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Love Never Fails - Part IIII

"Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited,
5 does not act improperly,is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.
6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end."

The Apostle Paul becomes close to being a poet, a composer of a great love song in this 13th chapter of I Corinthians. In that chapter, Paul envisions perfect love, an ideal love. He expresses it in words, dangling them before us, and seems to say that this ideal love can be yours and mine.

You may remember, the last time when we were gathered together, in worship of our Lord, we talked about the kindness of love. Today, we'll be looking at a different aspect of this incredible epistle from apostle Paul's 1st letter to Corinthian church, verses 4-8.

Open your Bibles with me, to the Word of God, today we'll be taking a closer look at I Corinthians 13:4-8, follow along with me, as I read from this rich, and marvelous passage.

"Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited,does not act improperly,is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end."

Today's Message: Love Never Fails - Part IIII 

Love is Patient, Love Suffers Long:
Love suffers long. Notice that Paul begins this passage by saying, "Love is patient," or as some versions have it, "Love suffers long." The Greek word that Paul uses here in our text, can easily be translated either way.
It basically means that love is something that "endures a long time" - that doesn't easily give up, but keeps on persisting in spite of everything.

It doesn't take a great deal of talent to suffer. All of us suffer in one way or another. We don't have to graduate at the top of our class to suffer. We don't have to be rich or poor, young or old, male or female to suffer.

And some may suffer more than others. Some may suffer with more grace than others - but all of us suffer. In this powerfully instructive passage, Paul is saying that a unique quality about the love he is describing is that this love is willing to suffer for a long time - it suffers long.

I suppose that we had ought to define "suffering." Synonyms that come to mind are words like "pain," or "sorrow," or "rejection and tribulation."
But, if we are to boil it down to one simple idea, I think that I would say that "Suffering is experiencing something in life that we want very much not to experience."

The key to that is "very much." Suffering is something that hurts, something that says, "I do not want to experience this!" That is suffering.

Now, I realize, that opens up a door to all kinds of possibilities. It may be trivial suffering, or it may be tragic suffering. It may be for a short period of time, or, it may be long. It may be nothing more than being in a great hurry, getting into the express checkout line at the grocery story, only to find that every one in front of you is writing a check. Have you ever had this experience? That is "experiencing something that you want very much not to experience."

It may also be tragic. You may have a cancer which constantly reminds you of its presence, because it is always inflicting pain. That is suffering, too.

As part of our human nature, we do not like to suffer, do we? In fact, we will do pretty much anything we can think of to avoid it. However, Paul says that the love he is talking about is willing to suffer for the object of its love. It is willing to endure that which it very much does not want to experience, but it does so, because of its love.

Yet, in a world where suffering is very real, maybe the willingness to suffer long is one of the most precious gifts that we can give.
A. Do you understand the difference between agape love & erotic love?

In Scripture the Greek word used here for love is "Agape." It is some-times called "divine love" because it is the word that is used to express God's love. It is an unselfish love that caused God to give Himself so that the world might be saved from its sin. This is Agape love.
Let me define Agape love & challenge you to remember that definition. "Agape love moves you to help without expecting any reward."

Our first reaction might be, "That's not such a big deal. I do lots of nice things without expecting anything in return." Good! But I wonder if that is really true?

Basically, we are rather selfish, and every time we do something, we expect something in return. At the very least, we expect some appreciation, some gratitude, some recognition for the wonderful thing we have done. And if we don't get it, well, we tend to bark, "I know when I'm not appreciated."

It is also the kind of love that causes a parent to go through some difficult times with a child who declares, "If you really loved me, you would let me do what I want to do."
Agape love is a love that does something, that does whatever is required, & expects no reward in return.

However, in contrast, there is "Eros" - and that is defined as a "love that is controlled by its desires." When it wants something, and it acts in order to satisfy that want. It is a love that is not willing to endure suffering for someone else's sake. By its very nature. Eros love is concerned only with self, its own wants and desires and will move instantly to eliminate its own suffering, whatever that might be.

But look at Jesus. On that terrible night before His crucifixion, when Jesus and the apostles reached Gethsemane, Matthew 26:37-39 tells us that He took Peter, James & John with Him into the garden,
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.”  Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”" That is Agape. That is long suffering. That is Christ saying, "I will suffer through it all, for the sake of others."

Beloved, I would like you to notice that there is a great difference between suffering long and suffering endlessly.

Paul says, "Love suffers long," and we, as his students, raise our hands to ask, "But teacher, how long must we to suffer?" Paul, "I can't tell you that. It may be a year. It may be 10 years. It may be only tomorrow. But love suffers long."

Well, we like time limits, Paul! We would like to know just exactly how long we are going to have to endure suffering." But Paul simply doesn't tell us. Instead, he says that "love suffers long," then, he leaves it dangling there.

Love suffers long, but does it suffer forever! Even in Scripture there is a limit to love - where love draws a line and says, "I will suffer no longer!"

