February 28 – I Have Loved You

Thursday, February 28, 2013


February 28 – I Have Loved You

“I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you” (Revelation 3:9b).

Jesus’ last words are found in the Revelation given to John.  In chapters two and three, he dictates letters to the seven churches in Asia.  The church in Philadelphia seems to have been a powerless church, facing a great deal of persecution. Even through that intense time, they refused to deny that they were Christians.

He said to them, “I know your works” (Rev. 3:8a).  Jesus knows his people.  He knows what we face and he knows what we are going through.  He knows everything that is in our hearts, our fears, the intensity of our emotions, the failures we deal with as well as the success and joys. Jesus is not unaware of who we are.

To the Philadelphians, he says, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial … I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have.”

Jesus also knows that this life is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  We have great days and we have weeks and sometimes months that are so painful, we can’t imagine getting through them.  He asks us to hold fast.

When our endurance in faith brings us to the point of being face to face with Jesus Christ, it will be in that moment that all will fall away and we will hear his words, “I have loved you.”

Jesus loved us, He loves us and He will always love us.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow.  God’s love is complete. God’s love never changes.  God loves us.

February 27 – Feed My Sheep

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


February 27 – Feed My Sheep

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17).

When Peter denied knowing Jesus before the crucifixion, he tossed away the opportunity to lead the church.  No one would trust him again if he didn't even have the strength to admit that he was part of Jesus’ community to those who had to have seen him traveling with the Lord on a regular basis.  He was a failure.

This is the same man, who in Matthew 26:33, announced that if everyone else fell away, he would never do so; and who in Matthew 16 declared that Jesus was the Son of the Living God and then to whom Jesus said,

“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19).

Peter was finished. He had no hope of ever being accepted by his peers or those whom he would have led.  He had lost his own faith. It was over.

This is the truth of the Gospel … the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is never over.  We are never finished.  Hope is never truly lost.

The risen Jesus stood in front of Peter and restored Him fully. And what was the foundation of that restoration?

Jesus didn't ask Peter to do penance or to write a missive declaring his sins and begging for forgiveness. He didn't ask Peter to spend time with each of the other disciples pleading with them to forgive him, admitting his failure and defeat.

Jesus reminded Peter of the one thing that would connect him to his friends, those whom he would soon care for and the Lord.  That one thing was love.  That’s all Jesus wanted from Peter for restoration.  His acknowledgement of pure, unadulterated love.

No matter what we do and then, no matter how the world demands we restore ourselves to its measure; all Jesus Christ asks of us is that we say, “I love you.”

“Do you love me?” he asked.

“Lord, you know that I do.”

“Feed my sheep.”

February 26 – The Sparrow

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


February 26 – The Sparrow

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

I suspect that you can tell me the minutest details about someone you love. For instance, what distinctive thing did you notice at first.  In your child was it fingers or ears, toes or eyes, dimples or cheeks?  When you fell in love the first time, was it was a smile or the way their eyes flashed when they got excited, did their cheeks blush when they smiled at you?  Do you remember a parent’s hands or a voice quieting you in the night?

We love and we notice things about those we love.  The way their hair curls on one side of their head, but not the other, the tiny blemish on the top of their hand, the way their nostrils flare in anger.

We get to know those whom we love and we understand more intimate things, things that no one else gets to experience. We understand that their greatest fears stop them from being so much more, we hear them crying in the quiet because they miss a family member who has died, we discover what their great hidden passions are and hope to make those a reality for them.

Love calls us to know details, no matter how large or small.  The sparrow seems to be the most ubiquitous bird on the planet, yet God knows them all and he knows how many hairs are on your head.  No detail about you is too minute for God to care about.  He loves you and He knows you.

February 25 – Rise! Let Us Go!

Monday, February 25, 2013


February 25 – Rise! Let Us Go!

“but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here” (John 14:31).

Jesus has explained to his disciples in rather vague terms that he is about to be taken from them and then says that he does this because God told him to do it and obedience is one of the ways he can show the world that he loves God.

That is a great lesson and one that my parents continually tried to impress upon us.  Love and obedience kind of go hand in hand.  Rebellion and disobedience tend to separate people rather than bring them together.  I watch parents desperately try to teach this to their kids and they end up frustrated because the kids want to exert their own will and their own authority.  Parents who teach this with love and consistency find their kids generally return to the right way of doing things.  God is always loving and consistent and those of us who seek to flex our own will and establish our independence find out in the long run that the safest and best place to be is within His will, exactly where He wants us to be.

However, as I read this verse and thought about all that I could write regarding obedience and love, I read to the end and saw the John captured one more sentence.  Now, think about it.  There was no need for this transitional sentence. It doesn't propel the story, it doesn't give any more detail about where they've been or where they’re going. The only thing it tells us is that they were sitting down and now they’re going to walk with him.

Rise, let us go from here.

This simple sentence gives movement that doesn't really make sense until we get to John 18:1 – three chapters later. After Jesus was completely finished talking and praying, he went with his disciples to the garden where he was about to be arrested.

That’s the thing about Jesus, though. He didn't simply sit around and talk about loving God … He did something about it.  When He talked about being obedient, even knowing the price He would have to pay for that obedience, He got up and started moving toward it.

Where might your obedience take you?

February 24 – Out of the World


February 24 – Out of the World

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:19)

Jesus warned his followers, didn't he?  And yet, as Christians, we still don’t understand why we don’t have more power in the world

It’s difficult for us to comprehend why our beliefs aren't easily understood, much less accepted and yet Jesus tells us over and over that we are called out of the world.  Paul tells us that we are as aliens in a strange world.  Our home is heaven, we live here for just a short time.

