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Word for Wednesday-Kinds of Love

Kinds of Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The English language only has one word for love. For example I can say, “I love my wife” and use the same word to say, “I love banana sandwiches” or “I love my kids” and so forth. Obviously I don’t love a banana sandwich the same way I love my kids! But, just what is love?

We often look for love in the wrong places. We look horizontally rather than vertically for love. I see folks filling their emptiness with empty love. It just will not fulfill or sustain you. We try to fill our emptiness with “fun fixes,” “fun fixes” being, parties, recreation, vacations, temporal thrills and the like. Just what is love?

The Greek Language has five words for love. Eros is sensual love between the sexes. Phileo is friendship among friends — kind feelings and natural affection. We think of Phileo love being brotherly love. Storge love is love within a family. Love for your kids, parents, and so on. Agapao love is to be totally given over to someone or something. Agape love is lavished on others without any thought of whether they deserve or are worthy of the love. It is totally unconditional love. It proceeds from the one giving the love and not from the attractiveness of the beloved. It is a commitment, not a feeling.

We say we love our spouses, our boy or girlfriends, our kids, our parents with this Agape love. But do we really? Do we really love God with the same Agape love that He loves us with or do we love with conditional love? Want some examples? Glad you asked! We often love “conditionally” without even knowing it.

One type of conditional love is the, “I love you if” do something love. This turns into a manipulative love. Your boyfriend gets angry because you will not give in to his sexual desires. What he is saying is I love you if you go to bed with me. Husbands and wives do this, while we may not say these exact words we imply them by our actions. “I love you if you get a better job”, “I love you if you get us a bigger house” “I love you if we take better vacations,” “I love you if you stop doing this or that.” We do this to God. As long as my health is good, I am successful and all is well in my life, I love you Lord! But when our boat gets rocked … watch out God! Our “love” changes.

Another conditional love we imply and sometimes say is the “I love you because of something” love. “I love you because you are beautiful, because you are smart, because you are popular, because you are talented, ect.” We imply to our kids, “I love you because you have good grades, you excel in sports, or some other talent.” This leads to fear and insecurity, because the one being loved constantly has to live up to the “because” expectation the one doing the “loving” places on us. I sure am glad God is not like that toward us.

So, where do we find this Agape love? Where do we find as Paul calls it, “A more excellent way.” We must go to the source of this love, the source being Christ. Just to keep you coming back… Next week we will look at the 14 ingredients of love that Paul spells out for us and Christ modeled for us.


Father, help us to love with unconditional love. Help us to realize when we imply conditional love. We praise you and thank you for your Son Jesus who came to die for us and to show us a more excellent way. In His Name, Amen.

Happy Valentines,

David Massey

Word for Wednesday-The Foolishness of God

The Foolishness of God

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (NASB)

1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (NKJV)

I remember the first time I learned in school, what an oxymoron is. I thought, “that’s pretty cool!” You know what they are — two words that seemingly contradict each other, i.e. jumbo shrimp, honest politician, good devotional ; ) etc. When I read this oxymoron, “foolishness of God,” I thought, “now that is the ultimate oxymoron!” God being foolish — that is impossible! But as you look deeper into this and think through the Bible about all the seemingly foolish ways of God, the term takes on new meaning.

Think about it. The foolishness of God occurs throughout the Bible. In Genesis 6-8 we read of Noah, who had a barge parked in his driveway 120 years, to save 8 people. In Judges 15:16 we read about how Samson kills thousands of Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. In Jonah 2 we read of the large fish swallowing the reluctant prophet Jonah. In 1 Samuel 17 we read of the lowly shepherd boy, David, killing the giant Goliath. On and on throughout the Bible, God uses things that are foolish to the world, to shame the wise.1 Corinthians 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.

“God’s view” turns “the world’s view” upside down. The world says, “Do something and be somebody!” God says “You are somebody; now do something.” The world says, “take all you can get, and you will get more!” God says, “give all you have, and you will receive.” The world says “hate your enemies, run over people, climb to the top!” God says, “love your enemies, help people, be a servant leader.”

But you know what the ultimate foolishness of God is? Do you know what the ultimate oxymoron is? It is an old wooden cross on a hilltop, two thousand years ago, holding an innocent Savior Who was dying in my place and yours. That is the ultimate foolishness of God. And you know what else? When we lose sight of that foolishness, when we lose the meaning of the cross, when we lose the gratitude in our hearts for what He has done for us, then we are the ultimate fools. Don’t become complacent in your gratitude for what God has done for us. For out of that gratitude for what He has done, all good flows.


