Love

* What real love is

In this final description of their love, the girl includes some of its significant characteristics.  Love is as strong as death; it cannot be killed by time or disaster; and it cannot be bought for any price because it is freely given.  Love is priceless, and even the richest king cannot buy it.  Love must be accepted as a gift from God and then shared within the guidelines God provides.  Accept the love of your spouse as God’s gift, and strive to make your love a reflection of the perfect love that comes from God himself. (NLT)

Song of Songs 8:6-7 – Place me like a seal over your heart, or like a seal on your arm.  For love is as strong as death, and its jealousy is as enduring as the grave.  Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.  Many waters cannot quench love; neither can rivers drown it.  If a man tried to buy love with everything he owned, his offer would be utterly despised.”

* – In morally corrupt Corinth, love had become a mixed-up term with little meaning.  Today people are still confused about love.  Love is the greatest of all human qualities, and it is an attribute of God himself.  Love involves unselfish service to others; to show it gives evidence that you care.  Faith is the foundation and content of God’s message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action.  When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 13:13 – There are three things that will endure–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

* Love is God’s reason for creating the world

The simple statement that God created the heavens and the earth is one of the most challenging concepts confronting the modern mind.  The vast galaxy we live in is spinning at the incredible speed of 490,000 miles an hour.  But even at this breakneck speed, our galaxy still needs 200 million years to make one rotation.  And there are over one billion other galaxies just like ours in the universe.

Some scientists say that the number of stars in creation is equal to all the grains of all the sands on all the beaches of the world.  Yet this complex sea of spinning stars functions with remarkable order and efficiency.  To say that the universe “just happened” or “evolved” requires more faith than to believe that God is behind these amazing statistics.  God truly did create a wonderful universe.

God did not need to create the universe; he chose to create it.  Why?  God is love, and love is best expressed toward something or someone else—so God created the world and people as an expression of his love.  We should avoid reducing God’s creation to merely scientific terms.  Remember that God created the universe because he loves each of us. (NLT)

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

* God’s patience with us should cause us to love him

In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, we see two facets of God’s character: His great patience (agreeing to spare a wicked city for ten good people) and his fierce anger (destroying both cities).  As we grow spiritually, we should find ourselves developing not only a deeper respect for God because of His anger toward sin but also a deeper love for God because of his patience when we sin. (NLT)

Genesis 19:24 – Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the heavens on Sodom and Gomorrah.

* Relationship between fear & love

Throughout the Bible we find this phrase: “Don’t be afraid.”  God wasn’t trying to scare the people.  He was showing his mighty power so the Israelites would know he was the true God and would therefore obey him.  If they would do this, he would make his power available to them.  God wants us to follow him out of love rather than fear.  To overcome fear, we must think more about his love.  First John 4:18 says, “Perfect love expels all fear.” (NLT)

Exodus 20:20 – “Don’t be afraid,” Moses said, “for God has come in this way to show you his awesome power.  From now on, let your fear of him keep you from sinning!”

* Love is the key to following God’s laws

“Do not . . . ”  Some people think the Bible is nothing but a book of dont’s.  But Jesus neatly summarized all these rules when he said to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  He called these the greatest commandments (or rules) of all.  By carrying out Jesus’ simple commands, we find ourselves following all of God’s other laws as well. (NLT)

Leviticus 19:10-35 – It is the same with your grape crop–do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground.  Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the Lord, am your God.

“Do not steal.”  “Do not cheat one another.”  “Do not lie.”  “Do not use my name to swear a falsehood and so profane the name of your God.  I am the Lord.”  “Do not cheat or rob anyone.”  “Always pay your hired workers promptly.”  “Show your fear of God by treating the deaf with respect and by not taking advantage of the blind.  I am the Lord.”  “Always judge your neighbors fairly, neither favoring the poor nor showing deference to the rich.”  “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.”  “Do not try to get ahead at the cost of your neighbor’s life, for I am the Lord.”  “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives.”  “Confront your neighbors directly so you will not be held guilty for their crimes.”  “Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.”  “You  must obey all my laws.”  “Do not breed your cattle with other kinds of animals.  Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.  Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of fabric.”  “If a man has sexual intercourse with a slave girl who is committed to become someone else’s wife, compensation must be paid.  But since she had not been freed at the time, the couple will not be put to death.  The man, however, must bring a ram as a guilt offering and present it to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle.  The priest will then make atonement for him before the Lord with the sacrificial ram of the guilt offering, and the man will be forgiven.

