‘Real’ Love [v216]

FEBRUARY 2017

The ‘world’ tends to define love sentimentally or frivolously—something that has to do with the EMOTIONS.

When people say things like, “I love my spouse,” or “I love pizza,” it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what they mean. So, maybe looking at what ‘kind’ of love one is talking about might clarify things.

Regrettably, the English language isn’t as ‘deep’ as some of the more ancient ones, and is a little ambiguous when talking about love. The Greek language, for example, is a bit more specific and to-the-point. There are four specific words to depict ‘levels’ or intensity of love—eros, phileo, storge, and agape.

Eros is a passionate physical love based on physical appearance—we get our English word “erotic” from this.

Phileo is a tender affection, a ‘friendship’ kind of love (“Philadelphia” means the “City of Brotherly Love”).

Storge is an affectionate love that develops slowly and is based on similarity—like the love you have for your family members, or a child-to-parent affection.

Agape is a selfless, unconditional, and altruistic love. Thomas Jay Oord has defined it as “an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being.” This is an ‘ACTIVE’, volitional love—not an emotion. It is the ‘key’ to all healthy relationships.

(Don’t you wish we had more specific words like these for love in the English language? Well, I guess we do at least have adjectives like passionate/intimate, friendship/kinship, infatuation/affection, and unconditional/altruistic).

Okay then, what’s “real love” all about? Well, here’s a story—that was turned into a movie—that might give you a better idea about what I consider ‘REAL’ LOVE is all about:

It’s about one John Griffith, starting when he was in his early twenties. He was newly married and full of optimism. Along with his lovely wife, he had been blessed with a beautiful baby. He was living the American dream. But then came 1929—the Great Stock Market Crash—and the shattering of the American economy devastated John’s dreams. The winds that howled through Oklahoma were strangely symbolic of the ‘gale force’ that was sweeping away his hopes and dreams. So, brokenhearted, John packed up his few possessions, and with his wife and his little son, headed East, and found a job as the operator of one of the great railroad bridges that spanned the mighty Mississippi River.

Day after day, John would sit in the control room and direct the enormous gears of the immense bridge over the mighty river. He would look out wistfully as bulky barges and splendid ships gracefully glided under his elevated bridge. Each day, he looked on sadly as those ships carried with them his shattered dreams and visions of far-off places and exotic destinations.

One day, in the summer of 1937, John took his eight-year-old son, Greg, along with him to work. John gave his son a fishing pole and put him at the edge of the river where he could watch him from the control tower.

At noon, John puts the bridge up so a scheduled ship could pass through, and then goes into a back room to check the oil and steam levels, since the next train was not scheduled to arrive for an hour.

Well, while John is in the back room, the son see the smoke and hears the whistle of a train that was coming. He cries out to his dad, but John couldn’t hear him. So, he remembered that his dad had showed him where the “trigger lever” was, and when it was pulled, the bridge would collapse down quickly. He thought that if the bridge didn’t come down now, the people on that train would die—so he immediately ran over to the location of the trigger lever. In his haste to try to pull the trigger lever, he slipped and fell into the gears.

So now, John returns to the control area and finally hears the whistle and sees the smoke of the Memphis coming around the corner. He looks out the window for his son, but he is not where he told him to stay. Then, looking down at the bridge, to see if any ships were passing below, he notices that his son had fallen into the gear mechanism, and his left leg was caught in the cogs of the two main gears.

He froze for a moment in fear, lamenting over the horrific choice. The Memphis Express was approaching quickly, and if he didn’t lower the bridge, the train would not have enough time to stop, and 400 people would die. But, if he lowered the bridge, it would crush his son to death. What a horrible dilemma!

After agonizing about it, John knew what he ‘had’ to do. He flipped the master lever, and lowered the bridge! The cries of his son were quickly drowned out by the grinding sound of the bridge as it lowered slowly into position. With only seconds to spare, the Memphis Express—with its 400 passengers—roared out of the trees and across the mighty bridge, oblivious to how close they came to ‘destruction’.

John lifts his tear-stained face and looks into the windows of the passing train. As the train went by, John could see the faces of some of the passengers—some engaged in idle conversation, some reading, and some even paying attention to anything around them—all but one oblivious to what had just happened, a girl who just so happens to look out her window to see John shrieking in agony.

In excruciating pain, John pounds on the glass of the control room and cries out, “I sacrificed my son for you!” Then, as suddenly as it had happened, it was over. The train disappeared moving rapidly across the bridge and out over the horizon.

The sacrifice John Griffith made for those 400 on board the Memphis Express train that day was unimaginable! He let his son die instead of them. He did not ‘have’ to do this—but he did it ‘willingly’. John gave up what meant most to him, and in doing so, the sacrifice of his son brought ‘hope’ for the future of untold numbers of people for being alive (even though they were ‘clueless’ about it). Since, as the video ‘short’ shows, the girl that saw John as the train went by—a heroin addict that ‘cleaned up’ her life—had a child of her own…something that would not have happened if she had died in a train crash. In addition to that, many others among the 400 people on the train would have had children of their own, who after they grew up, would have also had children, too—repeating for generations to come, and growing exponentially the number of people who would have been affected if their parents/grandparents/great-grandparents would have died that ‘fateful’ day.

[ NOTE: The following is the summarized ‘short’ of the movie, “Most” (Czech for “The Bridge”) that was made about this story in 2003 (A link to the entire movie is below in the “Articles” section) ]:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIi14dUtt9g

Now, as I write this summarization of the movie many days after I last viewed the video, I am still ‘grasped’ by the angst that I imagine John felt—and it is affecting me physically!

This story illustrates the possibility of an excruciating merger of love and sacrifice demonstrated by the depth of John’s love for people in general, by making the supreme personal sacrifice of his son for them.

I would like to use this story of a son sacrificed for the ‘salvation’ of many to attempt to make an allegory for essentially what the Bible is all about: God’s sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, for the salvation of humanity.

