The Boundaries of Love

1375169_515215345236431_1840146887_nWhen we think of the word “love” our minds reflect on several aspects of love in our own lives. We have a love for our spouse, which is a strong heartfelt bond that’s greater than any other human relationship, and we have a love for our children that is equal in commitment and totally unconditional. Some of us have a strong love for our parents and our relatives that’s unbreakable, and even for a few select friends that’s unique. We live each day because we have people to love and because we are loved.

We know that love is the greatest virtue of God and we know that He has done everything for us since the beginning of time because of the love that He has for us, His children. We know that His love is so great that He even gave His own life on the cross for us so that we would no longer have sin in us and  we could be redeemed back to Him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” … John 3:16

“Greater love hath n man than this, that a man lay down His life for his friends.” … John 15:13

As Christians, we share this love with people outside the family, as well, and we want to love our Christian brothers and sisters the same as God loves them because we know that God is love and so we should also abound in love.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” … 1 John 4:7

Yet, there is so much more to love than just sharing it with those who are close to our heart. We need to show God’s love and passion toward everyone we meet and to those who we’ll never meet.

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Orphans at Passion of Christ Ministries Pakistan

There are so many missionary ministries all over the world that can use our prayers and our financial support, and if all of us would just give a little to God’s starving children they could be fed and clothed, educated and protected. We need to be wise, though, because there are many false ministries that just want our money and can deceive us. We need to pray for God’s direction and then support the ministries that come across our path so we can be an extension of God’s arm and show His love through our love, our prayers and our gifts.

We need to look at people the way God sees them, and not the way we are programmed in this world to see them. There are many people who come against us and hurt us, and this world tells us that these “enemies” are bad and deserve to be punished. They have earned their bad name and should suffer for the pain they have cause others. Yet, this is not what Jesus told us to do. He told us to love our enemies – not by being their friend and approving their actions – but by seeing them through God’s eyes as people who are lost and who don’t know Jesus and who NEED Him desperately.

We need to pray for their salvation because we may be the only person in the entire world who is able to see them as lost. We need to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Wouldn’t it be great to get into Heaven and know that people are there because we prayed for them? Because we saw them as God sees them and not how the world sees them?

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy’.  But I say unto you, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.’” … Matthew 5:43-44

We must never raise ourselves up to feel better than the unsaved person and we must always remember that we were once unsaved, too. We weren’t born saved; it was a commitment that we made when we realized that WE needed Jesus. And so we need to extend this opportunity of grace toward others because no one deserves an unhappy life without God.

 “Freely ye have received, freely give.” … Matthew 10:8

We need to always be in prayer and ask God to help us be more like Him. When we see the beggar on the street, instead of walking away in disgust, we need to see that person as someone crying out for help. They may stink of alcohol or drugs or repulsive body odor, but ignore all that and look deep and you’ll see that they are crying out for help, not just a handout. Give them a coin, a handshake, a smile. Give them even more than that; tell them that Jesus loves them and then give them a little page with the address of a Christian help centre where they can go to reboot their lives.

Insight for LivingLove is all around us when we see things through the eyes of God. The little birds that chirp bring peace and joy to our busy world as we realize that they are His colorful and glorious creations made for us to enjoy. The flowers and the trees and the gardens, whether they’re ours or a neighbor’s, all reveal God’s amazing ability to continue to create beauty in a world that is dying.

We live in a very busy and demanding world that’s ruled by ungodly people, and many of us have no choice but to be part of it as our jobs keep us tied into it. But even so, we can all take a few minutes every day to deliberately see God’s love around us and praise Him for keeping His love alive through His creations. And we can purpose in our own hearts that we will help others to see the love of God so they, too, can have this joy. The beautiful thing about prayer is that it takes us into God’s presence where we can fill up on His love and then share it with others in this hurting world.

“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you; that ye also love one another.” … John 13:34

*If you are looking for a ministry to reach out to with your monthly financial support, please consider The Passion of Christ Ministries Pakistan. In this challenging area of Pakistan, a Christian family has taken in more than 30 orphans left to die after various destructions, and they have become an official orphanage but without any government support. They depend on God to bring them clothes, food, books and the basics of life, and they are raising up children who love God. Your monthly commitment of only $15 a month would be a tremendous blessing to them. Check out their website and be part of God’s extended arm.

Being Thankful for the Greatest Gift of All

10149_684261848265885_190892974_nToday many of us will sit down to a festive turkey dinner with family and friends as we give thanks for all we have. We will thank God for our home, our family, our job, our health and our physical blessings, but these are only the effects that we get from the greatest gift of all.

