Blog, Devotionals, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

Love Defined

What is love?

An age old question that people have been seeking the answer to for years- some find it- some never do. In a world full of so much hate and misrepresentation it is easy to get lost in what the world says love is. I say this because I was lost– for many years– due to false beliefs of what it meant to love or feel loved– in my case, this had a lot to do with my life experiences and lack of positive reinforcement to set healthy boundaries and concepts of love itself.

So in the spirit of the upcoming “holiday”- Valentine’s Day- I decided to dig deep into the origins of love-where it came from- what it’s suppose to really mean– and how healthy love is shown and received. The month of February will be designated to articles pertaining to love. I write this in hopes it helps someone fill the missing void and redefine their thoughts on the true meaning of Love.

Dictionary.com defines love in the following ways

  • passionate affection for another person
  • a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection
  • sexual passion or desire
  • Then notes Christianity: Gods benevolent attitude toward man–mans attitude of reverent devotion towards God.

Wikipedia defines love like this:

Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure.

Wikipedia goes on to explain that Ancient Greek philosophers identified five forms of love: essentially, familial love (in Greek, Storge), friendly love or platonic love (Philia), romantic love (Eros), guest love (Xenia) and divine love (Agape). Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of love: unrequited love, empty love, companionate love, consummate love, infatuated love, self-love, and courtly love. Scientific research on emotion has increased significantly over the past two decades. The color wheel theory of love defines three primary, three secondary and nine tertiary love styles, describing them in terms of the traditional color wheel. The triangular theory of love suggests “intimacy, passion and commitment” are core components of love. Love has additional religious or spiritual meaning. This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.

In the Bible love does not refer to an emotion but an attitude or behavior.

If we follow history back far enough it all begins in the same place–In the beginning was God. He created all the Earth, all things that walk the Earth and swim in the sea, every creeping creature, and He created man and woman in His image.

Love is of God. God authored the concept of love. Without the presence or existence of God there is no love.

1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

As you may already be able to see our society’s view on love vs what love was designed by God to be are two different things.

Although they have similarities the biggest difference is the love we learn from society is broken– it can and will fail, it’s usually not an unconditional love, society’s version of love is emotionally charged and can change based on circumstances– where God’s purpose and design for love is based on an attitude or behavior. We love because He first loved us.

Let’s explore more of God’s design for love–a love that is fulfilling, peaceful, joyful, and patient among many other things. God describes love in 1 Corinthians 13 as the greatest gift He has given us.

1 Corinthians 13- Love the greatest gift

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Could you imagine a world where we loved ALL people like God tells us to– no matter their background–no matter their sin. I encourage everyone to put love to the test and love like a 1 Corinthians 13 warrior.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for loving us in a perfect and unconditional way. Thank you for giving us the ultimate example of love through Jesus. God this world is so lost and has distorted the meaning of love so badly that it’s overall meaning and design has been nearly erased. God we know that You are love and without You there is no love. I pray that you touch each persons heart that reads this, open their eyes and hearts to the truth in Your Word. Remind us that regardless of what the world says love is, we know in You there is a perfect love that drives out fear and it renews us from the inside out. God, fill us with Your Holy Spirit and embrace us in Your loving arms. I pray that those who do not know You would seek to know You and would feel your love and presence surround them. It is in Jesus name I pray.

Amen

Blog, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

Love Defined

What is love?

An age old question that people have been seeking the answer to for years- some find it- some never do. In a world full of so much hate and misrepresentation it is easy to get lost in what the world says love is. I say this because I was lost– for many years– due to false beliefs of what it meant to love or feel loved– in my case, this had a lot to do with my life experiences and lack of positive reinforcement to set healthy boundaries and concepts of love itself.

So in the spirit of the upcoming “holiday”- Valentine’s Day- I decided to dig deep into the origins of love-where it came from- what it’s suppose to really mean– and how healthy love is shown and received. The month of February will be designated to articles pertaining to love. I write this in hopes it helps someone fill the missing void and redefine their thoughts on the true meaning of Love.

Dictionary.com defines love in the following ways

  • passionate affection for another person
  • a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection
  • sexual passion or desire
  • Then notes Christianity: Gods benevolent attitude toward man–mans attitude of reverent devotion towards God.

Wikipedia defines love like this:

Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure.

Wikipedia goes on to explain that Ancient Greek philosophers identified five forms of love: essentially, familial love (in Greek, Storge), friendly love or platonic love (Philia), romantic love (Eros), guest love (Xenia) and divine love (Agape). Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of love: unrequited love, empty love, companionate love, consummate love, infatuated love, self-love, and courtly love. Scientific research on emotion has increased significantly over the past two decades. The color wheel theory of love defines three primary, three secondary and nine tertiary love styles, describing them in terms of the traditional color wheel. The triangular theory of love suggests “intimacy, passion and commitment” are core components of love. Love has additional religious or spiritual meaning. This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.

In the Bible love does not refer to an emotion but an attitude or behavior.

If we follow history back far enough it all begins in the same place–In the beginning was God. He created all the Earth, all things that walk the Earth and swim in the sea, every creeping creature, and He created man and woman in His image.

Love is of God. God authored the concept of love. Without the presence or existence of God there is no love.

1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

As you may already be able to see our society’s view on love vs what love was designed by God to be are two different things. Although they have similarities the biggest difference is the love we learn from society is broken– it can and will fail, it’s usually not an unconditional love, society’s version of love is emotionally charged and can change based on circumstances– where God’s purpose and design for love is based on an attitude or behavior. We love because He first loved us.

Let’s explore more of God’s design for love–a love that is fulfilling, peaceful, joyful, and patient among many other things. God describes love in 1 Corinthians 13 as the greatest gift He has given us.

