Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Love is Forever Relevant

June 8, 2009

Title: Love is Forever Relevant

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Time: July 1st, 2007

 

One of the greatest challenges we face in learning about love in 1 Corinthians 13 is to move from the point of knowing what love is to the point of doing what we are taught. It’s easy to learn what love is, but it’s harder to live it out in life.  How will you respond to this teaching about love? Will you learn some things about love and then just file them away as something you now know? Or will you take what you’ve learned and make an effort to live it out in your life? The Apostle Paul knows that we all need extra motivation, or in other words, simply knowing we should do something isn’t enough, so he gives us an added incentive to apply what we now know about love to our lives. What is Paul’s added incentive? It’s just this: love is one of only a few things that actually applies both in this life and in the life to come. Love is something that we can take with us into heaven with God. Why is that so significant? Because most things are left behind here on earth when we die and pass on into the next life. But love is one of those rare things – there are a few other things too – that carry on beyond this life. So Paul wants to remind us of this in order to show us how none of our investments in love will be wasted. There are so many things in life, so many ways to invest our time, energy and resources in this life, how do we know which things to invest in? Paul helps us answer that question by letting us know that love is always a good investment because not only will it count in this life but it will also count in eternity. Love is never wasted or a bad investment; love is always a good use of time, resources, and energy. Paul spends a whole chapter describing what love really is so we are not investing in something false like the world does. In the world, people invest in something they call love, but that really isn’t love; that kind of investment can be a waste. But the love the Apostle talks about is from God and is never a bad investment, in fact, it’s a good investment because it’s good for now and it’s good for later; it’s something that applies in this life and it’s also something that applies in the life to come, in eternity. So we don’t ever have to feel that learning and living a life of love isn’t worth it, it’s always worth it, both in this temporary life and in eternal life. That should put things in perspective for us whenever we are tempted to neglect love or dismiss it as something optional in our lives. Far from being optional, love is one of those rare things that is in fact essential in life. Now we come to the very end of 1 Corinthians 13 with verses 8-13 (read), and the main theme is the permanence of love over against the temporary-ness of other things; this shows us how very important love is. Three things about this. (more…)

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Love Never Quits

June 8, 2009

Title: Love Never Quits

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:7

Time: June 24th, 2007

 

We finally arrive at the end of Paul’s very detailed description of love; the rest of the chapter mostly summarizes what has been said and its importance compared to other things in the Christian life. If you remember, Paul never gives us a simple, one-sentence definition of love, but rather describes what love is and what love isn’t. It’s sort of what you might have to do in trying to define beauty. You might point to a sunrise or a sunset and say, “That’s beauty.” Or you might go to the mountains and use these as a description of beauty. I used to live in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I can testify that the mountains are beautiful. No matter where you might be in the Colorado Springs you could always look towards the mountains and see their beauty. Or you could go hiking in the mountains and experience the beauty close up. You might point to flowers and say, “That’s beauty.” And so on. That’s the same approach Paul takes in describing love; he points to one thing, then another, and tries to paint a picture of what love is. But that’s not all. He also points at things and uses them as examples of what love isn’t like. And in defining beauty we could do the same thing. We could point to an ugly, old, city building and say, “That’s not what beauty is.” Or we could point to an old junk car with the wheels off and the paint chipping and the windows broken and say, “That’s not beauty.” Paul uses that technique in defining love and its opposite. But now we come to the end of the list of characteristics of love, and it’s as if Paul is impatient to get to the end of the list, it’s as if Paul is getting tired of listing characteristics of love and wants to say after he finishes, “You get the picture?” He lists four last things in rapid succession and includes the word “all” with each point. As the King James Version says in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I’m not going to take each word and spend a whole message on each word as I’ve done before because it seems that Paul wanted to put these four things together for their combined effect and to quickly and generally make this point – love doesn’t quit. Why? Because it’s the big temptation for all of us in life to reach a certain point with people where we simply get tired of loving and quit, just stop loving them any more. It’s human nature to simply get tired of loving someone who takes up a lot of our time, energy and effort. We are tempted to place a limit beyond which we simply can’t or won’t love any more. Sometimes parents know what it’s like to face a child who isn’t acting right, or a teenager whose going through a phase, or even a grown adult child who is hard to love. They are tempted to wipe their hands of them. Sometimes married couples are tempted to give up on love because it’s so hard or it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Love is hard work and sometimes we feel like giving up, quitting, walking away. But Paul reminds us in verse 7 that love doesn’t quit. So today, I’d like to unpack what it means to say love doesn’t quit. (more…)

