An Old Look at Love

Certain Bible verses appear more than once for emphasis. Why is that? Probably because we didn’t get it the first time. So, we needed a reminder to understand the core of his teaching. 

In the law book of the Old Testament, Leviticus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves (19:18). Jesus quoted this scripture again in the New Testament (Mark 12:31). The Lord added this reference as one of the two great commandments. The first is to love the Lord with all our hearts (Mark 12:30).


Why is this commandment worth repeating? Interestingly, this commandment is not one of the original ten in Exodus twenty. However, if we love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves, the original ten are not necessary except for legalistic thinkers.

Loving the Lord includes loving our heavenly Father as well as loving our Savior, who lived an exemplary life for believers to emulate. Now the abiding Holy Spirit fills our hearts with genuine love. His abundant love will overflow from us to help others (Romans 5:5). The evidence of our love will reveal us loving one another (I Thessalonians 4:9).

Loving our neighbors, coworkers, relatives, and friends fulfills the law. “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10 NKJV). 


If we practice loving others, our world will be different, and churches and families will coexist in peace. 

Consider this: if the law of Leviticus commanded us to love one another, and the Lord of grace stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Shouldn’t we do likewise? What would the world be if we only practiced that?

Reflecting On Our Potential

“Unshakable character” could be the epitaph on his grave. The man, Daniel, was robbed from his home in Israel as a teen and relocated to Babylon 400 miles east of Jerusalem twenty-five hundred years ago. He was part of the relocation program to train for government service.


Change happens every day to everyone. Maybe not as dramatic as this young Israelite. Leaving his homeland and trusting God in his new world was not easy for this young Jew. However, his character, grit, and commitment to the Lord prepared him for the obstacles and opportunities. 


God used this man to serve him in the reign of three different leaders of Babylon. At this time, other officials became jealous of Daniel’s wisdom and intellect during his service. The only fault the accusers could find was his unwavering dedication to God. Prayer was his daily vehicle to worship. Three times a day, he had an appointment with God. Daniel kept those meetings regardless of political disagreements. 


Daniel 9:23 describes the Lord’s appreciation for His unwavering servant. We will sight eight different versions to narrate the thoughts of God regarding Daniel. First being, “God thinks highly of you” CEV, “For you are greatly loved” ESV, “For you are treasured by God” CSB, “Because God loves you very much” NCV, “For you are highly esteemed” NIV, “For thou art greatly beloved” KJV, “For you are greatly beloved” NKJV, “For you are very precious to God” NLT. These scriptures reveal our God is deeply interested in our Christian charter and dedication to him.


Daniel chose God over every person or position in his life. His example of commitment to God in harmful situations encourages Christians regardless of their vocation and location. God is with each believer in their lion’s den, home, or work environment. Yet somehow, God can be glorified by our stand for Him regardless of the situation.

Have A Seat

What makes a difference in your day? For some, the daily grind weighs them down. Daily responsibilities never stop, but a breath of fresh air would be nice occasionally. However, there are days the breeze is a no-show. When those days occur, encouragement would still be nice. So, here’s a hint that may work. find a quiet place and relax. While there, reflect on what the Lord has done for you. 


The truth is, as a Christian, you know the Truth giver, Jesus. He told us he is the truth, the way, and the life, in John 14:6. Where would we be today without him? Our lives in this world of hypocrisy and sin would undoubtedly be different and worse. But, as a believer, you can sit all day and remember how Jesus has protected and provided for you.


Jesus has a way of encouraging us to reflect on the best of times. Our thoughts reveal we have more than we deserve if we’re honest with ourselves. It doesn’t make any difference whether we are rich or poor by the world standards. Whatever we have, we need to be a good caretaker of it. If you are employed, be thankful. Your eyesight could always be worse. Your shoes could have holes in them. Be grateful and encourage yourself in the Lord..


Some people grumble no matter what their situation in life consists of whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant. Grumblers will never be content. Wherever you are in the food chain of your world, be grateful. However, contentment with your reality is your choice. I Timothy 6:8 says, “We should be satisfied just to have food and clothes.” Satisfaction is hard to achieve. We tend to want more which leads to the sinful enticements of our world.


If your reality seems harsh to you, have a seat. Reflect on the truth giver, Jesus. The Romans crucified him. If you need encouragement, think about Jesus’ resurrection; he is alive today and praying for you. Your reality as a saint of God is better than you deserve.

Walk In The Truth

Spiritual truth has its beginning with God making it pure in its origin. Consequently, we can’t touch or hold it, but we can proclaim and live it, because it’s real.

How does truth become part of humanity, you may ask. In a word—faith. “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” ( Hebrews 11:1 CSB ). In this verse, two words, reality and proof, relate to faith understandably. Even though we can’t hold faith in our hands, the reality of our faith moves the unseen to produce the seen.

