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Posts tagged ‘Love — God’

Loving enemies, competitors, and you…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“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.” 
Matthew 5:43-45a

When I finished a sermon on turning the other cheek, giving others your tunic or cloak, going the extra mile, charity and lending, many people had many questions. One of the first things I said in response was that, when we talk about loving our enemies, it is not a new aspect of legalism. For example, I do not believe that Jesus is saying always to turn the cheek when someone slaps you. Rather, he’s saying, think of creative, non-hostile ways to resolve things quickly with people who curse you.

The other thing I heard was, “Well, I don’t really have any enemies.” That’s true for some people. I’m pretty sure my wife Hannah doesn’t have any enemies. Nevertheless, most of us have had enemies in our lives, though it may only have been years ago, so this subject may seem almost irrelevant.

However, if that’s you, here is what I want you to think about: Instead of “enemies,” think “competitors.” When you talk about what it means to love your enemies, what Jesus is essentially saying is to love everyone, even your enemies, even your competitors. That means you are to love difficult people. It also means you have to love yourself because sometimes your enemy is you! Love your enemies…and love you, too.

Prayer: Dear Lord, it is hard to love those who try to hurt me. Sometimes it is even hard to love myself. Please help me to love others and myself by seeing them and me through your eyes of amazing grace. Amen.

Reflection: Think of someone who has hurt or cursed you. Now, filter your feelings through God’s love and find a way to love that person. Describe the creative, non-hostile way you’ve discovered to resolve things with this person.

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Never-ending love…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.”
1 John 3:1a

I want to do my best to convince you of something very simple that seems impossible for us as human beings to grasp and take deep down inside of us. It is this:

God loves you and that you belonged to him the day you were born.

The instant you were conceived, you belonged to the Lord. There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from God’s love. In fact, the gift of God’s love is something that is completely free and unearned. There is no middleman that bridges its way to you and Jesus. There is no list of rules that you can follow to get God to love you or to think good things about you because you are God’s kid and he loves you.

Even when we mess up, God loves us and cares about us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I’m so thankful to you for your love and care. I know that I can only come to you because of what Jesus did for me. I’m so thankful for him and his sacrifice. Now, it’s in His name that I pray. Amen.

Reflection: Do you accept God’s love as described above? Which part of his never-ending love is the hardest for you to accept and believe?

Tell me a story…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2

We are meant to be living memories. We are meant to be living reminders. And we’re meant to remind people of Jesus. We’re meant to remind people of our values. We’re meant to remind people of our stories because our stories give wisdom, guidance, insight, blessings to others.

Have you ever met somebody that reminded you of Jesus? I have. I’ve met a few of them. There’s something wonderful about these people. They could talk to you about the baseball game yesterday and, somehow, you feel like you’re talking to Jesus.

There are some people that have such depth in their eyes, you can see into their souls. There’s such warmth to their spirits that you can’t help but be drawn into their presence and want to be around them all the time. There are some people that if you just spend time with them, you will be a different person.

This is the kind of person God wants us to be. He wants you to be a living reminder. And the main way that you can change lives, affect lives, and bless lives around you is to remind people of your story – yes even the bad ones – and of your values, and your wisdom gained from living life with Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me be share my story. Let my story be a witness of your love in my life. Amen.

Reflection: As you serve as a living reminder of God’s love and redemption in your life, what story do you tell?

The greatest treasure…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
-Isaiah 54:10

You can’t earn God’s love. You can’t wear a special suit or be successful in business, or be sinless, or do anything to earn God’s love. There’s nothing you can do, no appeal you can make to have God‘s love. It’s already there! God’s love is for you and, yes, just you, right where you are. God’s love is there for you all the time. You don’t have to earn it; you don’t have to be afraid. God’s thinking about you, God loves you, and God wants to be near you. This is the source and the root of all healthy spirituality.

God wants you just the way you are. He made you that way and he loves you. You’re the treasure of His heart. Do you believe that? You’re God’s beloved. It’s not what you do, it’s not what you have, it’s not what people say about you, it’s not how successful you are. None of these things matter to God. He simply loves you because you’re His kid.

The love of God is the greatest treasure any man can have. It is greater than any bank account, any 401k, any amount of jewels, any amount of praise. The love of God is the greatest and most wonderful treasure. It brings meaning to life. It brings a calling. It brings clarity. It brings life. The love of God is the fullness of what it means to be a human being. The love of God fills and fills again. The love of God reaches to the deepest, emptiest, totally void chasms of the human heart and fills it with life and living water and goodness.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your unending love. It is my greatest treasure. Amen.

Reflection: When you think of God’s love as a treasure, to what would you compare it?

When Love Doesn’t Equal Tolerance.


Kelly Givens

Our culture often blurs the lines between coexisting and agreeing, distorting the definitions of tolerance and acceptance. Truthfully, it’s tricky wording- but there is a difference. As Melissa Krueger points out in her recent post, The Loving Intolerance of God, our culture seems to hold tight to the idea we can only love someone fully if we fully accept everything about them. And we can only “accept” someone if we acknowledge their beliefs as equal to our own.