God has given us salvation through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus, on the cross. He gave His life so that we could live. He took on all of our sins so that He could drop them off in hell where they will stay forever. Jesus made us righteous so that we can be part of the family of God. For this we must always be truly grateful.

If Jesus hadn’t come down from Heaven in the first place and lived among us for thirty-three years, we wouldn’t know some of the wonderful things that He shared with us about our Heavenly Father. Jesus told us in 1 John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” We need to know this because many of us have read the Old Testament and think that God is hard and merciless, when in fact, He loves us so much that He sent His own Son to die in our place.

We have the promise of being in Heaven with Him forever and we know this because Jesus said in John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” What a blessed promise this is!

Jesus has given us the ability to be healed from all sickness and disease when we give them to Him, believe His Word and trust Him. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

He has promised to give us everything that we need to live in this world 553951_673061322719271_2063579971_nso we can be productive Christians. We can trust Him to prosper our lives in material wealth, BUT that does not mean we become greedy and follow prosperity teaching. It means that God knows we have needs and desires and when we’re faithful to Him He will bless us. Matthew 6:33 says, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus promised that He would be with us through all the tribulations that this world will put us through. We live amongst a sinful and ungodly people and we are very susceptible to negative influence and trials that will be set against us. Jesus knew what this world was like because He lived in it and experienced first-hand the satanic oppression that comes against believers. And He has not left us to go through them alone, but rather God promised in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Jesus warned us that life as a Christian would not be easy, but He also told us that with Him we can be over-comers.  John 16:33 says, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” What a wonderful promise!

We can talk to God anytime, anyplace and as often as we want because we have His precious Holy Spirit in us. It’s like a free live telecommunication that links us directly to God. There is nothing too big or too trivial for us to talk to God about. His Spirit in us keeps the airwaves open so that we are never alone.  John the Baptist spoke of this promise in Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

WaquasThis precious gift of the Holy Spirit is one that we are so thankful for because He teaches us the truth of the gospel and the big picture of God when we read the Bible. Without God’s Spirit in us to teach us, the Bible is just another book; one that’s filled with good instruction for a better life, as well as an awesome history book. And without the Holy Spirit teaching us, we will NEVER know God.  John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

Jesus is deserving of all of our praise today and throughout eternity because He gave up His home in Heaven to live a transient life on earth, and then gave Himself as a sacrifice for us so that we wouldn’t be punished for our sins.  And because of Him, we can have good health, a wonderful home, a loving family and the hope of eternity with Him. There is nothing any Christian can be more thankful for than the greatest gift of – Jesus.

Let’s take time today and every day to praise the Lord and thank Him for what He has done for us!

“I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your loving-kindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.”

…. Psalm 138:1-3

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Thank you, Jesus!

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

2483275767_b69f704a69_mWith Mother’s Day quickly approaching, many of us are thinking of our mothers and what they mean to us. Some of us still have the privilege of being able to hug our mother and wish her a happy day, while others of us have to hold fast to cherished memories as we dedicate this day to our special mom.

The Bible makes many references to mothers and the Lord says in Proverbs 1:8 that mothers teach us God’s law and it also says in Proverbs 29:15 that mothers are disciplinarians who instruct us in life and teach us right from wrong. In Isaiah 63:13 we learn that mothers are comforters, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 we know that mothers are filled with love for us. Luke 18:20 says that mothers are deserving of honor.

Many of us take our mothers for granted and just assume that they’ll always be there for us. 4701911204_6fda84b3bb_mWhen we’re having a bad day we direct our frustration onto them, and they sometimes become our personal scapegoats for our own sorrows. But they are forgiving and are filled with compassion for us, and we don’t see that we have hurt them and that they ache for us more than anyone else could.

We should never direct our anger or disappointments at them when life has been unkind to us because they don’t deserve the disrespect or the pain that comes from it. (Deuteronomy 27:16) Instead, we should honor our mothers and we should tell them just how much we love them – and not just because it’s Mother’s Day, but because we mean it.

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I wrote a poem to my mother many years ago, and although she never lived to read it I’ll share it with you so that you can know that I had a wonderful, loving mother who helped to mold me into the person I am today. And perhaps in the words you’ll see the love you have for your own mother and realize how blessed you are because of her.

Dedication to Mom

I will always remember the love of my mom

Whose faith gave me hope for tomorrow.

She sacrificed her goals and pleasures

So mine would be free, void of sorrow.

I will always be proud to call her my mom

Whose virtues made her top of the chart.

