God’s great circle of love
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
Background text: John 14:23-27
Devotional text: Galatians 3:5, 5:5-6
In the beginning, there was God. Today, God is still with us. As we follow through the biblical scriptures, we begin to see something that is wonderful and alive in us. It is God’s great circle of love.
It began with the creation. God made us in his image (Genesis 1:27). It continued into the New Testament (John 3:16): “For God so loved the world, he gave us his only begotten son, Jesus Christ.” And, it culminated in the son’s death and resurrection, bringing salvation to humankind.
Today, God’s love continues in us each day through our faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who has come to all believers (Acts 2:39).
In John 16:8, Jesus spoke to his disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Even as a foretelling of the coming of the Spirit, John the Baptist told the people of the One who was coming (Jesus) who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Is it any wonder that as the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples at Pentecost “tongues of fire came to rest on each of them”?
When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Rome, he spoke of hope and perseverance in Christ, as he stated in Romans 5:5: “and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
As we read scriptures, we come to know that our One God is also a trinitarian God, with God the Father, Jesus the Son and the counselor and comforter known as the Holy Spirit. Each is God in the fullest; that is why we know that God is with us, Christ is in us and the Holy Spirit makes our body his temple.
In Chapter 8 of Romans, Paul continued to teach the new believers (and us today) by explaining that as believers we give up the sinful nature that was in us and begin seeking the true life of faith, hope and love in our God. This is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who “testifies with our spirits that we are children of God.”
In further explanation of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Paul reminded the believers in Galatia that the Holy Spirit did not come on them because of human works or laws, but by belief in Christ. If a person tries to receive justification through the law, they are then alienated from Christ; it is through faith in Jesus that we receive God’s grace and the Holy Spirit comes upon us in righteousness.
Paul ends this section of Galatians by explaining in verse 6 that “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Do you begin to see the circle of God’s love? Created by God in his image; loved by God so much he sent his Son, Jesus; and, as Jesus returned to the Father on his Ascension Day, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is given to us by God, to teach, guide, intercede, protect, comfort and nudge us in the right direction. The circle of God’s love is complete in our lives through the Spirit.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19; see what it says about the Holy Spirit inside you: “we are the temple of God, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us,” and “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.”
The letters of the New Testament are full of instances of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Let’s look at some of them:
In Romans 8, Paul gives us a lesson in living by the Spirit. In verse 26, he emphasizes the help of the Holy Spirit when we are weak and do not know how we should pray. Paul wrote of the Holy Spirit interceding for us with groans that words can’t express, and he searches our hearts and minds by the will of God.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is with us at our weakest points? Perhaps we are suffering in pain or are worried about loved ones, or even about our own lives. This chapter in Romans encourages us and gives us hope in the God who loves us.
The Holy Spirit gives wisdom to believers. In 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth concerning the Holy Spirit not being the spirit of this world, but the Spirit who is from God. God has a plan for our lives, a plan conceived of God’s love. It is the Holy Spirit who shows us those deep things of God to help us along our path in life. It is because we have the mind of Christ within us, through the Holy Spirit, directing us toward all that is good and right.
Follow the words of Ephesians 4:29-5:2; take them to heart: don’t allow bad talk to come out of your mouths, be helpful to others by encouraging them and building them up. Get rid of anger, rage and all kinds of bad thoughts and malice toward one another. Instead, be kind and compassionate to one another and “forgive one another as Christ forgave you … Live a life of love just as Christ loved you … ”
This next one is a favorite of mine because I first took it to heart as a child when I was fearful of the dark. I would repeat it over and over to myself at night. From 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.” It got me through many a fearful night, taking away my fears and giving me a sound sleep.
There are so many more scriptures concerning the Holy Spirit in our lives. I close with this one from 1 John 4:12-13: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
It all centers on love, God’s love for us. We matter to God. God encompasses us in his great circle of love.