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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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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.

Can’t Buy Me Love

1 John 4:9-10

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Deuteronomy 7:6-8

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Paul McCartney “don’t care too much for” theology. Unlike John, who before his death described himself as a “most religious fellow,” or George, who was a devotee of Hare Krishna for over thirty years, or Ringo who, just a few years ago, announced a return to faith and asserted that “God is my life,” Paul has kept his distance from God.

But his early song, “Can’t Buy Me Love” (some of you are probably hearing it in your heads right now!) has some good theology. Love isn’t for sale. You can’t buy it and nothing you can do will earn it. Love isn’t a commodity.

No one ever loved you because you deserved it. Not your mom or dad, not your wife or husband, and certainly not God. Love doesn’t work that way. Love does not depend on the loveliness or lovability of its object, but on the heart of its subject. That is, love doesn’t start with the person being loved, but with the person doing the loving.

God doesn’t love us because we are so great, but because he is so good; not because we are so lovable, but because he is love. How wonderful is that? If God’s love depended on my lovability, there are times (to be honest, most times), I would be unloved.

We can point people to God and his Son Jesus Christ by loving them the way God has loved us: not because they are lovable, but because we are possessed by God’s love. We can proactively love them, as God loved us. And when they are unlovable, we can love them anyway, because our love doesn’t depend on them but on the God who has loved us.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

S.L.

Bold Faith Prayer 2017

BOLD FAITH PRAYER 2017

O LORD,

In honor of your Holy name,

help me to truly love my neighbor as myself;

Touch through my hands, speak through my words,

love through my actions;

Soften and turn hearts toward You;

Let Your Spirit work immeasurably more than imagined;

I boldly ask these things in your name, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

 

As we prepare to launch the Bold Faith Initiative for this year, let’s wholeheartedly pray this prayer.  Everyday.

Our theme for May 2017 is: Love Your Neighbor

Our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to love our neighbors based on our love for God.  Matthew 22:37-39, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

We will apply this by loving our ‘neighbor’ in a general sense, but we also will explore what it means to love our ‘literal’ neighbor.  Who are the people who live closest to you and how can you be a blessing to them, showing them practical expressions of the love of God.

As always, we need God’s help.  So let’s abide in the vine, Jesus Christ, for without Him we can do nothing.

 

 

Something Better

Hebrews 11:40
I was walking by a New Age bookstore one day and was intrigued by a sign in the front window that said, “Bibles for sale.” I thought to myself, “Are you kidding??? When did New Agers start marketing the Old and New Testament?”

So, I went into this fairly large bookstore (imagine ½ the size of a Barnes and Noble). I walked past the incense isle and the healing crystal isle. On a prominent shelf toward the back of the store, there were twelve or so books in the “bibles” section.

I opened each “bible” to John 1:1 to test the accuracy of the translation. John 1:1 is literally translated, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” I wasn’t surprised to find everything BUT the literal translation in these misleading and unfortunate non-bibles;

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

“In the beginning, God spoke a word…” “In the beginning was God…”

These misquotes reject the foundational truth of Christianity proclaimed in scripture; that God has had a plan in place to send Jesus Christ to redeem the world since BEFORE time began.

John 1:1 is an affirmation of God’s plan to choose to love mankind fiercely and attests to His desire to restore nearness with us. God’s Plan A (Jesus) is a perfect plan for us, for all who lived before us, and for all who will come after us. There is no Plan B. Maybe you have a neighbor or friend who needs to hear this truth spoken to them in love today.

“…God had planned something better for us
so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

BT

The Others

Hebrews 11:35-40
Hebrews 11 is well known to serious students of the Bible and stands as a tribute to faithful servants of God from long ago.

The list of names forms a “Who’s Who” of Old Testament heroes; Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, to drop a few names.

In verses 35-40, the word “others” appears twice to inform us the list given is not complete, and that enduring in faith is not only heroic, but also involves sacrifice and suffering. The author mentions experiences endured by these others such as torture, humiliation, beatings, chains, imprisonment, stoning, being sawn in two, abuse, homelessness and, death.

The ancient apologist, Tertullian reminds us; “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Who were these unnamed “others”? Whose faces flashed through the mind of the writer? Perhaps heaven will reveal these unknowns.

Perhaps reflection on the passage causes us to respond in two ways:

1: With gratitude for the strength and faith exhibited, which drew them to the high and ultimate price of their calling and, as a result, to commit ourselves to honoring and obeying God despite the cost. And

2: To deeply examine my own commitment to following Christ in light of the challenges I face in my time and culture.

In my office I have an 8 1/2 x 11 sign from a Willow Creek Leadership Conference. It reads:

You can choose COURAGE,
Or you can choose COMFORT,
But you cannot choose them both.

DP

Between Eden and Armegeddon

Hebrews 11:32

Are you old enough to know what a “bag phone” looks like? If not, get your smart phone out later and ask Google or Siri, and imagine strapping one on your shoulder every day. Bag phones were as heavy as a bowling ball and so ENORMOUS, they had to be carried in a bag slung over the shoulder. Fortunately, they were just a transitional piece of technology that helped transition between landline and cell phones.

There is a transitional person in Hebrews 11:32 who obtains an honorable mention in this list of Old Testament “all-stars” of faith in Yahweh. His name is Samuel.

