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Archive for the ‘love’ Category

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8

I don’t know about you, but when I read the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) panic often sets in. The passage starts off easy enough; regardless of the gifts that have been given to us from the Lord, we need love as a buffer. Ok, got it! I need love for these gifts to work as God intended.

But as I read on I begin to realize that the kind of love the Lord requires of me is impossible for me to drum up. No matter how hard I try, I cannot do love this way; at least not with any consistency. Then I discover that this is exactly the point the Lord is making—it is impossible without Him.

Jesus presented it this way:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me….With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  (John 15:4 and Luke 10:27)

You cannot break a branch off a tree, bring it into you house, and expect it to bear fruit. That would be impossible. The limb must stay connected to its source. Our source is Christ Jesus; He is the vine and by faith we have committed ourselves to a heavenly pruning process. Jesus snipped us from the world and grafted us into the vine of life. We are now a conduit by which His love and blessings can flow.

It is All About Him

When we love on one another, it is not so others might say, “Wow, Bob sure is a loving guy.” It’s not that at all. As believers it is our hope that others will see God’s love and power displayed. The fact that it is happening through our bodies is irrelevant. Our love is proper when others see Jesus. If we’re noticed, it is our duty to direct the attention to our Savior.

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

When Love Looks Like Something Else

Love is always love, but it isn’t always pretty. Consider what this event must have looked like to many within the congregation:

Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:30-31)

Can you imagine the Apostle Paul going into a church and identifying one of their own as a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing or calling out an un-repented sinner caught spreading deceit among the flock? Some would have surely proclaimed, “Yo Paulie, where’s the love bro?”  Not much has changed in this regard.

The truth of the matter is that the person who is committed to loving this much is faithfully demonstrating his strong connection to the vine that is Christ Jesus. In today’s vernacular we might call this tough love and it’s akin to lovingly spanking a child — nobody wants to do it, but we know it’s the most loving thing we can do. People will surely protest the gesture, but the reality is that their objections are often our confirmations.

I suspect Paul would likely have said, “I love you too much to let you wallow in sin and I love the church too much to let them suffer an assault.” 

 Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:5-6)

Having said all that, we must come full circle and be reminded that none of this is possible without Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit must be the one Who guides us to these divine appointments and it is God Who empowers us to carry out the assignment.  When we act in our own flesh the church ends up with signs that read, “God hates fags,” or similar epithets. That’s not a kind of love that will draw others to Jesus; that’s a kind of hate that repels sinners and keeps them on a path to hell.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

  1. What do these verses tell us about God?
  2. What do we learn about ourselves?
  3. Are there changes we can make?

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For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Acts 20:29-31

It Just Got Worse

The good news is that Dan Savage, the founder of the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign, has revealed his true colors. It would appear (in this video) that Dan Savage does not practice what he preaches — bullying teens is apparently okay, as long as they don’t agree with Dan Savage.

In the Youtube video erroneously titled, “Dan Savage Discusses Bible at High School Journalism Convention,” Savage lives up to his surname when he attacks God, the Bible, and the teenagers who chose to walk out on his foul-mouthed rant. In addition to calling God’s word bulls**t, this openly gay, anti-bullying crusader-in-sheep’s-clothing actually called these Christian kids pansy-asses.

Savage wolves have come among us indeed!

Why Should We Care?

If it were just about Dan Savage cursing God and God’s word, I wouldn’t care; God can most certainly take care of Himself.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8

However, this is more about protecting the flock, particularly the younger members of he fold. Sadly, bullied teens have latched onto this supposed champion based largely on media/government pushed, emotionally logical, anti-bullying sound bites (after all, who can’t get behind a campaign like that). But Dan Savage, and guys like him, have a hidden anti-Christian agenda. As advocates for the devil, their true goal is drag teens down to their death and bully anyone else who doesn’t agree with them.  As stewards of the faith, it is a believers responsibility to sound the alarm when these wolves enter the camp.

