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Showing posts with label Real Love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Real Love. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

What the World Needs Now is Love (Love is Patient)

One of the most cherished words in our world today is also one of the most misunderstood and misused words.  Love.  In 1965, Jackie DeShannon sang, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  It's the only thing that there's just too little of.”  

I do believe love would solve the majority of our problems if we could learn to love one another.  This is the biblical message of the Christian faith.  However, the love that will change our world for the better must be the true kind of love that's defined by the Bible, the kind of love Jesus demonstrated as the core of God’s character.  In this message series over the next few weeks, I want to study the elements of the true, biblical love God has for us and that we are called to have for God and each other. 

True love, the kind of love God offers and that the world needs now, is clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  You may be familiar with this famous passage.  It is often read at weddings to teach newlyweds how to love one another.  However, this passage was not originally intended for weddings.  The Apostle Paul wrote this passage to reprimand the Corinthian church for all their bickering, division, and strife and to teach them how to treat one another. 

When I think of how divided our world is today, how we argue with one another over politics and vaccinations and wearing or not wearing masks, I think these are words about love we need more than ever.  What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.  It’s the only thing, that there’s just too little of.  But the kind of love we need, is written in God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.

Love is Patient
Today, I want to focus on only the first part of the first sentence of verse 4 – Love is patient. 

Patience is the ability to tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.  True patience means having a good, loving attitude even in the midst delay, trouble, suffering.  It is a weak, feeble patience that is constantly complaining and crying “woe is me!” the whole time they endure trouble.  A person with real patience has a good, positive attitude while they endure. 

Patience is an essential element of real Christian love.  It is the patience Jesus demonstrated on the cross as he endured the suffering and shame of crucifixion.  As the angry crowd mocked him and spat upon him, Jesus prayed for His enemies, “Father, please forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  Jesus was able to be patient because Jesus is God and God is love and love is patient.  Jesus told a parable about God's patient, unconditional love.

Luke 15:11-12
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them
this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

God is Patient
The father of the story is incredibly patient.  He agrees to his son's request even though the son basically said, "I wish you were already dead so I could have my inheritance now."  You see, this callous son doesn't really see his father as a human being worthy of love and respect, with whom he wants a relationship. To the son, the father is just a means to an end--something to use up and then leave.  

Many people see God like that.  God is merely there to serve our needs--to give us what we want or what we need or help us out of trouble.  We don't see God as someone worthy of our respect and love and adoration.  How rude we are with God! 

God is extremely patient with us.  Right now, I feel like people simply are not focused on God. Going to church is not a priority for people in our world. While Christians in Afghanistan risk there lives just to believe in Christ and worship Him, Christians in America can hardly bother going to church.  Even among “Christians”, people are not really interested in God.  God is not the first priority in people’s lives. He’s not even the second or third priority. He’s much farther down the list.  People say:
"Maybe I’ll go to church if I don’t have a trip planned."
"Maybe I'll go if my son doesn’t have a baseball game."
"Maybe I'll go if I'm not too tired (because I stayed out too late on Saturday night to make it to a church service that doesn't start until 11 AM)."

And so out of four Sundays in a month, a typical family may only attend church one or two times. (And this is a Christian family that claims they follow Jesus as their Lord and that God is the top priority in their life!)

This doesn't even touch on the subjects of attending Sunday school or Bible study (where you really dive deep in your faith) or serving or your prayer life or tithing (which is giving 10% of your income as the minimum financial contribution to the work of God’s Kingdom), or actually living out Chritian values in a secular world even if it puts you at odds with the culture around you.

Of course, some will say, “Preacher, you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. And just because you aren’t sitting in a pew every Sunday, doesn’t mean you aren’t focusing on your relationship with God.”  OK, that is theoretically true.  So what are you doing? If you are not attending church, how much time are you focusing on your walk with Christ?

For the average person in America who claims to be a Christian, but doesn’t attend church because “they can be a Christian and not attend church”, how are you staying focused? Who is holding you accountable to Jesus? What are you doing on a daily and weekly basis to worship, serve, fellowship with other believers?  How are you diving deeper and deeper into the most important relationship in your existence, the one for which you were literally created? 

