Monday, July 31, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 31, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

2 Kings 11

Micah 2

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

Both Micah and Paul address the great ingathering of the saints at the end of the world. In 2 Corinthians 15:52-57 and in Micah 2:12, we read of the incredible moment when this old world will end, and God's children will finally be gathered Home:
2 Corinthians 15:52-57 "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last Trump: for the Trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?... But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Sovereign Yahshua Christ."
Micah 2:12 "I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men."
When that wonderful Day finally comes, there will be no more goodbyes. Yahweh's family will finally be all together for all eternity!

This is subject which has been much in my thoughts of late, for my own son is leaving our home tomorrow morning. Christopher is nearly 23 years old now. We have loved him, cared for him, raised him, prayed for him, and built our lives around him since the wonderful day that he was born. Along the way of watching him grow, there have been moments of joy, experiences of pain, seasons of prayer, and the overshadowing knitting of our hearts and family with this precious child - who was a gift to us, on loan, from Yahweh.

We all shared Christopher's joy when he met the young woman who would become his wife. We've rejoiced with him and her in their June wedding. We've been delighted that Christopher and his new bride came here to be with us - if only briefly...  

Yes, we knew the day of their departure would come - indeed should come, so that this new couple can start their own home. It is healthy and good... and yet... My husband, younger daughter and I have faced the day of his final leaving with mixed emotions. 

Christopher and his new wife are leaving - moving to Manitoba, Canada - in the morning. They won't just be a hop-skip-and-jump away from us, as we'd hoped. The offer of a better job with his new bride's family seems to be just what they need to get the best start on their new lives. And of course - we love them and want the best for them. But saying goodbye is so hard. I am honestly dreading tomorrow morning! And my husband and daughter feel the same.

Oh yes, we'll Skype, and call, and write... And we'll even get to visit them now and again. But while Christopher goes through the process of becoming a Canadian citizen, he likely won't be able to visit us - for two long years...   And it will likely be a long time before we can get up to Manitoba (which is above North Dakota) to visit them.

But in spite of the sadness, this whole experience has taught me something about God on a much deeper level than I previously understood. It's amazing how much I've learned about God from being a parent. I knew the love of God and understood a bit of it before my son was born. But honestly, having our two children has taught Mark and I to comprehend the Fatherly love of God much more deeply than we comprehended it prior to being parents ourselves. 

So now, as we prepare to bid my son and his wife goodbye in the morning, I again find myself understanding something about God that never previously registered so deeply in my soul. Yahweh loves His children. He longs for us to be Home! And having us away from Him makes His Heart ache. He loves us with a tender Father's love. 

Just as we will rejoice when we are reunited with our precious children, so Yahweh will rejoice at the wonderful Reunion that is soon to come. And the good news is that when He takes us Home at last, we'll never have to part from Him - or our saved loved ones - ever again!

So, I am thankful for this bittersweet experience with my son. And in it, I am blessed to get a deeper glimpse into my Father's Heart. 

I want to go Home - Don't you?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 30, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 15:1-34

2 Kings 10

Micah 1

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

Today, we start a new minor prophet - Micah. Micah was contemporary with Isaiah and Hosea. Jeremiah quotes from him. For an example, compare Micah 3:12 and Jeremiah 26:18.

In Micah 1:1-4 the prophet summons the nations to behold the just punishment which Yahweh would mete out to His faithless people. 

Micah 1:5-6 portray the desolation of Samaria. Destruction would settle on the homes and fields of men, and the prospect of this so affected the prophet that he removed his outer garment and sandals, so that his disheveled condition might more closely portray the destruction that he foretold. 
Micah 1:10-16 states that Judah also would suffer similar chastisements. Aphrah and Shaphir would be hurried into captivity. So universal would be the calamity that Zaanan would not come to bewail with the neighboring city of Bethezel.

The prophets loved Israel and they believed that all faithful Torah worshipers should lament with them, Micah 1:16, in the hope of averting impending judgments. Are we "sighing" and "crying" for the sins of our time, as Yahshua mourned those of Jerusalem, when He wept over the city?

