“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
First, it is best to consider the definition of redemption. It is the action of regaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or the clearing of debt. It is also deliverance from sin unto salvation. It means pardoned from the penalty of sin which is death and eternal separation from God and God’s love forever; that’s the ‘what from’ answer. Redemption, you see, must be a gift of Grace by the Creator, God, because sin is the rejection of God and His Authority and only He can provide the remedy.
Grace is the undeserved gift God has provided to overcome mankind’s sin condition. That gift is Jesus Christ who took upon himself on the cross the penalty of sin, death, and paid the debt each person owes but cannot pay himself.
Romans 6:23 reads, “The wages of sin is death (judgment).” That is why Jesus is referred to as Savior as He alone has offered redemption or salvation to all who put their trust in Him. It is Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven that confirms He is the Redeemer of men’s souls.
Sin seeks to keep mankind in bondage to the slavery of sin. Its goal is to deny him the freedom that God wants for every person which is found in a personal life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Mankind was created to be in relationship with its Creator and to experience a meaningful and purposeful life and enjoy being in God’s presence in the present and in the eternal future. The redeeming work of Jesus Christ brings abundant blessings and spiritual awareness to all who follow Him. Remember, Wise men and women still seek Him, how about you?
The short answer is he probably wasn’t. The more important answer is that there was a reason for the humble birth of God’s son–a reason that predates time itself.
First, let’s address the place of Christ’s birth. Joseph and his betrothed wife, Mary most likely walked the 100 miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem in a caravan of others heading to their ancestral homes in the south to register for a census decreed by Caesar Augustus. Since Jews avoided contact with Samaritans, those who lived between Nazareth and Bethlehem, they would have traveled on a route that followed the Jordan River east of Samaria. The one-to two-week, 100-mile journey, brought them to the small village six miles south of the temple in Jerusalem.
There, like most of their fellow travelers, they would have sought lodging with relatives. The Bible tells us there was no room for them in the guest room, (mistranslated “stable”) that would have been on the upper level of the house where people slept, so they likely bedded down in the general living area on the first floor. A common practice then was to bring animals inside at night to protect them from cold, thieves and other dangers. That may be why Mary, after delivering her baby, lay him in a feeding trough (manager), that then served as Jesus’ bassinet.
Of greater importance is understanding why Jesus would be born in such lowly circumstances. Jesus was with God when the universe was created. He was the instrument of creation of everything, including mankind, with whom he wanted to have a relationship, and on whom he could bestow his love and affection. However, man abused the relationship and rebelled and in the process became lost to God’s companionship and his love. God never stopped loving man, and prescribed a system of sacrifice by which man could atone for his rebellion, generally known as sin. The blood of an unblemished lamb was let each year for the forgiveness of sin, but it was a temporary measure that had to be performed annually, forever.
Jesus, the creator of the universe, came to earth to take the place of the lamb, shedding his blood once for all time. How better for Him to become the perfect sacrifice than to be born in the lowliest of conditions taking the place of the unblemished lamb. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus in total humility to provide a pathway for the restoration of our relationship with Him.