BUILDING A STRONGHOLD IN GOD(Pt.3)

Recently, I was privileged to be apart of a gathering of Believers who had come together to celebrate the life of the unborn. The unborn is the life that is the womb by the gift of God but often unexpected and therefore often unwanted. Sometimes the unwanted life is due to the shame surrounding the pregnancy. At other times the unborn is unwanted because of the fear of the financial challenges or the pressure from those who don’t want the social stigma attached to their “good name” or standing. And some simply don’t want the unborn child because of their own selfish desire to live without regard for another human being.

THE GREAT BATTLEGROUND

Today’s great battleground has been coined as “Pro-Choice” versus “Pro-Life”. But something else gripped me as I listened to the most amazing stories of those who were given hope (and help) making the choice of life for their unborn child. It was a phrase I heard…”Pro-Love”, an often missing ingredient among God’s people.

COLD LOVE

Jesus said one of the final day signs before His return would be lawlessness and the multiplying of evil living. This would cause “the love of many hearts to grow cold”(Matthew 24:12). A heart that has grown hard as a stone is a cold heart. It has become numb because it all it has seen, heard or experienced that it has shut itself away, being incapable of feeling love. Cold love sets in when We who “observe all the rules” hold in contempt those who live without “rules”(God’s laws). And We become like the overly religious in Jesus’ day, were more concern with outward appearances than the condition of the heart. They had lost any sensitivity for the plight of those trapped in the vicious cycle of sin and defeat. Jesus confronted their cold-hearted love saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”(Matthew 9:12, 13 NIV).

THE ALTERNATIVE

By that statement Jesus offers an alternative for cold love. He offers the true love of God. As someone rightly said, “Love on any level demands sacrifice”. Jesus gave away His life as an act of voluntary love for you and me. Paul works this out in 1 Corinthians 13(“The Love Chapter”). If this chapter ever became “The Love Walk” it would melt cold hearts and build a stronghold of God for daily living. There are three primary movements in Paul’s thoughts in 1 Corinthian 13:(1) The EXCLUSION OF LOVE. (2) The FRUIT OF LOVE. (3) The TRIUMPH OF LOVE.

THE EXCLUSION OF LOVE (1 Co 13:1-3)

Paul teaches that true love from God cannot be explained merely because we operate in “Spiritual gifts”. Whether we KNOW what can only be known by God’s Spirit or whether we can DO what is impossible except by God’s Spirit or whether we GIVE the “supreme sacrifice” by dying a heroic death. All of these make no difference IF not motivated by the love of God (See John 3:16; 1 John 3:16). Jesus reminds us that if what is done is for public show or recognition then We have our reward (See Matthew 6:5).

THE FRUIT OF LOVE (1 Co 13:4-7)

The love of God is not like gifts “hung” from a tree at a certain time of the year. But God’s love is born in every season of the year and is the result of the Life of the tree. Fruit grows on the tree because it is in fact part of the tree. A true abiding fellowship with Jesus bears the fruit of His love (See John 15:5). Furthermore, the fruit of His love is only manifest in the context of other relationships (See Galatians 5:22-23). The fruit of His love in us is for others to taste and see the goodness and the mercy of the Lord.

THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE (1 Co 13:8-13)

Just as fruit is the result of the soil, the sun and the cultivation of a tree so too the fruit of love is a maturing process. None of us arrive fully-grown or developed over night. But God uses people, circumstances (Setbacks, trials, disappointments and delays) when offered to God to bring forth the fruit of the lovely character of Jesus Christ in our lives. This builds a stronghold in God and causes us to know the triumph of His love over every confusing circumstance of life. And like Paul say, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”(1 Corinthians 13:12, 13 NIV). Or as Eugene Peterson paraphrased,” But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 MSG)

May God who loves us with an everlasting love perfect His love in us.

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher,Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied free of charge provided that it is not altered from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com.

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