God’s Ageless Grace Brings Purpose. 2 Timothy 1:8-12

God’s extravagant grace was present before the beginning of time, has been revealed in Jesus, and continues unchanged and unchangeable for eternity.

Can we somehow, in someway, finally let God’s grace overwhelm us today?

2 Timothy 1:8-12 English Standard Version

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,[b] 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.[c]

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

Grace is a gift most of us do not know how to receive.

We’ve been so inundated with our earthly systems of give-and-get and work-and-earn that grace is a concept few ever fully grasp.

Yet it’s grace alone that has the power to transform lives.

Grace alone has the power to bring freedom to the captives.

By grace alone we are saved.

There could be no better use of our time than consistently and passionately pursuing a greater revelation of God’s grace.

I remember becoming transfixed with the transforming power of grace while watching and then re-watching the movie Les Miserables.

Jean Valjean was arrested for stealing a simple loaf of bread.

Finally released after 19 years in prison, he could not find any place to stay until a Bishop graciously offered him lodging.

But then Valjean stole some silver from the Bishop’s home and fled.

Captured by the authorities next day, he was brought back to face the Bishop.

But instead of accusing him, the Bishop said he had given Valjean the silver, and then in addition to the silver, Bishop also gave Valjean two silver candlesticks.

Overwhelmed with the extravagance of grace, Valjean’s priorities changed.

He surrendered his life to God and worked to help others.

God’s extravagant grace was present before the beginning of time, has been revealed in Jesus, and continues unchanged and unchangeable for eternity.

Can we somehow, in someway, finally let God’s grace overwhelm us today?

Transformation-Extravagant Purposeful Grace

2 Timothy 1:8-12 The Message

8-10 So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.

One of the greatest gifts we have been given by God is purpose.

From the time of Adam, God has always made clear the purposes we were created for.

In Genesis 1:28 God says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 

Throughout time our purposes have changed, but God has made it clear that we all are to have lives that are valuable and effective.

Have you lived days where you’re simply going through the motions?

Have you had days where you feel as if what you do doesn’t matter?

Those days in my life are my absolute worst.

It is clear I would rather go through trial and persecution with purpose than live a meaningless day.

It’s in purpose we find satisfaction.

In purpose we find out our lives matter.

And in purpose we discover the reason we were created.

2 Timothy 1:9 says, “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” 

Because of God’s grace and purpose we have been called to a life of wonderful and satisfying works.

The Bible teaches us a truth in opposition to the teachings of the world.

The world says to work enough to live a life of comfort and ease.

Work is done for the purpose of relaxation and comfort.

God says that we are created for a life of eternal value in which everything we do is to have purpose higher than our own comfort and relaxation.

God has placed highest value and worth on our lives to an extent we have yet to discover.

He has a plan and purpose for your life that God’s assigned to no one else.

Our life is meant to make an eternal impact for his kingdom which will reign for all time.

But in his grace God has also given you control of your own life.

You can choose to live your life according to his purposes or your own.

And you can choose to pursue comfort and meaningless relaxation or a life of true rest and satisfaction that comes only from living entirely for God.

My fervent hope is that in looking at two purposes God has for our life, we will choose to live our lives completely with and only for our heavenly Father.

And in doing so, we will steadily discover the incredible joy and passion and the purpose the Holy Spirit longs to birth in you and bring to maturity for the Lord.

The first purpose for which we were created is abiding relationship with God.

Jesus says in Mark 12:30, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” 

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says it this way: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

Loving God is your highest calling, and in loving God we will experience the fullest joy and satisfaction available.

When you stand before God in judgment, God will not look for our possessions, promotions, or social status, but rather at the fervor with which you loved Him.

We will be rewarded for acts of love, not self-seeking glorification.

And this chief purpose of loving God is the only path to the abundant life he has in store for you here.

The second purpose for which we were created is loving others in response to your love for God. Mark 12:31 says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 

Acts 26:16 says, “But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.” 

We are called to love others out of the amazing love we’ve been shown by God.

As our hearts and souls are filled with love for God through their encountering God in their secret places, we will be filled with a longing to see his desires for others around us come to fruition.

God’s greatest longing is for relationship with his crown of creation, and God wants to use us to guide others to himself.

In loving others we will discover the incredible satisfaction of seeing the lost and hurting be found and healed.

Incredible passion and irrepressible joy comes from seeing a life transformed through the Holy Spirit interceding, ministering, working in and within us.

How incredible is the grace of our God that his purposes would be entirely rooted in love.

We who are God’s Children are called to simply love him and others with the very first love we have been shown.

He’s like a father who gives his children money to buy him a present.

He fills us with the love and enjoyment he feels for us, and then in response we can love him and others.

He fills us with the breath of life and then patiently waits for us to live our life as a beautiful song of praise and worship unto him.

May we finally come to experience today all that God’s grace has afforded us.

May we finally choose drop all of our lame pretenses to imitate, choose to live our lives with purpose and passion that only comes from loving him and others.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on God’s desire to lead you to a life of abundant purpose.

“[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” 2 Timothy 1:9

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” John 15:16

2. Reflect on your own life. 

Where have we been living with the purposes of the world rather than God?

In what areas are you living for yourself rather than him and others?

And in what areas of your life do you feel meaningless and passionless?

3. Receive the rejuvenation that comes from living with his purposes as your chief goals. 

Allow God to gradually but steadily revive relationships that seem to be tired, without purpose and without passion – feel empowered for God and neighbor.

Allow God to fill you with desire for your work, friendships, or marriage.

Ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal specific ways he desires to use you today.

Psalm 36:5-6 The Message

5-6 God’s love is meteoric,
    his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
    his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
    nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
    slips through the cracks.

The passion and purpose God has for us never ceases.

There will be days or seasons God leads us to rest for the purpose of renewing, loving, and filling us, for empowering us, for inspiring us, for transforming us.

There will be times of work and striving, of trials and of hardships in various and diverse manifestations, in which God purposes to mold, shape, and use us.

