Love Song

We were treated to a spontaneous mini-concert by our two-year-old grandson, whose full repertoire consisted of “Jesus Loves Me.” He belted out the chorus with vigor and quality. If one of us attempted to sing along, he abruptly fell silent until we ceased. He indicated in non-verbal terms that he intended to perform solo.Then he resumed the lyrics, never missing a word.

The words of the song are simple, yet profound; personal, yet universal; gentle, yet powerful. Little did our grandson appreciate the joy and heart-warming belief he conveyed in his memorized lyrics, booming out the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus heard the succinct but sincere words of “Jesus Loves Me” and acknowledged the love the words generated in our grandson’s heart. If there is no doubt in a toddler’s mind regarding the unconditional love of God, why would any of us harbor skepticism?

Throughout God’s Word we are presented with substantial evidence of God’s love: “Love comes from God” (1 John 4:7), explains the source of love. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), condenses one of the most powerful messages in the Bible.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16), states the purpose of God’s love. His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1b, NLT), describes the eternal nature of our Lord’s love.

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them!’ Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-14; 16, NLT).

If Jesus had appeared, our grandson would have eagerly run into His open arms. Children of all ages readily believe God. They do not require long explanations; just a statement of the love of God from trustworthy adults is convincing enough for them. Children love Jesus because Jesus first loved them. God simplifies, removing cobwebs and confusion. Young children readily understand simple, direct explanations and commands, for their faith has not yet been sullied by deceptions of the world. God instructs us to mirror the faith of children who possess uncomplicated, unpretentious faith.

There was another young boy who expressed his love in a tangible manner. One day when Jesus withdrew by boat to a solitary place to pray, multitudes of people who anticipated his next stop walked ahead of Him on land, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). All through the day, Jesus ministered to the people, offering healing to body and soul. As evening approached, the disciples suggested their Master send the crowds away. Instead, Jesus commanded His disciples to feed the multitudes in the remote countryside. When Jesus’ disciples returned to Him after checking the crowd for any remnants of food, they had found only five barley loaves of bread and two fish, donated by a boy in the listening throng.

We have no knowledge of the boy whose lunch was used in Jesus’ miracle to feed thousands of hungry, attentive followers. Had he been sent from his home that morning to accomplish an errand, but intrigued by the crowds, he fell into the rank and file of those pursuing Jesus? When the disciples circulated among the people asking for any available food, the boy offered his own lunch. In a time when many people went hungry, the gift of food for Jesus’ use displayed phenomenal generosity.

The little boy who contributed his lunch of bread and fish, gave it up willingly. The loaves were small, like individual dinner rolls. The fish were also diminutive, perhaps a smoked or a pickled variety, like herring, a delicacy for lunch.

God had already planned to use the boy’s meal to feed the entire multitude of five thousand men plus women and children, who would minimally total about 15,000 people. Jesus’ disciple, Andrew, took the boy’s small lunch to Jesus. “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted’. So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (John 6:10-13).

If we allow God to use our availability and material possessions, as the little boy demonstrated, we may also be used as catalysts for a miracle. Imagine the thrill and amazement on the face of that boy who watched as Jesus multiplied his meager lunch to feed the masses. Fascinated by Jesus’ miracle, he then participated in the picnic created from his personal lunch donation. What a story he would tell his family when he finally arrived home later that day!

Jesus loves and respects boys and girls, and they know it. “‘I tell you the truth: anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’” (Luke 18:17); a severe warning, encouraging us to simplify our faith enough for a child to understand. Though Jesus’ disciples initially displayed doubt, they learned a new level of uncomplicated faith displayed by a child. Jesus commands all of us to emulate the frank openness of a child’s faith.

The miracles Jesus accomplished aroused anger and hatred among the Jewish rulers and teachers of the law. When they “saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant” (Matthew 21:15). When those same rulers asked Jesus if he could hear what the children were saying about him, Jesus replied, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’” (Matthew 21:16). Jesus acknowledged praise from children. They were His ardent supporters; they knew they were loved, professing their faith as they enthusiastically sang about their Savior in the temple courts.

