God Running

The Story of Ian and Larissa

Ian was just a normal college guy in a relationship with Larissa. They dated for 10 months with the intention of getting married. But Ian’s car accident changed everything.

How Larissa handles it blows me away! I’m reminded of how undeserving and unworthy I am, yet in spite of that, Jesus desires me (and you) as His bride.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Revelation 21:9



Love Like Jesus — Practically: John 2:7-10

Love Like Jesus Practically John 2

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

John 2:7-10

How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved people by providing practical help.

“They have no more wine.” Jesus’ mother said. Have you ever been around the women in charge of a wedding celebration when something goes wrong? I have. Running out of anything at a wedding is a big deal.

They had no more wine, and Jesus had the capability of providing wine.

Jesus was in the right spot at the right time with the right capability to meet the need at hand.

So He did.

How to Love Like Jesus

I’m guessing you don’t have an ability to turn water into wine.

Neither do I.

But there are capabilities you do have.

Just a few months ago, my family and I were on the road to Portland when my 2001 Ford F150 started to falter. I limped into my nephew, Kody’s house in Springfield where we swapped out my truck for his Toyota Highlander for the rest of the trip.

On the way home we stopped in Springfield to return the Highlander, and there my son, Gabe repaired the problem with the help of a great Ford mechanic another nephew of mine, Kassidy, tracked down.

We needed a vehicle, Kody had a Highlander available. We needed the truck repaired, Gabe had the ability to do it. We were pressed for time, Kassidy knew of the Ford mechanic who came over to help speed the process. Kody and Kassidy’s wives, Sofia and Miriam both provided amazing food and hospitality while we waited for those with mechanical ability to finish the job.

Gabe, Kody, Kassidy, Sofia, and Miriam were in the right spot at the right time with the right capability to meet the need at hand.

Getting back to Jesus’ example, there are a couple more things worth noting about how Jesus provided. Notice how He gave His best.The master of the banquet called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Also notice Jesus helped in a way completely devoid of any claim for credit. The master of the banquet did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

Only Jesus and those immediately around Him at the time knew of what He’d done.

So here are four things you can do, to love the way Jesus loved, on a practical level.

4 ways to love like Jesus

1) Don’t be concerned you can’t change water into wine. Don’t be concerned about what you can’t do.

Focus on what you can do, no matter how small.

2) If we’re paying attention, we’ll notice the Holy Spirit has a way of putting you and putting me in the right spot at the right time with the right capability. Be on the lookout for those times. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

3) When you find yourself in such a situation, recognize it’s an opportunity provided to you by the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…It is the Lord Christ you are serving. So give it your best. (Colossians 3:22-24)

4) When you help, do it without seeking credit.

Jesus was in the right spot at the right time with the right capability to meet the need at hand.

So He did — love is a verb.

That’s how Jesus loved.

You can too.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7

Who is Jesus? Hints and Clues – John 1:51

Who is Jesus? (Photo credit: layoutsparks.com)

“Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Jesus Christ, John 1:51

How Jesus Loved People:

What a seemingly random comment Jesus makes here. Just before, He was affirming Nathanael as an Israelite, and commending him for his genuineness, honesty, and faith (See previous post Jesus Christ and Criticism: How Jesus Responds to a Cynic), when He suddenly switches gears and shares this scripture from Genesis 28:10-19.

In Genesis 28, Jacob stops for the night at a place called Luz and, using a rock for a pillow, goes to sleep. He has a very vivid dream there in which he sees a stairway going from the earth to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. There above the top of the stairway stands God Himself.

But Jesus says to Nathanael, he’ll see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

What’s the meaning of this statement?

What Jesus is sharing here is the answer to a mystery. The stairway, the one connecting us here on earth with God above, the stairway that connects heaven and earth, the stairway providing us with access to God, is, Jesus Christ Himself.

That’s what Jesus is sharing with Nathanael.

Jesus loved Nathanael enough to share this amazing truth with him, that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17) He sent Jesus Christ to be Nathanael’s stairway to heaven.

Jesus is the stairway.

Jesus is the way. (John 14:6)

Jesus is the connection to God.