The following is a brief overview of the cities mentioned in Micah 1:

a. Tell it not in Gath: The city of Gath belonged to the Philistines, and it hurts Micah to think that the Philistines will rejoice at the pain of God's people. 

b. In Beth Aphrah roll yourself in the dust: Following to the end of the chapter, Micah uses puns and plays on words to talk about the judgment coming upon the cities of Judah. These towns are clustered in the Shephelah - the lowlands between the coastal region and the mountains of Judah. 

i. Though Micah uses puns, this isn't about clever word games - it goes back to the ancient idea that a name isn't just your "handle" but describes - sometimes prophetically - your character and your destiny. In showing how the name of these cities is in some way a prophecy of their destiny, Micah shows how our character becomes our future. 

c. Beth Aphrah: To Micah, Aphrah sounds like the Hebrew word for dust, so he told the citizens of Beth Aphrah to roll in the dust in anticipation of coming judgment. 

d. Shaphir: The name of this town sounds like the word for beautiful. It won't be beautiful for long, and Micah warns the citizens of Shaphir to prepare for judgment. 

e. Zaanan: The name of this town sounds like the Hebrew word for exit or go out. When the siege armies come, they won't exit at all - they will be shut up in the city until it falls. 

f. Beth Ezel: The name of this town means the nearby city. When the army of judgment comes, it won't be near and helpful to any other city. 

g. Maroth: The name of this town means bitterness, and when the army of judgment comes the citizens of Maroth will know plenty of bitterness. 

h. Lachish: The name of this town sounds like the Hebrew word for to the horses. Lachish was an important fortress city, and they should go to the horses to fight, but ironically they will go to the horses to flee the army of judgment. 

i. Moresheth: The name of this - Micah's hometown - sounds like the Hebrew word for betrothed. Here he speaks of giving the city wedding gifts as she passes from the rule of one "husband" (Judah) to another (the invading army). 

j. Aczib: The name of this town sounds like the Hebrew word for deceitful or disappointing. This city will fall so quickly it will be a deception and a disappointment for Israel. 

k. Mareshah: The name of this town is related to the Hebrew word for possessor or heir. The invading army will soon possess this city. 

l. Adullam: The was the place of refuge for David when he fled from King Saul. It will again be a place of refuge for the high and mighty among Israel, when they are forced to hide out in Adullam.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 29, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 14:26-40

2 Kings 9

Jonah 4

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

Today, I'll focus on the Jonah story. For fun - and to keep these daily commentaries "spicy" (using variety), I'll share with you the adorable rendition of the Jonah story, told by the tiny and eloquent Mary Margaret... Enjoy!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 28, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 14:1-25

2 Kings 8

Jonah 3

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

In 1 Corinthians chapter 14, we read about a commonly misunderstood concept: speaking in "unknown" tongues. Before I begin, let me give a quick Biblical backstory - a framework - from which to properly interpret this reference, using only Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Paul is the most misunderstood Bible writer. His writings are used to nail God's Law to the Cross, undercut the Sabbath making it appear Biblical to worship on any day we choose. The misunderstood writings of Paul are even given the power to trump the Words of Christ! For Yahshua said that He had not come to do away with the tiniest part of the Law - nor would any of it be taken away "till Heaven and earth be removed!" (Matthew 5:17-18). 

But even such plain statements from Christ have been insufficient to stem the tide of false interpretations of Paul's teachings. The list of "new" doctrines which appear to come from the apostle Paul go on and on...  But the truth is that if Paul had really undercut the Old Testament, the Bereans wouldn't have accepted his teachings. The Bible tells us that they listened to Paul and searched the Scriptures daily to see whether these things (that he taught) were true (Acts 17:10-11). 

What "Scriptures" did they search? The Old Testament writings! Only the Old Testament was in existence at the time of Paul's preaching! Thus, we see a powerful testimony that Paul didn't teach "new" doctrines, which undid and superimposed upon the former Word. Rather, Paul's teachings were in harmony with what was already given in the Old Testament. 