Psalm 138 English Standard Version
Give Thanks to the Lord

Of David.

138 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
    and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
    for you have exalted above all things
    your name and your word.[a]
On the day I called, you answered me;
    my strength of soul you increased.[b]

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
    for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
    but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Wherever God is leading any one of us today, choose to believe trust that God absolutely has only the very best best plan and purpose for you.

Come, Holy Spirit, breathe on me, that I may Choose to live your life with God’s purposes weaved deeply and intricately weaved within my heart and within my soul, and may I experience the passion that can only be found in living for God. Father, focus our eyes and our ears on your extravagant grace. May we become spellbound with the mercy of Jesus Christ so that we offer ourselves totally to your service. Amen.

Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.


Question for Today: What Does it Mean Today to Love Our Neighbors as We All Love Ourselves? Mark 12:30-31 [28-34]

Mark 12:28-34 Amplified Bible

28 Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ 31 This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] [a]love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully and intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one would dare to ask Him any more questions.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

Sometimes, the most important things aren’t difficult to grasp. 

If they seem difficult to grasp, it is most likely because we ourselves, in our all too clumsy humanity have made it so because we ourselves have deemed it to be infinitely more important to be complex than simplified – it just feels “better.”

God desires us to be exclusively devoted to Him with all of our being, and to also be loving to others who surround us. 

The covenant demands of God placed square upon our character boil down to the observance of these two fundamental principles that go echelons beyond laws and reveal God’s character [God IS Love] to the very hearts of all people.

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Mark 12:29-31Authorized (King James) Version

29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

We learn many rules growing up:

Brush your teeth,

Look both ways before crossing the street,

Always tell the truth.

Which of these is most important?

What do you believe is the single most important Truth you have ever heard?

Rabbi Jesus was asked a similar question by an expert in the Mosaic Law: Of the many commands and regulations in the law of God, which one tops the list?

Jesus did not hesitate: “Love God above all”—and he quickly added the second: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And what kind of love does this refer to?

In connection with God’s love for us, this is unconditional, unconventional, love—totally gracious, totally generous, and totally with no strings attached.

Notice especially that Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This means that if we are to love our neighbors unconditionally and generously, we will be required by God to love ourselves that self same way too!

God does not make junk.

God does not make mistakes.

We are created in God’s image; we are his masterpieces.

It’s not to just okay to love myself: God expects me to celebrate the person he created me to be – every moment celebrate God exactly as God celebrates us!

The Golden Rule Jesus gave us—“Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)—is another way of saying this command to love God and honor God and love and honor our neighbor as we love and honor ourselves.

Loving others well depends at least partly on our capacity to love ourselves.

What Does it Mean to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?

Would it, Should it, Could it, surprise you to learn that loving your neighbor as yourself is found eight times in the Bible.

Not once, Not even twice but Eight times.

Go ahead and search for them – Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is so important to God that He not only repeats Himself, He makes it a command.

And not just one in a list of many commands.

Rabbi Jesus coupled the command to love your neighbor as yourself with loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and with all of our strength. 

James calls it the royal law.

It sounds beautiful, and it is when we obey it.

But loving your neighbor as yourself isn’t always easy.

That’s why God made it a command.

He knew we’d struggle.

Making it a commandment is actually to our benefit.

How is that?

We have to be reverently and deliberately obedient

We have to do it on purpose.

We have to be intentional about it.

Sometimes even out of our need.

But if we love God as God love us … obedience just flows from us naturally.  

This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself:
1. Loving your neighbor means receiving God’s love.

Too begin to love your neighbor as yourself, you need to know two things:

you need to know what love is and that you are loved. 

The Bible tells us “this is love. Not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son as a propitiation…” (1 John 4:10).

You and I are the object of this love.

God loves you.

God loves me.

Knowing this is imperative.

And not just that we are loved in a general kind of way, but deeply loved and unconditionally and unconventionally loved.

We tap into this when we understand that God loved us first. [John 3:16-17]

He’s the source of our love.

God loved us even before Jesus gave Himself for us.

God the Father is the source of all love.

Before we can give this love we need to receive it for ourselves.

You cannot give to someone what you yourself do not have.

2. Loving your neighbor means loving ourselves as well.

To love your neighbor as yourself as commanded, you need to measure love correctly.

The measurement within this command is—as yourself.

To love your neighbor as yourself you need to love yourself.

This is something that gets badly misunderstood in the body of Christ often.

It gets mixed up with dying to self and denying self as if we need to destroy our self.

This is not true. 

Jesus died for each and every one of us.

If Jesus valued us enough to go through what He went through, we each have a sacred responsibility to Him to value what He values exactly as He valued it .

We need to love what He loves – us.

The Bible tells us the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus (John 17:20-23).

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. [Authorized King James Version]

When we dare to simplify it: How dare we not love what the Father loves?

Learning to love ourselves prepares and helps us to love our neighbor.  

3. Loving your neighbor means showing grace.

Knowing God is love and that this love is for you is not enough.

It needs to be developed and matured.

Imagine if you had a field of good soil and a bag of top notch seeds.

Would they produce a crop all by themselves?

No. The seeds must be planted and cared for.

Grace takes the seed of His love and the soils of our hearts and souls and creates fruit for the kingdom of God. 

The Bible says, “it’s God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2.13).

Loving Him and our neighbor pleases Him.

Grace helps us do this.

Grace teaches us proper love, honor and respect for ourselves and for our neighbor – our freely receiving His grace empowers us all to freely give it.  

4. Loving your neighbor means acting with compassion.

From Luke’s Narrative of the Gospel, when Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded with a story: the Good Samaritan [10:25-37].

Even those who have no love for God see the value of the story.

What is the bottom line of this story?

Who did Jesus say was being a neighbor?

The one who had compassion. 

Compassion is not simply a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.

Compassion does something.

A heart moved by compassion cannot sit idly by while someone suffers a need.

Loving God and Loving your neighbor as you are Loving yourself is being moved by God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to help to the full extent of your ability.