“When you enter the land and plant fruit trees, leave the fruit unharvested for the first three years and consider it forbidden.  In the fourth year the entire crop will be devoted to the Lord as an outburst of praise.  Finally, in the fifth year you may eat the fruit.  In this way its yield will be increased.  I, the Lord, am your God. 

“Never eat meat that has not been drained of its blood.”  “Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.”  “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or clip the edges of your beards.”  “Never cut your bodies in mourning for the dead or mark your skin with tattoos, for I am the Lord.”  “Do not defile your daughter by making a prostitute, or the land will be filled with promiscuity and detestable wickedness.”  “Keep my Sabbath days of rest and show reverence  toward my sanctuary, for I am the Lord.”  “Do not rely on mediums and psychics, for you will be defiled by the.  I, the Lord, am your God.”  “Show your fear of God by standing up in the presence of elderly people and showing respect for the aged, I am the Lord.”  “Do not exploit the foreigners who live in your land.  They should be treated like everyone else, and you must love them as you love y9urself.  Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.  I, the Lord, am your God.”  “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume.

* God loves us despite what he knows about us  & God’s love can change life’s outcome  

John describes these moments in clear detail.  We ca see that Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen.  He knew about Judas and about Peter, but he did not change the situation, nor did he stop loving them.  In the same way, Jesus knows exactly what you will do to hurt him.  Yet he still loves you unconditionally and will forgive you whenever you ask him.  Judas couldn’t understand this, and his life ended tragically.  Peter understood and despite his shortcomings, his life ended triumphantly because he never let go of his faith in the one who loved him. (NLT)

John 13:27-38 – As soon as Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him.  Then Jesus told him, “Hurry.  Do it now.”  None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant.  Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money ot the poor.  So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for me, the Son of Man, to enter into my glory, and God will receive glory because of all that happens to me.  And God will bring me into my glory very soon.  Dear children, how brief are these moments before I must go away and leave you!  Then, though you search for me, you cannot come to me–just as I told the Jewish leaders.  So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“Simon Peter said, “Lord, where are you going?”  And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but y9ou will follow me later.”  “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked.  “I am ready to die for you.”  Jesus answered, “Die for me?  No, before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

* God’s restrictions are motivated by love

These curses were a series of oaths, spoken by the priests and affirmed by the people, by which the people promised to stay away from wrong actions.  By saying Amen, “So be it,” the people took responsibility for their actions.  Sometimes looking at a list of curses like this gives us the idea that God has a bad temper and is out to crush anyone who steps out of line.  But we need to see these restrictions not as threats, but as loving warnings about the plain facts of life.  Just as we warn children to stay away from hot stoves and busy streets, God warns us to stay away from dangerous actions.  The natural law of his universe makes it clear that wrongdoing toward others or God has tragic consequences.  God is merciful enough to tell us this truth plainly.  Motivated by love and not anger, his strong words help us avoid the serious consequences that result from neglecting God or wronging others.  But God does not leave us with only curses or consequences.  Immediately following these curses, we discover the great blessings (positive consequences) that come from living for God (Genesis 28:1-14 – see below).  These give us extra incentive to obey God’s laws.  While all these blessings may not come in our lifetime on earth, those who obey God will experience the fullness of his blessing when he establishes the new heaven and the new earth. (NLT)

Deuteronomy 27:15-26 – ‘Cursed is anyone who carves or casts idols and secretly sets them up.  These idols, the work of craftsmen, are detestable to the Lord.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who despises father or mother.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who steals property from a neighbor by moving a boundary marker.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who leads a blind person astray on the road.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who is unjust to foreigners, orphans, and widows.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who has sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, for he has violated his father.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who has sexual intercourse with an animal.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who has sexual intercourse with his sister, whether she is the daughter of his father or his mother.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who has sexual intercourse with his mother-in-law.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who kills another person in secret.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who accepts payment to kill an innocent person.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

‘Cursed is anyone who does not affirm the terms of this law by obeying them.’  And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

* Blessings, rewards of, God’s love for obedience

Just as we reward children for being obedient, God rewards us for being obeying Him.  These give us extra incentive to obey God’s laws.

