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Posts Tagged ‘love’

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.2 Give thanks to the God of gods, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, For His lovingkindness is everlasting

Psalm 136:1-3 (NASB)

Daily Theme

Thank God for His everlasting and enduring love.

Give Thanks

Read Psalm 136 & meditate on God’s love, mercy, and lovingkindness. Spend some time reflecting on how God spoke with you through His Spirit to keep you grounded when you wanted to lose it or to help you remain steadfast when you felt like it was just all too much to handle. Think on it and thank God for where His love, mercy, and lovingkindness helped you endure and embrace your own challenges in your life.

For His lovingkindness is everlasting repeats over and over again in Psalm 136. It is equivalent to the modern popular music’s hook. But it creates a sense of assurance for the Bible reader. It makes its case crystal clear to the newly enlightened person of the faith. Read the blog of the Psalmist and see it in the shared poems and other expressions. It simply helps us to know that God’s love is here to stay and that this very same love is available to us all as we accept Him as Lord and Savior in our lives.

Give Back

Praise the Lord & invite others to join you in worship. Go beyond just a shared worship experience with others from within your congregation. Go to someone and ask them will they join you for worship today.

What that looks like might be different where you are. You might be able to attend worship in the sanctuary or outdoors. You might be in an area that restricts worship due to curfews and health regulations during this period of increased COVID-19 cases. Whether it be in-person or online, invite someone to join you and share in the worship experience together.

Go Beyond the Norm

Take things up a notch and invite someone to church, but also go beyond that. Pick up them for church services or invite an elderly person to brunch. You might be offering them the only interaction that they will get with another person all week. Do not neglect the fact that a small task or gesture on your end can carry so much meaning to someone else. As Judy Dykstra-Brown lays it out in her blog post, our actions prove our beliefs. Let your actions speak volumes about your faith.

This has been an adventurous journey this week. Look back at all that has transpired and what you have been able to do. Thank God for the opportunity to provide a blessing to someone else. Thank Him for equipping and endowing you with what you needed in order to bless someone else. Continue to look for those opportunities to show compassion and the love of Christ through your service and good works just like it is said in Drawing Closer to Christ and Lisconnect. Even if the other person does not take you up on your offer, you have been obedient to the leading of the Spirit and what God has called you to do.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

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Tune in to Live @ Lunch Bible Study today at 10 AM

Daily Theme

Thank God for your support system & encouragement.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13

Giving Thanks

Right now reveals just how crazy things seem to get day by day. COVID-19 and quarantines or lockdowns are a reality for the holidays. People are bracing for a day of family tradition with limited numbers and loads of restrictions. It’s truly driving some folks COVID crazy. The Devotional Guy posts to what he calls the COVID-19 Devotionals. Think about those who truly serve as a support system to you and who encourages you when you need it. Be thankful for that system and those individuals. Write a list of them. Read their names aloud as you remember them in your prayers. Keep them showered with prayers for strength and endurance, praising God for how much they mean to you. Never forget how we are called to support one another with encouragement day after day.

Giving Back

Return the favor by supporting someone else. It could be one of your friends or co-workers. It might be one of the elders or deacons at your church, even one of the Bible teachers or youth counselors. Support them with words of encouragement. Express it in a variety of different ways. Share an e-card via email. Drop a note in their social media inbox. Tag them in a post on Facebook or Instagram. Include words of encouragement, a Bible verse or just a thank you for what they mean to you. What’s important is that you take the time to share it with that person.

Go Beyond the Norm

Now consider this and see if it you can take it on today. Think about someone who has not been there for you. Offer them support & encourage them. Step up and encourage them today. Share words that might stimulate them to make moves today or just simply get through another tough and demanding day.

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I had the pleasure of presenting our Fall 2020 campaign Giving Thanks by Giving Back yesterday. The livestream was an opportunity for me to present and pray over the project with an open and earnest heart for the work ahead. As always with our Life Path Multimedia livestreams, the recording remains available via YouTube. A copy of the presentation is available for download online.

Good works are part of our calling as believers. StopAndPrayTV speaks on being fruitful in our good works, every single one of them. The reference to Colossians 1:10 centers the post and makes for a compelling read. I truly love how Kim Petitt lays it out there and explains good works. Naturally, Being Benedictine would reference Saint Benedict as it explores the topic of good works. I guess part of my take on it is aligned with the combined stances and approaches to good works, summing up my views by quoting NT verses from Titus 3:14 to Ephesians 2:8-10. I believe good works are the fruit of our faith, not the root of our faith. (One of my preacher friend’s will steal that and use it, and it’s okay.)

Part of Giving Thanks by Giving Back was covered in the previous post, but yesterday’s training session allowed for me to delve into finer elements of the campaign. This post gives you some of the highlights from yesterday’s session.

Our Latest Inbox Inspirations promo tweet

The Campaign Includes Guidance

What we presented is designed to serves as a guide for generating ideas and stimulating conversations around how to give thanks by giving back within your local congregation and community. It is by no means designed to serve as the only source material or resource for doing good works or charitable service. Every congregation and community is unique, so it would behoove anyone seeking to do something with this campaign to identify local issues and priorities that fit with the theme of the campaign as they plan and strategize any kind of project or event.

