Monday, August 30, 2010

The Crescendo of Love

1 Corinthians 13 is about the crescendo of love’s primacy, perfection, and permanence. That love is supreme enough to solve this or any other church’s problems. The Corinthian problem was that love was lethargic, even lifeless so that pride, abuse, misapplying what God had given, and the sin of personal agendas and the escalations of hurt ran amuck, stagnating and even dissolving this once great church. All they needed was gratitude to our Lord; and then faith, hope, and love could flow from God through them to those around them. This would have filled in the wounds of hurt and reconciled the damages to relationships. The problem was not about who had what gifts and positions or whose ideas were best, but that love was absent and other things were distorting and distracting them from God’s plan and precepts so that the result was disorder. For the first century Greek, wisdom was found in mere knowledge; for a pious Jew, faith and hope were the essences of what true wealth from God meant. Paul’s point was that the more you know, the better you are in His sight, but better yet is that particle of godly knowledge. For knowledge alone could produce arrogance and the lack of desire to apply His truth. The more we learn about Christ, the better we can know Him so we can model, teach, and worship Him—as long as our pride does not get in the way. If we just remove the arrogance, then the indifference starts to disappear; hope appears, and faith, works, and love abound to replace those hurts and fears with the “greatest” of these (1 Cor. 14; 1 Thess. 5:19-20).

God’s love is amazing when we consider how we are and who He is! We do not deserve His love, yet we receive it anyway. We do not earn it or achieve it or merit it in any way whatsoever, yet it is there for our taking because of what Christ has done on our behalf. It is a fruit of faith and shows our authenticity, which allows us to serve. It lives in the present as it looks outward to others. Love comes from the self-sacrifice of our Lord, who paved the way for our relationships, especially to God; we must respond gratefully to our fellow believers (John 3:16; 6:37, 44, 65;13:1; 15:16; Rom. 5:1-8; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 1:4-5; Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:1-8, 21-22; 2:10; James 2:14; 1 John 3:14; 4:9-11)!

Love is the greatest. God is not faith; God is not hope. Love is the greatest because God is love; it is His character and the aspect of His being! Love is also the greatest virtue, character, and fruit that points to our Lord’s grace and identifies us as His ambassadors; it shows how we as His children must be to one another. It is the foundation and structure upon which all that is good leans and is united upon. (John 13:34-35; Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 John 4:8-19)

A love that is great means that we have a love from God that in turn must be our pattern and plan for all we are and do. If love is to be great in us, as it is by what Christ has given us, it must take us beyond our self-interests. If not, all that remained in us would be lust or envy and not real love! Then, as the passage starts off with, all we are would be just an annoying noise that had no reason or purpose. Love is the greatest because out of true love, God the Father gave us His Son, and the Son gave us His life as a replacement for ours. The Son sent the Spirit to us, and we should be literally overwhelmed and consumed with extreme joy and gratitude by what God has done for us. Then in turn, we can pass this love on to others.

Questions to Ponder

From this study series in love, what have you found that is missing and what do you and others need that you can emulate and impart?

Take a look at each of the aspects of Love in this 1 Corinthians 13 passage; now, replace the word "love" with "Jesus!" For example…Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind…; what does this do for you? How does this give you a glimpse into His character? How does this motivate you to be His vibrant display?

See more here:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Real love Never Fails!

1 Corinthians 13:8-12

This passage is about the primacy, permanence, and perfection of love over all else, which showcases Christ’s redemption and reconciliation and His Justification, His real love for us. Paul uses these extreme rhetoric devices to illustrate the significance and importance of love over what both this Corinthian church and we think is important, like pride, position, status, charismatic signs, prophecy, and utterances—even good works. This also means that God's purpose cannot be thwarted by our actions; we may experience dire consequences, but His plan will prevail.