1 Corinthians 13- Love the greatest gift

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Could you imagine a world where we loved ALL people like God tells us to– no matter their background–no matter their sin. I encourage everyone to put love to the test and love like a 1 Corinthians 13 warrior.

Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

FREE GIFT: Mercy

Do you like free gifts? No strings attached, a gift that you do not have to earn? What if the gift that is being offered could guarantee you happiness, joy, peace, and overflowing love and acceptance? Would you accept the gift? Would you be willing to receive it and all the benefits that come from the gift? That is what I would like to share with you today….God’s mercy which is an absolutely FREE gift to anyone and everyone whom is willing to receive Him.

Mercy is defined as disposition to be kind and forgiving, the feeling that motivates compassion. Our God is a merciful God, as he sent Jesus, His only begotten son, for those of us who are needy, imperfect, and weak. He sent Jesus to be our help, to rescue, deliver, and save us from death. To die for our sins, so that we may have eternal life. Yes, that is right, Jesus was tortured and ultimately killed for sinners like you and I to be saved! WOW! That is one great example of how merciful, compassionate, and loving God is.

What this means is you can’t force God to love you, he loves you freely. I find peace in knowing that God’s love will NEVER change. You also can’t earn God’s mercy, He has already given it to you, all you have to do is freely and openly receive it. God’s mercy is an overflowing mercy, and the Bible tells us, at least 44 times, that God’s mercy endures forever.

God’s word, the Bible, has many references to how God is a God of mercy.

Psalms 59:17 (NKJV)

To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy.

Exodus 20:6 (NKJV)

but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Deuteronomy 5:10 (NKJV)

but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

I Chronicles 16:34 (NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

We make mistakes and fall short of the glory of God daily, that is what makes us human. Its our reaction and responses to the mistake that determine if we are going to grow in God and with God or grow away from Him. When you make a mistake recognize it and choose to react differently.

Don’t Say.. I am not what I should be, I will never get there, I am a bad person, I have failed, what is the point…

Do say.. I made a mistake and I am sorry. I am thankful that You, God, are a merciful and forgiving God. Lord have mercy on me and forgive me for my sin(s).

Psalms 51:1 (NKJV)

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

 

It’s a journey with God, a walk, made up of many, many small steps. As you walk with the Lord, you begin to grow and He changes you from the inside out. God is looking for progress not perfection and He wants you to be happy and celebrate your progress no matter how big or small it may seem.

I myself have struggled with this very concept, God doesn’t expect us to be perfect and to change over night, I mean He should know right? He created us and He is the one working in us and changing our heart. So if God created us and God is the one changing us then why do we act like God is surprised when we mess up? Truth is, God is not surprised, you and people in this world around you might be surprised, but God is not.

Dr. Phil Willingham, pastor of Heartland Christian Center, said it like this during one of his sermons…

  • Justice is GETTING what we deserve
  • Mercy is NOT getting what we deserve
  • Grace is GETTING what we DON’T deserve.
  • The word “mercy” is used 252 times in the Bible and it literally means, “Love in action.”

Truth is none of us really want what we truly deserve.

Either by nature or by nurture many people believe God is a fickle God and you never know what He is going to do. This is not true the Bible tells us exactly whom God is, what He wants for us, how to handle the world we live in, and what to do when we “mess up” along the way.

Receiving and accepting mercy is not an easy task for many people.

After a lot of reading, studying, and research, this is what I have found (I am sorry I didn’t keep track of my sources) Here are a few reasons why it’s difficult for some people to receive mercy ….

1. They were never given mercy as a child.

2. They have perfectionist temperaments and usually only see what is wrong instead of what is right.

3. They have learned an improper teaching of God’s character.  (God is NOT mad at you! However if you have a rule-oriented, religious attitude, you will think God is expecting things from you that He is not. You will feel pressure continually feeling like He is angry or displeased The Bible says God is slow to anger.)

Psalms 103:8 (NKJV)

The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

4. They feel mercy is not fair. Its given to those who do not deserve it and that is difficult for some to grasp. (But…..If we are all honest with ourselves we know we have all done things that we (or God) are not proud of and that puts us in the I don’t deserve God’s mercy category).

The struggle with mercy could be linked to our struggle with accepting genuine love (not worldly love). Mercy is love in action, so as humans, we often unknowingly compare Gods love with those whom we love and interact with in the world daily. Here is an example from my pastor that helped me….

Human love often looks like this…

I love you….UNTIL you frustrate me.

I love you….UNTIL its easier to love someone else.

I love you….UNTIL you make me mad.

I love you….UNTIL (you fill in the blank)

Gods Love looks like this.

I love you….UNTIL eternity, no matter what.

Gods love is unchanging and unshakeable.

Gods love is steadfast and knows no end.

I ask you today, if you have not already, will you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you done this? This is GREAT NEWS and calls for celebration! Accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior does not change you overnight… you must spend time with Him in His word (the Bible) and learn about who He is and the promises He offers to those whom accept Him, seek Him, and love Him with all their heart.

My prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus I pray that this post will reach those whom need to hear your message. God I pray that you open each and every one of their hearts. I pray you give them eyes to see the way you see things. Ears to hear Your word and direction. I pray they would have understanding and clarity about what you are speaking to them today. God I pray they accept Your free gift of mercy that You offer to each of us that are willing to be faithful and follow Your path. God I pray that they will have all the mercy they need in Your name. For your ways are higher than our ways, and Your plans are better than our plans. God I pray who ever is reading this will be moved by your spirit and put their trust in You and Your Word. It is in Jesus mighty name I pray. Amen.