Chuck Antone, Jr.
Bible quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE® Copyright ©1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this book in any form which will be given “joyfully.”
P.O. Box 4404
Kailua-Kona, HI 96745
United States of America
As always, to my bride since 1953. You are my rock of encouragement on this earth. Without you there would be no books by Chuck Antone, Jr.
Many thanks to MBW from YFP, with much love.
To my Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ who came to this world to die so I could live. A great plan for His children who believe in Him.
Doni, my wife, for encouraging me to continue to write even though at times I wonder why I do. Many thanks for your love and encouragements, you have always been my one and only true love.
To my editor Chris Wright, not only for putting all the periods, commas etc. in the right places, but going beyond by designing the cover and taking care of all the details in having this book published. Many thanks.
About the Author
Chuck and Doni have been missionaries since 1981. They live on the Big Island of Hawaii.
They have two children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
They have helped start churches in the Philippines, Hong Kong, So. Africa and also Taiwan where Chuck ministers four months each year.
They have also done outreaches in Japan, Indonesia and in the mainland USA. They have smuggled Bibles into mainland China and have hiked up mountains in the Philippines while being watched by the New Peoples’ Army, a Communist group that lives and hides in the mountain areas.
Chuck was also arrested in a third world country and faced a year in prison for teaching a seminar on how to be a witness for Christ. After three weeks he was deported and sent back to his home in Hawaii.
He says, “Being a Christian is only boring when one makes it be boring.”
Chuck is the Pastor of the Kona Coast Chaplaincy on the Big Island of Hawaii, and he along with Doni are the Directors of Go Spread His Word Ministries, Inc. founded in 1990.
You can contact Chuck at:
P.O. Box 4404, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745
Chuck’s books can also be purchased through major Internet sellers.
Books by Chuck Antone Jr.
Lord, Send Me
The author’s feelings and emotions while facing a one year prison sentence in a third world country.
You’ve Got to be Kidding, Lord. You want me to tell WHO about You?
Share the Gospel? Does the thought make you want to hide in bed with the blankets over your head? If it does, you’re not alone, but help is at hand. Here is what Chuck Antone, Jr. says in this exciting book written with great humor and much understanding:
Are you ready to experience sharing Christ with the lost? Does one name keep popping into your mind? Has God been whispering in your ear? If so, be challenged, make that contact and see what God can do.
Be encouraged by just being available. Just be the instrument, the tool. Let God do the work. He is much better at it than we are, for He has had a lot more experience in bringing someone to His Son, Jesus Christ. After all, He is God, the Mighty One, the Powerful One, the Creator, Our Savior, Our Father, the One and Only God.
Paperback ISBN 978-1-9350-7934-7
Also available as an e-Book in most formats
You’ve Got to be Kidding, Lord
(See previous book for details)
This edition is in Chinese.
Paperback only ISBN 978-1-4818-2238-1
You Can’t Be Serious, Lord. You want me to love WHO?
This book is written to encourage you to love one another. Not always easy, but it’s a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Has God ever told you or commanded you to love someone you find hard to love? Have you ever heard yourself say, “You can’t be serious, Lord, you want me to love who?” And then when you give in and love that person, he or she can become your very good friend.
This book will help you to understand God’s special love that He has for each of us. By reviewing 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, and Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruit of the Spirit, we not only see His love, but the love we should have for one another.
At the end of each chapter you will be challenged to do just that. So have your writing instrument and a notebook ready and be honest with yourself.
Paperback ISBN: 978-1505514629
Also available in most e-Book formats
Fiction. Volume 1. A Kit and Kat mystery. A mystery about eight university graduates who spend five days on the island. When one of them is murdered, the others help the Inspector solve the case. The two main characters are Christians with criminology degrees.
Paperback ISBN 978-0-6154-7577-6
Also available in most e-Book formats
High Seas Murder
Fiction. Volume 2. A Kit and Kat mystery. Kit and Kat have just set up their own private detective agency, and are ready to go on a Mediterranean cruise before they open up their doors for business. The cruise is meant to be a time of relaxation, but the onboard theft of a necklace worth over $3,000,000 needs their investigative skills. Soon it’s not just stolen jewelry that Kit and Kat are involved with, as theft turns to murder on the High Seas.
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4681-2356-2
Also available in most e-Book formats
Murder on Broadway
Fiction. Barcelona Jones is a Broadway star. Her new play, Murder on Broadway is a big hit with people waiting months to buy a ticket to see it.
At one evening performance, at the end of the first act, real bullets are put into the prop gun killing one of the cast players. Were the bullets meant for him or one of the other players?
Soon, another murder occurs, as well as two attempted murders: one of them on the star, Barcelona Jones herself.
Barcelona hires a private detective to investigate the crimes, and he completely falls in love with her on their first meeting.
Will her feelings for Sam, the detective, be the same? And who is the murderer? Could it possibly be Barcelona’s friend and stage actress, Brenda Summers? That’s up to you, the reader, to find out.
Paperback ISBN 13: 978-1-4949-6945-5
Also available in most e-Book formats
The Centurion and the Crown of Thorns
A fictional story about the Centurion who, at the foot of the cross, said, “Truly this was the Son of God.”
As people leave the scene of the crucifixion, the Centurion, known in this book as Marcus, stays a little longer. While he’s looking up at Jesus who is still nailed to the cross beams, a small earthquake happens. The crown of thorns falls off Jesus’ head and rolls to the feet of Marcus, where it stops.
As Marcus bends down and touches the crown he senses a strong power coming from it. He immediately feels clean and new, and a great peace comes over him. He doesn’t understand it but he enjoys the feeling.
He takes the crown home to share his story with his wife, who wants nothing to do with it. After all, she was one of the many who were in the courtyard yelling for Jesus to be crucified. On the other hand, his ten-year-old son is fascinated by what his father tells him, and is intrigued by the crown and wants to learn more.
Marcus and his son Antony become believers, and Marcus searches out ten Bible prophecies that Jesus has fulfilled. He wants to teach his son many things about their new Messiah.
The crown not only gives Marcus strength and peace, but it also has healing powers that bring him and his son Antony closer in their walk with the Lord.
As the story unfolds, Marcus learns how each of the ten prophecies was fulfilled. And because of this, he is now ready to completely give his life to his new God, especially after he has an opportunity to meet with the risen Jesus face to face, who tells him it is time to give up the crown of thorns.
Paperback ISBN 13: 978-1-4812-9390-7
Also available in most e-Book formats
[* Ava Montez -- Her Life and Death *]
Fiction. Who killed Hollywood legend Ava Montez, once known as the most beautiful woman in the world? The murder has been unsolved for over forty years. But that’s about to change, when the New York Reader’s reporter, Rae Collins, is assigned to do a story on the life and death of Ava Montez.
The murderer, who has felt safe all these years, is now threatened by Rae’s interviews with the four original suspects. And she’s already getting too close. The only way to prevent being caught and sent to prison for life is to murder again. And Rae is to be the murderer’s next victim!
Paperback ISBN 978-0-6154-4522-9
Also available in most e-Book formats
Fictional love story between a man and a woman, and their love for Jesus, as He teaches them from the book of Mark.
Paperback ISBN 978-1-6157-9058-6
Paperbacks books and e-Books (where done) are available from most online retailers.
For paperback order form and information on books and CDs:
P.O. Box 4404
Kailua-Kona, HI 96745
United States of America
This e-Book was originally published as a paperback, and it is still available in that form. The paperback allowed pages with blank lines to be inserted as appropriate for the reader to write down their thoughts or responses to the questions in the lines. To get the best out of this e-Book you will need to keep a notebook and pen handy for the Lessons at the end, whether you are reading this on your own or as part of a church or home group.
This book is written to encourage you to love one another. Not an easy task I know, but it’s a command from the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ Himself.
Has God ever told you or commanded you to stretch yourself in loving someone that you might find very hard to love? And you have heard yourself say……You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to Love who? But you relent and give in -- and are amazed that when you try to love and keep His commandments how it all works out. And many times when you do give in, that person, he or she, becomes one of your best friends.
Many years ago I was told that a woman who regularly visited one of our business establishments didn’t like me. Now before I was a Christian I most likely would have responded with, “That’s her problem, not mine.” But knowing that the Lord had taken up residence in me, my attitude had changed. For then as a Christian I wanted to know why she didn’t like me. To my knowledge I had never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I don’t even remember talking to her, as she was a customer of a woman who worked for me. It was my employee who had told me that her customer didn’t like me.
Thereafter, every time the woman came in our establishment I made it a point to talk to her. I would welcome her, bring a cup of coffee to her and make friendly conversation. This went on for several months. I could feel her thoughts about me changing, and eventually we became friends. When my employee left my business to work at another place close by, my new friend became my customer and I was able to share Christ with her.
If God has put someone in your life who it is hard to love, don’t say to Him, You Can’t be Serious. Lord. You Want Me to Love who? You can be sure He does. Just do it and be blessed.
This book will be easy to read, easy for you to be challenged, and hopefully you will find it easy to love one another as you find out how God wants us to love each other. Yes, even loving those who may not love us!
Please, as you read this book, have pen and pencil or pen,, and a notebook close by as there will be questions for you to answer to encourage you to love one another. The answers will be for your eyes only, so let them speak from your heart.
Let’s start with 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen, which is affectionately called the love chapter.
The scriptures I will be using will be taken from the New American Standard Bible 1995 update. I may use some scriptures more than once because I feel they are a need. Besides, we should be open to reading scriptures more than one time.
Many of you have probably read 1 Corinthians 13 many times, for it reminds us of what love is and what love is not -- and of course the kind of love that God has for us.
Let's read these scriptures together. I want to start on verse four and read the first three words in verse nine. But let's quickly look at the first three verses in this chapter. They tell us that no matter what great things we do such as speaking with the tongues of men and angels, prophecy, know all mysteries and have all knowledge and have enough faith to move mountains and yes, even giving all our money to feed the poor -- which are all good things, I know -- but if we do all of them without love, it will profit us with nothing, it will be worthless.
Then in the next five verses Paul explains to us about what true love really is. Yes, it may be hard to give this kind of love to all people, but it is the kind of love God wants us to have; the kind of love we should try to express to others, the kind of love God has for us.
Please read these verses out loud or at least try to move your lips if there are other people around you as you read them.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails;…”
I know that some of you have most likely read these verses very quickly, but let’s look at each one again and be thinking… “Is this the kind of love I have for others?” And if God called on you to love someone you are not sure of, would you respond to God saying, “You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to Love who?”
Is there someone you can think of that you are struggling to have a better relationship with?
Or someone you know God wants you to give more of yourself to but you’re still holding back? Take that pencil in hand and write down how you can make that relationship more like what God wants it to be, or how can you make any relationship better with a brother or sister in the Lord. Here is the question.
how can i make my relationship better with a brother or sister in the lord?
Love is Patient
Think about it, is this the kind of love you have for others? Are you helping others? Are you encouraging others? Is your love being patient with all people -- not some, but all people? Does your love have no resentment or revenge? How understanding are you toward others? Do you lose your patience with those God puts in your pathway?
I know I’m guilty with some of these. How about you? But yet this is what God says love is, being patient with one another.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Paul says: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
The question may be: are you patient with those who are doing nothing? Are you encouraging those who are lacking courage or conviction? Are you going out of your way to help the weak?
God has given us many challenges in this life to show our love and patience to others. Yes, I know that there are some people we accept readily. You know, those who are more like us. The ones we are more comfortable with. But what about the others that seem to be hard to love, the ones God has put in our pathway but we let slide through our fingers, so to speak? Those are the ones we have lost our blessings with. It is easy to love those who love us, but at times hard to love those who don’t love us.
In Luke 6:32, Jesus is speaking. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”
And in verse 35 Jesus says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.”
To follow Christ is not an easy thing to do. But we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Check that out in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Yes, Christ will give us the strength to love and be patient with each other. Is He patient with us? You better believe it! I’m sure you’ve figured that out already.
Let’s listen to His words from the book of Revelations chapter 3 verse 20, which most of you are probably familiar with. Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
Patient? Think about it, Christ waits patiently for us to come to Him. He waited for me for over thirty-seven years. How long did He wait for you? Or is He still waiting for you to invite Him into your life?
Well, He doesn’t have to wait any longer. If you haven’t already invited Christ into your life please say the prayer on the very last page of this book. You’ll be glad you did, for the angels will rejoice as our Lord claimed they would in Luke 15:10 when He said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” And so will we who are Christians: we will rejoice also.
Are you ready for the heavens to rejoice? God is waiting for you to receive Him as your Lord and Savior because He loves you and is patiently waiting for you to do just that.
Now, do you have that pencil or pen handy? If so, tell yourself how you can have more patience with others.
what can i do to have more patience with others?
Love is Kind
“Love is kind” means that not only are we to be tender-hearted, but we must also be forgiving. That’s another not-so-easy task that the Lord puts in front of His children. But God is so loving, and oh, so forgiving, that at times it blows my mind away. For no matter what we have done or are doing, or will do in the future, His love never changes and is always forgiving. But what really blows my mind is how He forgets, never to remember my sin again.
Tuck this verse back in your memory somewhere. It’s from Jeremiah 31:34 in part: “… for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” And the unknown author of Hebrews reminds us of God’s love and forgiveness and how He does not remember our sins. In his book chapters 8:12 and 10:17, the author tells us that God forgets our sins, not because He has Alzheimer’s but because He has a love for each and every one of us, and there are no strings attached. St. Augustine said that God loves each of us as if we were the only one He had to love. Something else that blows my mind, is thinking of the love that God has just for me. How about you? Is it hard for you to believe that God loves you so much that He not only forgives, but He forgets all of your sins?
I know that at times it’s hard for me to fully forgive others. Oh, it may be easy to forgive, but so difficult to forget. I think I have forgiven, but then the person whom I have forgiven does the same thing again. It then rushes back into my mind because I truly haven’t forgotten. Oh, to be more like Jesus!
But think of God’s love that is kind. And every time we do the same things over and over again, and each time we come to Him and ask for forgiveness for the same sin, and tell Him we’re sorry for repeating that same sin again and again, He says, “Really? I don’t remember that.”… That is love.
Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Tender-hearted is being compassionate to one another, being kind and forgiving the same way God in Christ is forgiving to each one of us.
2 Timothy 2:24: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.”
We should not argue with one another but be patient when someone is not kind to us. We should be ready and willing to look for ways to do well in our Christian walk with Christ. We should be willing to show kindness in our love to others, just as Christ has shown kindness to us.
It may not be easy, but think about it. Is your love kind? Is this the sort of love God is asking you to show to someone? Are you ready to ask God to open the way for you to show that person His love through you?
Do you have that pencil or pen in hand? If so, jot down what your thoughts are about love is kind, and how you can demonstrate that to others.
i can show more kindness to others by …
Love Is Not Jealous
If we are jealous of one another it could bring hate into our lives. Webster’s dictionary says that jealous means being resentful or being bitter. Our love should be forgiving, not jealous. If we truly love one another we would be happy for what others have, and not feel bitterness toward them. In 1 John 1, we are reminded that God is Light and in Him there is no darkness. And if we walk in Light we will have fellowship with each other. Jealousy and hate keep us away from fellowship with God.
1 John 2:9-10 says, “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
In other words, there should be nothing in us that would cause others to stumble. Jealousy and hate are not the way of a Christian life. Maybe our jealousy won’t lead to hate, but is there a little jealousy in you? For instance, your next door neighbors buy a new car and it has everything in it that a car should have, plus lots more. Your car is only a few years old, but you start yearning for their car. Unbeknown to you, a little jealousy starts to creep in. Or you buy a new home in the perfect neighborhood. You love your new home, but a few months later the home down the block is sold with a swimming pool, hot tub and a covered deck one could die for. Of course, that was the house you really wanted, but you couldn’t afford it at the time. Now you wish you’d waited and that it was yours. When you meet the new owners it takes a while for you to warm up to them. That’s when that old jealousy creeps in.
Your jealousy may not be with the intent to murder, but it is there. And God warns us about such jealousy.
1 John 3:15: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
Think about it. If someone’s heart is filled with jealously and hate, maybe they are capable of murder.
Most murders I’m almost sure are committed by people who hate, not by people who love.
Take a look at our world today. There is so much hate in people. Some Islamic terrorists hate Christians so much that they tie bombs on themselves to blow people up. They claim that their god tells them to kill the Christian believers. The apostle John warns us about this in his writing in 1 John 3:13: “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”
Why is John warning us, and why would the world hate us? Is it because we believe that Jesus in the only way for our salvation? My wife, Doni, says it's because the world thinks that we are one way by preaching that only through Jesus will anyone be able to live in the Kingdom of God. Then she adds that they are right -- there is only one way. In other words she believes completely what Jesus says in John 14:6: "…no one comes to the Father but through Me." I always thought that that verse should have read: "Absolutely … no one comes to the Father but through Me." It would have then made it clearer to the world that Jesus is truly the only Way. But what do I know?
Jealousy and hate will someday destroy this earth we live on. But we who believe and trust in Jesus, and have put love before jealousy, are looking for the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Peter reminds us of this in his second letter in chapter 3 verse 13: “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
Someday the Lord may call upon you to love someone who may be difficult to love. But He reminded us that love is not jealous, it has no envy, and is not evil. Love is being happy for what others have. It may not be easy, but if you show that kind of love to others you will be blessed.
Here’s something to think about. Pick up that writing tool and write down. How you can go out of your way in showing love to one another.
why do you think god wants you to show more love to others, and how can you do that?
Love Does Not Brag
Are there times in your life that you become a little proud of what you have , and what you're doing for others? About things you have accomplished, and sometimes you take the credit and not give the glory to God? Is your love sometimes arrogant -- you know, full of pride?
“Love does not brag” means we do not boast about the things we do for others. Do you puff yourself up? Sometimes we take the credit. Or maybe we do good things to others because we feel we have to work our way into the Lord’s Kingdom. And how about that gift the Holy Spirit has given to you? Do you take credit for it, or do you use it to glorify the Lord? Many people believe that they have to work their way into the Kingdom of Heaven. Are you one of them?
I used to think I had to work my way in. That's what I was taught by the church I was raised in -- do good things and you will get to Heaven. Do you believe that the blood of Christ's death is enough, or are good works also part of your salvation?
In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul makes it very clear to us how we are saved: not by works but by God’s free gift of grace and our faith. Let’s read this great promise from God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Only by God’s amazing grace are we able to obtain a permanent home in what we call Heaven.
It’s so simple, but people seem to make it so difficult. God’s grace and our faith … that is what it’s all about. We are reminded again about God’s grace in Ephesians 2:5 in part: “By grace you have been saved.” And in Romans 11:6 is another reminder that it’s God’s grace and not our works: “But it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
To put it more simply, if any reader is trying to work their way to Heaven, as some denominations say we must do, please be reminded again … We are not saved by works, but by God’s grace and our faith in Him.
I want to remind you that it is not me, the author of this book, trying to convince you, but God’s true words found in His book and written by Him. And by the way, that book is the number one best seller in the world. That shouldn’t surprise us. After all, it was inspired by God Himself!
2 Peter 1:20-21: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
Men may have picked up pen and parchment and written the words down, but it was the Holy Spirit who gave them the words to write that God had spoken. As it says in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God.”
Is your love boastful? Are we challenging other believers to boast also when they hear of our works?
Galatians 5:26: “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”
We should be encouraging one another. How many of you readers like to be encouraged? If you do, raise your hand … Yep, I thought so. Most all of us want to be encouraged.
Do you know that the Lord tells us that we should encourage each other, every day, until He returns?
Hebrews 3:13: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” And in Hebrews 10:25: “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
The day drawing near is the day Jesus Christ comes again. His second coming. So until that day comes we who are born again believers should gather together with other Christians, encouraging one another. We who know Jesus as our Savior should not brag of what we do have, but we should be encouraging each other with love and understanding.
I’ve always thought when we met someone for the very first time it would be helpful if their life up to that point would flash before our eyes. Not the nitty gritty things, but a flash of their life that would help us to understand them better, so we could truly help and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.
But I am sure that God thinks it’s a bad idea. He wants us to find these things out ourselves by being concerned, loving and compassionate so we can build our relationship with them.
Do you know someone who needs your love at this moment? Is God putting someone in your life to give of yourself? Is God asking you to go out of your way to love that individual? Are you picking up the challenge, or are you saying, “You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to Love who? “
If you can think of someone who God may want you to stretch yourself to love more, pick up that pen or pencil and write down your thoughts of who that might be, and how you can do that.
Or how can you stretch yourself to show others the love of God?
how can i stretch myself by showing more of god’s love?
Love Does Not Act Unbecoming
Is your love sometimes indecent or improper, or is it most of the time kind and forgiving? Remember, our love is never a stumbling block to others. It is always strong, never wavering. We should always strive to walk in the light as Jesus is the Light, trying to become more and more like Him each day.
In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.” He also says in John 9:5: “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
Jesus is the Light that shines in the world -- and He wants us to shine also. But if our love is unbecoming, darkness will enter into our lives.
We all walked in darkness before we came to know Christ. I didn’t realize that at the time. My life before I became a Christian wasn’t that bad. I was living in the world, but I wasn’t a bad person. I had a beautiful wife, two great kids and a job that paid lots of money. But unbeknown to me there was something missing in my life. What was it? My salvation! I turned to Jesus, and that was when I came out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. Here is what Peter says in his first book chapter 2 verse 9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Yes, we all walked in darkness before we knew Christ, before we knew His love. We may not have been aware of it, but we definitely did. That’s why He called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. It’s a great feeling. If by chance you haven’t found the Light (Jesus) go to the last page of this book and say the prayer to invite Christ into your life. Let Him take you out of the darkness so that you, like me, may not know you are living in.
In the book of 1 John 1:5-7, the apostle explains Light and darkness to us. He says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
To say that God is Light means that He is holy and pure just the way we are to be.
1 Peter 1:15-16: “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, you shall be holy, for i am holy.”
I like to ask the students in my Bible studies, “How many of you here today are holy?” I then ask them to raise a hand if they are. But very few do. Then I ask, “How many of you here today are pure?” Again, just a few raise their hands. The next question I ask is, “How many of you have invited Christ into your life?” Just about everyone raises their hands.
Then I say, “If you have accepted Christ then He has come in and lives in you, and because of that you are holy and pure. You may not think pure or act holy, but you are.” Then I remind them that the Holy Spirit lives in them and they are holy, which means set apart from the world and sin. We are no longer conforming to the world we live in. We now have new standards and a new mind from the moment we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Paul again is writing to the believers reminding us not to live in this world as the non-believers do, but to be transformed by having a new mind, the center of our change, and find God’s will in our lives. Like for instance loving one another, being kind, forgiving and understanding. This is the opposite of “love does not act unbecoming.”
Is the message of how God expects you to love one another coming through?
How can you be more understanding with those who are harder to love? Write it down, so you will remember it.
how can i be more understanding to others?
Love Does Not Seek Its Own
Here God tells us through the writings of Paul that our love should want to help others, not ourselves. He says that our love should not be selfish or seeking praise for what we have or are doing, but loving our neighbor -- and yes, loving even those who may hate us. Here we go again, with another of those hard to do commandments.
1 Corinthians 10:24: “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” We should be looking out for the welfare of our friends and neighbors. It is good to pray for one another but sometimes we are called to do more.
1 John 3:17-18: “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
I like to think of it this way. One day you are walking to McDonald's. Perhaps you've been dreaming of a number 1 all day -- you know, Big Mac, French fries and a Diet Coke, upgraded of course. On the way you meet up with a brother or sister who hasn't eaten for a couple of days. He or she has no job, no money … that equals no food. This person tells you their very sad story and you say, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear of your misfortune. I'll pray for you," and off you go to fill your own stomach.
Or how about this one: on your walk on this day you run into a Christian friend who tells you with excitement about an interview for a job. They tell you that they haven’t worked for a long time because of illness. The problem is they have nothing to wear. Most of their clothes are old and shabby, and they’ve spent all the money they had on clothes for their kids and their school supplies. You know you have a closet full of clothes that you’re sure will fit them, but you say, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. But I’m happy you have a new job opportunity. I will be sure to pray for you.”
James says, “If you don’t give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (See James 2:15-16.) Do you see what God is telling us? Praying is good, but loving and giving is even at times better. So why not do both?
Is this the kind of love God is asking you to give to others? Even those who might not like you? Here is your challenge:
Luke 6:27-31, Jesus is speaking: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”
This is the challenge. To live by the golden rule is not easy, but it’s a great way to live our lives as Christians. It’s what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 7:12: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want to them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
For a long time Doni and I would loan people money, but very seldom did we ever get it back. It was always “in the mail,” which we never received. It was amazing how many times the post office would lose their check, which of course was never mailed. People always had great excuses of why they hadn’t paid us back, and we were unhappy with the person or persons and their excuses. We would say to each other, “Just another lie.” And then anger and disappointment set in because they were our Christian brothers and sisters. It would have been better for them to say, “I’m sorry I can’t pay you this week.” After re-reading these scriptures over and over again we finally got the message … “hello!”… “whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.”
Now when we can afford it and a believer is in need we give, not a loan, and when they say we will pay you back as soon as we can, we say, “No, this is not a loan, but a gift.” And you know what? The Lord always replenishes it back to us in different ways that we never expected.
Remember love does not seek its own, but is willing to help others who are in need.
What can you do to help others? It may not be by giving money or clothes or food, but maybe something more important … like love.
What can you do to show others your love? Do you have that pencil in your hand? Use it to write your thoughts.
what can you give to that someone special that god has revealed to you, and what do you feel that need is?
Love Is Not Provoked
This means that one does not get easily angered. We may all get angry at times, but the question is what do you do with that anger?
Ephesians 4:26-27: “be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." So it seems it may be okay to get angry, but don't let it fester, where someday you may explode. Then that anger can turn into sin and we give the devil the opportunity to enter into our lives. That is why we must control our anger. That is why we must go to the source, talk it out and don't become frustrated with outbursts -- saying and doing things we are sorry for and then having to go and apologize for our actions, as God would want us to do. If we let our anger control us, we will spurt out things we don't mean and it takes a long time for the opposition to get over it. That is why we must think before we speak!
James 1:19-20: “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
Love never flies into a tantrum but is controlled and never, never do we go to bed angry, because what happens is that you have a miserable night and you wake up still angry.
God wants us to get rid of our bitterness; forgiving each other just as He has forgiven us.
Ephesians 4-31: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
what is …
bitterness … negative anger
wrath … violent anger
clamor … shouts of anger
slander … to damage one’s reputation
malice … to harm another
And of course anger itself, is to have hostile feelings to another person.
The above words with the descriptions should definitely not be part of a believer’s thoughts or actions. Do you agree with me on that?
Pencil in hand? How can you control your anger and actions better?
how can i control not being provoked by others?
Love Does Not Take Into Account a Wrong Suffered
We must not keep a list of what someone has done to us, either on a piece of paper or a list in our minds. We not only should forgive but we must also try to forget. Thank God He doesn’t keep a list of all our wrong doings!
This is such a hard thing to do. But never forget that God forgives and forgets. Remember Jeremiah 31-34? In part, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” For me, sometimes forgiving is the simple one to do. But forgetting… That’s another story. How about you?
Let’s look at Ephesians 4:32 again: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Yes, be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving. Paul tells us how to do these things. He says: “Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Has someone been giving you a rough time? Maybe saying sly remarks to you, or to other people, a little bit of gossip, building up to a great big hurt?
After dealing with your hurt the person finally comes to you and asks for forgiveness. Part of you is happy but the other part of you is not too sure if you want to forgive them or not. You have been extremely hurt. After all, this used to be one of your close friends, or so you thought. You melt and ask no questions, forgive and embrace each other as a seal of forgiveness, promising to renew your friendship back to what it used to be. All is well between the two of you. You even think you have forgotten the hurt you encountered. Then it happens you hear that this so-called friend is at it again, saying things about you that are not true.
You have a rush of remembering the past hurts and all the heartache you thought you had forgiven and forgotten. But in reality it is still there. Oh, you did forgive, you’re sure of that, but you realize you truly didn’t forget. Mentally, you took into account a wrong suffered… “the list.”
It's not easy, but sometimes we must forgive over and over again. There should be no limit to our forgiveness to others. Remember when Jesus told Peter to not just forgive according to the custom of their day which was three times? No, Jesus told Peter seventy times seven -- in other words to continue to forgive. That was in Matthew 18:21-22. To refresh your memory, "Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'"
Think about it, isn’t that exactly what God does for us? But He goes one step further … forgetting our sins. And since we are supposed to try and be more like Him in our daily walk, shouldn’t we do the same?
Forgive, forgive, forgive! Forget, forget, forget!
Before we go any further let's look at the eight points so far that we've talked about -- what love is and what love is not. As you read them over, please put a circle around two of the numbers that are most difficult for you to do, and a square around the two that are the easiest for you to do.
3. not jealous
4. not boastful
5. not acting unbecoming
6. not seek its own
7. not provoked
8. does not keep a record
Now write down why you have selected those four. Next, tell yourself how you can overcome them. This is for your eyes only, as all of the questions have been, so please be honest with yourself.
these two are most difficult for me because …
Love Does Not Rejoice In Unrighteousness
This means that love finds no joy in doing evil. It finds no happiness in doing wrong. Love is wanting good things to happen to others. When we have that kind of love for others, then people will know that we are disciples of Christ.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
When we claim we are Christians, the non-believing world watches our every move. They want us to fall so they will look good, so they can say, “He says he’s a Christian but he is just like one of us. I don’t see him loving everyone. He’s a sinner just like we are. The only difference we see is that we have a lot more fun.”
Some of what they say is right. We are sinners, but we've been freed of our sins by the blood of Christ. We know where we've been, we know where we are today, and we know where we are going -- when we confess Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Romans 10:9-10: that dynamite verse which many of us call tnt because it is explosive and stands for Romans T…Ten…N…Nine…T…Ten and says that “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” It seems so easy, yet many people make it so difficult, as they believe it takes more to receive the Kingdom of God than just confessing Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Let us not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoice in the Truth who is Jesus Christ our Messiah.
John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Now let us go back and read the verses in John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
These scriptures tell us that Christ always was. If you were to replace the word, “Word” with the name of Jesus it may make more sense to you. And in verse 3 it says that Jesus was at the beginning of creation and all things came into being through Him.
Let’s look at Colossians 1:16: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him.”…That “Him” is Jesus.
Jesus was before He began creating the heavens and the earth. Jesus was. Amazing isn’t it?
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, for we know that when Christ died on the cross He removed our sins so we could receive God’s righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God’s righteousness was given to all at the death of Christ on the cross. But to receive it we have to receive Him. I like to think of it as a big vacuum cleaner. On the cross Jesus sucked in all of our sins, and then in exchange He blew out to us, who believe in God, all of His righteousness.
While we are on this earth our Lord’s request of us is to love and to show no unrighteousness to others, but wanting only good things to happen to them.
Oh, oh, do you have a feeling that God’s calling on you to love someone that you think is difficult to love? If so, what is your response to His request? And how will you go about showing your love?
Write down at least five ways you can show your love to others.
five ways i can show love to others that i’m having a difficult time with are …
Love Rejoices With the Truth
Meaning we don’t want to hide the truth from others, but show them the truth and to walk in the truth the best we can.
3 John 3-4: “For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
John expresses his joy of his converts who are walking in the truth, just as we do when we see a new Christian growing and maturing and living in the truth.
John again expresses his joy in seeing the children walking with God in his book 2 John 4: “I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have received commandments to do from the Father.”
I don’t know if you have led anyone to the Lord, but for those of us who have, it is always a joyful experience to see them growing in Him and seeking the truth.
Even Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 that his converts are his hope and joy and crown and reward: “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”
It appears that when we lead someone to the Lord we will receive a crown to lie at the feet of Jesus. It is one of our rewards for sharing Christ with the lost. We do not tell them about Jesus and lead them to Him for that reason, but scripture reveals to us that it is one of our perks.
Because of that, we must always be ready to share the truth so we can rejoice when a new individual is accepted into the Kingdom of God. I have been privileged through the power of the Holy Spirit to rejoice many times. For those of you who have read my book, You’ve God to Be Kidding, Lord. You Want Me to Tell who About You?” (New Edition), you may remember it tells of many experiences that the Lord has put in my pathway, to share Christ. Some have accepted Him, some have not.
The following story is in that book. It was another one of those times at an airport while waiting to check in. The line was long, the counter very busy, a snake line of many travelers like myself. I struck up a conversation with the gentleman behind me. It took about an hour to finally check in. During that time he told me lots about himself and his family. He went to a church that I know says that you are saved on works.
After checking in at the counter we walked to the gate together. Since we were early, we stopped for a little snack. We found a table and sat across from each other. While eating we continued our conversation. He was extremely pleasant and had told me on his next birthday he was going to be eighty years old. We had finished our snack, but before we got up to leave I heard the Lord whisper in my ear that He wanted me to witness to this gentleman. Believe me, when it is from the Lord everything seems to click together.
I told the man how in Ephesians 2:8-9 God says that we are saved by His free gift of grace because of our faith -- and not on any kind of works. Then I explained why Christ came to the world and how much He loves each one of us and wants all of us to spend eternity with Him. But like all things in life the choice was ours to make, to receive Christ or to reject Him. And we are to believe that He died for all of our sins, and confess Him as our Lord and Savior.
Finally I asked him if he would like to invite Christ into his life. He bowed his head, put his hands together and laid them on the table, and at the same time said, “Yes.” I put my hands over his and then prayed for him. When I was through, I asked him to repeat out loud the prayer to invite Christ into his life. He did, while many were walking by. We didn’t care about the people walking hurriedly to their gates. What mattered most was that he had become a new creature and had received the Kingdom of God. He had heard and received the message, and was now rejoicing in the truth.
It’s amazing, when you make yourself available, how God will use you to love others in telling them the Truth, who is Jesus Christ. Is there someone you have been thinking about that you feel God wants you to witness to? Maybe it will be just planting seeds or maybe a little watering. Who do you think that might be? Here is our question for this chapter: “Who, why and how will you accomplish it?” If you can’t think of someone this moment, ask God to put someone in your pathway with whom you can rejoice with the truth.
The last five things we’re going to study about love are in 1 Corinthians 13. And they’re all positive. I love each one, but one of them is my favorite. See if you can figure out which one it is.
are you ready to rejoice and share christ with someone? why, or why not?
Love Bears All Things
Love can do a multitude of things. There is no limit to what love can do. We are to strive to be more like God, keeping our eyes on Him and not on ourselves or on other people.
Ephesians 5:1-2: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
So many times we put our eyes on a friend or pastor or a loved one. We see them as strong in the Lord, then one day we see them slipping away from the Lord. That’s when our faith begins to falter. This happens because we put our faith and eyes on man rather than on God. When we see them slipping away from the Lord we then struggle with our own walk with Him, and sometimes we too fall away. We were looking in the wrong places, and our eyes were on the wrong person for our faith and salvation.
Hebrews 12:2: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Our eyes should be fixed on Jesus and on no one else. He is the One who went to the cross and took our shame; no one else but Jesus Christ Himself, and who is now at the right hand of God, which is the place of honor.
But yet aren’t there times we put our eyes and faith in others? It is very dangerous, so beware. We can learn from each other, respect each other and love each other, but our eyes must always be fixed on Jesus.
Let's not forget the kind of love Christ has for us -- a love that bears all things. So any gossip, any hurts, any disappointments that may come our way, we can overcome because His love helps us to bear all things. This was the kind of love Jesus showed us when He was sacrificed on the cross for all of our sins -- the perfect sacrifice because He was perfect. Keeping our eyes on Him will help us to go through trials and tribulations that come into our lives -- and we will have them.
Are you finding out that loving one another, especially those who may not love us, is not as easy as you may have thought? Love is not superficial, it goes deeper. Love is … loving those who don’t love us, caring and being concerned for others. It’s easy for us to say, “Oh, I love them,” but do we really?
Romans 12:14-21: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, i will repay, says the Lord. but if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It seems we do not have to take revenge on our enemy, but leave it up to God and He will take care of the situation. Read these verses over again slowly and then ask yourself if this is the kind of love you have for others?
This is an additional not-so-easy task the Lord has put into our walk with Him, but it is the kind of love God wants us to have for others. That may be why when God asks us to love someone who we are not sure will accept our love, we hesitate and ask Him in a not so loving way, “You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to Love who?”
We should lean on God and let Him help us to love others. Through His wisdom we can love not only those who love us (easy), but also those who do not (hard). If we don’t pick up the challenge, we won’t receive the blessing that God has for us.
Have you received the challenge? What are your thoughts, or who are you thinking about at this very moment?
Pick up that pencil or pen and write those thoughts down. No matter what they are, it just might help you to overcome and be able to let love bear all things.
what does “love bears all things” mean to you?
Love Believes All Things
Is your love taking God at His word? Believing all things written in the Bible are true and believing best about other people? Do you have enough faith to believe God wrote the book, the Bible?
2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
The scriptures were inspired by God, not part, but all. It was God’s breath that inspired the authors to write what the Holy Spirit whispered in their ears, to write down on paper God’s words so we all can read His words and be equipped to venture out and do good works for Him.
Are you trusting and believing in the word of God?
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Yes, we must trust and believe the whole Bible. Some people want to take out pages where there are writings they don’t believe in. They say, “Oh, I don’t believe in the virgin birth. That’s just not possible.” So they remove that page from their Bible. Some say it’s impossible for someone to die and then come back to life, so they rip that page out also. And then there are the people who can’t believe Christ died for their sins. They say, “How could He do that? He didn’t even know me. That was supposed to have happened over two thousand years ago, before I was even born. Impossible! And what about the book of Revelation, and all those commands? Again impossible!” Before you know it their Bible, once full of the truths about Jesus and God’s words, has dwindled down to very few pages.
A person like this does not have enough faith or love for God. They want to believe what they want to believe, and not believe that the whole Bible is truly God’s word. So they remove the pages they don’t believe in. I pray that your faith and your love for God will help you to believe not only in God’s words, but in your salvation if you have truly accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. No believer should be doubtful of their salvation, if they are trying to live their lives for Jesus the best they can.
Think about it. “How can we be a good witness for Christ if we are not sure of spending eternal life with Him?” If by chance you’re sharing the Savior with someone, and that person asks you if you’re sure you’re going to Heaven when you die, and your answer is, “Well, I think so,” or “I hope so,” why would that person want to accept Christ? What would be their hope for eternal life?
But if you said, “Yes, I know for sure when I leave this earth I will be in the presence of God, “ and when they ask you how do you know for sure, take them to the Word of God in 1 John 5:11-13. These are powerful verses for someone who is not sure of their eternal life with Christ. Read these verses to them:
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
It seems so simple doesn’t it? If you have the Son you have eternal life. If you don’t have the Son you don’t have eternal life. Why do people make salvation so difficult?
I love the word know. Not maybe, not I think so, not I hope so … but you will know that you have eternal life. That's what love is -- believing in all things.
How about you? Are you sure of your salvation? Do you believe when you leave this earth you will spend eternity with God and His Son Jesus Christ?
Do you have that writing instrument in hand? If not, please pick it up and write why or why not.
why i feel my salvation is secure, or why i don’t? and what can i do to be a better witness for christ?
Love Hopes All Things
Hope never comes to an end. And neither does love. In other words we can be sure that with God’s love we can do all things.
Romans 5:1-5: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations bring about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
We as Christians go through tribulations just as the worldly people do. But we have the hope and the love of God through the Holy Spirit who poured, not sprinkled, but poured God’s love into our hearts.
The moment we invited Christ into our hearts the Holy Spirit took up residence.
Galatians 4:6: “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
We become a son or daughter of God when we believe in Jesus Christ. When that happens, God becomes our Abba, and since Jesus is God’s Son, then He becomes our brother. That happens when we become adopted into the family of God.
Verse seven of that same chapter goes on to say, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
When we become His child we can now call Him Daddy or Papa, or Father, the true meaning of “Abba.” We can have a close relationship with God who has now become our Father.
Ephesians 1:13: "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise."
When we accept Christ we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and our salvation is now secure. Do you feel secure now? There should be no doubt in your mind, if you have received Christ, that the Holy Spirit lives in you.
Romans 8:9: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
It’s amazing how some come up with ways you can receive the Spirit. Some have a list: you know, if you do certain things then the Holy Spirit will come and live in you. Some even say that you have to speak in tongues to be saved. One lady told me once that if no one sits in the front row of a church, then the Holy Spirit is not there! Where in the world do they get these ideas? I can’t find them anywhere in the Bible. But what I do find is that the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and lives in us when we accept God’s Son and become that new creation the Bible says we become in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Wow, at the moment of accepting Christ, all of our sins have been washed away. That's what it means when it says you have become a new creation. That is what salvation brings to you and me -- we are fresh and new and receive a new beginning in life.
Can you see now why “love hopes all things?” 1 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope.”
Our hope, our love, is Jesus Christ our Messiah.
Is God truly your Abba? Is He truly your Daddy or Papa? Do you have a relationship with Him?
No matter if your answer is yes or no, write down how your relationship with the Father can become closer.
my relationship with the father can become closer by me doing …
Love Endures All Things
Love will see us through all things, because we can draw our strength and conquer all things through Christ’s love that will give us the courage to overcome all things in our life.
One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Did you notice the word all? Not some, not even 99%, but we can do all things through Him. It is Christ who will give us the strength to overcome any situation or tribulations that may come into our lives. That is the love He gives us that helps us to endure all things.
Another one of my favorite verses (as you can see I have many) is in 1 John 4:4. It reminds us that the Holy Spirit who lives in us is stronger and more powerful than Satan who lives in the world. "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." That's how we can endure all things -- by receiving God's power when we receive God's Son, Jesus Christ.
Even though Jesus says in John 12:31 that Satan is the ruler of this world, his power is limited. And when he tempts us, we can resist him through Christ -- whose power is stronger. How can we do that? By putting on the armor of God.
Ephesians 6:10-12: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Our enemies are Satan and his demons. To fight them, we must put on all the parts that make up the armor of God. He tells us what they are and how to wear them. Let’s take a peek at them.
Ephesians 6:13-17: “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Wow, that's pretty good protection for us to put on when we meet the world each day. Let's take a look at them one by one and see what Paul is telling us about the armor of God -- the clothing a fighting army wore to be ready for battle.
Verse 14: the belt of truth.
Remember, in those days the men dressed a little different than we do today to our standards. Wearing a long robe to go off to battle was common dress apparel then. So to have freedom to move and be ready for battle they would bring up the long material between their legs and tuck it in their belt. This way they could run and not trip, and maneuver more quickly. They could also tuck their swords through the belt to give them more freedom. The belt of truth for the Christian is to move more quickly because we know the Truth is Jesus Christ, and Satan is out there trying to tempt us the best he can. That is why we must study the Bible and know the truth well so we are always ready to serve Him.
Verse 14 also tells us to wear the breast plate of righteousness. Just as the warriors would protect their chest with a shield, we also must clothe ourselves with righteousness which protects us from Satan’s temptations. Then our heart will be free from Satan’s attacks.
Verse 15: shod your feet.
We should make sure we’re wearing the right footwear, so we will be equipped and ready to flee from Satan. We should be ready to witness for Christ. How beautiful are your feet? Take off your shoes if you have them on and look at them. What do you see? Are they beautiful to you, meaning are you a good witness for Christ?
Romans 10:15 says: “How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written: ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’”
Are you bringing the good news to the people around you? Your feet may tell you the answer. Are they truly beautiful?
Verse 16: the shield.
When the soldiers went off to war they carried a shield for protection against flaming darts thrown at them from the enemy. What is our shield, or should I say, who is our shield? It is the Lord who is our shield, and that is why we should learn as much as we can about Him. For when we walk with Him, we are safe from the fiery darts of Satan. Our shield is our knowledge and our faith in Jesus Christ.
Verse 17: the helmet of salvation.
Why did the solders wear helmets? That’s an easy question. It was, of course, to protect their heads from injury. Here, the helmet we must wear is to protect our thoughts. How often does your mind wander away when you pray or have your devotion time? One minute we’re focused on the Lord, the next moment we’re thinking about what we will have for dinner, or some other thoughts that we shouldn’t be having. We need this protection so we can at all times zero our thoughts on Christ.
Verse 17: the sword.
The sword is the Word of God, which is our source to not only fight against Satan’s battles, but to win them. The Word is our weapon, and that is why we must read it every day and study it. If you’re not in a Bible study group, I want to encourage you to find one that will help you understand God’s Word and surround you with other Christians. Be with those who will help you to know that God’s Words are teaching you about Him. Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and Spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Okay, are you ready now to face the world by putting on the armor of God? Remember, you can endure and overcome all things because of God's love and His protection -- if you are willing.
Of the six weapons we are to wear of the armor of God, which one or two do you need more of, and why?
when you put on the armor of god, which two do you need more of?
1. belt of truth … to study the bible more.
2. breast plate of righteousness … protection from satan’s temptations.
3. shod your feet … be prepared to witness more for christ.
4. the shield … our knowledge and faith in christ.
5. helmet of salvation … keeping our thoughts clear.
6. the sword … the word of god.
why did you select those two?
Love Never Fails
Most things in our life pass away, but we can be sure that love will last forever. The love that Christ has for us never changes and it never fails.
Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”
In Malachi we read that God's love also never changes. 3:6 in part: "For I, the Lord, do not change." That's the kind of love we should have for one another. A never ending, unchanging love -- and some day we will accomplish just that. For when He appears we will be like Him. Impossible, you might be saying. If so, then listen to John the apostle.
1 John 3:1-3: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
Can you imagine being like Jesus, and being pure as He is pure? I can't. It's another of those blowing-up-my-mind scriptures, but I have faith in God's word. And if that's what He says, then I believe it -- and I am all for it.
Being like Jesus isn’t a bad thing. I’m ready, for when Christ comes I will be with Him, just as all Christians will be. I will be ready, willing and able to be just like Him… Are you?
If you haven’t yet, please go to the last page of this book and read the prayer to accept Christ into your life. Or perhaps you’ve already invited Christ into your life, but you find you don’t have love for others, and are struggling with issues in your life that keep you at a distance away from Him. In other words, you have left Christ to a point where you are turning your back on Him. If that is you, my fellow believer, maybe the following prayer is just for you.
“Dear God, I am a Christian and Your Son Jesus Christ lives in me. But I have been falling away from You. Today I want to rededicate my life back to You. But I need Your help, Your power, Your wisdom and Your loving arms around me. Today, Lord, I want to give You back my life. Thank You for loving me and receiving me back into Your outreached arms… Amen.”
Let’s do as we did at the end of chapter ten, by putting a circle around the two numbers that are most difficult for you, and a square around the two that are easier for you.
1. love does not rejoice in unrighteousness
2. love rejoices with the truth
3. love bears all things
4. love believes all things
5. love hopes all things
6. love endures all things
7. love never fails -- (My favorite, in case you are wondering.)
Now, as you did before, write why you have selected those four. Remember, the answers are for your eyes only, so for a reminder please be honest with yourself.
Then ask yourself, “How can I conquer the two that are most difficult for me to do?”
i can conquer them by being more…
The rest of 1 Corinthians chapter 13, verses 8 through 13, teach us that the gifts will come to an end, but not love. And when the perfect comes Jesus, who is the only perfect one. I know then that all mysteries will be revealed to us. Finally, we will understand all things. (See 1 John 3:2.)
There must be growth in each believer. Some may be slow, some fast, but we will grow. No believer should be stagnant in their walk with the Lord. The true believer will have a desire to learn from the word of God. Paul says in verse 12 that the things we see are like reflections in a mirror. A mirror at that time was a highly polished metal, so it gave an image that was not perfect. We can see the reflection of God, but until Christ returns we will not see all things clearly. Some day we who are believers will see Jesus face to face. For that day to come we must have love because as 1 John 4:8 and 16 says: “god is love” and only the ones who love will come to know God. And the last verse in the love chapter tells us that faith and hope are very important in our lives, but love is greater. These three will remain with us, which is why we should continue to demonstrate them to others. Especially love. Loving one another, and of course our love for God, should stay the same as His love is for us. How can we not love Him when we remember what Jesus did for us on the cross… He died so we could live.
Share His love with someone today, either with someone you know or a stranger on the streets. I did that a few weeks ago while doing my morning walk. I stopped and talked to a lady and asked her if she was a Christian. She said she wasn’t. She wanted to be, but she didn’t know how.
See what can happen if you just stop and talk to someone about the Lord? There are many people out there just waiting for someone like you to help them to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. You never know when God will use you to bring someone to Him. That’s why we must always be ready to show our love to others.
Low and behold, on the day I talked to the lady there was a bench close by, so I asked her to join me on the bench. I told her I would explain to her about Christ, our Salvation and how to receive Him. She sat with me, she listened and then she received Christ. The full story is in the revised edition of You’ve Got to be Kidding, Lord. You want Me to Tell who About You? I didn’t set out on my walk that morning looking for someone to talk to about Jesus. But when the opportunity came, and when getting the nudge from the Holy Spirit, I let Him use me to bring another soul into the Kingdom of God. Loving and caring for each other. That’s what it’s all about. Letting God use you to love someone into God’s Kingdom.
Here’s your question for this chapter. What other ways can you share your love to others by planting a seed, watering the garden or bringing them to Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit who will give you the words to say?
how can i share god’s love more, and be more of a witness for him?
Love your neighbor as yourself,
Is My command to you;
Love your enemies I also say,
Which I know is hard to do.
If you want to be a disciple of Mine,
For I am your Precious Lord,
My love you’ll have to give away
It is not for you to hoard.
For if you love one another,
Then My Father you must really know,
For My love is really from Him,
And from you this love must flow.
Yes, there is faith, hope and love,
These three are from above;
But remember, of all these three,
The greatest is love.
Chuck Antone, Jr.
Now that we know how God loves us and how He wants us to love one another, let’s find out how we can go about doing that.
Matthew 5:43-48 are the words of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
There Jesus goes again, not asking us to do something that He wouldn't do Himself, like loving your enemies. And how about asking God to forgive them? That's what Jesus did, when He said in Luke 23:34: "Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." They were the people who hated Him and who wanted no part of Him. In fact they hated Him so much that they asked for Barabbas -- a murderer who was fighting against the government -- to be released and for Jesus to be crucified instead. Someone who went around the country doing good, such as healing the lame, opening the eyes of the blind, the mute enabled to speak, and the list goes on and on.
Loving those who hate me? Tough, but if we want to follow in the steps of our Savior, then that is what we must do.
Who said Christianity was going to be easy?
Listen to Jesus’ question. “If you love just those who love you, what good is that?” Yes, even the non-believers do that. We must remember we are to be different, that is to be holy, and not conform to the world’s standards.
Another reminder as we read these verses again in Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and Holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Wow, that is difficult, not conforming to the way people are living today. “You mean, Lord, no sex out of marriage, no adultery, no drunkenness, no wild parties, and no pornographic pictures? You’ve got to be kidding, Lord. Many of my friends are doing some of these, and they say they are Christians. So it must be alright.”
Think about it. The world may say all these things are okay, but God says they are not. And if you truly want to see the kingdom of God, be careful, and tell your friends who may be living this way to also be careful. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and decide for yourself: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
I know that many people, and maybe even you, might be saying that these verses are not for the Christian. If that is so, then does it mean that the Christian is free to practice these things that are written down by Paul? The word here is practice or living in these sins, not slipping or falling in sin, but willfully living in them.
I know people will say if anyone is living in any of these sins then it’s impossible for them to be a Christian. Maybe so, but yet I know of some who claim they are believers, and after talking with them I am almost convinced that they are. So what’s the big deal? My conclusion is this: if you or someone you know says they are a Christian but are living in any of these sins, show them this verse. Also have them read Revelation 21:8, Galatians 5:19-21 and Hebrews 10:26, and warn them if they are knowingly and deliberately practicing or living this way and in these sins, they need to be careful, very careful, as there is a possibility that they may not see the kingdom of God.
I may be all wet, but it looks like when we conform to the world we should watch out, for Satan will try to convince us that the things of the world are okay. He may say things like, “Go out and have fun, God will still love you. Drop out of that Bible study, God will still love you. Go ahead, sleep a little longer this morning. Big deal. So you miss church again. It’s alright, God won’t love you any less.”
Yes, that is true. God will not love us any less, because His love for us never changes. Our love may change, but His love never will. So, my dear brother or sister in the Lord, please be careful with your walk with Him. Take no chances. Satan is out there ready to devour us, but our God is much stronger and powerful than he. Hang on to the promises of God that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. And you know what? He’ll give you all the strength you need.
If you know of someone who is struggling in their walk with the Lord, maybe that’s the person God wants you to love. And to help them back to the truth, as James tells us in his book, chapter 5, verses 19 and 20: “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Living perpetually in sin can cause physical death to our bodies. Don't let anyone tell you it is none of your business when you see a friend struggling. It is our business to lead them back to Christ. That's what loving our brothers and sisters in the Lord is all about -- encouraging them to turn away from their sinful way of life and turning to God for His love, guidance, comfort and forgiveness that only He can give them.
Has God put someone in your pathway who needs to be more in love with Jesus? Or how about you? How in love are you with the Savior?
How can you fall more and more in love with Jesus?
how can i find more of jesus’ love? and how can i fall more in love with him?
Once, while doing a Bible study in Taiwan, a Buddhist attended a few of the studies. Maybe she was searching, but she was still hanging on to the beliefs of Buddhism. One day at the study we were teaching about God’s love, and in an angry voice she said, “Show me in the Bible where it says God is love.”
I knew that it had to be in the book of 1 John somewhere, because John in his Gospel, and in his letters, talks about love. So I turned to 1 John and there it was in two places: chapter four, verses 8 and 16. Let’s look at them as a reminder that God is Love.
First, let’s look at verses 7-10: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
And in verse 16 John goes on to say: “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
Here it tells us that we are to love one another, and by loving others we will come to know God more and more. And if we can’t find love in others we cannot know God because… god is love. We know God’s love because He sent His one and only Son into this world so we could live with Him. And as a reminder to all of us, that we know love because God loved us first by sending Jesus Christ to us. He was the only sacrifice that satisfied God for the removal of our sins. Even though Christ was tempted as we are, He knew no sin. We may fall, but Christ remained sinless and perfect.
It’s difficult to believe that Christ who remained pure was tempted in all things as we are, but that’s why He can relate to our sins. Yes, tempted, but never succumbed to that temptation.
Remember these verses in Hebrews 2:18: “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
No one can say, “Jesus cannot relate with my sin. He doesn’t understand the temptation I go through.” Well, believe it or not, He does, because He was tempted in all things as we were, but yet He was sinless. How does that make you feel? Circle one or more of the following…
1. i feel weak
2. i feel strong
3. i can’t believe it
4. i can believe it
5. i feel forgiven
6. i am amazed
7. i feel secure
8. i feel loved
Now that you know for sure that God is love, are you ready to meet the challenge and go and find that person that God wants you to give that special love to?
Take a few moments and ask God to reveal someone to you who needs not only His love, but your love also. Pick up that writing instrument again, and write down four ways of how you can show your love to that someone.
write down four ways on how you can show your love to others, and explain how you can do just that.
Many years ago I struggled with a relationship with another Christian, just as some of you may be doing at this moment. Please don’t hang on to it. Clear it up. If necessary, be the bigger and loving Christian. Even though you may feel it is the other person’s fault, be the stronger one and go and take care of the situation. You’ll be glad you did. You will sleep better and feel better about yourself. But most of all, you’ll be showing the love God wants us to show each other.
That’s what I did. I went and apologized for my attitude. Down deep I still felt it was his fault, but I did what I knew God wanted me to do. That was many years ago and today that person has remained a very close friend of mine.
1 John 4:11-16: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is Love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.”
I just love the way John starts out these verses by calling us his beloved. No wonder he is known as the beloved apostle. And he makes everything so simple. For instance he says God loves us, so why should we not love one another?
We may not be able to see God, but if we want His perfect love -- and who doesn't -- then God will live in us and we will live in Him, because He has given us His Spirit. Another confirmation is that God sent Jesus to us to be the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Christ is truly God’s Son, God will not only live in us, but we will live in Him. When all that happens we will have God’s love because god is love. And then John reminds us again to live in love, live in God and God will then live in us.
He mentions abiding in God so often in these verses. I guess it’s because he wants us to tuck it back in our memory somewhere and never forget it.
In the book of Acts 17: 28, Luke reminds us of that also: “For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are children of God.’”
I wrote a song about this verse once; the chorus says this:
“We live in Him, He lives in us.
We walk with Him,
And He walks with us.
We are in Him, He is in us,
For we are the Master’s children.”
Well, before we move on to the fruit of the spirit, and how it can relate to us about loving each other, have any of you heard from the Lord about loving that someone special? If you have, are you picking up the challenge, or are you just thinking about it?
Don’t wait too long or you may miss out on the blessing. For God may use someone else to love up on that person. If you have received a name, take a few moments again to write that name down. Start praying for him or her and ask God for His wisdom. You do know you can do just that, don’t you? For James in his book, chapter 1 verse 5 says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
How will He give it? … Generously. So ask for it and receive it. Are you ready? If so, what needs to be done for you to receive God’s generous blessings?
what three or more things should you do to receive god’s generous blessings, and why?
This is from the chorus of another song that I wrote:
The Fruit of the Spirit is much better for you,
It comes from above
And it starts out with love;
There is joy and peace and patience too,
The Fruit of the Spirit is much better for you.
Yes, the Fruit of the Spirit is better for you,
There is kindness and goodness
And faithfulness too.
The Fruit of the Spirit is much better for you,
There’s gentleness and self control
To see you all through.
So if you have this Fruit from above
You will know all of God’s love.
Galatians 5:22-23: “but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
The first of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. We discussed love in the first seventeen chapters of this book and about what God’s love is and how we are to love one another from the love Chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. We learned that by keeping His word and commandments we will show our love for the Savior. No need to go over this again. But as a reminder, here is what Jesus says to us about love in the book of John 14:23-24: “If anyone loves Me he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My word; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
Here it seems to say that when we are obedient to the words of God, we will receive His love and They, the Father and Jesus, will make Their home in us.
Keep this in mind as we now search out the Fruit of the Spirit, reminding us again of the kind of love we should have for one another when we walk in the Spirit of God. These are the characteristics of God and we should try to have them in us.
As we study them, I want us to put love in front of each one as we find out what love is and to be ready to share that love with others. That means not only loving those who love us, but even loving our enemies if we have any. If you look around you may find that you have one or two of those, because James tells us that those who are unfaithful to God are our enemies.
James 4:4: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
It’s okay to have non-Christian friends, but our goal should be to witness to them and bring them to Jesus. For some of us, it may be just planting seeds, and that’s okay. But we shouldn’t be hanging out with them, for we can too easily fall into their way of living. Sometimes even the strongest Christian can become weak. That’s why we should hang out with other Christians, because they are the ones we have a common denominator with. And that common denominator, as most of us know, is Jesus Christ. Besides, the Christians are the ones who will pray for us when we need special prayers and will be the ones to encourage us.
Do you have a friend who is an enemy of God? Living in the world, maybe even rejecting Christ? We all may know of someone like that. We can show them the love of Christ, by sharing with them His birth, His death, His resurrection, His forgiveness of our sins and of course, His love.
That person you are thinking of right now may be just the one who God is telling you to love. Take a few moments of silence asking God to help you show His love to them. With that thought in mind take your writing tool, write the name down you’re thinking of, and start praying for that individual. Ask God to put you in contact with that person, and then sit back and let God do His work. You may be surprised at what will happen when you do!
“god, what special thing can i do to show the person i have named the love you and i have for them?”
Love Is Joy
I had a friend tell me once that when she became a Christian she lost all of her joy. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. How can anyone lose their joy when Christ lives in them? Oh, we may not be joyful twenty-four seven, which is three hundred and sixty-five days a year, but we should have joy knowing where we will be going when we leave this earth. In Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17, in verse 13 He says: “But now I come to you; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”
And in the same Gospel, chapter 15: 11-12 Jesus tell us that: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” And again in his Gospel, John records Jesus saying in 16:22: “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
I wonder if my friend had ever read that last scripture, where Jesus says no one will take your joy away. There are lots of ways for us to receive the joy of the Lord. For those of us who have had the opportunity to lead someone to Him, don’t we rejoice right along with the angels?
As Luke tell us in his Gospel (15:10), Jesus says: “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Remember that verse?
The Christian can always find something to rejoice about. Just knowing that we are sinners and have been washed clean by the blood of Christ, should be where our joy begins. How about spending eternity with the Savior and the Father? Do you find that joyful? How can we as believers fail to bring love and joy into the world when we know the way of life with Jesus? And how about being joyful for all things God has done and does? For our family and friends, and His provision for us … the list never seems to end as He shows His love to each of us in so many different ways.
Today, sometime after you put this book down, call somebody and bring some joy into their life so you can show that love is being joyful.
After you made that call, write down what happened. Did you bless that person and were you blessed by making that call? And did you feel joyful? So how can you spread joy to others who need to receive His joy?
how can i have more love, more joy and more of god in my life?
Love is Peace
The world offers us a temporary peace. Many look for it in sex, booze, gambling, a meaningless relationship, plus many other ways. Eventually they find out that the peace they are looking for will last for only a little while, and will soon disappear. It’s something like our lives here on this earth … temporary!
James says in his book 4:14: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
We 're just passing through this earth -- it's a temporary home. Our permanent home is with Jesus and His Father in their Kingdom.
Ephesians 2:19: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”
1 Peter 2:11: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”
While we are on this earth we must seek to find God’s peace for us. Through the Savior of the world we can find the everlasting peace that only He can give us when we come to know Him.
In John 14:27, Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
Jesus doesn't give us the peace that the world gives -- the world's peace is temporary. His peace is one that will take away the troubles of our heart and any fear we may muster up. That's the kind of peace I need and want -- an everlasting peace. I want the God of peace. How about you? And if you do, how can you receive it?
Paul gives us a hint in his book to the Philippians, chapter 4:6-9: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
here it comes . . . how to receive the peace of god. now we are told how:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
These are the things we are to dwell on to receive God’s peace. In a nutshell, here they are again. They need to be repeated so we can remember them:
6. of good repute
7. any excellence
8. anything worthy of praise
Write down as many as you can of these attributes that can be found in you. Don’t be too hard on yourself, there are probably more that you may think.
Now that you know how to receive God’s peace , start distributing it to others, with your love -- for love is peace! How will you start doing this?
how can i start showing others the peace that only god can give?
Love is Patient
We talked somewhat about patience in chapter three, so we may repeat a little of what we learned in that chapter about love being patient. But like I have said before, going over some scriptures again and again helps us to remember them and even memorize them. I hope that I will also bring something new to this chapter about why love is patient.
Whenever I ask at a Bible study group or on a Sunday morning from the pulpit how many need more patience, everyone seems to raise their hand. How about you, dear reader? Do you need more patience? Would you also raise your hand if you were asked that same question?
The early church expected Christ to return at any moment. James, the Lord’s half-brother, tells them and us that patience is needed while waiting for the Lord’s return. James compared it to a farmer who has to wait until nature does its work.
James 5:7-8: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You, too, be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
Just as the farmer has to be patient waiting for the rains to come to produce his crops, we, too, must be patient and wait for the Lord’s return.
How do you feel about the second coming of Christ? Are you completely ready for His return? Or are you one of the many who wants Jesus to hold off for just a little while longer, for whatever their reasons may be? Many people say that they want Christ to delay His return because they have loved ones and friends who have not invited Christ into their lives. Good reason, but many of them who say this are not sharing Christ with those they love. If this is what they believe, and want Christ to wait a little longer, then why aren’t they telling their loved ones and friends about Him? What are they waiting for? Definitely not the return of the Messiah.
Listen to Paul and what he has to say to Timothy about receiving the crown of righteousness for loving the appearing of Christ in his second book in chapter four, verse eight.
“In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Are you excited about His return? Until that happens, are you sharing Christ with the lost, your loved ones? If so, are you doing it with love and with patience? Are you praying for the return of Christ? If not, why not?
Is that pen or pencil close by? If so, pick it up and write down your thoughts on the second coming of Christ. Are you ready for His return?
my thoughts on the second coming of christ, and why i am ready, or not ready, for his return.
Love is Kind
In chapter 4 of this book we talked about love is kind from 1 Corinthians 13, verse 4. Kindness must be very important before we can show true love. Kindness means forgiving one another just as Christ forgives us.
Romans 2:4: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
God has shown great kindness to us. We should not take that kindness for granted or take advantage of it, as some Jews were doing at that time. They were thinking lightly of God’s kindness.
Has there been someone who has been especially kind to you? Not necessarily the one who may have led you to the Lord, but someone who went that extra mile to show you that love is kind?
Write that name down and if it is the one who led you to the Lord, that’s great. Give that person a call and thank them personally. Send up a prayer for them and their family, and tell them you have just prayed for them. Remember we all need to be encouraged with kindness.
what happened when you made that call?
was it a blessing to you both? why or why not?
Love is Goodness
what is goodness? The New World Dictionary of the American Language ^©^1980 says that goodness is the state or quality of being good, having virtue; excellence, kindness, generosity; benevolence (inclined to be good) I’m sure, my precious readers, that as you read these over you will find that you have some, if not all of these qualities.
In Romans 15:14, Paul says that we do have goodness inside of us, we just have to let the qualities out and not hide them or keep them a secret from others: “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.”
Paul says that he is convinced that we are full of goodness and knowledge. How does that make you feel? Good I hope. Here’s what else he has to say about goodness.
Ephesians 5:9: “For the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” All of these qualities are in Jesus, for He is the Light.
2 Thessalonians 1:11: “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.”
Pencil? … Check over the qualities that the New World Dictionary says God has, and then write down which ones you need more of, and how you’re going to accomplish them.
i will accomplish having more of god’s qualities by…
Love is Faithful
Faithfulness means to be trustworthy and dependable. Do you know that you can receive another reward for being faithful, another crown to be laid at the feet of Jesus?
Revelation 2:10: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
In case you haven’t guessed, that’s Jesus speaking. He said He would give us the crown of life, a reward for those of us who are faithful to Him until death. No matter what trials may come our way, if we stand firm for our Lord we will receive the crown of eternal life. He tells us not to fear, but yet we do. I read somewhere that “Fear Not” is used in the Bible 365 times, a reminder not to fear for each day of the year.
What is your biggest fear? Could it possibly be your salvation? Do you feel your faithfulness to Christ is not strong enough? Many people doubt their salvation. They get it mixed up with works and doing good things. In our Bible studies here in Taiwan where I am writing this chapter, I go around the room asking them one by one if they’re sure when they leave this earth that they will be in the Kingdom of God. Many say they’re not sure. When I ask them why, they say that they’re not good enough, or they have to do more works to go to Heaven. That’s when I show them 1 John 5:11-13.
It might be good for you to jot these scriptures down somewhere or even highlight them in your Bible for future reference. “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
John says that we have eternal life in God's Son, and that there's no other way. In verse 12 he says it so simply. If you have the Son, you have life -- if you don't have the Son, you don't have life. How more simple can it be? And verse 13 is my favorite: if we believe in the things that John has written about the Son of God, we will know that we have eternal life. Not hope so, I think so, or even maybe, but you will know.
