Faith...Hope...and Love!

Faith is one of my favorite words…I learned an acrostic of it many years ago … Faith = Forsaking All I Trust Him.  This means that I do not depend on what I see…it means I forsake those things and put total trust in what I can’t see.  Right now as I look around me, I can only see what’s directly around me…I have no way to look into the future and see what is there.  It’s like looking through a tiny hole in a fence and only seeing what is directly in front of me.  I don't know what else is to the right and to the left because I am only seeing what is in front of me.  I do know God in his infinite wisdom can see the big picture of my life...that is why my faith is in Him...I trust Him. 

 It is faith that moves those mountains in my life and it is faith that produces miracles that I could only dream of without Him…but…Faith is not the greatest.

Hope is putting my confidence in what I can’t see…Hope is not just for what is out there in the future, but for the here and now.  Hope gives us joy in our lives right now because we know what we have been promised.  Hope is what helps us when we have others against us.  We can only have hope because God is the anchor that keeps us stable.  But…Hope is not the greatest.

What about Ali?  Is he the greatest?  He sure told everyone he was!  I sorta pulled that one outta left field didn’t I?  LOL    Actually in boxing, in his day, he was the best.  Now that you think about it…he said things that were not as though they were and then…he got in the ring and proved he was right.  Kinda reminds me of faith….now back to the lesson at hand…

Faith Hope and Love and the greatest of these is love.  What makes love the greatest?  The answer lies in God.  God is not faith…God is not hope…Love is the greatest because God is love.  Love is the reason for God sending his son into the world to make life better and give us a hope for our future.  We are to live out that love in our lives…if love is so important to God, and he is the very essence of love, then it is very important that we implement it in our lives every day. 

Are you living out love in your day to day life, or just when you go to church?  You need to have faith … the "forsaking all" kind of faith.  You need to have hope…the kind that has your confidence in God…but more than any of these…You need to have a genuine…true…honest Love.

Below is the Love Chapter that we have been studying…

1 Corinthians 13

New International Version (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13

 1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

When I first thought of this phrase...love never fails...I thought of the words of Jesus when He said..."I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."  Wow!  His love NEVER fails...He will always have my back...knowing this is so powerful!

When there seems to be no hope...He is our hope!  When there seems to be no way...He is our way!  When it seems as if everyone has left us or turned their back on us...He is with us!  See what I mean?  Powerful!  This is all because Love never fails and He is the very definition of that kind of love in our lives.
Can we get this deep in our spirit, so that we can draw upon the strength of that phrase?  Love Never Fails...having the assurance of never being without a hope for my future.  The Bible is full of promises, but if we don't believe those for our lives...they are just words.  This is a promise to me...love never fails...God is good for what He promises...His Word never fails. 

There may be situations in my life that have been difficult and may in some ways still difficult...but I have the calm assurance from God that His love will never fail me and He wants the best for me.  He has my back because He loves me and because I love Him and believe His promises...He will make sure my faith will not come back to me void.

Remember... real Love Never Fails!

When I first saw the middle picture above...it struck me how true it is...it is a true picture of perseverance cut short.  We should never - never give up...we don't know how close we are to the prize...could be only a chip of the pick away from riches beyond our imagination.  I'm not saying that persevering is easy...in most cases it's not "easy"...but knowing that if we continue steadfastly and face the adversities that are thrown in our path...the end result is very rewarding.

Knowing that God loves me, stands with me and even carries me through the difficult patches of my life is what helps me get through all the "stuff".   The answer that most people are searching for is knowing that someone will carry them when they can't walk through those lows...someone will stand in the gap for them and give them hope when everything seems hopeless and impossible.

We need to show this type of love to our friends and family...love that endures to the end.  Help them realize that whatever they are facing only seems impossible because they are in the middle of it right now.  If they stay strong...they can make it.

Love Always Perseveres!

“Love comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed, to those who still love even though they've been hurt before.” Author Unknown
 I love this picture...I could just post this picture and the quote above and it would be enough to tell you how I feel about "Love Always Hopes".  But, you all know me...and you know that I still have more to say.  :-)

Hope is such an important part of EVERYONE'S life.  A person without hope is a desperate person.  If they feel as though all hope is gone, they will tend to do something that they would've never have done.  The important word above is..."feel"...they feel as though hope is gone.  Hope is always there...they just don't feel it in their life at the moment.  If they could just embed this photo in their memory mirror and realize they have hope...they have more to dream for...more to live for...more to hope for in their life.