Jesus expressed His love for Nathanael by sharing this truth with him. And I love how He did it. At this early juncture in Jesus’ relationship with Nathanael, He didn’t launch into a long explanation of how the atonement for sin requires the shedding of blood, and how Nathanael must count the cost of following Jesus before becoming His disciple, and how he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)

Yes, all of this is eventually shared, but in the beginning, after starting off with affirmation of Nathanael, and commendation for Nathanael, Jesus shares in a very brief and simple manner, a hint of who He is: the Son of Man, the conduit between heaven and earth, the One Who connects men with God.

Jesus is the way the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

He is the Stairway to heaven.

“So that’s how Jesus did it. How do I do it?” You might be asking.

How You Can Too:

It’s easy — just drop hints.

One time, for my mother’s birthday, we did this scavenger hunt thing. She thought she was going out for a casual dinner with my wife Kathy and I. But as soon as we showed up, I handed her a piece of paper with a clue written on it. She followed the clue which took us to a destination where two of her grandkids were waiting to give her a gift. These two grandkids also gave her another clue, sending her to a second destination where two more unexpected grandkids were waiting with a gift, and another clue, sending her to another destination. This went on until the whole thing ended at her favorite restaurant where she enjoyed dinner with all of us. She was blown away! (If you’re interested you can see the “Incident Action Plan” for this birthday celebration at the end of the post)

It’s about the clues.

You see, to love people like Jesus did, you need to be a clue dropper. As you go through your week, you’re going to find opportunities for you to drop hints concerning Jesus’ identity. Opportunities will present themselves for you to share, briefly and simply, as Jesus did with Nathanael, about who Jesus is, or about Jesus’ love, or about His mercy, or His generosity. Look for moments when you can share clues about how He’s impacted your life. Keep an eye out for occasions when you can share about how He’s blessed you. You don’t have to launch into a long explanation, necessarily.

To love people like Jesus did, keep an eye out for these opportunities. Opportunities to share anything that will hint at who Jesus is.

An opportunity to share a clue about Jesus with people, is an opportunity to love people the way Jesus loved people.

It’s an opportunity to bless people.

And it’s an opportunity to be blessed, yourself.

Try it and see.


Bible Gateway

Jon Courson

Birthday Scavenger Hunt

1:00 Synchronize watches

Meet at dad and mom’s/Uncle kurt and Aunt Kathy’s

Dad/Uncle kurt – Pick up G’ma Judy – 3:10 PM

Ashland Fire Station 1
Clue:  In the car to your son’s vocation
But instead of Medford, an Ashland Station
Gift: Karla’s gift

Food Co-op
Clue: Now to your favorite food store location
A shortened version of the word cooperation
Favorite People: Gabe & Charise
Gift: Juice Bar Coupon

Varsity Theatre
Clue: Don’t be late it’s time to go
We don’t want to miss your favorite show
Favorite People: Nate & Anastasia
Gift: Varsity Gift Certificate

Paddington Station Eclectic Emporium
Clue:  We’re not taking a train but going to a station
The name of which rhymes with Addington
Favorite People: Kody, Sophia, Hayden, Sienna
Gift:  Paddington Station Gift Certificate

Pangea Cafe
Clue:  Almost done with clues and maps
To your favorite place for Grills & Wraps
Favorite People: Kass, Miriam, Owen
Gift: Pangea Gift Certificate

4:10 PM
Pasta Piatti Restaurant
Clue: Off we go to your final destination
A restaurant who’s country is a boot shaped location
Favorite Person: Kathy
Gift: Dinner

Jesus Christ and Criticism: How Jesus Responds to a Cynic

Love Like Jesus (photo credit http://whowillyouserve.blogspot.com)

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”

John 1:45-50

How Jesus Loved People:

Cynical! That’s Nathanael’s attitude toward the news, Philip had “found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote…”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael responded.

At the time, Nazareth didn’t have the best reputation as a city. It may be Nathanael’s cynicism and criticism was understandable. However, to Nathanael’s credit, though he has some tough questions, he decides to accept Philip’s invitation to “Come and see” for himself.

Nathanael’s decision had far greater impact than he realized at the time.

Imagine with me how different Nathanael’s life would have been, had he focused on what he perceived to be a flaw in Philip’s conclusion. Had he remained focused on his own critical perception of problems in the scriptures, rather than the opportunity to develop a relationship with the Messiah, Nathanael would have missed out on the most important three years of his life! His misplaced focus would have resulted in eternal consequences.

But Nathanael doesn’t do that. He’s cynical, yes, critical, sure, maybe even negative on Philip’s report about Jesus, but he moves toward Christ anyway.

