In the Name of Love

12/12/16

Ephesians 3:16-19

“Love is the overflowing result of one person in true fellowship with another”-Oswald Chambers.

The world holds such a twisted view of what love is. It’s that type of love we often see manifested in day to day life, but it’s completely self-seeking. Someone says, “I love…” such and such a person or thing, yet their actions prove something different. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love does not seek it’s own.

In my life, I make the widely detrimental mistake of progressing forward in relationships with people based on my past experiences. It can be hard to trust and be open, as a result of the hurt others in the past have caused. Worse than relating this to people, though, I can find myself, if I’m not careful, relating it to God and His love toward me.

I think about friends or family who have said they loved me, but caused me a lot of pain. I know some of them meant it, while others I’m not so sure. Whether they actually did love me or not, they were only capable of love in their messed up human ways, but that’s the only way we can “love” without Christ. We can’t possess that fullness verse 19 describes. So people go around inflicting all sorts of harm on others in the name of this pathetic, shallow excuse for love.

The type of love Christ holds for the church, His children, is not anything like the world’s love. It is something I can trust in- be rooted, grounded, and rest in. His perfect love casts out all the fear I can still hold onto from experiences. He paid the ultimate price, death on the cross, for love. “By this we know love, because He laid His life down for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” 1 John 3:16.

There’s nothing I want more than to be rooted and grounded in the love the Lord offers. I want to be so full of this Godly love that I pour it out into others, naturally. The key is abiding in the truth the Scriptures have to offer. “Heaven and earth may pass but My words will by no means pass away” Matthew 24:35. So when the Creator of the universe says He loves me and died for me, that is a promise I can surely rest in.

Application: In studying the book of John, I will be sure to highlight the love Jesus shows to the people He encounters.

It’s Not Worth It

12/5/16

1 Corinthians 8:13

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more.” 1 Corinthians 9:19.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Love. It is the greatest defining marker of the Christian life. A life fully submitted to Christ will exhibit indescribable amounts of love, not just to those the person likes, but also to anyone the person encounters daily. This even includes enemies. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us about the qualities of love. They include long-suffering and being selfless.

Out of pure love for my fellow man I should conduct my actions in a way that would not cause them to stumble. I seek to point all to Christ, be them already saved or not. There are things in life that are not inherently wrong. There are things that I might feel convicted not to do, while others do not have that conviction and vice versa.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 6:12”. I have freedom in Christ. “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9. So just because I have liberty, doesn’t mean I should use it lightly.

Out of love, I must be sensitive to those around me. What is it worth for me to do something I feel is “okay” when it causes someone else to stumble? Nothing is worth that. Nothing in this world means that much to do or say if I compromise the morality of my brother or sister. Even if it means swallowing pride and selfishness. I must be mindful of those around me.

Nothing is worth more in this world than proclaiming the name of Christ to all, both in word and in deed. Jesus sacrificed His life for love. Anything I could sacrifice pales in comparison and is worth it to glorify Him.

Application: Pray for each teammate individually, asking to be sensitive to their struggles.

Don’t Miss the Point

11/28/16

Matthew 25:35-40

Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no not one”. Verse 37 of this portion in Matthew points out, “Then the righteous will answer Him…” These “righteous” people, the best of the best, as it were, noticed nothing. They did nothing. They pose all of these questions because they missed the point. They were so busy being full of pride and self-righteousness they failed to recognize the needs of others.

Where are my eyes focused? I can be the same exact way these “righteous” people are, here. How often do I overlook the needs of others because I am selfish and prideful? It is so important to be empty and broken, realizing truly, as Romans 3:12 tells us, “Theres is none who does good, no not one”. I have nothing! There’s nothing, not one thing in and of myself that I can bring to the table. If I think I have anything to offer, I am woefully deceived, full of pride, and negligent to the truth at hand.

I am called to be a servant. Nothing more. Servants do not have rights to themselves. In the same manner, I am not my own. James 1:17 states, “Every good and perfect gift is from above”. My life and all that I am is a gift. There’s nothing I did to deserve it. Because of love, Jesus Christ gave His all for me. Now it’s my turn.

Verse 40 of the passage says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me”. That’s convicting on many levels. I am challenged to serve all people at full capacity, as unto the Lord. I am pushed, even, to rid myself of the mind-set of looking at someone as “less” than anyone else. I should look at everyone and see a child of God. A person my Savior died for, just as much as He died for me.

Lord, rid me of my pride and self-righteousness that I may not hinder any service to Your people, and ultimately You.

Application: Search the Scriptures and compile a list of verses about humility to combat pride and self-focus.

The Big Picture

11/10/16

Romans 5:3-4

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.

It seems incredibly counter-intuitive. Why would you ever “glory” in tribulations? Why should I rejoice in my sufferings? When things are difficult or have been, my honest first response is not to rejoice. More often than not, it is to throw a pity party and question everything. I fight against the difficulty, wondering why this would happen to me.

