to do this for us, He also goes to extraordinary lengths to convince us that this love in Christ is our possession, despite our ungratefulness, hardness of heart, and spitefulness. He will run after us as a humiliated husband chases his beloved wife, who has cuckolded him; ignoring the ridicule that his apparent weakness gives rise to among those who witness his humiliation. No manner of ridicule would ever keep our God from expressing His love to us. No amount of mockery could stop Him from sending the messages of love that only a true lover can convey. He will never give up seeking us and calling us back to His heart. Even if that ridicule and mockery comes from those whom He loves and from those from whom He seeks love, He will never break off His search for the beloved.

 

When a man and a woman share in a love that is true and genuine in their marriage, it makes all the trials they undergo easier to bear. They are always free to share their burdens. The support given and the unity of their two hearts enable them to seek joy and pleasure in each other, completely transcending all external troubles. When their daily labor is burdensome, they will find rest in each other's company. This can only be experienced in marriage. It can never be sufficiently described or highly enough extolled.  At the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom we partake in the joy of the beloved, Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom of the church. No matter what befalls us we have our bridegroom and in Him we will find our true joy. The world, with its persecution and mockery of both Him and us, will not be able to break through the canopy of love He spreads over us; a canopy supported by the holy cross. We will have true peace in the midst of burdensome labor and we will find our rest in His presence. All of this is far better, more powerful, and more certain than the love shared by man and woman in marriage, because it is God's love.

 

God is willing to condescend to our needs by speaking of His love for us as jealous. Jealousy in marriage is thought of as a negative thing, but a husband who is not jealous for his wife is not much of a husband. A husband who does not express his jealous love for his wife, if that love is challenged by another man, is not worth the name of husband. So God too is jealous for His bride the church and will battle all rivals for her love. He will pay any price, suffer any humiliation; even death on the cross, rather than risk losing her to all the meddlesome rivals for her affections. In Walter Scott's book, St. Ronan's Well, Francis Tyrrel is willing to give up his pursuit of his beloved, Clara Mowbray, and forfeit a financial fortune, if it will free her from other terrible consequences. He is willing to give up everything for her, even His future life with her, if it will save her. Such is true love; it will give up everything for the good of the beloved. This is God's love for us.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law' (Rm 13:10). God does not refuse even to condescend to crass language, to use the words that come from human passions, and to call Himself jealous. 'For I the LORD your God am a jealous God' (Ex 20:5), He says, that you may learn the intensity of His love. Let us then love Him as He would have us love Him, for He sets great store in it.

 

"If we turn away, He keeps inviting us, and if we will not be converted, He chastens us through His affection, not through a wish to exact punishment of us. See what He says in the book of Ezekiel to the city that was beloved, yet had despised Him. 'I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure...and I will give you into their hands, and they shall...stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. So will I satisfy my wrath on you, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no more be angry' (Ez 16:37, 40, 42). What more than this could a passionate lover have said, when despised by his beloved, and after all still ardently loving her?

 

"For God does everything that He may be loved by us, and therefore He spared not His Son. But we are unbending, and savage. Yet let us become gentle at last, and love God as we ought to love Him, that we may with pleasure enjoy virtue. For if anyone has a beloved wife, he does not perceive any of the troubles that come daily. He that loves with this divine and pure love only considers what great pleasure he will enjoy! This is the kingdom of Heaven. This is the fruition of good things, pleasure, cheerfulness, joy, and blessedness. Or rather, say as many things as I may, I shall still be unable to give you any such representation of it as should be, but only the experience of it can give knowledge of this good thing. Therefore also the Prophet says, 'Delight yourself in the Lord' (Ps 37:4), and, 'Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good' (Ps 34:8)!

 

"Let us then be persuaded, and indulge ourselves in His love. For in this way we shall see His kingdom in this life, living the life of angels while we abide on earth, and be in as good a condition as those who dwell in heaven. After our departure hence, we shall stand as the brightest of beings at the judgment seat of Christ and enjoy that unutterable glory, which we attain by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ toward man."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 23
 
Prayer

Almighty and merciful God, when we worship we receive both forgiveness for our many sins and the assurance of Your love in Jesus Christ. We thank You for this undeserved grace and ask You to keep us in faith until we inherit eternal salvation. Never give up on us , but continue to extend Your love to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

For our military chaplains, that they would be kept safe and given success

 

For Susan Narr, as she continues her convalescence at home, that the Lord would give her strength

 

For Pastor J. Bart Day, that the Lord would grant him peace in his service to the church
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057