Hopefully, you will view at least the 7-and-one-half minute ‘summarization’ video of this story, because it will help make God’s sacrifice a bit more understandable to you by relating it in terms of an earthly father’s anguish over having to make a inhuman ‘offering’—though Jesus’ sacrifice was inestimably greater in extent.

Now, regarding the “Jesus died for us” parallel I am presenting here, similar to John’s son—when he tried to save the people on the train by flipping the “trigger lever”—Jesus had a ‘ministry’ on this earth for about three years, preaching about God’s love and trying to ‘save’ as many people as possible from their ‘destruction’. But, try as He might, Jesus ‘died’ trying.

In addition to that, the John’s story is a bit different on one key point: Jesus did not go to His death as the result of an accident or caught by a surprise. Though God the Father did give up His Son to ‘save’ mankind—the way that John sacrificed his son to spare the lives of strangers—the choice was not forced upon Him by circumstance. God, in His great love and according to His sovereign will and purpose, ‘predetermined’ to sacrifice His Son so that we might ‘live’. Jesus was always fated to die for mankind’s sins.

The Bible says: “He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for our sake” [ 1 Peter 1:20 ]. Not only that, but the consummate love of Jesus is also demonstrated in that He was not accidentally ‘caught’ as was John’s son in the gears. Rather, He WILLINGLY sacrificed His life for the sins of mankind. So, even though I do like the story as an allegory for this, it is but a faint ‘glimpse’ of what the Heavenly Father did in sacrificing His Son to atone for the sins of the world, in time immemorial.

Now trying to comprehend the emotions that went through John’s heart would be very hard, if we could ever do it without actually experiencing it, then I’m thinking we could never even begin to understand the ‘feelings’ of Our Father in Heaven when He sacrificed His Son to bridge the ‘gap’ between us and Him. Can there be any wonder that He caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His Son died?

How do you think He ‘feels’ when we speed along through life without even giving a small thought about what He did for us? You may ask, “What did God do for us?” Well, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross, and to become the ‘sin sacrifice’ for all sins, in all its forms, ever committed by all humans throughout history; Jesus then paid the enormous ‘penalty’ for all those sins, and then was resurrected by God to show us that Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient, that we now could have a ‘restored’ relationship with Him here on earth; and, finally after all that, we now have been completely forgiven of our sins with no ‘strings’ attached, and we ‘qualify’ for eternity in Heaven! After much “Goggling,” I didn’t find any language that sufficiently described that kind of LOVE!

Well, just like John Griffin’s story of his son’s death in the bridge’s gears, God’s ‘narrative’ didn’t stop with Jesus’ death on the cross. Three days after Jesus’ death, He rose from the grave. For this reason, Christians celebrate this event on Sunday (to honor Jesus’ resurrection day) because He overcame death, and moreover, just like Jesus, they too shall ‘arise’ someday. [ Note: John Griffin’s son was, so to speak, ‘resurrected’ by ‘commutation’—the birth of a new son to the girl on the train ].

So, you may be thinking, how could one man pay the penalty for billions of people—for all of mankind? Well, one man couldn’t, but the “GOD MAN,” Jesus, could.

The Bible tells us that Jesus, as God, actually created our world and all of us. So, what we have here is the ‘Creator’ coming to planet earth some 2,000 years ago sacrificing His life in exchange for us ‘creatures’ that He loves. Even though He made up the rules that we’ve all broken, He humbled Himself to suffer our ‘punishment’ for breaking them. The thing is, God Himself could, and did, pay the penalty for our sins!

To me, the CROSS represents the ‘REAL’ LOVE that is infinitely deeper than any movie, poem, or romance novel, in any language could express! The cross represents the indescribable and undeniable love of God. Mankind was doomed to eternal separation from God if not for the love shown on the cross. The Bible makes this very clear: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” [ John 3:16 ].

I believe that, without the super abounding love of God the Father, and the sacrificial love of Jesus, we wouldn’t even know ‘how’ to love. Though, I for one believe that God has ‘built’ into humans a special kind of love that no other animal has, we sometimes stray from what we know is good, right, wonderful, beautiful and precious—another reason why Jesus came to this earth…to ‘remind’ us of ‘how’ to love others, and that He still loves every one of us dearly!

So, to me, more than anything else, the story of the cross is a “love story”—and some say the Bible is God’s “love letter” to humankind (written directly to each one of us!). It conveys the GREATEST DISPLAY OF LOVE that will ever be expressed!

The following hymn, written by Isaac Watts in 1704, is a very powerful ‘capsulation’ of Jesus’ love for us:

“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Isaac Watts understood the immensity of the Crucifixion—and its ‘demands’. The MOST AMAZING LOVE ever offered to humankind—and in Jesus’ DEATH we can find ‘LIFE’, if we just receive the ‘gift’ of Jesus from God.

The Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” [ John 15:13 ]—and there is no greater love than what Jesus did for His ‘friends’ on the cross! He laid down His life so that all who ‘believe’ in Him would have the opportunity to be clean, pure and blameless before God the Father—so that we can spend eternity with Them!

There are people who spend a lifetime searching for love, but have never experienced it because they fail to realize it has been ‘available’ to them all along—through Jesus. Many times, God ‘allows’ the consequences of our sin to catch up with us so He can gain our attention and bring us to the point of confession—where we cry out for His forgiveness—and then He gives us much more than that…eternal life!

Jesus said that our life’s priority is reasonably simple…AGAPE LOVE: “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 12:30-31 ].

Just think about what gives you the most optimism in your life, especially during time of difficulty and suffering—someone else’s love. It makes no difference how dark your circumstances are at the time, their love invigorates you and ‘breeds’ expectancy in your life. We all have been given to opportunity—through the Holy Spirit ‘living inside’ us—to be able to pour out God’s supernatural love to people in a world ‘hungry’ for real love.

