Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Love of God and His Amazing Grace

Yesterday, I shared of how God brought to my remembrance the many precious friendships He has placed in my life. I love my friends not only for what they are, but also for what I am when I am with them.

I think true friends have a sanctifying influence on one another. Instead of seeing through one another, they see one another through all the changing scenes of life. True friends are those who knows all about me, my strength and weaknesses and still love and accept me despite the difference in my personality with them or how they may not see eye to eye with me in some things. True friends pray for one another and desire to see each other grow in the love of God and walk more closely with God, and serve Him more fervently. I think true friends are those who are able to admonish and correct one another whenever necessary though that can be painful at times. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." (Proverbs 27:6) True friends deal kindly and gently with one another instead of speaking harshly or with condemnations. True friends desire the good of one another, and his/her happiness and well being is more important to me.

True friends hope against hope that their friends will change for the better and God can do a deeper work in their souls. True friends do not give up on one another. I read somewhere that "True friends are those who come in when the whole world goes out." True friends do not forsake us even when the world and everybody else forsake us. And such a true Friend we have in Jesus !

.... he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

True friendships in Christ caused others to see rather clearly that we are the children of God, and we sincerely love our brethren like the way God loves us.

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35

In true Christian friendships of brotherly love, we are willing to lay down our lives for our brethren or friends, if need be. Most of us will not be called to literally lay down our life for our Lord or our brethren. But daily we are called to take up our cross and follow the Lord. We are called to deny ourselves and esteem others better than ourselves. When we take up our cross and walk in the ways of self-denial, the road can be rough and difficult, sometimes painful too, but we will find the Lord walking with us and blessing us in our walk and friendship with others. In His love alone can we find the courage and grace to do what is right for us and for others. Such unconditional love is what the Lord Himself has set before us in His denying His own comfort and suffered and bled for us on the cross that we might be reconciled to God. In His love alone we are enabled to love our brethren as ourselves which is what God desires us to do.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16

If friends are constantly putting one another down, constantly hurting one another or constantly drawing one another away from God and lead one another to undesirable thoughts and actions, these are friendships that will not last forever nor do the friendships benefit each other and others around them.

How hard it is to develop a friendship that really honours God and benefit our friends' souls and ours! We are fallen creatures filled with sins and remaining corruptions. We failed the Lord and one another in so many ways. Though I tried my best to love my friends with the same love that God has loved me, and I pray daily for grace to do so, I am sadly conscious of my many sins and failures towards God and my friends. I thank God that with Him there is forgiveness of sins and I thank God for friends who accept me, forgive me of my faults, accepts me and receive me readily into their fellowship. I know that this is possible because of God's love for us and the love He has placed in our heart for one another. I pray that God may shine forth His love to others through me. I know I am but an instrument in the hands of a mighty, sovereign, just and yet loving God Who loves His people and sends His Son to die for the sins of His redeemed ones.

In all the relationships in my life, God is the One who fills my heart with His love to love Him, His people, my family and others He places along the various paths of my life. The reminder of our Lord Jesus Christ’s great love for us by laying down His life for us is always a great encouragement to me. It never cease to amaze me of God’s love for sinners like us.

I am reminded once again of a hymn/poem I like very much, “The Love of God”. I like the way the love of God is being described as greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above, would drain the oceon dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky! How true! The immeasurable depths and heights of God’s love! It has to be experienced to know what it means and even then we cannot fathom the whole of it.

It is interesting to note that this 3rd stan­za, which I like very much, had been found pen­ciled on the wall of a pa­tient’s room in an in­sane asy­lum af­ter he had been car­ried to his grave, the gen­er­al opin­ion was that this in­mate had writ­ten the epic in mo­ments of san­ity (quoted from Cyber Hymnal website).

The Love of God

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Chorus: O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Chorus: O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Chorus: O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

As I consider my own sins, failures and weaknesses, and how I often failed the Lord despite His consistent love and patience, I am greatly moved to seek more of His grace to walk with Him afresh, and to love Him and His people more and more. I know that I cannot do it of myself. I need the Lord’s grace and strength. I am reminded of another poem/hymn "Amazing Grace" and I thank God for His amazing grace in my life.

"Amazing Grace"

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­i­ver, 1779)

I thank God that I belong to Him and nothing shall ever separate me from His love. Though in this life, I have my many portions of trials, afflictions and sufferings, God is with me and graciously working all things for His glory and my good. My long and painful episodes of severe depression are God's ways of sanctifying me and drawing me nearer to know His Love and Grace. My manic episodes are periods of grace of God in which God enables me to testify of His Love and Faithfulness, and time He gives me opportunity to know Him and serve Him, to know His people and serve them.

I pray that God may continue to lead and guide me in His ways, and take me home to be with Himself when my duties here are done. Meanwhile, I continue to run the race that He has set before me, looking unto our Lord Jesus Christ who Alone is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Romans 8:35-39
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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