It breaks my heart to hear that someone has taken their own life...what it tells me is that they have come to the conclusion ....there is no hope!  I realize that for some they have a problem bigger than most of us could ever comprehend and we are not in their shoes...some have mental challenges that have pushed them to this point.  I believe in most cases, though, they need to understand the love that produces hope.  They need to know that someone loves them so much that He gave His life for them so they could LIVE. 

I remember a time many years ago learning about a young man that was at that point in his young life...he "felt" like he had no friends and was all alone.  When I hear something like this, I can't just say..."well...he'll get through this",  I have to do something.  I called his parents and we met and we talked along with the boy.  As it turns out...he did feel that way ... I don't really think he would have done something desperate...but I didn't know that and if he had, I would've had to live with not having done anything.  This young man grew to be a strong husband and father...he learned early in his life that there is always hope.

I don't know where any of you reading this are in  your life.  Just always remember that hope is closer than it seems.  Never feel like you have to end your life...this is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Love Always Hopes!

There is so much that comes to mind when I think of the word "trust".  The first thing I think of is ...giving people the benefit of the doubt.  I used to tell my boys that I would trust them until they gave me a reason not to trust them...that was actually the wrong way to put that...What I really should have been saying was, I trust you...I love you...don't disappoint me by betraying my trust.  The thing is...I had faith in them ... trusted them... I loved them.  Whether or not they always did the "right" thing was not a condition of my trust or love for them.  Was there a twinge of disappointment in what they had done...yes...but it never meant that my love for them changed whatsoever.  

The same is true in the reverse...your children trust you...they love you...they have faith that you are going to do the right thing.  When you disappoint them, that trust line has been crossed and building that back up can be a long process, that could in some cases take years.  Does this disappointment mean they don't love you?  No...quite the opposite...they really do love you and desire a relationship with you...it is just difficult for them.

Another thing I think about...goes along with the first one and that is the "circle of trust".  There was a movie out a few years back where a young man was being tested by his future father in law.  At every turn he was failing miserably in staying in that circle...no matter how hard he tried, the more difficult it became to earn that trust that he wanted so desperately.  The problem with this is that he was having to earn it...he was losing before he ever had a chance.  When someone is put in that position, most of the time they are set up for failure.

"In God We Trust" is on our currency...and I for one am glad that it is there.  In truth...that is what trust is all about.  Trusting God for everything in our lives and loving the way He loves.  Love always trusts!

Doesn't it just feel really good when someone stands up for you?  You overhear them talking to someone about you in a good way? 

I'll never forget when I needed to make the move to Nashville and had put in for a transfer within the company.  I had been at the station in Missouri for a little over a year and had worked hard for them.  I had been taught early in my life to practice what the Bible says about doing your work as unto the Lord.  Plus...I was raised to give my best at whatever I do.  Therefore, because of that, everyone was sad to see me leave, especially my direct supervisor.  The managers here at FOX17 had to check on my references, and called the General Sales Manager.  To make a long story short (yeah right LOL) I happened to walk by the door and overheard the manager, Jennifer, giving me a glowing recommendation...she didn't have anything bad to say about me...only wonderful things.  I can't tell you how good it was to hear someone stand up for me... "protect" me... within the company we worked for...it was awesome!

Love always protects...it sees the best in people.  We can look past those hurts and bitter feelings and cover those relationships with the God kind of love.  Julie Andrews sang the words, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"...I believe a dose of love...the kind that protects and perseveres can help relationships to thrive.
Let's consider the words to the song, Stand By Me...these words are perfect in the subject of Love Always Protects. "When the night has come and the land is dark, and the moon is the only light I see.  No I won't be afraid, Oh I won't be afraid, just as long as you stand by me."  That gives you a glimpse of how powerful love is in another person's life.  When you know someone loves you so much that they will always stand by you...stand up for you in all circumstances, you feel as though you can face anything.  Wow!  I encourage you to display that kind of love to those that depend on you...let them know that you are there for them no matter what...even if they disappoint you...you still love them with a fierce love.