And now, watch this. Watch how Jesus responds to Nathanael’s negativity.

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” He says enthusiastically as He sees Nathanael approaching.

“Behold, an Israelite…” The very first words out of Jesus’ mouth are words affirming Nathanael as an Israelite, as one of God’s chosen people.

“…in whom is no deceit!” (or guile as the King James Version renders it) This was a play on words by Jesus. He was referring back to Jacob. Jacob, who was renamed Israel by the Lord, was a man known for his guile and deceit. You may remember Jacob tricking his blind father Isaac out of his older brother’s blessing. One of a number of instances where Jacob used deceit and guile to get his way. So here we see Jesus, rather than defending Himself against Nathanael’s cynicism, using this play on words to emphasize Nathanael’s genuineness and honesty.

Nathanael, recognizing Jesus knew how he felt about a prophet coming from Nazareth, says, “How do you know me?”

“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Jesus replies.

At which point Nathanael answers, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

And Jesus answers back, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” Jesus commends Nathanael for his faith.

How You Can Too:

You know, Jesus could have responded to Nathanael with a whopping come back.

“You obviously don’t know Who (with a capital W) you’re talking to, or, what you’re talking about. I wasn’t even born in Nazareth, I was born in Bethlehem, the precise place where God promised the Messiah would come from. Maybe you should get your facts straight before you pop off with a criticism. I was going to include you in a group of eleven people who will turn the world upside down, and influence the entire planet for eternity, but with that attitude, well you can just forget it!”

But that’s not what Jesus did. Instead He met Nathanael’s negativity and cynicism with grace and love. Jesus, rather than defending Himself, responds to Nathanael’s attitude by affirming his position as one of God’s chosen, by emphasizing his honesty, and by commending him for his faith.

Jesus took Nathanael’s negative and turned it around to a positive.

It’s so easy to respond to someone who has a negative attitude toward you, with defensiveness, or by returning the negative with a negative shot right back, or by ignoring the person. But if you want to love people the way Jesus did, always look for whatever positive you can find, there’s always something, and start there.

If you add value to people the way Jesus did, they’ll be attracted to you and to what you have to say. If you take value away from people, even if you’re well meaning, people will withdraw from you and what you have to say.


Always, always, always start every single interpersonal interaction by finding and emphasizing the positive.

Even when it’s someone who’s on the attack.


Every time.

Without exception.

You’ll be blessed by their response.

They’ll be blessed when you share Christ.


Bible Gateway

Craig S. Keener, (1993) IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament

H.A. Ironside, (2006) Expository Commentary, John

Jon Courson

Back From the Dead

Back from the dead

Christ’s Empty Tomb

Speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus said,

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40 emphasis mine)

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” (John 5:45-46 emphasis mine)

Jesus is saying here, the scriptures are all about Him. And, in our Genesis study, in chapter 37, we’re about to enjoy a beautiful Old Testament picture of Jesus’ life in the story of Joseph. The picture is so compelling, God devotes a full quarter of the book of Genesis to Joseph alone. He is one of only two main characters in the Old Testament for whom there is no mention of sin (Daniel is the other). We’ll see Joseph greatly humbled as Jesus was greatly humbled, but, in the end, greatly exalted — as Jesus was greatly exalted. It’s impossible to read of him and not see the striking parallels between his life and Christ’s. All of the Old Testament testifies of Jesus but it may be that nowhere else is it more obvious than in the story of Joseph.

Here comes that dreamer! Joseph’s brothers said to each other. Let’s kill him, this one who dreamed of us bowing down to him. After, we’ll lie to our father about what became of him. Then we’ll see what happens to his dreams.

They hated Joseph, even as Jesus’ brothers hated him. The only problem with their plot was that Joseph’s dreams weren’t really Joseph’s dreams, they were God’s dreams. So when they plotted to kill him, to put a stop to those dreams, they might as well have tried to stop the wind from blowing, or the sun from shining, or the rain from falling. They were God’s dreams and God’s dreams always come to pass.

Satan plotted to kill Jesus to stop God’s dream for His Son. And on Friday, it appeared he was successful.

But on Sunday…

I am so glad for Jesus’ resurrection. I am so thankful He’s alive and available to enter into a relationship with me. I’m so blessed He’s there for me to communicate with. I’m filled with faith because He validated all His teachings and promises by dying and rising again. I’m so grateful His claims of divinity were confirmed.

