Free to Love Others

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  John 15:12

Jesus commanded, not asked, His followers to love others as He had loved them. How did Jesus love? He loved in word and deed. He loved in the big and the small. He loved intentionally and eternally. He loved effectively. He loved by spending time with people.  He loved by meeting physical needs. He loved by forgiving. He loved by always revealing the Father. He loved boldly, truthfully, and humbly. He loved by serving. He loved through His sacrifice on the cross.

Who did Jesus love? He loved His parents. He loved His family. He loved His friends. He loved the twelve that He called. He loved the 3 that He drew closer. He loved the masses.  He loved the crowds. He loved the paralytic and the blind. He loved the prostitute, tax collector, and the leper. He loved His enemies. He loved children. He loved widows and orphans. He supremely loved His Father.

A Communist officer once told a Christian he was beating, “I am almighty, as you suppose your God to be.  I can kill you.” The Christian answered, “The power is all on my side. I can love you while you torture me to death.” As recipients of God’s love, Christians have the incredible capacity to love others. This capacity is not of the natural will…but from God’s power. Because He has loved us, saved us, and given us His Spirit in all His power, we are free to love.

We are compelled by His love to love others. We are equipped through His Word to love others. We are commanded by His Son to love others. And we are able, through His Spirit, to love – even as Christ has loved us.

So, the next time you find it hard to love someone, remember how Christ has loved you.  Let His love for you motivate you in your love for others.

Father, Thank You for freeing me to love others, even when it is hard. It is amazing to think that I have Your power to love…but I must choose to use it. Please don’t ever let me become arrogant. Help me to humbly remember the love and grace You have shown me when I did not deserve it. Teach me to rely on Your strength to love others just as You have loved me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Free to Love God

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…We love because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:10, 19

 

In his book, Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand wrote: “Without fear we sang in prisons 30 feet beneath the earth.  We were terribly hungry, beaten and tortured.  The Communists were good at torturing us.  We would say to each other, ‘the Communists beat us very well – let us do our work well.  Let us sing well.’”

 

Wurmbrand, a man of Jewish decent, spent 14 years in Communist Romanian prisons for His faith in Christ.  He was physically tortured and placed in solitary confinement for several years because of his unwavering love for Jesus Christ.  He refused to stop spreading the Gospel, despite the cost.  He refused to stop worshiping his Lord…even in prison.

 

Richard Wurmbrand understood true freedom.  He knew firsthand the glorious freedom of loving God.  From behind steel bars and within the confines of chains, he was free.  Free to believe.  Free to hope.  Free to pray.  Free to sing.  Free to die for Christ.  Because God loved him, he was free to love God.

 

God is love; therefore, He is the initiator of all love.  Our love for God is always in response to His love for us.  And the ultimate demonstration of His love is seen in His Son, Jesus.  Whatever happens in life, if we look to the cross, we can know we are loved.  Our risen Savior, the Lord over all creation, is our invitation to love God.  And in loving Him, we are free to enjoy Him.  We are free to love Him because He is worthy…to seek His face and not only His hands.

 

Have you paused lately to consider the freedom you have in Christ if you believe in Him?  You are free to know and to love your Creator.  The God who counts the stars and knows them by name loves you and knows the number of hairs on your head.  You are free to talk to Him and ask Him questions.  You are free to worship Him, even in chains, like Richard Wurmbrand did.  You can love Him wholeheartedly, because He first loved you.  What glorious freedom!

 

 

Holy Father, Thank You for loving me.  Thank You for sending Jesus as the sacrifice for my sins so that I can love You, too.  Without forgiveness I could not have a relationship with You at all.  Lord, help me to be steadfast and firm in my faith.  I want others to know that You love them.  Use Me to accomplish Your plan.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Good News

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for Me?”  Jeremiah 32:27

It is almost impossible to watch the news nowadays without hearing of some catastrophe or natural disaster.  Hurricanes, earthquakes, murders, war, famine, disease, kidnapping, tsunamis…the list goes on and on.  It’s enough to make you want to turn off the TV and never watch the news again.

However, even without broadcast news, there is no escape from the dark reality of suffering.  Since that day thousands of years ago when Adam and Eve took the first bite of forbidden fruit, choosing to rebel against God’s authority, creation has been suffering the consequences of sin.  And thousands of years later, Jesus died on the cross, defeating sin’s power.  But sin’s presence still exists.  And it will be present, along with its consequences, until Christ returns.

