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Friday, August 8, 2008

Costly Love

As you can probably tell by my posts below, the Lord has really been teaching me lately that there are two kinds of “wisdom”. One often has the appearance of godly wisdom, but is really earthly and demonic. I often find myself deceived by the messages I hear in the desires of my own flesh and in the world around me. I constantly find myself needing to check this against the truth I see in Scripture. Godly wisdom is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. It is scandalous to my flesh and to our culture, both of which are about the god of “me”. Once we have fallen in love with the Savior, there is a process of transformation for Christians from one degree of glory to the next that involves head, heart, and action. So that I am not conformed to this worldly wisdom, I need to be transformed by the renewal of my mind. I need to study and meditate and ask God for understanding of His truth by His Word. I have to grow in understanding of this truth by His Spirit. I have to believe in my heart these truths by His Spirit, which manifests itself in the outflow or fruit of my life. This fruit ought to be summed up by love for God, for His body, and for those who do not yet know Him. I have to soberly assess myself by the fruit that is coming out of my life, being careful to measure fruit by Scriptural standards, not worldly standards.

As Christians, there are areas in all of our lives where this process does not flow right- we are not yet in glory. For me, one of these areas is fear- which is only a reflection of my sin or inadequate trust in the truths of God. I often see this sin through the bad fruit it produces in my life- worry, anxiety, selfishness, self-obsession, etc. My Gracious God has brought much trial into my life this year, to do the work of rooting out sins like this in me. I am in this process and it is hard and lonely. It has been one of the most painful years of my life, and yet it has been the sweetest in seeing a greater glimpse into the glory of God and walking close to my Savior. In the midst of the heartaches and disappointments, this has by far been the sweetest year of our 5 years of marriage by God’s grace, as God has been rooting out sin in both me and my husband and He is teaching us what it means to live grace in our marriage- something I wish I had learned long ago. I am so grateful to the God who never gives up on me and who promises to be with me moment by moment in this life. As He draws me closer and closer to Him, he transforms me, often most effectively in seasons of trial and discipline. But in this process, He gives me real joy- not conjured- in knowing Him and His nearness now, and in the hope of knowing that I get to spend eternity in His glorious presence!

In times when I am feeling particularly crushed by trials, I am especially amazed to look at the model of Jesus’ life on earth. He suffered immensely in His life, yet none of His suffering was discipline for sin. He was sinless! He was tested by trials, and He passed with perfect obedience to the Father. In addition to being betrayed, abused, misunderstood, slandered, falsely accused, abandoned by loved ones, financially unstable, deliberately tempted, brutally tortured, and publicly mocked (to name a few), there are things about His sufferings that are even more scandalous! He was God who willingly demoted Himself to live a life like us, while being fully God and fully man! He was in perfect relationship with the Father by the Spirit. There is no closer relationship that has ever been. Yet in becoming sin for us, He underwent the wrath of the Father against sin and experienced separation from His Father! He even had to suffer in advance with the knowledge that all of this was coming! Why would He do such a thing? It was love. It was love for the Father, and it was love for His church. It was love for you, if you are a Christian, and it was His love for me. He did all of this by the Spirit, and in it the Father was glorified and He was glorified- because sacrificial love and perfect justice met in perfection. Jesus willingly suffered the Father’s wrath. The Father willingly gave the Son He loved- the perfect image of Himself. This is love- undeserved, costly mercy toward us. This costly love show by both the Father and the Son, is life changing for us. As the Spirit opens my heart to this truth more and more, as I am rooted and grounded in this love, He is transforming me to sacrificially love too. As we grow in our sacrificial love, we get to glorify Him!

Isaiah 53 "Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him.He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his stripes we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on himthe iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living,stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wickedand with a rich man in his death,although he had done no violence,and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt,he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to deathand was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."

John 3:16-21 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." 1 John 3:1-3 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

Romans 5:1-11 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Okay, I better stop now before I post the entire Bible on this post.

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