Tag Archives: acts of service

Doing the Work of The Lord

Today’s message summary of June 4, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If your focus is on the work of God, it will change you.  God should come first in your life.

If there is a lack of focus, there will be a hole in your life that cannot be filled by material things.

You can be confused over those things that you deem to be priorities.

Over time, God’s work can get lost within the course of life.  You can get so busy living and lose track of what is most important; yet, God has a plan for you each and every day.

The word of God is the most important part of your life.

Haggai 1:1-11

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 

The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.

The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways:

You have planted much

but harvested little.

You eat

but never have enough to be satisfied.

You drink

but never have enough to become drunk.

You put on clothes

but never have enough to get warm.

The wage earner puts his wages

into a bag with a hole in it.

The Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways. Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house. Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified, says the Lord. You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.

So on your account,

the skies have withheld the dew

and the land its crops.

I have summoned a drought

on the fields and the hills,

on the grain, new wine, olive oil,

and whatever the ground yields,

on man and beast,

and on all that your hands produce.

 

Haggai’s words to the people of Judah was a revealing of their weakness toward the work of God.

  • Carelessness about the matters of God
  • Their sincerity concerning the things of God is small
  • Their leisure time was more important than God’s work
  • Their personal comfort was more important

Ezra 5:1-2

But when the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak began to rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, helping them.

When you see and hear that God is at work, it places an expectation from Him upon your life.  As you remain obedient to Him, He will affirm your efforts and even provide the support that you need in service to Him.

Ezra 6:14

So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia.

Ezra 7:5-6

Abishuas son, Phinehass son,

Eleazars son, Aaron the chief priests son

came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of Yahweh his God was on him.

 

The workforce was made up of everyone who had returned from exile.  Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they still rebuilt the altar at its original site (Ezra 3:3).

The people overcame their fear in order to obey God.

Haggai points out the weakness of God’s people and what causes them to be distracted.  What are the distractions in your life that prevent you from serving and honoring God?

Haggai 1:2

“The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”

  • You can see it, but you won’t do the work
  • You can hear about it, but will not do the work.
  • You can receive from God the ability to do what is needed, but still choose not to do it.

 

The conflict here is your comfort versus God’s comfort (Haggai 1:3).

When is the right time to do God’s will and be obedient to Him?  The right time is when you see it, hear about it, and have received from God the ability to do it.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give youa land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plantand when you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Haggai 1:5, 7

Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways.”

You need to give consideration as to your ways in life.  You need to go over how you make your decisions and reflect deeply upon how you are spending your time.  He wants you to be thoughtful as to your ways.

God challenges you with your way of thinking here.  Before God asks you to do something, you need to consider how you are going to respond to Him.  He may give you something that will pull you out of your comfort zone.

God will enable you to do many things in your life if you simply remain obedient to His will.  Take pleasure in it, you please Him and honor Him, and God will honor you.

Are you taking care of God’s business?  It remains as a priority in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Haggai gave words of encouragement only after the people were willing to obey.

Haggai 1:12-14

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people feared the Lord.

Haggai, the Lords messenger, delivered the Lords message to the people, I am with you”—this is the Lords declaration.

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God.

Once the people began to fear the Lord, their own fear to proceed had subsided.  The people had to see God for themselves.

God’s message is “I am with you.”

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Haggai 2:3

Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem like nothing to you? Even so, be strong, Zerubbabel–this is the Lord’s declaration. “Be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, high priest.  Be strong, all you people of the land”this is the Lord’s declaration. “Work! For I am with you”the declaration of the Lord of Hosts.

To build the temple was going to require strength. God’s encouragement was to say “be strong” three times.

When the Spirit of God is with you, there is no need for fear.  He will enable you to complete the task at hand.


What is the Role of Today’s Church?

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Does the church stand behind what it teaches? Does it hold to the authority of Scripture? If the church is to remain relevant, it must continue to focus on the importance of Jesus Christ in its ministry.

The church is the continuation of Jesus’ ministry. It is a ministry that serves its people. The Holy Spirit gives direction for those who are serving in the church. The church must also recognize that change and evolution of society and its values. With that, the teaching of Scripture does not change with society. Sin is still sin as it always was, and is to be recognized as such. The church must stand firm in God’s Word.

When society is troubled, the church is also troubled out of concern for its people. The church must deal with the troubles in society.

Nehemiah 2:17
So I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned down. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace.”

