Saturday, September 08, 2012
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Those who are perishing don't understand the power of God revealed through the cross of Christ Jesus! To them it is foolishness! But to those of us who are being saved it is powerful! It is the only way to live. I can look back through the years and see how Jesus lifted me up out of situations that would have destroyed me had I not had the power of God in my life. He is my life and breath and my reason for living. It is because of Christ Jesus' sacrifice on the cross of Calvary that I will spend eternity in His presence; worshiping at His feet, proclaiming the praises of my Savior! And for life now, as it is on this earth, He is my strength and deliverance; my fortress in the time of trouble; my refuge from the storm. It is under His wings that I take refuge until the storm passes by.
Jeremiah understood that a person needed God's power and strength to live life effectively when he penned these words in the book of Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 17:5: Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trust in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.”
Jeremiah understood that those who don't know the Lord only have their flesh to trust in. They don't know God and as a result do not have hope in someone greater than themselves. They may seem to have a measure of success as some of them actually practice Biblical principles, not realizing that there are spiritual laws that when put into motion will bring the desired results, but on a whole, they will not prosper because they don't recognize God as their Source. When good comes their way, they often don't recognize it and it slips through their fingers. They are like a shrub in the desert, blown about by the wind with no root system. Even though rain comes periodically in the desert it doesn't last long and the plants are not nourished from it. They have no anchor for their soul; no direction for their lives, but simply exist from day to day wondering and worrying about the future.
Jeremiah went on to say in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
Here we have the contrast between the man who trusts in himself and the one who trusts in the Lord. The man who trusts in the Lord knows that his hope is in God. This man understands that the power of God is real and he depends on it. He prospers like a tree planted by the water, with its roots firmly planted by the river. He doesn't have to worry when the heat of the summer comes, or when the pressure is on him because his Source will never dry up. His leaf will always be green because he is plugged in to the power Source. His thoughts are not anxious when the economy turns sour, nor does he stop serving the Lord because of fear. He simply draws from the power of God in his life and continues doing what a tree does; being green and fruitful.
We live in trying times. We, as a nation, are experiencing some things that trouble me and many are struck with fear for the future. But I realize who my Source is and am plugged in to Him so I will not fear nor be anxious for what might lie ahead. The power of God is greater than any man, or government, or nation, or anything the evil one might try to throw at us. God is all-powerful! He is greater than anything that could possibly arise that would try to destroy His people.
Paul went on to say in 1 Corinthians 1:19-25 NLT As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never find Him through human wisdom He has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe. God's way seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven to prove it is true. And it is foolish to the Greeks because they believe only what agrees with their own wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God. This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.
God has a plan for our lives. It includes salvation; deliverance; healing; and prosperity. He knows exactly where each one of us is in our everyday walk of life. We might not always understand why things happen the way they do, but we can know that God is more powerful than any of man's plans or ways of success. Even at His weakest, if that is possible, He is stronger than any human and wiser than any of man's ideas or thoughts.
Proverbs 21:1 NKJV The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
God is still in control! He can change a person's heart just as easily as changing the course of a river. He created all things including each and every human being. God knows where you are! He knows your situation and the trials that you are facing. Just one word from God can change your entire life. He is all-powerful; He is omniscient or all-seeing; and He is omnipresent or all-present. He is God; there is none above Him and none beside Him. Will you place your trust in Him today?
Father, I thank You for Your power to overcome any and all adversity that comes into our lives. You are greater, Lord, than anything that we might encounter. I pray for those this morning who may be fearful of the future. I ask You, Lord, to touch them and give them revelation knowledge of Who You are and want to be in their lives. I pray that they will surrender their hearts to You and look unto Jesus for their strength in the times of trouble. Father, You can change our lives with just one word. I pray that You will do that for each one of us as we trust in You. Move in our lives as only You can, Father. Bring deliverance and healing for those who are sick and oppressed. Make provision for those who are suffering lack and forgive those who have transgressed against You. You are all powerful; there is nothing too difficult for You. You are all-present and all-seeing; there is nothing that You do not see and You are always with us. Thank You, Father, for rescuing us from the evil one. Thank You for setting us free from sin, sickness and disease and poverty and lack. I pray for wisdom, Lord, that we might know how to live our lives according to Your ways. And I ask that You would give us courage to choose right over wrong. Forgive us for our wicked ways, Father, and bring healing to our land. Thank You, Father. I pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, September 07, 2012
Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.
