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Faith Is Expressed in Love

When I was a young Christian, more than once, I’d hear someone in our local church, complain that so-and-so was so heavenly-minded that they were no earthly good. In those early years, I learned to identify people that had ignored the admonition from James,

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

James 2:18

Expressed Faith

Something didn’t feel right when I heard those comments. Well, that was because I was ignoring 1 John 4:20-21 NLT, “if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see.”

This leads me to today’s thought, found in Galatians 5:6b NLT, “What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” The answer to thousands of questions about faith is found in those few words.

When asked the question, “What should you be doing with your life?” most people think of occupations, some think of recreation, and a few think of some sort of ministry.” I’ll hazard a guess that only a handful would reply, “I want to allow the faith God has given me to be expressed in my love.” But faith expressed through love is the right answer and the most difficult answer.

Good News

Because we were born in sin, people are wired to harshly judge people and live faithless lives. But we left this way of life behind when, in Christ Jesus, we entered God’s kingdom. I pray that we all remember that if we can’t love someone we see, how can we expect to love God, whom we’ve never seen? And what greater good can come from our faith than to allow our faith to express itself in love? My prayer for all of us is that we are so heavenly-minded that we are of immense earthly good.

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

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All Connected

No man is an island – a poem by John Donne (1572-1631)

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

What a remarkable statement, “If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less.” That line never fails to stir my heart, as does the line, “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” During John Donne’s time, the ringing of bells let people know when someone within their community had died. It was important for the whole community to know they’d lost one of their own. We need that kind of thinking in our local churches.

A church can’t be just a loose association of Christians. Whatever befalls any one of us affects us all. Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, has declared that we are to “love one another” in a way that is so unique that people of the world take notice and see what can’t be found in their world. Sadly, somehow in America, the frequency of ‘death tolls’ has skewed our understanding of love. We say we love, but what remains of love if we fail to share the Gospel with the living and ignore the needs of those that remain after death?

Speaking of death, death is taken too casually in our world. I think that’s because we read about it every day – the casualties in Ukraine, the people that froze to death in Buffalo, New York, and so forth. The totality of daily deaths numbs us. It is difficult for us to see the preciousness of life buried in those numbers. Nevertheless, we must.

As John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me.” So, as we begin to fold and pack away 2022, before we fasten that box, let’s ask our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to assess and show us how we represented Him to those in this lost and dying world. How did our local church respond? And for 2023, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to change us, so that we will hear with Christ’s ears, actively love with His heart, and always see the preciousness of life in everyone. For, if not us, then who?

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Firm in the Faith

Last night I heard a PSA (public service announcement) that was very hateful. It got me thinking about how we, as Christians, should live in our nation(s) with their subjective truths and ungodly morals. Then, this morning, I read this verse:

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.” 

1 Corinthians 16:13

These are marching orders, marching orders for all who claim Jesus as their Lord. How different they are from those we hear in the media. 

Love is Our Command

The last word in our marching orders is “love.” How weird is that! Usually, aggressive marching or a chant ends with words like “hate” or “hell.” Even non-violent protesters usually pit themselves against their enemies, but not those who imitate Christ. We offer to help our enemies, pray for our enemies, to be slaves to our enemies. We commit ourselves to love with true love those people that hate us because those people are made in the image of God.

If you’ve ever loved a newborn baby or a grandchild, you know you could never wish them harm. It’s that kind of love that Jesus expects from us for people that want to be our enemies. So, if they steal from us, offer to give more; if they seek to put demands on us that the unrighteous don’t carry, offer to carry more. When we are oppressed, we pray out of love for our oppressors, and we seek out ways to tangibly demonstrate our love. (Matthew 5:38-45)

Love the Lost

Oh, you may say, “We must stand against the wicked.” I say, “We must stand against the wicked in our churches, against anyone that claims to belong to Jesus but openly rebels against His Holy Bible. But it’s different for the lost. 

12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

The lost will never receive the Good News of Jesus unless they see that His people are uniquely different from their friends and families. Hate always hardens people, but sacrificial love resonates with those who know their hearts need filling.

Our Marching Orders

So, especially during Christmas time let’s embrace our marching orders. Let’s be the people that Jesus desires. Let’s love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and love inexplicably people that desire us harm. Remember, Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

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Get God’s Attention

You probably have read the following verses in one translation or another, but there’s something here that you may have missed. I chose the New Living Translation because it takes Koine Greek and translates it into a very familiar vernacular for us. So let’s consider for a minute or two these verses:

Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.