Jesus goes on to remind his disciples in the next sentence that “Remember … a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20).

What I want to do is encourage you with these words.  When we feel as if the world wants nothing to do with our Christianity, rather than making a scene and pushing back, we have to stop reacting as if it is an attack against us which has come out of the blue.  When we are upset that there is no prayer in schools or that the local courthouse won’t allow a nativity scene or a copy of the Ten Commandments, we have to stop taking it as a personal affront.

Jesus told us that this is the way of the world in which we live.  At the same time, we also must remember that though we are not part of this world, we are called to love.  When we place Him at the forefront of any controversy regarding faith, we can step back and react in love – because love is foundation of our home because God is love.

February 23 – The Beloved Disciple

Saturday, February 23, 2013


February 23 – The Beloved Disciple

John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20

In each of these passages, we find John speaking of the disciple whom Jesus loved. In John 13:23 we find him leaning back against Jesus at the Last Supper asking who it was who would betray the Lord; in John 19:26, Jesus commends the care of his mother to this disciple; in John 20:2, he runs ahead of Peter to the tomb of Jesus; in John 21:7, this disciple tells Peter that it is the Lord who is on the beach when they were fishing after the crucifixion and Resurrection had occurred and in John 21:20, when Peter asks about the disciple, Jesus replies that his will for Peter’s friend is of no concern to Peter.

History identifies the Beloved Disciple as John, the brother of James and friend of Peter. It is John who wrote the fourth gospel, three epistles and it was John who received the Revelation.

Jesus did love this bold and brash young man who was given, along with his older brother James, the name Boanerges which means Sons of Thunder, by Jesus (Mark 3:17).  In Luke 9:54, John and James were furious at a village of Samaritans who didn't want anything to do with Jesus and asked if he wanted them to call down fire from heaven to consume the people.  Luke 9:55 tells us that Jesus rebuked them.

In Matthew 20:20-24, their mother asked Jesus if he would grant them the right to sit at his right and left hand in heaven. The story Mark tells is that it was James and John who asked for that privilege, but whoever it was that spoke to the Lord, the other disciples were furious at the audacity.

It was John who followed Jesus into the council chamber at His trial and then to the governor’s headquarters (John 18:16, 19, 28) and it was John who stayed with Jesus during the crucifixion (John 19:26, 27) and at that point, Jesus asked John to care for His mother.

John stayed in Jerusalem for a while after the Resurrection of Jesus and was apparently the leader of the church there (Acts 15:6, Gal. 2:9).  After that, there is no longer any mention of him in Paul’s letters or in Acts.  He retired to Ephesus and tradition says that Mary stayed with him there until she died.  He took on the responsibility of caring for the churches in Asia and it is to them he wrote the letters found in the first chapters of the Revelation from Patmos where he had been banished.

Jesus loved this man and John felt that love to his very marrow. He lived his life with great confidence that he was loved by Jesus Christ. Because we know that Jesus’ love is complete and is fully available to each of us, we can live our lives in the same manner.  Jesus loves us. We are loved by the Lord.

February 22 – Greater Love

Friday, February 22, 2013


February 22 – Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Plato said that only those who love wish to die for others.  This makes me wonder if we truly understand what “Love your neighbor as yourself” means, especially when we take it to its logical conclusion and realize that our neighbor is everyone.

Jesus also said that we are to love each other as He loved us.  Again, He committed himself to those words at the cross.  His love for us involved his death.

I've written before about how my grandmother wouldn't let us say that we ‘loved’ inanimate objects and when I consider the power of the words from John 15, I understand why that was so unacceptable to her.  To truly love, we must be willing to put everything we have and everything we are behind it.  How could I do that for something like chocolate (though that is a most amazing creation)?

Blog posts this month have taught us that God is love and that His love is complete. He was willing from the very beginning to put everything He was and everything He had behind the love He has for the world.  Jesus commands us to do the same.

We are to love completely, with all that we have, with all that we are. To truly love means we hold nothing back from ourselves.  This love is bigger than anything we can imagine. It is bigger than the love we have for our children, or our families. It is bigger than how we love our friends, our pets, our country, our church.  A commitment to love this big requires everything.

But, can you imagine what transformation that would bring to the world?

February 21 – Love Each Other

Thursday, February 21, 2013


February 21 – Love Each Other

“This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12, 17).

My sister, Carol, has a lot of rules for her classroom.  Now, this isn't hers, but it is a list of fairly common rules for good classroom etiquette. I particularly like the rule about keeping your hands and feet to yourself. I remember that being a problem when we were on long car trips. There was a line we couldn't cross without bringing down the wrath of Mom.

We each have established rules for how our families interact at home, in public and even when no one is around to see our behavior.  When I was growing up, my mother’s list of proper manners when eating seemed immense, yet I am always grateful for her insistence on good behavior and I am often surprised at how little that was an aspect of other’s childhood instructions.

There are rules for everything we do. Rules for sports ensure that everyone has the same advantage. There are rules for performing music, so that the composer’s intentions come through even if the piece is performed hundreds of years after it was written. There are rules for grammar and there are rules for learning other languages.

It seems as if there are rules for everything we do in life.  Some are understood, others are spelled out succinctly.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, His response was unsettling to his listeners and here in John 15, He continues to explain what He meant.  He had one rule … one commandment.  We are to love.

We are to love each other, we are to love God.

In John 15:12, Jesus says we are to love each other as He loved us.  All of a sudden we are responsible to everyone else as Jesus made himself responsible to us.

