Tag Archives: love

1John 4 “Walking in a Maze”

1john 4 discernment2aThis chapter has two definite sections: vs 1-6 warnings about those who are false and vs 7-21 living out the faith in love. We must remember that John was called the “son of thunder” by Jesus for a reason. He was headstrong, impulsive and quick to make judgments. He learned from the Savior how to be discerning and now wants his “friends” and “children” to also be wise and discerning. The author of Hebrews tells us that only those who are mature in the Word are able to distinguish or discern truth from error. John is saying to his beloved followers and to us there are several ways you can discern who is a true follower/teacher/prophet and one who is false.

Often when we are faced with discernment it seems like we are walking in a maze. Distinguish truth by words, not works. What is said when you ask “Who is Jesus.” Is he is “the” Christ come in the flesh; lived, died and rose again according to the scriptures (1Cor 15); the one who atoned for sin? Listen with a discerning ear.

The second say is to distinguish by their life. Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and observe their life.  “The love of God displayed in His people is the strongest apologetic that God has in the world.” [Bruce].

The Holy Spirit will not lead you astray; love is the end of this maze.

Photo: azcoloring.com/printable-coloring + author’s phrasing

You Know it is True!

Hebrews 13 all about J+2Over the past few weeks we have been inundated with photos, news articles and then the shooting in Charleston. The latter showed us truly: One can only face a tragedy like this when you know this principle: It is ALL ABOUT JESUS!  And that has been whole purpose of the letter titled simply:  Hebrews.

The author has spent 13 chapters exhorting the believers to stand strong and firm in their faith. It is choosing to abandon the world’s standards to live and walk by faith. Part of that is knowing how to forgive when the unforgivable happens, when your loved ones are no longer with you and you cannot touch them, speak to them, and hear their responses. The heartache is deep and only through the forgiving power of Jesus can one get through it.

The author exhorts them to remember this: It is all about Jesus and that He alone be glorified. Our external works, what we say and what we do are mere pictures of our love for Him; for His sacrifice; for His work of grace; for His example. But, all that we do is mere rubbish if we do it for our glory and not for His. The whole reason that God prepared a body for him was so that he might be the perfect Lamb of God. He is superior to angels, Moses and anyone else and it is because of His sacrifice that we can draw near to the throne of God. His sacrifice cleanses our consciences because He endured the cross. And this is the reason we can cling to this promise: as our Good Shepherd He will never leave us nor abandon us. And this is the point of the entire letter to the Hebrews: it is all about Jesus and His glory.

John Piper sums up Hebrews this way: “Christ has revealed himself to us again and again for our encouragement and our hope and our perseverance, so that we might have strength and love to meet together and stir each other up to live well and to die well by faith, which is the assurance of things hoped for.”

I don’t know about you but my heart aches for those 9 families in Charleston and their church. But, I am also trusting that Romans 8 is also true:  we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, That young man had listened so long to hate speech that he thought he had the last word but God alone has the last word. The world is watching …are we forgiving enough to let God perform His good work?

Living in the War Zone

Eph renew your loveLiving in the war zone is tough and only the strong prevail for the enemy does not lay down his arms even after a defeat as we saw in the life of our Lord. “so when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.” [Luke 4] Perhaps this is why the author of Hebrews admonished the readers that “solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.” [Heb 5] The letter to the Ephesians reveals where their armor had a weak point.

Beloved the devil knows the right opportunity, the right method and more importantly which piece of armor is weak. There we must “stay alert” to his ways and be discerning. The Ephesians had started strong but the devil saw a weakness in their armor and it was this: They had lost their first love! They could quote the Bible; they attended the church but it was all dead orthodoxy because their love was waning. Jesus not only rebuked them but called them to repent. And then his scary pronouncement: if they do not return to their first love he will come and snuff out their light. Today the church is under attack and why it is vital that our love for Christ and the church is renewed daily. God has given us the Holy Spirit within us and the church around us. What part of the Ephesian letter applies to us? Are we checking our armor for weak points? Is our love being renewed daily?

How Can I love “that person?”

Titus 3 god is love2I am sure you have heard this  statement: how can I love “that person;” look at how they are or what they have done! Yet when we read Titus 3 we see that we too were once foolish, darkened in our understanding, deceived, enslaved to worldly passions, hateful and hating. How can we love another? It is not from within ourselves for if truth be known we are even as they. Our standard is not others or ourselves but God. The Apostle John also noted this: “for God is love” and “we can only love because he first loved us.” [ 1Jn 4].