Love Rejoices In the Truth

June 8, 2009

Title: Love Rejoices In the Truth

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:6

Time: June 17th, 2007

 

We turn again to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, to continue in our series on love written by the Apostle Paul 2000 years ago. Under the inspiration of God Paul wrote what our generation desperately needs to hear about love. Why? Because our generation thinks it knows all about love, but really knows very little about love. Why does our age think it knows all about love? Because love is talked about in songs heard over and over again on the radio. Because love is depicted constantly on television and in movies. It is written about endlessly in novels, magazines, books, newspaper columns, and Internet chat rooms. It is talked about by people everywhere, more so than at any time before, in any age. So with all of this attention given to the topic of love we would think that our generation would just about know everything there is about the subject of love, and would be best equipped to carry it out successfully. Wrong. In fact, as things stand right now, our age is about the worst ever at this thing called love. More married couples are divorcing today than ever before. More families are breaking up today than in the past. There seems to be more conflict in relationships of all kinds today, not less. So for all of the talk, songs, depictions of love in our culture, for all of the attention love is getting, why is it that our age can’t get it right? The reason is that we are operating under a wrong definition of love, we are getting the wrong instructions how to love, and we are seeing the wrong examples of love illustrated in our culture. Unfortunately, the very worse role models for love – the people in Hollywood – are put forth as role models of love. The least knowledgeable people are made experts on the subject and give us absolutely awful advice. And the source of all understanding and instructions about what love really is, the wisdom from God found in the Bible, is typically ignored. No wonder our culture is in such a terrible state of ignorance and confusion about love, no wonder marriages are breaking up left and right, no wonder people are finding it harder and harder to get along today with each other in all situations. Unfortunately, Christians have been nearly just as confused as the rest of society because like the rest of society they too have neglected to go back to the source of all knowledge and wisdom, the Bible, and instead have listened to the voices of culture in respect to love. Unfortunately, Christians listen to the so-called “love experts” on Oprah just like others. Christians listen to the same love songs, watch the same movies, read the same novels that describe what love is, and Christians unknowingly buy into that false view of love as well – with disastrous results too. Some surveys even find that Christian marriages are more likely to end in divorce than in the general population! Clearly it’s time for everyone, but especially Christians to return to God, return to the Bible, and return to truth in understanding love. So let’s turn again to 1 Corinthians 13 to get the real truth about love from God’s Word. “Love doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth, “ 1 Corinthians 13:6. (more…)