The Bible tells us that life lived apart from God’s love is empty and meaningless. Without that key element, no matter how gifted, intelligent, or powerful one is, you will continue to fight feelings of shame, loneliness, defeat, and frustration. There is only one solution, and that is to ‘surrender’ your life to Jesus—and when you do, He will give you a profound ‘awareness’ of His love with the ‘infilling’ of the Holy Spirit.

If you haven’t encountered this kind of love, then all that remains is for you to trust in what Jesus has done for you on your behalf, so that you will be able to experience the growing ‘evidence’ throughout your life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—which is only available through a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus.

The Bible makes it clear that we could never earn forgiveness from God or earn our own way to Heaven: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” [ Romans 3:20 ]. Trying on our own would be as futile as trying, on our own, to build a bridge from L.A. to Hawaii. We will die trying! But, God has built a ‘bridge’ across the “Great Divide” (the ‘gap’ between mankind and God because of our sin), and we can cross over it to God’s ‘side’! Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” [ John 5:24 ]. The good news is this: God has provided a way to Heaven by sending His own Son to die on the cross in the place of us sinners who deserved His righteous punishment. He calls on everyone to ‘turn’ from trying to achieve their own self-righteousness, and to trust entirely in Jesus. Will you trust in Him completely? Will you give your life and your destiny to Him?

In eternity past, God stood with His ‘hand’ on the ‘master lever’ for the ‘bridge’ over the Great Divide, and made the same choice John Griffin did—sacrificed His Son to save everyone on the ‘train’ of life. However, as has been said, God did much more than John Griffin (or any human) could have done—He offers everyone the ‘gift’ of eternal life. So, if you yet to do so, RECEIVE IT TODAY!

‘EMOTIONALLY’ you may be having a strong feeling about all this (the Holy Spirit may be ‘prompting’ you), but it really takes some ‘ACTION’ on your part to respond to the prompting by ‘surrendering’ your will to Jesus’ control to become ‘regenerated’, a child of God, and ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit, after which, He will lead you in developing righteousness, and help you cultivate the “fruit of the Spirit” in your life.

If you would like to ‘give’ your life to Jesus right now, you can do it right where you are. There’s no magical words to say, you just need to believe in your ‘heart’ that God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, is God in the flesh, rose from the dead, and is alive today—and when He died on the cross, He took your place as your substitute sacrifice for your sins. If you sincerely believe this, then admit you are a sinner, confess your sins, and that you will trust Jesus alone for your salvation, committing your life to His service.

You could say something like the following (in your own words if you would like):

Dear Lord Jesus,
I understand that I am a sinner, and I can’t save myself. I sincerely repent of my sins, and ask You for forgiveness and mercy. I believe that You died on the cross as my substitute, paying my sin debt in full so that I could receive Your forgiveness and have eternal life. I ask You to come into my life right now and become my personal Savior. From this day forward, I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and ask you to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to take control, and guide me be the kind of person you want me to be. Give me a ‘new beginning’, and help me to live for You.
Amen.

[ NOTE: Please e-mail me if you have become a Christian—I would love to CELEBRATE with you, and help you get started on your ‘journey’ with Jesus! ].

[ Excerpts from: Charles B. Hodge, Jr.; Jim Liebelt; Marty Kaarre; Hank Hanegraff; John MacArthur ]

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RESOURCES:

Loved By God
A Teaching Series by Dr. R.C. Sproul
[ Audio and Video ]

– God Is Love
– God’s Eternal Love
– The Loyal Love of God
– The Lovingkindness of God
– God’s Electing Love
– The Hatred of God
– God’s Benevolent Love
– The Complacent Love of God
– Agape Love
– Modeling God’s Love
– Abiding Love

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/loved_by_god/

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God’s Love
By: R.C. Sproul

Dr. R. C. Sproul is one of the most renowned theologians of our time. For over 40 years Dr. Sproul has encouraged, educated, and enlightened millions through his books, teaching, and ministry.

God doesn’t just love us. He is love. God’s Love explores the unrelenting love of God, which found its ultimate expression through His Son. This release also explains difficult themes such as the different aspects of God’s nature, how His love coexists with His holiness, and what the Bible means when it mentions God’s hatred. This is a compelling read for all who long to love as God loves.

https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Love-Infinite-Children-Theology/dp/143470422X/

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Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
By: Francis Chan

God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not, we all know something’s wrong.

Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts—it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

Learn more about Crazy Love at www.crazylovebook.com.

https://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Love-Overwhelmed-Relentless-God-ebook/dp/B00C9QGYN0/

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The Love of God: An Intimate Look at the Father-Heart of God
By: Oswald Chambers

Chambers’ study assumes the absolute authority of the Bible, then searches it deeply to discover treasures that enhance spiritual growth. Those treasures include the richness and relevance of Scripture, the reality of faith at work, and intimacy with God.

– Challenges Christians to step back and consider what their commitment to the Lord means in personal and practical terms.
– For people who want to deepen and strengthen their relationship with the heavenly Father.
– Written by the author of the popular devotional My Utmost for His Highest.

https://www.amazon.com/Love-God-Intimate-Father-Heart-CHAMBERS/dp/0929239040/

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Love of God
By: Charles Spurgeon

Love of God it is a sermon of Charles Spurgeon based on 1 John 4:19, and talks about the incredible love of God for us. Is a gifted message of love and truth.

https://www.amazon.com/Love-God-Charles-Spurgeon-ebook/dp/B00VEE6ZEG/

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God Loves You: He Always Has—He Always Will
By: David Jeremiah

That God loves us is the most profound truth in the universe. Experiencing this love has the potential to answer every question, solve every problem, and satisfy the deepest yearnings of the heart. So why are many people who believe this still unable to fully utilize the power of God’s love in their personal lives?

In this probing book, Dr. David Jeremiah reveals that not fully understanding and appreciating every critical dimension of God’s love can lead to missed opportunities to experience His love. He explains how even the so-called negative dimension of God’s actions–hell, prohibitive commandments, pain and suffering in the world–can only be rightly understood by viewing them in light of God’s true love.

