Tag Archives: Love

Orchestrating

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.  NIV

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There are two words that are the mystery of God we all deal with in our feeble attempts to understand what is  humanly unknowable. I call them flashpoint words – preordained and predestination.  Neither of them is in this passage but as I read they are what came to my mind.  The word “orchestrating” is how I deal with them as part of the natural system put into place during, and even before, the time of creation that includes “everything” I do know.  God is in control. God is ever-present.  God knows all things. 

“Orchestrating” is more than those two flashpoint words. They are only a mysterious part of the music of the Sovereignty of God. Imagine God as the composer and conductor directing each of these parts of His symphony of faith. The music begins with the conductor.  You want to see faith?  Let me bring in goodness…  Now in the flow of His personal arrangement for His creation each of those lovely parts is brought in to enhance the music of life.  Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and mutual affection are added at just the right moment as the overall music swells to the beautiful conclusion that explains everything God pre-ordained and predestined as He composed His symphony – LOVE.

Dear Friend,

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. NIV

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Dear Friend,
Be alert and watchful, of sober mind and spirit.  The devil is not an adversary content with luring you into sin but one who is intent on your complete destruction.  All my children are united in this struggle at this time of suffering…but I am the God of all grace who has called you beyond death to eternal glory with me.  I’ve given you faith to make you strong beyond your own ability to stand firm and resist.  I myself will support and strengthen you and make it happen.  Stay in toucha.

a A composite of ESV, NIV, NLT and NASB versions

Thursday Thought

Wondering IF you should wear a mask when you go out?

Pivot Point

John 15:19 ESV If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

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The capacity of human nature to zero in on being loved is what makes “fitting in” to the world such a tempting option.  Jesus warns us “fitting in” to the world is not a reliable indicator of love.  We’ve just celebrated the birth of Jesus as the promised revelation of God’s love for us. Jesus is the pivot point for our world.  Pivot points are basically a choice, an intersection [a cross?], that determines direction. 

That promise is the mystery Jesus reminds us of with these words; “I chose you out of the world.”  The fact is this world is God’s own choice for us.  The mystery is solved by this: While we are chosen “out of the world” we still have to live our life IN it. Learning to live IN the world as visible evidence of that Pivot Point is what completely changes our understanding of God’s love and our interaction with the world too.

Love First

John 15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another


Matthew 22:37-40

The Power of DNA

John 15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

I ended my last post, Love Story, with this statement “His [Jesus] own future on earth began with His willingness to trust that the humanity He entered would become a part of building His life on earth so that His love would become their salvation.”  That reality of Advent explains John 15:13 too.  But wait, there’s more to the story.  

Culturally those connections are of great interest today.  We’ve “discovered” DNA [a self-replicating material present that’s the carrier of genetic information] that confirms connections that have been lost in our lives.  I know because it’s happened to me both on a real life level and spiritually.  Jesus entered a world He’d been part of creating.  In that long ago moment He surrendered His place of intimacy with God to choose companionship with humanity in the flesh.  The cradle was where Jesus willingly laid down His own sovereign authority to become the “perfect” rebirth of God’s genetic connection with mankind for the second time.  “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Jesus’s birth is our annual reminder that same redemptive DNA has been replicated in each of us.  Within us lies the power of Jesus to transform and save those who will abide with Him.

First Sunday of Advent

John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in [accept and act in accordance with] my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. [NRSV]

This year my Advent posts are going to be like one of those mystery TV shows that begin with the solution and then proceeds to lay out the evidence.  My advent begins with the assumption verse 10 is the solution.  I plan to continue searching verse-by-verse for evidence that reveals why Jesus Christ deserves the repeated annual observation we call Advent.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to find.  We have this book of His-tory and John is the recognized expert on Christology [Christian theology relating to the person, nature, and role of Christ].  Expert witness testimony is an important part of the solution to every mystery.  

