And This Is LOVE

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7‭-‬8 NASB

The nature of love:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,” 1Corinthians 13:4 NASB

LOVE is defined by the cross, not by culture; Sacrificial Love, for the best and highest good of others. It is Patient, it is Kind. Read verses 4-7 to understand the SPECTRUM of love, the components of love.

What exactly is Love?

Love is showing patience to people, and it is long suffering. We don’t know what anyone else is dealing with, so how can we judge them? Love is being kind, easy, mellow, and comfortable – easy to receive, difficult to practice.

Those words should describe all Christians, the people who are supposed to be like Jesus. We are to cultivate contentment and gratitude and Love by focusing on God’s Sovereignty.

“The LORD is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NASB

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40 NASB

THIS is Love:

I Waited Patiently. ….. NOT

“I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of Praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD. How Blessed is the man who has made the LORD his Trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” Psalms 40:1‭-‬4 NASB

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2 NASB

Picture two vultures sitting on a branch, hungry, waiting on something to die so they can eat. One turns to the other and says “Patience my ass, I want to kill something.” ….. Yes, it’s crude, but very descriptive of how we often act when God doesn’t deliver WHAT we want, HOW we want, WHEN we want. I don’t like to wait. It’s often painful, and aggravating. We are God’s garden. Ask anyone who grows things, and they will tell you that plants often have to be aggressively pruned in order to get the best fruits and flowers and vegetables. They have to be patient, and wait for that plant to produce and mature. God is patient with us, and He is training us to produce the best. I’M not patient, but I’m very grateful that HE is.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

This is so true. I married young because I wanted to. Emphasis on “I WANTED.” There were lots of reasons, but I was in LOVE. God wasn’t in that marriage, and it was a disaster. I spent years trying to “fix” my life without God, using human men as a poor, poor substitute. Ladies, pay attention to those who love God and who love you. Listen to their counsel. Pray about any relationship. If you feel ANY hesitation, STOP. Same for you guys. If GOD isn’t first in the relationship, It. Will. Be. A. Disaster. Might takes years, but without the LORD, no relationship will prosper. It’s no fun, seeing friends in relationships when you/I am not ….. but, back to that “patience” thing. Trust the LORD. He knows. He KNOWS.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven….” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NASB

God knows. He knows what we want, but more importantly He knows what is best for us. Really. We don’t. As difficult as it is, listen to Him, even when it isn’t what we want to hear. God is in control. Don’t be a backseat driver!

There’s a WHOLE LOT of Judging Going On.

“If you judge someone else, you have no excuse for it. When you judge another person, you are judging yourself. You do the same things you blame others for doing.” Romans 2:1 NIV

Did you read that? Let’s get it in a different translation.

“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.” Romans 2:1 NLT

This one might be my favorite:

“Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done.” Romans 2:1‭-‬2 MSG

As Christians, we should be setting the standard for the world in compassion and mercy, and instead we – as a group – are called judgmental by the world. It is up to me, and you, to change that perception. There’s a whole lot of judging going on today. Personally, I’m trying really hard not to judge the people who are rioting and destroying other people’s property and livelihoods. If I could, I’d be one of those defending the properties in danger.

However, I know this. GOD is the Judge of this world, not me. LORD, help me and guide me as I go through this day. Show me when I am being judgmental so I can repent of it and focus on loving people instead of judging them. Whether it is a family member, a coworker, or someone on the street, let them see You in me. Amen.

Love & Peace

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9‭-‬21 ESV

I’m struggling this morning. Watching the protests last night right in my own city, seeing violence and looting happening, breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see the damage that has been done to people’s property – people who had nothing to do with any of it, having their lives destroyed by others who decide to be both judge and jury and find everyone guilty.

I’ve been in protests. I believe that peaceful, non-violent protests can be effective. There’s no way, really, that I can understand a life lived in abject poverty, but that isn’t what these protests are about. I’m white, so, no, I’ll never understand what it is to be black (or brown or red or yellow). I’m a woman, and I do know discrimination. I’ve been discriminated against for being white, and for being an American. I have lived with prejudice against me. Respect is an attitude that doesn’t seem to be taught much anymore.

We are all guilty. Every single one of us. We are guilty of prejudice, we are guilty of judgment. We all do evil. We are guilty of discrimination. There are times when protesting injustice is necessary, and coming together in solidarity to protest an injustice goes back to the beginnings of these United States. There are no excuses for vandalism. Vandalism doesn’t solve anything, and it hurts those around us, our neighbors and families.

I’m struggling with the upheaval and chaos facing my country. I’m crying for the losses of so many innocent people. Join me in praying for the people who want to see change, that they will understand that violence is not the answer. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Siblings

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” ” Luke 10:38‭-‬42 NASB

The One Thing is JESUS.

Martha, the mistress of her house, was always working. Her tasks were good, but they were keeping her from Jesus, from being with Jesus. She’s probably the older sister, used to taking charge and taking care of everything and everyone. Then we have Mary – every time she is mentioned in scripture, she is at Jesus’ feet. At the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:32), when Jesus visited (Luke 10), and when she washed His feet with perfume (John 12:3). She’s probably the baby of the family, not so concerned about housework, and concentrating on being with Jesus. She recognized that He should be her focus. Tasks, and service, aren’t bad, unless they detract from the important thing, which is Jesus. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves more focused on serving Jesus than on being with Jesus Himself. To hear and learn the Word of God is the most important thing for Christians. It should be our number one priority. “But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:28 NASB

Jesus is our life giving oxygen: He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of GOD.’ ” Matthew 4:4 NASB

“ONE THING I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” Psalms 27:4 NASB

The GOOD THING is focusing on Jesus, being devoted to Him. It will never be taken away. KNOWING Christ must come before DOING for Christ. Make time. Choose “the good meal” every day; the ONE THING that should overtake the many things. The ONE THING that is necessary for real Life.

