What is Love?

Shouldn’t we understand the meaning of love in order to love?  There have probably been more songs written about the subject of love than any other topic.  Entire libraries and art galleries have been filled with inspiring works about love.  But what is love anyway?

Jesus left us with this parting message during the Last Supper:

34A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
 ~ John 13:34-35 (NIV)

The greatest definition of love that satisfies my heart and fulfills the entire law of God Almighty was written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. Corinth was a corrupt city whose system and culture was driven with idolatry and immorality.  Believers at Corinth were struggling with divisions, as some were falling prey to the influences of their environment – trying to blend their newly found faith in Jesus with the old traditions of “enlightenment” (what is right is wrong and vice versa).  Other church members at Corinth were feeling the crunch of living for God in heathen surroundings.  The spiritual warfare must have been intense!

Doesn’t that resemble the church today?  But Paul was inspired by God to reach out to them with this treasured poetic teaching on God’s perfect love that has stood the test of time:

1”If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2If 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 do not have love, I am nothing.
3If I give all I possess to the poor
and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy;
It does not boast, it is not proud.
5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.
7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
where there are tongues, they will be stilled;
where there are is knowledge, it will pass away.
9For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
11When I was a child, I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child. When I became a man,
I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12For now we see only a 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.
13And now these three remain:
faith, hope, and love,
But the greatest of these is love.” ~ I Cor. 13 (NIV)

I wish this scripture on love would be broadcast on the news channels, social media, and printed in every newspaper every day.  I wish that it would be the highest ranking bit of propaganda ever spread throughout the nations; because true love really is world-changing.

That’s what love is – world-changing!

 

Another thought: When our time on earth is done, will we be remembered for having a heart poured out in true love?

God bless and thank you for following ImportantStuff.live.

Starting Over – A Reset

We have all experienced the need for “starting over”.  It can be a painful prospect, but in many cases, a reset is the only solution.

Setting a new course can be just the thing necessary to set us free from heartache, guilt, doubt, addiction, unfruitfulness; or in the case of spiritual warfare, a total rebirth:

7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’. 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear the sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:7-8 (NIV)

God chose a flood to wipe out the wickedness that man had caused on the earth (Genesis 6). Rather than destroy man completely, God provided a way of escape for Noah and his family by calling upon Noah to build an ark.  Through faith, Noah was allowed a means of starting over – a reset, if you will.  The victorious reset in history over mankind’s separation from God is the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after His crucifixion.  Praise God, we serve a Living Christ!  Another major reset for mankind will take place in the future when our Messiah returns and sets up His kingdom on earth – the Millennial Age.  These examples of God’s resets show that God’s love for us is not to be defeated.  He has not given up on us, but His plan requires starting over.

I chose this feature photo because the rainbow reminds me of God’s faithful promise to never again consume the earth with a flood.  He placed the rainbow in the skies as evidence of His promise.  After the rains, the flooding will pass.

Starting over is like that for me.  The world consumed me like a flood, but the flooding has passed.  God’s magnificent rainbow of promise lies before me, and I rejoice in starting over in Him.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” ~ James 4:8a (ESV)
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” ~ Galations 6:9 (KJV)
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide you a way out so that you can endure it.” ~ I Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

Great is the Lord, and Greatly to be Praised!

God bless you.

Photo credit: unknown

 

Encouragement – “see pg 381”

The Word of God is living and active.  It pries, prods, kicks and squirms;twists, shoves, rips and tears its way into every crook and cranny of the minds and hearts of men until all is “open and laid bare”.  Then – redemption.

The Apostle Paul sums up Dad’s message in the most compelling statement:

12″For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” ~ Hebrews 4:12-13 (Dad’s NT Bible)

 

Paul points out that God’s works were finished from the foundation of the world.  Then He rested on the seventh day (Sabbath).  God intended for man to enter into that rest with Him, but man rebelled (Heb. 4:1-5).  Without accepting God’s plan of redemption through faith in Jesus , man may never enter God’s rest.  Without acknowledging his sin, and accepting Jesus as Messiah, man is eternally barred from entering into an everlasting relationship with his Creator.

BUT GOD!  In His infinite mercy and grace, God provided His living Word as a testament to His abiding love for all men.  He made a plan for redemption. His Son fulfilled the Father’s plan on the cross. Christ defeated death, and God gave His Living Word to proclaim the Good News to let men know about it.

again He sets a certain day, “Today”, saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” ~ Hebrews 4:7 (Dad’s NT Bible)

I thank and praise God for laying my sins bare.  His living Word pursued me like a Lion. It found my hidden parts; then pierced my mind and heart, dividing me asunder. I give Him glory everlasting and thank Him for allowing me to strive for rest in Him.  When I get discouraged it’s usually because I have spent too much time caught up in the “cares of this world” with less time in God’s Word.  Those distractions cause me to be fruitless, while choking God’s Word (Mark 4:18-19).

