Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Love Is the Key

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 

~~ I Corinthians 13:1-13 (KJV)

Love is the key to the Christian life. But I think, sometimes, we miss the mark on our definition of love. While this chapter is frequently read at weddings, I believe it has less to do with weddings than the everyday relationships between friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Jesus said the first commandment was to love the Lord. But what kind of love is this? It certainly isn’t the same kind of physical desire and emotion that men and women sometimes feel for one another. It is, in fact, not a “feeling” so much as a decision and commitment. You seek the Lord and His will for your life, so that what you do pleases Him. It is His approval that you are wanting. His “well done, good and faithful servant” is your goal.

We love the Lord by loving what He created. This kind of love is committed to the well-being of the other. We are to work for the benefit of the Lord’s creation. Since man was created in the image of God, when we look at another person, we should strive to see the mark of God on him or her. It is that essence of the divine in each person that we respect and admire.

The qualities of love in Paul’s list spring from the recognition of God’s image in man. We have no clear picture of God except what of God is reflected in man. In eternity, we shall see Him face to face – no veil, no shadow, no dim mirror.

Father, God,

Prepare us to see You face to face. Create in us Your love for all mankind. Help us to hear as You hear, see as You see, and feel as You feel.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen

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Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~  2 Corinthians: 1:3-4 (KJV)

“Who comforts us in all our troubles…”  This particular passage seems to expect that we will all have troubles in our lives. It states troubles as a foregone conclusion, not just a remote possibility.

So often we ask why. Why did this happen? What use are we to make of it? This verse tells us exactly why. We go through troubles in order to comfort others who are going through troubles.

Our God is a God of compassion – not pity – compassion. The root of compassion is patio, meaning to bear or suffer and the prefix com meaning together or with.

The current definition is:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Yesterday, I visited the local funeral home to grieve with and offer comfort to a family who had lost an infant.

We do not understand why we lose infants and children. It matters not whether the immediate cause was disease, accident or murder. The loss of a child is the loss of a future, the loss of a hope.

There will forever be a blank, open, hurting space in our hearts. We do not “get over” this kind of loss. We simply learn to live in an altered universe.

The one constant in our universe is God. No matter the trouble, the hurt, the grief, He is always ready to hold us near to His heart. When bad things happen, we can always turn to Him. He is always there, loving us, bearing with us through everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that nothing happens to us without Your foreknowledge, that You are never surprised by circumstance. Remind us that You are our refuge and our strength at all times, no matter what happens to us and around us. Grant us the wisdom to turn to You, not trying to fix things by ourselves. Help us to understand Your love so that we can extend that same kind of love to others.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Love?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  ~~  Matthew 5:44-48 (KJV)

Most Christians are familiar with this scripture, even though we seldom practice it. We give ourselves all kinds of excuses not to follow through with these actions.  Yes actions.

  • Love – Love is not just a warm fuzzy feeling. Love is action – working for the best interest of the beloved.
  • Bless – Speak well of and speak encouragement to this person.
  • Do good – In other words, serve. Bring the coffee; shovel the snow; promote his business…
  • Pray – Bring this person before the throne and thank God that He is sovereign in all things.

I enjoy a subscription to Mikey’s Funnies. Subscribed after my younger cousin began sending me snippets from her subscription. In honor of Valentines Day, he published a list of things youngsters said define love. This little girl has it down pat – from our scripture today scripture.

“If you want to learn to love better,

you should start with a friend who you hate.”

Nikka – age 6

Art Linkletter said it best: “Kids say the darnedest things.”  Some of them put the rest of us to shame.

Father, God,

We ask that You make us a little children, eager to learn and quick to comprehend Your teaching. Give us hearts softened to love those who are not necessarily nice to us. Grant that we may serve You by serving them. Help us to see their needs and work to fulfill them.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Whosoever

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.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. ~~ John 3:16-17 (KJV)

Whosoever is the critical word in this passage. It is all encompassing. It excludes no one. It means any one at all.

That includes the child that you cannot seem to control, the co-worker who is undermining your reputation with the boss, the cranky neighbor who threatened to kill your dog if it barks one more time past 9:00 pm.

It also includes those who incite to riot, those who would destroy our society, those who plot against our nation.

For God so loved the world…

All the world, every whosoever in it, good, bad, or indifferent.

God loves them, every one individually. So if we are to be sons and daughters of God, we need to love them as well.

What?! You mean I must love this person I can’t stand to be in the same room with?  How do I do that?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. ~~ Matthew 5:44-45 (KJV)

See also Luke 6:27-29

Things happen when a believing person prays. They may not be the things we thought would happen, but changes do come about.

The first thing that happens when we pray for someone is that we are changed.We begin to see this person with the eyes of the Father. Any anger and resentment we have against that person diminishes until it disappears.

Whether the person we pray for changes is not our business. Once we pray for that person, the results are in the hands of God.

God is a “whosoever” God. He excludes no one.  Each one excludes himself by disbelief.’

