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1Cor13
LOVE

Gifts without having love are as "nothing"

Greek word for love used by Paul: "AGAPE".

"It is a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given. It gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive. According to Alan Redpath, we get our English word agony from agape. “It means the actual absorption of our being in one great passion.” (Redpath) Strictly speaking, agape can’t be defined as “God’s love,” because men are said to agape sin and the world (John 3:19, 1 John 2:15). But it can be defined as a sacrificial, giving, absorbing, love. The word has little to do with emotion; it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of another." - David Guzik
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Love never fails, but gifts will cease.

If vs. 8 is the scripture that is used to promote the idea that certain gifts are "no more". Then I disagree.

You can argue the Greek verb tenses all day, but all they indicate is that at some point the "gifts" will stop.

When? In verse 10: "when perfection comes". To me, that is when Christ (perfection) comes back, or when we die and we are made completely sanctified (perfect) in heaven. The next two verses emphasize that same point using different words. There will be no need for "gifts" at that juncture.
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1Cor13:13
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." NIV

I wondered about this verse until I read this:

"But the greatest of these is love: Love is greatest because it will continue, even grow, in the eternal state. When we are in heaven, faith and hope will have fulfilled their purpose. We won’t need faith when we see God face to face. We won’t need to hope in the coming of Jesus once He comes. But we will always love the Lord and each other, and grow in that love through eternity.

Love is also the greatest because it is an attribute of God (1 John 4:8), and faith and hope are not part of God’s character and personality. God does not have faith in the way we have faith, because He never has to “trust” outside of Himself. God does not have hope the way we have hope, because He knows all things and is in complete control. But God is love, and will always be love." - David Guzik

Esther

1) Bob Deffingbaugh has been "hard" on Mordecai and Esther in all his commentaries, and now we come to a point in the book of Esther where I can agree with Bob.

As I mentioned yesterday, I think the point of the book is that God keeps his Word. God is deliberately not mentioned in this book - as God is not dependant on mankind for the carrying out of His purposes, Will, and plan. God may not be mentioned, but He is definately there making sure His Word, that the Jewish nation would be preserved, is kept.

What bothers me here after the hanging of Haman and the king granting Mordecai and Esther the right to make a decree is: There is no fasting (and implied praying to God). Why not? The big day is some nine months away? There was fasting when Mordecai and Esther thought the Jewish people were going to be destroyed. Instead now the two go right to work on the decree.

I BELIEVE that this is the point where "mankind" takes over in the story. The decree is not God's work, but Mordecai and Esther's invention. Up to now all the story smacks of God. The opportunities presented (looking like pure chance), Mordecia's reward for loyalty, the evil doer receiving punishment, all to the principals involved etc. Now the decree smacks of man: to revenge, annhilate, plunder enemies and those perceived to be enemies, avenge as much as "to defend" in a more widespread over the top manner.

[NOTE: Some will say that the decree was a lot like God's treatment of Canaanites. Yes, but remember God was patient with around four hundred years passing between judgment and implementation. There was time for repentance, warnings (thru prophecy), and exhibitions of God's power. In the end, Canaanites rejected God and He has the right to pronounce and execute judgment. None of this was evident in Mordecai and Esther's decree.]

So why doesn't God step in and stop this vain grab for revenge? I believe that this was in God's Will for a reason - to show how God carries out justice and revenge versus how "mankind" carries out the same.
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2) Purim - Historical?
This is the reason I believe that the story relates an actual "event". If you look at all the other Jewish Feast days/Holidays they all center around an actual event. The one exception is Yom Kippur - the atonement For Israel's sins.

I know critical historians are split on whether the story of Esther is Historical in nature, and good arguments exist in both camps.

I am willing to go with Historical because the people of that time created a national Holiday for this event. Jewish people do not seem to have the tendency to celebrate myths or legends as National Holidays. Just my opinion.

3) Purim compared to other Feasts. This is a man-made Holiday. It was not instructed by God. It is interesting to see the differences between God decreed Feasts and Purim. God's declared feasts for Israel center around worship, praise, and thanks. Most are of a serious nature. Purim is a bit different including the custom 'to get drunk'.
http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article.asp?AID=2814

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim

Perhaps the legacy of the book of Esther is not only to show the difference between how God works and man works, but also the differences between the Feasts and this holiday. Purim gives one the opportunity to see the difference between how God celebrates and how "mankind" celebrates.

Esther 8-10:3

What I’ve learned after my “Esther” melt-down (see August 18th) is this: God is in control no matter who is on the throne. God is in control even when “His” people, the Jew or Christian fail to acknowledge Him and act like His people. (The Book of Esther is a secular book whose main characters, thou Jewish, are secular.) God can take any situation and use it for His glory even when the participants do not know they are being used to bring about God’s purpose.

