LOVE IS / IS NOT:

1 Corinthians 13: What is Love?

Love is not jealousy; a burning desire to have what someone else has, or resentment. Those things are an absence of love. When I have to win, and the other person has to lose, is jealousy. Resentment shows in how we respond to other’s success, just as much as how we handle our own.

Love is not bragging, boasting, or publicizing our own success/accomplishments. When we are full of arrogance and puffed up with self importance, we aren’t able to love others because all of our focus is on ourselves. Have you ever known someone who is truly humble? When someone is humble, you cannot humiliate them.

Love is not acting unbecomingly, it is not rude, or discourteous. It is kind and considerate, it is polite. Love is tactful, saying Please, thank you, excuse me. Do the little things.

Love is not self-seeking; it is not selfish. It is self sacrificing. The root of all problems is selfishness, so love is to be empty of ourselves and to look out for others over ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be provoked (i.e. irritable, sharp, prickly, touchy, grumpy, and quick to take offense), these show our failure to love. They are triggers to anger and a temperamental “blast off”, as opposed to a righteous anger or irritability (remember Jesus running the money changers and those turning His Father’s House into a place of business out of the Temple?) We must be at peace with God to prevent this.

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Don’t keep track of grudges and resentments! Love lets the past die, it absorbs the wrong. Good friends are good forgivers. Let it go. Choose to forgive. “I distinctly remember forgetting it.” – Sarah Barton, founder of the American Red Cross Ultimate forgiveness is shown by Jesus and His sacrifice. Knowing we were yet sinners, He left Heaven to die on the cross for our sins. For your sins. For my sins!

Love is not happy with sins or lies. It doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness. Love has boundaries. It is based in God’s Truth. Love doesn’t rejoice in it’s own sins. What of our entertainment choices? Our relationship choices? Are we leading other people into sin through those choices? Love supports the truth, and the TRUTH doesn’t change. It is the same today as it was yesterday or 2000 years ago, and it will be the same tomorrow, and it will still be the same in 20,000 years.

“When love is present, nothing else is needed.” Love is essential to anything I do. Without love, I’m just making noise. Remember this truth – No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. There is no real sacrifice without real love, true love, which is Agape love. This Love is produced ONLY by the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, Who the church is based on. LOVE personified, the Cornerstone of the church.

Love rejoices with the truth; Love bears/carries, protects, supports, covers or shelters all. Love is everything both for us AND for others. In Genesis 9, when Noah’s sons realized their father was naked and they covered his nakedness without looking at him, that is Love. Real Love offers shelter and protection for our shortcomings and our faults without focusing on them.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NASB

Love believes – not in a gullible way, and not overly suspicious or cynical. Love is encouraging. It takes the best view of people and holds on to it, for as long as it is possible. Love believes in second chances. Love remembers that God isn’t finished with us yet!

Love hopes and doesn’t give up. It has desire with expectancy and it is realistic, but in the dark days it holds hands with Hope. When you get discouraged because life is overwhelming and everything seems to be falling apart, read the end of the Book. I love reading Revelations, because we win!

Love endures and will hold on until there is absolutely no hope left. It is patient and persevering in all circumstances. Love perseveres, it holds on, it endures.

Paul is saying to the Corinthians: “What LOVE is, you are not.” Will we be like the Corinthians, without Love, or will we search Scriptures and study to be more Christ-like and loving outside of ourselves and our own selfishness?

LORD, be with us, Your people during this unprecedented time. Help us all to not just hold on to Your promises, but give us the courage to live your Love and the Truth. Amen.

References: 1 Corinthians 1:26, 29; 4:7, 4:18-19, 8:1; Philippians 2:3, 5-8; Acts 17:16; Romans 4:8; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Hebrew 10:17; Matthew 18; Romans 5:8; 1 John 5:9; Proverbs 10:12; James 5:20; 1 Peter 7; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 15:13; John 13:1

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!)

One Man, One People, One Race

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is LORD of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ ” Acts 17:24‭-‬28 NASB

Worship the Creator

“Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 66:1‭-‬2a NASB

Who are we to question the Creator? Who is man, to build fancy buildings and claim that they are GOD’S house? How do we become so arrogant as to believe that something we put together is sufficient for Him?

I have been blessed to be able to travel some in Europe, and see some of the stunning, soaring architectural features of many cathedrals. I’ve been in the backwoods of middle America, and in the Southwestern states, and witnessed majestic churches and humble adobe ones. The awe that I felt was the same for all. Stepping into a building that is dedicated to the LORD brings a sense of worship to me. I have felt His Presence.

