Is it that hard to do?

Love one another. Love God

What does it mean to sacrificially and unconditionally love others? (1 John 4:10–12)

The Bible is a complex narrative. But what is the big—yet simple—idea behind all the stories and teachings contained in this ancient book? Love—love dominates God’s story.
Jesus confirmed that two commands from the Old Testament—love God and love others—as the greatest of all the commandments during an encounter recorded in the New Testament between Jesus and the religious leaders. [See Mark 12:28–34.]
Followers of God are to live lives distinctly different from those around them. They are to be forgiving and self-giving, showing love to all.
Our capacity to love begins with receiving God’s love for us. From this reservoir we pour out love toward each other. The presence of God’s Spirit in us, working through us to overcome our passion for self in favor of loving others, is confirmation that we are in fact children of God.
KEY VERSE
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:10–12)
KEY IDEA
I am committed to loving God and loving others.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
For one thing, Jesus’ love in our hearts enables us to love those we could never love before.
The following story is an amazing display of God’s love and a strong example of the power of how radically a life can be changed by Christ.
Chris Carrier of Coral Gables, Florida, was ten years old when a man became so angry with Chris’s father that he abducted Chris. The kidnapper burned him with cigarettes, stabbed him numerous times with an ice pick, shot him in the head, and then dumped him out to die in the Everglades. Miraculously, Chris survived and was found. His only lasting physical effect from the ordeal was losing sight in one eye. His attacker was never captured.
Carrier became a Christian and later served as a youth pastor at a church in Florida. One day, he received word that a man named David McAllister, a seventy-seven-year-old frail and blind ex-con living in a Miami Beach nursing home, had confessed to committing the crime all those years ago.
So Carrier headed to Miami. Did he take a gun? Did he plot revenge on the way there? After all, now the tables were turned. The old man was helpless, just as Chris had been when McAllister tortured and shot him, leaving him for dead. No. Revenge wasn’t Chris’s motive, as it had been his captor’s. Carrier was going God’s direction—toward forgiveness. And, amazingly, yes, even love.
Chris began visiting McAllister regularly and often read the Bible and prayed with him. Through these visits, Carrier eventually led McAllister to his Lord. Carrier said, “While many people can’t understand how I could forgive David McAllister, from my point of view, I couldn’t not forgive him. If I’d chosen to hate him all these years, or spent my life looking for revenge, then I wouldn’t be the man I am today, the man my wife and children love, the man God has helped me to be.”
Each day as we live out our lives, Jesus loves us unconditionally and sacrificially, and he offers ongoing forgiveness. He asks us, his followers, to offer the same in our relationships. Why? This new breed of love allows us to be involved in healthy relationships and also to be free to express God’s love to the world.

Taken from NIV Believe

You think you know yourself. You no doubt think well of yourself. Maybe you think you are a ‘good’ person harming no-one and doing unto them as you would have them do unto you? You no doubt would feel aggrieved if they didn’t but what about you? Do you do good unto others before they reciprocate or do you only respond in kind or maybe not at all? The real truth is that you were known long before you existed. God knows you and He also knows what your responses will be long before you do! It is good that we love one another and do good unto others for this is the way of God. He loves you whether you love Him or not but your relationship with Him is harmed when your relationships with others fails because of a lack of effort on your part. If you don’t believe in God then you can’t believe in good and evil. God is good and everything that goes against Him is evil. If you believe you are good then you are deceived for no-one is good not even one. We all fall short of God’s glory. Our relationship with our Father is broken because of this. Jesus Christ stands in the gap and presents us pure and holy to God……..if we believe in Him.

Shirley Anne

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Love


How well do we know love? When we think about love our thoughts turn to those closest to us, our wives, husbands, children and then the rest of our families, friends, acquaintances and sometimes those we work with. I suspect though that the less connected and those we don’t give much thought are not loved in the same way. That I also suppose is natural and expected but God doesn’t love us in that way, He loves us all no matter who we are for we are His creation. How many of us really know that or indeed accept it or even accept God Himself?
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
That is the measure of real love.

Shirley Anne

Love (1 John 4:8)

To know God is to know love, and to continually experience this love is to have renewed motivations, even for work. As we grasp the depth of God’s love for us, we begin to see every part of our lives being sustained and directed by that love. Over time this perspective affects every part of our lives. And because we spend so much of our lives engaged in it, one of our greatest needs is to have God’s love transform the way we work.

When we begin to experience God and his love, our whole being—heart, mind, soul and strength—is engaged, and this experience cannot help but change the way we approach work. It affects our motivations, our relationships and the very work that we do. We see ourselves working for God out of gratitude for what he has done for us, and our diligence at work reflects that gratitude.

