Loving Others ?!?!?!

Loving other people is dangerous. Loving other people can cost us time and money. Loving other people can cause us to travel to frightening places and spend time with frightening people. Loving other people can result in us being with “others” when we would rather be with “our own.”

For children of God, is loving other people a command or an option? Mark 12:31 answers that question for us. And that love for others is to be demonstrated by doing  and sharing,  not just talking and preaching. It expects us to love individuals, as well as groups.

Such love is impossible for us to achieve and maintain unless we are Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. The “filling” will provide us with the desire to love and the “led” will  show us how to love. When we feel we are unable to do either of these we need to emulate the love of Jesus and daily choose the life-style described in I Corinthians 13:4-7.

If, for some reason, we want to measure the extent of our love, we need to go to that passage and substitute our own name for the word “love.”  (Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait.) Isn’t it wonderful to know that even though we don’t yet love like Jesus does, He loves us anyway and the Holy Spirit will continue to teach us.

 

 

Bit & Pieces, Odds & Ends…15

It is the king's right to command and the servant's duty to obey.

Why was Jesus born a king? Because His father owned the kingdom.

Obedience must be attitude as well as actions.

I must be as willing to serve God as I am to worship Him.

Partial obedience to God is disobedience to God.

If I become more like God I will behave more like Jesus.

I am not a great servant of God, but I am the servant of a great God.

Obedience to God, without a close relationship to God, produces Pharisees.

God's future blessings to me depend largely on how much I have shared His past blessings.

It is more important that we talk to God than about God.

Alone With God

Being alone with God is more than being isolated from others, reading the Bible and praying, sitting quietly and meditating on spiritual things and trying for a few minutes to strengthen the relationship we have with Him.

Being alone with God means being without our “stuff,” entering his presence emotionally, intellectually and spiritually naked. Then allowing Him to change us as He sees fit.

It is possible to be alone with God even when in a crowd, but such intimacy is more likely when there is no one else around. We must cease to be concerned with family relationships, vocational success, recreational pleasure, health, prosperity and all else we consider important in this life. Until we reach this degree of trust these things go with us when we enter his presence. They are unnecessary baggage.

Each time we pray, we should begin with the request for the Holy Spirit to empty us of everything except an awareness of His presence.

Guidance

Dear Lord, give me the humility to ask for your guidance, the patience to wait for it, the sensitivity to recognize it, the wisdom to understand it, the faith to trust it, the courage to carry it out and the gratitude to praise you for it.

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Every blessing I have been given I am expected to pass on to others. These include grace, mercy, patience, sympathy, empathy, tolerance, listening, forgiveness and second chances.

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Each day my challenge is to allow the Holy Spirit to change or reinforce everyone of my attitudes, likes, dislikes, plans, opinions, memories, hopes and fears. To do this I must be sure I deny self and permit the Spirit total access to all I am.

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I must not allow God to become the “elevator music” that forms the largely ignored background of my life. Instead, He must be the blaring symphony, the hard-driving beat that is clearly heard and seen in every part of my life.

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I want God to control our relationship, oversee our companionship, begin and end our conversations.

After Salvation, Sanctification

After the event we call salvation (born again, redemption) God wants to begin within each of us a process called sanctification. This involves each of us ridding ourselves of sin and allowing God to change us. The result of this process is that we will be more Christ-like in our actions, attitudes, desires and motives.

Our part in this process is to make a life-long series of decisions to stop doing certain things and start doing other things. It involves both omission and commission. God’s part is to give us the wisdom and courage to make the proper choices. He is always faithful to do his part if we want Him to and allow it.

Both our worship of God and our service to God are impaired by a lack of sanctification.

There are several Biblical examples of people who were faced with specific things that had to be cleansed from their life before sanctification could take place.

For Gideon it was fear....Judges 7
For David it was lust....2 Samuel 11
For Peter it was rashness....Luke 22
For Zacchaeus it was greed....Luke 19
For Nicodemus it was religion....John 3
For Paul it was tradition and pride....Acts 9
For Martha it was domestic business....Luke 10
For the rich, young ruler it was money....Matt 19
For Jonah it was intolerance and bigotry....Jonah 4 

Before we can become a person God will richly bless and effectively use in his service, we must allow the Holy Spirit to carry out the sanctifying process in our lives.

What needs to be added or subtracted in your life in order for you to become more sanctified?

Letting God Have Control

Dear Father, from this moment on, for all eternity, I give you control of

All my houses, all my land, all my hopes, all my plans.
All my pleasures, all my fears, all my joys, all my tears.

Where I go, where I stay, what I hear, what I say.
What I eat, what I drink, what I like, what I think.

What I give, what I keep, when I work, when I sleep.
Where I shop, what I buy, how I live, when I die.

What I wear, how I look, what I text, what I cook.
When I pray, when I sing, when to let go, when to cling.

All my strength, all my health, all my pleasures, all my wealth.
What I do, what I see, what I let bother me.

