Wednesday Wisdom—Love in Scripture

Our topic for this week is love, so let’s look at a few verses on the topic of love. (All verses are taken from the English Standard Version.)

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”                                                                                                                                      John 3:16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.                                                                                                                                1 John 4: 7-10

We love because He first loved us.                                                                                                         1 John 4:19

I love those who love me,
   and those who seek me diligently find me.                                                                                     Proverbs 8:17

The Lord preserves all who love him,
   but all the wicked he will destroy.                                                                                                       Psalm 145:20

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                    Ephesians 2:4-7

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  
1 John 3:18

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.                                                                                                                              Romans 12:9-10

And finally…

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.   
1 Corinthians 13

Come back tomorrow when my husband, Billy Wagner, Jr., guest blogs on Teaching Thursday!

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Theology Tuesday—Three Types of Love: Koine Greek style

Love isn’t just some human concept, but is sourced in the one true God.

Agape:
This Greek term is the term used to describe God’s love for us. It is also used to describe the kind of love we are to have for others. First, let’s look at agape in terms of how God loves us.

God’s love for us is not based on us, but is instead based on Him. From God’s perspective there is nothing loveable about us. On the surface it seems harsh and unkind, but wrapped up in His agape love there is a love more pure than any love we could ever find anywhere on this earth. God loved us while we were still sinners, and because of His love He sent His Son to do what we could not, redeem us. Agape is sacrificial, and not based on feelings.

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4: 10

God commands us to love one another with an agape love. We see this fully in 1 John 4: 7-21.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Loving others, especially those who have hurt us through hate spewed words of slander, 1 John 4 7-21 is hard to swallow. But God loves us with that kind of love, and who are we to say that we can’t love others with an agape kind of love. Did we do anything to deserve God’s love? NO! Not a single thing. When we can forgive people for hurts, we are no longer bound by those hurts, but instead exchange those hurts for love that can only come from God. It’s a struggle. I know. I’m in that battle now. It’s much easier to want God to pay people back from the vile things people do to us. It hurts even deeper when it’s a fellow Christian. Remember friend, God doesn’t hurt us, satan, who is the great deceiver, wants nothing more than to hurt us, and he’ll use whoever he can to cast false accusations against us, even other Christians, even ourselves. How do we overcome those hurts driven into our very souls? LOVE: a pure, undefiled love. It can only come from the perfect source of love: God.

I know it’s hard. I’m in the same place right now. Here is a prayer for you, from me. And will you pray for me too? Thank you.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my friend. Help him or her to release all the feelings of hurt at the base of the Cross of Christ. Help him or her to do this, not for the other person, but for them, in order that any bitterness can and will not stand between them and You. Help them to love the unloveable, as You have loved us; unconditionally. Help them to throw off all that which encumbers them from receiving complete Freedom in Christ. Walk with them daily. Break the chains of bitterness and hurt. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Phileo:
Ah, brotherly love.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

We are supposed to love one another with a friendly love. Do you love your friends truly that way?

One of the best examples in Scripture of phileo love is found in the Old Testament (Okay, I know the OT’s original language is not Greek, but this is the best example of phileo love in Scripture.) David and Jonathan were best friends. They were affectionate toward another, but not is a sexual way, but in a brotherly way (1 Samuel 18:1-3). David wasn’t jealous of Jonathan, and Jonathan certainly wasn’t jealous of David, although Jonathan knew he would never become king, because God’s plan was for David to be king.

Eros:
Passionate love. This is the type of love a married couple, one man, one woman, is should have for one another. Eros is where we get the term erotic.

Eros can be abused when sexual immorality is the problem. Sexual Immorality is a sin and doesn’t please God.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18

A recently released movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, is causing extreme controversy and it rightly should. This is a perfect example of the wrong type of eros. I haven’t read the book, nor will I go see the movie. It’s not what I want imprinted in my thoughts or mind’s eye. It is the wrong picture of what God intended between a man and a woman.

If you’re interested in reading what eros love should be within a marriage go read Song of Solomon.

I’ll leave you with a prayer from Scripture:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.                                 Ephesians 3:14-21

*Another love in the Koine Greek language is: Storge. It is the love between relatives. I chose not to mention it in more detail.