1 Corinthians 3:8–9 NLT

God Knows

There is an important truth packaged in these two short verses. This truth is one I recently learned from my dad despite the fact that he went to be with our Lord sixteen years ago.

Dad left behind six Bibles that he had studied, cover-to-cover, and written notes in their margins, augmented with post-it notes when the margins were insufficient. So, today, when I read 1 Corinthians 3:8–9 NLT I saw a note my dad had made in the margin. It read, “To love God, get His attention.” This struck me as a gem.

As I thought about what Dad had written, I reread the verses. Then I looked up the greek word that the NLT translated as “recognizes.” This word means: to ‘know’ in a great variety of applications and with many implications.

How We Do It

Now I began trying to put today’s verses into my own words, not to replace Scripture but to test my understanding of God’s Word. Here is what I came up with (try it yourself): “A person who loves God knows more than the people that think they have all the answers because a person who loves God knows the One that has all of the answers. And that person is one whom God knows everything about.” Remember, at the final judgment, Jesus will tell some people, “Depart from Me for I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21–23)

We are to love God. In return, God comes close to us, and He recognizes us; He knows us. God’s recognition isn’t like getting a good pair of glasses. Instead, it’s like knowing how you feel when your pet dies. Now I wondered, does coming to God and loving God square with Dad’s statement: “get His attention?” Then I remembered a scene from a 1990s Australian tv cop series that my wife and I watched.

In this one scene, an intense senior detective is on the phone, trying to carry on a conversation with a small child while the police are desperately searching for the child. As the detective continues his toddler-talk a female police officer becomes enraptured with him as he humbles himself to speaks toddler-talk in his attempt to keep the child on the phone.

Good News

In that one scene, I saw how to get God’s attention; we do it by becoming enraptured with Him. Our unhindered love for God will naturally result in us performing good works that testify to the majesty of Jesus Christ our Lord. This is how we get God’s attention. We do it with our love.

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

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False Peace

Selling Peace

If you’ve spent time on Facebook, you know from their ADs that many companies are trying to sell you “peace.” From spas and Eastern meditation to counselors and clinics, business is booming for the peace merchants. However, true peace isn’t the same as being dead inside.

False Peace

For the vast majority of people, they will never be saved. They will never know what true peace feels like. They are eternally estranged from God. They are like babies that are never touched or coddled. They will enter their graves having never felt the presence of God, the warmth of the Holy Spirit, or the comfort from Christ.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (English Standard Version)

Right now, you may want to take up stones to stone me; I guess the modern thing to do is cancel me. But, before you do, consider these words from Jesus:

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.Matthew 7:14

Few find it. An equivalent statement is, “most people never find life, so they die in their sins.” Therefore, as a Christian, you are the exception; you are graced by God and kept from the eternal punishment awaiting most people. God chose you! So consider the following verses in this light:

Rebekah… gave birth to twins [Esau and Jacob]. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.)” – Romans 9:10–12 (New Living Translation)

True Peace

I’m sorry if this is confusing to you. But how can God be God unless “He does whatever pleases him.” (Psalm 115:3) This verse makes perfect sense. God is the highest moral authority. Therefore, what pleases God is of the highest morality. He saved you for a purpose. He chose you, much like adopting parents used to choose their baby. He didn’t consider the good or bad things you had done. He didn’t consider whether your parents were saved or wicked. What pleased God was for you to be saved from eternal punishment.

You are in a very exclusive group of people. The Holy Spirit of God gives you an understanding of spiritual things. He opens God’s Word so that you can understand what His verses mean. You have Jesus, your Savior, that mediates between you and the Father. The very God of all is alive within you. God has given you promises, answered prayers, and healed your wounded heart. You are special to Him.

Good News

Love as God has commanded you. And rejoice, for you are special in His sight.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

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People Faces Man Women Eyes Head

Do You Need Anybody?

When I read Romans 12:4–5 today, an old Beatles song popped into my head.

Do you need anybody?
I just need somebody to love?
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love.

I don’t recommend “With a Little Help from My Friends,” but God’s Word has much to tell us about relationships and love.