Genesis 28:1-14 – “If you fully obey the Lord your God by keeping all the commands I am giving you today, the Lord your God will exalt you above all the nations of the world.  You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in your towns and in the country.  You will be blessed with many children and productive fields.  You will be blessed with fertile herds and flocks.  You will be blessed with baskets overflowing with fruit, and with kneading bowls filled with bread.  You will be blessed wherever you go, both in coming and in going.

“The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you.  They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!

“The Lord will bless everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain.  The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

“If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do.  Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.

The Lord will give you an abundance of good things in the land he swore to give your ancestors—many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops.  The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens to bless all the work you do.  You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.  If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God and carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always have the upper hand.  You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today to follow after other gods and worship them.

* Difference between love & lust

Love and lust are very different.  After Amnon raped his half sister, his “love” turned to hate.  Although he had claimed to be in love, he was actually overcome by lust.  Love is patient; lust requires immediate satisfaction.  Love is kind; lust is harsh.  Love does not demand its own way; lust does.  Lust may feel like love at first, but when physically expressed, it results in self-disgust and hatred of the other person.  If you just can’t wait, what you feel is not true love. (NLT)

2 Samuel 13:14-15 – But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her.  Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her.  “Get out of here!” he snarled at her.

* – Our society confuses love and lust.  Unlike lust, God’s kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves.  It is utterly unselfish.  This kind of love goes against our natural inclinations.  It is impossible to have this love unless God helps us set aside our own natural desires so that we can love and not expect anything in return.  Thus, the more we become like Christ, the more love we will show to others. (NLT)

1 Corinthian 13:4-7 – Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

* Could you love God if you lost everything

Job had lost his possessions and family in this first of Satan’s tests, but he reacted rightly toward God by acknowledging God’s sovereign authority over everything God had given him.  Satan lost this first round.  Job passed the test and proved that people can love God for who he is, not for what he gives. (NLT)

Job 1:20-22 – Job stood up and tore his robe in grief.  Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God.  He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die.  The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away.  Praise the name of the Lord!”

In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

* Suffering can’t separate us from God’s love

Job had been careful not to worship material possessions but to worship God alone.  Here he was overwhelmed by calamities that mocked his caution, and he complained about trials that came despite his right living.  All the principles by which he had lived were crumbling, and Job began to lose his perspective.  Trials and grief, whether temporary or enduring, do not destroy the real purpose of life.  Life is not given merely for happiness and personal fulfillment but for us to serve and honor God.  The worth and meaning of life is not based on what we feel but on the one reality no one can take away–God’s love for us.  Don’t assume that because God truly loves you, he will always prevent suffering.  The opposite may be true.  God’s love cannot be measured or limited by how great or how little we may suffer. (NLT)

Job 3:23-26 – Why is life given to those with no future, those destined by God to live in distress?  I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water.  What I always feared has happened to me.  what I dreaded has come to be.  I have no peace, no quietness.  I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes.”

* Loving those who wrong us

When we are wronged, often our first reaction is to get even.  Instead, Jesus said we should do good to those who wrong us!  Our desire should not be to keep score but to love and forgive.  This is not natural–it is supernatural.  Only God can give us the strength to love as he does.  Instead of planning vengeance, pray for those who hurt you. (NLT)

Matthew 5:38-42 – [Jesus said] “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it.  If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.’  But I say, don’t resist an evil person!  If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too.  If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.  If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.  Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

* What it means to love your enemies

By telling us not to retaliate, Jesus keeps us from taking the law into our own hands.  By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good.

Jesus says we are to love our enemies.  If you love your enemies and treat them well, you will truly show that Jesus is Lord of your life.  This is possible only for those who give themselves fully to God, because only he can deliver people from natural selfishness.  We must trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we may not feel love. (NLT)

Matthew 5:43-44 – [Jesus said] “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor; and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!

* Talking about love vs. demonstrating love 

It’s easy to tell someone his sins are forgiven; it’s a lot more difficult to reverse a case of paralysis!  Jesus backed up his words by healing the man’s legs.  Jesus’ action showed that his words were true; he had the power to forgive as well as to heal.  Talk is cheap, but our words lack meaning if our actions do not back them upl.  We can say we love God or others, but if we are not taking practical steps to demonstrate that love, our words are empty and meaningless.  How well do your actions back up what you say? (NLT)

Matthew 9:5-6 – [Jesus said] “Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’?  I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins.”  Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!”