Father, God,

Help us to see all the whosoevers in this world as You see them, through Your eyes of love. Grant that we may pray for them to be wooed back into your family. Give us the grace to rejoice over the prodigal returned.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Yahweh

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,  ~~  Genesis 2:4  (KJV)

The Lord God… the eternal, self-existent one.

As we have pondered on the names of God, a recurrent theme appears. God is first. We have being only in relationship to Him.

Our society today dotes on the concept of “self-esteem”. But really, we cannot esteem ourselves except in relationship to how God esteems us. Our worth is tied up in His knowledge of who we are.

So just who are we?  First we are His creation – created in His likeness.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  ~~  Genesis 1:26-27  (KJV)

Although we are created in the image of God, a picture of God, we are NOT God. And when we aspire to become God, all hell breaks loose.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. ~~  Genesis 3:1-6

This is the first sin — disobedience. Disobedience always brings consequences. So does obedience, but that’s another story.

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  ~~ Genesis 3:23 (KJV)

And now, man no longer enjoys the intimate relationship he had with God. Rather than walking with God in the cool of the evening, man must search for Him, make special time for Him. This is now a broken relationship.

Ah, but there is reconciliation. Consider this. No matter how man has defiled himself, God still loves His creation.

We have the example of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-24. The father was looking for the errant young man to return. He saw him from afar off.

In just the same way, God is looking for His errant children to return to Him.

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.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~  John 3:16-17  (KJV)

God made provision for man’s reconciliation to Him, to be able to have intimate contact with Him once again, just as in the Garden of Eden.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can have daily, hourly, minute-by-minute conversation with God. With God, the all-powerful, all-knowing self-existent creator of the universe!

How do we get back to that intimate relationship with God?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  ~~ Romans 10: 9-10  (KJV)

So today, look at yourself. If you have believed and confessed, spend this day blessing the God who created you and gives you access to Himself.  If you have never believed, please look at the evidence – and believe. Confess it with your mouth – say it out loud, even if you are alone at the time. Then rejoice that God has re-entered your life intimately – a life He gave you in the beginning.

Father, God,

Help us to see who and what You are and all the benefits You have provided us. Grant us the grace and humility to come to you, proclaiming our faults and begging Your forgiveness. Let us accept with gratitude all that You have done for us, and give us the wisdom to see You for who You really are.

We ask in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

What Makes You Special?

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.  ~~  Exodus 31:13  [Emphasis mine]

Christians are both different and alike. We are like everyone else in that the same things that happen to others happen to us. We have illness, financial reverses, tragedy, death, loss, success, health and wealth by turns. Life is cyclic. We all know that old saw: what goes around comes around.

One of the things that makes us different, set apart, is how we go through the things that life hands us. When bad things happen, we are not destroyed. When good things happen, we don’t get all puffed up with self-importance.

Why is that? It is because the Lord is sanctifying us – setting us apart for His purposes.

Looking at the word “sanctify” we find this:

    1 :  to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use :  consecrate
    2 :  to free from sin :  purify
    3 a :  to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to
       b :  to give moral or social sanction to
    4 :  to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it — Deuteronomy 5:12 (Douay Version)>

Today is the day we remember how God arranged to sanctify us. Our freedom from sin, our purification, was purchased at a price. The price was the death of Jesus.  But not just His death.

Look at what God did. He voluntarily took a part of Himself, Jesus – the second person of the Trinity, and limited Himself to the shape and capabilities of any man.  Then He offered that part of Himself as the sacrifice to clean up our sins.

He was reviled, rejected, scorned, spit upon, scourged, and finally crucified and buried. He allowed all this to bring us to Himself – to set us apart as His children. That’s how much God loves each and every one of us.

While we remember His sacrifice, let us set this day apart for humble gratitude for His generosity and His love.

Father, God,

Keep us ever mindful of Your love for us. Help us always to know that we’ve been set apart for Your purposes. Give us the grace to remain faithful in all things.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Worth

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.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  ~~ John 3:16-17 (KJV)

There is a lot of talk about self-esteem and self-worth these days. Our schools give our children awards for participation as much as for accomplishment. We vie for notice and seem to do anything and everything for our fifteen minutes of fame and the acclaim of the world. None of these activities has any relationship to what we are worth. Our value is not determined by these worldly things.

My friend, Shadia, posted this question on Facebook the other day.

Our worth is based on the value that God places on us. Just how important are you in God’s scheme of things? Lets reread the scripture above. But instead of “the world” and “whosoever” insert your name. Now think. If you had been the only person on earth, Jesus would have come just for you.

When God places that much value on you, how can you not realize what you are worth?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. ~~ Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  ~~  Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

God has a specific plan for your life and mine. He may not have told you all the ins and outs of this plan, but He will lead you step by step if you will trust Him.

Father, God,

Help us to see ourselves from Your perspective. Lead us in the plans You have for our lives. Grant that we may learn more of You by reading Your word that we may draw closer and closer to Your plans for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.