What is True Love?

What is True Love?

“I love you” is much more than a Valentine’s Day sentiment. It’s much more than words on a card. So what is true love?

The Bible says the greatest commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18)

When Jesus came, he set the bar much higher.  Some of last words to his disciples were these:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:34

Jesus was saying that it is not enough to show love to someone by treating them as you would want them to treat you. True love is doing what I am doing—laying down my life for you.

Love is setting aside your desires, to serve the one you love. It’s placing that person’s needs and wants ahead of your own. It’s loving him even when he stumbles, or disappoints. It’s loving her even when she disrespects you or violates your trust. It’s a commitment to do anything and everything to bring about a restoration of that relationship.

That may be hard to spell out in a Valentine, but it is the very best guide for showing true love—love that will last throughout a lifetime and beyond. This kind of sacrificial love doesn’t come naturally, because we are self-centered.  But it will come once we understand that

God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

However, it takes more than more than just understanding, we must take that message to heart and accept the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross as payment for all the things we have done and will ever do to disappoint God, to disrespect him, even to violate the trust he has placed in us.

Embrace God’s love and you will discover how to truly love others.

Bible verses are quoted from the New American Standard Bible.

Don’t all Religions lead to God?

Don’t all Religions lead to God?

The short answer is no, they don’t. There is no path to God as other religions propose. The world’s religions suggest that through self-sacrifice, good works and performing a variety of religious rites or rituals that a person can gain eternal life and know God. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, Emmanuel, God with us, said,” I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father (God) except by me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is also the source of all truth, so what He said can be trusted.

The only way to a present and eternal relationship with God is to commit one’s life to Jesus as Savior and Lord, follow Him and obey His Commandments. He said,” The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” He also said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Salvation is a gift of God, not something to be earned by human acts. The apostle Paul said in Romans 10:9-10,”If you confess with your mouth Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the only way to God and to eternal life.

Finally, keep this in mind regarding all other religions. Religion can make a person think that they are better than others because they are ‘religious’ and self-righteous. Jesus called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy because they had the outward appearance of being religious but their hearts were far from God. They trusted in the religion of the Law. However it only pointed out their sinfulness and hard-heartedness and was never intended to lead anyone to salvation. Christianity is the only way that leads to God.

What does it mean to have a Transformational Encounter with Jesus Christ?

What does it mean to have a Transformational Encounter with Jesus Christ?

Let’s start with a definition. Transform means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, outward appearance and character of a person.

So, looking at it from God’s perspective, the first step in the transformational process is to personally commit your life to Jesus Christ. You will then know that He and His presence are real, both in the world and within you. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide the transformation. The principle is that God never leaves you as you were before you accepted Christ and decided to follow Him. God has a much better plan for your future than you could have ever dreamed or imagined. Your life’s purpose, activities, priorities, goals, worldview and much more will now be different. Here are some of the changes you can expect.

You will find yourself with an intense desire to get into God’s Word, the Bible, and learn and understand more about Him and the Christian life. You will really ‘hunger after His Word’, your ‘Daily Bread’. You will be praying more. Your prayer time will be both intimate and personal with the Lord. You will come to cherish your time together. Your friends will change. First, you will tell them about your new relationship and if they are not interested you will develop new friendships with other believers. Conversations will change from the usual mundane topics of weather, politics, events, etc., to those of a personal spiritual nature. You will look for new frontiers in your discussions.

Interest in materialism and the secular culture will diminish. Yes, you will continue to work and earn a living but it will no longer become the center of your life’s goal. Your interests and concerns will gradually be directed towards people, not things. Emotions like hatred, jealousy, envy, etc. will become a thing of the past and be replaced with genuine feelings of caring, compassion, forgiveness and love. You will develop a strong desire to share your faith with others because of the joy in newly transformed life and hope within you.

In this life each person thinks that he or she has the power and control over what life will be like. That discretion is called our free will. When the choice is made to trust in Jesus, one becomes a ‘New Creation in Christ’ and the transformation begins. No longer does the world’s value system determine life’s choices, rather the Holy Spirit directs your total existence if you are willing and listen.

