Real Love

(Click here to listen to the podcast recording)

 

Each week, it seems, we hear about a new celebrity couple getting together, and the gossip columnists begin taking bets on how long before they will call it quits. It makes me wonder if the popular song, “What’s love got to do with it,” was written about this phenomenon. They call it love, but is it really?

Years ago, a wise man by the name of Paul wrote a classic description of what real love is: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV) Those celebrity relationships rarely, it seems, come anywhere close to Paul’s description.

As we celebrate St. Valentine’s day this month, consider the meaning of real love: it is a daily choice to put the best interests of the one loved before one’s own wants and needs. Love is more than an emotional high; it is a conscious choice, a continuing commitment. You don’t fall into and out of love (that would be infatuation). You must choose to love and you must choose to nurture that love if it is to grow.

Want to know more about love? Don’t look to the celebrities! Look to the best example of love, ever: “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16, NLT)

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The Quest – Day 36

This is the devotional for Tuesday, October 31, 2006 which is the 36th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 36 of Frank Moore’s incredible book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 36 – A Holy and Pleasing Offering

We must offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)

Author Frank Moore says that the common experience of saints down through the ages has been an awareness of a remaining hindrance to further spiritual growth. We come to realize that our problem involves wanting the best of both worlds—what God wants and what we want at the same time. But we know we cannot have it both ways.

Once we pinpoint the self-centeredness that is the heart of the problem, we realize it must be replaced with Christ-centeredness. We confess our need to God and surrender ourselves completely to His will. We sacrifice ourselves for God’s purposes and then trust God to change us. The Spirit entered our lives when we accepted Christ; now we are inviting Him to take charge of our control center.

Today’s Scripture lesson reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. He willingly gave Himself to be nailed to the Cross. We too, should willingly offer our entire beings back to God as a living sacrifice. When we do this, something miraculous happens. Our values are changed from the world’s values; God radically transforms our lives. We receive the “mind of Christ” that the Apostle Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 2:16. We say to God, “Whatever You ask, I’m willing to do. I’m just a glove for Your hand to fill.”

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

To hear the message for Discovery 5 of the Quest, which reveals that “You can develop Christlike character,” or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by offering yourself as a living sacrifice to God.

The Quest – Day 30

This is the devotional for Wednesday, October 25, 2006 which is the 30th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 30 of Frank Moore’s great book, The Power To Be Free.

 Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 30 – Power Over Trials and Temptations

God gives us power to live victoriously over trials and temptations.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3 NIV)

Author Frank Moore’s family plays a board game called The Magnificent Race.  Players must overcome a series of obstacles while progressing in the worldwide race.  The arch villain of this board game is Dastardly Dan, who does everything in his power to discourage and bankrupt players.  Victory comes only after numerous battles with this villain. 

Christian living mirrors this board game in many ways.  Most days seem like a mad dash against a nearly impossible schedule.  We must each deal with our own Dastardly Dan arch villain in the form of Satan.  He’s pinned a bull’s-eye on our backs and targeted us for spiritual defeat.  Our quest today takes us on a search for power to live victoriously over trials and temptations.  Temptations attempt to derail our faith; trials test and strengthen it.

In today’s Scripture, James urges us to look on the positive side of our trials.  James lists four positive results that come from trials:

  1. We grow in patience (v. 4)
  2. We become mature and complete in our faith (vv. 4-5)
  3. We increase in faith (v 6)
  4. We receive a reward from God (v. 7)

The Bible warns us against surrendering to temptation.  Remember temptation targets us for defeat.  Paul talks about temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:12-14:  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” 

These passages reveal that:

  1. Temptation is a fact.
  2. Temptation usually catches us off guard.
  3. Temptation originates outside of us.
  4. Temptation is universal.
  5. Temptation has its limits.
  6. You can resist temptation.
  7. Once temptation passes, you’ll be left standing.

In the wilderness temptation (Matt. 4:1-11) and throughout His life, Jesus met Satan’s temptations and remained victorious at every encounter.  So can you!

The memory verse for this week is Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Thank you for stopping by to read (or listen to) FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org. 

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 4 of the Quest, “You can receive power,” or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.  You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net. 

Build your faith today by depending on God’s power to live victoriously over trials and temptations.

The Quest – Day 13

This is the devotional for Sunday, October 8, 2006 which is the 13th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 13 of Frank Moore’s great book, The Power To Be Free.

If you are unable to attend today’s service, focusing on Discovery 2 of the Quest, we’d love you have you participate via our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. We will attempt to post the service this evening.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 13 – Love Floats

Love is the most important virtue.

“But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Since author Frank Moore grew up near his grandparents’ farm, he is amused when he visits the local grocery store and sees pints of what they now call “heavy whipping cream.” The name might imply cream to be heavier than regular milk. Quite the contrary. Dr. Moore grew up with a gallon of fresh milk in their refrigerator every morning. He knows that because rich cream is lighter than milk, it floats to the surface.

If we think of putting every Christian virtue in a bowl of water, love will float to the very top as the most important Christian virtue described in the Bible. Furthermore, love represents a key ingredient in every other Christian virtue.

