1 John 4:19 (NIV)
We love because he first loved us.
Simon is furious. He feels throwing up. In his very home, he has invited the most popular and influential person in the city. But he is wondering why and how this woman from the street got in. Has she been invited by the servants? Did she just sneak in with the disciples? Simon does not remember an RSVP from an unknown woman. This is his home, he has every right to be indignant.
The woman has now taken the attention of everybody. She kneels down right at Jesus' feet. She is sobbing. Simon can't stand to see her hot tears dripping like rain into his main guest's feet (The Message). Now she is unlocking her hair. Before Simon can say anything, the woman is now wiping his feet with her hair—now even kissing his feet. She has crashed the party! She is a joy stealer.
Simon the Pharisee has invited Jesus to his house. But Simon has not shown any of the common courtesy for invited guests. There is not a handshake or a kiss. No offer of taking his coat. Simon knows etiquette. He has the education. He is highly regarded by the community. He is a prominent member of the church. The woman is not known by her name. No training like Simon has. Not moneyed. Not a religious meeting attendee. But this day, she comes to Jesus, overcomes her fear and shame. She takes out an expensive perfume and anoints Jesus' head—the honor he deserves. It was a stark contrast from Simon’s snobbish treatment of Jesus.
Simon actually recovered from a horrible disease (Matthew 26:6). His leprosy isolated him from the society for a time. Every time people saw him, they would yell “Unclean! Unclean” (Leviticus 13) But he got fully healed. We should expect him to show compassion to this woman. But, he has nothing but scorn. Pastor Max Lucado observes, "Simon's ‘love' is calibrated and stingy. Her passion is extravagant and risky."
Jesus uses the incident to make a point. He tells the story of two borrowers. One has much greater debt than the other. Both of them cannot pay their debts. Fortunately, their lender forgives them both. Jesus asked Simon, "Who do you suppose loved him (the loaner) more after that?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt." Jesus points, "A person who is forgiven little shows only a little love."
Is this the reason why many of us fail in loving others? Simon does not think that he needs forgiveness. He knows the commandment: Love God and love others. But he is not seeking it, not with Jesus. We wonder how Simon can show love when he has not experienced. There is nothing to give. He may not understand when he hears these words: "We love because he first loved us' (1 John 4:19, NIV). Don't we make efforts to love others? How many times have we tried loving those who ruin our joy? How many times have we tried to show kindness to those who defame us in public? How often have we failed? The first step is essential. We can love only if we have accepted God’s mercies.
Or if we have experienced his love, perhaps like Simon, we tend to forget it. Simon apparently has forgotten that he was healed from leprosy. Leprosy was a dreaded disease back then. It could represent sin that infected the whole of our being. But like Simon, we have been made clean. In Jesus, we have experienced this love. Not only that God has canceled our debt from him. He has given us a gift when we asked for forgiveness. He has given us eternal life. "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him," John says. Then he also says, "This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." (1 John 4:9). If you continue reading, another gift is given with the eternal life. "And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us" (I John 4:13). He has poured him into our heart. So, not only that we can love God back, we can also love others as He loves us (Romans 6:5). He is our power to love. This might be the missing link in our struggle to be patient and kind. We find it hard to forgive others of their shortcoming or to be understanding of those who are helplessly weak and failing.
Pastor Lucado says, "The secret of loving is living loved." How many times do we fail Jesus even after He has restored us and given us eternal hope and life? He forgives our failings—our temper tantrum, our insincerity, our self-centered love (of self, family only). If Jesus is patient with us, can we not be patient with others? If Jesus is kind to us every day, we certainly can be kind to each other.
(Idea lifted out from Max Lucado, A Life Worth-giving, 2012)
We want to be a loving community as our Lord Jesus wants us to be. Here is a prayer that I found helpful in my prayer this morning.
1. John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.
Jesus, you are the author and originator of love. We only know love because you are love and you loved us first. You love us specifically and sacrificially. You love us in our sin and rebellion against you. You love us despite the pain we inflict on others. You love us in our mess. It is that love - that selfless, self-sacrificing love, which allows us to love others. It is an overflow of your love for us that allows us to love other people. Jesus, we ask you to make us better lovers of one another. Would you give us the heart and love to proclaim your love to those who need to hear it?
(Taken from: http://rachbaxter.com/12prayers/2016/10/30/12-prayers-for-loving-one-another)
A king detests wrongdoing,
for his rule is built on justice.
