He made the stars also

February 19, 2018

Genesis 1--16

The first chapter of Genesis opens with the bold declaration: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Verse of the Day for February 19, 2018 on the Logos Bible software homepage goes on to relate other aspects of God’s creation by stating:

Genesis 1:16:

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”

Not only did God fashion the sun and the moon, but almost as if an aside, “He made the stars also . . . in their seemingly endless hosts of galaxies. The Psalmist goes on to remind us: “He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names.” (Psalm 147:4)

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Sun is but one of about 200 billion stars just in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Altogether, astronomers have found more than 500 solar systems and are discovering new ones every year. Given how many they have found in our own neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy, scientists estimate that there may be tens of billions of solar systems in our galaxy, perhaps even as many as 100 billion, indicating hundreds of billions of stars in the universe.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind Psalm 19:1-2 9 (Revised Standard Version):

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge

In addition, these verses bring to mind the fact that the Hubble Space Telescope has observed tens of thousands targets and has collected more than half a million pictures in its archive.  Since its launching in 1990, this remarkable scientific device has taken pictures of planets, stars and galaxies. Hubble has seen the birth and death of stars in the midst of galaxies that are billions of light years away. These amazing photographs provide a glorious display of the handiwork of God, as the Psalmist declares.

By means of the technological advancements, such as the Hubble Telescope, we are now able to observe the heaven as never before, making the Word of God more alive than ever. We are now able to see the glorious handiwork of God on glorious display. The Verse of the Day also proclaims the awesome creative power of God poetically expressed in this way:

“. . . He Made the Stars Also”

Genesis 1:16

 

Thousands upon millions upon billions of stars,

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars:

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

 

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also.

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

 

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also:

Witness to Abraham of what was yet to be.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

As the stars and grains of sand, so shall your seed be.

 

All creation unified by a single bond.

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars

Express the breadth of God’s love, reaching far beyond

Thousands upon millions upon billions of stars.

Karen Clark Sheard offers a  variation on the theme from Genesis 1:16 and Psalm 19:1-2 with her stirring rendition of “The Heavens are telling.”

 

Nothing can separate us

February 18, 2018

Yesterday’s Verse of the Day introduced a series of questions raised in Romans 8: beginning with verse 35:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

The Verse of the Day for February 18, 2018  responds to that series of questions:

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV):

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite the adverse circumstances of life that seek to negatively impact our relationship with God and cause us to question whether He really loves us, Paul offers this blessed assurance: Simply put, nothing can separate us from the love of God:

Beginning with death, the end of life, not even life itself can separate us;

Neither legions upon legions of angelic entities nor powers, neither all the demonic forces that follow the commands of “him who has the power of death—that is the devil”;

Nothing in this present life nor in the life to come; Nothing is higher than the love of God which reaches beyond the highest height and lowest hell; “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

Since God who is love created all things, then no created thing is outside the love of God. Nothing—literally “no thing”– shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As we think about these verses, 1 Corinthians 13 also comes to mind, relating to the constancy of the love of God which never fails:

Nothing can separate us

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love
–and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (New Living Translation)

Father, expand our minds and widen our comprehension
To recognize Your ways at an even greater dimension.
As we call upon Your name and bow in humility,
Striving to be all that You have called us to be,
Enlighten our eyes, strengthen our hearts to endure,
As we walk in the love of God, boundless and pure.
When we are tempted, knowing that You love us dispels all fear.
As we seek to please You, open our ears that we might hear
Your word and endeavor to hide it deep within our heart.
Despite past failures, misdeeds, and shortcomings on our part,
Your love is constant, never changing that we might know
The fullness of such love abounding in us as we grow,
For we walk by faith, rest in hope, looking above,
Assured nothing can separate us from God’s love

This powerful musical rendering of Romans 8:35, 37-38 by Wayne Tate raises the question and offers the answer expressed in the Verse of the Day:

More than conquerors: What does it mean?

February 17, 2018

Verse of the Day for February 17, 2018 introduces a series of questions raised in Romans 8: beginning with verse 35, followed by verse 37 in the New International Version:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Here is the rendering in the New King James Version:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

If we add verse 36, we note a series of questions expressed this way in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition:

35 Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?
36 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?