As we consider the transformative power of God’s love, the question we must always ask ourselves is this: “Have we come to know the true living God, or are we more occupied with a projection of God informed by our own intellect, desires or experiences?” Only when we encounter this loving God are we truly changed at the very core of our being.

Connecting

God speaks into our lives, and his voice communicates a profound love that changes us in ways both big and small. His love is not an abstract sentiment, but is specific. He didn’t love humanity in some obscure way. No, he sent his Son to live as a Jewish man, die on a Roman cross and rise again so that we could be saved and know him.

One of the most powerful expressions of God’s love in us is in the words we say to our coworkers. Most of us have opportunities to give feedback. Yet, sometimes we shy away from giving positive feedback, in fear of appearing weak or sappy, or we give it in such a way that tears people down. When the love of God is at work in us to transform the way we see others and the importance of our work, even seemingly insignificant feedback can create the kind of change that brings life and health to an individual as well as an organization.

Taken from NIV Faith & Work Bible

Shirley Anne

Special

When you look into the mirror do you see yourself as special or do you see flaws? Have you a desire to become better in some way than you already are? You may consider yourself to be beautiful, handsome, clever, upright, truthful, honest, forgiving, friendly or sadly none of these things. Most of us will agree if we are honest with ourselves that we do have one or two shortcomings though we would rather keep that private. The truth is, the real truth is this, we aren’t as perfect as we would have others believe and we hide it. There isn’t one person on this planet who is perfect and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We are however very special and each one of us is unique…… we are loved just as we are…….

Shirley Anne

Special People (album)
Special People (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God Loves You as You Are (Exodus 34:5–6)

The Lord does not cherish us as we deserve (if that were the case, we would be desolate) but as he must, unable to do otherwise. He is love. Hard as it is for us to believe—because we neither give nor receive love among ourselves in this way—we yet believe, because of the life-death-resurrection of the Carpenter-Messiah, that his Father is more loving, more forgiving, more cherishing than Abraham, Isaac or Jacob could have dreamed.

What this says simply is that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is gracious. His love is gratuitous in a way that defies our imagination.

It is for this reason that we can proclaim with theological certainty in the power of the Word: God loves you as you are and not as you should be! Do you believe this? That God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that he loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain, that he loves you without caution, regret, boundary, limit or breaking point?

Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible 

Shirley Anne

 

October 11

The day is a special one for me as it marks the anniversary of E’s birth. Though I may not observe such days generally speaking, I never forget what they mean in my life.  I took the opportunity to take E out to lunch though not specifically to mark the day I thought she would appreciate it anyway. I treat her to lunch quite often during the year so lunches have no special significance other than to enjoy each other’s company in some convivial place other than home. It is nice to go out for lunches now and again. I asked her how it felt to be now the age she is (I’m not revealing that) and she replied just the same as it was yesterday! How true a statement was that! Marking an annual date as something special is rather ridiculous when you think about it. What is the point? It is just another day. We could mark each day equally as such, a special day and this we should be doing anyway. We none of us know how many days we have on this planet so we should be enjoying every one of them in whichever way we feel is right. In January next year, the 27 th to be precise, I will have known E for 45 years. I loved her the first time I saw her and that hasn’t changed even though many other things have since. It is all about love.

Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love
Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life is all about love for without love we have nothing. It isn’t an option, it is a command we should obey. Didn’t Jesus say, ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ (John 13:34)? Without love there is friction, discontent, discord and a host of other things which bring us down. Love lifts us up, makes us feel good not only about life in general but in ourselves. With love in our hearts we are at peace with ourselves and with the world. I wish I could take everyone out to lunch but that is obviously impossible. I can however demonstrate love in everything I do and this is what we all should do. Every day then becomes special to us and hopefully to those we meet too. Yes I remember October 11, 14, November 21 and a host of other ‘special’ days in my life but in reality every day is special.

Shirley Anne

Good, bad and …….

There is no-one who does good in this world (Psalm 14:3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one). Oh there are those who some consider to be good because of what they have done but that compliment is based upon human views. Even the person whom we may consider being good falls short of the mark in the eyes of God. That aside I think we can safely say that there are quite a few bad people in this world. Maybe you have met with some of them in your corner of the world? Probably. Most people might be considered upright, honest and trustworthy and have good moral standing in our eyes but we all know there are some who are not. These will be deceitful, selfish, scheming and dishonest and I’ll wager many of us will know some like that closer to home. The good and the bad are usually easy to discern, eventually anyway but the ugly may not be.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly (album)
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I say ugly I am not referring to someone who is not as good-looking as others or who has the misfortune not to appear physically attractive; no, I am referring to one who has personality problems. The ugly person is the one who speaks ill of others where there is no justification, the one who speaks in whispers to another about someone else. Perhaps they do it through jealousy or hatred or because the person holds a differing point of view. Perhaps it is racially motivated, perhaps it is homo-phobic or based upon fear. Perhaps they are simply bullies. Whatever the reason the ugly person is the nastiest of them all. Theirs is a life intent on making someone else’s life a misery. I have met a few ‘ugly’ people like this over the years and I’m certain I am not alone. The problem the ugly person thinks their target has is actually a problem they have themselves but they cannot see that. When we were young my siblings and I were always taught that it is rude to whisper (about someone else) but I know I have not always adhered to the teaching in the past. It isn’t nice to be obviously whispering about someone in their presence and it certainly isn’t nice to be on the receiving end of such behaviour is it? Jesus said ‘Love one another’ and to do that we must begin by looking inward to our own hearts. Treat others as you would like them to treat you, with respect. It doesn’t matter who or what they are, you don’t have to ‘like’ them…..just love them. Don’t be an ugly person for the chip on your shoulder will become a heavy burden and you will crumble beneath the weight.

