Jesus loved us with a sincere love. Everything He did, right down to dying on the cross as a substitute for our wrongs, was motivated by love, real love.
Paul commanded, “Let love be without hypocrisy,” (Rom. 12:9; NKJV). The church was to model Christ in the way that they loved people. They are to have the purest and most sincere love that would compel people to want to know more about Christ. They are to be pillars of love that the lost, broken and hurt can lean on and find strength.
One thing people can readily pick up on is fakeness. Those that come to us and come to our buildings are looking for something real. They have had enough of the phony stuff. They have dealt with the pretenders of the world and they are not looking for that in us. They are looking for something real. They are looking for something pure. They are looking for somebody to look at them as Christ would and feel nothing but love and compassion for them.
How many times has the Bible described Jesus as being “moved with compassion?” That’s what sincere love does; it moves the heart. It allows one to look beyond what they see to have genuine concern for others. This is what people are looking for. This is what the church should be displaying. The love of Christ is our greatest asset in drawing people to salvation. After all, wasn’t it God who told Jeremiah, “With lovingkindness have I drawn thee,” (Jer. 31:3; KJV)?
Real love draws people. Fake love pushes them away. If we truly want to be like Christ then love on people sincerely. Don’t give them what the world is already giving them; fake love. Give them something genuine. Give them something real. Give them something that will bring them closer to God. Give them real love!
How many times have I missed the mark?
How many times have I chosen the dark?
How many times have I despised what’s right?
How many times have I lived for the night?
How many times has my life taken an ugly turn?
How many of your graces did I willingly spurn?
How many times do you love me still?
How many times do You draw me to do Your will?
How many times has Your Spirit poured out,
To quench the thirst of this soul in drought?
How many times, in my life, Your victories have won,
To reach in and save me by the blood of Your dear Son?
How many times have you drawn me to stay
By Your side, because You’re the only way?
How many times have you redeemed me from my sinful plight,
To allow me to relish in Your Son’s holy light?
How many times can I say I love You?
Numbering them one by one just won’t do!
How many times is a question I ask,
Because keeping this soul is an awesome task.
How many times . . . oh, I’m so grateful You do,
Never to give up on a love between me and You.
“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again,” Proverbs 24:16
Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay/Geralt
“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV
There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them and their own lives.
Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.
The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10, KJV).
That’s what faith sees!
With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger, (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed, (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also, (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life, (Esther 4:11).
A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.
With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14, KJV).
In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!
“Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass,” Joshua 21:45
The waiting – sometimes excruciating. The battles – hard fought and horrendous. The enemies – many. The hopes and dreams of a people once enslaved – building. The promise – within sight. Victory – obtained. Possession – now.
The journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land had not been a road easily traveled. Through it all, they struggled with discouragement and wrestled with obedience. Battles ensued, some won and some lost. Crossing the Red Sea; crossing the Jordan. Walls were brought down at Jericho and lives fled at Ai. The sun stood still during the fight and kings were conquered. Now, they are at the promise but the road there was not easy.
The children of Israel and their excursion to the Promised Land, their struggles with the flesh and their attitudes and holding onto hope while waiting for obtaining of the promise reminds me of our Christian journey. The promise is before us but the road is not paved with ease and comfort as some would have you believe. The path we walk takes effort, sometimes great effort. The trials we face are often difficult. But the faith we hold onto is assured.
If life never threw you any curve balls then I wonder if you were in the game at all. What does that mean? There are a lot of messages that we hear that tickle the ears making the hearer believe that they will never suffer hardship on this Christian journey. It leaves the hearer bewildered when they do face difficulties. They are taken aback when struggles come to their home. They believed they would coast on through without any road closures or stumbling blocks. Discouraged, many throw their hands up in defeat before they obtain the promise.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33, KJV). You see, we have an assurance of a great promise at the end of our journey, but Jesus was very real and upfront to let us know that road won’t always be easy. Jesus led no one into a false sense of security that they would never have to experience any adverse circumstances. He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.”
Before reaching the Promised Land and even to the point of laying hold of the promise, the children of Israel had to fight their way through. But the Bible tells us, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” They eventually were able to fully experience everything their souls had been longing for on that journey. The sights, the smell and the taste of victory were theirs for their enjoyment. They had the good thing that God had promised.
I write words of encouragement in case you are in a curveball state; in case you have been sidetracked by unexpected discouragement. Still press forth in the journey. Don’t give in at the sight of struggles. Be determined in the forward march. Not a word of God’s promises will fail for you either. In fact, Psalm 84:11 says, “For the LORD is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” (KJV).
Keep your head above water and float on the promises of God who said, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you,” (Deut. 31:6, NKJV). I can’t promise you million dollars or that you will never spend nights crying over life, but I can promise that Jesus will be with you even to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20, KJV.
We have the blessed assurance of every promise that God has bestowed upon us. When adversity comes, know that you are not the only one going through it. Sometimes the journey will be harder than we like it to be, yet the assurance remains the same. In the end, if we hold on to our faith despite what our eyes are seeing right now, the promise is ours. “All came to pass,” for the children of Israel and it will for us too. “Be of good cheer,” Jesus said. “I have overcome the world!”