She had nothing material to pass down to me

But her love is etched deep in my heart.

I will always cherish the work of my mom

Whose hands were worn and disgraced.

She worked day and night to build our home

But there was pride to be seen on her face.

I will always humble at the dress of my mom

Whose clothing was a worn scarcity.

Yet each curl of her hair was perfectly formed

And her walk was sure and with dignity.

I will always respect the life of my mom

Whose reflections were never her own.

She looked to God in her hour of despair

And in His mercy, He took her Home.

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise…”  … Ephesians 6:2

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!3519046630_0dc762934b_m

Gifts From the Heart

When we first get married, we have a basic idea of how we want to decorate our home. We have a particular theme for our decor such as contemporary or country, and we try hard to turn our home into the picture perfect atmosphere. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always adhere to our desires and so we’re more likely than not to settle for what we get.

Years will pass by and many of our inanimate objects will come and go and then we reach that time in our lives when we decide to toss out all the old stuff and finally get the things that we’ve always dreamed about.  And then finally it begins to happen and that picture perfect decor begins to fall into place.

And then as we look around we realize there are many treasures hidden in amongst our new decor that don’t fit in, that have little tangible value and that are physically less perfect than the rest of the decor. And yet, we don’t throw them out. Why not?

Because these things are our treasures. They are gifts that have been given to us over the years and they hold a great amount of sentimental value that is truly worth more to us than all the great decorations that adorn our home. They’re artwork that our children made over the years, pottery vases that are crooked and unevenly painted, stuffed animals that we’ve always wanted to take apart and sew together properly, candles that we haven’t yet realized what they’re supposed to represent.

Each one of these treasures were given to us from the heart. Someone loved us enough to work as hard as they could to give us something that they thought would make us happy. They don’t match our decor and don’t even blend in, but each one is special to us, and each one has its own story.

Home is where the heart is. It’s the one place in this world where we find peace and joy, safety and protection – and love.  It’s the one place where we can go and know that the Lord is there with us. And these treasures remind us of the love that we’ve shared with those who mean so much to us. So, we spread them throughout our home, and in our mind’s eye they fit in perfectly because they are gifts from the heart.

The expensive decor is nice to look at but these treasures hold an irreplaceable value in our heart. It’s not so much the physical things that are our treasures even though we cherish them. It’s the meaning behind them that gives them such a value as in, who gave it to us and why, and its the love that came with the gift that gives us the warm, fuzzy feeling.

These objects bring out the love and the joy that is in us because it sifts through all the tangible things that this world holds important and it brings to light the truth, and that is the love that Jesus has for us. And He shares this love with our children, our parents, our family and friends so that we can realize that the only real treasure we will ever have is love.

Life takes us through the bad times and the good times, and when we look at these things we’re reminded that nothing that this world can offer can come close to the real treasure that’s in our hearts, and that treasure is love.

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”  … Matthew 6:20

A Virtue Called Love

Today I was thinking about the Lord and how wonderful He is and how great His love is towards us. I thought about some of the poems that I have written to Him over the last many years and so I went into my file and was blessed by some of the poems that I read that I had written to the Lord.

The poem that I want to share with you is one that I wrote over twenty years ago. I hope you will be as blessed reading it as I was in writing it.

 

A Virtue Called Love

A bounty of warmth on a dark, lonely night

  A confidence inside that bursts with delight.

Not a judge that condemns, not a pride that you keep,

  But something you share with the lost and the weak.

                              ***                                      

Not something you buy or would trade for a cost,

  Not something to find since it’s never been lost,

Not an heirloom that’s given to that chosen few,

  But a free gift endowed to me and to you.

***

It’s the comfort of refuge in a world of duress,

  It’s reassurance within that gives us rest. 

The foundation of life that’s inspired from above,

  The most precious of gems, this virtue called ‘Love’.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  … Galatians 2:20

What is love?

The Bible is all about love and it tells us that God is the epitome of love.  John 3:16 says that He gave His own Son as a sacrifice for us, and although this shows what the essence of love is, it gets lost in the modern world. Even in the Christian realm love has been confused with emotions and social liberation, and too many people have lost the true meaning of the word and really wonder, what is love?

Love is the motivation within us that causes us to act and react the way we do. It’s the virtue that allows us to love others. It’s the commitment to God, the reverence and respect for Him, the appreciation for the life He has given us, and the reason for our devotion to Him. It is the most important virtue that we have and without it we are nothing but shells that exist through the natural creation of humanity.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 tells us the importance of love:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself (does not boast), is not puffed up,

5 Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;

6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abides faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Why is love the greatest virtue? Why is it more important than faith in God?