Shirley Anne

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Wits end and friends

Peace, peace, peace.

We Come in Peace with a Message of Love
We Come in Peace with a Message of Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I very seldom if ever write about my personal relationships in my posts though I have been more open in my personal pages above regarding such things. It is hard for me to do so now. Life can be so difficult at times. Stressful situations, personal relationships, financial problems, poor health, irritating neighbours and many more can all have a detrimental effect upon us. As a Christian I am called to rise above these things yet I may still have to deal with them, in fact being a Christian does not mean I will never be affected by them or that they will somehow magically disappear, they won’t. Our difficulties arise when we don’t know how to deal with them. Fellow Christians will say things like, ‘Trust in The Lord’, ‘Lay all your burdens at His feet’, and they would be quite right but we have to meet Him half-way. We have to do our bit too. If we approach things in the right way and trust in The Lord’s guidance we will overcome. Sometimes though no matter what we do it doesn’t seem to work, at least as we thought it should and that is the point, not everything is going to work out the way we want it or expect it to do. Good friends give good advice. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Some people will never change’, yet we often continue attempting to persuade them. This has been especially true in my own situation. My ex, ‘E’, is a prime example. Over the years (forty-four) I have known her she has been stubborn. We used to go to church together at one point but her heart wasn’t in it. She always blamed her mom for ‘forcing’ her to attend church when younger and that is why she says she doesn’t believe in God. Many times I have witnessed to her but the main way was by example, showing love, being tolerant and understanding and not putting her under pressure. Nothing worked and still doesn’t. I have to live with her and it can be so difficult. I could have left her, deserted her and left her to her own devices but because of my love and concern I persevered. I still persevere and will continue to do so until I die though she may never change. Aside from her beliefs just living together is sometimes problematical for me as I am very often not treated well by her even though I treat her with love and respect and we end up not speaking. Usually it is because of her stubborn refusal to apologise for her behaviour toward me when she is in the wrong. My friend tries to cheer me up and she tells me not to let E’s behaviour affect my own peace and happiness but that is so hard to do. I get knocked down but I get up again and again and again. I refuse to give in to her bad behaviour yet I have to forgive her. I always forgive her but it never seems to have any effect. Sometimes I feel at my wit’s end wondering if things between us will always be this way. Unless you live with a person like E you will never really know what it is like. Leaving her isn’t an option, she needs more love.

Shirley Anne

Following like sheep

Jack-o-lantern
Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you ever wonder why sheep stay together following each other so closely? People are very much like sheep, they will, by and large, follow in the same way. Of course people are individuals but only up to a point. We follow trends together, partake in the same holidays, do pretty much the same as each other in many ways. Today, that is the 31st of October is beginning to mark an increasingly popular holiday we call Halloween. One family’s children keenly follow what they think as harmless fun and before we know it every other family’s children are doing the same thing. It is all about not wanting to be different, not wanting to be left out or to be labelled a spoil-sport. Their individualism is lost to the cause. Why are people so ready to follow like sheep? I label Halloween as evil, an evil event of evil origin. There was once a time it was rare to celebrate such holidays but now it is beginning to be considered normal to do so. Much of the celebration, probably most of it is fuelled by commerce as are the other holidays of the year. Someone saw a way to make pots of money and hey presto, it all became popular. None of what Halloween represents today is good. Children are encouraged to make-believe in ghosts, ghouls, witches and wizards and they dress in orange and black, the colours now associated with Halloween in this country at least. Pumpkin sales go through the roof and are mainly only sold at this time of year and used not for cooking but for ornamentation. What sense is there in that? Children are also misguided and  encouraged to go ‘trick or treating‘, basically a threatening behaviour to those on whose doors they knock. What they are saying is give us a treat else we will do something nasty. Is this not evil at work? No, it isn’t just a bit of fun, let’s call it by its rightful name.

