The Life of Love

Studies in First Corinthians – XXI

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This chapter, the love chapter, is the greatest thing ever written on the subject. Short though it may be, we see here the definition and power of pure love. The words paint a picture of Jesus Christ and His very nature. We are looking at the original Love. He is looking back to us, calling for us to be a reproduction of His love in this world.

To love like this is to be like the Lord, and our unlikeness to Christ is proportionate to our failure to love.

Sin has robbed us of all likeness to God’s love nature, but here we have an outline of what the grace of God and the power of the Holy Ghost can do in our lives. There are fourteen “ingredients of love” in these four verses. In each one we see the life of Jesus Christ.

1. Love suffers long. Having been wronged, love is patient. It refuses to give in to anger even when unjustly treated. Love doesn’t strike back.

2. Love is kind. Enduring wrong could be a victory of discipline but to show kindness to the one who has wronged you requires love. Love not only takes the hurt, but shows grace and kindness to those responsible.

3. Love envies not. It doesn’t mind that others have greater privileges and gifts. It rejoices in the blessings of others. Love sees all the inequalities in life and finds content in its own place.

4. Love vaunteth not itself. “Love makes no parade” (Moffatt). It doesn’t show off or brag. It isn’t proud or conceited. It doesn’t seek the praise and applause of others. Instead, it seeks to serve.

5. Love is not puffed up. It is never arrogant. It doesn’t think too highly of self. Love excels in humility.

6. Love does not behave itself unseemly. It is not rude, but always courteous. It says and does the right thing in the right way at the right time.

7. Love seeks not her own. Love is not selfish, it is self-forgetful. It never grasps for its own rights.

8. Love is not easily provoked. It doesn’t have a temper. Love can be angry at sin, but it isn’t irritable. It is not vindictive and it never retaliates.

9. Love thinks no evil. It keeps a faithful record of kindness and forgets all wrong.

10. Love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. “Love is never glad when others go wrong” (Moffatt). It does not rejoice in exposing the weakness and sin of others. It sorrows when others fail and celebrates when they repent.

11. Love bears all things. It gets underneath the burdens of life and lifts. It always seeks to the load of others.

12. Love believes all things. It is not easily deceived and it is not blind, but it also is not suspicious. It always seeks to find the best in others.

13. Love hopes all things. Though disappointments come, love holds on to hope. It never gives up on or dismisses anybody.

14. Love endures all things. Love cannot be conquered. It holds its ground in the midst of defeat and still it endures.

As I mentioned before, this type of love has only been perfected in Jesus Christ. If you would learn to live like this, it will only be by the power of His indwelling Spirit. Allow His perfect love to work a perfect work in you.

When “No, God” Becomes “No God”

In what may have been the best writing I read all year, Ann Voskamp writes:

No, God.
No God.

Is this the toxic air of the world, this atmosphere we inhale, burning into our lungs, this No, God? No, God, we won’t take what You give. No, God, Your plans are a gutted, bleeding mess and I didn’t sign up for this and You really thought I’d go for this? No, God, this is ugly and this is a mess and can’t You get anything right and just haul all this pain out of here and I’ll take it from here, thanks. And God? Thanks for nothing.

-One Thousand Gifts

Those first two lines have bounced around in my mind and in my spirit from the time I first read them. I have thought an awful lot about how often we say, “No, God.” I have thought of the times, specifically, that I have said, “No, God.”

Photo by fotogail

Or maybe I didn’t say “No.” I just didn’t listen. I didn’t obey when I knew exactly what it was that God was wanting me to do. I felt His leading. I walked past a way of escape. I made excuses for my “No, God” but that is exactly what I was saying to Him, “No.”

We are all guilty. We have all done it at one time or another.

“No, God. That’s not what I had in mind.”

“No, God. I like my way better.”

“No, God. I really don’t think that is necessary.”

“No, God. What would people say?”

And eventually we become used to the wounds of our poor decisions and wrong desires. The skin grows thick and the calluses form hard. And if we aren’t careful our, “No, God” becomes a “No God.”

Isn’t it amazing how one simple comma takes us from a conversation, refusing to obey God and accept what He offers, to denying His very existence!

Say “Yes” today!

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The Place The King Calls Home

What place does the King call home? What is the address of the high and lofty One? Where does the One who inhabits eternity make His dwelling?

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” -Isaiah 57:15

What a mystery it is, that the King of eternity, the One who lives in the high and holy place would also dwell with the humble. The creator of all things was born in a manger. How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God by whom all things were made and without whom was there nothing made that is made, who upholds all things by the word of His power, holds my hand when I am lonely? How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God who reclines in the big dipper and props His feet up on planet Earth will stop in His tracks at the weakest cry of His weakest child? How do you get a hold of the fact that the same God who measures the sea in the hollow of His hand, who meets out the heavens with a span, who takes up the dust of the Earth as if it was a small thing, is yet touched by the feelings of my infirmities?

When I think about His holiness, His majesty, His righteousness, and the glory of who He is, I can’t help but be amazed at the fact that He wants to make His dwelling with me. He has taken up residence in my heart and I couldn’t be happier.

Body of Christ, Who’s In?

“R only Acts 2 believers a part of the body of Christ?”

This is the question that was posed on Twitter by a friend of mine. Although the question was not directed to me, my wheels immediately began spinning.

Photo by bemky

I’m not sure that the tweet expressed my friend’s true question. My response to the question as stated would be, Yes, only those who believe Acts 2 are a part of the body of Christ. In fact, I believe that anyone who rejects any portion of Scripture would be exempt from the body of Christ. It makes no difference if it is Acts 2 or Isaiah 48.