Envision the children clasping hands, dancing around the courtyard in a circle, singing exuberant worship songs to Jesus. If you listen intently, there will arise above the crowd an angelic voice singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. We are weak, but He is strong.” Suddenly Jesus’ attention will be focused compassionately on our grandson, the little boy with unsurpassed love for Christ, the one who treasures his adoration and praise.

What Is It Like To Enjoy God?

Sharing today from Desiring God.

What Is It Like To Enjoy God?

By John Piper

The enjoyment of God is the enjoyment of a Person — not just the enjoyment of a thing, or an idea, or a pattern of actions, or a mysterious force. The ultimate joy of God’s creatures is joy in a Person — joy in God.

This is exactly why Jesus died. The apostle Peter says, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). To God. The Person. What makes eternal life desirable is not just that it lasts forever, but that it is knowing and enjoying an infinitely satisfying Person. And he is also a Person who, in his human nature, died so that he could be known and enjoyed.

Enjoy the Person

But how do we come to know the Person? We come to know him by his actions, his ideas revealed in his word — things that he has made as pointers and foretastes of himself.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). We know the love of the Person by the action of the Person. We know the power of the Person by the action of his creation of the universe (Romans 1:18–20). We know the wisdom of the Person by his purposeful providence in history (Romans 11:33–36). We know the justice and righteousness of the Person by the punishment of sin in the death of Jesus (Romans 3:24–26). We know the faithfulness of the Person by the keeping of his promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). We know the compassion and patience of the Person because we know Jesus Christ who said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

So as you meditate on the perfect work of your God, let Scripture compel you to enjoy the Person:

  • Rejoice in the Lord always. (Philippians 4:4)
  • Delight yourself in the Lord. (Psalm 37:4)
  • Be glad in the Lord. (Psalm 32:11)
  • In your presence there is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)
  • The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup. (Psalm 16:5)
  • As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1–2)
  • I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. (Psalm 143:6)
  • We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:11).

Enjoy His Gifts

And the same is true with things and human experiences. God gives them to us to reveal more of his character, essence, and unsurpassed worth.

Read the rest here.

Where does the Bible talk about love?

This is a great article from Overview Bible.

Where does the Bible talk about love?

by Jeffrey Kranz

We all know that “God so loved the world,” that “God is love,” and that when it comes to love, nobody exemplifies it better than Jesus (Jn 3:161 Jn 4:8Jn 15:13). We’ve often heard First Corinthians’ “love chapter” (1 Co 13) at weddings.

But if you wanted to take a closer look at how the Bible talks about love, where would you go?

Let’s look at the books of the Bible that talk about love most, and then drill into a few chapters that really focus on love.

The Bible talks about love a lot

The word “love” shows up in the English Bible a good deal—though the precise count varies a bit from translation to translation.

  • NIV: 762 mentions
  • NASB: 529 mentions
  • KJV: 419 mentions
  • NRSV: 791 mentions
  • HCSB: 766 mentions
  • ESV: 745 mentions

That count varies because some translations saw “love” as the correct word to communicate what the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts said. For example, the NIV translates sex acts in Genesis as “made love,” while the KJV and ESV prefer “knew,” and the NASB uses the highly romantic “had relations.”

By the way, these counts include variations like “loved,” “lovely,” and “loves.”

Now, let’s see where all this talk of love happens in the Bible.

Read the rest here.

Wholehearted #Faith


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By Patricia Knight

When Scripture refers to the heart, it does not allude to the muscular pump located in our left chest. Heart and soul were commonly interchanged in Greek literature. The soul is identified as our invisible psyche where Jesus abides. The heart/soul symbolizes our intellectual, moral, and emotional control central. It contains personality, shelters memory and love, the longing for God, and is the only part of a believer transported to heaven immediately following physical death.