We should never want bad things to happen to other people.  The opposite of that is compassion for others.  Having compassion helps you see another persons plight and does something about it.  It could just be an ear to listen to what's going on in their life or it could mean that you need to actually get involved.  But what you should never ever do is to be happy about their trouble. 
We should feel bad when we see other people hurting.  Don't add fuel to the fire by talking to others about what is going on...that would only hurt them further.  Putting other people down just to make us feel better is evil and should never happen.  But let's face it...we see it happen everyday and when we do, it should cause a red light to come on and make us stop in our tracks.  We can participate or refuse to be a part of hurting someone else.

When I watch an episode of a drama on television, I see how the world really thinks by the way the plot plays out.  The bad guys are out to get the good guys by any means possible, and the good guys end up having to do bad things to catch the bad guys.  We live in a world where we've come to accept doing bad to other people...but we need to realize that God defines love as not delighting in evil. 

"An Elephant Never Forgets"  This expression likely stemmed from the fact that the elephant has the biggest brain of all land animals — and apparently, the bigger the mass, the better the memory. Elephants are able to retain a mental map of their entire home range — we're talking an area the size of Rhode Island! Elephants also travel in packs and when the group gets too big, the eldest daughter breaks off to start her own contingent, yet she never forgets her roots. One researcher witnessed a mother and daughter elephant recognizing each other after 23 years of separation. (taken from Animal Planet online) 

How does this relate to our subject today?  Well...let's think about this for a second.  When someone mistreats you are you able to just forgive them or are tempted to NEVER FORGET it.  Like the elephant, you have a memory that won't stop...you go over it and over it and share it with everyone you meet. 

We are not to keep a running checklist of wrongs done to us.  I heard it said once that this would be like being bit by a poisonous snake and then trying to hold on to it because you were mad that it bit you.  All that will accomplish is your getting bitten again and causing lots of pain...eventually death.  We are to let go of the wrongs, not grab them and hold on to them with all our might.  Holding on to hurts will only cause us more pain and could be the death of relationships.

Don't let this happen to you...show love in all situations...love keeps no record of wrongs.

_Oversensitive...Getting your Feelings Hurt...Resentful...Suspicious of Others...Easily Provoked - just a few things that can cause you to become angry.  Are there times when you get your feelings hurt and before you know it, you are becoming so mad, you start making rash decisions?

Keeping your feelings in check takes effort, but is so important.  When you are easily angered...you will do things that normally you wouldn't do.  These things can cause you so much pain and fill you with regrets.

Before you get your feelings hurt over something that has happened, rethink the situation and put yourself in their place.  What was going on in their life that would cause them to hurt you...was it intentional?  Oftentimes when we take the time to look back, we do one of 2 things.  We either get angry or we realize that our being hurt was totally unintentional.  Which one of these scenarios would cause you less pain?

Living in harmony with others means we have to put ourselves in their shoes...we have to learn to build up other people...not tear them down.  We must show self control in our dealings with others...being careful to not get our feelings hurt easily.  Have you ever heard the term...she wears her feelings on her sleeve?  What a sad place to be in...never really loving others, but constantly worried about what others are doing to you.

Anger is like a poison in your life...don't let the poison of anger destroy your life.

_Being appreciative and putting other people's needs in front of our own...is that so difficult?  Actually for some people it is something they just can't seem to do. 

Most of us are familiar with the word selfish, but do we really know the ramifications of being a selfish person?  I can remember as my children were growing up... there was always that selfish kid that was so irritating.  "Nana nana boo boo!"  Remember that?  They would get what they wanted and then try to rub it in by singing that little phrase.  What happened?  The more the selfish kid got his way and sang that song, the more the other kids would not want to be around him.   Selfish kids grow up to be selfish adults if they are not taught differently.  How does that end up?  Being a selfish, self-seeking person...pushes other people away from you and eventually to a life of loneliness.

_To live out the Godly type of love in our lives, we have to give folks the benefit of the doubt...allow them to have shortcomings.  When you are lifting someone up, you are not forcing them to be what "you" want, you are recognizing their strengths and not manipulating them to be something they are not.  You are not interested in just you (being selfish- self centered) - you actually have a real interest in other folks.  Try it - try listening ...really listening to other people instead of pretending to listen, and all the while thinking about what you are wanting to say about you.

Don't be the type of person that has to have his/her own way, but instead be one who follows the One who has given us the best example of love.  He loved us so much...He was never self seeking, but self giving.  We should follow this example so we can draw others to this type of love.

Love is not self-seeking.