Tag Archives: Love

Thank You Mothers!

Meet Linda Owens. She is someone who is making the world a better place. In the past 34 years, she has been a mom to 81 infants. As a resource parent, this 78-year-old mother has welcomed the littlest of people into her home until they could find a forever home. But she doesn’t stop there, she shares what she has learned about each child with the new parents, and offers a few tips and tricks along the way to ease the adjustment for the new family. There’s always supplies in her home, and she’s always willing to take in a new child at a moment’s notice. And yes, she remembers each of them by name.

She is the kind of hero who never requests praise and she is rarely recognized, but she is making the world a much better place each day. She is a mom, and she is one of many unsung heroes who wear the title of mother.

Our world is graced with motherhood, and our moms make it a much better place. Theodore Roosevelt once remarked, “Praying mothers are one of America’s greatest assets.” “All that I am my mother made me,” remarked John Quincy Adams. There’s nothing like a mother’s sacrifice, love, and influence.

Timothy is an illustration of someone who was influenced by his grandmother and mother. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” A Godly mother and grandmother were an influential part of Timothy’s life. They provided Timothy with wisdom, love, and grace. Their influence helped him find his way in life.

Mothers, thank you! We don’t say it enough, but we’re grateful that the Lord has blessed us with you.

Is Love At The Core?

When you think of the church, Christianity, and followers of Christ, what comes to mind? Depending on your perspective, it could be any number of pictures.

Is one of those pictures’ devotion to one another; do you picture Christians loving the world?

The miracles recorded in the Bible are awesome and truly show us the power of our Lord, but the most attractive characteristic permeating from the Bible’s pages is love. Behind all the miracles and work the Lord does is love. Behind everything the Lord does is love. It is out of his great love for us, we find the ability to have a relationship with him. God is love, and it shows in all he does.

As Christians, the Bible encourages us to imitate this same level of love.

1 Peter 4:8 encourages:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Our love should be behind everything we do. We can do some great things, but if they are not rooted in love, they really aren’t accomplishing a great deal. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says:

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

1 Corinthians 13 goes on:

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Being shining examples of Christ’s love is how Christianity grows. If love is at the very heart of all of our actions, then our impact will be great. Jesus shows us love, so take a moment to reflect on how well you show love to others. What are some ways you could put your love into practice?

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Love Is…

Attend a wedding, and along with the decorations and beauty of love on display, you’ll probably hear this passage read, or at least, referenced.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 

This passage certainly describes the type of love a husband and wife should have for one another, but it goes farther. It truly describes the type of love Christians should strive to imitate in all of our relationships. This passage does a marvelous job describing it, and the Gospels give us explicit illustrations of how Jesus modeled it.

Jesus’ Patience

On one occasion, James and John came to Jesus desiring to be called the greatest. They wanted Jesus to promote them to places of honor. His response demonstrates his patience.

The NIV Jesus Bible remarks, “Consider the passage in the Gospel of Mark in which James and John asked Jesus to do whatever they asked of him. They boldly asked—maybe even with a hint of demand—to sit on either side of him in glory. However, rather than chiding them for such brashness, Jesus spoke to them patiently (Mk 10:35–40).”

Jesus’ Kindness

Jesus’ disciples felt Jesus was busy and would not have time to visit with some families who brought their children for Jesus to bless. Matthew records the disciples rebuking the parents and trying to send the families away, but Jesus showed them kindness. Matthew 19:13-15 says:

“13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.”

Jesus was not Proud

As he was approaching the time on the cross, Jesus and his disciples were in the upper room having a meal, but the disciples forgot to wash their feet. This was a dirty job, and it was usually reserved for the lowest servant in the home. Seeing the need, Jesus took it upon himself to wash the disciples’ feet. He was humble enough to perform this task. He did not consider himself to good to do it.

Jesus was not Easily Angered

According to the NIV Jesus Bible, “Jesus was not easily angered, either. The careful reader might immediately think of the Lord driving out the moneychangers in the temple. Clearly, these people angered the Lord. However, Jesus’ anger was not an easily triggered rage over something insignificant. Instead, love for his Father’s house consumed him (Jn 2:17).”

