Tag Archives: love

June 22; Sitting On A Fortune

2 Kings 11:4-12:16, 13:1-3,22-23; 2 Chronicles 24

Young King Joash gave a directive to the priests. Go and collect the taxes from the people in Judah, and use the money to repair the temple. Then he waited. And waited. Repairs were not being made.

He went again to the priests and asked them why they weren’t using the tax money to repair the temple like he’d told them to. The result of this meeting was the temple repairs.

I’m not sure why it took so long for the priests to get the job done. Maybe they were hoping the stock market would make an upward turn or something. They were sitting on a fortune. Just sitting. I guess the “why” doesn’t matter.

I’m not about to criticize the priests, because I’m not always so quick to get started on things God asks of me, either. “Go into all the world…,” and I can’t even walk across the street. “Love one another…,” and I can hold back from showing love to people I think don’t deserve it. “Be holy…, come out from among them and be separate…, offer your body as a living sacrifice..,” and I continue to blend in with the world.

So many things God has commanded come to mind right now. And I realize I am sitting on a fortune without using it for what it is intended. I have Jesus. I have forgiveness through His precious blood. I have eternity in paradise. I have the Truth, and sometimes I just sit on it.

“Why” doesn’t matter. But now that I realize my sin, what am I going to do? The answer to that question matters a lot!

 

I Corinthians 11-16; But I Love Him (Her)

How do you know if you’ve found Mr. or Miss Right? I was talking to someone recently who commented on the high number of divorces happening in Christians marriages these days. Our society has screwed up the definition of “love” so much, how can anyone be sure their marriage is going to last?

If you are considering marriage (or hoping to some day) I would encourage you to use I Corinthians 13 as your rule book. Ask yourself these questions about the person you hope to spend the rest of your life with: (I’ll be using the masculine pronoun but this is not just for women loving men. Men, ask yourself these questions about that lady in your life, too)

  1. Is he patient? How does he treat the waitress when the food takes too long to get to the table? How does he treat you if you aren’t moving as fast as he wants you to? How is he when your mom has one more thing to tell you before you go?
  2. Is he kind? How does he treat your annoying niece? Does he help you carry that heavy grocery bag, or better yet help an older woman struggling with her own? What is his tone of voice when he talks to his mom?
  3. Is he jealous? How does he handle your relationship with your best friend, or parent? What do you see in him when someone else gets that promotion at work?
  4. Does he brag? Does he have the ability to turn conversations back to himself so he can share what accomplishment he’s made?
  5. Is he proud? Does he have an air of superiority? Does he flaunt his successes?
  6. Is he rude? There are people who have no problem demanding attention no matter what others are saying or doing. Is he one of them?
  7. Is he self-seeking? Is life only about him? Do you always end up doing what pleases him? Does he make choices based on what’s in it for him?
  8. How is his temper? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells for fear of an outburst? What’s his reaction when someone cuts him off in traffic?
  9. Does he tend to throw things that you’ve done in the past at you during an argument, or maybe as a way to control you?
  10. Have you watched him lie to people?
  11. Do you truly feel like he’ll always have your back?
  12. Do you trust him? Really?
  13. Would you say your relationship is one of hope for the future? Be honest. Do you see him committed to you for the rest of your life?
  14. Do you see him working on this relationship? Or are you the only one doing the work?
  15. Does he fail you? Not just the occasional disappointment. That’s being human. But are you disappointed more times than not?

I would say if you can’t answer these questions in a positive light, he’s not right for you. End it before you bind yourself to a spouse who doesn’t love you like you deserve to be loved.

Now, go back and honestly answer those same questions about yourself. Because you might not be right for him, either, if you can’t answer them in a positive light concerning your part in the relationship.

You might take this little test and realize things aren’t as they ought to be in your relationship. “But I love him (her)!

Dear one, that’s not love. It might be lust, it might be obsession, it might be the idea of love. But don’t kid yourself. God has revealed what love looks like. If yours doesn’t look like I Corinthians 13, it isn’t love.

And please don’t believe the lie that you can’t help yourself. You are a thinking, feeling, intelligent human being, not a dog in heat. Use your God-given abilities to make good choices. Because love IS a choice, and being loving takes intention.

Some of you reading this may already be married. Maybe you and your spouse might want to ask these same questions of yourselves and talk about how to improve your marriage.  Warning: you might hear some hard truths about what your spouse sees in you. Take them seriously instead of blowing them off, or starting an argument about them. Don’t do this exercise unless you are willing to do some work on yourself. You can’t change him (her). But you can change yourself. Remember, you promised to love this person until death parts you. YOU promised to love.

For those of you who are single, I pray that you will only commit yourself to a person who loves you like God describes here in I Corinthians 13. And I pray that you won’t commit yourself to anyone that you don’t love like that, too.