BUT.

I have felt the majesty of my God even more profoundly out in His Creation. Have you ever stood on the edge of a mountain at sunrise, or sunset? Have you witnessed the unspeakable grandeur of the Grand Canyon? Have you stood in a creek at daybreak, witness to His creatures waking to a new dawn? Have you been in a field, listening to His breath as it brushes across your skin? Watching clouds as they appear to boil up on the horizon, or been caught out in a summer rain shower? It amazes me that anyone can see these things, and still refuse to acknowledge our Almighty God!

For all of history, man has been trying to impress God with buildings. I’m not against church buildings. They serve a necessary purpose for the gathering together of fellow believers. It’s when we try to out-majesty the Majesty of our God that we often begin to go astray. Are we trying to impress God, or people? I’m not against pretty churches. I attend a pretty (in my opinion) church. I have enjoyed visiting God’s church buildings across the U.S. and Europe. I’m just afraid that we get too caught up, sometimes, in “going” to church. Especially now, in this weird time of social distancing and not being able to join together in our usual manner, we have the opportunity to observe God in His Creation and worship with Him there.

If you are able, take your online worship outside. Use our Savior’s beautiful creation to enhance your time. I think He will be pleased with us. Even my humble backyard is a part of His glorious world.

Moral Excellence

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

Strive for moral excellence, knowledge of our Saviour, self control, perseverance. Live one day at a time; just for today – do the next right thing. Surround yourself with encouragers. Refuse to quit or give up on what God has called us to do with our life. Live with godliness – literally God likeness; becoming like God/ Christ. Emulate Christ, spend time with Him. Our attitude towards people shows our heart. We should be the kind of person who prays for each other, forgives each other, and is generous to others. Over all, we show love: it is our capstone; our crowning glory when we sacrifice of ourselves for the higher good. As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others.

“Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus” – Adoniram Judson, missionary to India.

“For it is because of these things that the Wrath of GOD will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—” Colossians 3:6‭-‬10 NASB

I need to watch my mouth. I may not be cursing or using expletives, but I can do a lot of damage to my witness with my words. Ever hear the phrase “Don’t be a Negative Nancy”? (Yes, I know it’s my name, but it was around before I was!) I’ve been around a few “Negative Nancy’s”, and they can spoil an entire day with their attitude. As Christians, I think it’s important that we keep positive things coming out of our mouths. I need to pay more attention to what I’m saying.

Pray About Everything

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB

Every time I read this verse, it strikes me.

“Anxious for nothing.”

“In everything…. let your requests be made known to God.”

“….. prayer …. supplication …. thanksgiving ….”

I’m not supposed to worry about anything. Anything. Geeze Louise, how does that work??? Not worry when the money runs out in the middle of the month? Not worry when the kids are sick, or I’m sick? Not worry about the person traveling in the snow and ice? Not worry when the boss says “You’re fired”, and you are the sole income? Not worry about that family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol? How does that work?

“…. in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Prayer (noun): a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.

Supplication (noun): the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly. “He fell to his knees in supplication”

Solemnly, seriously, on our knees – whether literally or figuratively – ask God for help while thanking Him for the situation. The Serenity Prayer (used by many 12 Step programs) by Reinhold Niebuhr is a good place to start.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

WORK : A Four-Letter Word

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 NASB

God created Man to rule over the earth; to care for it (everything in and on it) and to cultivate it; to subdue the earth – we are a contractor for God the Creator. In other words, we are to work the earth. The LORD God is all about work, and He created us in imitation of Him, in His image: the Bible opens with God working. From Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NKJV) to the end of Revelations, God is working. Creator Potter Shepherd Builder Judge ….. we are created in the image of God, therefore we are created to work.

“Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number.” Job 9:10 NASB

“For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon, To do His task, His unusual task, And to work His work, His extraordinary work.” Isaiah 28:21 NASB

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which GOD has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15 NASB

Work is an integral part of our lives, and all work is included, from the CEO to the janitor, to the “housewife” to the farmer, to the homeless person picking up cans to sell. No work is better or worse than any other. If the CEO thinks he/she is too good to clean up a spill, or to clean their bathroom or pick up trash, then they have the wrong concept of work. The concept goes far beyond our paid workplace, individually and collectively, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop to pickup that piece of trash to dispose of it properly, or do you step over it (I’m not getting my hands dirty!)? Are you careful to make the most of our resources, reducing waste, and not being wasteful with food?

