Love Don't Come Easy
"It is often easy to say the words “I love you,” but actual love is not that easy. It takes more than saying the words; it takes action.
A popular 1967 Beatles song was titled “All You Need is Love.” The lyrics were “All you need is love… it’s easy.”
It is easy when our love is simply an expression of what we want to do. But when our love is a true expression of love, real outgoing concern—the kind of love that Christ prayed we would have for each other—that takes effort.
It goes against our natural tendencies of protecting and nurturing self to put God and others above our own needs, yet it is exactly this kind of love that God expects from us.
Love: a nature, not an idea
There are many types of love, and many definitions or ideas about love, but love must be defined by its source. We are told in 1 John 4:8 who that source is; “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” “...love summarizes and epitomizes the ultimate nature of God,” says Don Hooser in a Good News article entitled “Love: the Ground from Which Spiritual Fruit Springs.” You can’t understand love apart from God. God defines and reveals the concept by His words and actions. We don’t learn about God because we know what love is; we learn about love because we know who God is. Love isn’t some human contrived concept we idealize; love is a nature that we must take on.
God’s nature, codified
In 1 John:5:3 we read, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” The word “keep” means to attend to carefully, take care of, guard, observe, preserve.
Note how in Matthew:5:21-30 Jesus Christ clarifies “keeping” the commandments given in Exodus:20:13-14 “You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus Christ “magnified” the law. He moved the definitions beyond simply the constraints of physical activity into the mind and heart. Logically, if love defines God’s nature and the commandments define love, God’s commandments define His nature.
A man well versed in scriptural law, who was trying to test Jesus, asked Him which was the great [most important] commandment in the law. Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew:22:36-37) This is the answer the lawyer probably expected, since Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy:6:4-9 a passage known as the Shema (after the first Hebrew word in it), which had become the Jewish confession of faith that was recited twice daily by the pious.
But Jesus then went beyond what was specifically asked saying, “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew:22:39) This was not a “new” commandment, since Jesus was quoting Leviticus:19:18. But it seems the Jews had not coupled it with Deuteronomy:6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might, as another “great” commandment. Jesus raised “love your neighbor” to a much higher level of importance.
In John:15:13 we read, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Notice here that the “greater love” is primarily directed toward man. Do you find it easier to get angry or upset with man, or with God? Do you find it easier to admire God or man? It is perhaps “harder” to show love toward flawed people, especially those that have or will hurt you; but again, God sets the example; “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us". (Romans:5:8)
It is usually easier to feel lovingly toward God than toward man. God does no wrong and loved us first (1 John:4:19). Because we are so driven by feeling, it can be easier to act on love toward God. When the Bible speaks of love, note that love has more to do with what we do than what we think or feel. For example, consider the Golden Rule of Matthew:7:12 usually paraphrased as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Consider the love of the Father. Imagine that your child or dearest loved one came and told you they needed to help someone. But you knew that the people they were going to help would treat him miserably, and torture and kill him. Would you allow it? The thought of losing a child is horrifying. Yet God allowed all this for the sake of the very type of people that would kill His Son, because He loves us so dearly.
Consider the love of Jesus Christ. Imagine that you are offered two opportunities:
1) All of the finest things in life, a good home in a quiet beautiful town, plus unlimited wealth and power to carry out whatever you desire.
2) Spending the remainder of your life taking care of people in a tribal village in an impoverished country hostile toward you where they’d probably beat and kill you.
Jesus Christ gave up everything He had going for Him to save us because He loves us so dearly. It is God’s nature to show an abundance of love toward indifferent, flawed, or even hostile individuals. We need to take on that nature daily. “Don’t forget every day to pray, ‘Father... more than anything... help us to grow in Your love so that we do not fail’.
Love must be sustained
For those of us who have received God’s Spirit, “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans:5:5). We begin with a little love, but God helps us to keep growing until we have a lot of love. In fact, the previous verses outline the step-by-step growth process made possible by God’s love and Spirit (verses 1-5).
