What Love Is

What Love Is

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” – 1 John 3:16

Dr. Michael DeBakey, the famous heart surgeon, once received a letter from an 11-year-old girl with this question, “Is there any love in an artificial heart?” Love is illusive, yet we long for it.

How would you define love? Most everyone knows it is real, but who can really describe it?

I can’t define love, but God’s Word sure can. The Bible reminds us that love is patient and kind, not envious, selfish, or arrogant. Love doesn’t keep records when people let us down or do us wrong. Love forgives. Love is happy for others’ successes. Love is very optimistic. Love bears all things; it believes in others and what they can be, thus putting up with a lot. Love hopes for the best in others. True love never gives up; it just keeps on keeping on; it means a commitment to love a person whether they love us or not.

Is love found in an artificial heart? I’m afraid not, but love can be found in an old heart made new by the power of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.

UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE

UNSHAKEABLE CONFIDENCE

“The Lord helps (the righteous) and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him”. 
Ps 37:40 NIV 

Many of us have a difficult problem in our faith. We waver. For a while we feel very sure and secure in our faith. Then some adverse event happens and we doubt, even wondering why we ever had the strong convictions we once held. So our confidence in God ebbs and flows, our sense of well-being blows hot and cold and our enthusiasm chops and changes. An accident takes place, a natural disaster occurs, an illness strikes – and bang goes the confidence we had in God whilst the sun shone and everything was rosy. 

The poet who wrote Psalm 37 had known many setbacks, problems, defeats and adversities. He seems to have faced many enemies and to have fought many battles. When writing he was an old man. And his faith was as strong as ever. His faith can be stated thus: God and God alone, “is the Helper and Saviour in affliction and peril. A life lived with God is full of hope and strength; without God it is doomed to destruction. This is the simple and clear logic of faith which persists throughout the psalm. This simplicity and transparency has been born of a courageous resolve to believe in the face of all the deceptive appearances to the contrary, and for this reason still carries with it even today that unshakeable strength which provides guidance and comfort for the godly” (A. Weiser, The Psalms, p323). 

Christians have a God who himself has gone through opposition, desertion, crucifixion and death. He has experienced the pangs of pain, loneliness and desolation. Put your trust in him. Never let it fail. And go forward in hope. 

Lord, thank you for walking alongside me all the way.

Witnessing From A Wheelchair

Witnessing From a Wheelchair

A woman named Nancy put this ad in her local newspaper: “If you are lonely or have a problem, call me. I am in a wheelchair and seldom get out. We can share our problems with each other. Just call. I’d love to talk.” The response to that ad has been tremendous—30 calls or more every week.

What motivated this woman to reach out from her wheelchair to help others in need? Nancy explained that before her paralysis she had been perfectly healthy but in deep despair. She had tried to commit suicide by jumping from her apartment window, but instead she became paralyzed from the waist down. In the hospital, utterly frustrated, she sensed Jesus saying to her, “Nancy, you’ve had a healthy body but a crippled soul. From now on you will have a crippled body but a healthy soul.” As a result of that experience, she surrendered her life to Christ. When she was finally allowed to go home, she prayed for a way to share God’s grace with others, and the idea of the newspaper ad occurred to her.

Every believer can do something to help needy people. Limited as we may be by sickness, old age, or disability, we can still pray, call, or write. No matter what our condition, we can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ.

Lord, let me be a shining light
So others then may view
Your mercy and Your love displayed
In all I say and do. —Sper

Only after you talk to God about needy people are you ready to talk to needy people about God.

Finding The Right Mate

Finding The Right Mate

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing…” – Proverbs 18:22

Everybody wants to make the right choice in choosing a mate. What a nightmare if we don’t. What a blessing if we do. If you are in a serious relationship, ask yourself these questions:

* Is this person my best friend? If not, you’re not ready.
* Do we share common faith and values? If not, you’ll have conflict and drift apart.
* Do family and friends affirm the relationship? Choosing a mate means choosing a family.
* Am I willing to make a lifetime commitment? Marriage is not for trying out. That’s a sure road to divorce.
* Do I want this person to be the parent of my children?
* Do I wake up to every day wanting to be with them versus convincing myself why I like them?

If you can say yes to each of these, you may have found the right one. If not, you may want to slow down or even call it off. But most of all, seek God’s will through prayer and be willing to follow His lead in one of life’s biggest decisions.

The Reality Of Pain

THE REALITY OF PAIN

“O Lord, don’t punish me in your anger! You have wounded me with your arrows; you have struck me down”. 
Ps 38:1, 2 GNB 

Doctors can “manage pain”. Medicines available today make managing most pains a relatively straightforward matter. And all of us need painkillers at some time. Some pain is momentary. Some goes on. Always it is a positive signal – that something somewhere is wrong. It is one of the miseries of life and if it persists can become a real worry. Our instinctive reaction to severe pain is to ask, “What have I done to deserve this?” 

The pain that was afflicting the psalm-writer was severe. He was quite sure that God was angry with him for some reason. The illness was as sharp as arrows and he was laid low. Without the benefits of the range of painkillers available to us today the man was “going through the mill”. And there was probably little hope of early relief. His only hope was to turn to God and plead for help. That he did turn to God is an indication of his faith. In regarding his illness as God’s punishment and the fruit of his anger means he was following the normal Old Testament doctrine of suffering. Illness meant God was angry and was inflicting punishment. 

When Jesus came he made it clear that the two were not necessarily linked. And by his healing of disease, his compassion for those suffering, and his own willing acceptance of suffering on the cross he indicated that God wanted not sickness, but wholeness, for his children. He still does. So we ask God to use whatever medical facilities there are and we seek his healing power to bring relief and a return to normality. 

Lord, help and heal those suffering pain today.

Vulture Appetites

“Vulture” Appetites

While driving along a highway, I have often seen vultures soaring high overhead, swooping down, and then rising up again with the air currents. Every so often, a small group of them can be seen sitting right on the roadway, tearing apart and gobbling up the carcass of some unfortunate creature. I get the impression that these ugly birds are on the lookout continually for what is loathsome and repulsive!

Some people are like that. Nothing seems to satisfy them more than feasting on what is sinful, corrupt, and immoral. The books and magazines they read, the TV programs they watch, the conversations they engage in, and the activities they pursue reveal a vulture-like appetite.

How much better is the spiritual diet the Bible suggests: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy— meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

What kind of “food” do you prefer? Don’t be like the vulture. Rather, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).

O child of God, guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind—
Your Father wants you set apart. —Fasick

The new birth creates a new appetite and requires a new diet.

Slight Edge

Slight Edge

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you receive from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God…that you excel still more.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Every time the Olympics comes around, I’m always amazed at the small difference in time between the winner of the gold and the other competitors. It’s called the slight edge. In some races, it will be a difference of just hundredths of a second. Yet, we remember the winners and tend to forget the ones who didn’t win a medal.

In the game of life, so often the difference between being an also-ran and the winner is that slight edge. The difference between being average and great is just a little bit of difference, just a little extra effort.

Because life is a challenge for us all, I urge you to think about a personal relationship with God to find that slight edge for living. Faith in God provides strength and character to give us just the little bit of extra required to have a successful life. What a difference in the end between being average and being great.