Jesus Delighted in the Truth

John 18:37 says, “37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

Jesus Never Gave Up and was Always Hopeful

Jesus continued following God’s path even though, for him, it became unimaginably hard. He knew the Father could raise him from the grave, so he laid his own interests aside to take up the interests of the world. He truly demonstrated love.

Jesus’ Perseverance

“Scorning the shame, he endured the cross for his people (Heb 12:2). This patient, kind, truth-rejoicing, protecting, trusting and persevering love kept no record of wrongs (1Co 13:5). Because of Jesus’ death, the amassed wrongs committed by the people of God were forgiven. The love demonstrated on the cross will forever remain unmatched (1Jn 4:10),” states the NIV Jesus Bible.

Is this the type of love you are imitating?

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baby is born

A census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

This was certainly not an ideal situation from our perspective. Making a 3-day journey to give birth among the goats and sheep was probably not on Mary’s bucket list; however, the Lord used this “less than ideal” situation to bring salvation to the world. Amazingly the Creator of the world allowed himself to be a baby lying in a manger among the livestock. God was quietly at work.

There are many take-aways for you and me in Jesus’ birth. Here are just 2.

  1. Christmas shows the extent of God’s love. God had such a sacrificial love for the world that he came to us to help rather than stay at a distance. John 3:16-17 says God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn it but to save it. Christmas comes out of love for you and me.
  2. The setting for Jesus’ birth is not one in which you would expect a king to be born, but the Savior is born. God used a livestock area as the first throne room and a manger as the first throne. We wouldn’t expect God to show up in this situation, but he did. There are many situations which seem less than ideal from our perspective, yet God shows up to do some mighty work. God is always at work.

Much happen on that first Christmas night. We see the extent of the Lord’s love and are reminded he can work no matter the circumstances. In spite of everything happening around us this Christmas season, try to take a moment to rejoice in the truth that a Savior has been born to us.

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perfect love caused christmas

“At the beginning of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is in sad shape. It’s Christmas, and he knows he should be happy, because the pond is open for skating and he likes getting Christmas cards, but something doesn’t feel right, especially after Snoopy has entered a doghouse-decorating contest and his little sister is asking Santa Claus for money in the form of Hamiltons and Jacksons.

The commercialization of Christmas has left our hero searching for answers. For a five-cent co-payment—and the beautiful sound it makes rolling around in the can—neighborhood psychiatrist Lucy suggests some possible diagnoses for Charlie Brown’s depression.”

Lucy offers some suggestions for Charlie Brown’s depression as defined here, and eventually concludes Charlie Brown has Pantophobia. This is the fear of everything.

What is causing you to have fear this year?

Charlie Brown is not the only one who struggles this time of year. Christmas can be an emotional time. We celebrate Christ’s birth, but paralleled to our celebration can be feelings of loneliness and emptiness for many people. These are real emotions, so I certainly do not want to minimize them in any way. In fact, I wish I had a “magical” answer that could take away these emotions at Christmas time. Obviously, I don’t, but I can offer one piece of encouragement from God’s Word.

1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

It was this perfect love that caused Christmas. The Bible teaches Jesus was willing to leave the majesty of Heaven to be with us to save us. It is in this perfect love we find the Lord’s mercy and grace. It is in this perfect love we find the absence of fear, especially the fear of judgment. In this perfect love, Jesus says we are his friends, and we can be open with him.

This means we can talk with the Lord about feelings of loneliness and emptiness. This means he will be with us even if it is not a joyous time of year. God’s perfect love is what caused Christmas, and it is his perfect love that will carry us through the difficulties of the season. Jesus longs for you and me to shelter ourselves in his perfect love this Christmas season.

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5 Ways to be Today’s Good Samaritan

Neighbors come from surprising places.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan encourages us to be neighbors with anyone in need who is made in God’s image.

So, you and I are accountable to love our neighbor – anyone made in the image of God. Here are five ways you and I can be Good Samaritans today.

1. We should be aware of our neighbor.

Like the Samaritan, we should pay attention to those we pass. We should be aware of their needs. This requires attentiveness and compassion. Awareness helps you and I identify a neighbor’s needs and recognize how we can provide assistance.

2. We should be willing to come to our neighbors.

There were three travelers who came upon the injured man in Jesus’ parable, but only one was willing to take the risk to come to the man. We have many neighbors with needs, and approaching them can be risky. We risk our neighbor slapping our extended hand with no interest in our help. We risk driving our neighbor away. We also risk being hurt by our neighbor.

