Wednesday, March 13, 2013

God's Love and Purposes

Come to the Alter  - photo by Margot 
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose.

This is the verse of the day over at Bible Gateway today. Its one you hear people quote a lot. As if it was a blanket guarantee that things will work out for everyone i the end. You see it on plaques and magnets but I don't think we often consider it very deeply. So pick up your spoon and lets dig into his word a bit today. 

Lets start with the part that says "of those who love him". 
I searched "This is love" here's what came up. 

"1 John 4:10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
If I follow his example I learn from this that Love goes, Love gives, love sacrifices.

"1 John 5:3
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,"
Love keeps His commands.
What are his commands: "John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. "
How are you doing with the hard to love folks in your life? 
Remember Love goes, love gives, love sacrifices. The recipient of the love does not deserve that love, and cannot earn it. For Jesus to reconcile you to the father was beyond your grasp. Yet he makes up the difference by laying down his life to pay the penalty for your sin. 

"2 John 1:6

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love."
Love walks in obedience to God's way of doing things. The over arching command is to walk in love. 

So how are you doing with going from your place of comfort to the lost, the least, the marginalized, the broken, to the difficult, to the outcast, those in chains? How are you doing with your own immediate family, let alone outsiders?

Are you at least moving in the direction love. Has your life become one of love in action. Small acts of kindness make a bigger difference than we often realize. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. 

Now lets look at the next part of Romans 8:28
So have you been called according to his purpose? 
Do you even know what the purpose of God even is? 
Are you trying to make God fit into your plans and purposes or are you fitting into his?
Here are some things I found in the commentary notes from the Dictionary of Bible Themes about God's purposes. I've left the verse links so you can do some digging on your own. 

"It is God’s purpose to redeem the world through the cross Mt 26:18,45 Jesus Christ often speaks of his appointed “hour”. In John’s Gospel in particular his “hour” refers to the cross. Jesus Christ refuses to allow anything except the cross to be the climax of his ministry (Jn 12:27). pp Mk 14:41; Jn 7:6-8; Jn 12:23; Jn 13:1;Jn 17:1"

"It is God’s purpose to exalt and establish Jesus Christ as Lord Eph 1:9-10 See also Ac 2:36; Php 2:8-11; Col 1:18; Heb 1:2-4 God’s ultimate purpose is to save"

"The salvation of people through Jesus Christ Jn 6:40 See also Jn 3:16-17; Gal 1:3-4; 1Ti 2:3-4; 1Pe 1:2; 2Pe 3:9"

So any of us who have been in church for very long know and certainly agree with those purposes but what in your life are you doing to align your self with his purposes. How are you actively participating in accomplishing God's purposes?  
How are you doing with helping with the purpose of redemption through the cross?  
How are you doing with establishing Jesus as the Lord and ruler of your own life? 
How are you doing with sharing the message of salvation through Jesus? 

"Specific aspects of God’s purpose in salvation 2Co 5:5 knowing heavenly life;Ro 8:29 being conformed to Jesus Christ;Eph 1:4 being holy and blameless; Eph 2:15 becoming unified; Eph 3:10-11 that the wisdom of God be revealed"

These are some of my favorites - so now that you are saved what are you doing with the life you have been given? How are you doing at submitting to the Holy Spirits work of conforming you to the image of Christ? How are you doing at becoming holy and blameless?   Theres a whole study in it self. Granted there is a lot of grace and we are all works in progress. The question is are you fighting God or are you allowing him to deal with those remaining dark and hidden places in your life? How are you doing at walking in unity with your fellow believers. How is God revealing his wisdom through you?  

My purpose is not to discount this verse in your life just to let you know that it has some conditions that need to be in play in your life. I think sometimes we love a plastic Jesus of our own making, one who does not rock our life boat. One who does not challenge our life of complacency and comfort. 

 I just want you to consider what it means to love like God loves and to understand that He has a purpose and it would be good to know what it is. Quite often the good he is working in our life can be a bit painful because he challenges us to become more and more like Him. The Christian life is not for whimps. It takes courage to choose to do thing God's way. It takes a commitment to spend time in his Word to even start to know what His way even is.  It takes humility and death of pride. It takes sacrifice of our own selfish desires for the sake of others. It is often inconvenient, and painful at times to pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus. 

Romans 8:28 (NIV) 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

No matter where you are in these things God is working for your good, but His best good is that you become more and more like Christ. When people look at you how much Jesus do they see? When people bite into you how much Jesus do they taste? His blessings and good often come in ways that are far more difficult than we first expected. 

Not to lay a heavy on you but more of a gentle reminder that we need to be aligning our self with God's plans and purposes not expecting him to align with ours. We also need to be constantly living a life of love. Love is not always that wispy romantic feel good stuff. Love is at its core  a commitment,  laying down your life for the sake of others. Love is going from your place of comfort to reach out to others in their brokenness and distress. Love is becoming more of a giver than a consumer. All these things are very counter to the culture that we live in. So it is my conviction that I must hold up for you the mirror of his truth in hopes that you will look into it and see that he has more work that He desires to do in your life. Not to lay upon you a guilt trip of shame that you are not measuring up - because none of do - we all fall short. Just to remind you that it is an on going journey and we need to continue forward in Him. Have you asked him what he wants to work on next? 

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