Love, Instruction, and the Fear of the Lord

Throughout today’s reading of the One Year Bible, three themes stuck out to me:

1. Love
2. Instruction (teaching)
3. The fear of the Lord.

Exodus

In our passage in Exodus God had instructed Moses regarding the building of His Tabernacle. Moses instructed Bezaleel and Bezaleel carried out those instructions precisely.

And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses. ~ Exodus 38:22

Matthew

In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and other women are at the tomb. There was a great earthquake as the angel rolled away the stone and the Bible says that the men keeping watch were so fearful that they fell over like dead men.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. ~ Matthew 28:2-3

(On a side note – 5 years ago today our area had an earthquake. I felt it and I wonder did those in the surrounding regions feel this earthquake? Did everyone talk about it like we did 5 years ago? Surely they had to…they were people just like you and me)

Later these men went to report to the elder all that had happened, and they were both paid and instructed to tell another story. The Bible says that they did as they were “taught.” Instruction (teaching) can be used for both good and evil purposes.

(This was a passage of scripture that I have never really seen or maybe better to say I never paid attention to it before)

Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. ~ Matthew 28:11-15

At the end of the book of Matthew, we read of Jesus giving the disciples what we call the Great Commission. To go, baptize, and teach!

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~ Matthew 28:18-20

Psalms

Psalm 34:1 says, Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. And the Psalmist then goes on to teach us.

Proverbs

The Scripture reading ended today with this verse –

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. ~ Proverbs 9:10

The GREATEST LOVE

It is Valentine’s Day, and I am taken back now to the passage in Matthew because it was the story of the Resurrection of our Lord and the story of the Greatest Love. It is the story of Jesus… Rabonni – our Master and Teacher! What faithful love He has shown through His life, death, burial, resurrection but even so today as He continues to sit at the right hand of the Father praying for you and for me.

Thank you Father for weaving these Scriptures together to teach us Your Word and speak to our heart.

He reminds us today that to make it through this day and these days ahead – walk the path He is lighting for you – in His Love, in obedience to His teaching, and in the fear of the Lord.

Christian Love is…

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But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” ~ 1 Peter‬ ‭4:7-9‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Peter says the end is near and because of that Christians should remain alert, continue in prayer, and focus on loving each other.

In my Bible, this section of 1 Peter is labeled “Living for God.” It reminds me of an old hymn that begins, “Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please him in all that I do.” I think Peter would have appreciated the word “striving” here because it seems a lot like the word, “fervent.” These words give us a picture of an athlete straining to win. They speak of perseverance and intensity. Love is fervent, and Peter was fervent. He tried hard, but he didn’t always succeed. Yet in his failures, Peter learned that love is also forgiving. He learned “love covers over a multitude of sins.” Jesus’ love covered Peter’s sins, and His great love will cover yours and mine as well. Should we not also cover and forgive as Jesus does?

Love is fervent and forgiving, and it is practical and demonstrated with attitudes that glorify God. The practical application taught here is to show hospitality to one another – without grudging. Peter understood hospitality as more than greeting people before or after church services; more than having friends over for dinner. Real hospitality is expressed in self-sacrificing ways without grumbling or resentment.

Fervent, forgiving, practical, glorifying God – true Christian love will create strong bonds and have amazing results because true Christian love always points others to Jesus!

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” ~ John 13:35

And What of Love? – 1 Corinthians 13:13

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Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. ~ Matthew 24:35

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

When all is said, and all is done in my life and in your life what will remain? The many people we rely on and everything we put our confidence in will eventually fade.  But God will not change, His Word will never pass away, and according to His Word – faith, hope, and charity will abide.

If you have followed my blog anytime at all you know I love to meditate on scripture through the study of the words and their meanings. Today is no exception so here are a few words I have chosen to examine:

Charity – generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless. Something given to a person or persons in need. Alms. Leniency in judging others. Christian love; agape.

Agape – the love of God for humankind. The love of Christians for other persons, corresponding to the love of God for humankind. Unselfish love of one person for another; brotherly love.

Abide – To remain or continue. To stay: to have one’s abode; dwell. To maintain a particular condition, attitude, relationship. To last.

