5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. — 1 John 2:5 NLT
Since God loved us so much that He gave Himself on the cross for our redemption, we should live our lives for His glory. Living that lifestyle and showing love for each other is how the world can see that we belong to Jesus Christ. If His word abides in us and we abide in Him, that relationship will be reflected in how we respond to situations in our daily lives. Bitter and sweet water can not come from the same stream. A lifestyle that reflects glory to God will be one that is characterized by the fruits of God’s Spirit. Grace, kindness, love, patience, joy, gentleness should be the fruit that we produce. Before we react to a stressful situation, we need to whisper a silent prayer. Counting to ten might keep you from saying something hurtful, but prayer will give you the words that are life-giving and beneficial to you and the other people involved in the situation. Don’t be deceived into thinking that we should just go with the flow. God has put you where you are to make a difference in the lives of the people around you. Sometimes that requires us to step out of our comfort zone and show love to people who are seemingly unlovable. We are the light that God has placed in this world to dispel the darkness. God is just as concerned about what you say to those in the workplace as He is about your Pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning. There are words of life that need to be spoken, but they must be spoken in love.
19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
— Ephesians 3:19 NLT
God is love and everything that we experience is designed to show us His love. In the rough patches, we don’t feel that that statement is true because we don’t and never will understand the greatness of His love. God wants us to strive to get to the point that we realize His only motivation is His love for us. He wants us to be like Christ whose only motivation for dying on the cross for our sins was love. Not every lesson we learn will be enjoyable. I am sure that being persecuted, beaten and hung on a cross was not an enjoyable experience for Jesus but it was necessary to show God’s marvelous love for us. Learning to love the “unlovable” and those that mistreat us is a necessary lesson, not only for our completeness but to show others the immeasurable love of God. Jesus showed His love for us by giving His life for all of us while we were still sinners. We must show that same kind of love to those around us each day. As Paul says in the passage above (and I paraphrase) God places the Holy Spirit in our hearts and our roots must grow down into God’s love which will enable us to show that love in every situation.
1 O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water. — Psalm 63:1
Do we really believe that Jesus is available all the time? Do we really believe that He wants the absolute best for us all the time? Do we really believe that He is interested in our present welfare? Or do we believe that He is only interested in our eternity? Do we really believe that He loves us so much that He is interceding for us right now? Do we really believe that the King of Kings is praying for us this very moment? Do we really believe that “if He gave us His Son, He will freely give us ALL things? Do we really believe “that all things are possible to him who believes”? Do we really believe that we need to “hide God’s Word in our heart”? Do we really believe that God’s Holy Spirit is a person and can be grieved? Do we really believe that Jesus is God? Do we really believe that God’s Holy Spirit is God? Do we really believe that God’s Holy Spirit searches our hearts and prays for us? Do we really believe that God’s Spirit knows our hearts and the heart of God and that He is able to communicate our deepest desires to God and put God’s answers in our heart? Does our lifestyle and daily walk reflect that we really believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, immutable word of God? Do we constantly lean on Jesus or is He just our safety net? Is He our constant friend or is He our EMT? Is He first in our lives or just mixed in somewhere down the list? Is a day without spending time with Him and in His word dark and gloomy? Does our soul hunger and thirst after Him and His word just as much as our body hungers and thirsts after food and drink?
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
— Ephesians 6:13 NLT
God’s purpose for us is to advance His Kingdom here on earth. How can we do that? By waging a spiritual battle for the minds of people, so that they will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We certainly are not strong enough to defeat satan alone, but God has made a way for us to do just that. God’s way requires a lot of preparation and He tells us how to prepare in Ephesians 6. We are to “put on the whole armor of God” and stand against the wiles of the devil. We may never have to physically fight for our Lord and Savior, but we are in a mental battle every second of every day. Are we winning or losing the battle of the mind? The “wiles” of the devil lets us know that satan is very cunning and devious in his plan to defeat God by defeating God’s children. As we are told in 2 Corinthians, we must pull down strongholds and bring our thoughts and imaginations into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ. And, again, in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
3 You have been very hard on us, making us drink wine that sent us reeling.— Psalm 60:3
There are times in all of our lives when we feel like David in this Psalm. We feel like we are broken down and unable to function. It is as if everything we have held on to is being shaken and stripped away from us. God allows us to go through these hard times to develop our faith. We are often confused by the things God allows, although we should not be. When we meditate on God’s Word, we are reminded that the answer is always the same. We don’t need things, we need Jesus. We need to learn to pray a new way. If we want peace, then we have to do what God has called us to do. We should be asking God, not so much for things, but for His presence to be magnified in our life and our lifestyle. We cannot accomplish this alone, We need the Holy Spirit every second of every day. When we get our priorities straight, we will arrive at the same conclusion that David did in this Psalm. We are unable to do anything of value with God’s help. It is He who tramples our foes and does mighty things for us. Or, as Jesus put it, “you can do nothing without me”. But with His help, Paul reassures us that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us”.
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. — Romans 5:8 NLT
The more I study the Scriptures, the more I am reminded of the great old hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story”. The passages of Scripture are unique and different, but they tell us more about the same story, the story of Jesus. It is a complete story of His complete love. It seems incomplete to us in the beginning, but the more we study, the more we realize it is all there, we just haven’t understood it yet. I have “loved” Jesus a long time, but it is only in the last few years that I have come to realize that what I really wanted was to be “in love” with Jesus. I used to know about Him, but now I just want to know Him. The only way to really fall in love with someone is to get to know them and the only way to do that is to spend time with them, whether that be physically with them or to be with them in Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit searches our hearts and knows the heart of God (since He is God) and He communicates between those hearts because He indwells us. What a wonderful plan! Because of God’s Holy Spirit, we can spend time with Him all the time.
23 The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. — Galatians 4:23 NLT
God had made a covenant promise to Abraham that he would become the Father of many nations. Abraham and Sarah were past child-bearing age and still Sarah had not conceived. It was at this point that they decided to take things into their own hands. Since the promise was to Abraham, he could Father a child by another woman. In this case, Sarah’s servant Hagar was chosen as the Mother. That decision has caused a lot of grief for a lot of people throughout the ages. Years later, Sarah conceived and bore a son. This son, Isaac, was the son God had promised. But because of the impatience of Abraham and Sarah, the war was on between the sons and it continues today. He will bring them about in His good timing. If we wait, we will reap the rich benefits of the fulfillment of His promise. If we try to fulfill His promise to us in our own way and in our own timing, the results will be nowhere near what God has planned for us. When God gives us a vision or a promise, we must be patient and allow Him to fulfill it in His way and His timing. Joseph spent years waiting for God to fulfill His promise, He suffered loss of family, false accusations and imprisonment before he was made second in command of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at that time. God doesn’t need our help to make His promises come true. He just needs us to be patient and obedient.