Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I remember as a child in grade school, we had decorated boxes on our desks to receive valentines from the other kids.  Our parents bought us packet of card to write names of our classmate and drop them into the boxes.  We gave every child a card, boy or girl.  As we got older the Valentine became more sophisticated and personal.  But all of them asked one question, "Will you be my Valentine?"  Each was an expression of love.  

Aw, love, that is the subject.  The question has been asked, what is love.  I have heard many replies to this question.  Most referred to the affection of one gender toward the other.  (Let me digress here a little to say that the satisfying a sexual desire is not LOVE!).  The Bible talks of three kinds of love.

The first is the word "phileo", from which the word Philadelphia comes, and means a brotherly kind of love.  This would be the bond of close friendship.  When in college, I had a roommate that was especially close.  We would be together as often as possible.  If I needed any thing that he could help me with, he would.  I would do the same for him.  We had a close bond, not sexual, but close friends.  Another, close friend contacted me recently, after many long years.  He let me know that he has cancer.  I love those guys.  My heart rejoices when I hear from them, and my heart aches to know that one has cancer.  He lost his wife a year ago.  This is a love for our fellow man.  If we do not have this kind of love, we truly miss something.

The second word is "Eros", from which we get the word erotic.  This is the attraction of one gender to the other.  This is a physical love, and a love that is not to be abased.  This word was so perverted that it is not used in the New Testament.  This kind of love is reserved to a husband and wife.  This kind of love is forbidden outside of marriage.  

The third is the word "agape" which is a self-sacrificial love.  This is the kind of love God has for us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..."  Some have rightly said that agape love is a God love.  Only God can give us this kind of love.  This is the ultimate love that God desire that each of us would have for Him.  Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love (agape) me?"  Peter answers, "Lord, you know I love (phileo) you."  This was asked three times.  Oh, how Jesus would have loved to receive the answer - I phileo you!  

This is the kind of love that compels us to tell others of Jesus.  In Revelation 2, the letter to Ephesus Jesus tell the church that they lost their first love.  They were doing good things, the church attendance was good, and it seemed that all was well, but they had lost their zeal for Jesus.  We need to regain the love for others about Jesus, but this will not happen unless we regain our agape love for Him.  It is our love for Jesus that drives us to obey His command to "Go and make disciples...."

This Valentine's day and every day, lets reclaim our first love!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Journey - What to Take

A New Year is dawning for each of us.  To some this doesn't seem to be a big deal.  Some it is a fresh beginning.  We may or may not look forward to a new year, but there it is looming right in front of us.  Many of us think of it as just another day; another year.  Others look forward with anticipation.  I, for one have always considered it a "same-oh, same-oh".  That is until recently as I began to reflect on the past few years and saw that each year brought changes to my life.

Each year was different than the last.  Last year there were those that are no longer in my life (that is on this earth).  I have been to more doctors, had more illnesses.  There is less hair on my head and those that are there are more gray.  My body does not react to what my brain tells it to do ( I can not do what I used to do and what I would like to do).  My brain does not function as it used to.  The political world is ever changing, some to the good and some to the worse.  I think, mostly to the worse, (but that is my opinion).  The morals are deteriorating before our eyes.  Each of the past years were different than the last, yes, it is a new journey.

I began to think of the new year as a journey I am to take.  What lay ahead of me I really have no idea.  I remember that when Joshua began to lead the  people of Israel after the death of Moses, God told him that the way ahead was where they had traveled before.  “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”  It is certainly advisable to follow God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  These are not something to take,They are to be followed. They are there all the time.  We just need to follow them.  God has a plan for your life, Jesus gives us the way to fulfill this plan and the Holy Spirit helps us to follow the plan.  If we follow them, the way will be better and more rewarding.

When we begin a trip that we have not traveled before, we want to know what to take.  I have a few thoughts along these lines.  They are as follows:

First, you need God's Word,(the Bible).  God's Word gives us a sense of direction. The Psalmist said that he would - hide the word of God in his heart in order that he would not sin against God.  He would make it a lamp unto his feet.  The Bible tells us that we can be cleansed of our unrighteousness by the washing of His Word.  The word of God helps us to have the right perspective on life.  Paul tells Timothy, For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths."  Jesus used the word of God to dispel Satan's temptations.  To be on the right path, we need to read the Bible and follow the truths.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;"

Second, take along a prayer life.  Prayer is the most powerful weapon, beside the Bible, that we have available to us.  Prayer is the way we reach God Himself.  Jesus says that whatsoever we ask in His name, God will grant.  In prayer we ask the Holy Spirit to protect us from the wiles of Satan.  In prayer we give praise to the Father.  In prayer we intercede for the lost.  In prayer we intercede for the sick.  The Bible tells us that the prayer of a righteous person avails much.  A Christian needs to be in prayer constantly to stay in touch with God.  Paul tells us to pray unceasingly.

Third, I say to take along your church family.  It our church family that gives us support.  We can take our problems and prayer concerns to them.  God's word tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  If you don't belong to a Bible believing and Bible teaching church, find one and become involved.  It will bless greatly.

There are other things to take with you, but time does not allow.  I believe that if you take these you will find the others are already there.  Paul says that in you journey, press toward the high calling of God.  Holiness!!

Happy New Year and may God bless each and every one of you.