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Archive for the tag “Love of Jesus”

Imitating the Teacher

This week’s theme is compassion. It started with the message on Sunday from the book Believe by Randy Frazee. We visited the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10. I’m sure you recall how the “religious” men passed by the one left for dead, but one man Samaritan man stopped. We could look down on those men who did not stop. We could get self-righteous about how we wouldn’t do such a thing. We might believe we are more like the Samaritan than the religious men. The Samaritan actually did more than required. He took the man an inn; paid for room and board and any essentials the injured man would need in order to heal. He even told the inn keeper he would reimburse him for any extra that the injured man needed when the Samaritan passed that way again.

We could place ourselves in the story as the one who stops, but that’s really not the case. Our place in the story is the one who was beaten and left for dead. We are the ones broken in need of a healer. Jesus is the Samaritan man who stops what He is doing and goes to the one who needs help. Jesus is shown throughout the Gospels as the one who had compassion on the men and women He encountered; He always stopped to help those in need. Many times the Gospel writers would tell of Jesus’ compassion for the one who has stopped Him. The Good Samaritan had mercy on the broken man just as Jesus has mercy on us as broken people.

But right after the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10, we find another story about two sisters; Mary and Martha who invited Jesus into their home. Mary was at the feet of Jesus listening to His every word, which when you think about it, this was not done in those times. Women were not taught like the men. The men gathered around teachers but the women were always in the background. They were like Martha who did the work that needed to be done in order for the teacher and the men to have everything they needed. Martha was playing her part but Mary wasn’t. Mary was in the midst of the men; she was out-of-place. This just wasn’t done in those days, but Jesus changed how men and women related to Him and to others. Jesus turned everything upside down.

Martha pointed out Mary’s place to Jesus, but Jesus pointed out Martha’s place. Martha didn’t know Jesus was turning things upside down. Martha didn’t realize that Jesus was elevating women to a new place in society. However, this isn’t the story of elevating women. This is the story of how we all need to sit at the feet of Jesus. We all need to learn from Him if we are to have compassion for our neighbors. This world is desperate for compassion. Societies will not change unless we show compassion as Jesus did.

I was reminded in my quiet time on Tuesday, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians pointed to Christ serving in humility. Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (2:6). Paul wrote to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (2:3). When we consider compassion, we look at others – not with judgment – but with humility. That could be us in that situation.

The Good Samaritan saw the man on the side of the road recognizing that it could easily have been him in that same situation. Every person walking that particular road could be beaten, robbed and left for dead. The Good Samaritan showed the man mercy by not only taking pity on him, but provided for him in his hour of need. He did for the man what he wanted to be done for him if he too found himself in that situation. Sounds like the “Golden Rule” to me. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is how I learned Matthew 7:12.

Compassion and love are the foundation of how we are to be good neighbors to those we meet on our paths. The religious men who passed by may have sat under great teaching but there were not good doers of the Word they learned. Learning has to be put to good use. There is a time for sitting and a time for doing. We all have a little Mary and Martha in us, but we first need to get the right priorities. Sit first then do. It’s the only way we will feel compassion and love for the people we will encounter today. But also, the beauty of this message is that we are invited into His story. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can become the Good Samaritan to someone today.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NLT)

Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. Luke 6:40 (NLT)

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The Anchor

As I was walking up the sidewalk to my church building on Sunday, I noticed two women coming out of the first gathering. They were talking with one another in a different language. Isn’t it amazing that we can all gather together no matter the language barrier and worship the same God? No matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, the culture we grew up in – God is God of all. He knows every one’s name; knows every one’s heart and He loves us anyway! God’s family is so diverse, and we can be a part of it. My local church body represents about eleven different nations under one roof. I find that amazing.