Samuel was the last of the “judges,” who were early leaders of God’s people. Samuel was willing to step aside and transition to a new role as the first “prophet” in Israel. Samuel anointed a tall and handsome man named Saul as “King” over Israel, and later God directed Samuel to anoint a successor, David, who was a small, red-headed sheep herder at the time.

You are a transitional figure in many ways, living in a transitional time between Eden and Armageddon, and between the last generation and the next. You are a transitional figure, and Jesus Christ has given you the “ear tingling” news that He will be returning soon. Are you living closely enough to Him that you can discern between His Will and the most obvious choice?  Are you determined to do whatever He says? If so, today you may find even better ways of expressing love to God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbors as self.

 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.

(1 Samuel 3:11)

BT

 

King David’s Resume

Hebrews 11:32
King David’s earlier experiences and training look highly impressive in the form of a résumé;
Selected by God as a young boy to be a king
Slingshot sharpshooter
Skilled instrumentalist and songwriter
Devoted follower of God
Hero; brave and effective commander
Successful peacemaker
Beloved and respected King

The entries in the middle of David’s résumé are less than stellar;
Loss of focus + devastating lapses in judgment = moral collapse
Adulterer
Coward
Murderer
Consequences; guilt, death of a son, division in his family, dissention in his country

But the final entries to David’s résumé were entered postmortem, and take his entire life into account;
Forefather of Jesus, the Son of God
His songs have endured and inspired throughout generations
Quoted by Jesus Himself
Mentioned in scripture over 900 times
God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

There are some great Bold Faith lessons to glean from King David’s life/résumé;
Don’t lose focus in the middle—work hard to finish life with bold, strong, vibrant faith.
Sin will tear your life apart, and God doesn’t always shelter us from its consequences.
With repentance, God can help you pick up the pieces and bring healing and restoration.
If you can remain faithful to God through your years, others can follow you and stand on your shoulders, build on the foundation you’ve laid, and learn from your life of faithfulness.

Today, keep your focus on Christ and remember, you have people coming after you who need your strong shoulders to stand on and strong faith to build on.

David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart (Acts 13:22)
BT

Faith Through Any Season

Hebrews 11:32
“And what more shall I say?”

This is how the author of Hebrews begins verse 32 of chapter 11. A rhetorical question no doubt, because there is much more that could be said of the faith that drove those who have, in times past, believed God for great miracles, signs and wonders.

Specific reference is made of various individuals who, through great faith in God, did incredible things…supernatural things that have inspired the hopes of God’s people throughout history. These references here are made to highlight the fact that great feats of faith in God could never be told exhaustively. In part because God has done too many supernatural things through His people in the past to ever be told in their entirety. However, this does not exclude the additional fact that God is still doing great things through His people today, too many things to ever be told in entirety.

There is another verse that begins with an interesting phrase, verse 36 says, “Still others…” It goes on to indicate that while some people’s faith brought about great victories and supernatural “happenings,” other individuals had faith to see them through serious suffering. You see there are many today who would like to equate great faith with health, wealth and prosperity, and when these are lacking in someone’s life they see it as a result of little faith or even no faith at all. However, don’t miss what Hebrews 11 is saying: at times God accomplishes awesome miracles through His people by faith, while at other time He sustains His suffering people by faith. Attempting to distinguish one instance as requiring greater faith than the other would be completely futile and (might I suggest) even sinful! Sinful because it implies that a person’s faith in God is only genuine when things are good, and void when things become difficult. One could rightfully question whether such faith is really true faith at all!

So, whether tens of thousands are being defeated or suffering is being endured, both come through faith in God. It’s all supernatural faith in a great God who walks with us every step of the way whether on the summit or in the valley! We should be so incredibly glad that our outward circumstances are not a direct indicator of the Bold Faith that we have in our God!
Faith that leads to victory, and faith that endures through suffering—it’s all one and the same…BOLD FAITH!

PGP

Rahab

Hebrews 11:31
It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God…”.

Wow! Talk about Bold Faith! Not what one would expect from a prostitute in a pagan nation. But this was one incredible woman. She had heard of the works of God on behalf of the Israelite people. She recounted the events in Joshua 2 and even said in Joshua 2:11, “…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” She took a step of faith and asked for the safety of her family because she had shown kindness to the spies she had hidden from the men sent by Jericho’s king. And the spies’ faith was bolstered as well. When they made their report to Joshua they said, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” (Joshua 2:24)

Because she took this step of obedient faith, based on the stories she had heard, God blessed her in mighty ways! God loves it and rewards people who take steps of faith. Jesus was very excited and generous with people when he saw them choose faith. He was sad when those who should have had faith (or more faith) failed to trust the Lord.

God blessed Rahab by saving her and her family when Jericho was conquered. She married an Israelite man, Salmon. Salmon and Rahab had a child named Boaz who became the great grandfather of David, king of Israel. Rahab is even mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew. What a great heritage Rahab has because of faith – BOLD FAITH.

Now is the time for us to make bold choices of faith! It is a risk at times. We might have to risk our lives, our jobs, a loving relationship, or a friendship because we choose to please our Almighty God and Father rather than compromise our convictions for the sake of earthly relationships.

Rahab is a great example of faith. May we learn from her about what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.
Choices of faith lead to great blessing!
JDB

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