Spring - who else loves this time of year?
Looking outside my window right now, it still looks and feels like winter sadly - but I know warmer days are coming.
Maybe you're like me and you start planting your garden seeds in tiny pots around March in your home so that when that warm weather comes you can plant those growing vegetable plants that you have been caring for by keeping them in the right conditions, watering them, and giving them the nourishment, they need to grow. I was not raised as a gardener but being married to a farmer I have learned to appreciate having our own garden and being able to grow our own vegetables and what it takes to help grow them to their fullest potential. There is something special about planting tiny seeds in little pots with your children and watch them grow.
You can learn a lot about God and yourself while gardening.
With the right conditions, we can all grow.
Have you ever thought about what it means to grow in God?
In 1 John 4:7-12 We learn that God is love- "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."
How beautiful is this truth! To think that there is an actual source where love comes from. It is not an ethereal feeling, it is not like a mist, it has substance and purpose, and it was given to us humans by an infinite being who calls Himself, "I am who I am."
"Love is from God...God is love...In this love...God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.""
If God is love, how do I gain access to His love so that I can grow in His love?
If you have a Bible, I encourage you to open it to these passages:
(If you don't have a bible there are online Bible Apps like YouVersion Bible App)
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have all sinned. We have all done things that are displeasing to God.
Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:23: “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins - and we will be saved! Romans 10:13 says it again, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 5:1 in closing tell us “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, we will never be condemned for our sins. Finally, we have this precious promise of God from Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God's love is the soil in which we plant ourselves in, the source of all life, nourishment and beauty -
we plant ourselves into the hands of God, the source of Love.
If you want to see what the love of God can be in a person's life, the Bible is full of human encounters with God from the very first book in Genesis to the last book in Revelation. The love of God lived out in His Son, Jesus, and the affect it has had on countless lives even to this day can be a great encouragement to you as you seek to know God better and experience His love in a more intimate way.
Many today equate love to emotions, but the love God has for us is so much more.
I said earlier that love has substance and has purpose, and it was given to us. If we were to look closely at the lives that encountered God in the bible, was it simply emotions they felt when they met Jesus? Was it this emotional encounter that made them feel like they needed to live a more moral or religious life? Or was it something more than just a feeling?
That something was a Someone moving and transforming them from within. That Someone is the Holy Spirit, who was growing in them the love of God. Like gardening, growing in God's love is a process of becoming more like Christ.
Why is it important to understand who the Holy Spirit is and what His involvement is in all of this.
"The Holy Spirit is God, and is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will. The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. Since He is God, the Holy Spirit is the source of Comfort, He is the Almighty Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John 14:16) and so much more.
Our growing in love must be more than a feeling - as you know - feelings change like the wind - and can even deceive us.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?"
In order for us to grow in God's love we need the Holy Spirit's power to help us to be grounded in God's love.
In Ephesians 3:16-19, Paul prays for the Ephesian believers,
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
If we do not come to God and we do not allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and grow in us, we will spend a lifetime seeking for it somewhere and will find fake versions of it in an empty worldly love; an unsatisfying, possibly toxic, unhealthy love.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness...”
Like with any relationship, we desire God’s love, though we may not know it, we will seek to find it in other places or other people to fill what some call a “God shape hole.” This “God-shaped hole” is a natural longing we all have for something outside ourselves, something transcendent, something “other” to fill us. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God’s placed "eternity in man’s heart." God made humanity for His eternal purpose, and only God can fulfill our desire for eternity.
We read here in Galatians 5 that God has fruit He gives us that comes from His love and will grow in us with His help.
Remember, God is love – therefore, love is the foundation of all things God.
Did you know that you were hard wired to love?
You were created to love because – God is LOVE, and He is deeply personal. The Trinity is deeply personal. God created humans for them to come to know and share in this deeply personal relationship He shares within the Trinity – It is something so deep that we will never fully understand this side of heaven – because sin exists here - Yet He invites us and adopts us into His family so we can begin to grow in His love for Him and for others.
Did you know that whatever you are doing, thinking, and feeling stems from a place of love?
Everything we do stems from love – we were designed to love God, so we were designed to love. In the beginning of time God created Adam and Eve, the first humans that were without sin and thus there was a pure love between them and God. But they were deceived by the snake in the garden and chose to turn to something else to satisfy their desires, to find their identity in, and to become gods themselves. You can read this encounter and the fall of man here, Gensis 2:4-3:24. Since then, all humans are born with a sinful nature and our love misses the mark. Our love is now focused on self, not God.
If we have love at the heart of who we are why do we not love like God then?
Our loved is tainted with sin so we cannot love God how we were designed to because we have a sinful nature.
Love is the foundation for which God calls us to live, it is The Greatest Commandment – to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mark 12:28-34.
If you read through the Romans verses above and have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, or maybe you read those verses and you are still trying figure this God thing out and are still seeking to understand His love better as an on looker, let's answer another crucial question-
What is Love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Now I realize many who read this will say, "I don't need God to love, I can love like this."
But if we are honest, all of us fall short of loving fully like this- we all keep records of wrong, we have all been rude and boastful and we all can be irritable.
But God is perfect in all of these- He is never irritable thankfully! He does not rejoice in injustice and always rejoices when truth wins out!
God's love never gives up on us and endures for all time! Isn't that amazing to know that there IS SOMEONE in your life loving you and pursuing to have a relationship with you?
If you have not yet surrendered your life into His hands - let today be that day!
Start experiencing His great Love for you!
Once we begin that love relationship with God, He then calls us to love others.
We all desire to receive love and to share love with others. We all desire to experience what love has to offer and we all desire to have deep intimacy in our relationships – why - because this is who God is and this is how He created us.
“If love for God is the ultimate command – than failure to love God is the greatest of evils” Paul Tripp says.
What do you think about this quote?
So how do we love others better? We look to Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to grow His love in us deeper and deeper. Our lives we were meant to be lived out in a beautiful love relationship with God – we must ground ourselves in God's word and ask the Lord to fill us with the His love, the fruit of His love, and to give us a new heart so we can love Him, and love others more and more like Him.
Here are some verses that can help you on your journey in learning more about what God's word says about His love and allowing the Holy Spirit to plant seeds in your heart to begin growing a deeper love in you.
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."
1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Let all that you do be done in love.”
1 John 4:19 – “We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:7 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
Ephesians 4:2 – “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”
John 14:15 - “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Romans 12:10 – “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”