Day 12: L is for Love

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is LOVE.” I John 4:8

L is for love. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection. That seems like such a simple definition; yet, how often do we struggle with love in our relationships? Love for a spouse. Love for a parent. Love for a child. Love for our neighbors. Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Love for the church. Love for God. Who knew that there were so many relationships in our lives … and these are only a small part of them?

I know this is not Valentine’s Day … or even close to it … but I would like for us to take a moment and reflect on what true love is. I am sure that at some time or another you have told someone that they were your “true love.” If you have not, you more than likely have heard someone else say it. But, what is true love anyways? Let us take a look.

True love revolves around God. What? Do you mean to tell me that love does not revolve around a man? No, it does not. Why do I say that true love revolves around God? Because I John 4:8 tells us that “God IS love.” So, in truth, our definition above should read, “Love IS God.” Am I correct?

So, since God is love and true love revolves around Him, then where does that leave us? Well, if we are His children, we are to love as God loves. Again, I John 4:8 tells us that “He that loveth not, knoweth not God …” What else can we learn about true love?

· True love loves with ALL its heart Deuteronomy 6:5 “And thou shalt love the LORD they God with ALL thine heart …”

· True love loves with all or loves with nothing; there is no in-between; it is either one or the other — Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other …”

· True love does not rely on words, but is fulfilled in action John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He GAVE …”

· True love loves the unlovely Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

· True love is unconditional; we must love even when others do not do what we want them to do — ouch! This is a tough one for me because I am a very detailed person and on my sanest day, it drives me up the wall if others do not fall into place. I want everyone and everything to go as I want … but, I am learning that it is NOT at all about ME, but it is ALL about HIM!

· True love does not have to agree with someone to love them (let that sink in for a minute); Christ ate with Publicans and sinners, yet did not participate in their sin; He loved them even while they were living in sin.

· True love is the test of our faith; if we truly know God, then we will be able to love others — I John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

Lesson Objective: To understand what true love is. To examine yourself to see if you are living a life of true love toward God and man. Who is God telling you to love? Is it a wayward spouse, a rebellious child, a brother or sister in Christ? Who?

Did you pass or did you fail?

Day 10: Love – part 3

For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

      I truly intended to finish love yesterday with part 2, but then this popped up in my Facebook memories from a few years ago and it stopped me in my tracks. Who is needing to hear one more devotion on love? Is it me, Lord?

      Love means “a strong affection or liking.” God LOVES the person … not the sin. God sees the sin, yet LOVES the person despite the sin. He LOVES the person so much that He desires for that person to forsake the sin and believe in Him. Just because the person had sin in their life, Christ did not alienate Himself from them. Christ ate with “publicans and SINNERS.” Why would He do such a thing? How could He?! (shock)

      Let me say this … this devotion has not the first thing to do with what is going on in the world today, “black lives matter,” the gay movement, who is allowed in which bathroom, etc. But, this whole devotion is about what God said and what God set the example for us to do.

      I believe in Biblical separation [a break; division; not partaking of]. I believe that God clearly teaches that in His Word … I John 2:15a clearly tells us that we are to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world …” and we also see that in II Corinthians 6:17 when it says to “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you.”

      We do not have to immerse ourselves in other’s lives or do what they are doing to LOVE them and to share God’s LOVE towards them. If we are living our lives right/righteously, they will know what we stand for. But, at the same time, we do not have to lift ourselves so far up on a pedestal that we lose all our testimony and effectiveness and witness to them to where they would rather reject Christ, than receive Him.

      In John 3:17 it says that God didn’t come to condemn (punish … even though one day we all will stand accountable before Him), because just by not believing, that person has already condemned themselves (John 3:18). But, God has come through LOVE to bring this world to the saving knowledge of Himself. What greater LOVE is there … “Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There is nothing in my life or yours that a sinless, perfect, righteous and holy God would desire. Yet, He goes on to say in verse 16 that “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you …” God has chosen to show forth His LOVE and through that love for us to be the salt and the light of the earth.

      Who has God placed in your path to LOVE? Is it the cashier at the grocery store (who is covered in tattoos), the teller at the bank (who was rude to you), your child’s teacher at school (who disciplined your child when you didn’t think that they deserved it), the school bus driver (who doesn’t care if your child missed the bus or not), the mailman (who never puts your mail in the box right), the young adult that lives next door (who has blue and pink spiked hair and piercings all over their face) or your child (who has forsaken every word of advice you have given and has set their own path for their lives)?