This real love is showing an aspect of God’s love for us that never quits; it never gives up on anyone and thus is far superior to all the gifts or positions one can ever hope to attain. Jesus has no end, and His love for us will never come to an end. This is referring to fruit, which is what we are given when we grow in Him, that we add to, and what He then multiplies. Love shows us that we must have more in our spiritual arsenal than just belief. We must have more in order to grow in Christ and make our faith and relationships work. Real, impacting, effectual faith will have results! We must be willing to learn about our Lord, to grow by example of our obedience, and be willing to go through times of waiting, uncertainty, discouragement, and even suffering, and see it all as opportunities of personal growth, faith building, and strengthening (Job. 13:15; John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 5:1-5; 8:16; 1 Cor. 13:1-7; Eph. 1:6; 5:1-2; 1 John 4:8-16).

The application that Paul was seeking is that the primacy and performance of love must be lived out in the believer’s life, thinking, words, and actions. Love comes from our faith and will create initiatives and connections from the recognition of who we are in Christ, and then we will live out our lives in Him, through His power and because of our gratitude, trust, and obedience. This was also meant to create a better concord among the Believers for the worship of God, the chief reason to be a church, serving Him that who we are in Christ must be demonstrated by our relating to others (Matt. 7:23; 9:33; 26:33; John 7:46; 1 Cor. chaps. 12, 14; Heb. 10:11; 12:14-29; 1 Pet 3:7-12).

The nature of Christian love comes from our gratitude, joy, and excitement of being in Christ, so nothing else matters. Thus, Christ’s love for us should be our biggest motivation so our excitement of what He has done for us urges us to grow in Him and His principles and we become contagious to those around us. The influence of love heals and nourishes us and others around us as they see it at work in us. Being in Christ means receiving, knowing, and applying Christ’s love so we are living our lives for Him with the attitude of “how do I please Him,” not “how can I please myself in all times and all places.” This is the influence of real love!

What does it mean to you that you are deeply accepted and dearly loved by Jesus and this love will never leave or forsake you?

How can you exhibit and share this love? What would it do for your relationships and church?

What can you do better to take hold of His grace and empowerment and really believe and trust that God loves you? How must your church engage this?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Real love Perseveres!

This aspect of love is showing us the power of unconditional love, that we have a God who is always there and to whom we can always come back! Christ's love was not only shown through words, but also by His sacrificial death. He is our model for who we are and how we are. For example, we draw others to ourselves and make friends by what and how we are, not and/or by what we want. These are distinguishing characteristics of Christ, and the marks of us, His followers. Our standard is Christ's love for us that we return to others around us. Love is more than action, more than feeling; to be true, it can’t be one without the other. Love is not mandatory; we are not manipulated or coerced to love others or even be loving or be loved ourselves. Being loving is not about adhering to a religion or some kind of give-to-get scheme. Rather, love is an aspect of our gratitude, a piece of ourselves that we are willing to give because of a relationship with our Holy Lord to others around us (John 3:23; 4:7-8, 11-12, 19-21; 13:34-35; 1 Cor. 13:7d)!

This passage is about a love that Jesus calls us to that is opposite to our feelings and inclinations. Paul was also using this rhetoric to showcase what God’s great attributes are and what He can empower us to do. Why is this important? Because, people move toward those people who encourage, and move away from those who tear down and hurt. When we really love as Christ demonstrated and sacrificed for us to do, we display Him and show Him to people who are hurting, who are damaged and stuck in worried lives. Therefore, we can bring healing and reconciliation and fill in the emptiness of people that others reject or refuse to see. The original call to the Corinthians was to show real love to a church that forgot to love. We can follow this so that real love can be manifested in our lives, in our homes, and in our churches. Then, we can display this eminence of virtue into the world by the gift of our endurance bought by Christ’s redemption.

If this love were working in me, how would I then act toward my friends, family, and people who help me?

What about when they hurt me?

If “Jesus were me,” if He were living and walking in my life, (He is, by the …Way!) how would I be touching the lives of others?

Would I gossip? Be negative? Be condescending? Be engrossed in career?

Be all about “me?” Pay others back with retaliation and retribution?

Or, would I be a person of faith and maturity, showing my partnership with Christ demonstrated with a love that endures, that goes the extra mile? So that when a spouse or stranger pushed my “buttons,” I would not push back? Would I retain conviction and character, powered though the power of His Spirit? Would I realize I have His Holy Spirit without measure or limit? Jesus is not me, but He is in me and the results of my life should be the same! Is this revealed in you—by you? If not, why not?

