Monday, July 26, 2010

Does Love cover you?

Do you use love to cover and bear the frailties of others? How would this help make you more vulnerable and yet more free?

It will make you both more vulnerable and more free! You will be more content and joyful and able to be an encourager and not a criticizer. You will even mature and take others’ criticism because God is your cover. Why fear? You can learn how to fine tune yourself and be better in character. We are to be fueled and empowered by love in all situations. Christian love is the turning of our backs on our self-concerns and facing those of our neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to His. If love does not take us beyond our self-interests, then we have only lust and pride, not real love! God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return, flow out from us to those around us. God's love is the ultimate power for the Christian. Love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters to it. Love is also a choice, a decision that must be pursued and worked on (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Cor. 13:3)!

This is the edifying Love of other people that covers their faults with more understanding and acceptance. Through it, we realize that Christ accepted us! Thus, we will build others up and not tear them down; the contrast to this is to delight in their troubles! When we really trust God, we will realize we are responsible for moving ahead with our faith. It gives us an opportunity to show our good attitude and be motivated as His display, pointing to Him.

I the love you have and give enduring? This means to cover like a roof that protects the occupants of a home. It also means an uncritical love that endures harshness for a greater purpose. It denotes the covering of others as Christ did when He offered real love that continually forgives. We are to overlook the faults and transgressions of others against us (within reason) with love as long as there is no abuse or dysfunction. We are also not to gossip or slander one another as the original hearers of this letter did. This aspect of love also points out to us that it is God’s power that leads and protects¾not our ways or inclinations. The essential framework for building a healthy life and church is to understand that our prime purpose is to glorify Christ, not to prefer our comforts or ideas. We are to shine before Him by holding up His truth, making Him known in a dark world (Prov. 10:12; Matt. 18:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:12; Eph. 4:32; 1Thess. 3:1-5; 4:9-10; James 5:20; 1 Pet. 4: 7-11; 2 Pet. 1:7; 3:14-18; 1 John 4:7-11)!

In God’s economy, Love is measured by what we give, not what we get! It is uncritical, trusting, and continuing! This is one of the great aspects of what God does for us: He protects us from Himself! Yes, because it is solely by His acceptance of us that we are saved. There is nothing that we can add to it, such as good works or clean living. This is what Justification means—that we are justified by God's righteousness and atonement. He is covering us, protecting us from His wrath and punishment as a fireman covers a child in his fireproof coat, rescuing that little one from the flames. To God, you started the fire and even deserve the fire and all the loss and consequences thereof; but now, because His love is a mercy that covers, we are covered by what Christ has done for us. This crafts a bridge for our reconciliation to God; we were in perfect relationship to Him before the fire (fall), and now we are again in harmony (Rom. 3:23-28; 6:23; 7:18; Gal. 3:11; 5:17; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5).

Why is love not to be confined to a feeling or to an action? How does love point to something greater than itself? Can you give an example?

What needs to happen and what do you need to do to allow love and trust to endure in and through you?

What can you do to better overlook the faults and transgressions of others within reason and with love? What is the balance between this and taking abuse?

How would this radically change your relationships and improve your life? What is stopping you from being more of a real lover?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is love a Putdown or a Joy?

Some people like to use love as a weapon to put others down rather than build them up, to focus only on self and not others, and to listen to one’s own truth instead of to God’s true Truth. Thus, we see here that the characteristics of real Truth will be displayed in the faithful, not in the prideful. Here we are given an example of the positive fullness of real love and what it can do. That when it is not followed, it shows a church full of offense and not full of Christ, and then shows an empty church in need of the Truth of the Word by the Love of our Lord, just as these early Christians faced in Corinth (1 Cor. 4:6, 18-19; 5:2-8; 8:112:7; 14:3-26).

Yet, real Agape “love” is a love that is not earned or something to be merely desired; rather, it is sacrificial, relational, and given freely thus illuminating real Truth like a neon sign on a dark night. This is the love Christ exhibited as He walked this earth and this is the love He calls us, commands us to take as our standard to exhibit in our daily lives! Thus, it is not a natural trait found in or given to anyone who is not regenerated by Christ. It is about the ultimate Truth of Christ impacting us so we give our all—deep kindness and support—to someone other than self so we show Christ’s Truth, not our feeble relative truth, caught between our hurts and expectations. For love to be true, it must be beyond our selves and on the foundation of Christ and His Truth (Real love: Mark 12:28-31; John 3:16, Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:16; 13:1, 34-35; 14:1; 15:9; Rom. 1:31; 5:10; 12:10; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:2; Col. 1:1-6; 3:12-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:8; 3:6; 12; 4:9-10; 5:8; 13; 2 Tim. 3:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 4:7-12).

