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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Love

Play Nice Part Four

Luke 6: 27-38

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

In my personal Bible, I have this passage highlighted, underlined, boxed out with an outline, and even have stars up at the top and down at the bottom.I do my best to read it every single day at some point. If I fail to actually read it, I try to think about it and meditate on it some. Why you ask? Well, because left unattended and unminded I frankly tend to be a jerk. I tend strongly towards grumpiness, extreme seriousness, being overbearing, and being quite insistent that my way is the only acceptable way.

I am not, however, alone it this matter. In fact, my inspiration to do this came after attending the funeral of one of my favorite Uncles, my Uncle Billy. Now, my Uncle Billy and I were very fond of each other, and he always seemed especially fond of me. The Uncle Billy I know was the kindest, gentlest, and sweetest guy on the planet. Apparently, according to family lore, this was not always the case. According to family lore, provided by his siblings, Billy was just not that nice as a young man. It is reported that this was just not general run of the mill not niceness, but genuine meanness gravitating towards semi cruelty.

But, if you were to ask any person who knew him what they thought about my uncle, the answers would across the board be such: kind, gentle, always willing to lend a helping hand, loves everybody, and on and on.

What happened? First and foremost, I suspect Jesus happened. My uncle was, like everybody in his town, raised in the church. At some point, however, he became very serious about his faith. More than that occurred; what we have here is a man who not only believed in God, loved His Word, but took actual measure to implement that Word into his life as a real force.

Like many believers, Uncle Billy had a favorite Bible, one that he had had for years. It was noted up, scribbled in, and underlined in many many places. This passage was one of those places, along with some other notes to himself about the passage in question. Apparently, this scripture changed a man’s life in this case. Of course, God’s word will do that to anybody willing to place it in their hearts, into their lives, and into action.

For the next few days, we will spend some time in this passage, break it down some, and maybe even chase some rabbits. Okay, for sure we will chase some rabbits because I love to chase rabbits!

See you next time!

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Play Nice Part Three

Being kind is NOT a Suggestion

Jesus had some things to say about being kind. Actually, Jesus had some things to say about loving one another, and being kind to each other would certainly fall under that umbrella. The point here is that kindness is not something we have the right to make a choice about. It is a commandment, period. Jesus said so. Enough said, right?

Matthew 22: 37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one an other.

Love matters to God: a lot. How much does it matter to Him? Well, just read the above passage. Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love God with everything we have. And the second greatest commandment is like it: we are to love our neighbor like we love ourselves.

Jesus didn’t say these two were the biggest suggestions; He said they are the biggest commandments! These aren’t things Jesus would have us do if we don’t mind, or if we agree or if we like it.

We are to love our neighbor just as we love ourselves, which for most of us is fairly complete. God says so. If we choose to NOT love our neighbor, we are basically thumbing our noses in the face of Almighty God! That is really not a good idea.

That was not the only instance where Jesus made it crystal clear that to love our fellow man is not something He would really, really like us to do, but is a commandment. Jesus feels strongly about the things He has commanded us to do. In John 14:15 Jesus said, If you love me, keep my commandments.” If we love Jesus, if we are one of His, we will strive to do as he says; in our devotional verse, we learn that He commands us to love one another.

Isn’t that fairly simple? If we love Jesus, we will love one another.

How did God love us? John 3:16 tells us that:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“The world” is from an obscure Greek word which means “everybody in the world.” Okay, it’s not really obscure; it simply means what it says. The point is, we are to love the world as well. Before anyone gets excited and starts telling me that The Bible says not to love the world, let me define. Loving the world means loving the people of the world, not the things of the world.

Just in case the point was not clear, let’s recap what Jesus had to say about His commandment to love.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

1 John 4:21And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Got all that? Seems pretty clear.

Play Nice Part Two

What does it mean to be kind as taught in the Bible? In the English translations of the Bible, there are many words used that might be considered synonyms for “kind.” So, pinning down exactly what we mean by kindness may take some effort. Here are just some of the words used to describe what we might see as included in the topic of “kindness”: kindness, goodness, mercy, pity, love, grace, favor , compassion, gentleness, tenderness.

One definition I found read as following

The quality of compassion and generosity, characteristic of God’s dealings towards the weak and poor, and demanded of believers. The kindness is also shown in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ.

Be nice; be kind; show compassion and generosity. We could go deeper into many meanings of this, and maybe we will. I never really know where these series are going until I get there. For now, however, we are going to keep it simple and just deal with kindness by believers as simply being…nice to each other.

So, over the next little bit(who knows how long?) we will take various Bible passages that address this subject and break them down some and talk about them. Enjoy the ride!

Here are some thoughts and questions to ponder as we tackle this subject. Feel free to add your thoughts and perhaps they will become topics for posting.