Relationships and Love

Jesus has assigned us the calling to worship, love, help, and tell. We worship the One True God, are to be known by our love, see every person as our neighbor, and use every opportunity God gives us to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s what Romans 12:4–5 is all about.

4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4–5

You may ask, where is worship, love, help, and tell in this passage of Scripture? Well, there’s more in today’s text than may first be evident.

We Are One

For as in one body” speaks about the Church. Every faithful Christian is a member of the Church, the Body of Christ Jesus. And what do we do in His Church? We corporately love, worship, and praise God.

Fellowship and Function

And “we have many members” speaks of our fellowship and love with other believers. We are to be known by our love. In His Church, we behave as His Family.

Now we are told, “the members do not all have the same function.” This is a core characteristic of a family. Some family members go out into the world to work, minister, and bless. Some members go out into the world to engage the lost through sports, social activities, or educational institutions. We also have members that work within the Church to provide for the needs of the members of the Church. Every member is commanded to see every person as our neighbor, to use their gifts to help their neighbors, and to use every opportunity to tell their neighbors about Jesus.

Perfect Diversity

The opening statement in verse five is astounding – “so we, though many, are one body in Christ.” Here we have a clear call for the body to be diverse. The Church is ethnically, culturally, behaviourally, and dogmatically diverse. Jesus loves all of us and includes all believers in His Church.

Finally, we read, “and individually members one of another.” Every believer belongs to every other member. We weep with those that weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We are all in this together.

We’re All In

In this present world, we have placed our way of life in the hands of Jesus. And we have placed our eternity in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We have no “plan B.” We have just one spiritual passport. We are citizens of the kingdom of God and no other.

Good News

The Holy Spirit put a lot in these two verses from Romans, chapter twelve. There is much for us to meditate on in this passage of Scripture; we need to allow this Truth to renew our minds.

“Do you need anybody?” Yes, you need everybody in the Body of Christ. “Could it be anybody?” Yes, everyone is your neighbor. “I want somebody to love.” Christ Jesus, your Savior, has given you Almighty God and every person in this world to love. Now, let’s all go do that!

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pic of a the word "revenge" covering a man's face


I’m about to suck the joy out of your favorite movies, TV shows, and books. I take no great pleasure in my task, but I would fail to teach the whole Bible if I didn’t address this topic: revenge.

I’m going to assume that you are not a serial killer, nor have you “done in” your spouse, best friend, or neighbor. Still, I think you may have a proclivity towards visceral pleasure from stories that use the lead character (protagonist) to deliver a “comeuppance” to an evil person.

Now you may defend yourself by saying that the defeat of evil is always worthy of an act by a believer in Christ Jesus. You may say that everything from “Die Hard With a Vengeance” to “The First Wives Club” is justifiable. This is where we part ways. Do you believe these words of Jesus?

But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.Matthew 5:39

According to the footnote for this verse in the “ESV Reformation Study Bible,” in context, this verse means “do not seek restitution in court.” The slap on the right cheek is a backhanded one—an insult as well as an injury.

Nevertheless, when someone adds insult to injury to you, your response should be one of love – love barely notices a wrong (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). This does not mean that we are to tolerate all kinds of evil. Some wars are justifiable. Fleeing domestic violence is justifiable. Bringing a lawsuit against an ungodly law is righteous. However, when it comes to evil against us, we must remember the example that Jesus set for us in His crucifixion.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

Luke 23:34

God’s Word tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) and “For we know the one who said, ‘I will take revenge. I will pay them back.’” (Hebrews 10:30) Therefore, with Christ’s example, and God’s Word strongly admonishing us to allow God to deal out justice against anyone that commits even the slightest transgression against a child of His, let’s not secretly feed our desire for revenge by being entertained with stories that glorify it. Oh, and as a believer, God requires us to forgive; remember the Lord’s prayer – “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Sorry about this spoiler. I wrote this for myself but thought it might be good for you, also.

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Love Jesus with Reckless Abandon

For a while, when we lived in Florida, we had a mixed Labrador Retriever named Pip. He was all muscle and energy. We had a large fenced-in backyard that was his domain, but a couple of times, we took him to a park where he could just run as fast and as far as he wanted, and he wanted.

