How to Love a Prodigal Son or Daughter

https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/341147-how-to-love-a-prodigal-son-or-daughter.html

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Love One Another

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. ~ 1 John 4:11-12 ~

The ability to love others, in a less than kind environment, is a choice.

To love imperfections, in others, is to love as God loves our imperfections.

These are just my thoughts and something to ponder….

Abundant blessings, everyone, because the just shall live by faith. Praise The Lord.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

©Ann V Friend, afriendofjesus2013Blog, Aug 2013 to present.

Comment: https://afriendofjesus2013.com/2019/01/08/love-one-another/

Friend or just “friendly”?

~ NTD

I often mistake the two ideas, interchanging them as though they were the same. I am coming to believe there is a vast difference between them.

A “friendly” person has no animosity toward another. He/she may greet with a smile, shake hands, hug, and in every way be a warm-hearted person to be around. At club meetings, at church, or in the supermarket, they are happy to see others and may spend time in interesting conversation.

Being friendly does not mean the person is a friend. Shaking hands or asking about health or life is going does not mean they are a friend.

A “friend” is one who actually does something with encouraging words, actions or followup. They actually seek to make someone’s life better by their actions.

A friendly person may greet at church, but a friend will seek to encourage or help. A friendly person may smile as you drive past their house on the way home, but a friend will seek to have contact with you. One may have dozens of friendly people greet and talk at club or church, but a person is very fortunate to have someone take time and effort to come by when you are hurting or need to have someone to listen or share life over coffee.

A step deeper

Compare the difference between “like” and “love” in the English language. We confuse and intermingle the two words. We say we love chocolate Sundaes, we love our high school, our church, our neighbors, etc. Often that means little more than we have no animosity toward anyone. It might means we get pleasure out from being around them. We “like” our sports team because they bring excitement; we like our city park because it brings us tranquility;  we like our neighbors because they don’t cause us any problems. A definition: To “like” someone or something means I get pleasure, comfort, excitement, etc. from them.  It is me-centered. I get something out of it. To “love” means I seek to comfort, encourage, give help to the other. Watch how you use these words and what meaning you put into them.

You can be friendly — or “like” someone — and do nothing to benefit them. You have nothing against them and they might bring pleasure into your life. You love someone when you seek to benefit, encourage, help them — your actions benefit them. Not having a mean bone in your body does not mean you are a loving person. Love is an intentional doing something for another’s good. Maybe it is simply using an opportunity to say an encouraging word.

One can even find such a meaning in the Biblical text that says “God so loved, that he gave …” He loved, so he gave.

It can add new meaning to the idea, “I don’t like them, but I love them.” Meaning, I don’t like their attitude, lifestyle, etc, but I will seek to bless, encourage, help them, etc.

Play these introductory thoughts in your mind. Am I just being friendly or a real friend? Do I treat people in a friendly manner, have coffee with them, etc. because they bring something to me? Or, do I seek to be a real friend and seek ways to encourage, help, add something positive to their life? Do I merely “like” people or do I “love” people?

I would suggest that if we do nothing more than smile, shake hands, or are just pleasant to all, we fall short of being a friend — and we are not loving them.

Are you a real friend to others? Do you have any real friends?

Sometimes this hard line gets slippery. Sometimes just getting up and greeting someone is an act of love and grace — and is greatly encouraging and helpful to another person. I hope it causes some to think about whether they are just being friendly or really being a loving friend.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Rethinking the Fruit of the Spirit

~ Viola

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the ekklesia flows out of the inward parts of God. It is a divine organism. It’s not a tradition or a custom. She (and the New Testament describers her as a “she”) is a civilization born out of the unction of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, her members are human and fallen, but she’s divine as well.

This brings us to the subject of fruit. Primarily, “the fruit of the Spirit” as mentioned in Galatians 5.

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

For decades, preachers have been trying to persuade you and me to bear this kind of fruit. But the presupposition behind that persuasion is that we bear the fruit of the Spirit by effort. If you aren’t being patient, kind, gentle, self controlled, etc. you’re just not trying hard enough (so the thinking goes).

But this isn’t the way that a tree bears fruit. Every tree on the planet is a study in survival. A tree bears fruit out of the over abundance of life. Every cell and fiber is saturated with life, and it must find a way get rid of it or else it will drown in its own life. Thus it produces pods on its tips and on the ends of its branches. Fruit is dropped to the earth due to the excess of life that’s contained in the tree.

The fruit of the Spirit, then, is the result and the expression of divine life. I’ve never seen a tree bear fruit by grunting, straining, or striving. The fruit emerges naturally out of life.

In the same way, when you learn how to touch, encounter, and draw on the life of Christ – which indwells every genuine believer – on a regular basis, the natural result is fruit.

And if you have the privilege of gathering with other believers who are learning to draw from that same life, the excess is the fruit of God’s nature. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is just another way of saying the nature of divine life – which is what the New Testament calls “love.”

Compare 1 Corinthians 13 with the description of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and you’ll see the striking parallels. Notice also that it’s the fruit (singular) of the Spirit, not fruits (plural).

The fruit is love, which is the nature of divine life. And when you are walking in love, you are gentle, you are kind, you have self-control, you are patient, etc. These attributes are all manifestations of love – i.e., the nature of God’s life.

This is why learning to live by the Lord’s indwelling life is the central thing you and I should be focused on in this life. And whenever a body of believers is touching that life together, the results are incredible. Christ is seen and experienced through His body.

At the same time, if that same body of believers stops having fellowship with that life, then it will begin to chase other things (even good and spiritual things), but things others than Christ Himself. And it will fall apart.

The key is to stay focused on the life, which produces the fruit.

Comment at: https://frankviola.org/2018/03/22/fruit/

Ten Commandments of Jesus

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Do you really LOVE Jesus?

If so, Jesus himself says to you as the year draws near to a close:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Many of us want to live our own way. And so to hear that someone else wants to tell us how to live may challenge our sense of independence and self-determination.

But everyone serves a master.  The only question is who is yours?

What if your master loved you so much that He died for you?

Please do not conclude that obeying Jesus is an impossible demand.

On the contrary, Jesus offers us peace, joy, hope, and a sense of purpose that world simply has no clue about:

Now go to: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2018/12/ten-commandments-of-jesus/

Let’s Stop Over-Interpreting the Greek Words for Love

When I was about 19 years old and a very new Christian, one of my friends who was an older Christian was encouraging me to love Jesus with my whole heart, and to hold nothing back. That is the best kind of encouragement a person can give a young Christian.  In order to accomplish this, though, my friend turned in his Bible to the Gospel of John 21:15-17. Through tears, my friend read these verses to me in the following way, using Greek words after English words in several places just as I do below:

Go to https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/338734-lets-stop-over-interpreting-the-greek-words-for-love.html