You Have to Keep COVID-19 in Consideration

The numbers don’t lie. There is a major upswing in COVID-19 deaths and case throughout the United States. In California, we have many counties shifting into the most restrictive tier due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. It is difficult to plan and organize any project or event without considering the implications of COVID-19 on those plans.

Some advice on how to handle COVID-19 restrictions and precautions comes from the CDC. As many of us have learned over these past months, be sure to check with your local public health officials for restrictions and guidance related to large gatherings and events. Some of the most basic precautions such as face coverings, social distancing, and hand washing have been touted to help limit the spread. Always check and keep updated and abreast of the latest restrictions and precautions as you plan and organize.

Develop Connections within Your Community

Whether it is working with the local food bank or another church in its efforts to distribute turkeys, make connections that provide a win-win for your group or church as well as whoever you might partner with to make things happen. Do not neglect the idea of serving as resource to your congregation and community by providing updated information for clothing drives, food distributions, turkey giveaways, and special events happening within and around your community. Make connections that help make a difference and make an impact.

I like how another blog puts it out there with Psalm 100 and “Daily Service: Give Thanks.” It ought to become more natural for us to serve and give thanks. It should become part of our Christian DNA. Similarly, another blogger references Simon Sinek when speaking on a lifetime of service. No matter how you see it, giving back a way that we can show our gratitude and our own way of giving thanks that touches someone else’s life.

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He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (ESV)

Oftentimes, Christians see issues of their days and times and superimpose them into the biblical prophecy of the Last Days and point out the most likely public figure who fits the bill to be the Antichrist. This is usually a futile exercise in trying to give it a name and a label rather than trying to deal with the matters of the day.

Black Lives Matter & Protests for Social Justice

Is it still a question for some who believe if Black Lives Matter or not? I wish that I could say that it is an unfair question, but there are plenty who profess the love of Christ who find it difficult to love all of God’s creation and creatures, including their fellow man.

Look at blog posts from others that speak to the fact that Black Lives Matter has to be defended or justified as a statement. I read posts from folks like Cynthia Reyes and I feel like the depths of the despair experienced by countless people of color has been echoed in the kindred voice of another in the blogosphere. I read Thinking Moon’s post and realize that we both share a love for Toni Morrison (and she picked my two favorite works by her, too), but we both have two entirely different walks on this earth as a person of privilege and a person of color.

Christians do not have to hold a come to Jesus meeting about coming to an agreement about protests for social justice, police reform, and Black Lives Matter. We do need to acknowledge that there is a problem within our communities and across our nation in the United States that has captured our attention in the midst of a major health pandemic. We do need to agree that, despite many of the best intentions of good Bible-carrying believers, many Christians will not act on such matters until the pastor, the shepherd of the local church, has shared spiritual words of guidance on these same matters. The matters of today have come before the altar of the house of the faithful and await a word from on high as heavenly light from above shine upon them like a spotlight.

Doing What’s Right is Right

Seeking social justice is right. It is biblical. It is the Christian thing to do. The words in Micah 6:8 said for us to “do justice.” Naturally, English makes for a poor translation but I think we could get the point. Our measure for our religion is a matter for how we treat others. The question to answer is: Are we doing right by what the Lord calls us to do?

Aretha, the Queen of Soul, said it in a secular sense when she spoke a Do Right Woman and a Do Right Man. Could you be considered to be one who is in the business of doing right, especially doing right by others?

Jesus used a parable to speak about the “least of these.” He pointed out that the way to do right by the Lord was to do right by others. He depicted through this parable a way to do right for those who could not do you a solid and pay you back. He let us get a glimpse of what it truly means to be godly and gracious, by showing that we can show compassion towards and offer comfort for the hungry, the imprisoned, the naked, and the others that life seems to easily overlook.

And What Does the LORD Require of You?

And what does the LORD require of you? It is inserted in a retort in this passage due to the insinuation by the people that the Lord is asking them to do the impossible. The notion that the people presented to the prophet was that the Lord was being too hard on them in what He sought from them.

. . .but to do justice

We can say a lot but our actions speak louder and in greater volume than our words. We can say that Black Lives Matter is trending on Twitter and will fade away like the chants of “No justice, no peace.” The truth is that justice is right and we are called to do right as claim to love our neighbors as ourselves.

. . . and to love kindness

Kindness is like love. It’s all action and feelings. It’s not double talk. It comes down to our interaction with others, especially those who do not look like us, sound like us, or even believe what we believe.

. . . and to walk humbly with your God

Humility is a lost art. It is as ancient as things like respect and righteousness. To “walk humbly” requires us to humble ourselves. I believe C.H. Spurgeon said it best when he is quoted as saying: “Every Christian has a choice between being humble and being humbled.”

What will be your choice today?

