Sunday, June 26, 2016

Then Face to Face

 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Thoughts: Now things are not clear- it is like looking into a cloudy mirror.  One day the purpose of things will be clear, God's hand in things will be clear- but not on this side.  Now we know God, but not perfectly.  But in heaven, things are a lot clearer- and we see God clearer.  One day we will see God face to face and our understanding of His love will be clear too.
    God is knowable- but only in part here.  But when we get to heaven our knowledge of God will be clear.  We can know God truly here, but that true knowledge is incomplete.  This should give us a hope for heaven.  

There is a great song called, "Further along We'll Know More About It." 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the hope that one day I will understand and appreciate your hand fully.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Love Here Compared to Love in Heaven

11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 

Thoughts: Too often when 1 Corinthians 13 is read people think of this as a- growing up and maturing in love as an adult theme.  Love grows upon us.  Once we thought love was sacrifice or flame of passion.  But as we grow, we understand love is much much more.  Love is not lust or puppy love.  It is not a fascination of what the other person can do for you.  God teaches us the value of love as faithful commitment and as described above in this chapter.  Love is a gift to be treasured, that goes beyond the years and does grow with us.
    The knowledge we have now compared to that which we will have in heaven is nothing.  The love that we have now, compared to that which we will have in heaven is nothing.
     I spoke like a child.  Children stutter and cannot always get the right words out that they want to say.  Tongues here on earth will seem so inadequate compared to what we will have in heaven.
     I thought like a child. What is the difference between "thought like" and "reasoned like?"  The first is understanding and the second is reasoned or arguing.  Paul is comparing the understanding and ability to reason like prophecy and knowledge compared to heaven.  I thought like a child- means to not think fully or completely.   The prophets were never completely sure of their prophesies, and they were often clouded with nebulous statements.  When we get to heaven prophecy will seem obsolete for we will see things as they should be seen.
    I reasoned like a child.  Our knowledge and ability to figure things out will seem so inadequate when we get to heaven.  In heaven our love will be made complete but along with it our ability to communicate, to understand, and to know things.  Complete love in the presence of God will do this for us.  When we love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength - we find that ultimately our heart, soul, mind, and strength are made complete in heaven.  

Prayer: Lord, let my love for you grow and not cease.  Let my love change and with it my ability to communicate, understand and know your love.  

Love Lasts

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

Thoughts:  Love goes on through eternity.  Love also does not fail us- whereas other spiritual gifts will stop or disappoint.  Love doesn't fail in that it is for everyone and not just for some.
Tongues- speaking in foreign languages will awe people.  But that awe fades. In heaven everyone will understand everything- and there will be no need for tongues.
Prophecy/Knowledge- especially knowledge of God's will and the future will one day be given to all.  So being able to discern God's will won't be a big deal.  Being able to tell the future will not matter either.  All such gifts are only partial and not perfectly clear here on this side anyway (vs. 9) 

When completeness comes- that is- when we get to heaven- the partial stuff that seemed amazing at the time- fades in importance. Love, however, will always go on.
So Paul is saying, "Invest yourself in the greater gifts...Give yourself to what will last forever."   To a church that was dividing out of pride and immorality the call was to love.  

Prayer: Lord, may your love indeed triumph and make us new.  Give us the vision to invest ourselves in love.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Love described

6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:6,7)

Thoughts: Love does not delight in evil.  Love does not rejoice in the fall of another.  Love does not relish in displeasing God or neighbor.  Love is from God- the One who defines good.  Instead love rejoices with the truth.  Today many do not rejoice with truth.  They wonder with Pilate- in the presence of the One who claimed to be the truth- "what is truth?"  Truth is reality.  Truth is not what we make it, and reality is not what we make it.  Today we wish to bend truth to our ideology, when the measure of whether an ideology is good or not is how it fits into what we know about truth and reality.         Then Paul says a quartet of what love always does. 
1) It always protects- It never cowers away.  Love will sacrifice its own safety in order to protect another .   Love defends the one loved.  I can take criticism of myself a lot easier than I can take criticism of my loved ones.  Love protects those it loves.
2) Love always trusts- Love can overcome distrust even when burned.  Forgiveness- true forgiveness means to be able to trust again.  To say, "I love you but I don't trust you" is to say something that makes no sense.
3) Love always hopes- Love hopes for the best.  Love holds onto the last drop and doesn't give up.  Love is by nature positive hope instead of negative despair.  Even in the face of the cross, Jesus loved us with hope.
44) Love always perseveres- Love does not give up on the One it loves.  Love doesn't give in.  It hangs in- for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.  In other words, love does not let anything get in the way of maintaining love.  

Prayer: Lord, let your love fill me . Protect me and let me trust in you.  May your love always inspire me to hope and persevere.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Qualities of True Love 2

5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  (1 Corinthians 13:5) 

Thoughts: More qualities of true love: 
1) Love does not dishonor others- Love builds up.  It does not tear down.  Love honors others.  We try our best to let those we love look up to us- and we to them.  Love is not cutting down, but building up.
     2) Love is not self- seeking.  It is other- seeking.  Love means not having our own way.  NLT translates this "Love does not demand its own way."  Another translation (Holman)  is "love is not selfish."  Love centers itself in the other person and wants what is best for them.
      3) Love is not easily angered. Other translations say love is not "easily provoked" or "annoyed" or "irritable."  Love calms us down.  Love gives us peace and purpose so that our boiling over point is not so low.
       4) It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not have a tally sheet that says: "I did this for you" and "you do this for me."  Love lets it go, and forgives.  It does not keep a list of why I should maintain a grudge. 
This is what God does for us- how He loves us so well.  He seeks to honor us, to give Himself for us; He is patient with us and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. 

Prayer: Lord, may my love grow to be like your love.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Qualities of True Love

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Thoughts: What love is like this?  No human love is like this.  This is idyllic love. This is God's unconditional love.  Our love is to imitate this love.  This is TRUE LOVE. 
    Love is patient.  Love can wait.  Love can put up with our idiosyncrasies.  If you love someone you can be patient with them.  God is patient with us.  He does not zap us when we mess up- but waits and urges us to come back to Him.
     Love is kind.  Love goes the extra mile.  Love goes out of the way.  Love has mercy and soft-heartedness.
     Love does not envy.  Love does not seek to compete with the one who is loved.  Love does not wish to take anything away from the one who is loved, but is generous and sacrificial to the one who is loved.  God is not envious of us- but sacrifices Himself for us.
     Love does not boast.  Love does not seek to brag to get attention.  Love focuses on the other person- not wanting attention for oneself.
     Love is not proud.  Humility and love go together.  Being willing to give up oneself for the loved one- not holding anything back is a quality of true love.  

     If we are patient, kind, considerate, humble we are on the path to love.

Prayer: Lord of love, make me more loving- more like you.

A good exercise is to ask- "Am I patient? Am I kind?  Am I not envious?  Am I not boastful?  Am I not proud?"  Or, you could put your name where the word "love" is.  Thus: ____ is patient; ___ is kind...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Love is the Greatest

 31Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1If I speak in the tonguesa of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,b but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 12:31- 13:3)

Thoughts: The greater way, the greater gift, the most excellent way is love. It is more valuable than the greatest spiritual thrill.  It is greater than the greatest human knowledge.  It is stronger than the most steadfast faith..  Love is more meaningful than the greatest generosity and sacrifice.  Love is greater and will last longer than faith and hope.  Love is to be valued above any other spiritual or physical virtue.  We should pursue love with God and neighbor. 

Prayer: Lord give me grace to value love above all else.