Knowing all of this shouldn’t it motivate my heart and drive my thoughts, words, and deeds to focus on those things that will abide eternally?

And what of love? Charity? Agape? This verse says that more excellent than our hope, more significant than our faith…is LOVE. When I think of love, I like to read 1 Corinthians 13 in its entirety from the Amplified version of the Bible. Here is just this one verse, but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Guaranteed it will change you.

And now there remain: Faith [abiding trust in God and His  promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God‘s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 AMP

My Prayer – Oh Lord, Help me anchor my life in Your Word. Give me the grace to live a life of abiding faith, hope, and love. Set me on fire again and again as I set myself to focus on prayer, Your Word, and loving and serving others. Show me Holy Ghost any area of my heart that is not fully aligned with Your perfect will…any and every thought, word, and deed. Help me, Father, to love You more and more and to love others like You love today. In Jesus precious and Holy Name, Amen!

Rebuke with Love – Proverbs 6:23

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“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:” ~ Proverbs‬ ‭6:23‬

Reproof – to critique/correct gently.
Rebuke – to express sharp, stern disapproval

If we are going to be people who rebuke, then we must also be people who instruct and teach. Without instruction, rebuke amounts only to criticism and results in wounds and confusion. God hasn’t assigned anyone to correct and then walk quickly away from the correction. I believe we are always to rebuke with meekness and love, taking the time (even if just a moment) to teach the person not only what is wrong according to God’s Word but how to live according to God’s Word. That instruction is the way of life.

Heavenly Father, Help us today to be disciples that disciple others in Your Word and Your ways. Help us to build up and not tear down. Help us to LOVE and lead people to the way of LIFE. In Jesus Name. Amen!

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart – Deuteronomy 30:19-20

life and death

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Because we are created in the image of God, we have minds to think with,  hearts to feel with, and a will to decide with and God calls us to make right decisions. We’re not robots. We can hear God’s Word, learn God’s will, and decide either to obey or disobey. We learn from Moses that making this decision is not a difficult task. After all, we have the revealed truth of God, and his Word and that Word is available to us. We don’t have to go up to heaven to get the Word or across the sea to another country because God brought his Word to us.

The choice is between life and death, and who would deliberately choose death? In Israel’s case, the choice was between trusting God and enjoying the good of the land or turning to idols and experiencing the curses. It is either life and blessing or death and curses. Today the choice is between eternal life and eternal death. Salvation by the grace of God or an eternity spent in hell. Is this a difficult decision to make? The only sensible decision is to choose LIFE.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” ~ John 3:36

God offers his people life, for He is our life.

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” ~ Acts 17:28a

The Israelites needed to choose life, but they then they also needed to maintain their relationship with God by loving Him and listening to His voice. We are called today to make the same and the right decisions and take the same steps of obedience and love. Life or death?

Choose Love. Choose obedience. Choose Life.

 

Father, Help us today to look to You and make right and holy decisions. Help us at each moment to stop and look to You for our direction. Help us to love You and love others as You would love them. Take over our hearts so that our reactions to every obstacle and every temptation remain holy. Help us to represent You well in this time in this world that You have placed us. Help us to be a light that we might draw others to You even as we are drawn closer by You. In Jesus precious Name I pray. Amen!

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart – Grace

Grace

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:16-17 KJV

For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift].  For the Law was given through Moses, but grace [the unearned, undeserved favor of God] and truth came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:16-17 AMP

In the picture above and John 1:16-17 we see so many definitions of “grace.” Spiritual blessing, favor, a gift, the unearned and undeserved favor of God.  There are others definitions – but the meaning of the word “grace” I want to focus on today is in the sense of giving someone the time to “get right.”

Insurance companies will give their policyholders a “grace period” in which the policyholder has a few days to make a payment after the policy expires. If the payment is made within this “grace period,” they are treated as though the policy never lapsed.

As children of God, we need to show others this kind of grace which is the same kind of grace that God showed to us. There have been many times God has treated me as though I did nothing wrong even though I plainly had. Why did He treat me that way? Because He was giving me time to make it right and get right. He was giving me time to grow up into who I am supposed to be.

