Love, God’s Definition

Today, when I read Mark 12 in my Bible, I came across this commentary which hit home what true love is–agape–God’s definition of love.  In his book, Lessons from a Sheep Dog, Phillip Keller wrote:  “Love for the Master is not some sweet sentimental emotion that sweeps over the soul in moments of special piety.  Love for Christ is a deliberate setting of the will to carry out His commands at any cost.  It is the fixed attitude of heart that decides to do His will at all times.  It is the desire and delight of accomplishing our Father’s highest purposes, no matter how challenging…”

Some people are called to teach the Gospel while others are called to minister to the poor, disadvantaged, homeless and needy.  Both done in love and can be very challenging but the reward is knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life.  It was not easy for Jesus to minister to the needs of the diseased, demon possessed, blind, cripple, sick, lost and the hungry.  There were times when He was tired.  He wanted to get away somewhere quiet where He could mourn the death of His cousin John the Baptist but love and compassion for the people kept Him going. 

I think of the widow who gave what might seem like nothing much compared to the rich who put in a lot of money.  Jesus was not impressed with the rich who gave out of their abundance.  He was impressed with the widow who out of her poverty put in all that she had–her whole livelihood.  God is looking for people who are willing to give to Him all they have–their livelihood.  He wants all of us–not part of us.  And this is not asking for much.  He gave all of Himself when He came into the flesh.  He came to give His life as a ransom for many.  He, out of great love for us, gave all that He had–His precious blood. 

Jesus came to give Himself to us, so why is it so hard for us to give ourselves to Him?  We should be willing and ready to love Him and others.  As the song says, And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, By our love
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians
By our love

Follow Jesus’ example.  Demonstrate the love of God by serving others and putting their needs before your own.



Yesterday, I read something that struck me and made me see why salvation can only come from the Lord.   The commentary I read was based on Mark 10 where Jesus told a rich man to sell his possessions and give to the poor and then follow Him but the young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.  He asked the right question, “…what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” but he was not willing to do what was required of him.

It is no use asking what you must do in order to be saved if you are unwilling to discard your material things and follow Jesus.   I think of the demon possessed man whom Jesus healed.  He wanted to follow Jesus but Jesus encouraged Him to stay and tell his countrymen what God had done for him.  The disciples gave up everything they had to follow Jesus. 

Max Lucado made this point:  “God does not save us because of what we have done…And only a Great God does for his children what they can’t do for themselves.”  God does not save us because we have accumulated lots of riches; or are successful or because we have done many charitable works.  John 3:16 tells us exactly why God saves us:  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

In order to be saved, we must acknowledge that we need a Savior–a Redeemer.  Hebrews 7:25 states:  Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  Jesus wants us to place Him over any possessions.  He wants us to let go of our self-sufficiency, our possessions or anything that hinders us from following Him.  The rich young man came face to face with salvation but chose his riches.  Those who place greater value on the material things of this world will have a hard time entering into the kingdom of God. 

It is not impossible for God to save.  All we have to do is go to Him in faith and in complete surrender.  And He was able to do what the law was powerless to do–that is:  “sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3, 4).

Jesus Paid it All

This morning I was hearing the hymn “Jesus Paid it All”.  These words came to me as if to remind me of how much I owe my Savior:  Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow. 

I can’t help thinking of the woman who fell and wept at Jesus’ feet.  She bathed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.  She kissed His feet and anointed them with expensive, fragrant oil.  She knew that Jesus would pay it all.  He would wash away her sins with His shed blood.  She knew that she owed Him alot.  Her sins were many.   Jesus said of her, “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.”  

Jesus said the words this woman longed to hear, “Your sins are forgiven.”  Then His parting words to her were,”Your faith has saved you. Go in peace”  (Luke 7:36-50).  In faith she had gone to the One who could save her from her sins.  And she was saved by grace through that faith.

The second to last stanza of the hymn says:  Since nothing good have I whereby Thy grace to claim, I’ll wash my garment white In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.  The best way to thank Jesus for paying all for us is to heed the advice He gave to the woman caught in adultery, “…go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Jesus paid a high price for our salvation.  All He wants in return is for us to keep His commandments, keep His Word and do the will of the Father (John 14:15, 23; Matthew 7:21).  In love and gratitude we will do these things.


