Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Love is a Lifestyle

 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion - how can the love of God be in that person?  

Dear ones, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

1 John 3:17-19

Compassion rules the day, when it comes to God.  Love is the hallmark of the Christ way!  Sharing out of your plenty is always a good course.  This is because love is not a theory, not just a good idea.  It is a lifestyle. 

Mkae love your way of life.  Love in deed:  make it your business, your product, an act of labor.  And make it the basis that represents the truth about your life with Christ.  This truth is a visible reality that is objectively seen and is done with excellence, candor and with purity.  It seeks not its own extolment - just love's cause.  It is an honest presentation of the love in the heart of a person.  

Let there be no doubt what feeds and drives your life.  God's love in you makes it possible for your to purely love others, for you cannot give what you do not have for yourself.  So, if you want to love others well, garner the love of God thoroughly for yourself:

     - Let your roots grow down into God's love (Eph 3:17)

     - Have the power to undersand how wide, long, high and deep God's love is. (Eph 3:18)

     - Seek Christ's love with faithfulness. (Eph 6: 23, 24)

     - Receive the Holy Spirit, which God intended to use to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:5)

     - See the proof of God's love for us in that God sent Christ to die for us, while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8)

     - Fear nothing!  Love wins over all earthly powers! Rest in the triumph of love! (Romans 8:38, 39)

When God's love is completed in you, your love for others will be complete.  

Monday, September 21, 2020

Purity

 Consider the quality of love God has bestowed on us that we are named children of God.  Thus we are!  And just as the world does not know or understand, much less have a relationship with Him, we do!  

Beloved, we are God's children, in more than name.  It is our destiny, though he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears.  We do know we will be like him because we will truly see him as he really is.

This being our expectation, we will keep ourselves pure, just as he is pure.

1 John 3:1-3

Purity - a set apart set of behaviors.  What does it mean to put away distractions and prepare for Jesus' presence?  Purity seems hard to pursue:  pulling away from the world's demands, preparing to enter the presence of Jesus.  

The Jews would do outward exercises.  Oils and teas?  Water and soap?  What stripping and anointing will cause me to be pure?  I first thought evil was the problem, but maybe busyness is the real problem.  Distractions.  Shiny things. Worry.  The world's agenda.

Is it about strictness and censure or an awakening that causes all worldly attachments to fall away?  

This makes me think of Step 11 of the Twelve Steps:  Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.

Conscious contact.  An awakening to the presence of God in all things and the possibility of the Kingdom of Heaven to be present now.  Of all the things I have ever been in pursuit, this is the hardest.  In some ways, it is less tangible than worldly pursuits.  In other ways, it is the greatest reality to which I can hold.  Conscious contact.  Get "woke" to the possibility that I can be prepared to seek Christ in this day and in his future coming.  Might I miss the coming if I haven't sought it in the day I hold?

To seek out purity is to stay "woke" to the truth of the coming King.  All other worldly matters are either vehicles to ride into his presence or be discarded.


Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Love

Don't fall in love(1) with this corrupt world or worship the things it offers.  Those who love its corrupt ways don't have the Father's love(2) living in them.  These do not come from the Father:

     the allure of pleasure (the lust(3) of the flesh(4))

     the passion to have things (the lust of the eyes(5))

     pompous superiority (pride (6)of life (7)).                                         1 John 2:15-17


I think the original language has a lot to teach us here, so I've highlighted certain words.  Let me explain:

Don't fall in love (1) - agapao - to love in a social or moral sense; to welcome or entertain; to be content with.  This world is not enough for you.  You are made for something more than it has to offer.  Don't attach to lesser things, lesser parts of who you are.

The Father's love (2) - agape - connected to a person, this word now is a noun - affection, goodwill, family love.  With the descriptor of "Father," love now is a give and take, relationship-based affection.

Lust (3) of the flesh (4) - Lust - ephithmyia - desire, craving especially for what is forbidden.  Flesh - sarx - this is not the body literally but the sinful response of people which leads them away from God.  "Sensual" might be a better term.  Peter describes it well:  "fleshly (sarx) desire (epithymia) by sensuality (aselgeia)."  2Peter 2:2)  The sense that it is the unbridled demands of lasciviousness and wantonness:  out of control, even to the point of addictive-type behaviors. ("I couldn't stop myself.")  It is not our senses and desires, except when hijacked, when  good sense and godly directives become driving forces.  Kind of like the difference between eating and gluttony, sex and pornography, anger (not a sin, you know) and rage, even need and want.  

Lust of the eyes (5) - ophthalmos - metaphorically, the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing - focusing.  What you attach to, find alluring.

Pride (6) of life (7) - Pride - alazoneia - bragging, arrogance which trusts in its own power especially over divine laws and human rights; an empty presumption.  Life - bios - the course of life; that by which life is sustained, its goods and resources.  Might have an emphasis of "personal trust in how a person's life is resourced by self."

