The Meaning of Agape!

Matthew 5.pngYou have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you. love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get” Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.                                              Matthew 5:43-48

 The Greek word agape is often translated “love” in the New Testament. How is “agape love” different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. Unlike our English word loveagape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Jesus never said to love our enemies with the same love we have for our loved ones. It would be totally impossible and it wouldn’t be right. The essence of the word is different. This is quite another kind of love. For example, our love for our loved ones is different, we can’t help loving them. Then there is love that we describe as falling in love. We don’t have to go and look for this love. It comes to us and it is born from the emotions in the heart. But in the case of our enemies, love is not only something from the heart, it also includes something of the will. It is not something that comes spontaneously, we must will ourselves to do it. It is a victory and triumph over what comes to us instinctively.

Agape doesn’t mean the feeling of the heart, that which we cannot help and which is born without us asking for it. It is through determination of the mind that we want to demonstrate unconquerable good to those who wish to harm us. Agape is the ability to love those we don’t like and who don’t like us. We can only have agape if Christ enables us to overcome our natural tendency towards anger and bitterness.

So it is clear and explicit that the last thing agape or Christian love means is to allow others to do exactly as they please. This means that Christian discipline and punishment should not be aimed at vengeance, but at healing.

Love of God is the root, love our neighbor the fruit of the Tree of Life. Neither can exist without the other, but the one is cause and the other effect. (William Temple)

 

Prayer: Holy Spirit of God, help me to have the ability to love my enemies with Christian love.            Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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God Remembers Your Sins No More!

Isaiah 43.pngWash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Through your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; through they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.                       Isaiah 1:16-18

I enjoy reading many books by Max Lucado a Christian author, and I have been reading his one book called “God Came Near” during this advent season. In the one chapter that I have read which is called “He Forgot” it made be think of the words from the book of Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my won sake, and remember your sins no more. Wow, Now that is something to talk about, God doesn’t just forgive us for our sins, he forgets them, he erases the board, he destroys the evidence. He doesn’t remember our mistakes. ( I can say thank goodness). For all the things he does do, this is one thing he refuses to do. He refuses to keep a list of our wrongs. When we ask for forgiveness, he doesn’t pull out a clipboard and say,” But I’ve already forgiven you for that at least a hundred times.” He doesn’t remember. ” As far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12 Do you think God is the voice that reminds you of the putridness of your past? Do you think God was teasing when he said “I remember your sins no more? Do you actually believe he would make a statement like ” I will not hold their in iniquities against them” and then rub our noses in them whenever we ask for help? Of course you don’t. You and I just need an occasional reminder of God’s nature, his forgetful nature. Think about this for a moment, if he didn’t forget our sins, how could we pray to him, or better yet worship him and sing praises to him, God is the “Great I Am”.  Let us remember the scriptures I shared with you as well as another from Hebrews 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness, and will remember their sins no more.”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Hope

Romans 12.pngLove must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Hope at times we humans have when trouble comes our way, but God wants us to stay hopefully and always in prayer even in the difficult times. When painful circumstances are weighing you down, God wants us to continue to Rejoice in him, “The Great I Am”, to exalt in hope, to leap joyously upward. Although physical jumping is sometimes impossible or inappropriate, your soul can leap upward at any time. As you life your soul up to God in hopeful anticipation. God showers of joy falls upon and within you. The longer and more expectantly you wait in his presence, the more abundantly he can bless you. One way to enhance this transaction is to lift your wide open arms up towards God, as if you were celebrating a triumphant moment in your life. This posture expresses great joy, and God respond by filling your soul with more joy. This puts you on an upward spiral of rejoicing. If you want to verbalize your jubilation, one of the best ways is to speak, sing, or shout, for me I rejoice in singing Praises the Father in Heaven for who he is and for all he has done for me, because everyday is a blessing that comes from him. When some days become difficult for me to move forward I continue to praise him and be in prayer, and the Spirit will speak on my behalf when I cannot find the words.

Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Psalm 86:4

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

The Heart of Worship

 

Romans 6.pngIn the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourselves to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer every part of yourselves to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.      Romans 6:11-14

The heart of worship is surrender. Surrender is an unpopular word, disliked almost as much as the word submission. It implies losing, and no one wants to be a loser. Surrender evokes the unpleasant imagines of admitting defeat in battle, forfeiting a game, or yielding to a stronger opponent. The word is almost always used in a negative context. In today’s world we are taught early in our lives to never give up, or never give in. so we don’t hear much about surrendering. If winning is every thing (like in sports), surrendering is just unthinkable. We would rather talk about winning, succeeding, overcoming, and conquering than yielding, submitting, obeying and surrendering. But to surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It is the natural response to God’s amazing love and mercy. WE give ourselves to him, not out of fear or duty, but in love, “because he first loved us”. True worship bringing God pleasure–happens when you give yourselves completely to God.  Offering yourselves to God is what worship is all about. This act of personal surrender is called many things, consecration, making Jesus your Lord, taking up your cross, dying to self, God wants all of you, not just part of you, he wants all of you. Everybody eventually surrenders to something or someone. If not to God, you will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to dear, or to your own pride, lusts or ego. You were designed to worship God, and if you fail to worship him, you will create other things (idols) to give your life to. You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice. If God is going to do his deepest work in you, it will begin with this. So give it all to God, your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Jesus Christ in the driver’s seat of your life and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid, nothing under his control can ever be out of control. Mastered by Christ, you can handle anything. I can do all things thru Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

