Love

     God sends us into the world with a trunk full of love to give to others. We are to dip into that trunk and scatter love to everyone we meet. That love takes the form of listening, sharing, caring, forgiving and some occasional foot-washing.
     Our trunk has compartments that contain an inexhaustible amount of all forms of love. He also gives us the wisdom to use the most effective form of love with each individual we meet. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can match each recipient with the proper form of love at the appropriate time. 
     When I find myself running low on the motivational drive to be a "love scatterer" I must remember how empty my trunk was before He filled it, how small was (is) my qualification to be a receiver of such love and how much better my life is now because of that love.

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     The Bible is a love story...not a romance, but a love story none-the-less. It is a story of love freely offered, but often rejected. In the cases where that love was accepted the result was wonderful loyalty, joy and power in each individual's life.
     It is a love story featuring you and me, just as much as Biblical characters.

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     I have grown up with the idea that as Christians we should "Love the things God loves and hate the things God hates."  I think "...and with the same intensity" should be added. This may be an accurate summary statement of being and living as a Christian.
     It seems lately that the intensity of our hating is much greater than the intensity of our loving.

Loving Others ?!?!?!

Loving other people is dangerous. Loving other people can cost us time and money. Loving other people can cause us to travel to frightening places and spend time with frightening people. Loving other people can result in us being with “others” when we would rather be with “our own.”

For children of God, is loving other people a command or an option? Mark 12:31 answers that question for us. And that love for others is to be demonstrated by doing  and sharing,  not just talking and preaching. It expects us to love individuals, as well as groups.

Such love is impossible for us to achieve and maintain unless we are Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. The “filling” will provide us with the desire to love and the “led” will  show us how to love. When we feel we are unable to do either of these we need to emulate the love of Jesus and daily choose the life-style described in I Corinthians 13:4-7.

If, for some reason, we want to measure the extent of our love, we need to go to that passage and substitute our own name for the word “love.”  (Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait.) Isn’t it wonderful to know that even though we don’t yet love like Jesus does, He loves us anyway and the Holy Spirit will continue to teach us.

 

 

Importance of Intercessory Prayer

How important is intercessory prayer? Do our prayers for others actually help?

Study Jesus in Gethsemane (Matt 26:35-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46). In His time of greatest agony He asked his friends to pray for Him. Think of it. The God who created all the universe was hurting so much He asked for the prayers of his closest friends.

But before He asked for their prayers, He asked for their companionship. He asked them to go a little farther, stay awake a little longer, pay a little more attention, give a little more of their energy and time on his behalf.

And they did so, for awhile. Then they went to sleep.

All too often we say to a hurting neighbor or acquaintance “I’m sorry things are so tough for you right now. I’ll keep you in my prayers.” Then we turn and walk away, unwilling to give a bit our our time and energy to help ease their pain. Our lack of action shows how we refuse to let the problems of others intrude on our own comfort zone.

Oh, such prayers do help, if we actually remember them. We can certainly be of assistance by praying. But if we, like the disciples, are called on to go a little farther and give practical aid and comfort, are we willing to do so? In our Christian growth have we allowed God to develop in us a sense of “disruptive compassion” – the willingness to let the needs of others disrupt our normal pattern of life?

When Strangers Visit My Church

They don't want to know about our preacher.
They don't really care about our teachers.
They're not concerned about our parking lot.
They don't care how many elders we've got.
The don't care about the size of our choir.
They don't ask "How tall is your spire?"
They just want to know, "Do you love me?"

They don't care about our preacher's degree,
Or if the donuts and coffee are free.
They don't care about our building's size,
Or if our deacons are gals or guys.
They don't care about our recreation,
Or our theology of creation.
They just want to know, "Do you love me?"

So when they come to visit us here
We must meet them with a smile or a tear.
Quietly, sincerely without a fuss,
Let them know they're important to us.
A pat on the back. A "We're glad you're here."
Will help us make it completely clear,
That without any doubt, we love them.

Love All Others

It was early in the morning. The day was clear and clean and new and fresh. I was alone with God.

I asked Him, "Father, what do you want me to do today?"

He answered, "Love others."

I thought for a minute and then said, "OK. Which others?"

"All others," He replied.

"Wait a minute," I said. "You don't really mean 'ALL others,' do you?"

"All others," He repeated.

"But Father, there are a lot of 'others' in my life that aren't very loveable. Some of them don't deserve being loved."

"All others," He said again.

"But Father, I don't even like some of the people I'll be with today."

He answered, "I didn't say like them, I said LOVE them."

"But Father, some of them certainly don't love me. Can I wait until they love me first?"

"No, my child. Love them first. Show them that you love them. All of them. Starting today."

"But Father, they are really not worth loving. No one can love all of them."

"I do," came the reply.

At that point I had no more objections. I left my devotional time still unsure I could love as He was demanding, but I knew I had to try.