Essentially, this world should not be held in higher regard than the eternal Kingdom, which we are called to recognize and live into even in the present.  As we seek Kingdom presence and ways, as we realize in its realities our needs on earth will be met in a deeper and continual fashion.  We are to seek that Kingdom - zeteo - crave it!  Desire it first!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Truth 2

 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you;  rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning.  The old commandment - to love one another - is the same message you heard before.  Yet, it is also new.  Jesus lived the truth of this commandment and you are also living it.  For the darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining.

If anyone claimes, "I am living in the light," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.  anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble, but anyone who hates another is still living and walking in darkness.  Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

1 John 2:7-11

Hate has no part.  No part in light.  It is only present in darkness.  I have someone I would "love to hate," but I cannot.  Jesus' example says I may not.  I realize that which I allow in my heart  - specifically to hate someone -- causes me to dish out on myself that very hate.

When that form of hate is unforgiveness, it inhabits sin and haunts my soul.  When I don't embrace (love) someone, I fail to embrace myself, not being far removed for the cause of hate in others.  Forgiveness has a big price tag.  Jesus paid that price so that I and my fellow Christian don't pay for it, except when we reject that forgiveness.  Then someone will pay.

Either the offender pays or the offended pays.  Sometimes both because compensation may not always cover the offense, even with good intentions.  So Jesus' work on the cross becomes paramount for my peace personally and relationally.  There is too much sin to manage on my own.

So, love, I must!  Forgive, I must!  I am ready to extend that which I learned from the one who loved first and best.  I am ready to forgive as freely as I have been forgiven.

To live in the light - the path lit, being able to see, being able to discern - is the course of true freedom.  "The way to go" can only be known when there is light.

Amen!

Make it so!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Intimacy

 Dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.  But, if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father.  He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.  He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins--and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.  

We an be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.  If someone claims, "I know God," but doens't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and not living in the truth.  But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him.  That is how we know we are living in him.

Specifically, those who say they live in God should livve their lives as Jesus did.

1 John 2: 1-6

This is the holiness standard:  avoiding sin, keeping Jesus' commandments in such a way that demonstrates an intimate relationship with Jesus.  It includes walking the same path as Jesus.

Where can we learn about intimacy?  The word here in the Greek, is the word for sexual intimacy, which is a metaphor for its other definitions.  It involves a meaning around deeper perception and understanding.  It is a comfort, a caring, a common experience, a shared history that allows for stability, growth and care of others.

That's my love life with my husband.  As we know each other deeply, our relationship is grown and is consistent.  Out of its strength and depth, we are both in a position to love others who need it.  Some marriages only have enough stability and strength to love their children or maybe their immediate family.  The ability to provide strength and stability demonstrates the marriage's depth and security.  The ability to be part of impact on a community comes from depth of relationship in a marriage.

Holiness is a relationship pursuit with Jesus Christ such that there is revelation and restoration for person, family and community.  The ongoing commitment to Jesus is about intimacy-building.  The comfort and care, a reflection on our past experiences together allows for stability, growth and care for others, as my marriage deonstrates.  It is proof of being on the same path as Jesus.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Rise

 God is so rich in mercy and he loves us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sin, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you are saved.  For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and sealed us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-6, 7-10

Over and over I read about the generosity of God and the sacrifice of Jesus to deliver these riches to us. These origins of the faith, I cannot forget:  my peace from His torture, my healing from His wounds.  Heavenly realms are spoken in the present tense.  It’s now.   

“He raised me up” is the song by Josh Groban:

            He raised me so I can stand on mountains…

            He raised me up to walk on stormy seas….

What low place might we feel right now?  How might we “sit” ourselves in the heavenly realms with Christ?  Take 2 minutes and breathe that truth.  

So God can point to us in the future as the example of his incredible wealth of his grace and kindness, to show what is available for those united with Christ.

A life of meaning comes from the design of God.  We are to be the example to a lost world of his incredible grace and kindness.  To allow His gift to us to flow out is a gift, an honor, a burden.  The world doesn’t always seem to welcome it, but we an do no other thing.  Consider how we can show grace and kindness in all the places we are.


Monday, July 20, 2020

Truth

Jesus told them:  "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but wiall have the light of life."  The Pharisees complained, "You are bearing witness about yourself;  your testimony is not true."  Jesus answered, "Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don't know these things...
                                                                      John 8:12-14

Jesus comes as a witness, about himself and about God.  His truth comes from the Father:

"I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me."  (verse18

Jesus' truth comes through the Father and has its beginnings and endings in the Father.  In fact, Jesus claims to be the very evidence of the Father.  If you know Jesus (and the truth he tells) then you know the Father and His truth.

With competing priorities and half-truths (i.e. lies) continually around us, we need foundational truth.  This includes half-truths about our very identities.  Thus, truth becomes significant in our thoughts about our value and worth and thus our identity.  

As "Word of God," Jesus expresses God's foundational truth.  This can be seen in his teaching, his life, his death and resurrection.  This Word include what is accepted as Scripture formally and what is revealed by Jesus Holy Spirit, which he promised.  I must live by this pentultimate truth.

Thank you, Lord, for Jesus, your written Word and the continued conversations.  I need you, Father, every moment!