In fact, if Paul had dared to undermine the Law of God (Torah) and set aside the prophets, he would have been considered to be an apostate - not an apostle

Scripture gives us a test by which to determine whether a teaching is true or not. This was the very test the Bereans used to test the doctrines of Paul. And he passed, by the way!
The test we are to use to determine whether a doctrinal teaching is true is found in Isaiah 8:20:
Isaiah 8:20  "To the Law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."
Okay...  now we have the backstory needed to study the concept of "unknown tongues" found in 1 Corinthians 14. To rightly interpret this concept we must test our interpretation of it - by Isaiah 8:20 - by the Law and Old Testament. So...    "Where is speaking in tongues found in the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy), or Old Testament?"

Now at this point you may be thinking, "Wait a minute! Speaking in tongues never even took place until the Early Christian Church - after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! How can you look for speaking in tongues in the Old Testament, when it hadn't happened yet?"

Actually that belief, while commonly held, isn't the truth at all! Every teaching - in order to be truth - must be found in the Old Testament. The Torah and Prophets are the lenses which we must put on our spiritual eyesight in order to correctly interpret the New Testament - no exceptions! 

Additionally, the belief that the Holy Spirit was never poured out in the Old Testament is a doctrinal myth. So is the belief that speaking in tongues had no Old Testament precedent! I will prove this in just a moment. But let's start at the beginning in order to correctly understand the concept of speaking in tongues - and what it should really look like - according to proper Scriptural interpretation. We'll carefully examine what speaking in tongues is - and what it isn't.

On a wave of emotion, the man at the front of the church broke into a language only he and his God could understand. Bob Jones (name changed), a worshiper at The Pentecostals of Pleasanton, a small congregation in the San Francisco Bay Area…
Jones was speaking in tongues, a form of verbal prayer scholars call glossolalia. For him — and a growing numbers of Christians worldwide — the experience is a direct means of communication with God that is a transcendent and crucial part of his faith.

"It is kind of a high," Jones said later, describing the most common form of speaking in tongues as an indecipherable expression of personal prayer and praise. "It is like being with the Lord. I feel that sense that everything is OK."

This Sunday (the article was referring to a Sunday in June), Christians will celebrate Pentecost, when the Bible says God sent a "mighty wind" among Jesus' disciples and they prayed in unknown languages. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit," the Book of Acts says, "and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Over the last half century we have witnessed the incredible growth of the Pentecostal movement. Pentecostalism has even challenged the hold of the catholic church in South America, where there are 17 million Pentecostal members in brazil alone. It has been estimated that in the United States alone, 200,000-300,000 Catholics have become "Pentecostal" or "Charismatic". (A NEW GUIDE AND ALMANAC RELIGIONS OF AMERICA, By Leo Rosten 1975 ).

The hallmark of the Pentecostal movement is its belief in miracles specifically speaking in "tongues". Most Pentecostals believe that in order to be a "true Christian one must be able to speak in the Spirit", in other words those religious denominations which cannot (or don’t) speak in tongues are not from a Holy Spirit.

What is sometimes called classical Pentecostalism grew out of the late 19th century holiness movement in the United States. The holiness preacher Charles Fox Parham began preaching (1901) to his Topeka congregation that speaking in tongues was objective evidence of baptism in the Spirit. 

After the Los Angeles mission of Parham's apostolic faith sect became the center of a great revival (1906) the movement quickly spread around the world. Over the next two decades the movement split along doctrinal and racial lines. Of the many Pentecostalist denominations in the United States today, characterized by belief in the experience of holiness or Christian perfection. This perfection is climaxed by an "infilling of the Holy Spirit," as evidenced by "speaking in tongues," ecstatic utterances frequently unintelligible to listeners.

So many points of truth have been counterfeited by Satan. Is it possible that speaking in tongues has a false and a true manifestation? Could it be that God's true speaking in tongues has been counterfeited? I believe it has. And I can show you why.

