GOD’S LOVE:A VALENTINE CARD FROM GOD
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
A man walked into a post office one day and saw a middle-aged, balding man standing at the counter methodically placing “Love” stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them. He then took out a perfume bottle and started spraying perfume all over them. His curiosity got the better of him; so he went up to the balding man and asked him what he was doing. The man said, “I’m sending out 1,000 Valentine cards signed, ‘Guess who?'” “But why?” asked the man. “I’m a divorce lawyer,” the man replied.
In our civilization, Valentine’s Day is a major celebration for those who profess love, love, love! It is a time to share loyalty, gifts and admiration. Your relationship with God is meant to be expressed in similar ways. If there is a tragic aspect about you, me and God when it revolves around your relating to His love, it is the fact that in some church traditions, we are constantly reminded of our duty to religious practices, but rarely given a sense of the warmth, love and acceptance of God. This text is God’s love letter to us, and it falls in line with those things that we normally relate to the Valentine we give and receive, sometimes in the mail. Observe how:
- There’s an address
- There’s position
- Gifts can accompany it
- There’s usually an inscription on the card
- Commitments are implied or wanted
- Valentine’s generally can be rejected or accepted
Today, let’s look at some of the elements concerning God’s love gifts to us as His beloved.
I) THE GIFT of PLACEMENT
The address is where you live: Ancient Ephesus was a commercial center filled with sin, corruption and human carnality, a place just like Detroit, Flint or Brighton.
It also contains a position: “in Christ.”
Their position: The Bible uses the term being “in Christ” to describe as we put our faith in the Lord. This is more than a creed or tradition: you have made your commitment to a Person, and that Person is the Living God incarnate who came among us to live sinless in our midst, to die sacrificially, and rising from the dead victoriously.
The impact of faith in Christ is meant to transform the face of this planet. It’s not What Would Jesus Do? It’s always Do What Jesus Did! Deepen your relationship with our Father, watch, see and do as you go in His name! There is nothing that compares to faith in Jesus in any human tradition. Millions of people worship different deities, but none of them who claim to be God rose from the dead to verify they were who they said, nor gave themselves for man as Jesus did. Nor have any of them made available the empowerment we have at our disposal through a right relationship with Holy Spirit. Putting your faith in Christ is putting your faith in not only a Person but in a personal relationship, and “in Christ” also gives you a status with God.
Your new status is described in the word “saints.” There is a proper and an improper use of that word. First, no person on earth has the authority to decide if somebody is a saint. There is an earthly tradition in some segments of the church that uses the term in a way that conveys to the rest of us that only people who have accomplished a great deal for God are saints. God doesn’t put sainthood on those terms. Hagios is a plural term except when applied to inanimate objects and to God (3 are 1).
God puts sainthood entirely on the grounds of what the word means: a saint is a person who has been defined by God as forgiven, clean and holy in His sight, which is what happens to every person who puts their trust in Jesus as Savior. “Saints” are made holy by the righteousness that is ours in Jesus. Sinners, yet saints. Who are faithful in Christ.
Still in the growth process but faithful in Christ
To be “faithful in Christ Jesus” is to become a person who has put their full faith in Him. In this letter, Paul is writing to people who are still in the growth process who haven’t mastered spiritual living. They were still growing, yet he calls them “faithful in Christ” because they put their full faith in Jesus.
How many of us feel somehow unworthy because of our weakness? It’s so important for us to hear Father God’s heart and to know the measure of our value in His sight when He addresses His love letter to us. He does not view the weakest of us as less loved than the others. Indeed, at times, the weakest among us are the ones that Father focuses His attention upon.
The Valentine that God writes to us isn’t just to be received by us, it is to be transmitted through us. God loves us even though we still have things to overcome. He desires to use us even though we are imperfect creatures who still sin. That was the point of Pentecost’s bread offering, with Leaven in it.