I will repeat myself over and over again. We are not to limit our love to those with whom we agree or those who already love us or those who are clean and easy to love.  We are to love as Jesus loved us.  That’s a sacrificial love.

When Jesus asked the young man to give up everything in order to follow him, that young man panicked. It was too much.  Jesus asks us to give up our self centeredness and reach out to love everyone, no matter who they are, because that is how He loves.

February 20 – God Loves You

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


February 20 – God Loves You

“The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father” (John 16:27-28).

Do you know that you are loved by God?

Now, if you have said yes, what does that look like in your life?

This is a love like you can’t imagine. It is complete. You can’t do anything in order to make Him love you more and on the flip side, you can’t do anything to make Him love you less.  The love God has for you is found in its fullness … at this moment.

Every breath you take, everything you do … God loves you.

This is hard for so many of us to comprehend because we base our love for others on so many other criteria.  We can’t imagine how God could love a murderer or a child abuser or the bully or the one who hurts those we love.

On the other hand, we figure He has to love the woman who slanders our name in church or the couple who gambles their entire life savings away.

We’re sure that He loves the pastor or Sunday School teacher or the person who cares for others.

We don’t understand an all-encompassing love like that which comes from God.  It is fully complete and it is given to everyone, whether we like it or not.  It seems that God doesn't need our approval to love.

Just as we choose to love those who do good things or who are family members or who are our friends, we believe God should make choices about whom He loves.  He doesn't.  He is love.

Now, as for those who murder or abuse or hurt people, even those who are slanderers or find enormous ways to sin, God’s love is tempered with justice.  His love for them may remain, but the judgment that comes from the throne for those who refuse to repent and believe in Jesus Christ promises to be great.

But, maybe we should be less choosy about who we love.  Maybe God calls us to love even the murderers or slanderers or abusers or the bullies, because maybe we might be the catalyst for them to find a way to love Him and be transformed.

February 19 – Unity in Love

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


February 19 – Unity in Love

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:  I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:22-26).

We have differing ideas of what unity looks like.  It doesn't mean that we all become homogenized in our belief structures or that we choose one denomination over another and it doesn't mean that everyone is going to agree.

There has been too much diversity in interpretation in our understanding of both the Old and New Testaments and many disagree, with very good intentions on both sides, about points of doctrine which come out of our Scripture.  We are God’s creation made with minds that seek to understand and our understanding comes from what we know and how we have lived.

Homogenization is not unity.  The Trinity is not homogenized, it is unified.  God is different and yet is wholly singular.  God is love.

What brings unity is love.  If you look at Paul’s discourse on love in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, you get a beautiful idea of what love is.  It is patient, kind, it does not envy or boast and is not rude, self-seeking or easily angered. Love doesn't keep a record of wrongs or delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. Love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.  Love never fails.

(Side note: all I can think of right now is the wedding ceremony from “The Princess Bride).

Love is what brings unity to a diverse group of people.  Differing beliefs, differing ways to look at doctrine, different understandings and interpretations of scripture … all become part of the glorious, variegated, intricate image of the Church because of love.

We become one with each other through love.

February 18 – Jesus Loves His Own

Monday, February 18, 2013


February 18 – Jesus Loves His Own

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1, NRSV)

The New International Version translates the last phrase as “he showed them the full extent of his love” rather than “he loved them to the end.”  Another commentator writes that the translation means that Jesus is about to show them one final proof of his love.  In the following passage, Jesus lowers himself to the status of a slave and washes his disciples’ feet.

I've read this passage many times and today, my eyes focused immediately on the phrase “Having loved his own who were in the world …”

Jesus loved his disciples.  He loved them.  All of them. This is one of the things about that rag tag group of men that is so incredible.  Jesus showed us how much he loves us, by exhibiting that love first-hand to men who covered the spectrum of human personality.

Peter was brash and bold.  Sometimes his mouth got in the way of his brain.  His brother Andrew was a people pleaser. It was Andrew who brought others to see Jesus.  Simon was a Zealot, a man who was willing to use violence in order to protest the Roman intrusion in Israel. James and John, the sons of Thunder.  Their mother tried to get Jesus to promise they would sit at his right and left sides I heaven.  They once thought it would be appropriate to call down heaven’s wrath on a man.  We learn more about Philip after Jesus died. He was the one who rode with an Ethiopian man and answered his questions about the Lord.  Matthew was a tax collector, never someone others would befriend.

All of these very different men came together as a group to learn from Jesus Christ and he loved them.

Jesus’ love was all-inclusive.  He was disappointed in them, angry with them, frustrated by them and he worried over them, but he loved them.

He loves us. We are his own.

February 17 – Tithing or Love

Sunday, February 17, 2013


February 17 – Tithing or Love

 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. (Luke 11:42).

Jesus admonished the Pharisees for their attitude toward the Law.  They were more concerned with precision regarding their tithes, than they were for practicing justice and mercy or for sharing the love of God.

These people could identify a tenth of anything.  In Matthew’s recounting of the events, we read that Jesus specified some of the smallest items: mint, dill and cumin.  The Pharisees could delineate even a tenth of those spices for the Temple.  Luke’s retelling insulted them even more by declaring that they gave a tenth of their rue, which was a wild herb and exempt from tithing. The exaggeration of their behavior only pointed out the vast difference between following the letter of the Law and obeying its spirit.

Notice that Jesus didn't ask the Pharisees to stop tithing.  He tells them that they should have been able to do both.  Love and justice do not require us to leave the rest of our lives alone, in fact, the more we practice those things, the more the rest of our life will come into balance.  In other words, you can never have too much love and justice, but you can easily drop out of balance when you fall into Pharisaical behavior.