GOD LOVES YOU will enable readers to know God in a way that will consciously connect them with the healing power of His grace so they can experience the life of love they were created to enjoy.

https://www.amazon.com/God-Loves-You-Always-Has-He/dp/1455522627/

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The God Who Loves: He Will Do Whatever It Takes To Draw Us To Him
By: John F. MacArthur

“God is love.”

It’s the most basic definition of God in Scriptures, but so profound that it’s often misunderstood. In this probing book, a brilliant Bible expositor brings us into the very heart of God by answering such questions as:

– If God is love, how could He send anyone to hell?
– What’s the difference between the loving God of the New Testament and the angry God of the Old Testament?
– If God is love, why did He require His Son to die such a cruel death on the Cross?
– How can God be both loving and jealous?

The author argues against the two polar views of God as a sentimental grandfather whose doting love could not bring him to punishment of the disobedient and God as an angry tyrant who would rule by threats. “Both extremes paint a distorted picture of God and further confuse the issue of understanding God’s love,” Dr. MacArthur writes. He insists that what God loves is actually defined by what He hates, and that neither His love nor His wrath can be understood in isolation from the other.

Although the author is clearly aware of the way great men have grappled with these issues in the history of the Church, his doctrinal presentations arise more from the biblical text than from dogmatic theology. He examines in detail the way John, “the apostle of love”, treats love in his First Epistle, then fleshes out the doctrine of God’s love in vivid representations of real people interacting with divine love.

https://www.amazon.com/God-Who-Loves-Whatever-Takes-ebook/dp/B007FZOXX8/

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The Four Loves
By: C.S. Lewis

“We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.”

We hear often that love is patient and kind, not envious or prideful. We hear that human love is a reflection of divine love. We hear that God is love. But how do we understand its work in our lives, its perils and rewards? Here, the incomparable C. S. Lewis examines human love in four forms: affection, the most basic, general, and emotive; friendship, the most rare, least jealous, and, in being freely chosen, perhaps the most profound; Eros, passionate love that can run counter to happiness and poses real danger; charity, the greatest, most spiritual, and least selfish. Proper love is a risk, but to bar oneself from it—to deny love—is a damning choice. Love is a need and a gift; love brings joy and laughter. We must seek to be awakened and so to find an Appreciative love through which “all things are possible.”

“The Four Loves deserves to become a minor classic as a modern mirror of our souls, a mirror of the virtues and failings of human loving.” — New York Times Book Review

“Lewis has a keen eye, a large measure of human sympathy, wit, and a command of simple words.” — Times Literary Supplement

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis (1898-1963), one of the great writers of the twentieth century, also continues to be one of our most influential Christian thinkers. He wrote more than thirty books, both popular and scholarly, including The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, Mere Christianity, and Surprised by Joy.

https://www.amazon.com/Four-Loves-C-S-Lewis/dp/0156329301/ref=mt_paperback?

Free Study Guide:
http://www.cslewis.org/resources/studyguides/Study%20Guide%20-%20The%20Four%20Loves.pdf

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God is Love: Reflections on the Character of God
By: Oswald Chambers

Love can mean different things to different people depending on their situation. That’s why Oswald Chambers reminds us to turn to Scripture to find the only true, pure form of love there is—God’s love. His love is perfect and powerful, holy and healing. We can’t even begin to comprehend it apart from His Word.“God Is Love” leads you to a place of understanding how God IS love and how He demonstrates His love to us in amazing ways.

http://discoveryseries.org/discovery-series/god-is-love/

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FRUITS OF THE BEATITUDESWEB SITE
(The ATTITUDES of Jesus that produce the CHARACTER of Jesus)

CLICK ON THE LINK to view:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/

FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/FruitsOfTheBeatitudes/

[ Mark Besh ]

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[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about the “Good News” (the love of God), visit the following link:
http://www.thesearchformeaning.net/sfm_pres/sp_q9_d4_1of10.html

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v216) for FEBRUARY 2017

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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ARTICLES:

FATHER’S LOVE LETTER

God loves you. This is His beautiful love letter to you. He is always faithful to all HIs promises and is perfect in HIs timing. His blessings shower like rain and His mercy flow like flood with unending love and amazing grace. AMEN.
Lyrics of Father Gods love letter to you

My Child,
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
My question isWill you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32
Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYzr3JavFqM

http://www.fathersloveletter.com/

*****************************
MOST” (“The Bridge”)

“Most” is the story of a single father who takes his eight-year-old son to work with him at the railroad drawbridge where he is the bridge tender. A day before, the boy meets a woman boarding a train, a drug abuser. At the bridge, the father goes into the engine room, and tells his son to stay at the edge of the nearby lake. A ship comes, and the bridge is lifted. Though it is supposed to arrive an hour later, the train happens to arrive. The son sees this, and tries to warn his father, who is currently not paying attention and is unaware of the oncoming train. Just as the oncoming train approaches, his son falls into the drawbridge gear works while attempting to lower the bridge, leaving the father with a horrific choice. The father then lowers the bridge, the gears crushing the boy. The people in the train are completely oblivious to the fact a boy died trying to save them, other than the drug addict woman, who happened to look out her train window. The movie ends, with him wandering a new city, and meets the previously drug-addicted woman, now ‘clean’ and holding her small baby. Most is both a heart-wrenching and glorious story that portrays the greatest measure of love, sacrifice, hope, and forgiveness known to man.

Here’s a poem about this story by Seth David Miller:

“There once was a man, John Griffith was his name;
John didn’t have wealth, fortunes, or fame.

But he did have his one and only son, who gave him all of his joy;
His name was Gregory, and he was only an 8-year old boy.

John loved his little boy dearly, much more than himself.
You see, John’s wife left him all alone with their son, when she succumbed to her poor health.

The year was 1937, and life was fair;
John was just thankful to have his son and the smile that his son would always wear.

Little Gregory’s smile was captivating, his laughter filled with pure glee;
His father only had to look upon his smiling face, and he would become as happy as could be.