Do you see the trouble that we are in with people who are fleeing from the church? Do you see how men are not taking responsibilities for their children and families? Do you see how fornication affects our society? Do you understand that God will provide for anyone who is willing to serve?

Some people will refuse to serve because they refuse to see the troubles in society…even in our own homes. There is less safety and security all around but you need to acknowledge those who set out not to do good but to do evil. There is calamity everywhere, but it can’t be ignored. Unfortunately, some people do not care if they live in their sin and in its disgrace. The persons in the church need to develop a heart of love and concern for those in society who are in sin and out of fellowship. Do you weep for others because God’s Word is not being followed? We cry because of the danger and hardship that people put themselves into because of their sin.

Psalm 119:136
My eyes pour out streams of tears
because people do not follow Your instruction.

Nehemiah 2:3
…and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

Ezekiel 9:4
“Pass throughout the city of Jerusalem,” the Lord said to him, “and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the detestable practices committed in it.”

The church is to be actively involved in all areas of life where there is a need for service.

The people of the church must look at the problems of society and seek what needs to be accomplished.

The church needs to train the people to do the work to provide solutions to the problems.

Look at the work of Jesus Christ to understand what the work of the church is. Jesus came to be about His Father’s business, just as the people of the church are to do. For example, Jesus took on the troubles of Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:7-10
7 All who saw it began to complain, “He’s gone to lodge with a sinful man!”

8 But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!”

9 “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

The difference between those who are lost and those who are saved is often the troubles of the world are a negative influence in the non-believers life. Sin always brings about troubles in life. God is always seeking those who have troubles in their life. The people in trouble are always seeking solutions to their problems, but they may not readily understand that it is Christ who is the answer to their problems. They must see the people of the church willing to serve and help those in trouble and have a heart to save a dying world. It is a lifelong commitment.

Mark 10:45
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life —a ransom for many.”

The model for the church is found here:

1 Peter 2:21
For you were called to this,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
so that you should follow in His steps.

Jesus mingled with the people, as the people of the church are to interact with people in the world. There is a lesson in listening to the Lord and a blessing when you are obedient and trust in Him:

Luke 5:1-11
As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then He sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat.

4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.”

6 When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” 9 For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took, 10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.

“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people!” 11 Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him.

We are to interact with people who are not healthy. We are to seek those who are in need of guidance and who want to be helped.

Luke 5:27-32
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” 28 So, leaving everything behind, he got up and began to follow Him.

29 Then Levi hosted a grand banquet for Him at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were guests with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

We are to meet the needs of the people where they are. It requires trusting in God to go beyond your own human reasoning to accomplish this. It takes faith and trusting in Him.

Luke 9:11-17
11 When the crowds found out, they followed Him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.

12 Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”

13 “You give them something to eat,” He told them.

“We have no more than five loaves and two fish,” they said, “unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 (For about 5,000 men were there.)

Then He told His disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about 50 each.” 15 They did so, and had them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them. He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets of leftover pieces.

The people of the church must have the will and desire to do what God would have them to do, and by trusting in Him, it will be accomplished.


God’s Presence in His Kingdom: Today’s Church

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
God intends for the Kingdom of God to be present through all believers. Each day there is a demonstration of how man, in failure to submit to authority, will destroy himself. Man has always rebelled against God. God gave man free will to do this. We can choose to be saved and love God or choose not to follow Him. When man fails to recognize His Kingdom, it does not change or have an effect on it. God has already numbered our days, and His Kingdom is still at work today. He rules over all that has happened on earth.

From the fall of man through the time when Jesus Christ rules on earth, God’s Kingdom has been present.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25
24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet.

What is the relationship between the church and the kingdom? There is a distinction:

kingdom — Greek word Basileia
church — Greek word Ekklesia

The word ‘kingdom’ is used many times in the gospel while ‘church’ is only used three times. There is a change that takes place in the book of Acts where the church becomes the primary focus. The kingdom is secondary until the book of Revelation, where the kingdom becomes primary once more. Most New Testament letters are addressed to the churches–not the kingdom.

The kingdom of God in Scripture is the all embracing program of God’s divine salvation in history. All ages, people, the saving activities are related to the program of the kingdom.

Matthew 6:9-10
9 “Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

The Christians carry out the will of God in the midst of Satan’s domain. God’s kingdom will come to earth and will be headed by Jesus Christ.

A kingdom is defined as the sovereign reign over a territory where a king exercises his rule.

Hebrews 1:2
…by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.

