Tag Archives: love

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.

“R”

I’ve paid almost no attention to the “minor” prophets in the Bible but it’s time for a change. Certainly change is a major theme in the book of Hosea. It’s a strange story that reads like an “R” rated soap opera.

Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”…

Hosea 2:10 So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands…14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her…17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked…21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord—“I will respond to the skies and they will respond to the earth; 22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,..

Hosea 3:1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites….” 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.

I’m sure there are deep symbolic meanings in all the details of this story but I’m going for the cliff notes for these first 3 chapters.
1. God does not ignore broken relationships with generations of faithless people no matter how bad the realities are.
2. Those who exploit the provision of God will be exposed so all can see but even then God will not let them go.  He will respond because of his love for what he has created.
3. “The Lord said to me, Go, show your love…”…”They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.”

God’s plan has always been that “R” can become Restored.

Psalm 119:41-48 ו Waw – Hook, Nail, Peg

Psalm 119:41-48
41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees.

So far much of Psalm 119 has been like reading from an architect’s plan about a structure being built; doors, windows and now nails. What if “Waw” is part of the architect’s plan for the structure of salvation?

Maybe these are the “nails” necessary to build the promised structure into the reality of a personal shelter; trust [42], hope [43], obeying [44], seeking [45], speaking [46], love [47] and thinking deeply[48].

[41] May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise;…

A Matter of Hearts

Galatians 4:4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

I’m lucky enough to have had good experience with a father’s love. It’s not quite the straightforward story you’d imagine though.
An excerpt from my post on 2/3/16
I was baptized when I was about 12. There was some huddled whispering among relatives at that time that was mysterious to me. Some of the mystery became clear shortly after my baptism when I learned the only Dad I’d ever known wasn’t my birth father at all but the process for adoption had been put in motion.

I really can’t add the word “step-” to this father because he was as real a Dad as one’s heart could hope for. It was his role in my life that formed my image of how a father’s caring and love worked in daily life. In case that sounds too syrupy, he was not a perfect man, by any means, but he knew about being a gentle and caring Dad. The truth is I’ll have to wait for some eternal future date to discover whether there is reality to my hope about his status with God.

But I am absolutely sure of this: that caring, humanly imperfect man played a part in helping me understand that adoption was A Matter of Hearts; his, mine and ours.   The heart of that adoption made room, much later, for a new reality that “God [could send] the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

From John Piper February 10, 2007
The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel.

Abba, Father…Thanks for both of your hearts.

Just 10 Minutes a Day

Excerpts from a 1928 Sermon by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
…Watch out for your soul. What should we say about this soul? It is the life God gave us; it is what God loves in us, what God has touched from eternity. It is the love within us and the longing and the sacred restlessness and the responsibility and joy and pain. It is the divine breath breathed into a transitory being. Human being, you have a soul

…But, ah, look what has become of it down through the years! A restless, distracted, tormented, despondent thing, shaken to and fro by daily events, a thing that knows not whether it’s coming or going. And now it encounters the statement: my soul is silent before God

…And yet our entire being thirsts for solitude, for silence, since ultimately we have all, at one time or another, experienced such silence and have not forgotten the benefits of such hours. Today, however, we are not talking about being silent while reading a book or listening to a song or something like that, but about being silent before God

…Such silence requires the daily courage to expose oneself to God’s word and allow oneself to be judged by it; it requires the spontaneity to rejoice in God’s love every day. But this already brings us to the question: What are we supposed to do to penetrate through to this silence

…None of us is so rushed that we cannot find ten minutes a day during the morning or evening to be silent, to focus on eternity alone, allow eternity to speak, to query it concerning ourselves, and in the process look deeply into ourselves and far beyond ourselves, either by reading a couple of biblical passages or, even better, by becoming completely free and allowing our soul to travel to the house of the Father, to the home in which it finds peace…