Father, I come before you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Lord, you know all things. They are all before you like an open book. Who can hide their heart from your presence and your eye? The deeds of the most clever men are exposed before you. Your omniscience knows know bounds - and if it were not for grace, I would be of all men most terrified. But there is grace, abounding and glorious, poured out upon the weakest of men, and abounding to your glory.
Father, I praise you and I worship you; I thank you for all that you are and all that have done. There is no one like you in Heavens and on the Earth or under the earth. You are the King and there is no other. You are Savior and you share your glory with no one. Father, this day you know me and my great need of grace. Why am I here except that you called the weakest among men, the most ignoble among brothers, and that by your grace, often times, the lesser teaches the greater? That is always my case and I praise you. I worship you. Father, help us today, to the wind with eloquence, to hell with brilliant intellect, Father. Let the truth go forward. Let me be changed that the state of your church be more glorious. I pray for grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy for myself and for those who read my blog. Help us, Oh God, and we will be helped; and we will boast in that help in Jesus' Name. AMEN!!!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Loving Without Hypocrisy

Music, movies, and social media all contribute to shaping the world’s view of love. It is regularly confused with lust and usually driven by the quest to gratify our own selfish desires. As Christians we need to recognize the hypocrisy of that worldly mindset. The defining quality of God’s love is that He set aside what rightfully belongs to Him in order to benefit those who rightly deserve His judgment and have no right to ask for anything (cf. Romans 5:8; Philippians 2:1–8).

 New Testament Greek uses the word agapē to describe that kind of love. It is completely unselfish, with no taking involved. It seeks another’s supreme good, no matter what the cost. Agapē was exemplified perfectly by Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. He demonstrated His great love by suffering God’s wrath as a righteous substitute for sinners who deserved that wrath (cf. Romans 5:8)—the ultimate selfless act. His call on us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23) reveals why agapē love is the greatest virtue of the Christian life.

 The authenticating mark of our Christianity, before an unbelieving world, is our love for other believers. Jesus affirmed this when He said; “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

 But what does this kind of love look like? A brief survey of the one anothers in the New Testament gives an excellent picture. We are commanded to: Build up one another (Romans 14:19); serve one another (Galatians 5:13); bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2); be subject to one another (Ephesians 5:21); forgive one another (Colossians 3:13); teach one another (Colossians 3:16); comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18); rebuke one another (Titus 1:13); encourage one another to do good (Hebrews 10:24-25); confess our sins to one another (James 5:16); pray for one another (James 5:16); and be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9-10).

 That type of love was rare in pagan Greek literature because the traits agapē portrays—unselfishness, self-giving, willful devotion, concern for the welfare of others—were mostly disdained in ancient Greek culture as signs of weakness.

 However, the New Testament declares agapē to be the character trait around which all others revolve. The apostle John writes, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). Jesus Himself attaches great importance to love in His answer to the Jewish lawyer:

                       “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36–40).

 It therefore makes sense that the first “fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22), and that love for other believers is the primary way people will know that we are believers (John 13:35).

 Agapē love is so much a part of personal holiness that John asserts, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). A person who does not demonstrate real love in his life is not a believer. Without love we cannot presume to have eternal life, much less be a person of integrity.

Saul vs. David

           I was recently reading in I Samuel, the record of the start of Saul's kingdom. Saul was made king within very short time. Before he even understood what was going on, he found himself as a king. 

          He did not have the character, he did not have the qualities needed. He was a humble man in the beginning. He did not even dare to come out when his name was called (I Samuel 10:22). But the children of Israel were so pressing asking for a king. I bet they could not wait at all. They wanted a king and they wanted him now!

         No wonder therefore that Saul ended up the way he did. Most of us would have ended up the same. We would not know what to do, our pride would rise up, and we would mess around not having the character and the qualities needed. It is not to know exactly what to do, but to have the character to wait and find out what to do. It seems to me that Saul was a victim of the Israelites stubbornness. But then David came. David did not come as a king. He had the word of God from the beginning but then many years passed and it seemed that this word would never be realized. 

          He was fighting in the deserts and in the mountains and it seemed that, that word only had brought trouble to him. He had lost his friends, his peace, his contact with his family and all this because of that word. Why did God tell him that? Why He did not rush him to be a king right away? Why God "treated him so badly"? If somebody had un-answered whys this must have been David. 

          And yet the appointed time came. Saul, the result of the rush of the Israelites, died. I am so sorry for him. It was not God's mistake, it was probably not even his mistake. It was mostly the mistake of his own people who did it. Saul dies and David becomes a king. It took many years.

          It took many frustrations. It took many whys. It took much trouble in between. He could have died in those years. His life was continuously at stake. It was certainly not what he had dreamed about God, about his life about the word of God spoken to him. And yet its purpose was clear: after all these, David was now READY to be a king. He would not blow it. Because he was trained. He was softened. 

          His desires were subjected to God's will and were put into His hands. It is frightening all that he went through, but it is also encouraging. For it may also have happened in our lives. We just wonder why this and why that. Why God does not do it right from the beginning. But God wants to make us like David, so that we can enjoy what he opens before us. Saul had it right from the beginning but then he destroyed it. I love God's way even if it is sometimes painful and looks like a desert. For the desert finishes and a new bright day starts!