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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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The Wings of a Dove

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The first stage of the believer’s life is to “desire the sincere milk of the Word that he may grow thereby” (1Pet 2:2); and as he grows, he is conscious of a new ability, and that is to fly. When you fly you enter on the second stage of spiritual development. Here you acquire for yourself, you can discriminate. “A spiritual man judges all things” (1Cor 2:15).


In the first stage, someone else had to discriminate for you. Now you provide for yourself suitably. Flying is now the mode of your nature, you always move above the earthy; you seek the things above, you “set your affection on things above, and not on things on the earth.” “He being full of the Holy Spirit looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Act 7:55).


Then comes the singing! I believe no bird sings until he can fly. I am sure that no believer sings his true note until he can rise up in the Spirit of God to the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. This stage then is when the senses are exercised to discern good and evil; and there is singing, which is expressing in true and full tones, the deep and overflowing satisfaction of which the heart enjoys in His presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.


The final stage is the believer having found everything in the Lord Jesus for himself, can now in true devotedness of heart serve Him—manifest Him in this scene, and be a blessing to others. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” All the love and care rendered to the bird in its formative days now renders to the objects of its care. As it has received, so it bestows. It does nothing but as it has received, and this is true service.


Now this stage requires a very peculiar manner and way, entirely different from anything known before. The bird that flies selects its own food and sings. It testifies of the goodness and favor conferred. When she builds her nest, where she may lay her young, her character and habits undergo a very marked change. She surrenders none of her former power, but instead of contenting herself with her personal blessings, she now devotes herself to objects outside herself, though they are a part of herself—and because of all her interest, burden and toil about them, dear to her own life.


You had your stage of individual blessing and enjoyment; once known, it is yours forever; but now you are to grow in another direction. You must not, when others try and oppose you, retire into the sanctuary of your own heart and home, there to delight yourself in your possession. No, you are now to build a nest for the object, or objects of your care; and there may be but one egg in your nest at first.


Until one is able to be a giver to everyone and a receiver in a begging way from none, one is not safe from expectancy here; that is, there will still be a possibility of reviving links to this fallen earth. But when one is so satisfied in the Lord Jesus, as to be free from the old man and his demands, and able to build a nest for others, such a sense of the superiority of the Lord Jesus is acquired that nothing here can captivate the heart; and all the trials and slights only extract more consideration for others. It is only when the heart is dead to this world, and alive with Christ in heaven, that it is proof against reviving, and then it is free to be occupied with His interests here.


- J B Stoney



Excerpt from MJS devotional for February 8:


“By the daily ‘supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1:19), the believer united to his Risen Lord ‘grows continually to a more perfect knowledge and likeness of his Creator,’ and grows up ‘after the image of Him that created him, in the sphere where ‘Christ is all, and in all.’ “The child naturally grows up in the likeness of his father, and the new life communicated to the redeemed grows up in the likeness of Him who is the Creator of the new creation if so be that the death with Christ is unflinchingly recognized, and ‘old things’ are truly allowed to pass away to make room for the growth of the new man ‘which is after God . . . created in righteousness, and holiness of truth’ (Eph. 4:24).”


“How so many earnest and religious people belong to ‘the Old Adam Improvement Society.’ It is the recognition of the Christ-life, it is union with the Risen Christ that men need instead of the culture of the religious self-life.”




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