Elevate 28 - A 28 Day Challenge to Intentionally Engage with God's Word
"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."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
"A Real Love Connection"
By Ann Maire Chilton, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The word “love” might bring to mind a familiar phrase:
Love is patient, love is kind …
On one popular TV trivia show, the contestants couldn’t name the book of the Bible where these verses are written, but they recognized the words.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres …
Many have heard these verses recited in wedding ceremonies or seen them written on Valentine’s Day cards. And they are found in 1 Corinthians 13, often called the “love chapter” of the Bible.
Love never fails …
At a certain point, some might say 1 Corinthians 13 has been quoted too much, which can cause words to lose their meaning. People might think, “Yeah, yeah, ok. ‘Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.’ I know. I’ve heard it all before.” Others have heard someone say, “I love you,” but a happy ending didn’t follow. For some, the word “love” has been exhausted. That’s because if we read or speak beautiful words about love again and again, but do not do it with intention or understanding, then the words begin to sound like empty statements.
A better way to say that is, “If I speak in the languages of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1, NIV). In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 teaches that people must connect to love, specifically the love of God, in order to live meaningful lives.
CONNECTING TO THE SOURCE
Valentine’s Day brings good news because–whether single, married, divorced, separated, or any other sort of status–people can connect to the best kind of love, God’s love. And Valentine’s Day recognizes a holiday of taking time to show affection, to bring a little more meaning into everyday actions. Instead of mentioning romance in 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter teaches about the love of God: agape love, everlasting love, unconditional love, unselfish love. God’s love is wide open. His love is available to any people who will yield their hearts and lives to Him.
On one popular reality TV show, a single man meets several single women. As he gets to know them a little better, he eliminates the women he is not interested in. Sounds cruel, right? It is. But it’s all done in the name of “love”–and entertainment. As the women on the show are publicly rejected, one by one, they feel awful. One woman expressed her hopelessness, saying, “If I could have opened myself up to him, I think, if he saw the real me, he would definitely reconsider.”
Another thought if she were more beautiful or charming, then he would have chosen her.
“I tried, and it just wasn’t enough,” she said. In romance, many times, heartbreak comes before lasting love.
But God does not line people up, inspect them, and then reject the ones He doesn’t like because that is not what real love does. Sometimes cultural expressions and ideas about love are so cheap that it’s almost impossible to fathom, in contrast, the wonderful extent of God’s love.
The Bible confirms this, saying, “Now we see but a poor 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” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
God knows people very well, and He loves us. He knows the strengths and weaknesses, the secret sins and personal joys. God desires to save us from ourselves. His love gives us a second chance, and really, more chances than we deserve. Billy Graham says, “No matter what sin you have committed, no matter how dirty, shameful or terrible it may be, God loves you. You may be at the very gate of hell itself, but God loves you with an everlasting love.”
GOD IS … WHAT?
The Bible teaches that God is love.
In the language of mathematics, that means God = love. In the language of teenagers, it means that God is, like, totally all about love. In a philosophical sense, God is so wrapped up in love that He is one with love itself.
Unlike a lovesick admirer, God does not simply profess His love in words. God proves His love in action. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Jesus Christ’s sacrifice represents the ultimate act of love because it shows God’s grace. Christ is not just a good person who did good things for people and then was willing to die for His actions. Christ died in order to bring people closer to God.
Billy Graham says, “The fact that God is love does not mean that everything is sweet, beautiful and happy and that God’s love could not possibly allow punishment for sin. God’s holiness demands that all sin be punished, but God’s love provided a plan of redemption and salvation for sinful people. God’s love provided the cross of Jesus Christ by which we can have forgiveness and cleansing.”
Besides, what good is it to die for someone if the act accomplishes nothing? Or if the motives are impure? The Bible says, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). In speaking of love, 1 Corinthians 13 challenges people to do everything out of love, specifically the kind of love that God has shown through Jesus. Love is the motive. That means loving friends, enemies, neighbors, co-workers, spouses, children, parents, and even strangers with the merciful and selfless love that comes from God.