And to those of you who are married, I pray that you and your spouse will consider your marriage in light of God’s Word, that you’ll both be willing to make changes if  need be, and that your love for each other will grow as you love like God describes here in I Corinthians 13.

May God bless Christian marriages.

Isaiah 20-23; Polar Opposites

Scripture constantly reminds us that God’s ways are polar opposite of what the world thinks and does. There are so many examples in these chapters in Isaiah of this truth.

It seemed logical to the king to join forces with his neighbors against their mutual enemy. But those neighbors were idolators, unbelievers. The unequal yoking between God’s people and the ungodly neighbors resulted in more problems for Israel than just an invading army.

Shebna is an example of material wealth, political power, and pride that was lauded by the world. He had everything… except God. And his life of “self” ended badly for him. His riches and power, even those people who idolized him, could not stop God’s judgment on him.

Look at what Isaiah had to say about Tyre’s wealth, the intellect of its people, the glory of that city among nations. The city here is reduced to rubble because of their sin.

But Tyre gets a second chance. And so do we.

We’ve all sinned. None of us measure up to God’s standard. I love what Matthew Henry says:

“We must first give up ourselves to be the holiness to the Lord before what we do, or have, or get, can be so.” (p 859; Commentary in One Volume; Zondervan; 1961) (emphasis mine)

In other words, who we are before our Holy God is the catalyst for what we do, not the other way around. We must first give up our “selves,” recognize sin and accept the Savior Jesus as our own. Not a popular concept according to the world.

We can only become the holiness of God if we are wearing Jesus’ holiness, through the blood He shed on the cross. No amount of good works, sacrificial giving, compassion for the poor, even church-going can render us holy.

That’s not how the world looks at it. We hear them say (even from the pulpit of a royal wedding) that all we need is love. All we need is activism on behalf of the needy. All we need is ourselves, our determination to love one another. But is that God’s way?

Please don’t forget that Jesus went to the cross because of love. Jesus’ love dealt with your sin, not your love. The world would have us concentrate on love, and ignore sin because, of course we shouldn’t judge, right?

Dear one, your love is meaningless without the cross. Your love is a filthy rag in God’s sight unless you have first confessed your sin and accepted God’s grace.

Like I said, God’s ways are polar opposite of the ways of the world.

 

Song Of Solomon; Pursuing Love

Who doesn’t want to be loved? Unless there is mental illness or emotional baggage, I think all of us would admit a longing to be loved, passionately, exclusively, intentionally loved by another. The entertainment business thrives on the topic of love because they know love is the driving force behind nearly everything we do.

But I wonder, then, why there are so many divorces because one or both parties have “fallen out of love.” Friend, the Bible is pretty clear that true love is never out of our control. You don’t believe the lie that says “you can’t help who you love,” do you?

The Song of Songs is a beautiful picture of the passionate, exclusive, intentional love we all long for. In here you will see the man and woman seeking each other at various times. You know that sometimes your spouse needs you to take the initiative, don’t you? Sometimes you need to be the one to reach out, to plan something romantic or surprise them with something special. One person can’t always be the instigator of affection because true love is a two way street.

You will see in Solomon’s Song that neither of the lovers is willing to simply listen to what someone else has to say about their loved one. The watchman said one thing, the lover went and checked it out personally.

You will see examples of the couple taking time for each other, to study each other, to rest in each other while shutting away the rest of the world. You will see mistakes, and forgiveness, a love that thinks less of what it takes than what it gives.

Your marriage depends on the choices you make, not just the feelings you feel.

And so does your relationship with God. Everything in the Song of Solomon that applies to marriage applies to a healthy relationship with our Savior.

We know that He pursues us. Do we pursue Him, too? Do we spend time in His Word and in prayer? Do we long to know Him passionately, exclusively, intentionally the way He longs to know us?

Do we reach out to Him during the day? I remember watching my parents, the way Dad would reach out and touch Mom’s hand, or pat her leg. No words, just that gentle touch that said “I love you.” Do we, likewise, let God know during our day that we are loving Him, too?

All of us long to be passionately, exclusively, intentionally loved, AND WE ARE, if we know the Lord.

Let’s determine to nurture that love, and love God passionately, exclusively, and intentionally back.

Deuteronomy 4-6; The Greatest Commandment

I was reading Moses’ re-teaching of the Ten Commandments, and was struck by the simplicity of them:

  1. Don’t worship other gods
  2. Don’t make idols
  3. Don’t misuse God’s Name
  4. Keep the Sabbath
  5. Honor your parents
  6. Don’t murder anyone
  7. Don’t commit adultery
  8. Don’t steal
  9. Don’t lie
  10. Don’t covet

Moses elaborated on these commandments later, but in a nutshell, these are the condensed version of God’s commandments to His people.

Do you remember how Jesus answered the young man who asked what the most important commandment is? Jesus said: Love God. Love each other.

