Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Love - A Portrait Painted by God

We have seen what love is not, but let's look at what love is. First, we must remember two important aspects about love; it is a decision, not an emotion and it is an action word. Love is not based on what you feel; it's based on a commitment that you have made. It is also not passive or reactive; love is always proactive.

We all have a sin nature, and sometimes we will express a love that is tainted by that nature. However, we can avoid living like this. How?

It begins with setting a direction, a flavor to our life. 1 Cor. 13 shows us what love would look like. Being that it is proactive, it does not just happen. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit and some lifestyle decisions by us to avoid expressing the “NOTS” of love.

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Let's unpack the statements here about love and apply them directly to our life.

Learn to think of others first!

One lifestyle change that love will cause is that we will learn to think of others first. It is quite natural for the old man to always look inward and take care of himself. However, love points our focus outward at others… Beginning with God and in extending to those around us. Consider what Paul says in Philippians:

Philip. 2:3-5 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,


One of the key problems with our flesh is that we view life from our perspective only. This is another change that happens when we allow love to control our perception of things. We will empathize with those that we do love, in other words we will see from someone else's point of view, not just ours. This is what Christ did as stated in Hebrews:

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Serve others instead of always being served

How? This is where we begin to understand how much of a decision love is. It is not normal for us to “feel” like serving people… Contrarily, in our flesh we feel the opposite way – we want others to serve us. However, when love is in control we make a willful decision to serve others as Christ did. Again, notice how proactive love must be. Christ spoke of this in Matthew:

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. "It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Surrender your agenda

One of the marks of real love is when we are willing to surrender our agenda for what God desires. This sometimes can be very difficult because we have limited vision, so we don't see the big picture. Many times this will lead us to a quick fix, yet it may miss the point. God has an agenda for every circumstance; if we love we will yield to his agenda and not push on with our own. Job experience this with his friends:

Job 2:11-13  When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Job's friends started out right, they sat with their friend and wept with him – in other words they sustained him through his pain. Sadly, their love had a time limit, and they quickly moved to the agenda they had, which was to show Job that he'd done something wrong and God was punishing him.

Here are the mistakes they made because of their own agenda (1) a good and innocent person never suffers; (2) those who suffer are being punished for their past sins; and (3) Job, because he was suffering, had done something wrong in God’s eyes.

After it was all said and done and Job met with God, the Lord addressed these friends:

Job 42:7  After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.

The Lord makes it quite clear to these men that their agenda represented God in a wrong light. Our fleshy love will be agenda driven, and if not careful can bring judgment from the Lord. Real love yields to the agenda of the one person that knows all.

Take some time today to examine what kind of love you are expressing. Compare this partial list with the “NOTS” list we made. Where can you see a need for change? What steps do you need to make in your thinking to allow the Spirit room to produce growth? What is your agenda?  Have you laid your agenda before the throne of God and asked Him to have His agenda override yours?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Untying the rest of the “NOTS”

Paul is showing us what love is NOT. Let’s look at the rest of his description.

1 Cor. 13:1-7 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. [2] And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. [3] And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. [4] Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, [5] does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, [6] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; [7] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Unbecomingly” - ἀσχημονέω aschēmonéō; To behave in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner

Love never communicates in a way that would be considered ugly or indecent. This of course makes this side of love very sensitive to culture. What is ugly in one culture may not be ugly somewhere else. For instance I know of a very closed country to the gospel, that if any believer goes to a movie, the entire Christian community is offended. Many today would say... “that’s not fair! I have the right to go to a movie, that’s a liberty issue!” Right and Wrong!  On it’s own you do have that liberty, however, liberty’s boundaries according to scripture has always been love. If you destroy someone for the sake of your “rights” then the face of love you have shown is ugly. This is what makes love so is sensitive to those around it.

“Not seek its own” ζητέω zētéō; Particularly, to seek after, look for, strive to find.

Notice, the issue here is the object that is receiving. It’s not wrong to “strive to find” unless the object all the striving is yourself! We need to be careful here because as the scripture states, our hearts can be desperately wicked and deceitful. Are we striving for what others need, or in reality what we want...even if we try and claim it is what they need. Love does not seek to satisfy itself.

“Provoked” παροξύνω paroxúnō; from pará, at the point of, unto, implying movement toward a certain point, and oxúnō, to sharpen, incite, irritate. Metaphorically, to sharpen the mind, temper, or courage of someone, to incite, to impel. In the NT, it means to provoke or rouse to anger or indignation

Love does not allow itself to be brought to anger or indignation. When we are controlled by love, insults have no effect on us. This is because we have died to self and words are only words. What matters is how we act, not what others do or say.

“Not take into “account” a wrong suffered”  λογίζομαι logízomai; To reckon, impute, number. “Wrong” κακὸς kakós; Bad, worthless externally, evil, wicked

This is one of the most important “NOTS” of love. A long memory! Love does not count and keep the number of times it is wronged. So many misunderstand forgiveness – it is not for our enemies fact it is more for our benefit than theirs. When we forgive we show the love of Christ, but many times those that hate us continue to hate us. However, we sleep at night in peace, because our short memory has taken the weight of the hurt off our shoulders. I have watched people crushed by their unrelenting memory of what others have done to them. How tragic!

“Does not rejoice in unrighteousness” ἀδικία adikía; What is not conformable with justice, what ought not to be, that which is wrong.[1]

This is one of the more subtle “NOTS” of love. The reason is that many times that which is wrong is disguised as –“Well he got what was coming to him!” or “Teach her a lesson!” These statements may be true, but love does not rejoice over someone’s misfortune. Even if they are reaping what they sowed, a heart that loves feels for that person. We may believe they are getting what they deserve, like a criminal, but a person that loves does not feel happy about the judgment someone must go through. We can rejoice that God is just and will deal with every injustice, but to delight in someone else’s pain is not borne from a heart that understands God’s mercy, or our own falleness. Obviously love does not rejoice is what is clearly evil or wrong, but when we see one sinner, hurt by another sin...we should not feel good about that.    

As we look at these “NOTS” of love...can we be honest and look in the mirror? Are you sensitive to those around you, so that you do not allow your freedoms to hurt them? Do you ever seek what you want more than what others need? Do you allow circumstances to dictate your reactions? Are you glad when someone that hurt you, gets hurt? How long is your memory? Want to sleep great at night? Get a short memory...ask Jesus...He is the best teacher on forgiveness!

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.