      Who is it? Show them God’s LOVE today … that unconditional, one-way street LOVE; that love that knows no bounds, that is long-suffering, that is kind, that is not envious, that is not boastful or prideful, that seeks after the needs of others, that thinks kind thoughts, that rejoices in truth, that bears up under all things, that does not lose hope, that will endure unimaginable things and that never faileth … NEVER!

I John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God … He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is love.”

Day 9: Love (part 2)

… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Matthew 20:39

I fully intended to go on to another topic today, but God will not let me. Everywhere I turn, it seems like there is something else that pops up in my view reminding me that this topic is so much deeper than what I tried to convey in yesterday’s devotional. So, let us try this one more time! What do you think?

Love is probably one of the hardest battles that we will face as a Christian. Love? A battle? Yes, love is a battle for those who are saved. Why? Because, first of all, love does not come naturally to our human nature. I John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.” So, when we look at God or think of God, we must look and think of Him as the Love. I know that there are a lot of lovey-dovey religions and thinking in our society today, but even they fail to fully comprehend this type of love.

Christ paid that ultimate sacrifice of love on the cross for you and I. We see that in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Whether we love Him in return or not, does not matter … He will still love us!

Do you know why love is such a battle for the Christian? Because when we love as God loves, lives are changed! Our life changes, those we love their lives change, our churches change, and the community around us changes. This makes the devil super mad! He does not want our lives to change. He does not want us to live a life of love for our Savior. He does not want us to love the unlovely … the husband who does not love us in return, the rebellious child who shows hate     towards us, that prickly person who gets under our skin every single time that we are around them (or not!), that boss who just cannot understand where you are coming from, that person who repeatedly and endlessly disrespects you, that person who just loves to manipulate and take advantage of you, and even that in-law that is pulling your loved one away from you. He wants our churches to judge, backbite and slander others. It is no wonder that others do not want what we think that we have … because, sadly, we do not have anything or act any different than they do!

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” I Corinthians 13:1 This is the very first verse in the “love” chapter of the Bible. Why do you think it is first? Because all of the rest is of no value, if we have not gotten this main concept down. The devil wants us to be that loud, obnoxious noise to the world around us, but do not let him deceive you!

How are we going to change the lives of others around us? First, by changing ourselves. Then, as a friend posted on Facebook Sunday, “You have to love them, and when you have shown the love of God to them and are no longer a ‘tinkling cymbal’ to them, then, open your Bible and teach them [about] a loving, yet holy, God.” Remember, actions speak louder than words, my friend! May we change our words so that our actions will follow!

Day 8: Love

And thou shalt LOVE the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Love in our world today has so many faces … or so we are led to believe. But, the question is, “Is it true love?” Well, what is true love? What does it look like? I love the definition that I read one day by Jill Briscoe, author of “Love that Lasts,” that says this about I Corinthians 13 “It is as if Paul ‘painted a portrait [of love] with words, and Jesus sat for it. For in the Lord Jesus Christ we have the perfect picture of the perfect love’.” How can your love or my love even compare? Yet, God not only expects, but requires, the same of us, His children!

Due to space, I won’t type out I Corinthians 13 aka the love chapter so that we can go verse-by-verse to see what true love looks like. But, here is a shortened synopsis of it:

· It is NOT grounded in any external value

· It is NOT an act of self-completion or self-satisfaction by means of another

· It does NOT demand anything in return

· It is NOT based on how you feel, but rather on a decision to love

· It IS able to stand on its own; it doesn’t need someone’s love in return

· It IS a pure desire to care for another

· It IS a love that is seen in the marriage of a mature couple

· It IS strictly a biblical form of love and cannot be found in secular writings

· It IS a godly love

Our pastor has been preaching some on love the past couple of weeks. A few points that stuck out to me were the following:

1) Love is an action. We have all heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is true. You can say all of the words that you want to say. They can be quite eloquent even, but if the actions do not match the words, your words have just become a lie.

2) Our love is seen through our obedience. How do we know that our children love us? Through their obedience, right? If we truly love God, we will obey Him and His Word!

3) Do we truly love with our ALL? This is what God is asking of us. Do we truly love with ALL though? Do we love our spouse with ALL of our hearts? Do we love our parents with ALL of our hearts? Do we love God with ALL of our hearts? If so, self will be sacrificed and God will be first in our lives. Where does He place in yours?