Love is all we need

All_We_Need_Is_LoveLove. It is a simple word. It signifies something we all so desperately want but it is also so very lacking.  Love is the most talked about subject within our culture and everything point to a significant relationship and subsequent children as the apex of love.  Yet, ultimately none of us get it. We fail to grasp love.  We all wanted be care for and are hurt when we are not.  We all desperately want to be loved and to love. It is at the core of humanity. It is why we take on pets for example, to love and be loved.

 Yet, ultimately we fail to grasp love and are really far from it. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves provides a definition of love: “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. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Our experience of love falls far of that definition.  Here is the reason. The definition involves no focus on self. It is looking outward toward the welfare of others. The essence of love is found in Philippians 2:3 (ESV) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.   When we love we are emptying of self. We are giving of self. We are focused on the welfare not of self, but of others.  However, we are ever self-focused.

We are wrapped up in our perception of being loved and are quick to voice when we are not engaged in behavior that is perceived as caring or loving. When we get upset, we do so when someone else has failed to engage in looking out for our welfare and did or said something we find lacking.   Such a response is even followed suit in understanding and rejecting God.  Many who reject God look at pain and suffering in the world and their own lives and conclude that a loving God could not allow such.  So they reject God. Some in that rejection will push simply engaging in looking out for the welfare of others.  The refrain is “all we need is love.” Simply look out for others and make the best world today.  Yet, lost in it all is the day to day agony when that desire of love falters.

 The fact is God does look out for our welfare. He never fails.  The rest of us fall far short.  So, yes we all need love, and love is what we all need, but if you separate that love from the author  and source of love it is but illusion. God is the only one who provides full care and love. Yes, the love does provide limits and structures, not out of cruelty, but in understanding what we need and what hurts us. We see that every day with parents and children, choices made and limits set for their welfare often in spite of great protest. Sure, any one of us can demonstrate love to others. We can do good too others apart from God. We can make the best out of life. Yet, it is making the best of what we can. But that falls far short of a life submitted to God, the source and author of love. And none of us have a grasp on God’s love. Our understanding is limited.  Yet, as you grow in understanding God, love grow. Love for God, self, and others. It comes as you grow and as you understand and grow the wounds and hurts from the damages of living life heal and allow true forward movement that in turn demonstrates the care for others found in demonstrating true love. We need love. We need God. You cannot separate the two for God is love.  So yes, all we need is love and that need is only found in God, who is love. So God is what we all need, for God is love.

Some principles of God’s provision found in 1 Kings 17

In a previous post, there was a requested direction of prayer for the missionaries in Haiti for God’s provision but natural and supernaturally. The article and request referenced Elijah being fed by ravens and the widow with oil and flour that would not cease. Those stories are found in the Bible at 1 Kings 17. The passage points to certain principles related to God’s provision in the midst of suffering. The suffering in 1 Kings was a drought that was brought on as a consequence of the spiritual condition of Israel and to draw the nation back to God. On examining the chapter, there are a few principles that are applicable to today.

The first principle is that everything starts with obedience to God. In order for God to provide, we need to have two things operating. We need to listen and obey. Before we can obey, we need to be able to know what God desires. Knowing what God desires involves listening to God. It is having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Interacting with the Creator cannot just be a once in a moment thing. It has to be ongoing, moment-by-moment. We need to have our ears and eyes attuned to attending to Yahweh. It is in that ongoing relationship that God does make his leading and will known. Once we hear from God, we need to obey. Elijah obeyed God in declaring the famine. He obeyed God in walking in faith and following God’s direction. If Elijah had not gone where God directed he would have missed the provision of being fed by ravens or the source of water that was provided by the brook. If Elijah had not followed God when the brook ran dry, then he would never have met the widow that allowed God to give supernatural intervention. It is also to note, that obedience was not just an action from Elijah. The widow also obeyed God at the risk of her own life. She could not see a possible way to survive if she gave to Elijah her last, but God did provide.

The second principle is that God’s provision comes in many ways. God sometimes works using the natural, sometimes the supernatural. God is capable of providing in ways far beyond what our mind can even imagine. For Elijah God used first natural provision. He provided by ravens and Brooke. Yet, the time of that was limited. When that provision ran dry, God led Elijah to a place where He would provide supernaturally in response to obedience. It is interesting to note that when God intended to provide for Elijah supernaturally, he did so not in a way that blessed not only Elijah, but also in a way that blessed others as well. God’s supernatural interventions are not just for the needs one individual. When God gives supernaturally, it is intended to be used beyond self-interest. His supernatural provision is always done for his greater will and to bring Himself glory and demonstrate His love to others.