However, I don’t believe that this is the question my friend was asking. I believe he was asking if those who do not interpret and apply Acts 2 as Apostolic Pentecostals do are a part of the body of Christ. In order to answer that question, we must answer the question, How does someone become a part of the body of Christ? The Word of God speaks a clear answer.

We are baptized into the body.

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:13

The Greek preposition translated by is en – the same preposition is used in Acts 1:5 (ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.) We could translate this verse, “With one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” When we are baptized in the Spirit we receive Christ into our lives and become a part of the body of Christ (read also Ephesians 2:13-22).

This is exactly what happened in Acts 2 when Peter stood up and delivered his sermon. When the people were convicted and had faith to accept the sacrifice of Jesus he commanded them to “Repent and be baptized…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit)” (Acts 2:38).

That being said, let me add one more thing, and I believe this will get down to the real issue that my friend was concerned about when he posed his question.

Only those who have believed and applied Acts 2 are a part of the body of Christ. However, we must be careful not to have an “us versus them” mentality. What if Peter would have had an “us versus them” mentality concerning Cornelius? What if Aquila and Priscilla would have had an “us versus them” mentality concerning Apollos? This world is full of people like Cornelius and Apollos. They love the LORD and are sincere in their desire to please Him. They need someone to preach the truth to them that they may be a part of the body of Christ.

Outlast the Stars

All Christians and all churches are engaged in one of three activities: guarding the dead past, creating fleshly trifles that will perish, or working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in the constant creation of eternal treasure that will outlast stars. – Tozer

This quote has been on my mind and in my spirit for a while. It has caused me to take an honest look at my life direction. It is an irritant that is buried deep down in my soul and I am hoping it produces a pearl.

Photo by Adam Foster

Which activity are we engaged in?

Are we content with guarding a dead past? I am thankful for every blessing, every miracle, and every soul saved. I thank God for every great revival that has swept through this world but I am not satisfied with staying here. I’m not satisfied with guarding the gift that God gave us as if someone could come and take it away. He didn’t give us the gift to guard it, He gave us the gift so that we could share it. We must move forward from here.

However, we must be careful that we don’t fall into the second group; a group that is especially prevalent today. The plans that God has for us, the work He has called us to do, the revival that He wants to send, cannot be sustained by our own talent and creativity. Yes, God gave us the talent. Yes, God gave us the creativity. But these gifts can only be maximized when used under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We cannot go forward without His leading.

I’m not interested in staying where we are and I’m not interested in moving forward on our own. I’m listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Where He leads me, I will follow. It is my prayer that as I go, His will is accomplished and His Kingdom is advanced through me.

I’m going to be a part of something that outlasts the stars because I am going with Him.

Extraordinary

In Extraordinary, John Bevere unpacks the truths from God’s Word which show God’s desire for His children to live an abundant life. We are not called to the “status quo.” John shows us exactly what it takes to move beyond an ordinary existence and to take hold of an extraordinary life. Prepare to be challenged and changed if you read this book!

If you have ever asked the question, “Is it possible to live a life free from sin?” this book is for you. If you find yourself constantly battling the same sinful habits, this book is for you. If you want to live life in the power that God has given and not through your own effort and ability, this book is for you. If you are looking to live a life fully immersed in the extraordinary, then this book is for you.

The truth is, as John points out, “many of us have been taught that grace is an unmerited gift and by it we were given eternal life in heaven. However, what’s been neglected in many evangelical circles is the understanding of how grace provides the power to live – extraordinarily – a successful life that pleases God before eternity.”

How is this possible? Grace. “Grace gives us the ability to exceed our own ability. It gives us the ability to live extraordinarily!” In fact, God’s expectations of those filled with His Spirit are greater than His expectations were of those who lived under the law because of His empowering grace.

Where does this grace come from? Faith. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2). “Faith deeply believes God will do what He says, and it subsequently produces (both) words of agreement and actions of obedience.” Genuine faith speaks and acts on what it believes. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith and grace, we live in the ordinary, not the extraordinary.”

How do we have access to this faith through which we receive grace? The Holy Spirit. “We resist carnality through the power imparted by the Holy Spirit into our spirit.” Even our mortal bodies are restored to (overcoming) life by the power of the His Spirit dwelling in us (Romans 8:10-11).

Live in the power of the Holy Spirit; live Extraordinarily!

Four Vessels for Revival

In 2 Kings 4 we read of a widow who owes a debt that she cannot pay. All she has is a pot of oil, not enough to make a difference (so she thinks). The creditor is really putting on the pressure, threatening that if she does not pay, he will be forced to take her sons as slaves.

Completely desperate for help she asks the Prophet, Elisha, what she should do. He tells her to go and borrow vessels from all of her neighbors; every empty vessel that can be found, bring it into the house. After collecting every vessel that could be found she was to take that pot of oil and pour it out into all the empty vessels.

The widow sent her sons to gather all the vessels in the village. It did not matter if they were large vessels or small vessels, ornate or plain. The only thing that mattered was that they be empty vessels. When they had finished gathering the vessels, she began to pour out the oil. As she poured, God miraculously multiplied the oil until every vessel was filled.

The oil represents the Holy Spirit. The empty vessels represent the empty souls of mankind, but notice, it took four types of vessels for the miracle to come to pass; it took a vessel of vision to see (Elisha), a vessel of faith to believe (widow), vessels of courage to do (sons), and empty vessels.

May God give us the vision to see, the faith to believe, and the courage to do.

The LORD is still filling empty vessels!