Live Love, Part 2

 

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What Love Does

Just like “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20), so faith without action is not love.  It must be proven through good deeds for others to see.

(1John 3:18 KJV)  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

(1John 3:17 KJV)  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

(2 Corinthians 8:8 KJV)  I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

(2 Corinthians 8:24 KJV)  Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

God proved it:

  1. He sent Jesus.

(1John 4:9 KJV)  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

(1John 4:10 KJV)  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

  1. He corrects us.

(Revelations 3:19 KJV)  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

(Proverbs 3:12) For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

We prove it:

  1. We keep His commandments.

(1John 5:2 KJV)  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

(John 14:21 KJV)  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

  1. We keep the peace.

(Proverbs 17:9 KJV)  He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

(Proverbs 10:12 KJV)  Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

(Ephesians 4:2 KJV)  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love . . .

  1. We live selflessly.

(1Corinthians 13:4-7) Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

2 Corinthians 12:15 KJV)  And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

(Ephesians 5:2 KJV)  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.

(1John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

(Romans 12:10 KJV)  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another . . .

  1. We work to serve.

(1Thessalonians 1:3 KJV)  Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

(1Thessalonians 5:13 KJV)  And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

(Hebrews 6:10 KJV)  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

(Galatians 5:13 KJV)  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

  1. We encourage good works.

(Hebrews 10:24 KJV)  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works . . .

  1. We never stop loving.

(Hebrews 13:1 KJV)  Let brotherly love continue.

(1Corinthians 13:8) Charity [love] never faileth . . .

  1. We speak the truth.

 (Ephesians 4:15 KJV)  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ . . .

  1. We fulfill the law.

(Romans 13:8 KJV)  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

  1. We build up (edify).

(Ephesians 4:16 KJV)  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

 

To be continued . . .

 

Too Busy for Jesus, Part 2

busy (1)Jesus First

Jesus clearly states what our priorities as Christians should look like in Matthew 6:31-33:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God knows we need to get things done, need to make money, and need to take care of our commitments.  However, seeking His kingdom, not ours, is what He requires to be “first.”  This is what sets us apart from the world.  While the world maximizes their time on the “cares of life,” we are to focus on the eternal priority of God’s kingdom.  His kingdom is not made up of things or possessions, but on an eternal relationship with Jesus.

Where our love lies is found in what we seek the most.  When we “seek first” our productivity and financial increase above God’s kingdom, it is proof that we love these things greater than we love Jesus.  Our “treasure” is forever connected to our heart . .  . and where heart is, there will be our love.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30)

Seeking Jesus first – making Him the highest priority – is an indication of our love for Him.  In fact, we are commanded to love Him with all we are, not just some of it.  However, when our time and physical efforts are solely focused on our agenda and our needs, the proof of our love is weak.  We may say that we love Jesus, but consistently, our actions speak louder than words.

Prioritize Like Jesus

If there was anyone who could make the excuse by saying “I’m too busy,” it was Jesus.  People were constantly drawing on His time and attention.  The religious leaders often sought for His death.  Even His disciples were needy.  But despite all His needs, He was the perfect example of godly prioritization.  He wouldn’t ask us to do something He wasn’t willing to do or hadn’t done Himself.  We will never find an example of Him worrying about tomorrow, or seeking His agenda first.  He was consistently getting away from the crowds to spend time with the Father, and He obeyed God in every area (John 5:19, John 6:38).

As His disciples, we are to do the same:

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

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5: 1-2)

So practically, how would we live a life where Jesus is first?  How would we prioritize so we’re never too busy for Him? Here are a few areas we can daily subject to Jesus for His review:

Commit to Jesus – Every day we should be saying, “Not My will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).  God is looking for a life of surrender.  He is, after all, our Lord.  His commitment to our salvation meant we have eternal life.  This should be enough for us to completely give all of ourselves – including our work and schedules – to Him.

Consult Jesus – Jesus should always have a say in every decision we make.  We are to “acknowledge Him” so He can make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).  This includes the use of our time and money, as well as the relationships we make and the towns we live in.  Nothing is left untouched by His directive.

Live for Jesus – We can commit and consult all day, but unless we act on what He tells us, our words are meaningless.  Our lives should reflect His Word and nature living on the inside of us.  Our daily walk should be marked with holiness, obedience, and selfless living for Him and no one else.

