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Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Seven

The Power of Love

The Bible is God's love story to us. It confirms that fear and its associated issues are cast out by His perfect love. These issues cause much pain in our hearts, which we often treat by engaging in sexual sin or other addictive behavior.

The letters of Paul overflow with the solution to these issues. For instance, "... be imitators of God [love] as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for the saints" (Ephesians 5:1-3).

In other words, the answer to overcoming all immorality is to have an understanding of the sweetness of God's love for us as expressed at the cross. The Apostle Paul confirms, "For this is the will of God [love], your sanctification [to be made holy; set apart from sin for God's service]: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God [love]" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

The Lord called me to raise up Abounding Love Ministries in 1980, giving me this founding Scripture: "And may the Lord make you increase and abound [overflow] in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you" (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

We are all called to increase and overflow with God's love. Paul states, "...so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more [in love], just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 3:13-4:2).

In closing his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, saying, "...may the God of peace Himself sanctify you [make you holy] completely; and may your whole spirit [past], soul [present] and body [future] be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The Lord has made us holy by giving us the Holy Spirit, a Spirit "... of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7b). This sound mind knows that God loves us, whichnot only frees us from sexual sins, but gives us a new desire and empowers us to minister His love to everyone we see.

The disciples waited in Jerusalem to receive power from on high. Jesus told them, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses[martyrs] to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The word love is not mentioned one time in the Acts of the Apostles. They received the power to love and demonstrate it by laying down their lives, speaking the Word, reaching the lost, healing the sick and turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

This same power is available today to those who know and believe in God's love as demonstrated at the cross. The disciples experienced God's love first hand at Calvary. After they received the power of the Holy Spirit, they were sent forth as Apostles with the message of Calvary's love. Three thousand were saved on Pentecost by Peter's sermon on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Another five thousand were saved after the healing of the man at gate Beautiful. These results are obtained by men, who truly knew and experienced God's love.

The ministry of God's love is contagious, but it will not happen unless the Body of Christ is mended first. Paul wrote from prison, saying: "And He [Jesus] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping[mending] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11,12).

The word edify means to be built up. Paul makes it clear four verses later in his letter to the Ephesians, that we are to be built up in love. "...from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16).

Now, let us put off the old man and put on the new man of love. "Put on the whole armor of God [love], that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). And once you put it on, never take it off, "... building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ until eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 20-23).

 

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