For you who are "Christian" but not regularly attending church, where is the road you are traveling leading? Where is it leading the next generation?  Do you think you children and grandchildren are going to continue to be focused on God and the Christian values you say you believe in (things like love and forgiveness and patience) if you can’t even bother to go to God’s house regularly on Sunday mornings?

What is going to become of the institutional church?  What will the world be like without it?  

Usually, it isn’t until people experience some crisis or tragedy that they regain some of their focus on God and His Church. Nothing gets people praying and seeking God’s help like a diagnosis of cancer or a financial disaster.  However, when life’s good and our belly’s are full, we don’t want to celebrate and worship the Lord. We wanna go have some fun doing whatever we want to do so we forget about God.

God is extremely patient with us. He gives us our blessings and puts up with us while we ignore Him. He patiently waits for us to come to our senses—either because of some disaster or epiphany where we finally wake up from our sinful, selfish attitude.

Luke 15:13-16

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

The True Meaning of the Parable
In case you didn’t know, this story is about God and us.  The Father in this story is God.  The son who ran away and then returned home represents a lot of the people in this world who turn their back on God.  The Father in the story (God) is able to welcome His wayward son home because of His patience.  You see, the Father wasn’t bad-mouthing His wayward son the whole time He was gone.  He continued to love His son, even though His son didn’t deserve it.

If the father wasn’t patient, He would be much be much more apt to be angry when His son retuned.  He would be much more prone to say “I told you so! I told you this was gonna happen!”  But we see none of that in this story.  The Father sees His son coming while he is still a long way off and He runs out to greet His son and welcome him home.  There’s no hint of anger or smug vindication in His attitude.  The Father loves the son and is genuinely and completely glad His wayward son has come home.

That’s the kind of patience we are called to have as we love one another. You see, that is truly what the world needs now—love, sweet love. Love that is patient when people don’t do the right thing.  Not an attitude of “See!  I told you so! I was right!  You were wrong!”

That’s the arrogant, mean spirited attitude the other brother has in the story--the older brother, the so-called “good” brother.

Luke 15:25-30
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

No Patience
The older brother is not like his Father.  He has no patience for his younger brother’s foolishness.  He is angry—not just at his brother, but also at his Father.  There is no love in his heart.  He hates his brother.  What does he want?  Would he have preferred his brother had starved to death in that foreign land and never returned?  That's how it seems.

When you think of the people with which you’ve lost patience for one reason or another, what do you want for them?  Do you really want them to get what they deserve?  Would you like to be a able to stand over them with smug indignation saying, “I told you so!”  If someone doesn't get vaccinated and get's very sick or dies from COVID, do you want to be able to wag your finger at them and scream, "I told you so!"  If someone does get vaccinated and then has complications, do you want to be able to stare at them indignantly and say "See!  I was right and you were wrong!"  And what of the billions of people who do not follow Christ, who think he is just a myth and you are an idiot for believing in Jesus?  Do you want to see them burning in Hell just so you can laugh at them and feel good about yourself because you did “the right thing” and you were a “good person” and they are getting what they deserve?

That's not patience.  That's not love.

Luke 15:31-32
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Still Waiting
When Jesus told this story, he wisely didn’t tell us how it ends.  Does the older brother finally get it?  Does he also “come to his senses” and realize he’s being unloving and is just as much at fault as his rash younger brother?  Jesus doesn’t tell us the end of the story because you and I will be the ones who finish it.  We finish it by the way we choose to live. 


