One Thing Remains…Your Love Never Fails

As I was having my devotional time today, I sang a song at the piano that I learned a few weeks ago during music practice. The words of this song remind me of God’s unfailing love towards me. The words are so powerful as to induce a sense of confidence that nothing can ever separate us from His love. It also makes me think of the binding love between people, a parent and child, a husband and wife, couples, siblings, friends, family. The enduring sense that no matter what, this love is never giving up.

One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)

Verse 1

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave

Constant in the trial and the change

One thing remains

One thing remains

Chorus

Your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me

Your love

Verse 2

On and on and on and on it goes

It overwhelms and satisfies my soul

And I never ever have to be afraid

One thing remains

One thing remains

Bridge

In death, in life, I’m confident and covered by

The power of Your great love

My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can separate

My heart from Your great love

Words and music by Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle and Christa Black Gifford

I hope you enjoyed the lyrics and the video below (I particularly like this version because of the piano intro and prominent bass line).

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Forty Days of Love

We just started a new series on the topic of love at our women’s group in church and the first session was very inspiring! We will be looking at the book “40 Days of Love” by Rick Warren and I really enjoyed the first video which was very down-to-earth and without any sugar-coating. We took a look at the love chapter in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13) and although I have read it many times, it always moves me whenever I read it.

I like how Rick summarized the chapter in Corinthians, in essence saying that we can have all the faith, knowledge, accomplishments and even show generosity to others but if we are not doing it out of love, it is completely meaningless. I felt quite convicted by this because I know there are moments when my giving to others has not been completely selfless. I have either expected something in return or expected to be recognized.

The love talked about in Corinthians is completely unconditional. I have to remind myself of this often particularly when I am not feeling forgiving of someone else. When I am tempted to point the finger, I look at myself and say, “You know, you’re not perfect. You have made many mistakes and yet God chose to be merciful and to forgive you, no matter what you did. You should do the same for others“. This is such a hard pill to swallow some times. It almost doesn’t make sense, it almost seems to go against our nature. But this is what unconditional love is!

Week 1 challenge: Go out of your way to show love for someone else (without any self-seeking motives or expecting something in return).

Image courtesy of moreintelligentlife.com
Image courtesy of moreintelligentlife.com

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.

Sunday Morning Music and Fellowship

Sundays are usually a whirlwind of madness in our house as we try to get the kids out of the house in time for church. My husband and I teach classes before the service starts and on mornings like today when music practice is thrown into the mix, it is one busy morning. I love it!

Ready for some praise and worship
Ready for some praise and worship

The morning started off early with worship practice. Depending on the Sunday, I play piano with different musicians which offers a nice variety of styles and songs. Today, I found the songs particularly reverent and despite a challenging practice on Thursday night as we tried to mesh together as a team, it worked out beautifully this morning.

After practice was done, it was off to my class to prepare my sheets and props for the 4 to 5 year old kids. Despite the challenges of uncooperative or rowdy kids, teaching them is so refreshing. There is something about being around young children that just reminds me to have fun and appreciate the simple things.

After the class, I ran down to the sanctuary to play piano for the service as I tried to untangle my own two kids from around my knees. I found it very inspiring that the pastor’s message today was on worship and how we are not there to gain something for ourselves but simply to glorify God and thank him for his goodness. As the service came to an end and the voices of the congregation rose up in volume and blended for the last song, it was just so beautiful. I didn’t want it to end!

So despite the usual Sunday madness and the fact that we normally want to pass out on the couch after the service, it is always so worth it to be in the company of great people, lifting up our voices, hearing the laughter of kids and being surrounded by such a warm community!

A Fruit A Day…The Practice of Self-Control

Welcome back! Over the past few weeks, we have been studying the virtues of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. Today, we are going to tackle the final virtue in the series which is self-control.

Merriam Webster Definition and Synonyms of Self-Control

  • Definition:  restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires
  • Synonyms: self-command, self-containment, self-discipline, self-government, willpower

Greek word for Self-Control

The ancient Greek word for self-control is egkrateiaThis has the connotation of self-mastery and self-restraint.

Favorite Verses on Self-Control

  • He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Prov. 21:23
  • He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Prov. 16:32

Final thoughts on Self-Control

Self-control is possibly one of the hardest virtues to put into practice because it requires so much discipline and willpower. Our emotions and desires can be so strong and it can be difficult to rein them in. Self-control relates to all of the other virtues because in exercising self-control, we are able to demonstrate love in the face of hate, joy in the face of sadness, forbearance in the face of suffering, kindness in the face of cruelty, goodness in the face of spite, faithfulness in the face of struggles or hurt, and gentleness in the face of anger. Self-control does not mean inhibiting ourselves to the point of being unnatural, unhealthy or fake. We are by nature emotional beings. But in exercising self-restraint, the aim is to eliminate negative habits while fostering positive ones. This covers many aspects of our lives from how we interact with others to the foods we choose to eat to the activities we choose to engage in. All require a certain aspect of commitment and discipline.

We have now come to the end of our study on the Fruit of the Spirit. I hope you have enjoyed studying these virtues over the past few weeks. I personally feel that I have grown from the experience and although I often fall short in these virtues, it is something I am aiming to put into practice as much as I possibly can!

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control“. Galatians 5:22-23

Image courtesy of perfectinsider.com
Image courtesy of perfectinsider.com

A Fruit A Day…Is Being Meek a Weakness?

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength“-Saint Francis de Sales

Welcome back! Over the past few weeks, we have studied in detail the virtues of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.Today, we are going to tackle the virtue of gentleness.

