DO RULES MATTER?

A brief look around will reveal that we have a multitude of churches and many of them look very unlike each other!  

Church - Canterbury Cathedral (C)
Canterbury Cathedral where there have been worship services for over 1400 years!

There are awe-inspiring cathedrals with vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, while offering worshipers a place for singing, prayer and contemplation.. 

Hardware Baptist Church established in 1802
Hardware Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia was established in 1802.

Some churches are much simpler, far less ornate; some are centuries old and others are of newer vintage.  Building style is irrelevant.  These, too, offer worshipers a place for singing, prayer and contemplation.  In short, the question is whether the focus is on God as the one being worshiped or on the worshiper as a consumer or customer.

Jesus said:

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

John 4:24 

Sometimes things go on in church that are inconsistent with God’s instructions for worship.  When the priests were selling animals in the temple at Jerusalem, Jesus was angry and overturned their tables and scattered the animals, saying: 

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Matthew 21:13 

Jesus was quoting from the prophet Isaiah who wrote these words centuries earlier: 

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant–these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Isaiah 56:6-7 

Do rules matter?  Yes, God’s rules matter.  An example of this is found in 1 Chronicles when David, with incredibly good intentions, sent to have the ark returned to Jerusalem.  When he did not follow the rules, disaster struck.

“Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.” 

Deuteronomy 31:9 

Here we read that the priests were to be from the tribe of Levi, and the priests were the ones who were to carry the ark of the Lord.  Certain priests were to carry the ark on poles so that no one would ever touch the ark. (Exodus 25:10 et seq.) It was holy because God was there, and God had established the way for it to be transported safely. 

“And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.  

But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder.

Numbers 7:8-9

The sons of Merari received wagons and oxen for use in their service as priests in the tabernacle of God, and Uzzah was one of Merari’s sons.  He, therefore, had the cart and oxen ready for use in temple service.  But reading the very next verse in Numbers 7 reveals that the sons of Kohath did not get a cart or oxen because they were to care for the things of God that had to be carried on their shoulders, like the ark of the covenant.  

“So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim.  And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD who sits enthroned above the cherubim.  And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart. “And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.  And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.”

1 Chronicles 13:5-10

Uzzah tried to do something good in that he was steadying the ark so it would not fall when the oxen stumbled, but the ark of God was to be carried on the priests shoulders by using the poles permanently affixed to the ark.  It was not to be put on a cart pulled by oxen.  Uzzah disobeyed God’s rule and he died, immediately, on the spot, without any appeal or delay. 

God’s rules matter.  God’s justice mandates that His rules be followed, if for no other reason than He is God and He said so!  Even human parents look at their children and say “Because I said so!”  That’s all the reason the young child needs to have to obey what his/her parent directed.  And it is all that we need when we consider whether we should follow God’s rules … choosing not to do so is SIN and that carries serious consequences.

David learned the lesson.  After leaving the ark for three months at the home of Obed-Edom, David summoned the priests and ordered them to bring the ark to Jerusalem.. However, this time he used Levites who were commissioned to carry the ark on poles … he did it in accordance with God’s rules.

“Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it.  Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule. So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel.”

1 Chronicles 15:11-14 

The ark was successfully carried by the priests and came to rest at the place David had prepared for it.  God’s rules are to be followed. 

Worship is, by definition, not about you or me!  Rather, it is about God.  In Deuteronomy 6:5, Moses wrote:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” 

This was reiterated by Jesus when He called it the great and first commandment:

“Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31 

How do you see worship?  Is it a time for you to boast in your pride of position of power, or in your ability to financially support the church?  While you are in the service are you thinking about all the things you could be during the hour you sat in worship? Is it a time when you walk out of the service thinking that you didn’t get anything out of being there that day?  

Or is it a time when you worship God with your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength?  Is your focus on God and your relationship with Him?  Is your desire to praise Him for who He is, for His attributes and character?  

Rules matter.  I pray that we will return to worship God in the way that He has directed.  God’s commandments are not suggestions nor are they optional.  Follow them and live.  Worship Him in spirit and in truth, and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  

Father, forgive me when I have failed to worship You as You desire.  Help me to focus on You and Your Word throughout my day as I worship You in my life.

A CONSUMING FIRE

This past weekend, my husband and I spent a beautiful evening at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where we enjoyed dinner at the Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro in Townsend, Tennessee, with our children and their spouses as we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.

dancing-bear-welcome
Greeting as you begin the entrance to the Dancing Bear Lodge and Appalachian Bistro Restaurant.