Yesterday for our family worship, we read a couple of chapters in the book of Hebrews.  The chapter which stood out for us was chapter 3 which spoke of two very important things:  the faithfulness of Jesus and the unbelief and rebellion of the Israelites when they were in the wilderness.

Verse 1 states that Christ was faithful to the Father who appointed Him as Moses, God’s servant was faithful to Him.  We are called to be faithful as the Son was faithful.  The Holy Spirit urges us not to be like those who rebelled against God, testing Him even though for forty years they witnessed His work–He delivered them from their enemies, the Egyptians and provided for them.  They went astray and in His wrath, God swore that they would not enter His rest.

Today, we are urged not to let unbelief lead us away from the living God.  We are called to encourage one another daily while there is still time (verses 12, 13).   Our promised land is Heaven and unless we exercise faith and do not stray from God, we will never enter that rest. 

Throughout His ministry Jesus called for steadfast faith among His followers.  Hebrews 3:14 tells us that we become partakers with Him when we hold onto our faith to the end.

The Israelites who did not enter God’s rest–who did not enter into the promised land were those who disobeyed Him.  They did not enter His rest because of unbelief.   They missed out on God’s blessing and their inheritance of a land flowing with milk and honey because of their unbelief.  This reminded me of the people in Nazareth who missed out on many blessings because of their unbelief.  Matthew 13:58 says that Jesus was not able to do many works there.   

While there is still time, let us seek to enter into God’s rest by remaining faithful and obedient.  We would do well to follow Jesus’ advice, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22).   Faith moves  mountains and does the impossible.  It enables us to enter God’s rest.  It is our ticket to entering the Promised land–the city whose Builder and Maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).

God, Our Father


Yesterday our toddler was singing, “God our Father, God, our Father, up above, up above….Amen, Amen” to the tune of “Frere Jack”.  I asked him to sing it again this morning on our way to daycare and work.  I still couldn’t make out what he said between above and Amen.  It warmed my heart to hear him singing about God.  I know that God was listening and smiling.  This little child’s voice was like sweet music to His ears.    Jesus said, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” (Matthew 21:16).  We should always encourage our children to praise our Heavenly Father. 

God loves it when we sing about Him and offer up praises and thanksgiving.  Jesus came to this earth to tell us what a wonderful, loving Father we have who watches over us.  He is the Father who meets our daily needs (Luke 11:3).  He is the Father who rejoices when His wayward child returns home (Luke 15:20-24).  He is the Father who values us (Luke 12:7).

God is the Father whom we can trust at all times.  We can go to Him and tell Him our troubles (Psalm 62:8) because He cares (1 Peter 5:7).  He protects us (Psalm 121:7).  We can go to sleep in peace because He keeps us safe (Psalm 4:8).  When we are troubled and sad, we can put our hope in Him and this makes it possible for us to praise Him (Psalm 42:5).

Rejoice that God our Father is above watching over us and who will never leave us nor forsake us.  AMEN.


“Mine!”  Our toddler says “Mine!” even for things which don’t belong to him.   A couple of times when he held on to something which belonged to me, I grabbed one of his stuffed toys and said, “Mine”.  Immediately, he would come after me to make an exchange. 

Do we have the same problem sharing with others?  Do we sometimes act like children and say “Mine”?  Jesus said, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:30, 31).  Just as we want others to share with us, we must be willing to share too. 

The author of Hebrews explains why sharing is a good thing.  “…for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).  Paul’s words about the rich can also apply to us, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

There were times when our toddler would say “no” when his Dad asked for some of what he was eating yet he would expect his Dad to share his food. 

We are told to “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  While he is still young, we are going to teach our toddler the importance of sharing.  And we have remind ourselves that we too should share and not expect anything in return.  The kind of sharing that God expects from His children is found in Isaiah 58.  “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.   Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:7, New Living Translation).

