Loving the Bible, loving God and loving people seems like they should go together, but I wonder do they really go together? Is it possible to become so totally engrossed in one of these aspects that we forget the other. For example, in my pursuit of loving people, do I become so busy that I forget to read God’s Word, my Bible? Maybe I’m a Bible reader and I know God’s Word well, but do I let it change the way I live? Do I really love people? Have I forgotten what it truly means to love God? What does it really mean to love the Bible, God and people?
If you find these questions a little offensive, believe me, I do too! I developed a habit of spending time reading my Bible in my early teen years and I love spending time in God’s Word. I find it strengthens my relationship with God, yet sometimes I spend so much time reading that I forget to worship and I forget to pray. When I miss worship and prayer, I can start feeling a little bogged down, a little less joyful and while connected with God’s Word, I find myself feeling a little less connected to God’s love. I need worship, prayer and reading to grow in my relationship with God.
That brings me to my next question, how can I really love God and love people? It sounds so easy in theory, however in practice, it can be quite a different story. In fact loving people can be a gentle dance. I have to be careful when loving others that they are ready to receive what I might think is loving. Recently someone in my online neighborhood community shared a Bible quote in what she thought was a loving manner. I didn’t find it offensive. I thought she was trying to be encouraging. Yet, many of the neighborhood people did take offense to it. They felt she was being unkind to share it in the way that she did. I know that a large part of this was their perception. However, I think we do need to be careful to share the Bible in a way that is not beating people over the head with it. In our quest to share our own love for the Bible, we can be offensive at times. Part of the dance though, is realizing that we can’t please everyone and we do need to be bold in sharing the gospel. Which was it? Was her comment, her sharing offensive or just wrongly perceived? I’m not sure. I think it was a little bit of both. My prayer simply is, “Lord, help me speak with clarity, love grace and yet with boldness. Speak through me the words you want to say.”
Loving God to me means that I have trusted Jesus as my Savior and embraced Him as my friend. It means that I’m pursuing a relationship with Him by spending time reading my Bible and talking to God everyday and even throughout the day. It means that I’m trying to live for Him and that I’m grateful for all that He’s done for me. It means that I love Him because He loves me. Oh how I need His love!
And that brings me back to loving people. I can love people because God loves people. I can extend forgiveness and grace more often than judgment because God extends forgiveness and grace to me. With God’s help, I can think about others instead of only myself. I try to treat others the way I want to be treated and I try to respond to people with kindness even when that kindness is not reciprocated.
Sounds good right? But what does it really mean in the day to day? What about when I’m busy and someone interrupts me or says something that hurts my feelings? Do I stop long enough to think about how I should respond? Do I extend love and forgiveness or do I, in the frustration of the moment, say something that I will regret later?
What about those times when I have deadlines to meet and yet a neighbor or friend needs me? Do I respond to that friend graciously or do I brush them off because after all, I am busy! Sometimes I’m even busy doing “God’s work” or so I think. I’m blogging (like now), teaching kids on Sundays, volunteering for VBC or VBS in the summer, always doing, always productive and yet not always loving. Do I take the time to connect with people, to listen, to share life with them? More often than not, I do a quickie prayer for them, let them know that I’m thinking about them in their crisis and let it go at that.
Jesus was never in a hurry. He stopped to minister to people and more often than not, He reached out and touched them. Perhaps today, we all have become too busy. I’m challenging myself to slow the pace a little, to stop long enough to reach out and touch someone. This is a tall order, yet day by day as I walk with God, He helps me. I have a long ways to go still, but I know God is guiding me on this journey. Care to join me?
May I fall more in love with you this year than ever before and help me to love others as you love them, extending grace, forgiveness and care to them. Let me make the time to reach out and touch them. Show me what it truly means to love you and love others. God, I want my kids to learn to show love and grace too. May we learn to show love and grace together, as we look to you. Amen
LOVING THE BIBLE – Ideas that have helped me in my pursuit of more Bible
* I love the Bible Ap on my phone. It makes it so easy to take a quick look at God’s Word when I have a minute to spare. I can also compare versions and do a study with friends.
* Another favorite ap is the Bible Ap For Kids – also as a download on my phone. It’s great for kids and so fun!
* There are so many ways of loving people – too many to cover here, but listen, really listen. One of the greatest needs we have today is for someone to see us and simply listen to our story. So many people feel unheard and unloved.
* Genuinely notice them – be happy to see your friends. Simply smile!
* Taking a quiet moment to remember what He has done for you is a great place to start on your journey to loving God more.
* Be grateful for what He has done for you.
* Worship – for me worship, singing, listening to praise songs lifts me and brings me to that place of falling in love with God all over again. It touches my soul in places that nothing else does.
* Prayer combined with worship or as worship also touches my soul.
* Journaling helps me to hear from God and allows me to be real and honest before Him. I like to pray as I journal and then I ask, “God what are you saying to me?” It is a very intimate experience.
KNOW: The Bible tells me about God.
TALK ABOUT: Learning from Jesus.
ASK: Who wants to be your friend? Jesus wants to be my friend.
AND DO: Love God and love people.
SHARE A STORY – Jesus Is A Good Teacher – Matt.5:1, 14-16, 43-45, 6:26-33 One time a large crowd of people came to see Jesus. Jesus wanted to teach the people. He wanted them to know that God loved them. (Give yourself a hug)
He wanted them to know how to live for God. So He climbed (Pretend to climb) up the side of the mountain and sat (Sit down) down to teach the people.
Can you guess what Jesus told the people that day? He said that we should love everyone. (Give yourself a hug) and that we should pray (Fold hands) for people, even when someone hurts us. It’s not easy to pray for someone who takes a toy away from you or calls you a name, but Jesus can help you. Jesus said that God loves everyone (Give yourself a hug) and gives sunshine (Make a big round sun with your arms) to everyone.
Jesus said, “Do not worry because God will take care of you just like He takes care of the birds” (Make a bird with your hands and wave hands to make it flutter)“and the flowers.” (Pretend to smell a flower) “ God knows what you need and He will take care of you.”
Jesus is a good friend and a good teacher. He wants to be your friend forever and help you learn about God. He wants you to learn to love God with all your heart and love people too. We can learn what Jesus said and more about the way that God wants us to live from God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible tells us that God loves us and that we can love God and love others. Let’s grow and become wise by listening to Jesus’ teaching in the Bible.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I want you to be my forever friend. Help me to listen and learn from what you say in God’s Word, the Bible. I want to learn to love God and love others. Help me to love others even when someone isn’t nice to me. Thank you for loving and taking care of me. Amen
MEMORIZE: Luke 2:52 CEV – (Hold hands open like holding a book.)
“Jesus” – (Touch fingers of hand to palm of other hand, repeat.)
“Became wise and” – (Point to forehead.)
“He grew.” – (Squat down and then slowly stand up.)
“Strong” – (Show muscles.)
“God was pleased with Him.” – (Point up and then clap hands.)
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
* Try something new with your child. Talk about learning new things. How can we learn about God?
* Ask your child what he/she thinks Jesus says in the Bible or what Jesus would do in various situations? EX: Would Jesus share the crayons at preschool? Would He always be the first in line?