Thursday, March 2, 2017

2017: The Year of Love - Who should you Love?

I haven't posted in this series for a little while.  Partly because I've been through some unloving things, and partly because our country is in such an unloving state, and I really didn't know where to go. 

If you have been following, you will remember that the last post, "Step one - What is love?" focused on 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.  Did you do your homework?  Did you find out what love is, and what it isn't?  If you haven't done that, take a minute to look at it now.  You will also remember that love is not a feeling, but an action.

Okay.  Now we are ready to find out who we need to apply this action to.  I admit, this is a tough one.  If you have ever been misunderstood, betrayed, abused, or treated badly by anyone, you know that it is hard to love them.

But Jesus didn't leave anyone out.  Look at what he says in Luke 6.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Did you get all that?  Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who mistreat you.  

Bottom line:  Your actions do not depend on who they are.  Your actions are a result of who you are.  You are children of the Most High God.  And He is merciful.  The prophet Daniel said in chapter 9 - 
 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.
And James, in chapter 2 - 
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Mercy triumphs over judgement.  To be loving is always better than to be right.

This is a hard lesson for these hard times.  We in the United States are feeling divided and fractured.  It seems that every group is against every other group.  Take your pick.  Political.  Racial.  Religious.  Everyone is judging everyone else based on who they think they are.  But that is not our job.  Our job is to show mercy to all.  Everyone.  Whether they agree with you or not.  Whether or not they are merciful to you.  

So here is your homework.  Make yourself a sign or a note or a memo or whatever you need to do so that you will see it often.  Write down these three verses:

Daniel 9:9
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.

Luke 6:36
Be merciful,  just as your Father is merciful.
James 2:13b
Mercy triumphs over judgement.

Let these words sink into your heart and your mind.  And the next time you are tempted to lash out because of something that someone else does, remember who you are.   And be merciful.

Previous posts in this series:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Who is Your President?

I very rarely write political-type posts, but I just really have to get this off of my chest.

I keep hearing people say "Trump is not MY president."  What does that even mean? 

Are you an American?  Then Trump is YOUR president.

If you are an American citizen, you agree to abide by the constitution of the United States.  Part of that includes how a president is elected.  It also includes the duties of the president, along with those of the rest of the government.  If you abide by the constitution, and the President was elected and is acting according to the rules written there, whoever is elected becomes YOUR president.

I did not vote for Trump.  However, he is now my president.  I didn't vote for Obama, either, or Clinton, or either of the Bushes.  But all of them were my president.  I actually cannot think of any president that I voted for, right back to elementary school when I chose Ford over Carter in our little class election.  But they have all been my president.

I haven't agreed with all of them.  I have been known to call my congressman when I didn't agree with a bill that was being considered, and to show up at the state capitol to speak to representatives there.  But unless I wish to renounce my citizenship to the United States and move to some other country, I have to acknowledge that the government here is MY government, and the president is MY president, and my job as an American is to use the proper methods to make my wishes known.  It is also my job to deal with whatever the majority decides.

This is a democracy.  I keep thinking about what Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address. 

 "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

This country seems to be pulling apart almost as badly as it did before the Civil War.  Although now instead of along state lines, it is being shredded in so many directions that it is almost impossible to see what it began as.  But the threads are still there.  And they can be sewed together again.

Please, join me in working toward unity instead of division, and in praying for our leaders as we are instructed by God, rather than tearing them apart with our own hands.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017: The Year of Love - Step One: What is Love?

In my last post, I proclaimed 2017 the Year of Love, and I promised to come back with some ideas.  But before we get to the how, we need to understand the what.  What is love?

The word "Love" is pretty over-used these days.  We love our spouse, our children, our parents, our pets, and ice cream.  We might love our favorite TV show.  We might love the color green.  Or maybe we love roses.  Of course, we love God.  The English language doesn't give us a whole lot of options for differentiating between these types of "love."  But we really can't put ice cream and God in the same category. 

I think the biggest problem is that we treat the word Love as a feeling.  So any time we feel fondness for something or someone, we say we love it or them.  But this Year of Love is not about a warm, fuzzy feeling.  This year, we are going to learn love as an action.  Not as something we feel, but something that we choose to do.  

In order to do something, we have to have some instruction.  So here's your first step.  From 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, the Contemporary English Version of the Bible reads:

Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
    proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
    or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
    of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
    but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
loyal, hopeful,
    and trusting.
Love never fails! 

If you notice, this is a short list of what love is, and what it isn't.  So your first assignment is to get a piece of paper and make two columns.  Head the first column "Love Is" and the second "Love Isn't."  Then go through these verses and sort them out.  The passage begins "Love is kind," so the first word in the "Love Is" column would be "kind."  If you don't like this version, feel free to get out your favorite bible and look up the scripture.  
That's it!  Keep watching for the next post in the series.  And please feel free to share it with your friends.  Let's use this year to spread love!

Previous Posts in this Series:
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