And God patiently waits.
How will you respond today?·
Do you need to come to your senses and start truly putting God first in your life?
Do you need to come to your senses and repent of your own smugness, realizing you are no better than anyone else?
Do you need to learn to truly love people by being more patient?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Silly Love Songs 1 - Steadfast & Unchanging

We all want to feel loved.  And we want to love others.  That’s the way God made us to be.  From the very beginning in Genesis, there was love.  God created us in love and for love.  God created people as male and female, and designed us to yearn for love—between people and between people and God.  And in the beginning, the love we had in our hearts was perfect.
            But then sin entered our hearts and the world and messed everything up.  Now, so often, love is misunderstood.  Love is the subject of so many songs because it is a central yearning in our hearts, but we rarely really understand the love we sing about.  And our misunderstandings about love lead suffering, and hurt, and pain at the deepest levels.  Love is sometimes a tool to use and abuse one another.  It can even become an idol; it is an idol to so many (for an idol is anything we look to for fulfillment in ways that only God can fulfill us).
Love comes in many forms.  Obviously, there is the love between a man and a woman, a husband and wife.  But there is also the love between a parent and a child, the love of family, the love between friends, and even the love for our pets.  All love has its roots in God’s love of us.  So to get back to wholesome, healthy love—in all kinds of relationships—we must look to the love of God as our model.
Maybe silly love songs appeal to us because they tap into a primal hunger and express the way we often feel when we “fall in love.”  God designed us to feel a strong, unexplainable attraction when we meet someone who might be “the one.”  Our feelings can be so strong, they can even over-ride our reason and drive us to step outside out comfort zone to connect with someone and forge an incredibly strong bond that will hopefully survive the inevitable wear and tear life will bring our way.  Love songs capture the way we feel.  We sing:

“Ain’t no mountain high enough!  Ain’t no valley low enough!  Ain’t no river wide enough!  To keep me from getin’ to you baby.”  ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)

Boy that sounds good, and it’s the way we feel.  But, actually, there are mountains, rivers, and other obstacles that can keep us from getting to our baby.  The only One who can sing those lyrics truthfully is God.  There is nothing that can keep God from getting to us.  He has overcome every obstacle to be with you—even conquering sin, death, and the grave by dying on the cross.  Bon Jovi sang, “I’d die for you! I’d cry for you! If it came right down to me and you!  You know it’s true!  Baby I’d die for you!”  How many boyfriends and husbands have promised that?  How many have actually done it?  Friends, Jesus Christ did it for you.
So as we go through this series of 3 sermons together, I invite you to think about all your
favorites love songs and really think about the lyrics.  Are they inspiring?  Are they silly?  Are they even practical (from a human perspective)?  More important, look to God and consider the amazing love He has for you.  Divine love is greater than the love any human can express.  What is the nature of God’s love for you?
            To begin our journey, let's look at one of the famous love stories in our Bible—the story Jacob and Rachel (and it also includes the sad story of Leah).  The full story is encompasses all of Genesis 29 & 30 and continues on for several more chapters.  Let em just share the key verse and then I'll summarize the story.  Genesis 29:20 – "So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. "

