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Archive for the ‘love’ Category

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

– Psalm 118:1 (NKJV)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

– Psalm 118:1 (NLT)

I look at these passages and see little difference.  By translation, the New King James Version (NKJV) utilizes mercy and the New Living Translation (NLT) uses love.  Neither is synonymous with the other according to our English dictionary and thesaurus.  However, Our interpretation of the Scriptures must look beyond the surface for our true inspiration and insight.

compassion for the miserable. Its object is misery. By the atoning sacrifice of Christ a way is open for the exercise of mercy towards the sons of men, in harmony with the demands of truth and righteousness (Gen. 19:19Ex. 20:634:6, 7; Ps. 85:1086:1516). In Christ mercy and truth meet together. Mercy is also a Christian grace (Matt. 5:718:33-35).

This word seems to require explanation only in the case of its use by our Lord in his interview with “Simon, the son of Jonas,” after his resurrection (John 21:1617). When our Lord says, “Lovest thou me?” he uses the Greek word _agapas_; and when Simon answers, he uses the Greek word _philo_, i.e., “I love.” This is the usage in the first and second questions put by our Lord; but in the third our Lord uses Simon’s word. The distinction between these two Greek words is thus fitly described by Trench:, “_Agapan_ has more of judgment and deliberate choice; _philein_ has more of attachment and peculiar personal affection. Thus the ‘Lovest thou’ (Gr. agapas) on the lips of the Lord seems to Peter at this moment too cold a word, as though his Lord were keeping him at a distance, or at least not inviting him to draw near, as in the passionate yearning of his heart he desired now to do. Therefore he puts by the word and substitutes his own stronger ‘I love’ (Gr. philo) in its room. A second time he does the same. And now he has conquered; for when the Lord demands a third time whether he loves him, he does it in the word which alone will satisfy Peter (‘Lovest thou,’ Gr. phileis), which alone claims from him that personal attachment and affection with which indeed he knows that his heart is full.”

Mercy is for our misery, it says.  Love is an expression of our relationship more so than a feeling or emotion.  Action springs from love, i.e. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. . .For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17, NIV).  The love sparks an action on God’s part for the benefit of those in misery (that would be us- “the world.”)

Can I justify substituting mercy for love, or vice versa?

I probably couldn’t muster enough searching of the Scriptures and the mysteries of God revealed within them to satisfy the hunger and thirst that many brothers and sisters would have for the answer to this.  After all, it is not my answer.  Ultimately, it is God’s answer.

Yet, let who He is satisfy your quest for such knowledge.  Look at His names.  

Jehovah Jireh means that He is our Provider.

Jehovah Shalom means that He is our Peace.

Jehovah Elohim means that He is the Creator, the Trinity or the Three-in-One plural name of  God revealed to us in Genesis.

He is full of love, mercy, peace, creation and all that we need Him to be to us.

Just based upon who He is to us, He can provide both mercy and love that endure forever.

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Sometimes, it just seems like our good intentions just aren’t good enough.  I know that we mean well, but it may not end up doing us or anyone else any earthly good.

I believe that we all have set out to do something for someone else without an ounce of greed or arrogance in mind, not even within our hearts. Sadly, the end result ended up being a disaster in our eyes. It was not even close to what you had in mind when you started out. It ended up blowing up right in your face.

I speak from experience.

As bad as it has felt, I also realize how humbling it had been for me. I recognized the short-sighted and well-intended moves that I made really made no difference in anyone else but me. I was humbled enough to see how fruitless my efforts were from the start.

In order to truly help someone out, you truly need to hear someone out first. If you don’t know they’re needs, desires and hopes, you are merely going through the motions and working from assumptions.

I had been doing so for a long time.

“Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:10

Loving others will cause to help without harming a soul. Love will cause us to listen and learn. Love will cause us to take it slow as we take it all in. Love will cause us to pause and pray over needs and issues that people have shared with us before we make the wrong move.

It was hard for me to learn that life lesson.

Let these words sink into your soul for a moment.

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”- Hebrews 10:24-25

By God’s grace, we have been saved. Our purpose is to produce fruit through good works. Live out your purpose as a believer and seek to do good. Allow your good works bear fruit that lasts eternally.

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What do we hear or say when we read in the news how DNA evidence freed an innocent who was serving life in prison for a crime that he did not commit? We tend to wag an accusing finger at the justice system and remark of how such a tragedy and travesty should never happen if Lady Justice is really blind.  We start to speak of fairness.

Jesus was an innocent man who was slain for the sins of this world. Isaiah considered Him as a “man of sorrows,” while John the Baptist called Him the Lamb of God. He suffered and sacrifice for the sake of sinners.