When I stand, when I bend, when I back away from friends.
When I whisper, when I shout, when I quietly "back out".

What I hate, what I love, when to talk to you above.
How to serve and obey every moment of each day.

All things tiny, all things grand, things I do not understand.
In my life, Lord, take control of my body, mind and soul.

Acting On Faith

The second chapter of James deals with the importance of acting in ways that demonstrate our faith. Faith that is not put into action is basically dead (James 2:17)

The question is “Faith in what? What must be the basis of the faith we display through our actions?” Certainly we need to have faith in the Bible and we need to have faith in God’s promises. But the deep, unshakable faith we must show to the world is faith in God himself.

Abraham had faith only in Jehovah God (Genesis 12:1-3). He had no scripture to read and none of the New Testament promises such as “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20) or “I will come again and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3). Abraham’s faith was in the person of God, the character of God.

To develop such faith we have to know and understand what He has told us. We must search the Scriptures. We must sit quietly and listen for His still, small voice.

Then we must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to believe His words. (This has been described as letting knowledge go from the head to the heart.) The Spirit will give us concrete, every-time, every-place, in-every-situation belief that all his words are true.

Such a belief will then enable us to act in obedience to those words and show our faith. This is the type of faith demonstrated by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3. It had it’s basis in their personal relationship with God.

Our faith must be only in the God that created the universe and allowed his Son to die on the cross. The closer we are to him, the more we will have the faith that enables us to base our behavior on his words.

Repentance and Forgiveness

God offers to both forgive and forget our sins so we may be restored to a right relationship with Him. This offer comes as a free gift because He loves us, not because we have earned it.

Before we can take advantage of this gift we must have an attitude of repentance toward our sins. We play no role in the offer of forgiveness, but we must do our part in the application of it to our individual lives.

We cannot repent of our sins unless we are aware of them. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit creates such an awareness within us and shows us our need of repentance He is not trying to crush us under a load of guilt. He is trying to help us reach a position where we can receive the Father’s forgiveness.

The prodigal son (Luke 15) and the adulterous woman (John 8) were each aware of their sins and thus each received forgiveness through God’s grace. The prodigal’s older brother and the woman’s accusers remained unforgiven until they recognized and repented of their sins.

So when a passage of Scripture or a sermon causes us to feel guilty, we must refuse to be angry and resentful. We must not start the internal rationalizations that blame others for our shortcomings. Instead, we must praise God for his efforts to further sanctify us by allowing us to travel down a hallway called Grace through a door name Repentance into a room labeled Forgiveness.

With gratitude and humility we need to make this journey every day.

Love All Others

It was early in the morning. The day was clear and clean and new and fresh. I was alone with God.

I asked Him, "Father, what do you want me to do today?"

He answered, "Love others."

I thought for a minute and then said, "OK. Which others?"

"All others," He replied.

"Wait a minute," I said. "You don't really mean 'ALL others,' do you?"

"All others," He repeated.

"But Father, there are a lot of 'others' in my life that aren't very loveable. Some of them don't deserve being loved."

"All others," He said again.

"But Father, I don't even like some of the people I'll be with today."

He answered, "I didn't say like them, I said LOVE them."

"But Father, some of them certainly don't love me. Can I wait until they love me first?"

"No, my child. Love them first. Show them that you love them. All of them. Starting today."

"But Father, they are really not worth loving. No one can love all of them."

"I do," came the reply.

At that point I had no more objections. I left my devotional time still unsure I could love as He was demanding, but I knew I had to try.

Feed His Sheep

In John 10:14 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep…” When He told Peter to feed the sheep, He was giving Peter the responsibility for the care and feeding of the flock.

The sheep belonged to Jesus. He had a personal relationship with each of them. He knew them by name and He loved them . But his earthly ministry was almost over and He was passing the shepherd’s staff to Peter.

He did not ask Peter if he wanted to be a shepherd. He simply gave Peter an assignment He knew was within Peter’s capability. Because Peter loved his savior he was expected to be obedient to the task.

God calls each of his children to help tend his sheep. He intends for each of us to help care for a flock and each of us to receive care from someone else. Such interdependence among Christians will result in the effective spreading of the gospel.

As we each give and receive care, God is glorified in our lives. If we choose not to perform our shepherd’s duties, others suffer. If we refuse to listen to the guidance of the Good Shepherd, we suffer.

Our motive for being a shepherd must be our love for him. We must love others because He loves us. We must serve others because He served us. We must give our time and energy to others because He gave his life for us.

It is dangerous for us to try to serve those He has put into our care if we do not love them. We are likely to become discouraged, resentful and angry. Such emotions disrupt our relationship with him.

It is dangerous for the flock because our attitude will lead them away from him and the blessings He has for them. They will sense our insincerity and rebel against his leadership.

We must always remember they are his sheep, not ours. We must love and feed them because we love him.