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

May 30, 2009

Title: Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: June 3rd, 2007

The Middle East is a mess right now because of un-forgiveness. The Arab-Israeli conflict is mostly about un-forgiveness. Both the Arabs and the Israelis have a long list of grievances that they both recall whenever they want to prove that they’ve been unjustly treated. These grievances go back centuries and centuries, even millennia; they are now part of the cultural identity of both groups. Not until both sides are willing to settle those grievances and forgive one another will there be lasting peace in the Middle East. That’s easier said than done. We know it’s hard because we struggle with the same problem of settling our differences with people and forgiving; everybody does. Today, we continue in our study of the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 with verse five, which reads in part, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” It’s not just a message the Middle East needs to learn, it’s a message we all need to learn and live in the here and now. We keep coming back to the fact that divorce happens in every other marriage; why is that? One of the reasons for the high divorce rate in our country is couples keep a record of wrongs and fail to forgive one another. What happens in the Middle East on a large scale happens on a smaller scale in marriage and families all across our nation. Couples refuse to forgive one another and conflict escalates leading to a divorce. I like to ask people who I am counseling and who are going through a personal conflict: “If we took your conflict with all the bad attitudes and activities you experience and multiply them to a global scale, what would be the state of the world?” The answer is usually something like World War III. But stop and think about that question: “If your attitudes and actions when you are involved in a personal conflict with someone else where multiplied on a national or regional conflict, what state would the world be in?” That’s a sobering reminder that should keep us motivated to learn how to resolve conflicts and forgive people. God calls us to love people, which is never easy, but requires that we learn to forgive. In the past few weeks we’ve been learning how to love by being patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, and not easily angered. Today, we learn how to love by not keeping a record of wrongs done against us. What is this but learning how to forgive? When we do not forgive someone who has wronged us it means we keep a record of what they’ve done to us and update it frequently in order to keep the grievance alive. Or in other words, we do exactly what they do in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, we do the same thing with our conflicts with others: we don’t forgive. But God calls us to forgive, so let’s find out how we can learn to forgive. I’ll say three things about forgiveness. (more…)

Love is Not Easily Angered

May 30, 2009

Title: Love is Not Easily Angered

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: May 27th, 2007

As I’m doing my daily prayer time in the summer I walk through the neighborhood on the sidewalks, and I’m shocked to hear so much anger coming from people who live in the homes here in Jamestown. Almost every time I go out for a walk I pass a house where someone is shouting or screaming or cursing out loud at somebody else. It’s almost an epidemic. I’ve seen people arguing loudly in their house so bad that it comes out through the windows so that you can still hear it a block away. I’ve seen people swearing a blue streak while storming out the front door of their house. I hear people on their cell phones sitting on their front porch just shouting at the other person on the line with anger. I’ve seen people face-to-face angry at each other. All of this, while I’m walking and praying in the neighborhood. There is a lot of anger and meanness in Jamestown; and I’m sure it’s that way all across this nation, and world for that matter. Now why am I talking about this today? Because we are learning about love from 1 Corinthians 13 and we come to the verse where Paul teaches, “Love is not easily-angered.” “Love is not easily-angered.” How does that apply to us today in our lives? One of the characteristics of love is not being easily angered. Do you have this characteristic working in your life? Or are you an easily angered person? Are you short-tempered? Do you fly off the handle easily? If so, you aren’t being very loving, according to the Bible, according to God and His Word. But isn’t that what God’s Word is for, to teach us how to be as opposed to how we are not supposed to be? If we never, ever had any trouble with anger, then God wouldn’t ever have to speak to us about it in His Word. But it must be that God knows that we all struggle with anger in our lives, so He includes teaching about it in the Bible. If you are someone who struggles with anger, you are typical. That’s no excuse, but it is to say that you are not alone in struggling with anger. But God is calling us to be loving people, not just the way we are presently. It’s not enough to say, “I’m just that way.” God wants to take us as we are and make us into what He wants us to be. Today, we’ll be looking at what it means to be a loving person by not being easily angered. There are some rare souls who don’t seem to have a problem with being easily angered. If that’s you, God bless you, although you probably struggle with some other aspect of love. But if you do have a problem with being easily angered, this lesson will help you overcome that problem. We really do owe it to God and we owe it to others to work on our weaknesses, like anger, so that we be a light for God in a increasingly dark world. Let me say three things about the teaching of 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not easily angered.” (more…)

