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The Greatest Love

         The many dimensions of love are explained all over the Bible. With my love for numbers, I did a quick count using concordances that list all the verses where “love” or “loved” occurred. I found love or loved appearing almost 400 times in the New King James Version, and more than 450 times in the New International Version. That’s a lot of love! Some of the greatest verses are John 3:16 (“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…”), John 15:9 (Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you”), First Corinthians 13:1-13 (the famous description of the ‘greatest gift’ of love), and there are many more including John 21 in Jesus last words to Peter. The one that speaks to me the most, and a great list for use in a wedding ceremony is First Corinthians 13 in The Message version by Eugene Peterson (summarized briefly as follows):

FIRST CORINTHIANS 13: 4-7

LOVE….never gives up, cares more for others than self, doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, doesn’t strut or have a swelled head or force itself on others, it isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle or keep score of the sins of others or revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back but keeps going to the end!

Wow, that’s an amazing list of the best in love!

Another way to look at the love that Jesus has for us came to me during prayer recently. I was scanning the famous book on marriage by Gary Chapman, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.” Chapman’s list is (1) Words of Affirmation, (2) Quality Time, (3) Receiving Gifts, (4) Acts of Service, and (5) Physical Touch. Let’s look at each of these 5 attributes of long-term love and see where our faith in Jesus plays a role.

FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES

            The gospels, the words of Jesus, and those of His Apostles like Paul, Peter, and John speak loudly of the importance of love—for us from God, our love to God, and our love of our neighbor (meaning any other person). The work of Jesus and His followers has come to us in a heavenly love language—in ways similar to those listed in Chapman’s book.

            Words of Affirmation. In John 14:23 Jesus himself said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” In Romans 8:35, Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Throughout the New Testament we see versus that tell us we are “ambassadors” for God, members of the royal family, a child of God, a friend of Christ, redeemed and forgiven, and a temple of God. Wow—a free pass to becoming a member of the royal family—that’s Affirmation!

            Quality Time. This is one of the most important things we can do to come close to Jesus—spending quiet, quality time with Him. Time can be invested in worship, fellowship at a church or gathering, ready the Word, and all the types and purposes of prayer. But, one type of quality time has really blessed me and my family—quiet time alone with the Lord seeking His face. When God created humans, He wanted to walk with them in the Garden. Now, we need to find ways to walk with Him “one on one.”

Here’s evidence that JESUS WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU. First, He promised all believers that He would send us the Holy Spirit (John 14:25 and 16:12-15; the Pentecost in Acts 2, and the saving of Paul in Acts 9). The Holy Spirit within you is your tool for spending quality time with Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the key to communicating with the Lord. Let me give you a personal example. After being a born-again Christian for 23 years, I was praying for students at the Christian college where I worked. I cried out to God to help me by giving me encouraging words for students who lost a parent or grandparent, had financial problems, lost a boyfriend or girlfriend, and many other serious needs. One night, I got out of bed at about 3 a.m. to get a drink of water. At the time, I did not know about the ‘4th watch,’ 3 to 6 a.m., the time that Jesus walked on water—the revelation time). As I walked into the living room, I felt a heavy, powerful presence at the left corner of the room near the door to the garage. For some reason, I knew instinctively that this was a Holy presence, something special, and it brought me to my knees. The next thing I remember was getting some paper and a pencil and starting to write. Only on the next morning did I realize that I had written 4 large pages of messages that sounded like the Bible, even with some phrases in Spanish (the only language I can read except English). This was NOT something I would have written myself. What followed in the next 20 years, to this day, are 12 journals filled with messages from the Lord! How do I know? There are messages that had accurate predictions of future events, cautions about decisions, helps with crises and big changes in jobs and homes, and major blessings. These were the results of spending quality time with the Lord, starting with prayers of thanksgiving and praise followed by questions like, “What’s next Papa?” at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning! I lost some sleep but gained amazing wisdom. This is partly why I can write this Blog for you to enjoy—the Lord gives me words to say!

            Because this Blog is getting long, I will have to finish it in the next Blog! So, wait to hear how the Lord gives Gifts, acts of service, and even “touching” us in amazing ways!

A CHALLENGE FOR YOU

            Try this at home—Read about the Words of Affirmation (use your Bible, or go to the Freedom In Christ website by Neil Anderson, www.freedominchrist.com, and get his “Who I am in Christ” list of scriptures.

            And, TRY THIS ESPECIALLY—Get up during the early morning and settle in with your bible or daily devotional, pray, and ask for Jesus to speak to you (Remember, He wants to chat with you!) and the Holy Spirit in you will give you a message (maybe even one word) as a whisper in your mind. This is the “still small voice” that Elijah heard in First Kings 19. Or, see the amazing devotionals by Sarah Young (“Jesus Calling”) or Brian Simmons (“I hear His Whisper”). They give you great examples of what the voice of the Lord sounds like.

Pastor G. Harold