There is, ultimately, one kingdom it signifies God’s universal eternal rule over all creation.

Psalm 103:19
The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
and His kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 24:1
The earth and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants,
belong to the LORD.

God is in control over Satan. No one places limits on God. He places the limits…he rules.

Job 1:10-12
10 Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”
12 “Very well,” the LORD told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job himself.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence.

Satan has hindered us from carrying out what God would have us to do for Him.

1 Thessalonians 2:18
So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.

God will accomplish His will in His appointed time. Since God is reigning, believers can appeal to God to restrain Satan in order to serve God for His kingdom. The Holy Spirit’s presence is what convicts the hearts and minds of men and women. Believers are not of this world…we are of His Kingdom.

1 Thessalonians 3:11
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:5-8
5 Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about this? 6 And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, 8 and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.

The kingdom of God is advancing.

Matthew 11:12
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.

The gospel of the kingdom is being carried out by the church. The church is the vehicle that carries out the message of the kingdom.

Luke 16:16
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it.

Stages of the kingdom:
1. God’s covenant promises with Abraham
2. God’s rule over Israel (Exodus 40:33-34)
3. The appearance of Jesus

  • The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21).
  • The kingdom of God has come to you (Luke 11:20).
  • Jesus is seen as the glory of God (John 1:14; Luke 9:29-32).

The church is not the kingdom, yet it carries out the work of the kingdom. The kingdom is presently working through the church to equip and educate for the purposes of advancing the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world according to the mysteries described by Jesus in His teaching.

Matthew 13:11
He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them.

Matthew 20:1
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.”

Matthew 22:2
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.”

The message of the church is the message of the kingdom.

Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

Acts 28:31
…proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.

Matthew 24:14
This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world[a] as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

The relationship of the church and kingdom:

Philippians 3:20
…but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:13
He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

2 Corinthians 5:20
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Love Languages For Your Life – Seminar Text

The following is the text of the two-day seminar presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on April 8-9, 2011.  The material is based upon the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Dr. Gary Chapman, © 1992, Northfield Publishing, Chicago IL.

Welcome to Spring Break 2011 and another installment of the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church Relationship Conference Series.  We are now in our fourth year of the series and our sixth seminar where we study and discuss everyday interpersonal relationships with a biblical perspective.  This is a unique approach to relationships that go beyond the how-to and advice books as we rely upon God’s Word to extrapolate how relationships form, develop, and change within our life experiences.

In the past we have discussed relationships from an interpersonal standpoint, including those with relatives, friends, co-workers, and, of course, a loving, healthy relationship with God and even how you value yourself.  We have focused on marital relationships and explored the importance of knowing your spouse as your marriage grows.  We have even discussed the difficulties of being in relationships with those that you love that are often unlovable.  Topics of divorce and remarriage have been discussed.  Yes, we covered a lot of ground, and there is much more to explore with our present look at love in action.

Love is a word that no one ever gets tired of talking about.  It has a miraculous resonance to it because of how it can dramatically change the lives of the people who experience it.  We should be thankful for the importance of love that God has always emphasized in his Word, and the responsibility that He gives to each of us in the role of love in how we interact with others.

It begins with how God demonstrates His love for us and that it is timeless and beyond measure:

Psalm 136:1-9

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.  His love is eternal.

Give thanks to the God of gods.  His love is eternal.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords.  His love is eternal.

He alone does great wonders.  His love is eternal.

He made the heavens skillfully.  His love is eternal.

He spread the land on the waters.  His love is eternal.

He made the great lights:  His love is eternal.

The sun to rule by day, His love is eternal.

The moon and stars to rule by night. His love is eternal.

John 3:16-17

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

He also gives us insight into the characteristics of love in its practice.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

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; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 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.  Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Leviticus 19:18

Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

John 13:34-35

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word.  He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.

With all of these examples that we have of love, why is it that it can be so difficult to communicate this love to others?  In addition, why do we sometimes have difficulty with understanding those same gestures of love that are directed towards us?  For your consideration, the simple answer to these questions is that we also sometimes struggle with the degree and measure of love that God has for us, let alone that of the love that we give to others and that we receive from others.  Love indeed is patient and kind, and can also be confusing if you don’t understand its delivery methods very well.  For example, we do not understand God’s love for us without the information provided to us by the Holy Spirit.  Without that information, we would need an interpreter just as we cannot interpret the meaning of Scripture without the wisdom of the Spirit to help.  In the same way, we sometimes need an interpreter to provide us with information about the linguistics of love communication.

