The Power Of Love

Terrorists are scary! That’s why they are called by that name. Part of their goal is to spread terror.

Many terrorists do their work out of a misplaced devotion to the god they serve. In fact, wars have been carried out in the name of God.

Jesus warned us.

“The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.”
John 16:2

How could anyone possibly think they were offering a service to God by killing someone? Jesus answered that question.

“They will do such things because they have not known The Father or Me.”
John 16:3

So how do we win the war on terror? By a heavy dose of Love that will not kill bodies, but will save souls. We win the war, not by eliminating people, but instead bringing them into The Kingdom of God. And we can rejoice, as their testimonies are heard around the world.

We often forget that one of the most extreme terrorists, who specifically targeted Christians, became one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all times. Paul, once known as Saul, wrote much of the New Testament of The Bible.

What happened? He came to know Jesus as God and he experienced first hand the wonder of His Love, Mercy and Grace.

Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen, a Christian who was martyred for The Lord. Saul heard the living words of Stephen, as he left his earthly body.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Acts 7:59-60

However, Saul was not deterred from his mission until he met Jesus in the form of a blinding Light. Jesus called Saul by name. Saul realized Jesus knew him personally.

Jesus then asked him a question that further brought things to a personal level.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
Acts 9:4

Jesus did not ask Saul why he was persecuting His Followers. Jesus wanted Saul to know Jesus Himself was in each of those God had created. Saul was attacking Him.

Paul would later teach his followers the same amazing revelation, when he said,

“Do you not know that your bodies are Temples of The Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?”
1 Corinthians 6:19

The world would be quite different if we realized that every person God created is a Temple inhabited by Him. When we come against Him, it is personal. We are seeking to silence His Voice, Who we do not recognize beneath the outer shell of human wickedness.

God Himself set the record straight when He said,

“I don’t want wicked people to die,” declares The Almighty Lord. “I want them to turn from their evil ways and live.”
Ezekiel 18:23

Saul, who became Paul wrote the well known Love Verses of 1 Corinthians 13. We have shared in his celebration of Love in the last few posts.

Paul wrote with great joy of His Discovery of The Power of Love.

“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from The Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Love never fails!
1 Corinthians 13:8

 

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Forgiveness — The Heart Of Love

Because Jesus was loving, merciful and compassionate, some people get the idea He was soft. He was not.

Remember He commanded, not suggested, we love. He told us we “must” love one another. He was serious.

“A new Command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
John 13:34

Jesus addressed the core of Love when He told us to forgive. Forgiveness is a Gift of Love that truly keeps giving.

God is willing to forgive us, but it is a conditional Promise. Jesus didn’t mince words about The Principles of Forgiveness.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15

Our extension of Mercy and Grace to others opens the gates wide for God’s Mercy and Grace to flow back to us. Our refusal to forgive others locks those gates shut.

Even when we know forgiving is the right thing to do, we may have a hard time doing it.

Sometimes we say begrudgingly, “I’ll forgive them, but I’ll never forget.” However, true forgiveness does involve forgetting the offense.

If we are to forgive as God does, then we must follow His Standard.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Hebrews 8:12

We may try to forget, but because the offense seems attached to the person, every time we think of the person, we remember their sin.

We may try to deal with this dilemma by trying to forget the person. But even if they are not in our life anymore, memories creep in. What can we do?

The heart of forgiveness is remembering in Love the person who sinned against us. God forgets sin, but He never forgets the person who He frees from the sin.

Think of how we correct a mistake when we type the wrong word on our computer. We hit delete and type what we want.

If we type the same thing, the mistake will be back in front of us. If we type something different, the new word will appear.

In the same way, if we deliberately remember the person, but we attach new words to describe them, things will change.

I invite you to read my last post on “Overflowing with God’s Love.” Begin by letting God’s Love flow through you.

You will then be the vessel through which God works to bring about change in the other person. You are planting seeds of Love in faith.

Choose to let go of anything the person did in the past. Choose to trust that God’s Awesome Power will work in their present lives, so they never again bring pain to anyone else.

