ADDICTED TO LOVE

fabrizio-verrecchia-195644.jpg

But the greatest of these is love.

1 Cor.13:13

Smith Wigglesworth called it “priming the pump”. He said sometimes we should start doing what we know we should do even when we do not feel especially anointed or benevolent. Once you step out, the Lord shows up. That is a truth that can be applied in many different circumstances. Jesus often told people to start out in faith; stretch forth your withered hand, pick up your pallet and walk, go show yourself to the priest, and roll away the stone. This is true in all aspects of walking in faith. This is often a way we begin in ministry. You may not want to lead a group, do evangelism, or work in the children’s ministry but you know the Lord is nudging you that way. Step out in faith; open up that life group, pray for the sick, go out on the streets and share your faith. I believe that when you do that, another form of addiction will grab you, you too will become addicted to love and and to ministry to helping hurting people. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this phenomenon.

“John Wesley’s ministry was at first powerless and, according to him “without the joy and love that a Moravian colleague possessed”. He asked the Moravian what he should do. The answer was, “Preach love because you believe it is what God’s Word teaches, and you will soon find what you are seeking. Then you will be able to preach it because you possess it.” Wesley took the advice and soon began to preach with such power that many were converted. This has been my own experience. Often in preaching, or in writing, I have asked myself, ‘But do you possess what you preach to others?’. And I have followed this advice: Preach it, because you believe it to be the teaching of God’s Word and heartily desire it. Preach the truth by faith, and the experience will follow. Let the minister who feels impelled to preach about love not hesitate to do so, and he will soon be able to preach it because he has himself received that which he commends.”

When you find yourself looking into the eyes of a young woman recovering from heroin addiction, or a young man who has lost his way drowning in alcohol, or an abandoned elderly person who has lost their hope in life; you will be caught up in God’s love for broken lives. This place of love is God’s place of power and the place you finally discover why you are alive.

WHEN WE GO TO HEAVEN

1Cor. 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I have a feeling that heaven is going to be quite different from what any of us can imagine. Now don’t take me wrong, no one will be disappointed when they get there but it will be a different kind of place. Surprisingly, not everyone would like it there. How do I know that? Well, because the things you love here will still be the things you love on the other side. If Jesus wasn’t your passion here He won’t be the One you long for in the after life. Heaven will actually be a culmination and fulfillment of your loves here on earth. If all you know of heaven is living forever, having some sort of mansion, and seeing your loved ones you have missed the whole point. The only thing that really makes heaven heaven is that Jesus Christ will be there. He will be the focus of our love and frankly it will be quite impossible to take your attention off of Him. Jonathan Edwards spoke often about heaven; here are some of his thoughts.

“There is but a very imperfect union with God to be had in this world: a very imperfect knowledge of God in the midst of abundance of darkness, a very imperfect conformity to God, mingled with abundance of enmity and estrangement. Here we can serve and glorify God but in an exceeding imperfect manner, our service being mingled with much sin and dishonoring to God.

But when we get to heaven, if ever that be, there we shall be brought to a perfect union with God. There we shall have the clear views of God’s glory: we shall see face to face, and know as we are known. There we shall be fully conformed to God, without any remains of sin: “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is”. There we shall serve God perfectly. We shall glorify him in an exalted manner, and to the utmost of the powers and capacity of our nature. Then we shall perfectly give up ourselves to God; then will our hearts be wholly a pure and holy offering to God, offered all in the flame of divine love.”

The atmosphere in heaven will be totally different from the atmosphere in this world. The Holy Spirit, the love of God, will be the very substance that we live in. Christ will be the Son (Sun of righteousness), the Holy Spirit the oxygen, and the Father will be the Fountainhead of life itself. Get ready for the greatest of all adventures, I can’t wait for that blessed day.

We will miss you Dr. Morgan. Can’t wait for that glorious day when we will all worship in total perfection.

THANKSGIVING LOVE

1Cor. 13:1 ¶ If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

1Cor. 13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

1Cor. 13:3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

I love Thanksgiving. As a child Thanksgiving rivaled Christmas in my heart. I think it must be the simplicity of the day that I love; family, great food, football, and a few days away from the daily grind. There is also something else I love about Thanksgiving, it is the Thanksgiving meal for the least fortunate that our church sponsors every year. There is a different kind of excitement as church members cook their favorite dishes and make preparations to host several hundred people for a great Thanksgiving feast.

I wonder why this unusual excitement is in the air as the people begin to gather at the tables for that gospel feast? Could it be that there is something inside of every born again Christian that longs to serve others? Could that be the love that Paul shares about in his famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13? I think it probably is. There is an incompleteness in our hearts until we pore out what we receive on others. It is in the giving away the love we receive from the Lord that our joy is completed. That is really our purpose for being here on this earth, we live to glorify God by poring our love on someone else.

When I think about that event, several pictures stand out in my mind. I think of the families, mom and dad with a table full of small children all dressed in their best clothes to come enjoy a free meal. I wonder what they do the rest of the year? I also think about the widow that I saw this year, she too sat at a table full of children, some she had adopted, with the empty seat where dad should have been standing awkwardly empty. Then there was the hundreds of homeless men, some with the stare of hopelessness, somehow they lost their way along the road.

Thanksgiving can be a humbling day. I am blessed beyond measure and sometimes I don’t walk in thankfulness. Maybe this Thanksgiving can spill over into the rest of the year, maybe this love can flow out of us more often.