We can learn about God; we can accept everything we read about God; and we can understand all that He is. We can even believe that He is God and that His Word is life and that it is power. This is the knowledge that is the foundation for love and the basis for our faith in Him. But we must activate our faith to show our love because without love our actions are carnal.

James 2:20 says, “Faith without works is dead.”

Love is the feeling in our heart, the commitment, the devotion, the allegiance and constancy, the trustworthiness and the dependence that we have towards God. We can know it all but there’s only one way to get it in our heart, and that is through the Holy Spirit. He is love, God’s love in us.

When His Holy Spirit is in us, the love of God resides in us and we inherit His loving personality. We have the same heartfelt commitment and purpose as God and our reason for doing what we do is because we want to share the truth of God with others. It’s not just an emotion or an obligation as a Christian; it’s God’s love living and loving through us.

And when His love is in us we are able to love others in spite of their faults, and we are able to forgive those who hurt us and offend us, and we are able to do all that we do with a pure heart because we don’t treat others badly or the way some of them may treat us. We treat them the way that Jesus treats us – with love.

 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.” … 1 John 4:7

Love Your Enemies

Most Christians are familiar with Matthew 5:44 where we’re told to love our enemies, but too often we become confused with the connotation of loving a bad person when we’re dealing with the world. Our emotions become involved and we begin to pick out other scriptures that seem to clearly say that it’s normal to have enemies. And it is normal because the world is run by Satan and he hates God so he’s going to hate us, as well. But that does not change what Jesus told us, and that is to love our enemies.

We need to realize what Jesus is talking about when He tells us to love our enemies. We need to know who the enemy is and we need to understand why we need to love them.

The “enemy” Jesus is referring to is not the devil. It is the people who come against us in life, who cause us strife and hardship and who can turn our life into a terrible existence if we let them. The enemy is the person or persons who belong to the world and who mock us because we belong to God. The enemy is the one who the devil uses to steal our joy, kill our hopes and destroy our faith in God.

But the Lord has said that we should love our enemies and for several good reasons.

First of all, our lives should be a witness of who God is, and 1 John 4:8 says that God is love. So, if the Lord is the epitome of love and we are reborn and filled with His spirit, then we will also show love to everyone and be a witness of Christ’s love.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me  in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” …. Acts 1:8

Secondly, when Jesus died on the cross, John 3:16 says He loved the “whole world” and He gave His life as a sacrifice so that every single person who was ever born on earth could receive His saving grace. Jesus did not pick and choose who He would die for but rather chose everyone, and at that time there were only a handful of people who truly loved God. Yet He gave everyone the opportunity to accept His salvation.

As Christians, we have to examine our own lives and realize that we weren’t always saved. At some point in our life – regardless of whether we were raised in the church or not – we had to say yes to Jesus and accept His salvation. We were ALL sinners before we came to the cross and so we have to treat others the way that Jesus treated us before we were saved – and that is that He loved us.

Thirdly, in Acts 10:34 Paul says that he perceives that God is not a respecter of persons. In order for him to “perceive” that, it would have been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. What God is telling us is that He loves all mankind, every person ever born was a child that He gave life to because He loves them. And so if God can love every person – enough to die for them – even though they are filled with sin, then we, being filled with His spirit, will want to love them, as well.

Fourthly, Galatians 6:7 says that we will reap what we sow. If we treat others with respect and love, regardless of who they are, we are not only treating them as Christ treats them but our actions will come back to us and even the world will treat us the same. But if we treat them with disrespect because they are of the world, then it will come back to us and we’ll be treated badly. This  is one instance where we can create the enemies ourself because we don’t treat them as we should.

We need to treat all people the way that we want to be treated, and Luke 6:31 says that we should do unto others as we would have them do to us. So, if we want to be treated in love by other people, then we need to treat other people – even those who we consider our enemy – the way that we want to be treated.

Our commission is to do the Lord’s work on earth and get the people saved – the enemies of the kingdom who might not be enemies if they met the Lord. Not all of them will get saved; some of them are devoted to the devil and will never change. But we don’t know which ones will repent and which ones won’t, so we can’t assume the role of deciding who will get saved and who we’ll treat in love.

Does this mean that we have to take everything they dish out? No, not at all. If we’re treating them fairly and with a happy heart and they continue to hurt us or offend us, then we walk away just as it says in Matthew 10:4, and we simply treat them with respect when we meet up with them. They may be a work colleague or a neighbor or even a family member and they may not appreciate our love for them, but Jesus still expects us to treat them as He would. We don’t go out of our way to befriend them or help them or support them, but we don’t offend them, mock them or speak badly of them, either.