The passage culminates with a powerful response that thunders with the answer to this barrage of questions. The answer is more emphatic in other translations which begin with “No!” The familiar King James Version declares:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.

The Phillips Translation puts it this way:

No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us:

So says the New Living Translation:

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

The response is definite and emphatic: No, absolutely not! No way, Jose! No! [Expletive deleted—No!] Paul goes on to close out this section to remind believers of who we are and whose we are and most importantly what we do:

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].

The expression “more than conquerors” is translated from the Greek verb hupernikao, a compound word with the prefix huper—a form of the same prefix found in “super”—meaning over, beyond, above exceed, more than. Today, common expressions of the preposition would say “over and above” or “above and beyond.” The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, overpower, prevail.” Although translated as such, being “more than conquerors” or “super conquerors,” is not who we are, but it is what we do, how we live. We prevail completely in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives: “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37 is the epigraph or introduction for this expression of our new identity in light of the Word for the Day:

Not Just Survivors

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors
and gain an overwhelming victory through Him
who loved us [so much that He died for us].
Romans 8:37 (AMP)

Not just survivors, more than conquerors,
Defying the odds as brave conquistadors.
Despite intense pressure we learn to rest in grace,
More than enough to withstand the daily tests we face,
Not merely to survive but to thrive even more.

As mighty warriors, triumphant super victors
With a cause, prepared not to die but to live for.
At times we fell behind but fought to keep the pace:
Not just survivors, more than conquerors.
.

To fulfill all the will of God and then to soar
To heights sublime where we have never been before.
Overcomers, bearing light in the darkest place,
We still fight the good fight, as we finish our race,
Moving forward, seeking to find the next open door:
Not just survivors, more than conquerors.

The perfect music to accompany the Verse of the Day is “More than Conquerors” by the Rend Collection:

Power in the blood of Jesus

February 16, 2018

Hebrews 9--22

The Verse of the Day posted on the Logos Bible Software Home page for February 16, 2018 comes from Hebrews 9:22

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

The context related to this verse points out the distinction between the Old Covenant established by blood sacrifice of animals and the New Covenant implemented through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:13-14 points out this distinction:

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

The reference to the distinctive power inherent in the blood of Jesus Christ brings to mind these lines related to the color red:

red

red clay red

Adamic dust red

red man

red

yearning

to return to Eden

red

red

blood red

red

yes, Lord, red

Lamb’s blood

red

precious blood

red

blood-stained banner

red

like the crimson flow

that cleanses scarlet sins

and washes white as snow

red

Amen red

red

blood red

Lyrics of the stalwart hymn also reminds us “There is power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb,” as Ephesians 2:13 also makes known:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

In Hebrews 10:19 we find this exhortation:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confide1nce to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,

1 John 1:7 also reinforces the message of the Verse of the Day

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

The context for this section of 1 John chapter 1 is fellowship with God and with fellow believers. Verses 6-10 begin with the conditional clause “if we” followed by a verb: “If we say…, if we walk…, if we say…, if we confess…, if we say….” These expressions establish the conditions which if met on our part, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part. These two parts of the conditional sentences are especially noted in 1 John 1:9. If we do our part, which is confess our sins, our faithful and just God will do His part, for the “blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” Without question, the blood of Jesus Christ is an amazing spiritual repository of life-generating power.

We conclude with CeCe Winans offering in song “The Blood Medley”:

The love of God prevails every day

February 15, 2018

On the day after Valentine’s Day, love still prevails, as the Verse of the Day for February 15, 2018 continues to focus on love:

1 John 4:10 (NIV):

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

With love, as with any other emotion, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Indeed, all love is giving. The essence of love as defined by giving is also seen in this poem by John Oxenham:

Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,
And while it stands with open hands it lives.
For this is love’s prerogative:
To give and give and give

As believers, once we recognize the absolute depth of love expressed in the atoning sacrifice of God’s only begotten son, we realize just how much we are indebted to our gracious Heavenly Father:

This Debt of Love

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8[NKJV]

What can you give when all you have is not enough
And when you have exhausted all your resources
And you still come up short as you assess the worth
Of the precious love so freely given to you?
When the last dram of oil from your vial has been poured
As a sacrifice and you have no more to givek
But still feel this unction to offer all the more,
What more can you say beyond a feeble thank you
When words cannot convey all you desire to say.
Though you try to show Him as you follow His ways,
You still stumble from time to time and miss the mark,
But He looks beyond your faults and sees your intent.
As you live your life to serve, you will come to see
This debt of love so great that no one can repay.