What are the commandments Jesus is referring to?  There’s a long list you can find with an internet search but John 13:34 has recorded this from my first witness, Christ himself; “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  

My second expert today is the Apostle Paul with evidence that supports Jesus’s new commandment. “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

There’s more than beauty to the Advent story that makes it important.  God provided a solution to the mystery of life in that cradle that could remind us every year He offers so much more than what we know to expect.  Jesus is the reality of our salvation, growth and “abiding” in His and God’s love.  My third witness today is John Piper from Come Thou Unexpected Jesus: “Jesus was long expected. But when and how and where and why he came were all unexpected…He did not come to meet [our] expectations but to love [us] in the ways [we] most desperately needed…[that’s] the place [we] are most likely to really adore him.” [edited]

Second Chance: Ephesians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Ephesians 2:4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. [NLT]

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Ephesians 2 reminded me of The Four Spiritual Laws written by the founder of Campus Crusade, William [Bill] Bright.  They are God-inspired simple truths that mesh with Paul’s truth about how renewal begins.

§ Ephesians 2:4 “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much…”

1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life (John 3:16; 10:10).

Renewal begins with realizing the laser focus of God’s love is…you!  That’s the basis of the plan He has for your life.  

§ Ephesians 2:5 …”that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”

2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

Sin is like a dark tunnel but God’s grace opens our eyes to the light at the end of our separation from Him with the promise of new life and renewal.

§ Ephesians 2:6 “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3 – 6; John 14:6).

The reality of your renewal and honoring God is your relationship to Jesus…period!   New Life is your blessing but there’s an even greater purpose –

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives (John 1:12; 3:1 – 8; Eph. 2:8 – 9; Rev. 3:20). 

§ Ephesians 2:7 “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.”

Secret Service Detail

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of notable political figures being carefully guided through a pressing crowd surrounded by a cadre of secret service agents for their protection. That image came to mind when I read “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…”  Have you ever considered who your personal cloud of witnesses are; the Biblical secret service agents that have impacted your life…and why? Maybe it’s time for you to make your own list. Here’s mine..

Jesus: because he showed me his love, and that I was worth it.

Solomon: because he connected the passion of human love to the love of God for his people.

David: because he was brave enough to repent even though there were desperate consequences to his sin.

Peter: because there’d never been any doubt in his mind that he would faithfully serve Jesus…until that moment when he heard his own words of denial. Then repentance changed his heart’s focus from service to a deep love.

Paul: because he believed in a power that had nothing to do with his own abilities and ideas. He was faithful, willing and yes…an opinionated messenger that Jesus was the Savior of the most unlikely people…even him.

These Biblical heroes are my secret service detail. They’re the “great cloud of witnesses” that are my examples of a better way to get through the hazards of being human so I “will not grow weary and lose heart” in the name of Jesus.

Encouragement

2 Thessalonians 1:3 – Four Versions
3 Dear brothers, giving thanks to God for you is not only the right thing to do, but it is our duty to God because of the really wonderful way your faith has grown and because of your growing love for each other. TLB

3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. ESV

3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; NASB

3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. NIV

The version of the Bible you read is a trusted source but it’s interesting to look at the same verse in different versions and note their similarities and differences in phrasing. It’s a way to amplify the bottom line of their truth. It’s so easy to read and agree but miss their importance to your own life.

1. Regarding thanks:
Dear brothers giving thanks to God for you
We ought always to give thanks to God for you [2]
We ought always to thank God for you
2. Regarding who:
brothers [2], brethren, brothers and sisters
3. Regarding why:
the right thing to do, but it is our duty,
as is right,
as is only fitting
and rightly so
4. Regarding faith:
wonderful way your faith has grown
your faith is growing abundantly
your faith is greatly enlarged
your faith is growing more and more
5. Regarding relationships:
growing love for each other
love of every one of you toward one another
love of each one of you toward one another
love all of you have for one another
6. Regarding growth:
growing, increasing [2], grows ever greater

Regarding 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Giving thanks to God for the growing faith you see in a brother or sister is “the right thing to do.” Seeing the power of faith at work in someone else’s life teaches us to trust God and encourages us.

Faith is personal but it’s not solitary. When we speak [or write] to that someone to let them know their growth has become part of our own faith it honors God and encourages them. That’s how “the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater…” and becomes a reality people can see.