The moral of the story?  Love is what brings balance to our lives, not paperwork or rules or better organization. Those things might bring sanity to those of us who are a mite bit obsessive, but it is love which brings balance.

February 16 – Jesus Wept

Saturday, February 16, 2013


February 16 – Jesus Wept

The story of Lazarus in John 11 is one of my favorites.  Now, while it includes the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, which reads “Jesus wept,” most people don’t know the entire background of the story.

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha.  They lived in Bethany, near Jerusalem.  Whenever Jesus went to Jerusalem, he stayed with them in their home.  We find another story of those two sisters in Luke 10:38-42.  Jesus and his disciples had come to stay with them and while Martha was busy doing everything, Mary chose to spend time listening to Jesus.  Poor Martha complained that she wasn’t getting any help and Jesus reminded her that Mary had chosen to do the most important thing and that she was worrying over very unimportant things.  Sometimes our priorities get skewed and Martha had lost her perspective.

In the story from John 11, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus, “the one you love” (John 11:3) was sick.  However, Jesus didn't hurry back and stayed where he was for two more days.  His disciples were worried about his return to Judea, because the Pharisees had attempted to have him stoned the last time they were there.  But, Jesus went anyway.

By the time they reached Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days.  The sisters were already greeting many guests who had come to comfort them and this time Mary stayed home when Martha met Jesus on the road.  However, Martha attempted to chastise Jesus for his inattention to their plight, saying, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).

Jesus assured her that her brother would rise again and she agreed with Him that Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection at the last day.  But, that wasn't what Jesus meant.

Martha sent for Mary, who “got up quickly and went to him” (John 11:29).  When she saw him, she fell at his feet, weeping and she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).  All of the people who had come in from out of town to comfort her had followed her and they were weeping in their grief as well.  It broke Jesus’ heart and he wept, an indication of the great love he had for Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

The story ends on a positive note. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and this miracle was seen by many.

However, as amazing as the miracle was, the greatest part of the story for me is the power of Jesus’ love for his friends.  His heart was broken for Mary at her loss.  He wept because she wept.  

Oh, how He loves us.  His love for us didn't begin or end at the cross. It simply is. It always was and it always will be.  No matter what.  He loves us.  The work He did on the cross is proof positive of that amazing love.

February 15 – Abide in My Love

Friday, February 15, 2013


February 15 – Abide in My Love

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9).

The Greek word which translates to “abide” is meno which means to stay, remain or reside. So, Just as Jesus has stayed in his Father’s love, we are to remain in His love.

This love is unfathomable.  We can not begin to imagine the depths of love which are available to us. It is also complete.  Jesus used a tense in this sentence to describe both His and the Father’s love as complete.

In the relationships we have with each other, we expect love to grow.  As we get to know someone better, our love for them expands. If they hurt us, our love might contract.  Loving is a continuous roller-coaster for us, but that is completely different than what Jesus describes.

He looks out to the cross and knows that nothing will change. He will go to the cross because of God’s love for the world.  We can’t make Him love us any more or any less.  His love for us is complete.

There is a story told about a professor who fills a jar with large rocks, when his students call it ‘full,’ he adds pebbles, then he adds sand and finally he adds water.  There is always room for something more in the jar.

That’s not the way it is for God’s love because God is love.  Love is a definition of God.  God is the definition of love.  His creation came about through love. Everything He did throughout the Old Testament was out of love for His creation. From the moment of our conception to the moment we leave this earth and enter eternity, we are loved by Him.  It is complete. God loves.

God doesn't love us any more or less because of our behavior.  We can do nothing to earn His love.  His love is unfathomable to us and yet it is complete.

Today … stay in that love and know that it is everything you need.

February 14 – God Loved the World

Thursday, February 14, 2013


February 14 – God Loved the World

“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.” (John 3:16)

You would think that as often as signs with this verse painted on them are held up in large public venues, people would understand its importance.  God loved the world so much that He was willing to sacrifice everything so that anyone who believes in him would live forever.

It is one of the most powerful statements Christianity has to offer.  The depth of God’s love is vast, greater than anything we can begin to imagine.

I was talking to my sister about how people communicate with each other.  Some people use criticism, micro-management and negative feedback in order to manage and lead, while others use encouragement and positive words.  There are those who refuse to acknowledge another’s good work and others who celebrate the smallest moments.  Some demand, while others give.  As we got further into the conversation we began discussing that many times those who were the most critical and negative were the ones who needed the greatest amount of positive feedback.  Their lack of self-confidence couldn't allow them to be generous or effusive; they’d never learned that behavior.

Generosity, kindness, compassion, caring and other ways we pour out love all require a bit of sacrifice.  We have to give something of ourselves in order to show love.  The greatest stories of love come from singular moments of sacrifice. The classic Christmas story by O. Henry about the young couple who sacrifices their most precious possession in order to purchase a gift for the other fills our hearts as we recognize the profound gift of love they share.

God’s gift to us was one which changed the course of the world and showed us the truth of sacrificial love.  His Son sacrificed everything for the love of not just one person, but all of humanity.  This is love that we can never comprehend.

Today as we celebrate with hearts, flowers, gifts and candy, we each find that love requires sacrifice.  It is what brings out the best in each of us. Love … sacrifice … because God loved us first.

February 13 – Keep My Commandments

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


February 13 – Keep My Commandments

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

When we were growing up, the very worst punishment Mom and Dad could give to us was their disappointment.  I dreaded the words “I’m so disappointed in you” and wished they would just spank me or ground me or something that was a little more concrete so I could at least find some way to be angry back at them for a few moments.