Then we spent the night at the Dancing Bear Lodge, all compliments of the children.  Yesterday we left the lodge rested, thanking the children for their thoughtful gift, and praising the Lord for the beauty of the mountains surrounding us.

dancing-bear-lodge-sign
Dancing Bear Lodge and Appalachian Bistro entrance, Townsend, Tennessee

As we drove back home, we saw the smoke from the forest fires that have been plaguing our area for the past several weeks.  We are in the midst of a severe drought and the mountain woods are dry creating the perfect setting for forest fires.  We stopped at a little store in the area and spoke with a police officer about the status of the fires.  He said that there were a couple of small spots still burning uncontrolled on the other side of the mountain but he did not know of any real concern at this point.

We continued on our 45 minute trip home and brought our things in from the car.  In the afternoon, we turned on the television to learn the upcoming weather and heard about a cold front that was coming and that would bring strong winds and rain.

We were aware that the wind had kicked up significantly because we experienced this as we were driving home.  The reality was that the wind was blowing in excess of 80 miles per hour in the high mountains.  One result of that strong wind was that embers were picked up and blown a long way, some over a mile from the fire source, where they landed on dry leaves and a whole new fire started.  A second result was that trees were blown over and when they hit power poles the fallen power lines fell on dry leaves and burst into flames.

In short, in just 15 minutes, there were multiple new fires all burning out of control and all headed toward the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, two vacation tourist areas adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The fires were all-consuming.  This morning, the report is that well over 100 structures have been destroyed, including resorts, free-standing restaurants, and multi-story hotels.  The firefighters have not been able to get up into the mountains to check on how many homes have been destroyed, but there were over 1,000 people staying in shelters after mandatory evacuation orders were given for their protection.

Watching the videos taken from cars as they were driving down the mountain roads with fires on both sides of the street reminded me of the Scripture describing God as a “consuming fire”.

In Deuteronomy 4:23-24 we read this warning:

Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you.  For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

We think of God as our Father, and for the believer He certainly is that because of the salvation we have through Jesus Christ our Lord.  He loves His people and has done everything that He can do to protect us and bring us to eternal life with Him.

But we often don’t remember that He is a jealous God. He wants us to worship Him alone.  We are not to worship idols that replace His rightful place in our life.    Those idols are insidious, they interject themselves into our lives in what is seemingly innocuous ways.  For example:

  • Family – we love our families and we take care of them, indeed, Scripture tells us to do so. The family is a gift from God.  But when our family pushes God out of the picture, the family is now a forbidden idol.
  • Money – we are told in Scripture to work so that we can take care of ourselves and our family and so that we can donate funds to help others. Money is good.  But, when money becomes our god so that we hoard it, we strive to get more and more, we look to it for our security and happiness, when we take pride in how much we have accumulated without recognition that all things come from God, money has now become a forbidden idol.
  • Fame – we want to be well known so that we can spread the gospel to others, something that Scripture tells us to do. But, when we seek fame for our own glory, when we believe that we have accomplished these things on our own without acknowledging God’s role in our success, we have made fame a forbidden idol.

The list could go on and on, but the point is that God will not tolerate idols in our lives.

In Hebrews 12:28-29, the writer tells us this:

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

We are to “offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

A series of natural events collided in East Tennessee causing devastation and loss by fire  — extreme drought and dry conditions, strong winds whipping embers to new locations, downed trees cutting power lines thereby igniting leaves below.  I pray that we would search our own lives to see if there are any activities or conditions that would collide with our love for God — effectively pushing God out of our lives or diminishing our trust and devotion to Him.

I pray that

  • our worship is acceptable to God and that we come to Him in reverence and awe of His majesty, power, glory and honor.
  • we come to Him with contrite hearts, asking for forgiveness for our sin and seeking His power to live lives that are acceptable to Him.
  • we would worship and seek His face when we interact with others to spread the gospel.
  • we would seek His mighty hand to stop the raging forest fires and that He would comfort and strengthen those who have suffered such significant injury and loss.

Father, please put out Your hand and stop the devastating forest fires now raging in East Tennessee.  I thank You and there have been only a few injuries and no fatalities at this point, and I pray that You would protect those who are in harm’s way as well as those who are fighting these fires.  I pray that You would give guidance to those who are directing the rescue efforts and that You would sustain the workers with Your Spirit’s energy, love, compassion and strength. I also ask that You would encourage, comfort and strengthen those who have suffered loss during these fires.  Finally, I pray that You would bless these words and that those who read them would be encouraged and/or convicted by Your Spirit so that blessings will come this day.