Come back tomorrow to read a little on wisdom from God’s Word on the topic of LOVE for this month’s edition of Wednesday Wisdom.

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Monday Musings—Being Vulnerable

Love. When we think of love we think romance—flowers, candy, and sweet words of adoration.

Coincidentally, my favorite books are romances; the good, clean kind. It’s ironic I like them so much, because I don’t consider myself to be a romantic.

I like a good story, and most romances—well, they’re good stories.

Back in the waning months of the summer of 2011, I decided I would write a book. This book wouldn’t be my first. I had written a children’s book when my (now) thirteen year old son was a baby. My children’s book was accepted by a publishing rep AND an agent at the She Speaks Conference in July of 2011. I was ecstatic!

My children’s book was one of the few children’s books accepted that weekend. This writing newbie felt accomplished. Unfortunately, weeks later, both entities ultimately rejected my creation. I still have hope there will be a day when the timing will be right for it to be published. I have to believe. In the meantime, the book waits—patiently—on my computer for when I decide to be vulnerable again.

Vulnerability. What a scary place to be. Even with the rejection, I decided to embark on writing that other book I mentioned. And the book? It was a romance. It may seem silly, but it was based off a dream I had, I’m sure inspired by my love of watching the Hallmark Channel—of course.

The crazy thing was, I discovered I loved writing romance books. The good, clean, inspirational kind I wouldn’t mind my daughters reading.

I wrote a whole book! Me!!! I did that! All 163 pages and 53,453 words.

I had no idea I could do it!

The girl, who out of seminary, dreamed of writing a non-fiction book about the history of the Hebrew people and connect it to Christ, found out she could weave a story together filled with interesting characters. Who knew?

(God did!)

And then I did something terrifying, I allowed other women to read it. I found a few, brave ladies on Facebook who actually wanted to read my book. My book?

And they loved it!

I couldn’t believe it.

The vulnerable side of me breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Being vulnerable didn’t hurt me after all, but gave me the courage to upload the book to Amazon. I still haven’t mastered the art of marketing, but I haven’t let it stop me.

Know what? I kept writing more books.

Three at the same time!!!

What was I thinking?

Okay, I had to get the stories swirling in my head onto paper…i.e., computer.

I was quite ambitious and made the romance book a trilogy. Book 2 is nearly ready to be sent out to the same group of ladies. I’m anxious, because the vulnerability monster is creeping in—again. But I will push on, because if I don’t, I’ll never know what could happen.

And the other two books?

Well, this summer I plan to complete them both, and hopefully get them into the hands of brick and mortar publishers by the end of the summer or early fall. My summer will be crazy busy writing query letters, editing, and writing book proposals, along with taking a break from our homeschool studies. But I’m not beyond squeezing in a little (shhh… a lot of) math review with my 10 and 13 year old children. It makes starting school back up in the fall, oh, so much easier.

Perhaps by the summer of 2016 I can announce: “Woo hoo! My books are now available at your local Christian bookstore.”

Here’s hoping!

And there it is…being vulnerable.

You never know, until you take your first step.

<< How are you being vulnerable?>>

Hope you’ll join me tomorrow for Theology Tuesday. The topic point is LOVE.

*****

If you want to read a good book, I would love for you to read: Mending Hearts. You can find it on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Latanya+Wagner%27s+Mending+Hearts 

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Friday Funday – Cheeseburger Soup

It’s Friday Funday

Enjoy this yummy soup on a cold winter day. Cornbread makes a nice complement to this delicious soup. (I was going to upload a photo of this delectable soup, but apparently I deleted the photo off my phone. Perfect excuse to make it again–real soon! My mouth is watering.)

 Cheeseburger Soup

½ pound ground beef
¾ cup chopped onion
¾ cup shredded carrots
¾ cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced peeled potatoes (1 ¾ pounds)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces process American cheese, cubed (Gouda may work as a substitute, but I haven’t tried it)
1 ½ cups milk
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup sour cream

In a 3-quart saucepan, brown beef; drain and set aside. In the same saucepan, sauté onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 tablespoon butter until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, potatoes and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in a small skillet melt remaining butter. Add flour; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese, milk, salt and pepper, cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from the heat; blend in sour cream. Yield: 8 servings.