What a great challenge! There should be a holiday that celebrates love. Oh, and there is. But while Valentine’s Day focuses, for the most part, on romantic love, people can be sure that there’s so much more to that dreaded four-letter word. There’s a lifetime of days to connect to God, the Source of love, who teaches us, by example, to love with patience, faith, generosity, wisdom, and grace.
Continuing the lifelong work of Billy Graham, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association exists to support and extend the evangelistic calling and ministry of Franklin Graham by proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all we can by every effective means available to us and by equipping the church and others to do the same.
REFLECT & RESPOND
Gabriel’s Playlist is a Why Not Charleston mission project
The purpose of this project is to bring God’s message through music. Gabriel’s Playlist is not a for profit song provider. It is a FREE music mission that will provide favorite song lists by theme including interactive polling, comments and sharing options for members.
The following list includes Gabriel’s favorites that bring God’s message of HAVING CONFIDENCE.
Download the following titles using Apple Music, Spotify, or any preferred music provider platform.
Enjoy watching videos with the links below. (Parent Preview Recommended)
Made to Love – Toby Mac : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFJ5qCmvPkY
Live Like That - Sidewalk Prophets - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r1lLYKdMLU
Love Never Fails – Brandon Heath - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nQy-aP_Koo
Proof of Your Love – For King and Country: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgqYYk-0wDs
Parachute – Train: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFJE2u4bkYU
God Gave Me You – Blake Shelton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGXHWqlH_dc
My Wish – Rascal Flatts : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGB7IWklW3s
*Bonus Children's Devotional*
Written by JOYCE WAIRIMU
Since I live with so many brothers and sisters, there are many times I must have patience. Do you know what it means to have patience? Patience is going through something very hard, or just something very annoying, without getting angry or complaining. I must have patience oftentimes at dinner because there are so many of us eating and I am so hungry after a long day at school. I also much have patience when doing my homework or chores because I would rather be playing outside.
During these times, it helps me to remember how much patience God has with me. He could be angry with me so many times, but he isn't. He always loves me no matter what. He loves you no matter what you do too. He sent His Son, Jesus, to save you and me from our sins and gave us the Holy Spirit to live in us to be our guide and helper. Thanks be to God because without Him, I could not succeed.
"Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience."
This devotional was provided by Fruit the Lasts Ministry. They are a ministry that creates children's books based on the Fruits of the Spirit. To learn more about them and Fruit that Lasts, please visit their website. www.fruitthatlasts.com
This activity was provided by the Teacher Love Project - a Why Not Charleston community education initiative. The Teacher Love Project aims to provide love and encouragement to teachers that will elevate their wellness and care and therefore, enhance student achievement. We must care for those who care for our children - we must love each other because God loved us first.
"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
by Taraea L Griffith
Father over all these virtues I put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. I do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone but I love my neighbor as I love myself. Because if I claim to be the light but hate my brothers/sisters I am still in the darkness. I choose to love. I love my brothers and sisters therefore I live in the light and there is nothing in me to make me stumble. Love comes from you Lord God and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. Now Lord because of how you showed love sending your one and only Son into the world that I may love through Him. So Lord as you love I love and you love is made complete in me.
1 John 4:7-12
1 John 2:9,10
Taraea L. Griffith lives in Charleston with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She is a poet and writer, and making an offering of her special gifts and talents as a Why Not Charleston 2020 contributor.
THRU THE LENS - FINDING YOURSELF IN GOD'S WORD
A blog by regular men and women about finding themselves in God's world
"By Love Alone"
By Sean Jager
1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.”
I believe the greatest of these is love because God wants us to first choose faith - and then have enduring hope to finally realize love. Like being on a journey with guide posts or building with a set blocks - God must take us through a series of lessons that lead us to love and to become love.
I am a blessed man – I live in love every day – in my marriage, my family, and my home. But, it took me some time, and hard failures, and great struggles - for this to be true of my day to day – I had to learn the lessons of love.
