Do you love Me? ….Feed My sheep (John 21:16).
When our oldest son was little, he stood on a chair looking out the back door window, shouting in his best two-year-old televangelist voice to our dog, “Shane on the hill, do you know Jesus?”
My first thought was, “Where did that come from?” Our church didn’t preach like that, and we rarely watched TV.
Jesus asked this same question to Peter—three times. The third time really grieved Peter because, even though he screwed up a number of times with his hot temper and his multiple denials of even knowing Jesus, he felt that deep in his heart he did love Jesus. And Jesus “knowest all things.”
In English, we use the same word to describe everything from our pleasure with a great taco to the intense stirring in our heart for our newborn. As I read this passage, I feel the Lord is asking us to examine the depths of our heart.
Like Peter, I mess up… hourly. My choices are often the comfortable ones, rather than the risky ones that leave me vulnerable and require trust. In actions, I often choose the sheep I want to feed, and those I judge and dismiss. And my thoughts aren’t always overflowing with love either.
But the Lord does know all things. And He may have to remind us with this question over and over and over again of what we should be doing, and thinking, and being, so that we can honestly answer, “You know that I love You.”
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10).
I’m not sure of the exact word count, but the word “love” appears quite often in scriptures. It is a command from Jesus Himself, “Love one another as I have loved you.” That’s a hefty order since He gave all to demonstrate His love for us.
Other scriptures give practical, but still not easy, advice on how to demonstrate love: Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others; be humble, thinking others more significant than yourself (Phil 12:3). And verse 4 tells us to not just be mindful of our own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Sometimes honoring another can be as simple as a greeting, recognizing their existence.
I had written down a quote a few years ago (I need to start noting authors more) that shows the importance of this. “The greatest threat to love is the absence of attention.” This is important to others, but vital in our own homes. The lack of attention turns into neglect which eventually diminishes love.
I’m always looking for ways to please Christ and Ephesians 5:21 tells us that we honor Christ by putting others first. It is a win-win, for sure.
Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-3).
I know that I haven’t arrived yet because my reaction to trials is not pure joy. There are quite a few scriptures that encourage us by explaining why trials and suffering in this world are good for increasing our trust in God, spiritual growth, and growth in character. I get it—no pain; no gain, and the best lessons are the ones that follow a struggle. But I need a lot of work on the pure joy attitude.
This is a hard one if we try in our own strength to be joyful in suffering. It is almost like those monks that flogged themselves as a self-effacing punishment—something God would not condone. Jesus’s work on the cross paid the price; we do not have to add anything to that.
Ah, but the attitude for me is such a challenge. There are many things; however, that I have no problem in counting as pure joy—God’s unending unwavering patience, grace and love, and the continual presence of His Holy Spirit.
Even when I’m old and gray…let me proclaim your power to the next generation, your mighty miracles to all who came after me (Ps 71:18).
One of our most important jobs in this life is to pass on HIS story, the message of truth of the mighty power and saving grace of Christ Jesus, to the next generation.
When my children left home for college, marriage, or life on their own, I gave much thought as to whether or not we had prepared them enough—would they eat too many fast foods because they couldn’t cook, or mix whites with their jeans, or balance a checkbook, or, or, or.
Really they could survive in the world without knowing all these skills as long as they know who to go to. What better go-to person than the Creator, the One who designed the world, and the One who formed each unique person. He is there for the major hurdles, and He is there for the little things too.
In the Old Testament, God’s people built altars so that when their children inquired about them, they could tell the story of how God worked in their lives. I have seen Him work miraculously in my own life, especially in regard to His perfect timing, and I have never met a believer who doesn’t have a personal story.
Sharing our own stories of God’s miracles is really giving the next generation a gift much better than the heftiest trust fund—it’s sharing hope.
Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil our vines: for our vines have tender grapes (Song 2:15).
Although the Song of Solomon is a beautifully written book about marriage, many of the lessons (other than the sexual ones) apply to all relationships, especially our relationship with God.
Just as foxes can destroy the vineyard, any one of a number of circumstances can attack us and our relationships, and do so daily. Although the major crises can devastate us, the “little foxes” can do equal damage. Often times they make their appearance unnoticed, like minor irritations or small annoyances.
Relationships are fragile like the tender grapes and must be guarded and nurtured. And like anything worth pursuing, it takes vigilant care. God’s word is all about relationships—with Him and with others. God’s word illuminates the little foxes, our personal temptations, especially those that slide us into conformity or acceptance of sinful, worldly values.
I can’t conclude any more clearly than by repeating God’s word– Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil our vines, for our vines have tender grapes.
Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:16).
God is not racist. That may not be a surprise since He is the creator of all. But although He is patient and kind, and the very definition of love, He is not tolerant.
How can He be? Sinfulness cannot reside in an environment of pure goodness. That’s why, in His boundless love, He sent His beloved Son, His perfect sinless Son to take our punishment.
Jesus, God in the form of man, was the only one who could do that. His spotlessly pure, perfect righteousness was the only thing that could cover our unrighteousness. That’s why Jesus said that no one could come to the Father except through Him.
In a world where we are encouraged to accept any and everything as being acceptable, God’s word says, “Not so.”
Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Matt 7:14). And although He desires for all to be saved and come to a knowledge of truth, only a few will find it.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
A short time ago, the message at our church impacted me so much that even though I may not do it justice in these few words, I would be remiss for not sharing and will prayerfully try.
Although God’s word never goes out and returns void, I chose a verse that even non-believers can quote. John 3:16 is so commonly used, the depths of its meaning has been lost.
How many of us as loving parents would choose to suffer pain, emotional hurt, or even death rather than see our child experience it? The anguish suffered by that parent is often more excruciating than the physical pain.
Our loving Father gave us His most precious, precious gift. His only be-loved Son was sent from a heavenly paradise to live on earth for the sole purpose of assuming our sins on His perfect humanity in order to pay the penalty for what we did. As a parent, the depths of His pain would have to be immeasurably greater than if the Father could do it Himself.
And then, because God cannot be in the presence of sin, the already grieving Father had to turn away from the Son. Many parents cannot even leave a child’s hospital bed to eat or sleep, but the Father, who is the very definition of love, had to for a time abandon the Son. He could not complete His purpose if “the cup passed” from Him.
Can there be any greater love than to give His Son–His dearly loved child?
The depths of this love story can only be matched by the joyous ending. Sin and eternal death are defeated. We are redeemed by the most costly price imaginable—the Father’s love.