He was a curious child, always asking his father many questions;
Including what had happened to his mother, John’s wife, Lynn.

John always just looked down at his son with a smile,
And told his son that she has been watching over them in Heaven for a while.

John loved his son so much, so innocent and pure;
He would grow up to be a kind and gentle man, of that John was sure.

John was a bridge operator, which was his occupation.
He would go from town to the river, and stay at work until the job was done.

It was John’s job to make the bridge lift up, whenever a boat would approach the bridge overlooking the river;
John allowed the boat to safely bass below, and he did all of that with the pull of a lever.

It wasn’t a glamorous job, but it paid the bills.
It allowed them to eat food, and helped pay for his son’s medicinal pills.

John would walk to work everyday with his son, holding tight onto his hand;
They would take the scenic route to work through the woods, trekking across the land.

Gregory loved to come to work with his father and watch the trains go by;
He was fascinated by these trains, and on his belly he would lie.

John and Gregory passed the time with fun, as trains didn’t come by often;
The two of them always played card games, although John always let his son win.

One particular day, John left his son outside and told him to go play,
While John stayed at the operating tower, which is where he would stay.

The bridge was currently up, as a boat had just passed through,
Little did John know that the train was off-schedule, and was coming too soon.

John didn’t hear the train coming, as he sat in the tower sipping his drink.
But his son was outside, and as soon as he saw the steam from the train, he knew what it was in a wink.

You see, the bridge was still up, and this caused a great problem;
The train was coming with 400 people on board, and if the bridge was not lowered, all of their lives would be done.

The train was filled with all sorts of people, good and bad;
There were families and soldiers; people who were happy and people who were sad.

There were those on their way home, and those visiting relatives;
And those that were drug addicts, shooting drugs into their skin.

Those that were mothers heading home to see their sons,
And those that were drunkards, sipping away at their gin.

The train was filled with young children too,
Who cared about nothing and dreaded going back to school.

John was oblivious to what was going on outside, so his son took the task upon himself,
To try and save the people on the train, by pulling the manual bridge lever himself.

Just then John looked out the window, and saw what was transpiring,
And he saw his son reach for the lever, but he saw his son slip!

Down into the gears of the bridge his son fell;
As he heard the approaching train ding their bell.

The father was now faced with a very tough choice:

He could try and save his son, thus allowing the 400 people on the train to die;
Or he could pull the lever, crushing his son to death in the gears, hearing him cry.

But if he pulled the lever, the bridge would go down, saving the 400 people;
But to sacrifice his only son! Could he really go through with it!?

John was faced with this horrible decision with only seconds to decide;
He was panicking, and his fears would not subside.

He could save the 400 people, but his only beloved son would die!

“Oh Lord!” John cried out, “Please let there be another way!” he screamed.
He wished he would just wake up and find that this was all a bad dream.

But there was no other option, and he had to decide;
So decide he did, no matter what he did, he knew he would cry.

John pulled the lever.

The gears below began turning, lowering the bridge.
With merely seconds to spare, as the train shot by.

John ran as fast as he could to the spot where his son had fell;
But he knew it was too late, his son was dead, he could tell.

He screamed! He cried! He shouted out in agony!
“Why Lord!? WHY!? Why have you forsaken me!?’

The people on the train stared in confusion at this crazed man outside,
Who had tears streaming down his face as they kept on going by.

A woman and her baby stared at him out their window;
John stared right back looking on in sorrow.

They were completely oblivious to the sacrifice he had just made.
He gave his one and only son, so that each of them could live another day.

John shouted at them, “What’s wrong with you people! Why don’t you care!?”
“I sacrificed my only son for you! Why are you so UNAWARE!?”

John fell onto his knees, sobs of sorrow coming from his deep within.
He couldn’t contain himself, this grief was so grim!

So many people, unaware at what he had just done;
Giving up the only thing he cared about, his one and only son.

His son had died.

A month passed, and what a sorrowful month it was;
His grief was so great, and it hurt that no one else knew.

It hurt that no one was there to comfort him,
And that no one was there to care even a whim.

But as he was walking back to town from work one day, as it started to rain;
John saw that woman and her baby boy, the ones who stared at him on the train.

John could see the love emanating from the boy’s mother,
The baby boy smiled at John, and John smiled back.

As they walked away, John smiled to himself.

His son died so that the husbands on that train could see their wives,
And so the young children on that train could live out their lives

His son died for that little boy and his mother,
So that they could live out their lives and affect the lives of others.

The sacrifice of one, of his only son,
brought hope for the future, for each and every one.”

———————

Movie ‘Short’:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIi14dUtt9g

Movie ‘Short’ With Narrator:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoQJI5HTSss

Entire Movie:

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

(With subtitles)

*****************************
AMAZING LOVE

I’m forgiven cause You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me
‘Cause You died and rose again

I’m forgiven cause You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me
‘Cause You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know its true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You

I’m forgiven cause You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me
‘Cause You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know its true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You

Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know its true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You

You are my King
You are my King
You are my King
You are my King

Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know its true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You

Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know its true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You

You are my King
You are my King
You are my King
You are my King

You are my King
You are my King
You are my King
You are my King

[ Hillsong United- “Amazing Love” album ]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avJ4lDnZWRU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsR34Zj6ybg

*****************************
THE BRIDGE TO LIFE

One of the oldest questions humankind has been asking is, “How can I know God?” The question is a valid one. What is He like? What can we do to please Him? How can we get to Heaven? If we work hard enough to be a good enough person will He accept us then? If we do enough religious activities to get His attention, will that do it?

Fortunately for us, the answer is surprisingly simple. The “Gospel” that the Bible talks about literally means, “the Good News,” and the news is good indeed!

First, we have to start at the beginning. In Genesis 1:26, when God created the first humans, He said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”, then God blessed them and spent the days walking and talking with the people He had created. In short, life was good.