Father, thank You for your perfect plan. Thank You for Your perfect wisdom. Thank You for Your Spirit, Who illuminates Your word to us, and helps us to understand Your view and to follow Your plan — instead of our only seeing the world’s view and following its plan. Forgive us for falling short of Your purposes. We pray all this in the name of our perfect Savior Jesus, Amen.

David Massey

Word for Wednesday – Test a Decision

If you want better insight and discernment…learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting him. He shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” –Proverbs 2:5,9 (LB)

FIVE WAYS TO TEST A DECISION

1-Is it in Harmony with the Bible?

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

God’s word should be our final authority concerning all decisions. Obviously if your decision goes against God’s word, it is against God’s will.

2-Would I want everyone to know about the decision?

“Whoever lives honestly will live securely, but whoever lives dishonestly will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 (God’s Word) “Whoever knows what is right but doesn’t do it is sinning.” James 4:17 (God’s Word) “If a person believes that something is wrong, then that thing is wrong for him.” Romans 14:14 (NCV)

Would you feel comfortable letting everyone you know in on your decision?

3-Will it make me a better person?

“We are allowed to do all things, but all things are not good for us to do.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NCV)

For example there are some things I can do according to God’s word. But I must ask myself would this action build me up spiritually? Would it make me more Christlike?

4-Could it become addicting?

“All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 (RSV)

“I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no, but some of these things aren’t good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 (LB)

The key point here is to ask will this decision allow something “to be higher than God on my list of priorities.

5-Will it harm anyone else?

“All of us will have to give an account of ourselves to God. So, let’s stop criticizing each other. Instead, you should decide never to do anything that would make other Christians have doubts or lose their faith.” Romans 14:12-13 (GW)

“Those of us who have a strong faith must be patient with the weaknesses of those whose faith is not so strong. We must not think only of ourselves. We should all be concerned about our neighbor and the good things that will build his faith.” Romans 15: 1-2 (God’s Word)

So, there you have it. Five practical ways to test a decision. Easier said than done, but a practical and more importantly a Biblical way to test our decisions.

Father help us to turn to you with our decisions. Forgive us when we are “Lone Rangers” and make decisions without You. As the Good Shepherd you want us to make wise choices. Thank you for your Word that guides and directs us in all that we do. In Christ’s name, Amen.

David Massey

Word for Wednesday-The Next Question

Psalm 43:2 (NIV) You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Jesus said, John 16:33 …”In this world you will have trouble…”

I was a big fan of pro golfer Payne Stewart. I admired his boldness, not only with his golf game, but also in the way he proclaimed the Gospel. He was a relatively new Christian, influenced by his wife, children, and pastor to turn his life around and make a serious commitment to Christ. While wearing a W.W.J.D bracelet his 10-year-old son had given him, he won the 1999 US Open Father’s Day weekend here in North Carolina. I will never forget what Payne said to Phil Mickelson after sinking an incredible putt to win. Mickelson’s wife was past the due date to have their first baby. At the height of the thrill of victory — at an emotional climax — Payne grabbed Phil by the face, looked him right in the eyes and said, “You are going to be a great father. Being a father is great!” Payne knew what mattered most, not success on the golf course but success as a person, a father, and a husband. Four months later, Payne died in a tragic plane accident. Why, God?

Psalm 62:8 (NIV) Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

There are many events in my life, past and present that I do not understand. I am sure there will be many more down the road. I question God during these times. I ask Him, “Why this?” And that is alright, according to Psalms 62:8. God wants us to pour out to Him whatever is on our hearts. My attitude toward these events is changing as I grow in my faith. While I still ask why, I find myself asking more and more often the next question, “What, God?”

Psalm 39:7 (NIV) But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.

Looking back on defining moments that changed the direction and course of my life, I now see how God was teaching me and molding me more into His image and His plan. In the heat of the battle or in the midst of struggle, it is very difficult to step back and ask, “Okay God, you have me here in this trial. What are you wanting me to learn?” If you can step back and ask what, instead of continuing to ask why, it will help you move forward as you deal with the struggle. Like David said in the verse above, our hope is in God. God does not give us trials without a purpose. When God gives us a test, He is pulling for us. He wants us to grow and learn from the test. God is rooting for you!

What are You teaching me today, Lord?

Father, thank You for Your promises and the hope we receive from You. Thank You for loving us so much that You allow trials to come our way. Thank You for pulling for us, for cheering us on to get through the trials. Thank You for giving us Your wisdom so that we can learn. In Christ’s name, Amen.

David Massey

What Can God Use?

John 6:5-9 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (NIV) 

Do you ever doubt that God can use you? Do you ever wonder “God what can I do? I have few talents, few things and I have so many limitations.” 