Love is defined as a strong affection leading to action toward another person often based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests. It usually leads to unselfish loyalty or benevolent concern for the good of this special one. These definitions speak more of action than warm, fuzzy feelings. These represent ways we want God and other people to think, feel, and act toward us. They also represent the ways God wants us to think, feel, and act toward Him and others.

Dr. Moore said he recently attended a meeting where he heard a woman say, “I love poor people.” Someone quickly responded, “What are their names?” You see, love is not a lofty abstract; it must translate into a practical, concrete gesture aimed toward a person with a name. True love touches real people.

You know intuitively that love is the greatest and highest virtue. Where and how do you discover this kind of love? That is the focus of our Quest this week.

The memory verse for this week is Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcasts. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by loving God and others in practical ways.

40 Days of Purpose – Day 33

This is the devotional for Thursday, June 1, 2006 which is the 33rd day of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 33 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 33 – How Real Servants Act


We serve God by serving others!

You can tell what they are by what they do.” Matthew 7:16 (CEV)

In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept. Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you. Yet, it is possible to serve in church for a lifetime without ever being a servant. You must have a servant’s heart.

Notoriety means nothing to real servants because they know the difference between prominence and significance. In heaven God is going to openly reward some of his most obscure and unknown servants—people we never heard of on earth, who taught emotionally disturbed children, cleaned up after incontinent elderly, nursed AIDS patients, and served in thousands of other unnoticed ways.

Knowing this, don’t be discouraged when your service is unnoticed or taken for granted. Keep on serving God! “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” I Corinthians 15:58 (Msg)

Even the smallest service is noticed by God and will be rewarded. Remember the words of Jesus: “If, as my representatives, you give even a cup of cold water to a little child, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:42 (LB)

The memory verse for this week is 1 Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church.

Build your faith today by serving God with a servant’s heart!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 31

This is the devotional for Tuesday, May 30, 2006 which is the 31st Day of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 31 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

DAY 31 – UNDERSTANDING YOUR SHAPE

Only you can be you!

“You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (Msg)

God designed each of us so there would be no duplication in the world. No one has the exact same mix of factors that make you unique. That means no one else on earth will ever be able to play the role God planned for you. If you don’t make your unique contribution to the Body of Christ, it won’t be made. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts … different ways of serving … and different abilities to perform service.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (TEV)

Your abilities are the natural talents you were born with. One of the most common excuses people give for not serving is “I just don’t have any abilities to offer.” This is ludicrous. You have dozens, probably hundreds, of untapped, unrecognized, and unused abilities that are lying dormant inside you.

Like stained glass, our different personalities reflect God’s light in many colors and patterns. This blesses the family of God with depth and variety. It also blesses us personally. When you minister in a manner consistent with the personality God gave you, you experience fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfulness.

You will be most effective when you use your spiritual gifts and abilities in the area of your heart’s desire, and in a way that best expresses your personality and experiences. The better the fit, the more successful you will be.

The memory verse for this week is “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” 1 Peter 4:10

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church. Build your faith today by serving God in the way that fits the way God made you!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 29

This is the devotional for Sunday, May 28, 2006 which is Day 29 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 29 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 29 – Accepting Your Assignment

You were put on earth to make a contribution!

“It is God himself who made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.” Ephesians 2:10 (LB)

You were created to serve God. “God has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10b (TEV) These “good deeds” are your service to the world. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God and fulfilling one of your purposes.

You were saved to serve God. Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t just immediately take us to heaven the moment we accept his grace? Once you are saved, God intends to use you for his goals. God has a ministry for you in his church and a mission for you in the world.

You are called to serve God. The Bible says, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT) Each of us has a role to play, and every role is important.

You are commanded to serve God. The mature follower of Jesus stops asking, “Who’s going to meet my needs?” and starts asking, “Whose needs can I meet?” Do you ever ask that question? One day God will compare how much time and energy we spent on ourselves compared with what we invested in serving others.

The memory verse for this week is “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” 1 Peter 4:10

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church. Build your faith today by serving God!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 27

This is the devotional for Friday, May 26, 2006 which is Day 27 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 27 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 27 – Defeating Temptation

There is always a way out!

“Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” 1 Cor. 10:12 (Msg)

You may sometimes feel that a temptation is too overpowering for you to bear, but that’s a lie from Satan. God has promised never to allow more on you than he puts within you to handle it. He will not permit any temptation that you could not overcome. However, you must do your part too by practicing four biblical keys to defeating temptation.

REFOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON SOMETHING ELSE. Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it, just hang up!

REVEAL YOUR STRUGGLE TO A GODLY FRIEND OR SUPPORT GROUP. Authentic, honest fellowship is the antidote to your lonely struggle against those sins that won’t budge. God says it is the only way you’re going to break free.

RESIST THE DEVIL. Without Christ we are defenseless against the Devil, but with “the helmet of salvation” our minds are protected by God. Remember this: If you are a believer, Satan cannot force you to do anything. He can only suggest.

REALIZE YOUR VULNERABILITY. Given the right circumstances, any of us are capable of any sin. We must never let down our guard and think we’re beyond temptation.

Don’t carelessly place yourself in tempting situations. Remember that it is easier to stay out of temptation than to get out of it.

Visit FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net to listen to this devotional or to read or hear previous episodes. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church.

Build your faith today by finding the path of victory over each temptation!