From a young age, I knew God and I knew Jesus as my Savior – because my parents gifted me an up-bringing in the church. For someone who was surrounded by faith as a young person – I was very self-made and worldly as a young man. I was your classic high achieving, self-reliant, self-motivated kind of guy – in business and in life. I put myself through college, then set out to get married and have a family and a home and be successful – especially in business.
I read all kinds of self-help books by the great business minds of our time – like Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill. I was going to “Win Friends and Influence People” – I was going to “Think and Grow Rich” – I was going to do it “My Way” – as another one of my favorites, Frank Sinatra, formed my thinking through song.
Doing things my way was ok for a while – I did well – my career was booming – my family was happy – we had things– we were doing just fine. But, what I didn’t understand was that true happiness and anything lasting would never come from the world – nothing of the world sustains. Nothing I was focused on achieving – such as a nice home in the right neighborhood, fancy cars, vacations, private school, money, status, prestige . . . had any guarantee – no promise.
When the life you’ve built is a house of cards – you should expect it to all fall with the slightest breeze. I didn’t know I’d built a house of cards – I didn’t know I never established a foundation – a guarantee.
So when the breeze started to blow and became a wind and that wind became a storm in my life – my house – everything I’d built - started to crumble. While this was happening – I tried hard to keep it all steady and together – I tried anything I could to keep it from falling apart. I didn’t rest or even pause during that time – I didn’t stop until it was all blown away. The cars, the house, the money, the status, the prestige, the reputation, the relationships – all disappeared.
God showed me that I could achieve many things in this life on my own – because I had done that - but He also showed me that without Him – without a foundation of love and honor and grace - it could all be blown away by a breeze. None of it meant anything lasting – it was just a bunch of things.
After the storm passed, my whole life was blown away and I was left with nothing. By this time, I was a shell – exhausted and defeated and scared. I was alone because I pushed everyone away – thinking I would just start over – because that seemed easier than facing my failure and the thought I’d let down the people who were counting on me – the ones I loved most – that was just too much for my weary heart and mind. I was alone and I was lost.
This part of the story may seem sad and dismal – and it sure felt that way at the time. However, what it turned out to be was not the end of a sad story - but the beginning of a great comeback – a miracle - a great testimony – a life so blessed by the promises of God – and it all began with love in the face of failure.
When love showed up – I remember being on my knees – face down – feeling completely defeated and alone. In that moment, I experienced God’s love, literally, like a warm, tight hug – and He wouldn’t let go. I was as real as anything. His love saved me. I was transformed and restored right then - to never be the same – to never look back – and to always keep Him in front of me – my new focus. He restored ALL that was good in my life by His Amazing Grace and Unconditional Love alone.
God loved me so much that he took everything away just to show me how much He loves me and how much I need Him. He showed me that I was just one street off - I was so close to Him - and yet so blind to Him because I was focused on building a worldly lifestyle not a holy lifestyle.
I thought the best way – the most rewarding way – was my way. But, it wasn’t – because it wasn’t God’s way. He wanted me to build a life based on love and honor – focused on Him - with great faith and expectation that His plan was far greater than any plan I could ever think up or achieve on my own.
I am living proof of His great plan as I am so blessed today. My wife and I share a precious union; our children are healthy and happy, we feel comfort, love, and rest in our beautiful home – we have ALL that we need and more – so much more than I could have imagined.
I learned on my love journey that we are not here to build a life filled with things and achieve wealth or prestige – but rather, to build a life of love and achieve a life well lived - as a blessing to others through our opportunities, our gifts, talents, and resources.
In my home, we are a team – a Home Team for God - and our mission is to win for God with love alone – and for our home to shine as a bright and compelling example of a Gospel Rich Lifestyle – a holy lifestyle – the greatest achievement of all – and one that can only be had through Him and by Love alone!
Sean and his wife Melanie have been married for 25 years. They reside in Charleston, SC with their two sons, Michael and Gabriel. As a real estate broker for 23 years, Sean has helped hundreds of families buy and sell homes in the beautiful Lowcountry. He loves helping his clients as well as coaching and mentoring real estate agents. He and Melanie enjoy ministry work through Why Not Charleston.