5. Loving your neighbor means looking out for their wellbeing.

The NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 13 says, “love protects.” 

In Philippians 2:4 it says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 

Loving your neighbor as yourself is to look out for other people’s wellbeing. 

To look out for them is to pay attention.

You notice if they need something and then you help.

For example, their clothing tag is sticking out or they have food on their face so you let them know.

Or something more serious like when a neighbor has surgery or becomes sick.

Concerned for their health, well-being, I head over to their home with a meal or a loaded gift card so if they aren’t able to cook, they won’t have to cook, can eat.

6. Loving your neighbor means serving them.

Serving from the heart is kindness in action.

Kindness is one of the attributes of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13.

The surprisingly wonderful thing about kindness, though, is you can do acts of kindness without kindness residing in your heart.

If the kind thing is done out of duty then it isn’t love. 

Jesus said he came to serve (Mark 10:45, Luke 19:10, Matthew 20:28).

God, who is love, came to serve.

Love serves.

For you to love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll have a heart to serve them.

Let them know you’re there for them.

If they need a ride somewhere, you drive them.

If they need their dog or cat checked on while out of town, you do that for them.

Other examples are getting their mail for them or taking them a meal if they’re not well.

Examples in a public setting are to let people in front of you in line at the store or in traffic.

7. Loving your neighbor means speaking kindly.

The childhood rhyme about sticks and stones versus words is not true.

Words build up or tear down.

God created the world using words.

The Bible says Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1). 

To love your neighbor as yourself is to use words to build them up.

Speaking words of encouragement to someone who’s down is the most obvious example but there are hosts upon hosts and myriads and myriads of others.

We can be more intentional with our words by looking for and magnifying the good.

We can always find something good if we’ll take the time to look for it.

Examples of this are giving someone a simple smile, a simple compliment and simply telling someone how much you genuinely appreciate them.  

8. Loving your neighbor means making allowances for other people’s humanity.

We live in a day and age when offense is as common as breathing.

Criticism is running rampant.

Love is not easily offended or critical.

Everyone does dumb things; no one is always right or knows everything.

We’re all a work in progress. 

I remember sitting through a green light.

I wasn’t trying to inconvenience anyone.

I got stuck in grieving daze because a family member might die.

I remember that when I encounter people driving too slow, sitting at lights, or even cutting me off.

Maybe they have a reason.

Maybe they’re just being human.

We’re imperfect beings that do perfectly dumb things often. 

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is loving your neighbor.

For example, I had someone honking their truck horn flailing their arms and cursing because I didn’t speed through an almost red light.

They were behind me and so they got stuck at the red light with me.

I don’t know why they were so angry but they may have had other pressing circumstances surrounding them that day – I prayed for them.

9. Loving your neighbor means sharing in their joys and sorrows.

The Bible says we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). 

Celebrating can be difficult for us at times, especially if our neighbor is getting something we have longed for.

For example, a new job, a raise, or a pregnancy.

Celebrating with them in spite of our own pain is a strong show of love. 

Likewise, mourning with our neighbor can be hard if we don’t know what to say, or have recently lost something or someone ourselves.

Loving God, Loving your neighbor as yourself is showing up and being there with your heart open, allowing them to be what they are, and support them.

10. Loving your neighbor means forgiving.

Forgiveness is a big deal to God.

Bible says He planned it for us from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Jesus frequently spoke forgiveness over others that resulted in the healing of their bodies. 

Forgiveness is freely given to us and to love your neighbor as yourself you’ll pass the forgiveness on.

Jesus highlighted this in His story in Matthew 18 when Peter asks how many times is he to forgive.

He tells the story of a king who forgave an enormous debt to one of his servants.

This servant failed to pass the forgiveness on.

He demanded payment of a small debt from his neighbor.

When the king heard of it, he had his servant remanded for his debt, revoking the debt cancellation.

Jesus’ story tells us that love always forgives.

We all need forgiveness, so loving your neighbor is to forgive them as you have been forgiven.

In both the Hebrew [Old] and New Testaments we are commanded by God to love our neighbors as ourselves.

On several occasions Jesus himself says that is a part of fulfilling God’s law.

Again and again God shows us how to love others.

The call to love our neighbor is not complicated, but it can be challenging to follow.

It means more than being hospitable, tolerant, patient, and kind.

It means more than showing respect and honoring others.

It also means more than just being civil with people you disagree with—even though it also means all of that.

Loving our neighbor implies that the well-being of others matters—so we should work for justice, protection, and opportunities for others to thrive.

It means listening to others.

It also shows that the possibilities for showing love and care for our neighbors is endless and could leave us overwhelmed by all the needs for neighborly love!

Yet all of us can love our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ.

We can honor, love and respect them enough to show how the love of Jesus is forever shaping us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As you are loved, Jesus says, so love one another (see John 13:34).

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Dear God, thank You for Your unconditional love. Lord, help me to know myself and to love myself. If I don’t feel self-worth, how can I expect someone else to cherish me? Help me to develop a healthy self-identity, remembering that I am a child of the King, created in Your image. Help me know who I really am, what I really want from life, and what I want in the person I will spend my life with. Thank you, Lord, for loving me so completely that I am being completely changed! Help me to be more aware of your Love so I may love my neighbor with the love you have for the world.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.


Love Divine, All Loves Excelling: My Reflections on the Sure Love of God on Valentine’s Day. Ephesians 5:22-32

Ephesians 5:22-32 Amplified Bible

Marriage Like Christ and the Church

22 Wives, be subject [a]to your own husbands, as [a service] to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as Christ is head of the church, Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives should be subject to their husbands in everything [respecting both their position as protector and their responsibility to God as head of the house].

25 Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], 27 so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless. 28  Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members (parts) of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become [b]one flesh. 32 This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

My Reflections on Saint Valentine’s Day

You are all probably acutely aware of all the pink and red an whites decorating many of our stores in the month of February.

I have been thinking a lot about what it represents, and what we can learn.