This seminar will look at the languages of love as identified by the author of the best selling book, The Five Love Languages—How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, Dr. Gary Chapman.  Dr. Chapman’s book was written in 1992 and became a best seller with additional books that grew out of the original, including those that expanded the love languages beyond the marital couple relationship.  This is important in that love languages are spoken on a daily basis between individuals who are not necessarily married.  They are spoken between a parent and a child, a brother and a sister, and even between friends and co-workers.  This communication is easily recognizable in many different interpersonal relationships, but only if you are conscious of them and are looking for them.  It is essential to learn about these love languages if you are interested in the healthy development of a relationship.

Love languages are relevant to each and every one of us for one simple reason…each of us has sensory capabilities, and we all respond to stimulus through our senses.  Can you note what your five senses are?  Sight…hearing…taste…touch and smell!  It is how we receive all of our communication, whether it is verbal or non-verbal; as a result, it is little wonder that we are responsive to love linguistics because of how it affects our overall communication efforts.

Each of us knows when there is good, effective communication between two persons (and not just between married couples)—between people that are friends with you or even your co-workers.  Words to describe effective communication do not necessarily mean that you are in agreement with someone else.  Effective communication is when both parties receive information that accurately represents the viewpoints of the other person.  Effective communication does not necessarily mean that you are like-minded in your way of thinking.  This is a misconception of effective communication.  There are times when two people will have to agree to disagree, but that doesn’t mean that the communication was erroneous or ineffective.  Ineffective communication is when there is a misunderstanding by one party of the other party’s intent, or it can also be ineffective if the person communicating information does not do so clearly enough for the other person to understand.  You can see that, with all of the opportunities for miscommunication, the practice of effective communication requires just that—practice.  It sometimes requires a little extra effort to make sure that effective communication is taking place between two or more people.

Can any of you think of situations where communication was ineffective between you and someone else, or scenarios where the best of intentions for one person to communicate with another person backfired?

What we want you to discover about the love languages is that they are unique to the individual in the same way that each of us have unique personality traits.  One person’s love language may not be applicable to another person.  Some persons may have only one primary love language, while others may have more than one (but usually not more than two or three would be considered primary).  The key to successful interpersonal relationships is to know how to identify love languages, and how to use your “love in action” by giving and receiving through these expressions of love.

Love is More Than a Warm, Fuzzy Feeling

The word “love” is used very freely today, and while it has a primary definition, it can mean different things to different people.  While most people understand love as having a strong attraction and connection to another person, we also know that love is evident with actions that support it, in much the same way that a person’s faith in Jesus Christ is most evident by a person’s actions that support such faith.  You’ve heard the expression, “If you love me, then show me…” Our discussions will show that love is far more than an emotional connection.  Just as an engine will fail to run without the sparks from a spark plug firing the gasoline within, the emotion of love will eventually burn out without the sparks of love in action within a relationship.

Love is profoundly more than a physical attraction, and much more than that feeling when you first fell in love, even the love for a spouse.  The evidence over many relationships suggests that there is much more to the initial warm, gushy, mind-wandering experience of falling in love.  In fact, after the gushiness wears off, love now requires a shift in one’s thinking and one’s attitude.  The love is now expressed with a series of actions that will actually enhance the love relationship into one that is nurtured and grown through a series of actions.

This love in action is best demonstrated by the love of God in action:

1 Corinthians 16:14

Your every action must be done with love.

1 John 3:16-17

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him—how can God’s love reside in him?

Job 10:12

You gave me life and faithful love, and Your care has guarded my life.

With these verses in mind, we will spend our time looking at specific actions within a relationship that we will characterize as love languages.  To recognize these love languages requires becoming adept at what I will call love linguistics.  You need to be able to speak the language of love languages, and familiarity with these languages will increase your love linguistics.  Before we explore these languages, let’s start with an important factor that needs to be present to allow for the exchange of love languages.

Love Requires Humility

In order to communicate effectively in love linguistics, you must be humble.  Humility is the key to an open relationship, whether you are single or married, or whether you are developing a friendship or a work relationship.  It is the key to being an effective communicator in any language, let along a love language, because you have to be willing to listen.

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.

James 4:6

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

To be an effective communicator, you must be willing to stop whatever you are doing, set it aside for a moment, and listen to the person who is communicating with you.  In the same way, effective communication requires a degree of thought that must go into the process.  In both instances, you must give consideration to the other person, whether receiving or giving the communication.  You will also find yourself to be more sensitive to the other person’s needs if you act in humility.  Listening to the other person is effective communication and it requires a humble spirit.  It sets the stage for the effective exchange of love languages between people.

