Love in Marriage

July 12, 2022

I’ve frequently heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 read at a wedding ceremony. Paul’s ode to love is beautiful and appropriate for the occasion. But there is something to notice about Paul’s definitions of love. They are actions and not feelings. This passage contains things we do and don’t do to fulfill love. This kind of love can be commanded. This kind of love is a matter of the choice of will. When we think of romantic love, we often are thinking about an emotional high which we feel towards our loved one. This emotion seems quite involuntary. Paul’s teaching about love is different from this.

Now I am all for romantic love. I suspect that Jacob had romantic love for Rachel, or he wouldn’t have worked another seven years for her. And the Song of Solomon definitely seems to be love poetry. But we need wisdom as we deal with it.

Scientists have even studied romantic love. Researchers from the University of Pavia found that the powerful emotions of new love are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF). But after one year, the couples who have stayed together find their levels of NGF dropping down to the same level as singles and couples in a long-term relationship. This chemistry may be important to bonding two people together, but this emotional high does not last. Although researchers can now point to a particular molecule, the wise have always known this truth from human experience.

Marriage has its ups and downs: children, illnesses, and stress. The reality of life means our feelings of love for our spouse may also ebb and flow. We need the commanded love of 1 Corinthians to sustain romantic love. Marriage is a covenant—the vows say how you promise to treat one another, not necessarily how you will always feel. These feelings of love may also ebb and flow. The vows call on you to place your actions before feelings—to allow your actions to deepen and at times even rekindle your feelings. That’s why Paul’s teaching on love is so important. He places the emphasis on right actions. This kind of love seeks the best for the beloved.

Love sums up and encompasses every other virtue. To treat with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness is to love. Love boldly acts with the other’s best interest at heart. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Love encompasses all the virtues. This kind of love seeks the best for the other. This is the love that can fulfill vows which say for better or for worse until death do us part.

Love, the Driver of Obedience

July 5, 2022

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASB) There is a deep connection between our love for Jesus and our obedience to Him.  These powerful words of Jesus are simply stated, but I don’t think I have always understood them properly.

In the past, in my mind, I basically flipped the statement around to say, “If I keep His commandments, then I will really prove that I love Him.”  In other words, I believed that commandment keeping was the way in which I could show my love for Jesus. Or, with a slightly different nuance, one might say love and obedience are the same thing.  I’m not saying that these thoughts are wrong or unbiblical (see for example 1 John 5:3), but I don’t think they capture what Jesus was saying in John 14:15.

I believe Jesus was saying that love is the driver of obedience.  Love for Jesus is the force that motivates our obedience to Jesus.  If we love Him, keeping His commandments will follow as a natural consequence of that love. 

What does it mean, then, to love Jesus?  It means to cherish Him, to delight in Him, to take immense pleasure in Him, and to have great satisfaction in Him.  When is the last time you just took time to marvel at Jesus and delight in Him?  When is the last time you took time to praise and adore Him for everything He is, everything He has done, and everything He is doing now?  When is the last time you have expressed your love to Him without any other agenda in your mind?  As our love for Jesus grows, our desire to keep His commandments will grow.  Why?  Because we will want to please the One we love.  We will want to be near to Him and be like Him. When we love Him, keeping His commandments will not be a burden, but love in action.

And this love is not a one-way street.  He loves us, too!  Of course, He loves all mankind, but He loves His disciples in a very special way.  As Jesus says later in the same passage, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (John 14:21 NASB)

Not only will the Father and Son love us, but Jesus promises to disclose Himself to us.  What a blessed thought!  May our love for Jesus be ever growing.     

—Scott Colvin

Acknowledging Sin

June 28, 2022

Have you ever been engaged in sin but refused to admit it to yourself or to God?  We sometimes rationalize our sin, or make excuses for it, or pretend that it’s not a big deal.  This is a very dangerous game.  Unacknowledged, unforgiven sin in our lives will lead to feelings of guilt.  Unresolved guilt is a powerful force that can have a devastating effect on your life.

Listen to the experience of David when he refused to acknowledge his sin.  “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” (Psalm 32:3-4 NASB) What did David experience when he kept silent about his sin?  He suffered severe physical and emotional consequences.  The Lord’s hand was pressing heavily upon him, and it was causing his body to waste away and become weak.  It was causing him to groan all day long.  I am convinced that the Lord pressed His hand down upon David out of love for his soul—to try to get his attention and to get him to confess his sins and turn away from them before it was too late. 

It is interesting to note how sin can also have such a profound effect on our bodies.  Of course, it would be incorrect to think that anytime we have physical ailments it is because we have sinned.  This is clearly not true.  But if we are practicing sin and refusing to acknowledge it to the Lord, physical and emotional anguish can certainly come as a result.

What do we need to do?  Instead of justifying, excusing, or hiding our sin, we need to admit it to God.  We need to come to Him and confess our wrongdoing.  Sometimes this is not easy, but it will bring peace and joy back into our lives.  It will be a great relief to us.  As David says, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5 NASB)

Let us confess our sins to God and rejoice in the fact that they are covered by the blood of Jesus our Lord.