Release that person in Mercy and Grace. Relinquish any desire to control the outcome of what God will do. You will know about the change in your own heart. You may never know of the change in the other person.

You are calling for Love, not based on what you see in that person or even in yourself. You are calling for God to make visible somewhere in the world the person He created in Love.

How do you remember the person and attach them to Love? Let’s practice.

Begin with the suggestion from the last post. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 using God’s Name, I AM. Let God tell you who you are in Love.

Then think of the other person and read out loud who they are in Love. We will use the name, John, as an example.

John is patient.

John is kind.

John does not envy.

John does not boast.

John is not proud.

John does not dishonor others.

John is not self seeking.

John is not easily angered.

John keeps no records of wrongs.

John does not delight in evil, but John rejoices with The Truth.

John always protects.

John always trusts.

John always hopes.

John always perseveres.

God’s Love in John never fails!

In God’s Love, we find we are connected, even if we are not physically together anymore. God’s Love at work anywhere is a step toward The Mission to which God is calling us.

Jesus prayed to His Father that we would all be one with Them.

” … that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent Me and have loved them as You loved Me.”
John 17:23

Forgiveness is the heart of Love!

 

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Overflowing With God’s Love!

Paul gives a good description of Love. Would you want to be around someone who is this way all the time?

Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with The Truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails!
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

God is all those things and more.
God is Love!
1 John 4:8

So we can go back and put God’s Name every place Paul says Love. Example: God is patient. God is kind.

And we can go even further in bringing The Word to Life. We can use God’s Other Name. In sharing what His Other Name is, God also revealed how He shares The Power of that Name with us.

Moses asked God what His Name was. God answered.

“I AM WHO I AM.”
Exodus 3:14

God’s Name is I AM. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 again. This time, use God’s Name of I AM!

I AM patient,

I AM kind.

I do not envy,

I do not boast,

I AM not proud.

I do not dishonor others,

I AM not self-seeking,

I AM not easily angered,

I keep no records of wrongs.

I do not delight in evil but rejoice with The Truth.

I always protect,

I always trust,

I always hope,

I always persevere.

God’s Love in me never fails!

Faith allows us to believe in God’s Love. Faith allows us to know God’s Love is in us. Faith allows us to know He will love us so powerfully His Love will overflow and fill the world.

I challenge you to try this for a week. Read the I AM version out loud. Don’t evaluate yourself on how you are doing in your own strength. Simply read it and praise God for His Love in you. The fruit of The Words planted in you is growing!

You may discover after a week, you want to continue to make this your daily agreement with God. Read it and hear Him saying it to you. Then say it back to Him!

May The Lord make your Love increase and overflow for each other, and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
1 Thessalonians 3:12

 

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Call Love!

If you want your dog to come to you, you call the dog, not the cat. Even if you see the cat right in front of you, if you want the dog, you ignore the cat and call the dog.

This blog posting is not about animal training. It is about people. How often do we notice, talk about or even obsess about what is in front of us? If we even address what we want, it is in a kind of “I wish I had,” “if only I had” way.

A verse that is sometimes overlooked in The Bible is one of The Most Powerful Revelations.

Paul, speaking of Abraham, said,
“He is our father, in the sight of God, in Whom He believed — The God Who gives Life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”
Romans 4:17

Abraham believed God and God called into existence something that had not been there before. God called the invisible into the visible!

Abraham and Sarah were old. In the natural, the chances of them having a baby were slim. However God told Abraham to expect it would happen.

Just to sweeten the “faith pot,” God allowed time to pass between The Promise and The Fulfillment of The Promise. Would Abraham continue to believe God when he saw no evidence of The Promise being fulfilled? Would Abraham continue to have faith?

Paul describes faith.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

What can we hope for confidently?  David tells us.

The Lord delights in those who fear (hold in reverent awe) Him, who put their hope in His Unfailing Love.
Psalm 147:11

We can confidently hope in God’s Unfailing Love, even when we do not see the outward evidence of it yet. We can be assured God’s Love is there.

So when we look at ourselves or others in whom we do not see Love, we can be confident it is there.