Trust Jesus – We are not only called to love Him with all our heart, but also to trust Him with all our heart.  When we trust Him, we are confident that when He tells us to give up a habit, adjust our schedule, or serve the Body of Christ, He will do what He promised. We know He is doing it for our good as well as His, and will make sure all our need are met.  We can rest assured that it will be “more than we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

Faithful Servant

Busyness, and other misplaced priorities, can be a great weight in our lives.  In fact, it can even be a sin if it excludes Jesus as Lord, or goes against something God has specifically told us to do.  The point of losing the “weight” of busyness is so we can run free and easy in our relationship with God and His call on our lives.  It enables us to hear His voice when He gives us guidance and encouragement.  It keeps us ready to get up and go the moment He tells us to.  It keeps our focus on what it most important – Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

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. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

God is looking for those who will be faithful, or trustworthy.  Our lives are not just about us trusting Him, but also Him trusting us.  Will we honor His commitment to us by making Him number one in our lives?  Will we put aside our own plans to join His?  Will we give our time, money, possessions, and skills to His use? If we do, it is proof that He has our hearts. He then knows that possessions, busy schedules, and the lure of money does not possess us.  He now possesses our hearts.

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:23

The result of that faithfulness is being trusted with more – but more of what He says is important!  It won’t be a burden, for His “yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matthew 1:30).  Spending time with Him and putting Him first is far easier and less stressful than slaving away in the kitchen!

(If you want to catch up and read part 2, go the the September archives at the bottom of this page!)

 

A Willing Heart

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Everyone tends to think a little bit more about the Christmas account the closer they get to December. However, there is so much to learn from the story any time of the year. The entire story is incredible.  We see angels heralding heavenly messages to men below.  We read of wealthy wise men and their elaborate gifts as they “follow yonder star.” Humble shepherds appear, excited to behold the promised Child.  All these events are marvelous to read about, but how often do we consider Mary?

 At such a time, girls were married very young – around 14 or 15 years old. They were considered women by that age, and held far more responsibilities than the young females of today.  They washed clothes by hand, mended garments, watched the younger siblings, and assisted with the livestock and gardens.  She was a busy young Jewish woman, faithfully serving God and preparing for marriage. With all these tasks already on her plate, Mary had her hands full without a supernatural pregnancy to think about.

The arrival of the angel must have been one of the most earth-shattering moments of Mary’s life.  I could imagine her dutifully making her bed, expecting nothing out of the ordinary, when suddenly: “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” (Luke 1:28) Her response to such an announcement was probably much like ours would have been: “But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.” (verse 29)

As if that wasn’t enough, the angel continued: “Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” (verse 30-31) I could imagine her brain working overtime after such an announcement. Why would He choose me? How on earth does someone conceive by the Holy Spirit? What am I going to tell Joseph . . . and my parents . . . and my friends? How do you take care of the Son of God . . .? What came from her mouth was logical: “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’” (verse 35)

The angel, of course, had a ready answer: “‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.  For with God nothing will be impossible.’” (verses 35-37)

Despite all the questions her finite mind might have come up with, her response came from a heart dedicated to God: “Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’” (verse 38).  By her reply, we know God has chosen accurately. He knew her heart and the willingness in it to do whatever He asked her to do. She, in turn, knew His heart, His ways, and His love – so faith and obedience was a natural response.

We’re grateful that Mary’s response was so faith-filled, but consider what might have happened if Mary had said, “There’s no way a woman could get pregnant like that – with the Son of God or otherwise! I just can’t believe it!”  Would God’s plan to bring the Savior into the world be suddenly shut down? No, God’s plans don’t end because of someone’s unbelief. He’ll find someone else! Consider, though, how sad to it would be to forego being used in a supernatural event just because it seems so unthinkable.

Mary was an “average” girl in the world’s point of view. What set her apart from the rest in God’s eyes was her virtuous, God-seeking heart. We don’t have to be born into a high-status family to be chosen by God. We don’t have to be famous, known by more than just the handful of people in our tiny town. There’s no rule that says we have to be multi-talented and witty. The only ingredient needed is faith and willingness. Together, they open the door to the supernatural working of God – an incredible plan that only He can design.

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45