Vision – do you have a vision for your life? Do you have a dream or a goal that you are working towards. This verse describes it as a revelation or as in the Hebrew meaning of the word, a prophetic vision, dream, oracle or prophecy. Has God given you a specific direction for your life that culminates in a certain goal or dream? Everyone needs a vision for direction to live life to the fullest. Whether it is for a certain weight or size or healthy living goal, a dream for a godly marriage, a certain financial status or a position in your career. Without a vision people cast off restraint.
What does it meant to cast off restraint? Well, the best way I can explain it is that when a person casts off restraint they no longer work towards a certain goal, they simply do what feels good, or what seems to be the thought for the moment. They remove all boundaries and go with the flow of what feels like the thing to do. They are like a boat without a motor simply drifting through life driven by whatever current comes their way. All motivation to achieve results is gone and life becomes whatever it makes of itself. They are controlled by circumstances, situations, feelings and are driven and tossed about on the sea of life! Depression often becomes their best friend and the hopelessness that comes with it paints a life of defeat and failure. They are on a spiral downward towards destruction. And what brought all this upon them? The lack of vision....nothing to work towards; idleness and lack of motivation!
Have you ever been in this type of a situation? Sometimes life deals us a hand that's difficult to play. We feel controlled by what has happened in our lives or by an inability to work through the challenges that we face. But God's word goes on to say in that same verse, “But happy is he who keeps the law”. There is an answer for every situation that you may encounter in the word of God. He has a plan to bring you into wholeness and set you on course to achieve the goals and dreams that you may have once had. You might paraphrase that statement as “happy is he whose vision and focus is on hearing and doing what God has said.” It is as we find the promises in God's word that applies to our situation and then apply them to our lives that vision is restored and we are happy once again. The key to hearing and doing God's word that brings the results that we desire is making the choice. We all get to make the choice to either get on board with God's plan for our lives or continue to float through life driven by whatever comes our way.
Joshua put it this way: Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua said they needed to make a decision one way or the other, to either serve the Lord or some other god, but he had already made his choice and his family was going to serve.....the LORD! We all have choices to make. Will we choose good or bad, to live or die, stay in bondage or seek the Lord for deliverance. The choices that we make today will affect the quality of our tomorrows! A pond without an outlet becomes a stagnant pool. Indecision leads to stagnation and ineffective living!
What can you do if you've lost your drive; your vision or dream? First, decide to make a change. Pray and ask God to restore your vision; to give you the motivation that you need to get started again. Then seek His direction for a plan of action to help you achieve your goals. Where do you want to be next year at this time? Next, begin to make systematic changes that will move you toward the achievement that you have set your eyes upon. And lastly, continue to do the things that you have set before you as your plan of action.
Jesus knew that God's plan for His life was to go to the cross to purchase the redemption of mankind. He had to overcome all His fleshly desires to avoid the pain and ultimate separation from His heavenly Father to secure our salvation. The word describes His determination to go all the way to Calvary in Luke 9:51, 52:
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.
Jesus steadfastly set His face; He was determined to finish His course, to purchase our salvation. He prepared for it by sending messengers before Him to prepare the way for Him. He had a plan and He was determined to complete what God had called Him to do. It was prophesied in Isaiah that this point in time would come and He would have to be determined to finish His course.
Isaiah 50:7 “For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.
Jesus knew that the key to winning was depending on His heavenly Father to help Him and then being determined to carry out His life's purpose. He set His face like a flint. Flint is describes in Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary as being very hard, strikes fire with steel, and is an ingredient in glass. It is said to be anything proverbially hard; not impressible. In other words, it is an attitude of determination that can't be distracted by any outside influence. Jesus was determined to do what God had called Him to do. He drew His strength from His fellowship with the Father. He understood that His flesh was going to try to rebel because that's the weakness that resides within each one of us as human beings. But He countered the weakness with prayer.
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
We will experience those same temptations to give in, to quit, to not complete our mission. But if we will pray and stay in the Word,leaning on God's Spirit, we will have the strength to overcome and win. Battles will come against us. If you are striving to achieve a certain weight or size you will be tempted to eat things that are not on your plan for healthy living. When you marry and live day by day with that one special someone, eventually there will be disagreements and the temptation comes to throw in the towel; to give up and go your separate ways. Where will you get your strength to continue towards your goal of that life-long commitment? If you are working towards financial freedom the temptation will come to deviate from your plan for success by purchasing something on credit that adds more debt instead of subtracting from the debt that you already have. Temptations come in all forms and sizes. But winning is achievable if you don't give up or quit or cave in when that temptation comes. What will you do?