Who are we to be kind to?
That’s easy. Everybody.
So, I have to be kind to even people I don’t like?
Yes
What if they aren’t kind to me?
Too bad.
What if I am just not kind by nature?
Silly Christian, you have a NEW nature.
Can I just do it if I want to? What if I don’t want to?
Well, it’s not a suggestion, it is a commandment.
Does being kind mean I have to get walked on?
No, not really.
Does being kind mean I never tell the truth? Do I just have to do and say what makes people happy?
Not at all.
Is it okay for me to ever get mad at anybody?
Maybe, depends.
How do I know what I need to do to be kind?
Read the instruction manual. (That’s The Bible)
Who is my best example of kindness to follow?
Duh. Jesus.

Well, that’s a start and I hope the brain wheels are turning. Thoughts? Suggestions? Arguments(Arguments are ok…just be….kind)

Play Nice Part One

The upcoming series has been posted before. Let’s just say I needed a refresher course on this key Christian concept. I think maybe sometimes we all do.


I have no great lesson today, merely some nuggets from God’s Word. This is homework! Read, study and meditate on these verses. The homework is: if you find more, feel free to add them in the comments section!

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Colossians 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Proverbs 3:3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Acts 28:2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.
That’s only a few, as God’s Word has a lot to say about being kind to one another. What’s your favorite verse on kindness?
That’s only a few, as God’s Word has a lot to say about being kind to one another. What’s your favorite verse on kindness?

 

Love, If You Have it You Probably Are His!

1 John 4 15.16.JPG

1 John 4

Since yesterday’s devotion might not have been particularly uplifting, we are heading a different direction this morning. In case readers did not read yesterday’s, we discussed the possibility that a lack of expressed love in one’s life and conduct might be a warning sign that a person might question their actual personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Today, we are going to briefly discuss the opposite condition. Let’s review love again very briefly. We have talked about love as a feeling we have towards particular people. In other words, there is “love” as expressed towards those we like, those we might be simply duty bound to love and those who will return something to us. We should all know by now, that is not the definition God uses for love. His love in an action based, self sacrificial love and is modeled on the actions of His Son Jesus Christ.

Can an unsaved person love extensively? Of course they can. The world is full of lost people who show great acts of love. Can an unsaved person love self sacrificially? Of course they can. History is full of examples of that. Is it likely that an unsaved person will live a lifestyle of self-sacrificing love towards every single person they meet? Probably not; in fact, the odds are slim that most saved people could do that on a continuous basis.

However, read our verse. Dwelling in love could be defined as constantly living a state of self-sacrificing love toward all those around you. And understand, that may also mean simply desiring to live that life, because as sinners we still fail daily. If that is true, then further reading reveals some encouraging news. A person who dwells in love, dwells in God, who dwells in that person.

So, while a lack of self-sacrificing love in one’s life could be cause for worry; the presence of it as a lifestyle should be a very strong encouragement for a person to rest comfortably in their salvation through Jesus Christ.

Love Walk the Talk

1 John 3 17.18

1 John 3:14-18

John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, asked a very pointed question in that passage: He basically is asking how, if one person has sufficiency to help a brother in need but does not, he or she can even claim to be Christian?

That passage is all about “Walking the talk.” We can talk all day about how we love; we can even make claims about how we feel about another person. But until we put legs on that love, John is saying we cannot make a legitimate claim to belonging to Jesus.

John’s guidance to us is that we stop just talking about who we love; the Holy Spirit is guiding us to put our love into action. We have already covered the fact that Christlike love is much more than a feeling; it is actions.

Specifically, this passage is talking about helping others when you have resources and they do not. It doesn’t necessarily mean just financial resources, either. We all have something in abundance that another does not. It might be money; it might be time; it might be a skill. Whatever it is that we have an abundance of, God tells us that we should share that abundance with someone in need.

What can we do today to actually show somebody we love them? Is there someone you can think of? If you can think of someone today, take the opportunity to actually do something for them!

This Is How They Know

John 13_35

John 13:34-35

In this simple verse, Jesus gave the world the authority to evaluate the quality of our Christianity by how we, as believers, love one another. He didn’t say they would know we are Christians if we go to church, read our Bibles, not drink beer or cuss or anything else. Jesus said the world would know we are His if we love each other.

The world cannot know that we love each other unless we show the world that love. As we have previously discussed, love has to become an action and an act of the will much more than just a feeling. People cannot see our feelings; they can only see the evidence of our feelings, whether bad or good.

What do people see when they come to our church? Do they see a group of people who rejoice in the opportunity to be with one another worshiping God? Or do they see a bunch of sullen people glued to pews? Are they themselves welcomed as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (unless we find out otherwise, and that’s another love topic), or do we ignore them at best or make them feel like intruders at worst?

What do people hear when they hear about our church? Do people report it as a place known for love and getting along? Or are we the church that always has some drama going on? What do we ourselves say about our church and the people in it? Are we kind and supportive of them in public or are we running around stabbing them in the back?