(Thankful for Pastor Mark Hitchcock of Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK for his sermon on Mother’s Day 2020, and the outline of my blog today!)

Courageous

I wrote this on March 26, 2014, and it popped up in my ‘memories’ on Facebook, and it is completely appropriate for the crisis we are facing today!

From Billy Graham:

Courage to Stand

“A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity that has produced an anemic, watered-down, and spineless Christian who is not willing to stand up and be counted on every issue. We must have a virile, dynamic, aggressive Christian who lives Christ seven days a week, who is ready to die, if necessary, for his faith. We need Christians who are ethical, honest, gracious, bold, strong, and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I realize how spineless and pampered my Christian walk is. Give me Your courage, Lord Jesus, to follow You more devotedly.”

“But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, PRAISE GOD because you are known by that name!” 1 Peter 4:16

Vengeance…..

Today, as the nation bows in prayer, I think the following scriptures speak more than anything I could possibly say.

O LORD, God of Vengeance, God of Vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud. How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult? They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. They crush Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans. …..Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, one which devises mischief by decree? They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has been my Stronghold, And my GOD the Rock of my Refuge. He has brought back their wickedness upon them And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our GOD will destroy them.” Psalms 94:1‭-‬6‭, ‬20‭-‬23 NASB

Vengeance is Mine, and Retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’ For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have Compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free.” Deuteronomy 32:35‭-‬36 NASB

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14‭-‬16‭, ‬21 NASB

Finally, even with all the fear and chaos:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Romans 12:10‭-‬13 NASB

We are the Called.

Quarantines and Social Distancing

“When the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with free will to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.” – William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul said “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1‭-‬2 NASB

Honestly, I struggle with this. As a young adult, two of my favorite quotes were “Resist Authority!” and “Why Be Normal?” My “normal” is still very different from people’s around me, and that’s okay with me. I confess that I still struggle with the whole authority situation, too. How many people do you know who can claim that they were introduced to the Commander of a military base that was involved with nuclear weapons, while wearing a shirt proclaiming “You Can’t Hug A Child With NUCLEAR ARMS” …..? (Yes, that actually happened, and I think I made an impression on him.)

While I think that this situation with the current health issue has gone to an extreme, I don’t wholly disagree with the amount of care being taken. Of course I don’t want people sick. For the already sick, and for those most susceptible to a virus, by all means they should be protecting themselves. I wouldn’t want my 93 year old Mom out in public right now, simply because her immune system probably wouldn’t be (isn’t) very efficient at fighting off infections. I don’t want my brand new baby great niece around people for the same reasons. I agree that taking precautions is a good thing for all of us. I mean, who hasn’t had a cold or other virus at some time?

We have to be watchful with the chaos around us of people who are fearful and apparently think the Zombie Apocalypse is on us. Hoarding supplies, fighting over toilet paper, afraid to touch anyone or anything; I believe these are from the enemy.

The saddest part of all this? The healthy among us, and those of us who are cautious and have already been diligent about hand washing and cleanliness, are caught in the same restrictions as the susceptible. I’m an introvert, so “having” to stay home isn’t a real imposition…… as long as it’s my choice. My rebellious self says “How dare you tell me I can’t go out and eat or shop or meet up with friends?” My Christian self says to listen to the LORD, and He says to do what is right and proper, and to obey the authorities. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it. (However, know this: if the authorities overstep their own boundaries as laid out in the Constitution of the United States, I will not sit by and passively allow it. Just sayin’.)

And the LORD said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NASB

Scriptural Authority

Is everybody is embraced in the church, regardless of their gender, or sexual orientation, or social status? Many people say that gay people would not be welcome, or that Christians are homophobic and too focused on a person’s outward appearance. Unfortunately, in many churches these statements are true. For a church that is trying to follow the example of Jesus Christ, these should not be true. As in any gathering of humans, we find prejudices and pretensions, but does that make the entire group that way?

I appreciate and agree with Pastor T.D. Jakes on this subject. While on the Oprah Winfrey show, he made this statement:”The perception in our society today is that if you don’t say you’re for same-sex marriage or if you say homosexuality is a sin that you’re homophobic and you’re against gay people. And that’s not true.” The pastor continued, “I’m not called to give my opinion. I’m called as a pastor to give the scriptural position on it,” the pastor added. “Doesn’t mean that I have to agree with you to love you. I don’t dislike anybody. I love everybody.”

Winfrey went on to ask if Jakes thinks being gay is a sin. He responded “I think that sex between two people of the same sex is condemned in the Scriptures, and as long as it is condemned in the Scriptures, I don’t get to say what I think. I get to say what the Bible says,” Jakes said. “I’m not anti-gay, I’m not anti-anything. I don’t want to even be known by what I’m against.”

My opinions don’t really matter. What does matter is what the Bible – God’s Word – says. Christians are to love every person. Not what they do or how they live. Do your opinions take over your actions?