But, no, they were smarter than that.

I’m telling a tale on my brother, but it was a hilarious story from my perspective.  He had finally grown old enough and big enough that Mom could no longer warrant a quick spanking and one day he had done something that was over the top infuriating to her. She sent him upstairs to his room to ‘think about what he had done’ and then sat in the living room trying to gain control of her fury.  She wasn't sure how she was going to handle it, but then, she made a decision and said.  “I just need five minutes. He’ll be in tears.”

She swiftly delivered the “I’m so disappointed in you” talk and his punishment was complete. It devastated him.  It did that to each of us kids.

Mom and Dad didn't have a lot of rules in our household, but those that existed, whether they had been spoken or were unwritten were pretty clear.  Love and respect, for ourselves, each other and those outside the family were paramount.  We were to always do our best in everything we chose to do and we were held accountable to our actions by Mom and Dad.  It was about love, though.

Our parents didn't hand out commands, instructions, rules or regulations just to be in control of our lives, but because they loved us and wanted certain things for us. They wanted us to be safe. They wanted us to excel. They wanted us to be good people.  They wanted us to be responsible.  They loved us enough to give us boundaries and guidelines and expected us to love them and ourselves enough to follow those things set before us.

When we chose self-will at the expense of those boundaries, Mom and Dad would then remind us that we had disappointed them … in essence, telling us that we had shown disdain for their love.

I couldn't live with that when I was growing up and did everything possible in order to avoid their disappointment.  I still can’t live with the idea that I disappoint friends and family, but even moreso, the idea that I might disappoint God by going against His command to love Him and others, breaks my heart.

February 12 – Why Isn't This Clear?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


February 12 – Why Isn't This Clear?

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.” (John 8:42-43)

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday and it is very similar to conversations I've had with others as well as myself throughout the years.  In essence, why is it that only those who accept Jesus as their Savior are allowed into heaven? Doesn't that make God some kind of religious bigot?  How could a loving God not let everyone into heaven if they are in essence, good.

There are a million and one responses to that question and it really is difficult for a Christian to consider that those who live good and kind lives are less apt to get into heaven because they won’t accept Jesus as their Savior, than it is a repentant murderer.  In our eyes, that just doesn't seem fair.

This verse is one of those that helps me understand what Jesus was saying when he said, “No one comes to the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).

If we are talking about people getting into heaven, we have some level of faith. If we have some level of faith and acknowledge that we want everyone to be in the presence of God in heaven, we then have to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.  He is the Creator. He is the Lord God. He is in charge of the whole shebang.

Right here in John 8 is the reason why it is through Jesus Christ that people are allowed access to God.  Jesus says, “If God were your Father, you would love me.”

Now, as Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Why, then, would God want people in heaven who refuse to love His Son?  If He sent His Son to die on the cross in order to make restitution for our sins and we say that we don’t believe in Jesus, why would God want us around?

When I was growing up, my parents were pretty amazing people. The kids in the youth group loved being in our home. It wasn't because I was such a cool person, it was because my parents made them feel welcome.  However, that welcome mat would have been yanked away, were the kids to make fun of me, or attempt to hurt me, laugh at me and say terrible things about me.

No matter how much my parents loved those kids and wanted the very best for them, I was their daughter and if they would not have treated me well, they wouldn't have been welcome in our home.

If you are of a different faith and you wonder why Christians believe this way, it is because we understand the importance of acknowledging and loving Jesus Christ because He is God’s son.

February 11 – Do Good To Them

Monday, February 11, 2013


February 11 – Do Good To Them

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).

Jesus kept returning to those words, “Love Your Enemies.”  He knew exactly how difficult it was for his listeners to do that and he wanted to make sure they knew the importance of his words.

Each of these phrases, though are so far from any training we get in today’s society.  We don’t love our enemies. At the very least we ignore them, most of the time we go on the attack so they can’t get the better of us.

The last thing we might consider is doing good to or for our enemies.  They are our enemies for a reason and they don’t deserve anything good from us. They have their own friends who should be responsible for that. Right?

Then, Jesus knew exactly what to say to make it hurt the most: lend to them without expecting a return.  We might be able to say things like, “I love them, in Jesus’ name” and get away with it.  Our friends might think we’re being particularly holy that day.  But, when it comes to opening up the wallet and giving freely to those who are termed our enemies, we are caught by the truth of His demand.  This is no longer something we can blithely pass off as an easy task.

When Jesus came to earth and sacrificed His life, He didn't do it for you and me alone, He did it for that person who lied about our work, claiming it as their own. He did it for the person who spread malicious gossip. He did it for the person who held cloaks while their owners were stoning a Christian. He did it for the murderer you believe should be executed, the prostitute, the drug dealer, the man who stands there with a sign that proclaims God’s hatred for others.

He did it for you and me and those we think should find themselves in a special hell because they don’t live in a manner which meets with our approval.  Our enemies.  God loves them and sent His Son to die for them. Now, He calls on us to love them as well.  What will we do with that?

February 10 – It’s Easy to Love Friends

Sunday, February 10, 2013


February 10 – It’s Easy to Love Friends

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that” (Luke 6:32-33).

This passage struck me several years ago, when in a staff meeting at church, we talked about bringing friends to church.  For several days I tried to think about people I knew well enough to invite to church and at some point, I had to face it.  All of my friends, not just some of my friends, but all of my friends were already with me at church.

Now, what good was that?