We must be careful, however, to not confuse humility with feeling good.  There will be times when you will not feel your best, and yet you will still need to communicate in such a way where the recipient will not receive the brunt of your bad feelings.  This is also an act of humility, because you are putting your feelings aside in order to make sure that your language is not affected by how you are feeling.  It’s not easy to do, but it is necessary to communicate at your best even when you are not feeling your best.  In summary, humility is the underlying element to being an effective love linguist.

Speaking the Same Love Language is Not Required

In order to understand a person who is speaking Spanish or French, you need to know that language.  In the same way, a person who does not speak English will have a difficult time interpreting what you or I would be saying.  As far as love languages are concerned, the great thing about knowing your love language or the love language of your spouse, friend or peer is that you do not need to speak the same language.  You only need to be aware of the other person’s love language to be an effective love linguist.  Once you are aware of the other person’s language, you can speak very clearly to the other person in ways that words alone would pale in comparison.

The Love Languages

Dr. Chapman’s books all focused on five different methods of communication for married couples, family members, and friends.  The languages are all based upon the personalities of the persons involved, and all of these are relatively simple to understand and simple to implement once they are recognized.

Acts of Service

You would not immediately think that acts of service is anything special in communicating a love language to someone else, but you need to consider the personality of the individual who relishes when someone shows their love for them with this act of self-sacrifice.  Consider that you live with someone who likes to keep a neat house or makes a fuss over keeping things clean.  Doing something as simple as offering to take out the trash or vacuum the rug for this person would be a huge gesture on your part, and it would show one very important thing…that you care enough about what that person cares about.  It’s huge.

1 John 3:18

Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.

1 Peter 4:10

Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.

The opposite of this love language, which is essentially an affront to the person who assumes responsibilities, is to be lazy and inattentive to the helper’s personality, and also practice being forgetful or non-committal to fulfilling promises to help out in this area.  This type of behavior is especially disturbing to the hard-working person, and will certainly throw cold water on a relationship (and not in a refreshing way!).

The person who appreciates acts of service is usually someone who is also very active in their efforts to keep things in order.  The potential issue that an active person has is that he or she will have moments where they may become fatigued and a little frustrated over their efforts to keep their house clean.  If the person you care about has this type of personality (obsession) (laugh), you may sometimes be caught in a difficult situation.  The person who enjoys keeping house should not give you the same compulsion to keep a clean house in order to please the other person.  In fact, that is a very uncomfortable situation, and you may be altering your own personality to meet the other person’s helping gifts.  That is not speaking the other person’s love language.  It would only create tension and it could have a negative effect on your effort to communicate with the other person.  In reality, the Acts of Service love language is not a 50-50 tradeoff of helping each other.  Remember, the act of speaking the same language is not a requirement for communication.  There may never be “equality” in duties performed, for example, between a husband and wife.  The wife may adore her husband for making a “contribution” to the household, such as vacuuming, washing dishes, or cleaning the bathroom.  His willingness to help out is a major boost to her well-being because she believes he cares enough to lend a hand.  It is his selfless acts that show his love and concern for her.

Let’s take this language of Acts of Service and make a note of some examples that are applicable to married couples, friendships, and in the workplace.  Please write down the scenarios and, while doing this, think about some of the things that come to mind where you can see opportunities to nurture such a language within your own relationship.

Receiving Gifts

In the same area of love communication as acts of service is the love language of receiving gifts is reflective of making gestures that support your love for the other person.  Notice that this is not the effort of “giving gifts,” which diminishes the nature of the language.  The receiving of gifts is the response that you give to the person who gives you the gift.  The gift is not about its value and how you respond—for example, if my wife were to give me a brand new convertible for my birthday or for Christmas, I would be very, very grateful.  Anyone would be, in fact, ecstatic over such a gift.  It’s easy to be appreciative if you saw a new car in your driveway with a bow on it.  It’s entirely different, however, when you receive a gift that is much smaller and not as costly.  There is a clear difference between the two, but we need to remove the monetary and material aspect of receiving gifts in order to best understand the language.