The Love Chapter, Reviewing II

May 30, 2009

Title: The Love Chapter, Review II

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-5

Time: May 20th, 2007

Today we continue in 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, written to the Christians in the Church of Corinth nearly two thousand years ago by the Apostle Paul. Why do we need to listen to this chapter when it gives us a definition of love? Because it was written under the inspiration of God so it isn’t corrupted by the foolishness of mankind, especially the foolish ways of the modern era in the 21st century. Today one-half of all marriages end in divorce because couples don’t know what love is all about — they think they do, but their understanding is so far off that when it comes to keeping a marriage together they can’t do it. Today, our culture’s definition of love is mostly selfish, it’s me-centered; it’s also mostly touchy-feely, about romantic emotions. In movies, popular songs, on television, in fiction novels, this false view of love is spread. But 1 Corinthians 13 gives us God’s definition of love, so we need to pay close attention to what it says in order to apply it to our lives. And that last part – applying it to our lives, is the tricky part. How do we actually start to live out what 1 Corinthians teaches us about love? It’s one thing to learn and know what love is, it’s different to live it out. How do we live it out? There is no easy answer. It takes learning about love, and then living it out little by little, while at the same time confessing our failures and encouraging our successes. But we’ve got to get the correct notion of love into our hearts and minds in order to have a standard upon which to measure ourselves, for better or for worse. We started the first Sunday of 2007 with the goal of being more loving people in the New Year; we started working through 1 Corinthians 13, verse 1. Now we are already into May. How are you doing at being a more loving person? Has this teaching influenced you, or are you still the same old person with the same old problems doing the same old things? I hope not. I hope that you are now thinking differently about what love is and that you are being challenged to change the things in your life that aren’t loving. We’ve learned about patience. Are you more patient? Am I? I hope so. We learned about kindness. Have you seen any improvement in that department? I hope so. We learned that love doesn’t envy, love doesn’t boast, love isn’t proud. Have you improved in these areas? We’ve learned that love isn’t rude; love isn’t selfish. Have you made any progress on these? We aren’t just trying to learn some new things; we are trying to live a new life. Love isn’t primarily knowledge, it’s primary a way of life. Are you living that life? There’s a song based on the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of John that goes: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Do people know you are a Christian by your love? That’s our challenge in 2007, that people might know we are Christians by our love. Today, I’d like to try to answer a number of key questions about love the Apostle Paul seems to be giving us from 1 Corinthians 13. (more…)

Love is Not Self-Seeking, Part II

May 29, 2009

Title: The Love Chapter: Love is not self-seeking

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: May 6th, 2007

Continuing 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter by the Apostle Paul, we arrive at the seventh point in what love is and isn’t: love is not self-seeking. So far, Paul lists what love is and what love isn’t. He uses comparison and contrast to help Christians understand the love God wants us to live by. Just like the popular song says, “What the world needs now is love sweet love,” God wants us to live with a loving attitude in all we do. That’s hard to do because the world is anything but a loving place. If we try to draw love from the world and incorporate it into our lives we’ll fail, so we must draw forth love from God and bring it into the world in order to make it a better place. That is part of our responsibility as Christians, to shine forth the love of God in a cold and dark world. How can we ever be role models of love for the world? By hearing God’s Word of instruction to us about love, and then by applying God’s Word of instruction to our lives so that we actually live it out every day. A big challenge for us is actually knowing what love is in a very confusing and chaotic world. The world teaches a different kind of love than God teaches. The world teaches a type of self-centered love, which is really not love at all. Think about it. The popular teaching on love is that it is primarily a good feeling. Listen to the popular love songs on the radio and you’ll hear about love as a feeling. Watch how love is depicted on television and in the movies and again you’ll see love based on romantic feelings. Most of what our popular culture teaches about love is flat out wrong, exactly opposite true love, because it is actually centered on the self rather than on others. Consider this. In most movies, love songs and television shows, love is about how one person makes another person feel. In popular culture if someone makes me feel good I’m told this must be love, I must be in love. The benefit of love then is selfish because it’s based on how another person makes me feel. The search for love becomes the search to find another person who can make me feel good about myself. The popular understanding is that if a find a person who makes me feel good, I’m in love; I’ve found love. But this notion is self-centered; it’s all about me. But that’s not real love; that’s not what God teaches us about love. According to God, love isn’t self-centered; it’s other centered. If I love someone, if I show love towards someone, I care about them and there well-being, not because of what it does for me, but because I’m concerned about them, period. In the seventh description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us again that “love isn’t self-seeking” — a great warning and correction to our selfish society and its definition of love. So let’s explore further what Paul might mean when he instructs us that love is not self-seeking. (more…)

