Love

Intended Harm Transformed

“His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. ‘We are your slaves,’ they said. But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” – Genesis 50:18-21 Yesterday, we continued to look at the story of Joseph and we saw that after nearly twenty years of misfortune and trial, He finally witnessed the fulfillment of his prophetic dream. This is the culmination of his story. After interpreting Pharaoh’s vision, Joseph was elevated to a position wherein his power was almost equal to that of the king. This was truly a display of God’s divine favor! Through this promotion,

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Overcoming Injustice

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.” – Colossians 3:23-25 Yesterday, we talked about God’s view of injustice and slavery and we looked at how His love for us never wavers, even when we are being mistreated. Today, I want to talk about how this is possible.  Viktor Frankl, an Austrian Jew who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the Second World War, once wrote about his experience that, “The one thing they can’t take away from me is my ability to choose how I will respond.” This is the same sentiment that Paul asserts when he writes the

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Don’t Overreact, Over-Serve

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” – Matthew 5:41 Yesterday we talked about how Jesus teaches us to respond to injustice when someone steals from us. Today, I want to look at the third and final illustration He gives about acting lovingly towards our enemies: give them more than they ask for! Allow me to explain: In Jesus’ day, Roman soldiers would often walk down the road with a heavy pack that held their armor and other items. Sometimes they would see a random person and say, “Hey you, take this!” and force them to carry the weight of their load, even though it wasn’t theirs to carry. Obviously, this was an injustice and anyone put in that position would naturally be upset. However, Jesus used this illustration to teach us how to transform oppression into an opportunity to love. Rather than viewing

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How to Love Your Enemies

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35 Yesterday we talked about EGRs, or those people in our lives who require extra grace. We agreed that the best way to deal with them is to love them. Today, I want to elaborate on how we do that, particularly the fact that our ability to love does not come from a place of trying harder, but rather from transformed character. You see, when we submit to the work of Jesus and cultivate true faith and selflessness, agape love bubbles up from within us! Loving our enemies is not a spontaneous happening, nor is it an end in itself. Rather, it is the fruit of

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Extra Grace Required

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Matthew 5:43-45 In ministry, we have a phrase we use when we have to deal with difficult people. It’s called extra grace required, so we call these people who are harder to love: EGRs. Sometimes we encounter EGRs at work. These are the people who steal our staplers, log onto our computers, or who gossip about us. Then there are EGR bosses. The ones who don’t promote us, won’t give us raises, who threaten to fire us or who play favorites while taking credit for the work we do. If

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What Motivates Love?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4,5 For the past week, we’ve been talking a lot about types and characteristics of faith, which is the first element in what I call “the triangle of sufficiency.” In other words, there are three things that you and I need to live in the fullness of the Kingdom of God — faith, death to self, and agape love. For the next couple of days, we’re going to look at the last two, death to self and agape love, in more detail because they go together. Have you ever been annoyed by someone trying to help you or wounded by someone attempting to love you? If you’re like me,

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From End to Beginning

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” – Revelation 22:13 As we wrap up our discussion on faith, here’s an interesting thought for you to meditate on: God has already written the final chapter of your life. The Lord stands outside of time and He sees your story in its fullness. In fact, He writes from end to beginning and everything in-between is part of getting you to where He has destined you to be! Isn’t that a great thought?  Although you read a novel from start to finish, you always have the luxury of turning to the final chapter to see how it all turns out. While you don’t exactly have that option in life, knowing the character of the One writing the story enables you to get a glimpse of how it will end. In fact, because the

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God is Love

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9 On this Valentine’s Day, or the day of love as we often refer to it, I want to encourage you with the thought that you are not only loved by your family and friends, but by God, who is the definition of love — the One who wrote the book! Of all the things our vast Creator could have defined Himself as, He chose to say that He is love. Take a minute to let that sink in. The One who spoke the universe into existence with a word, the One who moves mountains and sets the stars in the

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Love or Greed

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” – Luke 12:13-15 Well, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which has been called “The Day of Love.” For a holiday that’s all about celebrating such an amazing, intangible virtue, it’s interesting that it has become, to many, a day of stuff. A consumerist world has taught us that expressing love is about spending lots of money on gifts, flowers, and expensive meals more than it is simply being present with those we care about. Unfortunately, greed has gained a foothold in our culture, and if we are not careful, our expectation of material things can ruin

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Live Life With Open Hands

“The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.” – Deuteronomy 28:12 Here are some encouraging thoughts to dwell on as you start your day: God is all sufficient; He’s all joyous, all powerful, and all loving. In fact, there is no more joyful being in the world than the Lord. Even better, He is thinking about you, He knows you by name, and He knows how many hairs are on your head! Wow! I know my kids and I love them immensely, but I guarantee you I don’t know how many hairs are on their heads. Nevertheless, Jesus takes the time to notice these things. He’s near, not far, and He has all the time, energy, and power that

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