* Nothing can take God’s love from us

Jesus said that God is aware of everything that happens even to sparrows, and you are far more valuable to him than they are.  You are so valuable that God sent his only Son to die for you.  Because God places such value on you, you need never fear personal threats or difficult trials  These can’t shake God’s love or dislodge his Spirit from within you.

But this doesn’t mean that God will take away all your troubles.  The real test of value is how well something holds up under the wear, tear, and stress of everyday life.  Those who stand up for Christ in spite of their troubles truly have lasting value and will receive great rewards.

These verses [Romans 8:35-39] contain one of the most comforting promises in all Scripture.  Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, and even death.  These sometimes cause them to fear that they have been abandoned by Christ.  But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ.  His death for us is proof of his unconquerable love.  Nothing can separate us from Christ’s presence.  God tells us how great his love is so that we will feel totally secure in him.  If we believe these overwhelming assurances, we will not be afraid. (NLT)

Matthew 10:29-31 – [Jesus said] “Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.”

Romans 8:35-39 – Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?  Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?  (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love.  Death can’t, and life can’t.  The angels can’t, and the demons can’t.  Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in thedeepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

* Love measured by how we treat others

How much we love God can be measured by how well we treat others.  Jesus’ example of giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty child is a good model of unselfish service.  A child usually can’t or won’t return a favor.  God notices every good deed we do or don’t do as if he were the one receiving it.  Is there something unselfish you can do for someone else today?  Although no one else may see you, God will notice. (NLT)

Matthew 10:42 – [Jesus said]”And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

* – A forgiving spirit demonstrates that a person has received God’s forgiveness.  Jesus uses the picture of measuring grain in a basket to ensure the full amount.  If we are critical rather than compassionate, we will also receive criticism.  If we treat others generously, graciously, and compassionately, however, these qualities will come back to us in full measure.  We are to love others, not judge them. (NLT)

Luke 6:37-38 – [Jesus said] “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.  Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you.  If you forgive others, you will be forgiven.  If you give, you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.  Whatever measure you use in giving–large or small–it will be used to measure what is given back to you.”

* The focus of all God’s laws, love 

God’s laws are not burdensome.  They can be reduced to two simple principles: Love God and love others.  These commands are from the Old Testament.  When you love God completely and care for others as you care for yourself, then you have fulfilled the intent of the Ten Commandments and the other Old Testament laws.  According to Jesus, these two commandments summarize all God’s laws.  Let them rule your thoughts, decisions, and actions.  When you are uncertain about what to do, ask yourself which course of action best demonstrates love for God and love for others. (NLT)

Mark 12:29-31 – Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  No other commandment is greater than these.”

* Difficult to love if you think only of yourself 

With false teaching and loose morals comes a particularly destructive disease–the loss of true love for God and others.  Sin cools your love for God and others by turning your focus on yourself.  You cannot truly love if you think only of yourself. (NLT)

Matthew 24:12 – [Jesus said] “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.”

* Genuine vs. superficial love 

Jesus showed genuine love for this man, even though he knew that the man might not follow him.  Love is able to give tough advice; it doesn’t hedge on the truth.  Christ loved us enough to die for us, and he also loves us enough to talk straight to us.  If his love were superficial, he would give us only his approval; but because his love is complete, he gives us life-changing challenges. (NLT)

Mark 10:21 – Jesus felt genuine love for this man as he looked at him.  “You lack only one thing,” he told him.  “Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”

* Loving your neighbor

From the illustration we learn three principles about loving our neighbor: (1) Lack of love is often easy to justify, even though it is never right; (2) our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need; and (3) love means acting to meet the prson’s need.  Wherever you live, there are needy people close by.  There is no good readon for refusing to help. (NLT)

Luke 10:27-37 – The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’  And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”  “Right!” Jesus told him.  “Do this and you will live!”  The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied with an illustration: “A Jewish an was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits.  They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

“By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed the other side of the road and passed him by.  A temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity.  Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them.  Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.  The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man.  ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.  The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”  Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

* God’s love basis for self-worth

Our true value is God’s estimate of our worth, not our peers’.  Other people evaluate and categorize us according to how we perform, what we achieve, and how we look.  But God cares for us, as he does for all of his creatures, because we belong to him.  So we can face life without fear. (NLT)

Luke 12:7 – [Jesus said] And the very hairs on your head are all nyubered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.