Like in our opening example of the dog and cat, we ignore what we don’t want and call for what we want. We ignore lack of Love and confidently call for Love.

How do we call for Love? Believe God placed His Love in everyone He created. Call for it!

(I’ll show you how in my next blog posting.)

The Word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is the message concerning faith that we proclaim …
Romans 10:8

 

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Love Everyone?

Do you love everyone? Jesus commanded us to “love one another.” He made no exceptions.

He didn’t say, “Love one another except for those who really hurt you, those who you consider enemies or those you really don’t know that well.”

He said simply,
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
John 13:34

Jesus was God in human form. John reiterated God’s Command to Love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, because Love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is Love.”
1 John 7-8

God is Love. God is in you. So when you feel you just can’t love someone, stop and simply ask God, “Do You love that person?” His Answer will be yes!

Wait! What if you see no love in that person? Does that mean God’s Love is not in them? No! It’s there, but they may not know it yet.

Go back and reread John’s words again. Those who do not know God’s Love cannot express God’s Love.

But you know God’s Love! You have experienced His Grace and Mercy. You have been brought into the presence of one who seems unlovable to show them how God loves.

Will they understand immediately? Will they thank you? Maybe not. Will you ever experience Love from them? Perhaps not. But you will have done what Jesus commanded you to do.

And The Love, Mercy and Grace you extend to others will grow inside you, even as you give to others.

You will have planted a seed that can be watered and nourished by others, as God grows His Love to perfection.

Today look for those who do not yet know The Joy of God’s Amazing Love. Don’t avoid them or preach at them. Ask God how He wants to reveal His Love to them through you.

Plant the seeds of Love in faith. Trust God to make them grow!

“Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, Who makes things grow.

The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded, according to their own labor.

For we are co-workers in God’s Service; you are God’s field, God’s Building.”
1 Corinthians 3:7-9

 

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The Greatest Lover

Jesus was The Ultimate Lover. He loved those who followed Him. He loved those who didn’t.

He loved those no one else seemed to like, much less love. He touched those no one else would even go near.

He went to people’s homes and shared meals. He cooked for His Friends, even after He had been crucified.

He let Himself be interrupted. He was never too busy to stop and talk, forgive, heal or teach.

He was kind and compassionate.

He always told The Truth in Love.

He was faithful and reliable. If He said He would do something, He did it.

He saw the best in everyone. He didn’t remind them of their past failures. He told them of their future greatness. He told Peter he would be The Rock upon which He would build His Church, even when He knew Peter had a ways to go before the world would see Him that way.

He loved those who rejected Him, grieving for what He knew they were missing.

Jesus said, “You who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
Luke 13:34

He forgave His Friends who could not even stay awake one hour and pray with Him in His time of need.

He forgave his not so loyal friend, who denied he even knew Him.

He received a kiss from a friend, even though He knew his friend’s kiss was for betrayal, not love.

He used some of His last breaths to assure His mother would be cared for. He gave his friend a mother. He gave His Mother a son.

He loved those who were torturing Him and killing His earthly body. He used some of His last breaths to ask His Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing.

The first drops of Jesus’ Precious Blood fell on those who were crucifying Him.

He prayed for you long before you were born, already knowing who you were and how His Love would be revealed to you and through you on earth. Read John 17 to see His Prayer.

In Jesus’ prayer to His Father, He prayed that we would be One with Him, His Father and all those in His Presence at that time. He was already knowing us and wanting us to be a part of Their Glorious Unity.

Jesus taught much, but He rarely “commanded” people to do things. However there was one thing that was so important He commanded us to do it.

“A New Command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My Disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

This is what Jesus did NOT say:

Love the way you see other people love.

Love the way you see Love portrayed on tv, in the movies or in a good love story.

Love if it feels good.

Love only those who love you.
What Jesus DID say:

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Go back and look at how Jesus loved. Reflect on how He has loved you. Make a conscious choice not to imitate His Love, but to let Him keep loving His World through you!

 

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How To Move A Mountain

We all encounter mountains along our way.  Mountains can be beautiful.  We can gaze at their lofty peaks.  We can view the expanse of God’s Creation from an elevated view when we are on top.

