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Wonderful Wednesday: Love is not Boastful

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud”  I Corinthians 13:4

God doesn’t need to boast.  He’s God!  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  He’s not insecure.  God does not suffer from low self esteem.  He created everything and everything belongs to Him.  Read Genesis 1 or Job 38-39 for a reminder of just HOW BIG our God is. 

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements?  Surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?   To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”  Job 38:4-6 NKJV

I don’t know about you…but that makes me want to bow down in reverence.  God is awesome.

But the kicker of all this is that as big as He is.  As mighty and powerful as He is.  He still loves us.  He still wants a relationship with us.  Blows me away.

Wonderful Wednesday-Love Does Not Envy

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;” I Corinthians 13:4

 Envy here refers to someone being heated to a boil due to envy, hatred or anger. 

God has never been motivated by envy, hatred or anger.  He may get angry, but anger doesn’t drive Him.  He’s motivated by compassion.  His motives are pure.  God sent Jesus simply because He saw our condition and knew we were helpless to save ourselves.  How do we know this?  Romans 5:8 tells us that, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”  We didn’t deserve it, but He did it anyway. 

We also see that same compassion in the life of Jesus also.  Both Matthew and Mark tell us Jesus was “moved with compassion” to heal and teach.  (Matthew 9:36 & 14:14 and Mark 1:41 & 6:34). 

Jesus learned this compassion from the Father.  In John 5:19, Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” 

Jesus is our head and we are His body, so we need to be motivated by compassion too.  Genuine love for one another.  The action love that speaks truth, but covers people.  The action love that assists some one but doesn’t coddle them or allow excuses.  Love should MOVE us to help someone who is struggling.  Love should MOVE us to pray for those around us.  Love should MOVE us to come along side people and encourage them.

When I find that my motivations are wrong or I find myself simmering and about to boil, I take a step back.  I breathe deep and I try to figure out what’s the root of my issue.  Am I afraid?  Am I hurt?  Am I frustrated?  Am I feeling discontented or feeling a resentful longing because of someone else’s position, possessions, qualities or attributes (envy)?  Am I full of intense dislike or have ill will towards another person (hatred)?  Am I desirous of revenge or full of a desire to fight back (angry*)? 

Sometimes I can figure it out.  Sometimes I can’t.  Either way I take it to the Father in prayer.  I ask Him to help me to diffuse the situation and respond in love.  Sometimes this is a simple under my breath prayer, that is handled immediately.  Sometimes it’s deeper and takes longer.  Like a broken place that needs to be healed or a mindset that needs to be changed.  Whether the issue is big or small, God is big enough to take care of it.  God is Yahweh Rophe.  He is healing.  He heals broke hearts along with broken bodies.   He wants His people to be fully healed and whole.

Are  you dealing with anger, hatred or envy?  The first step in dealing with those things is prayer, asking God to help.

Just as important as prayer is, is receiving God’s love.  It is absolutely essential that you believe He loves you and actually accept His love.  Without you receiving His love, you won’t have any love to give to anyone else.  You cannot give something that you don’t have.

For more on God’s love…check out this message on the God Kind of Love from Pastor Dino Lasala:  https://vimeo.com/album/1518523/video/65513155

*PS  Anger is actually a secondary emotion. It usually comes from hurt, fear or frustration. When you feel anger rising, ask yourself if you are hurt, afraid or frustrated. (Or a combination of the above).  When you deal with the root, either the fear or the hurt or the frustration, the anger will go away.

Wonderful Wednesday-Love is Kind.

I like this quote by Publilius Syrus, “You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.” This is so true! People respond to kindness. A kind word or deed can touch even the hardest hearts, and open them up.  Kindness makes people feel special and valued. Proverbs 15:1 (CEV) even says kindness calms people down, “A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.”

In I Corinthians 13:4 it says, “Love is kind.” The root word for kind here actually means mild and pleasant as opposed to harsh, hard, sharp and bitter. It can also mean kind and benevolent. 

God is pleasant and full of joy.  He created humor.  He created laughter.  He wants us to enjoy our lives!  He created diversity.  He created beauty.  He is a good God.

But I have to be honest, that’s not how I saw Him.  I saw Him as harsh and mean.  Just waiting for me to mess up so that He could take me out.  I thought God didn’t like me and was just looking for a reason to get rid of me.  Those were lies!  The truth was that loved me.  The truth is that God is kind, I just couldn’t see it.  I believed the lies. 

Jeremiah 31:3 says that His loving-kindness is what draws people to Him, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.” It’s interesting to me that our being drawn to God and our repentance are both related to God’s kindness.  It’s like the quote says, kindness can do what commands and force can never do.

Joel 2:12-13 tells us that we should turn to God knowing that he’s kind, gracious and merciful.  We should not be afraid to go approach him, because of his great kindness!  ““Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”

It doesn’t say you better repent because God’s mad and going to take you out! It doesn’t say God’s looking for someone to torture and torment! It says God wants you to come to Him and choose to be in a relationship with Him.  He wants to bless you!  It says turn to Him genuinely, and He will receive you because God is of great kindness.

Isaiah 54:8 tells us that even if God is angry, He’s still full of mercy and kindness, ““With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer.” God does get angry.  But it says “for a moment.”  And even when He’s angry, He still does not change.  He was and is and always will be love.  And that means God is kind.

