Held by love

Last Easter we visited Glasgow. We saw the famous painting by Dali in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. It depicts Jesus on the cross, above the earth, in space. A closer look reveals that there are no nails in His hands or feet. No nails-illustrating the fact that it wasn’t the nails that kept Him there on the cross.

He could have summoned a host of angels to take Him away from the suffering but instead He chose to die for you and me – because of His love for us.

In fact it’s the greatest love, for ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13 – NIV)

‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom 5:8 – NIV)

I used to have a little bookmark in my Bible that said:
‘I asked Jesus, “How much do you love me?”
“This much” he answered,
and He stretched out His arms and died’

‘This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son’ (John 3:16 – The Message)

The cross is God shouting through history how much He loves us! The cross declares in blood red letters that God is love.

On deeper reflection, I realised that it wasn’t only love that held Him there,
‘It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished’
(From the hymn ‘How deep the Father’s love for us’-Townend)

‘It was my sin that held Him there’

It was my sin that held Him there’

The prophet Isaiah was able to look down through the years and foresee the suffering the Messiah would go through for us: ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa 53:5&6 –NIV)

In love, Jesus left the glory of heaven to walk this earth.

In love, He hung on the cross, taking the punishment for our sin.

In love, He redeemed us, paying for our salvation with His own precious blood.

And the amazing thing is this –‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ (Rom 8:32 –NIV)

Reflect on the words of this old hymn:

When I survey

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my god:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
(Isaac Watts 1674-1748)

Easter Blessings,

Ruth x

All we need is love

Thirteen quotes to ponder

1.’How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted life: loving ourselves.’
(Brene Brown)

2. ‘God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.’
(Brennan Manning)

3 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
(‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

‭‭4‘God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’
(Romans‬ ‭5: 5NIV‬‬)

5 ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’
(‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

6. ‘You are given love & this love is so extreme that it will take you all eternity to begin to understand it’
(Edward T Welch)

7. ‘Though our feelings come & go God’s love for us does not’
(CS Lewis)

8. ‘You are so very loved.I pray that you would remember it,know it,live it,breathe it,rest in it: beloved’
(Sarah Bessey)

9.‘For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.’
(Zeph 3:17)

10. ‘And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.’
(Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-19‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

11. ‘The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, GOD, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.’
(‭‭Psalm‬ ‭94:16-19‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

12. ‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.’
(1 John‬ ‭4:4)

13. ‘May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance.’
(2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭MSG)

Love made me do it!

I’ve been brewing some perspective- one coffee shop at a time. A visit to Slim’s Healthy Kitchen on Belmont Road Belfast added more perspective. It’s a great place to get healthy food- like tuna steaks & quinoa with the option of finishing off with an enormous brownie (for those of us with chocoholic tendencies!)

As we waited on our food, the writing on the wall said:
‘Love made me do it’

I would have taken a photo but I would have had to stand at an awkward angle!

Love made me do it. Or to transpose it into Biblical language, ‘Christ’s love compels us’ (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV)

Or to paraphrase:
‘Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.’
(2 Corinthians 5:14 MSG)

The Bible speaks eloquently of the ubiquitous love of God. Indeed, in 1John 4:17 it declares ‘God is love’ Love is the very essence of God.

Throughout life we waste time looking for love in the wrong places-especially when we are feeling insecure within ourselves.

‘You are uniquely loved known & called by God.This is the bedrock of your security in the world.’
(Ken J Costa)

St Therese of Liseux stated, ‘It isn’t enough to love; we must prove it’

God has proven His everlasting love for us:
‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’
(Romans 5:8 NIV)

‘God loves us as we are, not as we think we should be’
(Dr Michelle Bengston)

We are made in God’s image & He is love. Furthermore, He poured his love into our hearts (Romans 5:5 NIV)

We need to soak in this deep truth & what it means.

‘You are loved. Rest in your God-breathed worth’
(Sarah Bessey)

What a huge difference it makes when we can live like we are loved by the Most High God!

‘Live loved!’ Lysa Terkheurst wrote. Two little words with life-altering meaning.

We can never fathom the utter dimensions of God’s love. But if we grasp even a small amount of His love for us, this will make us love others.

When we ‘live loved’ we will realize that we will never lock eyes with another human who isn’t loved by God or made in his image.

Living loved leads to living a life of love:
‘Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.’
(Ephesians 5:2 NLT)

What does love look like?
‘Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.’
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT)

The following words also challenged me when I read them in a devotional:
‘God’s love is unconditional, and He calls us to love with that same kind of love … even when it is not returned.
We cannot manufacture this kind of love. It’s a fruit of God’s Spirit. It dwells within us because God indwells us.’
(Wendy Blight- First Five)

Clearly, love is not just a feeling or airy emotion. Love is a verb!

I fall so short of what I should be, of what I’m commanded to do. I find it difficult to love many of those whose paths cross mine on this journey. At times I’m so wrapped up in my own issues that I find it difficult to love full stop.

Yet, the Word of God says:
‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.’
(1 John 4:7-8 NIV)

‘Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.’
(1 Peter 4:8 NLT)

‘Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.
(1 Peter 4:8 MSG)

This brand of love comes from God alone who pours it from His heart to ours.

Only With His help can we live loved & live a life of love in return.

‘May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.’
(2 Thessalonians 2:16,17)

‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.’
(1 John 4:16 NIV)


Ruth x