We are under a mandate of work – it is a calling, and should never be considered a curse. As our pastor said, “Before Jesus was known as the Christ, He was known as ‘the carpenter’.” From Genesis, we know that work was present before the fall.

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it….. Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.” Genesis 2:15, 3:17 NASB

The work is not cursed, but it falls under the curse, making it more difficult, as “marked by thorns”. It’s interesting to note that the Greek word for “to cultivate” can be used for work, worship, and service. We are coworkers with God. It’s not for Him to do everything, and not for us to do by ourselves, but to work together in partnership. He wants us integrated with Him and His Will: everything we do is important to God, not just ministry or church work. All work is equally valuable and pleasing to God. There is no sacred/secular or blue/white collar division; in fact, it has been said that a Sacred Place is wherever God has placed us, and according to William Tyndale, all work is sacred.
“Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him… Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything, should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. We can therefore properly say as a matter of secondary calling that we are called to homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history.” – Os Guinness

I like this, too: “Divine service is done here three times a day” hanging over the kitchen sink of Ruth Bell Graham.

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24 NASB

Brokenhearted

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalms 34:18‭-‬19 NASB

Friends fall away. Loved ones pass on. Pets have short lives. People disappoint us. Jobs end. Businesses fail. Loss happens. We grieve. Life goes on. It. Just. Isn’t. Fair.

Nobody – ever – said life is fair. The enemy made sure of that from the moment he tricked and deceived Adam and Eve, and he has successfully continued his reign of unfairness ever since. It doesn’t matter how ‘good’ you are, or to what lengths you go, life is not and never will be ‘fair‘. Was the life Jesus led here on earth ‘fair’? No, not by any stretch of the imagination! The Son of heaven, the only perfect, sinless human to ever live, hungry, beaten, tortured, and finally stretched out a brutal cross to die an agonizing death. Fair?? Not at all. And we – imperfect, sinful, selfish – complain because we are passed over for a job promotion or because we are lonely.

And yet our GOD never leaves us to deal with our llives alone.

Amazing Grace. Sweet Mercy. Awesome Love.

“In Him we have redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His Grace…..” Ephesians 1:7 NASB

Amen.

Image from 123rf.com

Begin With The End In Mind

Live each day as if it were your last day on earth: Begin with the end in mind, or in view; an eternal perspective.

“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” Luke 19:26 NASB (Read the entire parable, found in verses 11-27)

Setting the scene: previously, Jesus was talking about His kingdom coming, soon, but not immediately. The event this parable is based on took place around 4BC when Herod Archelous inherited most of Herod the Great’s kingdom. He traveled to Rome to be crowned by Caesar. Caesar named him “ethnarch”, not king. Archelous was well known to reward those who backed him and punish those who opposed him.

In this parable, Jesus is referring to himself, also, as He will go away to heaven and He will return. Then He will reward those who supported Him and punish those who oppose Him. This is about the faithfulness of what God has given us and wants us to invest. He says “do business with this; occupy or invest this while I am gone.” We need to be prepared for when Jesus returns, because we will be called to account for our lives and what we were given – and not only financially. In verse 16, the first two are prepared for their masters return: “Your mina has made….” The master (boss) didn’t say “well planned” or “well intentioned” or “well thought”, but “well done.” Anything we can do, everything we do, are little things in God’s overall view, but He will reward us in a big way. Many of us are more like the third servant, who doesn’t trust the king and doesn’t know him. He hid his mina away and didn’t even attempt to invest it, as if he were uninterested in what happens to the king’s money. He didn’t want to be bothered with the king’s belongings. Are we so involved in ourselves and our own lives that we don’t invest the King’s gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

The significance of this parable is that while we know Jesus has gone away, we also know He will return. NOW is the time to invest in His kingdom; we can be Gospel entrepreneurs, strengthening our spiritual portfolios. It’s important to remember this, too: We do works for the Lord, but the ONLY work, the One work that will get us to heaven is the work HE did for us on the cross.

There are two kinds of people in the world:

“He who has the Son has the Life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:12 NASB

My thanks to Pastor Mark Hitchcock of Faith Bible Church of Edmond, OK for the inspiration and the ‘meat’ of this post. If you are one of the people who doesn’t know Christ; who doesn’t have Life in Him, it isn’t too late to get it. Just ask Jesus for forgiveness. He’s ready, willing, and able; just ask.

copyright Roger Coles; from https://bible.com