1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-7

 **** This post is a little different than usual because I didn’t write it myself. My daughter, Grace, wrote it. I’m sure you’ll like it because she’s a much better writer than me.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NCV

      God is the ultimate example of love. Love comes from God. Love defines Him (1 John 4:8). We’re told to live a life of love, like how Jesus loved us (Ephesians 5:2). How can we do that?

      Before we can love others with all of our hearts, we have to realize how much God loves us. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). He loves us so much that He gave Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin, to tear the curtain separating us from God, so everyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life with Him (John 3:16). Eternal is forever. God’s love is forever (Psalm 107:1). He loves us unconditionally. We love because God loves us (1 John 3:21).

      We have to genuinely love each other how Jesus loves us (John 13:34). Sharing life through words and actions is how we can show love to others (1 John 3:18). It’s hard to love everyone all the time, but we have Christ in us, and we can do all things in Christ because he gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). God gives us a Spirit of love (2 Timothy 1:7). The more we listen, the easier love will become for us. Our title verses paint a pretty clear-cut picture of what love is, and Jesus is the example we can look at to see perfect love in action.

      We can’t talk about love without patience. Patience is mentioned twice in our title verses and about 47 times in the Bible as a whole. It must be important. Patience doesn’t mean standing around doing nothing. The patience we need is a kind that rests in God and keeps us hanging on when life gets hard. Patience where we do good while we wait, not giving up (Galatians 6:9). Since love is patient, we have to stay with God and continue living in love as best we can.

      Gay or straight, black or white, conservative or liberal, atheist or Christian, we all are in need of love. Every one of us is human. All of us have sinned. All of us need God’s grace (Romans 3:23-24). It’s cliche, but true: we should treat others how we want to be treated (Luke 6:31). We may think we know everything about other people, but we may never know their backstory, why they are how they are. Who we do know is Christ. He died for ALL of us. Our beliefs or actions may differ from the people next to us, but rather than judge them by looking at “flaws”, we can show them mercy. 

The song for this post is “Heathens” by twenty one pilots (one of my favorite bands). There are a few different ways the lyrics can be interpreted, but I like listening with a biblical viewpoint in mind. Even though they aren’t a “Christian band”, both members are Christians and most of their songs reflect those beliefs. “Heathens”, in particular, fits the title verses well. Enjoy <3

MATTHEW 27:42-43

“He saved others,” they said,”but He can’t save Himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”  Matthew 27:42-43

     God could have easily gotten Jesus down from the cross and that would have possibly convinced some of those crucifying Him to become believers but it wouldn’t have accomplished God’s much bigger master plan. Basically speaking, if God would have saved Jesus on that day, you and I wouldn’t be saved today.

      For Jesus to pay the price and redeem us of our sins, God knew He had to allow Jesus to suffer on the cross and die so He could pass through hell and rise again in order to defeat Satan. This was all necessary to fulfill God’s overall purpose for sending Jesus to walk among us.

       None of us ever want to suffer and when we do, we expect God to swoop in and save us from all our woes. We may even believe the less we struggle, the better our testimony because we think others will want what we have. 

      God will eventually rescue us but His ways are not our ways and He has a much bigger purpose than we’re able to see (Isaiah 55:8-9). Sometimes, this may require us to walk through the fire to achieve but, just like with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, He’ll be right there with us the whole time. When we finally do come out, we’ll be much better off because of it…and we won’t even smell like smoke.

**** Here is a song called ‘Here For A Reason’ by Ashes Remain. As long as we wake up and have breath in our lungs, God still has a purpose for us.

MATTHEW 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

     Sometimes we end up facing problems that seem utterly unfixable. No matter what we do, we just can’t come up with a solution. As frustrating as this is, it can actually be a good thing. This teaches us to lean less on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) and reasoning, and to rely more on God and His magnificent abilities.

     Just because we can’t see God working doesn’t mean He’s not. He works on things behind the scenes that we may never even know about but that still need to come together before we’re ever able to move forward. But, we have to trust Him. That’s what true faith is. It’s trusting God when we aren’t able to see the physical manifestation of His presence yet.

     This very same faith is what gives us hope and reminds us that God has a plan for us that includes a bright future (Jeremiah 29:11). Our faith tells us that He created the entire universe, so he can (and will) surely take care of our problems because He is in complete control and with Him all things are possible.

**** Here are two great songs that remind me of the awesome things God will do when we put our trust in Him. The first one is ‘What Faith Can Do’ by Kutless and the second is the ever popular ‘God Will Make A Way’ by Don Moen.

JOHN 14:9

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”  John 14:9

     On the surface, it seems kind of odd that Philip and the other disciples didn’t fully grasp Who Jesus truly was after they had traveled with Him day in and day out for so long. But, when we actually take time to think about it, we realize that we often do the same thing.

     As Christians, after we ask Jesus into our lives, we frequently tend to relegate Him to the background. He travels with us everywhere we go yet we barely make any effort to talk to Him and get to know Him for Who He really is. When we do talk to Him or read the Bible, it’s because we feel a sense of obligation more so than out of desire.