Love is the umbrella over which all the other commandments exist. And God Himself IS love. (I John 4:8)

Now, I am by no means an authority on world religions. I have scratched only the surface in my study of them. But I can’t think of another religion whose god says, “Love me.” Or even one who claims to love its followers.

The God of the Bible demands obedience, for sure. But when you understand His love, those demands don’t seem so daunting. In fact, obedience becomes a privilege, not a ritual. Worshiping Him out of love produces love. And when I break a commandment, when I sin, I can receive forgiveness through the precious blood of God Himself, Jesus Christ.

Holy God, thank you for telling us, and retelling us what it is You require of us as Your people. As straightforward as those commandments are, I have broken them more than once. So, Father, I thank You for giving Your Son to pay the consequence for my sin. He did what I can never hope to do. And His perfection is mine through His blood. God, I thank You for love. First for Your love of me, then for the privilege of loving You in return, and lastly for the love that I share with Your people. May my life be lived in such a way that Your love is evident, and enticing. And may I obey You today, out of love.

 

November 10 – Love Is Not All We Need

Luke 22; John 13

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another. John 13:34-45

What does it mean to love one another? Many seem to believe love is the same thing as acceptance, or tolerance. Some think love means giving people hugs, then giving them space to live life anyway they want. I grew up in the 60’s when the word “love” was proclaimed from drug induced songwriters and poets, and touted as “free.” Is that the love Jesus was speaking about here?

Jesus tells us to love others the same way He loved the disciples, loves us. Let’s look at how Jesus loved:

He healed diseases, forgave sin, pointed out hypocrisy, cast out demons, confronted sinners, overturned money tables, and finally and most importantly, suffered and went to the cross to die. There was no acceptance of sin in the way Jesus loved. There was no looking the other way.

Jesus’ love was not the hippie version of love, or even the Hallmark-feel-good version. Jesus loved tough. Jesus’ love was in-your-face. Jesus’ love went beyond this life into eternity.

Personally, I think we need Jesus’ love demonstrated more fully these days. I think the Church has adopted a definition of love that is meaningless in light of God’s Word. If we adopt the world’s view of love, they won’t recognize us as Jesus’ disciples. We’ll look just like them.

They won’t recognize the reality of Jesus’ love that does not want them to die in their sin. That love which sent Him to the cross so they can be forgiven and live with Him forever. We need more than love. We need to put that love into action just like He did.

We need to love one another hard enough to call sin sin, and introduce people to their Savior. Then we will be loving in the same way Jesus loves.

June 13 – The Holy Spirit In Us

I Kings 8, II Chronicles 5

When Solomon dedicated the new Temple, the glory of the Lord filled the House. Oh, to have been one of the thousands who witnessed that cloud filling the Temple! That would be a sight you’d not soon forget. God’s glory, present, and visible.

Church yesterday was almost that for me. First we sang, “Blessed Assurance,” “And Can It Be,” “Victory in Jesus.” The special music was a quartet singing “He Touched Me.” All of it old school. And all of it prepared us to hear a message about the unfailing love of God.

God’s Presence was as real yesterday as it was in Solomon’s day. The same Spirit that filled that temple, filled our hearts in Bellville, Ohio.

In light of the most recent Muslim terrorist attack on our country, I am hearing a lot about “love.” One person even said that if we stopped considering Muslims as the enemy, and loved them like God loves them, none of this would happen.

In a sense, that’s true. But not in the sense this person intended. Love is not acceptance. God’s love, which is a blanket that covers the whole world, is not salvation. God’s love sent Jesus to the cross because He is that serious about sin.

If we loved Muslims with the same love God has for them, we would stop at nothing to introduce them to the Savior. Love is not the answer. Tolerance is not the answer. The Person of Jesus Christ is the only answer to our world’s unrest.

Talk about Amazing Love. How can it be that God would love me so much He’d die for me? The victory is in Jesus who seeks each of us, who bought our salvation with His precious redeeming blood. We can have the Blessed Assurance that this same Jesus whose Spirit filled Solomon’s Temple thousands of years ago, is ours when we are born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

What does it mean to love like Jesus loves? What does it mean to have His Holy Spirit in us? It means we look at the world through His eyes. We see all people as individuals He died to redeem. It means we realize the truth that, without Him, they have no hope. It means allowing Him to live and speak through us so that those who don’t know Him, will recognize their need and fall on their knees in repentance.

Holy God, thank You for wanting to fill my heart with Yourself, like you filled Solomon’s Temple so long ago. Thank You for loving us so much You’d die to save us. May we who know You allow You to fill us, to strengthen us, to make us bold and obedient servants, so that all people will come to You. I pray for the families touched by the deaths in Orlando. May Your Spirit minister, may Your children reach out, and may hearts be drawn to the Savior, for their good and Your glory.