* Consistency of God’s love

In this story, the father watched and waited.  He was dealing with a human being with a will of his own, but he was ready to greet his son if he returned.  In the same way, God’s love is constant and patient and welcoming.  He will search for us and give us opportunities to respond, but he will not force us to come to him.  Like the father in this story, God waits patiently for us to come to our senses. (NLT)

Luke 15:20 – [Jesus said] “So he returned home to his father.  And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming.  Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”

* God’s love bigger than any problem

Do you ever feel that you life is too complex for God to understand?  Remember, God created the entire universe, ad nothing is too difficult for him.  God created you; he is alive today, and his love is bigger than any problem you may face. (NLT)

John 1:3-5 – He created everything there is.  Nothing exists that he didn’t make.  Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.  The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

* God sets the pattern for and helping others receive God’s love 

The message of the Good News comes to a focus in this verse.  God’s love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in.  Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships–when you love someone dearly, you are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice.  God  (NLT)

John 3:16 – [Jesus said] “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

* Why loving others is so important

To love others was not a new commandment, but to love others as much as Christ loved others was revolutionary.  Now we are to love others based on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us.  Such love will not only bring unbelievers to Christ it will also keep believers strong and united in a world hostile to God.  Jesus was a living example of God’s love, as we are to be living examples of Jesus’ love. (NLT)

John 13:34 – [Jesus said] “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”

* How do we love others as Christ loves us?

We are to love each other as Jesus loved us, and he loved us enough to give his life for us.  We may not have to die for someone, but there are other ways to practice sacrificial love: listening, helping, encouraging, giving.  Think of someone in particular who needs this kind of love today.  Give all the love you can, and then try to give a little more. (NLT)

John 15:12-13 – [Jesus said] “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you.  And here is how to measure it–the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.”

* Love tied to obedience

Jesus said that his followers show their love for him by obeying him.  Love is more than lovely words; it is commitment and conduct.  If you love Christ, then prove it by obeying what he says in his Word. (NLT)

John 14:21 – [Jesus said] “Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me.  And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them.  And I will reveal myself to each one of them.”

* Don’t let small problems hinder yours

Christians will get plenty of hatred from the world; from each other we need love and syupport.  Do you allow small problems to get in the way of loving other believers?  Jesus commands that you love them, and he will give you the strength to do it. (NLT)

John 15:17 – [Jesus said] “I command you to love each other.”

*Love is contagious

A healthy Christian community attracts people to Christ.  The Jerusalem church’s zeal for worship and brotherly love was contagious.  A healthy, loving church will grow in numbers.  What are you doing to make your church the kind of place that will attract others to Christ? (NLT)

Acts 2:47 – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.  And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

* Why love is a key to the Christian life

Paul states that, as believers, we now stand in a place of highest privilege.  Not only has God declared us not guilty; he has drawn us close to himself.  Instead of being enemies, we have become his friends–in fact, his own children. (NLT)

Romans 5:2 – Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

* Real love takes effort

Most of us have learned how to be courteous to others–how to speak kindly, avoid hurting their feelings, and appear to take an interest in them.  We may even be skilled in pretending to show compassion when we hear of others’ needs, or to become indignant when we learn of injustice.  But God calls us to real and sincere love that goes far beyond being hypocritical and polite.  Sincere love requires concentration and effort.  It means helping others become better people.  It demands our time, money, and personal involvement.  No individual has the capacity to express love to a whole community, but the body of Christ in your town does.  Look for people who need your love, and look for ways you and your fellow believers can love your community for Christ. (NLT)

Romans 12:9 – Don’t just pretend that you love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Stand on the side of the good.

* Love is demonstrated when we forgive our enemies

In this day of lawsuits and incessant demands for legal rights, Paul’s command sounds almost impossible.  When someone hurts you deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, Paul says to befriend him.  Why does Paul tell us to forgive our enemies?  (1) Forgiveness may break a cycle of retaliation and lead to mutual reconciliation.  (2) It may make the enemy feel ashamed and change his or her ways.  (3) By contrast, repaying evil for evil hurts you just as much as it hurts your enemy.  Even if your enemy never repents, forgiving him or her will free you of a heavy load of bitterness.