It occurred to me that many of us Christians will preach lovely messages on Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and even Christmas.

Yet, I find when it come to Valentine’s Day, we usually pass that one over.

I had to ask myself the question, “why?”

I can’t speak for others, but I think the answer for myself is that this seems too worldly to merit preaching a message related to it.

But is God completely silent on the themes this day brings to us?

You can’t avoid it.

The commercials, the decorations in the stores, the parties in school, the gifts at the office, and many other things confront us all whether we like it or not.

We are talking about romantic love.

Why do we Christians avoid that topic so much at church and in religious settings?

Is it completely worldly?

Is it ungodly?

Does the Bible condemn it?

Maybe the Bible ignores it?

I think what we will find it that it is far from worldly.

In fact, it is a reflection of our God.

1. Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.
[Charles Wesley, 1707-1788]

My Reflections on the Sure Love of God

God is love.

When I say love, I am not talking about the little miniature fat guy Cupid that goes around shooting people with arrows.

That is almost too cute for my taste.

In fact, it can make romantic love seem almost silly or frivolous.

What I am talking about is the special love a man and a woman have for each other.

The love a man and woman have for each other is part of God’s design from the very beginning when he saw that it was not good for man to be alone.

If you never read the Song of Solomon, which is really titled the “Song of Songs” in the first chapter, which means “The Best of Songs,” then you are definitely and decisively missing out on the best love poetry ever written.

Key Words throughout the Book are: “Love” and “Marriage.”

The Song of Solomon beautifully portrays the qualities of a pure “love” and the ingredients for a “successful marriage.”

To develop this kind of a relationship requires total honesty, unselfishness and unconditional an unconventional support.

The whole book is a love poem between a betrothed couple, who later appear to have gotten married.

It is romantic, sensual and is part of the word of God.

The couple refers to each other as the “one whom my soul loves.”

It speaks of being faint with love.

It describes the admiration for and the delight they have in each other.

In poetically describes the precious beauty that they see in each other.

Some people have had a real problem with taking this book literally, as if romantic love poetry is not worthy of scripture.

As a result, they interpret it as an allegory of God’s love for his bride Israel or as an allegory of Christ’s love for the church.

But that doesn’t eliminate the fact that it is still romantic love poetry.

If it were merely figurative of God’s love for us, the conclusion is still the same.

Romantic love is not worldly but comes from God. In fact, if it were figurative, then the case is even stronger that romantic love is godly, good, and beautiful.

It is a reflection of the love that God has for us.

Imagine that!

God describing is love for his people in romantic love poetry!

However, I think we should take it as what it is. It is simply beautiful and romantic love poetry.

Romantic love does not originate from the world.

It comes from the God of love.

In fact, all throughout the Bible, God presents himself as the greatest lover of all.

God fondly recalls the early days of his marriage to his bride, Israel.

Look at this passage of scripture:

“Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord GOD.

Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you, anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk.

I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 16:8-14)

God loves his bride passionately.

He showered all of the symbols of his love on her.

Nothing was too good for her.

God is the lover of lovers.

When God loves, He loves very passionately, and with passionate love can come intense anger and fury, jealousy and pain when the one whom your soul loves is unfaithful to you. 

Notice what happens next in this passage:

“But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. You took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels {made} of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them…” (Ezekiel 16:15-17).

And God continues for many more verses describing how his perfect bride was unfaithful to him using the very jewels, clothes, other things God gave to her.

It was as if his “perfect bride committed adultery in their own bed! After going into more details about how he beloved was unfaithful to him, He concludes:

“Thus I will judge you like women who commit adultery or shed blood are judged; and I will bring on you the blood of wrath and jealousy. I will also give you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your shrines, demolish your high places, strip you of your clothing, take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare. They will incite a crowd against you and they will stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. They will burn your houses with fire and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women. Then I will stop you from playing the harlot, and you will also no longer pay your lovers” (Ezekiel 16:38-41).

Do you think God is angry?

Of course!

Wouldn’t you be angry and hurt if the one your soul loves cheated on you?

In fact, many of us would divorce our spouse in a heartbeat.

But God does no such thing.

In his passionate, relentless, undying love, God does not close the book on his beloved bride.

His love never dies.


“Therefore, behold, I will allure her (or “woo” her), Bring her into the wilderness And speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali” (Hosea 2:14-16).

Maybe some of the flavor of this is lost in translation.

God woos his bride back to him after a period of anger and wrath.

He puts a song in her heart again.

In that day, she will no longer call him “Ba-ali,” which translated means “my Lord.”

No longer will God be “my Lord,” but “Ishi,” which means “my husband.”

Do you see the kind of love that God has for his bride?

In fact, one of the final pictures we have in scripture of the consummation of God’s plan is that of a marriage feast.

In Revelation 19:7-9, God uses the image of a wedding to describe the time when his heart’s desire will be fulfilled.

We, God’s people, are the bride, and he is eagerly anticipating that wedding day when we will be together forever.

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God'” (Revelation 19:7-9).

In the next scene is the arrival of the groom.

But it is unlike anything you have ever seen.


“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16).

The groom comes riding in on a white horse.

His robe is dipped in blood, his own blood.

Jesus died and was willing to go to Hades and back for his bride.

Even though she has been unfaithful, he will come riding in, swoop her up on his steed and ride off into Heaven with her arms around his waist.

Yes, Jesus loves his bride with an undying love.

You know, love does strange things.

It makes people look past the warts and the rough edges.

Sometimes people will say, “I just don’t understand what he sees in her!”

Maybe she is a “Plain Jane” with several flaws.

Maybe she is overweight.

Maybe her hair is stringy.

Maybe her clothes are out of style.

Maybe she is mismatched.

Maybe her nose is too big.

Maybe she is nothing to look at.

Maybe she is a mess.

But to her man she is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Love causes him to look past those things to see who she really is.

Isn’t that what God does?

He looks past all of our rough edges, all of our filth, all of the ugliness in us.

He sees what we can truly become.

They say that “true love is blind.”

I disagree with this.