EXCITEMENT AND CELEBRATION!

What excites you?  What causes a sense of celebration and joy for you?

 

A child at a birthday party anxious to see what the package holds?

Excitement
Excitement at a birthday party!

 

Watching fireworks at the park?

Fireworks 2
Fireworks after baseball game!

Going on a vacation?

Cruise ship at distance
Cruise ship at a distance.

Going outside?

Okay, that question is really related to our MinPin daughter, Snickers, who cannot stand at the door to go outside.  In her exuberance for getting outside, she, in all her 8 inches of height, will jump higher than the doorknob while she waits for us to open it.

 

 

What makes you glad?  What excites you?

 

Scripture tells us of a time when David exhibited extreme excitement and joy in 2 Samuel 6.  The cause of his excitement was that the ark was being returned to the City of David, and it had just arrived from the house of Obed-edom.   Scripture says that David “danced before the Lord with all his might” [ESV] or “with great enthusiasm”. [Amplified Bible]   When his wife, Michal, saw him dancing, she became angry because she thought his actions were undignified.  She confronted him with his conduct and David responded, reading from the Amplified Bible:

So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord that I did this, who chose me above your father and all his house, to appoint me as ruler over Israel, the people of the Lord.  Therefore I will celebrate in pure enjoyment before the Lord.”

2 Samuel 6:21.

 

In the New Testament, Jesus talked of His joy:

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

John 15:11.

 

And then also we read what Paul says gives him joy:

I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

2 Corinthians 7:4.

This same verse is translated as follows in the Amplified Bible:

“Great is my confidence in you, great is my pride and boasting on your behalf.  I am filled to the brim with comfort; I am over flowing with joy in spite of all our trouble.”

Having joy in spite of the troubles that confronted him.  Wow!

 

The disciples, at the ascension of the Lord, watched Him go up into the clouds after He blessed them.  Then we read, in the Amplified Bible, at Luke 24:31-32:

And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy [fully understanding that He lives and that He is the Son of God], and they were continually in the temple blessing and praising God.

 

Worshipping with great joy.

  • That doesn’t sound like being the “Frozen Chosen” on Sunday Morning, sitting in the pew with dour faces, never smiling and singing through clenched jaws!

Rather that description sounds like:

  • people who are thankful to God, and to Him alone, for their salvation, who recognize how great the mercy was when the Holy Spirit touched their hearts through His grace alone!
  • people who put God at the center of worship and not their own feelings and opinions.
  • people who celebrate and praise God for His goodness through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
  • people who want to spend time with each other, who speak to and encourage one another!

 

So, I ask you, how do you worship the Lord and the Father Almighty?  With great joy or with a sense of obligation or dread?  Do you love meeting with other believers and fellowshipping with them because of your common bond in Christ, or do you spend the smallest amount of time possible at church because other “more pressing matters” are calling to you!

 

Worship is exciting because in it we are ushered into the throne room of God.  Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit in illuminating our hearts to the reality of our sin and to the blessing of His mercy.  While in our own strength and power we would be cast out from before His presence because of our abject sin and spiritual poverty, because we stand before God in the righteousness of Christ, we can call the Holy One, the Creator of all things and the Lover of our Soul, “Abba, Father”.

 

I pray that we would have a renewed appreciation of worship and fellowship in the life of the Christian Church.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35.

 

Worship and love – they go hand in hand.  Worship denotes the reverence of and for God, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. And, our devotion to the Lord should be evidenced in the love that we have for one another and for the world around us.  Indeed, worship and love of one another are means of grace given to us through the Holy Spirit … let us not ignore them!

 

This week, may we remember that the worship of our God is exciting and is a joyful experience.  Then, when we leave the worship service, may we continue in an attitude of love toward both our fellow believers as well as each person that the Lord puts in our path.  Love one another — surprise them by your love and then point them to Jesus.

 

Father, forgive me when I have approached worship with a sense of obligation rather than with excitement about being in your presence.  May your Holy Spirit touch my heart and may I come with reverence and awe at your majesty, power, omniscience, glory, and love.  May I be accepted before You as I stand covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, my Savior.  May I love You with my whole heart and may I worship You daily.

 

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO WITH MENTORING?

Mentor.  Life coach.  Guide.

All these, and more, are terms we hear in our culture today reflecting the need for persons to come alongside younger, more inexperienced, people so that they can be taught and encouraged to persevere in their chosen endeavors.

