Bold Faith Initiative

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Archive for the month “May, 2017”

Love In Any Language

1 Corinthians 13:4 -8a

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

One of the most basic human emotions is love. The need for love and acceptance is constant whatever language you speak or whatever ethnic group you are from. My life’s experience has taught me many lessons about love. Two of these lessons are this: Love is all about TIME, and love is all about COMMUNICATION.

It is hard to prove your love without investing your time, and it is hard to build a relationship of love without communication. In the book of 1st Corinthians the apostle Paul writes to his readers a lesson in the language of love. Paul tells us what real love sounds like, and what it does not sound like. What real love is and what love is not. Real love is patient and kind. Real love is strong, enduring and tough. Each of us desires to be loved in this way.

Paul also warns us of a love that is not real love. Real love has no place for self-pride, envy or anger. Real love is unconditional love, the love God showed the world when he sent Jesus to redeem us. The “Love in any Language Love” that our Heavenly Father showed us through Jesus Christ shows up in Christians all over the world. No matter our culture, race or language, God’s love is offered to us. People everywhere are responding to His love.

God wants his people to share that same kind of love with each other. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could show love to our neighbors? They too will understand the language of love, spoken from our heart.

M.S.B.

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I Just Called To Say I Love You

This well-known song by Stevie Wonder says,  “I just called to say I love you, I just called to say how much I care. I just called to say I love you. And I  mean it from the bottom of my heart.”

These words inspire me as I think of how the Apostle Paul, writing to the Church at Philippi (Philippians 1:3-17), told them how much he loved them and commended them for their love for each other.  In verse 9 he writes, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more…”   

Paul further encouraged the believers in Philippi by reassuring them that the  Lord  had  indeed  placed  him  as  a  prisoner  in  the  Roman  Palace  for  a reason:  to  share  the  “Good  News”  of  the  Gospel  with  “the  whole  palace guard, and to everyone”.

Paul   used   “The   Art   of   Neighboring”   to   get   to   know   his   guards, attendants and house servants.  He  built  relationships  with  them,  and  was  able to share how he saw his situation –  “that I am in chains for Christ” “to the  glory  and  praise  of  God.”  He also commended those who, like him, “preach Christ out of love” (Philippians 1:15-16).

Let   us   practice “The   Art   of   Neighboring”   by getting to know our neighbors and building relationships with them. Let’s meet each one, get to know their names and their children’s names. Let’s find out what they like to  do  for  hobbies  and  what  sports  teams  they  follow.  We can drop off a plate of homemade cookies or a pie, plan a neighborhood block-party or a cook-out. Let’s get to a place where we know our neighbors well enough to lovingly share the Gospel, “The Good News,” with them.

Paul took each day as an opportunity to get to know his neighbors, and through the relationships he developed was able to share his heart openly – and they knew his heart!

When you think about the City of Philadelphia, you think of “The City of Brotherly LOVE,” right? What if we could have our own city become a village of brotherly love?  The Apostle John says it this way, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s a truth we’ve sung so often:  “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  I can almost imagine God calling us on our cell phones to encourage us, and saying, “I just called to say,‘I love you!’”  How would that make you feel? How about if we get to know our neighbors so well that we can call them up and simply say:  “I just called to say I love you, I just called to say how much I care, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”

D.R.

My Endless Love

Ps 42:1-2

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?”

 Back in 1981 Lionel Richie and Diana Ross sang a sweet duet on the radio that would melt your heart. Two lovers confessing their undying love for each other is the stuff of dreams in a fallen world. I would sing along with them whenever they came on the radio and thought “is it really possible that this kind of love could be real?”  It would be about that time in my life that I had a personal encounter with God that would answer that question for good.

We sometimes forget that the central truth about Christianity is that God really loves us , that this faith is built upon a romance for the heart from God to us and back again to Him. We recall that God SO LOVED the world and forget how real and personal this kind of love can be. Now this love isn’t a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ kind of love that is based on some emotion. God’s love for us all, in fact the whole world, is truly endless. In fact He created eternity just so we would have a way to fully understand it for ourselves – that’s how big His love is! This God-kind of love (agape in Greek) is an unconditional love that is never based on the performance of the one it loves. This endless love never gives up or will ever walk out on us.