The Love Chapter — Reviewing

May 29, 2009

Title: The Love Chapter — Reviewing

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Time: April 29th, 2007

We’re back in 1 Corinthians 13 after a while away from it because of the Easter season and last week dealing with violence in our culture due to the shootings in Virginia. So we get back to the love chapter; but before I press on I’d like to take this week to review and remind us all where we’ve been, so we don’t forget. We’ve already covered six characteristics of love Paul describes for us in this chapter — there are more characteristics but so that we don’t forget the ones we’ve already learned, let’s review them. If you remember I started the 2007 New Year by challenging us all to be better Christians by being better at loving this year. The Bible teaches so much about love, and of course Jesus teaches us so much about love, but because there is so much teaching about love in the Bible it’s easy to get overwhelmed with it all and then just ignore it all by saying, “Oh well, I can never live up to all that teaching about love. I know I should be more loving, but it’s just so overwhelming, all the teachings about how I should love God and love my neighbor, that I get frustrated and forget the whole thing.” Have you ever felt that way before? I thought so! The truth is that there is a lot of teaching about love in the Bible, and the truth is also that nobody, I mean nobody, is able to fulfill all the teachings about love in their life. But just because it is impossible to perfectly love like Jesus doesn’t mean we should give up trying. We must try to be more loving, and when we fail we must confess our failures, repent or promise to do better, and then start trying to love better again. God will see our intentions and help us to actually do better at loving. Like I said, we’ve already covered six qualities of love as described by the Apostle Paul, and today I want to quickly go back over those six qualities before we move on to the other qualities of love in 1 Corinthians 13 (read). The six qualities are: love is patient, love is kind, love doesn’t envy, love doesn’t boast, love isn’t proud, and love isn’t rude. Now let me ask you this: have you been trying to live out what you’ve learned this year about love in church on Sunday? Have you been more aware of what is loving and what is not in your life? Have you been more sensitive when you fail to live up to God’s expectations of love in your life? Have you confessed more of your own sins of failing to love? Have you repented and recommitted your life to God again and again to being a more loving person than you were? Have you seen any progress in your life in being more loving? More importantly, have other people noticed that you are a more loving person lately? If so, these are signs that God’s Word is getting into your heart and workings itself out in our life. That’s good, that’s the goal. Just learning these teachings on love is not going to change you overnight; but hopefully it will give you an agenda to work on with the help of God over time for the rest of your life. So let’s review Paul’s teachings on love so far. (more…)