We close with a scripture video of 1 John 4:7-16 to remind us again of the love of God:

A new command: Love one another

February 14, 2018

John 13-34-35

On February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day, a day generally set aside to celebrate love, the Verse of the Day is found in John 13:34-35 (NIV):

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

This passage brings to mind the fundamental principle that can be universally applied to build and enhance all relationships. Expressed as a verb that connotes action when specifically applied in terms of what we must do:  the first principle is “Love—one another.”

Put another way:  Love is the application of the first and great commandment:  Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets,” said Jesus Christ.

Love is where it begins, and love is where it ends. Also remember that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Each day we must

Decide to demonstrate, freely give and practice love:

The first thread whereby we must launch all relationships

And follow Christ’s command that we love one another.

“Love one another.”

The Verse of the Day also reminds us that love must be demonstrated, as 1 John 4:9 relates to the love of God:

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

How do you know that someone loves you? Listen to what the individual says and watch what that person does. There must be a demonstration of love, first of all with God, and secondly with others. God didn’t just say, “I love you, world” and blow the earth a kiss, He communicated his love when He so loved that He gave His only begotten son.

1 John goes on to discuss the love of God in more detail, exhorting believers, likewise to show their love to one another:

1 John 4:7-11 (NIV)::

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

11 Dear friends since God so loved us, we also ought to love one

God desires that we become more aware of the magnitude of His great love, the driving force of the universe. His desire is that we “know the love Christ which passes knowledge.” May we grow in our understanding of this eternal truth expressed this prayer:

“. . .  Just how much You love us.”

“Oh, how He loves you and me. . .”

Traditional Gospel Song

 

Father, expand our mind and widen our comprehension

To recognize Your ways to an even greater dimension.

As we call upon Your name and bow in humility,

Help us to understand to a greater degree.

Enlighten our eyes with the wisdom that comes from above.

You call us beloved, ones worthy of Your endless love.

When we are tempted, knowing that You love us dispels all fear.

As we seek to please You, open our ears that we might hear

Your word and endeavor to hide it deep within our heart.

Despite past failures, misdeeds, and shortcomings on our part,

Your love is constant and never changes but ever grows,

Unfolding in matchless beauty as a dew-kissed rose.

You say do not love worldly things or pleasures that they bring.

You show us God’s love is more to be prized than anything.

God desires that each individual believer might know Him and experience His unconditional love, that is, to have a deeper personal knowledge of who He is. We come to know God through the Word of God which makes known the love of God.  As we establish and maintain our relationship with Him, we also experience the love of God, the most powerful force in the universe.  Once an individual knows God on such a close, experiential level, that person “knows God for himself or herself,” and that individual is forever changed. God desires that we know just how much he loves us, so that we, in return, will follow Christ’s command to love one another.

We close with “They’ll know we are Christians by our Love” sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Despite groundhogs and robins: Spring is coming

February 13, 2018

With the especially harsh winter weather this year, we must remember that “Spring is Coming!”

This year February 2, Groundhog Day, slipped past without much recognition of the celebrated day that offers a prediction of the coming spring. According to tradition, if the furry critter sees his shadow and emerges from his burrow, we are in store for 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t and retreats into his dwelling, the weather forecast is for milder weather in the interim. Since 1886 the celebration of Groundhog Day on a grand scale has been associated with western Pennsylvania, the home of the legendary Punxsutawney Phil, the famed rodent. As it turned out, Punxsutawney Phil did behold his shadow this year, indicating a forecast of 6 more week of cold weather although other groundhogs around the world provided opposing predictions of a short winter.