Contrast the unity I experienced on Sunday with the divisive experience we are having in this country at this moment in time. My perspective will be totally different than one whose skin is darker than mine. I cannot walk in their shoes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy and compassion for their struggles. I wish there wasn’t a struggle. I wish we could live like we’re supposed to live – as one who loves another – not as tolerant people, but ones who truly love one another and even love all our differences. Differences make the world go round. If we were all the same, how boring would that be? Yet, we were all made differently AND all made in the image of God.

It’s interesting that this week of all weeks I was studying “shoes of peace” in the Armor of God study. The week that has been without peace shows our greatest need of peace. But it will not come at the expense of removing guns from the hands of individuals – if one wants to kill, they can find any method available to do the job – sure guns are the most available and impersonal way of killing; but there has to be another way to solve the problem. The very simplistic answer is Jesus. He is the only peace we’ll find in the craziness of this world. And Scripture tells us, it’s going to get worse not better. There doesn’t seem to be much hope in the future, does it?

In Andy Stanley’s message on Sunday – actually it was an interview of sorts – he made the comment about the diversity in the early church. For the first twenty years, the early church dealt with a great deal of racial tension. Between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freed men, and then throw women in the mix; it was just all kinds of tension going on. Jews did not associate with Gentiles on any level. The women were considered second class citizens. Before the early church even got off to a running start, God had to deal with the racial tensions, or else the movement would have fizzled from the start. Jesus elevated everyone to the same level.

Jesus had already addressed the idea of “clean and unclean” in a message to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were concerned with the disciples’ unsanitary eating habits. Jesus said it wasn’t what was on the outside that made a person unclean but it’s the heart that matters. The Pharisees had a heart problem, and it would keep them out of the Kingdom of God.

The heart is still the problem today. Nothing has changed much in 2000 years – actually since the beginning of time. We still have issues that need to be resolved; not through violence but through love. But nothing will change unless hearts are turned toward Jesus. Jesus told His followers that we will have trials and sorrows; it’s part of life. However, He came to give us a new life and a new hope. He is the only one who can give us peace. We cannot have peace of God if we do not have peace with God.

Apostle Paul likened peace to the shoes of a soldier. A Roman soldier wore sandals with knobs. It helped the soldier stand firm in the face of the enemy. Peace is our anchor; it holds us firmly in place when the craziness of the world around us feels off kilter. Jesus is the answer we seek to overcome the strife we find in this current world. He is our anchor in the storm. Peace is available for every individual who calls upon the name of Jesus. He provides what we need to calm the storms in our lives.

I wish we could all live in harmony now, but I know it is impossible through our own human effort. But what’s impossible for us to do, God makes all things possible. One day it will be different. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. One day it will be realized. One day all things will be made new. That’s the hope of our future.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

Fan the Flame

I think I’m in a rut. My routine is pretty set day in and day out. Even spiritually speaking, I think I’m in a rut. I haven’t felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit in a while. Did I move off the mark? Did my anchor slip? I think I just lost focus. I took my eyes off of Jesus. My fascination has been on the signs and wonders of what’s going on in the world. I do believe we are seeing the signs of the last days. This is not to say that Jesus is coming back in the next year or ten. That time is set by God. But I do believe He is coming soon. Maybe I’ll see it in my lifetime, maybe not.

But I am struggling with what to do. I should be focused on Jesus’ business – making the Kingdom known on earth before He parts the skies. At that point, the decision is made on who will be joining Him in the clouds. The rest will deal with the judgment that will come. (I’m a pre-trib girl.)

On Sunday, the pastor said that we should be living each day like it’s our last. Whether it’s because Jesus will come that day or we’ll be called to our heavenly home. To live like that, we’ll do everything necessary to live a fulfilled life. We’ll do what matters most and let the trivial things go. We’ll reach out to those on our path who needs something that we can fulfill.

Louie Giglio said in his Sunday message that we are to have an outward focus. We are the solution to the world. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He uses us to be the solution. It’s a reminder that we are the light. We are not to keep Jesus a secret. His is not a secret kingdom with a secret password to enter. The door is open to anyone who comes and knocks.