Beloved, when we look within ourselves we see that our view is myopic or short-sighted; narrow minded. It is only when we look at ourselves in the mirror, as James reminds us, that we see who we really are. And when that happens we either fall upon our faces and repent or walk away. The mirror reveals two things; our sin and God’s love and our need for His love. Stephen Drain in his Impact Blog reviewed a book by Dwight L. Moody who wrote: “If we really make people believe that God loves them, how we should find them crowding into the kingdom of heaven!  The trouble is that people think God hates them; and so they are all the time running away from Him.”  But, God does not hate us. In fact He loved us so much that he chose to send his Beloved Son to die for our sins.

We have an opportunity before us this upcoming Resurrection Sunday. Will we show God’s love by loving even the unlovable by sharing His message : GOD LOVES YOU! Gods’ love equation is simple. I loved you and I sent my Son to die for you. What else do you need to understand?

Be sure to go and read Stephen Drain’s Impact Blog as an accompaniment to this blog  http://blogs.bible.org/impact/stephen_j._drain/23_books_reviewed_in_23_minutes#comment-25278

 

Prov 7 “Simpleton or Mature?”

ImageRecently a post was written to young men/women about life after high school. It was interestingly similar to an instructional manual and could have come right out of Proverbs 7! Listen to some of the advice offered: To the gals: If a guy calls you at 2 AM to “hangout”…he is not boyfriend material. To guys and gals: go to church…not just because your parents instructed you to do it, but because in church God speaks and you need to hear his voice; now is the time to strengthen your relationship with God and follow his plan. To guys and gals:  keep your morals and standards high. The poster asked: Will it be tough? Absolutely. Will you feel like the minority? Absolutely. Should you change to fit in? Absolutely not! This poster has it “right on.”

After giving instruction to his son in chapter 6 along with a list of the things God hates, the  father in chapter 7 instructs his son (also applicable to daughters) about what God loves and that begins with being morally pure. Five times he uses the word “keep.” As a dad I implore you to “keep” my words and treasure them. “Keep” my commands and obey my instruction as you would the pupil of your eye. “Keep” wisdom so intimately close that she may “keep” you from the man/woman who fails to “keep” his/her feet at home. Why this concerted effort in using this word? The father knows that without this the adolescent before him will fall victim to the ways of the seducers of the world. Bob Deffinbaugh wrote: “Being simple is a stage in the development of every person, very much like adolescence….being simple is one short step from being a fool, so this critical period in life must be lived very carefully.” As a child still under the parent’s roof he/she is going through a stage and therefore must be instructed. It is not a sin to be simple but it is a sin to not grow from simpleton to maturity. That was the sin that the author of Hebrews spoke about: “But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.”

As Proverbs 7 closes there is a profound warning to those who ignore and become the fool:  “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways – do not wander into her pathways; for she has brought down many fatally wounded, and all those she has slain are many.” The warning is clear. “when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. Do not be led astray” [James]

Beloved, perhaps you are the parent of a simpleton because of their age or because of their naiveté. How are your parenting skills holding up in this time? Will you choose to instruct those under you with the tool that God has given to you? “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The last is critical…training begins in the home so that the child of God may leave the nest with a pure and reverent conduct.

 

Prov 7 “Simpleton or Mature?”

ImageRecently a post was written to young men/women about life after high school. It was interestingly similar to an instructional manual and could have come right out of Proverbs 7! Listen to some of the advice offered: To the gals: If a guy calls you at 2 AM to “hangout”…he is not boyfriend material. To guys and gals: go to church…not just because your parents instructed you to do it, but because in church God speaks and you need to hear his voice; now is the time to strengthen your relationship with God and follow his plan. To guys and gals:  keep your morals and standards high. The poster asked: Will it be tough? Absolutely. Will you feel like the minority? Absolutely. Should you change to fit in? Absolutely not! This poster has it “right on.”

