Happy Valentines Day!

For some, the word “love” has been exhausted. We use it to express items and desires which have little to nothing to do with people.

“Oh I just love that purse!”

“I love your new car!”

“This pizza is amazing! I love it.”

We’ve all experienced hurt from “love” as well. Those seasons in life when the person who uttered the words, “I love you” really didn’t mean them. Some of us have been slighted by people we believed to be “loving” and learned later, they weren’t, at least not to us.

The best kind of love? God’s love – the one we can all connect with whether we are married, single, divorced, separated, or in friendships. While Valentine’s Day is a day to let those around us know how much we love them and focuses primarily on romantic love, God’s Valentine’s Day is every day and for every person willing to accept Him.

I once heard Billy Graham say, “No matter what sin you have committed, no matter how dirty, shameful or terrible it may be, God loves you. You may be at the very gate of hell itself, but God loves you with an everlasting love.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the languages of men and of angels,
but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy
and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor
and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, 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.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
where there are tongues, they will be stilled;
where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

I pray today the love of God touches you in so many ways. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Truth Wins!

“6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ” 1 Corinthians 13:6

Paul has given to us the positive sides of love, the negative sides of love, and now he brings us to a contrasting statement.

Love does not delight in evil...

When unrighteousness, injustice, wickedness occur – there shouldn’t be rejoicing from us. When people are mistreated or when God is dishonored or God’s laws are disobeyed – no rejoicing!

Ok – that’s not difficult until it happens to someone who has done me wrong or you wrong.  Right? What then?

The person who has been a bully. The person who has betrayed you or me. Our enemy who always seems to end up on top, that person? I’d rather see him get a good punch in the nose. I can’t rejoice then either, huh?

And as much as I would like to jump up and down because “finally! He had that coming to him” has happened, love is never glad at another’s hardships. It doesn’t gossip about the problems of other people or post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter the downfall. To do so, is not displaying love.

but rejoices with the truth...

Christians must love the truth at all costs. John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

He is the truth. 

It sounds simple until we are confronted with watered-down versions of the truth. When we are asked to accept and believe what is not Biblical truth. When we are confronted with tough moral choices and decisions. When we desire to do one thing but the truth of the Bible tells us what we are choosing to do is wrong.

Balancing the truth and love is like walking on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. In other words, it is never easy. Sometimes it causes us to confront others or for others to confront us because love is involved but so is sin. It is those moments in parenting when you have to tell your child “NO,” even though you know how much they desire to do something. As Christians we must love what is true more than the desire to do what the Bible tells us is wrong.

Journal Question:

In what areas of your life are you avoiding the truth of the Bible?

 


No Record of Being Wronged?

It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

The recording you hear inside your head every time his or her name is mentioned is completely normal and very human. He wronged you. She betrayed you. The damage which was done to your trust in people; to your heart; to your surroundings; whatever the case, is difficult to overcome let alone forget!

Forget? Really?

This verse takes us to the nitty-gritty about LOVE. It isn’t that warm, fuzzy, tingling feeling all the time. Love is a conscious decision. It is an act of saying – though you have wronged me, I am choosing to love you anyway! Love is something you DO…

Henry Drummond wrote a booklet called, “The Greatest Thing in the World.” His writings analyse what Paul meant about LOVE and how we can learn from Paul’s writing. When Drummond discussed verses 4-7 of 1 Corinthians, he described love as “light passing through a prism and being separated out into its various colors.” He believed that just as the colors are separated into component parts, so is the action of love. In order to get the rainbow – all the parts work together individually. Every part is significant.

Forgiveness is more for our heart than the other person. There are times in life when we must choose to love someone at a distance simply because the person hasn’t changed. The way it looks is we no longer dwell on what has been done to us. We protect ourselves from being hurt again by keeping our distance, if necessary, but we choose not to conjure up the hurt and pain in our mind each time the person’s name is spoken. This is only accomplished through the love God has demonstrated.

Demanding? It’s my way or the highway? Sound familiar to any of you.

Love does not demand its own way. There are times when you have to be flexible, compromising, selfless, and offer to others their way. Not your way.

Stephen Grellet, a French-born American missionary wrote, “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

The reality of life? We have one shot at it. How do you prefer to spend your one shot?

There are times in life when we must give-up our “right” for the “right” of another. When it occurs, we have demonstrated the kind of love Jesus Christ demonstrated on the Cross for our behalf.

Journal Question:

Consider the people who have hurt you. Have you forgiven them? Do you keep a record in your heart of the wrong he or she has done? Make an effort to consciously put aside what has been done in love.


What it is NOT…

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

We live in a world which exhorts us implicitly and explicitly to covet the material possessions of others, the power of money and status, and the favor placed on lives other than our own. The reality of love is it refuses to be jealous when we are not blessed in the same way another is blessed. Love is content in what it is given. Love rejoices in the accomplishments of others.

When we are blessed, when favor is shown to us, boasting is not an option. Love is not a stumbling block for others. Our own achievements are not to be placed in neon lights by us to taunt others as if we are idols to be worshiped and adored. No, love does not invoke envy or create resentment. And while envy is easily hidden behind the green eyes of jealous, our Father in Heaven is very much in tune to this destructive, sinful nature.

Boasting misses the point – the point that glorifies a Savior, Redeemer, King, and Friend – Who deserves all praise. Boasting looks inward, making more of who we are than is real. For without God, we are mere dust blowing in the wind.

As it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:31. 

When we get all caught up in talking about ourselves, we miss the most important element of any conversation – Jesus Christ – and what He is doing in our lives.

