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Love is kind

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is… kind

There are some people who could just make you cringe with the way they treat those they claim to love.  Insults, vulgarities, and general mean-spiritedness define these relationships.  Could this really be love?  Is it even possible that these people who treat each other worse than enemies have anything even resembling love for each other?  You know the people…you’ve seen them out in public, they’re the couple at the dinner party that everyone else is sort of embarrassed for.

Love is so much more than just the way we feel about each other.  The way we treat each other, however, is a reflection of what our true view is of those we “love”.  It’s not possible to love someone in the true definition of the word and treat them with contempt or unkindness.  When you love someone, you want to be kind to them.  You want to treat them as though they are important and worthy of respect.  There’s no room for intentionally hurting feelings, manipulation, or making them feel worthless.

Love is kind and our example is Jesus.  The only perfect man to ever walk the earth treated His loved ones with the utmost kindness and respect.  He expects us to do the same, not just for those we love, but for those He loves.

 

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Love is patient

1 Corinthians 13:4a Love is patient…

When you think about words that describe love, patience may not be among the first to come to mind.  It’s true that one of the things usually not portrayed as “love” in society is a patience for others.  Patience means that we are, as James tells us to be, “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).  That doesn’t happen naturally.

For most of us, the instinctive way to act is to be quick to give our thoughts on something.  This logically means that we’re not putting listening first.  When we put ourselves before others by not listening, we’re devaluing them and in turn the relationship.  True love waits.  Sometimes this means listening first.

Or, more often maybe, that means putting up with something for the sake of our relationships.  When someone does something that rattles us, how we react makes the difference in whether or not we’re acting in love.  Quick, sharp words are most often hurtful.  Loving, thought-out words spoken with patience will do more than win an argument.  They’ll show the other person that we value them and care about how we make them feel.

True love takes effort, and patience.

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Godless: Part I

Romans 1:18-23 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

The world has no excuse. The evidence of God’s divinity and His eternal glory surround us in all of creation. It cries out from every corner of the earth and as this verse says, “it has been made plain to us.” So why doesn’t the world recognize God for who He is and come to repentance to be made right with Him? This is the first of a four part devotion I’m writing entitled “Godless” in which we will dive in to Romans 1:18-32.

The world just doesn’t seem right does it? The more I mature in my faith, the more this becomes apparent. I don’t know about you, but many times I feel like a foreigner in a strange land. Why is this? The Bible says in Romans 8:23 that “we believers also groan” and that “we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.”

As a believer in the Gospel of Christ, we have had our sins forgiven and our names written in the Lambs Book of Life, but we have to live out our salvation here on earth. We long to leave this earthly shell, to be released from our flesh, and join our Father in Heaven. We long to leave this world that is so selfish and eaten up with greed, envy, and ambition. A world that covets every kind of evil and harbors such atrocities that it makes our hearts sink. It’s easy to see why we would want to leave this world, but while we are here, we do have a mission.

We have to carry the good news of the Gospel into this dark, godless place we call the earth. A place where men and women, through the darkness of their hearts, have replaced divinity with obscenity. They have traded immortality for mortality and worship things that will pass away. And why do they seek such things? Because, like everyone of us at one point in our life, we let our pride rule us.

I love how verse 22 says “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Everyone wants to be right. Everyone wants to be in control. We don’t want to be made to feel like we’re wrong or that we need to do anything to be made right. It’s the fruit of pride, the original sin. This is why the Gospel at first offends us and stings us at our core. No one in this world is without sin and we all at one time were ungodly, unrighteous, suppressors of the truth.

Once we accepted Christ as our savior and our relationship with our Father in Heaven was restored, we started to filter things through God’s perspective. For example, do you ever notice that the more you get to know God and His truth, the more foolish the wise and influential people of the world become? But to those who hearts are dark, we are the fools, following ancients myths and senseless traditions. So why do we even try? How can these people be even be reached?

They all worship something. Whether it’s fame, power, money, religion tailored to their lifestyle, or their own wisdom, they all bow down to something. They are trying to fill a hole that can only be filled by the love of Christ. They busily look inward for an answer that they will never find. The hope lies in the fact that God has made Himself plain to them and His divine attributes can be clearly perceived. What you need to do now is offend them. Offend them with the Gospel that ultimately has the power to save them. Rattle their world and challenge everything they know about life. Let the light of Christ that fills you shine into their darkness.

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God’s love never ends

1 Corinthians 13:8, 13 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love

We are taught that love is merely a feeling. When we cease to be happy in a relationship we say that we have “fallen out of love.” But that’s not love. Real love is first a decision that we make towards another person. It’s THEN an emotion that’s tied to that intentional relationship. It’s both the decision and the emotion that cause us to keep loving for the long haul. They both get us through the ups and downs that come with any relationship. The decision God made to love us was not based on emotion; it was not conditional. It does not change based on feelings or emotions. It does not end.

God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). If that’s our example of what love is then how are we capable of saying that we stopped loving someone? That’s the unselfish love God shows, not the selfish so-called love this world knows.

Love NEVER ends. When everything else has passed away in this life, all that will remain is love. Even when faith is no longer needed because everything we had faith in has now come; even when hope is no longer necessary, love will abide. Love is the one thing that lasts forever. Love, in fact, only increases after Christ has fulfilled all that is to come. Even now we don’t fully know real love, but we will.

When we continue to show love despite our circumstances, we demonstrate to the world how it is that God loves us. The power this has is unimaginable. Jesus even told His disciples that the one mark that stands out above the rest which will identify those who follow Him is love (John 13:35). Not our devotion to political causes or our ability to recite the 10 Commandments from memory; by our love for one another.

The message you send to the world about who God is rests upon how well you love others. There’s such weight in that. People that get all of the “religious” stuff right, but don’t love others are no better than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. They’re just noise. God’s love never ends and neither should ours.