Then, there’s the word proof. As a result of individual faith, the impossible becomes possible. The unaccomplishable happens without human interference because of divine involvement. God is moving in our midst by answering prayers. The Lord saw what we couldn’t do through man or medicine, so He took action.

Faith is man’s avenue to God, heaven, and today’s miracles. Believe in the Father, trust in Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to work. The Trinity working together, performs the faith action. Sometimes it is God alone doing the activity, and other times he’s working through a person.

Enoch started walking with God at age 65. He continued his godly walk for an additional 300 years. Then, the Lord transported him to heaven, avoiding the grave (Genesis 5:21, 24).

Noah was blameless among men because he walked with God. The Lord spared Noah and his family during the flood because of his walk (Genesis 6:9). Job walked by the Lord’s light (Job 29:3).

In the New Testament, III John commended Gaius and the church in his house for their walk in the truth (versus three and four).

The will to walk in the truth is proof to the world Jesus is real. The reality of our salvation enables us to walk and talk in a manner pleasing to our Lord.


	

The Lord’s Presence

Circumstances surround our everyday lives. Many times, they dictate our every move. Go here, do this, now, do that. Sound familiar?


We cannot control everything in our lives, whether it’s work, leisure, or spiritual. However, there is one thing we can correct. It’s our outlook on what is before us. No, we’re not in control of the events that come our way. However, how we react to the good and the bad is within our reach. That sounds crazy. Because we allow emotions to control us, some will say, “I can’t manage them.” We tend to burst out with sadness or anger, which is understandable, but how long we are in that state is within our control mechanism.


The Christian has a verse of reassurance to claim, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” ( I John 4:4 KJV). Every believer needs to claim this verse and practice it. This verse can be life-changing for every believer. It will allow us to have a different outlook on the circumstances of everyday life. 


Positive attitudes are contagious as well as individually life changing. Every event of your day, good or bad, can make you search for the good in them. The inspection process will allow you to draw insight from the fact that God is in control. You may scream, “no, He is not! He allowed x,y, and z to happen.” Yet, even in that circumstance, God has something for you to learn and help others as well as yourself.


Jesus told his disciples, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20 KJV). That verse applies to every believer today. No matter where we are or the circumstances, we can appropriate the Lord’s presence in our lives. But, when we do, our outlook will be different. Our hearts will be different, and others will be in awe of what God is doing in our lives. So, when circumstances are adverse, look to see how God is in control of them.

Denial

Have you ever heard a rooster crow? If you live in the suburbs or the city, probably not. If you live in the country, your chances are much better. A rooster crowing is one of the first sounds of daybreak, saying it’s time to get up and get going.

Many years ago, the events of one Jerusalem morning changed Peter for the rest of his life. About ten hours earlier, Jesus warned Peter. The Lord told Peter that he would deny him three times before daybreak. Of course, Peter denied it, saying no way could I ever deny knowing you. Later that Passover night, the arrest of the Messiah occurred. He appeared before various political figures, both religious and secular. The religious group was determined to end Jesus’ life, but Pilate found no reason to crucify Jesus. However, Pilate eventually surrendered to a political threat and ordered the crucifixion.

Peter followed, observing Jesus’ trials. During one of the events, a servant girl recognized Peter from the Garden of Gethsemane, and he immediately denied knowing Jesus. Peter went on to deny the Lord two more times. As the sun split the eastern sky, the rooster crowed. The sound of the rooster caused the Lord to turn. The Lord’s eyes met Peter’s eyes. It was then Peter remembered Jesus’ words of denial. The disciple quickly left the scene to weep in private and ask forgiveness.

Spiritual brokenness can do one of two things. The first is to turn our back on the Lord. The second can solidify our determination never to deny the Lord again. Peter chose the second. When the day of Pentecost arrived, Peter stood up to proclaim the Lord’s resurrection saving 3,000 souls (Acts 3:41). Peter’s denial made him spiritually stronger. Never again would this disciple deny the Lord.

Remember to ask forgiveness when we fall or keep quiet about our Lord. Strengthen your soul, then get up and serve the Lord.

God’s Promise

God has a way of making things beautiful; after all, he is the creator of all things. He does it with words like, ” He has made everything beautiful in his time” ( Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV). Our Lord also uses his paintbrush. After a spring shower, the covenant giver paints the sky. He places a multicolored arc across the emerging blue sky. The bow is a masterpiece painted by the hand of the Almighty.


Noah and his family were the first to see the rainbow decorate the sky in its inaugural appearance after the flood. It was a colorful sight to enjoy after a year inside the ark.


God didn’t color the sky only to look pretty, but also, as a reminder of the covenant he made with himself and humanity. Our Lord promised he would never destroy the earth again by a flood. His perpetual promise holds true today because God can swear by no higher power than himself. He is the only one who cannot and will not lie. The Lord’s word is true forever. The bow in the sky is an everlasting promise by our God to all flesh.


Every time it rains, there is a bow somewhere reminding God of his commitment never to destroy the earth again by a flood.