According to Merriam-Webster, a mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person; a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor or coach.  The term comes from literature of ancient Greece.  In The Odyssey, written by Homer, Odysseus had an infant son when he went to war, and he was gone 20 years.  During that time, his son, Telemachus, was supervised and taught by an old and trusted friend named Mentor.  Thus, today, we use the word mentor to describe anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another, usually younger, person’s life.

 

Mentoring is discussed in Scripture as a way of life for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Titus chapter 2, Paul is advising the church about personal relationships within the church, i.e., mentoring:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2:3-5.

 

In thinking about what mentoring is, I realized that there is much more to it than meets the eye.  Yes, there certainly is an aspect of teaching to it, but there is also gentle guidance, attentive listening, and there is attention to the example that I am setting for others.  Indeed, mentoring is more “watch me and do as I do” not just “do what I tell you to do”.

 

So, what are some of the things that we can teach others?  Here are a few ideas.  I am confident that there are a host of other things, so please give some additional ideas for those who read this post.

At the office (C)
At the office working on the keyboard, just like you do, Dad!

 

The value of mental exercise and work.  When there is a puzzle about something, work it out … stay with it and keep thinking about it until you come up with a solution.  If there truly is no solution, then identify the way around the roadblock so that you can continue on toward the goal that you have set.

 

JDD playing keyboard
Making music and feeling happy with the sounds!

The value of music and of expressing yourself in ways other than speech.  Let music speak to you if you are emotionally drained, and let music reflect your feelings when you are elated!

 

Evans Day 041
Investigate and ruminate on what you see!

The value of being inquisitive and of exploring the world around us.  Think about something new every day.

 

Go cart with grandpa
Grandfather and grandson having fun together on the go-cart track!

 

The value of play.  Take time to do something fun and if you can share the fun with others, that is even better.  Also, take time to be alone and play, read, take part in some hobby, think about your goals and aspirations, learn who you are in the solitude of quiet time.

 

The value of relationships within the family.  Cherish the older generation and listen to the stories they can share about the relatives who no longer are with us, and about you when you were young!

 

graduation from kindergarten
Kindergarten graduation emphasizes the importance of learning and of doing well in school.

The value of an education.   College is not for everyone, but learning most definitely is!  Never stop learning and always cherish the opportunity to enlarge your mind without losing your focus!  Keep up on the news.  Read fiction for fun and non-fiction for fun and to expand your outlook and perspective.  Study and learn daily, even if you are not “in school” – there are always lessons to be learned if we keep our spirits attentive!

 

 

Garden - Monticello
The vegetable garden at Monticello, Virginia. Beautiful and well maintained, and thus it is productive!

 

Plant something, even if it is only a few flowers in a pot.  Watch God work in His nature as they grow and bloom, providing food and beauty for you.  [But, don’t forget to water it! J ]

 

The value of setting a goal and working hard to reach it.  Once you have identified the goal, then go after it, even if it is a tough climb!

 

Falling off
Falling off the rock, with the risk managed by the rope!

The value of taking risks, while being responsible in how you do it.  Be prepared to fail, but try to minimize the damage if failure does occur.   And, remember that failure does not have to be permanent, unless you let it define who you are; it might just be a setback from God which is designed to redirect your focus to get you on the path that He has ordained for you.

 

Cannon at Jamestown
One of the cannons on the battlefield at Jamestown, Virginia.

The value of restraining your anger and providing a peaceful resolution to difficulties.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 14:29

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:11

 

Bible
The Holy Bible, God’s Word to us for our edification, training and instruction in righteousness.

The value of honoring the Word of God.  Read God’s Word every day, think about it and learn it.  Study it and learn it so that it is not just in your head but also in your heart.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

A child once told his father that he knew what the Bible was:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

 

Church with steeple
Church with steeple stands as a reminder throughout the week that worship occurs here. “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” I Chronicles 16:29.

 

The value of sharing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Invite others to church with you.  Take your children to Sunday School and church and attend with them, don’t just drop them off for a free babysitter!  We cannot give anyone else salvation; that is a work of God through the Holy Spirit.  But, we can testify to others about who Jesus Christ is and about our relationship with Him as our Savior.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:8-11.

 

Mentoring – a Scriptural activity that is worth our time and attention.

