The Love of God

This morning, dear reader, I must write what I know of and about the love of God.  In spite of the fact that the Christian Bible includes the phrase "God is love", I have seldom heard or seen the real love of God being manifested in church leadership.

To recount my story, I received Jesus Christ into my heart as Savior and Lord on May 15, 1976, at about 3:00 in the afternoon.  That was my first encounter with the love of God.

Then, shortly thereafter, I was challenged with the question whether I would allow God to do anything He wanted to do in me and through me.  It was made clear to me that the correct answer was "yes".  So I took a deep breath, said 'yes', and cringed as I expected my worst fears to be experienced.  They have not happened yet, to my great relief.

Then I heard a song in church which I had heard many times before, but I really listened and heard the message this time.  The song was "The Prayer of St. Francis".  The words are as follows (as shown in the website):

Prayer of St. Francis

Sebastian Temple

Verse 1: 
Make me a channel of your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love. 
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord, 
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.

Verse 2: 
Make me a channel of your peace. 
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope. 
Where there is darkness only light, 
And where there's sadness ever joy.

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek 
So much to be consoled as to console. 
To be understood as to understand, 
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Verse 3: 
Make me a channel of your peace. 
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
In giving of ourselves that we receive, 
And in dying that we're born to eternal life.

I had expected the worst, but find that God wants us to experience the best as we help others to experience God's best!!!  More on the subject of expectations later.  Click on  More about expectations.

Eventually in my reading of the Bible I came across a statement of Jesus where He said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword!

Mat 10:34  Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword.
Mat 10:35  For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Mat 10:36  And a man's foes shall be those of his own household.
Mat 10:37  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
Mat 10:38  And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.
Mat 10:39  He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.

I also read another passage which summarized Jesus' mission on earth:

John 1:17  For the Law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

As a result I have slightly revised the Prayer of St. Francis as follows:

Make us all vessels of Your grace and truth;
where there is hatred let us bring Your love;
where there is injury Your healing, Lord;
and where there's doubt - true faith in You!

Make us all vessels of Your grace and truth;
where there's despair in life let us bring hope;
where there is darkness, only light;
and where there's sadness - ever joy!

O Master, grant that we may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love with all our soul!

Make us all vessels of Your grace and truth!
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
in giving to all men that we receive,
and in dying that we are born to eternal life!

My reason for making these changes are as follows:  First, I believe that this is God's plan and purpose for mankind, and I didn't want anyone to be left out of my prayer.  Second, I didn't want to be praying for peace when Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword.  I have come to the conclusion that Jesus' sword gets applied primarily to family relationships to set us free from the unreasonable and ungodly expectations which otherwise hinder us from doing God's will by getting the obedience of Jesus to work thoroughly in our lives.

Eventually, in 1995, I was directed to the Toronto Revival, and found that the official motto of the revival was "To Walk in the Love of God, and to Give It Away to Toronto and the World".  I attended a conference at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (as it was then called), and heard the senior pastor tell during a Question and Answer session that his greatest regret in life was that, in spite of having been a born-again Christian for 40 years and having been baptized in the Holy Spirit for 35 of those years, he had never really experienced the love of God until God graced him and the congregation with a total meltdown in His love on January 20, 1994!  He went on to say that he and the congregation he served had kind of a 'mental construct' of what the love of God was, but they experienced the real love of God that first day of revival and it totally transformed their lives and their ministry!

I experienced my own total meltdown in the love of God in July, 1995, in a little church in Toledo, Ohio, and it totally transformed my life as well!  Since that time I have frequently prayed for people to experience a total meltdown in God's love, and have seldom been disappointed unless there was some hindrance in the person's life for whom I was praying.  If we really want to be vessels of His grace and truth, He will certainly make sure that His grace and truth flow through us according to our desires and trust in Him!!  On the other hand, if we only want the love of God for ourselves we will probably be sent away empty.

Luke 1:53  He has filled the hungry with good things, and He has sent away the rich empty.

My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you too will choose to become a vessel of God's grace and truth to whomever He wants to water with His grace and truth through you!!

You should bear in mind that, as the hose gets no praise for washing the car, we can expect no praise if God uses us as His vessel to touch others.  But I cannot think or imagine of a better or more fulfilling use of anyone's life than to be a useful vessel for our heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ!!

Heb 13:20-21  Now may the God of Peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.