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Grace turns lives upside down

1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace

Grace isn’t often a word that’s used in popular society today. When we say grace, we might be talking about a ballerina and how she has the ability to dance with great finesse. That’s not what grace means in the Bible, though. It’s simply being given what we don’t deserve. We receive God’s grace when He forgives us, even though we don’t deserve it.  We show grace to others when we treat them in a way other than what’s expected.

In our world, grace is always a surprise. We are hardwired for reciprocity and punishment; revenge is an utterly instinctual mode of thinking and living. So when someone withholds judgment, especially when it is deserved, we are astonished.

We’re mixed up. We think that showing people grace means they’re going to take advantage of us. And I could admit that probably would be the case if everyone was going around demonstrating grace to everyone who did wrong. But the fact of the matter is that almost no one truly demonstrates grace in our society. When everything is about an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth, grace is radical and it turns people upside down.

What if instead of trying to get back at people, we just showed them God’s love? The world would be flipped on its head. People don’t expect grace.

“BUT,” you say, “You don’t know what people have done to wrong me!!”  I understand. We’ve all seen our share of hurt from other people. But no one has done anything to you that’s beyond what you’re capable of doing to another person. Maybe you wouldn’t do the specific thing they did to hurt you, but you’re quite capable of doing something of the same severity to them or someone else. How often have you sinned against God and how much have you been forgiven?

We are all recipients of God’s grace. How can we not take that gift and pass it along? Just try it and see the power of grace.

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Humility values others

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve been forgiven by God for SO many things that I have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone who wrongs me.

Pride causes us to hold a grudge, but God calls us to be humble.

Pride demands an apology.
It takes humility to forgive an offense.

Pride refuses to admit our own wrongdoing.
Humility enables us to sincerely apologize and seek reconciliation.

If you want to demonstrate true, godly love to your kids, apologize to them when necessary. It shows them that you value them more than your ego.  If you truly want to repair a relationship that’s gone wrong, show some humility.

If you want your relationships to thrive, resist pride.

Real love is powerful because it is selfless. The world’s love lacks any power because it’s all self-centered. When we put others before ourselves, we love like God loves us and it’s a game changer. Showing humility to others values them, just as God’s love for us gives us value.

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What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Some of us need a new definition of love, based on God’s view, not the world’s.  The “love” that the world tries to sell us is fake. The world’s version of love is either just a really self-centered, emotionally driven feeling, or it’s all about lust and sex, or it’s some concept of the real thing that we’re told can’t really be obtained.

God’s love – real love – is so incredibly different than what most of us have experienced that it seems radical. The truth is, it is radical, and when we love others with the love of God we upgrade our relationships in a very real way.  First we have to understand God’s love for ourselves.

Maybe some of Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians doesn’t even fit your view of God, let alone your view of love. Take patience for example. Your past may have been led you to believe that God is anything but patient, but let me ask you a question. Would someone who is impatient keep sending prophet after prophet after prophet to send the same message over and over and over again to people who just won’t seem to listen? That’s the Old Testament.

Look at Jesus as an example of patience. He taught the stubborn and foolish disciples lesson after lesson, lowering himself so far below the honor He deserved. If God is willing to have this type of patience with us; this type of kindness and endurance, we can and should love others with this type of love.

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Unashamed

Romans1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In todays world, faith is foolish to most. If you can’t see it, smell it, or put your hands on it, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. For those of us who live by faith, living in this kind of world can be really tough. We get discouraged, especially around people that we think are faithless or far from God. We have this fear of what they might say or think of us.

Let me encourage you in this way today. Those people that you think might mock you, might also be people that God is drawing close to you so He can draw close to them. In essence, He is using your faith to touch their hearts and bring glory to Himself. No matter how far we think someone is from God, they are never out of His reach and we never know who He’s going to reveal Himself to.

We need to live by faith in a way that can only bring glory to God, leaving no explanation that can be found on this earth, but only in Heaven above. No matter what this world says about you, there is no shame in believing in the power of the Gospel for God is revealing His righteousness through you.

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Living stones

1 Peter 2:5  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Where does God dwell?  Is He confined to the walls of a church?  Limited to operating on Sunday mornings?  Or is God’s house a spiritual one, made of living stones?

In the Old Testament, the Lord had the people of Israel construct a temple, that He might dwell among them there (see Exodus).  For generations, the tradition was that the temple was God’s dwelling place.  Jesus came and turned everything upside down.  On several occasions, Jesus made reference to destroying the temple and rebuilding it.  He did this to illustrate how He would be killed and rise from the dead.

He, the stone that the builders (religious leaders) rejected, became the cornerstone (foundation) to the Church.  Now we are the living stones that make up the Church, it’s no longer about a building, but a people.  The church is alive and continuously growing and being built up.  Each Christian is part of the priesthood and through their lives offering up spiritual sacrifices.  We have direct access to God.

We are the Church, the body of Christ.  We will bring about His kingdom, regardless of building or location.

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Everlasting to Everlasting

Psalm 90:2  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Our God is eternal.  He has existed from before time and will continue in existence for all eternity.  From everlasting to everlasting He is God.  You’ve probably heard this truth before, but have you taken the time to meditate on it?

There’s assurance in the fact that the God to whom we belong has always been and will always be.  He knew you before there was a you.  He’s aware of your every struggle and He cares about your every pain.

Unlike the false gods of this world, our God lives and cannot die.  He is present in your life and seeks a deeper relationship with you, His child.  Take comfort in knowing that the Creator of all things has everything under His control.  He is capable of being our dwelling place because He is eternal and unchanging.  Abide in Him.

———-  How does it make you feel knowing that God always has been and always will be?

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known