Love is Greater than Fear

“God’s love is the deepest foundation of reality.”

Today is Thursday, November 7, 2019. Peace be with you!

Day 22,519

FIVE DAYS until C’s birthday!!

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. I would love to have some of that! I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate. And almost any kind of nut.

Today is my Friday, as I have tomorrow off. Primarily, I took tomorrow off because I need to go to the doctor for blood work (every six months). But I had the PTO to use, so I took the whole day. And, I already had Monday and Tuesday, to celebrate C’s birthday, so now I get a five-day weekend. My only real plan for that whole time is to learn how to use Pro Tools. Oh, and we have R & J coming over Saturday to help celebrate the birthday.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8

Today I am grateful:
1. For birthdays and anniversaries.
2. That God’s steadfast love and faithfulness will ever preserve me (Psalm 40:11).
3. That we can cast our burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain us (Psalm 55:22)
4. That love is greater than fear.
5. That perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Psalm 57:7
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 
May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 
May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah. 
May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 
May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

Psalm 20:1-5

(From Our Daily Bread)

“Love You–Whole World” by Monica Brands

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
No one has ever seen God; 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. 
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his 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. 
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 
We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:7-19

Which is greater? Love or fear?

If you’re like me, and you are, sometimes, it depends on how you’re feeling that day. Because I believe it is safe to say that we all have days where our fears are stronger than love.

But the reality is, regardless of how we feel, love is always greater than fear, always stronger than anxiety.

Monica Brands uses the example of her three-year-old niece, Jenna, to illustrate love. Whenever Jenna really loves something, she says, “I love it–whole world!” The words “whole world” are accompanied by “a dramatic sweep of her arms.”

How often do we love like that? With the reckless abandon of a child? We know that Jesus told us that we must become like children to enter the kingdom. There have been countless debates as to what, exactly, he meant by that, and we don’t have time to get into those. But children love, naturally.

John wrote, “God is love” in verses 8 and 16 in the passage above. The whole passage is wrapped around that truth. And, in doing so, he reminds us that “God’s love–not our anger, fear, or shame–is the deepest foundation of reality.” And then, Monica writes this difficult truth: “The world divides us into camps based on what we’re most afraid of–and all too often we join in, ignoring or villainizing the voices that challenge our preferred vision of reality.” This may be my favorite sentence in the whole reading, because that is exactly what is happening in our country right now!

But in the middle of all of the “deception and power struggles,” the reality of the love of God stands firm, “a light that shines in the darkness, inviting us to learn the path of humility, trust, and love.”

I love verse 18. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” My friends, God’s love is perfect love. And when we abandon ourselves to that love, there can be no fear. Because there is nothing to fear in the reality of God’s love. This is why Dallas Willard said, “This world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.”

So, today, when our enemy tries to get you to believe that fear is greater than love, I pray that the Holy Spirit will remind you of these verses. And how much better will all of our relationships be if we realize that there is nothing to fear?

Father, I thank you for your perfect love. Today, when fear crouches at my heart’s door, may your Spirit remind me that your perfect love casts out fear. Help me to abide in your love, that you might abide in me.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Grace and peace, friends.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Today is Monday, September 16, 2019. Blessings to you!

Day 22,467

26 days until Galveston and our 34th anniversary!!

We had a great morning and afternoon, yesterday. The worship time, as usual, was pretty incredible. These “scattered” times have come to be so meaningful. The lunch afterward was also great. Just a good day of worship and fellowship together. Then a nice afternoon/evening of resting and recharging.

The Rangers lost another game to the A’s, completing the sweep. 6-1. I guess these games don’t matter. They certainly don’t matter to the Rangers, but they could matter to the outcome of the playoff picture. The Rangers are 74-77, in third place in the AL West, 24 games out of first place, and 15 out of the wild card. They appear to have tonight off. They have 11 games left.

The Red Sox beat the Phillies 6-3. I think that was a two-game sweep for them. Rick Porcello got his 13th win. They are 79-70, in third place in the AL west. They are 18 games out of first place, and 9 games out of the wild card. The wild card E number is 4. They also have tonight off. They have 13 games left.

All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult! 
Psalm 64:10

Today I am grateful:
1. That the Spirit just reminded me to go back and add my gratitude list
2. For a new week of opportunities to serve God and others
3. That God is directing me toward a simpler life
4. That God is reminding me of where my “treasures” need to be
5. For wisdom to know when to keep my mouth shut (or my fingers off the keys)

Almighty and eternal God,
so draw our hearts to you,
so guide our minds,
so fill our imaginations,
so control our wills,
that we may be wholly yours,
utterly dedicated to you;
and then use us,
we pray,
as you will,
and always for your glory and the welfare of your people;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Book of Common Prayer, Prayers, 61. A Prayer of Self-Dedication

(From Our Daily Bread)

Don’t Feed the Trolls, by Monica Brands

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:5-6

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. 
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. 
Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. 
Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. 
Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool. 
Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools. 
Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard. 
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. 
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 26:4-12

People more in touch with social media will understand what the title of this reading means. “Trolls” are people “who repeatedly post intentionally inflammatory and hurtful comments on news or social media discussion boards.” The idea of not “feeding the trolls” means ignoring them so that they aren’t allows to derail the potential of rational and/or civil conversation.

This, apparently, is nothing new, however, as seen in the admonitions from Proverbs 26. Verse 4 tells us, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” If we argue with arrogant and unreceptive people, we risk falling to their level. It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing.

On the other hand, even those people are image-bearers of God, human beings precious in his sight. Apparently, that’s why, right on the heels of Proverbs 26:4, we get the exact opposite advice! “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

Hold on a minute!! What?

So now we know that, in order to do this right, we have to depend on the Spirit’s guidance. We cannot afford to take all of this lightly. There are times when attempting to correct or advise a person, especially in social media, will be pointless. There are other times when it may be helpful. How do we know the difference? By prayerful dependence upon God and his Spirit. Proverbs counsels us over and over to seek wisdom. The verses above, from Colossians 4, tell us to walk in wisdom toward outsiders. To make the best use of our time. and to let our speech always be gracious.

These are difficult commands. And they can only be carried out by walking daily in God’s kingdom, constantly seeking his presence in our lives, and reading and meditating on his words.

Father, thank you for leading me down this path, and reminding me of these things. I thank you that you have stayed my hand, frequently, from responding on social media to those who are, indeed, “trolls.” But at the same time, I ask for wisdom to know when a response is called for, and that it may be seasoned with your grace. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.