Jesus shared God’s love with others.  He shared God’s message of grace and the Gospel of salvation.  He fed 5000 hungry people with a little boy’s lunch.  The demoniac was given clothes after Jesus restored him to his right mind.  Paul quoted Jesus as saying that it is more of a blessing to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

Sharing shows that we care and this is a lesson not only for my toddler but for all of us.

Watch What You Eat

Yesterday I came across a list of the most dangerous food ingredients.  There were eight of them. 

  1. High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  2. Gluten
  3. Food Colouring
  4. Nitrates and Nitrites
  5. Flour
  6. Ractopamine
  7. BHA and BHT
  8. Aspartame

The ones on the list which concerned me were High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Gluten and Aspartame.  Our toddler likes Cheerios so we give him the multi-grain ones and he likes yogurt.  After reading about how dangerous these ingredients are, I was concerned that he was ingesting some of them.  I checked the back of the box of Cheerios and noticed an ingredient that said Golden syrup and those words jumped out at me.   I learned that in Canada, the product Corn Syrup is labelled as glucose/fructose and is found in an alarmingly wide array of products, from yogurt to bread to lunch meats. Some scientists say HFCS is more dangerous than regular sugar because it can affect normal appetite and can contain mercury.  We eat a lot of whole wheat bread and Rye.  Which brings me to my next concern–Gluten. 

We bought bread yesterday and discovered that it has the ingredient, Wheat Gluten.  We are returning the bread today.  We have yogurt in the fridge which does not say 0% Aspartame so we are not going to have it.  We are thankful that I came across the article about these ingredients so that we can make better and safer choices when it comes to our diet.  It is so important to read the labels of items before buying them. 

The Bible teaches that our bodies are sacred–temples of the Holy Spirit.  This means that we are to abstain from foods and beverages that can be harmful to our bodies.   Our bodies belong to God not to us.  He bought them at a great price.   Therefore, we are encouraged to “glorify God in your body…” (1 Corinthians 6:20).  “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

These words of John are for all of us, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).

Love’s Touch

This morning I read a life lesson from my Inspirational Study Bible which made me fall deeper in love with Jesus.  The lesson was based on Mark 1:1-45 where Jesus touched a leper.  It was unthinkable to touch a leper.  They were banished from society and if any of them came close to people, they were stoned.  They had open sores and dirty bandages which made them repulsive and no one wanted to touch them.  Yet, this was the first thing Jesus did.  He touched the leper who came and knelt before Him and said humbly, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

It says that Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him.  The commentary I read in the life lesson says:  Even before Jesus spoke to him, He reached out His hand and touched him.  Can you imagine what that scene must have looked like?  Think how this man must have longed for someone to touch him, not throw stones at him to drive him away.  Jesus could have healed him first and then touched him.  But recognizing his deepest need, Jesus stretched out His hand even before He spoke words of physical and spiritual healing (From The Gift of the Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent).  When I read this tears came to my eyes.

This poor leper, outcast from society because he was feared and loathed, received love’s touch from the One who was not only able to heal him but was willing to.  Jesus said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

How many of you want to feel love’s touch?  How many of you have trouble touching someone because they are not attractive?  Remember compassion is not given to the attractive but to those who are starving for it.

To The Rescue

Today we were watching “Untamed and Uncut”.  One of the stories was about a Raptor who saw a snake and swooped down to take it but realized too late that the snake was too big for a meal.  The snake grabbed hold of the Raptor and wrapped itself around the helpless bird. 

If the snake killed the bird, it would be a waste because the bird was too big to eat.  They were caught in a deadlock and something had to be done because the Raptor was losing the battle.

Two wildlife enthusiasts stepped in to help the snake and the bird.  While one held the snake’s tail in place with a stick of some sort, the other gingerly uncoiled the snake from around the bird.  As soon as it was freed, the Raptor quickly flew off and the snake disappeared. 

One of the men said something that struck me.  “All life is sacred.”  This is what God thought when He sent His Son Jesus to rescue us from certain death.  John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Jesus made it clear that “All life is sacred” to Him when He said that He came to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Just as it is always wonderful to see people rescuing wildlife in danger, it is reassuring to know that our God sent His Son to rescue us from the danger of eternal separation.

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