Growing up I learned that love had to be earned based on how well I performed. The giving of love was by works and not by grace. This way of receiving love was instilled in my father by his father and he naturally brought it into his parenting relationship with his own kids.
“We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19)
Performance based love is rooted in fear and not in the freedom of grace love initiated by God. My earthly father inflicted a ton of rules that I had to adhere to. Eventually I figured out that I would never be able to consistently meet his standards. God accepts us as we are, with all our imperfections and shortcomings. He not only loves us first but wins our heart with His kindness towards us.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us…but according to His own mercy…” (Titus 3:4,5)
God is love and He delights in pouring out His love on us. So much so that He sent His Son Jesus to remove the barrier of ‘works based love’ which could never satisfy our longing to be loved and accepted.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…In order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16, 17)
There is no fear in the perfect love of our Heavenly Father, there is peace of soul knowing that we are loved and accepted just as we are. His love brings freedom to soar into fulfilling our God-given purpose on this earth.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” (1John 4:18)
Nothing can separate you from the love of God! (Romans 8:38, 39)
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4)
Image: Nature’s Love, J. Shauk
Extenders of mercy are considered to be good Samaritans, willing to come to the aid of another. They seem ready to extend kindness by doing the unexpected, extending compassion instead of judgement, pity instead of criticism.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Mercy extenders are mercy receivers.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6)
God made a promise to those who choose to follow Him as a shepherd leader who would never leave us during our journey through life. He promised goodness and mercy would dwell among us. Thankfully, He also gave us the insight into how this lifestyle could be maintained, He knew that we could not be extenders of mercy without first receiving His mercy.
“…for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
We are described as sheep without a shepherd, lost and exposed to all the dangers of life before coming into the sheltering mercy of God. He is the originator of Mercy, delivered to mankind through His Son, Jesus. (Luke 19:10)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
We become recipients of mercy when we believe in Jesus, the Savior of the world. Once this happens we are called to become extenders of mercy. Only then can we begin to understand the vastness of the mercy we have received and the joy of extending it to others. It reflects the security we have in God to meet our needs.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
Enjoy the mercies of God in your life by extending mercy to others!
The power of humility appears to have been cast into the shadows of a view that supports achievement rooted in self-sufficiency. How often do you hear achievers taking full credit for their accomplishments without thanking the One who gave them the ability to achieve. Self-sufficient thinking is a prelude to pride.
Pride is a “lofty and often arrogant assumption of superiority in some respect” of one’s own opinion of him/herself. Pride takes its own credit in ones confidence of his/hers resources, gifts or talents to achieve without the help of others.
Pride precedes a fall from an exalted position; humility precedes an exalted position.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 12)
Jesus, the Christ, is our example of perfect humility and One who modeled it perfectly. He said that “the greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11) In order to be a great servant we must learn to be a great follower. When Jesus could have chosen to usurp the authority of His parents at the age of 12, He chose instead to humble Himself and return home with them after being found in the Temple. (Luke 2:51)
Jesus also modeled the power of humility. He understood that at times choosing humility would be the most painful route to achieving and fulfilling His purpose on the earth. He also knew that submitting to God’s plan would bring salvation and eternal redemption to a dying world.
Humility places all outcomes into the hand of God. Humility anchors its trust in following Jesus with an open heart and a surrendered life. This is what a true follower of Jesus looks like, a lifestyle of humility that places all trust in God’s ability to lead us better than we can lead ourselves.
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:16, 17)
If we choose the way of pride and self-sufficiency we will miss fulfilling our purpose and miss-use our God-given gifts and talents during our stay on earth. Every accomplishment obtained in our own self-sufficiency will be tested by fire and burned up in the end. It will have a diminishing effect on our reward in heaven.
“If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1Corinthians 3:14,15)
God gives grace to the humble. He attached His power to the work of our hands in a way that impacts eternity in the lives of others.
“…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you…” (1Peter 5:5,6)
The power of humility!
God gave King Solomon the wisdom to share his perspective on life and how we should view our time on this earth. He declares that there is a time set by God for every event that occurs under heaven.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Knowing what ‘season’ of life you are in can help you in shaping your approach in the comfort of knowing that God has set a beginning and an end. You can decide ahead of time to endure toward victory or defeat as you travel through it, allowing God to accomplish His will for your life.
King David not only walked through a long season of warfare but learned to embrace it as preparation for God’s call on his life. He learned to invite God in on every decision for battle, seeking His advice on how to approach every enemy that was brought before him. He understood that God works in seasons of our lives in order to do good for us in the end. David was committed to endure the war in order to come into God’s good and perfect will for his life.
“…a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiasstes 3:8)
Like King David, when our season of war ends and God brings us into a season of rest from all our enemies, it is a time of peace. And we are to remember to give thanks to God.
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” (1Chronicles 16:34)
If you are in a season of war know that God will supply all that you need to triumph in the end. When He brings you through to peace remember to give thanks for He is good and will sustain you through the war.
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!(1Chronicles 16:8)
Image Credit: Goodfon
Enduring faith requires a long-term view driven by divine purpose that is specifically designed to shape your heart for the work and impact God has placed you on this earth to fulfill. And the secret to enduring is obedience.
Jesus modeled obedience in a very practical way. His example did not require years of maturing and experience nor perfect life circumstances or achievements. He simply chose to submit Himself to God and His plan for His life. He believed that the only way to please the Father was through living in obedience to Him.
“But have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God…emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Enduring faith is also rooted in our love for God. If we truly love God we will choose and commit to the process of enduring trials or tests that come into our lives. John the Apostle said that our love for God is proved by our obedience to Him.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Lastly, enduring faith requires waiting. Those who endure are promised supernatural provision to persevere to the end. Jesus goes before us and brings light to our path, we must choose to follow Him. He is the way, the truth and the life according to John 14:6. And when our enduring has accomplished God’s desired end, when we have been transformed by taking on more of the likeness of Jesus, we will know that God’s work in this area is completed.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
God cares for you.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
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