Love is Other-centeredness

Read: Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36 Story: Recently I listened to a message from a young Pastor who had the opportunity to be a witness in a tattoo parlour. Some may ask, “What was he doing in the tattoo parlour?” but that story can be uncovered at another time. (The Meeting House; Home Brewed July 29, 2018) Importantly, relationships developed and friendly debates took place. A significant response made to the Pastor’s witnessing was this, “I am less interested if God exists and more interested if God cares.” Then this thought was shared, “The question is not, are you a Christian? The question is ‘are you loving’? Our challenge is, ‘How do I love in a way that sets me apart as a follower of Christ, each and every day?’ Love is other-centeredness.  “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that should ever displace the command to love as the first and foremost concern of the disciple of Jesus – no doctrine, no ethical principle, no personal agenda, and no exceptions. (Greg Bo

Restoring the Garden

Read: 1 John 4:12 Story: I often experience God (or at least one aspect of God) as a well. A well that I can draw from any time at all. An ever-replenished well of love, joy and peace. At the well, any petty bickering, intolerance or small-mindedness might, for a moment burn with remorse, then quickly become a wave of positive energy, and I’m ready to be more loving. And I love God more for first loving me. But how well do I turn that readiness into concrete action? Jesus showed sacrificial love by laying down his life for us. Not many of us get around to showing that level of love. Mother Theresa saw people suffering and devoted her life to meeting their physical and spiritual needs. A few more of us might take steps in this direction. The Good Samaritan helped a total stranger who had been beaten and robbed. I like to think that most of us would do the same. Lending a hand to family and close friends in need is love that should be expected from all of us. Getting love from and retu

Love is Time With Others

Read: John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one's life for a friend." Story: I was pondering out here on our back deck about love and what it meant. Then I started to pray and as I was praying, there was a knock at the side door. Here was our neighbour boy dropping off some soup that his Papa had made. I asked Connor to come and sit with me on the deck, and as we were conversing, it became apparent to me what love REALLY is! It means spending extra time with others when this may be an inconvenient time; and after all, I have to write this devotional. As I write, I realize, that not only was Connor sharing Christ's love, but together, we were sharing our lives with each other. Yes. It felt like I was sacrificing my time and listening to an 8 year old telling me all about hockey. And as we were conversing, Connor said: " I remember when you gave me that Bible and I remember when we were playing with that Jesus puzzle, and don't you rememb

I want to know what love is..

Read: 1 John 4:7-21 Story:  There is a song from the 80’s that goes like this: “I wanna know what love is I want you to show me I wanna feel what love is I know you can show me” It’s author, Mick Jones from Foreigner, said, “ ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ came up at three in the morning sometime in 1984. I don’t know where it came from. I consider it a gift that was sent through me. I think there was something bigger than me behind it. I’d say it was probably written entirely by a higher force.” It is interesting to me that he understood that he needed “something bigger” to help him understand love. Who can help us understand love? So often, the love we hear about from movies, books, popular music, and cultural norms just doesn’t come close to the love described in 1 John 4. If I wanna know what love is, I look at God’s love for me. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (vs 10) If I wanna feel what l

What God Looks Like

Have you ever wondered what God looks like? Has a child ever asked you to describe God's appearance, or where he or she might find Him? How do you go about answering this question? Read: 1 John 4:12: "No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and God's love is made complete in us." Story: Reflecting on this verse, Christopher Wright (Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit) offers the following: "It seems that God is implying that our love for one another makes visible the love of God - which is another way of saying that God himself is seen, since God is love. When Christians love each other, in practical, sacrificial, costly, barrier-dissolving ways, then the love of God (or rather, the God who is love) can be seen. The world should be able to look at Christians and how they live together and love together and see something of the reality of God being demonstrated. The invisible God makes himself visible in the love that Christians h

Loving others with Christ

Read: John 15:5-8 (The Message) Story: For most of us attempting to ‘live in God’s Kingdom’ we want to be productive, we want to feel useful. That is how we have been wired. What is my purpose in life? How can I be successful? If I can just work harder that goal would be within my grasp. But those desires put us at odds with the Kingdom. In order to be used by God, surrender is the necessary posture. It is through practicing the Spiritual disciplines that we can begin the process of surrendering to Christ’s will. That we can begin to establish what will become a fruitful relationship with Christ. We will begin to grow as true ‘branches bearing fruit’ in the Kingdom of God. Committing your life to Christ is a necessary first step but growth should follow. Reading, meditating, prayer are all practices that will help you become fruitful in God’s Kingdom. Practice: My goal this year is to try to practice the presence of God not just during my daily morning devotions but in all aspects

Love Yourself to Love Others

Read: Mathew 22:34-40 Story: If I am being honest with myself I have spent a lot of time trying to be someone else. Wishing I was a bit more fit, wearing clothes that look good on other people, cutting my hair because it is the style that is in vogue. I think many of us spend a lot of time trying to look like and be like other people for a lot of our life all the while really wishing we could just be more like ourselves. Well I don’t get it perfect all the time but I am thankful that walking with Jesus has freed me not just to love other people for who they are, but also to begin to love myself as well. Sometimes I think that is the harder journey for a lot of people. Thankfully, I have had a lot of people from my parents, to good friends and mentors along my path who have shown up to encourage me when I really needed to hear that voice of encouragement. Now I can love others more fully because I know that I am loved, and I love myself as well. Practice: Take some time today and con