Do you remember a time when you received an unexpected gift or a surprise gift?  Think beyond a physical gift, please.  The actual gift may have been flowers or a tin of candy or even a small Care Bear that fits your personality.  Consider the emotional response of receiving such a gift because of its timing or because of the level of thought that went into it.  It was a special gift not because of its material value, but because it was something of a much greater value, and it required careful thought and consideration from the gift giver.  It speaks of the love, care, and thoughtfulness being directed to you by the other person.  If you know someone who loves surprises like this, you can appreciate how they would be extremely happy to receive even the smallest gifts.  The gift may even be in line with the other love language pertaining to acts of service.  Maybe your surprise gift for your wife is to cook her breakfast, clean the bathrooms, and offer to get maid service for a day (or maybe none of those things if she feels compelled to clean the house before the maid arrives, and if you really can’t cook—but I think you get the idea).

In contrast, there is a negative effect that one can have on a person whose love language is receiving gifts if you flat out forget about your friend’s or spouse’s birthday or your anniversary, or if you come up with a gift that did not require a lot of thought.  This can have the opposite effect of giving a well-thought out gift, and reflect that you do not value the relationship as much as you say you do.  Even a lack of everyday gestures of love has a negative effect on the person who appreciates gifts.  The occasional gifts can be undermined by an ongoing attitude of selfish behavior over time.

Even if receiving gifts is not a primary love language, we need only to refer to Scripture to see the proper attitude that the gift giver should have—a heart of generosity:

2 Corinthians 9:6-13

Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.  Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written:  He has scattered; He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.  Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness, as you are enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.  For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.  Through the proof of this service, they will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others.

Take a moment and think about situations where you can recall giving or receiving a gift, and why you still remember the incident.  What made it special?

Quality Time

If you value a relationship with a person, you will need to devote quality time to it.

Relationships will not effectively grow without quality time.

A biblical reference to quality time is the exchange between Martha and Jesus and how the busyness of life can swallow up the things that are most important, especially your relationship with Jesus Christ:

Luke 10:38-42

While they were traveling, He (Jesus) entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”  The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

As evidenced by Martha’s experience, quality time may be the most difficult one to practice and achieve, and while we are not ranking these in order of importance, it really is very important in its execution, and it is extremely important to the person where quality time is a primary love language.  Quality time is more than just saying, “let’s take a vacation.”  In fact, it does not require taking a vacation in order to experience it, although a vacation is a possible by-product of a high level of quality time.  Quality time, for the love linguist, means that the other person is important enough for you to stop what you are doing, look into the eyes of the other person, and express your love in such a way where there is no misunderstanding as to how much you love and care for the other person.  The act of stopping what you are doing will sidetrack some people, while stopping what you are doing and looking the other person in the eye will absolutely derail others, until we get to the remainder of the population who will stop, look, and express their feelings.  After that, there’s hardly anyone left.

Quality time, according to Dr. Chapman, means really being available for the other person—with the TV off, dinner over and done with, and while not occupied with anything else except your spouse.  As busy as we can be, this is very difficult to do—it requires practice for many of us.  The truth is that the person who values quality time can feel very neglected if there is not a sincere effort to spend time with that person by his or her spouse.  The time spent makes him or her feel loved and feel special.  Ongoing distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be very hurtful.

Let’s define what quality time is.  Quality time is time spent outside of the normal hustle and bustle of a couple’s day-to-day relationship.  Quality time is NOT doing something that you want to do and dragging the other person along with you.  It is not hanging out at a sports bar with the guys and coaxing your friend or spouse along if they don’t drink and dislike sports!  Quality time is not going from place to place to shop for clothes and shoes while your spouse or friend is wandering with you like a lost child looking for a parent.  There needs to be a mutual understanding of what quality time is, and then making plans that surround that quality time if it is not possible for you to make the effort to stop your regular routine.

One of our bad habits today is being engrossed with our telephones, and I have lost count of the number of times that I have talked to my boss or someone else who is looking not at me, but at their phone because of an email buzzing them and having an obsession with the next important message.  Isn’t it annoying to be virtually ignored or to play second fiddle to a Blackberry?  Well, if this annoys you to no end, imagine how this would feel to a person who needs to have a few moments of your attention just to express how his or her day is going, and you don’t slow yourself down long enough to take a listen or show your concern?  This is a critical form of selfless communication that must be carried out for the recipient in order for you to show that, above anything and everything else going on in your life, the other person is most important.

