Love


We sang this song in church this morning (How He Loves Us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoC1ec-lYps) and I felt moved to remind you if you’ve forgotten, or inform you if you didn’t know, that He loves us.

Jesus did not have to stay hanging on the cross. He chose to stay hanging there. Nails did not hold him to the cross, love held him there, love for each and every one of us, past, present and future. What Jesus did that day at Calvary was the epitome of selfless love, i.e. choosing to do something for someone else regardless of the cost to self. Jesus did something for us that we could not do for ourselves – he created the way for us to get to heaven. He explained this to his disciple Nathaneal in the first chapter of the gospel of John, verse 51: “Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.’”

Jesus’s action of staying nailed to that cross until he died was a gift of love for all people throughout time, including the people who crucified him and those who mocked and abused him as he hung on the cross. “The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders mocked Jesus. ‘He saved others,’ they scoffed, ‘but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from that cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, I am the Son of God’ (Matthew 27:41-43).

What the leading priests, teachers of religious law, and elders didn’t understand was that Jesus stayed on that cross for them. If Jesus had come down from that cross, which he was more than capable of doing, he would have saved himself. He would not, however, have saved them and he would not have saved us.

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It may surprise some people to know that not all Christ-followers are conservative and vote Republican. I believe that Jesus calls His followers to love liberally.

Love Thy Neighbor …
Thy Homeless Neighbor
Thy Muslim Neighbor
Thy Black Neighbor
Thy Gay Neighbor
Thy Immigrant Neighbor
Thy Jewish Neighbor
Thy Christian Neighbor
Thy Atheist Neighbor
Thy Disabled Neighbor
Thy Addicted Neighbor

It is important to remember that we can love and accept people for WHO they are, without accepting WHAT they do.

I was out and about in my car earlier today and this song came on the radio: #LeeAnnWomack #IHopeYouDance #Vevo 

Lee Ann Womack – I Hope You Dance

Take a listen. 

I hope each of you DANCE! RISK! LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST! LOVE WITH ALL YOUR HEART!

 

Excerpt from my Christmas reading:

“… the heart of the Christmas story: sacrificial love…love and sacrifice are synonyms, the deeper the cost of giving, the deeper the experience of love and joy. Sacrifice, of course, is what the true Christmas story is all about. It is not so much about giving as it is about sacrificing. (All sacrifice is giving, but not all giving is sacrifice.) … Sacrifice means to give to another person something we could have kept for ourselves. It means to choose, to deny, to love, to give, and to find the deepest pleasure in another’s joy. …

There is no shortage of opportunities to sacrifice. All we have to do is look for the need. That’s what God did when He sent His Son into the world at the first Christmas. The need was twofold: for the human race to see what had been lost in the Garden of Eden–perfect humanity; and to restore what was lost–fellowship with God through the forgiveness of sins. Once the need is identified, the gift becomes obvious. The challenge is to be willing to provide a gift as big as the need. Sometimes the need is bigger than what we can comfortably give in terms of time or treasure. And that’s where sacrifice comes in. Giving becomes sacrificial when we take something we might normally have channeled toward ourselves and dedicate it to increasing the joy of another.” (David Jeremiah, The 12 Ways of Christmas)

I’m de-Christmasing the house. As much as I love Christmas (and believe me I do LOVE Christmas), I am looking forward to putting the busyness of the holidays behind me and returning to my regular routine. Even though all the outside trappings of Christmas will no longer be visible, I hope the spirit of Christmas will be visible all year long through my regular routine. How? You might ask, well …

As we know, Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of God’s Son, the long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ. God sent His Son to bring light to a dark world. We celebrate His birthday one day a year on Christmas Day. Those of us who are Christ followers, however, can make Christmas last all 365 days per year. How?

Individuals who have experienced spiritual rebirth carry God’s Spirit, His light, inside us. That light comes with marching orders. We are to let His light shine in us and through us so we can light up a dark world. We allow God’s light to shine through us when we choose to love/give regardless of how we feel. Real love is a verb. It is a choice. It is selfless. It is choosing to do something for someone else regardless of the cost to self. It is not a feeling. It is an action. It is this love that brings light to a dark world. When we do that Christmas can last 365 days a year.

Chris Rice sings about this in his song Go Light your World. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsM5lt9tCFo

Those of us who are Christ followers remember today the last meal Jesus shared with his apostles. Tomorrow we remember the torture and death he endured for us, and Sunday we remember and celebrate his resurrection from the dead, thereby defeating death forever.

Phillips, Craig & Dean – Revelation Song (Live)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdvgEGlZ_UI

Excerpt from When Doing Isn’t Enough:

Love is not a feeling. It is an action. It is a choice. We can choose to act loving, even when we don’t feel loving.

If you want an example of pure, perfect love, think about what Jesus Christ did for us. He left the glory of heaven to take on human form and do something for us which we were not able to do for ourselves. He created the way for us to get to heaven. He explained this to his disciple Nathaneal in the first chapter of the gospel of John, verse 51: Then he said, I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.

Jesus chose to act loving by carrying his cross to Calvary in Jerusalem and allowing Roman soldiers to nail him to it, then staying nailed to it until he died. A picture of pure, perfect love is Jesus, bloody and beaten beyond recognition, hanging on a wooden cross. He did not have to stay hanging there. He chose to stay hanging there. It was not nails that held him to that cross. It was love, love for each and every one of us, past, present, and future.

Jesus understood that the reason he had come to earth was to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins and wrongdoings of all mankind. Throughout the three years of his earthly ministry, he never lost sight of his purpose. He stated The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life John chapter 3 verses 14 to15. As Jesus went about ministering to people by teaching them and healing them, he was always moving toward the fulfillment of his purpose. Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem (Luke 13:22).

We get a glimpse of how Jesus felt about going to the cross in the account of him praying in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest. He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:  41-44).

It is important to note that Jesus went to the cross out of obedience to his father and love for us. It was a choice he made in spite of how he was feeling. Prior to his arrest, Jesus spoke to the apostles about the choice he was making. He said, No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded John 10:18. He also stated, There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).

The Apostle John spoke about this expression of God’s love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4: 9-10).

 

 

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