But the question remains: Is it right that the innocent should take such cruel and harsh punishment while the guilty seem to get away with it?

Biblically speaking, it is still justice. Someone has to pay the debt. Someone has to supply the guilt or sin offering. It needs to be unblemished, too, by the way. In other words, it ought to be spotless and stainless. That was Jesus.

Jesus was perfection taking on our transgressions. Jesus was purity standing in the stead of our impurity. He was worthy of so much, but He stepped into humanity headed for Calvary to conquer the grave and death itself as He put sin in its place.

Is it right?

God saw it befitting to do so. John 3:16 is our verse for why He did what He did. He loved the world so much, even in its wretched and wicked state of being, He was willing to part with His “only begotten son.”

He doesn’t call us to understand it all. He does not even ask us to accept all of it at once. He offers us salvation based on belief in the Son as Lord and Savior.

We cannot explain how or why He did it so in a way that would satisfy theologians and humanities professors of sociology and psychology. Yet, if we can come like a babe in Christ, we can sip the sincere milk of our faith. We come to know. that the price that we should have paid was executed already on our behalf by an innocent man on a lonely hill hanging between two criminals as He gave all for a sinful world.

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GOD gives us assurance.

We are never lost. 

We can count on that.  It is in His Word.  He says it so that we will know He loves us.

His love alone is assurance enough for us to never be considered lost.

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Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
– Romans 13:10 (NIV)

Love fulfills the law.  That’s not the local ordinances of your city or municipality.  No magistrates or legislators are looking for you to love your neighbor.  The police and other law enforcement do not expect it out of you.  Otherwise, why would they exist?

We are called to live at a level above the low standards set by many.  We are called to live at a higher level than the low expectations that many people have for their fellow man.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? – 1 John 4:20 (NLT)

Love is about doing no harm.  Love is a life-giving force.  Love will make sacrifices of the self for the good of the ones who feel unwanted and unworthy of even being considered for love.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:12 (NIV)

If we really love the Lord, let’s start showing our love by loving our neighbors.  We can do better by being better towards one another.  It starts with you and I, then it moves on from there.  Let’s love somebody today and make things better by fulfilling the law.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

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When Israel was a child, I loved him,

and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,

and I bent down to them and fed them.
-Hosea 11:1-4 (ESV)  
God speaks of Israel as a loving parent speaks of his beloved child.  He speaks of a time when Israel was a child and the love that He had for His chosen people.  God speaks from the perspective of a loving and caring father.  In fact, God points out that He loved Israel so much that He truly went out of His way to extend His love to the nation of people.
Isn’t Hosea the perfect book of Bible for such love to be stated and shown? I asked it in another blog: Who is your Gomer? Could you love like Hosea loved Gomer? Could you love like God loved Israel? Could you love like the Lord loved the world and gave His only begotten Son for all who would believe on Him to have everlasting life? The Lord is trying to teach us to be more like the Father, to be merciful, forgiving and loving.
Take a clue from the Father.  Love despite the response.  Love in spite of the lack of gratitude or praise.  Love without any conditions or hang-ups.  Love.  Love like Jesus.  Love like the Father.  In a word, love.  Just love and just keep on loving.

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Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. – Proverbs 11:14 (KJV)

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. – Romans 14:1 (NIV)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. – Romans 15:1 (NIV)

People are in need.  People need comfort.  People need counsel.  People stand in desperate need of shared words of both comfort and counsel.

Incident #1:

A family finds itself victims of random burglary and ends up behind in bills and other matters.  The wife attends church, but the husband doesn’t come any longer.  They are split on approaching the church for help.

What do you think that they are in need of from other believers? Counsel? Comforting words?

Incident #2:

A parent discovers that her only child has shown signs of mental illness.  She is a woman of faith and a prayer warrior.  However, she seems to be at the end of her rope with the school administration pressuring her to have her daughter tested and the other parent both absent and not involved at all.

What is this woman in need of from her brothers and sisters in Christ? Counsel? Comfort?

We can go about things the wrong way.  We can make assumptions due to unmet expectations and all sorts of other junk that we put into things.  We need to be able to offer counsel to one another.  We need to be able to offer words of comfort to one another, too.

Let’s be honest and just keep it real.  We need to meet people at that point of their need.  If they are weak, let us build them up.  If they are out of line, let us bring them back into line.  Let us do it in such a way that they are better off rather than beaten down.  Give them words of comfort.  Share words of wisdom.  Offer wise counsel.  Comfort those whose hearts are weighed down with worries and weariness.

  34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 (NIV)

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“A life has value according to how much love it has.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Where is the love?