Our Other Responsibility

We need to be crystal clear, this is not about bashing or even bullying Dan Savage. Heaven for bid; we need to pray for this guy and not condemn him. As long as he has breath in his lungs, he has the chance to repent. So, as we warn and pray for the sheep, pray for Savage and those like him who are living in darkness and appear clueless to the evil in their midst.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34

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For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack–that there may be equality. 2 Corinthians 8:13-14
Good Things?

How can it be that when we give to those who lack, that God can give something in return in order that both giver and receiver may have equally? The answer is found in these four words, It’s a God-thing.” The Apostle Paul’s report concerning the open-handed Macedonian church (in 2 Corinthians 8:3-5) gives us some more insight.

For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Notice…

1. They gave themselves to Jesus
2. They gave according to His will
3. They gave beyond their ability
4. They begged Paul to take their gift.

They gave first to the Lord first and what they first gave was themselves — Jesus Christ was their top priority and their obedience; their giving, was in accordance to His will. God wants us! Amazingly, it was that type of faith that enabled them to give beyond their ability to give. And it was by that same faith that, although quite poor themselves, they literally had to beg the Apostle Paul to take their money. As it turns out, these folks weren’t so ordinary after all!

Have You Ever Begged to Give?

These folks were insistent because they knew the power of God and the blessing of koinonia; the fellowship and communion of the saints. They grasped the importance of obedience, commitment, and submission. I further submit to you that they gave as a continual sign of their love and gratitude to their Lord and Savior.

When was the last time we asked God, “How can we give today?”

For the love of Christ compels us… 2 Corinthians 5:14a

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If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22

Believe it or not, heaping burning coals on someone’s head is a good thing. Many Christians have errantly interpreted or have been falsely taught to believe that this verse is suggesting that doing nice things for bad people makes them burn with rage. That is not the implication here at all. God does not reward His children when they do mean or vengeful things. 1 John 1:5 is one of many Bible verses that testifies to this:

…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 

The truth of the matter is a person’s head [Biblically speaking] is a reference to the fire source in a person’s fireplace, stove, or furnace. It is typically the smallest of embers that are kept glowing in order that when a full blaze is desired all that is needed is a little tinder, some kindling and oxygen. Old time engineers would always keep a ‘head’ smoldering in the locomotive, needing only a shovel full of coal to quickly get the boiler cooking. I recall learning in school how native Americans would carry these coals in a portion of a hollowed-out log when they traveled in order to have fire easily available.

At this point you might be thinking that if all that is needed is tinder, kindling, and oxygen to restart the fire, why does the Proverb indicate that our nice deeds are akin to heaping coals (aka: hot embers) on a person’s head if their head already has embers in it?

Good question! 

What’s being conveyed here is that your enemy’s head (his coals) have gone cold, which is a further indication that the enemy in question is not a believer. How do we know he is not a Christian? Because, according to Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 12:20, God does not let the head of a true believer ever go out.

A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench…

So what Proverbs 25:21-22 is actually suggesting is that when we lovingly attend to the needs of our enemies it is an evangelical act as it serves to lead a person to Jesus Christ. Heaping coals is comparable to planting seeds! Our kind acts towards non-believers are likened to heaping embers of faith upon their souls. It’s not an act of rekindling a fire, but bringing a fire to a place where one never existed and doing so in the name, power, and authority of Jesus Christ

  1. What do these passages say about God?
  2. What do they say about us?
  3. Are there changes we can make?
  4. What is your prayer?

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The list of things that God hates (below) is borrowed from ‘Meredith’s Book of Bible Lists.’  I looked through it and I can’t find anywhere where God says that He hates, abhors, or considers the Christian religion to be an abomination.  What the list does reveal is that God hates false religions that lead men to their destruction, man-made components added to the Christian religion, and religious hypocrisy (e.g., Christians who preach one thing, but then continue to do sinful things).

