Thursday, September 25, 2014

To Love Is to Listen

"Husbands, love your wives" (Eph. 5:25).

"Be quick to listen, slow to speak" (James 1:19).

Listening to your wife is the better part of loving her.  What does this mean?  A wife needs a husband who spends time listening to her.  In this way she will know that he loves her.

I remember meeting with a young couple once, and the wife made it perfectly clear.  Fighting back the tears, she explained to her husband, "When I share something with you, I'm not always looking for an answer, but just for you to listen."  Her husband had no idea about that.  He was focused on a solution.  So they took a big step forward in their marriage that day.

It's not that a solution is unimportant.  It's just that something else must come first.  The primary need a wife has is to be understood by her husband.  This is another, more concrete, way of saying that her primary need is to be loved.

Husbands, practice listening to your wives.  Make special time for it.  Give her your undivided attention.  In sincerity say things like, "Tell me more about that part of it," or, "Let me see if I understand."  After this, she may well want you to help identify a solution, or the time for that may come later.  But sometimes it will be all she needs simply to be understood.

And wives, don't forget that your husbands have a need to be understood too.  So the same rules apply.

But husbands, you need to go first.  You can do this!  Husbands, love your wives.  Listen.

And let all of us remember that we have a Lord who listens perfectly to us when we go to Him in prayer.

Friday, September 19, 2014

St. Matthew

September 21 is the day set aside to remember St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist.  My first name is Matthew, after St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Holt, Michigan, my father's first and only congregation that he pastored for twenty years.  Although Lutheran Service Book has a stanza for Matthew, I wanted to write another.  It is based on Matthew 9:9-13 and 28:16-20.

We praise You, Lord, for Matthew,
The tax collector who
Put down his filthy lucre,
Got up, and followed You.
Baptized, we too will follow,
Keep all that You command,
And ne'er forget Your promise:
"I'm with you to the end!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Wedding at CANA

Eleven Promises Inspired by the Wedding at CANA in John 2:1-11:

1. Christ CAN A marriage save.

2. Christ CAN A marriage heal.

3. Christ CAN A marriage renew.

4. Christ CAN A marriage strengthen.

5. Christ CAN A marriage preserve.

Because

6. Christ CAN A heart change.

7. Christ CAN A sin forgive.

8. Christ CAN A husband lead.

9. Christ CAN A wife assure.

10. Christ CAN A joy supply.

Because

11. Christ CAN A love show.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

John's First and Last Loves

The Gospel of John has more occurrences of the word "love" than Matthew, Mark, and Luke put together.  "Love" is used in one form or another over fifty times.  For a devotion, a person could read through the Gospel of John and carefully mark each time the word "love" is used.  But simply looking at the first and last times offers an important lesson.

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

The last time is John 21:20: "Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them...."

The lesson is this: God loves the whole world and all people to the point of freely sacrificing His only Son.  But this cosmic, worldwide love is at the same time a personal love felt deeply by the one who believes in Jesus.

Make the Gospel of John your own.  Believe that "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) knows, loves, and forgives you personally.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Eyes of Faith, Hope, and Love

"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13).

One way to understand faith, hope, and love is to imagine that each one has a pair of eyes.  And then to ask the questions: What does faith see?  What does hope see?  And what does love see?

Faith sees the cross.  Faith is cross-eyed and sees nothing else in all the world save the incarnate, innocent, crucified Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord Christ.  Faith sees in this One the full bloody payment for all sins.  Faith is a constant gaze at Christ crucified, and especially in the hour of death.  "Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes."

Hope sees the resurrection.  Hope is the Easter morning moment when "the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed" (John 20:8).  And hope then turns that moment into a lifetime.  Hope sees through the present struggle and gory suffering to a glorious future.  Hope sees nothing but the glorious risen Lord.  As a Navy chaplain I did not carry a weapon.  (Chaplains are noncombatants.)  Marines always wanted to know how that felt.  I told them how I understood it.  I told them that it stood for a hope, in the midst of war, that Someday there will be peace and no need for weapons.

And love sees people.  Love sees a world of people in need of love - and feels for them.  Who are they in your world?  They are near.  They are your family.  They are coming your way today, and you are going theirs.  They need God's love, and you have it to give.  They are not always easy to love, but love these the most.

Now love is called the greatest.  Why so?  Three reasons can be given.  (1) True Christian love implies the presence of faith and hope.  Love therefore represents the greatest quantity.  (2) Love is the one that makes us most like God who "so loved the world."  (3) And love is the only one that can lead others to faith, hope, and love.

O Lord, open the eyes of my faith to see Your cross.  Open the eyes of my hope to see Your resurrection.  And open the eyes of my love to see people the way You do.  Amen.