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Archive for the ‘love’ Category

Morning Devotion: Grunting?

“Do you love me with all your heart and soul?” a wife asked her husband one morning as he read the newspaper.

“Mmm hmm,” he grunted as he turned the page.

“And do you think I’m the most beautiful woman on the planet?” she asked.

“Mmm hmm.”

“And do you think my lips are as delicate as rose petals?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“Oh honey,” gushed the wife, “You say the most beautiful things!”

I’m so glad that I don’t have to embellish the grunts of others in order to feel loved.

We all enjoy hearing family members or close friends say they loves us.

It’ even better, though, when we read in scripture and experience through blessings just how much God loves us.

Haven’t we all drawn great encouragement and emotional strengthening by the words of John 3:16? Or Romans 5:8? Or I Peter 5:7? Or I John 1:9?

I am SO glad that God’s love isn’t shown to us with a grunt.

Our God shows His love for us with the cross, with the gift of His Holy Spirit to guide us and with the opportunity to become part of a caring congregation.

Because He so clearly communicates His love for us, let’s make sure that the overflow of that love is clearly communicated to the people in our lives.

Yes, we all have to do “grunt work” sometimes in life.

Let’s make sure that how we communicate love to others is displayed with grace and devotion, not with a grunt.

As always, I love you
Martin

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My hero is amazing.

Here’s a description of this man that I read this morning:

“He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”

These words from John 1:14 are, of course, describing the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd, the King, the Savior, the Lion.

There are countless descriptions of Jesus Christ offered in the Bible, both in Old Testament prophecies and in historical accounts of His life and teachings. But all of them would be sorely lacking value if not for the characteristics described in the verse above.

We all want friends — best friends — who are full of unfailing love and faithfulness.

We want friends who will never leave us or forsake us.

It is deeply comforting that Jesus’ love for me was so great that He was willing to suffer in advance for the sins that I would commit after entering this world 1,923 years after His crucifixion.

Since Jesus was willing to do this for me, my appreciation should be reflected by my willingness to show unfailing love and faithfulness toward others.

I have some friends who are struggling. You do, too.

Let’s put John 1:14 into practice in how we support them.

After all, isn’t that what Christ does for us?

As always, I love you
Martin

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If our love for another is contingent upon what they first do for us, then we have a vocabulary problem.

You see, we’re not showing “love” to the person.

Instead, we’re making a deal with the person.

You do for me and then I will do for you.”

This attitude shows love alright, but it is egocentric.

It is a contract.

God calls us to have covenant love.

He wants us to be committed to loving others because it is the right thing to do, regardless of how we are treated.

If the person reciprocates, that’s a wonderful blessing.

But if the person doesn’t reciprocate to the desired extent, we are still blessed by knowing that we are obeying God’s command to love as He loves.

Check out this little bit of love language from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible:

“We love each other because He loved us first.” (I John 4:19)

God loved us before we loved Him.

Amazingly, He loves us even if we don’t love Him.

What He did — and does — for us is what we’re to do for the people in our lives.

Particularly those closest to us.

Yes, some people are sometimes hard to love.

But we are called to show kindness, patience, forgiveness, generosity, acceptance and then keep repeating these things over and over and over again with our spouses, our children, our siblings, our co-workers, our friends, our neighbors and our church members.

Sometimes it’s not easy.

But do you think it’s always easy for God to love us?

Let’s love first.

It’s what God does.

It’s what the godly do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are so many ways that our Christian faith can be displayed to the world around us.

Sometimes, though, we Christians mess up and seemingly beat people over the head with the fact of their sins, missing the opportunity to graciously point them toward a better way.

It’s not about ignoring the reality of unrighteous behavior and telling lost souls that they’re saved apart from conversion.

It IS, however, about showing and teaching grace to others with the recognition that it was our awareness of God’s gracious love that prompted us to repent of sins and surrender our hearts to Christ.

It’s all about love, really.

God’s love for us.

God’s love for others.

God’s love that should compel us to love others.

And God’s love flowing through us toward others as a sign of our faith.

The Apostle Paul said as much in Galatians 5:

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (verse 6)

Yes, we should understand the “why” and “what” and “how” of various volunteer roles at church. We should understand the pattern for worship in our particular congregation. We should understand how to use Bible study tools and the need to be faithful in our tithing toward ministry activities and we should understand the various practices and responsibilities for involvement in a congregation.

But if we don’t get the Galatians 5:6 thing right, we’re failing God and failing others.

Express your faith today in a tangible, merciful way that really counts.

Love people in ways that help to point their hearts toward the Lord.