Let's start our study of "tongues" in the Old Testament, in order to get our "spiritual glasses" on, which enables us to correctly interpret 1 Corinthians 14.

The term "tongues" or "tongue" appears in the Old Testament a total of 160 times. In every case, without exception, the word "tongue" or "tongues" is translated from the original Hebrew word lashon (Strong's Concordance #3956), which means:

Thus we see that "tongues" (in term of speaking) in the Old Testament always means "languages". It would take far too long to show all 160 Old Testament references to "tongues". But here are a couple of those references, which are sufficient to prove the point:

Now, with this in mind, we would expect to find that God's gift of tongues should be a gift of speaking languages in the New Testament as well. And it is. Consider the story found in Acts 2:
Acts 2:1-11  "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." 
"And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under Heaven.  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."   
When the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, the recipients began to speak in tongues. But this wasn't gibberish! What actually happened is that the apostles were given the ability to preach in one language (the language spoken in Galilee) and yet the listeners heard the sermon in their own language! This was even more miraculous because many languages were represented there among the audience - yet they all heard the sermon fluently spoken in their own native languages. 

Thus, we see that the Acts 2 event of speaking in tongues was an ability to speak other human languages, which the speaker could not have done without a miracle.

But we need more evidence to support this growing biblical picture. We need to address my prior statement that speaking in tongues can be found in the Torah. To show this, I'd like to show you where the Torah tells of the Holy Spirit being poured out.

Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the 70 elders of Israel, in the time of Moses. We find the account in Torah, in Numbers 11:16-17. Numbers 11 also tells us the results of this outpouring:
Numbers 11:24-25  "And Moses went out, and told the people the words of Yahweh, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the Tabernacle. And Yahweh came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease."  
In fact, not only did the elders at the Tabernacle receive this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but also two men in the congregation received the Spirit. These were Eldad and Medad. Because they had spiritually readied their hearts, Yahweh poured out His Spirit on Eldad and Medad and they also began to prophesy.
Numbers 11:26-29  "But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the Spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the Tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.  And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all Yahweh's people were prophets, and that Yahweh would put His Spirit upon them!"  
When the Holy Spirit was poured out - both in Numbers 11, and in Acts 2, the immediate response of those who received it was to prophesy! Sometimes, prophesying involves speaking of future events that are hard to understand - as happened with Eldad and Medad. And sometimes prophesying involves preaching the Gospel - as happened with the apostles in Acts 2. But it is prophesying - not speaking in gibberish - which always accompanies the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:
Joel 2:28  "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."
Perhaps you may be wondering how prophesying can be preaching the Gospel, as happened in Acts 2. Remember that Yahshua said John the Baptist was the greatest of the prophets. Yet, he didn't foretell the future. He preached the Gospel, and called the people to repentance. It is also key to recognize that prophets speak in languages which the listeners can understand - but that doesn't mean that the listeners will always understand what is being said!.... but we'll come back to that concept in a moment.

We've looked at how the Bible portrays the outpouring of the Holy Spirit - and we've seen how this should be understood through the lens of Torah. 

Now let's return to 1 Corinthians 14, to the reference to "unknown tongues".
1 Corinthians 14:2, 14-15  "For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.... For if I pray in an [unknown] tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."
The first thing to notice is that the word "unknown" appears in these verses in parenthesis. This is significant. Words in parentheses were added by Bible translators, and were not present in the original text! This means that the word "unknown" was added by Bible translators, and that it didn't belong in these verses at all. But because the word "unknown" was added to 1 Corinthians 14, Christians have come to believe that speaking in gibberish demonstrates the receipt of the Holy Spirit!

Proper Bible study - by interpreting 1 Corinthians 14 through the Torah precedent and through studying the verses in context both reveal that 1 Corinthians 14 isn't referring to gibberish at all. So what caused Bible translators to confuse the message by adding this word to 1 Corinthians 14?

When Daniel was shown prophetic visions of future events, his visions came to him in plain Hebrew (for he spoke Hebrew), but that didn't mean he understood the vision! Many times, he didn't understand it at all. In fact, an angel had to be sent from Heaven to make him understand the concepts which had been given to him, even though they were presented in his mother tongue (Daniel 10:14).