Oh, I know that there can be the star struck person who is no longer capable of thinking with good judgment, but that is not what I am talking about.

I am talking about true love.

True love is not unaware of the flaws, the warts, and the dirt.

Instead, true love looks beyond these things. 

Now, please turn in your bibles to our devotional text from Ephesians 5:22-32.

Ephesians 5:22-33The Message

22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

A Beautiful Bride ….

In many weddings, the moment a bride begins her walk down the aisle is very important.

Everyone stands to join the groom in watching her as she processes to meet him.

That moment is important for the groom too, of course.

He loves his bride and longs to have her with him.

Her walk down the aisle is a picture of the approach that began before they met.

And their meeting at the end of the aisle symbolizes the beginning of their new life together, which they pledge before God to continue throughout their lives.

Jesus loves his bride too.

Our text makes that clear even as it calls earthly husbands to give themselves up in loving service to their wives.

After all, for all to see, Jesus gave himself up for his bride, the church, at the cross at Calvary.

Christians are not frigid prudes that do not know what love is.

Christians are passionate people full of life that comes from the giver of life.

Remember this, the next time your anniversary comes up, or the next time your beloved’s birthday comes, or any time when you are driving on your way home.

We serve a God who is full of passionate love, and nothing is godlier when you display the same passionate love of God toward the one whom your soul loves.

Rejoice! Together we are the one for whom Christ waits at the end of the aisle.

The toughest love

Valentine’s Day, also known as the “day of love”, is one of the most widely celebrated holidays.

It’s the day when we’re supposed to tell those near and dear to us how much we cherish them.

Because everyone needs to feel loved.

Love is powerful.

So powerful, Jesus summarized the greatest Commandments using only love:

Mark 12:28-34Amplified Bible

28 Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ 31 This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] [a]love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32  The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered thoughtfully and intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one would dare to ask Him any more questions.

Now, when it comes to loving those closest to us, we should, of course, tell those people that we love them—and often.

However, in reality, doing so requires very little faith on our part because chances are our love will be returned to us in equal measure. (Luke 6:32–33)

Once we have experienced the true nature of God’s unending, unconditional love, the only reasonable response is to share that love with others who have not yet experienced it.

But this is where Jesus asks us to lean on our faith.

He gave another commandment that often seems quite illogical and at times, impossible.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27).”

We are also called to love the unlovable.

This selfless love He’s describing can only be expressed with the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit.

When we put aside our emotions and trust the healing power of the Holy Spirit to help us and work through us for the benefit of those on the receiving end, we become a sure and certain eye witness of God’s transforming love and power.


“My beloved is mine and I am his; He pastures his flock among the lilies…..” Song of Solomon 2:16

In addition to telling your special someone how much they mean to you, maybe we should also reach out to those who wouldn’t normally come to mind on Valentine’s Day – Cherish Christ’s church, even when church is not so lovable.

You will be loving what Christ himself loves!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

A Valentine’s Day Prayer for True Love

Dear God, Help me today to understand what love really means.

I need a love that’s big enough to include all of us. Big enough for the dating and engaged couples, of course, with their giddy daydreams of a future together. But also big enough for the married folks, whether their passion for each other is still blazing brightly or barely more than a smoldering wick. Big enough for the singles toasting their independence, and for the singles wishing someone would come along and make that independence disappear. For the lonely and widowed and brokenhearted, I need a love that understands, a love that welcomes in hurt and sorrow instead of excluding them.

The love I need more than anything is Your love. Without Your love, no other love will ever be sufficient. And with it, every other love becomes richer and truer and more life-giving than it could have been otherwise. We have learned all our best loves from You: the love of faithful friends, of spouses and significant others, of parents and siblings and children. Love that commits. Love that sacrifices. Love that lays down its life. You authored each of these loves, taught us how to recognize them and long for them and give them away. Our best efforts at Valentine’s Day are just a fraction of the wholeness of love.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Today, let everything I see remind me of Your great love for all of God’s Children. Let today be a day for love. Real love. Big love. Your love.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.


God, our Creator and Our Emotional Health. Connecting our whole selves with the Word of God. Mark 12:28-34

There is an African – American Spiritual which declares to each of us today,

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul

Sometimes I feel discouraged
And deep I feel the pain
In prayers the holy spirit
Revives my soul again

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.

Let’s take a feeling test this morning.

Let Me Ask each of us these questions:

What are you and I feeling now?

What all did you and I feel yesterday?

What do you and I hope and pray you and I will feel tomorrow?

Who felt loving, happy, sad, hateful, angry, joyful, thankful, disappointed, depressed, jealous, ambitious, surprised, convicted, hopeful and who felt as though God’s love wanted to use them to make a difference in someone’s life?

Today we are going to take a brief biblical look at emotional health.

That is how to deal with how you feel.

Yesterday we talked about the heartbeat of love and hate.

“I Hate to Love!” and “I Love to Hate!”

Today we are going to begin looking at how to manage your emotions.

Moving into a “GOD” direction of “I Love to Love!” and “I Hate to Hate!”

I am pretty sure we all know the answer to this question …

When has anyone of us here ever had a change, good or bad, take place in their life because they did not keep your range of Love and Hate emotions in check?

We are going to look at what the Bible says about our emotional health and how to perhaps, even hopefully and prayerfully, successfully manage your emotions.

In the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, how to deal with how you and I feel.

Mark 12:28-34 Amplified Bible

28 Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ 31 This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] [a]love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered thoughtfully and intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one would dare to ask Him any more questions.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Mark 12:34 … Young’s Literal Translation

34 And Jesus, having seen him that he answered with understanding, said to him, `Thou art not far from the reign of God;’ and no one any more durst question him.

Today we will begin to explore how emotional health and trust are linked.

Truth is, thanks be to God, we are all emotional beings and how we are doing emotionally (positively and negatively) affects all of us on a regular basis.

