Let’s talk about LOVE…

lovestudy

By the middle of February some people are sick of hearing about romance, Valentine’s Day, gifts, cards, and even love. But can love be over-emphasized?  As believers in Christ we are to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), follow after love (I Timothy 6:11), and put on love (Colossians 3:12-14).   Can we talk about it too much?  Love is a consistent theme throughout the entire Word of God. The greatest command in all of scripture is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind.  The second command is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Jesus said that, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matthew 22:40To put it differently, the entire Bible can be summed up with love.

Love is a wonderful topic for study and February is a great time to gather your family up for such a study. A good place to start is with the writings of the Apostle John. Love envelops his epistles. In 1 John alone we see 46 different forms of the word love. Let me share just a few truths about love that adorn these inspired epistles.

  • God is love. (1 John 4:8)

  • We cannot truly love until we know God. (1John 4:7-8a)

  • We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

  • There is no fear in love. (1 John 4:18)

  • There are certain things that God does not want us to love. (1 John 2:15)

  • Love and truth go hand in hand. (1 John 3:18, 2 John 1:1-3, 3 John 1:1)

  • If you love God you will love God’s children. (1 John 3:11, 3:14, 3:23, 4:7, 4:21, 5:2)

  • God demonstrates His love through His actions. (1 John 4:9-10)

  • We demonstrate our love for God through our actions. (1 John 2:5, 1 John 5:3, 2 John 1:6)

  • We demonstrate our love for others through our actions. (1 John 3:16-17)

If you would like an additional resource for personal use or to use with your family consider getting a copy of Love: A verse by verse study through the Epistles of John. It is a study that dives into the deep truths of God and His great love.

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It’s Not About the Chicken

Fighting the crowds and waiting in line at the drive through at Chick-fil-A last night had nothing to do with being hungry.  Like many others, it was about support for this company and their biblical beliefs about the family.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” he (Dan Cathy, CEO) said in the interview. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Later Cathy said, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

Today, Chick-fil-A’s all across the country are reporting yesterday’s record sales.  Christian people spoke out and they used their wallets and time to do so.  But they were not the only ones speaking out.

At our local Chick-fil-A we saw a handful of protesters there as well.  They displayed signs, talked and laughed among themselves, and smoked cigarettes.

“Honk for Equality”

“Jesus said, ‘Love Everyone!’”

“Don’t give me Hate Chicken.”

Then you had several signs that were biblical references taken out of context about “judging others”.   One sign was almost comical, had it not been so sad.  It was held up by a young girl that said, “King David had 8 wives.  I only want one.”

I am still not sure what these people were protesting.  Was it Biblical values?  Free Speech?  Christian People?  Or, did they just want to make a scene and show off?  I don’t know.  But when you look at the numbers all across the country it appears that it was the thousands of Chick-fil-A supporters that actually made the huge statements.

Of course, the homosexuals will continue to try and make a statement of their own in an attempt to justify their wicked lifestyle.  Tomorrow they are calling for a “kiss-in” at Chick-fil-A’s across the country.  It will be interesting to see if anyone actually shows up.  But if they do it would be a good opportunity for the Christian community.  Let me repeat that.  This is a good opportunity for the Christian community.  You see, there was one sign held up that I agree with.  It was the one stating, “Jesus said, ‘Love Everyone!’”

There is no place for hating others among Christians.  We are to be people of love.  We are to show God’s love to the world.  We should have compassion on others and strive to be peace makers.  But let me make it very clear.  Confronting sinners is the greatest form of love.  People are dying in their sins.  They are blind and ignorant to the truth of God’s perfect and holy wrath that will come if they do not repent.  It is not about being a homosexual.  It would be foolish to approach them from this stand point.  It is about being a sinner.  You see, the person who has told one lie is in just as much danger of eternal hell as the homosexual.

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” Revelation 21:8.              

Loving others is having enough compassion on them to be moved to action.  Ignoring sinners and letting them face God on judgment day without warning is equivalent to ignoring the blind man who is about to walk in front of a speeding bus. If we truly loved the blind man we would warn him and do all we could to save him from harm.  The “harm” these sinners face is eternal damnation.  I have to ask myself often, How much do I really love others?  And let me ask you, Christian, How much do you really love the sinner?

So, let’s not look at this Chick-fil-A noise as just political, hypocritical, or pungent sounding brass.  Let’s see it as an opportunity to shine light into this dark world.  Those of us who have been saved have been given a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).   If we truly loved the sinner, we should seek to make peace between them and God.  That is what being a peace maker is about.  You see, it’s not about the chicken.  It’s about love.

Perfect Love

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air….or so they say. But just who is this “they” we are always talking about? According to 2012 statistics , they are the millions of people that will purchase Valentine cards this year. They are the people who will spend on average $126.03 per person this holiday (up 8.5% from last year). They are the ones that will collectively spend $4.1 billion on jewelry and $3.5 billion towards a romantic evening on the town. They are the 220,000 that is expected to give a wedding proposal today. They are the ones who will buy over 8 billion Sweethearts Conversation Hearts this year. And let’s not forget the ones who will spend $367 million on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets this year. And the 15% of the estimated portion of women who will send themselves flowers. So I guess we could say that “love” is in the air, but probably a more accurate depiction would be that there is a shadow of love in the air.