But this all has to do with my perspective. I’m focusing on self and am completely lost in the ocean of my woes in the present moment. I lack trust in the promise stated just a few chapters later in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose”. Why do you doubt as if the Lord has not kept this promise to you for twenty-one years? How quickly I forget that: God’s own testimony in my life. He says He will never leave or forsake me. Has He ever given me any reason to doubt this? Absolutely not.

So with a more broad perspective I can grasp this verse, knowing and trusting that my Heavenly Father delights in the process of my growth and change. I can rejoice because God sees the big picture that a season of suffering can lead me to being more like Christ. My suffering produces perseverance. With this quality I am able to press on. When I press on, I build a godly character. I’ve heard character described as who you are when no one is looking. In my sufferings, do I remain in the joy of the Lord? It’s a good question to check where my character is at. When I truly maintain a Christ-like character, I can have a hope that only Jesus gives, no matter my circumstances.

“This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast…” Hebrews 6:19.

Give Thanks

11/4/16

Psalm 105: 1-3 ESV

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works! Glory is His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

The two main ideas I see in these verses are thankfulness and worship. I believe that when you truly have a heart that is thankful to God for all He has done in your life, worship is a natural overflow. For me, it all has to go back to the simplicity of Jesus dying on the cross. It’s pivotal for me to keep this in the forefront of my mind throughout the day, because it spurs a completely different attitude on how I even go about living my life. While I was dead in my trespasses, God the Father sent His only son to earth to live life as a human for the sole purpose of understanding me and saving me. Why? Because all those years ago, before I was born, He loved me. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NKJV. Honestly, even just typing those words gives me goosebumps. The creator of the world: all-powerful and all-knowing, loved me enough to take the penalty of death in my place.

That’s a lot to be thankful for! As I said, worship naturally stems from being thankful. For when you experience this true thankfulness, you simply want to praise God for His immense goodness. He deserves all worship and all praise for the love He poured out to me by dying in my place, not to mention the love He is faithful to show me daily.

Application: Today, I will write out a prayer to the Lord, telling Him how thankful I am for all He has done in my life.

Hold Your Ground, Soldier

10/28/16

Romans 12:10-13

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality”.

Since the beginning of my time in the Ignite program, the Lord has been speaking to me and teaching me about being steadfast. It is a trait I often find myself lacking. When things get difficult or find myself in an uncomfortable position, I flee. I’m an escape artist. All the while, the Holy Spirit speaks to me telling me to hold my ground. I am being called to be a soldier in battle. That entails being diligent (to show care and conscientiousness!) in everything this verse talks about: loving my brothers and sisters in Christ and putting them before myself. It entails being passionate in serving the Lord, being infinitely thankful for the hope I have in Jesus, being patient despite hardship, praying without ceasing, and being sensitive to the needs of others.

Yet, when I flee: when I withdraw and isolate, I perform an act of friendly fire. I harm, specifically my team, here in Kenya. God is working on me, breaking me of that tendency to run away, as it is a reflection of my old self. I want to be all here for my team, and the people of Kenya who I am serving. Instead of seeking to pacify myself with anything when I feel uncomfortable, I need to press on and press into the Lord. I don’t want to run to anything or anyone except into the arms of my Heavenly Father.

Application: This week, I will specifically seek the Lord about being steadfast, and my natural tendencies to want to run away. I will compile a list of verses to have on hand and in my heart to combat these feelings and remind me to seek the Lord.

Be Cleansed

10/19/16

2 Timothy 2:21

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work”.

I am called to be a servant of God: an empty vessel that He pours into, for the purpose of me ultimately pouring out that which I have received. Many times in my life I’ve attempted to be that vessel, yet I was full of myself. I was full of dirt and gunk; that is my pride and bitterness. If you pour water into a dirty cup the water becomes dirty, too. How could the Lord possibly pour into me?

But I am so thankful at just how faithful my Heavenly Father is. He leaves those proverbial 99 sheep to go after the one who has gone astray. In the same way, He came to rescue me from my filth, as well as my past. He cleansed me from my sin so that I may be seen as pure in the eyes of the Father.

Cleansing, however, is not a one-time thing. Every day I must ask to be made whole, for I fall short of perfection, of course. My thoughts drift to the dishonorable, or my intentions are wrong when I do things. Whatever it may be, only the Lord has the ability to cleanse me. Once I sit before His feet and ask for forgiveness, He always places me back on the narrow path. It is only then that I can be useful for honorable things, such as God’s will and very specific call on my life.

Application: Sometimes I forget that cleansing is to be a daily occurrence. Tonight I will journal about the things the Lord has cleansed me from, and be sure to incorporate my need for cleansing into my prayers.