So one way in which a prophesy can be "unknown" even though presented in our own language, is when that prophesy is incomprehensible in content - not language.

Similarly, because spiritual things are only spiritually discerned, we may hear the plain Gospel message given in our own language - yet not be able to comprehend the message, without the interpreting work of the Spirit also.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is not starting a new doctrine on speaking in tongues. When the Holy Spirit is poured out, both in the Old and New Testaments, the results were the same - prophesying took place. AND the prophesies given were spoken in the language of the hearers - nowhere in Scripture is there a single case of speaking in tongues - as it manifests in Pentecostalism today.

The only reason why the manifestation of "tongues" might be "mysterious" to the hearers is that spiritual things are only spiritually discerned. The Gospel, to the carnal heart, is a mystery. But, through the interpreting work of the Spirit, we are empowered to discern spiritual mysteries. This is biblically sound, true speaking in tongues. Anything else fails Isaiah 8:20 - and is a counterfeit.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 27, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 13

2 Kings 7:3-20

Jonah 2

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

Today, we read 1 Corinthians 13 - the Love Chapter. Keith Krell wrote an online article on 1 Corinthians 13, which is titled, "Love Knows No Limits". The following is quoted from that article:
A Peanuts cartoon shows Lucy standing with her arms folded and a stern expression on her face. Charlie Brown pleads, “Lucy, you must be more loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make this world a better place.” Lucy angrily whirls around and knocks Charlie Brown to the ground. She screams at him, “Look, Blockhead, the world I love. Its people I can’t stand.”
I’m sure we all feel that way from time to time, and some of us feel that way most of the time. Maybe you feel that way right now. Loving the world in general isn’t that difficult; loving the people around us can be a major challenge. In 1 Corinthians 13, we find one of the most beautiful and familiar chapters in the Bible. This chapter is typically read at weddings and anniversary celebrations. It has even been set to music. Yet, this was never the original intent. Instead, Paul was writing a rebuke to a dysfunctional church for their abuse of the spiritual gifts. Typically though, this understanding is often ignored. Consequently, I wonder if most Christians have truly pondered the deeper meaning of this passage.
Have we heard this Scripture so often that we no longer think about what the words mean? I would suggest that if we ignore the context of this chapter we are in danger of missing its major impact.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul will argue that love is an action, not an emotion. The kind of love Paul will talk about is seen, experienced, and demonstrated. This is contrary to our culture that honors personal feelings above almost everything. We do what we want when we want because we “feel” like it. And if we don’t “feel” like it, we don’t do it. But as I study this passage, I am struck by the complete absence of any stress on personal feelings. Hence, if love is an action, not an emotion, we need to study what God has to say about love. We need to know what love is and what it looks like when it is lived out in the church. In these thirteen verses, Paul provides three distinctions of love.
1. Love is greater than any spiritual gift (13:1-3). In these three verses, Paul mentions six spiritual gifts: tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, giving, and martyrdom. The first four gifts are listed in 12:8-10. The gift of giving is among those mentioned in Rom 12:8. Martyrdom does not occur anywhere else as a spiritual gift, but by its association with the other five gifts here, we can add it to the spiritual gifts God gives to His church. Paul kicks off 13:1 with the gift of tongues when he writes, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Some Bible students seem to have missed Paul’s point here and have interpreted him as speaking merely of eloquence in human speech, but clearly he is referring to the gift of tongues. After all, the last gifts mentioned in chapter 12 are tongues and the interpretation of tongues. And those same gifts are the main topic of chapter 14. It is quite logical, then, that Paul begins the intervening chapter by discussing tongues. The use of tongues that Paul is speaking of here is the gift of speaking a private prayer language. Paul says you can speak in tongues all you want, but if you don’t have love you are merely making a lot of noise.
In 13:2-3, Paul mentions five more spiritual gifts when he writes, “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” 