When the rainbow appears with its seven colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violent, it renews God’s promise. These seven colors represent completion in my mind, like the seven days of creation. God’s promise is final, never to destroy all humanity by another worldwide flood. History has nor will it ever record another all-ending catastrophic flood. So, when you see your next rainbow take a moment and thank the Lord for his divine protection and promise.

You Want to Smile

Loneliness is an uncomfortable feeling. No one to talk to or confide in. All your thoughts are bottled up inside you.

As a believer, you are never alone. The disciples were at sea with the waves crashing into the boat. When they saw Jesus walking on the waves, they were terrified. Then the Lord said, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27 ESV). The Lord is always near his children.

How would you respond if you were one of the following? Joshua needed encouragement (Joshua 1:9) after Moses’ death. How would you like to lead a million people in your first leadership role? David recognized the Lord as his light and was not afraid to be Israel’s second king (Psalms 27:1). Again, the psalmist wrote, “I will not fear, what can man do to me?” Psalms 118:6 ESV. That takes guts to say. Peter later wrote, “He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7 ESV).


Jesus always cares about his children. Immanuel, an Old Testament name for Jesus (Isaiah 7:14), means God with us. When the Angel appeared to Joseph, he told him it was okay to take Mary as his wife because she was fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 7:14).


Move forward 2000 years. What does this mean to you and me? Simply, we are never alone.

When friends, family, and the world ignore you, you are never alone. Jesus is always with you, but He is not the only one. The Holy Spirit indwells every redeemed person. Flesh and blood may desert you, but God cannot. Why? Because He lives inside you.

All pity parties are self-induced. That may be hard to accept, but it is true. Stop for a moment and look up. What do your spiritual eyes see? Gloom or glory? Glory is there for all to see through the eyes of faith. There is a pearly gate waiting for your arrival.

Do you want to smile? Think about where you will spend eternity!

From Legalism to Compassion

Many times, reputations are based on opinions. Wrong, right, or implied without regard to the truth in some instances. Most of what is said today about Nicodemus leads people to form incorrect conclusions about the man.

Nicodemus appeared in three chapters of John. To understand Nicodemus, we need to remember his background as a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish governmental body (a legalistic, self-righteous society). He first appeared to Jesus in John three. The nightly visit obscured him from his peers.


The conversation included several profound statements about man’s position before God. First is the introduction of the phrase born again (v-3), then an invitation for salvation (v-15), and finally, verse sixteen is the most quoted verse in the Bible, in which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about God’s love. He solemnly warned that without Jesus as savior, one’s eternity is condemned.

The second appearance of Nicodemus in scripture happened when the Sanhedrin was condemning Christ without a trial. As a member, Nicodemus boldly reminded the council of scripture. “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (John 7:51 ESV quoting Deuteronomy 1:16,17; 17:6). The Sanhedrin ignored Nicodemus and disregarded scripture in condemning the Lord.


Sometime after meeting Jesus at night and before the Pharisaical council meeting, Nicodemus must have accepted Jesus as his Savior, although scripture is silent as to when. There had to have been a change in the heart of Nicodemus for him to stand up for the Lord.

This change explains his participation in Jesus’ burial (John 19:38-42). Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea jointly prepared the Lord’s body for burial. Nicodemus came prepared, bringing seventy-five pounds of burial spices for the Lord’s body. He and Joseph gently prepared and placed the Lord’s body in a borrowed tomb.

So, the next time you think of Nicodemus, remember he was a changed man. He counted serving the Lord with compassion better than his political life. Consequently, Jesus first is Nicodemus’ lasting testimony.

Faith In Action

He made them in the likeness of God    Genesis 5:1 NKJV

Before your parents brought you home from the hospital, someone compared you to one of your relatives. Maybe you have the eyes of an aunt or uncle. Your complexion resembles a grandparent. Before you started walking or talking, a family member compared you to another relative.

Did someone say God created you in his image? You were. You are a descendant of Adam—many generations removed. You have some divine characteristics. Your generosity is a heavenly gift; your caring spirit has its roots in the divine. You get your height and hair color from a relative, but your goodness is God originated. Though some will try to deny it, it’s still true. You are in God’s image.


If that reality sinks in, your life will change. You may even realize you are the only godly person a neighbor or coworker will ever see. What you do and say represents godliness to them. That’s scary for most of us because we know we’re not perfect, God will enable you if you let him be his example of Christ in you (Colossians 1:27).


Put one foot forward and then another. Speak a word of kindness to someone. Be honest about who you are. That’s God in you. Of course, truthfulness doesn’t mean perfection. You can’t reach that pinnacle here on this earth even if you try. But by God’s leadership, you can live one day at a time for Jesus. It’s called faith in action. Put your trust for each day in the one who holds tomorrow. By doing this, your life’s journey will be about God’s grace. His heaven awaits you and will be sweeter as a result.

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