WEEK SIX, DAY TWO, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK SIX THEME: LOVE
DAY TWO THEME: STRENGTH OF LOVE
SCRIPTURE: I JOHN 4:7-21 (CEB)
“Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love.
This is how the love of God is revealed to us. God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. This is love; it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other.
No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. This is how we know we remain in him and he remains in us. because he has given us a measure of his Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world. If any of us confess that Jesus is God’s Son, God remains in us and we remain in God.
We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, I love God and hates his brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sisiter who can be seen can’t love God who can’t be seen.
This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.“
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: The litmus test for remaining in, staying in, being at peace in God’s love is how we feel toward any one other person in the moment. These scriptures are very clear that we simply cannot – it is not possible – to both have love and praise and worship for God and feel contempt and hatred for even one other person, much less a whole “group” of persons. Hatred is not an element of the Kingdom of God.
In these very personal scriptures we have to go down to the core of who we are and examine who is in charge of the “others” of the world. Is it God who is in control of all of us? Or do we hold a spot where we maintain the right to both pass judgment and hold on to resentments and even entertain hatred for one or more others in the world?
I personally am convicted that there are times that I present myself unkindly and judgmentally towards others. I don’t believe them, I don’t trust them, or they have hurt me or someone I love, so I have that spot – those moments – where I allow myself to reign superior to them because I think I can. With God, I cannot. But when I make those choices, I put God in a box and have not allowed Him to love through me in those toughtest moments to show love. Suddenly, in that moment, Jesus died on the cross in vain, because I chose to withhold love and instead fester hatred.
It is time to examine those moments and bring them into the whole surrender to God’s love. I don’t have to agree with all persons, but God would have me love – even the most unlovely – for the Kingdom’s sake. This takes a lot more than is humanly possible, this takes the Holy Spirit doing it – loving them (whoever “them” may be in the moment”) in a way that only God ultimately and truly understands. God help me!
My parents had four children. I am the oldest and then my brother, and then my sister, Jeanne, and then my baby sister. Jeanne left us in 2017 and lives with God and those gone before her and now Daddy has joined her there. Jeanne died at 54 years old from damage to her lungs from aspirating. As her oldest sister, but really this is true of my brother and my baby sister, we all had a protective nature about Jeanne. Jeanne had Downes Syndrome. In the 60’s and beyond, folks like Jeanne were considered “retarded” and “not right”. A nurse recommended to Mom when Jeanne was born that they institutionalize her and forget they ever had her! She looked a bit different – she stayed very young even into her fifties, her educational abilities were stunted – BUT JEANNE KNEW LOVE! There is not one person – no matter how they may have behaved toward Jeanne – that she did not love. Her ability to talk was never strong and decreased a lot in her later years – but she showed love. If Jeanne was with me, and I introduced her to someone, it was always with the attached phrase – “watch out, you are fixing to be hugged”. People may not have understood Jeanne or were afraid of Jeanne (because they didn’t understand her) or simply labeled her and looked another way – but if you got a Jeanne hug, you were never the same. Jeanne understood love like none other – and she didn’t mind sharing it one little bit.
Jeanne taught me SO MANY THINGS, but most importantly in my living today, she taught me not to judge or label persons. All other persons are worthy of love. We may be different in many ways – and that is okay! – we can still share in God’s Kingdom through love – unconditional – freely given and received! I try desperately to never make an assumption or label another person in any way – because I simply don’t know what has gone on with them to bring them to the current moment, but I know they are deserving of love and need love and acceptance – JUST LIKE I DO – JUST LIKE I WANTED FOR JEANNE! Terry is the first one I heard say this in a sermon he preached about Heaven one day – he said, “the most common word in Heaven will be…’OH!”!!! That statement keeps me humble as I understand that when I walk in Heavenly places – even here on Earth, I will be and am joyfully amazed by the crowd of witnesses who will and do walk with me and now without any labels! This is Kingdom Living!
We are all first and foremost – above anything else in our living – we are God’s own – each and every one! That understanding allows for love, SWEET LOVE! That understanding brings peace and unity. There are no “those” or “them” or “they”, there is only US!
THANKS BE TO GOD FOR HIS PERFECT LOVE
AND FOR PEOPLE LIKE JEANNE WHO GET IT AND SPREAD IT!