Strong agape love

Jesus loves you

Image by George Ornbo via Flickr

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16)

There are different meanings of love in the Bible. In the New Testament, the Greek words used most often are agape and phileo. Agape means the deepest kind of love, while phileo means brotherhood type of love. The city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, is named for this. So what does that mean in connection to the verse above?

If we have agape love for the things of the world, we cannot have agape love for God. It is either one or the other. If we lust after something, our focus is on that thing we lust after. Lust is not love. Lust tries to fulfill our physical and emotional wants. These can change like the direction of the wind. Love and lust for the things of the world come from the world; they are not from God.

So what kind of love does God give us? It’s a true love in the full form of agape. God loves us with the deepest kind of love possible. What would God do for us? He had done everything for us through Jesus. He gave the ultimate sacrifice because of his agape love for us. Receive it freely knowing that you are a beloved child of God.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me when I lust after things of the world. You have given me everything in Jesus, and I thank you from my heart. You are my all in all. Amen

Faith tip: Whenever you find yourself lusting after something, imagine the cross standing between you and the object of lust. Transform your pattern of thinking with the help of Jesus.

Joy Restoration

Jesus on the wall of the senior Home

Image by freestone via Flickr

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)

Sin creates chaos. Whenever we decide to go our own way and not God’s, we are walking a different path not meant for us. At first it may feel like the right way to go as we envision the things in life we will enjoy by our hand. We are certain that we will experience much joy. But then there is a patch of road that is bumpy, and we think that will pass and we will find smooth traveling again. Then we find parts of the road missing, or forks in the road and not knowing which way to go, and then finally we come to a dead end…the end of ourselves. We have forgotten the last time we experienced real joy in our travels for it has been so long.

A reminder comes to you. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28). You remember the loving voice of Jesus. You think you are unworthy of any attention by God, but he still beckons you to come. He wraps his loving arms around you and tells you of his love and how glad he is to see you. The sadness you feel begins to feel like something else. What is it? Joy.

Prayer: Forgive me, Father, when I have chosen to go my way and not yours. Thank you for inviting me back into your loving arms and healing me so that I can experience your joy. Amen

Faith tip: Do you need a nice long hug from Jesus today? He’s ready.

Designer Clothes

Description unavailable

Image by Pierre LaScott via Flickr

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

As I waited in the checkout line at the grocery store, I noticed the fistful of coupons coming from her purse and heard the audible sigh from those behind me. It was obvious that the clerk wasn’t thrilled either as they took the coupons and started scanning them coming to one that wouldn’t work. Frustrated, they looked on the receipt to see if the correct product was purchased and then manually entered the coupon savings. The woman checking out looked at me and said she was sorry. I said it wasn’t a problem. I encouraged her on her coupon tenacity sharing that I cut them out and normally left them at home. I chose to be kind and patient. Everyone in the line and the clerk had a choice to make on how they would respond.

If we understand that we are truly God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, I believe that would make a difference in our choices. The sense of belonging and focus on the kingdom sets a direction for us to follow. God’s love for us is a blessing, and we are blessed to be a blessing to others. Showing God’s love to others is a choice, and can be done in all circumstances.

Prayer: Your wonderful love for me, dear Lord, is reason enough for me to show love to others. I pray that I can wear your designs of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to your glory and honor. Amen

Faith Tip: Put on God’s designer clothes and practice with each person you come in contact with today. Make it your choice to do so.

Believing the promises

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Mark 1:34)

We hear a lot of messages each day that we need to discern whether they can be believed or not. Politicians make promises, fisherman report “the one that got away,” advertisements promised popularity and success if you buy their product, and the list goes on. We live in a culture of unstable messages. It’s no wonder many find it hard to believe anything in totality and feel insecure about who they are and what value they hold. Where’s the proof?

The Bible gives us the message of God that has been proven over and over again. God has continually been faithful to all the messages given in the Bible that have been fulfilled and will be fulfilled. The biggest promise that was fulfilled was Jesus. God promised to make a way of salvation, and it was done. God’s word can be believed always.

When God tells of his love for you, you can believe it. When God says he will never leave or forsake you, you can believe it. When God says if we humble ourselves and seek him with a contrite heart, he will heal our land, we can believe it. God will not let you down.

Prayer: Creator God, thank you for being the one stable being that we can trust. When our faith waivers, encourage us with your word. Remind us of your great promises and the ways they have been fulfilled. Thank you for your greatest promise of Jesus! Amen

Faith tip: Look for the promises of God in the Bible and memorize them…one by one. These words will help you stand strong in the worst of storms in life.

Getting closer to the kingdom

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:32-34)

Many of us have a certain level of control issues. We want things “just so.” When we invite people over, the house needs to be “just so,” and the food we serve needs to be “just so.” We know what we want, but what is more important? Is the house and food more important than the people coming to see us? How can we prepare ourselves to show the love of God to our guests?

We have multiple choices to make each day? Do we ask ourselves what is more important before we make a choice? Do we put God into the equation?

Can you imagine how the man felt when Jesus said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” The man hit the bulls-eye. The offerings and sacrifices we offer to God are a lot less important to him than loving people. Our energy and time to love people has to be a top priority…this is the type of offering and sacrifice that God loves.

Prayer: Father, you have blessed us beyond what we deserve because of your great love for us. May I be a reflection of you by showering blessings on others. May I show the love that you show me.

Faith tip: Find ways to be a blessing to people…be intentional.

Taking away points

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Romans 2:1-4)

Watching the Olympics last winter was very enjoyable to me. One of the events I like most to watch is the figure skating. The judges watch every little movement and detail as the skaters perform. One little slip up will cost them the gold.

Sometimes I think we watch each other with the same fervor with an imaginary scorecard in our hand. In doing this, we are appointing ourselves as judges of life. As we take points away from someone else, we are having points taken away from us for doing “the same things.” It is only because of God’s grace in showing “kindness, tolerance and patience” to us that we turn away from sin. Reflecting God’s grace to others will be worth its weight in gold.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your reminder of your wonderful grace shown to me. May I reflect that grace to those I come in contact with. Amen

Faith tip: Today when you feel yourself picking up the scorecard to judge someone, pray for God’s grace to enable you to show kindness, tolerance and patience.

God owns it

I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices
or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.

I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,

for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know every bird in the mountains,
and the creatures of the field are mine.

If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
(Psalm 50:8-12)

In tough economic times, it’s difficult to see beyond the financial constraints experienced. I know when my husband was laid off, I often wondered how we would get by. There is a tendency to rely on our own resources because it’s something we can see and feel. We think that is reality. The true reality is the resources of God. Countless times there was a check in the mail, a monetary gift, food given to us, writing jobs for me, and more all at just the right time.

God owns it all and gives generously to his children. He knows how to give good gifts, a lot more than we do. God blesses people to be blessings to others. He knows exactly what we need, and loves us so much. God is the true resource. Be thankful for his gifts for you today.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your great provision each day. I pray I can continue to look to you and trust in you for my daily care. I pray that I can bless someone with what you have blessed me with. Amen.

Faith Tip: Pray for eyes to see how God has generously provided for you today. Thank him for his goodness.