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These are days when few people seem satisfied. Everyone seems to be searching for something--for riches, power, health, adventure, fame, peace, conquests, or escaping. Shamefully, even few Christians seem to realize that the permanent fulfillment or redirection of such desires can only be found in the Lord, the One who created them and designed them to operate in a particular, satisfying way. Curious check us out here. Whether you are beginning your faith journey or you’re a few years in we believe there is a next step for you.  What’s Your Next Step? Find out at Questions God. Com.

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Love: The Greatest Thing

Jesus Loves You

1 Corinthians 13 NIV
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} If 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 have not love, I am nothing. {3} If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. {4} Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. {5} It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. {6} Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. {7} It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. {8} Love 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. {9} For we know in part and we prophesy in part, {10} but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. {11} When 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 childish ways behind me. {12} Now we see but a poor 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. {13} And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

As Christians, depending on our denomination, we hear the great virtues of faith, prayer, sacrificial devotion to God, prophecy, speaking in tongues, missionary service or charitable works. Our Christian sub-cultures tell us that this or that is "the greatest thing". These things are vastly superior to what the world sees as best - money, sex and power. Yet, while good, they all fall short of what is best - and that is Love. There is nothing better than being truly loved and nothing that you can do better for someone else than to truly love them.

Denis de Rougemont in his "Love Declared" lists over 30 Greek words that can be translated "love" from the frenzied passion of "mania", to "euonia"- dedicated devotion, to the familial tenderness of "storge". Many of these were unsuitable for use by the Holy Spirit. Two words for love dominate the New Testament - "agape" and "phileo". Agape is the dominant word when it comes to the theology of the NT. So much so that you sometimes hear it said that it is a "special Greek word for love". Agape is not some specially invented word in fact it is the commonly used for love in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures commonly used in NT times). It translated the Hebrew 'hb "to love". It is used 78 times in the Greek Old Testament and mainly means human love such as that in the Song of Solomon. Leon Morris suggests that agape was chosen by the translators of the Septuagint in preference to words such as eros which had so many negative connotations for the reader. Agape was thus not a word that denoted anything especially good, it just did not connote anything particularly bad. However in the New Testament this pale word is invested with deep and powerful meanings.

Love Is Patient

The first meaning of agape is that of patience. Love is patient. God is patient with sinners. They anger him (Romans 1:18) but He puts up with them, ever hoping that they will change:

(Romans 2:4 NIV) Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

God is not just patient with good, kind, deserving people. He is patient with the wicked, the contemptible, the proud and the cruel. In my own flash-pan anger I have sometimes wished that God would quickly mete out some sudden justice to someone who had wronged me. What if the martyr Stephen had felt this way? We might never have received the apostle Paul if God had struck him dead then and there. Paul was very aware of God's great patience with him.

(1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV) Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. {16} But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

God's love is very patient towards us. The Old Testament describes this patience as erek aphayim that is "long-nosed" "long of face" meaning someone who takes a long while to change their facial expression. It is the opposite of smiles one minute and anger the next. God's love is steady and reliable.

Love Is Kind

The second great quality of love is that it is kind. The definition of kindness is: chresteuomai, to show oneself useful, i.e. act benevolently:--be kind. Love makes itself of practical and benevolent use. It is never cruel. It does not impose harsh burdens but rather lifts them.

Contrast the cruelty of legalism: (Luke 11:46 NKJV) And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

With the teachings of Jesus: (Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV) "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. {30} "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

In Jesus we see the kindness of God made manifest. He heals the sick (Matthew 4:23), restores to sanity those afflicted by demons (Matthew 8;17), accepts the outcasts (Luke 19:2-10) and teaches words of eternal life (John 6:68). He is especially kind to those who are broken by the burden of their sins such as the prostitute who wept at His feet.

(Luke 7:37-50 NKJV) And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, {38} and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. {39} Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner." {40} And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, "Teacher, say it." {41} "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. {42} "And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?" {43} Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged." {44} Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. {45} "You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. {46} "You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. {47} "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." {48} Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." {49} And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" {50} Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Love Serves Graciously

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

How does love serve one's neighbour? The first three sins (envy, boastfulness and pride) revolve around the question "What does my neighbour have that I don't" (or a close variant of this question). Whereas love asks "What does my neighbour need, that I have, so that I may give it to them?". The second three sins (rudeness, self-seeking and being easily angered) are clustered around the attitude "Get out of my way I am in a hurry to look after number one!" Whereas love says "You are no inconvenience, you are special, you were made in the image of God it is a privilege to love and serve you." The last thing in this verse is "it keeps no record of wrongs". Love shoots the scorekeeper. Love enjoys the game and forgets about the score. Love says "I just enjoy being with you and caring for you. The score in this game doesn't matter at all, my righteousness comes from Jesus - not from being one up on you. I don't want power over you, I don't want you to feel guilty, I just want to be your friend." God loves the Christian like that. The scorekeeper has been sent off the field. God just enjoys our love, our worship and who we are in Him. We need to love each other a bit like that too.