God our Creator, the Author of our entire Life has something to say about yours and mine emotional health, and it is my fervent hope you, the readership, are and become greatly encouraged and feel the touch of just one of the tears Jesus cried for you and receive a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit, come to know how deeply you and I are loved by the Lord as we focus in on this truth today.

Do you know that God cares deeply about your emotions?

Gospel Truth is this: Your heavenly Father longs for your life to be marked by emotional joy, fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace. He longs for your emotions to be rooted and grounded in his steadfast love and goodness.

Our Savior is an emotional Savior. He is not void of feelings.

We feel because he feels.

We have emotions because we are made in his image.

For much of my Christian life I thought my emotions had to be based on my circumstances.

I felt happy or sad based on others’ opinions, the pressures of life, and opportunities I had or didn’t have.

As a result, I was on a constant emotional roller coaster following the ups and downs of this shaky world. I found myself controlled by the things of the world rather than the foundation of love laid before me by the sacrificial love of Jesus.

Scripture continually describes a link between emotional health and trust.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” 

Psalm 56:3-4 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” 

And Psalm 33:21 says, “For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.”

We are robbed of having our emotions rooted in God whenever we take on more pressure than we are meant to carry.

Our emotional health is directly linked to our level of trust.

We feel pressure at work when we look to our job and co-workers for our provision, identity, purpose, and fulfillment.

We feel pressure in our relationships when our worth isn’t based on God’s perspective but the opinions of others.

We are robbed of peace when we try and plan our own steps rather than following our Good Shepherd into the green pastures and still waters.

In John 14:27 Jesus says, 

“Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” 

God’s heart is to fill you with peace.

He longs for you to have all the fruit of the Spirit dwelling within you.

He has consistent, constant peace available to you.

But you must trust him in every area of your life.

You must hand over the reins of your relationships, job, identity, and plans to your Good Shepherd.

You must love and trust that he will guide you perfectly into an abundant life.

Mark 12:29-30 Jesus says this

“The most important commandment is this, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.”

Do you understand the emotion involved in this passage?

If this verse had said, you must love your favorite football team, or favorite singer, or favorite actor with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength,

what imagery comes to your mind?

How are you going to act at the game, at the concert, or at the movie?

Would people think you were a little radical, a little nuts?

God is saying, I want to have an emotional relationship with you, where you throw everything, you have into it.

God even complains when we don’t do it.

He says, these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

Have you ever seen somebody do something, and though they did it right, you could tell their heart just wasn’t in it.

God wants us to be emotionally involved in our relationship to him.

Look to your heavenly Father for peace.

Find rest in his abundant love.

Find your self-worth in the fact that God so desired relationship with you that he laid down his own life to have it.


Let me give you some truths about your emotions before we get into this.

1. First, Our Savior has emotions.

Jesus was God in the flesh.

Can you imagine the whole range of emotions he went through riding on the back of the foal as he entered the city gates of Jerusalem?

“Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” “Save us we Pray! Save us we Pray!” the crowd of people joyously shouted at the top of their lungs as Jesus recalled his destiny

He was happy to see the people turn out in large numbers.

He was thankful for the praises of the people.

He was disappointed that the Pharisees could not see what was taking place.

He was angry that religious leaders wanted him to silence the crowd.

He was so angry when He entered the Temple grounds, he turned over tables and yelled above the raucous din and activity of the “marketplace” inside.

He was sad that the people didn’t understand their true need.

He cried because he knew the destruction the Roman army would inflict on some of the people there.

He felt rejection because he knew the cross was still less than a week away.

Our Savior Jesus has emotions.

The only reason you have emotions is because you’re made in God’s image.

If our Savior was not an emotional Savior, we wouldn’t have any emotions.

We would not read: “Jesus Wept!”

2. My ability to feel is a gift from God.

Your emotions are a gift from God.

They may not always seem that way.

But even the negative ones have a role in your life.

God can use them to show you your need for him.

Emotions are a great asset.

They’re the one thing that make you and me human.

If you and I didn’t have emotions, you and I would just be a robot.

How many of you would want to be married to a robot?

It is our emotional ability that allows us to love and create and to be faithful and loyal and kind and generous and all the range of the emotions that are attached to both the good and bad and catastrophic things in life.

One of the most astounding verses in the Bible is 

Genesis 1:26 “Let us make man in our image.”

In OUR Image.

As I said the only reason you have emotions is because God gave them to you.

And you were made in his image.

3. There are two extremes to avoid.

There are two extremes you need to avoid in dealing with emotions.

One is called emotionalism and the other is called stoicism

Emotionalism means all that matters is how I feel.

Emotionalism is the extreme of saying the only thing that matters in life is how I feel.

It does not matter what I think, it doesn’t matter what’s right or wrong, it doesn’t matter what’s popular or unpopular, good or bad.

What matters is doing and responding to what you feel.

If it feels good, do it.

If I am full of Emotionalism, my emotions, they control my life, they dominate my life, they run my life and I am a very emotionally centered person.

Stoicism – feelings aren’t important at all. Stoicism is the exact opposite. It basically says feelings aren’t important at all. The only thing that matters is the measure of your intellect and your will – your volition and your intelligence.

So, the stoics say emotions are not part of life; feelings do not really matter.

We lean one way or the other and have a tendency to marry someone on the other end. One of us wants to tell the whole story with all the drama, and the other one just wants to hear the basic facts.

Like Joe Friday, from Dragnet, we say “the facts mam, just the facts.”

Actually, both of these are extreme positions.

And the happy medium is where you really want to be.

It’s not emotionalism or stoicism.

You want to know how to worship God with your emotions as shown by the facts of the truth of the Word of God.

God gave us our emotions for a reason.

God wants us to worship him emotionally.

God wants us to feel it.

In fact, God complains in the Scripture many times you’re just worshiping with your lips but not with your emotions, not with your heart.

You don’t really feel it.

By the way the word “emotion” isn’t used that often in the Bible because the Bible uses the word “passions” or “affections” or the number one term for emotions is “heart.”

We still use that today.

When you fall in love, what part of your body do you symbolically give to the person to show it.

