Active Love

John 12:1-9 (3)

During Oliver Cromwell’s reign as Lord Protector of England, a young soldier was to be executed.  His fiancé came to plead his case.  Her efforts to spare the life this young man seemed to be futile.  Oliver Cromwell turned a deaf ear to her requests and the execution plans continued as planned.  The execution was to take place at the ringing of the curfew bell.   

The scheduled time finally arrived.  The sexton pulled on the rope to ring the bell.   To his amazement the expected peel of the bell was not heard.  It was discovered that the soldier’s fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clinging onto the clapper had prevented it from striking the bell  when the rope was pulled.  Battered, bruised and bleeding she was brought before Cromwell.  As she confessed how she had expressed her love in this sacrificial manner, Cromwell commuted the sentence freeing the young man to join his devoted fiancé stating,  ‘Go, your lover lives; ‘Curfew will not ring tonight.’ ”

True love goes the extra mile.  True love turns the cheek.  True love speaks well of another in a crowd of people raising their eyebrows in doubt.  True love hangs on a cross and says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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Compassion + Will = Practical Love

Mark 1:40-45 (41)

Was it a word of dubious doubt?  Was it a word of hesitant hope?  Was it a word of pliant permission?  “If thou wilt, thou canst . . .”  Can the sun rise in the east each morning?  Can a tornado devastate a sleeping town?  Can a shark bite off a swimmer’s leg? 

Jesus’ ability is not to be questioned.  He is God.  We can know that He is capable of all good.  Yes, He can heal.  His will, on the other hand, is not always clear to us.  What makes the difference is when His compassion is coupled with His will.  “Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him . . . “

That touch is all that is needed.  We must not limit the love of God by false humility.  He is a God who “acts.”  He is not a spectator but an initiator.  Theory and theology must be placed aside while we observe His love being displayed in practical ways.   Brennan Manning expressed it this way:  “We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”   ?  The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out by Brennan Manning 

 By Dr. Gayle Woods

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How Simple Can It Be?

Deuteronomy 10:12-15 (12)

Alma grew up in our church.  Her grandfather was one of the founders.  The church bore his last name.  She seldom missed a service.  Tragically, in spite of her exposure to the gospel she had never been saved.  I prayed for her often.  I visited her regularly.  Numerous times I explained the plan of salvation as simply as I could and asked her if she would like to pray to ask God to forgive her for her sins and become the Lord of her life.  Each time she refused.  Her answer became familiar.  “Bro. Woods, it is just so hard to understand.” 

In our devotional text for today Moses seemed to be expressing the same frustration I felt.  “How easy can it be?  How simple can it be?”  “What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to . . . “  The path to the foot of the cross is clearly marked and easy to follow.  At the end of the path the Savior eagerly awaits your arrival.

Why do we try to complicate what Christ has made simple?  Isaiah said, “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”  Isaiah 35:8

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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