Love Lives Well In A Messy World

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

The sentimental person has immoral love. They call gangsters cute. They romanticize robbers and glorify pirates. True love does not delight in evil - no matter how romantic or colorful the form it takes. True love is stern stuff. It has a stern love of the truth wedded to a stern love of the person. Agape love is solid. It rings true. When a person loves you with agape love you sense that they will always be there for you. They may be grieved at your folly and sin but they will love you. You are sure of their protection, sure of their basic trust in you, sure that they will not give up hoping you turn out OK and you are sure that they will persevere with you even when you disappoint them badly. Paul emphasis the word "always". Because love is not much if it is "sometimes". Love sometimes protects - but what about when it does not? Love sometimes trusts - what sort of trust is that when it is abruptly withdrawn. God's love is always love. It is neither fickle or unreliable. Its there just like the sun, the stars and the turning circle of the earth. Its solid. And we who are made in His image should be "solid" as well.

Love Never Fails

Love 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. {9} For we know in part and we prophesy in part, {10} but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. {11} When 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 childish ways behind me. {12} Now we see but a poor 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. {13} And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

Love is permanent. By nature it has to be. Can you imagine the grief of loving God for a thousand years and then having it all go to pieces? That would not be love that would be the darkest of Hells. True love must last forever. It must be eternal if it is to be love at all. Nothing devastates us as much as the loss of love. The loss of faith and the loss of hope are close cousins but the loss of love is truly terrible. Fortunately all three remain and if the object of our faith, hope and love is eternal, is God, then we have nothing to fear.. Congregational prophecy was highly thought of in the Corinthian church, yet, for all its spectacular power both it and the gift of tongues were temporary manifestations of the Spirit to help us mature in love. Love was the end, prophecy and tongues are temporary means. Knowledge will pass away. How? Knowledge is only needed if we don't know or can't see.. I need the Bible to tell me about God because I cannot figure it out for myself. I do not see Him face to face. When I do see Him face to face I won't need to go to Bible studies! The truths of Scripture will remain because the word of God abides forever. However in Heaven I will not experience God's Word as knowledge from a book but personally and directly in the Spirit - as the angels now do. Knowledge as such will pass away. In Heaven I will know fully even as I am fully known. Who looks at the weather report to know if it is raining outside? You look out the window and see. If you can directly experience it you don't need to "know about" it. It is in this sense that knowledge will pass away. It will be the difference between a romance by e-mail and the wedding day. Love will replace knowledge as the overwhelming reality of Heaven.

The Greatest of These Is Love

Paul tells the Corinthians to place love as their top spiritual priority.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} If 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 have not love, I am nothing. {3} If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Without it all their other spiritual achievements are hollow and empty. Without love we cannot fulfill the two great commandments to love God and neighbour. Without love we may be approved of men but we cannot be approved o God. If God is love and God dwells is us then we must love others. Its that simple. If we do not love then God does not dwell in us (1 John 3:14-18) Love, not faith, is the paramount virtue. Faith ushers us into the Kingdom and accomplishes great works for God. However faith does not confer value. Love does. A small loving act is more valuable than a huge selfish act - no matter how much faith is involved. Faith may work miracles but it is love that determines whether it is a miracle of value or a work of iniquity.

(Matthew 7:20-23 NKJV) "Therefore by their fruits you will know them. {21} "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. {22} "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' {23} "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!

Love is the foundation for the commandments, for all righteousness and for every work that is truly of God. It is preeminent over the gifts of tongues or faith or prophecy or even dramatic self-sacrifice. Love then is what we as Christians are about. Its what we need to focus on and to do. Lets get on with it now.

God's Love

LOVE

A Daily Bible Method Reading of the Bible Done Successfully click here
(Bible Reading Methods, Structures of the Bible, Best Translations to Use,Where to Start )

A Daily Morning & Evening Reading Devotional Plan from Jan to Dec click here

A Day Study in Stewardship by Tim Keller click here

A Vision of the Lost by William Booth click here

Cases and Directions for Loving Our Neighbour as Ourselves
by Richard Baxter click here

Counseling Recipes on Chap 7 on Pre-Marital Counseling by Timothy Tow click here

Directions against Covetousness, or Love of Riches, and against Worldly Cares
by Richard Baxter click here