All About Evil
All About Evil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We teach children all the wrong things and then wonder why society is in such a state. Santa Claus, birthday and Christmas presents, the paraphernalia surrounding Christmas and Easter and Guy Fawkes are all symbols of secularism by which the human race sets its standards and everyone follows like sheep. In my blog yesterday I posted an article about a loving and peaceful world, the way it should be and will be one day but we have to rid ourselves of all this useless clutter and evil that fills our lives first. Only one thing prevents it from happening and it is what is going on in our hearts. Ask yourself why the world isn’t like the one described in yesterday’s post and what you yourself will do to change things.

Shirley Anne

Not that way for all

I Accuse My Parents
I Accuse My Parents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘We played many different games as children much as they do now., hide and seek, hopscotch, tag, football and cricket, rounders, skipping and a few others. During the summer months mum and dad took us out on weekly day trips, usually to the seaside and it was such fun getting things ready for the day out. We would make sandwiches with all different fillings, take a cake and biscuits some lemonade and a few items of fruit. We had to be certain we’d packed our swimsuits too! Half the excitement was in the preparation and getting to the destination. If it showed any signs of possible rain dad would tell us that the trip was off but most of the time he was just teasing us. Unless it was pouring down with rain and unlikely to stop we would make the trip. Often on the journey home we would tuck in to the remainder of the sandwiches and we would all be very tired after the day’s events. Those days were some of the most enjoyable times in my life and were only made so because our parents loved us so much. I thank them both.’ (Extract from ‘My Story’ above)

How much do you remember about your childhood? Was it a happy time? Were your parents or parent, attentive, loving, generous? Did they have time for you? Many of the problems we have today could be attributed to a lack of involvement by parents. Parents who do not guide their children, do not show their love often end up driving them to become anti-social and unloving or caring themselves. The problems are passed down through the generations. Is it possible that those who take drugs or end up in jail for criminal activity may not be as they are had their parents been more involved, more loving? It isn’t a guarantee of course that anyone’s children grow up to be upright citizens but it surely must be a possibility that if their upbringing  lacked a loving environment they would be more likely to end up as they are. In Scripture we are instructed to bring up our children in the ways they should go for it is their formative years that influence how they will live and behave as adults. I am so happy that my childhood was a pleasant time for me, at home at least. It wasn’t that way for me outside of my home. You can read something  about that in my pages above. Alas, for many children though their lives are not filled with love, affection and attentive parents.

Shirley Anne

Ups and downs

So Emotional
So Emotional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having decided yesterday (Saturday) that I was going to rest for the weekend I had no reason to get up early but nevertheless that is what I did. It is all about my sleep requirements. I find I am awake after five hours or so of sleep. I could have laid there in bed but that isn’t usually my style so I got up and found myself in good spirits. It was change the bedclothes day so that was one of the first things I did, after my daily prayers. I was downstairs around 7.15 and after putting the bed linen in the washing machine I had my breakfast. I spent a little time on the computer by which time the washing was done and needed hanging to dry. The weather these past few days has been rather wet and windy at times so rather than hanging the washing outside to dry I hung it in the boiler room. It dries just as well down there. I took my radio down into the cellar where I keep the treadmill and spent some time on it. I was feeling on top of the world. Later, after a shower I decided to peel some more of the apples and make some crumble. I was going to make a pie or two but changed my mind for the crumble instead. I had returned the radio upstairs and had it on whilst I was peeling the apples. It was the Sunday morning show on BBC 2 and they were playing an hour of love songs. I had just started peeling the apples when a song called ‘You are the sunshine of my life‘ by  Stevie Wonder began to play and when he reached the line ‘You are the apple of my eye‘ I was touched and my eyes began to water. I was thinking about E. Anyway a little later another song broke out called  ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston and before it had hardly begun I was in tears, I mean streaming down my face tears. Again I was thinking about E. In fact believe it or not the tears are beginning to swell up now even as I write this. I am a very sentimental person it is true. The joy of love overwhelms me. A few songs later and I had settled down a bit. I had to concentrate on what I was doing! Soon enough the apples were cooking slowly but not too much so as the slices remained solid and I had made the crumble. I had enough apples and crumble for two large dishes and they went into the already heated oven to bake slowly for twenty-five minutes. Whilst they were baking I made myself a large cappuccino and washed the pots and utensils. It was still only five minutes after twelve when the crumbles were done. I then spent some time reading my Bible as I normally do on a Sunday morning. I am currently reading it through again from beginning to end and have just reached the Book of Job. Now there was a guy who had troubles! We think we have it bad sometimes. You should read Job. The preceding Book is Esther. That was the one I read through this day. I have read the Bible through 31 times so far with this one being number 32. I learn something new each time! I don’t confine my reading to just Sundays by the way. Anyway I was feeling on top of the world again on Sunday after feeling a little down in the dumps on Saturday. Now I was ready for the week ahead.

Shirley Anne