Approaching our neighbor may place us in a vulnerable place and may result in heartbreak. This is a risk Christians should be willing to take. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you even though it seems that the more I love you the less you love me” (2 Corinthians 12:15). Jesus was willing to be hurt to help us. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own, yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” Coming to our neighbor is a risky move, but the profit of being able to help him or her is great.

3. We should be willing to serve our neighbor.

We should be open to opportunities to serve. This may be checking on a neighbor, seeing if we can pick up something at the store, helping them find transportation to an appointment, or just listening to identify their needs. We should strive to serve our neighbors in the same way Jesus served those around him.

4. We should invest generously in our neighbors.

The Samaritan invested in the man’s recovery. The IVP New Testament Commentary calculates his investment to equal three and a half weeks of time for the injured man to recover. This would have been approximately two days’ wages. The Samaritan acted generously toward the man’s needs.

Our generosity can go a long way in meeting our neighbors’ needs. When we are in a position to be generous, the Bible encourages us to give freely.

5. We should follow up with our neighbors.

Meeting an immediate need and walking away may be helpful, but it is not the best approach. The Samaritan met the man’s initial needs, but we can also assume he followed up to ensure the man healed and the innkeeper was fully compensated. We too should follow up with our neighbors in an effort to fully meet their needs. This helps show we truly care for them.

We live in a society filled with needs, and as Good Samaritans, we should not pass by on the other side; rather, we should work to help our neighbors. After all, we are the hands and feet of Christ, and it is through our actions his grace and mercy shine brightly in a crooked and depraved generation.

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Which character are you?

3 Travelers, 1 Neighbor

Jesus uses a parable to illustrate a true neighbor. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus places us on a 17-mile stretch of road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Descending sharply toward the Jordan River just north of the Dead sea, this especially dangerous patch of road curved through rugged, rocky terrain. It made an excellent hiding place for thieves. The IVP New Testament Commentary compares this stretch of road to the inner city late at night, and Josephus recorded travelers would carry weapons to protect themselves in this region.

Jesus says a man was traveling this road and fell into the hands of robbers, who left him “half dead.” Luke 10:31-32 goes on, “A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.” These three men were all Jews, so according to the Lawyer’s definition, the priest and Levite should have acted as a neighbor to the man lying on the road.

However, they acted contrarily, passing by on the other side. This may have been to keep themselves ceremonially clean. Culture dictated one’s shadow could not even come in contact with a dead body, or one would become ritually unclean. They may have ignored the man out of concern for personal safety. What if the robbers were still around? They may have chosen not to check, thinking there was nothing they could do for the man. In short, the priest and Levite made excuses so they did not have to get involved in the man’s affairs.

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” This Samaritan acted mercifully toward the man lying on the road. He bandaged the man’s wounds, served the man by placing him on his donkey, and made sure the man was cared for until he healed.

A Samaritan is the last person the lawyer would have considered a neighbor. In fact, Jesus may have stunned his listeners with this character. Much hostility existed between the Jews and Samaritans. John 4:9 says the hostility was so great the two groups would not even share dishes. Scholars are not confident when the hostility began.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out, “The history of the Samaritans is uncertain. Many hold that they were a mixed race since the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. The king of Assyria deported the leaders of Israel, among them the religious teachers, and replaced them with foreigners. From that time on, the inhabitants of the northern kingdom received no further prophetic instruction, nor did they recognize God’s revelation to the southern kingdom. The Samaritans were a fringe segment of the Jewish world for which Jesus and Luke had a concern.”

No matter the root of the hostility, the fact this Samaritan acted as a neighbor would have turned the stomach of the lawyer. He had a preconceived notion that he could not be a neighbor to a Samaritan. The expert in the law would not even say the word “Samaritan.”

Jesus continued by asking, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.”

Jesus’ definition of neighbor is anyone with whom we come in contact. Geographic location, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and culture are mute points in determining a neighbor.