We see this in the life of Jesus over and over. He was gracious, merciful, and kind to those that showed remorse or repentance. He allowed them to time and space and grace to “get right” with dignity. On the other hand, He spoke harshly to the self-righteous and those that treated people as though they were less valuable than themselves for any reason.

Jesus said –

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12

Living and treating people the way we want to be treated means we will automatically show them abundant grace and mercy. We will automatically and always be kind. We will love each other through tough seasons even as we want them to stand with us through our worst days. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus is asked –

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What a difference we could see in our world today if we all showed each other abundant grace. What a love the world would see and in doing so we would fulfill every law.

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required ~ Luke 12:48b

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart – 1/18/2018

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When love is the motive, sacrifice is never measured or mentioned.  – Unknown

Daily Scripture

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. ~ Philippians 2:5-8

Study

While the theme of the first chapter of the book of Philippians is Jesus Christ first, the subject of chapter 2 is others next. The verses above, are a portion of Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi and that specific instruction and encouragement to be servants and have submissive minds.

Paul talks about being humble.

Humble: not proud or arrogant; modest; having a feeling of insignificance; low in rank, importance, status, quality; to lower in condition, importance or dignity.

So what does it mean to be a humble person; to have humility? The humble person is not one who thinks ill of himself, but one who doesn’t think of himself at all. The truly humble person knows himself and accepts himself and yields himself in obedience to Jesus to be a servant – for the Glory of God and the good of others.

In verse 5-6 above we see a humble man’s eyes and mind are turned off of himself and onto others. He sees the needs of others, and he thinks of others. He has the mind of Christ, and his attitude proves it.

In verse 7 we see that thinking of others, he also serves others. It is not just good words he speaks, but his actions follow with true service. Paul was a servant, but his example and our most excellent example is Jesus.

Jesus thought of others and became a servant. The Bible says that He made Himself of no reputation. He emptied Himself and laid aside His own attributes as God. He became human in a sinless physical body, and He used that body to be a servant…meeting the needs of others all the way to the cross where He willingly died for others.

Jesus was a servant, and He was humble. His service cost. The genuinely humble man will naturally pay the price to serve others because their mind is on others and not themselves. Many people are willing to help if it cost nothing, but if there is a price, they lose interest. In verse 8 we see Jesus became “obedient unto death.”

Meditation

Jesus didn’t avoid sacrifice and neither should I. My attitude as I walk through this Christian life should be one of willing submission for the glory of God and the good of others. If paying a price will honor Jesus and help others, I should willingly pay it. Will there be suffering? Very likely…but I do believe the test of the submissive mind of Christ is not how much I am willing to take in terms of suffering but how eager I am to give in terms of sacrifice.

One of the interesting things about this Christian life is that the more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God will bless.

I will close out with two quotes I read today:

When love is the motive, sacrifice is never measured or mentioned.  – Unknown

Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing. – J.H. Jowett

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I come before you today and declare that You are wonderful and magnificent and all knowing and YOU are the Lord of me. I declare that You are supreme and You are the great I AM! You alone Lord. Father, I come before You today having blown it again in so many ways. Did I have the mind of Christ today? Not when I compare it to Your Holy Word. Father, forgive me for allowing my mind to wander and to get caught up in trivial things and imaginations. Help me, Father, to keep my focus on You and Your Word and Your will. Help me to see You when I see others and help me to step up and be a servant. Help me to be one so willingly that it is just the outflow of my heart because of my relationship with You. Help me to know You and love You more and more and as I work and serve may YOUR LOVE and Your Presence be my strength and my only drive.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen!!!

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts. ~ Haggai 2:4

A Little Something Extra

The New Testament is full of all kind of instruction in how to live with one another.  Here are just a few:

  • Prefer one another      Romans 12:10
  • Edify one another        1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • Bear one another’s burdens       Galatians 6:2
  • Don’t judge one another       Romans 14:13
  • Rather admonish one another       Romans 15:14
  • Serve one another       1 Peter 4:10