But that’s not something the God of the Bible does. As Melissa writes,

“ave you ever considered that tolerance is never encouraged in the Bible? The fruit of the Spirit includes love and kindness, but missing from the list is tolerance. In fact, Christians aren’t called to tolerance, because we serve an intolerant God.”

She sites examples from both the Old and New Testament that showcase God’s love and (because of that fierce love) a complete intolerance for sin. The greatest example, though, comes from the cross.

Take a fresh look at the terrifying and uncomfortable reality of the cross. Here is an innocent man—whipped, beaten, nailed to a tree, bearing the sins of the world. For you. For me. Is this the picture of a tolerant God who ignores evil? No, this is a gruesome picture of divine wrath and judgment. The story makes no sense if God is a tolerant God.

The cross demonstrates God’s character in all its complexity. It shows his love, kindness, and mercy united with his justice, holiness, and wrath. It perfectly demonstrates a God who surpasses understanding. The Lord is giving us a glimpse into the immensity of his love for us. The love of God is not a tolerant love. It is much better. It is a redemptive love.

Krueger is not the only one finding flaw in this idea of love equaling tolerance. Dr. James Emery White writes on Crosswalk about the different variations of tolerance. “Jesus did not believe that everything and everyone was right,” he said. “He did not muddy the waters between acceptance and affirmation. The Bible holds that there is right and wrong, true and false, and is wildly intolerant in saying so.”

An excellent example highlighting the difference between love and tolerance has been circulating recently around the web. Hazelmary Bull and her husband, Peter, have long been making headlines for a court battle they are in the midst of. Having owned and operated a bed-and-breakfast in Cornwall, England, for three decades, they’ve been brought to court for refusing to rent a double-bedded room to a homosexual couple. They only rent their double occupancy rooms to married men and women, as stated plainly on their website. The Bulls are now appealing to the U.K.’s Supreme Court.

In an interview with ITV Daybreak, Hazelmary defends their decision not to allow non-married couples—homosexual or not—to spend a night in their rooms. In this short blurb from the interview, she notes the difference between a loving God and a tolerant one.

Aled Jones: As a Christian, the God you worship is a loving God, is a tolerant God. And if people are in a civil partnership, they are obviously in love, so what is wrong with them sharing a bed?

Hazelmary Bull: I think it’s a myth to believe that entirely. He is a loving God, that’s true. He’s a forgiving God, but there is—

Jones: And a tolerant one?

Bull: He is a longsuffering God; He’s not entirely tolerant because the Bible is full of cases when He does finally bring judgment about. We felt that we wanted to, as far as possible, live according to His instructions, and the Bible is very clear about marriage.

What do you think? How can Christians continue to be loving while still holding fast to our belief in the absolute truth of Scripture?

Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.

In the end…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
-John 16:33

Have you ever asked God, “Why do I have to go through the suffering now? Why am I facing all these trials?”

Some people have experience the worst suffering. A child’s tragic death. A life-threatening illness. A body-maiming accident. A loved one murdered. Some of us have had to face some of the worst, most unjust, awful things, and why does that happen? I have to tell you, I don’t know. I don’t know. But God’s love still endures.

No, that’s not a good enough answer.

Listen to me. We all feel alone. Even Jesus felt alone on the cross. Do you remember what he said when he was dying on the cross? “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Have you forgotten me? Left me alone? But in the end, when it was done, Jesus says, “Into your hands, oh Father, I commend my spirit.” So even when he felt alone, Jesus knew deep down inside, in his heart and mind, he knew that God’s love – in the end – would win.

In the end, God’s love will win.

Prayer: Dear Lord, though I have suffered, though I have lost, in the end your love always wins out. Hope in you is my strength. Amen.

Reflection: When did you feel the most alone? How had God’s love comforted you?

A love that endures…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
-Psalm 118:1
In much of the Apostle Paul‘s life, he leads what we might call a difficult existence. We read one story after another about Paul being beaten, bitten by snakes, disease-ridden. And in the end, Paul, as an old man, even dies a martyr.
In the midst of his difficulties, we discover that Paul sings hymns and praises to God. He had incredible happiness, joy, and a flourishing life. In one instance, his joy was so big, so amazing that it caused the gates of a prison to open. How could somebody like Paul have real joy even in the midst of that kind of unjust suffering?
Paul tells us in Romans, that we’ve been given a hope. The hope is the love of God that is shown through the cross. Paul shares with us about how God sent his only Son Jesus Christ into the world to Paul, to you, and to me. That means God loves you as much as he loves Jesus. If God loved Jesus more than he loves you, he wouldn’t have sent Jesus to die for you. That means God loves Paul, God loves Jesus, God loves Mary, God love you, God loves everyone reading this devotion. He loves all of us as much as he loves Jesus.
That means that God treasures you. God values you. God is thinking good things about you. God believes in you. God wants the best for you. You are a part of God’s big Meta narrative, his big story, his big picture. That means that God’s love endures for you.
Prayer: Dear Lord, how I treasure your enduring love. It’s not something that I have earned or even deserve, but you love me anyway, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Amen.
Reflection: What emotion wells up in your soul when you embrace the concept of God’s enduring love?

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