(This recipe appeared originally in the January 2002 issue of Carolina Country, page 42.)

Come back in February for my next full week installment. The theme will be LOVE, of course.

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Teaching Thursday – Can Babies (or People) Become Angels After Death?

Can Babies (or People) Become Angels After Death?

In one word: NO!

The false and unbiblical view that babies and people gain their wings after death simply isn’t true. The concept doesn’t exist in Scripture.

I remember after our sweet newborn daughter, Abigail, passed away, a few people, thinking they were helping, said she was now an angel in heaven. It troubled me. Regrettably, people believe this false concept as truth, and perhaps unknowingly, because no one taught them correctly, or they preferred to believe a lie. I guess, in some ways, who can blame them, when we are constantly bombarded in movies, television programs, and books with the lie: humans become angels when they die. I ask: Where are the churches, the clergy, and the true followers of Christ? Staying silent or simply looking the other way?

So what is the truth?

While both angels and humans are both created beings, with a will and emotions, angels cannot become human nor can humans become angels. Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14). They look upon salvation with wonder and awe (1 Peter 1:10-12); it’s not something they can experience for themselves, but instead they are observers, rejoicers (Luke 15:10), and protectors (Heb. 1:14) over those who were once lost, but have been found through a saving knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ.

Why would they look at our salvation with awe, wonder, and rejoicing? It’s something they cannot experience, because they are spirit beings who cannot gain salvation. At some point between when angels were created and the temptation of Eve in the Garden, satan (lowercase intentional) fell. He had a will, and he willfully chose to rebel against God, taking with him one-third of the heavenly host (see Ezek. 28:18, Matt. 25:41, Rev. 12:4).

Humans were made redeemable (savable). We were made with the capability of changing our nature (moving from being without Christ to being found in Him through faith in Him), and changing our will. We can volitionally choose to follow Christ, or not follow Him, and stay in the state upon which we were born: lost and without Christ.
Humans are created beings with both a body and a spirit. Humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-27). Angels, although capable of appearing in bodily form to humans (Genesis 18: 19:1-8), do not have a physical body as humans do. (They can move across space and time, and can appear suddenly. Gabriel moved quickly to be by Daniel’s side {Daniel 9:21}, and an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds abiding in the fields {Luke 2:9, 13}. These are activities humans are incapable of performing.) Angels are not made imago dei (image bearers of God), only humans received this classification.

Based on the evidence of Scripture, humans cannot become angels. God did not make it so, but preserved for us a special place in all of creation. We are the only creation able to experience His redemption through salvation. Christ didn’t willingly go to the Cross on the behalf of angels, but for us. Angels are God’s messengers (servants) and they can only do what He intended for them to do.

So, when someone claims your deceased loved one is an angel in *heaven, tell them the truth. It isn’t so.

Personally, I’m excited to know there will be a day when I’ll see Abigail, healed and whole, fully capable of experiencing her Savior, not as an angel, but as a member of the redeemed humans. (And yes, I believe babies go to heaven…I’ll leave that for another day.)

Come back to visit me tomorrow for Friday Funday. I’ll share a yummy and filling recipe that will surely warm your heart and soul on a cold wintery night.

*Humans can only experience Heaven upon death if they have a saving knowledge of Christ. Christ came to save sinners. It is only through faith in Him can a man, woman, or child be saved. There’s no other way under heaven to get to God than through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:21-26 New Living Translation (NLT)
Christ Took Our Punishment
21But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

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Wednesday Wisdom—A Good Place to Start

Wisdom, many think they have it, many want it, but true wisdom is found in one source; God. Solomon understood the value of wisdom, and the source from which wisdom comes. When he could have asked God for anything he could dream of, Solomon asked only for God to give him wisdom and knowledge to lead the Israelites properly. (See 2 Chronicles 1: 7-13.)

God honored Solomon’s unselfish request.

So, to start off this portion of my new blog format, I will begin with Proverbs 1:1-7, ESV:

1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

2To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Wisdom is built on the foundation of the fear of the LORD. Nothing more. Nothing less. Anything other than that is foolishness.