God’s dream for His Son was realized, as God’s dreams always are.

I’m so very thankful.

He is risen.

But I’m also thankful for something else. I’m thankful Jesus not only rose from the dead Himself, but He brings others back from the dead as well.

While Jesus is on His way to heal the daughter of Jairus the synagogue ruler, people meet Jairus on the road and tell him, Your daughter died, so, why bother Jesus with it anymore?

Jesus overhears this, leans over, and tells Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Then He grabs Peter, James, and John, and goes to Jairus’ house where people are already mourning his daughter’s death by wailing and crying. Jesus says, Why all the fuss? She’s not dead, she’s just sleeping. But they laughed at Him.

So He sends everybody out of the room except for her father and mother, and the three disciples, He takes her by the hand and says, “Talitha koum!” which means, Little girl, get up!

Right away she stands up and starts to walk around. Of course everyone’s blown away. And get this, Jesus gives strict orders not to tell anybody about what happened. (Mark 5:35-43)

Jesus brings people back from the dead.

In my own life I can’t tell you how many times I had a problem, the kind of problem where anguish wells up inside of you. I found myself praying with everything I had, asking Christ to raise something from the dead. And He did.

Maybe you’re someone who’s feeling dead right now, or near death, or your project is dead, or your marriage is dead, or your job is dead. Maybe there are people around you who are wailing and crying. Maybe there are people around who laugh at you whenever you talk about hope.

Take heart because Jesus specializes in these situations. He’s Someone good to have in your corner. Someone good to have a relationship with, the kind of relationship where you can call on Him if you’re in trouble. You may need Him to bail you out. You may need Him to raise you, or your relationship, or your whatever, back from the dead. You may need to pray, to ask Him, with everything you have, to bring something back from the dead.

And anytime you ask for help, the better you know the person, the easier it is to ask.

So my advice to you? Get to know Him well and remain close to Him, for the rest of your life. You never know when you might need Him to say, “Talitha koum!”

He is risen.

[Image via James Emery – Creative Commons]

[HT ChristianBeliefs.Blogspot.com]

You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter) — John 1:40-42

Peter's Sword (Photo credit: Galeria Imagens Biblica)

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

John 1:40-42

How Jesus loved people:

Jesus knew Peter would say something so stupid and offensive, Jesus would call him Satan. Jesus knew Peter would wield his sword so recklessly, he would cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant Malchus. Jesus knew Peter would disown Him and even call down curses in response to a teen-age girl’s questions about Christ in the courtyard of the high priest. But here we not only see Jesus accept Peter completely, just the way he was, but we see Him rename him, Peter, which means “Rock.” (Matthew 16:21-23John 18:10Matthew 26:69-75)

If Peter were an associate pastor in today’s church, I think he almost certainly would be fired. Imagine with me what the conversation might be like.

Board of Directors: “You said what? To who?”

Associate pastor Peter: “I rebuked Jesus.”

Board of Directors: “Let me see if I have this straight. You, an associate pastor, rebuked God. Is that right?”


And later…

Board of Directors: “You whipped out a sword and did what with it?”

And finally…

Board of Directors: “A teen-age girl asked you about Christ and you disowned your Lord and Savior? Publicly?”

“I’m sorry Peter, but you’re an embarrassment to this church and to the Christian faith. You’re just not fit for ministry.”


How you can too:

Of course Jesus knew all this was to come. Jesus knew accepting Peter into His circle was going to be messy.

But He did it anyway.

You may have read the story, that came out recently, about the atheist who was embroiled in a battle with local government officials of Henderson County, Texas, concerning a nativity display on their front lawn. The atheist, named Patrick Greene, began to lose his eyesight to cataracts, after which there was an outpouring of help from local Christians (unbelievers helped as well). In response to those believers who reached out to him in that way, Patrick Greene ultimately received Christ. (See Atheist Becomes Christian After Believers Show Him Compassion)

I posted a link to this article yesterday and received some interesting comments from a professing atheist. The comment thread went like this:

Atheist: “Do some research on this particular gentleman. And on the atheist community’s opinion of this particular gentleman before he converted.”

My reply: “I did a little research as you recommended. I think I see what you mean. It appears many in atheist community had problems with him, before he converted.”

Atheist: “And I don’t mean to imply his conversion is false, just to be clear. I have no idea. Just, if you wanted to cite a convert as a positive example to other atheists, this gentleman may not be the person you want.”

