Posts Tagged ‘love’

Last Friday night I had a great conversation with a friend about love. I’ve been pondering it on and off since then. I think it’s the sort of thing that somehow gets filed away in my mind as a known entity: Love – most important thing, check, now on to other priorities…I hope I’m not really so casual with my dismissal but I think, as a principle, I often unintentionally relegate it to the back burner.

But it is the most important thing, so I love taking time out to meditate on that fact.

A few favorite verses on love:

Jesus replied: “‘LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘LOVE your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  ~ Matthew 22:37-40

And now these three remain: faith, hope and LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE.  ~ I Corinthians 13:13

Dear children, let us not LOVE with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  ~ I John 3:18

Above all, LOVE each other deeply, because LOVE covers over a multitude of sins.  ~ I Peter 4:8

Do everything in LOVE.  ~ I Corinthians 16:14

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through LOVE.  ~ Galatians 5:6b

Love God and love others – everything hangs on this. Above all, love each other deeply. It’s the only thing that counts. If I don’t have love I am nothing, and all my actions are in vain (I Corinthians 13:1-3).

Sometimes I like to read slowly through the famous love passage in I Corinthians 13. It’s thrown around so often it’s almost clichéd, but if you consider it carefully it’s mind-blowing:

Love…is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails.

Pick any one of those attributes and you can mull over it for hours. Put it in your pocket and carry it with you throughout the day and see if it doesn’t take your interactions with others to a whole new level.

After Friday’s conversation I dug up a quote from a book by Heidi and Rolland Baker. It’s called Expecting Miracles (and it does share a bit of the supernatural), but the overwhelming message it impressed upon me was the importance of love.

“…God is saying, ‘See!’ He wants to impart His heart to you in such a way that you become full of His passion. He wants you to be so full of His love that nobody can stop you from being compassionate to every person who crosses your path every day of your life.”

How are we demonstrating love? Are we loving lavishly or only where it’s comfortable? Are we loving only with our words or also with our actions? Are we loving others deeply? In the dust and grind of our daily lives are we pouring out love to the people whose paths cross ours…at work, at the grocery store, on the street, at home? Are we making love our top priority?

Above all…everything hangs on this…the only thing that counts…LOVE.

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The last couple months have been a bit of a whirlwind. God has been present in family visits, airplanes, airports, temporary housing, and all the many details of getting set up in a new country. I confess my gaze has not, at all times, remained fixed on Him. Nonetheless, He has remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13), and I am thankful for His hand at work in all the crazy, chaotic, anxious, frustrating, silly, happy, wonderful, peaceful, beautiful moments of my life.

In a hotel room in Nevada, feeling anxious about the upcoming overseas flight, God reminded me of Isaiah 26:3 – Thou shalt keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is stayed on thee (actually I think that’s my own little translation, I’m not sure how it got stuck in my head that way but it’s almost the KJV).

In LAX, roaming the terminal and waiting for my flight, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude. I love the little corner of the world I’m from, but what a privilege to go forth and see all the amazingly beautiful things I have yet to see. How could I not graciously leave the past behind in exchange for all that is to come?

Sitting on a beach in Western Australia, reflecting on the account of Elisha, I was struck by his matter-of-fact words in 2 Kings 3:18, “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” He was speaking of God filling the valley in the Desert of Edom with water – without wind or rain – to provide for a thirsty Israel, marching to battle against Moab.

What seemingly impossible things am I facing that are “easy in the eyes of the Lord?” What seemingly impossible things are needed right now – for you, for your neighbor, for God’s people everywhere – that are “easy in the eyes of the Lord?” How many of these would He willingly provide if we but seek Him, as the kings of Israel and Judah did?

God is faithful.

One particular verse has been sticking with me the past few weeks. It’s quite simple on the surface, but I feel I’ve hardly begun to understand its depths. I found it, hidden in a familiar and popular passage in 1 John chapter 4 about love – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…God is love…This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us…if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us….

At the end of all this, and before another couple of paragraphs of the same, is the following statement: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (verse 16).

I’m sure I’ve read it before, but for all intents and purposes I don’t think I ever really saw it. I’ve been going over it again and again in my mind. It seems like such a simple conclusion – an obvious thing.

On the surface it’s almost too easy. Do I know God’s love? Yes. Do I rely on His love? Sure. I think so anyway. That’s kind of like trust, right?

But looking deeper…Do I really know the DEPTHS of God’s love for me? Do I really KNOW the depths of God’s love for me? And what does it really mean, in practice, to rely on it? There’s a lot of confidence and expectation in that word – rely. What does it mean to rely on His love?

I suppose I may be leaving you with more questions today than answers, but my prayer for you is this:

May you KNOW and RELY on the love God has for you.

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I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I do, however, think there is something to be said for being intentional. Deliberate, focused, purposeful steps taken toward a desired goal.

I came across the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards yesterday. Edwards was an 18th century theologian famous, among other things, for a “fire and brimstone” sermon he delivered in 1741 entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (I haven’t read it in its entirety, but I can’t say at a glance that I would recommend it).

In 1722-1723 he composed a list of resolutions to which he strove to adhere. Most of them embody typical ideals of self-improvement, some are redundant, and a few seem unnecessarily strict. But some I found thought-provoking and worth consideration…

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

Do my actions bring glory to God? If they are less than glorifying, how can they be improved? If they are more than that which is glorifying, are they necessary or beneficial in some way? Would my time be better spent elsewhere?

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). I love the breakdown of the Greek word translated as “more abundantly,” “abundant,” or “full.” Those words don’t seem to capture it. Try this: “over and above, more than is necessary, superadded, exceedingly abundantly, supremely, much more than all, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon” (see KJV with Strong’s, look up the passage and follow the link for the word “abundantly”). Am I experiencing life in its fullness? In as far as it depends on me, am I living with all my might?

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

It’s all very well to be generous when need presents itself – a friend asks for a favor, a charity asks for a contribution, donating clothes to the local thrift store when closet space is at a premium…but am I seeking out opportunities to be generous? I love the New King James translation of Isaiah 32:8 – “But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand.” Also the New Living translation – “But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.”

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

I love this one. It might be my favorite. To frequently, deliberately, choose to do something “which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God.” To step in faith! How often are our actions guided by our own abilities? Of course, there is something to be said for practicality, but I think the idea of endeavoring, on a regular basis, to undertake the “impossible” is fantastic (no really, and not just in the fanciful, imaginary, impractical sort of way, although that seems to highlight the point)!

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

Speaking as someone who believes, unequivocally, in the love God has for me, I think this is quite profound. I believe in God’s love because I have experienced it, and it is a beautiful and all-encompassing thing. To steal a line from Ingrid Michaelson and take it entirely out of context, it’s “the sort of” [love] “that waters me, and makes me grow tall and strong and proud, and flattens me.” Does anything cause me to doubt this thing I know to be true? Stand in the way of my receiving the fullness of it? Of being filled, healed and empowered by it?

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s…

Am I living selfishly or sacrificially?

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