Picture the lowly caterpillar transformed into a beautiful Butterfly. That’s what God’s intent is for every person because God is love and sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to give each person the opportunity to know Him, to live with meaning and purpose and gain eternal life. That is the Transformational Encounter!

Is sin really serious?

Is sin really serious?

Yes. But first we need to understand what the word ‘sin’ means. Many people toss the word around as if they get to define sin by their standards, not God’s. In other words, some people think that sin is anything they don’t like. For example, they may look disapprovingly at the way a person dresses, or not approve of the food or drink that someone chooses. In other words, they start judging people. But the Bible has is very clear is that sin is anything that separates man from God. That ranges from committing vile acts against others to becoming so self absorbed that you no longer recognize that you were created by the God who created the universe–the God who made man and woman so he could commune with them and let them experience his infinite love.

Sin causes this gulf between man and God and that, in turn, often causes a gulf between individuals too. Most recognize that infidelity causes great pain and breaks trust. Stealing from an employer is sin and in many cases has dire consequences. Even envy can cause a gulf to open up between another person.  Those behaviors and many more that break God’s laws are sin, and yes, that is both serious and dangerous.

You’ve probably heard of the 10 Commandments that God gave to his people, the Israelites, almost 4,000 years ago. They set a standard of God’s holiness that human beings are incapable of attaining. The Commandments point out how sinful human nature really is and why a Savior is required.

What is really serious is that unconfessed sin and failure to repent (turning from sinful ways) results in separation from any relationship with God. The Bible says,

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NIV)

So the really Good News is that God has provided a way to overcome one’s sinful human nature. The solution is found by repenting and in having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and following Him.

Why would anyone want to follow  Jesus?

Why would anyone want to follow Jesus?

Life is about choices. Decisions we make have outcomes that impact our lives, influence our behaviors, our beliefs and our relationships with others. We can choose to continue with business as usual, enjoying success based on the standards defined by our secular culture. Or, we can take an honest look at Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed, trusted and obeyed Him. Would following Jesus really bring life meaning and purpose, joy and peace and eternal life?

The fact is that each and everyday, for over 2000 years, people around the world from every nation choose to follow Jesus who gave His life and was raised from the dead so that all who follow Him can enjoy God’s kingdom, peace with God and everlasting life.

Jesus proved that He was God by signs, miracles, profound wisdom, and overcoming death and the grave. Jesus confirmed (John 14:6) that He is the only way to heaven and eternal life. So the question really is, “Why wouldn’t everyone want to follow Jesus?” Life is a gift from God. It can only be lived to the fullest in a relationship with Jesus. Remember happiness depends on happenings, which are temporary, but real joy and fulfillment, which are eternal, are only found in Jesus. That is why untold millions have chosen to follow Him.

Does God speak to us personally?

Does God speak to us personally?

Yes, but often we’re not listening. God created man and woman in his image, that is he gave them the capacity to communicate in a way that is different from all the other creatures in the world. He gave them the capacity to interact with the creator of not just the world, but the universe as well. He wanted these beings to enjoy a pain-free, stress-free eternal life in communion with him.

When the first man and woman decided that they could be the equal of the creator, they separated themselves from God and set mankind on a death spiral.
But God never abandoned his most precious creation and instituted a plan to restore his relationship with them.

That plan began with the setting apart a group of people through whom the world would be blessed. The plan culminated with the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself to atone for all the wrongdoings of everyone whoever lived and who will ever live on earth.

We read the story of God and his people in the Bible and learn of his personal interaction with him. Today we can still hear his voice. Sometimes it is through the Bible, the holy scriptures inspired by God. Sure, the various books in the Bible were written at different times, with specific purposes to specific audiences. However, the truths contained there can speak to those who open their hearts and mind to hear God speaking to them.

The apostle Paul, who wrote many of the letters that are included in the Bible, reminds us that:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”    2 Timothy 3:16-17

God speaks through the written word (logos), as well as through the Holy Spirit (rhema), which as believers, we receive when we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. God made us each individual and He speaks to us in the way that we receive information; a visual learner versus an audible learner. God confirms Himself through others, though it’s best to check with scripture and confirm that what you believe God is saying to you is true to His character.