Do Not Love

www.bible.com/1713/1jn.2.15.csb

Of all the people in the world, we ought to be the most loving, most caring people on the planet, right? But here comes 1 John, who instead of encouraging us to love everyone and everything, actually cautions us against it. There are some things we ought not to love, namely the world and everything in it. That sounds like it excludes a lot, doesn’t it?

The world here is shorthand for the worldly system. Something that is worldly is typically not from God but from man and his sinful desires. So to love not the world is to not love sin and its effects. That’s a good thing. But that excludes an awful lot from our purview. We are not to love murder, sexual deviance, sinful pleasures, a whole host of things that derive their nature from the Enemy and his minions. We are to resist carnal lusts. We are to resist the pleasures of the flesh if they are delivered through sin. Sex outside of marriage, any sexual act or appearance of sex is to be avoided. We are not to love that.

You see as Christians we have been led into a trap by the world. We have been told since we are all about love, then we should be accepting of two people who love each other. We should be encouraging love of self. And we certainly can’t tell anyone what true love is, because love is love, no matter who experiences it. But it is. Lie, because that is ”love” without truth. We are not afforded the luxury of defining love for ourselves. We are not love. God is love. God sets the standard and definition. We do not have that authority. This when it comes to love, God is the authority on what it means. God set this standard by sending His own Son to be crucified for our sins. True, selfless, self-sacrifice is God’s standard of love. He tells us what relationships have His approval: heterosexual monogamy in marriage, friendship, family, and worship. All are experiences of love. He did not approve others.

God has the right to tell what to love and what not to love. As His creation, we have the right to obey or disobey. But there are always consequences. I hope you make fbe right choices.

Help me God to make good choices today in how and to whom I express love. Help me to enjoy your Creation without loving the world, because I know that sometimes it’s hard to know the difference. I love You Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

More Important

www.bible.com/1713/php.2.3.csb

Who is most important in your life? Of all the people in your life, who is has the most significant impact over your daily affairs? Some might say my employer really has the most to say about how I live and work. He governs my time, tells me when I am scheduled for work, and how I ought to dress and act while I am there. Granted, that person does have a lot of power over your life. But that person cannot tell you how to think, or what to think about.

Well, what about your spouse? Doesn’t she have a lot of say about who you are and what you’re about? Certainly. I share my life with her. She and I are very close, and she has much to say about how I live my life and what I occupy my time with, as she should.

What about your God? Doesn’t God have a lot to say about how to live your life and what to think about? Absolutely. And of all who have something to say about me, it is God’s opinion I value the most. So with certainty, God is the most important person in my life. So why doesn’t God say that here?

Here, it is others who are the most important. Others? What others? Just anybody? It reminds me of something Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” and “however you treat the least of these, you have done it unto Me.” The least of all humanity is just as important as the greatest. All are made in the image of God. All.

So how we treat others reflects on our treatment of God. For how can we say we love God and yet hate our brother? Is not our brother made in the image of God? For all of this talk about welcoming our neighbors (as a feint for accepting illegal aliens) are we really addressing the underlying Christian principle? Inviting the world to our doorstep sounds like a good idea, even a Christian one, but do we also couple that with our Christian missionary work? We may well want to accept the illegal in the name of Jesus, but don’t we also proselytize him? The name of Jesus demands it! If they are to come under our roof, they must also give respect to our God. If they accept our hospitality, then they must also be respectful of our religion. If we are going to bring the world to our doorstep in the name of Christian hospitality, then we must also demand that the world give respect to our Christian faith. You would never allow a houseguest to disrespect your family’s faith, would you? That’s not how hospitality works.

Sorry, that got off into rant territory. Many in our community are fond of posting signs that welcome “neighbors” regardless of where they are from, without realizing how the underlying Christian principles they pretend to espouse actually work. Hospitality does not also mean tolerance of all and every idea. It means we welcome you as a child of God made in His image. When you come under my protection, there are certain rules while under my roof you must follow. You don’t pee on the floor. You don’t have sex in front of my children. You eat with your mouth closed. You don’t curse my God or threaten my life. Just some basic rules of hospitality in my opinion.

Lord Jesus, help me continue to see others as You do. Sometimes, I get all jumbled up with my worldview and how I see others, especially when I see the worst in others on a daily basis. Father, you didn’t call me to judge other people. You called me loved and spread Your love to them in the gospel message. Remind me today to bless these souls with your loving Presence. Help me to remember my role as an ambassador for Your Kingdom, not mine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Weary in Doing Good

www.bible.com/1713/gal.6.9.csb

Do you ever get tired? I really don’t think getting tired is an option. If you do work, you get tired. Your body gets tired. Your brain gets tired. But what about your soul? Does your soul ever get tired? Frankly I’ve been frustrated that my soul keeps wanting to do on when everything else says stop.

I think this is the issue that Paul is addressing here. We do tend to spend a lot of time trying to do good, and sometimes it doesn’t seem like we are getting anywhere. It is possible go weary your soul in trying to right wrongs and fix people. But Paul’s encouragement to us is clear. A harvest is coming. It will come when it is time. Don’t give up planting those seeds. Don’t give up investing in people. Some people need more fertilizer than others.

A reminder on this Monday that our work for the Lord will always bear a return. Even if your job seems hopeless and and pointless, God has plans for you where you are, plans to prosper His word and your witness.

Dear Lord, help me to see today Your purposes in the mundanity that is Monday. Help me to see Your purposes in all things, that You may be glorified. Help me Jesus this day, Amen. Thank you Jesus.

