Love is such a multi-dimensional emotion so often expressed simply in acts of kindness and tenderness yet on so many levels it invites a complex nature. On any given day love has the potential of being displayed tenderly or roughly, with deep loving affection and at other times in painful distress or cutting anguish. By the time we reach young adulthood most of us have been exposed to a full range of love actions from good to bad.
Love was originated by God. I call His love blessed. It is straightforward and uncomplicated, simple in its application to mankind. He presented it to us through the most generous act of all time by sending His Son Jesus to rescue us from a life void of His love. This blessed love is as pure as refined gold because it came through the fire of deep adversity that brought sin to its knees, crushing the power of it forever. Without accepting this blessed love we can’t come close to loving others as we should.
This God love is as pure as love can be. It is as giving as it can be, never running out and is always there when you need it. This blessed love is committed to your future, it believes for the best and greatest potential imparted into you. This blessed love is pure joy and equips you to live above your circumstances while trusting God to work out His best for your life. God is true love.
Loving others well hinges on how well we allow God to love us through Jesus His Son. May you choose His blessed love.
“…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“…God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1John 4:16)
Have you noticed that two overriding themes of the Bible are trust and obedience? Both words are used hundreds of times in giving both positive and negative insight. Christians are encouraged to trust in God as we journey through life in ever-increasing measure. The more we trust God the more obedience is established in our relationship with Him.
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)
A trust walk keeps our focus on God and our lives aligned with His will. This intentional walk based on trust can also keep us free from becoming entangled in sin, which can lead to bondage. Sin removes us from a position of trusting in God to meet our needs towards trusting in ourselves to meet our need. Often we are lead into sin by our own lust, desiring the very things that steer us in the direction of a lifestyle of bondage.
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
A sin focused life leads to destruction, devastation and even ultimate death on some level. Sadly, the fall-out usually impacts a wide circle of lives.
Our freedom from the power of sin has been bought and paid for by Jesus who willingly gave His life as a sacrifice in order to offer us a life with the freedom to choose. Those who place their faith in Jesus can actually choose to sin or not to sin. They are no longer in bondage to the power of sin.
Sin is blinding and its fall-out usually happens slowly (like the frog place in a pot of water that slowly heats until it’s too late to escape for his life). When we choose to sin the dying process begins and we won’t realize the full devastation until the process is fully grown.
There are many examples of God’s people being delivered from calamity because they placed their trust in Him by waiting for His instruction before taking things into their own hands. He knows exactly how and when we need deliverance and does it in a way that builds our trust in Him.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1Corinthians 10:13)
During a recent walk-run in our neighborhood a huge truck came up alongside me and the driver asked “is this the way out?” Yelling above the engine noise I replied, “yes, this road leads to the way out!”
Friend, Jesus is the road to the way out of a life of sin and bondage!
“For You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56:13)
Hope is a positive emotion, the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. What is your hope based upon and on whom are you relying to achieve the outcomes you hope for?
Self-reliance has a proven history of mixed results. How often have you failed to reached the desired end of a hope born out of inspiration? Or encountered another human being that didn’t have a failure or two to remind them that hope in ‘self’ can not be trusted to get you where you want to be?
Jesus had something to say about hope. He revealed to us who our hope should be anchored in to ensure crossing the finish line of life without regret. He knew and took the steps to live His life in a way that would please His Father in heaven. He humbled Himself and followed every command of His Father without exception. He trusted God and placed all His hope in Him to the point of God becoming His all in all. And He did it for us.
“…then the Son himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1Corinthians 15:28)
God is our sure and living hope offered through Jesus Christ who humbled Himself by descending from heaven to save a hopeless, self-reliant people striving after the wind.
It is in Christ Jesus we find eternal hope and triumph over failure and triumph in life. When we place our trust in Him He promises to stay with us to the end.
“…I will never leave you nor forsake you…” (Hebrews 13:5)
Out outcome has been guaranteed, sealed in eternity in the power of His Name. He is our One Hope, our all in all!
