The Necessity of Love

Love Heart in Sand
I’m not going to contribute to the fascinating discussion of the different Greek words for love in the New Testament. I’m just going to start this post right here and say –

Without love, there is no real life. Neither is it loving to end someone’s life.
Killing someone is not love, no matter what the euthanasia campaigners would have us believe. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Love is not taking someone else’s life –  it is giving them yours.

Even if you don’t give your life – if you don’t actually die for your friends, love is still about giving. It’s about forsaking yourself in the interests of others.

Jesus didn’t only love His friends – He loved His enemies. In fact, He even died for them, and  for you. Because you were an enemy of God. But He sent His own Son to reconcile us to Himself  – while we were still His enemies, Christ died for us. Now God even calls us His children!

How much does this say about your love? Is your every thought, word, deed and desire rooted and grounded in love? (Ephesians 3:17) Are you truly a loving person?

We are called to love. And now it’s time – for you. To love your God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength. To love your neighbour as yourself.

Because God is Love.
And He’s commanded it.

With love,
Rhoda

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Pictures of Home

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This picture was taken in New Zealand, the beautiful country which I have never left. It was just such a scene as this which I gazed upon as I returned from a family reunion in Wanaka at the end of 2012. Wanaka is in Central Otago, a dry, tussocky place, like the one shown here. After two days of fulfilling the Newton family motto, “If you’re not eating, you’re not having a good time,” my coastal eyes were homesick – for the sea.

As we drove down the Waitaki Valley (and yes, it might help if you looked this all up on Google Maps!), I felt an aching tug in my heart, because I was going home.

However, as I thought this over, I realized that where I was headed was not actually my home. Instead, this moment served as a picture of heaven, that far-off country which we cannot see. It was a reminder of that fact of my heavenly citizenship.

Whenever I see a striking part of God’s creation like this one, I see it as a glimpse and a shadowy picture of heaven. These moments come and go, but the knowledge of living where I do not belong does not.

The longing to see my home in Oamaru was soon replaced by a stronger one, that of waiting for the return of Jesus in the clouds, and our ascension into heaven. Only then will we truly be at home. Because, after all,

This world is not our home.

This World is Not Our Home

file000520062726This world is not our home. John 17:14 makes that clear: “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,” adds Philippians 3:20.

OK… so what? We know that. We’re headed for heaven, and, well, that’s good, isn’t it?

If you are assured of your salvation, that’s a reason to rejoice! But this knowledge also has implications for our lives in this world.

If we don’t belong here, we shouldn’t live as if we do. We should actively examine our motives for all that we do, say, and think. This is assuredly no easy task, and this need for godly wisdom and discernment is a reason to spend time with godly, wise older people who have learnt from their life experiences and can give us help in our lives. Spending time with people, or girls, of this world will just encourage us to be like them, worldly, foolish and certainly not a good influence. But mature believers who have walked life’s narrow road for some years are sure to be a help, and not a hindrance!

Another implication of our heavenly citizenship is that we should not be satisfied with our lives as they are. We should be able to see our sins, faults, and unwise choices, and work to eliminate them. If you are comfortable with your life, and the world around you, you should do some serious thinking about how you measure up to God’s standards.  Even if you aren’t, we all need to evaluate our habits, and examine our lives.

If you are living for this world, and the things of this world, you may be of it.

We must also look at our serving, and be sure that we are serving God, and not the world.  It must show that we are not taken up with worrying about earthly things, but concerned only with giving the glory to God. It must be honouring to Him, and show that we are waiting for our eternal reward.  Because, after all,

This world is not our home.

God’s Commands and Our Promises

handshakeWe all make promises. We say we’ll bring something to the next meeting, or pray for a specific need, or drop by on Thursday, or put away our clean washing. We try to keep our promises, and we feel guilty when we don’t. Once we have made a promise, we’ve committed ourselves to do something.
Now, read Exodus 20: 1-17 and Matthew 22:37-40.
These verses contain the commands of God. We are to love God with our whole being, and love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Everything we do should be for the glory of God, and also to promote other people above ourselves.
Our salvation no longer depends on whether or not we live by these laws. Jesus has kept them for us! Instead, we obey them out of our joyful thankfulness for His grace.
Our salvation has never depended on honouring our promises to people on earth. We keep them perhaps to appear righteous, stay in favour with someone, or because we love that person. If we don’t keep them, we try to make it right.

We attempt to live up to God’s requirements because we love Him. We try to keep them out of thankfulness and a desire to glorify Him. But,

How hard do you try to obey God’s commandments?

And when you don’t, what do you do about it? Which do you value more, the commands of God, or your promises to men?