Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Those words come from a hymn written by Charles Wesley, and I was put in mind of them this morning, the day before Valentine's Day, as I sat down with my One Year Bible. I'm not on the read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan this year, but I picked up my One Year Bible this morning for my time with the Lord, and the passages from the Old and New Testaments were both so appropriate for this love-ly time of year.

In Exodus 35 and 36, we learn that the Israelites were to build God a gorgeous, portable dwelling place, a tent that could be moved with the people during their wilderness wanderings. This was no pop-and-throw. Everything in it was first-rate. We're told that God had, in fact, raised up men who were extremely gifted artisans for just this time. They were the Mozarts of sewing and weaving and smithing, and they were also skilled at teaching others how to do these things. These men worked diligently and happily on the Lord's Tabernacle. The rest of the people had a part to play as well. They were to bring all the materials needed for the work, including fine cloth and precious metal. They gave so joyfully that the workmen eventually had to take a break to go tell Moses that the people had to stop giving! They had already given more than enough!

When was the last time you heard that news from a pulpit? These people had just seen the glory of the Lord covering Mount Sinai, they had just received instructions from the Lord, through Moses, for how they were to live, and they were so in awe of this magnificent God that their hearts overflowed with love and they gave so much that it was too much. Would that we would have hearts so full of God's grace and power!

In Matthew 27, we read of another outpouring of love, this time love directed at us from our Creator. The familiar tale of the crucifixion of Christ reminds us of God's great love for us. As Jesus hung on the cross, He suffered intense physical agony, mental anguish, and the mockery of onlookers. Yet, in all these things, He didn't sin by cursing God, or cursing us, or giving the whole thing up as just not worth it. What kept Him there on the cross wasn't nails; it was love.

What is our response to such love? Charles Wesley got it right, I think:

Finish then Thy new creation, Pure and spotless let us be
Let us see Thy great salvation Perfectly restored in Thee.
Changed from glory into glory, 'Til in heaven we take our place,
'Til we cast our crowns before Thee, Lost in wonder, love, and

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