In modern times our hearts are described as the epicenter of our emotions and worship. It is a wellspring of life in which wickedness must not be allowed to take root. Jesus knows the thoughts and motives of our hearts at all times, discerning whether we are wholeheartedly devoted to him alone, hard-hearted unbelievers, or indifferent to His love and sacrifice. “For the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

God is involved in the heart affairs of our lives. He is far more interested in our souls, the inner characteristics of a follower of Christ, than with our outward features.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

“Amaziah was 25 years old when he became king. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly” (2 Chronicles 25:1, 2a). Amaziah typically manifested obedience toward the Lord, but after conquering a pagan country, he brought their gods home. “He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them, and burned sacrifices to them. The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah” (2 Chronicles 25:14-15).

Amaziah began his 29 year reign as king with zeal and determination to uphold God’s laws. What caused Amaziah’s downfall? At one time he apparently served the Lord with his whole heart. Though we have few details of King Amaziah’s  career, evidently he suffered gradual loss of commitment and devotion to his Lord and to his people. Selfishness and greed replaced wholehearted devotion. He no longer possessed intense passion for leading a nation with God as his priority and guide.

To serve God wholeheartedly is to express in thought or action, in the most exuberant but sincere way, with every part of one’s being, a dynamic commitment to walk with our Lord. Jesus commanded, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you  love your neighbor as well as you do yourself’” (Luke 10:27, The Msg.).

What do our individual lives disclose about our heart focus? Do we display the fervent desire to serve God? Do we possess the eagerness and energy that should flood our hearts when we pray? Exhilarating joy bursts into wholehearted service when we are committed wholly to our Lord. Jesus gave His life as the ultimate gift to redeem our sins and to secure for us eternal life. As our response, Jesus expects a wholehearted relationship of absolute devotion, intense love, and unmitigated obedience. Jesus then extends to us dynamic power to follow his commandments.

Caleb was one of twelve Israeli men sent into the Promised Land for a fact-finding mission. Upon their return, ten of the spies claimed exaggerated details, intending to evoke fear among the masses. Caleb and Joshua presented realistic, encouraging information, asking the people to depend upon God’s power to lead them into triumphant victory in the new land. “God said, ‘Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to’” (Numbers 14:24).

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Many parents instruct their children from an early age, “Do a job well or don’t do it at all.”  If secular teaching devalues half-hearted efforts, our love and service for our Lord must attain a much higher standard. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).

The adverse of wholeheartedness toward God was best exemplified by the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time Moses was negotiating release of the nation of Israel from slavery. God created ten major, horrific plagues affecting every aspect of the Egyptian’s lives. With each increasingly ugly plague, Pharaoh weakened his resolve to let God’s people go, until he begged Moses to appeal to God to discontinue the most current plague. Exhibiting patience and mercy, God granted Pharaoh’s request. But, when Pharaoh witnessed evidence of relief from the plagues, he sunk into his old behavior with an unyielding hard heart, ultimately refusing to permit the Israelites to travel. Pharaoh’s hardened heart revealed a consistently sinful life of unbelief, dispassion, and bitterness.

Hardheartedness implies refusal to take God and His Word seriously. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by his own deceit. Later, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart permanently to accomplish His purpose of releasing His children from slavery. If it had been available in Pharaoh’s lifetime, his heart/soul ECG would have printed a straight line of apathy and death.

Suppose your name and life accomplishments were included in Scripture, exposed for all generations to read.  Would God declare you as wholeheartedly devoted to Him? Or, would He have to clarify, as He did for King Amaziah, that you did right in God’s eyes, but not wholeheartedly? There are times in life when we display eager enthusiasm, animated dedication, or intense thirst. We love a spouse wholeheartedly; we often pursue a hobby with energy and commitment; we may thirst after knowledge. Most of us would accept a financial windfall with wholehearted ecstasy.

Why is a wholehearted lifestyle often applied to our physical endeavors, but ignored in our spiritual relationship to our Savior? Jesus desires that we open our heart/soul as His residence, to proclaim complete trust and zeal toward Him. Our relationship then becomes a wholehearted witness to the world that we are passionate and effervescent about serving our Savior. Let us perfect our wholehearted health and outreach, glorifying our Lord as we serve Him and others.

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective” (Colossians 3:1-2,The Msg.).

Faith is a wholehearted affair!

