“One Thing Remains” – Kutless

Great Verses Of The Bible: John 13:34

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”

These words are the familiar opening lines of Elisabeth Barrett Browning’s famous 43rd sonnet. What may not be as familiar to most people is Browning’s background.

She was a frail, sick woman who was dominated by a possessive father. She spent most of her time alone in an upstairs room medicated by opium. Elisabeth’s one outlet, producing joy, was her poetry.

When Robert Browning read her works, he was deeply impressed and wrote, asking to meet her. Eventually, they fell in love. And over the stern objections of her father, they married by secretly eloping to Italy in 1846.

During their courting days, Robert and Elisabeth exchanged hundreds of love letters. She was almost 40 years old when she broke free of her father’s control. She gave birth to a son and was happily married for 16 years until her death in 1861.

Elisabeth’s sonnet was a testimony to how much she loved a man who freed her from a life of misery, enslavement, and depression.

While love has been described in so many beautiful and even poetically soul-stirring ways, there is no greater depiction of love than exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ who died to free us from the bondage of sin.

In the shadow of the cross, with his days on earth limited, he admonished the disciples with these simple, but powerful words.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34).

Like Jesus, Browning did not say, “Why do I love thee?” “When do I love thee?” “Where do I love thee?” Or “Why don’t you love me?” But….

“How do I love thee?”

As we make a case for Christ’s love as the perfect example, it’s easy to count the ways.

Read more: https://thepreachersword.com/2017/07/12/great-verses-of-the-bible-john-1334/

I Love You – Do You Love Me?

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

Dear readers – did you pass notes as a child in school? I remember passing notes in elementary school? When a little girl sent a note – it might say – I like you – do you like me? We also asked crazy questions of our classmates. I was in Miss Bailey’s classroom (I had a crush on her) at John H. Bayne Elementary School  – we were out in a trailer (temporary classroom) – because the school was expanding so fast. I remember when they came into our classroom and asked who would go to the new class (our class was overloaded) – I said yes.

I remember going steady with a young lady in 6th grade. The couples – at least many of them – would parade around the playground holding hands during recess. I wouldn’t do it – because recess for me was a time to play kickball or softball or some kind of ball. I remember getting a note from my steady telling me – if I really loved her (I never used those words) I would give up recess and walk with her. Needless to say – the relationship didn’t last very long.

If you had an opportunity to ask someone a question – what would it be? Is there someone you’d like to ask – do you love me? Would you be willing to say – I love you – do you love me? Using that love word is not easy for some people – for others it comes easily.

When we ask questions – do we like to hear the other person’s answer before we give our answer? When I sent a note to a young lady in school – I usually asked – do you like me? I would never say – I like you do you like me. I wouldn’t put myself out there like that! If she wrote back she didn’t like me and I had already said I liked her – I was doomed.

If you are married – did you say I love you first or did you wait to hear it from him/her? I said it first to my wife. How about you?

In today’s passage we’re reminded that Jesus loved us first. Jesus died on the cross to express His love for us – and then asks us – do we love Him?

Continue at: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/i-love-you-do-you-love-me-2/

What to Do When You Don’t Feel God’s Love

http://churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/305821-god-really-love-jefferson-bethke.html

Do we believers know how to love?

I have more in this train of thought than I can share publicly. Here are some of my thoughts.

I wonder sometimes if we loved and reacted to our biological family with the response we show for our faith family, what their reaction and feelings might be toward us might be. What if we waited until our mother, sister or brother asked us for help? What if we never responded to their successes, joys, celebrations, and dark times? The response to many of us going through deep waters is mainly words and offers. We mean well, but often, in reality, withhold love until we are asked. I

The response to many of us going through deep waters is mainly words and offers. We mean well, but often, in reality, withhold love until we are asked. I meant my offers, but by telling them I would wait until they asked instead of just putting them in the driving seat, it too often put the person going through distress in a place of having to swallow pride and ask for help.

I now realize how much more I need to know of God’s un-relentless love for me — and how to demonstrate that love to others.

As I re-evaluate my response to others, repent for my failure to give the love and encouragement that I could/should have, readers may find it useful to consider my own resolutions.

I realize that I cannot go back and rectify my failures and neglect. I should leave those failures in the past, but resolve to do better in the future. [That is what repentance is — quitting past behaviors and making a change.] I don’t want my actions in the future to be because of guilt, but an awareness and realization that God can use me and my “cup of water” to encourage others.

I want God to help me be a better ambassador of his love. I want people to have a clearer picture of the love of Christ through me.

