Month: February 2016

Matters of the Heart – Part 1

Matters of the Heart – Part 1
by Pam Maynard


Matters of the heart are often confused with our emotions and feelings of love. ” I love you with all my heart! ” is one common reference I’ve use to describe my feeling of love for my husband.

Historically, the heart was thought to be the seat of all thinking, emotion and the soul. Aristotle also said that the heart was the source of intelligence, motion and sensation. Modern medicine might care to differ an opinion stating that the heart is a muscle that pumps blood to all parts of the body. The brain is the center of our emotions.

Even with all our modern medical information, the reference to loving with all our heart still persists. Somehow it still doesn’t sound as good to say “I love you with all of my brain”.

February is designated as National Heart month. This is a campaign to increase awareness of the #1 killer of American men and women.   The main risk factors in cardiovascular disease include: obesity, inactivity, diabetes and uncontrolled blood pressure.

By maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking, you can control risk factors and help protect your heart. Having a healthy heart is a great way to honor God. 1 Corinthians 10: 31 tells us “Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

Matthew 22:37 sums up my thought. Jesus described the Greatest Commandment as this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

FOR REFLECTION: Take time today to thank God for your heart. Try to incorporate fitness habits that will improve your cardiovascular health.

What Love Does – Part 5

A little girl ran excitedly to her grandmother to tell her about a story she had just heard for the first time. It was about Cinderella and Prince Charming. She breathlessly told grandmother the story and then she asked, “And then do you know what happened?” And grandmother said, “They lived happily ever after!” And the little girl said, “No grandmother. They got married!”

For far too many marriage is not a “happily ever after” story. The joy of the wedding day, the well-wishes of the family and friends and the enjoyment of the honeymoon can fade quickly in the reality of married life with bills, children, disagreements, and disappointments.

And yet, God’s intention with marriage was to provide a place, an arena, a real-life example of what “love never failing” looks like. It is a place to put into practice real solutions for real problems. What does love look like when it’s protecting… when it’s trusting… when it’s hoping… when it’s enduring? Marriage shows that to the world.

As married couples, we must learn to work through areas of conflict and disappointment; of selfishness and pride; and lay down our lives for one another. That is our calling as Christians in marriage relationships.

That is discipleship in action. Did you know that a part of what God intended in creating marriage was to provide a place where we could become more Christlike by living with a person who is different than we are? Those places where our mates may sometimes rub us the wrong way are the edges where God wants to grow us into people who look like Jesus?

Marriage is not easy and yet, when we persevere through the years and through the trials that come, the beauty of walking with a person 40, 50, or 60 years becomes its own reward. To know a person on the level that comes with the depth of years is a gift that fewer and fewer are being allowed to experience. Marriages, sadly, can fail.

But love never does.

“Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

FOR REFLECTION: How has God shown His faithful love in your relationship

What Love Does – Part 4

Love always perseveres. Of all the words in the Biblical definition, this one may be the least romantically inclined. Perseverance has to do with toughing something out… the runner enduring the marathon… the soldier hanging in through deployment… the patient enduring and persevering through treatment.

But it’s not a romantic word. And yet, the implication of “persevering” has presented us with some of the most wonderful and dramatic pictures of couples leaning on each other until death parts them. God perseveres in His stubborn love for us even when we reject and turn our backs on Him.

So far we’ve thought about what love does. In the Star Wars saga, Yoda was training Luke Skywalker to harness the power of the Force to be a Jedi. In frustration at one point Luke threw up his hands and gave up. Yoda challenged him to keep on and finally Luke said, “I’ll try.” Yoda spoke a now -classic line out when he replied, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I like that. “Do or do not.” Love or don’t love. There is no “try.” We either show love to our beloved or we show them something else. But we are doing… or we’re not doing. There is no try.

Love perseveres. It endures all things. It doesn’t quit when discouraged or give up when failure happens. It doesn’t walk away when something captures its attention and distracts, and it doesn’t shy away from commitment.

Love endures. Love commits and stays by the commitment. Sadly today, most of the people in the wedding party of a newlywed couple and a sizable majority of the audience do not believe this “til death do us part” commitment is going to last. We silently sigh when we hear that and say, “Yeah, right.”

But love perseveres. It hangs in there. It makes a commitment and lives it out, even when it doesn’t feel good. We are to love each other, we are to infuse our relationships with a love that is God-given and God-sustained.

God loves us with an everlasting, persevering love. It doesn’t leave when we don’t live up to our end of the bargain. Love never fails. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.

In Ephesians 5:1-2 we read, “Be imitators of God… and walk in love.” We are to imitate, to “mimic” the love that God shows us. And we are to love each other with that enduring, abiding love.

Love never fails.

“Dear children let us not love in word or tongue but with action and with deeds.” (1 John 3:18)

FOR REFLECTION: Identify the area in your life where you are most tempted to give up. Pray specifically that this word will encourage you there.

What Love Does – Part 3

The question is not, “What is love?” as much as “what does love do?” The Bible gives us enough as we read about love to understand love is much bigger than “How do I feel?” Love is more about “what am I prepared to do?” The Gospel tells us in Romans 5:8 that “God demonstrated (showed us) His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (the ULTIMATE act of love and obedience).”

So far we’ve considered, just from one verse of Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:7) two aspects of love that we don’t always think about or sing about. First, LOVE ALWAYS PROTECTS. It covers sin. It protects reputations. It refuses to injure. God does not just want to wash away and cover our sin. He wants to protect us from the shame that comes as well. Second, LOVE ALWAYS TRUSTS. Love trusts even if that trust has been injured. Even if the one we love has let us down. Love gives a second chance.