Our soul sings when we have mountaintop experiences.  But the memory of those good times may seem to elude us when we are in the valleys of life.

When is a mountain not so beautiful?  When it blocks our way.  When it is too wide and tall for us to even see past it.  Sometimes the mountain in front of us consumes our life.

We spend all of our time thinking of ways to go around it, go over it or just cut a tunnel through it.  Jesus addressed how to deal with mountains that obstruct.

Jesus’ Way was not going around, over or through.  Jesus’ Way was for us to move the mountain!  You might say, “Wait!  I can’t move mountains!”

No, we can’t in our own strength.  But if we have faith in The One Who created the mountains and has all Power and Authority over them, He will handle the mountain moving.

How much faith do we have to have?  You might think, “I’ve got a really big mountain.  I don’t have that much faith.”  Jesus told us how much faith we need.

I tell you, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

When we come to Him and offer all the faith we have, He accepts it and augments it.  But then we have to put that faith in action.  How do we do that?  We believe that mountain will be moved and we say it.  We speak directly to the mountain and tell it to move in The Mighty Name of Jesus!

Will it instantly move?  It could.  But maybe not.  Faith means we continue to know it will move because God said it would.  But it may move, one rock at a time, as we learn the lessons of the mountain.  But the day will come, as promised.

Every valley shall be filled in, every hill and mountain made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
Luke 3:5

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Who Can I Depend On?

I hate being dependent!  Even as a little girl, I fought fiercely for my independence.

Being able to do for ourselves gives us the feeling things will be done at the time and in the way we wish.

With each new conquest of independence, we move farther away from the dependence in which we rested so securely at the beginning of life.

But as life comes full circle, we are often pulled back into situations that remind us we cannot handle everything independently.

God designed us to depend first upon Him and secondly upon our fellow earth travelers.

Sometimes we reverse the order of things. We look to other people to meet our needs. Then if they don’t come through, we look to God.

Even the most faithful life partner or best friends sometimes let us down. They are not there for us. They drop the ball. They react in the opposite ways from what we need.

Our tendency may be to say, “Fine. I don’t need them. I can take care of myself.” But then we discover we can’t. What then?

We find ourselves in The Presence of The One Who is completely dependable, The One Who will never leave us or forsake us, The One Who knows what we need.

We find The Joy of being with The One Who never changes. We never have to worry about what mood God is going to be in. He is always the same, faithful, reliable, dependable.

“I The Lord do not change …”
Malachi 3:6

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but The Word of our God endures forever.”
Isaiah 40:8

“God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being that He should change His Mind.”
Numbers 23:19

“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

With One so completely dependable, we can trust Him with our lives. In fact, when we say we are “born again,” we should remember our first birth.

We should remember the time we were completely dependent and God provided for us, both from Himself and through another human. He loved us then. He loves us now.

“I love you with an Everlasting Love. So I will continue to show you My Kindness.”
Jeremiah 31:3

 

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Compassion — Arm’s Length Or Close And Personal?

Matthew 14:13-21 tells of one of Jesus’ many busy days. Jesus’ cousin and good friend, John the Baptist, had been beheaded.

When Jesus got the news, He took some time away from the crowds that had begun to follow Him.

“When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”

I don’t think it was grief that caused Him to withdraw. It may be Jesus took the time to commune with His Father God and The Holy Spirit in Thanksgiving for the successful completion of the earthly mission of their servant, John.

It may have been a time of welcoming John home! We don’t know what happened on Jesus’ boat. However, when He reached the other side, the crowd was waiting for Him.

He could have told them to go away, but He didn’t.

“He had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

What do we do when others press on us? Do we retreat into our own needs and push them away? Do we go to our communion with God and make a mental note to include them in our prayers?

Or do we look upon them with compassion and respond personally to their need? Jesus knew John’s earthly Mission was complete, but His was not.

We may have challenges that cause us to want to turn inwardly, but our mission here is not complete. We have work to do!

After a long time of Jesus ministering to the people, His Disciples were also moved with compassion. But their way of dispensing compassion was much different than that of their Teacher.

“As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.'”