You say, “I give you, my whole heart.”

Heart is the symbol of love and emotions.

Even today we say, “I love you with all my heart.”

In the bible, the word of God, the mind represents the intellect and the heart represents emotions. Both of them are involved in the worship of our God.

We come to church to learn about God and to feel the presence of God. That’s why our praise and our worship is as important as hearing the preached word.

We now know that those are actually two different circuit systems in your brain.

Your emotions have an amazing system as well as your thoughts do.

Some things you just react emotionally without even thinking about it.


If you have a hard time with some emotions in your life you need to spend a lot of time in the book of Psalms.

Psalms has every emotion known to man in it – the good ones and the bad ones.

The positive and the negative.

You read some of those psalms and you think,

“Why is this chapter in the Bible?”

It’s there to teach you about even those negative emotions.

Because not all psalms are about praise and thanksgiving.

There are psalms of anger and there are psalms of complaining and psalms of lament and sorrow.

There are psalms of arguing with God.

Every emotion known to man is in the Psalms and God is saying all of these are legitimate.

I give these Words to you.

Psalm 127:1 Amplified Bible

Prosperity Comes from the Lord.

A Song of [a]Ascents. Of Solomon.

127 Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.

Psalm 100 Amplified Bible

All Men Exhorted to Praise God.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

100 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord with gladness and delight;
Come before His presence with joyful singing.

Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, [a]not we ourselves [and we are His].
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name.

For the Lord is good;
His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting,
His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.

Psalm 70 Amplified Bible

Prayer for Help against Persecutors.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.

70 O God, come quickly to save me;
O Lord, come quickly to help me!

Let those be ashamed and humiliated
Who seek my life;
Let them be turned back and humiliated
Who delight in my hurt.

Let them be turned back because of their shame and disgrace
Who say, “Aha, aha!”

May all those who seek You [as life’s first priority] rejoice and be glad in You;
May those who love Your salvation say continually,
“Let God be magnified!”

But I am afflicted and needy;
Come quickly to me, O God!
You are my help and my rescuer;
O Lord, do not delay.

In Psalm 70 we read today, in just those first five verses, we found desperation, frustration, anger, encouragement, confidence, humility and hope AND GOD!

So, we’re going to take some quality time at how to deal with how WE feel.

It is important for us to learn how to deal with managing our emotions and how to deal with an unwanted devotion.

Your Father counts you worthy of the death of his only Son.

Trust him today.

Place your entire life in his capable hands.

And experience God’s abundant life in the area of your emotions, rooting and grounding yourself in his unconditional, available love.

May your life be marked by increasing emotional health as you grow in trust.

Tomorrow, we’re going to try and examine why we must take quality time with God in our shared efforts to learn how to in Jesus’ name, manage our emotions.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,


1. Meditate on the link between trust and emotional health. Allow Scripture to stir up your desire and willingness to trust God with every area of your life.

“For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” Psalm 33:21

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

2. Where are you not experiencing abundant life in your emotions? Where are you feeling void of peace, joy, passion, and purpose?

3. Ask God to help you discern what part of your life you are not trusting to him. Hand over that area to him and find peace and rest in his trustworthiness.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27


God Speaks! Are we Hearing Him or Are We Instead Testing Him? Mark 12:28-34


“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail …Simplify. Simplify.”

Those are the words of Henry David Thoreau, the American writer, who in the early 19th century, for two years, lived alone, isolated by the shore of Walden Pond in the woods of Massachusetts.


Do you have any interest in simplifying your life?

Does that sound appealing to you?

Do you feel like we tend to complicate things, even spiritual things?

In terms of the purpose of your life, what would God have you do?

We need answers, don’t we?

But where will you go to find your answers? Out into the woods like Thoreau?

Well, to discover answers it is helpful to use another quote by Thoreau’s: [he said] we must

“drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms”. “Simplify. Simplify.”

I believe Henry David Thoreau is right, because this is precisely what Jesus himself does in our passage today.

What is the most important thing you can do? Answer is “Simplify your life!”

What is the most important thing we can do in our relationship with God?

Answer: Simplify it down to its most basic terms: Hear God!

What is the most complicated thing we can do in our relationship with God?

Answer: Test Him! Repeatedly ask “Whom, What, Where When and Why!”

Hear God or Test God?

Hear God or Resort to “turning your hearing aids off” Selective Hearing

Trust and Obey unless you personally believe there is definitely another way.

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Mark chapter 12.

Mark 12:28-34Christian Standard Bible

The Primary Commands

28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all?”

29 Jesus answered, “The most important[a] is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[c][d] 31 The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself.[e] There is no other command greater than these.”

32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, teacher. You have correctly said that he is one, and there is no one else except him. 33 And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, [f] and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question him any longer.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The Sadducees come to Jesus to debate and to test him – their intention is to try and “trip him up” that they might publicly embarrass and humiliate him. They want to “hear” what Jesus has to say about how he prioritizes God and the Law.

Jesus “heard” their words very well. Jesus also heard their hearts beating at the anticipation of taking Jesus down in full view of the gathered and gathering crowds of onlookers who also waited to “hear” how Jesus would respond now.

But notice here Jesus “hears the question” and also hears the murmurs and the curious silence of those who have gathered, he does not hesitate in responding.

For Him the answer is obvious. And it should have been for all of them as well, seeing as how they “heard themselves’ reciting the ‘answer’ twice every day!

You see, the greatest of all the OT commandments came from Deuteronomy chapter 6, from a section recited daily by faithful Jews everywhere, even today; a confession called the Shema. It’s exactly what Jesus quotes in verse 29 and 30.

So, what do we see here? We see a scribe coming to Jesus, listening in as Christ interacts with the Sadducees back in verses 18-27. From what we can tell, the scribe doesn’t seem motivated by jealousy or ill-will. He seems to ask Jesus this question because he simply recognizes there is wisdom in the words of Christ.