This sounds like a bleak picture, doesn’t it?  But we can’t stop here.  Jeremiah 32:27 offers hope.  It offers victory.  Nothing is too hard for our God!  He is the God of all mankind – the Lord over all creation.  The winds and waves obey His voice.  Yes, He allows disaster.  He is in control of all things – even the injustice that He hates.  But He always stands ready to save.  He longs to rescue…to deliver…to heal.  Nothing is too difficult for Him.

So, when the news seems hopeless.  When all you want to do is crawl back in bed and throw the covers over your head…remember, nothing is too hard for your God.  Look to Him for comfort.  Run to Him for refuge.  Trust in Him for everything you need.  Because not only is He able…He is graciously willing.  And this, my friend, is good news!

Holy Father, I praise You because nothing is too hard for You.  You are a mighty Savior, and a humble servant.  In You I find everything I need.  Even though Your ways do not always make sense to me…I choose this day to trust You.  Thank You for saving me.  Thank You for loving me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Our Weapons

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Every day that we live on this earth, there is an unseen war raging.  It is an epic battle of good versus evil, and the hearts of mankind are at stake.  Sometimes we can sense the fighting, and sometimes we cannot…but either way, it is real and ongoing.  Throughout the New Testament Christians are exhorted to be ready, to stand firm, to be strong, to never stop praying, to abide in Christ, and to have on the full armor of God.

This passage makes a comparison between the weapons used by God’s people, and the weapons of the world.  We do not fight in the same way, or for the same things.  How are the weapons different?  Ours are not carnal – they are not of the flesh.  We do not depend on what worldly people do to advance the cause of Christ.  Our dependence is not on eloquence, or talent, or education, or wealth, or beauty, or anything else external.  While these things are not bad, they should not be the weapons in our hands.

The weapons we use have no inherent value or power in themselves.  Their strength is from God alone.  While Paul does not name these weapons specifically in this passage, he had written of them earlier in this letter to Corinth (2 Corinthians 6:6-7).  Our weapons are true and pure.  They come from God and they lead to Him as He accompanies them with His power to the hearts of those who hear the gospel.

How incredible, in this world that is literally deteriorating before our eyes and taking countless souls with it, that our ministry can be powerful and effective through the blessing of God and the influence of His grace and Spirit for the conversion of sinners, the building up of the Church, the defense of truth, and the enlargement of Christ’s kingdom, not to mention the destruction of Satan’s!

As a Christ follower, are you fighting faithfully for Christ’s glory?  If so, are you using the right weapons?  You don’t have to know all the answers and speak with eloquence and charm…you need only be willing and walking in God’s Spirit.

Gracious LORD, Thank You for equipping me for every good work.  Please help me to depend on You and fight using Your weapons and not anything of this world.  And above all, help me to love.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God’s Answer for Anxiety

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

How am I going to pay all of my bills this month?  What if I lose my job?  What if the biopsy results say I have cancer?  What if something bad happens to my children or spouse?  Will this economy ever turn around?

Questions like these plague our minds, and can become overwhelming.  Anxiety and depression have reached an all-time high as the economy continues to be unstable and relationships continue to crumble.  Facing each day can seem like an insurmountable mountain if our focus is on circumstances, and not on our God.

There is a defense for anxiety.  Many would call it too simplistic…too idealistic for the problems of the world.  It is these two words:  thank you.  Many of us bring our requests to God, begging Him to help us in the midst of tough circumstances.  But, do we say “thank you?”  It is almost impossible to worry and give thanks at the same time.

If you are alive, reading this, you have much to be thankful for, regardless of circumstances.  Who gave you life this morning?  Who keeps your heart beating and lungs breathing throughout this day?  Who provided the clothes you wear, the food you will eat today or the clean water you will drink?  Who caused the sun to rise, giving life to the earth?  Who sends rain to water the plants so that life can flourish today?

Most importantly, Who has provided His Son as a sacrifice for our sins?  God’s extravagant grace is everywhere at all times.  But we must choose to see it.  God wants us to come to Him with our problems, but He also wants us to say thank you.  And when we do, an incredible transaction happens.  Anxiety is exchanged for peace…God’s peace.

This is a choice we have every day.  Will I continue to worry about things that may or may not happen, or will I choose to live in this moment and see all that God has given and to be grateful?

Lord Jesus, thank You for all of the good gifts that You give each day.  Please forgive me for being ungrateful for Your grace and mercy.  Please take away my anxiety and give me a spirit of thanksgiving as I go through this day.  Amen.