buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Love”

The Gift

On this day, remember the true gift of Christmas:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be  upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:6-9)

I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” (Isaiah 43:15)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. (Isaiah 53:13-15)

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-22)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

(All Scripture quoted from ESV.)

We are living in the years of God’s favor. Unwrap the true gift of love this Christmas. Jesus only Jesus. There is no other name where every knee shall bow at the mention of His name. He is worthy of all our worship and all our praise! Rejoice for this is the day the Lord has made! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Beaten and Bloody

Several weeks ago I was reading about the trials of Jesus. I was going through the Beth Moore study “Jesus: the One and Only.” I was in the final week of this study. The reading for this blog was in the Gospels, all four accounts of the trials Jesus faced – the elders and chief priests, Pilate and Herod – all were mockeries of justice. But what got me most was the beatings Jesus was subject to. Each trial, Jesus was mocked. He was insulted. The ones participating were given power to do so. The soldiers were given power by the officials. The crowds were given power by the elders and chief priests. Pilate thought he had power but really it was given to him by God. But the beatings were all from the evilness in men (and women). Each lash was given by a man. Each thorn was piercing the skin because someone thought it would be funny to see a crown on Jesus’ head mocking His kingship. We are an evil people.

I recognize this evil because it is present in me. There is nothing good in me. I was listening to a sermon recently and the pastor was saying how he loved a good battle scene in a movie. I can understand the thrill of a fight. I once took a martial art. It was more for a self-defense perspective, but it was something that I enjoyed doing. I love to watch a good martial arts fight. So I can’t fault the men who beat Jesus; I think it’s in each one of us. I am just as guilty of throwing an insult or rude comment. I have been known to do it on occasion. There is nothing good in me, except for Jesus. Jesus is the only reason that I do good and have love in me.

After reading the accounts in the Gospels, I am left with a feeling of ugliness. The next lesson will be on the cross, then the resurrection. The ugliness of today gives way to the hope of tomorrow; the joy that comes with the resurrection. Jesus took my ugliness on the cross and forgave me of the insults and evil that so easily surfaces in my heart and mind. Those things are nailed to the cross daily. From the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive them, for they do not know what they do. Yes, I need His forgiveness because some of the time, I don’t know what I am doing. I deserved everything that Jesus took for me. He paid the price for my sins. Every lash, every mark on His body was meant for me. He took it all. The cross was bloody. His blood was poured out on the cross. I am grateful for His sacrifice. There is nothing I can ever do to repay Him for His gift, so I just say thank you Lord Jesus for rescuing me from myself.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6

New Vision

What’s your image of Jesus? Do you know Him as Lord and Savior? Do you see Him as just a man who happened to live long ago? I grew up in a Christian home. There hasn’t been a time in my life where I questioned who Jesus was (is). However in the last few years, I have found a new vision of Jesus. I have a new appreciation for who He is in my life. He is not just my Lord and Savior; He is my source of life and light. I have taken the time to get to know the real Jesus, not the image I have in my head, but the one that is forming in my heart through His word. Scripture tells us that the Word took on flesh and dwelt among us.

I no longer see Him as a meek soul wandering around healing people or forgiving them of their sins. He was a Jewish man, in a Jewish community, doing Jewish things like going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He upheld the strict laws given to Moses found in the first five books of our modern-day Bible. He went about His business each and every day. He was a carpenter by trade until His ministry began at the age of thirty. When His journey started toward the cross, He had the body of a carpenter. He was a strong man. His appearance would have been as any Jewish man of His time. He would have worn His hair long and had a beard. He would have worn a turban and long garments with sandals on his feet. I can imagine He exuded joy from His every pore. I see Him laughing and excited to see His friends discover something new. His face would have expressed peace. I would think His whole demeanor would have shown love pouring from His heart.