Forgiveness involves both attitudes and actions.  If you find it difficult to feel forgiving toward someone who has hurt you, try responding with kind actions.  If appropriate, tell this person that you would like to heal your relationship.  Lend a helping hand.  Send him or her a gift.  Smile at him or her.  Many times you will discover that right actions lead to right feelings. (NLT)

Romans 12:19-21 – Dear friends, never avenge yourselves.  Leave that to God.  For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.  Instead, do what the Scriptures say: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.  If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.”  Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

* The law of love

Christians must obey the law of love, which supersedes both religious and civil laws.  How easy it is to excuse our indifference to others merely because we have no legal obligation to help them and even to justify harming them if our actions are technically legal!  But Jesus does not leave loopholes in the law of love.  Whenever love demands it, we are to go beyond human legal requirements and imitate the God of love. (NLT)

Romans 13:10 – Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements.

* Love is more important than spiritual gifts

Love is more important than all the spiritual gifts exercised in the church body.  Great faith, acts of dedication or sacrifice, and miracle-working power have little effect without love.  Love makes our actions and gifts useful.  Although people have different gifts, love is available to everyone. (NLT)

1 Corinthian 13:1 – If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making  meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.

* What happens when we aren’t motivated by love?

When we are not motivated by love, we become critical of others.  We stop looking for good in them and see only their faults.  Soon the unity of believers is broken.  Have you talked behind someone’s back?  Have you focused on others’ shortcomings instead of their strengths?  Remind yourself of Jesus’ command to love others as you love yourself.  When you begin to feel critical of someone, make a list of that person’s positive qualities.  If there are problems that need to be addressed, it is better to confront in love than to gossip. (NLT)

Galatians 5:14-15 – For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love yourneighbor as yourself."  But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out!  Beware of destroying one another.

* God’s love is total

God’s love is total, says Paul.  It reaches every corner of our experience.  It is wide–it covers the breadth of our own experience, and it reaches out to the whole world.  God’s love is long–it continues the length of our lives.  It is high–it rises to the heights of our celebration and elation.  His love is deep–it reaches to the depths of discouragement, despair, and even death.  When you feel shut out or isolated, remember that you can never be lost to God’s love. (NLT)

Ephesians 3:17-19 – And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him.  May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.

* Husband commanded to love his wife

Although some people have distorted Paul’s teaching on submission by giving unlimited authority to husbands, we cannot get around it: Paul told wives to submit to their husbands.  The fact that a teaching is not popular is no reason to discard it.  According to the Bible, the man is the spiritual head of the family, and his wife should acknowledge his leadership.  But real spiritual leadership involves service.  Just as Christ served the disciples, even to the point of washing their feet, so the husband is to serve his wife.  A wise and Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of his leadership role, and a wise and Christ-honoring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership.  Either approach causes disunity and friction in marriage. (NLT)

Ephesians 5:22-24 – You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord.   For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior.  As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.

* How should a husband love his wife?

Paul devotes twice as many words to telling husbands to love their wives as to telling wives to submit to their husbands.  How should a man love his wife?  (1) He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her, (2) make her well-being of primary importance, and (3) care for her as he cares for his own body.  No wife needs to fear submitting to a man who treats her in this way. (NLT)

Ephesians 5:25-30 – And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church.  He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word.  He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish.  Instead, she will be holy and without fault.  In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies.  For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife.  No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church.  And we are his body.

* Love in family relationships

If our faith in Christ is real, it will usually prove itself at home, in our relationships with those who know us best.  Children and parents have a responsibility to each other.  Children should honor their parents even if the parents are demanding and unfair  Parents should care gently for their children, even if the children are disobedient and unpleasant.  Ideally, of course, Christian parents and Christian children will relate to each other with thoughtfulness and love.  This will happen if both parents and children put the others’ interests above their own–that is, if they submit to one another. (NLT)

Ephesians 6:1-4 – Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.  “Honor your father and mother.”  This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a proimse.  And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, “you will live a long life, full of blessing.”

And now a word to you fathers.  Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them.  Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.

* Why Christians have no excuse for not loving others

Because of their love for one another, Christians can have an impact that goes far beyond their neighborhoods and communities.  Christian love comes from the Holy Spirit.  The Bible speaks of it as an action and attitude, not just an emotion.  Love is a by-product of our new life in Christ.  Christians have no excuse for not loving, because Christian love is a decision to act in the best interests of others. (NLT)

Colossians 1:8 – He is the one who told us about the great love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

* Real love produces tangible actions

Real love for others produces tangible actions: (1) hospitality to strangers; (2) empathy for those who are in prison and those who have been mistreated; (3) respect for your marriage vows; and (4) contentment with what you have.  Make sure that your love runs deep enough to affect your hospitality, empathy, fidelity, and contentment. (NLT)

Hebrews 13:1-5 – Continue to love each other with true Christian love.  Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!  Don’t forget about those in prison.  Suffer with them as though you were there yourself.  Share the sorrow of those being mistreated, as though you feel their pain in your own bodies.

