Showing posts with label God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God. Show all posts

Friday, February 17, 2012

Love is more than paper hearts for Valentines

Real hearts bleed. Real people cry. But thank God, real love cares and listens.

“O, God, You’re aware of all my sorrows.
You have collected my tears in a bottle
and recorded each one in Your book,”
Psalm 56:8.

Imagine! The Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, knows and understands what we think and feel and takes note of even the smallest signs of our distress.

Dear LORD God, Who created us and gave us the ability to feel, help us to express our emotions in a way that communicates, restores, and renews our loving relationships with other people, ourselves, and You. Help us, Heavenly Father, to turn over each wound, sin, or sorrow to be tended by Your perfect love.


©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Offering ourselves to Love

Searching for “Love” in all the right places ideally starts with a Bible concordance or a word search on such websites as With numerous English translations of the Bible from which to choose, searchers for “Love” find matches with the click of a finger. For instance, a “love” search shows that:

Love begins with Genesis.

The Bible contains hundreds of references to love.

Translations in current lingo often contain 700 or more references to love, ranging from feelings of emotion to close encounters of a sexual kind.

Most of the literal translations, such as the King James Version and Douay-Rheims, separate varying aspects of love into various words such as charity and yet still translate over 400 Bible verses as the highest form of love – that godly love that comes from choices and actions based on the closest but purest relationships.

New Testament readers often hear of this purest form of parental love by its original Greek name, Agape (pronounced ah-GAH-pay.) In the First Testament or Hebrew Bible, however, the word for love is ahava, which springs from its root-word hav – to give.

We may fall into love, but we cannot fall into give. We have to get there on purpose.

Giving our love sometimes means giving up what we want for a very good, very loving reason. So it’s not surprising that, during an era when ungodly gods demanded child sacrifices, the first Bible reference to godly parental love occurs in Genesis 22:1-3, where God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering.

Maybe that’s what Abraham expected and, therefore, heard. Or maybe God wanted Abraham to understand from the start of the Hebrew nation that the Almighty LORD loves His children far more than the very best parent possibly could, and, therefore, would never ever require child sacrifices like the unloving, ungodly gods demanded.

Regardless, God put Abraham’s faith to the test. Then Abraham put Isaac’s faith to the test! As Young’s Literal Translation says, God told Abraham, “Take, I pray thee, thy son, thine only one, whom thou hast loved, even Isaac, and go for thyself unto the land of Moriah, and cause him to ascend there for a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I speak unto thee.”

Besides noticing the very first use of the ahava word “love” in the Bible, notice how this literal translation of the verse “causes” Isaac to ascend or climb the mountain, which implies that the boy showed his love by giving his father and his Heavenly Father the benefit of the doubt in an undoubtedly scary situation. In addition, verse 6 tells us, Abraham carried the knife and the torch, but Isaac carried the wood while the two of them walked up the mountain together.

Again and again, this verse comes up in Bible studies and theological debates for many reasons, but here the point is that the first reference to love in the Bible is a sacrificial love – a love that gives, a love that asks us to offer up ourselves and all we hold dear out of our love for God and our faith in His goodness.

This sacrificial love of Abraham and Isaac finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Gospels where God sacrifices His only begotten son Jesus, who also carried the wood of the Cross.

That One-and-Only Child sacrifice has been fully paid by God the Father and God the Son for the very specific purpose of giving an eternally ongoing relationship with God to anyone and everyone who so chooses.

Such a sacrifice is not required by human beings, nor can our love begin to compare. Throughout the Bible, however, God urges us to give of ourselves – to offer up ourselves to the gift of love that lives, on and on, in and around us.


For further study about Abraham’s love offering of Isaac, the Bible Prayers blog gives additional background with a word search or in the article “God and Abraham pray for Ishmael and Isaac.”


©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Please do not copy without permission.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our First Love: God

In Matthew 10:37, Jesus made a puzzling statement: "People who love their father or mother more than Me are not worthy of Me. Those who love a son or daughter more than Me are not worthy of Me."

To keep that hard saying of Jesus in context, however, He showed us a bigger picture in Matthew 22:37-39: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Clearly God wants us to love other people and ourselves very much but not put what they want – or what we want – before anything God wants.

What does God want? Who can know without knowing what God says? And so, Jesus urged His followers to listen to God. Quoting the Torah (Jewish law) He commanded: "Hear, O Israel."

Known as the Shema (Hebrew word for listen), the full commandment in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says: “Hear, oh Israel, listen! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord! Therefore, you must love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Keep these words I am commanding you today in your hearts and on your minds. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit around your house and when you go out, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them on your hand as a sign, and put them on your forehead as a symbol. Write them on the doorposts of your home and on your gates.”

As these Bible verses show, God wants us to use everyday opportunities and experiences to show our children, friends, and neighbors our beliefs. Even strangers who knock on our doors will be able to see that we belong to the Almighty Lord God and Father of Love if we have symbols and signs of God all around our yards and houses. A lawn statue, a Bible verse plaque, a cross on the wall, or a dust-free Bible on a table can openly but quietly attest to our love for God in a way that people can see as soon as they enter our homes. More importantly, those same signs, symbols, or icons also remind us to love God and to put God first and foremost – in our relationships, decisions, daily activities, and even our décor.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, help us to love You more and put You before anyone or anything else at any time. Help us to listen and really hear what You have to say to us. Help us especially to see how You first loved us so much that You gave up Your only Son for us, so we could forever be Your beloved children too. We thank You and praise You, O Lord God, for your ongoing love.

©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Please do not copy without permission.

What the Bible Says About Love - the book

God IS love. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reveals the timeless, unchanging, ever-present love of God the Father, Son, and Holy S...