Because God’s Word is “incorruptible” (You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:23 NET.)), even when used wrongly by those who call themselves His people, the integrity of His Word can still take root in a heart that holds “Good Soil,” and give root to a 30, 40, and yes even a 100 fold harvest (Matthew 13:8).

I Corinthians 12:27-13:13

The church at Corinth had been operating fully in the gifts of the Spirit, they had wonderful teachers in the body that they fought over. They used the gifts of the Spirit as a point of pride and warred over which one was the best proving they were immature Believers. The kind you can see on any schoolyard during lunch or after school. In the schoolyard you can hear “My daddy is bigger than your daddy,” or “My mommies prettier than yours,” but in the church at Corinth you heard, “ …"I am with Paul," or "I am with Apollos," or "I am with Cephas," or "I am with Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:12 NET.)

Paul is essentially telling the church they are 1) not acting in love which is a fruit of the Sprit and not a gift of the Sprit. Fruit and Gifts are two different things fruit is a by-product of seed, soil and the interaction of the environment (air, rain and fertilizer). Remember we are the branches of the Vine, Jesus Christ, and we produce fruit by being attached to that Vine.

We can operate either out of the works of the flesh, or the Fruit of the Spirit, we have a choice. However as Paul points out, Love, a fruit, is the better way. We are to operate in the gift or gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit, they don’t belong to us and we cannot manufacture them.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God! But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:19-26 NET.)

Love desires to benefit others at the expense of self; lust desires to benefit self at the expense of others. Mature people always look out for others no matter how old, young and no matter the size. While babies, immature people, are only out for self, “What can I get out of this?”


Psalm 37:1-11

7 Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don't worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

8 Stop your anger!
Turn from your rage!
Do not envy others--
it only leads to harm.

Ah, “Don’t worry about evil people.” We humans worry about everything, we grumble when we see people doing wrong, we grumble when we do something wrong and get caught, “Why didn’t they catch Janie speeding,” or “They saw that yellow Toyota speeding why didn’t they stop him/her why did they have to stop me?”

The rage, the envy we exhibit against all those wrong doers does nothing to them but it absolutely kills us. We do it because we think God is not looking out for us or that He is senile and forgotten about us. We may even think that God is out to get us because we are always being caught when we do something wrong then we think wrongly that others do not. What we need to do is stop doing the things we know that are wrong especially when we do what is wrong because the well renowned “They” and “Mr. and Ms Somebody” gets away with it.

Those who know better, do wrong, and are caught should rejoice at being caught because the punishment for that one infraction will be less severe than the punishment for a multitude of wrongdoing. We reap what we sow, that is a universal law; sow a lot of wrongdoing, you will get a great harvest, and remember: the crop harvested looks nothing like the seed sown, and it’s bigger.

Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, (Galatians 6:7 NET.)

Proverbs 21:23-24

23If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble.

I love it when scripture defines scripture,

The evil person is ensnared by the transgression of his speech, but the righteous person escapes out of trouble. (Proverbs 12:13 NET.)

AND

If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. (James 1:26 NET.)

The thing that jumped out at me this morning while reading in Esther 9 was that even though the Jews were given permission to plunder (take for themselves) the property of their enemies, it says "they did not lay a hand on the plunder." Just because something is legal today doesn't make it a right thing or a good thing for a Christian to do or partake of. We should obey the laws of the land but we should live by the laws of our Lord. They will never lead us down the wrong path.

God Bless you

RE: spiritual gifts

I commented on yesterday's post with a link to a gifts inventory for the person who wanted to know what their gifts were.

Re: Purim

I think it's such a great holiday. I always think I want to try to celebrate it with my kids, but I never remember when Purim is! I think that kind of celebration (with masks and drama and parties) can really make spiritual education come alive.

Esther 9 (NKJV)
3
And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
4
For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.

NOTE:
This is so excellent. Even the officials, satraps, governors, and all others in the palace doing the king’s work helped the Jews. (By the way, I wondered what a “satrap” is, so I looked it up. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satrap):
“Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of ancient Median and Persian Achaemenid empires”

THANK GOD that, in our weakness, God is our strength—if we will let Him be Who He is even when we feel so tempted or so weak that we cannot stand. We can be who God created us to be in Christ, and we can do God’s will. We just have to stand, or abide, in Christ and NOT MOVE from there! (Of course… only by grace!)

Esther 8 (NKJV)
2
So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman.

17
And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.

NOTE:
Even Queen Esther could do nothing without the signet ring of authority from the king. Certainly, Mordecai could do nothing without the signet ring of the king.

Christ is our Signet Ring, and we are under His authority.

You and I can really do nothing of ourselves. I need to meditate more on the following verses in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 8 (Amplified)
16
The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.
17
And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and FELLOW HEIRS WITH CHRIST [SHARING HIS INHERITANCE WITH HIM]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory.
~~~

Christ, by taking on our sin and giving us His righteousness through the Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension has literally shared with us His very own authority.

Of course, He will never approve or allow that authority to be used for selfish purposes. God will answer our prayers if we live for His glory.

We are literally: FELLOW HEIRS WITH CHRIST [SHARING HIS INHERITANCE WITH HIM]. And of course, we can only walk in this as we follow, obey, and suffer as we face opposition in doing God’s will.

John 15 (NKJV)
7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
~~~

Many people saw God’s favor on the Jews, and they became Jews. May you and I so walk in the divine favor that God has already bestowed on us in Christ that many would see the beauty and authority of the Lord Jesus in our lives, suffering, and witness.

Romans 5 (NKJV)
17
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
~~~

I Corinthians 13 (J B Phillips New Testament)
13:4 –
This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience - it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.

13:5-6 - Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.

13:7-8a - Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.

NOTE:
1. Slow to lose patience
2. Eager for being constructive
3. Not possessive
4. Not anxious to impress others
5. Not cherish ideas of my own importance
6. Has good manners
7. Does not pursue selfish advantage
8. Is not touchy
9. Does not keep account of evil
10. Does not gloat over the wickedness of other people (“They had it coming; they deserved it”)
11. Chooses to be glad with all good men when truth prevails
12. God’s Love knows no limit to its endurance
13. God’s Love has no end to its trust
14. God’s Love has no fading of its hope
15. God’s Love can outlast anything.
16. God’s Love is the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.

When I think of this list, I immediately realize how many ways I fall short of who God is and of being filled with the Holy Spirit of God’s Love.

On this list, in particular I note numbers 8, 9, and 10.

How many times have I been touchy?
How many times have I been kept account of the times I have been hurt by someone and nurtured it?
How many times have I been happy that other people were hurt because they had committed evil (or either in my mind I believed they had committed evil)?

We cannot function the way God wants and do God’s will without being filled with God’s Love. I like this quote by Andrew Murray from “With Christ In The School of Prayer”:

“NINTH LESSON – ‘Pray the Lord of the harvest’ or ‘Prayer provides labourers’

Solemn thought! O why is it that we do not obey the injunction of the Master more heartily, and cry more earnestly for labourers? There are two reasons for this. The one is: WE MISS THE COMPASSION OF JESUS, WHICH GAVE RISE TO THIS REQUEST FOR PRAYER. When believers learn that to love their neighbor as themselves, that to live entirely for God’s glory in their fellow-men, is the Father’s first commandment to His redeemed ones, they will accept the perishing ones as the charge entrusted to them by their Lord."

"And, accepting them not only as a field of labour, but as the objects of loving care and interest, it will not be long before compassion towards the hopelessly perishing will touch their heart, and the cry ascend with an earnestness till then unknown: LORD! send labourers.”

Psalm 37 (Amplified Bible)
1
FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God).
2
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3
Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.
4
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.
5
Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.

NOTE:
I particularly like this chapter as rendered in the Amplified Bible.

In these rich and wonderful verses, I find a way to help me walk in the LOVE OF GOD that is so eloquently and beautifully expressed by the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 13.

I am called by God to avoid keeping account of evil and do not gloat over the wickedness of other people. How do I do this?

I simply need to focus on this:
a.
FRET NOT MYSELF BECAUSE OF EVILDOERS, NEITHER BE ENVIOUS
b.
DELIGHT MYSELF ALSO IN THE LORD
c.
STAY BEFORE THE LORD UNTIL I AM ABLE TO ROLL AND REPOSE EACH CARE OF YOUR LOAD ON HIM
d.
LEAN ON, RELY ON, AND BE CONFIDENT IN THE LORD JESUS

By the way, I like a further note in the Amplified Bible regarding the concept of “leaning on the Lord” from Hebrews chapter 6:

12
In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith (BY THEIR LEANING OF THE ENTIRE PERSONALITY ON GOD IN CHRIST IN ABSOLUTE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN HIS POWER, WISDOM, AND GOODNESS) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises.

Again, how can I possibly do be who God wants and do what God wants without spending quality time with Him? Only Jesus can live His life through me. I may be able to do many things, but I cannot do even walk in the tiniest part of God’s Love without Jesus.

Galatians 2 (NKJV)
20
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
21
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Vance

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