In Psalm 42:1-2 the writer here describes the results of being impacted by this special love that only God can provide. It speaks of the deep longing of the heart we have after this endless love has touched our souls. We simply want more of it because there is nothing that can substitute for how it makes us feel valued. David wrote this as a description of how he felt towards God after the many times God Himself stepped into his life and brought His blessings and deliverance.

Take this moment, clear your mental “to do list” and consider how much God loves you, how He wants to do even more in your life. Then look around you at all the other people that cross your path daily and consider how much He loves them too. Bold Faith is all about taking this kind of love and giving it away to those who have never tasted it for themselves.

So, draw a deep breath, face yourself in the mirror everyday and say, “I am truly loved by God.” Then ask Him for a divine appointment each day so you can make someone’s day better because of Him. You will never be the same, I promise!

HJ

I Will Always Love You

Romans 13:10

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

 As the title goes so goes the song, repeated 11 times in a 35-line song “I will always love you.” It’s hard to remember any of the other lines. However, the gist is “I am not good for you and our being apart is better for you. Therefore, I wish you joy and happiness but above all I wish you love.”

The song was first written and sung by Dolly Parton in 1974. The Whitney Houston version was written for the 1992 film “The Bodyguard.” The tender and yet powerful vocals of Houston mixed with a saxophone solo leaves the listener longing for such an eternal love.

While the big screen is the perfect place for such hopes and imagination, the reality of such love in the day-to-day struggles of life is allusive. Yet the human heart yearns for such a love. Does such a love and fulfillment exist?

The Bible tells us without the drama and music playing in the background that it does. “No greater love than this,” said Jesus, “than a man lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13). He then goes on to declare that you and I are his friends if we keep his commandments. This was all made possible because He chose us.  “You did not choose me,” said Jesus but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”  His command to us is “Love each other.”

We are to always love each other, not with a Hollywood type of love. That love, as the songwriter implies, is a love that only gets in the way.  The love we are to have for one another, as the bible describes in 1 Corinthians 13, is a love that endures and is able to hold up in the day-to-day struggles of life.

It is nice to know that there is one who will always love us and never declare it is better if He departs. He is not “The Bodyguard” as much as He is the guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25, NLT).

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). 

DSM

I Want To Know What Love Is

1 John 3:16

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

There seems to be much confusion in culture today regarding what true love really is. I am not convinced that we accurately understand what it truly means to love the way God intended us to.

We use the word “LOVE” in many ways. To depict the way we feel about something, or to show our preference for one thing over another. For instance, one might say things like; “I love sports”, “I love chocolate or the outdoors”. There are additionally varying uses and weight that the word “love” might convey. One might say that they love their spouse and that they love sweets, but hopefully they don’t love their spouse like they love sweets! The ways we use the word “love” are not always proper, and the  word has become diluted in a culture that “throws it around” so much.

According to 1 John 3:16 we can know what true love looks like. We needn’t look any further than the example Jesus exhibited. That God thru His Son initiated a loving relationship with us; He took the first step, He made the initial commitment before any reciprocation on our part. If God then is the initiator, that makes us the responders. We love God back as He first loved us! We know what true love looks like because we’re the recipients of God’s true love toward us.

However, our love for God and others need not only be responsive, but demonstrative. This means that as we love God responsively it will naturally be demonstrated to those around us; after all His love for us was by demonstration, wasn’t it?  His love should serve as the example that we too are called to demonstrate our love to God and to our neighbors.  True love literally and figuratively causes one to love those around them.