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8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

To Be the Voices for the Voiceless

Christians have a calling to be the voices of victory. The victory over sin is ours. The victory over death and the grave is ours. We have this victory due to Christ and His sacrifice as well as His resurrection. We are given power through His authority. We have the victory and we are called to not just claim it but to proclaim it.

Christians are called to be voices for the voiceless.

We are charged to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are called to speak for those who have been silenced by systems and stigma. We are called to speak publicly on behalf of others. We are called to be voices for the voiceless.

Our voices are to proclaim victory for:

  • The Violated: Our voices speak against the countless violations faced by people. We raise awareness about the problems faced by people. We raise the level of understanding surrounded by the issues faced by individuals. We raise our voices for the violated.
  • The Victimized: Our voices speak against the victimization of others. When people are victimized, we are to become vocal. We have been commanded to love our neighbor, but we are also told that love does no harm to a neighbor as well as to consider others more than ourselves. We must see that victims are in need of advocates for justice and restitution. Therefore, we speak up for those victimized just as we speak for those who are violated.
  • The Vulnerable: Let our voices speak in defense of those who are not protected from violations and who are prime for victimization. Having a heart full of compassion, we must lift our voices in advance of the destruction beset upon those who are innocent. We must beseech the brethren to pray and lay hands upon such but also watch over and watch out for them as tender lambs of the flock of God.

Our voices to serve as echo chambers of God’s desires for all mankind. He speaks of what He is to the fatherless and a defender of the widow. Yet, He also equips and empowers us to be proactive in our stance in society, speaking up and speaking out for others.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9 (NASB)

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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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Think about this concept for a moment.

God (holy, self-existent Creator) grants grace to us (sinners).

[Does that really make sense to you?]

Let’s be honest.  You know that you are not worthy of being “saved.” Just like I know that I am not either.  However, God sees fit to hand blessings out to the unworthy and the unwanted.  He makes something out of the ones who have always had nothing and does good for those who have been long considered no-good, dirty scoundrels.

That makes sense, especially if He would have just let us into heaven and left it at that.

No, that’s not all.

He gives us His Spirit to dwell within us.  He leads us and guides.  He lives within each and every believer.

So, given that bit of information, we should definitely become more bold in our approach with God.  Since He lives within us, let us become more bold in His grace.  Because He is good to us, we should exhibit more boldness due to His grace.

We should get real BIG.

We should get real Bold In Grace.

After all, God saw something in us worthwhile and sent His only begotten Son to sacrifice His life for us.

Let’s get BIG.

 

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Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. – 1 John 2:7

John was pretty clear.  He wasn’t writing about anything new.  It wasn’t anything that the believers had not already heard, either directly from Jesus or quoted by one of the followers who had walked with Him during His earthly ministry.

It was the same as it was in the beginning.

There was already an “old commandment” and that was “no new commandment.” It all was the same.

Nothing was new.

Jesus said what needed to be said.  He said it all from the onset of His ministry.  He continued with it throughout His ministry.  He wrapped up His ministry with the same thing.

His disciples and apostles were to continue in what He taught them from the beginning.  New followers were to do so also.  No one was to add anything to it.  No one was to compel others to get circumcised or recognize new moons or other feasts to become at one with Christ.  All that it took was a faithful belief in Him as the Son of God, the Savior, and the propitiation of our sins.

Nothing was added.

We have all that we need in Him.  We have all that we are to follow in His Word.  There is nothing new to it.  There is to be nothing added to it.  It is totally complete.

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I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30

I can publish praise of God openly with my voice.  However, I begin to wonder about the effectiveness of that praise in light of good works that reflect in the shadow of His wondrous works.  My works, no matter how much good that they actually do for God or others, are totally eclipsed and overshadowed by His great works.

This Thanksgiving say a prayer for those who seek to do good works.  Many will feed the homeless.  Some will offer them clothing and shelter.  Others will open their homes to them.  Some will go and spend volunteer time with wounded veterans while others will read to children in the cancer unit of the local hospital or wash feet at the neighborhood hospice.

Offer a prayer for those who offer their service.  Join the ranks of men and women who make Christ come alive for some people who will never set foot in a church’s sanctuary or crack open a Bible to find an inspirational passage.

Thank God as you give the world a glimpse of Him in action.  Remember, He could choose anyone.

It did not have to be you.  The least becomes greatest and the last becomes first in God’s economy and on His balance sheet.  We should be thankful to have been chosen and in a position to give back.

 


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for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

We all have sinned.

The Bible does not mince words when it comes to that. It speaks clearly on that fact, especially where Paul is concerned. We come to know that we never truly measure up to God’s standard.

Thank God for salvation.

Thank God that grace covers our sins. Praise be to God for the blood of Jesus that covers us so completely that we are not viewed by our sins but by His miraculous works.

Sin caused us to need the Savior, but it was not poweerful enough to keep us out of His family. He loves us as dear children, considering us both heirs and sons of God. He assures us that nothing and no one can pluck us from His hand.

We are still sinners, but God’s love for us ushered in salvation. Therefore, much akin to how Paul stated it to the Romans: we were saved as sinners.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

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