Evangelism 101 Laying The Foundation by Matt Waymeyer click here

From Grace To Glory Or Born Again by Octavius Winslow click here

Glimpses of Truth As It Is In Jesus by Octavius Winslow click here

Grace And Truth by Octavius Winslow click here

Life On The Highest Plane - Volume 1 - The Person & Work of Christ
by Ruth Paxson click here
(1. Human Life on Three Planes, 2. God's First Man - The First Adam, 3. Life on the Lowest Plane - The Entrance of Sin Into Man, 4. Life on the Lowest Plane - The Rule of Sin Over Man, 5. Satan & God in Conflict, 6. False & Futile Attempts for Salvation, 7. The Chasm Bridged, 8. God's Second Man - The Last Adam, 9. Four Spans in the Bridge of Salvation - Incarnation 10. Four Spans in the Bridge of Salvation-Crucifixion, 11. Four Spans in the Bridge of Salvation - Resurrection, 12. Four Spans in the Bridge of Salvation - Ascension and Exaltation 13. The Crowning Work of Jesus Christ in Salvation)

Life On The Highest Pane - Volume 2 - The Relation Between Christ & the Christian
by Ruth Paxson click here
(14. Grace Triumphant Over Sin, 15. Christ Our Saviour - The Bridge Crossed, 16. Christ Our Head - A New Creation Formed, 17. Christ Our Lord - A New Sovereign in a New Sphere, 18. Christ Our Life - A Perfect Oneness Effected, 19. Christ Our Sanctification - A People For His Possession and Use, 20. Christ Our Captain and Conqueror - Conflict and Conquest, 21. Life on the Highest Plane, 22. Carnal or Spiritual, 23. The Christian's Choice - Self or Christ?

Life On The Highest Plane - Volume 3 - The Believer's Response to the Holy Spirit's Inworking by Ruth Paxson click here
(24. The Spirit-filled Life, 25. The Prerequisite to Fullness — Cleansing, 26. The Believer's Part in Becoming Spirit-filled — Yielding, 27. The Believer's Part in Becoming Spirit-filled — Faith,
28. The Believer's Part in Becoming Spirit-filled — Obedience, 29. The Believer's Part in Becoming Spirit-filled — Bible Study, 30. The Believer's Part in Becoming Spirit-filled — Prayer, 31. The Works of the Spiritual Man, 32. The Relationships of the Spiritual Man, 33. The Hope of the Spiritual Man, 34. The Story of Salvation Told in Five Chapters)

Lights & Shadows Of Spiritual Life by Octavius Winslow click here

Love Builds Up by Rosco Brong click here
(Love Builds Up, Are You going to Heaven, Wages of Sin-Death, Repent & Believe the Gospel, Have You Counted the Cost, Evidences of the New Birth, Heirs of the Kingdom, Justified from All Things, This is Everlasting Life, Walking with God, Spiritual Blessings, Spiritual Sacrifices, etc.)

Love Not the World by Watchman Nee click here

Love One Another by Watchman click here

Mercy by Leon O. Poole click here

Not I But Christ
by Watchman Nee click here
(If Any Man Sin, Restore Your Brother, The Believer's Reaction, The Will of God, etc. )

On Charity by John Wesley click here

On Love by John Wesley click here

On Visiting The Sick - Matthew 25:36 by John Wesley click here

Seek Ye First by Leon O. Poole click here

Story Of Kingdom Explanation Of Bible by Jonathan Gibson click here

The Compassion of Christ to Weak Believers by Samuel Davies click here

The Day of Golden Opportunity by R. A. Torrey click here
(Because the Lord Jesus Brings Peace to the Tormenting Conscience, Because Jesus Christ Brings Inexpressible & Glorious Joy to Those Who Accept Him, Because Jesus Christ Brings Deliverance from the Power of Sin, Because Jesus Christ Brings Beauty of Character, Because Jesus Christ Fills Our Lives with Highest Usefulness, Because the Sooner We Come to Christ, the Fuller and Richer Will Be Our Eternity, Because if We Do Not Come to Jesus Christ Today We May Never Come At All)

The Foot Of The Cross by Octavius Winslow click here
(Neamess to the Cross, A Sight of Sin & a Sight of Jesus, Faith at the Foot of the Cross, Love at the Foot of the Cross, Prayer at the Foot of the Cross, Forgiveness of Sin at the Foot of the Cross, The Conviction of Truth Beneath the Cross, A life-look at the Foot of the Cross, Bearing the Cross, The Solitude of the Cross, The Believer Crucified, The Repose of the Cross, The Cross of Christ the Christian's Weapon, Christ Crucified the Center of Christian Union)

The Necessity & Excellence of Family Religion by Samuel Davies click here

The Strait Way to Heaven by William Dyer click here

The Widow Directed to the Widow's God by John Angell James click here

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