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Love is greater than moral conscience

This post may seem out of character for me.  There are items in the news which I see differently from some of my conservative and Christian counterparts.  Usually I abstain from sharing my feelings on social or public media because, honestly, doing so rarely changes anything.  And that might be the case now, too, but I cannot keep silent this time.

In increasing numbers, Christian behaviour is at the forefront in the media, and to put it mildly, it is not perceived as loving. I am deeply grieved by how the “moral conscience” of some are driving people away from Christ, rather than drawing them near.

Christians—your actions are speaking louder than Jesus’ words.  How can those outside of Christ know his love if we refuse to serve them, stubbornly judge, or by our deeds, reject them?

Jesus called us to LOVE, His message was LOVE, and His ministry was and ever is LOVE.  I’m not going all new-age on you here. It’s just what Jesus said:

“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).

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:45-47

Christians are called to live above the law, not be excused by it Jesus said the answer to the law is fulfilled in this:

“Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind, and body, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

The apostle Paul called love, “the more excellent way.”

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He went on to say,

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”  1 Cor. 13:1-2

In a similar vein, the apostle James said we can talk about our faith until we’re blue in the face (well, not in those words), but if we don’t display loving actions, our faith will be empty, and our message, void:

“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 3:15-17

Dear Christians, our faith is not expressed through anchoring our behaviours onto our “moral conscience”; rather, it is to be set into motion through loving deeds, untiring grace, relentless mercy, kindness, compassion, and, above all, humility!  Remember:

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

This leaves no room for pride, arrogance, or judgement. We need to humbly learn from our Lord who said that true greatness in God’s kingdom, is being a servant to all.

In the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan, two pious men walked past a man beat up by robbers.  A third man stopped and helped him in his need, a helper from a rejected culture, and someone that, under normal conditions, would never be regarded as a friend.  How does the story go??

Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Through love and mercy, we reflect God’s character, the very light and life of Christ:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

That’s something legalism, rejection, and judgement can never do.

Believers, humbly live above the law, by going out of your way to show EVERYONE the same mercy, grace, and love that you have received.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  I John 4:9-11

Check out these two articles with similar sentiments, only better expressed:

Don’t Be Defined by What You’re Against

Bake for them Two

Living among Immortals

“There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”
–C. S. Lewis,
The Weight of Glory

I’m still alive and writing!  This year has been gratefully busy and spread out between family, grad school, and helping a humble ministry leader express his story for a future book.  And, in a mere hours or days, we will be meeting and welcoming two more little ones into our growing family!

Baby A on the way

Soon we’ll see Baby B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I’m so behind with sharing. My heart and mind are full of songs, opinions, new favourite quotes, and encouragement from God’s Word.  So I better get started.

There are no ordinary people.

Jericho Road’s Coffee House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live our life among the immortal.  Every single person we talk to, brush past, or ignore, is valuable, every spirit, eternal, and each soul, purchased by our Saviour’s blood.

You

and

I

and

each person

that crosses our path,

will outlast the prettiest flower

and the deepest sunset

and the wildest mountains

or the most graceful deer~~~

~~~~

If that be true, how do we treat others?  The others we may not like, who have hurt us, or tailgate us on the highway, or make choices that cause us pain?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

John 13:34

Jesus didn’t ask us to love one another.  He commanded it!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

  Matthew 7:12

Casting Crown’s song, Jesus, Friend of Sinners, says it like this:

Oh, Jesus, friend of sinners,
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours.

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of your mercy bring your people to their knees.

How do we live among such immortals?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

and

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:31,32

We will never meet a mere mortal.

May the Lord grant us the grace and humility to treat everyone we meet on our journey with an eternal perspective. We already have an example from Jesus:

“….whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28

Let us love one another…as long as we have breath, to eternity….and beyond!

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

[I invite you to listen to Casting Crown’s song in its entirety from the Music Box.  And you can purchase it for yourself on ITunes or Amazon.com.]

 

On gratefulness…

“Happiness is not getting what we want, but being grateful for what we have.” 

This quote from a random British TV show we were watching one evening really stuck with me.  We always seem to want more, without being grateful for what we already have.  Millions have been spent in research to find out what the “perfect” monthly wage is that would make everyone happy.  The answer across the board:

More.

So, happiness is elusive.  But gratitude is not.

In fact, gratitude is God’s will!  Are you fasting, praying, desperately searching to know God’s will for you life?  How about this:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.   I Thess. 5:16-18

Giving Thanks Together

The following poem from The Valley of Vision expresses a heart full of gratitude and one after God’s will:
~~~

O My Lord

You, fairest, greatest, first of all object,

My heart admires, adores, loves you,

For my little vessel is as full as it can be,

And I would pour out all that fullness before you in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with you

Ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,

Ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,

Ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart.

Crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless You for the soul you have created,

for adorning it, sanctifying it,

though it is fixed in barren soil;

for the body you have given me,

for preserving its strength and vigour,

for providing senses to enjoy delights,

for the ease and freedom of my limbs,

for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;

for your royal bounty providing my daily support,

for a full table and overflowing cup

for appetite, taste, sweetness

for social joys of relatives and friends,

for ability to serve others,

for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,

for a mind to care for my fellow-men

for opportunities of spreading happiness around

for loved ones in the joys of heaven,

for my own expectation of seeing you clearly.

I love you above the powers of language to express, for what you are to your creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

The Table or the Host?

“Their love is the love of the table, not of the host; a love to the cupboard, not to the master of the house.”  ~ Spurgeon

 

Jesus asked him the third time,

“Do you love me?”

He said,

“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you!”  (John 17:21)

 

Where are our affections?  On the things the Lord provides?

Or Him?

~~~

Do we love the table?

Breakfast Table with Tulips

Children's Table for Thanksgiving

.

Or the Host?

Giver of All Good

Where grace and judgement meetEternal Redeemer

.

Do  we love the cupboard…

Cupboard on Long Island

.

…or the Master of the house?

Who Loved us First

.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life….

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”  from John 6:26-35

.

The Cross – – Herein is Love

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5,6

From Horatius Bonar, The Cross of the Lord Jesus:

Thus we see in the cross an epitome of the Bible. The whole revelation of God is there. From the cross we “Where sin abounded, grace has superabounded.”  All the love of God is there. The sinner’s condemnation and the sinner’s pardon are there. God’s invitation issues forth from it to the chief of sinners. “Come”; “Look unto me and be ye saved.”

God’s eternal purpose is here unfolded: “the good pleasure of His will.” The fountain opened for sin is there. The rest for the weary is there. The relief for the conscience is here. The refuge for the guilty is there. The balm of Gilead is there. Peace to the troubled is there. There God meets with man, and man meets with God; heaven and earth embrace each other.

HEREIN IS LOVE. It is love that takes in the worst; love that took in the dying thief; love that knows no bounds; love that looks for no qualifications in him who comes, but that he needs it; love which is yearning over the lost, and stretching out its hands to the most rebellious and unholy; love which offers not merely pardon, but the perfection of the Son of God to the sinner, with all which that perfection can claim.

And for more on this love, read C.S Lewis’ gripping poem at Beth Stone Studio (Love’s as warm as tears).

No greater love

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

The Hallmark world of cards could never pen such love as expressed by God’s Word.  Cover to cover, God’s love is not only declared, but demonstrated through patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, grace, and the ultimate sacrifice of life. 

However, to my joy and surprise, I was blessed to find the depth and breadth of God’s love wonderfully expressed in a Dayspring card my mom just sent me for Valentine’s Day.  It encapsulates the message of God’s love in a beautiful and poetic way: 

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A Valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song in the universe.

“The Lord you God..will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

A Valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all, Jesus.

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley.”  Song of Songs 2:1

A Valentine may take you out to dinner, but God has invited you to the most amazing feast ever given.

“Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:9

A Valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word.

“How sweet are you words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Psalm 119: 103

A Valentine may be far away, but God is always with you.

“I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20

A Valentine may give you something, but God has given you Everything.

“God..gives us richly all things to enjoy.” I Timothy 6:17

A Valentine may love you for a lifetime, but God loved you before you were born, and will love you for all eternity!

“Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love..with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3

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 I’ve added a Love Song to the Lord in the music box today, by Third Day.  This song compares the empty promises people make in the name of love, to the vast promises the Lord has fulfilled…because He loves us.  There IS no greater love…

 

Jesus' Love