The king is pleased with words from righteous lips;
he loves those who speak honestly (Pr 16:12–13).
A godly boss delights in righteousness but dislikes wrongdoing. He cannot tolerate the negligence of duty in his sphere of responsibility. He leads with blamelessness and fairness, with integrity and honesty.
He understands that it is God who places a person in positions of authority (Romans 13:1). He recognizes that He is placed there by God to perpetuate godliness.
Our Lord Jesus is the King that rules in righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7). He hates evil and wants to eliminate it (Psalms 45:7; Hebrews 1:9)--and he will ultimately do it in the future.
As Christians, we aspire to inspire our bosses with our performance. May that be a reflection of our deep desire to make our King and Lord delight in us. He instructs us in His word: whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus--and do it for his glory (1 Corinthians. 10:13; Colossians. 3:16-17)
Happy Wednesday everyone
Proverbs 16:8: Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.
First, this is what God wants and has shown has through the Lord Jesus from his birth (on a stable) to his temptations (not turning stone into bread), to his ministry (not soft pillow for his head, no extra purse), to his death (did not use his power to save himself from harm), to his burial (a borrowed tomb), and to his resurrection (did not bring anything to heaven). He has reserved a day though, when he will sit on His throne and give the kingdom back to God (after defeating all enemies including death).
Second, godliness has both a temporal and eternal rewards. This verse remind me of my wife's uncle (I have shared with you when we had Prov. 15:16) who, from our standard of belief, was not a disciple of Christ. But he never used his position and opportunity to bring stolen wealth to his home so his children could feast around their table. He might have thought of "karma." For us who follow Christ, we look at godliness as having both earthly and heavenly rewards. Elsewhere in the Word of God says this “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-9 (NLT2). The bottom line for godliness as much better is that it provides deep contentment because of the work and presence in the life of an eternal source of wealth that doesn't spoil--Jesus Christ.
Imelda my wife frequently concludes our morning devotions on the book of Proverbs with this word: "Just be righteous."
Happy Friday everyone.
Oh, you are free to give comments to these little devotions that we post here.
Proverbs 16:7 (GW)
When a person's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
The years of separation did not heal the wedge between them. He deceived his brother. He stole his brother’s inheritance—his social and economic future. He had to leave home to spare himself from his brother’s violent anger. But now, he wanted nothing but being reconciled with him
Some twenty years prior, while escaping from Esau, Jacob met God. He committed himself to him and God blessed him. Now, he is coming to his brother in obedience to God’s command. Frightened, he sought God’s protection the night before he would meet His brother for the first time since he left. He did not let God go until He blessed him. The next morning, God surprised Jacob with what happened: “Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept” (Genesis 33:4).
While his may not happen all the time, we know that the way to make our enemies potentially live at peace with us is to please God. It happened with Jacob with Laban, Jehoshaphat with the kings surrounding him, and the Church with Saul.
Proverbs 16:5 The LORD detests the proud; they will surely be punished.
The Bible gives us many examples where God shows His wrath against pride. We can’t miss the punishment of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-24). What about Pharaoh, Goliath, David, Naaman, Hezekiah, the king of Assyria, Lucifer, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod Agrippa 1 and many more? Pride in these instances was seen as not just disregarding God, but also lifting up one’s heart against god.
In our work places, we are tempted to self-aggrandize. Our co-workers do it, and it works on their promotion. They also are like magnet attracting people to themselves. There might be a better way of getting that promotion or getting liked in the jo. It can be one without allowing pride a foothold in our heart. Be friendly, consider others as valuable as you are. Honor their reputation. Provide a listening ear to others—everyone struggles. Do some random acts of kindness. Through these and many more ways we practice our loyalty in Christ . They too are indication of strength of personality and character. And as promised, He will reward us (Proverbs 22:4, Proverbs 29:3, ! Peter 5:6)
But importantly, pray that your real goal is achieved in wherever God has stationed you, either at home or work. By being humble, we can save some. I think we read that partly last Sunday. “I obey the law of Christ . . . When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessing" (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (NLT2).
And if we ever boast, let our Lord be elevated always. God commands us, “those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken! (Jeremiah 9:24 ,1 Corinthians 1:31).
Happy Tuesday everyone.