It is easy to be friends with people who believe the same way, who have things in common with us.  It’s just so easy.  What isn't so easy is choosing to step beyond that and finding out that the world is filled with others.  They don’t have the same political beliefs, they might dress differently or have varying ideas on how children should be raised.  They eat different foods.  Sometimes we find great differences in economic status and have a difficult time bridging that gap.

It is easy to love my friends and ignore the rest of the world.  I have a lot of friends and they can fill up my life with no effort.  I don’t have to think about the fact that there are others out there who might need to hear about Jesus from me.

Look around this week.  Who are your friends?  Do you reach beyond the church for your friendships and relationships?  Do you have people in your life whom you find difficult to love?  Do you have people that you communicate with on a regular basis who need to hear about Jesus Christ?

If you don’t, it’s time to make a change.  Reach out beyond yourself to people who aren't going to love you easily, who aren't going to do good things for you.  Make friends who need the love of Jesus Christ, not just your love.

February 9 – Love Your Enemies

Saturday, February 9, 2013


February 9 – Love Your Enemies

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27-31).

Before I begin, let me state categorically that this passage does not imply anyone should take abuse from another in the name of love, especially if that abuse is continual or comes from one who has emotional and mental issues which preclude them ever making a return to a healthy relationship.  This passage is all about building and re-building relationships that have been damaged and have the potential (sometimes albeit that potential may be hard to discern) for renewal.

In verse twenty-eight, Jesus tells us that rather than retaliate, we are to respond in love.  We are to bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us.  For most Jews who followed the Torah, the idea was always one of retaliation, of making things right.  An eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth was the proper prescription.  Jesus tells us that is never helpful.  We don’t repay in kind, that only escalates the problem.

When we were growing up as children, the phrase “but he (or she) started it!” came out of our mouths often.  Mom would always ask who was going to end it (the fight, the destruction, whatever we’d gotten ourselves into).  It was always a good question and generally we discovered that the response was that she was going to end it.

The time came when Dad stepped into the middle of a fight.  He wasn't quite so tolerant since he wasn't in the house all the time.  Both my sister and brother remember the first time his method of ending a fight occurred.  They were ordered (and no one disobeyed Dad) to sit beside each other on the steps leading upstairs.  They could not move from that place until they’d apologized and hugged each other.  Dad knew several things.  First of all, neither could sit still very long and in order to be up and playing again, they needed to end the argument.  Secondly, our family operated from a basis in love.  We might be angry at each other, but the foundation was one of love and he and Mom had always ensured we were in a safe, loving home.  It was that love to which we always returned.  Before too much time past, apologies and hugs had been exchanged and everyone was off playing with each other again.

Now, this mode of ‘punishment’ soon became the norm in our household.  Mom loved it and used it as often as possible. As kids, we weren't terribly fond of it, but we all had to admit, fights, retaliation and retribution were nearly impossible after that.

Love, bless and pray for those who are not your friends.

February 8 – Love = Obedience

Friday, February 8, 2013


February 8 – Love = Obedience

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me (John 14:21-24).

If we love Jesus, we will obey him.  If we love Jesus and obey him, God will love us and then they will make their home in our hearts.  It really is quite a simple formula, isn't it!

Love = Obedience = Relationship.

There aren't too many people I know who like the word ‘obedience.’ Somehow it has taken on all sorts of negative connotations, mostly because we prefer to set our own rules for life rather than allow anyone else to set them for us.  We refuse to acknowledge there are people in authority over us.

Employees do their best to subvert their supervisors, doing just enough work to ensure no one knows what they are actually doing during the time they are paid to work.

Children find every possible means of disobeying their parents.  If they can get away with it, they will.

The last thing any spouse wants to hear is that they must be obedient to the other.

We bristle when presented with anyone who is in authority over us.  Unless we choose to make rules for our lives, we aren’t going to obey. We do not want to be limited in our choices or our behavior by someone we don’t trust.

The thing is, we don’t necessarily trust those in authority to deal with us with grace and fairness.  Over and over, we are proven correct in our mistrust of their motives and behavior.  Consequently, obedience is a negative word in our vocabulary.  We don’t want to be tied to a set of rules and regulations … commandments that are going to take away our freedoms.

Because of this, the passage from John 14 can be difficult to swallow for many of us.  We've never truly experienced a time when obedience and freedom were part of the same thought.  We have never experienced someone who is not only completely trustworthy, but who is the definition for that since before time began.  We don’t know what it is like to be subservient to someone who will not take our gift for granted, nor will He (Jesus) every take advantage of us.

To love, though, we must learn what it is to be obedient and to be obedient is then the big step we take in building a relationship to God.

February 7 – A New Commandment

Thursday, February 7, 2013


February 7 – A New Commandment

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

Jesus said “As I have loved you, so you must love …” We know he loved and gave his life because of love, but in the day to day events that occurred, Jesus loved like we can’t imagine.  The other day, he loved the young man who walked away.  That didn't stop Jesus from loving him.  He loved the Pharisees who constantly harassed him and accused him of committing sins.  Then, he loved those same Pharisees who plotted to have him killed.

Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha.  He loved his disciples.  Matthew was a hated tax collector.  Jesus loved him.  James and his brother John were a little arrogant. Jesus loved them.  Simon was a Zealot, a member of a group who were more than a little violent in the manner in which they attempted to pull Israel back from the Roman Empire.  Jesus loved him.  Peter was always sticking his nose into things that Jesus had covered. Jesus loved him.  The Roman centurion whose son was dying. Jesus loved him.  The woman from Magdala whose sins were so great she was about to be stoned. Jesus loved her.  Paul, who spent part of his adult life as an organizer of persecutions against Christians. Jesus loved him.  The man filled with demons and those pitifully unhealthy people who needed to be healed and sometimes didn't even bother to thank Jesus – he loved them.