A Lovely Rose

Sweet yellow with pink roses

I will sing of your strength, 
in the morning I will sing of your love; 

for you are my fortress, 

my refuge in times of trouble.
—Psalm 59:16

 A Lovely Rose

 By Patricia Knight

Autumn in Maine is brilliant with the leaves of deciduous trees turning all shades of red, yellow, orange, and brown. Those hues combined with the deep greens of the softwoods create a fabulous scenic panorama.

 I had just noticed the leaves beginning to turn their pretty shades last week, anticipating more lustrous color developing each day. However, in the interim, our area sustained high winds and pounding rains. Many of the leaves that potentially could have turned dazzling colors have now been pummeled to the ground.

After assessing the damage, I discovered most of the remaining flower stalks in our garden were snapped off or bent over onto the ground. Single leaves, pine needles, and whole branches of trees created a disparate carpet on the land. I was bemoaning the devastated landscape when my eyes spotted the soft shades of a single Peace rose amidst the visual commotion. It was gently swaying in the soft morning breeze. Throughout the storm, that unprotected, delicate rose had stood stalwart, yet flexible, against the prevailing winds.

How resilient are we amid the storms of life? When we are battered by disappointments and despair, do we turn to God for strength? When illness disarms us, exposing physical restrictions, and emotional adversity intimidates our otherwise strong faith, are we able to remain vigorous and unflinching?

God commands that we depend upon His mighty strength when weakness threatens to conquer us. Imagine! We can access the power of the mightiest force of the entire universe. “God is our refuge and strength,an ever present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  With God as our stronghold, we emerge victorious. “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

Elijah is one of the great heroes in God’s Word. He stood alone against hundreds of the prophets of the false god, Baal, while God displayed His mighty, awesome power.

Elijah alone was victorious for his Lord. But, then, just as fast as he rejoiced in the victory, Elijah was frightened and humiliated by the one most powerful, yet blatantly wicked woman of that era. Queen Jezebel had announced that Elijah would die. He ran for his life. When weakened, he slumped under a tree requesting that God take his life. He progressed from victory to defeat in a few short hours. Elijah could teach a basic course on sudden fright and ineffectual reactions to it.

How tenacious was Elijah’Ps55-22--AMPs faith when he was no longer in control? He was so subdued by a human threat that he forgot the Source of his power and strength. Elijah was admittedly exhausted and that is what God recognized. Rather than discipline him for his lack of faith, God ministered to him by sending an angel to feed him, allowing him some sound sleep, and introducing him to Elisha, a companion and future helper in his work.  God understands even when we falter. “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). What a promise!

Though Elijah could only focus on the threats to his life when he was fatigued, there came a time when he awakened to the sight of a lovely rose blooming in the desert. That flower was the Rose of Sharon, the Lord Himself. He spoke to Elijah personally and audibly, in a gentle whisper. Elijah was physically and emotionally restored as God empowered him to continue the important work He had assigned him.

Let us remain steadfast in our faith so that when threats assail us, we will recognize and call to the Source of our help.

“My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

Sunday Praise and Worship: You Are

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Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What goes through your mind as you try to get back to sleep? I like to sing songs to the Lord in my head and in my heart. You Are” sung by Colton Dixon is such a good way to give praise to our Lord during those sleepless times as well as when you’re going through difficult circumstances. God wants us to praise and glorify Him no matter what is going on in our lives. These lyrics are my favorite:

When I can’t find the words
To say how much it hurts
You are the healing in my heart
When all that I can see
Are broken memories
You are the light that’s in the dark

If I had no voice, if I had no tongue
I would dance for You like the rising sun
And when that day comes and I see Your face
I will shout Your endless, glorious praise
If I had no voice, if I had no tongue
I would dance for You like the rising sun
And when that day comes and I see Your face
I will shout Your endless, glorious praise

As you listen to this song, ponder the words of David as he sang his praises to God:

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

—Psalm 104:33

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

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Sink Like a Rock, Float Like a Cork

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Sink Like a Rock, Float Like a Cork

by Patricia Knight

“The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Some of us have experienced the embarrassing situation of borrowing an item and witnessing it break before we return it. The damage must be explained and restitution made.  Though all sensible brain cells scream caution when contemplating borrowing an item, convenience usually nullifies any reservations we may have originally had.

