Bible Studies & Devotionals
From Olive Branch Ministries
By Mark and Tinsley Baker
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John 4:8: He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God is love. That is such a simple statement, but one of the most important truths we as Christians must get into our spirit and mind, God is love.
What does that mean, what is the love of God? The Greek Word for God's type of love is agape. Agape love is the love God has for His son Jesus and us, His children. It is the very nature of God, it exhibits God's characteristics toward man, and it shows how we are to treat each other.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
5. does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
6. does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Let's look at each of these characteristics describing God's love.
It suffers long and is kind. The Living Bible says "love is patient and kind." Patience is forbearance and endurance in the face of adversity or trials. Patience is a word we generally use to describe someone's attitude toward another person or situation. Patience waits, it lingers, it does not hurry or make snap decisions. It gives others second chances over and over again.
Love is kind. Kindness should be one of the most basic human virtues that help govern human relationships. We as children of God are called to be kind.
Ephesians 4:25-32: Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26. "Be angry, and do not sin'': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27. nor give place to the devil. 28. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
These verses list things a kind person is to stop doing and also things a kind person is to start doing. We are to speak truth, not to let the sun go down on our anger, not give place to the devil, work with our hands, give to those in need, communicate only good things not corrupt things. In other words watch what comes out of your mouth. We are not to be bitter, anger, clamorous or contentious, and we are not to gossip. We are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, walking in forgiveness, just as God forgave us.
A "tall order" isn’t it? So how do we do this?
Kindness means tenderness and concern for others. Others welfare is as important to us as our own. It means being aware of problems others have and searching for a way to help without being nosey or spreading gossip. It is yes, here it is, a sweet spirit, a true matter of the heart.
Kindness looks for or plans to find ways to help.
We develop kindness by waiting on the Lord, we don’t react but we act!
Kindness is the building block of goodness .
The opposite of kindness is meanness. We all have a tendency to mean occasionally, it is something the flesh produces and we need to conquer it daily. You cannot have kind thoughts or be kind to someone you are angry with, hurt by or jealous of.
Kindness walks in love at all times: Let's refer back to our original Scripture.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5. does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6. does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8. Love never fails…
When you let these characteristics of love flow out of you, kindness is sure to follow.
Kindness always thinks of others first:
Philippians 2:3-4: Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
We are not to get "big headed" or proud or "too big for our britches"! When you make yourself stop and think, you will stop putting yourself first and will begin to act in kindness. Kindness is caring for everyone not just our family or friends but for those who spitefully use us.
Luke 6:27-31:. "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28. "bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
29. "To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30. "Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31. "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
When we make an active decision to be kind to people who are spiteful to us, who are unkind to us, who we dislike, we open ourselves up to life changing things from God!
Love does not envy. Envy is a feeling of resentment or jealousy toward others because of their possessions or good qualities.
James 3:14-16: But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
15. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
The Apostle James tells us that envy is earthly, sensual - meaning it is driven by our five senses and it is from the devil. Envy is the exact opposite of the other qualities of love.
When you envy someone for things they have, whether it is worldly goods or talents, you open yourself up to attack from the enemy. You are being driven by what you want and anger at what others have. These thoughts will drive any God like thoughts or actions straight out of your mind and heart. Envy is self seeking, leads to confusion and "every evil thing."
Romans 13:13-14: 13. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy.
14. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
The Apostle Paul is telling us that envy is associated with strife and both are lusts of the flesh. Envy stems from selfishness and is all about gratifying your wants and desires, not being concerned with the needs or desires of others or for God's plan in your life.
Paul tells us to put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the flesh.
How do we do this? The Apostle Paul again gives us the answer.
Romans 12:1-2: 1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
We present our bodies a living sacrifice, we willingly lay down ourselves to serve the Lord and walk in His ways. We spend time with God, studying His Word, meditating on it and letting it direct our paths, so that we are walking God's path for us and not one driven by our own lusts and selfish desires.
Love does not brag on itself, it doesn't put itself above others, or think too highly of itself. It always, always puts others first.
Love is not provoked. That means not easily angered or made angry. No matter how someone "disrespects you", you do not retaliate in anger or "get back" at them. When was the last time someone treated you badly, or misused you, lied to you, took something from you? Your first reaction is to lash out verbally or even physically isn't it? But you see, God the Father through Jesus His Son, has given us a better way. When we are born again, the very life of God is deposited into our spirit and we are new creatures. That old nature that would be hurt or angry is gone. It is replaced by God's agape love. Yes, you now have God's type of love in your heart, if you have been born again! You are no longer driven by your fleshey response to situations, you should be driven by God's love.
Jesus Christ was the perfect example of walking in God's love here on earth. As He hung on the cross, He said "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:24).
Love bears all things, meaning whatever happens you "take it". It believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. A big part of walking in love is forgiveness. If you forgive someone you bear or endure whatever they did, and you believe that they won't do it again. You also forget it! Father God has forgiven and forgotten our sins. We surely can do the same!
1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Psalms 103:11-12. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
God is love and we as born again children of God should walk in and demonstrate that type of love in our lives at all times.
1 John 3:11,14,16-18: For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,… 14. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death… 16. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18. My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you want to be a joint heir with Christ?
If so, I urge you to earnestly pray the following prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. Your word says, "…and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (Jn.6:37),
So I know You won’t cast me out, but You take me in, And I thank you for it. You said in your Word, "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'' (Ro. 10:13).
I am calling on Your name, So I know You have saved me now, You also said, "…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Ro.10:9,10).
I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe He was raised from the dead for my justification. And I confess Him now as my Lord, Because Your Word says, "… with the heart one believes to righteousness…" and I do believe with my heart, I have now become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21),
And I am saved! Thank You, Lord!
I can now truthfully say, I see myself as a born again child of God!
Glory to God!!!! Amen.