Jesus loved in active ways. He showed his love.  It wasn't passive. But, more than anything, he loved.

He asks us to love in that same manner.  The co-worker who is always late and who expects us to cover for him and is snotty about it, to boot.  The woman who shoves ahead in the checkout line, the kid who drives around you and flips you off, even if you’re driving the speed limit, the person who had to say negative things no matter what is going on, the customer who complains … there are so many people who don’t deserve love according to society, but whom we are commanded to love, just as if Jesus were loving them.

It’s a little hard to remember them all when we’re busy with our lives, so maybe the best thing to do is love everyone. All the time.

February 6 – The Vintner’s Son

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


February 6 – The Vintner’s Son

“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him’ (Luke 20:13).

Jesus had a story to tell to the Jewish leadership and they weren't going to like it.

The owner of a vineyard rented it out and when he came back from his sojourn, sent a servant to collect some of the fruit.  The tenants beat the servant and sent him back with nothing.  The owner sent another servant. He was beaten, as was a third servant. Finally, the owner sent his son, hoping the tenants would respect this son whom the owner loved.  But, not these tenants. The chose instead to kill the son, thinking they would receive the inheritance instead.

Then Jesus said to the leadership, “After they killed the son who was loved by his father, what do you suppose the father will do?  He will destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to someone else.”

Well, the Jewish leadership had pretty good insight.  They were astounded that the owner would do such a thing.  For thousands of years, they had been chosen out of all the world to be God’s people.  They didn't understand the frustration that they had caused God, though.  They thought that if they held to the letter of the law, God would be satisfied, even though all through their Holy Scriptures, God told them over and over again that their sacrifices were worth nothing if their hearts weren't involved.

When they worshiped other gods and allowed the destruction of the prophets and leaders throughout the centuries, God was paying attention.  Herod had just beheaded John the Baptist at the request of his wife, because she was so angry that John would call her out for adultery.

Not only was Jesus prophesying about His own death at the hands of these same leaders, but he told them God would share their inheritance with others. We are the others.  We are the ones whom God has asked to be His emissaries to the world.

We should not squander such an opportunity.

February 5 – Jesus Loved Him

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


February 5 – Jesus Loved Him

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).

This is the same story from Matthew 19:16-22, but there are interesting details in Mark’s version that flesh out the story.  First of all, it is filled with action.  In Mark 10:17, at the beginning of this story, Mark writes “And as he (Jesus) was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’”  

This young man, wealthy as he was, recognized the importance of a moment with Jesus, so he ran to catch him.  Jesus would have stopped as the young man knelt before him.

I see some real lessons for us in just that sentence.  We should never miss an opportunity to spend a moment with Jesus and when we see it, we should run to catch him.  Then, as soon as we do, we should drop to our knees in humility because anything we learn from him is greater than anything else we will ever learn.

Jesus teaches us one more lesson in true humility, though in the next sentence; “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

That’s a tough proclamation to swallow for most of us. We work quite hard to make sure we’re ‘good.’  We follow the rules, we go to church, and we manage our money well. We don’t want to face the fact that only God is good and we will never measure up.  All of the rules we follow and church-going we do will never get us there.  We will always miss the mark.

Jesus tells the young man that he knows the commandments and the young man agrees that he has kept them all his life.  Then, comes the verse highlighted above.  This young man was loved by Jesus.  It wasn't because he kept the commandments; it was simply because Jesus loved him.

Mark finishes the story of the young man with more great active description: “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:22).

The young man was devastated to find that he hadn't done enough to earn his way into heaven.  Following the rules wasn't enough.  Jesus told him that he had to do more than that.  He had to be willing to give up the things he loved the most in order to care for others.

Jesus let him go.  He didn't love him any less, but He had to let the young man go … back to his wealth and his rule-keeping life.  Those were satisfactory for the young man in this life, but would not gain him the next.  His heart was too wrapped up in his wealth and had run out of room for others.

February 4 – Love God, Love Everyone

Monday, February 4, 2013


February 4 – Love God, Love Everyone

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-33; Luke 10:27).

This is probably my favorite passage of scripture because every rule we think we have to follow, every commandment, every moral law comes down to these two commandments.  Love God. Love everyone.

The Pharisees were keepers of the Law.  They liked nothing better than to watch other people and then catch them in an infraction.  And they really liked catching religious leaders like Jesus in minor infractions.  They spent hours studying the Law of Moses and making sure they understood every jot and tittle.  So, one day, one of the Pharisees, who also happened to be a lawyer decided to test Jesus.

The Ten Commandments were the epitome of obedience to God.  Moses was one of their great patriarchs.  How could Jesus possibly extract himself from the question this man was about to pose?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

No matter what Jesus might say, it would be damaging to his ministry.  If he said that they were to not make an idol, did that mean this was a greater commandment than keeping the Sabbath Day holy?  If Jesus talked about the sanctity of life and that they were not to kill, was that more important than honoring parents?  There was no possible way Jesus could answer this question … or so they thought.

But Jesus threw them.  He quoted from the Shema, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Religious Jews recited this twice every day.  It was the very definition of their faith. They believed in One True God.  This belief separated them from the other religions that surrounded them.

Then, Jesus said, “And love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you look at the Ten Commandments found in either Exodus 20:1-17 or Deuteronomy 5:4-21, you will find that Jesus wrapped them up neatly and tied them with a bow before setting them before the Pharisees.  The first four deal directly with our relationship to God.

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Then, the next six deal with our relationship to others.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.