“…this gentleman may not be the person you want.” He said. My research on Patrick Greene revealed two things:

1) His behavior was very similar to Peter’s. He liked to whip out his sword and cut off people’s ears, so to speak.

2) This gentleman was not a person the atheist community wanted. They were embarrassed by him.

So this was my reply to the atheist’s last comment: “I appreciate your concern, however what I want isn’t important. What’s important is this is precisely the person Christ wants.” (Previous post and comment thread)

Jesus accepts the Peters, and the Patrick Greenes, and you, and even me. And if you desire to love people the way Christ did, you will too.

So stop setting the bar so high for the people in your life. Take down that bar you’ve set so high and lay it at the foot of the cross, where Jesus died on Good Friday, not just for your sins, but for the sins of every single person in your life, for the sins of every person in the world. Roger Ailes in his classic book, “You Are the Message,” talks about CEO’s and other high powered people (including Ronald Reagan) he used to coach in the art of communication. He said, time and again, the single biggest change these people needed to make was to simply lighten up! Accept people for who they are, warts and all.

Loving people is going to be messy.

Do it anyway.

Jesus did.


Bible Gateway

You Are The Message by Roger Ailes

Serious Questions About How God Does Things

Love Like Jesus–Isolation vs. Engagement: John 1:37-39

Isolation Engagement Love Like Jesus

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

John 1:37-39

How Jesus Loved People:

In this passage we see Jesus loving people by engaging with them. The two following don’t say a word, so Jesus turns around and initiates conversation, “What do you want?” He asks.

“Where are you staying?” They ask back.

Then, rather than answering directly, Jesus answers in a way that will draw them in, “Come, and you will see.”

These two, the first two disciples of Jesus, follow Him and spend the day with Him. Later we’ll see all twelve of Christ’s disciples traveling with Him and living with Him on the road.

Love Like Jesus

Love requires engagement. I suppose, at the opposite end of the spectrum from engagement we find isolation. Isolation is unhealthy on several different levels that we won’t go into here but one thing I know with absolute certainty: isolation kills relationships. I know this with complete certainty because I have a tendency to isolate myself. One of the great pleasures I enjoy in life is that of immersing myself in the creative process. I believe it’s a good thing to do because I believe God designed me this way. However, when I’m immersed too deep for too long, it’s very hard on relationships. It’s just impossible to communicate love to people when you’re isolated. It’s that simple. (for more on isolation see previous post: It is not good for the man to be alone)

I know of a county sheriff in the Southeastern part of the U.S. who provides an interesting illustration of the importance of engagement and the problem of isolation. He’s a first class person, this sheriff. He’s conscientious, hard working, of great integrity, smart, and he treats people very well. A few years ago, as the end of his term approached and election time neared, not surprisingly, everyone who worked in headquarters supported him. They were raving fans. They told everyone they knew to vote for the guy. But unfortunately, as good as he was, he had the habit of working at headquarters, focused on problem solving. This was done at the expense of spending time with his deputies out in the field. The result was his deputies didn’t just not support him, but many hated him. As enthusiastic as the headquarters people who saw him every day were for his reelection, his deputies who he rarely spent time with were equally enthusiastic for him to lose. They wanted him out.

Love requires engagement.

Of course Jesus was a master at this. He engaged to the point that He lived with His disciples for three years. His engagement with His followers was (and is) amazing. He delivered Holy Spirit inspired teachings, He touched people, He healed people, He loved people.

In my own life there were times when I did well in this area of engagement and times when I did not. The difference in my relationships was dramatic. The trap, for some of us, is to feel as though engaging with others is not a productive use of time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Love requires engagement.

And without love we’re nothing.

Engage people.

“…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:2

[Image via jared moran – Creative Commons]

Led into the wilderness to be tempted

The Temptation Trap (Photo Credit: Zazzle)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 4:1-11

How Jesus loved people:

Jesus kept himself available to love people by resisting temptation. Can you imagine how the path God had in mind for him would have been impacted had he succumbed to the tempter? Swamped with the demands of leading the governments of the world, he would have been distracted from his calling which was to live humbly, simply, and to engage with people directly, in love.