It is interesting to note, that even in the midst of God’s supernatural provision events related to the tyranny of suffering connected to the fall of man occurred. The widow’s only son became sick and died. Neither the widow nor Elijah understood that in the midst of His supernatural provision that such suffering was allowed. The widow thought that God was be upset with some sin she had committed. Elijah’s response was to cry out genuinely to God as to why and plead for the child’s life to be returned. God did restore the child’s life. It was something beyond understanding, but God intervened for His glory. His love and provision do not return empty, even amidst appearances, what we can see or understand. There will be times when in obedience and receiving divine intervention that are beyond human understanding. But God is always at work and will bring glory to His name.

The third principle is really that through it all God is the source of life. Ultimately, God restoring the child’s life really demonstrates that God is the source of life. He provided the oil and flour. Yet, God is the source. Now God has frequently used oil connected to the Holy Spirit, and bread in connection to the word of God. We are led and fed by the Holy Spirit and by the Word of God. In our relationship with God, both these sustain us each day. In walking in genuine response to God’s love and reflecting that love to others, the Holy Spirit and God’s word will never run dry. They are fuel to living and interacting with God. God brings us life. In however God’s provides in our lives and for whatever period of time we must remember that God is the source of life.

The fourth principle see at work here, is God’s provision matches our needs. Scripture is filled with God providing at an equivalent to what the needs are at the moment. God’s provision is not over and above what is needed, but rather what is needed, when it is needed. God’s provision here was what they needed each day. The same is true for Israel in the wilderness. God gave them what they needed, when they need it. Too often people teach and look to God to provide in ways over and above the actual needs. The view is that obedience brings prosperity in this world. Yet, biblically the example is that obedience results in provision needed at the moment. Actually, there is a difference between God’s provision and God’s blessings. God’s provision is given but at times he also gives blessings over and above. When he does bless, he does so always to bring himself glory. Yet, more often than not, what we expect is blessing in return for following God’s lead. Blessings come as God sees fit according to His purpose. Often our response is to demand blessings to meet our needs and desires, rather than looking to what serves God’s will and purpose in our lives and the lives around us.

So in looking at those four principles, the basic foundation is that God provides in such a way that serves His will and purpose. We do not always understand or see what is going on around us at the moment. We can easily get wrapped up in self and even expect what is beyond what God intends. He works in ways that we do not understand. When He gets involved supernaturally, it is always for His greater purpose with scope beyond the interests of one individual. Everything starts and stops with God. It is important to stay in the moment and continue to be in relationship with the Creator, obeying and following His lead.   God will provide. What we need to do is respond in obedience and keep focused on God over even our own wants and needs.  It is a walk of faith  to things that we cannot even possibly see a way out.  It is an attitude that will give of our last.  It is an attitude even of receiving others sacrificial giving.   Personally, asking a widow to give of all that she has left would be confusing and hard to walk in obedience, yet both Elijah and the widow obeyed.  God provided at their moment of need with what they needed.  In their obedience suffering still occurred, but God is always in control and brings Glory to his name and turned that of death to life.  He does so  in all our lives, be it in tragic circumstances such as Haiti, or other more personal struggles in our own day to day lives.  God is the same in all circumstances.

Musings on Cures for Suffering

Suffering is awful. I see suffering every day. There are many diseases and global problems that really seem to be giants and the world would be better off if we had a solution to them and that suffering eradicated. Yet, it is worth noting that Jesus once stated, “the poor will always be with us.” (Matthew 26:11) The fact is suffering exists because of the sin of man. The first sin resulted in the twisting of all creation the proper order was displaced. Therefore, suffering is ongoing. Today thought about things such as praying that humanity develops a cure for cancer and other such issues. The reality is once one disease and suffering defeated, there is always something more discoveries. It is an ongoing process; it is death released by the separating from God and emphasizing self. There is only one answer to suffering, and that is the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom is not about removal of suffering in this life, but rather being content, at peace, and whole. Ultimately, all suffering has been defeated at the cross. There will be an end to suffering and it comes at the cross. It comes in what is yet ahead. The return of Jesus will lead to the final defeat of the tyranny of suffering.

Now, it is very easy to say that but for those in the midst of suffering, it may seem shallow. Yet, the only true hope is hope placed in God and a reconciled relationship with the creator. The answer to personal suffering is recognition of God’s love for us and following his ways. Such a mindset does not alter the circumstances of situations of suffering rather it changes our perspective. Then when in right relationship with God and showing genuine response, we can reach out to those suffering in love, even at times meeting needs and touching those who are suffering. Ultimately, we are all suffering, every one of us. Our suffering diminishes with love. Only God’s love truly touches the deepest levels of suffering. The only real cure is to suffering is the return of Jesus which will restore all things from their twisted, decaying state and bring true wholeness. Therefore, there is a true cure for suffering. All suffering will end. It comes at the end of this world, when all the sources of evil and suffering are defeated. In the meantime, we have the ebbs and flows of life filled with trials and difficulties. Suffering is a cruel master and the world is in its grip. Yet, it is a defeated master whose time will come. All suffering only lasts a season.