But why isn’t life like that anymore? What happened to mess everything up? This brings us to the second point: when we (humankind) chose to do the opposite of what God told us, sin poisoned the world. Sin separated us from God, and everything changed. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and in Isaiah 59:2 we’re told, “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.”
This is especially bad news because there is no way for us to get across that gap on our own. We (humankind) have tried to find our way back to God and a perfect world on our own ever since then, and without any luck. We try to get there by being good people, or through religion, money, morality, philosophy, education, or any number of other ways, but eventually we find out that none of it works. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

There is only one way to find peace with God, and the Bible says it is through Jesus Christ. We were stranded without any way of getting back to our Creator, and we needed a way to pay for our sins and be clean again so that we could be welcomed back to be with Him. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So this is the Good News—that even though we were still enemies of God (as one translation says), Jesus came to die on the cross and pay the price for our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him again. John 3:16 says, “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.”

What then should be our reaction to this awesome news? This brings us to the last and most important part. John 5:24 says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Jesus Christ himself even says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), and Romans 5:1 says, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how can I have peace with God, life to the full, and be confident of eternal life like these verses say? First, through an honest prayer to God, I have to admit that I’m not perfect—that I can’t escape my sins, and I can’t save myself. I follow this admission by believing that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross and rose from the grave, conquering death and sin. Then I invite Jesus Christ to live in me and be the Lord of my life, accepting His free gift of eternal life with Him.

The prayer can go something like this:

“Dear Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner and that I need You to forgive me. I know that You died a painful death so that my sins could be washed clean. Thank you. I want to make You the Lord of my life, and I will trust and follow You. Everything I have is Yours now.

In Your name, Lord.
Amen.”

There is nothing magical about these words. It’s not the words themselves that make things right between you and God—it’s whether or not your heart really means it. We know this because in 1 Samuel 16:7, the Bible says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The best part of this whole process is that it doesn’t matter how badly we’ve messed up, Jesus is powerful enough to save anyone from their sins—even the worst of us. Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” That’s fantastic news—no matter how badly we’ve messed up, we can place our complete trust in Jesus, and He will wipe all of our sins off the face of the earth. Jesus is the bridge to life.

[ Navigators ]

“The Bridge to Life” is also available in booklet form:
https://www.navpress.com/p/bridge-to-life-50-pack/9781600060205

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3zLPyIwq6M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywA3dFE4jXY

*****************************
LOVE: A FEELING OR ACTION?

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians may be, from a literary viewpoint, the greatest passage Paul ever penned. Among many other things, it has been called the hymn of love, a lyrical interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes set to music. Studying it is somewhat like taking apart a flower; part of the beauty is lost when the components are separated. But the Spirit’s primary purpose in this passage, as in all Scripture, is to edify. When each part is understood more clearly, the whole can become even more beautiful.

Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament. Unlike our English love, it never refers to romantic or sexual love, for which eros was used, and which does not appear in the New Testament. Nor does it refer to mere sentiment, a pleasant feeling about something or someone. It does not mean dose friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term the King James translators carried over from the Latin and which in English has long been associated only with giving to the needy. This chapter is itself the best definition of agape.

Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist and founder of the Menninger Clinic, has written that “Love is the medicine for our sick old world. If people can learn to give and receive love, they will usually recover from their physical or mental illness.”

The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire. When we say, “I love you,” we often mean, “I love me and I want you.” That, of course, is the worst sort of selfishness, the very opposite of agape love.

Alan Redpath tells the story of a young woman who came to her pastor desperate and despondent. She said, “There is a man who says he loves me so much he will kill himself if I don’t marry him. What should I do?” “Do nothing,” he replied. “That man doesn’t love you; he loves himself. Such a threat isn’t love; it is pure selfishness.”

Self–giving love, love that demands something of us, love that is more concerned with giving than receiving, is as rare in much of the church today as it was in Corinth. The reason, of course, is that agape love is so unnatural to human nature. Our world has defined love as “romantic feeling” or “attraction,” which has nothing to do with true love in God’s terms.

The supreme measure and example of agape love is God’s love. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Love is above all sacrificial. It is sacrifice of self for the sake of others, even for others who may care nothing at all for us and who may even hate us. It is not a feeling but a determined act of will, which always results in determined acts of self–giving. Love is the willing, joyful desire to put the welfare of others above our own. It leaves no place for pride, vanity, arrogance, self–seeking, or self–glory. It is an act of choice we are commanded to exercise even in behalf of our enemies: “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45). If God so loved us that, even “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:4–7), how much more should we love those who are our enemies.

[ John MacArthur – An excerpt from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13 ]

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PSALM 103 ‘SUMMARIZATION’:

Never forget God’s faithful love. He forgives your sins, and He heals your sick ‘heart’. He refreshes your ‘spirit’ with His goodness. God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in steadfast love. As far as heaven is above the earth, that is the greatness of God’s love for you! As far as the east if from the west, that is the ‘distance’ God put between the Christian and our sin. God is our ‘Father’ full of love for us, even though He knows we are but ‘dust’ and like the grass growing fast—and then gone in the blowing of the wind! But, God’s love is from forever to forever, and His righteousness ‘reaches’ through the ages. So, everyone, everywhere, with everything that is inside them, should praise God’s holy name!

[ Centerline Media ]

https://centerlinenewmedia.com/product/6378/A-Psalm-of-Love

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LOVE COMES TO LIFE

Is love only an emotion? A feeling in our ‘hearts’? Is it romance? Is it a poem? Is it just something we sing about it? Well,not even close!

Love is action. Love is sacrificing. Love is serving. Love is giving. Love is doing good to those who ‘hate’ you. Love is blessing those who ‘curse’ you. Love is praying for those who mistreat you. Love is honoring God!

So, don’t ‘bottle up’ you love—let it ‘pour’ out! You will change your relationships, family, community, and the world! With every deed (great or small), every kind word (whether deserved or not), and every sacrifice you make, love comes to ‘life’. The Apostle Paul said that we should “be imitators of God, as dearly beloved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” [ Ephesians 5:1-3 ].

