- In love, the Lord draws us to Himself.
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’ (Jeremiah 31:3).
So often, we have been like ‘the prodigal son’ (Luke 15:11-24). We have walked away from our Father’s House. We have wandered off into ‘the far country’. We feel that we are far from God, yet still He draws near to us.
The Lord is at work in our hearts. He is bringing us ‘to our senses’. He is reminding us of His love. He is drawing us back to Himself. In love, He is calling us home again. He is speaking to our hearts. He is saying to us, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’.
As His love reaches our hearts, ‘the prodigal son’ becomes ‘the returning son’: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’. ‘Bring me back, let me come back, for you are the Lord my God!’ (Jeremiah 31:18).
- In love, the Lord brings us into fellowship with His people.
‘The Lord builds up Jerusalem. He gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:2-3).
This is much more than the building of the city of Jerusalem with bricks and mortar. This is God building up His people in their ‘most holy faith’ (Jude 20). This is God blessing His people as they gather together to worship Him.
In Christ, we are ‘being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22). The Lord draws us to Himself. He brings us into fellowship with His people.
He calls us to worship Him: ‘Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving’. He ‘blesses’ us through ‘His Word’. He ‘blesses’ us in ‘the Spirit’: ‘He sends His Word... and the waters flow’ (Psalm 147:7, 12-13, 18; John 7:37-39).
- In love, the Lord calls us to be changed by His love.
‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10). God calls us to live a ‘holy’life. We cannot make ourselves holy. We are spiritually ‘dead’. We need to be ‘made alive’- by God. Holiness does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord.
Long before we ever thought of loving Him - He loved us. Our love for Him is so changeable. His love for us is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. It is eternal. He loved us ‘before the foundation of the world’. He will love us ‘in the world to come’. This is the love of God, the love which inspires us and enables us to live a ‘holy’life (Ephesians 2:1; 1:4; 2:7).
When we realize the truth concerning ourselves - ‘nothing good dwells within me’(Romans 7:18) - and God - He is ‘rich in mercy’ (Ephesians 2:4) - , we will ‘praise His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6).
We praise His glorious grace when we receive His love and are changed by His love.
- In love, the Lord calls us to be changed by His glory.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is the Beginning. He is also the End (John 1:1-3; Revelation 21:6).
He is ‘the Word... made flesh’. ‘We have seen His glory’ (John 1:14). This is only the beginning. When He returns, we shall see His glory - ‘we shall see Him as He is’(1 John 3:2).
From Him, there is creation (John 1:1-3). From Him, there is salvation (John 1:12-13). In Him, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:29, 32-34). He is the Word of God, the Lamb of God and the Son of God (John 1:1, 29, 34).
When we look at Jesus Christ, we see God - ‘the ‘Word was God’ (John 1:1), ‘No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known’ (John 1:18).
Do you want to know what God is like? - Look at Jesus (John 14:9). What do we see when we look at Him? - ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
We look at the Lamb of God, crucified for us. We see love – the greatest love of all. It is divine love. It is eternal love. It is a love which calls us to say, with Paul,
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me ...
... one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what
is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has
called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year A.
The same readings are suggested for Year B and Year C.