Sometimes our enemies will find God through our testimony, our lifestyle, our respect for them and the joyful heart we maintain even though they work hard to break us.  We have no way of knowing which of our enemies will get saved so we treat them all in love. Without us, the world has no way of learning the truth about God and if we don’t love our enemies they will never see His goodness through us, and all those people of the world will continue on their path towards eternal doom.

We will obviously hate what they do, but as His children who are guided by His Spirit, we are expected to have His attitude and that is to “love the sinner, hate the sin”. We’ll never have good feelings towards the murderer who stole a life, or the child abuser who destroyed a life, or the drunk driver who claimed a life. But our feelings have nothing to do with the love of God, and even though their crimes make us sick inside we still need to have love for their souls, and we need to pray for their salvation because it’s the sin in these people that made them the monsters they are. Perhaps this sin was fed by a world that never showed them love, because if they had known the Lord, they never could have committed the horrors they did.

It’s so much easier to love only people who love us back, but Christ wants us to love everyone, even our enemies.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” … Matthew 5: 44-45

 

Love or Adultery

One of the greatest tools that the devil is using today to destroy people is deceit, and he is confusing the emotions so that we don’t recognize the difference between love and adultery.

To fulfill their own lusts, the people of the world have given Hollywood the authority to establish a precedent that the “wannabee world” is obsessed with, and that is the necessity for outward beauty. Cosmetic surgery is exploding and fitness clubs are raking in millions of dollars every month because people want to look like their heroes in Hollywood. They are followers of sex idols for the purpose of sex and have lost their purity and innocence to seek after true love.

And this attitude has spread even onto Christians so that many of them are living lives of adultery and fornication instead of lives that are pure before God, with one spouse. Marriage and divorce in Christian homes is slowly being accepted as a norm as these so-called Christians live for God on Sunday and in the world the rest of the week.

God blesses marriage because it’s foundation is love – the spouses not only love each other but they also love God.

The Bible says in Ephesians 5:31 that a man will leave his parents and become one with his wife, and verse 33 says that he should love his wife as he loves himself. Hebrews 13:4 says that marriage should be honored by all and that the marriage bed is pure before God.  And it also says that God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

A marriage is where a man and woman come together before a pastor so that they can make a vow before God and promise Him that they’ll love each other until they die, and in turn God blesses them. Matthew 19:5 says they become one flesh. The marriage bed comes after the wedding and it’s a bed of a lifetime, not just for a few months or for convenience or for lust. It’s blessed because there is love.

The love between a man and a woman is the foundation of their unity and it is enough to conquer the battles that attack them, the struggles they’ll endure and the animosity that the world shows them. The love that they share goes deep into their souls and isn’t governed by appearance, wealth or fame. It’s a true commitment of their hearts that they have for each other.

Outward appearance is something that they perfect for each other, and yet the love between them never changes even if their appearance is less than perfect. Injury, accidents or disease can change the physical appearance but it never changes their true love for each other.

How do we find true love? It develops when we take the time to know someone. The word “love” is used loosely but we can’t really love someone who we don’t know. We can be attracted to them through lust but that is not the basis for love. As the relationship between two people matures, so does their love for each other until it reaches a plateau where neither can be apart from each other – so they get married. And it’s not for a few months or a year, it’s a commitment for life because they want to share their lives with each other.

This world is being run by the devil and it’s built on fabrication, deceit and lust. People have come to enjoy the adulterous life because there aren’t any rules anymore – there’s no commitment and no shame. Businesses prosper from this new lifestyle and the people have come to accept it as the norm –  a world based on lust (aka adultery/fornication) and not love.

But God is love and in 1 John 4:8 it says that if a person doesn’t have love then he doesn’t know God because God is love and everything He does is based on love and for the purpose of love. So if we can’t love the person we’re sharing the marriage bed with, then we sure can’t love God and if we don’t love God then we belong to this world and not to His world.

It’s a dangerous venture when we live a life of adultery and fornication because God tells us not to do it in His Commandments, Exodus 20:14. He has given us a spouse to love and to enjoy life with, and if we don’t have someone who we can love with all our heart, then Psalm 37:4 says to ask God and He shall give us the desires of our heart.

“Whoso finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour of the Lord.”

 … Proverbs 18:22

What is Unconditional Love?