How willing are we to give a tax deductible donation to an organization that feeds the hungry, but we are reluctant to personally feed a “beggar” on the street?

How willing are we to pray for someone, but stay a nice safe distance from their very personal and traumatic problems?

How easy is it to pass an accident on the road and say, “Thank God that wasn’t us” instead of taking a few moments to pray for those who are involved, both those responding and those being responded to?

Jesus’ Disciples had “arms’ length” compassion. Jesus had “touching, up close and personal” compassion.

“Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.'”

How many times in our lives have we missed Jesus saying to us, “You help them. Enter their space with My Compassion. I am calling you to be My Hands and Feet.”

Our first thought might be, “Their need is too great. I can’t do that!” Jesus’ Disciples had the same reaction.

“‘We have here only two loaves and five fish,’ they answered.”

If this was supposed to be a reality check for Jesus, it boomeranged for His Disciples.

Jesus said, “Bring them here to Me.”

When you feel too tired, too grieved, too scared, too small to even help yourself, much less anyone else, Jesus says, “Bring what you’ve got to Me.”

And you may remember the rest of that story. Jesus took what they had, thanked God for it and then gave it back to them. But first He broke the loaves.

If you give what you have to Jesus, He may break it. It’s in the brokenness you discover you have far more than you ever realized! And He will give it all back to you, not to hoard or try to put back together, but to share with the world.

“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve baskets of pieces that were left over.”

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them …”
Matthew 9:36

“But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire Mercy, not sacrifice.'”
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I Suck At Suffering!

I’ve never been very patient. My father used to say he prayed for patience. He said he prayed, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now!”

I’ve never been very good at suffering. I also relate to another of my father’s “tongue in cheek” expressions on suffering. He said, “I don’t mind suffering in silence, if everyone knows I’m suffering.”

I was a bit concerned when I read the list of things Paul described as The Fruit of The Spirit. It all sounded like delicious fruit except one.

“But The Fruit of The Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.”
Galatians 5:22-23

What is that about suffering? And even worse, long suffering? I don’t even like short suffering!

Is there a purpose in suffering? Paul said,
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 5:3-4

Suffering causes us to stop our usual activities. It frequently causes us to “be still.”

Suffering is an acute reminder that we are not completely in charge of our life. If we were, we would never had chosen suffering for ourselves.

Suffering tempts us to focus on ourselves and our miseries. Many of us indulge in heavy doses of self pity.

Suffering tempts us to seek knowledge many places other than from our Creator. It never ceases to amaze me how many sick people are using their last bit of energy to search the net for what their symptoms mean. (I know this because I have been one of them. 😳)

Suffering tempts us to doubt God’s Love for us. If He loved me, why is He letting this happen? Is He mad at me? Did I do something wrong? Is this punishment?

Suffering tempts us to doubt God’s Power. If satan is causing this, isn’t God Powerful enough to stop him? Is it possible God feels for us, but can’t reach us?

Suffering tempts us to seek solutions instead of seeking God’s Presence. We want to say, “Your Grace is sufficient.” But we are tempted to say, “Your Grace will be sufficient when You show it by relieving me of this suffering.”

Why long suffering? Often after being forced to be still, it takes awhile to know The Truth of “He is God.”

As more and more things fall away, we are, in reality, shedding our old skin. We gradually permit God to remove false ideas of Who He is and who we are.

He is All Powerful, able to defeat satan at every turn. He loves us completely and has The Plan for our lives. We can trust Him.

Paul said,
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Romans 12:12

Dealing with suffering begins with being joyful! Will we be joyful about the suffering? Probably not. But we can be joyful about The Hope God gives us. We will get through it, and there will be a brighter day ahead, on earth and in heaven.

And then we come back to patience. Patience is crafted through waiting. Waiting on the cure? If God so ordains, yes. But in the meantime, we wait on The Lord to sustain us through every moment, teach us the lessons He wants to teach us, and show us, up close and personal, His Amazing Grace.

And we are faithful in prayer, entering into His Presence with thanksgiving and praise, never giving up on God, Who never gives up on us.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done The Will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
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