I want to become more aware and caring, willing to do something that encourages and blesses them, even if it takes some my time and effort.

I do not want to forget them after one or two actions, but continue to bless them — just as God never forgets me. His blessings are every day.

I do not want to wait to be asked before I offer loving actions.

I do not want to belittle how God can use a “cup of water” — in the form of a card, a call, a cookie, or a visit — to encourage and bless God for using me to speak to them of his faithfulness.

I want to be willing to take the time to be a blessing.

As I contemplated this over the months, I was suddenly aware that God was not only aware of every cup I offered others in need, but he was also aware of every cup that I could have offered (re-read Matt 25:34-43). For a guy that is not overly sensitive to the needs of others, this troubles me. I must have missed so many opportunities. In those cases, I was more like the “others” in the Good Samaritan story.  I don’t think that those opportunities were examples of what the new creation that Holy Spirit is seeking to make me into. Someone has written that we are the hands of God when we show loving actions toward others, reminding them of Jesus.

When God really begins to work in me, people will notice his love being demonstrated in my actions, kindness and thoughtfulness. Only when we as a church family get revisited by his Spirit, will the world around us will take notice.

On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he said to his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

If love is the primary indication that God’s Spirit is working within us, we might just need a refreshing — an awareness that we need him to do a new work in us.

Rev 2:4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!

Now, as the pastors would say: Here are the Take it Home thoughts.

1. You can’t go back and really make up opportunities that were lost. You may have regrets and you may make up some lost ground, but we must learn and “pass it forward.”

2. Doing loving acts out of guilt or because of pressure is not the ideal God wants, but they are better than not doing anything.

3. The ideal is to be so open to the leading of God, sensitive to people whom he brings into your life and blessing them whenever, however, and as you are able.

4. Loving people with loving acts may be a sign God is working through me; failure to respond certainly indicates I am dull to the Spirit and certainly not walking in the Spirit.

5. Praying with and for people is needed and God-desired; but unless followed up by loving acts, it is likely just words.

Spirit, revive, refresh your work, give us sensitivity to the needs of others — reveal Jesus to us and in us.

Just a cup of cold water?

God loved — and gave, God proved his love for us when he gave his dearly loved son, and we are to so love each other that the world will see and be drawn to God, etc. He not only offered a cup of water, but a river of life.

Love doesn’t just point out where one might find water. Love doesn’t just offer condolences, sympathy, even a prayer — or help (if the needy just come and ask).

1 Jn 3.18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 

If you really love someone, then you show it by how you act toward that person. If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.” ~ Rick Warren

The type of “love” Christians too often practice does not present a clear representation of Jesus. “Love” that is offered so often is solely an expression such as, “I love you, brother”. A sincere and well-intended expression, but often an empty one, if that is all it is.

Love includes words, but surely also includes actions whenever possible. “Love” that doesn’t include actions when and where possible is likely not sincere — the Bible reminds believers not to have “feigned love.” It is “cheap love”.

1 Cor 13 again seems to indicate love professed but not made visible is just noise.

Love is kind and thoughtful — How is that seen, if not in a action?

We know God’s love because we have seen it; we have experienced it.

We never asked God for his love, he gave it when we didn’t even want it, yet we so often tell people to tell us if they have a need, to ask for our help.  This is good as far as it goes, but I found that was as far as it went with me. I offered, but they didn’t take me up on my offer, so I was off the hook. I had tried to “love” but essentially was rejected.

We are told to think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. How much effort do we put into thinking of ways we can bless, encourage, and stir others in the life in Christ?

We say that we want to impact the world with the love of Christ, but fail to impact even our own faith family. I have been brought up abruptly by seeing how people responded to us — and realizing that is exactly how I responded to so many people. I had failed to follow up and show them love. Words were cheap; love costs m.

Love has initiative … it seeks ways to demonstrate its intent

Love holds on … shows mercy and grace — even when people don’t want it or feel they need it.

Love doesn’t forget. One act doesn’t complete the loving; God loves whether we appreciate it or not. He never gives up, never forgets us. His love is relentless.

Love shows kindness

Love is willing to go out of the way to bless; Love is willing to be inconvenienced

Love does not put contingencies on love, i.e. “If you ask for it, I will love you.”

If we are serious in our mission to impact the world with the love of Christ, should it not begin an “home”?

Actions speak louder than words. God says even small gifts count: a cup of water.

 Phl 2:1-4 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

When You Doubt God’s Love

http://jamedders.com/when-you-doubt-gods-love/