‘Let Brotherly Love Continue’ Hebrews 13:1

In John 13:34-35, Jesus laid down a new commandment for all – a commandment for love. It is actually a renewed commandment of the old. Love is an attitude that wins all the time. The boundless love of God is winning attitude. Reading through Matthew 22:36-50, we can see that the love that Jesus was speaking about has two sides as with a coin: loving God is equal to loving your brother.

The Old Testament love demands us to “love thy neighbours as thyself”. But when Jesus came, He improved on this by raising the standard. He renewed the commandment to say that we are to love our neighbours as He (Jesus) loves us. We are to love our brothers even more than ourselves.

To what extent should this love be? Let us look at what the Bible says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. “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.

Do we love the brethren and our neighbours to the extent of laying down our lives for them? Yes! To lay down our lives for our brothers! That is the extent we are to love. God has the power, resources and grace to help us meet this standard.

“Charity never faileth” 1 Corinthians 13: 8

 

Those who claim to love each other sometimes demand proof of that love by asking each other repeatedly ‘Do you love me? Do you really love me? Do you really, really love me?” These legitimate questions are aimed at reaching deep into the heart and getting assurances from the partner.

Love generates genuine commitment to and sometimes concerns the object of one’s attention. It also generates huge controversy! Love is a universal language of life. It is esteemed by people of all ages and creed. It has been the theme of many songs and stories among peoples, young or old, learned or illiterate, civilised or barbaric throughout the ages. Doctrines and creeds have been built, sometimes wrongly, upon its precepts.

Love is a divine virtue. It is the nature of God. All creation responds to love. All love to be loved. None fights or rejects love. We even dare to love our pets and they respond to it (Proverbs 12:10). We are all creatures of love and our children are usually created out of a love union. We love to have something to love, sometimes even if it means loving to hate something! But to do away with love is to do away with life since love is synonymous with life in a true sense. Love knows no bound. Love cannot count its own cost because it is invaluable. It is not limited by physical boundaries of time or space; and as the Vietnamese say, “true love lasts forever”. That is, love does not fail.

Many have killed others and/or themselves in the name of love. There was a recently reported story of Christopher Foster, the bankrupt millionaire who murdered his family, set his estate on fire and killed himself, after attending a friend’s party earlier that evening. Unfortunately, hatred which is an equally powerful emotion can occasionally veil itself as love. However, pure love does not think of evil or plan ill to anyone, let alone kill any. Though he may be killed that loves much, he still loves. Pure love comes from God, and love without him is superficial. Romans 12: 9. Love fulfils all laws. Do you have it?

Practical self-check: Replace Charity or Love first with Jesus Christ in I Corinthians 13: 4- 8 and then with your own name. Rate yourself. What do you think? 

(To be continued)

Our last Sunday school lesson of 2008 was very instructive. It looked at the story of twelve men sent by the Israelites to Canaan to spy out the land and bring back a report. In a way, we could say that the Israelites were looking for a window into the future. What would this new land be like? Would it be fruitful? Are there hidden dangers there? These anxieties came despite the backdrop of God’s promise to give them the land for an inheritance, and His description of Canaan as a land “flowing with milk and honey.”

The spies carried out their assignment and duly came back with a report confirming everything God had promised. They said: “..and surely it flowed with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.” Num. 13:27 However, ten of the twelve went beyond their remit and delivered a frightening and discouraging description of the inhabitants of the land causing commotion and consternation in the camp. This was to have a devastating effect on the future of generations of Israelites who, through this faithless report, were going to miss entry to the Promised Land.

The “facts” were as they reported. There were indeed “giants” living in the land. Their interpretation of the fact was faulty. They were not expected to go against the giants “in their own strength”. God, as always, had planned their victory way ahead of their observation of the “facts”. Please note that two of their number, Caleb and Joshua, refused to be intimidated by the facts. With eyes of faith, they saw beyond the giants to the “possession of the land”. Their rallying cry was “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” Num. 13:30

This lesson made me ponder, as we travel through these early days of 2009, about what we as children of God can see ahead. The “facts” of the credit crunch and global depression of great economies stare us in the face. The predictions of all our economic gurus agree on one inescapable fact. There is trouble ahead! The continuing collapse of many blue-chip companies that have been around for centuries and the failures of banks and other financial institutions testify to the accuracy of their predictions.