Prophecy refers to the ability to declare God’s truth in a powerful, life-changing way. Knowledge involves the deep understanding of the Word of God. Faith is the unique ability to trust God for great things. These three gifts are all from the Holy Spirit, and yet without love the person who has them is “nothing.”
Verse 3 poses a problem because it asks us to ponder activities that we automatically consider noble. Giving to the poor is a good thing to do. And dying for your faith in Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. But as good as these things are, without love they do you no good. Paul declares that the greatest expression of spirituality is love. We could summarize these three verses like this: Without love…I say nothing, I am nothing, and I gain nothing.
Clearly, we must have love when we are exercising our spiritual gifts. So stop for just a moment and reflect on your spiritual gifts and your ministry in the local church. Do you do what you do out of genuine love for people? Or do you serve out of a sense of obligation? Do you serve because of the satisfaction you derive from ministry? Do you minister because you like honing your skills? Although no one has perfectly pure motives, we ought to be seeking to grow in our love quotient. Paul says that love is an action, not an emotion; therefore, we need to put feet to our love.
[After talking about the importance of love, Paul now will discuss how love behaves.]
2. Love is expressed by supernatural responses (13:4-7). Love is a word that can only be properly defined in terms of action, attitude, and behavior. Paul has no room for abstract, theoretical definitions; instead, he wants us to know what love looks like when we see it. Thus, he paints fifteen separate portraits of love. Yes, that’s right: in the space of four short verses Paul uses fifteen verbs, all of which have “love” as their subject. Our contemporary definition of love is that it is an emotion or a feeling—we love our jobs, we love football, we love pizza. In the biblical definition of agape, love acts, for love is an action, not an emotion. Verse 4 begins by summarizing the unselfish nature of love.
1) Love is patient. The Greek language has several words for “patience.” One signifies patience with circumstances while another is used only in reference to patience with people.7 The Lord knows we need both kinds of patience, but it is this second word that is found here. The KJV renders this word “long-suffering.” I like this! Paul seems to be saying that love doesn’t have a short fuse. It doesn’t lose its temper easily. A person who exercises agape love does not lose patience with people. Love never says, “I’ll give you just one more chance.” Love is patient.
The longer that I am in pastoral ministry, the easier it is for me to be patient with others. With every passing year, I recognize more fully that I sin against God and others. As God humbles me with my own sinful shortcomings, I find it easier to exercise greater patience with others. Loving people are willing to tolerate the shortcomings of others because they know they have faults too. As you mature do you feel more and more patient or do you feel you are growing more and more crotchety? God wants you and me to grow in patient love for those whom we minister to and with.
2) Love is kind. Patience must be accompanied by a positive reaction of goodness toward the other person. Kindness, however, is not to be equated with giving everyone what he or she wants. Sometimes love must be tough. In the context of the church, kindness may mean forcing an addict to go through the hell of withdrawal. Kindness may mean saying no to a spoiled child. Kindness may mean reporting a crime committed by a friend. Kindness means to withhold what harms, as well as give what heals. Love is kind, but often tough. Paul followed the two positive expressions of love with eight verbs that indicate how it does not behave.
3) Love is not jealous. Jealousy implies being displeased with the success of others. Yet, true love desires the success of others. The best way to cure envy is to pray sincerely for the one of whom you are jealous. To pray for him or her is to demonstrate love, and jealousy and love cannot exist in the same heart.
4) Love does not brag. The root word for “brag” in Greek is very picturesque and is closest to our English word, “wind-bag.” Love is not an egotistical blowhard. Love is not big-headed but big-hearted. This means the more loving you become, the less boasting you need to do. The greater your spiritual gifts, the less prone you should be to brag. After all, the gifts you have been graciously given are from God. When you and I brag, we are demonstrating our insecurity and spiritual immaturity. Paul states that bragging is the converse of biblical love. Hence, we should pursue Christ so that we will be humble before Him and others.
5) Love is not arrogant. The term “arrogant” refers to a grasping for power. It is more serious than bragging, which is only grasping for praise. Arrogant people push themselves into leadership, using people as stepping-stones, and always consider themselves exempt from the requirements on mere mortals. Arrogance disrespects others and carries a distain for others. God calls us to serve others and be gracious toward them.