Look at the story about the feeding of the 5,000 in John. What did God use? What is the miracle? God used a little boy with his little brown lunch sack carrying just five small barley loaves and two small fish. Several miracles are going on here. To me it’s a miracle the little boy willingly gave up all he had. Do you and I have the faith of the little boy? Are you willing to give up all for Christ to use you? 

Jesus took what little the boy had and multiplied it for the benefit of many. 

John 6:12 When they had all had enough to eat, He said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (NIV) 

God wastes nothing. The phrase “they all had enough to eat” could literally be translated “they were stuffed” or in modern terms “they pigged out!” God provides abundantly for us, wastes nothing. And then in the final gesture of His awesome grace, God provided for His workers. The disciples filled twelve baskets with the leftover bread. 

Pretty awesome huh? God used that little boy’s brown lunch sack to feed the 5,000. Don’t we have more? You and I are so blessed. No matter who you are, what you are, how you are, where you are, what you have or what you don’t have, God can use you. 

Dear Father, use us to your glory. Take what we have to glorify you. Father help us to be willing vessels; help us to have the faith of the little boy who let You use his lunch. In Christ’s name, Amen. 

David Massey

The Well for the Bushes

Anxiety — it grips us and rips us apart at times. Webster’s Dictionary defines anxiety as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear, often marked by physiological signs (such as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” 

Anxiety is often created by apprehension of an event that has not occurred and most often never does occur. But during anxious feelings, it is very difficult to be realistic. That is why it is so important to have a friend that can help you see past the emotions and into reality. Let’s look at Hagar and her anxiety over being sent away from Abraham with her teenage child Ishmael. 

Genesis 21:15-16 (NIV) When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. 

When Hagar ran out of water, anxiety took hold of her entire being. She ran out of what only she could provide in her small skin of water, but she lost sight of the fact that God never runs out of provisions for us. Hagar did what a lot of people do; she simply gave up, turned away, and became so focused on her hopelessness that she could not see the answer to her problem. She seemingly had no place to turn to for help, yet God had other plans. 

Genesis 21:17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. So, she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 

I find it interesting that God heard Ishmael’s prayers. It makes me wonder if Hagar was so caught up in her misery, and was so overcome, that she could not even pray to God for help. God is faithful. God had promised Hagar in the past that Ishmael would grow up to be the father of a great nation. God seems so far away though, when we are so bogged down in anxiety and worry. But God never leaves us. We turn from Him. He is there, waiting like a patient father. 

Notice the solution to Hagar’s problem is within sight of her? Notice that God’s answer was right there in front of her in the form of a well? When Hagar stopped and listened to God, Hagar was given the answer. When Hagar was depending on Hagar, 

there was no hope. With God, there is hope, and through Christ, there is hope for all of us. Like the old cliché, “you can’t see the trees for the forest,” Hagar could not see the well for the bushes. 

So often God’s answers are right in front of us. We need to stop long enough to pray and listen. It is also helpful to seek counsel from our wise Christian friends, who can see the wells apart from the bushes and help us do the same. Finally, Jesus sums it up best in the following verse. 

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

David Massey

January 1, 2020 – Second Chances

Entirely too often, we become mired down by our past. Stuck in the old mud. There’s absolutely nothing I can do to alter the past. I can, however, make a choice to be a victim or a victor. 

I can sulk and wait on someone to ask for forgiveness for a wrong they have done to me. Most of them time I will spend my life waiting for something that will never come. I can ask for forgiveness from a person I have wronged, but I may not get it from them. 

Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person, and everything to do with me. I can’t make someone take my apology, nor can I wait around expecting an apology. It’s simply not a healthy way for me to live. 

I can do all I can, to make my wrong right. At some point, I need to admit that I can do nothing more than ask for God’s forgiveness – and then move on. 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 

The Bible is full of examples of second chances. Our God is a God of second chances. There is no shame in starting again. You get a chance to make a bigger and better life than before. Life is full of second chances. Take one. 

Happy New Year! 

David Massey

Christmas 2019

In 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas made its Television Debut on CBS. I was five years old and my mom and I watched it together every year until I left home for College. (Yes, as I became older, I did not want to sit with my mom and watch a cartoon show, but I’m glad I did!) It was a wonderful Tradition for us, and it never got old. To this day, I make sure to watch it at least once during the Christmas Season. I think of my mom and the joy our little tradition brought her and really the joy it still brings to me. 

My mom was very wise and very smart. She saw something in the TV Special that took me a couple of years to understand. She saw the story of Love being born and she wanted to make sure I knew the story and understood it. 

The producers tried to persuade Charles Schultz to not include this scene in the Special. They were convinced that it would be a failure and lose money for them. Schultz won the disagreement and the scene remains in the show. It’s now one of the most often quoted events from the show. Let’s walk through this together. 

Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” 

Neat to me that the first thing the angels said to the Shepherds and really to us is “Do not be afraid.” 

AND, notice if you watch “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas” Linus recites this passage and drops his “security” blanket when he comes to this verse… 

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more.” 

Of course, Linus is correct, Christmas is a lot more. It’s the Birth of Love. 

It’s the Birth of a Baby that separates us from our fears. 

The Birth frees us from what we are unable to break free from ourselves. 

The Birth of Jesus allows us to open our clinched hands and drop our false “security blankets.” It allows us to open our hands to real and eternal security. 

The Birth brings us peace. 

He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. (Ephesians 2:17 NLT) 

Peace to you and your families this Christmas Day! 

David Massey

Word for Wednesday…Christmas Demotion

Philippians 2:6 (NCV) Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. 

Christmas is approaching quickly. For some of us, it is a time of happiness mixed with sadness. We Christians are certainly joyful about celebrating the birth of the Christ child. At the same time, there are empty chairs at the dinner table. Maybe this year will be the first one for a vacant chair around your family’s table. Lost loved ones, broken homes and illnesses are represented by the empty chairs and the silence that rings in our ears. 

Every year as my family decorates our Christmas tree, my face reflects to me from an ornament hanging on the tree. As I look at my reflection, I remember the Christmas that my grandfather died. As kids, we tried to be happy by making funny faces appear on the round colorful balls hanging from the tree at Grandmother’s house. That was over forty years ago, yet the powerful emotions of Christmas make memories linger on. 

My family has many traditions. These traditions are the constants during the hectic time around Christmas. Christmas Eve morning, my mom always prepared a huge brunch before we exchanged presents. While mom is no longer with us, her tradition remains. Her memories remain, but yes I miss her! 

Christmas must bring bittersweet memories for God the Father, too. I cannot imagine a pain greater than losing a child. I do know the great joy and blessing of seeing my own children born. I cannot imagine God sending His Son, knowing that He would be killed. 

Philippians 2:7 (NCV) But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant. 

Don’t skim over the above verse. Jesus was equal in every way with God. Grasp the significance. Jesus gave up His place with God. He was there before the beginning of time, receiving the praises of the angels. 

He gave up his position, to become like you and me. Would you and I have done that? 

The Christ child’s birth was a divine demotion. It is hard for us to understand as we scratch, claw and climb ladders for promotions in the world. Christ was counterintuitive in every way. Why? He became like us, to share all our emotions and experiences. He became like us to be able to be a very personal God — a God that fully understands us spiritually, emotionally and physically. He became like us, to die for all of us. 

Philippians 2:8 (NCV) And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death-death on a cross. 

If painful memories and sad emotions grip your heart this Christmas season, I pray you will remember the divine demotion that Christ took for us. Whatever emotion you are feeling, He has felt. 

Whatever troubles you, He has been there. Friends and family members sometimes abandon us, but He never does. Those of us who are Christ-followers know that we truly have a friend in the Christ child. 

John 15:15 (NCV) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends. 

David Massey

Magnification of Emotions

 

Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (NIV) 

I made an interesting discovery during an earlier Holiday season of my life. One of those “defining moments” in life. Have you noticed during the Christmas Season how the lonely are lonelier, the hurting hurt more, the down and out, more down, the poor are poorer, and even the joyful, seem more joyous? 

Our emotions are magnified by the season. For me it’s the busyness and crowed Highways and Stores. It’s a stressful crunch time as another year ends. It’s three holidays jammed in together in a space of two months. It’s the struggle to balance good memories of past traditions with gratitude for new ones, although they look and feel different. 

What are we as Christ followers to do? 

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV) 

I challenge each of you in the next few weeks to take being a Christ Follower to another level. Take HIS words from your head, move them to your heart, and then to your feet. Let’s do something. Let’s show the world what being a Christ follower is all about. Jesus’ command to us is very simple. All He is saying is just love one another, just love. That’s it. 

Let’s visit that person that is alone, lets feed the hungry, lets share with the poor, lets help the sick, let’s just love one another. Smile at that person sitting alone on the bench; sit down and visit with them for a minute. Let that car or person go in front of you. I know I man that recently bought some flowers and went to a nursing home and gave them to a stranger who was all alone. He really touched that that person with the love of Christ. Just love one another. 

Matt 25:40 “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (NIV) 

What an awesome thought … “Whatever I do for others … I do for Christ” 

Dear Father, help us move Your word from our head to our heart and on to our feet. Keep us mindful of others during this season and all year-round, Father. Help us understand the magnification of emotions that goes on during this season. Lord, we thank You for your Son, Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given! We are so grateful, yet we fail to show our gratitude. Use us this season; we are willing. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

David