Here the Scribe was listening from a short discrete distance to the exchange of words between the Sadducees and Jesus. The Scribe was trying very hard to hear the responses as the conversation took place in real time.

As the Scribe was in the active process of hearing the exchange of words, he was also actively trying to hear the message both were trying to communicate to each other. Hearing these messages, the Scribe knew, would help him respond most efficiently and effectively back to both parties.

The conversation between the Sadducees and Jesus ends. And immediately the Scribe becomes more than just a little bit curious about the exchange, instead also becoming complementary at the words Jesus spoke (Verses 32-33).

Did you also notice the Scribe made no further effort to complicate the moment, add to the debate, by asking Jesus’ dozens more complex theological questions? I believe He heard the correctness and simplicity of Jesus’ few spoken words.

He undoubtedly had more questions he wanted to ask and have answered to suit his own particular nuanced theological interpretations, understandings.

He undoubtedly would’ve enjoyed sitting on a bench in the Temple to debate him. Instead, the Scribe heard the simplicity of Jesus’ words and approached him on the basis of that simplicity and acknowledged with Jesus the simplicity of them.

Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

Now, I want you to notice something else here.

Do you see how Jesus takes advantage of this opportunity? Jesus is not simply humoring a peripheral question asked by a scribe with misplaced priorities.

This scribe has asked a fantastic question, and Jesus makes the most of the opportunity by giving not just the greatest commandment, but the second most important command as well.

What I’m saying is that this is not just a question that was important to the scribe. It is a question that was and is important to Jesus. Why? Because in it, Jesus has the opportunity to simplify the issue of man’s highest end before God.

And did you notice, the scribe understood the importance of Jesus’ answer.

His response to Jesus in verse 33 simply reveals that this man recognized how obedience to these commands was far more important than obedience to all of the sacrificial laws of the Hebrew Testament.

Such laws were simply worthless if a worshiper’s heart was not aligned with the simplicity of God’s greatest law.

And then something else odd happens. The text takes us in a very interesting direction. A Scribe steps forward and seeing that Jesus had answered well… he simply asks a sincere question of Jesus. “Which commandment is first of all.”

And Jesus again, answers wisely quoting scripture in verse 29. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” … and to that he adds, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And then here, the really amazing thing happens.

We have a Scribe, an ‘expert in the law’ who “gets it” without further debate.

Not only does he understand what Jesus is saying… he takes it another step.

You see… one thing you have to understand about the Scribes is that they were very strict about following the rules… the letter of the law.

They made completely sure that they did everything just so. So much so they made everything far too complex, often missing the very simple point of what God was really calling them to do.

And Jesus, in a way of “rebuking them”… pointed them to the heart of their calling. Love God, and love neighbor. It’s as exquisitely simple as exactly that.

And the scribe echoed back to him… in verse 32.

“You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And Jesus replied back to him in verse 34… “seeing that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Or we might also re-write that verse this way by adding to it this thought… “Jesus, knowing that the Scribe had heard him … “seeing that he answered wisely, ….” he said to him, “you are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

What made this Scribe so different?

Why, amidst so many examples of Scribes on the wrong side of it all, do we have this one shining example of a Scribe “gone right?”

Thinking about this, I believe there is enough evidence in today’s scripture for us to understand what makes this Scribe stand apart.

First of all… he came with a heart that was all about listening and hearing rather than a heart that was all about testing.

Instead of coming into the conversation with his mind already made up, already thinking his way was the only way… he came seeking to listen, seeking to hear, seeking to know… seeking to understand… perhaps even to actually learn God.

What about us? I think that we too… far too often fail to listen and rather come to the conversation with our minds already made up we are going to test God with a whole host of theological debates, exercises in theological semantics.

Here, in today’s lesson… we have a bunch of the “bad guys” (Sadducees) setting the example for those of us more inclined to incessantly question and debate …

Then we have the Scribe who models and sets the example of “enough debate!” Hear what God in Christ Jesus is saying to His Children through the length and breadth and width and height of His everlasting and ever living Holy Scriptures.

“May we one day acknowledge the difference between the two approaches. May we be willing to hear and listen to those simple truths so that we may hear. May we come with learning hearts seeking rather than with hearts that are testing.”

This “I Will” “first hear the Word of God, listen to the Word of God, listen to Jesus as he “keeps it simple smart” first is exactly what set the Scribe apart.

He was willing to keep the primacy of God first and really listen and pay close attention to that … and as a result he actually heard what Jesus was saying.

And this is my second point… the Scribe heard the message… and the message was this:

Talk with God, Hear God, Listen to God, Love God with all your 1) heart, all your 2) soul, all your 3) mind, and all your 4) strength. Again… the English words are good, but they come far short of what is being said in the original Greek.


Take the time to go through each individual word of each individual verse.

Learn the Nuances. Listen to and then Hear God speak through the nuances.

For example, begin with the nuanced understanding behind

1) the heart… is so much more than this thing in our chests.

It not only represents the center of all of our physical being… it represents the very center of our spiritual life.

More than that, it represents all of our passion, our desires, our appetites, even our affections… and Jesus calls us to direct all of them rightfully towards God.

Then move on to learning the nuances of the rest – Soul, Mind and Strength.

God, through His Son Christ Jesus, is definitely trying to converse with you.

Insert yourselves into this picture – Become the Scribe, the Crowd, and Jesus.

Hear what God really has to say – what God really wants us to hear and learn.

Without making this section into its own mini sermon…

Just think about all the things in this life we are passionate about, all the things that take priority… more often than not, these things are not God. And yet… this is the example set for us in today’s scripture.

We are covenanted to make God #1.

We are covenanted to listen, hear, and learn from God first!

We are covenanted to be doers of the truth of God first!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Almighty God, we ask you to clean our minds and hearts of all the things that may prevent us from hearing your word. Empty our hearts of doubt and empty our minds of preconceptions and assumptions. May we know that you are the source of our knowledge. Prepare our hearts to be ready to accept your truth. Help us be capable of hearing your voice speaking to us. Gloria! Alleluia! Amen.