By His Spirit, God offers us a continual supply of His limitless love. He continually fills our wells so that we have plenty to give to other thirsty people. Christ’s example of love and sacrifice was so profound that the promise of salvation that flowed through Him would flow through those who believed in Him (John:7:38).
God will keep His love flowing into us as long as it keeps flowing out from us. It must flow back to God—a grateful, reciprocal, responsive love for God—and it must flow out in love and service to other people. “The more you give it away, the more you will have. And the more you love others, the more you will be loved” From: http://www.ucg.org/love/love-dont-come-easy/
Lack of Respect.
"We increasingly see a general lack of respect and rudeness in our society. This is a result of our rejection of basic Biblical values."
Transcript: [Gary Petty] "On Beyond Today, we get a lot of emails from people that ask questions or ask for our input on certain subjects. We got this one from "W". He said, "Comment on the lack of respect in society."
You know, it does seem like there's a lot of lack of respect, the way people treat each other in our society that we live in, especially here in the United States. And we wonder why. And part of it is a failure of Christianity. We claim that we're a Christian country, and yet people don't respect each other, don't respect the elderly, which is commanded in the Scripture, to respect the elderly. Young people don't respect their parents. The Bible says to honor your father and your mother.
When you get down to it, it's a lack of love. 1 Corinthians chapter 13 the Apostle Paul wrote about agape, that's godly love, not just feeling good about each other, but what God's love is all about. 1 Corinthians:13:1-13 As you go read that, 1 Corinthians 13. You will see that the Apostle Paul wrote that it is kind and it is not rude. It's how we treat each other.
So the lack of respect in this country, how do we fix it? We start with you. We start with me. We start being kind. We start to treat each other in a way that's not rude. We start carrying out 1 Corinthians chapter 13. We start honoring our parents and then we let God help us change the world." From: http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-daily/christian-living/why-lack-respect-society
Where Have All the Good Manners Gone?
Guidelines for parents
"A time is coming, under Jesus Christ’s rule, when right conduct and respect for others will be an integral part of civilization. Until that time arrives, parents should follow the clear teaching in Deuteronomy:6:6-7[These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
These words referred to statutes and judgments or proper behavior that allowed ancient Israel to be well advanced in matters of morality, citizenship, decorum and even hygiene.
In later times, even the classic Greek philosophers noted that teaching children right conduct was vital. Plato, in his Republic, observed: “You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for this is the time in which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken… Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?
“We cannot… Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts… Then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from the earliest years into likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason. There can be no nobler training than that.”
Rest of Article at: http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/where-have-all-good-manners-gone/
"Thank You, Please and I Love You..."
"Manners and courtesy have never gone out of style. They have just been neglected.
While humans have devised certain rules of etiquette, the basic principle is found in Scripture: "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them" (Matthew:7:12) also called the Golden Rule. Children learn courtesy and manners by the examples they see and by being taught.
Our daughters both loved a little Golden Book, Raggedy Ann: A Thank You, Please, and I Love You Book. It went out of print, but we managed to keep copies of it. Our daughters could finish the various rhymes about gratitude and courtesy to others. Here are a few of the rhymes:
"People are happy to hear Andy on the phone, because he always says hello in such a friendly tone." "Here in the sandbox our Andy and Ann share all of their playthings the best way they can." "Ann won't give Andy a piece of her candy—it's not that she's meaning to tease. He wants it so badly, she'd give him some gladly—but Andy forgot to say PLEASE."
To teach children to say "thank you" when they receive something or have something done for them is to help them be grateful to others in life. Teaching them to share and wait their turn in line also teaches the principle of courtesy. Teaching them to respond with a "yes" or "no" (maybe even a "yes, Sir" or "no, Ma'am," which might seem outdated, but is very respectful) instead of a "yeah" or "nah" or no response will help them show more respect and communicate more effectively.