Over the last couple of nights, I have been listening to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live “Audacious” message from last year’s simulcast – it’s now on TBN and on demand. The message is about being audacious – having boldness beyond normal. We are called to be mighty for the Lord. We are not supposed to keep it to ourselves. The story is meant to be shared.

Jesus was a storyteller. Crowds followed Him to hear the stories and to be healed. They came to see Him do miracles. He taught them about the Kingdom of God through stories. Most didn’t get it. Their religiosity got in the way. They were being entertained not enlightened. But the children came, and it had nothing to do with what Jesus could do for them. The children felt the love Jesus had for them. They instinctively knew Jesus loved them. I think as adults we have become cynical to love. We don’t naturally feel the love and want to give it to others. I guess that’s why we need the Holy Spirit to help us in this regard. It doesn’t come natural to us; it’s a supernatural act.

In Beth’s book Audacious she wrote about falling in love with Jesus. Something has to compel us to do something. The love of Jesus in us will compel us to be bold in His name and for His glory. I made a note from the simulcast – we need to look for this one thing that will drive us for the rest of our lives. I think it’s the love that will drive us. Beth wrote about Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the beach after His resurrection. She asked the reader – Do you love Jesus? I mean, do you really love Jesus? Really, do you love Jesus? It’s not an automatic reply. It’s a think about it moment. Do we long to be in His word? Are we excited to spend time with Him? Do we bounce out of bed in the morning and rush to set down with Him for a morning chat? I can’t say that this is always my response.

When we think about loving someone, it’s a feeling but also an action. I have never known the love of a husband/wife scenario. I can imagine though the “swept off the feet” moments of romance that led to the marriage proposal. The thrill of the chase. The moments when passion over takes you, and you would do anything for your future mate. I can’t say that is the case with my relationship with Jesus. But it should be.

We should look for the romance with Jesus – we should ask for it. It should make a big difference in our lives. Religiosity should not get in our way to love Jesus and live for Jesus. There is too much at stake; time is short. We need the boldness for our lights to shine in this dark world. Ask the Holy Spirit to fan the flame of what has been entrusted in us. Let’s do it now and keep asking until boredom is replaced with passion to compel us to live each day to the fullest for His glory! Amen!

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-7

The Missing Link

Over the weekend, I heard a message that has been marinating in my spirit. Louie Giglio spoke about living with purpose. He mentioned it was more important to live for significance than living for success. Success is measurable and finite, but significance lasts for eternity.

There was an accident in the Atlanta area that killed four young college girls. Louie’s message was about this accident. One of the families was directly linked to his church. The family he knew, the daughter had lived a life of significance in the time she had on earth – even though it was considered “short” in terms of the human experience. Louie pointed out that the time she had on earth in spiritual terms had a greater impact than anyone who had lived a long human experience with very little spiritual impact.

I have been thinking of that. In just another week or so, I will have another birthday. I am coming to terms that I may be out of the middle ground and more toward the end zone. If Jesus doesn’t come back, maybe I’ll have another thirty years or so. I hope living well will get me another five or ten years more. But if I am not living well at that age, I would rather be with Jesus than dwelling in this decaying, earthly body. After considering the message, I have a new end game plan. It’s not to live well in human experience; my goal is to live a life of spiritual significance through the human experience in the time that I have left. There’s just one problem with that. I don’t know how.

I picked up Beth Moore’s new book called Audacious. I started reading it Monday night. The first chapter was on vision. Oh Lord, not another book about vision! I have been searching for vision for years, and I still don’t have a clue. The chapter I read last night floored me. It may be the missing link to the life of significance. The chapter was on Peter and Jesus’ interaction on the beach after Jesus’ resurrection. The question “Do you love me?” is the title of this chapter, and it’s the question Beth posed to the reader about the relationship we have with Jesus. Can we honestly say we love Jesus?