PGP

The Greatest Of These Is Love

Singer George Benson put out a song in 1977 entitled “The Greatest Love of All.” The song quickly rose to the top of the charts and later was further popularized by Whitney Houston. At face value, the title would hint at a song about the love of God. If you listen to the song, or read its lyrics, you’ll discover that the song is not about God at all. The ‘greatest love’ the author is referring to is as the chorus suggests, “learning to love yourself.”

The Bible in no uncertain terms declares that love is the highest of virtues – coming straight from the nature of God (1 Corinthians 13:13) and that we are to love as God has first loved us (1 John 4:7-8, 19). The highest expression of love however, is not to love ourselves, but rather God first and others second (Matthew 22:37-39). In fact, self-love is not mandated or even encouraged in the Bible, it is assumed.  We naturally love ourselves and easily look toward our own self concerns above others, even above God. In addressing marital love, the apostle Paul instructs husbands to love their wives like they already love their own bodies – by feeding and caring for their needs.  And in the second great commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are expected to care about the needs and concerns of our neighbors as we naturally care about our own needs and concerns.

This year’s Bold Faith Initiative gives each of us a directly applicable assignment – to love our literal neighbors as if we’re loving ourselves. That’s God’s kind of love flowing through us and into people we are befriending and learning to care about. We are impelled to go next door and lend a hand where needed; or to stop someone on the sidewalk and strike up a conversation; or to take a meal to the new parents three doors down; or to invite the elderly couple over for a cook out Friday evening.

These promote the truly greatest love of all – God’s love for the world.  And it’s manifest through us in obedience to his command to practically care for the people He has placed around us on a daily basis. Imagine the impact in your own life, or in your church, or in our county if all of us (possibly several thousand strong) simply obeyed that second great commandment on a regular, ongoing basis. Gear up, because that’s exactly what God intended for us to experience and what He wants us to share – the greatest love of all.

JE

What’s Love Got To Do With It

Romans 5:5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Being a child of the 60’s & 70’s I remember Tina Turner singing this song of utter despair about life. In the lyrics she laments about the kind of love she has experienced as being worthless. I think everyone has experienced the heart ache of natural human love in their teens and early twenties. I dabbled in the things of God for years as a kid and walked away from the Church life simply because I thought that the world offered me a lot more…boy was I wrong!

Love has absolutely everything to do with this life we live. Now I’m not talking about the world’s kind of love that brings both marriage and divorce because it’s primarily dependent on a “second hand emotion” that is too often self-serving and fickle. I’m talking about the love every heart longs for, the love that only comes from God Himself – agape-love. The God kind of love that is absolute, unchanging and unconditional. THAT kind of love is what gives life its ultimate true meaning.

To every Christian I remind you that this exact kind of agape love has been placed in your spirit by an act of the Holy Spirit already (Rom 5:5). Think about that, the love the whole world is searching for is already alive within you now! I am convinced that if we could actually pattern our life’s decisions on this one thing alone by asking ourselves “what would love do” that there wouldn’t be enough room in our Churches to hold all of those who wanted to know this Jesus we worship. I read my Bible and I see a very simple thing that God has required of the Church. First is to Love God with all of our being and to love our neighbors as our self. The second is to tell everyone we meet about the goodness of God (the gospel) so they can be saved.

It’s right in front of our faces every time we look at the cross of Christ, a vertical and a horizontal form of our new life in Him. Now, loving Jesus is easy but that loving mankind is something else. When we choose to take this love and give it away in little ways and in big ways we set into motion something very powerful. We release God’s reality into the hearts of the lost by planting a seed of hope. A seed that says “it is true; there is a love that still seeks me.

It’s my sincerest prayer that you take a step of faith today and ask God to give you a divine appointment where you can sow a seed of Agape love into a total stranger’s life today. You will experience a compelling partnership with the Almighty every time you do. Try it, you’ll like it and your life will never be the same.

H.J.

What The World Needs Now, Is Love, Sweet Love

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”

Colossians 3:14

After the apostle Paul encouraged the Colossian Christians to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and to bear with each other – he exhorted, “Put on love!” After that list of qualities you might have said, “But Paul, all those things are an expression of love.” But there was more the Holy Spirit had in mind as He was inspiring the thoughts of Paul.