Hebrews 12:1, 2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Turn your focus back on Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith. He will lead you into the victory. Lay aside the things that have held you back, even the sin that might have been the problem that has gotten you off course. Remember, Jesus had to fight the temptation to give up just like us. But He won by looking past the pain to the joy that would come as He made the way for all of mankind to live in relationship with Father God. He pushed through the disgrace and the pain to reach the prize! You and I can do that too, if we will keep the right perspective and continue to make the right choices. The desired results, the goal, the prize is waiting. The question is: Will we reach out and grab it?
Father, I thank You for giving us the strength to win! Father, You have said that when people lose the vision they cast off restraints. I pray, Father, for those who may have lost their dream to the circumstances of life. I pray that You will restore their vision, Father. Give them back the motivation that they once had to succeed and achieve their dreams. Show them how to achieve those goals that they once had. Father, You have equipped each one of us with the tools that we need to succeed. Help us to be determined to win. Strengthen us by Your Spirit within us and give us a glimpse of the good things ahead of us when we strive to achieve our goals. Thank You, Lord, for renewing our vision and determination. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
2 Timothy 3:16,17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 that “'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Well, there's so much meat in these two scriptures that we could chew for days and be spiritually nourished. But for today I just want to give you a little better understanding from looking at a few words in these verses about the importance of feeding on His Scriptures.
To begin with, the verse starts out with ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God. What does ALL mean? It means every word, regardless of it's grammatical placing in the sentence or verse, has a specific reason for being in God's word. It has a place in our lives to give us spiritual nourishment. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.
Scripture – Greek word “graphe” – Strong's #1124 – means a document, anything written, the holy writ, the Scriptures. Graphe points to the divine author with the idea that what is written remains forever identified as the living voice of God.
The Scriptures are and will forever be identified as the “living voice of God”. The word “inspiration” means that it is God-breathed! God's word is so important to us because it is God-breathed; His very own voice speaking to us to give us strength and nourishment for our spirit man!
The verse goes on to say that the Scriptures are profitable to us! Profitable means that it is useful to us. It brings gain into our lives. The Word goes on to say that the profit it gives is in four different areas: doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. So, let's look at these four words a little more in detail so we can gain a greater understanding of the importance of God's word.
Doctrine – Greek word didaskalia – Strong's # – means that which is taught.
Doctrine, in God's word means the teaching of God. It is His principles and precepts spoken out of His mouth that is alive and powerful to work for our good, to our advantage.
Reproof – Greek word elegehos – Strong's #1650 – means proof, conviction, evidence.
God's word proves itself; it never goes against what other Scriptures on the same subject would reveal. It convicts our hearts and gives evidence of the way we should be living. Another translation says it rebukes or tests us bringing conviction where it's needed to convince us of the way we should be living.
Correction – Greek word epanorthisis – Strong's #1882 – means a restoration to an upright or right state which brings a person to an improvement of life and character.
When we are headed down the wrong path, God's word will correct us so that we are restored to a right way of living. It improves our lives; our character and our position bringing us into right thinking. The word of God shows us how to stay on the right path.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Instruction – Greek word paideia – Strong's #3809 – means education or training; chastening, instruction, nurture.
The word of God educates and trains us through discipline and nurture. This word gives the implication of the training of a child where all forms of instruction are applied: education, training, correcting, disciplining, instructing and nurturing. God's voice as it is breathed into our hearts trains us in how we are to live in righteousness; His right way of living.
Righteousness – Greek word dikaiosyne – Strong's #1466 – means that which is consistent with God's nature and promises; God's right way of doing things.
The Word of God teaches us, tests us on what we learn, convicts us when we are wrong, convinces us of the correct way of living, restores us to the right path of life, improves our character and our position in Christ Jesus, and trains us through every means used to bring up a child. The Word teaches and trains us in how to live according to God's way of thinking; His right way of doing things that are beneficial or advantageous to our character as a Christian. It is profitable to us; bringing us gain in our lives. God's Word is His living voice recorded for all to see and as we read it and apply it to our lives we are changed!
The last part of verse 17 says the reason we need God's word in our lives is because it brings us to completion and fully equips us for every good work. It gives us the equipment that we need to fulfill the plan that God has for our lives. God's word gives us what we need to do the work that He has called us to do. It prepares us for life, not just for this moment, but for what lies ahead so we will be ready to meet His calling.
Have you had your next meal from God's word yet? Why not jump in there and eat until your filled and satisfied?