 

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

Through the Eyes of God

James 4b.pngNow listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it sin for them.    James 4:13-17

Have you ever taking the time to think of how God sees you? I would say we have all been guilty of this as well, because we can see the good in others, there talents, but when we come to us to see what God sees our view and opinion of ourselves falls pretty short. I believe that this happens after we have been hurt by another, from a situation that takes place in our lives we begin to believe the lies from the devil himself, I am not good enough. The way you see your life shapes your life. Your perspective will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and value your relationships. I have read more than once the book call The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren a well known author, if you haven’t read it as of yet I do encourage you to do so. As Rick Warren shares in his book, we don’t know all the test God will give us, but we can predict some of them, based on the Bible. You will be tested by major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism, and even senseless tragedies. I know that in my own life that God test my faith in many ways, through having a chronic ill child, times of challenges in my marriage, the disappointments I went through with people, but during these times my faith gets tested over and over again of being faithful to my Creator, my Lord and Savior, and through these times as I look back on my life I have grown closer to Christ more than I could ever image I would be able to do. Every time you or I pass a test, God notices and makes plans to reward you in eternity. In the book of James he tells us “Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test, they will received the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.                                                                                                   Our culture today says, “If you don’t own it, you will not take care of it. But Christians live by a higher standard, “Because God owns it, I must take the best care of anything I have because all gifts are a blessing from God, in other words everything and I mean everything I have and own comes from God and God alone. Rick shares with us in his book that Christians should carry spiritual cards (called a green card), to remind us that our citizenship is in heaven. God says his children are to think differently about life from the way unbelievers do, all they do is to worry about life here on earth, and for us as Christians is to look forward to the day when we are reunited with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. If you are not sure how God sees you and how precious you are to him, a simply suggestion for you to do is ask him, and believe me he will tell you. He loves you so much that he sent his one and only son Jesus into this world to die for us all so that we will never be separated from him once we leave this world. Remember when life gets hard and really hard for you, and you are overwhelmed with doubt, remember you are not home yet, and when the time comes and it will in a blink of an eye you will return home to the Father, “The Great I Am”

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

There is Always Hope With God

1 Peter.jpgAll people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:24-25

Tradition and the letter itself identify the apostle Peter as the author of this book, a pastoral address to the house-churches scattered across five Roman provinces. The early Christians often met violent opposition, and Peter’s letter comforted and encouraged Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. It is hard to believe that even today their are many Christians being persecuted and also dying for their belief in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior however it is true. As you read the book of 1 Peter who is telling us: Therefore with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16

Jesus gives you and me hope-hope that the best part of our lives is not behind you but rather right in front of you. It stretches out before you gloriously into an eternity of experiences that will get better and better. For now, through, you inhabit a world of death, sorrow, crying and pain. Let the hope of heaven empower you to live well in this broken world that is passing away. In heaven, he will wipe away every tear from your eyes-permanently! If this world were all there is, it would be tragic beyond description. When the day of the Lord comes, and believe me it will come. Jesus will replace this world and make all things new with all of his followers who will live forever with him in ceaseless ecstasy.  Let this hope give you courage to keep holding your head up high as you endure any suffering and pain. The best part of our lives truly lies ahead-stored up for us in heaven. This is true for all of us Christians both young and old. As we grow older and deal with many things such as poor health let us remember that Jesus walks besides us every step of the way. Our spiritual life can open up even wider as your soul grows strong in the light of Jesus’ presence, and when the day comes for us when we see him face to face-what a glorious day that will be.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

We are Called to Love and Not Hate

Romans 12Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with  everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written. “It is mine to avenge, I will repay says the Lord. On the contrary. If your enemy is hungry, feed them, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.     (Romans 12:17-21)

These words from the Apostle Paul is very hard to live by especially when you have been hurt by someone. When the wounds are deep from anyone what we all seem to want to do is to hurt the person who had hurt us or someone in our family especially when it comes to our children. This is why it is so important for all of us to stay in God’s word and meditate on what he is telling us. The easy thing once someone hurts us is to do the same however God doesn’t want us to do it, Jesus tells us we should love one another even our enemies, and I know that it hard for us to do. Can you ever imagine if we all did this, to love all mankind even when they hurt us his on purpose. The only thing that hates does to anyone is to destroy, families are torn apart, friendship, marriages and more all because of hate. You can not say you Love God and hate your brother, sister why because God is love and to know God is to love all mankind no matter how different they are to us, no matter what they have done, we are all called to love one another. This is the reason we need to have a walk with God because when we do we are more likely to do the things of good and not evil.

Forgive us Heavenly Father for not loving others the way you love us each and everyday, help us to continue to walk with you, and help us to love the way you love us.

In Jesus Name we Pray

Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends