Tag Archives: love

Isaiah 11:9-16

Scripture: from verse 13

Ephraim will stop envying Judah,
and Judah will stop provoking Ephraim.

Observation:  God decided to make a people for Himself, and he chose a man, and that man’s son and grandson, and then the grandson had twelve sons so God made each brother into his own tribe and told them to live in harmony with each other.  Because that never ends badly.

So now, centuries later, two of the tribes (and realistically, probably all of the tribes) are in the habit of annoying each other.  And God is saying that when Yeshua comes and establishes peace, they’ll stop.  And it isn’t even that they’ll stop attacking each other, like two children told to sit on their hands in the back seat of a car.  They’ll stop annoying each other because their hearts will change.  Envy and jealousy will be replaced by love.

Lots of kings have imposed peace.  It takes the King of Kings to create peace.

There’s a frequently-quoted section in this chapter about the peace that Yeshua will establish in nature: the lion will lie down with the lamb, and so on.  And that’s a beautiful image, but it doesn’t really illustrate how good God is at making peace happen.  Lions eat lambs because that is their nature; it can’t be all that hard for God to just reprogram their nature if He wants to, though I suspect there’s a little more to it than that.  But this is God creating internal harmony in people and families and nations, without changing who those people are.  This is laser-guided heart surgery.

Application:  Ask God to bring peace to your relationships with others.

Prayer:  Yeshua, please help me live in harmony with those around me: my children, my husband, my siblings, my parents, my in-laws, my friends.  Help me to love them without fear or envy or annoyance.  Amen.

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Isaiah 8:11-23

Scripture: verse 16

Wrap up this document, and confine its teaching to those I have instructed.

Application:  I’m not certain how much of the preceding passage is “this document,” but probably just the last few verses, which are about how the secular worldview is completely different from the godly worldview, and God is present among His people to be a shelter for those who seek His worldview and an obstacle for those who don’t.  He’s present so that they cannot sit on the fence or pretend to be neutral.  There isn’t a third option.

I’m not sure why the teaching had to be concealed.  Admittedly one does not tell people about the trap one is planning, but I would think that they people who rejected God weren’t listening anyway.  Perhaps God is also trying to avoid a Pascal’s Wager sort of situation.

I hate it when knowledge is deliberately withheld.  Even when there’s a good reason for it, it really bugs me.  Most of the time that’s probably a good thing.

But…there’s a time to stay silent.  God told Isaiah not to broadcast this teaching, and there are other times He gave similar instructions.

My mom said once that God once gave her the Scripture “do not awaken love before love’s time” (Song of Songs 8:4) for one of her children, meaning that she needed to sit back and let God work on the child quietly, rather than pushing for right behavior.  I don’t know the details of that situation, but I can think of times I have needed to let God work rather than try to push myself.

And recently I’ve been part of several conversations about confronting others about their poor behavior or challenging others about their beliefs, and I keep coming away feeling that in many cases we need to be quiet and pray instead of expecting the issue to be resolved on the human level.  We’re too prone to let in anger and bitterness, and minds that are closed to God aren’t going to be listening anyway.

I don’t really know what to do with this.  I don’t want to be copping out, avoiding conflict because I dislike it.  I admit I find it much easier to pray than to talk.  But I also see plenty of times when I have forced myself to speak up and it has just backfired, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.  And maybe it did some good anyway, underneath the surface, but maybe I should have waited until God gave me words.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spirits and principalities (Eph 6:12).  Flesh and blood are right in front of us, but too often that’s the wrong way to attack.

Observation:  Ask God for guidance, I guess.  He knows we need it.

Prayer:  Father, make me an instrument of your peace.  Teach me to pray or speak or be silent as needed.  Amen.

Colossians 4:11-18

Scripture: from verse 17

See that you complete the task you were given in the Lord.

Observation:  This is a reminder that Paul addresses to a specific person, but it applies to all of us.  We are set a task.  We have to complete it.

It’s easy to leave spiritual work half-done.  If our work is to pray or to love or something like that, we may not see concrete results from our work.  There may not be a physical sign that we are finished.  So we tend to assume that we have finished as soon as we’ve done anything, when God may be calling us to keep going.

All we can do is wait for God’s peace to release us.  If we are to pray, we keep praying.  If we are to love, we keep loving.  If we are to write or dance or eat or talk, we keep going until we are finished.  We are accomplishing a great deal in the spiritual world as we do His will, and He can see it even when we cannot.

Application:  Have patience and keep going.  Wait for God to tell you what to do.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for giving me tasks to complete for you.  Help me to be patient and persevering and accomplish what you want me to accomplish.  Amen.

Colossians 3:5-10

Scripture: verse

…but now, put them all away — anger, exasperation, meanness, slander and obscene talk.

Observation:  It’s a good thing God says nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37), because this sounds pretty impossible to me.  We are new people, being remade and renewed by the knowledge of God, and that means giving up these things.  It means being nice to people.

At a CBS recently, one of the questions was, “Why do people try to follow the Law when Yeshua has fulfilled the Law?”  And the answer I came up with was that there’s always a Law to follow that is easier than actually loving people.

Loving people is hard.  Loving a person may be fairly easy, but choosing not to be angry or mean or even exasperated with every single person you meet or see or pass while driving is very hard.  Because people are crazy.

But God is great.  That’s the point here.  We don’t love people because they are lovable.  We usually don’t know them well enough to love them.  We love them because God is great.  we love them because He does.  We love them because His light makes all things lovable.

In photography, “magic hour” is the hour before sunset.  (I believe the hour after sunrise also counts.)  In college I called it the “glowing time” when I happened to take a walk during that time.  Everything glows then.  Houses and trees and rocks and sidewalk and everything.  It’s beautiful because of the light that is on it.

I figure God is like that too.  God is our permanent glowing hour.  His light transforms the normal boring annoying people around us into glowing beings.  So even when we can’t love them with out normal minds, we can look for God’s light.  Because that is lovable.

Application: Look for God’s light when you are getting annoyed with people.  Watch them glow.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, I am not very good at this.  Especially over the internet.  Help me to see your light on people.  Amen.

Colossians 2:20-23

Scripture: from verse 23

[Traditional rules ]have the outward appearance of wisdom, but they have no value at all in restraining people from indulging their old nature.

Observation: Here is the guideline we should be using when we choose what rules and traditions to follow: does it help me avoid my sin nature?  Does it help me love others and love God?

I find it easier to love people after I post on this blog.  Apparently spending a short time thinking about God’s grace and love helps me see others in a more gracious light.  Sometimes I even do it right before a social situation that might be difficult, in the hope that I’ll navigate it more easily.  It seems to help.  So that’s why I do it.  I miss days, and I will probably keep missing days for as long as I do it, but I’m not doing it as a demonstration of how disciplined I am.  I’m doing it because it helps me to love better.

My husband keeps kosher (avoids eating the animals listed as unclean in Leviticus) because it helps him love God and love others.  I don’t really get it, to be honest, but I keep kosher to support him.  Because it’s good for our family and our community.

And there’s a lot of rules out there about what Christians should eat and not eat, wear and not wear, read and listen to and do and visit.  I generally ignore them, unless I find one that helps me love God better.  Because that’s the only thing that matters.

Application:  Pursue love.  Don’t worry about things that don’t help you love God and love others.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, thank you for being there to guide me.  Please help me to live wisely.  Amen.

Colossians 1:26-29

Scripture: from verse 28

…we warn, confront and teach everyone in all wisdom…

Observation: Paul is describing his ministry.  His primary (and perhaps only) goal is to see people united with Messiah.  To that end, he draws on God’s wisdom as well as his own to speak to people.  And that speaking may not always be pleasant.  Some people just needed to be taught, but if a more aggressive or confrontational approach was required, he used it.

We don’t like confrontation.  Certainly I don’t.  There are conversations I fear enough that my husband offers to handle them for me, for which I am incredibly thankful.  But the fact that confrontation is unpleasant does not mean that we can always avoid it.

Sometimes it takes a cold bucket of water to wake us up.  If the blunt truth will bring us healing, then that’s what we need.  And if it is our job to give that to others, then we have to do it if we love them.

Application:  Follow God’s lead, even if that means saying something you’d rather not.  It might be exactly what they need to hear.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for having the wisdom to know what people need.  Please give me the words to say to people, since we both know that I screw it up if I’m left to my own devices.  Amen.

Colossians 1:1-5

Scripture: from verse 4 and 5

The love you have for all God’s people…springs from the confident hope that you will receive what is stored up for you in heaven.

Observation:  We don’t always like people.  I certainly don’t always like people.  I don’t like people when they don’t listen to me, or when they talk too much, or when they refuse to think clearly about some subject.  I have the unfortunate tendency to think ideas are more important than people, and I can ride roughshod over the needs of others if I’m not careful as a result.  Sometimes listening is more important than being right.

And I think that’s one of the things that is stored up specifically for me in heaven: answers.  Clear, elegant truths that make sense of everything that happens on Earth and unlock new and fascinating questions to explore.  And (I hope) the knowledge that everyone else around me also sees God clearly, and God is Truth so because they see Truth and I see Truth we’ll be able to think about things together and not get caught in weird circular logic and human anchoring biases.

Stupid anchoring bias.

And so I can love people even when I don’t like them.  Even when they are wrong – not just mistaken (which I don’t mind) but actually refusing to see reason – I know that someday I won’t have any biases and they won’t have any biases and the conversation that I’m finding so frustrating will be long gone and forgotten.  Because Truth is waiting.

God already counts me as perfect.  I’m not.  Hopefully I can love others for how our relationship will be, even if I don’t like where it is.  It’s not like I’m perfect either.