Whether our furry friend sees his shadow or not, we are assured that after winter still comes the spring. Indeed, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? We can also be certain that in the midst of the most severe winter, a touch of which we have experience this year, growth still takes places. Tiny buds appear and lay dormant until spring’s warm rays stimulate the surging green we long to see. Here is a reminder that life goes on:

Even in Winter

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalm 1:3

Mournful dark notes of the wind’s contralto solo
Pierce the heart and chill the soul with its somber tones.
Shrouded in widow’s weeds all of creation groans,
Bemoans winter’s wilderness, lifeless and hollow.
Tall stark naked trees where nothing appears to grow
Bend in the wind, vacant lodges closed for the season.
To find life in this dead time seems beyond reason,
Yet tender buds sleep in blankets of ice and snow.
Though leaves once green have faded, fallen to frostbite,
Leaf buds cluster in secret places to keep warm;
Buds wrapped in snow are stronger than before the storm.
Soon the voice of the bridegroom will ring in the night.
The time nears when the turtledove returns to sing,
When ice-covered buds will blossom: firstfruits of spring.

Another traditional sign of the coming of Spring, is the sighting of robins on the Northern landscape. On January 31, 2018 two separate sightings of robins were noted in North Carolina, a sure sign that Spring is on the way, so I thought. When I see robins returning after a brief absence, I recall that I made my acting debut in the second or third grade when I played “Robin Redbreast,” with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming!”

Robins are generally thought to be a sign that “Spring is coming!”

A few years ago my daughter, Melissa, sent me a card with the “Easter Legend of the Robin” on the cover:

A little grey robin, as he was flying to the Holy Land, saw Christ hanging on the cross. His heart filled with sadness. He noticed the crown of thorns the soldiers placed on the crucified Savior. The small bird, forgetting his timidity, flew down to remove a thorn from the brow of Christ. As he did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained the little bird’s breast. The robin, through his act of love, earned the red badge of courage.

From this time forth, all robins have had red breasts as reminder that one of them was kind to the Lord. Thus, the robin is truly the harbinger of spring. He welcomes Easter with his cheerful note of hope, reminding us that from death comes life.

In reflecting upon my acting debut, I composed a new song that I sing when I see a robin returning in winter:

Red Robin, Red Robin—Harbinger of Spring,
Rear back with your red breast
And sing, sing, sing.

Here is a poem originally written in anticipation of one of my favorite seasons:

Until Spring

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption,
and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death,
where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?

I Corinthians 15:54-55

 

Whether on earth or shuttled in the sky,

Death snuffs out our candles in devious ways,

For each man must learn to number his days,

Although the soul still probes to fathom why.

The mind made numb with pain can only try

To make sense of the immense ache that stays.

The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:

It is appointed unto man once to die.

Though grief surrounds us, comfort can be shown.

The sun melts frost with new life as surely

As blossoms will flourish from seeds once sown

Until Spring, on tip-toe I yearn to see

The day when I shall know as I am known,

When death is swallowed up in victory.

 

Despite predictions for more harsh winter weather or when we are blessed with unseasonably mild temperatures, we remember the words of Robin Redbreast, and enjoy this magnificent rendering of Steven Curtis Chapman’s exquisite musical composition, a reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming!”

The love of God endures

February 12, 2018

1 Corinthians 13--4-7

From a previous blog post comes the Verse of the Day for February 12, 2018 where we find two more verses from 1 Corinthians 13 further describing “charity” in the King James Version or agape or the love of God:

1 Corinthians 13: 6-7 (NIV):

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Here are two variations of these verses from two other Bibles:

New Living Translation:

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Amplified Bible:

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

As I thought about these verses from 1 Corinthians 13, a passage from Romans 8 (my favorite chapter in the whole Bible) also came to mind, relating to the constancy of the love of God which never fails. No matter the circumstances of our lives, whether on the pinnacles of success and dreams come true or in the pits of disappointment and failure, we are assured that God loves us and that His love endures. I recall a statement from the late Dr. Adrian Rodgers, “God cannot love us any more than He does, and He will not love us any less.” The chapter concludes with this assuring reminder expressed in the Amplified Bible:

Romans 8:37-39

37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,

39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The vastness of God’s love is revealed in the song “The Love of God,” rendered so powerfully, yet poignantly, by “Mercy Me,” an appropriate way to conclude today’s blog entry.