If we love God with everything we are, we will keep the first four commandments. If we love others with everything we are, we will keep the last six commandments.

Love God. Love others.

February 3 – The Rich Young Man

Sunday, February 3, 2013


February 3 – The Rich Young Man

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 

“Which ones?” the man inquired. 

Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth (Matthew 19:16-22).

The young man asked Jesus about which good deed would get him into heaven and Jesus responded by saying that no thing is good, there is really on One who is good.  This reminds me of several conversations I had with my grandmother.  She was a wonderful woman who firmly believed that what went into our hearts and minds and what came out of our mouths should always promote goodness and love.  I wasn't allowed to play the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” on her organ because the words were about war.  There were no books in her home with curse words.  Consequently, there were a lot of Reader’s Digest Condensed books for everyone to read.  We couldn't say that we ‘loved’ something.  Inanimate objects couldn't receive our love, so we shouldn't express something that was such a part of our relationship with God and others.  Her reasoning makes perfect sense, even if it seemed a little old-fashioned for a young girl.

Jesus didn't want this young man to think that his good deeds made him holy in the same manner that God is holy.  And Jesus saw something else about this young man that made his one good thing worthless in the sight of God and mankind.  The young man was much more interested in keeping his wealth and his way of life than he was in actually getting into heaven.  When he said he’d kept the commandments, even up to and including loving his neighbor, he didn't mean it.  He loved himself more than anything else and that was apparent to Jesus.

Once more in this passage, Jesus talks about perfection and once more it is in reference to loving others.  Jesus told the young man to sell everything and give it to the poor.  This wasn't Jesus’ snide push at the guy for loving his wealth more than anything else, it was Jesus’ way of saying that people are more important than anything else.

People are more important than our pride, our wealth, our security, our rules, our way of doing things, our expectations.  People are more important. Loving people is the most important thing we can do as we show our love for God.

What stops you from loving people?

February 2 – Love Your Enemies

Saturday, February 2, 2013


February 2 – Love Your Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

I read these words this morning and started giggling a little.  When I think of an enemy, my mind immediately considers the novels I read and movies I watch.  I don’t have any enemies.  I have people who annoy the hell out of me and make me so mad I want to scream, but no real enemies.

One Sunday morning, when Carol and I were living together, she called me back to her bedroom to look at the clothing in her closet.  There was a strange hole in many of the items … it didn't make sense.  We had to scurry to church, but when we got home, we tried to work through the mystery.  Was it a mouse, a snake?  What could have made that strange hole in that strange path.  Then we saw the hole in the window and in the wall behind the clothes and we called the police.

The officer came out and one of the first questions he asked was if we had any enemies, either in our personal lives or from our business?  Both Carol and I were so flabbergasted we didn't know what to say, but we assured him that wasn't the type of people we were.  We simply didn't make enemies.  We might make people nuts, but nothing in our lives would point to someone shooting at us in retaliation.

Jesus goes on to say though, that if we love only those who love us; what good does that do anyone?  If the only friends we have are the people who go to church with us, what good are we in the world?  Even the tax collectors and pagans do that. We are supposed to be better than that.  Jesus says we should be perfect.

Those words have tripped theologians up.  John Wesley was one who looked at that word and explained it so it might make better sense.  Jesus isn't talking about becoming a perfect person in the way we see perfection. He asks us to be on the path of love.  God’s love is perfect love.  In fact … God is love.  God loves us even when we don’t love Him.  God loves sinners and the righteous without fail.  His grace and forgiveness are available to everyone, no matter what.  When it comes to love; God does not judge.  He simply loves.  He is love.

This is the perfection we are called to emulate.  Love … without boundaries, without judgment, without reservation, without strings.  We are to love.

Oh … and that gunshot through Carol’s window?  The duplex is at the top of a T.  Two brothers down the street got mad at each other and were shooting their guns at each other.  They obviously missed and a stray bullet made it up the hill and to the second floor of our place.  A policewoman called me later in the week to let me know what had happened.

February 1 – This is My Son, Whom I Love

Friday, February 1, 2013


February 1 – This is My Son, Whom I Love

The very first use of the word ‘love’ in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) comes when the Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).

In an early revelation of the Trinity, we see the beauty of the relationship that is built on love and translates into how we should maintain our relationships with each other.  Everything is based on love and respect.  Words of love are spoken; graceful touches of the Spirit are made.

There had been several hundred years of silence from God for the Jews.  The prophets had faded away.  Then, His voice was heard again … this time from heaven.  The Messiah had come and was ready to begin His ministry, the Lord God revealed Himself to humanity once more and in so doing, anointed Jesus Christ as His Son and the One who would continue the revelation to mankind.

The relationship between the Trinity pours out from this moment onto any person who comes to know Jesus Christ in a personal way.  Jesus’ disciples felt it, the people surrounding Jesus felt it. Nicodemus recognized it: “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:1-2, NIV).

What if we were to treat those around us with the same grace and love that comes to us from God?

Imagine standing at a checkout counter and smiling at the harried person who is ringing up your groceries … taking a minute to reach out and touch that person and say, “I hope you have a good day.”  What if you were to laugh and enjoy your meal with a server, touching them on the forearm and saying, “Thank you for taking care of us today.”  What if you were to look up and smile at the people rushing past you or take a moment to wave at another person while you are madly driving to your next appointment?

It isn't even about performing random acts of kindness, but is more along the lines of living a life that exudes grace and love.  Moments of grace for those who desperately need a touch from God; acts of love, compassion and kindness for anyone you encounter, whether online or in person.

We can be the reflection of the Father’s love for His Son to the world.