Loving Jesus means keeping his commandments – and most of them are about loving our neighbors. Loving others is loving Jesus because He commands it – and it leads to a deeper experience with Him.
Vertical Living | Love Gone Right
John 14:21 & 1 Corinthians 13
You cannot live – really live – until you love God. Love to live! And you cannot really love God unless that shows up in your loving of one another. Loving other people adds logs on the fire of personal revival and personal love for God.
In fact, the two are so closely interrelated that God is not interested in our expressions of love when we have hatred in our hearts toward another person – especially another one of His children, and most especially those of God’s family who are hardest of all to love. There are things about the Lord you will not comprehend until you are growing in love.
In Vertical Living, God will take you to the mat with the full weight of all that He is. Watch and learn how to LOVE2LIVE2LOVE.
Vertical Living | Intro: Part 3
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV).
God the Father is able to heal the hurt of every human heart, and Zephaniah 3:17 gives us glimpses of how He does it.
For some wounds, Father God gives His own, healing presence. “He will quiet you by his love.” What will the Father do? He will quiet you. In the Hebrew, there’s no word for “you,” though it’s clearly implied. It actually reads, “He will quiet with his love.” With His presence, He will quiet you, and He will also quiet Himself.
God’s love never changes. It doesn’t grow with your success; it doesn’t diminish with your failure.
When you’re hurting, the worst support can be the person who rushes in with a thousand things to say, like “I know how you feel.” People say so much, yet the One who could say everything says nothing at first. No judgment. No condemnation. No questioning. No pressure for you to explain. Just there, present with you. Silent.
He will quiet Himself, and He will quiet you. He will quiet your mind that reviews, reviews, reviews. He will quiet your heart that hurts, hurts, hurts. He will quiet your mouth that might lash out in pain to hurt others.
How does He quiet you? With His love. When He breaks the silence, He will be singing over you a song. The song is about the Father’s love—His immense, unchanging, unrelenting, undeserved, all-forgiving, all-knowing, all-penetrating, all-healing love for you.
And for other types of wounds, Father God gives faithful, unchanging reality. His love is a certainty. God’s enduring, unassailable, unimpeachable, unqualified, unconditional love for His children is your reality. His love never changes. It doesn’t grow with your success; it doesn’t diminish with your failure. This verse settles the issue: He “will save,” “will rejoice,” “will quiet,” “will exult.” Knowing what God will do gives you confidence in Him. Not your mom. Not your dad. Not your past. Not your regrets. God’s love to you in Christ is your reality. You don’t deserve it. You didn’t earn it. It doesn’t come with good behavior, nor is it forfeited with bad behavior, because it’s not from you. It’s from God, who needs nothing. In His grace, He sets His love upon you.
And celebration is coming. “He will exult over you with loud singing.” God exults over you. This is your reality. Not what your boss says. Not your past. Not your problems. God is delighting in you this moment, singing a love song over you.
Human words can never capture God’s love. This song might be the closest we can get. The words of the third stanza of “The Love of God,” by F. M. Lehman, were written by a Jewish rabbi, circa 1050 AD.
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.
This is our reality: the infinite love of God. Whatever your earthly family or friends aren’t, you have a Father in heaven who loves you immensely.
Father, so many of us are the walking wounded. And You, our perfect heavenly Father, want to heal us. You give us Yourself—Your presence and the unchanging reality of Your love. I can’t begin to grasp how much You love me. Give me faith to believe You are singing over me the Father’s song of love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:10–11, esv).
Have you ever given much thought to God’s arms? (“God has arms?” you might be wondering.) When God describes His arms, He doesn’t tell us their circumference or how much He can lift—those are human, physical terms, like the jock showing off at the gym. But God’s description of His arms tells us some awesome things about Him. In fact, the dual description of God’s arms in this passage shows us His power and His comfort.
“Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him.” When the Bible talks about God’s right arm, it refers to His powerful, ruling arm—His justice, His holiness, and His strength. God is like that. He is all that and more.
But then the very next verse describes His tender shepherd arm. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” If you’ve spent any time in church, sadly you’ve probably heard one extreme or the other: a ton of preaching about the transcendent, holy, awesome Judge or a ton of preaching about the tender, loving, merciful Shepherd. But He’s both, right? In this passage we clearly see both. Don’t let God’s nearness minimize His transcendence nor let His transcendence make you think He isn’t very aware of you individually.
Imagine a shepherd in the fields, and this gives you a picture of God. A shepherd can oversee hundreds of sheep, but he holds only one at a time. He gathers the lambs one by one in his arms. The point here is that this awesome God cares for you. Personally. Individually. Yes, He’s guarding a big flock, but when He cares for the lambs, He tends to them one by one. This is God’s love for you. Personal. Individual. Attentive. Aware. Devoted. That’s how He cares for you.
When He carries His lambs, He holds them “in his bosom.” Picture that. He doesn’t hold us awkwardly squirming at arms’ length. No, He draws us close, right to His own heart.
And He will “gently lead those that are with young.” The sheep that is about to give birth is vulnerable, with unique needs. And the shepherd accommodates those needs. In the same way, when our needs are great, the Lord is that much more attentive to us. Some of us are at a point of acute need right now in our business or in our family. God knows what it is. And just as pressing as that need is, His attention matches that. He’s on it! He is right there, gently leading those whose circumstances demand additional care.
So which one is He – mighty or tender? Yes. His arm is a picture of absolute power and unconditional love.
That’s your King. That’s your Shepherd.
As I behold You, my Lord God, I am in awe of who You are. You are the King. You rule the universe with Your feet up. Absolute power. You are also my Shepherd. You lovingly hold me close and tend to my heart. Absolute love. Open my eyes that I may see You more clearly, and stir in me fresh worship and love for You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
God’s house should be a beacon of unconditional love. Get rid of love substitutes and discover how truly unconditional love supercharges relationships.