God’s love: it is what it is (not)

February 11, 2018

1-Corinthians-13-4-5_web

With its emphasis on the love of God, the Verse of the Day for February 11, 2018 continues with the unfolding of 1 Corinthians 13 and its quintessential definition of love, as we move even closer toward Valentine’s Day. The next section from verses 4-5 illustrates the distinctive power of the love of God:

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NIV):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Here the Word of God continues to answer in detail “What is love?” What unfolds is an extended  definition of the concept of “love” or “agape”, the unique expression of the love of God used throughout the New Testament, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13. Actually, the extended definition of love takes the form of a definition by negation, meaning the concept is explained in terms of its opposites or what it is not.What something is not becomes what it is. “It is what it is,” one of the popular sayings of the day, brings to light that “charity” or “the love of God” or “agape” is the opposite of what the Scriptures declare it is not.

And so the definition of the love of God continues to unfold. “Foreigner,” the British-American rock band released the pop-hit of the 1980s featuring the New Jersey Mass Choir with lyrics that expresses this desire: “I wanna know what love is.” To truly know what love is, we must know who God is, for God is love. First Corinthians 13 provides this magnificent definition of the love of God.

As we seek an even greater understanding of agape, the highest expression of love, we must remember there is no fear in love. When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of any “self-imposed prison,” from which Christ came to set the captives free. As believers, we must never forget:

There is no fear in love

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,

because fear involves torment. But he who fears

has not been made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

 

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you

 from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

Rick Warren

 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear

And abounds to transform any adverse atmosphere.

We are perfected and made whole when we walk in love,

A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.

Such love is pure and never repels but draws us near.

 

This balm of love heals all wounds, no matter how severe

With words of compassion each soul on earth longs to hear;

A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.

There is no fear in love.

 

We follow in Christ’s steps, knowing our mandate is clear.

Assured of triumph, there is never a need to fear.

We press toward the mark, the prize we seek to lay hold of

To ascend in victory on wings of a gentle dove.

We walk forth as bold pioneers on a love frontier:

There is no fear in love.

We close our discussion of God’s love with this reminder: “Love Never Fails” by Jim Brickman and Amy Sky:

If I have not love

February 10, 2018

1 Corinthians 13--1-3 New

Following closely on the heels of yesterday’s Verse of the Day focusing on “Increasing Faith” and “Abounding Love,” the passage that we will examine on February 10, 2018 directs our attention toward love, a concept we will hear repeatedly in the coming days. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV):

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Moving into the second week in February, our thoughts turn toward February 14, Valentine’s Day, a time that is set apart to celebrate love. We must recognize, however, the various forms of love, including the love of God or agape, the highest form of love. It differs from eros or passion or sensuous love of the flesh and is even beyond philos­ or love of friends or family. The root of philos is found in the designation of Philadelphia, which is known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” There is a love which is “more intimate than friend, or kin or wife;” this close-knit love is known as agape. This particular term used exclusively in the New Testament, reveals the uniqueness of God’s love

The passage offers a series of conditional phrases beginning with “If I. . .” If I performed a number of actions, followed by the results if “I” performed them outside of love, then “I” would be only so much noise or “I” would be nothing or “I” would have gained nothing. Love would not be impacted by those actions, but the individual who performed them would not fully benefit or profit from those acts if that individual chose “not to love others.”

I Corinthians 13:1-3 is also the ultimate illustration of going from articulation to manifestation. Verses 1 and 2 clearly relate to speaking or using words to express oneself, but agape or “the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation” must be present. In other words, there must be a corresponding demonstration or tangible expression of the words that are articulated. Verse 3 provides actions demonstrating the expression of love; however, the underlying motive must generated by love or else the actions are not profitable to the individual who, in reality, “gains nothing” outside of God’s love.

During this week we will have ample opportunity to think about the love of God, as we approach Valentine’s Day, but as we follow the Scripture’s encouragement, we are to walk in love every day, not just on February 14.

I Corinthians 13 is often recited at weddings, as we see so beautifully presented in 1 Corinthians 13 – The Wedding Song – Love Never Fails by Bernie Armstrong.