How you can too:

Never before in the history of humankind has there been a time when people are inundated by entertainment and recreation such as we are today. It’s an amazing time to be alive but it’s also a time when we’re bombarded by distraction and temptation. Twenty-three year old Chen Rong-yu was looking for entertainment when he decided to head out to his local internet cafe to play League of Legends. He found himself so engrossed in his game that he made it a marathon session, playing for some twenty-three hours straight. But because of his prolonged lack of movement, and a previous medical condition, it appears that blood clots formed in his system resulting in his death. He was found with his hands stretched out over the keyboard, as though he was still playing. The thirty other gamers in the cafe were similarly absorbed and didn’t notice that he was deceased until nine hours after his passing. (see Daily Mail article by Rob Cooper)

When it comes to temptations, you and I have the same decisions to make as Jesus. If I succumb to a marathon gaming session, while I probably won’t die, I’m as good as dead to the people I love and care about while I’m consumed by that game. If you succumb to watching an entire season of Downton Abbey in one sitting, during that time, you’re not available to show others Christ’s love. If I’m consumed by the latest on Whitney Houston’s death, or the NCAA tournament, or The Hunger Games, then I’ll be distracted from what God has in mind for me.

The bottom line: If you want to love people the way Jesus did, keep it simple like Jesus did. Resist the temptation to immerse yourself in entertainment, or sports, or recreation. These things are not bad if experienced in reasonable doses, but they will completely derail your life, if allowed to consume too much of your time, mind, heart, and soul.

Resist temptation.

Keep life simple enough to leave room for Christ and what He has in mind for you.


Rob Cooper

Love Like Jesus–The One Thing You Need: Matthew 3:13-17

Love Like Jesus Holy Spirit and LoveThen Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:13-17

How Jesus Loved People

In our last post about how Jesus loved people, we saw that He prepared Himself to love others by spending time at His Father’s house, at His place of worship. (see previous post) In today’s post we see that Jesus further prepares Himself to love people by receiving the Holy Spirit. And the way He does it… His humility, it astounds me. Jesus humbled Himself, He submitted Himself to the same practices that were in place for everyone else. Here He was, God incarnate, fully man and also fully God, and yet He submitted to the same conventions as everybody else. Even when John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” He insisted that He be treated the same as anyone.

So Jesus, the God-man, in order to prepare Himself for the great outpouring of love that was to come over the next three years, submits Himself to John and is baptized. And when He’s baptized, the Holy Spirit descends from heaven and alights on him.

How to Love Like Jesus

Think this through with me — if Jesus Christ Himself needed the Holy Spirit, to prepare to love on others, Lord knows you and I do too. The only way to love people the way our Heavenly Father desires us to, is to first receive the Holy Spirit. That’s how Jesus did it, that’s what you and I need to do also.

Jesus spoke at length about the Holy Spirit with His disciples when they were upset at the news that He would be leaving them soon. Shortly before His death He told them He wouldn’t leave them as orphans. He said that after He’s gone, His Father would send the Comforter, or Advocate. The original Greek word used there is parakletos, which means “to come along side.” The origin for our English word, paramedic, comes from the same Greek prefix, para-. A paramedic comes along side a patient to help heal him or her. The Holy Spirit comes along side you to help you in every area of your life. This happens the moment you decide to follow Jesus Christ.

But there’s another way in which the Holy Spirit comes to us, and this is the way that empowers us to love people the way God desires us to. In Acts chapter 1 Jesus instructed His disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5) Then in Acts chapter 2, suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2) The Holy Spirit blew the disciples away. They were filled to the overflowing, and they were empowered to do things and to love people in ways that aren’t humanly possible apart from God. (See Acts chapter 2) This is the way the Holy Spirit comes to people described by Jesus when He said, “…rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)

Ephesians 5:18-20 tells us to be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When you’re filled with the Spirit your heart is filled with music. But the music isn’t dependent on the circumstances of your life, which are sometimes up and sometimes down. The object of the music of the Holy Spirit is Christ, Who is unchanging. So when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit you’re empowered to love God, and to love people, regardless of your life circumstances. (Keller)

This is spectacular! Because without love no matter what we do, you and I are as a resounding gong. No matter how hard we try, no matter how we may sacrifice, we gain nothing without love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) “You’ll never know your full potential in Christ, until you yield to the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your life.” (Chuck Smith)

You need to love, to please God, and you need the Holy Spirit to love.

To love people the way Jesus did, you need to first receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus did.

