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Posts Tagged ‘practical’

Loved and Loving

February 14th, 2017

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “loved and loving.”

“If this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.”      1 John 4:10 TEV

Every person has many needs. None is stronger or more essential than your need to be and feel loved. The greatest gift of one’s self is to offer love to another flawed person, not because of anything they have or have not done, but simply because you chose to love them. Love sets an elevated value on another person higher than they may have thought themselves deserving. And that’s a great feeling for both the one loving and the one loved.

Why do people struggle to believe they can be loved? On some occasion, every person has felt rejection or being unwanted. Hurting people hurt people. That is unfortunate but probably unavoidable in an unkind and hurting world. Such feelings diminish your understanding of self-worth and may wrongly persuade you that you are unlovely, or even unlovable. Those emotions are difficult to change, even when told otherwise. I heard it said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” That is nowhere more true than in this matter of love. Love is most persuasive when evidenced by grace given and behavior observed, rather than by mere words that proclaim love. Love is volitional, before it becomes emotional. In every action and overture toward you, God is unchangeably consistent with His choice to love you forever.

When teaching on love years earlier, the Lord gave an insight expressed in this understanding, To be authentic, love must be practical and observable. God’s love for you is practical, observable, and always sacrificial. “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16 TEV. The love of God is practical enough to provide, protect, and preserve, and is plainly observable in the wonderful plans He has made for you, forever.  God said, “I know the plans I have for you . . to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

God chose to love you extravagantly and eternally, without measure or requirement. Being loved embraces the obligation to love others in no lesser way. “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 TEV. You are loved; be loving. See Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV. In life, I have found that loving is well worth the risk, and the rewards are the incredible, extravagant dimensions of Christ’s own love. “Take in . . the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” Ephesians 3:18 MSG. See Romans 8:35-39 NAS. Your love is limited until you embrace His love without limits.

Today, I pray for you to receive the immeasurable love of God and share it generously.

Christian Communications 2017

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Love Spoken Out Loud

May 26th, 2015

“God will not forget the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people.” Hebrews 6:10 NKJV.

Love is best seen in everyday kindnesses more than grand gestures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “love spoken out loud.”

There is much in our world that poses as love. Everything that claims to be love or looks like love isn’t necessarily love. Sometimes, it is just a temporary emotion, as evidenced by the accelerating frequency of infidelity or divorce. Emotions neither prove love, nor produce love; instead, emotions are merely a by-product of love.

Love is both a choice and a learned response. You choose to love others because you have been selflessly loved. That could explain why a loving family begins with the sure and sincere love of parents for each other. Children learn to be loving by experiencing secure love surrounding them. As beloved children and later as adults, we learn to be loving husbands or wives, loving parents, and loving friends.

Love can be hard to define but easy to recognize. More than once, God is described in the simplest of terms, “God is love.” Read 1 John 4:7-12/15 NIV. That being true, where else but the Bible could you find the accurate description of love? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record 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 NIV. Love never fails; people fail to love.

For me, a few simple words define love. “Love, to be authentic, must be practical and observable.” Our friend, Betty, is a remarkable, loving lady who has a unique ministry. She gives cakes for people’s special occasions. She probably could make any kind but her specialties are German Chocolate or Coconut cakes, and she bakes those exquisitely. Recently, when she found it was my stepfather’s 94th birthday, she baked a Coconut cake, his favorite. My wife eloquently described Betty’s kindness as, “Love spoken out loud.” Maybe love looks like baking a cake, even when he is not your grandpa.

Love is best seen in everyday kindnesses more than grand gestures. Maybe love is doing more than could be expected or required, or offering help without needing to be asked, or sacrificing for someone without need for notice or regard for reward. This rings true. “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I have been considering a simple question; what does love for God really look like? The answer was simpler than I assumed. “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10 NIV. Your unforgettable “work and the love you have shown Him,” is witnessed in a lifestyle of helping others in ways, small and large; that is, “love spoken out loud.”

Today, I pray for you that your life will accurately express your love for God.

EDL pix love expressed

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Abounding Life

June 13th, 2012

“Be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

A small life is no credit to your Creator’s intention.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abounding life.”

Every life has God-given potential. When lives with so much potential are lived on a marginal scale, it is sad. The routine and repetition can shrink your estimation of the expansive life available to you. Smallness and scarcity is not in your spiritual DNA. A small life is no credit to your Creator’s intention. Jesus expressed the Father’s heart, “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV. In Christ alone, you find abounding life!

In his powerful explanation of resurrection, Paul concludes with a most practical application. “Therefore . .” in light of all that precedes and as introduction to what follows – . . be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV. My friend, Campbell, often reminded me that “whenever Scripture says, ‘therefore,’ stop and see what it is there for.” Jesus’ resurrection is God’s assurance of the “power of His resurrection” for abounding life today and everyday, not just someday. See Philippians 3:10 NKJV.

Would you describe your life as abounding – in your faith, marriage, family, relationships, career, or finances? This is God’s goal for your life, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV. What would abounding life look like for you? I think it would include bigger dreams, focused effort, clear priorities, strong confidence, firm faith, greater risk-taking, joyful anticipation, peaceful satisfaction, and so many other expressions of living above the norm. God intends His provision and purpose “more abundantly” for you.