The IVP New Testament Commentary remarks, “Jesus point is simply be a neighbor. Do not rule out certain people as neighbors and his parable makes the point emphatically by providing a model from a group the lawyer had probably excluded as possible neighbors. To love God means to show mercy to those in need. An authentic life is found in serving God and caring for others. This is a central tenet of discipleship. Here human beings fulfill their creative role, to love God and be a neighbor to others by meeting their needs. Neighbors are not determined by race, creed, or gender. Neighbors consist of anyone in need made in the image of God.”

Which character in Jesus’ parable best represents you? Are you the neighbor who passes by or the Samaritan?

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Who is my neighbor?

A challenge to the status quo.

A crowd was gathered, and Jesus was teaching. In an effort to find fault with Jesus’ doctrine, a lawyer stood up to ask a question. “Teacher,” he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:26).

This is a good question. Many have pondered the answer. Jesus replies to the expert in the law by requesting his answer. Luke 10:27 says, “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” This was a good answer to a good question.

The lawyer’s summation of the law was correct; loving one’s neighbor is a natural outgrowth of loving God, so these two commandments go hand-in-hand. Perhaps, he believed he measured up well, especially with loving God. From his viewpoint, the law expert did okay in loving his neighbor, so the conversation continued with another question.

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). There it is, the issue of accountability. The lawyer needed to justify his actions, so he needed a definition to know who he was accountable to love.

Perhaps we can relate; Scripture tells us to love our neighbor, but what exactly is meant by that decree? Neighbor is defined as a near person or place, so we automatically assign the title to individuals living next door, across the street, or in the adjoining apartment. We wonder if more is meant by neighbor than those with whom we have close contact.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out the expert in the law had a narrow view of neighbors to mean “fellow Jews and proselytes.” Jesus redefines the term, and in doing so, challenges the lawyer’s understanding of neighbors, and ours too.

Jesus Redefines Neighbors

Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man was traveling and was attacked by robbers, who left the man to die. Two fellow Jews passed by and ignored the man in need, but a Samaritan came upon the scene and came to the man’s rescue. The Samaritan tended to the man’s wounds, and made sure he had what was needed to heal.

The parable forces the conclusion the Samaritan was truly the man’s neighbor. By definition, the two Jews who passed by should have acted neighborly, and the Samaritan should have passed by. The one least likely to be the neighbor acted in love.

Jesus defined neighbor as anyone with whom we come in contact, and this revolutionized the lawyer’s thinking. Samaritan’s were despised by Jews, so for the lawyer to see this man as a neighbor was hard. But a neighbor is anyone with whom we interact.

You and I interact with a variety of people. They come from all walks of life, and may not share our same political views. Yet, Jesus gives us a challenge to love our neighbor as ourselves. How well do we measure up? Do we intentionally show our neighbors love?

Love Endures

Love conquers all.

Dear Hate by Maren Morris is a powerful reminder of hate’s grip and love’s conquering power.

The battle between hate and love has existed since Adam and Eve were in the garden. The disgusting work of hate ensnares us, but love has the power to conquer everything. Love conquers the divides between people, love heals the wounds inflicted by hate, and love mends the broken heart. Love has the power to overcome anything hate throws our way.

1 Corinthians 13:6-8 says, “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

The Bible gives us a glimpse into the end of the battle between hate and love. Love conquers all. God is love and nothing has the power to stand in his way. His grace and mercy will win.

Meanwhile, as the battle rages, you and I have the challenge to be messengers of love.

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Unity

The labor of unity.

Intending to raise cattle, a New York family purchased a ranch in Kansas. They could not agree on the name of the ranch, and when a family friend visited, the would-be rancher explained the disagreement.

“I wanted to name the ranch the Barr J, my wife favored the Susie Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying W, and the other son preferred the Lazy Y,” explained the rancher, “so we named it the Barr J Susie Q Flying W Lazy Y Ranch.”

The friend asked, “Where are all your cattle?”

“They did not survive the branding,” stated the rancher.

Disagreement usually brings about disaster, while unity brings peace. In Ephesians 4, Paul implores us to labor for unity in love.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”

As Christians, our attitude should be one of humility, patience, and gentleness. When we see others hurting, we should have a desire to act. Our actions should bring with them meaningful results.

Max Lucado asks, “Is your attitude toward other believers marked by love, humility, patience, and gentleness? Paul encouraged us to display unity in the body of Christ and accept one another in love. If you are not doing that, check your attitudes. Your spiritual gifts and talents should help bring the body of Christ together.”

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