After giving instruction to his son in chapter 6 along with a list of the things God hates, the  father in chapter 7 instructs his son (also applicable to daughters) about what God loves and that begins with being morally pure. Five times he uses the word “keep.” As a dad I implore you to “keep” my words and treasure them. “Keep” my commands and obey my instruction as you would the pupil of your eye. “Keep” wisdom so intimately close that she may “keep” you from the man/woman who fails to “keep” his/her feet at home. Why this concerted effort in using this word? The father knows that without this the adolescent before him will fall victim to the ways of the seducers of the world. Bob Deffinbaugh wrote: “Being simple is a stage in the development of every person, very much like adolescence….being simple is one short step from being a fool, so this critical period in life must be lived very carefully.” As a child still under the parent’s roof he/she is going through a stage and therefore must be instructed. It is not a sin to be simple but it is a sin to not grow from simpleton to maturity. That was the sin that the author of Hebrews spoke about: “But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.”

As Proverbs 7 closes there is a profound warning to those who ignore and become the fool:  “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways – do not wander into her pathways; for she has brought down many fatally wounded, and all those she has slain are many.” The warning is clear. “when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. Do not be led astray” [James]

Beloved, perhaps you are the parent of a simpleton because of their age or because of their naiveté. How are your parenting skills holding up in this time? Will you choose to instruct those under you with the tool that God has given to you? “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The last is critical…training begins in the home so that the child of God may leave the nest with a pure and reverent conduct.

 

“Flattery vs Honesty—which wins?”

ImageThere is a saying “It’s funny how everyone considers honesty to be a virtue yet no one wants to hear the truth.”  As we read Acts 24 these words should remind us of why, when you share the gospel message and are rejected, it is not you they are rejecting but the very Son of God. But, we are to remain true and steadfast as Paul demonstrated and Dr. Luke shares with us.

In chapter 24 we meet one slick flatterer, Tertullus the high paid lawyer, who arrives with a huge entourage but lacks any genuine witnesses. His flattery and falseness leads to a quick “falling flat on his face” before the Governor Felix. In contrast we see the truth of the prophecy of God regarding Paul to be “my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel” and the words of Jesus ““Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” is coming to pass. If we were writing this story we might have Felix hear the false and flattering words of Tertullus and like Gallio dismiss the charges against Paul but the words of Isaiah are ringing forth as true: ““Indeed, my plans are not like your plans,” and now the reason…..

God had an eternal plan for this man Felix to hear of the mercy and redemption for his sins but because of his procrastinating, fear and lack of decision making it appears that he never crossed the divide from unbelief to belief. If that is true, he one day will hear these words: “depart from me, I never knew you” because you are “without excuse.”  I sent my servant Paul to tell you about My Beloved Son and you would not listen nor accept My truth that Jesus is “The Way, The Truth, The Life” and no man comes to me without that.

Beloved, as you read this chapter do you see the plan of God for someone you love and has yet to choose Jesus? Are you encouraged that just as God gave Felix many opportunities to hear and to respond so too the very fact that your loved one stands still upon this earthly shore means that God is not finished yet with their soul? Do you see the marvelous patience and power of the Word as Paul presented it to Felix over and over and over? That is my friend, God’s love and mercy for the unsaved. Take courage and be ye steadfast knowing that your labor is not in vain.

Feb 14th “God’s VALENTINE message —> I love ALL”

ImageHow appropriate that today when the world stops and offers messages of love to one another we read a chapter that demonstrates what true love is through the lives of two men who earnestly desire to please God. Jesus had commanded his disciples to go to the uttermost part of the earth with the gospel message thus opening the door to all, Gentile and Jew…but the Jew was hesitant and so being a God of love He divinely orchestrated a meeting between a Gentile–Cornelius and Peter–a Jew, that His message of love may go forth.

We first meet Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, full of faith and charity to his fellow man. He was a man of prayer and a “God –fearer” and he walked in the revealed light that he had. It happened when he was in his prayer time that God sent one of his angelic visitors who directed him to send for Peter. It is obvious from this encounter that Cornelius did not know who Peter was but amazingly the Apostle Peter was in Joppa which is about 30 miles away. As Cornelius prayed, God was preparing Peter for his next day encounter with a Gentile. While Cornelius obeyed instantly the messenger of God, Peter was not so willing to obey as we hear him once again say “no Lord!” Thus God’s message had to be repeated three times and even then he didn’t get it.  And so the Holy Spirit comes and boldly tells Peter, “get up, go down, and accompany them without hesitation, because I have sent them.” And he did.