Quality time, in summary, is giving your loved one undivided attention.  Remember when you were first dating your future husband or wife and when you hung on every word, and even when you would talk on the phone for hours into the night and early morning hours until you thought that the phone in your hand and on your face would ignite from the heat and from the fire of your relationship?  How long ago was that?  Remember how the newness of the relationship can now be affected negatively by the busyness of life.  A person who values quality time will easily be inspired by moments between the two of you where everything slows down to a stop, and where you both can have a good, eye-to-eye conversation.

Can you think of examples of quality time that you had to undertake just to force yourself to stop and hear what your friend or spouse had to say?  Did you find yourself doing these things on your own, or did you need to be prompted because of an unfortunate event?

Words of Affirmation

Is there anyone that does not appreciate kind words?  No one would ever refuse to listen to another person’s kindness express in words to them.  We can easily reason that no one wants to hear words that are unkind within the course of a conversation, or even if they are expressed to us without warning.

What this means is that words are very powerful.  They can have a tremendous amount of influence in our lives, especially in those moments where there is some sort of an emotional connection involved.  The actual words, by themselves, have less of an impact, for example, if they come from strangers.  You may not like, for example, if a person expresses displeasure with you because they perceived that you cut the person off in traffic.  After the initial shock of what is said to you, it is likely that you can carry on with your day without it being ruined.  If the hurtful words, however, come from someone whom you have an emotional attachment to, the words used can have a lasting effect on you because they cause a degree of emotional damage when they are expressed.  Kind words, on the other hand, are powerful and make an impact for the good of the relationship.

Words of affirmation, in a married relationship, for example, are the additional words that support the words, “I love you.”  Just as a couple can say “I love you” only so many times before there needs to be actions to support that love, words of affirmation provide information to the recipient that supports the underlying statement or declaration of “I love you.”

Before going further, it’s important to define what I mean in having an “emotional attachment” to another person in order to best understand the concept of words of affirmation as a love language.  An emotional attachment can be either a good relationship with a person or a not-so-good relationship.  For example, a parent-child relationship can be a strong, loving bond, or it can be a disastrous relationship because of the lack of affirmation that a child receives from the parent.  The same is true within a marriage, where there is an understandable emotional attachment that begins with courtship, the ceremony, and the aftermath.  Unfortunately, there are marriages that become stale over time because what began as an emotional connection may have changed for one or both parties in the marriage, and there is less and less spoken that will affirm one or the other person.  The emotional attachment is still there because of the relationship, but the emotion itself can be altogether lost if there was nothing in place to reinforce the original bond.

Words of affirmation are one of the most important love languages for those persons who need to be reminded of their value within the relationship.  This is more than just a self-confidence booster or a vain expression of platitudes.  The words must match up with the feelings of the persons involved.  It is a very important part of communication, and I contend that even if this is not your primary love language, you should practice the use of words of affirmation.  Words of affirmation, or encouraging words, help to eliminate potential misunderstandings that can exist between two people in a relationship.  This is a situation where the more positive you can be about a person (even if their overall behavior is not necessarily the best at a given moment), the better the communication.  It will take you through those moments of difficulty and pave the way for effective communication and expression of feelings in the long run.

A person who takes out the trash, works hard every day to provide for the family, or even cleans the bathroom should be affirmed with words that express appreciation for what the person does and for what they value.  It’s one thing to do these things, as well as other tasks, and not receive any comments for their efforts, but it is entirely another thing to be affirmed that what is being done indeed has a value to the other person in the relationship.  It is recognition of the character traits of the person in words to support their actions.  It is a way to let another person know that who they are and what they do is important to you.  With that said, sometimes we will fail to express words of affirmation to the other person because (a) the person does something that is important to him or her for the good of the relationship but you do not believe it to be as important to it, or (b) because you are unhappy with the person for some reason and you don’t want to contradict your unhappiness with kind words.  Sometimes, it is this unhappiness that unleashes criticism of the other person’s behaviors at its highest level.

Before proceeding, here is a Scriptural reference to how powerful unkind words can be if they are not controlled:

James 3:6-9

And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies; it pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.  For every creature—animal or bird, reptile or fish—is tamed and has been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness.

The power of the words you use can either motivate a person in love or will repel a person if the words are counter-productive in the relationship.  As an example, let’s assume that a wife wants her husband to paint the bedroom.  The husband has determined that he either does not like painting or does not want to paint the bedroom.  This is a conflict that can go the wrong way very quickly without some thoughtful intervention.  A husband will perceive a wife’s prompts to paint the bedroom as nagging if all he ever hears is “Will you paint the bedroom this weekend, PLEASE?”  Even if you say please, it still sounds like nagging if that is all he ever hears about for the past eighteen weeks.  Words of affirmation are not to be used as a form of manipulation, but if the husband is affirmed by all of the things that he does, and does well, there is room for discussion about those things that he does not do very well or does not like to do.  How would you approach this situation?  What would you say to encourage the husband to paint the bedroom?