And this is different for every person, but God still has stored in heaven exactly the treasure you are hoping for.  Time.  Affection.  Pleasure.  Power.  Creation.  Sleep.  Everything we desire – everything we dislike other people for interrupting – God has stored up for us.  The current delay is just a drop in the ocean of promise.

Application:  Look to heaven.  God has what you need.  You don’t have to push at others or take from others to get it.

Prayer:  Yeshua, help me to be better at seeing things from your perspective.  Help me to know that you have all the answers, and that all things will pass but your Truth.  Help me to love others the way you do.  Amen.

Ephesians 6:21-24

Scripture: verse 24

Grace be to all who love our Lord Yeshua the Messiah with undying love.

Observation: This is Paul’s final salutation, as he prays for God to bless us.  What caught my eye was the phrase “undying love.”

We talk a lot about how Gods love for us is perfect and endless and infinite.  We can’t offer God perfect love, but we can offer undying love.  We can choose to be faithful.

Elsewhere in the Bible it talks about people whose love has grown cold, through indifference to God and selfishness or fear of man or both.  And obviously we are fallen humans and our love for God will not be perfect all the time.  But we can choose to make God our priority, and to keep our love for Him alive.

At the ladies’ meeting yesterday, we talked a lot about shame.  But shame only makes sense when we forget the facts of the matter.  The fact that other people don’t like God says far more about them than it says about God.

The fact is, God is amazing.  Powerful and wise and loving and perfect.  Our love dies when we forget that.

Application: Remember who God is.  Turn to Him for comfort when things are difficult, instead of rejecting Him in anger.  Ask Him to show the truth of the situation.  Because He will.

Prayer:  God, I thank you that your truth is beautiful.  I thank you that you are making all things perfect in their time.  Please help me to see your beauty, even when I’m tired or distressed.  Amen.

Ephesians 6:6-10

Scripture: from verse 9

Remember that in heaven both you and they have the same Master, and He has no favorites.

Observation: This is part of Paul’s advice to slave owners: treat your slaves well and respectfully, because in God’s eyes you’re no better than them.  Thankfully we no longer have slavery in most of the world, but this is far from irrelevant.

This sums up the core of how believing communities and relationships should function.  God knows me and God loves me.  God also knows and loves my husband, my sister, my neighbor, my rabbi, and even the woman who keeps implying that I need to do a better job of keeping Beauty’s curls under control.

So I can share my heart, confident that God will protect me.  (Of course, sometimes He protects me by letting me know I shouldn’t share my heart.  It’s not like my brain is turned off.)  And I can extend grace to people who annoy me, because I know that God loves them and He is fitting them into where they need to be.  And I don’t have to fix people, because God has already planned out their trajectory.

If I use on God’s wisdom, I don’t have to rely on my own.  Considering how flawed I am, that’s a relief.

Application:  Treat others with respect and love.  At the End of the Day, we’re all just people.  And God loves us.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for seeing our hearts and not just our appearance and our actions.  Thank you for taking the time to know me.  Thank you for not having favorites but for meeting each of us where we are.  Amen.

Ephesians 5:31-33

Scripture: from verse 31

…and the two will become one flesh.

Observation:  Paul is quoting Genesis 2 here, speaking of a husband and wife coming together.  He goes on to say that this is true on two levels: it’s true of individual couples, and it also described a “profound mystery” concerning Messiah and the believers.  (There’s one of those places that God’s word is fractal: the little pictures look just like the big pictures.)

But I was thinking about one flesh.  Flesh isn’t an amorphous material.  It isn’t like clay or bread dough that can be split up and recombined without anyone noticing.  Flesh means blood vessels, and muscles and tendons and bones, and nerves and lymph nodes and glands.

So two becoming one isn’t just about emotions or sex or other easy ways of joining.  It means joining structures, so that each supports and extends the movements of the other.  It means joining circulatory systems, so that oxygen and energy and sickness and healing flow back and forth.  Even your proprioceptive sense (the sense that tells you where your body is, allowing you to do things like clap your hands with your eyes closed) and your limbic system (the part of your brain that runs emotions and memory and things) can apply to two people instead of just one.

And that’s what God wants to have with us.  Messiah’s lifeblood, flowing through our bodies.  Messiah’s power supporting our steps.  His desires becoming ours, and ours becoming His.

Yeshua wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  He wants to be one flesh with us.

Application: Become one flesh with Yeshua.  I’m not really sure how that works with Yeshua, but I know some of how it works in marriage: your spend time together and learn each other and respect and love each other.  So spend time with Yeshua and learn about Him – and be open and honest so He can learn you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for offering to be one flesh with us.  You could have offered to be our master, or our father, or our owner, and been entirely within your rights – you owe us nothing.  But you offered to be one flesh.  You offered unity.  Help me believe that.  Amen.