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Theology Tuesday – Angels

I’ve chosen to start off with Angels only because “Teaching Thursday” will be on whether or not people/babies become angels when they die. (Just in case you are unsure, the answer is: NO!! I’ll explain on Thursday, so come back.)

*What are the FACTS:

Angels are created beings: For by him {Jesus} all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Col. 1:16, ESV

Angels were created good and holy: They lived in the presence of God in a holy atmosphere (see Matthew 18:10) Called “sons of God” in Job 1:6, 2:11) “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32, ESV

Angels are intelligent beings: They are intelligent enough to carry out God’s tasks (Mark 13:27). They can determine the purposes of men on occasion (Matthew 28:5). They desire to learn about our great salvation, even if they are unable to fully comprehend our redemption and Christ’s humbling Himself in His incarnation (1 Peter 1:11-12). Their knowledge is limited however, they do not fully know God’s plan for the world (Rev. 10:5-6, 17:1-8).

Angels have emotions: They worship God (Isaiah 6:3), and respond to His power and wisdom with joyfulness (Job 38:7). They rejoice when sinners repent and are saved (Luke 15:10).

Angels are willful beings: God appealed to their wills when He commanded them to worship Christ (Hebrews 1:6). In Isaiah 14:12-15 we see that Lucifer and the fallen angels willfully rebelled against God, but the majority of the Angels chose to serve God.
Angels are spirit beings: They are described in Hebrews 1:14 as ministering spirits. They are limited in time and space as we see in Daniel 9:21-23 when Gabriel had to go from one place to another to be by Daniel’s side. As spirit beings, they are not subject to death (Luke 20:36). They are never described as women, and the masculine pronoun is used for them (Mark 16:5-6). When they appear they take on the form of men (Genesis 18: 2,22, 19:1, Daniel 10:18).

Angels have power: Their power is given to them by God (Revelation 4:8,11) and is governed by Him (Genesis 19:12-16).

Angels are responsible beings: They are responsible for their actions and many chose evil and not obedience to God (Matthew 25:41, Jude 6).

Angels are numerous: According to Job 38:7, Daniel 7:10, Revelation 5:11, and Revelation 12:4, they are innumerable. Their numbers were compared to as many as the stars. (Can we count the exact number of stars? More like a guesstimate…)

*What is their FUNCTION:

Bring revelation: Daniel 9:21-23
They strengthen: Luke 22:43
They protect/lead nations: Daniel 10:20-21
They minister to God’s children: Matthew 4:11, Hebrews 1:14
Provide protection: Matthew 2:13, Acts 5:17-20
They give out judgment: Revelation, Chapters: 8, 9, 16
Present at key events of revelation and redemption:
Creation: Job 38:7, Israel: Genesis 18:1-7, Giving of the Law: Galatians 3:19, Christ’s birth: Matthew 1:20, Church: Acts 1:10, and in the Millennium: Revelation 20

Angels mentioned by name in Scripture:
Michael- Archangel: the chief of the angels and leader (by way of God) of heaven’s army (Revelation 12:7-9).
Gabriel- Messenger (Daniel 9, Luke1:26)
We can conclude that angels have names and have been given specific duties to carry out.
______
Lucifer- (Now known as satan, the chief the fallen angels) was God’s highest creation (Cherubim – who were constantly in God’s presence in Worship, see Ez. 28:14), BUT he rebelled against God through prideful exaltation. He was cast down out of heaven (forever) and 1/3 of the angels followed him. They are now known as demons. (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28)

Angels cannot marry and propagate:
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Mt. 22:30, ESV   -According to this Scripture angels do no marry.

Is there angelic revelation today?

No. Hebrews 1:1-2 reads: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. This verse implies that revelation as given to the prophets is no longer needed; because Christ was the fulfillment of prophesy. (See also Hebrews 2:3,4)

We should not expect special revelation through angels today. God’s word even warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that satan comes as an “angel of light.” False prophets will come and mislead many (Mt. 24:11), so know the Word so you won’t be misled.

—This doesn’t exhaust the topic: theology of angels, but it is a good start.—

Come back tomorrow for Wednesday Wisdom.
–Latanya

______________________________________________

*Systematic Theology: Book V (Angelology, Satanology, Demonology, Anthropology), notes complied by Dr. Danny Akin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC.

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