Today let’s consider a third thing love does: LOVE ALWAYS HOPES. It always hopes. It hopes for the best. It hopes for reconciliation. It hopes for the one it loves to do well. It thinks UP of the other person, not DOWN.

Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Prayer of Jabez and several other books, tells the story of the time when he was a teacher in high school. He was told by his principal when he started that he was very lucky because his class was filled with Section A students: The best and the brightest in the school. It should be a delight. With that, Wilkinson began his year with optimism and true to his principal’s word, the class was filled with students who were all A and B students. His other classes, unfortunately, were filled with students who got C’s, D’s, and a few F’s. Mid semester, he was talking to another teacher and mentioned his Section A students. The teacher said, “What are you talking about? They ended that program six years ago. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN OUR CLASSES NOW! And Wilkinson learned, as he reviewed his gradebook, the power of optimistic hope.

Love hopes the best for someone. It never loses sight of hope. We can apply this principle to our marriages, to our friendships, but also to parenting. We can “coach our children up” or “put our children down.” And they will do just as you expect of them. As we think about how this works in our marriages, our expectation, more than almost anything else, determines the direction and our attitude toward the one we love.

Love always hopes. It believes the best and hopes for the best.

And hope does not make us ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. (Romans 5:8)

FOR REFLECTION: Are you expecting UP or DOWN of the relationships in your life?

What Love Does – Part 2

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.” Those are words we don’t often connect with our understanding of love in contemporary culture. Those images are more often tied to an overwhelming emotion or an overt sexuality or a self-seeking, self-satisfying longing.

But the Bible doesn’t let us get away with it that easily. In fact, if we read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 correctly, the grammar indicates that we are dealing entirely with verbs in the definition. Love, in other words, is something we do… not something we feel.

Now don’t let me sound unromantic here. Certainly there are wonderful emotions tied to the understanding of love and always has been. But at it’s core, love is something we DO, not something we FEEL.

“How do I know when I love someone?” Well, what are you doing for them? Are you acting in a loving way or are you acting selfishly? This is the essence of the conversation. How are we choosing to act?

In the last column we talked about the importance of covering… of protecting the one we love. This time, we want to take things one step further. What does love do? It doesn’t just protect. It also trusts.

Love trusts. Love trusts. There are three kinds of people in the world, according to Psychology Today. There are gullible people who trust anybody. There are cynical people who trust nobody. And there are people who can give others the benefit of the doubt. We struggle with trust today. It has to do with having confidence in… being able to lean on… feeling stability around someone.

People who trust well have healthy relationships and can build healthy intimacy. They can also maintain their own boundaries and limitations. Love trusts. That also involves risk, because when you trust someone they can hurt you. And sometimes they do.

Many who are reading this devotion have been failed. It’s hard for you to trust the intentions of a person who has let you down. A mate had an affair. A child got pregnant but is not married. A parent made a promise and broke it again. A business disappointed you and broke a contractual relationship.

Human nature says, “don’t ever trust them again.” But love trusts. Love forgives. Love gives a second chance. The essence of trust is to get back up, and give one more chance for things to work. Trusting people are, without question, the happiest people on earth.

Love always trusts.

“Forgive one another as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

FOR REFLECTION: How can I show the love of Christ to by giving a second chance?

What Love Does – Part 1

Love may be the most misunderstood and misused word in the English language. We sing love songs and write love stories. Some songs, however, are not love songs. They are lust songs. They are not love stories. They are lust stories. We use the word interchangeably. I love Pam, I love America, I love my still-forming granddaughter, I love pizza, and I love coffee. We use the word so many different ways.

If we are going to have successful relationships, we need to figure out what this word “love” really means. 1 Corinthians 13:7 gives us one definition.“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.”

“Love always protects.” The word in Greek is a word which means, “to cover with a roof.” A house without a roof isn’t much shelter in a storm. How many of you would buy a house without a roof? Likewise the Bible says love is like a roof. It covers. Self-esteem is very fragile and people’s feelings are easily injured. But love covers.

What can I do to protect other people’s worth? I can minimize their hurt. You can minimize their mistakes. Refuse to emphasize when they mess up. Overlook their faults. 1 Peter 4:8 says “Love covers a multitude of sins.” We are to overlook the faults of the other person. That’s what love does.

I can protect people by refusing to gossip. By not talking about them behind their back. Rick Warren said, “A friend is somebody who doesn’t rub it in, they rub it out.” They don’t broadcast your faults. Proverbs 17:9 “He who covers an offense offers love but he who repeats a matter separates even the closest of friends.” So you love people by protecting their dignity, their self worth, and by “rubbing out” their offenses.

We love to get the dirt on other people. We love to hear about it and love to pass it on.
When I was younger, the young people would sing a camp song called “Pass It On.” That could be a theme song in some situations today! We love to “Pass It On” when we find something negative about the other person.

Did you know what one of the highest selling magazines in America is? It’s not Time, it’s not Newsweek. It’s not even Sports Illustrated. It’s the National Inquirer. Why? People love to get the dirt on other people. But love hates scandals. And love overlooks a fault and love doesn’t like to expose someone else’s mess. Love always protects.

“Love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

FOR REFLECTION: How can I show love this week by protecting the person I love?

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