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Archive for the tag “Love your neighbor”

Express It Well

Many times as I listen to God’s Word through different channels, the same message will be repeated. This week’s message was about love. It seems I am in a new season of learning and I need to understand this important teaching. This same scripture came up over and over throughout the week – the lawyer questioned Jesus on the greatest commandment.

The text is found in Matthew 22:34-40 and Mark 12:28-34. The greatest commandment taken from Deuteronomy 6:5 says we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” A similar text is found in Luke 10:25-37 called the Parable of the Good Samaritan where Jesus simplifies the message about being a good neighbor and showing mercy to the one who has fallen. In the Gospel of John 13:34-35, Jesus said this about his disciples “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In Bob Goff’s new book Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, he wrote that Jesus saw these two commands of loving God and loving others as “one inseparable mandate.” Bob mentions that we can’t really love God if we don’t love others that are put on our paths. God puts people in our lives to love. Difficult ones too. Bob mentions also that there is no school to learn these things expect for the next door neighbor. It’s a daily process of growing our love and expressing it well.

James MacDonald is in a sermon series called Vertical Living. His focused passage was on Matthew 22:37-40. He brought out the point that human beings are made in the image of God. The central characteristic of God is love. If we are made in His image, shouldn’t our central character be love as well? This is where sin came in and broke us. We don’t love well. However, when Jesus saves us from our sins, we are given His Spirit to help us love well. We are to grow in that capacity to love through His Spirit. We are to grow in loving God more and loving others more.

Pastor James brought out a point that I had never considered before. God made us all uniquely and we love uniquely. God doesn’t love us equally but uniquely. We are not clones in Christlikeness. We are different so why shouldn’t we love differently as well? We are to love God individually as He made us. I express my love differently than you do. I’m not a touchy, feely kind of person and you may be. But we are all supposed to grow in our capacity to love as we are made in His image. We are to express it well. It’s the only thing that will change our world.

When the Gospel message was just getting started, it was the love that the followers of Jesus showed to others that changed the world. When plagues broke out, the followers of Jesus stayed behind and cared for the sick. When babies were left on the side of the road, it was the Christ followers that picked them up and took them home as their own. They were different and people noticed. Shouldn’t it be the same today? Shouldn’t we be more like the Samaritan and show mercy?

Many have said that the Samaritan in the story is the image of Jesus and we are the ones who were beaten and left for dead. When Jesus found us in that condition, He stopped and helped us up so that we could help others in that same condition. We can love because Jesus loved us first. He came to us first. Because of His love, we too can love. We have all been given the capacity to love. We just need to demonstrate it more effectively.

Everyday we’re given an opportunity to love. This week, I didn’t do it very well. I had opportunities that I missed. I am learning to recognize these opportunities more and more but sometimes I mess up like this week. I am growing in my awareness so maybe next time I will do it better. Love is an expression. I need to express it more often in ways that it can be received more effectively. Forgive me when I don’t and show me mercy as I will do for you. Let’s get better at this, shall we? This is my season to love well. How about you?

I will leave with you the apostle Paul’s teaching on love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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Family Talk

A few weeks ago, I submitted a test to determine my genetic makeup, and I received the results last week. It was not a surprise that the majority of my genetic code comes from Northern Europe – mostly British and Irish origin. I knew my father’s family tree as far back as the 1800’s when they arrived on American soil from the British homeland. I don’t really know my Mother’s people and their history, but now I know some of it since the majority of my DNA is Northern European. At some point, my Mom’s family had to have come from that region as well. I have a touch of culture from a couple of other regions as well. Nice.

Along with the ancestry portion, there is a health component to the test results. I have a few holes in my genetic makeup that needs to be filled with supplementation. If Jesus comes back soon, it’s irrelevant. But if He is delayed, then I need to work on my health plan. I don’t want my health to be an obstacle to completing the work God has given me to do. I am sure there will be many obstacles; however, I don’t want something that I could avoid to be one of them.

Like everyone else who has answered the call from Jesus, the work I am called to do is to be witnesses to those around me; telling the story of Jesus – His birth, His death and His resurrection and His redeeming plan for us. Those who answer the call are told we are to love each other because we are family. We will be known for our love for one another.

I also have a passion to help my Family get healthy. The Body of Christ is hurting, and there are a few holes that need to be filled. I look across our gathering times on Sundays and see a sick Body. Not judging here, but being observant to the people around me. I heard a few weeks ago about a dream someone had that Jesus spoke about His bride not being ready for Him.