Borrowing tools in not new to our generation. The Old Testament prophet, Elisha, was a popular teacher in a theological seminary where young prophets were educated. The students lived in a communal housing structure which was getting over-crowded, so the students invited Elisha to help them construct more classroom space. Each man planned to fell a tree by the Jordan River to use in the building project. 

“As one of them was cutting down a tree,
the iron ax head fell into the water.
‘Oh, my Lord,’ he cried, out, ‘it was borrowed’”
(2 Kings 6:5). 

Iron implements were extremely rare among the Israelites. Their long-time enemies, the Philistines, controlled iron production, so precious few iron weapons existed among the Israelites. On a particular day of battle “not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son had them” (1 Samuel 13:22). The Israelites commonly fought only with a bow and arrow or a slingshot.

No blacksmiths could be found in the land of Israel, for the Philistines had decreed, “‘Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears’ So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, and  axes sharpened” (1 Samuel 13:19-20). The price was exorbitant for sharpening farm implements. Maintaining such control allowed Israel’s enemy to know the amount of equipment available and its general condition.

When the heavy iron ax head plunged into the river, the borrower responded in horror. He knew instinctively the value of the tool that he would be responsible for replacing or reimbursing. Since he was a student with little income, he could be facing the prospect of becoming a bondservant until he worked off his debt. Imagine the chilling fear and guilt swirling around the borrower’s mind.

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The prophet, Elisha, was also aware of the ramification of the lost tool. 

Elisha the man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’
When he showed him the place,
Elisha cut a stick and threw it there
and made the iron float.
‘Lift it out,’ he said.
Then the man reached out his hand and took it”
(2 Kings 6:6-7)

It was truly a miracle for a weighty iron ax head lying on the bottom of the muddy Jordan River, to float to the surface like a buoyant cork. What wonder and gratitude Elisha’s students learned outside of the classroom that day as God demonstrated His mercy for the welfare of His faithful ones.

The ax head anecdote preserved in God’s Word, assures us that our Lord is personally involved in our lives without reservations. It doesn’t matter how minor the problem, God always responds to our crisis. He hears our prayers instantly, already aware of our personal needs before we utter the words. Included in His instructions to His disciples about prayer, Jesus said, “’ Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask him’” (Matthew 6:8). What comfort!

Our heavenly Father desires that we remain in constant communication with Him, but He realizes when things occur quickly, our prayer tongue is often tied. It is then that the Holy Spirit is available to interpret our needs and to comfort us.

We may never panic in response to the loss of a broken ax head, but each of us can relate to similar traumatic times when we were “on the hook” to someone else, when our well-being or health depended on one decision, or when a situation occurred so quickly, there was no time for thought or action. During each of those scenarios, we need an advocate, a guide, or a miracle worker—perhaps all three. God is delighted to help. He is the one answer to our multiple problems.

Our Lord extends mercy and grace through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, who paved the way for us to communicate with His holy Father. If we place out trust in Him, pledge to follow and serve Him, Jesus will enable us with His power, lavish us with His love and grace, and shower us with mercy, regardless of how underserving we may think we are.

Grace is one of the key attributes of God. Grace is His love in action as He passionately shares all of His goodness with believers. “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9), was God’s response to the Apostle Paul when he pleaded for healing of a particularly bothersome physical pain. Few of God’s servants have demonstrated the Lord’s strength as consistently as the Apostle Paul. Similarly, our weakness also provides the ideal opportunity for the display of the Almighty’s power.

The story of the loose, flying, sinking, floating ax head comprises a mere seven verses in the Old Testament, but the message of God’s miraculous intervention and His overwhelming kindness have inspired readers for centuries. Do not be lulled into thinking that any instance in life is too small to attract God’s attention and to activate His immediate action.

The prayers of God’s people invite and assure God’s response. “‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’” (Jeremiah 32:27).

I think not.

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