Musings #4

When we look at a sinful world…the lying, injustice, greed, murder…do we feel more anger and outrage toward the perpetrators than sympathy and compassion for the victims? Do we want to punish more than help? Do we want to accuse, blame and hate more than we want to empathize, assist and love?

In Matthew 16:22 Peter contradicted Jesus because what Jesus was saying differed from what he had been taught as a child, what he had believed all his life. Do we sometimes let what we have been taught in the past interfere with what God wants to teach us now? Do we let old attitudes and opinions keep us from accepting new revelations?

It seems we Christians are more willing to hate the things God hates – sinful behavior-than we are to love the things God loves – sinful people. Why? Could it be that loving costs more money, time, energy and commitment than hating does, and we are unwilling to pay the extra price?

When I sin, I want to find excuses for my behavior and put the blame on outside explanations and circumstances. In sports jargon this takes the form of “It took a bad bounce” or “The sun was in my eyes” or “The referee made a bad call.” But when I do good, I want to take all the credit and pat myself on the back because I am such a “GOOD” person. God hates this attitude.

Is the term “proud servant” an oxymoron? Not for the Christian! I am a servant, but I am proud of the one I serve. I am a servant, but I am proud to bear my Master’s name. Being a servant is not a bad thing because I have the perfect boss.

Hurters, Hurriers, Helpers

Some people are “Hurters.” They see people as objects to be used to gain more stuff. Their attitude is “What is mine is mine and if I can work it out, what is yours will be mine, too.”

Others people are “Hurriers.” They see people as objects to be by-passed in their their frantic efforts to keep all they have. They believe “What is mine is mine and I intend to keep every penny of it.”

Still others are “Helpers.” They see people as objects with whom they can share what they have. They believe “What is mine is ours.” They seek chances to pass on to others what God has given them.

I was created to be a Helper.
I was saved to be a Helper.
I have been gifted to be a Helper.
I must be trained to be a Helper.

Do I Dare?

Do I dare claim His name and not care for others?
Do I dare have His joy and not pass it on?
Do I dare know His peace and not tell my neighbor?
If I don't care for others, do I dare?

Do I dare claim His name and not care for others?
Do I dare ask His help and not share His Word?
Do I dare take His blessings and not help the lonely?
If I don't care for others, do I dare?

Do I dare claim His name and not care for others?
Do I dare call Him Master and not be a friend?
Do I dare seek His power and not spread the Gospel?
If I don't care for others, do I dare?

Daily Footprints

Last night we had a two inch snowfall in my community. Everyone who walked in the park behind my house left footprints, a temporary record of their passing.

It is now evening and I have just finished living another day. Like strollers in the park, I also left a trail to show where I went.  I left emotional footprints that show how I affected other people. Did I successfully follow Paul’s admonition to live peaceably with all men? (Romans 12:18)

I left intellectual footprints which attest to my wise or unwise choices. When I lacked wisdom did I consult God?  Did I try to be an attentive student and learn all God wanted to teach me? (James 1:5)

In such sloppy weather I tried not to track snow onto the clean floors of my home. But I was unsuccessful and dirt ended up inside. Was I as concerned about keeping undesirable thoughts out of my mind, which is God’s home? (I Corinthians 6:19)

I left communication footprints. What did I talk about? What did I listen to? Did I speak of and point to Jesus? (James 3:1-10)

Most importantly I left spiritual footprints which attest to my priorities as I went about my assigned and chosen tasks? Did my life point to eternal issues or temporary concerns? (Colossians 3:2)

Tomorrow I will again leave a record of my presence in the lives of others. God calls me to walk so that those impressions will honor and glorify Him. I pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit I will be successful.

Bit & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 10

When Jesus returned to heaven, what did He take back as souvenirs of His trip here? Five scars and the assurance He had done his Father’s will.

God’s voice is true and relevant whether He whispers (butterflies, gentle rain, a cat’s purr) or shouts (Niagara Falls, thunder, a hurricane). In all things He is saying “I created. I control. Trust me.”

If I refuse to tell others about God’s grace, if I refuse to share what I know about the grace I have received, then I have received it largely in vain.

As a Christian I take comfort in the fact that God always keeps his word. Can others take comfort from the fact that I will always keep mine?

My love for God is proven by my obedience (Mark 12:31). My love for others is proven by my service. Obey and Serve. It seems simple enough, but after sixty years of Christian life I still struggle to do both.

Every problem in my life is an opportunity for me to  allow God to solve that problem in a way that will glorify his name. Why is that so hard to remember?

The most valuable athlete, by word or action, says “Coach, I’m not as good as I want to be. Show me how to get better.” The most valuable employee says the same thing to his boss. The most valuable Christian says those words to God…and means them.

The degree to which I have become holy is indicated by the degree to which I am sharing God’s blessings.

I did not do anything to achieve my salvation but I must do everything in my power to exhibit it every day.

In 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul said the love of God “compels” us. It compelled him to preach  the gospel. What specific day-by-day actions am I compelled to carry out because of His love?