[ Centerline Media ]

https://centerlinenewmedia.com/product/2807/Love-Comes-To-Life

*****************************
CHOOSE LOVE

“Love.” It’s easy to ‘toss’ such a word around casually. “I love ice cream” (or cake, cookies, potato chips, coffee, pasta, etc.) “I love such-and-such artist or celebrity.” I love such-and-such city or country.” “I think I’m falling in love.” (You get the idea). But, real, true, lasting love is something very different.

In fact, in the Bible, it teaches that love is: patient; kind; humble; honors others; is not easily angered; offers forgiveness; rejoices in the truth; always protects, trusts, and hopes. So, how does one live out this kind of love? Well, put your spouse before yourself. Be kind and patient with your children. Be respectful of your parents. Give to the needy. Be patient with that mean, obnoxious person. Work hard to ‘heal’ broken relationships. Forgive that person at work.

One to the ‘purposes’ of a Christian is to experience God’s love to them, and then share that love with the ‘world’. The Apostle John wrote: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child 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 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. 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 is brought to full expression in us.” [ 1 John 4:7-12 ].

God is love, so ‘choose’ love!

[ Hyper Pixels Media ]

http://www.hyperpixelsmedia.com/sermon-illustration-videos/choose-love

*****************************
DOES GOD LOVE ME?

Answer: The question of whether God loves us – personally and individually – is common. Surrounded by the conditional love of finite humanity, we cannot easily comprehend that God would love us. We know our faults. We know that God is perfect and sinless. We know that we are not. Why would God, who is infinite and holy, love us, who are finite and sinful? And yet the great truth of the gospel is that He does! Time and again, Scripture reminds us of God’s love for us.

To begin with, God created mankind in His own image. And He did so with great care and concern. He “formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being … the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:7, 21-22). There’s an intimacy here between God and mankind. With the rest of creation, God merely spoke and it was. Yet God took time in forming man and woman. He gave them dominion over the earth (see Genesis 1:28). God related directly to Adam and Eve. After the Fall, the couple hid from God when He came “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). It was not abnormal for them to speak with God; it was abnormal for them to hide.

Relationship with God was broken after the Fall, but His love remained. Immediately following God’s pronouncement of curses on the sinful couple, Scripture paints another loving image of God. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and also take from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of the Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken” (Genesis 3:21-23). God’s action here is not vindictive or punitive; it is protective. God clothed Adam and Eve to hide their shame. He drove them out of Eden to protect them from further harm. God acted out of love. Then, God’s plan of redemption and restoration begins to unfold—a plan not designed after the Fall, but before creation (1 Peter 1:20). God loves humankind so much that He chose to create us even knowing the heartache it would cause Him to redeem us.

There are many verses that demonstrate God’s love. We can see His tenderness in Old and New Testament alike. David and other psalmists were particularly articulate regarding God’s love. Just look at Psalm 139. Song of Solomon is another great picture of love. God’s love is even evident in the history of the Israelites, as He continually preserved a remnant and pled with His people to obey and live. God is seen as just, but also merciful. He is tender. He is jealous for His people, desirous that relationship be restored.

Sometimes we look at the Old Testament and think that God only loves people as a nation, not as individuals. But it is important to remember that Ruth, Hagar, David, Abraham, Moses and Jeremiah were all individuals. God stepped into each of their lives and loved them individually. This love becomes obvious in the person of Jesus.

God confined Himself to human skin in order to redeem us (see Philippians 2:5-11). He entered our world as a baby born to an unassuming family in a very humble way (He spent His first night in an animals’ feeding trough). Jesus grew up like any child would. During His public ministry, He often associated with society’s outcasts. He stopped for the sick. He healed. He listened to people. He blessed the children. He also taught us about God’s love. Luke 13:34 records Jesus crying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” This speaks God’s heart desire that people would return to Him. He longs for us. Not to punish us, but to love us.

Perhaps the greatest picture of God’s love is Jesus’ passion and crucifixion. Paul reminds us, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus’ work on the cross was a clear, unmistakable declaration of love. And this love is unconditional. We were in our worst state when Christ died for us. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins … But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace that you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5).

This salvation has made true life possible. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” Jesus said. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). God is not stingy. He wants to lavish His love on us. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death,” Paul proclaims in Romans 8:1-2.

Remember, Paul was formerly an enemy of Christ. He vehemently persecuted Christians. He lived by the letter of the law rather than through an understanding of God’s love. Paul, if he even thought of God’s love, probably felt that God could not love him apart from rule-following. Yet, in Christ, he found God’s grace and accepted God’s love. One of his greatest articulations of God’s love is this: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-32, 35-39).

So the simple answer is, “yes.” Yes, God loves you! As hard as it may be to believe, it is the truth.

Other Scriptures about God’s love for you:

1 John 4:8 – “ … God is love”

Ephesians 5:1-2 – “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:25-27 – “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

John 15:9-11 – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

1 John 3:16a – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

[ Got Answers ]

*****************************
GOD IS LOVE

Audio of lesson one in the sermon series: “God Loves You: He Always Has—He Always Will”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM56MyNmORU

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

[ David Jeremiah ]

*****************************
CREATION OF ADAM
(Painting on Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo)

When you look closely at the painting, you will notice how outstretched God’s arm is. Every muscle on His face is contorted, and His hand is reaching as far as possible to make contact [ His love for us ]. By contrast, Adam is in a ‘lounging’ position and lackadaisically letting his ‘lumpish’ hand dangle with apathy—an attitude that seems to say “Engh…if it meets His hand, it meets.” This shows the contrasting inclinations of each of their ‘hearts’.

http://www.italianrenaissance.org/michelangelo-creation-of-adam/

*****************************
FOUND GOD
(Parody of “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley)

I ain’t nothin’ but I found God
It took quite a long time
I went knockin’ and I found God
In spite of all my crimes
Well, I had several naughty habits
But my faith was genuine
Well, He said to me I’d pass
From death right into life
Yes, He said to me I’d pass
From death right into life
Well, in verse 24 I read it
There In St. John chapter 5