Jesus told parables about the time of His second coming. One as a groom coming back for His bride – He went back home to prepare a room for His bride and would come back when the room was ready (as was the custom of that time). One about ten virgins preparing for the arrival of the groom – five virgins trimmed their oil lamps and had enough oil to last; five virgins were not prepared and ran out of oil before the return. Jesus also spoke about a thief coming in the night. If the homeowner had known the time of the thief’s coming, the homeowner would have been prepared.

On another occasion, Jesus gave a parable of a Manager who put others in charge of his money while he was away on a journey. Upon the Manager’s return, the ones who were put in charge were judged by the amount of growth that had occurred with his resources while he was away. I believe we are in a time when we act more like the unfaithful servant who hide the money instead of investing it for the future. We are staying within the walls of our building instead of going out and growing the Kingdom. I am guilty of this – it’s easier to stay in my comfort zone than take a step outside in the scary world.

We are told in Scripture to be watchful to the times we’re in so that we would not be caught unaware. I think we’ve forgotten that time is short. We are told our lives are just a vapor; but it’s hard to keep this in perspective. The early church believed Jesus was coming back quickly so they were all about spreading the word. I think we have grown used to the wait and really don’t consider it an issue. However, there are more signs today of the pieces of the puzzle falling into place than ever before.

Things are coming together, and one day a trumpet will sound. Jesus said He would return for us. We need to believe it and watch for it. And remember Jesus is looking for His bride to be ready. Many believe we are the generation that will see this come to pass. My heart grieves for the ones who think they are ready when they are not.

From one Family member to another, we need to be ready to meet Jesus. We each have to evaluate our hearts. Seek forgiveness. Embrace God’s mercy on your life. You are His child. Embrace His love for you. Because of Jesus, He has made you worthy. Accept it and live out of it. You never know when Jesus will come for you. Today may be the day. If not today, then we have one more day to live with a pure heart and a steadfast spirit and do the work we’re called to do. Go, love well.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Psalm 51:10-13

Man in the Road

Jesus told a parable concerning a man who fell into hands of robbers (found in Luke 10). The expert in the Law asked Jesus how to have eternal life. Jesus proceeded to tell a parable, a story about a man, a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. I have always heard that we are to be like the Samaritan, to be a good neighbor. But what if we are the man in the road? We are the one who has been beaten and left for dead. Others have come by, but only one has come to have mercy on us. Jesus is represented as the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan’s heart went out to the one who was left for dead. He saw the man and took pity on him. He stopped to help him. He bandaged wounds and paid the price so that the man could get well.

I’ve heard this story so many times. The focus though has been on the Samaritan. We are to do as the Samaritan. However, the question was “what must be done to inherit eternal life,” the man did nothing to earn eternal life. He just lay there, beaten and broken. The Samaritan did all the work and paid the price. The man received the gift that was freely given. The true picture of Jesus – we do nothing to earn salvation. We wait on someone who can bind our wounds and heal us. We wait on someone to pay the price. That’s Jesus. There is nothing else that needs to be done because He said from the cross “it is finished!”

This message was shared from North Point Community Church. As I contemplated the message, I realized many times I always put myself in the wrong role of the story. It is first and foremost about Jesus. We just happen to be the recipient of the grace that He gives freely. The story will always be about Him. Everything in the Bible is about Him. We are to have a heart like His. He came to live within us when we received the gift of mercy, when He came to fix our brokenness, when He paid the price of our sins. All we have to do is just let Him in and do the work He wants to do in us and through us. Nothing else matters but Jesus. Once we get the right perspective, everything changes.

I keep thinking I am so good, but every time I think that I get the realization there is nothing good in me except Jesus. When I was on the road, I was beaten and broken. There was nothing I could ever do to make myself well. Jesus saved me from myself. The answer the expert was seeking was Jesus, he just didn’t get it. The expert quoted the right Law; he knew the right answer, but his heart was far from the truth of the Law. I can have the same attitude, I know what Scripture says, but I fail to put those things into practice. Jesus says to “Go and do likewise.” Love is an action verb. I have been bandaged and healed; now it’s time to help the others who are in the road to find the Good Samaritan.

He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, Love your neighbor as yourself.“

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:27-28

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