The last few weeks, I have been considering this love angle. The term we use for love has been watered down. Sure I love Him. But do I have a passionate, deep abiding kind of love? Do I have a love like one who falls in love in a new relationship? Jesus called out the ones in Revelation to the church in Ephesus who had forsaken their first love (Revelation 2:4). He called out those who were lukewarm toward Him in Revelation 3. The church at Laodicea were rich in human terms but were spiritually poor. To the ones in Sardis, He issued a “wake up” call. To the church in Philadelphia, He said He opened a door no one can close. To those who overcome, He will give righteous clothes to wear; a pillar in His temple; a place on the throne with Him. It is a matter of opening our hearts to Him and to fall back in love with Him.

Full disclosure: I have never been in love with anyone. I have been in lust many times, but that’s a totally different feeling. I haven’t been married. I don’t have children. I have parents and sisters whom I love but a passionate love, no. Would I give my life for them, yes – I think I would; I hope I would – it’s never come up though; it’s an untested theory. But this Jesus thing is an issue. It’s the missing link to my passionate, significant life. It’s the warning from Revelation that I have to take to heart. Jesus told all the churches in Revelation to have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The church and Jesus is represented by a marriage. The church is the bride; Jesus is the groom. We are to love like that. We are to fall in love with Him like a future wife falls for the future husband. It’s the deep abiding love like one who can’t stand to be away from the love of their life. It’s a love that aches when they are apart. Do you love Jesus like that? My heart has been stirred to love like that. Has yours? Beth says it will propel us toward the vision. It’s the missing link to the life of significance. Love changes everything.

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NLT)

The Power of Hope

When I serve in my church body, I run one of the cameras for Live Stream and for taping purposes. I really enjoy it. The downside is the tech team does all three gatherings (we don’t call them “services”). By the third gathering, I am tired; and my focus can falter if I am not on my “A” game! This past Sunday was my Sunday to serve. We had a guest speaker whose name was Daniel Tyler from Arkansas.

Usually when we have guest speakers, the camera people have to be on their toes because most speakers move about the stage. My lead pastor is relatively stationary, so another speaker keeps us focused! This past Sunday, Daniel sat with one of the pastors on staff and did a sit down interview. Through the interview, we heard Daniel’s testimony. It had impact; there wasn’t a moment that I lost focus!

Daniel told us about his early years living in a broken home with addictive parents. His Mom was hooked on crystal meth, and his Dad was an alcoholic and abusive. Needless to say, his early years were very unstable. By the time he was in high school, his heart was ripe for an encounter with Jesus. A “fine” (Daniel’s word) girl invited him to go to a worship experience at her church one evening. Of course, he didn’t want to really go; but she offered to do “whatever” with him afterwards. Naturally, he was ready for the “whatever” and thought he could endure the church for one night.

That worship experience changed his life. He encountered Jesus in a very real and physical way. As he listened to the message of love, Daniel questioned if this love was truly real. Daniel prayed if Jesus was real to make His presence known in a physical way. Daniel felt arms wrapping around him from behind. It was a father’s hug that he wanted so desperately to feel. When Daniel turned around to see this man, no one was there. That hug changed everything for Daniel.

When he got to school the next day, one of his friends asked him if he was ready for the party that weekend. Daniel told his friend his life had changed the night before. Daniel told him he meet Jesus. His friend was like, “Dude, I’m a Christian too!” We all chuckled when we heard this. But Daniel told us his response to his friend. “We’ve been friends for ten years; you knew my family’s circumstances; you had the answer that I needed all along and you didn’t tell me?” Wow. Nobody was chuckling then. It brought tears to my eyes (all three times I heard it).

How many times have we had this kind of wake-up call? We might not have experienced someone confronting us with our “Christian” apathy in this way, but is it not a reality that we face every day? There are people we encounter who are struggling with issues that we have the answer to but never utter a word. I would have been the “friend” that could have said the same thing Daniel’s friend said. And Daniel would have been right in questioning my silence. Daniel walked around every day feeling worthless. He felt like his life didn’t matter. He fell into the patterns of his parents; drugs and alcohol. It’s what he knew. He was reckless and had no hope.