6) Love does not act unbecomingly. This word is best translated “rude.” There are some Christians who seem to take delight in being blunt, justifying it on the grounds of honesty. They will say, “I’m just telling it like it is.” But love doesn’t always tell it like it is; it doesn’t always verbalize all its thoughts, particularly if those thoughts don’t build others up. There is a graciousness in love which never forgets that courtesy, tact, and politeness are lovely things.
7) Love does not seek its own. Love is the very antithesis of insisting upon one’s own rights. Needless to say, this is a rare quality today. Ours is a society in which self-seeking is not only tolerated, it is even advocated. You can go to any bookstore and pick up titles like, Winning Through Intimidation, Looking Out for Number One, or Creative Aggression. But a self-absorbed narcissistic person cannot act in love. Love is not possessive, demanding, stubborn, or dominating. Love does not talk too much but listens as well. Love does not insist on its own way. It is always willing to defer to others.
8) Love is not provoked. Love is not given to emotional outbursts, is not exasperated by petty annoyances, and refuses to let someone else get under one’s skin. But, you say, when someone else provokes me, it’s not my fault. Yes it is. We don’t have to get irritated, and if we were exercising love, we wouldn’t. One English version translates this virtue, “Love is not touchy.” Do you know people who are so quick to take offense that you have to handle them with kid gloves? You try to avoid talking to them and when you can avoid it no longer, you carefully measure every word you say to make sure that you say exactly what you mean. But still the person seizes upon something and twists it to make you look bad. That kind of person knows nothing of agape love, for love is not touchy.
9) Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Paul uses the normal word here for bookkeeping. Love does not keep a ledger of evil deeds. It doesn’t write down each injury done and keep the account open to be settled someday. I know some people who are accomplished bookkeepers in regard to injuries sustained. Love doesn’t hang on to reminders of wrongs. Who are you keeping a book on? Are there some ledgers you need to go home and toss in the fireplace?
10) Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. One of the reasons I detest watching the news is that the bulk of stories concern people’s misfortunes and misdeeds. There is something in our human nature which causes our attention to be drawn to murder trials, FBI probes, natural disasters, and human tragedies. Love is not like that. Love takes no joy in evil of any kind. It takes no malicious pleasure when it hears about the inadequacies, mistakes, and sins of someone else. Love is righteous. Now, after eight sobering negatives come five glorious positives:
11) Love rejoices with the truth. When I was in seminary, I studied an ethical system Joseph Fletcher labeled Situation Ethics. Fletcher taught that any action—whether lying, adultery, or even murder—can be moral if it is done in love. However, I would argue that if an action does not conform to the truth of God’s Word, it can’t be done in love. Truth and love go together like hand in glove. Truth must make our love discriminating, and love must make our truth compassionate and forgiving. If our actions are in accord with agape love, we will always welcome biblical truth, never resist it.
12) Love bears all things. The phrase “bears all things” comes from a Greek word meaning to cover something. It is related to the word for roof—a covering that offers protection from the hostile elements. 1 Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. That is precisely the meaning here. Love protects other people. It doesn’t broadcast bad news. It goes the second mile to protect another person’s reputation.
There are two very relevant applications: First, love doesn’t nitpick. It doesn’t point out every flaw of the ones you love. Second, love doesn’t criticize in public. This is perhaps Paul’s primary meaning. Love doesn’t do its dirty laundry for the entire world to see. That’s why I cringe whenever I hear a husband humiliating his wife in public or a wife making snide remarks about her husband. I always think, if they do that in public, what do they do in private? As a friend of mine once told me, “There are many times in my life when I’ve been sorry I opened my mouth. But there has never been a time I’ve been sorry I kept silent.” When it comes to needless criticism of other people, that’s excellent advice