In obedience Peter complies by welcoming the Gentiles, feeding them and giving them rooms to sleep all in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Think an angelic visitor watched over this house that night? Could be! On the next day Peter, along with 6 other Jews, accompany Cornelius’ two servants and the soldier to Caesarea where he would have the marvelous opportunity to share the gospel message and see Cornelius’ family all come to Christ.  Here’s what we can learn from this chapter:

  1. God loves all men and desires that they all come to repentance as Isaiah wrote: “The Gentiles shall come to your light” [Is 60:1-3]
  2. God divinely orchestrates both receiver and giver that his message may go forth. He is the one who draws all men to himself “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.” [Jn 12:23]
  3. God prepares the hearts of those seeking him and he prepares the heart of those bringing the message
  4. God is not partial to anyone but is willing that all come to him. Cornelius was a ‘good’ man but he was not a believer and thus he needed someone to show him “I AM the way, I AM the truth, I AM the life.” [Jn 16]

Where is God opening a door for you to share the good news to someone? Which man do most resemble?  Will you step out in faith and obey?

 

The True Proverbs 31 Women!

ImageChrist came to “seek and save the lost” and we have seen how that has been accomplished right up to the very moment of his death when he gave the cup of salvation to the criminal beside him. And now behold the women who come first to the tomb where supposedly his body lay interred but what a glorious gift of resurrection awaits: Pro 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

All through Luke we have seen the power of Christ’s love bestowed upon the many and women in particular. It is these who have been shunned; interrogated; castigated by the religious leaders and society that Christ bestows equal status in the kingdom. We saw the woman caught in adultery, the faith of the Canaanite woman, the service offered by the women of the court, those who stood by the cross weeping and now at the tomb seeking to serve once again the Master.

It is with great honor that step by step we walk in the hush of the early morning hours before the dawn of day with these women. They have risen early, prepared their person and the aromatic spices even though their hearts are heavy. They are the true Proverbs 31 women: “She also gets up while it is still night; She begins her work vigorously; She extends her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy; and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  With great anticipation that someone would be ready to assist and help in their time of need, they step forth into the hush of the city streets with resolve to anoint the body of their Lord.  Imagine their shock to see not a sealed tomb but one open! With great bravery they enter and because of their fearless boldness are greeted by two angelic visitors: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” It is only then that their grief is startled and their memories recall the words of Jesus.

Beloved, are we are as bold, resourceful, faithful as these women whom God has honored? Or are we like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who hear from the risen Christ: “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” May we resolve to pray that our spiritual understanding is awakened in the hush of the early morning hours when we may meet heaven speaking to our hearts. It is these that receive the glorious news.  Oh, Beloved how precious is our Lord to fulfill to us his followers, His love and forgiveness.

 

The Time is Now!!!

ImageClara Scott authored the hymn “Open my eyes that I May See”. The first stanza reads as : “Open my eyes, that I may see, glimpses of truth thou hast for me…” As we read Revelation 6 more than ever we need to see with spiritual eyes for the truth within is almost more than one can digest. In reading this chapter one verse keeps coming back to mind: John 3:16 “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” It is when we view God’s love in sharp contrast to the hate of Satan, which is sovereignly allowed upon men in this chapter, that we bow the knee and are overwhelmed with gratitude of God’s gift of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross and our salvation.

John 3:16 says that the gift God has for those who will bow the knee is eternal life. However, in this chapter we find that just as the Israel and the religious leaders during the time of Jesus rejected the evidence: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news proclaimed to them, so too men in the last stages of the clock of time, men will not cry out to God for His peace, love and salvation but will continue to reject.  That is a frightening thought which should drive us to share the good news of salvation to everyone who is divinely brought across our path that they may not have to face the judgment of God. 

In Chapter 6, John shows us what God revealed. It will not be His grace but horror upon horror to show men the power of evil and hate in the form of war, famine, death, disease. They respond by calling out  to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?” In reading this another verse came flooding back to this author: Rom  1:32 “Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die..” Isn’t it ironic that these men fully understand God’s judgment and his wrath but choose mountains and rocks to  the path of goodness, love and peace which only God can provide? We stop and ask “why?” Why do men reject God? Again we turn to the words of John: John 3:19 “people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.”

Beloved, if you have not done so I implore you now to open your eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to illumine you and bring God’s love and peace to your heart. It is not too late—but do not delay, we do not know when God will choose to allow the events of chapter 6 to unfold in all of their reality. Keep in mind God’s clock is running down; have you called upon Him?