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Father, I thank You for Your word. I thank You that it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. Father, I thank You that it goes deep into our hearts and divides between our soul and our spirit; it divides and cuts out those motives and thoughts that do not line up with Your will and desire for us to live our lives. Thank You for it's ability to pierce through the darkest thoughts in our minds. I pray, this morning, that we will all dig in and study Your word, taking it into our hearts and I ask that You would cause it to sink deep into our hearts and change us. Father, we need the words that You have breathed Your life into. We need the life that it brings to us to give us spiritual nourishment. Please speak to our hearts and help us overcome the inconsistencies in our lives. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer. I believe that I receive when I pray according to Your word. In Jesus' name. Amen
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Romans 6:16-19 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
We all have battles that we fight that often seem to be won and then we find them raising their ugly heads up once again. Paul fought for victory over sin and told about it in Romans chapter 7. After Jesus had won His battle with the devil in the wilderness the Word tells us in Luke 4:13 that the devil “departed from Him until an opportune time”. Our enemy knows our weaknesses and watches us to see when the “opportune” times are that he can come back and tempt us again. He thinks maybe this time he will win. I was praying one time about overcoming the temptation to eat simple carbohydrates that seem to set off a ravenous monster within me that only desires more, more MORE. This is what the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.
“Child, whatever you yield yourself to will control you. If you yield yourself to Me I will have control over you; but when you present your members to those things that are bad for you then they take control of you and lead you in the way that they want you to go; the way of death. I lead you in the way of life. It's your choice; you choose this day whom you will serve. That which leads you to life or that which leads you to death. The controlling right comes as you make the choice.”
The thing that made the most impact on me in my response from the Lord is “the controlling right comes as you make the choice”. We are all presented with temptations, but we are not controlled by the temptations; we are controlled when we yield to the temptation and allow it to take over and lead us in the direction it wants us to go. When we make the right choices then we are lead in the right direction. The choice is the turning point in every temptation.
Paul experienced a problem with re-occurring sin in his life and wanting to do what he knew was right but having to fight the desires of his flesh. The principle for victory that he describes over sin is found in Jesus Christ. It is the same for each one of us as we battle the temptations that arise in our lives. The flesh always wants self-gratification, but the Spirit will lead us to make wise choices that please the Father.
Romans 7:24, 25 NLT Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord...
He later said in Philippians 4:13 NLT For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
Paul again described the way to live free from the lusts of the flesh in Galatians 4:16:
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
So what does Paul mean by “walk in the Spirit”? He means to walk yielded to the Holy Spirit's direction in your life; always being aware that what you yield your flesh to will produce either good or bad in your life. He went on to explain that the works that the flesh produce are totally opposite to the good that the Holy Spirit brings into our lives.
So, as I continued to pray about the temptation placed before me this is what I heard the Lord say:
“If you do not choose the food then it has no power over you, but when you open the door through your choice it will come in to accommodate your desire. Depend on Me for the strength to overcome and I will help you close the door on the addictive power of food. See yourself as the winner that I have created you to be. Make healthy choices and drive food addictions out of your life. I will help you for I know what foods your body needs to be healthy. Do not depend solely on your own understanding for I know the hidden additives in the food that trigger your own food sensitivities.”
God cares about the things that we care about. He is here through His Spirit to help us make right choices that will produce the desired results in our lives. But many times we try to win the battles on our own terms, through our own abilities. That's not God's way. He wants us to fight in the strength that He provides because that's the only way to defeat the enemy for good.
Ephesians 6:10, 11 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
It is through God's power that we win the battles. He knows exactly what type of weapons we need to fight effectively. But if we never consult Him for the strategy that will bring the victory we will continue to fight ineffectively and struggle with the attacks that the enemy brings against us.
Father, I thank You for showing me that the victory lies in staying in close contact with You regarding the food choices that I make. Thank You for giving me the victory through Your Spirit within me. I know that I can do all things through Your strength. Father, I pray for my friends this morning who may be struggling with temptations in their lives. I ask You to fill them with the wisdom and knowledge that they need to know how to win the battle before them. Father, by Your Spirit, give them the victory and show them how to fight effectively to win. Thank You, Father. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Romans 15:5-7 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
One of the things that I've experienced through the years as I've moved through various denominations on both the conservative side of Christianity to the more subjective, charismatic groups is that there are doctrines and theologies that separate Christians. I don't believe God intended for His family to be separated over differences in doctrines.
Leading up to this portion of Scripture we see that the Christians in that day and time were separated over what they ate. Some of them felt they could eat everything and others though they could only eat vegetables. Some of them felt they could eat food that had been offered to idols and some didn't. The ones who felt the freedom to eat anything they wanted were causing the others to stumble in their walk with the Lord because they ate before them without having respect for their feelings. We are all at different places in our walk with the Lord. No one is above the other and each one deserves the respect that we would want to receive ourselves. The important thing to remember is to walk in love towards each other by doing and saying what would edify, or build up, the other believer.