The word “love” is one is that we use to convey a passionate feeling towards someone or something. It’s a word that we often use as an expression or a selective emotion but without the heartfelt conviction of true sentiment. It has become a popular word in our vocabulary, but do we really understand what the word “love” means? Do we know what unconditional love is?

Webster’s Dictionary defines love as:

“(1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2): warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion <love of the sea> (3): unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another as the fatherly concern of God for humankind, or brotherly concern for others; a person’s adoration of God”.

Many of us use the word to simply express an emotion – ie: “I love this hat”, or “I love chocolate”. But in truth, there is no “emotional feeling” towards the hat or the chocolate. It may be an obsession or an excitement, something that delights us or that we have s a preference for, but we don’t have any emotional attachment to either of them.

In today’s world, love is often expressed loosely and without commitment, and comes with conditions. This is clearly noted by the number of divorces that are filed each year and it’s shocking to see that half of the marriages in 2009 in the US ended in divorce. And according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, the divorce rate in America for first marriage vs second or third marriage is: 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.

So, when these marriage partners said “I do” at the altar, there were some conditions to their love that weren’t realized until afterwards because if the heartfelt meaning of the word “love” was part of their relationship, they would have overcome their differences and worked things out.

The affect of this conditional love is that there is no inner security that gives us the strength to have a happy and successful life because the attempts at love fail and are hurtful. Adults becomes angry and non-trusting and children grow up with an understanding that love has conditions that can’t always be met; that love is only temporary; and that love is something only we can have for ourselves to make our own lives successful.

However, this is not love because love overcomes everything, forgives everything and covers a multitude of sins. (1Peter 4:8) And this love is called, unconditional love.

When Jesus went to the cross, He took on all of our sins and our hatred and our sickness. If Jesus was not God, He would likely have chosen who He’d die for because there were few people who truly loved Him and so to become a sacrifice for anyone else would not have happened. Would you die for someone who was a child murderer and who would take your child if they could? I know I couldn’t do it.

But Jesus did! His love wasn’t conditional upon who we are or what sin we’ve commited. It wasn’t even conditional on whether or not we accepted His sacrifice. He became our redemption anyway so that ALL of us would be saved if we accepted it. He died for the men who scourged Him, for those who cursed Him and for those who hated Him. Jesus died for every person that ever lived and yet not one of us deserved it. His love for us was unconditional. He didn’t point a finger and say that our sin was too great or too hideous. He didn’t choose some of us over others. He died for ALL of us and allowed us all to be forgiven, regardless of what we have done in our lives. This is unconditional love!

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends”

… John 15:13

Why Do We Need to Love God?

Many religious denominations teach us that obedience is the key to a successful Christian life, but obedience is only one of the contributing factors; it’s not the main issue. For a healthy Christian life we need to love God.

It’s not difficult to develop a love for God when we understand who He is and what He has done for us. The Bible says in John 3:16 that He loved us so much that He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for us so that we wouldn’t have to endure the punishment of sin. Out of love Jesus took our sin upon Himself and was separated from God so that He could take that sin to hell.

This was no easy task for Jesus. He had never been separated from His father before and now He was hanging on a cross, bleeding and broken, with all of our sin and sickness raging through His body while the demons of the devil surrounded Him and waited to drag Him to hell.

A migraine headache is horrible, but He took on everyone’s migraine headaches. And the pain and sorrow of diseases like cancer and heart disease – He took them all upon Himself. Most people have no concept of the torment that ripped through Jesus’s body.

Can you imagine the pain that Jesus suffered with all our sin and sickness thrust upon Him? And this wasn’t just for the people He grew up with, His family and friends who He loved. This sacrifice was for the millions of people around the world who never met Him. All the malicious rapists and murderers that committed hideous and disgusting crimes who we cringe at and hate – Jesus had a love for their souls and took upon Himself even their sins so that if they ever repented and accepted His sacrifice, even they would be forgiven and saved.

When Jesus went to the cross He demonstrated the epitome of love. No other person on earth could ever do what Jesus did. No one would stand in the gap of a child murderer and say, “I’ll take his punishment so that he can stand before God and be clean and forgiven”.  Most people have a hard time forgiving evil doers, let alone wanting God to forgive them and let them into Heaven, and no one in their right mind would ever take on their punishment for them.

But Jesus did because He is God’s Son, and He and our Father both love us with unconditional love. Jesus took our punishment before we even repented – before we even knew Him – and He’s taken the punishment for millions of people who refuse to repent and accept what He’s done. Jesus knew this would be the outcome and yet, He did it anyway. John 3:17 says that He wants everyone to be saved and He never excluded anyone from the blessing.