—Scott Colvin

Fellowship with Jesus

June 21, 2022

 “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9, NASB) You and I have been called by God into fellowship with Jesus.  What a staggering statement!  Having fellowship with Jesus means that we can enjoy a close relationship with Him.  It means that we share in His life, His light, His nature, and His glory.  We cannot obtain this fellowship by our own means or our own goodness.  It took God to call us into this relationship with His Son.  He called us by His grace through the cross of Christ.

This truth—that we have fellowship with Jesus—should have a profound impact on our lives. 

It should change the way that we think of ourselves.  We know we are sinful people who fall well short of God’s holy standard.  And yet, despite our weakness and struggles with sin, we have fellowship with Jesus.  If we continue to walk in the light, that fellowship with Him continues unbroken.  And because of our fellowship with Jesus, God looks at us with deep love and compassion, as a father looks upon his children.  Because of our fellowship with Jesus, He will remember our sins no more.  Because of our fellowship with Jesus, we can rightfully think of ourselves as right with God—and this changes everything!  What joy and peace we can have, what freedom, what confidence we can have before God if we could just understand that we have fellowship with Him.

An understanding of our fellowship with Jesus should cause us to want to live for Him.  It should cause us to gladly flee from sin.  It should cause us to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good because we don’t want anything destroying that sweet fellowship.

An understanding of our fellowship with Jesus will show itself as an eagerness to maintain our fellowship with one another.  Our fellowship with each other is a result of our fellowship with Him, and to willfully destroy fellowship with a brother or sister is to destroy our fellowship with Jesus.  Therefore, I will never promote divisions, factions, loveless attitudes, or bitterness among the Lord’s people.

You have been called by God into fellowship with Jesus Christ!  May this precious truth permeate every aspect of our lives!

—Scott Colvin

Keep Seeking, Keep Pursuing

June 13, 2022

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of
God.” (Colossians 3:1, NASB) When you and I were baptized into Jesus, we were raised up with Him. We were raised with Him to a new life. We became a new creation. We were made alive again. Haven’t we been blessed beyond measure in Christ?

Since all of this is true, what shall we do now? The verse above makes it clear. Keep seeking the things above! Keep on moving forward in His ways. Keep on striving to know Him more deeply. Keep on pursuing holiness in your life. We must never stop pursuing God. We must never think that we have arrived or that we have grown as much as we need to grow. We must never become complacent or stagnate in our walk with Him. God wants us to keep seeking Him with all our heart.

I am encouraged by these words of Paul concerning our ongoing pursuit of God: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NASB) Notice that he did not say “having perfected holiness”, but “perfecting holiness.” This carries the idea of pursuit, of continual striving, of growth over time. Perfecting holiness requires that we don’t get discouraged and quit in our struggles against sin. It requires that when we fall short, we confess our sins to Him, ask for His forgiveness, get up, and continue to pursue holiness, trusting in His promise to keep us continually cleansed by the blood of Christ.

God knows we’re all sinners. He knows we fall short. But He expects us to keep seeking and to keep perfecting. Don’t ever give up the pursuit!

—Scott Colvin

The Preservative of Righteousness

June 6, 2022

In Genesis chapter 18, there is an interesting exchange between God and Abraham. The Lord appeared to Abraham to promise that Sarah would have a son, and He also told Abraham that He was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We read, “Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?’…So the LORD said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” (Genesis 18:23-24, 26 NASB). Abraham ventured to speak to God to find the answer to this question: how many righteous people will it take for God to spare the city? God revealed to Abraham that He would not destroy the city if just ten righteous people were living there.

Sodom was reduced to ashes. There were not even ten righteous people in the entire place.

But something that is very interesting to me is that God said if there were ten righteous people, He would not destroy the city on account of the ten righteous ones. What do we learn about the nature of God from that statement? We learn that God is merciful. We learn that He will punish, but that He does not long to punish. He will even look for seemingly small reasons to hold back His judgement. 

What do we learn about God’s people from this account? Astonishingly, we learn that righteous people are a preservative in this world! The presence of righteous people can avert the wrath of God from being executed, even in an exceedingly wicked culture like Sodom. I believe this is one of the lessons we can learn from Christ when He said, “You are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5:13a NASB) Righteous people have a preserving effect on society just as salt preserves meat. Have you thought of yourself in this way? God may delay His judgement because of the way we live our lives. God may allow more time for us to reach out to the lost with the saving message of Jesus.

The way we live has a direct impact on the world around us! May we all walk in His righteousness. Perhaps God will see and reserve His righteous wrath.

—Scott Colvin

A Sincere Love of the Brethren

May 31, 2022

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart…” (1 Peter 1:22 NASB) When we obeyed the truth of the gospel, God purified our souls.  He washed us and cleansed us from our sins through the death of Jesus Christ.  This grand reality should have major effects in our lives!  One of the things that purification of our souls should produce in us is a sincere, fervent love of the brethren.