     Not only that, when we get into troublesome situations and we do start genuinely talking to Him, we still have lingering doubts about whether Jesus will do just as He said He would. We question whether He will heal our bodies (Isaiah 53:5) or meet whatever needs we may have (Philippians 4:19). We doubt that everything will somehow work out for our good (Romans 8:28). We are no different than Philip or Thomas or any of the other disciples.

     However, Jesus is patient with us and willing to wait until we come to our senses. He will never leave us because He promised he wouldn’t. He loves us and wants us to have a close, personal relationship with Him. He knows us more intimately than we know ourselves and He wants us to get to know Him as deeply as possible, also.

     We do this by talking to Him and listening to Him. Jesus wants us to move beyond just asking Him to bless us. He wants us to discuss everything that’s on our mind and in our hearts. He already knows what’s there, so we’re not going to shock Him, but He just wants us to be open and honest with Him. In turn, this openness makes it easier to hear when He speaks to us.

     The absolute best way to get to know Who Jesus is and to hear His voice is to read the Bible. It is the Word of God and John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then, a little further down in John 1:14 it says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

     Jesus is the living embodiment of the Word of God. So, it only makes sense that the Bible is the perfect place to go to spend some quality, getting-to-know-you time with our Saviour. It’s well worth the effort because this is the most important relationship we will ever have.

**** I have played this song a couple million times on this site already, but it’s been a while so here it is again. This is ‘Word Of God Speak’ by MercyMe.

ISAIAH 40:4

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  Isaiah 40:4

     Life is full of ups and downs. One minute we’re high atop a mountain where seemingly nothing can go wrong. Then, the next minute we’re crawling through the valley with no end in sight. It can be very frustrating and disheartening at times.

     But, the best way to avoid getting whiplash from this emotional roller-coaster is to walk though life with Jesus by our side. We need Him there to help us successfully reach the mountain’s peak and to remind us that we didn’t, and couldn’t, do it on our own. He was there guiding us every step of the way.

     We also need Him with us in the valley to remind us that we’re not alone. We need Him there to provide hope and encouragement and to replace our fears with faith. He will be there to point out that this trip through the valley is only temporary. Eventually, we’ll be headed back up the mountain.

     When we’re walking side-by-side with Jesus, regardless of what happens, through the highs and lows, He can help keep us on steady ground emotionally. He is our strength during our weakest moments and He can easily humble us when we’re on top of the world. There is no greater way to keep our faith on steady ground than knowing that Jesus is always with us, no matter what.

**** This is a fairly new song and it’s the first time I’ve played it on here. This is ‘Hills and Valleys’ by Tauren Wells. In the valley we need to look up to our Father in Heaven and on the mountain we need to bow down to Him.

LUKE 24:46-47

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  Luke 24:46-47

     The brutal beating and crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not a random, spur-of-the-moment act of violence. God knew what was going to happen long before the men responsible even knew. As a matter of fact, as horrible as it was, it was a God-ordained occurrence.

     When God spoke to the prophets thousands of years before Christ was ever born, He told them this would happen and they recorded it in the Scriptures. Not only did Jesus know exactly what was going to happen to Him but it was the very reason He came to walk among us in the first place. He knew that His death and resurrection after literally going through hell was the only way to redeem you and me from our sins.

     He willingly did this not only for us but for everyone all around the world. It doesn’t matter what color skin we have, what our ethnic background is, where we live or what we’ve done in the past. Jesus loves us so much that He intentionally laid down His life to bring us salvation and, because of what happened at the cross, our redemption can only be found in Him.

**** I think I probably play these two songs every year at this time as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ because they are my absolute favorites. The first is a really catchy song by Aaron Shust called ‘Risen Today’. The second, in my opinion, is the ultimate, and greatest song ever written, about Jesus’ death at Calvary. It’s called ‘Via Dolorosa’ by the great Sandi Patty.

 

ISAIAH 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

     While there are times when we need to exercise our faith by being still and waiting on God, most of the time our faith should be in motion. As followers of Jesus Christ, God has called us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). This means that even if we can’t see what our eventual destination is, we should still be in motion and trusting God to lead us to where He wants us to be.

     When we feel God is possibly nudging us to do something, we shouldn’t be afraid to start taking steps in that direction. If we’re sincerely trying to do His will and remain in contact with Him, He’ll let us know if when need to continue going forward, turn and go another direction or just stop altogether.

     One thing we need to be careful of, though, is mistaking the difficulty of our possible calling for a closed door rather than trusting God to help us push through. Quitting because there’s too much hard work involved does nothing but prevent us from fulfilling God’s plan.

      But, the best way of learning to discern the difference between God’s voice and our own is to keep taking those steps of faith and continue trying to listen to Him. If we allow Him to, God will lead us to the exact spot we need to be but, until we get there, it’s up to us to keep moving forward.

**** Yeah, I know I just played a TobyMac song two weeks ago but I felt like playing another. This one is called ‘Move (Keep Walkin’)’ and it’s another good one.