Relationships: Love

 

‘Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’ 1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT

Have you ever noticed how much we fling the word ‘love’ around? ‘I love chocolate.’ ‘I love that movie.’ ‘I love those kids.’ Sometimes we really mean ‘like’ or ‘enjoy’ but we throw in ‘love’ just to emphasise that it’s a pretty extreme ‘like’. To love someone is to pursue their well-being and make it your priority. The Bible gives us a pretty extensive definition of love. ‘Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 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.’ (1 Corinthians 13:4–7 NLT)

That kind of love may sound impossible; after all, humans are often selfish. It can be a challenge to put someone else’s interests above our own, make sacrifices for them, let go of past hurts, forgive and look for the best in them. But with God helping us we can show others this kind of love. Sometimes we might struggle with loving others not because we love ourselves too much, but because we don’t love ourselves enough. If we don’t love ourselves, we can’t love others well. We need to know that we’re loved by God, and that we’re worthy of love just as we are. Once we’re secure in that, we’ll be in a great place to love others well. We’ll be able to show them our love while pointing them to the God who loves them more than we ever could.

SoulFood: Ezra 9–10, Lk 10:25–37, Ps 78:17–31, Prov 19:27–29

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2018

Today’s Readings

Ezra 9–10 (Listen)

9:1 After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, saying:

“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.

10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, 14 shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 O LORD, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”

10:1 While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law. Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” Then Ezra arose and made the leading priests and Levites and all Israel take an oath that they would do as had been said. So they took the oath.

Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. And a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles that they should assemble at Jerusalem, and that if anyone did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders all his property should be forfeited, and he himself banned from the congregation of the exiles.

Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain. 10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 14 Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.

16 Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers' houses, according to their fathers' houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; 17 and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.

18 Now there were found some of the sons of the priests who had married foreign women: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, some of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers. 19 They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt. 20 Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah. 21 Of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah. 22 Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

23 Of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. 24 Of the singers: Eliashib. Of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.

25 And of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Hashabiah, and Benaiah. 26 Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. 27 Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza. 28 Of the sons of Bebai were Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai. 29 Of the sons of Bani were Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth. 30 Of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh. 31 Of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. 33 Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. 34 Of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, 36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu. 38 Of the sons of Binnui: Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. 43 Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah. 44 All these had married foreign women, and some of the women had even borne children.

Luke 10:25–37 (Listen)

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Psalm 78:17–31 (Listen)

17   Yet they sinned still more against him,
    rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18   They tested God in their heart
    by demanding the food they craved.
19   They spoke against God, saying,
    “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
20   He struck the rock so that water gushed out
    and streams overflowed.
  Can he also give bread
    or provide meat for his people?”
21   Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath;
    a fire was kindled against Jacob;
    his anger rose against Israel,
22   because they did not believe in God
    and did not trust his saving power.
23   Yet he commanded the skies above
    and opened the doors of heaven,
24   and he rained down on them manna to eat
    and gave them the grain of heaven.
25   Man ate of the bread of the angels;
    he sent them food in abundance.
26   He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
    and by his power he led out the south wind;
27   he rained meat on them like dust,
    winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28   he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
    all around their dwellings.
29   And they ate and were well filled,
    for he gave them what they craved.
30   But before they had satisfied their craving,
    while the food was still in their mouths,
31   the anger of God rose against them,
    and he killed the strongest of them
    and laid low the young men of Israel.

Proverbs 19:27–29 (Listen)

27   Cease to hear instruction, my son,
    and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
28   A worthless witness mocks at justice,
    and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.
29   Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
    and beating for the backs of fools.

Thu 02 August, 2018


CALENDAR
Select a specific day

Post Date

Recent Articles

Rowing in Unchartered Waters

‘But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you…’ Acts 26:16 ESV The Greek word huperetes is translated as ‘servant’ in…

Eleven88: Dancing for God

At age 21 Lauren felt a big calling on her life—to start a Dance Ministry. Her whole life she had a passion for dance and helping others. But throughout her teenage years, she had experienced the pain of bullying. This led her to have an extremely low self-worth and to struggle with the way she…

Testimony: Landry Cantrell

Growing up in a small town in central California, my dad wore two hats: he was a pastor, and he ran a recording studio. Looking back, it’s clear to see how this shaped me into the man that I am today. I always wanted to sing; I can’t remember a time in my life where…

Learning to Imitate Jesus

How Many New Years Do You Have Left? is a YouTube video coming from a small ministry making a big impact—The Normal Christian Life. It’s based out of Brisbane’s Glory City church. This ministry was born from the idea that we should all imitate Jesus—and its YouTube videos are taking that message worldwide. The guy…

Donate to vision

Over 80% of our income is from the freewill gifts of wonderful people just like you.
So thank you for helping. Your generous support is 'Connecting Faith to Life'.