Tag Archives: love

Through the Bible, September 21

Reading: No scheduled reading

Summary: Once again we have scheduled a to catch up if you’ve fallen behind in your reading. This one is for the third week of September. Otherwise, below are some thoughts for your consideration for today from this past week’s readings.

  1. The city of Thessalonica played an important role in the region of Macedonia as the chief city of the region and the seat of Roman administration. The city also enjoyed a strategic location having an excellent harbor as well as being located on the primary overland route to the east from Rome, the famous Roman highway–Egnatian Way.
  2. Thessalonica is sometimes remembered negatively because Paul’s experience in Berea, the town to which he fled following the threat of violence at Thessalonica. Luke speaks to the noble mindedness of the Bereans in receiving the gospel, especially compared to the Thessalonians (Acts 17:11).  It should be remembered that there were several conversions at Thessalonica—obviously—and that Luke’s reference is specifically to the Jews of the synagogue in Berea.
  3. How interesting to consider Paul’s work in Macedonia and Greece being instigated by the Lord (the “Macedonian call”) and yet his encountering so much opposition and resistance at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth and apathy at Athens. Doing God’s work does not mean that all will go smoothly and bumps in the road are no reason to stop the journey.

Devotional Thought:

Increasing Love

For what do we wish to be known as followers of Jesus Christ?   How do we want people to see us?  Superior Bible knowledge? Great piety?  Member of a strong church?

Jesus said the world’s perception of us as His followers would come through the love we possess for each other (John 13:35).

Think about what the Bible says about this love.  As famously described and defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, this love is what every Christian is to have for others, not just husbands and wives.

Our cleansing from sin through obedience to the truth is not an end in itself, as important as it is.  But that purification is “for a sincere brotherly love” so we may “love one another from a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).

Love is the pinnacle of Christian virtues.  It is greater than faith and hope (1 Cor. 13:13).  It is “above all these”; “these” being compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness (Col. 3:12-14).

No wonder Paul was so ecstatic over the Thessalonians.  His desire for them was that they would “increase and abound in love for one another” (1 Thess. 3:12).  What he later learned was that indeed “the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Thess. 1:3).

Is the very thing Jesus wishes to identify me as His follower the same thing I want others to know about me as His disciple?

Through the Bible, September 15

Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:16

Summary: Paul obviously had great fond affection for the Christians in Thessalonica and was impressed with what he heard from Timothy about them even in the relatively short time he’d been gone. It’s interesting to read Paul’s description of the very personal nature of their work among Thessalonians.

Devotional Thought:

Still, These Three Remain

I guess Paul wasn’t kidding.  He famously said that faith, hope, and love abide (1 Cor. 13:13).  But this isn’t a letter to Corinth, this is to Thessalonica.  When Paul prays for these dear Christians, he remembers their faith, hope and love before God (1 Thess. 1:3).  Specifically, it was their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It turns out these three show up often together, 1 Corinthians 13 just happens to be the best known. For instance, for the Colossians Paul thanked God “since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:4-5).

It’s not even the only time it shows up in Thessalonians.  “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation (1 Thess. 5:8). You might also want to look at Galatians 5:5-6 and 1 Peter 1:21-22.

Would you not agree that these three serve as an excellent barometer for our spiritual condition at any given time?  How deep is my faith?  How firmly anchored is my hope? How lavish is my love?

These three remain. Do I remain in them?

Through the Bible, August 25

Reading: Luke 16-17

Summary: Like the last two days, this reading is also dominated by Jesus’ teaching with the exception of a single miracle; that being healing ten lepers.  The teaching includes parables of the dishonest manager, the rich man, and Lazarus (though many do not consider this to be parable as such), and the unworthy servant.  He also addresses the relationship of the Law and the kingdom,  divorce, temptation, and the coming kingdom.

Devotional Thought:

Danger: What Men Love

Currents are quite powerful.  Every year people drown because of the strong water currents in oceans and rivers.  People have literally been swept away by them, helpless against these powerful forces of nature.  Currents must be taken quite seriously.

Culture has currents too.  They, like their counterparts in nature, are quite powerful.  People get caught up in trends and fads every day.  Suddenly some product, idea, service, fashion or personality becomes all the rage and seemingly everyone is onboard.  So many of these things are quite inane and harmless; they’re gone as quickly as they came.  But do not take these “currents” lightly.

Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).   That should cause us to take sober and thoughtful pause.  It’s not that every thing man likes, God hates.  But the things that men tend to value and place priority on in all likelihood does not bear the same weight with God, and it may actually be detestable to Him.

It’s all a part of living in this world and guarding against being infatuated with it.  To befriend or love this world is the quickest path to opposition with God (Jas. 4:4; 1 John 2:15).  Its currents and trends can easily sweep us away. But we’re not powerless.  We are responsible.  We must know the threat and danger these cultural currents pose.

My Delight is the Lord, December 21

Do You Love Me?

