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J.B. Hixson on True Love

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1199581-custom“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:12–13)

It is February, and that means that our thoughts turn to love.  People are always searching for love, aren’t they?  But sadly, to borrow the words of country singer Johnny Lee, most people are “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.  Lookin’ for love in too many faces.  Searchin’ their eyes.  Lookin’ for traces of what they’re dreaming of.”

When it comes to love, what are you dreaming of?  Love is one of those words in the English language that has hundreds of uses.  We love our husband or wife.  We love our children.  We love ice cream. We love that movie. But what is true love anyway?

When I was a senior in high school, the rock band Foreigner released a song that became a big hit.  Their song, like Johnny Lee’s country chart topper years earlier, represents the heart cry of millions of people in the world.  It goes like this:  “I want to know what love is.  I want you to show me.  I want to feel what love is.  I know you can show me.  In my life there’s been heartache and pain.  I don’t know if I can face it again.  Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far.  To change this lonely life.  I gotta take a little time.  A little time to think things over.  I better read between the lines.  I want to know what love is.  I want you to show me.”

Do you want to know what love really is?  Let’s take a little time to think things over from a biblical perspective.  And we don’t have to read between the lines, because the Bible is very clear when it comes to the true meaning of love.  Just hours before Jesus Christ was betrayed and arrested in the Garden, He spent some intimate time with His eleven closest friends in an upstairs room in a modest Jerusalem home.  In that special moment, He washed their feet, instituted the Lord’s Supper, and gave them words of encouragement to help them face what was to come in the days and weeks ahead.

He reminded them that true love is a mandate, not an emotion.  He said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another.” (John 15:12)  Love is command, not a convenience.  It is active, not passive.  We love others because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

If Jesus’ earthly life shows us anything, it shows us that He was never a “Do as I say, not as I do!” sort of leader.  He was not asking the disciples, nor us, to do something that He had not already done.  Jesus gave us the model of true love.  He challenged us to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

And just how did He love us?  He showed the measure of His love when He laid down His life for us to pay our personal penalty for sin.  He said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  We owed a debt we could never pay because of our sin.  That debt is eternal separation from a holy God in a literal place of torment called hell.  But Jesus Christ took my place, and your place, on the cross and paid that penalty on our behalf, even though He was perfect and sinless.  His love is a limitless, unconditional, and sacrificial love.  And that is precisely how we are to love others.

So what is the meaning of love, then?  The Greek word love is the word agape.  It means, “unconditional affection for another person characterized by a willing forfeiture of your own rights on the other person’s behalf.”  Jesus exemplified this definition perfectly when He died and rose again for our sins.

Do you want to know what love is?  You must first receive the free gift of eternal life purchased by the loving sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  You do this by simple faith.  Have you trusted in Jesus to forgive your sin and give you eternal life?

Once you have trusted Christ for salvation, only then can you experience true love in this earthly life.  Instead of looking to find or receive true love, you will start giving it to others.  True love gives because it has received.  Find someone to really love today…true, Christ-like love.



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Upcoming Series on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg

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faith-works-4Faith That Works, Volume 4

January 30 – February 13
Scripture: James 5:7-20

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” The letter of James is vital reading whenever the believer is tempted to be content with knowledge devoid of action, to cultivate the world’s friendship rather than God’s, and to tolerate disorder and selfish ambition. As we’ll learn, James shows us that the outward display of faith will find its roots in the inward transformation that has already taken place. These studies provide a forceful and timely reminder that our creed must be seen in our conduct and our attitude must display itself in action.

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The Sabbath

February 20 – March 3
Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11, Luke 6:1-110

Many of us give little thought to how we spend the Lord’s Day. In fact, any attempt at maintaining the sanctity of the Sabbath is often seen as nothing more than religious legalism. So what are we to do with this day of rest? In these studies, Alistair Begg helps us examine the contemporary Christian Sabbath and consider the possibility that our theology has been replaced with expediency in regard to this issue. If we cannot disregard the other commandments, then we cannot ignore the fourth either. Rather, we must humbly accept God’s design in providing the Sabbath as a gift that provides benefits when we approach it out of conviction and obedience to God.

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Michael Youssef on God Keeping His Word

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Imagine looking up at the evening sky in the desert, somewhere in the Middle East, thousands of years ago. Think of all the brilliant stars you would have seen without the ambient lights of modern civilization. That’s the type of night sky Abraham would have seen when God told him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).

Read Genesis 12:1-9. God made Abraham some amazing promises: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). But despite these great promises, the difficult reality for Abraham was that he was old, and his wife Sarah, barren. How could he possibly count the stars when all the odds were against him?

God wants us to take Him at His word, even when our circumstances tell us otherwise.

In those days, Abraham did not have a Bible. He did not have a small group or discipleship program. He did not have a church. He did not have a preacher. All he had was the word of the Almighty God, calling him as He calls each of us: “Come and follow Me. Leave your life of sin. Now trust My word, and believe My promises.” 

God wants us to take Him at His word, even when our circumstances tell us otherwise. You may have been burned by the broken promises of a loved one, but God never goes back on His word. You can trust Him when He says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28); “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5); “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9); “I am working for your good” (see Romans 8:28).

We, like Abraham, are waiting for all of God’s promises to be fulfilled. They are already ours, but like our spiritual father whom God called to the promised land those many years ago, we must contend in faith. We must continue to count stars, even when we see none. After all, God has given us His word, and that is enough.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your incredible promises found in Your Word. May my heart delight in them and my mind recall them in every situation. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

“Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them . . . So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).