It is a common question.  It is the type of question that causes the common Christian to ponder whether he or she has truly loved like Christ.  Then, after considering the question further, it is the type of question that causes one to ask whether the love that was shared spread beyond a comfort zone or a social status.

Bonhoeffer said that the living has value according to the amount of loving that stems from that living.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote an entire book that encapsulated a series of his sermons called Strength to Love.  Francis Chan wrote a famous and sensational book on Christianity called Crazy Love. 

Love is a major topic in the realm of Christianity.  The Christian must ask if he or she has really loved like Christ.  When called upon, was the Christian’s answer full of love? Did the Christian act out of love? Did the Christian speak with love in his or her tone? Could someone else sense his or her genuine love? It’s the question of the day.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. – Romans 13:5 (KJV)

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And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families. – Genesis 47:11-12 (NKJV)

The Prince of EgyptJoseph assisted his family.  He advised his family on what to say when they entered into the presence of Pharaoh.  He approached Pharaoh with news of his family’s arrival in Egypt.  He advocated for his family.  He made allowances for his family to survive by giving them bread.

In the land of Rameses, Joseph’s family was better off for the time being than they had been in the land of Canaan.  Based upon how God had favored Joseph, his family was able to benefit.  They were blessed based upon Joseph’s favor and blessing.

Grace: Gods Unmerited FavorThink on that for a moment.  Joseph’s blessing allowed Joseph to provide for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household.  Joseph’s favor helped his father and his family. Picture that happening today.  What if you used your blessing to bless others? What if you used your favor to grant others favor? Imagine how much of a blessing that would be for others.

We need to see Joseph’s character coming alive right here.  Joseph, the same dreamer that his family had despised and questioned, was now living the dream.  However, Joseph’s dream did not just benefit and bless Joseph.  The Bible makes it obvious that Joseph did not simply sit in a position of power and prestigeHis heart allowed him to forgive and give to those who had even sold him into slavery

Forgive to Live Devotional:: 8 Weeks of Daily Readings on Forgiveness That Could Change Your LifeJoseph depicts the epitome of forgiveness and favor in a man.  He obviously could have let his family live without any contact or consideration, still being okay with it as many Christians do so daily.  He could forgive and never allow himself to forget how they wronged him and set him up for failure.  No, that is not the path that Joseph took.  He did not allow it to harden him.  He did not allow it to turn him sour.  He forgave.  He gave to his father and his family.

How to Forgive...When You Don't Feel Like ItDo you need to forgive someone? Have you made the first move beyond saying so? How have you shown that person that you have truly forgiven them?

Praying the PsalmsLook at Joseph.  The Bible doesn’t say he had to fast for 40 days to get ready to forgive.  It doesn’t say that he needed to meditate on verses in Psalms to prepare to forgive.  He showed his forgiveness.  He said it.  He demonstrated it.  He did it.

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So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. – Genesis 29:20 (NIV)

Jacob and Laban, Before 1737 Giclee Poster Print by Jean Restout II, 18x24
Jacob & Laban as depicted by Restout


Jacob was willing to work with his uncle Laban in return for his younger daughter Rachel.  Laban appears to agree with the “wages” for the young man’s labor.  After all, to summarize Laban’s words in verse 19, it would be better than Jacob have her than some other man.  As the passage reads in more than one place, Jacob loved Rachel.

What You Won't Do For Love
One of my favorite songs is Bobby Caldwell’s What you Won’t Do for Love.  It appears that before such a song was even recorded, Jacob demonstrated that love will take you on a strange ride.  It drove Jacob to work for seven years to get the one he loved.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” – Genesis 29:25-27 (NIV)
Did I mention that Laban was Rebekah’s brother? The very same woman who had favored one son over the other and who schemed with her son to steal the other’s birthright was related to Laban.  That pretty much explains how we arrive at the situation where Laban has duped his young nephew, replacing Leah for Rachel.  Imagine being in that family.
 
Yet, after confronting Laban, Jacob still agrees to do another seven years in return for Rachel.  The man was in love.  He knew what he wanted and he was determined to get it.  He definitely went out of his way for this woman.
Jacob teaches us a lesson here.  He didn’t simply settle.  He went for what he wanted with determination.  He didn’t get detoured or distracted by Laban’s deception.  He maintained his focus on his love for Rachel.  He didn’t sue Laban or try to give her back to Uncle Laban.  He dealt with things as they were and went forward with focus.  Many of us need to see this and understand that we, too, need to deal things and move forward.  Delays and downfalls will happen. We need to move on and move forward with determination and focus on our goal, even if it is for love.

Rachel's Man - A Biblical Romance


Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. – Genesis 29:30 (NIV)

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