The Power of Love

Funny how God uses basic every day experiences to teach us invaluable lessons. I’ve been watching that show, “Once Upon a Time,” on CBS. The show is based on all the fairy tales/characters that have been passed down from generation to generation, for the past couple hundred years. In the season finale of season one, the main character, breaks a curse over the town with a kiss of true love which she bestows on her “dead” son (think Snow White). And it really hit me…how obsessed the world is with LOVE. From sacrificial love, such as found in books/movies like Harry Potter, Johnny Q., and Man on Fire, to romantic love like that in Twilight, The Notebook, and Romeo & Juliet…our society is truly obsessed with love.

This idea is definitely not new to me, I’ve been studying love for a long time now, but for some reason this idea really stood out to me as I watched “Once Upon a Time.” Especially because the characters have stated on more than one occasion that “love is the greatest magic of all” and “it has the power to break even the strongest curse.” Wow! Love has the power to break even the strongest curse; what a statement!

So, what’s the one thing that most, if not all, of our love stories have in common? There’s always some force trying to separate or prevent love or goodness from occurring, correct? That’s because, there is no greater curse than separation from love.

When man fell in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of creation the curse bestowed upon all of mankind was just that, separation from love, more specifically, separation from God, because God is love (1 John 4:8). The world recognizes that there’s power in love, but they still haven’t grasped just how much power.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God loves us so much that He sent His Son into this world, to die for us, so that the curse—our separation from God—might be lifted!

God provided the greatest—NONFICTION—love story ever told, when He sent His Son into this world as a sacrifice for our sins. His love affected ALL mankind, past, present, and future, regardless of our own actions or character. He died not just for those of us considered “good” but the dirtiest of dirty, the murderer, the rapist, the drunkard. His love provided us all with the opportunity for restoration of our broken relationship with God.

I’m sure you’re confused…”the opportunity”? Yes, because God provided the opportunity for a restored relationship with Him; a gift offered freely to us, known as grace. Yet, we must receive the gift; we must accept it. Grace is there for the taking, but we still have a choice in whether or not to take it; and as we take it, we must acknowledge the sin in our lives, become truly repentant before God, and turn away from those sins. This is why God’s word says that no one can come to the Father unless they are called…because true repentance and sorrow comes only when the light of God shines into every nook and cranny of our lives and we recognize how filthy we are in the light of His glory. And true repentance and sorrow is not being remorseful about the consequences of our actions, but being repentant for our actions, period.

God’s love is more powerful than any earthly love, and yes, His love does have the power to break the strongest curse. His love conquered the grave and defeated death! His love restored our broken relationship with Himself, and allowed us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him! What an amazing God—full of love, mercy, and compassion—that we serve! A God full of power and justice, and yet full of such tenderness and grace.

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Speaking Truth

I love the term “righteous indignation.” What does it mean? To be angry over some moral injustice. It’s often used to describe Jesus when he went to the temple in Jerusalem and overturned the tables of the men selling sacrificial animals for way more than what they were worth–they were basically robbing those coming to worship God. (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15). It’s also something that I often find welling up within me–due to the Holy Spirit living within me (as with every believer)–when I hear certain comments or see people behaving a certain way. Sometimes it takes a lot of self-control to keep from shouting what’s on my mind.

Today, it just so happened to be a comment about something someone said. A preacher stated something about how if a certain person doesn’t get elected it will only be because of their stance on this and this (yes, I’m being very generic, lol) and he quoted two scripture verses. He never said anything about the person’s character, never said anything judgmental or rude; he only spoke truth. So, of course here comes the reply…an individual complaining about Christians being judgmental and how Jesus taught us that we should just love one another.

So, here is my thought…Say you have a best friend. You go out to dinner, you have an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. And, let’s say before you left the restaurant and headed to the movie theater he/she asked you how they looked, and you told them they looked great. You get to the theater and your friend has to use the restroom. Imagine your friend’s surprise–and anger–when they look in the bathroom mirror to see spinach in their teeth from the appetizer, BBQ sauce from their ribs on their chin, and chocolate frosting on their cheek?! When they come back they ask you why you lied to them. Why did you tell them they looked great, when they looked a hot mess? And you tell them…you didn’t want to be judgmental and you wanted to love them just as they were??

How is lying to someone showing them that you love them? If you really loved them, you would have told them to go to the bathroom at the restaurant and wash up before they walked around, ignorant of the mess on their face.

Therefore, I’m sorry if you feel that Christians are judgmental, even though, we’re only speaking truth. We don’t pass judgment, we just tell you what God’s word says on the matter. It’s your job to decide whether or not to do something about it, once you find out the truth. We’ve all messed up, myself included, and Christians don’t pretend to be perfect or have it all together. However, don’t expect us to lie to you in order to make you feel better about a decision or lifestyle you’ve chosen for yourself. Just as Jesus corrected people when they weren’t living as they should (please read all of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we speak truth because we love you and don’t want to see you walking around in ignorance.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [even] until the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19-20)

Watchful Eyes

It’s so funny how one can read the Bible over and over again, and yet realize something new, every time you read it. For instance, today as I read Luke 12, I noticed that God expects more from believers than unbelievers. “Well duh!” You may be thinking to yourself. Now, hear me out…In verses 35-46 Jesus tells the parable of the men waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, the man on the lookout for the thief, and the wise manager whom the master puts in charge of his servants. The point of each of these stories? To be prepared for whenever the Master (Jesus) returns; to not be caught unawares. To instead, be caught doing exactly what the Master has called us to do. So, what happens if we’re caught not doing our Father’s will?

That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47-48)

“Woah! Okay, so you’re telling me that those of us who know what God’s will is for our lives and what He wants us to do….If we don’t do it, we’re in just as much trouble as those who are ignorant of His will?” No, I’m telling you that you’ll be in even more trouble. It’s like when you were little and you and your younger sibling got caught doing something you weren’t supposed to. Who got into more trouble? You! The older sibling always gets into more trouble because he/she should have “known better.” That’s how God sees Christians…we should know better.

God didn’t just send His son into this world to be beaten, die, and raised to life, for us to sit around on our hands and keep this free gift of life to ourselves! He tells us to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We tend to think of the world is these huge terms; we think of the little boy or girl in a small rural community with little to eat. But the world is at our very fingertips; it’s our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers, our cashiers at the grocery store, even the people who follow us on twitter (or our blogs). And our “making disciples” usually doesn’t begin with words, but with our actions, attitudes, and desires…and there’s always someone watching.

What are your actions, attitudes, and desires saying about you? Are they saying you live for Christ? That He’s the center of your world? Or are they saying He’s an afterthought? A great addition to your already busy schedule? Something to make you feel good? When you’re frustrated or angry how do you respond? Is it Christlike? Or do you spout obscenities? Are you mean/treat others with disrespect? What are the things you aspire for? Are they earthly/worldly (ex. the latest iPhone/iPad, car, computer, a bigger house, more clothes/shoes)? Or spiritual?

God has given us much…LOVE, GRACE, MERCY, HOPE, LIFE; therefore He expects much. Who are you going to share it with?