So, when we look to God we shouldn’t perceive Him as an idol to be worshipped, but as a spiritual being – that we all are – who loves us more than we could possibly know.

Obedience requires a constant chastening of the mind and a control over our actions, but love has no borders, no rules, and no conditions. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8 that love covers a multitude of sins. It doesn’t judge and it doesn’t condemn. Love is forgiving and gives the opportunity of a second chance.

When we see God as the father of love, and we see what He has done for us and we accept Him for who He is, God gives us His spirit to help us stay in touch with Him. Romans 5:5 says that the love of God is in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It’s not through our acts of obedience but through the committment of our hearts that unites us with God through His Spirit.

Even in our natural lives it’s easy for us to love and bless our own children, but we don’t have that same feeling towards the children of the neighborhood or of other communities. Just as our children are bonded to us through our relationship with them, so are we bonded to our Heavenly Father through our relationship with Him. And His Spirit is in us and fills us with the love that God has always had for us so that we can also love Him.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

 

 

 

The Beginning of Love

God is love and everything God does is initiated in love and because of love. He created us because He wanted to have a family and He gave us everything to keep us healthy, happy and content.  This is the beginning of the Love of God.

God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and we can only imagine how beautiful that relationship must have been. Even though God saw everything and knew everything, He wanted to share His love with Adam and Eve, and His only rule that He gave to Adam was to not eat from two particular trees.

In their innocence they would likely have shown Him everything that was new every day. God would gently hold the new lion cubs that delighted Adam’s heart, and He’d stroke the precious baby songbirds in their tiny nests. He would inhale the perfumed fragrance of the roses on the perfect bush and He would walk with them barefoot on the carpet of soft green grass.

Eve would likely have prepared a delicious vegan meal and the three would have dined in peace and tranquility as they laughed and talked as any children would with their father. Evenings were a special time for Adam and Eve because God came to visit.

But as with any great story, there is always a dark side and Satan was determined to steal God’s joy by destroying His relationship with His children. He managed to deceive and convince the serpent to let him in if only just to see this beautiful garden, and then once he was inside he begged to be able to speak to Eve just to tell her that he was proud. Eve was flattered and then she was deceived when the devil convinced her that this same loving God, her father, would not kill her for eating from the forbidden tree. After all, could a father that loving do anything to hurt them?

So, Eve ate the fruit from the tree and nothing happened. She didn’t die. She felt great. She listened to the devil again and took some fruit to Adam. He knew it was wrong but he loved her and listened to her. He took his eyes off of God and committed the first sin. He ate the fruit, an act of disobedience that would change their lives – and ours – forever.

From that second on, Adam felt the cold surge of sin creep throughout his body as the devil laughed cynically through the serpent. Adam was sorry and wanted to take it back but it was too late. Sin was in him and now the presence of sin was in the holy garden.

God cannot be where sin is and so when He came for His evening meal, He called for Adam but he and Eve were hiding because they knew that they had disobeyed God, that they were no longer pure, that they felt separated from Him – and they were ashamed.

Neither Adam nor Eve had the realization of what had happened or that they had initiated the fall of mankind, but God knew – and the devil knew. Yet, God was more sad than angry because He loved them and now He had to cast them out of the perfect garden. Now they were separated from Him and they couldn’t come to Him to talk or laugh as they used to do. Now they had to live in a world that was not perfect, that was filled with tribulation and that was controlled by Satan.

It must have been a very emotional event. God was hurt beyond words; Adam and Eve were very sorry for what they did and now they would have to live without the father who they loved. But when God sent them out, He made a promise to them, that He would send a saviour who would take this sin from them and cast it into hell so that they would be pure once again and reunited with God. Adam and Eve waited and hoped every day that this would be the day of their redemption, but sadly, it was a few thousand years later, long after their passing, before the Saviour came.

And God kept His promise and Jesus, His own son, came to earth and was born through Mary so He could have a human body like ours. But Jesus had no sin in Him because He wasn’t from the lineage of Adam; He was from God. And so on the cross He took upon Himself all of our sin so that He, too, would be punished and sent to hell because of that sin. But since the sin was not part of Him, He was able to drop it off and leave it there, and then He descended out of hell and rose to Heaven where He has prepared a mansion for us and where He waits for us.

Satan thought that he’d killed God’s plan when Jesus took on that sin, and he thought that Jesus would die, too, and would have to stay in hell. Can you imagine his shock when he saw that Jesus was still alive? Or his astonishment when Jesus freed all the people who the devil thought he’d stolen from God? Or the fear that he endured when he watched Jesus rise to Heaven and then promise to return and destroy him?