Jesus is the answer we all need. Jesus is our hope. James MacDonald’s message (Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago) this past weekend was on the message of hope. Faith. Hope. Love. The trifecta of our Christian life. Faith in God. Love for one another. Hope for the future. Pastor James said “Hope is the confident expectation of better days ahead.” We are chosen by God to give a message to a dying world. This message of hope changes things. How is it we keep silent unless we just don’t understand its power?

Daniel’s life was redeemed; he has given the glory to God for the work that has come from his struggle. He now is working with at-risk youths. He works with the same juvenile detention center where he also spent time. How powerful is a testimony of God’s grace! Maybe our stories aren’t like Daniel’s; but Jesus also gave us a story of grace to tell. (I have written my story out in book form and published it this past week!  Please check the “My Books” tab on this website for the links to purchase or go HERE for Kindle or HERE or your favorite download site for another version. Thank you!)

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11–13, esv).

Broken Walls

Hand me the hammer, please. It’s time to break down the walls. Walls need to be broken down that keep us from others. I am the world’s worst about keeping to myself; I don’t really like to let people in because then they would know the real me. I was convicted over the weekend that it’s time to be real. I do feel that time is moving quickly to that point – whether Jesus comes back or something else huge that will occur – that will change everything. I don’t know what God has in store, but something major is brewing. God is giving us warnings that are escalating beyond a normal pattern. God frequently works in cycles, and I believe we are coming to another major end of a cycle. With conviction, I realized that the book that God called me to write needs to be done very soon. In it, I share my testimony. As I was writing it over the last few years, I had to come to grips with many issues that had been hidden from my view. I had some blind spots that needed to be revealed. In sharing my testimony, I am letting others see things as they are (or were).

Walls do nothing but keep others out and ourselves in. There is no communication between walls. As I have observed the Body of Christ, as we gather during our worship times, we have isolated ourselves from those who really need to see Jesus. We have built walls that show the world a different picture than what the Bible has given to us as an example. The first believers were living life together as a family – day in and day out. Like most families, they saw each others mess. Yet, they loved one another no matter the mess. They showed love to those around them. Outsiders took notice that the Jesus followers were different. They were overpowering non-believers with love and that love grew the church body. Jesus followers were giving all they had to take care of others. They were on mission to be a disciple who made other disciples.

Paul had to call out one church that wasn’t living as they should as followers of Jesus. Paul wrote to the Body in Corinth about a problem. The people of God in that area were not acting in love, and it was an issue that needed to be addressed (1 Corinthians 6:8-11). We all have sins of our past. Some of those sins keep us in a place of shame. However, when we have been forgiven, those sins are no longer remembered – they are forgotten by a gracious God. We cannot hold the past against anyone. We all have fallen short of living a life of righteousness. We as the Body have an obligation to break down the walls that separate us from the outside world. We are told to go out in the world, but don’t become like the world. We are supposed to be different; we would rather be like everyone else. We are told to love one another so that we can show the world the difference in our “family.”

I have often wondered what it would have been like to live in the time of great revivals; where record numbers were coming to Christ. I wondered what it was like for those early disciples who were so eager to share the story of how Jesus died, but then three days later, he arose from the grave! People saw Him and touched Him. They were eyewitnesses to the greatest event in history. I wonder now, what this next event that God has in mind. We may be in for a time of another great revival. Maybe God wants to use us to lead the way. But it’s going to take a hammer to break down those walls that keep us from reaching out. It’s time to be more like the first century church – taking care of one another and showing love to those outside the family. It’s time to meet the needs of those around us and tell others what Jesus has done for us. It’s time to be real and authentic. We will need to be the light to those who are still experiencing the darkness. When the walls are broken down, the light can finally be seen!

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:15-16 (NLT)

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