Consider this: what would your life look like if you behaved and cooperated in God’s way? Keep in mind that He will empower you with the gifts and courage. This is why we have the Fruit of the Spirit; He grows this fruit of love within us, cultivating it through our growth and maturity process in the same way that a tree bears fruit, just as we take what He gives us and nourish others by His Work. Then, we will have the gumption to stick it out, be more sympathetic and understanding, realize that the people who hurt us are hurting people themselves and embrace His call with the conviction to love them anyway. Christ is the One who can permeate them and use us as the exhibit, the picture on the box, and His Word as the instructions to put it all together. People need to see love lived out; so live it out!

What do you think Christ would like to see happen in your heart and life? What is His goal for your inner life?

What does it take for real love to be manifested in your life? How can you make a love that endures work in your home and church?

How does your church bring healing and reconciliation to fill in the emptiness in hurting people? What does your church need to do?

A Heart after Christ

I changed the name of this blog to “Bible Thoughts and Musings,” because that is what it has become and started a new blog with the name...

This blog is primarily a platform to share my sermons and speaking notes, as many people have been asking me for these and I found a bit of time to comply…. Here they are, and as time gives me, I will be posting more. A “caveat,” these are rough drafts and notes, these are my notes that were meant for my dyslexic eyes and thus, not polished and edited works. So, if you want “polished” see our ministry sites for what you need, and use the search functions…

Looks like the cheese was moved, but is was not, so the mouse may be confused, so just nibble away…

Be blessed!

Monday, August 09, 2010

How does Love Hope in You?

We are called to allow our love to be the explanation for our lives in Christ, but we cannot do that if we are not showing the work of Christ. We can’t do that when we are consumed by our hurts, fears, past failures, or apathy so that we cannot see other’s hurts or see their injustice. When we do overcome our past and embrace our fear—and Christ will enable us to do that—we will feel and dispense real love; it will always be in the parameters of God’s Word, not in feelings but in the Fruit of the Spirit. If we fret and fight, we demean our Lord who Himself did not even argue when He was persecuted. If we can’t overcome our setbacks, our efforts of making Christ real in us or known to others will not only be wasted, but they could also have a negative effect, doing more harm than good. By the way, He already is real in you as a Christian; we just become blinded to Him. See Him, know Him, do as he says. Then, we can embrace His call, we can even love those who are unlovable, because we were once unlovable and He loved us. We can even learn to respect, listen, and be gentle so the real Gospel message goes out from us. Love will set our tone not only in how we are, but also in how and what we say.

A love that hopes means being optimistic and positive and not critical or condescending. This is a forward look, as in the awareness and work of our Lord in our souls and on to others around us. It is looking at the positive and the bright side, basking in God’s Son of Light and not in the darkness of humanity and all of its pessimism, cynicism, and despair. It lives in the present as it looks outward to others so we have clarity and confidence in what is good and could be good in others. This love is the image of God and the profession of the Christian. Thus, we can take our assurance that we have in Christ and be more assured that He is at work in us and in others so we are not so distrustful and suspicious or give up unless we have to. What we have in Christ can not only be a display, it can be a gift, which gives us certainty and confidence. This also ties to faith, because when we run low on faith, we can cling to hope and then we can glean more faith. So, do not give up on hope, because love does not (Job 28:12-19; Psalm 19:10; 119:14, 72,127,162; Prov. 3:13-15; Isa. 33:6; John 3:16; Rom. 8:24; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Cor. 8:13; 9:10-12, 23; James 2:14; 3:17; 1 John 3:14).

If hope and trust are hard for you and real love is still at your door step but not in your heart and mind or practice, consider this: Christ suffered and endured the ultimate evil for being the Ultimate Good and doing the ultimate good for us. He is our example in life and love and upon whom our eyes must always be focused! We are called to be enthusiastic and faithful—and we can be! It is far more important how we come across to others than anything we say to them; if we are not what we should be, the message of love, our attitude of love, and our understanding of love will be compromised and distorted!