The supernatural finds expression in the most natural, beneficial ways. “As you abound in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us – see that you abound in this grace [of liberality] also.” 2 Corinthians 8:7 NKJV. His life enables you to remain “steadfast, immoveable, and always abounding” in all you do in His name and in obedience to His direction. To the extent that you choose to live steadfast and immoveable in your life of faith, your life will abound with God’s blessing. “A faithful man will abound with blessings.” Proverbs 28:20 NKJV.

This supernatural quality of life does not just happen; abounding life results from the practical ways you choose to live your life. ”Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 NKJV. You build an abounding life by living according to God’s Word.

My prayer for you today is that life abounds and overflows with goodness and blessings

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Love – The Jesus Kind

June 17th, 2010

“You must love others as much as yourself.” Mark 12:31 Living Bible

“You add value to others when you recognize how highly God values them.”

My thoughts today are about “love – the Jesus kind.”

That is quite a lofty achievement, isn’t it? “Loving others as much as you love yourself” would be far easier to obey if everyone were as easy to love as some others are. I think that is why Jesus did not make the command about the other person; He made it all about you. God knows that you were created with a healthy self-esteem, and though that is a bit complicated because of each individual’s natural condition – theologians call that “falleness” – most everyone still has a good dose of appreciating and preserving themselves, some a little too much really.

I read a lovely phrase about the practical aspect of loving others – “you only love others when you add value to their lives.” Isn’t that what you are trying to do for yourself, adding value? You want to be better and do better.

You invest in a good education for yourself so that you will have more options and fulfillment in what you do, with a greater chance for success and financial security. You choose a spouse that will enrich and enhance your life. You select a neighborhood and schools for your children that will better insure their safety and academic achievement. You try to eat wisely and exercise a bit to insure better health and longevity. Isn’t all of that about adding value to your life?

How then can you love others and add value to their lives? Simply stated, it is by placing a higher value on them, the way you value yourself – thinking of them as highly as you think of yourself – treating them as well as you treat yourself – speaking of them as kindly as you speak of yourself – wanting the best for them as you desire the best for yourself – and rejoicing with and for them when they rejoice.

“That the members may have the same care for one another. And if one suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with them.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 NAS. When you rejoice equally for another’s success as for your own, and when you empathize with their sufferings as you would struggle with your own, then you “love others as much as yourself.” You add value to others when you recognize how highly God values them, and treat them accordingly.

Maybe Jesus stated this principle most practically and plainly, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” John 13:34-35 NKJV. You are only asked to give others what you have been given by God, to regard others as God regards you, and to behave toward others as is God’s manner with you. A frequent and favorite saying of mine is this: “love to be authentic must be practical and observable!” Is your regard for others practical and observable?

My prayer for you today is that you learn to value others as God and others value you.

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Living a Lifestyle of Loving

September 28th, 2009

“Love each other in the same way that I love you.” John 15:12 NLT

“Sometimes people are trying to pour love out of an empty pitcher.”

My thoughts today are about “living a lifestyle of loving.”

I think loving is pretty natural to a person in the sense of thinking well of others and treating them accordingly. Could there be anyone who has not loved someone at some time? Such a person would be hard for me to imagine. When Jesus says, “Love each other in the same way that I love you,” it sounds so natural and simple. You want to love and be loved; who doesn’t?

How then can something that seems so simple be so difficult to do consistently? Consider the encouragement that Jesus gives – “in the same way that I love you.” Do you read that as a human impossibility? That’s a mistake easily made and makes your efforts a more daunting task. What would change if instead of struggling with that as an impossible standard, you allowed God’s love to become the unfailing source from which you love?

Sometimes people are trying to pour love out of an empty pitcher. The problem could be seen as simple as filling the pitcher before you attempt to fill something from it. The more you allow God’s love to fill and heal your heart daily, the more readily you will find yourself able to pour love into others’ lives without such great, and often failing, effort. Love is not a warm, fuzzy feeling of emotion.

Love is the faithful expression of your will in obedience to God’s command, accomplished in God’s enabling ability. Here’s what I have come to believe with conviction: love to be authentic must be practical and observable. “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence . . And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” 1 John 3:18-19/23 NIV. Read that again slowly. Did you notice that loving one another is as clearly commanded as trusting in the name of Jesus?

If your expression of love is not a practical supply of another’s need and able to be known and experienced by them, it may be well intentioned benevolence but it is something less than love. Love is not about giving what you want to give when you want to do so, but about providing what another needs to receive when they most need it. It is always generous and sacrificial, and usually inconvenient – but oh so satisfying to the one who receives it and the one who gives it.

Let me share another’s practical suggestions of how to live a lifestyle of loving: “people are insecure – give them confidence; People need to feel special – compliment them; people look for a better tomorrow – give them hope; people need to be understood – listen to them; people need examples – be one! Now those are simple, everyday things that you can do – giving people the practical love that Jesus gives you.

My prayer for you today is: love as a lifestyle, not an emotion or occasional action.

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