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Risky Business // Praise Shine

When we are pursuing God’s purpose for us, there may come times when we will face difficult decisions. These decisions may even present some risk.

Our potential is the sum of all possibilities God has for our lives. We have no way of comprehending all the possibilities that an all-wise, all-knowing, infinite God sees. We can not know with our finite minds and limited perspective all that He knows.

There is a significant amount of risk involved in trusting God in all things. Risk, after all, is a part of the very nature of faith. We put our belief in a God whom we can’t see but still experience. And put our faith in His promise to work all things to our benefit (Romans 8:28), even if we can’t understand what must occur to get us from where we are to where we hope to be. And put our faith in the love of God to transform us in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.

After Jesus had multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000, He told His disciples to get into a boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while He went to pray by Himself. And while Jesus was still on the mountain, the boat was being tossed about in the middle of the sea.

Jesus came down and went to them, walking on the sea. (Matthew 14:25). The disciples were afraid but Jesus commanded them to not be afraid. What happened next is perhaps one of the biggest steps of faith in the whole Bible. Peter answered Jesus saying, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water,” (Matthew 14:28). As Jesus bid Peter to come, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus. Of all the disciples, only one risked everything to step out in faith and became the only person in the Bible who walked on water. Would you be willing to do the same?

The experience deepened Peter’s faith and made him willing to take even greater risks later in his life and ministry. The same could be true for each of us. What we see as a risk may be the very situation God uses to strengthen our faith. That risk could be what God will use to carry us one giant step closer to fulfilling our purpose and reaching our full potential.

Three Loves // Praise & Shine

There are over 5 million words in the Greek language, while there are only about 171 thousand in the English language. The Bible was primarily written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, leading to a lot of nuance being lost in translation.

Take the word “love” for example. I’m sure you know what it means to love and be loved, but there are three Greek words for “love” we will find in the Bible.

The first we find is Philos, the warm affection or friendship. Philos was commonly used when referring to friendships or family relationships. For example, it was used in Matthew 10:37 to indicate love for father and mother or son and daughter. Philos was the word used for Jesus’ love for his friend Lazarus (John 11:3,36) and His love for His disciples (John 20:2).

The second Greek word for love is Eros referring to physical or sexual love. This is where we get the word erotic from. While Eros was commonly used in the Greek-speaking world of New Testament times, the word itself is not found in the pages of the New Testament. The concept of physical love, however–expressed in the concept of marriage–is found and affirmed in the New Testament.

Our final word for love found in the Greek language is Agape, the sacrificial, unconditional love of God. Agape love is the highest form of love in the New Testament. Agape is the word that describes God’s love in John 3:16. We are commanded to love God (Matthew 22:37) and love one another (John 13:34) with agape love.

To say agape love is the highest form of love is not to diminish the other kinds of love. All genuine love comes from God because God is love and is where we build our foundation. A healthy marriage will express all thee forms of love.

There is another Greek word I would like to talk about, Timios meaning great price, precious, held in honor, esteemed, and especially dear. Timios is used to describe the “precious” redeeming blood of Christ in 1 Peter 1:18-19. Timios is used again to describe the “precious” promise of God. There is another place we see the use of Timios, Hebrews 13:4, “Marrige is to be held in TIMIOS among all…”

The same word that is used to describe the precious blood of Christ and the promise of God is also used to describe marriage. When we look at our spouse, we should see the beautiful creation that God holds dear, and express our love for His creation in all forms, Philos, Eros, and Agape.

Reconciled // Praise & Shine

As Christians, we are called to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world. So what does it mean to be reconciled?

To be reconciled means to be reunited with someone from whom one has been alienated. Forgiveness can lead to restored fellowship. Sin leads to alienation from God, but through Christ, we can be forgiven and reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal though us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Sometimes it isn’t easy to do the right thing, to be reconciled, or to reconcile with others. We may even be persecuted for it. Matthew 10:20 says “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.” Remember God sometimes uses momentary failure for success in His time.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

When we are reconciled with God through Christ Jesus, we must do the same and share the love of God. “ If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and deliver up my body as a martyr, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not hold a grudge or indulge in self praise; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things ,endures all things.” 1st Corinthians 13:1-7.

“For I am sure that nothing can separate us from the love God has for us. Not death, not life, not angels, not ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, or anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.

God’s redeeming grace uplifts us, frees us, and strengthens us. It awakens us to the greatest reality of our lives—God’s redeeming love and the spiritual connection we have with God and others being made in his image.

Don’t let anything separate us from sharing the love of God the father with our fellow man.

See God // Praise & Shine

Let’s dive deeper into 1 John 4:11. I like the way the Message puts it, “My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us–perfect love.”

We were created to be with God. He walked with man in the Garden of Eden. But when man ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evile, we became separated from God. Sin and God can not co-exist, so God created a perfect plan to remove sin from the world for good. 

In Old Testament times, God dwelled in the temple. This was as close to God that we could ever get. But sacrifices were required to atone for our sins. When God sent Jesus, he became the perfect and blameless sacrifice that washed our sins away once and for all. 

On that day, the veil was torn, and there became a new temple, a new dwelling place for God, in those who accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. 

When we receive the Spirit, there are qualities that we will display: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are also commanded to Love our fellow men as ourselves. Matthew 22:39.

When we display these qualities, we are displaying the love of God, and God is seen through us. He is seen through the nurses in the emergency room, the volunteers serving in the soup kitchen, the person who stops to help others on the side of the road, or the person who holds the door for others. 

When I look at others displaying the fruits of the spirit, I see God, and the great love he has for us. 

Glow // Praise & Shine

There are some people who will be content just “being” but some of us have been chosen by God to be “broken”. In our moments of desperation, God is breaking us, but when the breaking is done, then we will be able to see the reason for which we were created. God says, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.”