Are we ourselves showing every person we encounter the kind of love we are supposed to show to a brother or sister in Christ? We can’t go wrong treating everyone that way, really. Even if they aren’t, that might be the beginning of them becoming one.

Love is the key. We already know that everything God expects of us as believers flows from love, first from our love for Him, then our love for each other. And love is how we show the world who we are. Just ask Jesus.

Laying Down Your Life

John 15.13

Of course, when He made that statement, Jesus was directly referring to the fact that He was about to literally lay down His life for His friends. Jesus was about to literally lay down His life for the entire world and its sins. Is that necessarily the application for all of us? In certain circumstances, it might be. Any one of us could encounter a situation where literally laying down one’s life might be an appropriate expression of ultimate love. What about the rest of us? What if we are never asked to literally sacrifice our lives for a friend? Are we just off the hook? Hardly! What, then, might it mean to lay down one’s life for a friend?

We live in a culture today where people won’t even lay down their thoughts, ideas and opinions for their fellow man, much less their lives. The United States, particularly, is a “me” culture. “Looking out for number 1,” “If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will.” These are all reflections of the way we are. Yet, Jesus’ still said to lay down one’s life for friends is the ultimate expression of love.

We can do this by making others needs more important than our own. Jesus did that for us; He gave up his rightful place in Heaven to come here, live as a man, suffer and die just because our need for a savior was so great. Next time you have a situation where two needs are presented and only one can be met, meet your brother or sister’s need and let yours go unmet.

We can do this by forgiving. People wrong us; that is simply a fact. Scripture teaches us over and over that we are to forgive. Jesus asked His father to forgive the very people killing him on the cross in Luke 23:34.  We simply have to learn to forgive the same way; we need to forgive no matter the seriousness of the offense that is committed against us

We can do this by sacrificing for others. Not only might we be required to meet another person’s need and leave ours unmet, but we might actually have to give up something our our own to meet their need. Maybe you have plans but a brother or sister has a need; give up your plans and be there for them.

We can do this by meeting the needs of people who don’t deserve it and cannot or will not do a thing for us. Some folks don’t deserve help. Some are not capable of doing anything for us in return. Some are capable, but in our hearts we know they wouldn’t give us a fire extinguisher if we burst into flames. Help them anyway.

Who Is My Neighbor Anyway?

Luke 10.29

Luke 10:25-37

This passage in Luke is similar to the story we saw in Matthew 22:34-40 Again, a lawyer was trying to trick Jesus by asking Him what is the greatest of all the commandments; again, Jesus answered him by saying that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all you have and then to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

The lawyer, probably knowing he had failed on this count, attempted to excuse himself by asking, “And who is my neighbor:” Jesus then explained what He was trying to say by relating the well-known story of the Good Samaritan, which is in the link at the top.

Most of us know the ending of this story; Jesus asked the lawyer, based on the story, just who had been a true neighbor to the man in need. The answer of course, was that the Samaritan who rendered aid to the wounded man was his neighbor.

The lesson in love shown here by the Samaritan who helped the hurt man is actually quite simple. It is really an illustration of how Jesus loves all people and how we, in turn are to love all people.

Our neighbor may be someone who is totally different from us and many even be an enemy. Any reading of the Gospels reveals quickly how Jews and Samaritans felt about each other.  In this case the needy man’s own people, the priest and the Levite passed by him while the enemy the Samaritan, stopped to help.

Our neighbor may be someone we have no obligation to help. Certainly the priest and the Levite were duty bound to help their fellow Jew, but they did not. The Samaritan, with no ethnic or religious duty whatsoever, stopped to help.

Our neighbor may be someone who poses potential risk or sacrifice to us if we help. There were many good reasons not to stop and help a person on the road to Jericho; it was a dangerous place filled with robbers. The hurt man may have only been a trap, for instance.

Our neighbor may be someone who doesn’t deserve our help and certainly cannot be expected to repay us. Not only did Jews hate Samaritans, but they would have treated them as second class citizens, no better than dogs. One of the reasons the priest and Levite would not have stopped is that even touching such a person would have made them ceremonially unclean.  Stopping to help a man who probably thinks you are worse than a dog is a hard thing to do.

The Samaritan certainly did not know if he would ever see the money he spent returned. In fact, he dropped the man off at an Inn and left extra money in case his bill ran over. He even said he would come back by and make good on any more expense that may have arisen.

So then, who is our neighbor? Short answer: everyone. There is nothing that someone we may have contact with can do  to make them undeserving of being our neighbor. All people, of all types, all races, all religions and all personalities are our neighbors. Jesus has commanded that we love those people as we love ourselves. We are to deal kindly in our encounters with all of our neighbors, as the Samaritan did with the wounded Jew. We are to show the kind of love Jesus showed for all humanity on the cross. He died not just for the lovable, but for all.

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