How can you see the potential of what you can do and how you can bring more patience and hope to your relationships?

How would this affect your spouse, friends, co-workers, and others and bring them into a deeper level of love and commitment? What will you do about this?

A Love that Accepts

1 Corinthians 13:7c

This passage is about a love that accepts and hopes in people who are undeserving of it, as God dispenses His mercy upon us. This is inserted in between protects and perseveres in that we are tolerant and accept people, even endure those we may not like in order to demonstrate real effectual love, thereby treating others with respect, kindness, and honesty. This is what Paul was trying to get these Corinthians to understand, that the good essence of relationship is what makes us likable, enduring, and builds the church, thus showing a glimpse of what God does on a grand scale. God shows us His faith and hope; we reciprocate, passing it on to others. Therefore, we can believe in the best and hope in the best. In contrast, the Corinthians were basically doing the opposite.

Here, real love is optimistic and cultivates growing relationships while repairing damaged ones. It protects us from and helps us deal with disappointments because we will have the best expectations for things to turn out well with others. This love becomes the proof of our salvation. How and what Jesus did in us in regenerating our heart, mind, and soul becomes the touchstone of our profession of faith in Christ. Love is hope and thus not forced upon us; it is a sacrifice and an offering we receive by Christ’s given work of redemption that we accept by our faith. We are not adhering to a code of conduct, but a relationship with our Lord that is filled and infused with love! Real love only comes from a life that is transformed and renewed by what Christ has done for us! We can't grow in the faith by a hope that is centered on our desires or is seeking some kind of spiritual encounter; rather, it comes by knowing, trusting, and obeying Christ as LORD. We are to realize Who He is and what He has done for us and then respond in appreciation, trust, and obedience, fueling our hope, our confidence in Christ, and helps us be optimistic to others around us. Too many Christians have a skewed idea of love that is based on our sinful nature and media, and not His nature and principles. Such thinking and behavior equates a life that is meaningless and produces little to no fruit (Psalm 31:24; 33:22; 71:14; Jer. 3:22; 13:33-35; Hos. 14:4; Zeph. 3:17; Rom. 12:12; 15:1-3; Eph. 4:1-16; Col. 4:7-18; Heb. 6:11-12; 12:2; 18-20; 17:7; 2 Pet. 3:14-18).

The bottom line for this aspect of love to work in and though us is this: Christ, our living Hope that will never fade away! Our hope is that we have God’s blessing, and in how lovingly He goes out of His way to redeem us. This does not mean wishing or just thinking positively; rather, we can have the confidence and conviction that our living God keeps His promises and secures us in Him. It is the assurance—and fact—that God has redeemed us, will bless us, and will care for us and we can take that to the streets of our lives. We need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ. If not, we will soon forget and replace His direction either with our frailty and pride or with the ways of the world (1 Pet. 1: 3-21; 3:15).

Does Hope make you feel that God is patiently working in you and others around you?

What can you do to better understand what God has truly done for you?

How would this give you more optimism and confidence?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Love Trusts

Love believes, never stops believing, this form of love comes from a sincere faith that is focused on Christ so we are trusting, not because the other person deserves it, but because Christ does. Love is not meant to fulfill our own needs; rather, it is a gift of grace by faith. It allows us not to be tied to what others do for or have done for us! We can be supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. We trust in Christ and have the faith and confidence to let His love flow in and through us to others so we can trust them without expecting anything back. Thus, we will not jump to conclusions, be cynical, or be suspicious, on the ready to denounce. Faith that is not powered by Christ, but practiced by our worldly “trust” is useless, false, dead, and even demonic! This passage is about how we are to live when we trust in our Lord (Psalm 37:23; John 13:1; 15: 3,13; Rom. 3:24; 5:1-5; 9:3; 14:23; 1 Cor. 9:22; 16:14; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 4:9-10; 5:8-18; 1 Tim. 1:5; Heb. 11:6; 1 John 5:12).

