Finding Real Love

Human love is fraught with problems that come from our human nature–selfishness, self-centeredness and a lack of faithfulness.  We say “I love you” and really mean “I love how you make me feel.”  The only way we can really love is to receive the love of God and let it pass through to others.  True agape love–the love that is God–is beyond our human abilities.

It intrigued me to discover that only Peter expressed his love directly to the Lord.  We often talk of ‘loving Jesus’ but the Scriptures do not record many such expressions.  There are many commands to love God and discussions of love, but stating love directly is a different story.   You may recall that the disciple Peter saw himself as totally committed to Jesus prior to his arrest…and then he betrayed him three times. It’s also interesting to note the kiss Judas betrayed Jesus with came from ‘phileo’ love–the love that is based on shared interests.  When Jesus restored Peter, he asked him:  “Do you (agape) love me?”  Three times Jesus asked about Peter’s love.  Twice he asked Peter if we agape loved him, and Peter replied, “I phileo love you.” Finally, Jesus asked him if Peter phileo loved him.  Jesus knows our limits and he agape loves us…he meets us where we are at!

The gift of love from another can give us a glimpse of the faithfulness of God’s love.  Make no mistake:  love matters.  We are called to love and do the best we can.  But true love only happens when it flows from the Creator.

We love each other because he loved us first.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[c] 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 4:19-20

Celebrate those who love you.  But most of all celebrate the One who is love and made it all possible..

Joy in the Mourning

It’s a cute little prayer…with tons of truth and arrows that should pierce.  The election this week eliminated (should have anyways) any illusions of sweetness in our hearts.  The so-far-todayanger, slander, outrage, fear and discouragement engendered by the election was not created by the election.  It was simply unmasked by the process, not caused by it.  In that, I see hope.

The devil loves deceit–and masks.  He operates in the dark.  Fighting an enemy you can not see is difficult and dangerous. The enemy is NEVER flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).   We can’t fight what is ‘outside’ of us without addressing what is inside of us.  The nastiness that spews from those who don’t wear the name of Christ is not as offensive as that which pours out of Christians.  Slander, lies (even half-truths) and coarse jesting reveal yuck in hearts that is certainly not the indwelling Spirit of God.  Colossians tells us not to ‘lie to another.’  When we claim Christ and His love–and speak out of our own convictions in an unloving way, we are lying about the very nature of God.  We are collaborating with the devil in covering the glory of God which dwells within.

Grapes in a press pour out grape juice; olives pressed give forth olive oil.  The election process was clearly a press that revealed evil within us that we still allow to rule and reign at certain times.  Praise God, deliverance is in Jesus Christ!

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:21-23

May our hearts be broken for our own failures–and for those of others.  It is encouraging that as the passage in Mark continues to unfold, we see that the humble pleading of one can deliver another.  The Canaanite mother (one with a heritage of pagan idols) refused to be offended by the harsh resistance she met from Jesus.  She humbly recognized His power and ability and asked for the demon that plagued her loved one to be removed.  Jesus uttered no prescribed prayer, applied no magic formula.  He simply said her faith opened the door for deliverance.  May our eyes see our own need, refuse offense and our faith rise up to bring healing!

Oswald Chambers succinctly reminds us:  “We are called to make disciples, not converts to our opinions.”  Whether we caustically chastise the ‘stupidity’ and ‘evilness’ of another or simply chuckle at coarse conversation or pridefully contemplate our own wisdom, the image of our glorious Savior is obscured.  Anytime our hearts (and the words that overflow from our hearts) do not exude love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, we are not showing the world what our Lord looks like.  We are showing the world US.  This world needs less of each of us…and so much more of Jesus Christ.

 

Hearing God in Horrors of Hurt

On the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, looking to Jesus–our INTERCESSOR–is a blessed endeavor!  May you enjoy this excerpt from my devotional, Fixing our Eyes on God.

There are some wonderful, awe-inspiring revelations of Jesus that begin with “I.”  He is the I am, the Image of the invisible God, immortal, immutable, and Immanuel, God with us!  The One who is all of those things is also our Intercessor.  Scriptures tells us He lives that He can make intercession for us!  Now that is an incredible view of our Savior!

Intercessory prayer weaves its way throughout scripture.  In the Old Testament, we see God’s people, His prophets and His priests offering prayers on behalf of others.  Isaiah prophesied that the coming Deliverer would pray for sinners.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12

The truth of that prophesy shines forth in the New Testament as we observe Jesus praying for His disciples, His enemies and us!

Intercession is a costly endeavor that God expects from each of us.  Yet God never asks us to do anything He won’t join us in doing.  Intercession is a joint endeavor…it fulfills the prayer of Jesus in John 17 which asks the Father to bring us to unity.  Intercession unites our hearts with others, with the Spirit, with Christ and with the Father.  The fact that Jesus is our Intercessor reveals the incredible privilege we have to intercede.

Our human passions and concerns often cloud our minds.   We do not always know what to ask of the Father; we would miss countless blessings without our Intercessor!  The Spirit searches our hearts for the needs we cannot express—and sometimes do not know.  The Spirit’s unity with Christ—and His with the Father—brings the very will of God into the center of our being.

Our Intercessor’s prayers are pure and perfect, aligned with God’s purposes for our lives.  Jesus asks for exactly what we would ask—if only we understood as He does.    Our minds can only glimpse the fringes of the great mystery of unity with God through Christ.  Our intercessory prayers for others allow us to join in the very work of our Savior.  May we rejoice in His work and our privilege as intercessors!