I then ask my students, as I am now asking you, to underline or circle the word “know” to remind them and us that salvation is secure if we know Christ and are trying to live our life the best we can while living on this earth, by following His commandments.
Maybe your fear is not your salvation. Perhaps you have another fear, or maybe even more than one. God knows at times we have fears. That’s why He has mentioned “fear not” so many times in the Bible to remind us that He is there, right by our side and will help us walk through them — if we let Him.
Take your writing instrument in your hand again, and then write down those fears that you may have, and then ask yourself this: How can I overcome them? Then ask God to give you His wisdom and guidance and strength and help in conquering those fears.
As you write them down, and again as a reminder, whatever question you are asked in this book is for your eyes only. Unless, that is, you feel God wants you to share with someone special who He has put in your life. Or maybe there’s someone you may know who has fears, someone who you can help overcome them. Write that name down, make a call if necessary, and start praying that God will use you to help this person overcome their fear or fears.
“lord, help me to overcome my fears, and help me to help someone who has fears.”
did you make that call? if not, why not? if so, what happened?
Love is Gentleness
This probably means being able to be angry at the right time, not the wrong time.
Is this possible?
James says in 1:19 and 20: “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
In other words think before you speak. Be gentle with your love for others, and listen carefully what they are saying, because you may be receiving it the wrong way.
Many times Doni will ask me what I mean, when I say something she doesn’t completely understand. When I repeat myself and explain to her what I mean, she’ll say, “That’s not the way I received it.” The way she took it was not the way I thought I had said it. How she heard it could have caused a disagreement between us if she had not asked me to explain my statement. Sometimes we must ask someone to repeat what they have said before we react to what we thought was said.
1 Peter 3:4: “But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” This tells us we should have a quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, even though this may have been written down to wives. But isn’t it something we should all have? Don’t we all want to be precious in the sight of God?
In 2 Corinthians 10:1: “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!” Here Paul urges us to have the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Christ is our role model and we are to strive to be like Him. It may never happen on this earth, but remember 1 John 3:2 that we mentioned in chapter 17, that when Christ appears at His second coming, we will be like Him and know Him just as He is.
Oh, to be gentle like Jesus, to be firm and demanding of what He expects of us, and yet to be gentle and loving.
What challenges your gentleness? Mine is rude people, like some bank tellers and food servers -- just to mention a few. Have you ever wondered why some of these people work with the public, yet are not gifted in helping or serving others? I am always baffled to know how in the world did they get their job.
What ruffles or baffles you about being gentle, that makes it hard for you to love and show gentleness to others?
how can i be more gentle to others?
Love is Self Control
What is self-control? Let’s check it out with the New World Dictionary of the American Language where it says, “A control of one’s own emotion, desires and action.”
emotion … any specific feeling such as love, hate, fear and anger.
desires … something to long for or crave for.
actions … to do something.
We have the ability to control our emotions, desires and actions no matter if they are good or bad. In Titus 1:7-9 Paul gives us the qualification of how an Elder of the church should be. It is also a great guide for all of us who want to follow Christ:
“For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
I’m sure you will agree with me that these are good attributes to have. In fact it would be wonderful if every Christian had all of them, or at least was striving to accomplish them as we devote ourselves to Christ. Loving what is good, and being self controlled in all things that we do.
For yourself, which one of the above do you feel is the most difficult for you to demonstrate to others? And while you have your pen in your hand, check over the Fruit of the Spirit listed below. Write down the two that you find most difficult, and then the two that are the easiest.
i chose the two that are the most difficult for me because …
Jesus gives us many commandments to follow if we want to be obedient to Him. Love is one that seems to stand out among the scriptures in 1 John chapter four, where John uses the word love 27 times in just 21 verses. That is why Christ may be telling you and me to love someone we find hard to love. Maybe that’s why at times we say or think, “You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to Love WHO?”
Like I have said many times, it is He who plants that name in our minds, and believe me, if a name has been given to you it is from the Lord, so you can be sure He’s not kidding.
In John 15:9-14, Jesus says: “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.”
Wow, what a commandment that is. Loving someone just as Jesus has loved us. He loves us just as His Father has loved Him. Again, he doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t done Himself. He even asks us to keep His commandments just as He has kept His Father’s commandments. When that happens we will be full of His joy.
How does He want us to love others? The same way He has loved us. We may not have to lay down our lives for a friend as Jesus did, but let’s not forget that He did just that. But we may have to give up what we have, like our worldly goods.
In 1 John 3:16-18 the apostle John writes: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
Yes, there are times we must do more than just pray. We must give to others what is necessary for their bodies. That is giving love. Remember chapter eight about running into a Christian friend who needs food or clothing and you say, “Oh, I will pray for you”? James says, “What good is that?”
Jesus says if you keep His commandments -- in this case loving each other -- then we will be His friends. Don't you want to be a friend of Jesus? If so, pick up your phone and love up on someone. Then write down what you have just experienced, I am sure it will be a blessing.
the blessing i received when i made that call was …
Sorry to say, but even us Christians have what one might call personality conflicts. I 've had a few of those myself, and probably some of you have had also. Even that great missionary of the New Testament, Paul of Tarsus, had some conflicts. At least there's one we know of with John Mark -- or just Mark. Colossians 4:10 tells us that Mark was the cousin of Barnabas, and that he accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. But he failed for some reason to stay with them. Because of this, Paul refused to take Mark on the second Journey. It took about twelve years for them to clear things up between them.
Acts 15:36-40: “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to do the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.”
Not just a small or dull conflict, but Luke says a sharp disagreement between the two of them.
As most scholars agree, it was probably not doctrine but a personality conflict. God used this disagreement by sending not just one team to go out and share the Gospel of Christ, but two teams.
In 2 Timothy 4:11 we can see that they must have worked out their differences, just as we who are believers should do. Paul writes, “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.”
Whatever caused their separation had been mended. They were now working together for the cause of Jesus. They had put their differences aside. I wonder which one of them apologized first? Which one was the stronger Christian?
Are you going through some difficult times with someone, or maybe even with God? Is there a personality conflict going on between you and a sister or brother in Christ? Are you afraid to make the first move, no matter what the conflict is, or whose fault it may be? Are you holding anger and not love in your heart? Or is it possible that your anger with God is what’s holding you back from loving one another?
Whatever it is, take it to the source -- be it man woman, or God your Father. You'll be glad you did and it will feel like many pounds of weight have been lifted from your shoulders.
We have a Father who listens and waits for us to come to Him. If we don’t bring Him our problems, He cannot help us. And when He asks us to love that someone who is a special child of His, please don’t whisper back in His ear, “You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to love who?” You can be sure that He does just that!
has this book challenged you in some way?
if so, has the lord given you one or more names to love on?
who are they?
and what have you done, or what will you do about it?
We’re almost finished. I pray that you have learned something new about God’s love, or maybe He’s reminded you of something that you may have forgotten about: like His love and how He wants us to love one another.
The next five chapters will be short, asking you to write your thoughts on the next verses. Before you do, take each one to God. Ask Him for His wisdom, and what He’s trying to teach you through these verses.
So please for the last time, will you pick up your pencil or pen and ponder on the verses, and write down what they now mean to you.
Romans 12:9-10: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”
what are your thoughts? what has god taught you from these verses?
Romans 12:14-18: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never payback evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
what are your thoughts? what has god taught you from these verses?
Ephesians 5:1-2: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
what are your thoughts? what has god taught you from these verses?
Colossians 3:12-14: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
what are your thoughts? what has god taught you from these verses?
Hebrews 10:23-24: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”
what are you thoughts? what has god taught you from these verses?
In closing I want to thank each of you for reading “You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to Love who?”
I hope and pray that this book and study has been helpful to you, or has helped you to help someone else who may be finding it hard to love a sister or brother in the Lord; someone who is special to God, or even God Himself.
I would love to hear from you, my e-mail is [email protected] In the remarks write love who? Or if you would rather snail mail: P.O. Box 4404, Kailua-Kona Hi., 96745.
May our Lord bless you as you stretch yourself in keeping His commandment to love one another.
Now are you ready to go out and find that person that God wants you to love? Or are you still saying, “You Can’t be Serious, Lord. You Want Me to Love who?” If you are, there’s no need to ask it any more, because you can be sure that He does want you to love who.
If you are looking for a blessing, then please continue to give your whole life to Jesus by letting all that you do glorify Him and God, our Father. If you haven’t already, please say the following prayer inviting Christ into your life. You will be glad you did.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe that You are the Son of God. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I want to turn away from my sin and make You Lord of my life. I invite You to come into my life right now. Thank You, Jesus, for loving me. Amen.”
If you said this prayer, have faith that Jesus came into your life immediately, as He refuses no one. Please tell someone you know who is a Christian what you have done. And find a church and a Bible study that teaches Jesus is the way to eternal life, so God can work in you. I also would like to hear from you.
P.O. Box 4404, Kailua Kona, HI 96745
This book is written to encourage you to love one another. Not always easy, but itâ€™s a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Has God ever told you or commanded you to love someone you find hard to love? Have you ever heard yourself say, "You can't be serious, Lord, you want me to love who?" And then when you give in and love that person, he or she can become your very good friend. This book will help you understand God's special love that He has for each of us. By reviewing 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, and Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruit of the Spirit, we not only see His love, but the love we should have for one another. At the end of each chapter you will be challenged to do just that. So have your writing instrument and notebook ready and be honest with yourself. Chuck and Doni have been missionaries since 1981. They live on the Big Island of Hawaii. They have two children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. They have helped start churches in the Philippines, Hong Kong, South Africa and also Taiwan where Chuck ministers four months each year. Chuck is the Pastor of the Kona Coast Chaplaincy on the Big Island of Hawaii, and he along with Doni are the Directors of Go Spread His Word Ministries, Inc. founded in 1990.