May I suggest that such love is greatly needed in our time. Yet I suppose that if we asked, "Hey, there. Would you like some love - it requires you to suffers long?" I fear that most of us would not be anxious to sign up for that. Anyone here that wants to suffer long?

Look at God's love as an example. Read the book of Romans & find that God looks at a people who have rebelled against Him & deeply entrenched themselves in sin. They have said, "We don't want God in our lives any longer."

God looks at them. He has suffered long with them - breathed into their nostrils the breath of life. He has loved them & has endured their blasphemy and their lies. But finally, God says, "That it! I've had enough! I will give them up to their reprobate minds and to their passions. I will give them exactly what they want. I will come out of their lives, I will give them over to themselves!" God says, "I draw the line."

How does God know when to draw the line? We don't know the answer to that. Is there a great blueprint somewhere with a line drawn down the middle that says, "You suffer this long, but you don't have to suffer any longer?" I sincerely doubt it.. However, it seems to indicate in Scripture that there is a limit in each situation where suffering says, "I will suffer no longer." Even God, reaches His limit. We see this in the Great Flood, as recorded in Genesis 6:5-7, which says,

"When the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.  Then the Lord said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them."

For example, a woman is married to an alcoholic. Her erotic love for him has died long ago. The only thing that keeps her marriage going is Agape love. She continues to give to him, expecting nothing in return. Hoping for something, maybe, but not really expecting anything any more.
Must she suffer forever with him? I can't say. But I think that there must be a time when love not only suffers long, but love finally faces the truth and then acts upon that truth.

She says, "I have suffered long I have endured the mental abuse, physical abuse. I have stayed awake at night wondering if you would ever come home. But now, I've reached the limit. I'm drawing the line." And she leaves him because she knows it is no longer any good for him, or for her to stay and continue to suffer long.
Suffering long and suffering endlessly are not one in the same.

Long Suffering Produces Positive Reactions:
I believe, that long-suffering love produces positive reactions in our lives.

For example, Long suffering produces patience - patience with ourselves - patience to take a deep breath, and relax, to look in the mirror saying, "Maybe you are not as bad as I thought." Patience to accept who we are as well as what we are.
Patience to realize that we don't have, and will never have the mind of an Albert Einstein, therefore we are not going to solve all of the difficult equations in the world. But realize that we were blessed with a mind, and we can use it to the glory of God.

Patience to realize that we may not have the musical talents of a Mozart, therefore will never compose going to compose symphonies, operas and make tremendous contributions to the world musically, but we can still make a joyful noise unto the Lord, and that is all Scripture requires.

Patience to realize that we may not be spiritual giants like the Apostles, however, realizing that we can pray, read our Bibles, and still serve Him faithfully.
We can accept ourselves, our situation in life - not accepting the evil that is there - but accepting the situation, being able to suffer with it, and suffer long.

Long suffering develops courage. Courage to stand up against that which is evil and proclaim, "I hate it." "I hate the famine, the poverty, the disease, and I will not give in. I am God's warrior, His soldier and I'll do battle against them as long as God sees fit that I am on this earth."

Long suffering produces love. Long suffering produces love. It produces a love that can look across the street, see a neighbor in trouble, move to meet a need and never expect anything in return.
It is a love that looks across an aisle in church, and it sees the track of a tear on a cheek, it rushes in  to meet a need there, never expecting anything in return.

It is a love that forgets about self, it thinks about others. It is a love that will give, and give, and then give some more.

The greatest example of all is God. Have you ever said, "Why do you put up with us, God? Why don't you snap your fingers, wipe us all out, and just start all over again?"
Or, "Why don't you come today, set everything in the right order - put us all in our places and tell us, 'You have to be good boys & good girls. You can't continue to misbehave the way you are! Because I won't tolerate it'!"

Have you ever wondered why God just doesn't do that? It seems to me sometimes to be the most logical thing for God to do. The answer is this, because God's love is long suffering.

The apostle Peter answers it best. People were asking Peter, "Jesus told us that He was coming back again. When is He going to come? Why is He delaying so long?"
Peter says in II Peter 3:8-9, "Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance."

So the love of God keeps on giving - it keeps loving us when we are unlovable - loving us when we are rebellious. His love keeps on giving, because it is long suffering. Oh and I am so grateful for it!
Isn't it wonderful for us, that His faithfulness toward us, isn't dependent upon our faithful toward Him?

Beloved, I do not know where you stand with the Lord. Some of you may be walking very close to Him, while others may be far from Him. Maybe you have had a week of trials, tribulations and have found that Eros love raised its head more often than agape love of God. But where ever you are,
I encourage you to see the love that God has expressed to us through Jesus Christ, and challenge you to reach out to Him. Whether, it be for salvation, accepting Jesus Christ or a renewed commitment to Jesus Christ.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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