I’ll leave you with a song that I really love It’s called “You are Good” and is by Kari Jobe and Gateway Worship:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIcMDeEzA24

If you are unable to access youtube, here are some of the lyrics-  “Your kindness leads me to repentance. Your goodness draws me to Your side. Your mercy calls me to be like You. Your favor is my delight. Every day I’ll awaken my praise and pour out a song from my heart.” -From “You are Good” by Kari Jobe

Love is Patient

God cannot stop loving you.  Want to know why?  I John 4:8 tells us God is love.  What is love?  Well another really famous scripture (I Corinthians 13:4-8) tells us what love is: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

Today we’re going to focus on God’s patience.  Patient here actually means to persevere patiently.  Be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.  Slow to anger.  Slow to punish. 

We see this in the Book of Jonah, where God sent Jonah to Ninevah.  We all know Jonah didn’t want to go there because he knew what kind of people they were, and he didn’t feel they deserved a second chance.  But God felt differently.  Most people focus on how patient God was with Jonah when he disobeyed.  But what about how patient He was with the Ninevites?  How long He waited for them to turn around?

Ninevites were Assyrians.  Assyria was an extremely and aggressively violent people during that time.  They committed horrific atrocities.  And yet, He sent Jonah at precisely the moment they’d be open to change.

Why?  Why was He willing to persevere for people who were as nasty and violent as the Ninevites?  Simple, He loved them and He didn’t want them to perish. 

Look at what the difference between Jonah’s opinion and God’s:

Jonah says…

These people are horrible, and I know God’s merciful and kind.  He’s slow to anger, so I’m going to save God from Himself and ensure these people to receive the punishment they deserve.

So Jonah prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” Jonah 4:1-3

God says…

Oh my children.  I love you.  I see your brokenness and your ignorance.  My heart goes out to you.  I am here and I will be patient with you.  I will give you a chance to repent and to change. 

 “But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night.  And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”  Jonah 4:10-11

 If God wasn’t fazed by the Ninevites, then why do you think He’s shocked by the mess you’re in or by what you’ve done?  He is patiently persevering alongside you too.  Waiting for the day when you will be open to receive the love, mercy and grace He’s offering.  It may be when you are at your lowest broken point or after the greatest victory of your life.  It may be after a near death experience or a tragedy.  It may be when you’ve just committed the worst imaginable offense.  It may be on a random Wednesday when you’re sitting outside enjoying the sunshine.  He loves you, so He’s patient with you.    

He sent Jesus because He loves us, not because we are lovely!  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

It always comes back to love!  Why?  Simple, God=Love!  Love’s not what God does, it’s who He is.

It’s Everywhere

John 3:16 is one of the most famous scriptures out there.  People put it on signs at sporting events, it’s on bags at a trendy store at the mall and even tattooed on people’s arms.  It’s everywhere.  You’re probably even saying to yourself, oh I’ve heard this all before.  Maybe you have heard it…but have you actually listened and received it? 

Personally, I think continual exposure has had the opposite effect that people intended.  It’s made people complacent about God’s love.  The exposure has diluted the perceived power of this scripture.  Instead of reminding people how deeply and passionately they are loved, people say, “Oh John 3:16.  Yeah, I know that one.  God loves me and all that.  Blah blah blah.”  People have become absolutely flippant about God’s love.  They think of it like they think about historical facts or talk about the weather.  They say “God loves you” like they say, “Have a nice day.” 

God’s love is not flippant.  It is not fickle.  It does not waver or change.  It is fixed and permanent.  You can’t ever reach the end of it, nor can you escape it.  Jeremiah 31:3 says, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.”  He pursues you with mercy and kindness, because He wants to have a relationship with YOU.

That being said, let’s break down John 3:16!

 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

so loved:  In this context this means to take pleasure in a thing, prize it above other things, be unwilling to abandon or do without it.

the world:  The inhabitants of the earth, the human race.

gave:  To give one to someone to care for his interests.

only begotten Son: Jesus

whoever:  Each and every person, individually.

believes: In this context, to have faith directed unto, believing or in faith to give one’s self up to Jesus.

perish:  To incur the loss of true or eternal life; to be delivered up to eternal misery.

everlasting:  Without beginning and end, that which has always been and always will be.

life:  In this context it means unto the attainment of eternal life. 

So God, the Great Creator and true Master of the Universe, was and is so taken by you and so unwilling to be without you that sent Jesus to care for your situation.  The situation is one you inherited from Adam and Eve.  The “sin problem,” that we inherited, separated us from Him.  Being separated from us was a problem for Him.  He didn’t like it.  So He did something about it.  He sent Jesus to teach us who the Father really is and to be the perfect one time sacrifice.  His sacrifice covers your past, present and future sin. 

Everyone is given the choice between eternal life and eternal death.  You can choose to receive Jesus and an everlasting life filled with unending love.  You are also free to choose to perish.  It’s that simple and that straight forward.  He loves you enough to provide the solution and enough to allow you to choose.  He doesn’t force anyone to do anything.  It’s not His style. 

Every single person gets the same choice, no matter whom they are or where they live.  He loves you right now, even in the midst of your mess, mistakes and failures.  He loved you even before you choose Jesus, if He didn’t He wouldn’t have sent Jesus in the first place.  In fact Ephesians 1:4 says that He chose you before the foundation of the world.  So before there was even a planet Earth—God saw you, loved you & chose you. 

So anytime you see John 3:16, remember that God in all His glory and majesty is completely unwilling to be apart from you.  You are His beloved.  That’s what John 3:16 is all about.

Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Thanks to http://www.blueletterbible.org for having Thayer’s Lexicon & the Strong’s Concordance on-line. You really should check it out and support this great site.