The Story of Jacob & Rachel
            There was a man named Jacob who had a twin brother named Esau.  Jacob was his mother's favorite, but Esau was his father's.  Jacob was a manipulator and a schemer.  With his mother's help, Jacob cheated his brother out of his inheritance and his father's blessing.  Esau was so mad, he vowed to kill Jacob.  So, Jacob fled from home to his uncle's house in a far away village.  
            When he arrived, Jacob noticed a beautiful woman tending a flock of sheep.  Her name was Rachel.  Jacob was so smitten with Rachel, he was like Joe Cocker singing, "You are so beatiful to me!  Can't you see!  You're everything I hoped for!  You're everything I need!"
            Now ladies, I want you to notice something.  Rachel had been tending a flock of sheep all day.  I'm sure she was sweaty and tired and didn't feel attractive at all.  Yet Jacob thought she was hot stuff!  You see, that's how God designed us.  We were designed to find you attractive.  And sometimes, even when you feel you're in your least attractive state, you might be most attractive to us.  
            Well, for Jacob, it was love at first sight.  Is that even a real thing--"love at first sight"?  Well, I believe there's such a thing as attraction at first sight.  But attraction is not the same as love.  Love is a much deeper virtue than attraction.  It's not something that happens to you by accident or because of the chemicals and hormones that run through you viens.  It may be that you are immediately attracted to someone and then that leads you to develop a relationship with them that becomes deep over time and leads to to love.  But love at first sight is an overstatement that really misuses the term love (at least in the sense we are talking about in this blog).
            At any rate, Jacob was immediately attracted to Rachel and wanted her.  The Bible says she had a beautiful figure and a lovely face and Jacob wanted her.  When the opportunity presented itself, Jacob promised to work for Rachel's father, Laben, seven years in order that he might marry Rachel.  He would do anything for Rachel.  He was like Percy Sledge or Michael Bolton singing, "When a man loves a woman!"
            Anyway, Jacob worked seven years for Laben and then said, “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.”  (Not exactly the most romantic thing to say, but at least he was honest!)  But then Jacob, the schemer and trickster, had one pulled over on him.  Instead of bring Rachel to marry Jacob, Laben dressed her older sister, Leah, up and brought her!  And I guess she had on a pretty heavy dress and veil and was covered from head to toe and Jacob couldn't really see her and so Jacob married Leah instead of Rachel!  Now, I can understand how he might not have been able to tell at the wedding ceremony, but you know what usually happens after the wedding and it doesn't usually involve as many clothes.  And somehow, Jacob still didn't realize it wasn't Rachel in the bed with him until morning.  I guess love really is blind!  (Or else he was just really, really drunk.)
            Well, Jacobs is pretty upset with Laben, as you can imagine, and Laben makes up some cockamany story about having to marry off his oldest daughter before the younger one.  But Laben says he will give Rachel on credit if Jacob works another 7 years for him.  And since Jacob wants Rachel so bad, he agrees.  I guess he might of been like Lionel Richie singing, "Your once, twice, three times a lady!"  (Well maybe not three times, but definitely twice!)  Jacob sort of got a 2 for one special on wives that year.

Poor, Unloved Leah
            Now we usually focus on Jacob and Rachel in the story, but what about poor, unloved Leah?  The Bible describes Leah as being kind of plain--says she didn't have the same sparkle in her eye.  I don't know if that meant she was just sort of plain or what.  But how do you think Leah must have felt to be made to feel ugly by her own father.  What kind of poor relationship did Rachel and her father have they he didn't even think she would ever be able to get a husband on her own--that Laben would have to trick some man into marrying her?  That's got to hurt.  Every woman wants to feel loved and special--and that all starts with their father.  But Rachel's father apparently never told her, or made her feel special or loved.  
            And perhaps Leah sees that this shame of a marriage with Jacob is her one chance.  Mayne Jacob will love her and make her feel worthwhile.  And even though she's not as "pretty" as Rachel, Leah is able to bear children while Rachel remained barren.  Leah and Rachel competed for Jacob's love; Rachel had the beauty and Jacob's attention, but Leah was ding everything she could to get him to look at her and love her instead.  Maybe Leah was sort of like Taylor Swift singing, “She wears shorts skirts. I wear t-shirts. She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers. Dreaming bout the day you will wake up and find that what you’re| looking for has been here the whole time. If you could see that I’m the one who understand you; been here all the time so why can’t you see, you belong with me.” (“You Belong to Me” by Taylor Swift)
            Here's the thing, Leah had a huge void in her life--probably there from childhood by the way her father treated her.  And Leah tried to fill the void of love in her life with Jacob.  And she thought bearing him children would do the trick, but it never worked.  You can see this playing out through the children she bore and what she said at each birth.  Leah bore three children trying to earn Jacob’s love.  The first was Reuban and Leah said, “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”  But it didn't work. Leah still wasn't satisfied.  So she bore a second son and named him Simeon saying, “The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.”  Still not satisfied, Leah had a third son and named him Levi saying, “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!”
            Unfortunately, Jacob never woke up and loved Leah--at least not in the way she wanted in order to fill the void deep in her soul. So finally, Leah stopped looking for Jacob to complete her.  I think she finally realized only God could do that.  I think it because of what she said when she gave birth to her fourth child.  This time she named him Judah and said, “Now I will praise the Lord!” And then she stopped having children.
            God is the only one who can truly make us whole.  No man, no woman, can do that for you.  And you cannot really be satisfied with your mate if you are expecting them to be god for you.  Only God can be God.  It is the love of God that we all need in our lives.  And when we have it, we don't need our spouse or anyone else to fill the deep longing within our soul.  Then we are free to have truly healthy human relationships with everything in proper perspective.