Now you know why he is working so hard in this world and why crime and sin and perverseness is out of control. The devil knows his time is running out and he wants to do as much damage as he can in the time he has left.

Meanwhile, God has His children back to love and bless – and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Saviour and thank our Father for His faithfulness and for His love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life”

…. John 3:16

Faith Builds Character

Faith is the substance that links us to God and makes us who we are. It goes along the same line as the old antic, we are what we eat. The more we learn about God, the more faith we have and the more like Jesus we become. Knowledge leads to conviction which leads to faith which causes change and builds character.

People place their faith or trust in different things to help them get through life. Some people rely only on themselves while others depend on drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and even food. The essence of all of these dependencies is that their decision on where they’ll put their faith is one that forms their character.

But faith or trust in worldly substances or in oneself is deceptive and leads to destruction because they don’t build Godly character through the conviction of God’s Spirit. Instead, they give a false security to those who follow them by giving only temporary courage to perform their jobs, face the world or deal with their problems.

Faith in God builds character. As we study the Bible, our knowledge of God grows and our faith gets stronger. And the more we put our faith to work the more developed our character becomes.  And the more our character develops or matures, the more we are convicted in our hearts, and this leads us to change from our old ways so we can become more like Jesus.

What are the characteristics of someone who does not know God?

Galatians 5:19-21 describes worldly characteristics this way: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” It goes on to say that these characteristics prevent people from inheriting the kingdom of God because they don’t know God.

What are the characteristics of Jesus?

Jesus’ characteristics are referred to as the “Fruits of the Spirit”, and they are found in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,meekness and temperance.”

Our character is not developed over night. It’s built as we grow in faith and it’s comparable to a child attending school. She begins in the first grade and is taught and tested and then she goes on to the second grade and is taught and tested on that level, and then continues until graduation. At that time the child has had to learn and be tried for everything along the way. Each test was more intense than the last and required more studying.

And it’s the same principle for faith. We study God’s Word and then we’re tested on it. The only difference is that in school the tests come automatic and we have no choice but to do them. In real life, however, we can choose to test our faith or not. God presents the opportunities – the tests – and we can accept them or opt out and go the way of the world.

King David said that God tries us like silver, “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.” Psalm 66:10

All these tests add to our character. If we don’t put our faith to the test as we grow, our confidence and trust in God is very limited and our character remains weak because we’ve got some characteristics of the world and only some characteristics of God. If we put our faith and trust in God and test our faith as we grow, then we build our character to become like that of Jesus, and we become strong in faith and a useful vessel in God’s ministry.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” … Romans 12:2

The Power of Love….

We often find ourselves praying for people who just don’t seem to want to change. We pray with them, preach at them, support them emotionally and even financially, and give them every possible brochure available to help them see things the way they should……..the way we believe they should.  And when time goes on and there’s no evidence of change, our desire to help them begins to fade and we pat ourselves on the back and say, “Well, we tried so let’s move on.”

But there is no glory to God when our attitude is vain.

People are not all the same and some carry heavy, unseen burdens.  They have come from a selection of cultures, endured  a range of upbringing from loving to abusive, and have even suffered hardships that are beyond our knowledge or ability to understand. Even people who share similar backgrounds and social realms, and who appear to have much in common, don’t always have the insight to each other’s hidden fears and inhibitions.

So, what does God expect us to do when we’ve done everything we know to help someone but who isn’t responding? Do we cast them off and leave them to work it out themselves?  We may feel that way at times but if Jesus gave up before He got to the cross, where would WE be?  The sacrifice of Jesus is the epitome of love, and God tells us that even though we do all the right things, if we don’t do them  in love it will get us nowhere.

Sometimes people are crying for help inside, yet we can’t hear it. Hurts and torments that we don’t see, that we can’t know about, are burdening them down and guilt or unforgiveness is preventing them from being free. We need to work in love, and instead of casting them away we need to draw them in closer and pray for them fervently that God will set them free from their burdens.   Sometimes it requres a lot of prayer and fasting to break the bonds that are holding them captive, and although it can seem like an endless task, the angels in Heaven rejoice when that person is finally free.

Perfect love casts out all fear, and so when we set out to help someone and we do it in love and not as a duty or Christian obligation, the ones we are praying for and working with will sense God’s love and the burdens will slowly melt away from them, setting them free and able to receive all that God has for them. 

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth nothing.” …….1 Cor.13:3