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you…” (1Peter 5:6)
Endurance is an esteemed character trait in the eyes of God. He calls His followers to endure the challenges and trials of life at least 99 times in the Bible. The ability to endure, to remain committed to the process of refinement, suffering, distress or discipline comes from God. He promises to be present when we call out to Him, provide what we need and the grace to accept it.
“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Successful enduring places its trust in God who will not abandon us, He can be counted on for shelter through the storm.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18: 10)
Jesus, our Savior and Lord endured the cross on our behalf. He willingly bore the sin of the world in order to deliver us from the power of sin and death.
He became our greatest role model in how to endure suffering. He endured to beyond the cross that He bore, coming into the joy that awaited Him and He asks no more of His followers.
“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
The Book of James encourages us to not be surprised when various trials come our way that test our faith. When our faith is tested it produces endurance that will perfect and mature us as followers of Christ.
The joy that is set before us is at stake if we choose not to endure. Regret at not finishing our race in life is not what Jesus had in mind for us when He endured the cross. He promised us that He is the door to abundant life, that He is the Good Shepherd that was willing to lay down His life for us, the sheep.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Don’t give up, stay among the ranks of those who endure to the end and live in the abundance of God’s provision for each day. God promises a great reward!
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrew 10:35-36)
(Image by John Ng)
How often have you gotten yourself in trouble because you chose not to listen to or follow the recommended instructions to complete a project? God understands this tendency in our human will to presume that we know just enough to get the job done without His help. The bible is full of warnings to avoid presumptive sin by choosing to listen to God’s instruction for doing life.
“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! (Psalm 19:13a)
When Israel was led into captivity after years of enjoying and mishandling the blessings of God, Jeremiah the prophet tells us it was due to them not listening to God. They had forgotten there need for God who not only brought them into the promise land but also their need for Him to keep them there. They presumed that God would not judge their sin.
“I will pursue them with sword, famine and pestilence…because they did not pay attention to My words…you would not listen, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:18-19)
As children of God we are also deeply loved by Him. It is His love for us that drives His discipline towards us for our good. He sacrificed His Son (Jesus Christ) in order that we might enjoy His abundant blessings in this life on earth and throughout eternity. The better we become at listening to His instructions the more our lives become enriched with His blessed presence and all the daily benefits of His provision.
“I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm My covenant with you.” (Leviticus 26:9)
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to ultimately provide for all our needs. He is the Blessed Savior from whom all blessings flow. It is in and through Jesus that God made His plea once again to His beloved children to listen to His Son in order to live in the abundance of His provision on a daily basis.
“This is My Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35)
The Bible is our instruction manual for life, how well are you listening to it?
“Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13b)
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!
From the moment we gasp for our first breath at birth we announce our need for a Savior. With the second breath our struggle begins with embracing it. Instead of embracing this need we strive toward building a self-sufficient lifestyle that conveniently obscures our view of the One who has known us since before we were born, who saw our unformed substance. (Psalm 139:13-16)
The crazy belief around building a life of self-sufficiency is the false belief that independent living is possible, that creating enough resources to get along without help is obtainable. And yet we find that in the last chapter of our lives we suffer regret over relationships that have been sacrificed for gain in life.
We were created for relationship and dependence upon God from the beginning.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
God also provided the resources that we would need during our life on earth and the abilities, gifts and talents to bear fruit, to live a prosperous life balanced in spirit, soul and body.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 1)
In our pursuit of self-sufficiency we presume that our resources have come about from our own hard work, gifts or talents. God warns us that when we trust in our own ways all that we build for ourselves will be destroyed. (Hosea 10:13) He encourages us to turn from pursuing a self-sufficient lifestyle to one of dependence upon the One who owns it all.
“For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10)
At the age of 14 God showed me my need for a Savior and the futility of trying to build a self-sufficient lifestyle. I believed falsely that it would protect me from being betrayed by others and the world in general. God was inviting me to journey through life with Him as my provider and One in whom I could depend on for provision that would result in works that would not be destroyed. His invitation was simple;
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Everyone needs a Savior and His name is Jesus.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)