13) Love believes all things. Love is always ready to allow for extenuating circumstances, to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best about people. Many of us have developed a certain distrust of people because of negative experiences. We have heard stories about how the person who stopped to help a motorist in distress was robbed or even murdered. We have been warned never to loan money to someone without a legal document guaranteeing repayment, even if the other guy is a Christian. But there are worse things than gullibility–namely suspicion and mistrust. Love always trusts. It is also useful to remember that even in a court of law the accused person is always “innocent until proven guilty.”
Love says, “I am willing to wait for the evidence to come in before making my decision. I choose to give you the benefit of the doubt as long as there is reason to do so.” Some of us treat our loved ones in nearly the opposite way: “You are guilty until you prove you are innocent.”
I do not tire of repeating that people tend to become what we believe them to be. They either live up to or down to your expectations. If you treat a man as trustworthy, he will strive to prove himself worthy of your trust. If you tell a child, “Take a big swing. You can hit that ball,” he’ll go to the plate and swing like Babe Ruth. If you treat your wife as if she is the most beautiful woman in the world, she will be transformed before your very eyes. That’s what Jesus did. To vacillating Simon, He said, “You are a rock.” To a prostitute, He said, “Your sins are forgiven.” To a woman caught in adultery, He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” It is the simple power of believing the best and not the worst about people.
14) Love hopes all things. The third phrase in 13:7 tells us that love “hopes all things.” This is simply a step beyond believing. The meaning is something like this: There are times in life when you face situations so difficult that faith is not possible. You would gladly give the benefit of the doubt but there is none to give. You search for the silver lining but the angry clouds overhead have no silver lining. Love has a positive forward look. Paul is not here advocating an unreasoning optimism, which fails to take account of reality. Nor is he just teaching the power of positive thinking. But he is suggesting that love refuses to take failure as final, either in oneself or in someone else.
Love never gives up on people. And the reason the believer can take such an attitude is that God is in the business of taking human failures and producing spiritual giants out of them. And He can do it with you or your child or that impossible kid in your S.S. class. Of course, “always hoping” doesn’t mean that we sit back and just watch God do His thing. Rather it means that we get actively involved in the process as He molds the future according to His perfect plan. Love hopes and expects the best. Love never loses faith in other people and gives up on them but remain faithful to them, in spite of their shortcomings.
15) Love endures all things. The word “endures” is a military term that means to hold a position at all costs, even unto death, whatever it takes. The battle may be lost but the soldier keeps on fighting to the very end. The word pictures an army surrounded by superior forces, being attacked and slowly overwhelmed on every side. One by one your comrades fall at your side. Through the noise of battle comes one final command: “Stand your ground, men. And if necessary, die well.” So love holds fast to people it loves. It perseveres. It never gives up on anyone. Love won’t stop loving, even in the face of rejection. Love takes action to shake up an intolerable situation. Love looks beyond the present to the hope of what might be in the future.
No one can have a totally happy conscience after reading through these fifteen expressions of love. 
We are the opposite of 13:4-7 on every point. However, this love list defines God’s gift of Himself in Yahshua Christ. If you go back through these verses and everywhere you find the word “love” substitute the word “Christ,” all these statements will still be true. The kind of love being described is love that has its source in God, and as we look at each of the phrases it becomes obvious that we’re defining a lifestyle that really is beyond our human reach. It is absolutely impossible unless we abide in Christ and ask Him to live His supernatural love in and through us. If you have never believed in Jesus Christ as your Savior, will you do so today? Not only will He give you the gift of His eternal love, but He will allow you to love the way God intended.
[Love is greater than any spiritual gift and love is expressed by supernatural responses. Now we will see that…]
3. Love is an eternal gift (13:8-13). In these final six verses, Paul will discuss the temporary nature of the spiritual gifts and the eternal nature of love. In 13:8, Paul talks about the temporary nature of gifts when he writes, “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” 
When Paul says, “Love never fails,” he means love never ends. The synonym for this expression is “love abides” in 13:13. These phrases serve to bookend this final section where Paul argues that the spiritual gifts will be done away with one day.