Confess Your Sins

www.bible.com/1713/jas.5.16.csb

I too am a sinner. Each day is laod upon me a conviction against some si or other. And each day I must face my conscience and my Lord about it. Each day. I mourn my inability to resist temptation. I yearn for the day when my faith shall be sight and His face I will behold. Because then I won’t have to worry about sin and temptation any more.

And yet our glorious God still forgives and gives grace. Through the shed blood of His own Son. Though we sin, He still loves. Though we fail, He still reaches out His hand to us to pull us back up. What a good God. With what can we compare His eternal majesty?

Lord Jesus, please accept my humble apology for failing you time and again. Please help me to see my faults so that I may draw closer to you. Thank you Jesus for your marvelous gift. Amen.

Trust and Confidence

www.bible.com/1713/jer.17.7.csb

Still warming up to today? That’s okay. It took me a while to get moving today as well. Not an especially warm day today, but I think we’ll warm up to it. It is merely a balmy 18F this morning. What can I say, it’s winter. Spring is coming next month, so we have a little time to wait.

I am encouraged by the word this morning. We often put our trust and confidence in things not worthy, such as government, our employer, other people. While they are trustworthy to an extent, how long would it take to replace you at your job? If you died, would the government send a “we miss you” card? Not likely. And more often that not, the world is out to swindle us of any extra cash we have, rather than trying to help us take advantage of the next great deal.

Rather, we put our trust and confidence where it is most deserving, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot go wrong with Him. Even when it seems He’s not listening, or not close by,  we know He is. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. But as a wise person once said, “the teacher is always silent during the test.” Sometimes He steps away from our immediate perception when out faith is being tested, or when we suffer a little while.

We have got to disassociate ourselves from the notion that we are promised our best life now. That is a lie from Hell. If you think that becoming a Christian entitles you to your best life now, you are mistaken. Our best life is yet to come. This life is the proving ground for the soul that will live in that ethereal best life, when we have our home together with Jesus. This life is the test. This life is the scantron to prepare us for what is to come. Every day, every year, we will learn a bit more, and be tested a bit more severely. God is working in us to perfect us. So we cannot expect (though we are given glimpses of that life) the best life in this life. God often chooses to bless us, and give us a taste of that life, and we are grateful for every bite. But our true best life is yet to come in the world to come in the presence of our Heavenly Father. What God seeks to test in us in this world is our faith, our ability to see that next life (which we have already begun through our salvation) despite our surroundings. It is faith that pleases Him and if He sees us smiling through our hardships and sufferings because we believe in a better resurrection, a better life, and better hope that what this life offers, He sees our faith, hope and love in action. This is what pleases God. It is Paul and Silas singing in the prison. It is Jesus forgiving others from the cross. It is Joseph saying, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” It is the three young men standing before Nebuchadnezzar saying, “we believe God will save us from this fire, but if He doesn’t, we still still trust Him.” It is every martyr on every beach preparing to die at the hands of wicked men, saying “Father forgive them.” That is trust and confidence in the Lord.

Lord, help me develop this transcendent trust. Father I have failed you time and again. Please forgive my unbelief and create in me a clean heart O God! Thank you Lord for Your indescribable gift! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Love Is . . .

www.bible.com/1713/1co.13.4.csb

Not what I thought it was. When you are growing up as a young man, you think when you finally find that woman of your dreams and marry her, it will be love all the time. We will be all over each other. I will never have to wonder about sex ever again. Well, not so much.

This year my wife and I will have been married 25 years. There have been days like I imagined, and there have been days from Hell. Not gonna lie here. There are days where we have hated each other and couldn’t imagine going another day, and days where we thought our love couldn’t get any better. Thankfully, we were wrong on both counts. Over the years, you learn a few things, and you mature. And that’s where I learned that love isn’t about the roses and the candy and sex. Love is about bonding, staying rooted in each other, being present for each other. Love is caring, sharing, enjoying each other’s company. Love is all that the Scripture promised it would be. Mature love, real love is patience and kindness and joy and peace. But love is also sharing suffering and pain, hurt and loss. Love is being fully invested in another person, in their wins and losses, in their joys and sorrows. Love is being there when no one else will. Love is selfless giving, not taking. Love is offering, not seizing. Love is expressed in sexual intimacy, to be sure, but it is also expressed in weeping, in prayer, in working alongside, in listening. And this kind of love never gets old, stale or hollow. In fact, this kind of love continues to grow. This love grows deeper with each day. This love wakes up in anticipation of seeing your wife every morning, no matter what she looks like, because this love is from the soul.

Love is amazing, and love is taught to us by our Loving Heavenly Father. May you enjoy and experience this deep transcendant love for your spouse today and everyday. Don’t wait for once a year.

Dear God! Thank you for showing up this kind of love! Thank you for loving us so much that You sent Your own Son to love us, to give His most precious Life for us, to show us just how much we mean to You. Dear God each and every day teach us how to love, especially in loving our spouse, but also to extend this love to the unlovable. Show us your vision of people who need the gospel, who need good news. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your indescribable gift! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Attitude

www.bible.com/1713/php.2.5.csb

Have you ever had an ”attitude”? I’ve been told I need to straighten up my attitude. I need to get a new attitude. Even to fix my attitude problem. I feel they are all related.

I wonder what attitude helped Jesus through puberty and young adulthood? How did he simultaneously know everything yet still remain humble? Did he have good friendships growing up? What kind if a kid was he?

The Scripture is silent on these topics. But this letter does tell us that Jesus’ attitude, as One who is God, still humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross. That’s the kind attitude we are to have. Wow.

Lord help me to have the attitude of Jesus. Help me to be humble as you were, so that I may grow in faith and wisdom. To you be the glory Lord Jesus. Amen.