How will we do the ‘greater works than these’ which Jesus promised? By discovering the same relationship of intimacy, simplicity and obedience. Obedience deepens our intimacy with Jesus. If we want to know the Father, we must not only love Him, but also obey Him. Scripture is clear that it is important to know the Father through His Word, and if we want to be a part of what the Father is doing and to be able to see where He is moving then it is clear that we must obey His commands. It is important to be biblically literate, but we must also be biblically obedient!
II) THE GIFT of POWER (KINGDOM)
Empowerment comes with the valentine: we are empowered to realize there is a basis to relate to our loved one/valentine.
God not only sends us His love, but His gifts: “every spiritual blessing.” Paul uses the same word here that occurs in 1 Corinthians 12 for the gifts/graces of Holy Spirit, the workings of Holy Spirit power (pneumatica) There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (12:4-6).
“In the heavenly places” doesn’t refer to another galaxy far, far away or to a distant location, but to the invisible realm. It is an invitation to ownership of a franchise location (kingdom).
The idea is that in the immediate, invisible realm around you, where the adversary, your greatest enemy is, great hosts of angelic resource are sent by God to your defense. We need to be aware that in times of great blessing, there is also the potential for great testing and trial. This is not the time for ‘business as usual.’ This is the time to get deep into prayer and God’s Word, and deal with those cracks and holes in our spiritual lives, to get our lives in order – because with great blessing goes great pressure.
Isaiah 59:19 says: So shall they fear The name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard (statement of power/gifts) against him.
These gifts in the invisible realm are as real and available as if they were seen.
People think that if God has a gift of the Spirit, He’ll just give it, as He wills. Scripture does say the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts according to His will. But, the Bible also describes a position of soul that is to characterize us in the light of this promise: That we would covet earnestly the best gifts, But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31).
They are not only to meet your own need, but for you to deliver to others healing, encouragement, comfort, and grace. The Lord has said in His Word that there is reason for praise—we are Valentine recipients. Blessed be God who has given us these resources in the invisible realm.
The only way the distribution can take place is where people are available—it doesn’t happen by accident. People who receive are those who are willing to act as franchise owners.
Our passion is to imitate the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. This requires we must follow Jesus out of baptismal waters, through our personal deserts, and into the harvest.
If we don’t believe in a theology that contains doing the works of Jesus, we will never de velop the practice of Signs and Wonders.
III) THE GIFT: AN INSCIPTION
The inscription, the commitment and our receipt
The inscription in the card (v. 4, 5, 6) is built around three key verbs:
- I’ve chosen you ἐξελέξατο, “chose”
- I’ve adopted you
- I’ve accepted you Accepted is literally “graced with grace.”
As years go by, things that express the human level of commitment and affection can wane in their meaning, but God’s Word isn’t like that. When He says these words, they are to be engraved upon us in an unforgettable way.
“Chosen” has to do with unique and specific selection. Today, around this planet, probably hundreds of thousands of decisions for Christ will be made. God is not just recording numbers in Heaven. Every single one of those is a chosen vessel in God’s mind, conceived of before they were born with a plan and a purpose, and He delights in their coming into redemption’s provision. We are chosen.
“Adoption” addresses the fact that God has made a choice to commit to us as members of His family. He has brought us into the legal provisions of all of His promise, and all of His resource. He doesn’t simply say, “You’re forgiven of your sins.” He makes a commitment to us where He inscribes His name upon us. The price has been paid for your adoption through the blood of His Son. The documents have been signed in blood, and you’re His. No one and nothing can ever change that. The Bible says in the Book of Revelation that you and I have the name of our God and the name of the city of our God inscribed on our souls. Rev. 3:12 says: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”
We are accepted. We are loved, and God’s love, when you grasp it, affects how you show your love to others. Reach up as if giving Him a return embrace of His reach toward you, and declare “Lord, I receive Your love and I welcome it.”
Conclusion: Today, I want to remind you that we are the beloved and we are loved. Our love isn’t just in theory: God has sent us gifts/graces that were meant to be distributed through our franchise. This Franchise isn’t like McDonald’s. We don’t pay an exorbitant fee for ownership. Jesus paid the fee for us.