Yet, our God is still on the throne! Hallelujah!! He still “rules in the affairs of men!” Praise the Lord!

I know that 2009 will be an eventful year. There is no doubt about that. I am expecting great things that God will do. “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

I know that God will chart our way through the stormy waters ahead. Our Captain is the Master of the waves. With Jesus in the boat with us, we have no cause for alarm. I see great possibilities ahead. New jobs and promotions will come, even in the midst of a shrinking job market. I see great Christians moving into a greater dimension in 2009.

I just wonder what you can see with your eyes of faith this new year.

Life seems fine and exciting when we receive the answers we want to all our requests. This three-lettered word “YES” makes the world around us nice and exciting. When a young man asks a lady for her hand in marriage, he wants to hear this three-lettered word. When a child asks his/her parents for something, he/she wants to hear “YES” you can.

We as Christians put forward various requests to our Father in heaven and of course, we want to hear this word YES. That way, we feel our prayers are answered, and we praise Him and testify to His goodness and we love Him more. We all love positive responses as it feels good and it makes us feel happy and satisfied.

However, have you ever stopped to think of other positive answers that are not usually accepted as positive, for example, wait or what I call the two lettered word “NO”. Like any good parent, YES is not always the best answer all the time, otherwise, you may bring up a spoilt child or run the risk of pampering the child if he/she has his/ her way all the time.

So also our loving Father in heaven loves us and wants us to grow and be spiritually strong. So sometimes He says NO. What do you do then? Will you praise Him and testify and be happy?

In the beginning, when God created the world, we can imagine Adam and Eve saying “Can we eat of all the trees in the garden”, but God said: “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Genesis 3:3

This was the first” NO” from God but they disobeyed Him. We can see what has happened to mankind – sin and sorrow, disease and death and the earth was cursed.

“And unto Adam, He said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt, thou eat of it all the days of thy life;” Genesis 3:17

When Jesus prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane He asked God to take this cup from Him. Imagine if God had said “YES”. We would have all perished. But because God said “NO”, Jesus died on that shameful cross; the result was the wonderful grace of salvation offered to you and me.

Another example is when David besought God for the child; David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth but God said NO and the child died. Let us learn from what David did after this. He rose up, washed himself, ate and went to the house of God and worshipped and was happy. Here David accepted the answer NO and submitted to God’s will. It is sometimes difficult but as we begin to know God more and accept that He knows what is best for us, life becomes easier. Later Solomon was born this is what God had to say about him.

“But a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies, for his name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign.” I Chronicles 22:9

Just as a parent would not allow his child to have things that will harm or hurt him, God, as a loving Father knows what is good for us. God knows that by saying No to some of our requests we would grow up to be better children and that we would learn some good lessons that will prepare us for heaven and make us strong Christians, ready to fight the good fight of faith.

Apostolic Faith Church Bexley
Rev Mark Mfandarahwa
13 Penhill Road
Bexley,
Kent DA5 3EP
T: +44 (0) 207 639 8897
M: +44 (0) 795 882 2363
E: bexley@apostolicfaith.org.uk

 

 

Apostolic Faith Church Peckham
Rev Ola Balogun
The Apostolic Faith Mission
95 Fenham Road
Peckham
London SE15 1AE
T: +44 (0) 207 639 8897
M: +44 (0) 7943 807788
E: peckham@apostolicfaith.org.uk

 

Apostolic Faith Church Manchester
Rev Toyin Emitola
The Apostolic Faith Mission
92-98 Wheler Street
Higher Opeshaw
Manchester M11 1DU
T: +44 (0) 161 370 2201
M: +44 (0) 750 5519257
E: manchester@apostolicfaith.org.uk

 

Apostolic Faith Church Birmingham
Rev Lazarus Simbanegavi
The Apostolic Faith Mission
Monk Road
Ward End
Birmingham B8 2TS
T: +44 (0)121 328 3032
M: +44 (0) 7724 057403
E: birmingham@apostolicfaith.org.uk