Jesus doesn’t hate religion, nor did He come to abolish it. That notion can’t be found anywhere in God’s Word. To suggest otherwise is to add words to the Bible (a practice God despises). To say Jesus hates religion and He came to abolish it is a lie.  God hates lying.

Here’s what God hates according to the Bible.

 The List

1. Homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:22).

2. Bestiality (Leviticus 18:23)

3. Idols, and the materials used to make idols (Deuteronomy 7:25)

4. Blemished sacrifices (Deuteronomy 17:1)

5. Worshipping the sun, moon or stars (Deuteronomy 17:3-4)

6. Divination (Deuteronomy 18:10)

7. Astrology (Deuteronomy 18:10)

8. Enchanters (Deuteronomy 18:10)

9. Witches (Deuteronomy 18:10)

10. Charmers (Deuteronomy 18:11)

11. Wizards (Deuteronomy 18:11)

12. Necromancers (Deuteronomy 18:11)

13. Transvestitism (Deuteronomy 22:5)

14. The hire of a whore (Deuteronomy 23:18)

15. Remarriage to a former wife after she has been married to another man (Deuteronomy 24:4)

16. Dishonest scales (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

17. Workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5)

18. The wicked (Psalm 11:5)

19. Those who love violence (Psalm 11:5)

20. The froward [perverse] (Proverbs 3:32)

21. A proud look (Proverbs 6:16-17)

22. A lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17)

23. Hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17)

24. A heart that devises wicked imaginations (Proverbs 6:18)

25. Feet that are swift in running to mischief (Proverbs 6:18)

26. A false witness who speaks lies (Proverbs 6:19)

27. Anyone who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:19)

28. Lying lips (Proverbs 12:22)

29. The sacrifices of the wicked (Proverbs 15:8)

30. The ways of the wicked (Proverbs 15:9)

31. The thoughts of the wicked (Proverbs 15:26)

32. The proud in heart (Proverbs 16:5)

33. Those who justify the wicked (Proverbs 17:15)

34. Those who condemn the just (Proverbs 17:15)

35. Vain sacrifices (Isaiah 1:13)

36. Feasts as Israel celebrated them (Isaiah 1:14)

37. Robbery for burnt offering (Isaiah 61:8)

38. Idolatry (Jeremiah 44:2-4)

39. Evil plans against neighbors (Zechariah 8:17)

40. False oaths (Zechariah 8:17)

41. Esau (Malachi 1:1-3Romans 9:13)

42. Divorce (Malachi 2:14-16)

43. The deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:615)

44. Sacred pillars (Deuteronomy 16:22).

45. “I hate, I despise, your feast days” (Amos 5:21).

46. “Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates.” ( Isaiah 1:14)

What is the Christian Religion?

Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines religion this way:

Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man’s obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties…Religion…is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law.

I have gone through that definition word by word and I cannot find anything that God said He hates or would desire to abolish. What I like about the definition is that it points out that the Christian religion is in obedience to God’s commands, implying the components of our faith are not man-made.  So if you’re in a church that says you must do works to be saved, or you must attend that denomination to get to Heaven, or you must recite these words to Mary ten times, your religion has man-made parts that need to be rejected.

God’s Mandates for Religion

As we already pointed out, people do not have to do works in order to earn their salvation.  The Bible tells us that it’s by faith we are saved.  ‘For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.’ (2 Corinthians 7-10)  Jesus finished all the work at the cross. In love and gratitude, we willing submit ourselves to the only One who could have saved us.  It is our desire to obey, not because some cleric said we had to, but because we desire to; it blesses our Lord and Savior. Therefore, we utilize the components of the Christian religion that God has established — they serve to bring us closer to Jesus and to equip us for ministry.

What are some of those religious, God-given elements we practice?

Praying, reading our Bibles, meditating on His word, going to church, fellowship with other believers, communion, worship, baptism, and marriage, are a few that top my list.