I ain’t nothin’ but I found God
Christ is bona fide
He came knockin’ and I found God
I said, Christ, come inside
Well, I repented of my habits
And I waved those sins goodbye

LEAD
Well, He said to me I’d pass
From death right into life
Yes, He said to me I’d pass
From death right into life
Well, in Luke 23 the robber
Got the same promise as I

LEAD
Well, He said to me I’d pass
From death right into life
You know, He said to me, I’d pass
From death right into life
Well, He said Heaven’s automatic
If you place your faith in Christ
You ain’t nothin’ till you’ve found God
Find Him while there’s time
You keep knockin’ till you’ve found God
Christ, He doesn’t hide
Well, it’s in 7:7 Matthew
You seek and then you’ll find

[ ApologetiX – “Hits The Roads” album ]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLvIzOAVDS0

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ST. VALENTINE, THE REAL STORY

Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s day is all about, right? Well, maybe not.

The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday—St. Valentine.

“He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time,” Father O’Gara explains. ” He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”

“I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive society in which Valentine lived,” says Father O’Gara. “Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this.”

“The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict.”

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.

“One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.”

In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”

“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that —even to the point of death.”

Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this Christian saint.

“Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life—some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.”

“If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”

“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context,” Father O’Gara says. “Love—human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God—but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine means to me.”

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MESSAGE IN THE BIBLE
(Parody of “Message in a Bottle” by the Police)

Oh! There’s a vast array of idle philosophies, oh
They want to know the way, but no one’s here but Me, though
More holiness than any man could bear
Yes, you see the door to follow through is narrow

I’ll send My S-o-n to the world
I’ll send My S-o-n to the world
I hope that someone gets My
I hope that some will get My
I know that some will get My
Message in the Bible, yeah
Message in the Bible, yeah

The years have passed since I wrote My quotes
I sent them notice right from the start
The Holy Ghost can teach them the rest, though
Let Him in your life, illuminate your heart

I’ll send My S-o-n to the world
I’ll send My S-o-n to the world
I hope that someone gets My
I hope that some will get My
I know that some will get My
Message in the Bible, yeah
Message in the Bible, yeah
Ohhhhh, message in the Bible, yeah
Message in the Bible, yeah

Wrote down these warnings – they don’t believe in My Law
100 million Bibles tossed out and ignored
Seems a lot of folks are reading it, though
And it will not pass away – look there for some hope

I’ll send My S-o-n to the world
I’ll send My S-o-n to the world
I hope that someone gets My
I hope that some will get My
I know that some will get My
Message in the Bible, yeah
Message in the Bible, whoa
Message in the Bible, whoa
Message in the Bible, yeah
Sending down My S-o-n
Sending down My S-o-n
I’m sending down My S-o-n
I’m sending down My S-o-n
I’m sending down My S-o-n
I’m sending down My S-o-n
Sending down My S-o-n
Sending down My S-o-n

[ ApologetiX – “Only a Glorified Cover Band” album ]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYHaY0BnXAs

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DEEP THOUGHTS:

“God’s love comes to us not because of what we have done for Him or for others—though that is important—it’s because of what God, in His mercy, has done FOR US!”
[ Mart DeHaan ]

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”
[ Robert Frost ]

“Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life.”

[ Leo Buscaglia ]

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”
[ Alfred Lord Tennyson ]

“Love is the perhaps the strongest emotion that can be experience by human beings. The goal and desire of every human heart is to experience a dimension of love that is ‘transcendent’.”
[ R. C. Sproul ]

“God’s love is not drawn out by our lovableness, but wells up, like an artesian spring, from the depths of His nature.”
[ Alexander MacLaren ]

“God bestows His blessings without discrimination. The followers of Jesus are children of God, and they should manifest the family likeness by doing good to all, even to those who deserve the opposite.”
[ F. F. Bruce ]

“Consider what you owe to His immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, He has not changed once.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“God waits for you to communicate with Him. You have instant, direct access to God. God loves mankind so much, and in a very special sense His children, that He has made Himself available to you at all times.”
[ Wesley L. Duewel ]

“God loves us too much to indulge our every whim.”
[ Max Lucado ]

“One who has been touched by grace will no longer look on those who stray as “those evil people” or “those poor people who need our help.” Nor must we search for signs of “loveworthiness.” Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are.”
[ Philip Yancey ]

“No matter what storm you face, you need to know that God loves you. He has not abandoned you.”
[ Franklin Graham ]

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
[ St. Augustine ]

“If you know that God loves you, you should never question a directive from Him. It will always be right and best. When He gives you a directive, you are not just to observe it, discuss it, or debate it. You are to obey it.”
[ Henry Blackaby ]

“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”
[ C.S. Lewis ]

“God is completely sovereign. God is infinite in wisdom. God is perfect in love. God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.”
[ Jerry Bridges ]

“God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’”
[ Billy Graham ]

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”
[ C.S. Lewis ]

“The fact is you cannot talk about the love of God. The love of God has no meaning whatsoever unless you understand the judgment of God that all of us deserve.”
[ Robert Jeffress ]

“The saving love of God is his doing whatever must be done, at great cost to himself, and for the least deserving, so that he might enthrall them with what will make them supremely happy forever, namely, himself.”
[ John Piper ]

A quick summary of the Christian “Gospel” — “A.S.C.”:
– Admit you are a sinner and that you deserve ‘punishment’
– Submit to God’s ‘judgement’ and accept His gracious rescue from your sins
– Commit to believing in God’s only Son, Jesus, as your ‘substitution’ for your sins, to following Him the rest of your life, and to endeavor to become just like Him.
[ Mark Besh ]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
[ John 3:16-17 ].

—————-

“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.

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 is brought to full expression in 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 declare 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 his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
[ 1 John 4:9-16 ]

Mark

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If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

'Fishing For Souls' - LifesDeepThoughts.com


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