Love is Not Self-Seeking, Part I

May 29, 2009

Title: Love is Not Self-Seeking

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: March 11th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the fifth verse, which includes, “Love is not self-seeking.” The Apostle Paul is teaching us what love is and what love isn’t. Today, again, we are learning what love isn’t; it isn’t self-seeking. The original Greek language uses two words, literally “self-seeking,” in this particular part of the passage. That’s why the New International Version translates it “self-seeking.” But other Bible translations translate in a similar way. For example, the King James says, “Love seeketh not her own;” Today’s English Bible says, “Love is not selfish;” Phillips Bible says, “Love does not pursue selfish advantage;” the Revised Standard Version says, “Love does not insist on its own way.” So we can get an idea what the Apostle Paul is trying to teach us about this characteristic of love. Again, Paul is contrasting what love is with what love isn’t, what love does with what love doesn’t do. This is something that love doesn’t do – selfishly seeks after itself. Today, our society almost teaches us from a very young age to seek after things for ourselves. The whole commercial advertisement industry teaches us — or you might say even trains us — through marketing to be consumers. A consumer is someone who spends their life consuming things. It could be consuming food, or consuming goods and services, using products, buying things, using them, and going back for more things. We are taught to try to satisfy every need we have by buying something. We are even told we need things we never even knew we needed, and commercial advertisements often try to brainwash us into thinking that we can’t live without their products. It must be working, because companies keep spending millions on advertisements, so someone is buying the message. But what is assumed in all the commercials is self-interest. It is assumed that the consumer is looking out for #1, that is, self. And so the message of society today is that being self-centered is ok. But the Bible teaches us that selfishness or being self-centered is not ok. It isn’t what love is. But that goes against the message we hear every day of our lives living in the modern world. But the message isn’t just found in advertisement, it’s found in nearly every area of life. Take typical counseling, for example. When a person visits a typical secular counselor, the goal is self-fulfillment, self-satisfaction. People visit a counselor because they want to feel better about themselves and the counseling session becomes all about them. It’s self-centered. What are the results of people taking on this self-centered philosophy and outlook? Consider just one area: marriage and divorce. If you have two self-seeking individuals trying to live out a self-serving marriage relationship is it any wonder that ½ of all marriages end in divorce? The Apostle’s message that love is not self-seeking is badly needed today in order to counter the selfish message society teaches. We need this teaching like never before. So let’s look at the truth: love is not self-seeking, and try to understand what it means, and try to apply it to our life. Let’s apply it to just three but very important areas of life. (more…)

Love is Not Rude

May 29, 2009

Title: Love is Not Rude

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: March 4th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the fifth verse, which begins, “Love is not rude.” The Apostle Paul is teaching us what love is and what love isn’t. Today, again, we are learning what love isn’t; it isn’t rude. Does everyone know what it means to be rude? I’m sure we all have encountered rudeness at some point, maybe even recently. Can anyone give me a definition of rude? Here’s how Webster’s Dictionary defines rude: “offensive in manner or action, discourteous, coarse, vulgar, lacking in social refinement.” Now today we are going to learn about something that love is not, love is not rude. Sometimes in order to understand something we have to learn what it is not. Paul uses the ancient technique of comparing and contrasting in order to help us understand what love is all about. In the first few verse of the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 he gives us some characteristics of what love is and also some characteristics of what love is not. In this way he makes sure we really understand. But for us, it’s not just a matter of wanting to understand, we want to actually be more loving in the New Year 2007, not just understand love better. Are you more conscious of being more loving since we’ve started learning about love at the turn of the New Year 2007? I hope that you are not just studying these things as you would a class in school, but that you are really applying these things in your life during the week. I know I’ve been more conscious of how I speak and act since these teachings began because I honestly want to be more a more loving person starting this year. Now some of you, like all of us, are good in some of these love characteristics but lacking in some others of the love characteristics. What we want to accomplish during these weeks in 1 Corinthians 13 is to improve in those areas where we are weak and maintain strength in areas where we are strong when it comes to being a loving person. The goal of course is to become like Jesus who was able to live a perfect life of love. We won’t ever get to the level of Jesus but we should strive to improve every day. Our failures should drive us to prayer to ask for God’s help in living out these truths. What’s good about studying 1 Corinthians 13 is that these truths about love are put before our eyes, we call them to our attention so that we don’t neglect them, we put them up as standards or ideals to live up to; even if we can’t live up to them perfectly, at least we know what to aim for in life. I hope you’ve decided this New Year of 2007 to take love seriously in your life. It’s something that is at the heart and center of what God wants to teach us in the Bible, and especially in the life of Jesus. We can’t claim to be a Christian without wanting to love like Jesus loved. So let’s continue in 1 Corinthians 13: 5, “Love is not rude.” Let’s look at three things about rudeness. (more…)