Romans 14:15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
So many times we are determined to do what we think is right or okay simply because we want to prove a point to another person that it's okay to live the way we want. Friends, that's not walking in love. Love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
My mother used to tell me that honey draws more flies than vinegar. In other words, if you want to draw people to yourself in order to share the love of God with them, don't attack them with your legalistic view of God's word by adamantly speaking your mind about theological points or doctrinal issues. As long as we have each received Jesus as Savior and Lord we belong to the same family; we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Show some grace for where the other person is spiritually. Some are weaker than others, but one of the quickest way to drive a wedge between two people is to act like you are more spiritual or more knowledgeable than them.
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
God says that the only thing we owe to another individual is to love him. Whew! That takes a lot of responsibility off of me! You mean, I am not responsible for another person's spirituality? No, that's the job of the Holy Spirit. My job is to love them and in doing that present an avenue by which the Holy Spirit has an opportunity to point out changes that need to be made in their lives as well as in the way they view God's word. There's too much separation in the Body of Christ.
Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The law was given as a tutor to lead us to Christ Jesus who came to fulfill the law. God is love; He does not just love us; it is His nature to love. There is no way that He could be anything but love. So, Love Himself, fulfilled the law through the love that He showed us in giving His only begotten Son to die for us. He didn't condemn us or demand that we perform a list of requirements to a certain standard before we would be received by Him, but He simply loved us into His family through the blood of Jesus. If He had looked at our sin and rated us like we judge those around us, according to the severity of their faults, we would not have been able to make the grade and all of us would have been lost for eternity. But He looked past our sin, past our failures and weaknesses and said, “they're worth My love, My sacrifice for them so that they can come into My family.”
1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Propitiation – Greek word hilasmos – according to Strong's concordance means Christ, through His sacrificial death, appeased the wrath of God on account of sin. It means that the payment for our sin was paid by the blood of Jesus and through the atoning death of Christ, God can be merciful to the sinner who believes in Him, and reconciliation is effected.
Jesus, through His love for us even in our most sinful state, paid the price for us to be a part of the family of God. He received us when we were at our worst, and paid the price required for us to be set free from sin and the consequences of it. It is because of His love for us that we can love others and He asks us to do that; to receive others as He has received us.
Romans 5:6-8 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
At our very worst, Christ died for us! He loved us so much that He received us in our sinful state and purchased our redemption. He saw the potential in us to be His children, walking and talking like Him, conformed to His image and likeness. It is in looking at Him and viewing others through that same attitude of love that He would ask us to love others.
Philippians 2:1-5 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
There will always be disagreements because each of us has an opinion, but the important thing to ask ourselves is: “Will I lay aside my opinion to show the love of Christ to another individual?” This is not to say that we shouldn't take opportunities to speak the truth in love to another individual. That is to be done at the prompting of the Spirit and always in love, seasoned with grace and in a way that the other person is edified, or built up.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
It is through being like-minded, treating each other with love that the world will see that we are Christ's disciples. They will know us by the love we share with each other.
Matthew 13:34, 35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
My friends, are you quick to point out that you are right and another is wrong? Do you become easily offended when others don't agree with your point of view? The quickest way to deal with a lack of love for another is to understand more fully God's love for you. When you have experienced love then you can pass it on to another. When you have received God's forgiveness and grace you have more compassion for those who stand in need of that same forgiveness and grace from you.
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
God's love is resident within us through His Spirit who lives in us. That word for “love” is the Greek word “agape” and it means an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of the other person, no matter what he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is a love by choice. It chooses to love above and beyond the feelings that you might have at the moment. That's God's kind of love; the love that He asks us to show to those around us.
The bottom line is this: we have that love within us through the Holy Spirit, but it is our choice to release it or hold it in. We can dam it up or let it flow freely from us. Jesus told His disciples as they were going out to minister to the lost sheep of Israel that they would encounter people as wolves in their midst, but as they had freely received from God the delivering and healing power of Jesus Christ that they were to freely give it away.
Matthew 10:7, 8 “And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
Father, I thank You for the love that You have shown me through the blood of Jesus; that sacrifice that He made on my behalf because of the great love that You had for me. I pray that I will pass that love on to others, seeing them as better than me and not holding anything against them because they might not see things as I see them. Likewise, Father, I would ask that others would receive me as You have received me, that we might walk together as brothers and sisters in Christ, for the common good of Your kingdom's work. Father, I pray that we would all hold each other in high esteem and place the interests of the others before our own. Thank You, Father, for placing Your love within us through Your Spirit that lives in our hearts. Help us, now, to release that love and let it flow from us to those around us. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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