 

Father, I pray that you would lead me as I contemplate mentoring.  I read your Word that this should be done, and I pray that you would guide me as I reach out and seek to honor your Word.  Forgive me when I have ignored your prompting to do this in the past, and give me strength and wisdom to move forward in Your strength through the Holy Spirit, for Your honor and glory alone.

 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 5 LOVE, PART TWO

Continuing our consideration of LOVE, we are thinking about love from the Holy Spirit, therefore it is love as God loves … Agape love.  So we need to see what this love looks like, and then see if we have those characteristics in our life.

 

In Dr. R. C. Sproul’s teaching series Keeping in Step with the Spirit, CD Teaching Series; and Developing Christian Character, CD Teaching Series he identifies several characteristics of Agape love, the love that should be evident in our lives because the Holy Spirit is resident within us as Christians.

 

What does Scripture say?

  1. Agape love gives us the desire in our hearts to worship God.

 

Without the Holy Spirit’s involvement in my life, worship would be far from what I would want to do on a Sunday morning.  But the Holy Spirit changes all that.  The Christian wants to honor and worship God – why? Because God is living within her, the Spirit urges her to honor and worship God and she responds by doing so.   Jesus said:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

John 4:23-24.

 

  1. Agape love believes and trusts God’s Word.

 

Paul says:

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 

I  Thessalonians 2:13.

 

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, in John 17:17, he prays:

Sanctify them in the truth: your word is truth.”

 

Agape love reads God’s Word, loves God’s Word, believes God’s Word, and trusts God’s Word.  If God’s Word sets forth a standard that is difficult to follow, Agape love mandates that such standard should still be followed even if society cries out against it.  God’s Word is inviolate, and the Christian gives it full credit and trust.

 

  1. Agape love recognizes God’s absolute right to govern us.

 

Sovereignty – this is something we in the United States don’t really understand culturally, but it is grounded in our psyche – God put a desire for a sovereign in our very being – not for a physical king, but for HIM.

 

Indeed, in the Old Testament, God was the King of His people Israel, leading them through the wilderness and preserving them as they encountered enemies along the way.  But then we read in 1 Samuel 8:5-7 that the people came to the prophet Samuel and demanded a king  so they could “be like all the other nations around them.”  Samuel objected to this demand but he presented the request to God.

And the LORD said unto Samuel, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”  [KJV]

What a sad comment from our God — “they have rejected me”.

 

David says:

“Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

Psalm 74:12

 

In 1 Timothy 1:17, Paul says:

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

 

Of course, we also have the promise of Romans 8:28-30 that God will work in all things to our ultimate good, specifically that we will be with Him for all eternity through Christ our Lord.

 

Agape love says that God is sovereign and that He has the absolute right to govern His creation in all things, and that, Beloved, includes even you and me.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

  • With Agape love in our hearts, we recognize that we are the creation, not the Creator. The Holy Spirit is in our heart and He is enabling us to worship and honor God as God.   We desire to worship Him.  We want to come into His presence and sing His glories, hear His Word and learn from His Spirit as it is preached to us.

The emphasis on our worship is God, not us.  With Agape love, I will not be saying “I didn’t get anything out of the sermon today” because I am not the one that is to be the focus of worship.  Rather, my prayer is that my worship has given God the honor and glory that He deserves.

 

  • With Agape love, we will want to read and study His Word. You would never fold a letter from your boyfriend or girlfriend and put it in your pocket without taking it out of the envelope and reading it.  Rather, you would virtually memorize it, not out of an obligation to do so but because you want to have the words in your heart to cherish for all time.

The Bible is God’s Word to us, a love letter, if you will, given for us to read and learn of God, what His character is like, what He desires for His people, what He wants in worship.  The New Testament continues the theme that began in the Old Testament, detailing the life of Jesus Christ, the fullest revelation of God that we could possibly ask for, the One who was fully man and fully God.  The One who revealed God and His nature to the fullest extent possible.  Jesus even explicitly saying:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

  • With Agape love, we will acknowledge that God is Sovereign. He has absolute authority over us, to send us wherever He wants us to go, to have us do that which He desires.  He is not a tyrant that He should gain glee in hurting His children.  Rather, His plan for us is far better than that which we could imagine, with benefits that are eternal, not just for the here and now.

Listen to Isaiah 43:11-13 as presented in the song entitled I Am The Lord, sung by Ed Kerr on Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Song Album entitled Hope of Heaven.  Let the reality of these words sink into your mind and heart and think of them as you go about your daily activities.  Agape love – the first fruit of the Spirit.

 

 

We will look at additional characteristics of this fruit in the next post.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.