Would you like the truth? What most people think of as love is not really love. Love has nothing to do with flowers, cards, or candy. Love is not about romantic nights out on the town. It’s not about jewelry or (I hate to say) chocolate. In fact, society, as a whole, does not even comprehend true love. They see a glimpse of it here and there but they do not know it and cannot show it to others. That is unless they know the author of love.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love,” 1 John 4:7-8. Not only is love of God but God is love. You cannot know love unless you know God. Love is not only a general theme within the book of I John but also throughout the entire Bible. The greatest commandment of all is centered on love. (And let me be transparent for a moment; this commandment alone is enough to keep this child ever striving.) “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment,” Matthew 22:37-38.

We are to love God (Matthew 22:37).

We are to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39).

Wives are to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4).

Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

We are to even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

As believers in Christ we are to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2), be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17), follow after love (I Timothy 6:11), and put on love (Colossians 3:12-14).

But in general the term love is abused and misused. Have you ever heard someone say that they “fell in love”? A person cannot “fall in love.” It was Voddie Baucham, author of Family Driven Faith, who clarified this in my mind. He explains that anything we fall into we can climb out of. (Think about that statement in light of the modern attack on biblical marriage and the disintegration of the family.) True love is not a feeling. True love is not an emotion. To borrow Dr. Baucham’s definition, “Love is an act of the will which is accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.” This is a fabulous definition of love. Love is an act of the will. It is in our will that we choose to love. This would explain why we say that love comes from the heart. We will it. We choose it. But not only is love an act of the will but it is accompanied by emotion. True love is not void of or detached from emotion. When love is willed in our hearts emotion follows. This emotion leads to action towards its object. If it does not lead to action, it is not love. Just ask someone who is told that they are loved but never showed. This is why children of God are commanded in I John 3:18, “let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

The perfect example of true love (love that is willed, accompanied by emotion, and leads to action) is found in what God did for us by sending His Son to die on the cross for the sins of mankind.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.

We now know what love is because God revealed Himself to us. We love Him because He first loved us and only after perfect love is manifested to us can we show true love to others. You will never know love until you know God’s love. If you do not know Him, cry out, repent of your sins, and trust Him to save you. He’s waiting. If you do know God and His love make it a point to read the chapter on love today (I Corinthians 13). And live it out, because now you can.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

REF: 

Samantha Grossman, Valentine’s Day 2012, Time Newsfeed article, 2-13-2012,

Voddie Baucham, Family Driven Faith, pg 57, Crossway Books, IL 2007

MOST (and DVD give-a-way)

How does one even begin to extol the message of the glorious gospel? How do we even begin to comprehend the good news that has been given to us? How can we fully grasp the meaning of what God did for mankind? Sometimes I can’t. I believe it with all my heart but I do not understand it.

The Bible says, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13). That I get. I can truly understand giving your life for those you love. I would not hesitate to give my life for one of my children or my family. I would like to think that I would even give my life for my friends. But God did not just give His life for His friends. He gave His Son to the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, (John 3:16a).

Our Creator made us in His image, perfect and righteous. Yet, by one man sin entered the world and death came by sin, (Romans 5:12). We were ungodly, unrighteous, and enemies of God, deserving hell eternal. But God sent His beloved Son that, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16b).

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:6-8).

Can you imagine sacrificing your only son, who you cherish and love, for those who do not care? Can you imagine allowing your child to die at the hands of the wicked? Can you imagine giving up an innocent child to save the undeserving?

Last night, my family and I watched a 21st Century modern parable that gives us a small glimpse into what this sacrifice might look like. MOST – The Deluxe Edition DVD, beautifully illustrates the story of a father, his beloved son, and a great sacrifice that takes place at an open drawbridge. MOST, the Czech word for “The Bridge,” will stir your heart. It was most compelling and most intriguing!

MOST was filmed in Eastern Europe and is spoken in Czech with English subtitles. (It is translated into 18 subtitled languages, making it a great outreach tool). However, the language barrier did not hinder the message in anyway. Instead it created a timeless effect that brought the meaning of the message to full focus. MOST: The Deluxe Edition arrives at Christian stores and online retailers on March 1, 2011. It includes:

• MOST (33-minute film)

• Making of MOST (32-minute feature)

 • Bonus Scenes

• Extended Ending

• Introduction and Commentary by Luis Palau

• Study Guide

• Scoring Session (1-minute featurette of Symphony recording session)

I am also pleased to offer MOST – The Deluxe Edition DVD to one of my readers. Just leave a comment and I will draw one name on Friday, February 25th. The DVD will be shipped directly to the winner. For additional entries you can subscribe to this blog or spread the word about this giveaway (blog, facebook, emails, etc) and leave separate comment for each.

Also, be sure and check out the website and watch this heart wrenching trailer.

Disclosure: I received MOST – The Deluxe Edition in exchange for an honest product review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, part 255.