How do you feel about your brothers and sisters in the Lord?  If there is little love, little care, and little concern for them, it could be (considering the verse above) that there is little obedience to the truth and little striving for purity in your life.  Obedience to the truth and a purified soul naturally lead to a love of God’s people—a real, genuine, unfeigned love.  I think this is because as we walk with the Lord, we begin to realize in deeper ways how precious each member of the church is to Him.  We begin to realize in a greater way that we are in this together.  We begin to realize that we need one another, and fervent love begins to grow.

I want to encourage you today to take steps to build that fervent love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Make a renewed effort to reach out and build relationships with the members of your spiritual family.  Reach out today to someone who you may not have met yet, or who you may not know well.  Reach out not only to those who are in a similar stage of life as you, but also to those who may be much older than you, or much younger than you.  Reach out to our new members and show hospitality to them.  Reach out and introduce yourself to those who may be visiting our assembly.  If you sit in the front, try to meet someone who sits in the back, and vice-versa.  Don’t worry about not having anything in common.  We have everything that is important in common!  The love of God and Christ Jesus, and the love of His truth bind us together!  Getting to know one another is a great first step in expressing our brotherly love for one another.   

—Scott Colvin

The Spirit of God in the Heart

May 24, 2022

Do you remember the day that you were baptized into Jesus?  That was the singular most important day of our lives.  Magnificent changes took place on that day.  All our sins were washed away by the blood of Jesus, we received a new life, and we were freed from the reign of sin over our lives.  And one of the most amazing things that happened is this: God Himself came to live in your heart on that day.

God Himself came to live within you!  Think of the enormity of that statement!  If that statement is true (and it is), then there must be enormous consequences that stem from this fact.  What changes are being brought about in your life because of the indwelling of the Spirit of God?  Is He making a difference in you?  Are you allowing Him to make a difference in you?

The Spirit who lives within us gives us the power to overcome sin and to put to death our sinful passions and desires!  As Paul writes, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:16-17, NASB)

The Spirit who lives within us changes us from the inside!  He causes wonderful things to be produced in our lives.  Paul continues, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB).

What effect is the Holy Spirit having in your life?  Is He changing you?  Are you growing in holiness in your day-to-day life?  Shouldn’t God Himself dwelling within us make a great difference in our lives?  God wants to make a great difference in your life.  He wants to help you overcome sin.  He wants to cause us to produce fruit for Him.  But we must choose to walk by the Spirit.  If we will, God will work amazing things in our lives!  He will take us to a new plane!  He will abide with us!  May we all renew our commitment to walk by His Spirit today.

—Scott Colvin

The Power of the Tongue

May 17, 2022

What is the most powerful part of the human body?  What would you say?  The brain?  Perhaps the arms or the legs?  Spiritually speaking, the most powerful part of the body is the tongue.  There is tremendous power for good or for evil in our speech.  As Solomon says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21a, NASB) We must all choose if we are going to use the power of our tongues for death or life, to tear down or to build up, to hurt or to heal. 

Let us carefully consider the following proverbs concerning the power of the tongue.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18, NASB)

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.  (Proverbs 15:1, NASB)

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4, NASB)

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” (Proverbs 15:28, NASB)

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24, NASB)

“A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are as a scorching fire.” (Proverbs 16:26, NASB)

Are your words a fountain of life?  Do they soothe, comfort, and heal?  Or do your words slash, scorch, and set ablaze?  Yes, there is great power for destruction in our tongues, but we must also understand that there is tremendous power for helping and blessing others.  Think of all the good you can accomplish with your tongue today!  Is there someone you can encourage today?  Is there someone to whom you can bring words of comfort?  Is there someone whose spirit you can help to heal?  Death and life are in the power of the tongue!  Let us choose our words carefully.

—Scott Colvin

Making Moves Toward God

May 10, 2022

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” (James 4:8, NASB) What a magnificent promise of God!  That the Creator of all things, our all-powerful God, would even notice us—much less that He would graciously come close to us—is astounding.  Do you want the Lord to move toward you?  If so, we must understand this principle:  the Lord moves toward those who first make a choice to move toward Him.

This is a principle that we see throughout the scriptures.  For example, in Old Testament times, Azariah the prophet brought this message from God to Asa, king of Judah: “The Lord is with you when you are with Him.  And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (1 Chronicles 15:2b, NASB) If we want the Lord to be with us, we must first choose to be with Him.  If we want Him to let us find Him, we must first choose to seek Him with all our heart and soul.

We see the principle again when God brings a message of hope to the nation of Judah who were exiled in Babylon.  The Lord says, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13, NASB) The Lord will listen to those who call upon Him!  The Lord will allow Himself to be found, but only when He sees His people first put their whole hearts into seeking Him! 

Do you feel far away from the Lord today?  Have you drifted away from Him because of sin in your life, or because of spiritual complacency?  Our God is waiting for you.  He is longing to forgive you.  He is longing to bless you.  He wants you to be near to Himself, but He is waiting for you to make a move toward Him.  If you will take steps to draw near to Him, He has promised to draw near to you!  If we will seek Him diligently, He has promised to let us find Him!  And finding God is the greatest treasure that could ever be.  Let us draw near to Him with all our heart today.

—Scott Colvin