Here are a few others:

Keeping God’s word (John 14:23 )

Feeding God’s sheep (John 21:15-17 )

Heal the sick (Matthew 10:8)

Teaching (Matthew 28:20)

Preaching repentance and remission of sins (Luke 24:46-47 )

Preaching the gospel (Mark 16:15)

Doing good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27-28)

Not being hypocrites (Luke 12:1)

Giving (Matthew 5:42)

Loving God (Mark 12:30)

Loving one another (John 13:35)

Not being deceived (Mark 13:5-6 )

Being ready in season and out (2 Timothy 4:2)

Making disciples (Matthew 28:19)

Letting our light shine (Matthew 5:16)

And there are plenty more.

…Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.           Ephesians 4:1-6

There is a bottom line here. While I might call the adherence to God’s mandates religion, you might call them your steps of faith.  Someone else might call them the elements of their relationship.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that we’ve committed our lives to Jesus Christ and that we’re submitted to His authority…because we want to, not because we have to.

What’s not okay is for one Christian to suggest or imply that another Christian is not saved because they’re not using the same vocabulary as them.  It’s really quite arrogant for someone to think we should remove a perfectly good word, a word that they have misunderstood, misapplied, or perhaps were even mistaught, from our vocabulary. Frankly, that practice wreaks of the kind of man-made dogma that God hates. So if you want to say that Christianity isn’t a religion, but a relationship, that’s fine.  If I want to say I practice the components of my religion religiously, that’s fine too. But let neither one of us ever say the other is wrong based solely on semantics.

  1. What are your thoughts?
  2. How did God speak to you?
  3. What is your prayer?

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…The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:17-22

Total Access

Did you know that you have access to the power that raised Jesus from the dead, the power that mounted Him upon His heavenly throne, and the power that gave Him dominion above all things? The heart of Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians (and to us) is that every saint would know this truth. Jesus wants us to know these things as well so that we might not struggle in bondage.

“Bondage to what?” we ask.

“Bondage to anything!” God would say.

Addiction, depression, anger, laziness, you name it! In our weakness we have the strength in Christ to overcome any of these things. Essentially all we need do is receive it and utilize it. If God had the power to raise His Son from the dead, we may be confident He has the power to break our bonds. I know it’s true because He did it in my life ~ Jesus supplied the power and I accepted His gracious gift. In so doing I discovered that everlasting recovery comes from a Person and not a program.

Blinding Fear

But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. Matthew 14:24-25

The disciples were in bondage.

Blinded by fear, they saw the destructive tide, but failed to see where the waves were in relation to Jesus. Again, the Ephesians passage serves to remind us that all things are under His feet; and not only under His feet, but over our heads.

Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Ephesians 5:23b

Bearing Burdens

Do you know someone in bondage?

Remember, Paul’s Ephesian prayer is for the born again believer, therefore assistance to the non-believer in bondage begins with the Good News. Any effort outside of the authority of Christ Jesus is a temporary fix at best. Freedom from bondage comes when the Christian receives a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, when by understanding they are enlightened ~ when the hope of His calling, the riches of His inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of His power is known. Since God does the healing and also provides the power, our duty is to share the Gospel: the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the breaker of all bonds.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6a

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Before I formed you in the womb I knew you… Jeremiah 1:5a

180 MOVIE

The 180 Movie is either horrific or heavenly, depending upon who you ask. I’ve seen it and it’s my opinion that it is a gift of God. I can say that with authority because lives are being changed and souls are being saved because of its viewing. There aren’t too many movies around these days that have that kind of impact.

The 180 Movie is a thirty-three minute, pro-life documentary, the purpose of which is to share the divine truth regarding the abortion epidemic and thus change hearts and minds. Dramatically the movie points out God’s plan, His will, and sadly, our ignorance.

It also divides its viewers:

Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:8-9

You can watch the 180 Movie here.

Do You Blog?

If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ and would like to help propel this tsunami of truth, you can visit the Preparing the Way website for details.

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