Words and Actions

People express and perceive love in different ways. In Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he says the five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, and quality time. Chapman explains how important it is that we know our own love language and that of others to help us relate to each other better. 

John 14:23-29 highlight two of the love languages; words of affirmation and acts of service. Jesus proclaims his words of affirmation to the disciples and promises that his love will continue to be affirmed to them and us through the Holy Spirit. So, why is there so much anger, fear, and violence in our world? Why is there so much division? Because we have forgotten how to love. We became too focused on that which we have lost and so, forgot how to listen, serve, give, reach out, and spend time with one other.

When we remember God is love, we are driven to positive action. While shame drives us farther from God’s presence, God’s grace and love pull us inward and we are moved to perform acts of service. Just like we serve one another because of love, we serve God because of our love for God.

So, I encourage you to listen to God’s voice, rather than that of your own or that of others. When we hear God’s voice, we hear God’s words of peace and love which inspire us to be sanctified and holy for the glory of God.

Pastor Don.

Loving Jesus

In John 21:15-17, there is an interesting interaction between Peter and Jesus that occurred after Jesus had risen from the dead. In this meeting, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. The response does not change, with the exception that we know Peter’s feelings were hurt, after being asked for the third time. 

When we look at the Greek translation, we see different words for love were used; “Agapas and Philo.” The first two times Jesus asks Peter if he “Agapas,” him, while Peter responds that he has a “Philo” love for Jesus. “Agapas” is more “deliberate,” while “Philo” is more “personal” and affectionate (EBD). It wasn’t until Peter’s feelings were hurt that Jesus changed his usage to “Philo” to match Peter’s response. 

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary (EBD), it seemed as though Jesus was not connecting with Peter as closely and personally as he. As you can imagine, this grieved Peter greatly. So, perhaps Jesus was giving Peter the opportunity to connect on a less personal level. But, Peter was having none of that. He persisted until Jesus matched with the same kind of love (Philo). 

Peter’s denial of Jesus was public. But so was his proclamation of deeply personal and affectionate love. He did not let shame and guilt overwhelm him in such a way that it kept him from loving Jesus openly and affectionately. 

While conviction keeps us from spiraling out of control, shame and guilt are destructive and can keep us from an honest, open, and loving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

As children of God, we naturally want to serve well and live well. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to fall short. When this happens, let the Holy Spirit convict you in such a way that it brings correction and draws you closer to holiness. When we persistently draw near to God, God is there with affectionate love and reconciliation.

Receive God’s Love,

Pastor Don.

Awake, Aware, & Active

In the Book of James, we see how faith and works are tied together. Faith is a beautiful thing but of what use is it if it is not expressed in our actions. Many times in the Gospels, we see Jesus opening himself to service, letting people know they are seen. We see Jesus speaking, touching, and healing.

Jesus showed us that faith, love, and action are connected. What drew the crowds to Jesus? In Luke 6:17-19, many came to Jesus because they knew he would see their needs, speak to their souls, and bring healing to their broken lives. Consider for a moment the following questions:

What would have happened if Jesus had stayed inside?

What would have happened if Jesus had closed his eyes?

What would have happened if Jesus had not reached out?

What would have happened if Jesus had not said a word?

Not only would the Gospels have been much shorter, but hearts would not have been reached and lives would not have changed.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, our faith calls to love and our love drives us to action. There are people all around us who need to hear the good news. We have the power to speak life to others, bring healing with a smile, or lend a helping hand. We are God’s hands and feet to bring relief to the poor, release to the captives, and comfort to the broken.

May God help us open our doors, eyes, hands, hearts, and mouths to meet the needs of those in need.

Trust and Love

For years, I worked for a company with people who worked to help others find better and more efficient paths to healing and wholeness. We worked hard to expand our reach and our success grew. Our profit margin grew because our actions were born out of love and care. 

We trusted our company to care for its employees’ well-being as well as those we served. Yet, as we grew, our company’s focus shifted from people to productivity and profit. Our healthcare company was more interested in growth than the well-being of its employees. When they forgot how to love, they lost employees and clients.

It is natural to desire growth, productivity, and profit. Part of my church’s mission statement is to grow in Christ. Numerical and financial growth are valid metrics to prove effectiveness. Every year I have to submit statistical reports to our conference. So, I am very aware of our need for numerical and financial growth and stability.

As we work to grow, may love take the lead. As one in our congregation said, we don’t necessarily need more money to fulfill our missions. What we do need to do is decide how best to express, foster, maintain, and grow love within our congregation and in the community. 

1 John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” 

What drove our healthcare company to greatness was love. Trust and love for one another and others will be the driving forces to help us grow. As we grow our companies and churches, we cannot forget how to love. As long as love is the driving force, we will help grow God’s kingdom and help God’s people thrive. As long as all we do is driven by love, there will be enough. As long as love does not fail, neither will we.

With love

Pastor Don.

Love

“Love.” What a beautiful word. We all want to love and be loved. One who has felt loved is better able to give love and receive love from others. Those who have been abandoned or abused find love to be a difficult concept. Love can be miscommunicated and misunderstood. Love can be unspoken and unexpressed. Love can be lost, found, built, and broken. 

Love is more than a feeling. Love is a decision. We decide to begin and remain in relationships. We decide to join and be faithful to our churches. We decide to start and build our families. We decide to help one another. We decide to love. We are all made to love and be loved. Love is best received by a heart that has been properly prepared.

Isaiah 40:3 says, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Last week we lit the candle of love on our Advent wreath as an expression of our preparation to receive the love for God into our hearts. If you have been abandoned or abused, love lights the way toward your healing. If you have failed to love or feel loved, the love of God waits for you. God made the decision to love. God sent love in the form of His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for your sins. God decided to love.

So, we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” now as a response to God’s love and as a way to “prepare the way of the Lord” and to “make his paths straight” as we let God’s love in our hearts. In this Advent season, may we decide to welcome God’s love in our hearts. Let us decide to express our love to God with our time, talents, and resources. May we decide to show love to others and be the expression of God’s love to the world.

Let Us Hear

Psalm 85: 7-9 Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land” (KJV).

Thanks be to the God of mercy and love. How do we respond to God’s salvation? Do we listen for God’s voice? Or, do our own desires speak words that come from within, rather than from above?

God promises peace. Yet, in verse 8, the psalmist warns against folly. I find it troubling that some versions leave that warning out. Either way verse 9 reminds us that salvation is close at hand for those to fear God. This is not dread for a God of wrath, but reverential respect for the Holy. Mercy and salvation are ours.

Will we hear God’s words of peace? Will we receive God’s salvation? Will we revere God and live our lives accordingly? May it be so.

Thoughts on Love

Matthew 22:34-40

“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 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 greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

–In this scripture, the Pharisees tested Jesus with a question about love.

We face love questions all the time that challenge how we live out our faith.

Do we love?

Why do we love?

How do we love?

Jesus’ answer gave us the model, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Secondly, “…love your neighbor as yourself.”

The latter kind of love cannot come without the former. To love God with ALL, we have to surrender our pride and self-will. We also have to believe in and receive God’s love for us.

In our expressions of love to others, we show our love for God.

This scripture calls us all to draw deeper into love; love for God and love for others.

(On another note, as soon as I finished writing this, I went to a meeting where this was the scripture. So, I needed this more than anyone else today)

Blessings and Love,

Don

Reference: New Revised Standard Version of The Holy Bible. New York: Oxford Unity Press, 1989.

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