Text Free Photo: Pixabay/reenablack
“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer…” Philippians 1:19, NKJV
There is so much hurt going on in the body of Christ. Saints are going through trials and tribulations like never before. As the days draw to a close, a time when our Lord Jesus Christ will come back to whisk us away to glory, the enemy has done on a vehement rampage against God’s people everywhere.
Paul, when he wrote his letter to the Philippian church, knew something of hardships. He was imprisoned and he was put in a place of affliction and hurt. So, when he writes of the faith he has that the saints will help pray for his deliverance, he knew what he was talking about.
There is a wonderful bond in the body of Christ that is like no other. Unity, love and compassion mean so much to our survival that our very witness to the world depends on it. There has been over the past few years an awareness of how we have hurt not only one another but our witness before the world through gossiping and the tearing down of one another.
Jesus Himself said, “By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35, NKJV). Having sincere love toward another means that we would want what’s best for them. Even if it means exalting somebody higher than yourself; putting the petitions of prayer that someone else so desperately needs above your own.
We often hear the encouragement that, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5:16, KJV). To avail means that we have a God-given right to have the upper hand, through prayer, against any foe that would dare to rise up against one of God’s anointed ones. How are we using that advantage? Are we selfishly gleaning all the grapes off the vine of blessings for ourselves, or do we have enough Christian courage to let another feast off of your effectual, fervent prayers before you get a taste?
Paul openly admitted that on several occasions how much he was dependent upon the prayers of those who had his back in ministry. Despite his supposed super saint/apostleship position, he realized that the sweet aromas of selfless petitions were being put up to God on his behalf. Because of that, he was assured that he would see deliverance.
How much care and emphasis do you really put on the body of Christ when you bow the knee to the Father? How much is that hunger in you to see the salvation of the unsaved of your family and friends being fed? Do you really believe that not only will your prayers move mountains in your life but also in the life of another? You may be their only hope, whether they are born or again or not, to draw near to God and receive deliverance.
Paul puts it best in 1 Corinthians 13:1 where he says, “Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging symbol,” (NKJV). Are you just making a lot of noise when you pray or are you busting the gates of hell loose because your heart is hurting for another? It was Abraham Lincoln that was quoted as saying, “I am sorry for the man who can’t feel the whip when it is laid on the other man’s back.”
There are some “whips” being laid on others; some burdens that you can help someone else carry if only we would do as the Philippian church did and pray. Not just any prayer, but prayers that will let our brothers and sisters know an assurance of seeing deliverance, too.
If you want to see true restoration in your own life, learn to put the needs of others before your own. Job 42:10 states, “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.” Oswald Chambers, in his devotional “My Utmost for His Highest,” wrote: “As a saved soul, the real business of your life is intercessory prayer,” (Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan; June 20). Not until Job prayed for his friends were his losses restored.
Let’s work today in the “real business of your life;” hedging people in under the arc of safety, the covering of prayer, so they will finally see deliverance, too. There may be a hurting soul quietly pleading for someone to, “Please, Pray Me Through to My Deliverance.”
Keep praying for one another!
“I don’t have enough in me.”
“My gift is not as great as theirs.”
“The anointing is me is not as strong as another.”
“I can’t do this.”
“I don’t have enough to work with.”
“I am too small.”
“I don’t have someone supporting me like that.”
Have you ever struggled with the idea of you don’t have enough in you to make a difference or a positive impact? Do you feel God pulling you into an area faith but the fear that your “little bit of stuff” is not enough and it’s holding you back?
Many people struggle with thoughts such as these. If it’s not big, it won’t work. But God never called us to big things. But, what He did do was call us to step out in faith believing in Him, in where He wants to take us.
There is to be no inferiority complex among God’s people. We are not depending on what we bring to the table. Our dependence is upon Him and what He does with what we bring. God is the one that establishes the work of our hands (Psalms 90:17). God is the one who gives the increase off of what we do (1 Corinthians 3:7). Therefore, it doesn’t matter what we think of the size of what we bring because God is the one working behind the scenes; God is the one who works in it to outsize all.
All He asks of us is to step out in faith and work with what He gave you.
“For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10). Every great tree that stands tall in the forest started from a small thing; from a seed. Your “small thing” is the seed of your gift that God is waiting for you to plant so that He can cause it to grow. An unplanted seed will not flourish and neither will your gift.
Don’t shun it because you think it’s not big enough. Don’t toss it to the side because you think it’s not good enough and doesn’t matter. It’s not about what you bring; it’s all about what He does with what you bring.
Luke 16:10 tells us, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much . . .” God wants to see what you do with the “least” before He turns it into “much.” Won’t you plant your little seed today?
Little stuff matters. If you don’t think so, take encouragement from these little critters:
“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer,
The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
The locusts have not king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces,” (Proverbs 30:24-28).
You see, it’s not about size or strength, but the wisdom God gives to those who render their little bit of stuff to Him in service. Size doesn’t matter to God because He is the God of increase. What matters most with God is our faithfulness in rendering what we do have to Him and trusting Him to let it grow.
“Little things make big things happen” (John Wooden).
Especially, when God is in it. So, don’t cast it off. Work it!