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.  God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said, “I will never fail you.  I will never forsake you.”

* Can you love someone but still dislike them?

Does this mean that if you dislike someone you aren’t a Christian?  These verses are not talking about disliking a disagreeable Christian brother or sister.  There will always be people we will not like as well as others.  John’s words focus on the attitude that causes us to ignore or despise others to treat them as irritants, competitors, or enemies.  Christian love is not a feeling but a choice.  We can choose to be concerned with people’s well-being and treat them with respect, whether or not we feel affection toward them.  If we choose to love others.  God will help us express our love. (NLT)

1 John 2:9-11 – If anyone says, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.  Anyone who loves other Christians is living in the light and does not cause anyone to stumble.  Anyone who hates a Christian brother or sister is living and walking in darkness.  Such a person is lost, having been blinded by the darkness.

* Love is not what makes you feel good

John says, “God is love,” not “Love is God.”  Our world, with its shallow and selfish view of love, has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of love.  The world thinks that love is what makes a person feel good and that it is all right to sacrifice moral principles and others’ rights in order to obtain such “love.”  But that isn’t real love, it is the exact opposite–selfishness.  And God is not that kind of “love.”  Real love is like God, who is holy, just, and perfect.  If we truly know God, we will love as he does. (NLT)

1 John 4:8 – But anyone who does not love does not know God–for God is love.

* What motivates God’s love for us?

Love explains (1) why God creates–because he loves, he creates people to love; (2) why God cares–because he loves them, he cares for sinful people; (3) why we are free to choose–God wants a loving response from us; (4) why Christ died–his love for us caused him to offer a solution to the problem of sin; and (5) why we receive eternal life–God’s love expresses itself to us forever. (NLT)

1 John 4:9-10 – God showed how much he loves us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love.  It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

* Loving people but not their sins

 Through John, Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for hating the wicked practices of the Nicolaitans. Note that they didn’t hate the people, just their sinful actions.  We should accept and love all people and refuse to tolerate any evil.  God cannot tolerate sin, and he expects us to stand against it.  The world needs Christians who will stand for God’s truth and point people toward right living. (NLT)

Revelations 2:6 – [Jesus said] “But there is this about you that is good: you hate the deeds of the immoral Nicolaitans, just as I do.”

* Love spreads like fire

Everyone believes that love is important, but love is usually thought of as a feeling.  In reality, love is a choice and an action.

Some people enjoy being with others.  They make friends with strangers easily and always are surrounded by many friends.  Other people are shy or reserved.  They have a few friends, but they are uncomfortable talking with people they don’t know or mingling in crowds.  Shy people don’t need to become extroverts in order to love others.  John isn’t telling us how many people to love, but how much to love the people we already know.  Our job is to love faithfully the people God has given us to love, whether there are two or two hundred of them.  If God sees that we are ready to love others, he will bring them to us.  No matter how shy we are, we don’t need to be afraid of the love commandment.  God provides us the strength to do what he asks.

God also gives us the power to love.  Rely on that power as you reach out to others.  As you do so, you will gain confidence.

If we ever are afraid of the future, eternity, or God’s judgement, we can remind ourselves of God’s love.  We know that he loves us perfectly.  We can resolve our fears first by focusing on his immeasurable love for us, and then by allowing him to love others through us.  His love will quiet your fears and give you confidence.

God’s love is the source of all human love, and it spreads like fire.  In loving his children, God kindles a flame in their hearts.  In turn, they love others, who are warmed by God’s love through them.

It is easy to say we love God when that love doesn’t cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services.  But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us–our family members and fellow believers.  We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in his image.  (NLT)

1 John 4:7-21 – Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.  Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God–for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.  This is real love.  It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love has been brought to full expression through us.

And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us.  Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.  All who proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.  We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in him.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.  So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world.

Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear.  If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us.  We love each other as a result of his loving us first.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?  And God himself has commanded that we must love not only him but our Christian brothers and sisters, too.

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