Sunday, August 31, 2008

How God Spells Love

Loving God is a very difficult thing. I mean, how do you love someone you can’t see, feel, or touch? For many people loving God is an abstract thing. In reality, loving God is a very practical matter. Sometimes we have an emotional response to God when we’re singing along with some worship music. Some people feel close to God and they would say that is a feeling of love. And it probably is for them.

But how does God define our love for him? He spells our love for him like this:


Biblically speaking loving God has more to do with our actions than our emotions. Look at these simple verses:
1 Samuel 15:22-23a (NLT)
22What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. 23Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.

John 14:15 (NIV)
If you love me, you will obey what I command.

1 John 5:3 (NIV)
This is love for God: to obey his commands.

2 John 1:6 (NIV)
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his (God’s) commands.

So on a practical level, here are some ways we can love God better…

Keep your word to people

Matthew 5:37 (NIV)
Simply let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No.”

Put God’s agenda above your own

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness…

Pay your taxes

Mark 12:17 (NIV)
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

Honor God with your Tithe

Proverbs 3:9 (NIV)
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.

Follow Christ in Baptism

Matthew 3:13-17 (NIV)
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water…. 17and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Reconcile your relationships

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. 32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Maintain your morality

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (God’s Word Translation)
3It is God’s will that you keep away from sexual sin as a mark of your devotion to him. 4Each of you should know that finding a husband or wife for yourself is to be done in a holy and honorable way, 5not in the passionate, lustful way of people who don’t know God. 7God didn’t call us to be sexually immoral but to be holy. 8Therefore, whoever rejects this {order} is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Now there’s some food for thought.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Discipline & Regret

Jim Rohn said, "We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces--regret weighs tons."

Do have any regrets? I've got a few; I guess we all do. Rohn's quote resonates with me, because most of my regrets stem from lack of discipline. If only I had been more diligent. If only I had been more consistent. If only I had been more persistent. If only I had been more determined. And on and on.

Regret weighs tons, but it's foolish to bear this burden longer than necessary. Know how to get out from under it? It's in the first half of Rohn's corollary: Take another swing at the habit of discipline.

Ask yourself: What good thing...what necessary thing ... must I start doing today -- and every day -- if I feel like it or not? Whether it's a walk around the block or more time in the Word or cancelling a golf game to spend the afternoon with your kids, the short-lived pang of making a decision that doesn't come easily is nothing compared to the relief it brings from the dread of regret -- in fact, these tough decisions result in immeasurable joy.

There's a verse in Hebrews that refers to discipline. The writer is speaking here about the discipline (correction) that God sometimes works in us, but these words also apply to the discipline we have the power to exact on ourselves.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:15)

Here's to good training.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Choosing Your Way

Victor Frankl wrote, "We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Think of all the things that you can't control: the weather, the behavior and choices of those with whom you work, what comes in the mail to you, spam, the price of gas, your health, the decisions your children make, the decisions your parents make, and many others. You may have some influence over these things, but not complete control.

The one thing you can control is how you will respond to the situations you face. With anger, doubt, and self-pity ... or with faith, hope, and love.

Again and again in the Psalms we encounter David in difficult situations -- surrounded by enemies, struggling with sin, sinking in despair -- and again and again we see his absolute resolve to think right: Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5)

You and I can't control what happens today, but we can control our actions. Don't let your situations get the best of you today; no matter what you face, you can choose your own way.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Revolutionary Business

Thomas Carlyle said, "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."

Vision is essential to leadership, as is seeing the big picture—no doubt about it. But great leaders also have the ability to see and do what is necessary today.

It's the principle of first things first. Solomon said it as simply as it can be said: Develop your business first before building your house. (Proverbs 24:27)

This is what great leaders do. Where many flounder from week to week, effective leaders make sure that first, before anything else, business gets done each day.

What's your business? I mean your real business? What matters most to you? Is there anything on your agenda today that reflects this priority? Long term vision is great, but we also need to make a habit of taking care of today's business today.

Jesus knew what his business was all about and he never lost his focus. This is one of the reasons why his life was revolutionary.

See if you can complete these two sentences.

1. My real business is __________.

2. I will develop it today by doing this: _______________.

If your real business is following Jesus, then do something today that makes you more like him. Give. Love. Serve. Forgive. Show mercy.

If you want a revolutionary life, develop your business (your real business) first before doing anything else.