Love is continual as it holds the redemptive plan of our Lord and uses us to display His grace. So, we can believe in the best of others and have patience and respect to allow for mistakes and setbacks even when something goes wrong. This is where we get “innocent until proven guilty!” This is the faith aspect of love that believes and accepts our Lord’s precepts including His model of a sacrificial love. It makes room for others to grow and mature. This does not mean we are to be gullible or foolhardy or take mistreatment or exploitation because this is not detached from God’s other precepts of wisdom and discernment. It does not say we are to remain in an abusive situation; rather, believe the best in others until proven otherwise (Prov. 14:15; Rom. 5:5; 1 Pet. 4:8).

We cannot have a good relationship with God if not with one another, or vice versa. Every human has a conscience to know what is good or bad, but not all know God! This is why God does not want us to be controlled by the past or to be fearful or cowardly. Rather, we are to learn from our experiences and grow from them, but not be tied to them so they become our identity. We have been born again in Christ; our old life is old, and it is no longer who we are. Thus, we are to grow closer to Him and be an example to others who are still in the old life without allowing them to influence and entice us. Our focus needs to be what is going on now, what God is doing, and how we can contribute to it—not just what can I get, but what can I learn and gain to be better for His glory? Take comfort; God does indeed have a plan for you even when you cannot see it. His will for your growth in Him is clear! He wants you to be faithful and good so others can see in you a demonstration model for the new life that they can have too. He gives you the ability, the power, and the strength to endure and to enjoy (Gal. 6:7)! The most important aspect is for us to keep our eyes focused on Christ, with racehorse blinders on to block off the rest.

How have you expected or even demanded that others first meet your needs and what you want in order for you to love then back? (Keep in mind we all do at some level; it is always a struggle and a journey to develop real continual love and to trust others.)

How do you display the wonder of His love and grace in your daily life? How do you react when someone at school or work hurts you?

What does it mean to you that you have everything for fulfillment from Christ, or at least you should? Do you trust Him for your love and your ability to give and receive love? If not, why not?

Love is Bolted to Faith!

Real love is removing the focus from our concerns, anxieties, fears, hurts, stress, and worries and instead facing God with our confidence and reliance so we can then face others and believe in them.

It will enable us to appreciate others in the Lord, believing in them until the proof says otherwise. Love desires to seek and apply what God has to say. This aspect of love trusts and therefore is able and even shows up best when others don’t deserve it or are not willing to see or receive it.

There can be no real love without sacrifice, the stepping out of our will, perceived needs, and agenda and moving beyond our hurts and the potential execution of our fears. Love is to be engaged and a part of another person that we do not demand a contract or a give back from them. The world demands that the other person must meet us and fulfill us with an entitlement that says they deserve me. But God says love is not deserved; love does not require or need to be merited. If it did, it would not be real love. It requires a sense of gratitude over duty and that trusts that love is real without achieving what we want or getting back what we put in because we are infused and indwelt in Christ. He is in me, working in me so all I do is reciprocate His love without expecting reciprocation from others. Christ is all I need to be fulfilled, so I can trust Him and His love to be real even when I do not feel like it

Love is closely tied to faith because our object is Christ. He is what we trust in and hope for; Christ is what is seen when others disappoint and hurt! As faith is the promise of God that gives us the confidence to trust, we can receive it, act on it, obey Him, and trust God’s promises because God is trustworthy. This will help us perceive others by their potential, not just by the setbacks and suffering we experience and see. Like how a good parent handles a disobedient child. This helps us be implanted with hope. This right thinking and practice about love should give us the ability to believe in others even though they may not meet our expectations. The key characteristics we can glean from this is being trustworthy, dependable, and honest (Matt. 6:33; John 14:9; Rom. 3:21-26; 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Phil. 4:8; Heb. 11:1)!

What are you willing to do to conform to Christ? How would this help you be more confident in His Way? Have you realized that His way is better than ours, better than the harboring of fears, resentments, or past or future hurts?

Do you need a wakeup call when you do the opposite of love? How is real love contagious? How can you be the person who infects others, in a good way, with God’s love? What would happen if you allowed love to spill out…even in your worst days? What does it mean to you that this is what Christ did for you?

What does it take for love to be a lifestyle? How does it help that Christ is real and living in you? What can you do to be a person who is more trusting and trustworthy?