As you can see, words of affirmation for the other person are not to be used to get something done for the sake of accomplishing your goals…remember; a relationship is a team effort.  You want the other person to feel sincerely valued and appreciated, so that they are willing to tackle projects, meet goals, and accomplish things that have a mutual benefit to the relationship.  The words are used for encouragement—not manipulation.  Manipulation only goes so far.  The recipient will know beyond the shadow of doubt that what you say cannot be trusted if it is only to get things done that you want to do.  It’s the fastest path to shutting down effective communication.

Words of affirmation are powerful for the person most sensitive to this love language.  They have the ability to positively affect other areas within the relationship because of the emotional connection involved.  They are like sparks around a flame, especially at the right time.  The positive words can offset the person who had a bad day at the office or the person who is going through difficulty.

Let’s come up with some examples of words of affirmation that we can express to our spouse, or to a friend or other family member.

Physical Touch

The love language of physical touch is not simply of a sexual nature. For example, if you were to ask a man what his primary love language is, he would usually blurt out PHYSICAL TOUCH, of course, because men are sexually wired in this way.  While it is impossible to ignore that different degrees of touching have to occur during sex, this does not automatically default to being a person’s primary love language.

Many greetings or acknowledgements that we experience are usually associated with physical contact, and the vast majority of people respond favorably when it is received.  A handshake, a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a high five, or even a chest bump (men only, of course) are examples of physical contact that are associated with greetings or feelings of celebration.  These are all acceptable forms of communication.  When examining the love language of physical touch, the person whose primary language is physical touch is generally more responsive to the physical contact that is received in conjunction with either verbal and/or non-verbal communication.  In fact, physical touch and words of affirmation may rank very highly together as love languages for the same individual because of that person’s sensitivity to all types of communication.

In more intimate relationships, the person sensitive to touch is highly receptive and responsive to sensations such as a kind hand to the arm or shoulder, or an arm around the waist, and even holding hands while walking or standing quietly.  All of these more intimate gestures reflect a sense of excitement, comfort, care, concern, and love, depending upon the circumstance or situation.  The level of comfort between the two persons that participate in physical touch is important because such actions would be perceived as strange and unwanted in relationships that are, for example, more professional or friend-like than personal.  Physical touch does have rather distinct boundaries associated with the type of relationship.

Physical touch is a wonderful love language that expresses love between two people.  All physical contact, however, is not good, especially when it is characterized as physical abuse.  It is not hard to understand why physical abuse is so destructive in a relationship.  In the same way that positive physical contact has an emotional connection and a bond between its participants, the physical abuse also has a profound emotional effect on the recipient of the abuse.  Neglect is another form of abuse, except it is non-physical in nature.  The neglect of a person who relishes in positive physical touch is also emotionally, and even psychologically damaging.  This will typically occur in relationships where two people are communicating poorly or hardly at all, especially if one of the persons involved is often away from home.

In a relationship where there has been emotional damage, there must be guarded physical contact between the persons involved.  Physical gestures such as hugging or touches on the arm or hand are not received in the same way when the recipient is damaged emotionally.  While physical touch may still be the person’s primary love language, the emotional baggage that has accumulated over time may overwhelm the welcome tactile sensation of touch.  It will take a lot of time and effort to heal and recover through such a period, and it will require patience of both persons involved in the recovery.

You can see how physical touch has a profound effect on the emotional health of a relationship.  As we noted earlier, we are all sensory people and we respond to physical touch in different ways that are inherent to our individual personalities.  Take the time now to recall instances where a reassuring hand or a hug were very timely, or make notes as to what you are most responsive to when it comes to physical touch.

Conclusion

Now that you have a greater appreciation for the love languages and their role in interpersonal relationships, we hope that you will be mindful of how we can sometimes speak different love languages, but we can still be multilingual in our communication with our loved ones if we are sensitive to their needs.  It requires a sense of love and selfless behavior to be an effective communicator, and that love will last well beyond the initial emotional rush of a new relationship.

We hope that you sincerely enjoyed this weekend’s seminar, and we look forward to seeing you down the road!

Thank you!

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.