Together with the reading of Proverbs, we have also started an all-church daily prayer. We call it the 10-Minute Appointment. The 10-minute prayer is an uninterrupted time with God lasting to about 10 minutes. Each VNLC attendee chooses his or her own time.
We begin our conversation with God by telling Him that we love Him. By that we mean, we are ready to obey His will that we learn from the devotional passage or lesson from the pulpit the last Sunday.
Next, we tell Him our praises and the issues that we face during the day (or week).
Then, we make mention of at least two fellow church attendees or believers. We bring their needs to God that we gather from talking with them.
We also ask God to help a person who is struggling to believe in Him. He or she maybe a member of our household or circles of friends.
We spend some time to ask God to bless our congregation: our ministries, leaders, projects, Sunday worship, Prayer and Discipleship (PAD) meetings, and even our relationship.
Please join us in our daily prayers. And let us know by filling out the form on the right hand side of this page. You can also send us questions and comments.
Thank you so much.
Pastor Joven Laroya
Proverbs 15:33 (NLT2)
Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.
These two statements complement each other. The fear of the Lord thrives in humility. Honor results from wisdom which can only be gained with humility. The equation looks like this: Humility + Fear = Wisdom = Honor. It may be restated differently. Fear, that is respect and reverence for God (Psalm 111:10) comes through and sustains humility (Proverbs 22:4). This symbiosis of fear and humility results to wisdom, that is, righteous living. Righteous living generally makes one live an honorable life.
The nature of the Lord being all-knowing and almighty, but also “all-loving” God should create awe, a fear of His judgment, and respect and love to Him. The sum of all of these feelings is called the fear of the Lord. Wisdom is when we act on this kind of fear. Humility is the appropriate attitude. Honor comes as a result because God and His ways are followed (Proverbs 20:20-21; 22:4).
Let’s honor God with our humility and He will honor us among people (1 Samuel 2:30, James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6). This will be rewarded with a life with Him forever.
Happy Thursday everyone.
Sent - 12:32 PM
Sometimes,you will get a short devotional for the day in this section. VNLC has an ongoing devotionals in the book of Proverbs. About three months ago, we have set out to read one verse each day. We started with Proverbs 11:1. We are now on Proverbs 15:32.
Please continue reading.
Proverbs 15:32 (NLT2)
If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.
We can take this passage as an extension of yesterday’s verse. The word used in the original language for “understanding” may be translated as “heart.” It usually refers to the thinking, feeling, deciding, and willing side of a person. It may then mean that when a person agrees to correction, his inner self grows. That includes his depth of thinking, width of his understanding, agreeableness of his attitude, and strength of his character.
We seem to think that the older we get, the wiser we become. Yes, if our experimentations and experiences in our younger age have developed the discipline to choose what is right. The Bible puts more weight on learning than aging. Yes, Job says, “Wisdom is found with the elderly” (Job 12:12). But he immediately explains that wisdom comes from the counsel of God (Job. 12:13). That entails learning as later emphasized by Christ. He said, “Those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge" (Matthew 13:12).
When corrected, we know what to do: listen and learn. This applies primarily in our living in the kingdom of God. But then also, it makes us a better person in every way, if we change our ways when corrected.
Happy Wednesday everyone.
Pastor Joven Laroya
P.S. You can make comments. Our goal is to remind each other the teaching of our Lord, and help each other live it. Share your thoughts.
Our Proverbs verse for today: Proverbs 15:31
"A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit."
Most consider this passage to naturally mean that one’s cheerful looks brings happiness to another. In addition, if the person brings a good news, the other person is refreshed or strengthened. A commentator puts it simply. A positive person’s encouragement, whether nonverbal (by a cheerful look, lit., “bright eyes”) or verbal (good news; cf. 25:25), is helpful and uplifting.
I think that the most literal translation of our verse from the original language would be from the New American Standard Bible: Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones. Now we can look at the other meaning of the passage. If our very own eyes (vision and understanding) are attuned to positive things, they can make our hearts rejoice. Our seeing and our countenance feed each other, that is, if the heart rejoices, our disposition follows.
And on the other hand, if our hearing is tuned in to good news based on the Good News of Jesus, it makes our bones “fat.” In Biblical Hebraic language, a bone covered with fats expresses health and prosperity.
It is a happy thought that we stir others to be positive, joyful and strong through our temper and outlook. But that can only happen if we possess the same disposition.
Are we a bright-eyed and fat-boned Christians at home and at work?