December 21, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: John 21:15-24

Peter sounds a little exasperated after Jesus asks him for the third time–and he’s already responded in the affirmative twice–if the impetuous disciple loved Him. “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (v. 17). Peter was correct, wasn’t he? Jesus does know all things, including our love for Him. But wait, Jesus didn’t change His response. It wasn’t “You’re right. I already know.” It was,  “Feed my sheep” (v. 17). There is more to loving the Lord than what is in our heart. The confirmation of our love for the Lord doesn’t come from his all-knowing awareness of what we feel toward him. It comes from us and what we do (or don’t do). As Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did Jesus mean by, “more than these”? (v. 15)
  • How was Peter to feed/tend Jesus’ sheep/lambs? (vv. 15, 16, 17)
  • What would Peter do in his death? (v. 19)
  • What is our ultimate, individual responsibility (v. 22)

My Delight is the Lord, November 10

For Love’s Sake

November 10, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Philemon

What Paul said to Philemon is significant. No less so is what he did not say. He even draws attention to what he is not saying (v. 8). Paul, as an apostle could have commanded Philemon to do the right thing (which was to receive Onesimus, his runaway-slave-turned-disciple, as a brother in Christ). Instead, “for love’s sake, I appeal to you” (v. 9). This can be challenging for us, but the greatest thing we can do is not that we would obey God’s commands. Rather, it is that we would love Him . Then, motivated by that love that we move to do His will (that’s obedience). The saying goes, “The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.” I agree. I believe Paul does too. The main thing is loving God. Then “for love’s sake” we’ll obey Him.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How does Paul identify himself? (v. 1)
  • For what does Paul commend Philemon? (v. 5)
  • How does Paul identify Onesimus? (v. 10)
  • What suggestion does Paul make in v. 15?

My Delight is the Lord, October 11

Angelic Hospitality

October 11, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 13:1-21

Angels are a fascinating Bible subject, no doubt. One of the most titillating statements about them is that people have “entertained angels unawares” (v. 2). I wonder if I have? Or, has someone I know, unknown to them, been in the presence of angels? It does make one wonder. But have we missed the point? This isn’t a text primarily intended to teach us about angels, rather it is one of those insightful asides in Scripture that grab our attention, leaving us wanting to know more. The point is “Let brotherly love continue” (v. 1). Do that by not failing to show hospitality to strangers and remembering those in prison and who are mistreated (vv. 2-3). Have the angels distracted us? Has the mysterious diverted our attention from what is explicit and plain? Is my interest in brotherly love as great as my curiosity about angels?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is marriage held in honor? (v. 4)
  • What poses a threat to our lives?  (v. 5)
  • What is good for the heart? (v. 9)
  • What sacrifice ought we to offer? (v. 15)

My Delight is the Lord, September 19

Casting Out Fear

September 19, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Psalm 76

We work hard to eliminate the notion of being afraid from our fearing God. We know that we must fear Him and we also know that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts our fear” (Ecc. 12:13; 1 Jn. 4:18). But have we worked a little too hard? Note how often “fear” shows up in this Psalm (vv. 7, 8, 11). God’s anger and judgment are both specified as reasons for this fear (7, 8) and it, then, is the reason why He is worshipped (11). It is true that responding to God’s love with love is a superior motivation for our actions than is being scared of His punishment for our failure. We may well begin with being afraid, but it is highly desirable that we would progress to loving Him. Just because we begin somewhere and move forward doesn’t mean the place we began is irrelevant or unimportant. Without “square one” all the other squares will tumble.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Where is Salem? (v. 2)
  • Why is God to be feared? (v. 7)
  • Why does God “establish judgment”? (v. 9)
  • How can man’s wrath praise God? (v. 10)

My Delight is the Lord, September 8

Ruinous Love

September 8, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 11:1-43

One is hard pressed to find any other person who teaches us more than does Solomon. He “spoke 3,000 proverbs and his songs were 1,005” for crying out loud (1 Kings 4:32). But we also learn as much from his mistakes as we do his positive affirmations of truth. Here is a hard one; love can ruin you. Solomon’s many wives (700 of them) “turned away his heart” (v. 3). These are women he “loved” (v. 1). And in case you missed that one, the Bible further says He “clung to these in love” (v. 2). We speak of love in such glowing terms; it’s all good, right? No. You can love the very people and/or influences that will destroy you (1 Jn. 2:15). The only time love can be trusted is when we’ve followed the first and greatest command (Matt. 22:37-38).

Questions to Ponder:

  • What’s the great irony of vv. 7-8?
  • What punishment did Solomon receive for his sin? (v. 11)
  • What do we learn from vv. 14, 23?
  • What kind of man was Jeroboam? (v. 28)

My Delight is the Lord, July 9

For Whom Have I Cried?

July 9, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 18:1-33

How strange is it that the love and affections of our lives can end up being at cross purposes? David loved the Lord. He love the people, the nation of Israel. He loved the city from where he reigned. I believe he loved being the king. But he also loved Absalom. He loved this son who had no regard for his father’s God and who would take it all from him by violence to make it his own. David’s tortured cry is chilling: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (v. 33). Love can thrill our very soul but it can also torture our spirit. Like David, Jesus cried out over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39). He cried because he loved. If such crying is evidence of loving, have I cried for those lost in sin and alienated from God? The very ones whom He loves?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why did the army refuse to allow David to go out with them? (v. 3)
  • How did Absalom die? (vv. 9-15)
  • How was the news of victory delivered to David? (v. 21)
  • What was David’s first question upon hearing of the victory? (vv. 29, 32)

My Delight is the Lord, July 6

Love Much or Love Little

July 6, Wednesday: Knowing God’s Son

Scripture Reading: Luke 7:36-50

We may have it wrong. Is the person mired in the depths of sin worse off than the one with a well-ordered, respected life? One would think so, wouldn’t they? But Jesus turned that line of thinking on its head when He identified a woman who, in abject humility, groveled at His feet, washing them with tears, kissing, and anointing them. Her ledger of sins was much lengthier than that of the dignified Pharisee host in whose home this awkward scene played out. Nevertheless, she found grace with Jesus and her many sins were forgiven which elicited from her much love. “But,” Jesus continued, “he who is forgiven little, loves little” (v. 47). So, is one better off to love God much or little?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the woman characterized in v. 37?
  • What kind of attitude was displayed by the Pharisee? (v. 39)
  • What elicits greater love? (vv. 41-43)
  • Was the question of v. 49 asked in wonder or scorn?