This means to be full of joy and happy when the truth is spoken and prevails. We are to be motivated to trust God and always speak with and by truth. Thus, we can rejoice in all things, including hurts that people have done to us or could do, even suffering, because we have His Divine grace and love available to us as believers. Rejoicing happens when we realize life is not about our needs and plans; it is about how we can glorify our Lord, how can we be grateful, because Christ's work and suffering for our sins is sufficient for now and for eternity. Christ is sufficient and when we can take joy in all circumstances, then we will not worry about the small stuff. We can be happy in our personal lives even in the distress and difficulties of what we have been through and will go through in the future. We can see what God has done and is about to do, what has been accomplished, and how God has used us and worked in others' lives as well. We will feel extraordinarily joyful and content. When we see people come to the Lord, we can take heart and comfort that Christ is at work and in charge no matter what we face or have been through, so we can be happy in our work for Christ. The image is that Jesus takes our sorrows and turns them into joy (Ruth 3:2-7; Isa. 9:3; Ecc. 2:18; Matt. 24:21-22, 30; Luke 15:7-10, 32; 17:30; Acts 28:16-30; Rom. 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 7:29; 2 Cor. 2:15-16; 4:7-12; Eph. 6:16; Phil. 2:12-13; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).

A person who does not have real love will be resentful toward others; he/she will be overly sensitive and touchy and every little thing will bother and will escalate toward combat that leaves others hurt and that will fuel other’s anger and so forth. Love must stop us from taking ourselves too seriously and living in our past qualms and hurts so we can see our Lord and take His healing and be that example to others around us. Such a love that is set upon Truth will allow God’s Truth to flow in us and then we can set ourselves to His standard. We will not be controlled by hurt or resentment or allow pride to dictate our path or God’s plan in us or others. We will then be able to seek truth resulting in wise and healthy decisions, because our campus is God’s Truth, and love is the navigational beacon we follow. We will then have healthy and content lives that model His goodness and display His wonders, lives that exemplify our Lord Jesus Christ. Good decisions, together with truth and love, will make good lives and good judgments, because we will look to facts, options, and consequences instead of only seeing problems, obstacles, and moods. If not, we will be in the sea of inequity and chaos leading to dysfunction as we are consumed by our past failings and wounds, causing God’s witness in us to be skewed, clouded by pride and/or injury, and thus damaged and off course from His beacon of Truth and love (Phil. 3:15-16).

Monday, July 05, 2010

Why Jesus “needs” to use us?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus “wants” to use us to proclaim His Word and tell others?

Why does He not just audibly reveal Himself to all? Well, He does not need us, but chooses to use us for a greater good. Because, the proclamation of the Gospel is not easy; it takes demonstrators- people to live it out. Just telling someone, even from God, doesn’t get much of a response as seen in the Old Testament, because people naturally hate God. So the Holy Spirit must reveal Christ to them to entice them to believe, and then they need to see the product demonstrated. That is what we do in servant evangelism. We are called to learn and we need the info to know Who Christ is and then what He calls us to. Both people who are saved and those who are not all need love. We need the love from Christ so we have it to give to others, whether they will receive it or not. If we do not learn and love, we can’t grow in faith and maturity or share the faith. In contrast, if all we do is learn and we are not transformed, we just become dumb, fat, and useless sheep who become annoying and not servant leaders and evangelists of God. Because faith and being His witness or exhibiter is a matter of how we are over what we are; how we are is more important than what we say!

The proof of Love is not what we say about it; it is how we live it out, with faith, love, and because we are all linked and interconnected. Living obedience and gratitude must pour from the true believer for love to be displayed to outlive and out love the world to show the world the sacrificial love of our Lord. Love confirms the authenticity of Jesus! Love confirms the authenticity of Jesus' followers (Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27; John 13:31-35; 15:12-13, 17; 1 Cor. 13:3; Rom. 12:10; 13:8; 14:13; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thess. 1:3; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 3:22; 4:8; 23; 4:7, 11-12; 2 John 1: 5)!

What can you do so Jesus is fully displayed in you for others to see as they were presented by Christ? What would this look like? What would it mean for your life and relationships?