All that’s required is to ask God for Him. Simply asking, from your heart, that God would pour His Holy Spirit out upon you is all you need to do to receive Him. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Jesus said in Luke 11:11-13. So to receive God’s power to love people, like you’ve never loved them before, ask Him for His Holy Spirit.

Just ask!

Ask right now.

Ask every day, for the Holy Spirit, and your Father in heaven will give Him to you.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Romans 8:14

[Image via: knowhimonline – Creative Commons]

[HT: Chuck Smith, Living Water; The Word for Today, 2007; Chuck Smith Audio Teaching on Holy SpiritDr. Timothy KellerBibleStudyTools.comJon Courson]

Love Like Jesus–What’s Church Got To Do With It?: Luke 2:46-50

Why go to church Love Like Jesus Luke 2After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Luke 2:46-50

How Jesus loved people:

In Luke chapter two we see Jesus preparing Himself to love people, here, in His Father’s house, by asking questions. Whether or not these were rhetorical questions we don’t know, but it appears obvious there was a discussion going on. Jesus, the Creator of the universe, is in His place of worship, asking questions. He’s in His Father’s house, He’s about His Father’s business. Jesus will ultimately demonstrate more love for people than anyone ever has before, or ever will again. And His presence here is part of His preparation for that act of love.

Love Like Jesus:

The Son of God, the Creator, the One who is One with the Father, the One who said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” the One who raised people from the dead, and who rose from the dead Himself, went to His place of worship and asked questions. (John 14:9)

I don’t know about you but I’m very confident that anyone who has seen me has not seen the Father. And I’ve never raised anyone from the dead either by the way. In fact, I’m not worthy to fasten the straps on Christ’s sandals. So if Jesus took the time to be about His Father’s business in His Father’s house, I certainly need to as well.

I need to do this, and you need to do this because when we go to church we learn to love people better. When you go to church you hear God’s word from the pulpit, reminding you of His desire for you to love others. You hear, from God’s word, examples of how you can love others. You bump into people there in church, people who need you, people who need your help, people who need you to love them, even if it’s just giving them two minutes of your time. You rub elbows with others who also seek to love God and to love others. You’re reminded of how you can remove things from your life that hinder your efforts to love others. You hear something different from the constant information you receive from a culture that largely ignores God.

“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus asked. Jesus had to be in His Father’s house, and if you and I desire to love people as Jesus did, we have to be in His Father’s house too. (Luke 2:49)

Prepare yourself to love people.

Go to church.

Jesus did.

[Image via: Kate B Dixon, Creative Commons]

Matthew 22:37-40 — All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments

Love and InterruptionsI hate to be interrupted. I’m convinced that’s the reason God put me in a career with the fire service. Working for a fire department, you’re constantly interrupted by calls to help other people with their problems. After years of “training” for interruptions in that environment, I still sometimes find myself frustrated when my project work is unexpectedly delayed by people.

Today was one of those days. I was determined that today would be the day I finished the creation of a Kindle version of Traveler and the Chaplain, but, God had other things in mind. The morning started out with an emergency repair of a door lock accompanied by a great fifteen minute visit with my neighbor Tom. That was followed by the discovery of a dead battery in my 1994 Camry. So I called Kathy who returned home to give me a jump. Then we ran the Camry over to the shop. Then we grabbed some lunch and ate it on the way to an appointment where I dropped her off. We had a nice 30 minute conversation on the way. That was followed by a visit with an old friend who gave me a fantastic history lesson about some of the U.S. Army’s battles with Indians in Eastern Oregon. That was followed by dinner with my son, daughter (in-law), and grandson.

Not one word was written today toward completing the Traveler and the Chaplain Kindle version.

But what a great day it was. What tremendous opportunities I was given to pour into relationships today.

How Jesus loved people:

God’s way isn’t our way. Jesus’ life was full of interruptions. Please heal my son, the Royal Official begged Jesus. (John 4:46-54) While He was traveling, a leper came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40-45) While He was teaching the paralytic’s friends lowered the man down through the roof so Jesus could heal him. (Luke 5:17-26) On and on it goes — one interruption after another.

How you can too:

Obviously you and I don’t have the same gift of healing that Jesus has. But you and I can choose to respond to people who interrupt us, the same way that Jesus did. He responded in a welcoming way. He responded in a warm way. He responded with love. You and I can too.

Life’s about relationships, with God, and with people.

Even when they come in the form of an interruption.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

–Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:37-40


[Image via: auq84, Creative Commons]

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