Showing respect for the elderly by giving them more comfortable places to sit or letting them in line ahead of you also helps teach our children to show respect. This lesson will hold them in good stead when they meet their boss for the first time.
Teaching our children to be friendly and greet others is another way of helping them show love to others. In our families, we should expect our children to want to say good night to their parents with a hug or a kiss. Just disappearing into the bedroom at bedtime is not teaching them to show love.
Parents who teach courtesy, appreciation, love and respect to their children solidify their teaching if they practice showing courtesy, appreciation, love and respect. When our children see us practicing what we teach, they will more easily adopt the Golden Rule as their own.
As that favorite little book concludes, "'I'll give you a bear hug,' says Andy to Ann, and he hugs her and hugs her as tight as he can. 'I love you,' says Ann, getting up on her toes, and she gives him a kiss on the tip of his nose. They are fond of each other, it's easy to see, and the reason is simple as simple can be! They use their good manners wherever they go, and this makes them very nice people to know!" " From: http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/treasure-digest-turning-hearts-1/
This Morning's Program on WGN:
On This Day:
Two national parks preserved, 10 years apart, Feb 26, 1919:
On this day in history, two national parks were established in the United States 10 years apart--the Grand Canyon in 1919 and the Grand Tetons in 1929.
Located in northwestern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is the product of millions of years of excavation by the mighty Colorado River. The chasm is exceptionally deep, dropping more than a mile into the earth, and is 15 miles across at its widest point. The canyon is home to more than 1,500 plant species and over 500 animal species, many of them endangered or unique to the area, and it's steep, multi-colored walls tell the story of 2 billion years of Earth's history.
In 1540, members of an expedition sent by the Spanish explorer Coronado became the first Europeans to discover the canyon, though because of its remoteness the area was not further explored until 300 years later. American geologist John Wesley Powell, who popularized the term "Grand Canyon" in the 1870s, became the first person to journey the entire length of the gorge in 1869. The harrowing voyage was made in four rowboats……
Ten years later to the day, President Calvin Coolidge signed into law a bill passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress establishing the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Home to some of the most stunning alpine scenery in the United States, the territory in and around Grand Teton National Park also has a colorful human history. The first Anglo-American to see the saw-edged Teton peaks is believed to be John Colter. After traveling with Lewis and Clark to the Pacific, Colter left the expedition during its return trip down the Missouri in 1807 to join two fur trappers headed back into the wilderness. He spent the next three years wandering through the northern Rocky Mountains, eventually finding his way into the valley at the base of the Tetons, which would later be called Jackson Hole.
Other adventurers followed in Colter's footsteps, including the French-Canadian trappers who gave the mountain range the bawdy name of "Grand Tetons," meaning "big breasts" in French. For decades trappers, outlaws, traders and Indians passed through Jackson Hole, but it was not until 1887 that settlers established the first permanent habitation. The high northern valley with its short growing season was ill suited to farming, but the early settlers found it ideal for grazing cattle."
World Trade Center is bombed, Feb 26, 1993:
"A bomb explodes in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center in New York City on this day in 1993. Six people died and 1,000 were injured by the powerful blast, which also caused the evacuation of thousands of people from the Twin Towers.
An informant later identified a group of Serbians in New York as the culprits. However, when the FBI conducted surveillance of the gang they found not terrorists but jewel thieves, putting an end to a major diamond-laundering operation. Fortunately, investigators at the bomb scene found a section of a van frame that had been at the center of the blast. The van's vehicle identification number was still visible, leading detectives to the Ryder Rental Agency in Jersey City, New Jersey. Their records indicated that Mohammed Salameh had rented the van and reported it stolen on February 25.
Salameh was already in the FBI's database as a potential terrorist, so agents knew that they had probably found their man. Salameh compounded his mistake by insisting that Ryder return his $400 deposit."
Jay wanted to go to church with me, but his family was having a gathering, so he felt obliged to go to that. It was a great message, and I stayed to have a lovely meal with the warm companionship of the congregation afterwards. It was a very good day.