The crooners of the 1960’s tune What The World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love also sang of the need for the world to have more love even though it already had lots of other good things. “It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”  While there are all kinds of expressions of love in our world that are self-centered, we need a whole lot more love that is Christ-centered.

Our neighborhoods need more expressions of compassion, kindness and forgiveness. And while we need to bear with one another with gentleness and humility there is one more godly quality needing much more attention in our hearts and in our actions.

God’s kind of love: agape.

It is the kind of love with no strings attached. It’s the kind of love not based on behavior or the attitudes of someone else.

As we consider many ways to express the love of God  in our neighborhoods, the good Samaritan continues to be a great example. There were no strings attached to his help. The beat up guy probably was not in a good mood and we have no idea of his character. He just needed help.

Your neighbors need a neighbor with agape love. Your neighbors who are not Christ followers need to see what God’s love looks like from Christ followers in their neighborhoods. “See how they love one another.”

We don’t need any more resounding gongs or clanging cymbals of feigned love. We need to express and show the real thing, agape, which will enhance all our other godly qualities.

JDB

To Know Him Is To Love Him

 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  1 John 4:8

To know. That is very intimate. When you know something, for sure, it is a part of you. If you’re a musician and you know how to play you’re instrument well, you have spent many hours getting to know how to do it. Piano, guitar, harmonica, spoons, or whistling all require time spent to do it well. Those who are professionals play every day in order to be able to keep that skill at its top level. Knowing takes participation. An athlete can have natural abilities but does not get to ‘know’ the sport unless they practice, participate, and play.  It’s in the relationship of time spent that one gets to really ‘know’ something or someone.

When growing up we can develop some good relationships with playmates or in college cultivate really great friendships. When years go by and we haven’t communicated, we don’t know them like we used to. Even with friendships where you pick up where you left off, not missing a beat, you still have a LOT of catching up to do.

When it comes to our relationship with God we can know ‘facts’ about Him but not truly know Him and the ‘relationship’ doesn’t change us. We get to know the Lord by spending time with Him and His Word…by spending time with Him and with His people…by experiencing His mercies actively on a daily basis. That’s when our lives, our frame of mind, & our values change. The biggest change is a heart that loves people like God loves people.

Just ask the apostle John. He and his brother James were called the Sons of Thunder. They wanted the Lord to strike down Tyre & Sidon with lightening because they had been slighted. But now after years of fellowship with The Lord, John is known as the apostle of love.

When you get to know The Lord God Almighty, your heart and your life change because His values become your values.  It’s like that old song sung by The Teddy Bears, “to know, know, know him — Is to love, love, love him — And I do, I really do, And I do.”

When you know God, you will love people.

JDB

The Love Shack

Ephesians 5:31-33

 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

 

It is amazing how God’s plan for our family can get so confusing in today’s busy world. As I started my Christian walk, I wanted to be the best Christian husband and father possible.

Our problem today is we can easily get lost on what a Christian household looks like. The things we see on TV, read on the Internet and witness in church can easily mislead us. As I studied Ephesians chapter 5 became clear to me that becoming one flesh was going to be a difficult task.  Also, loving my wife is a myself meant I have a look at how loved myself.

As I started to grow through God’s word I realize that I could lead by example rather than through words. I found that love was an action word and that if we could truly learn to love ourselves we could truly learn to love our wives as Christ loves the church.

As my relationship with Jesus grew, the security and love in my home grew to a level that surpasses any understanding. If we are going to have a Love Shack (A truly loving home) it will have to be built on the foundation of God’s word. So if we individually work on our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can come together as a family and be an example to our friends and neighbors.

Today when someone looks at my house when their walking by I want them to recognize it as a house filled with love, a true “Love Shack”. Let’s all take a challenge and be an example to our neighbors and community because,  you may be the only example of a Godly family they will see.

This is the best way to love you neighbors.

RL

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