Merriam Webster Definition and Synonyms of Gentle

  • Definition: mildness of manners or disposition
  • Synonyms: nonabrasive, soothing, tender
  • Related words: calm, peaceful, placid, quiet, serene, tranquil, compassionate, lenient, merciful

Greek word for Gentleness

The ancient Greek word for gentleness is prautés. It is related to the concepts of meekness and humility.

Favorite Verses on Gentleness

  • “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people”. Titus 3:2
  • “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” Ephesians 4:2

Final thoughts on Gentleness

I used to be skeptical about the concept of meekness because I felt it implied becoming a doormat, being passive or weak. But this is not the case. Being gentle or meek is not a weakness but in fact a sign of implicit strength. Jesus in his gentleness and compassion towards others still conveyed a strong sense of power, authority and passion. It is true that gentleness is somewhat dependent on personality but I wonder if it’s something we can learn to do in the spirit of being respectful towards others.

I think gentleness can be applied in many situations such as comforting someone in their sorrow, correcting someone in a firm yet non-judgmental manner or forgiving someone for a past hurt. Being gentle does not equate to being weak nor does it necessarily mean we are always quiet in our mannerisms. To me, it is an act of humility where we are willing to listen to the opinions of others and to be tolerant of others, yet at the same time being brave enough to speak out in a respectful manner when needed.

Image courtesy of wallpaperskyline.com
Image courtesy of wallpaperskyline.com

A Fruit a Day…Being Faithful

Over the past few weeks, we have walked through a selection of virtues from one of my favorites verses. Today, we are going to tackle the virtue of faithfulness.

Image courtesy of adamr@freedigitalphoto.net
Image courtesy of adamr@freedigitalphoto.net

Merriam Webster Definitions and Synonyms of Faithful

  • having or showing true and constant support or loyalty
  • firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty
  • steadfast in affection or allegiance
  • constant, dedicated, devoted, devout, loyal, steadfast

Greek and Hebrew words for Faithfulness

The ancient Greek word for faithfulness is pistis In the context in which it was used by Paul in Galatians 5:22, the meaning of faithfulness connoted reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. Pistis can also refer to faith (as in a doctrine or religious belief) and God’s faithfulness towards us. The Hebrew word for faithfulness is bittachon which connotes a sense of trust, safety and security.

Favorite Verses on Faithfulness

  • Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, extend to the skies, and Your faithfulness to the clouds”. Psalm 36: 5
  • Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart“. Proverbs 3:3

Final thoughts on Faithfulness

I really enjoyed researching the concept of faithfulness because it encompasses such a vast entity of human relationships as well as our relationship with God. What I learned from studying this topic is that God’s faithfulness towards us (as demonstrated by his compassion, mercy, forgiveness, blessings, love and grace) is something to be emulated by us in our interactions with other people. There are so many ways to demonstrate faithfulness through our loyalty, integrity, trustworthiness, reliability and dependability.

I also think of faithfulness as an enduring quality that gives a sense of commitment over the long-term despite the circumstances. When I think of a faithful friend or family member, I think of someone who has been there for me through my ups and downs and who has not given up on me even in my weak moments. I thank God for these people and for His enduring faithfulness to me even when I did not deserve it!

A Fruit a Day…Demonstrating Goodness

Welcome back to our study on the fruits of the Spirit! So far we have covered love, joy, peace, forbearance and kindness. Today, we are going to take a look at the virtue of goodness.

Merriam Webster Definitions and Synonyms of Goodness

  • excellence of morals and behavior
  • character, decency, morality, honesty, integrity, probity, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness

Definition of Goodness from Strong’s Concordance

  • intrinsic goodness, especially as a personal quality, with stress on the kindly (rather than the righteous) side of goodness

Greek word for Goodness and the various shades of meaning

The ancient Greek word for goodness is agathosune It has a similar meaning to the Greek word for kindness (chréstotés) however ‘goodness’ has a more active and driven connotation. Goodness has an assertive sense to it because an individual behaves based on their own personal moral values. They are therefore likely to feel more strongly about a situation that goes against their principles (for example, seeing others experience injustice or suffering) and do something about it.

Interestingly, the Bible also describes goodness as the capacity to correct each other (another inkling into the more assertive aspect of goodness). This makes sense because if I am really looking out for someone, I would want to respectfully warn them if they are heading down a destructive path. The challenge becomes how to help without sounding accusing or self-righteous.

Interesting facts about the Greek words for goodness:

Agatha is a feminine name derived from the Ancient Greek word agathos, meaning ‘good’. It was the name of St. Agatha of Sicily, a third-century Christian martyr.

Favorite Verses on Goodness

  • As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men]…” Galatians 6:10
  • I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are filled with goodness and full of all the knowledge you need to be able to instruct each other.” Romans 15:14
  • A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things…” Matthew 12:35

Final thoughts on Goodness

My initial thought when I consider the word ‘goodness’ is a word describing a moral virtue. Goodness does not mean self-righteousness. It means making a choice that will ultimately benefit someone else. It is being virtuous without ulterior motives. Self-righteousness is by nature self-focused and prideful however goodness looks outwardly and says “how will my decision affect someone else?” Exercising goodness towards someone else can encompass many areas of life. It could be meeting a need (kindness), being true to our word (honesty), standing up for the oppressed or speaking out against discrimination (integrity). Goodness is being selfless and focusing on another person’s situation.

I am guilty of being self-centered and self-righteous at times. But I quickly remember how status didn’t matter to Jesus in the Bible. He often spent time with those who were considered the lowest in society. Conversely, the self-righteous Pharisees, even with all their knowledge and pomp, did not impress Jesus. I am constantly reminding myself that God looks at the heart, not at the exterior. Goodness culminates in a deep desire to look out for those around us without focusing on how this reflects on us. How much I still have yet to learn!
Image courtesy of bheretoday.com
Image courtesy of bheretoday.com