Archive | April 2013

Authentic Love – Part II

Authentic love graphic

Part I  looked at several portions of scripture and how they illustrate authentic love. In Part II, we’ll discuss the concept of authentic love further and work toward personal application.

The Theme of the Bible

“Above all, love each other deeply.” (1 Peter 4:8)

If the Bible were summed up in one word, that word would be love. In fact, the more you read through the Bible, the more you realize that love clearly exists as the extreme to which we must live. And truthfully, we all have the desire for deep love within us, don’t we?

Harlequin and Hollywood have definitely tapped into our desire to love  and be loved deeply. Unfortunately, in that tapping, they’ve also distorted what authentic love really looks like.

Fortunately, God’s Word shows examples of authentic love over and over again. Throughout scripture and without fail, God’s shows deep love for His people.

Barriers to Authentic Love

Barriers to authentic love can include anything from fear of being hurt to busyness to being intimidated by some to being shy talking to new people. So, we protect ourselves by acting aloof, by creating an emotional distance and by creating protective emotional barrier between us and others. As a result, we fail to truly connect with others.

To be aloof means to keep distant. An aloof person can be described as reserved, indifferent, cool, detached, distant, standoffish, snobbish, haughty and even disdainful toward others. Ouch!

You simply cannot be aloof and connect at the same time. So, we must overcome the barriers that lead us to be aloof. Think of the scriptures covered in Part I. Every situation included barriers that needed to be overcome in order for authentic love to exist.

We protect ourselves by keeping people at an emotional distance. We avoid transparency because relationships can quickly get very real and very authentic. Yet, when we refuse to be aloof and instead choose to be authentic, we find that the risk taken pales in comparison to the blessing received in a relationship where authentic love flourishes.

Why Authentic Love?

So why love each other deeply? Why is this important “above all”? Let’s look at the second half of 2 Peter 4:8 for the answers.

“Because love covers a multitude of sins.”

If you ever wonder what authentic love looks like, think of Jesus. Jesus showed that the foundation for authentic love involves showing grace and forgiveness rather than condemnation.

Authentic love sacrifices self for the benefit of others. In other words, authentic love breaks down barriers and allows for real connection that creates deep and meaningful relationships, the kind that God wants to have with every one of us.

How to Love Authentically

After telling why we must love deeply, Peter then gives instructions on how to love deeply.

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  (1 Peter 4:9-11)

As Peter indicates and as all of our scripture examples from Part I show, authentic love shows through actions. When you share your home and food with others, you show authentic love. When you use your spiritual gifts to bless another, you show authentic love. When you allow God to speak through you, you show authentic love.

And what’s even more exciting about showing this deep love – this authentic love – for others is that God supplies the strength needed to love this deeply and authentically. And, when this happens, God gets the glory!

 Part III holds a challenge for putting authentic love into action. Are you ready?

This entry was posted on April 25, 2013. 1 Comment

Authentic Love – Part I

Authentic love graphicToday, let’s look at several portions of scripture and how they illustrate authentic love

Be sure to read each of the scriptures below before proceeding to the notes that follow. Hopefully these scriptures sound familiar since they were part of your assignment in our Ladies Night Out post.

Genesis 33:1-4 – Jacob meets Esau

  • How did Jacob’s prioritizing of his family show where authentic love existed for him?
  • Jacob wasn’t sure how Esau would react to him, so he made plans for the safety of the ones he loved most authentically.
  • Esau showed forgiveness, and this allowed both Jacob and Esau to be authentic in their show of emotions toward one another.

Ruth 1:16-18 – Ruth Commits to Naomi

  • Ruth’s loyalty (her actions) toward Naomi showed her authentic love.
  • Do we see this type of devotion in relationships today?

1 Samuel 18:1-4 – Jonathan & David Meet

  • Note that this event took place right after David defeated Goliath.
  • Ever had an immediate, authentic bond with someone like David and Jonathan had?
  • Jonathan’s actions proved the authenticity of his love for David.

2 Samuel 9:6-7 – David shows kindness to Jonathan’s son.

  • David’s actions provide the authenticity of his love for Jonathan.

2 Kings 5:1-4 – Naaman is Healed

  • This young girl’s compassion showed authentic love for another, even someone who had taken her from her family and basically made her a slave.

Hosea 3:1-3 – Hosea’s Symbolic Marriage

  • The book of Hosea shows a man’s authentic love toward his unfaithful wife and God’s authentic love toward an unfaithful people.

Matthew 9:9-13 – Jesus Eats with Tax Collectors and Sinners

  • Jesus shows His authentic love toward sinners.

Matthew 19:4-6 – Two Become One in Marriage

  • God intended marriage to be so authentic that two people cease to exist separately.
  • Only in authentic love can two truly become one.

Acts 9:15-19 – Ananias Prays for Paul

  • Ananias’ authentic love for God was shown in his obedience.
  • God’s authentic love transformed Paul’s life.

Part II discusses the concept of authentic love further and helps make personal application. Part III extends a challenge for living authentic love.

This entry was posted on April 18, 2013. 2 Comments

Transforming Love

Do you remember when you accepted Jesus as Savior and made Him Lord of your life? Some can answer with a resounding “Yes!” while others hesitantly say, “Not really” or “No.” Truthfully, though, it doesn’t matter.

Yes, your salvation matters. Yes, your story matters. But whether or not you remember the details doesn’t matter. Why? Because transformation took place either way. And either way, a testimony exists that will encourage others.

4-11-13 new creation 2

This verse doesn’t say you are only a new person if you remember the event and if it makes for an exciting story. It doesn’t say that having an interesting story disqualifies you in any way either. No, it says that anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. If you have an amazing story, share it. If you have always known Christ, share that.

His grace gave life to your story, whatever that story may be. And as you think about your unique story, consider the following verses and how they suggest we can cooperate with Jesus’ work of grace in our lives for the rest of our stories:

So, how do we cooperate with grace? Offer, work out, become, continue, participate, put off, be made, put on, give, pursue, keep on, understand, live, be filled and be confident.

Whether or not we do these things, grace exists. We just cooperate with it, or we don’t. And that determines the rest of our story.

This entry was posted on April 11, 2013. 2 Comments

A Wise Woman Builds – April Application

11-1-12 A wise woman buildsRemember that our goal for studying the Proverbs 31 Woman was to have goals and standards that we can work toward to increasingly become godly women. This description should not be a heavy burden. Please never forget that.

April 2013 Application

This is a gentle reminder to always pursue deliberate application of God’s Word.

For April… Go through each lesson in our A Wise Woman Builds study and count the total number of times you were asked to read Proverbs 31:10-31. Why do you think you were asked to read through it so many times?

May these monthly suggestions be gentle reminders of the potential we all have as Christian women.