So here is the last part of the message of encouragement that Dad marked at the bottom of page 381:

Hollis10

I think it means perseverance.  What do you think?

 

Encouragement – “see pg 289”

Encouragement – “see pg 289” could also be titled, Oh!  By the Way…

There is no one church leader, prophet, apostle, pastor, teacher, marriage counselor, group, or Christian friend who has the power to solve a spiritual problem.  There is only one Truth – the Master Jesus whom we serve.   But in what manner are we to serve?  Let it be willingly and humbly – with no one believer greater than the rest and none to be idolized.

Hollis6

Chapter 3 of I Corinthians is part of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. Dad actually circled four verses from chapter 3 on pages 288 and 289 of his New Testament Bible.  I am not even going to try to unravel the mystery of it, and appreciate the context of the scriptures by commenting on the passage of verses 3-9.  Chapter 3 was Paul’s way of dealing with a bunch of weak believers who Paul referred to as “babes in Christ”.  He was exasperated with them.  Evidently they were more focused on glorifying the missionaries than they were on growing their relationship with Jesus – a fleshly pursuit.  The result was disunity – division and strife in the body of Christ.  There have been multitudes of believers in history that have been sucked up into the same bowl of beans.

I am not at all categorizing anyone experiencing discouragement as a “weak believer”.  Far from it!  Paul wrote at length about his own discouragements and I would not consider him to be weak in the faith.  Yet his strength came from faith in Jesus – not men.

I am also not saying that fellow believers are unworthy of your time when you need encouragement.  They most certainly should be of help in pointing you to God’s Word for answers.  There is power in the brethren praying for one another, no doubt.  Seek their guidance, respect their calling, but listen to what Paul had to say:

3For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? 4For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” Are you not merely men? 5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. 9For we are fellow workers for God: you are God’s field, God’s building.” ~ I Corinthians 3:3-9

And by the way: When it comes to encouragement, God’s Word is The Authority.  There is no one – NO ONE – more trustworthy than our Messiah, Jesus the Christ, the Living God. No matter what is going on in your life that is causing you to feel defeated, you can take it to Him in prayer for peace, resolution, and victory.  Believe in His love, grace, and compassion; which is sufficient and matchless.

Another “By the way”: Although each believer is called, we are called to different purposes, according to God’s plan.  So be encouraged not to try to be God’s yardstick. We stumble when we compare ourselves to fellow believers – be they great or small in our eyes. Apollos and Paul were merely “servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each” (emphasis added).

More “By the way”: Be encouraged by this: “but God gave the growth”.  A famer plants the seed, and waters it, but only God produces the crop.  That is supernatural power.  The farmer does not own the crop, or other laborers in the field.  God does.  The farmer has no ability whatsoever to make the seed miraculously turn into a mature plant: “you are God’s field, God’s building.”   The farmer is not to be glorified for just planting and watering.  The farmer is doing that for his own benefit – nothing to idolize there!  God owns the dirt.  Man is dust.  Don’t idolize dust!  Seek encouragement in your daily walk from the Creator of dust through His Word.  He will take care of you if you just believe, ask, and trust Him.

21So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; 23and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” ~ I Corinthians 3:21-23

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” ~ I Corinthians 4:1

Oh! By the way: Remember that “you are Christ’s” and He is all powerful.  Be encouraged that He is Wisdom and is our Counsellor, our Friend, our High Tower, our Healer, our Redeemer, and is Mighty to Save.  No problem is bigger than Jesus.  He takes our ugly and wraps it in His Beauty.

Final “By the way”:  The world is watching.  We are to be “stewards of the mysteries of God” instead of “behaving as ordinary men”.  Pray for one another always.

If you are looking forward to discovering with me another segment of Dad’s message about encouragement, follow www.importantstuff.live and check out the next blog titled “Encouragement – “see pg 49”. God Bless.

Note: For another viewpoint on divisions in the early church of Corinth, here is a link to an article written by John Reed:  “1COR3v18to23: THE CURE FOR CHRISTIAN DISUNITY”

 

 

 

 

Encouragement – “See pg 343”

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” ~Philippians 3:12.

We are to press on.  We are not perfect, and we won’t do a perfect job for Jesus; but we belong to Him.  Jesus continually makes intercession for us in heaven because we are His!  PRAISE GOD!!  Our victory is secured in Him through faith – not of ourselves, should any boast.

Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.”  ~ Philippians 3:8.

Very few of us living in America have “suffered the loss of all things” for Christ; but crushing persecution was part of everyday life for believers in the early church (as it is for believers in many areas of the world today):

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  36As it is written, for Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” ~ Romans 8:35-37

The greatest encouragement for the believer is that troubles do not separate us from the love of Jesus.  Quite the opposite is true:

38For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8: 38-39

No, we are not perfect, but we are to press on, because nothing we do (or don’t do) can separate us from our Messiah.   He is holding us up.  We are not holding Him up!

Isaiah41-10

The next posting of Encouragement – “see pg 289” could also be titled, Oh! By the Way…