God’s Love is Steadfast & Unchanging
            Jacob’s love caused him to worked 14 years for Rachel, but God’s love is so steadfast and unchanging He’s worked since the beginning of creation to win your love. God, in Jesus Christ, went all the way to the cross for you. And God isn’t going to give up searching for you and inviting you to receive His love and love Him back. Like singer Rick Astly, He’s “Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry. Never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.” (“Never Gonn Give You Up”)
God’s Love is Emotional, but more…
            Love is more than how the other person makes us feel. Love is what we do for others.  The emotions may drive us initially, but what happens when the emotions wear off? We have to make a choice to stay committed.  Captain and Tennille sang:
“Love, Love will keep us together. 
Think of me babe, whenever 
some sweet-talking girl comes along, singing her song
Don't mess around, you've just got to be strong, just stop
'Cause I really love you, stop
I'll be thinking of you
Look in my heart and let love keep us together”

The song was “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Unfortunately, love didn’t keep Captain and Tennille together. They divorced on January 16, 2014.
            Love is more than a song or a feeling. Love is a choice we make. It’s a deliberate act, a willful decision to give selflessly for another. Feelings of love will come and go and come back again, but love never ends. 
            There are days we are so in love with our kids. We just want to be with them and hug them and care for them and do for them.  Then, there are days we just want to strangle them to death and start over with a new lot! (Not really, but you get my point!) We choose to love our kids even when we don’t feel like it.  The same is true of our spouse (or our friends or our family—any form of real love).
            God’s steadfast and unchanging love is the perfect model for how we are to love.  It doesn’t depend on whether we deserve it or even try to love Him back.  Romans 5:8 say, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” A sinner is someone who has completely turned their back on God. So in other words, when God was dead to us, He still lived for us and loved us enough to die for us.

            There is a love song I bet you’ve heard from childhood.  Maybe we dismiss it now it without even really thinking about the meaning, because we've heard it so many times.  But today, really consider the words.  And think about what Jesus is saying to you.  What do you want to say to Him?

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! This I know,
As He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
Saying, “Let them come to Me.”

Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Real Love

            Advent is the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas when Christians prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, but it is also a time we focus on preparing for Jesus' second coming.  The first time, Jesus came as a harmless little baby.  But the second time, Jesus will come as a conquering King ready to separate the good from the evil. 
            Thankfully, God loves us so much and wants us to be ready.  That’s why He sent Jesus to first time—to get us ready.  Jesus shows us how we need to live and he already atoned for our sins.  Aren't you glad Jesus came the first time so we can be ready when he comes the second time?
John 3:1616 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Real Love
            There are many popular songs written about love and love is a common theme in books, television, and movies.  However, real love, the kind of love Jesus shows and wants us to have, is so much deeper than the love the world promotes.  Mother Teresa said, "Love, to be real, must cost.  It must hurt.  It must empty us of self."
            I see a lot of expressions of real love in our congregation.   Real love is 12 people from our church joining with a team from Grace Presbyterian to feed over 100 needy people at the City of Refuge last Monday night.  Real love is Kevin Roberts there coloring a picture with a little girl and Tanya Brooker tutoring a child on their math homework before the food was served.  Real love is when our church secretary, Angela, can’t sleep at night because she’s tossing and turning in the bed at 3 AM thinking about what we can do with poinsettias to show the love of Jesus—and she comes up with the Poinsettia Challenge. 
            Real love is Susan Cooksey—a retired teacher—going over to Pleasant Grove Elementary School each week to help out and see how our church can be a blessing to the school.  Most people retire and throw their hands up in praise, "I'm done!  I don't have to work any more!  I've done my time.  Now I can sit at home and collect a retirement check."  In stead, Susan continues to go to the school and work as a volunteer to help teachers and students, because that's what real love does.
            Real love is a Jason and Andrea Denson going through over 2 years of preparation and training and paperwork and praying and hoping and crying and hoping and crying and hoping some more before finally flying over to China to meet their new daughter.  Real love is their son, Jace—who’s been the baby of the family getting all the attention for almost a decade—welcoming his new sister into the family with open arms.  He willingly shares his family with his new sister.
            Real love is James and Mary Greenway taking clothes over to the residents who lost everything in an apartment fire in Dalton this weekend and praying with them to bring peace in the midst of a tragedy.  Real love is Amy Harris spurring our church to sponsor 20 families who have a loved one in prison so they will have Christmas presents and leading the youth to host a Angel Tree Party for the families yesterday.  Real love is someone from our church going to visit a friend in prison because they’re struggling with addiction and mental illness and they did a terrible thing, but Jesus still loves them so we do too. 
            Real love is a parent who sacrifices the time, the money, their life, gaining gray hairs through nights of worry and praying and shedding tears of joy and sometimes disappointment.  Real love is a spouse who cares for their husband or wife as they slowly fade into dementia.  Real love never giving up even when it hurts so bad you just want to die.
1 John 4:19 – We love each other because he [God] loved us first.
            Even though humanity had turned their backs on God, God still loved us and sent Jesus.  We didn't deserve any help, any mercy, any love, but God showed loved us and showed mercy and helped us anyway.  And oh how great is the extent of God's wonderful love!  He sent his one and only son.  He could have and should have come as king treated to a palace and glory with everyone serving him.  But Jesus didn't come to be served.  He came to serve others.  He showed what real love is and he said:

John 15:13 – There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
            Jesus showed us what real love is.  Every day, Jesus laid down his life by the way he served and put others before himself.  And ultimately in the end, Jesus literally laid down his life when he died on the cross for our sins.  1 John 4:10, "This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 

Get Ready and Follow Jesus
            Jesus loves us with real love and he want us to love him so we will be ready.  Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, obey my commandments." And what were his commands?  Let me distill it down to 4 basic truths.

·       Command #1 – Repent.  The first sermon Jesus preached was "Repent for the Kingdom of God is near."  In other words, your day of reckoning and judgment could happen at any moment.  God is about to separate the good from the bad and reward each accordingly.  So you better turn away from your wrongdoing and turn to God.
·       Command # 2 – Trust Jesus.  You have to turn away from your evil ways and trying to do what you want and trust and follow Jesus' way.  Do you trust Jesus enough to give up what you want and work for what he wants?  That is the only way to be ready to meet him face to face when he comes again.  That is the only way to find eternal life.
·       Command # 3 – Love.  Jesus said to love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.  John 15:12, Jesus said, "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you."  What does that mean?  It means you lay down your life.  It means life stops being about you.  It’s about serving others and loving them the way Jesus did.
·       Command #4 – Go.  In  Matthew 28:19, 20, Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations…  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…"  That’s what I what I try to do everyday by the way I live and even as I write this blog.  I want you to become a disciple of Jesus, because I love you and I want you have eternal life in the Kingdom of God with me. 
Are you ready to meet Jesus when he comes again? I hope with all my heart you will obey these commands so you will be ready, because I want to meet you one day in eternity.  Let's plan to get together then and go for a walk down the golden streets beside the crystal sea.  If you've never become a real Christian--one who has repented, believed in Jesus, received his forgiveness, and committed to follow Him--why don't you ask God to receive you into His Kingdom today.  You can use the following as a guide as you pray to God.

A Prayer to Become a Christian
"Father, I'm so sorry for trying to do things my way.  I repent.  I surrender my life to You.  Forgive me for what I've done and help me to follow Jesus from this day forward.  Help me to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And help me to love everyone I meet the way You love them.  Show me how I can tell people what Jesus is doing for me.  Thank You for saving me!  Now help me live for You for the rest of my life.  Amen."

If you prayed to become a Christian today, I would like to here from you.  Please email me at so I can pray for you.