Monday, June 4, 2018

Daily Bible Reading - June 3, 2018

Today's Reading:

Romans 9:1-29

1 Samuel 17:55-18:30

Psalm 63

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Love...  love...  LOVE...  Its one of the most common words today. But what does it really mean? To the carnal, love is the latest lustful conquest. To the romantic, love is butterflies in the stomach and feeling like your head is spinning whenever your loved one comes to mind. To the golden anniversary couple, love is life built together and a family clan gathered as the fruit of that love.

One of these examples comes closer than the others, but all of them beg the question: what is love? God is love - and author of it. By misunderstanding the meaning of love, we fail to grasp the magnitude of what He has done for us. Additionally, we find ourselves unable to follow the Gospel Commission in any real or powerful way. How can we expect to reach out to them

Most Christians shy away from trying to go into all the world with the love of Christ. Does the Gospel Commission include Muslim extremists? Does the love of God extend to Neo-Nazi Skinheads and other haters? Maybe just God can love those tough ones! Maybe we Christians are off the hook, because we're supposed to be holy - and being holy means we cannot hang out with the likes of them! But holiness is not separation from sinners. It's separation from sin!

Sadly, among Christians, we even find it hard to love our fellow Christians. There's that gossiper or backstabber who meets with our fellowship of believers...  There's that person who once was our friend, but now can't stand us anymore... There's so-and-so who believes this-and-that differently from us...  and since we're doctrinally right - they're doctrinally wrong (and spiritually blind - foolish)... We shouldn't have to deign to hang out with them

I know, its an uncomfortable look...  but bear with me here. Let's have the courage to look at ourselves. And let's ask? Is that the love of God in my life? We may squirm in our seats, but we know the answer...  No, that's not love... What is it then? Isn't love the easiest part of Christianity? Isn't that Scriptural Kindergarten? Love may be the foundation of Christianity, but it definitely isn't Kindergarten. Love is the College course!

In 1 Peter 1:5-8, Peter lists a ladder of Christian virtues. Rung-by-rung, in Christ, we are invited to climb higher and higher as we spiritually grow and mature. And can you guess what is the highest rung of the ladder? LOVE!

"So devote yourselves to lavishly supplementing your faith with goodness, and to goodness add understanding, and to understanding add the strength of self-control, and to self-control add patient endurance, and to patient endurance add godliness, and to godliness add mercy toward your brothers and sisters, and to mercy toward others add unending love."

In Christ, we see that love is given even when - especially when - it isn't deserved. Love is demonstrated without being earned. It is based - not upon the merit of the recipient - but upon the character of the one who loves!

Learning to love with Heaven's Love is the primary goal of our existence. Only when it is achieved (by the indwelling Grace of God) are we able to live in His Will and fully carry out His Calling. LOVE is the fulfillment of the Law (Romans 13:8-13), for when we truly love Yahweh, we will honor and obey His Will. And when we truly love people, will be keeping the remaining 6 Commandments in all our dealings with them.

Personally, I have to admit that I am largely clueless about how to love. God mercifully showed me a bit of how much I have to learn on the subject in a powerful way, a little over five years ago...

I was taking some Enoch Time...  Walking on the beach and talking with God, on the third day of having come away with Him and Him alone. It was wonderful and my communion with Him was sweet. Inspired by Samuel I blurted, "Do You have anything You want to share with me? If so, Yahweh, please Speak. Thy servant heareth." 

Immediately, His Voice spoke to my mind, "I'm giving you a baby to teach you how to love." 

I was profoundly shocked - beyond words! Firstly, I thought I was finished with bringing babies into the world. My own children were teens. I certainly couldn't imagine a baby coming into my life without me being the one who was pregnant (that thought never even entered my mind). Secondly, I was slightly affronted that God was suggesting I didn't know how to love. I loved Him! I loved my family! I loved my friends! I loved....  My mind's reaction to these words sounded more like a whiny child. Finally, recognizing this, I stopped and more wisely prayed, "Father, Your Will be done! Help me to learn to love. I do want to learn."

The next day, my Enoch time ended and I returned to my family with an announcement. I told my husband that I was pregnant, without having taken a pregnancy test. I was certain of this, having been certain of my Father's Message. 

But I wasn't pregnant...  This also shocked me...  I didn't know what to think. I was confused...  Finally, I sort of settled it in my mind that I must have misheard Yahweh... 

A couple of weeks later, my husband and I were sitting in our living room with our son and a family who were our closest friends at the time. Our son, 17 at the time, had called the meeting between our family and theirs with only a cryptic explanation, "I have something to tell you and I wanted them to be there too." 

As it turned out, his big announcement was that he was going to be a father. The daughter of our best friends was pregnant with his child! 

To say that we were shocked hardly does it justice...  We were more like shell-shocked.  So great was our emotional turmoil and mental grief that the Words from the beach never even came to my mind. 

Our family and the soon-to-be-mother's family had differing ideas about how to handle this situation and what response our teen-parent-children should appropriately give. The girl's family wanted our son's limited involvement. We wanted them to marry and raise the child together...  From these basic differences sprouted more and more differing views, resentments, embitterments...  Soon our two, formerly-best-friend families became more like Shakespeare's warring Capulets and Montagues! We tried everything... Family counseling... Professional mediation for the two teens... all to no avail. 

After the baby was born - a beautiful little girl - the young mother decided to marry another young man. Our son's involvement in his baby's life was increasingly in jeopardy. Believing he'd tried everything else, tearfully, he asked us to help him get a lawyer and go to court to fight for parenting time. Of course, we supported him!

One day, we sat across the aisle from the mother of our first grandchild and her parents, (who were no longer friends at all) in a Douglas County courtroom. Looking across the aisle that separated us, it seemed to me like it was the Grand Canyon rather than a mere walkway separating two areas of seating. And in that moment, looking at the profile of the maternal grandmother, who had once been my best friend, God's Words from the beach came flooding back to my mind.

"I'm giving you a baby to teach you how to love." 

I was thunderstruck! Here I sat with the venom of bitterness welling in my soul, mentally recounting the "numerous offenses" these former friends had committed against us...  And God was telling me that this precious little baby - our (and their) grand-daughter was a gift to teach me how to love. 

I sucked in my breath...  Love was clearly bigger, harder, and more divine than I had ever realized before. And I didn't have it in me! "Oh God," I prayed, "Help me to love them as You do!"

After the judge dismissed us from the courtroom that day, God helped me to stand, walk across the Grand Canyon and give my surprised former best friend-turned "enemy" a hug. 

I left that place that day with a deeper appreciation for LOVE...  And I remain, God's humbled student...  "No, Father, I know I'm not there yet. But I am wanting to learn. I am willing to learn." And I mean that, even though I now know that the main way God teaches us to love is by giving us porcupines to embrace...  God is wise...  God is good...  

How is love school going for you?