After all, isn’t our love for them rooted in His love for us?

As always, I love you
Martin

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There are some things we do because we want some form of compensation in return.

Like going to a job in order to get a paycheck.

Or going to the gym in order to grow stronger or slimmer, or both.

But when it comes to loving others, our motive should not be that of somebody in a contract.

If we tell ourselves that we’ll love somebody if they love us first — and not until then — is that really love?

If he or she have to do something for us first before we’ll “love” them, then that makes love conditional.

That turns it into a contract with stipulations.

That’s not godly love.

God loved us and paid the price for our sins before we even acknowledged He existed.

God’s love is not conditional.

Salvation is, of course.

But not God’s love.

He loved us before we did anything for Him.

And He still does.

As God’s love demonstrates for us, our love for others should not be conditional.

Whether someone adores us or abhors us, our love for them should be the same.

Of course, we’ll respond differently to them based on their view toward us, but our prayerful concern for their souls and their overall well-being should be the same.

How can we have the Christian character and emotional strength to love people who clearly do not love us?

By reading and remembering this verse, that’s how.

“We love each other because He loved us first.” (I John 4:19)

When you’re struggling with the conflict of emotions and faith because somebody is attacking or diminishing you, remember that job #1 is to love that person, regardless of his or her merit. Pray for him or her. We don’t have to enable the attacks by not refuting falsehood, but we do have make sure that our words and actions are seasoned with grace and that love for the other person is evident to God when He hears our words.

It’s not about what people deserve from us.

It’s about what God deserves from us.

And that is surrendered love.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’m glad that God puts so many core truths of scripture on the bottom shelf for us.

I’m talking about “Keep It Short and Sweet” biblical principles that make for a successful life of faith and are described simply so that our clogged minds can attain/retain the kind of life that God wants and people need.

Today’s reading in the One-Year Bible contains yet another example of this simplicity.

“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

This wasn’t Jesus talking.

This was the Apostle Paul.

He wrote these words in Galatians 5:14.

But actually it wasn’t Paul who coined the quote above.

It was Moses.

Well, OK, it wasn’t actually Moses.

It was God.

For the “Love your neighbor as yourself” was given by God to Moses as part of the book we know as Leviticus. More specifically, the phrase comes from Leviticus 19:18.

From God to Moses to Paul to us.

Passing the torch of truth.

Passing the commission to love.

Like Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13, if we don’t sincerely love others as diligently as we love ourselves, we’re rebels against the authority of God.

Wow.

Rebel? Or servant?

Which one are you?

Do I look for people who need encouragement? Or am I waiting for SOMEBODY to encourage me?

If I like it when somebody buys my lunch, do I look for opportunity to bless someoneby buying their lunch?

If I like being quickly forgiven when making mistakes, do I quickly forgive others when they do something that costs me time or money or aggravation?

If somebody says something awkward, do I refuse to bring attention to it since I’m sure that I’ve said awkward things and have been glad when others just let it go without comment?

It is not our human nature to treat others as nicely as we treat ourselves.

It IS evidence of a transformed, godly nature, though, when we do.

That’s why how we treat others shows the place of God’s Word in our lives.

Let’s get to the lovin’ the way God wants and others will get the message that we love God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We’ve all heard the phrase, “The main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

OK. So what is the main thing?

Ask 10 people in a shopping mall this question and you’ll probably get 10 different answers.

Ask the Apostle Paul this question and you’ll likely hear a repeat of his words in Galatians 5:6.

“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.”

These words are part of an appeal by Paul to Christians in the Galatian region of what is now Turkey. Divisive teachers were infiltrating the congregations of new believers and trying to turn Christians into Mosaic Law slaves.

Trusting Christ wasn’t enough, the teaching went. A person also had to keep Jewish rules and regulations — including circumcision — if there were to be hope of heaven, according to the false teachers.

Paul took the knife from the rabbis’ hands, however, with his Holy Spirit-inspired teaching with these simple, direct words — “For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.”

Notice the words “cut off.”

That was not by accident.

It’s not the spilling of our blood or the change to our flesh or the clinging to reams of rules that saves our souls.

It’s the spilled blood of Christ and the change in our hearts and the clinging to Christ that saves our souls.

This being the case, our responsibility is not to think we have to keep earning heaven but instead to keep expressing our hope of heaven by loving people in all kinds of ways.

Will you make a specific effort today to express your faith with a loving action for a co-worker?

For a neighbor?

For a discouraged church member?

For a family member?

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

Let’s love somebody in Jesus’ name.

It’s the faithful thing to do.

As always, I love you
Martin

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