Emmanuel Grace

Built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself being the Cornerstone

Love and Obedience (Part 1)

For the last little while, my spirit has felt an urgency, a consistent nudging to draw nearer to Jesus, and to prepare for things to come; An urgency to prepare my heart and to return to God completely and I believe he is calling the the church to do the same. Return to truth and love and light. God has been revealing the complacency of my life. I’ve taken God’s greatest gifts to me( that of his Son, foremost) and sort of hunkered down with them to create a safe little life and have used them for not much else than my own interests and comfort. Like the Israelites, I have integrated God’s values with the values of those from other nations and I have forgotten much of what he has given us and also what he has asked of us. We have tried to take from each tree in the garden, that which seems the best for our happiness here and now and as a result our hearts have turned to many gods instead of the one true God. Our gaze has slowly shifted away from heaven and become fixed on things that will not last.

Not for the first time God has gently reminded me, ‘How long will you limp between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him’(1 Kings 18:21)

He has been showing me what it means to truly love him and call him ‘Lord’.

Reading Psalms one morning I came to this verse: ‘Prove me, o Lord, and try me.Test my heart and my mind’- Psalm 26:2
Lord, what does it mean to be proved by you?

‘To prove’ means to have the truth or genuineness of something be established; to give demonstration of by action. It means to have the character or ability expected of me shown through my actions. When I asked him this, at the time I had been reading 1 John and Luke. The answer to my question, 'what does it mean to be proved by you?’ was answered there.

Love and obedience.

Since then, 1 John and Luke have sort of become a launch pad of new perspective with various other sources confirming what i’ve been learning(I love when God echoes what he is saying to me through others!). I’m discovering more and more just how much God’s written word is an incredible gift and I’d love to share.

I’d felt that God was leading me to read through Luke and 1 John. In Luke, when Gabriel visits Mary to announce from God what he planned to do through her, she proved herself by readily accepting God’s plan for her saying, “I am the Lord’s servant, let it be done to me according to your word”.(Luke 1:38) Though she doubted at how it would be possible, her heart was open to believing. She was sure of who God was. She was sure of her relationship to God and as a willing servant, she obeyed him. She knew truth. Pleasing God was the most important thing to her. Did she consider the consequences? I’m sure she must have but the desire to Love the Lord with all her heart, mind and soul outweighed any other thought or desire. This ultimate act of service to God, to carry God’s Son into the world for him to bring hope and restoration to all the world, though it would change her life drastically, was proof of Mary’s heart towards her Lord. We also have a calling to help bring the hope of Jesus into the world by proclaiming "the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Is my heart so willing as Mary’s?

‘And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him; whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.’ 1 John 2:4-6

John is only reiterating what Jesus says- that if we love God, we will keep his commandments. What are God’s commandments? To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love others as you love yourself. Matthew 22:37

We’ve kind of become unaccustomed to such absolute truths. But scripture is clear that we cannot claim to know/love him when we are not doing willingly doing what he is asking us to do(love him and others) and we cannot say we are in the light when we are still willingly walking in darkness(clinging to our sin/our way). Our walking out of these two commandments, to love God and love others, establishes and proves our claim that the Lord is our God. Love and obedience go hand in hand. Our obedience to God is how God perfects his love in us so that we can love others and we cannot love God who we can’t see if we can’t even love those around us who we can see(1 John 4:20)

In ourselves, this call to love is a tall task. It is not a natural, human love that allows us to love and walk Christ’s way. It is a super natural love. Just like it wasn’t Mary in her own power that allowed her to become Jesus’ mother. It was and is by the Holy Sprit. Jesus’ spirit in us. He teaches us. He is our perfection. Our wisdom, Our righteousness. But he cannot be these things for us if we don’t allow him to be these things. If we keep trying to do things our own way or are indifferent to his way all together. We must turn, and be willing to lay down our lives. Love means sacrifice( 1John 3:16), and obedience means humility(‘ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake- 2 Cor 4:5). Think of what it really means to walk the way he walked...

This is where abiding is so important. Abide in him. Stay. Remain.

We cannot do anything for God, we cannot love him or others if we are not resting in him, remaining in him. John 15:5 ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’.

If we keep his commandments, we abide in his love, We remain in the vine- bearing fruit, one of which is love. And through our love we prove to be his disciples to him and the world. He is the vine and we are the branches. Branches that aren’t abiding with the vine wither and are broken away to be burned.

When God’s love is perfected in us though there is no fear of punishment. Fear is cast out. We won’t try and keep his commandments out of fear that if we don’t he will abandon us, we won't keep trying to earn our way into his grace and we won’t hide truth and light and love from the world because of fear… We will obey his commandments simply out of joyous love for the One who first loved us way more than we can imagine…I pray like Paul in Ephesians 1 that my heart and your hearts would become enlightened to the FULLNESS that we have because of Christ, because of God’s love for us. We are rescued from our sins and death ‘and born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead- (1Peter 1:3). When this happens our lives will become living sacrifices of thankfulness to him. To willingly give our lives in service to him- no matter what that looks like-trial or not. We love him because he first loved us. We will love others by abiding in his love for us. We won’t keep silent any more. We won’t hide away his gift, his light, to the world and keep it for ourselves because we want all the world to know his truth and love like we know it. We’ll be like Mary, unsure of how he can work through us but willing to be part of anything that has to do with the Lord and bringing him glory because we love him. God’s greatest demonstration of love was through his son, and our greatest demonstration of love through Jesus to our neighbours is to share this good news!

I want to be like Mary, ready to say yes, no matter what the cost to my life. I want to be so immersed in the truth of Jesus and his love that I cannot at all contain it but am compelled to give it to every person I meet. But I must come to the end of myself- there’s not space for light and dark- I have to let the living Spirit of God have room to live and love through me otherwise, all my promises and intentions to do so won’t last.
Asking God to prove me, is saying, like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant, let it be done to me according to your word”…living as a servant out of obedience because of love and then trusting God with everything else.

Love and obedience. Love and truth. We cannot separate them..

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