When I was a teenager and involved in sports, my dad heard several of my friends and me talking trash to other guys. You know how it is, “We will take you down. That scoreboard will say it all. Read it and Weep.” You have probably done it in your life too. My Dad pulled me aside and reminded me, “Michael, if you have tell people you are great, you obviously aren’t that great. If you were, they wouldn’t have to be told.”

Point taken. Point remembered.

Journal Question:

What are you boastful about? How can you change your attitude and reflect Him instead?

 


Love is Kind

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is kind…

By its simple definition, the word kind is to be of a good or benevolent nature or disposition; to be indulgent, considerate or helpful; to be humane. 
Kindness is when we put patience in action.
It is puzzling to me why the phrase “Random acts of Kindness” has received such attention over the past few years. I say puzzling because shouldn’t it be so common place, so instinctual, as Christians, there is little emphasis?
I read a story once about a traveler in an airport in Portland, Oregon. The stormy weather had caused many flights to be delayed and some even canceled.  If you’ve ever been in that situation before, you know the havoc it can cause and the angry emotions of passengers who want to get where they are going and NOW! This particular traveler’s flight to Los Angeles had not been cancelled and as he and the other passengers waited to board, a harried man ran up to the counter, briefcase in hand with his ticket extended. Unfortunately, because he had arrived late, his seat had been given to another person. The attendant did her best to explain the policies of the airline in regard to late arrivals, but he would accept no explanation. All of us felt awkward and disheartened for the employee who was simply doing her job as the man ranted and raved about his predicament. Apparently, he had a very important business meeting in Los Angeles which he could not, would not miss. As he demanded to see a supervisor, an elderly lady around 70 years old, stood up and offered her seat to him. She was in no hurry. If he needed to be on the flight so desperately, he should go in her place.
The man thanked her; apologized to the attendant as well as to all those who had heard his words and witnessed his horrific behavior. He actually called the sweet woman his angel as he boarded the flight.
The airline, to express their gratitude for the kindness of this woman, put her on the next flight out, first class, and gave her two free, first-class, round-trip tickets to any destination served by the airline.

 It pays to be kind. The reality of being kind is, kindness makes you happy, and being happy makes you kind.  Kindness is one of the greatest ways we can express love to those around us.

Journal Question:

Today, make it an intentional effort to be kind to others. Write about how it made you feel and how you will continue to change the word “random acts of kindness” to daily acts of kindness.”

 


Love is patient..

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

Disqualify you? Well, if we are honest, it disqualifies most of us. We fail at love because most of us, if not all of us, do not truly understand what God intended love to be.

Love is patient…

Paul writes out a list of characteristics of love. I don’t know about you but I’m still stuck on Love is patient. 

Did you know patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit? The opposite of patience is of course impatience which is the fruit of selfishness and entitlement.

Selfishness is one of those characteristics that has its own private party at the expense of others. Love seeks its happiness in the other person not in itself.

Our culture today is all about personal feelings. I remember flipping through the channels at home and coming across a well-known therapist. He asked the question, “And how does that make you feel?” He continued to ask the question over and over again. I wanted to throw the remote!  I chuckled to myself because it is the way of the world – we do what we “feel like doing” when we “feel like doing it” without thought of consequences or others. Immediate gratification. It is the “I want it now” mentality, and the world has caught on to it very well.

I believe Paul opens with this trait because it is simple really; we must be patient with others because we ourselves have failed many times too. We, ourselves, have sinned; have made mistakes; have hurt others; have ______________ (You fill in the blank) – and God has continued to love and wait on us to come around.

Love is long-suffering – it waits – it listens – it sits beside – it ponders – it says, “I’m here for as long as it takes.”

Journal Question:

How do you show patient love to others? In what areas do you fall short?

 


LOVE made REAL

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3

Love is greater than personal sacrifice.

Giving to the poor; going on mission trips; building homes for those who have lost everything; being a mentor to young people; the list goes on and on, and they are all worthy actions. They are all important. They are all wonderful; but if we do them without the love of God, we have wasted our time. It’s hard to grasp, isn’t it? All the plaques in the world for service to others mean nothing without His love to back it up.

Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery – the jackpot? Have you discussed with your spouse, friends, or co-workers what you would do with the money? I’d end all hunger in Haiti. I’d build homes for everyone. And every child would have the opportunity to go to school. If I could win one of those big lottery jackpots, you know the ones, $400,000,000.00 – WOW! I’d make sure every child in the world had a full belly every night before they went to bed. But if my actions were not for love but for self, I have done NOTHING. If we give out of guilt or earthly acclaim or because everyone else is giving or for the praise of man, although the people who are receiving the blessings gain much, we will gain NOTHING.

Love is a tricky action – but it is an action God takes seriously.

In the first 3 verses of 1 Corinthians 13, I can summarize what Paul is trying to tell us.

Having LOVE is greater than being the must incredible preacher/speaker/writer in the world.

Having LOVE is greater than all the gifts and talents in the world.

Having LOVE is greater than any personal sacrifice you can offer the world.

When we do NOT have LOVE…we communicate NOTHING…we contribute NOTHING…we gain NOTHING.

The key take away point to Paul’s writing is – LOVE isn’t about us. It isn’t about why we do what we do. It isn’t about how we use our talents. It isn’t about what we give up. LOVE is about God.

Love starts with God because God is love. To have LOVE, we must have Him. To have Him, we have to get to know God better. When we develop a personal relationship with Him, He will allow His love to flow through us and transform our hearts supernaturally. The greatest proof of Love came to us in the form of our Savior, Jesus Christ. His hands, His feet, His side, His head carry the scars of Love’s sacrifice. The greatest act of LOVE is found at the foot of the Cross. That is LOVE made REAL.
Journal Question: How can I strengthen my relationship with God so that His LOVE can supernaturally flow through me?