He would run so fast at the park that he was just a blur most of the time. He ran with wild abandon in what he must have felt was limitless freedom. That’s how we should live in Christ Jesus. If a pet dog can glory with reckless abandon in the new freedom of a park, how should we act with our true freedom purchased by Jesus and freely available to us? (John 8:36)

Be Reckless Immediately

Oswald Chambers, the author of “My Utmost for His Highest,” wrote:

Never start to say, “Well, I wonder if He [God] really did speak to me?” Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him…be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him.Oswald Chambers

Do you think this is “over-the-top?” Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in :

for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.

Romans 9:3

Paul Shocks Again!

Paul’s statement is shocking! We see that His heart was fully set upon Jesus and His purpose. From this, we can see that Paul’s life was a life of abandonment of himself. Abandonment doesn’t mean we should wander the streets unwashed and in tattered clothes while mumbling to ourselves. We should learn from Romans 9:3 that our purpose should only be Christ’s purpose. There’s no room for Jesus and me to both sit on the throne of my heart.

Image by Andreas F. from Pixabay

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Happiness of the poor children. Taken in Chupah district, Gialai province Vietnam.

Love In Communities

I was reminded today about the three loves each believer has by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. These loves are the love of God, love of us, and love of people. Today, I would like us to focus on our love within communities.

Of course, love of us includes love of self; this is Biblically correct. However, love of self extends beyond us as individuals. We find in the New Testament God’s guidance to make us “individuals” into us as a community. We all need others, even introverts like me. For everyone, Jesus expects us to bond together. We should know and be known by our Christian brothers and sisters. We should find solace in them during times of tragedy, strength during hardships, and shared joy in our blessings.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:8-11

Essential Attribute

The essential attribute we find in a community of believers is the consistent, holy lives of adults that love and invest in the children of their community. Kids need safety, and they desperately need to see and experience the broad spectrum of personalities, ethnic diversities, and professions of our communities of God-fearing brothers and sisters.

Kids need to see how we settle disagreements (Colossians 3:13) and build Christ-centered communities. We need to live what the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). We should learn from what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27)

Our kids need to see and experience how to contribute to the community. Kids need to learn how to give without the expectation of receiving, strengthen the brokenhearted, and weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We all need this, no matter how long we have served Jesus.

Communities of Believers

The phrase “It takes a village” has become common vernacular. I’m not sure about the village metaphor. Still, I do know that to raise children to be contributors to the kingdom of God, a Christ-centered community is needed, a community abounding in good works and steadfast dedication to living our new lives in Jesus. The local church should be the center and facilitator of a Christian community, but that’s not always the case.

A community of believers can spring up from a common cause, such as a mission to the homeless, a food pantry, prayer meetings, and any overt expressions of “God’s will” can cause a community to be birthed. There are countless communities of international believers that still avoid the “bigness” of their community; they remain personal. After all, it’s not a community if we can’t speak, pray, teach, worship, and work together.

Live in Several Communities

We are not limited to a single community of believers. God has not called us to be gadflies, but there is no command that I’m aware of that constrains us to a single Christian community. The local church should always be and remain our first community. Still, there are others to which God may guide us. Two that come to mind are “Faith Driven Entrepreneurs.” If you are a Christian small business owner, this is a great community to join and Prison Fellowship (i.e., angel tree).

Good News

So, the good news is that God does not expect you or me to be disconnected from fellow believers. We must pray and seek communities where God has created a place for us. And we should never forget that our local church is our preeminent community in which God desires us to fellowship and grow. And we must commit to what God’s Word says in Romans 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

That’s it. Someday, I hope to join you in a believers’ community!

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

#Love #Community #LivingForJesus #RockExcavationService

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Between My Ears

And those men said to him, “We are unclean through touching a dead body. Why are we kept from bringing the Lord’s offering at its appointed time among the people of Israel?” 8 And Moses said to them, “Wait, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.”

Numbers 9:7–8

This passage is surprising to me. As Christians, we’ve come to expect instant answers – Google it, Reddit, Quora it, etc. There remains little doubt that we can find the answer we want if we search for it on these platforms. But that’s not the mindset we see in Moses. He said, “Hang on, let me check with God.” That’s amazing!

Moses was chosen by God and is perhaps the most outstanding servant in the Bible, other than Jesus. Yet, Moses had the wisdom to not dole some instant-ramen chicken soup. He left the men standing while he went into the holy-of-holies and enquired of God. I pray that we have the wisdom to say, “Hang on, let me check with Jesus, my Savior.”

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

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