TONGUES OF ANGELS

1 Cor.13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

In 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul speaks about the tongues of angels. It seems like most commentaries by pass this part and focus on their perceived view of the heavenly language, the part that says that tongues are useless without love. So is everything else! Evangelism is worthless without love, preaching is worthless without love, even giving to the poor can be hypocritically done without love. The amazing thing is that praying in tongues is actually the language of intimacy and love.
1Cor. 14:2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. Actually the Message Bible says “If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him.” Praying in the Spirit is the love language of the heavenly beings, after all, heaven is a world of love. Here are some interesting comments about tongues of angels from the Barnes’ NT Commentary.

“The language of angels here seems to be used to denote the highest power of using language. It is evidently derived from the idea that the angels are superior, in all respects, to men; that they must have endowments in advance of all which man can have. It may possible have reference to the idea that they must have some mode of communicating their ideas one to another, and that this dialect or mode must be far superior to that which is employed by man. Man is imperfect. All his modes of communication are defective.”

There were numerous angelic appearances in the early church according to the book of Acts. Peter was released from prison by an angel, an angel appeared to Paul during the storm, an angel was involved with Phillip’s ministry to the Ethiopian treasurer, an angel was even involved with Peter’s ministry to the gentiles at Cornelius’ house. I think angels are involved with all of our services today. I think angels become more obvious when churches begin to step over into the heavenly realm. That brings us back to the tongues of angels. We need a greater emphasis on the heavenly language of love. Personally and corporately there needs to be extended times of worshiping God in the language of the angels. As we do, don’t be surprised if the angels join in as they hear The Lord being worshipped in their own language.

ENCAPSULATE

ENCAPSULATE!

MERRY MONDAY! BY PARRIS BAILEY

en·cap·su·late /enˈkaps(y)əˌlāt/ Enclose (something) in or as if in a capsule.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” I Cor.13:12

The word “darkly” in Greek means an enigma or ambiguous kind of life, or in other words when we can’t seem to “get the real picture” and our life seems like a riddle. The word encapsulate comes to mind when we feel as if we are closed in and become fixated on a certain event or weakness in our life. Or we can use the word encapsulate to become fixated on a certain event in time that literally launches us into a new level spiritually. In that case we have found ourselves with an enigma, looking through the eyeglass of our lives seeing darkly but really looking into the face of God.
Here are some interesting thoughts from the Interpreter Bible- “We will be able to dispense with interferences based on the effect and consequences of everyday life. Soon we will be living in perfect understanding and perfect knowledge of God in his presence. All limitations will be gone forever. Wars, suffering, famine, death and catastrophe all cast their shadows over our faith. Through the strange and varied pageant of human history man seeks for God. There is therefore a place for faith and hope, both of them enriched as they are illumined by the spirit of love in the individual and the church. It bids Christians believe that they are not aliens in the world, whose main and urgent purpose is to pass through and out of it until they reach the eternal heaven of light and peace and security. Christians are here to stay, to endure, to fight and to triumph, until all the ambiguity of the darkness is dissipated forever by the light and the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We are to holdfast our imperfect faith. Let us be grateful for the dim reflections. We can celebrate a faith, though aware of its imperfection, which holds within it the inspiration of the highest service and the promise of fullness of life and knowledge and love to come. “Now I know in part, then I shall understand fully”.
It is way too soon to “call it” on your life. You couldn’t possibly have gotten the “full picture” on what God has for you. Sometimes our faith becomes dim or filled with shadows because our “looking glass” is earthy. He will come face to to face with you and will sort out your jumbled upside down life putting all your situations into a precious harmony of melodious music. Yes, we all need to become encapsulated with his presence and start living out our lives in the full enigma of his plan! Now that is some good preaching!

LOVE NEVER DIES

Love never dies

-Merry Friday by Parris Bailey

Last week Frank and I were able to do our yearly pilgrimage going up to Maggie Valley to visit my mom. This trip would be different because this would be the first time my stepdad of over 30 years wouldn’t be there, because he went to be with the Lord in early spring. This trip was also different because it was just Frank and me going up instead of my children, grand kids or other relatives. We decided to take our road bikes and stop along the way in Chattanooga because they a have a 16 mile round trip bike path meandering through woods all along the Tennessee river. It proved to be a special moment for me, since I love outdoors, adventure, and of course to do it all with Frank makes for a perfect day. I love spending time with mom looking out her window to a beautiful view of Mt. Pisgah that I have grown so accustomed to, picking blackberries and walking through the woods. One night we watched the new movie “Love Never Dies”, which is the opera that Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote as a sequel to “Phantom of the Opera”. Frank and I immediately fell in love with the title song; and we played the sound track all the way back to Nola. These are the words;

Love Never Dies
“Who knows when love begins, who knows what makes it start
One day it’s simply there, a life inside your heart
It slips into your thoughts, it infiltrates your soul
It takes you by surprise, then seizes full control
Try to deny it and try to protest
But love won’t let you go, once you’ve been possessed

Love never dies, love never falters
Once it has spoken, love is yours
Love never fails, love never alters
Hearts may get broken, love endures
Hearts may get broken, love endures

And soon as you submit, surrender flesh and bone
That love takes on a life much bigger than your own
It uses you at whim, and drives you to despair
And forces you to feel more joy than you can bear
Love gives you pleasure and love brings you pain
And yet, when both are gone, love will still remain

Love never dies, love will continue
Love keeps on beating, when you’re gone
Love never dies, once it is in you
Life may be fleeting, love lives on
Life may be fleeting, Love lives on”

The song hints of 1st Cor.13. When you let the love of God permeate your very being everything changes. When a loved one is taken, Christ loves lives on, relationships take on a heavenly language, even the earth seems to resound with the language of love.
Yes, love never dies because love is eternally wrapped up in the very bosom of God. Thank you Father for ever communicating to me through the many changing seasons of my life that “life may be fleeting, but your love never dies.”