Even now, His attitude is still love and passionate for us. Even though we can’t physically see Him, I know His heart is poured out on us. His love envelops us. His comfort wraps His arms around us. He is passionate about me; about you. His heart longs for us to know Him as He knows us. Scripture tells us He knows the number of hairs on our heads – and for me, it changes daily (even hourly)! He laughs when we laugh. He cries when we cry. And when we ignore Him, I’m sure He feels the same thing we would if we were ignored by someone we love.

Jesus knows our circumstances. He longs to help us with them. He wants to share in our burdens. He wants to chase the darkness away. He is the light and there is no darkness around Him. Jesus is passionate about His people. And He is passionate about every lost soul walking this earth without a hope. He died for each and every person. And He is passionate about His church. Do I have the things of Jesus in mind? Am I as passionate as He is about lost souls or His church? He is creating a new vision in me. How about you? What is your vision of Jesus?

When I turned to see who was speaking, there behind me were seven candlesticks of gold. And standing among them was one who looked like Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man, wearing a long robe circled with a golden band across his chest. His hair was white as wool or snow, and his eyes penetrated like flames of fire. His feet gleamed like burnished bronze, and his voice thundered like the waves against the shore. He held seven stars in his right hand and a sharp, double-bladed sword in his mouth, and his face shone like the power of the sun in unclouded brilliance. Revelation 1:12-16 Living Bible

Abounding Grace

Grace. God’s grace. I know the concept, but sometimes I think there is more to it. It can’t be that easy, can it? I am learning it is that easy. God gave us a gift we could never pay for. He sent His son, the only one worthy to come before the Lord on our behalf. There is nothing I could ever do to pay Him back. There is really no sense in even trying to “even the score.” I just have to receive the gift with gratitude and humility.

My salvation story started so long ago that sometimes I forget that it was not by my efforts that I am saved. I know the past sins are paid for. I know everything that was done on my behalf. But then I think about my attitude now. I believe I am good now so it’s all about me working out my salvation (so to speak). The big sins that were committed so long ago have been forgiven and forgotten. The little sins are also forgiven, but have I repented from those as well? Am I trying to pay for those by my good deeds? I have forgotten that even my good works are nothing but filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6).

I was reminded not long ago, God has never been disappointed in me. God knew me before I was ever born. Nothing I have ever done, said or even thought was a surprise to Him. Yet, He was not disappointed. He might have been displeased, more than once, I’m sure. It’s a real wonder that I am still alive. But God’s grace abounds. I try to live righteously, but I can’t do it in my own power. God’s power is sufficient. Beth Moore stated in her Living Proof simulcast in September: “Grace is not permission to stay but the power to go.” We walk in grace. We are dead to the sins of our past. We are to write an obit for the old self. The old self no longer controls us. It is dead. The old self is not Lazarus. It has not been raised back to life. The stone has not been rolled away. These thoughts came from Beth, but have been speaking volumes in my soul.

Andy Stanley said that the epicenter of the Christian faith is grace. We are all getting something for nothing. Grace is undeserved favor. The Bible speaks of grace in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament the same concept is called favor. We are highly favored to receive such grace! But it wasn’t because of any good in us. It is because of the goodness of God. His great love for us saved us. He sent His Son. His Son got up on the cross for us. With Jesus’ last breath, He said “it is finished.” It’s done. Praise God for this undeserved favor! His grace abounds where sin fails us. Thank you Jesus!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

All In

The pastor asked the question “Now what?” I have been asking that particular question for the last two plus years. I have been searching high and low for the answer, but it just wasn’t coming to me. However, God was working hard to prepare me to hear the answer. It was like a “duh” moment when the answer came. Jesus said as you are going about your daily life, make disciples of Jesus. Put time into the lives that are in your circle of influence. Yeah, I understand that concept. I get it but how does that relate to my calling? Yeah, that is my calling.

Jesus left the earth with the commission to the disciples to go out and do what He did. And they did; all the way until their death. And the ones they invested in invested in others. And on and on. Until the Gospel message reached through the centuries, through the nations until it reached my ears. Jesus didn’t have a “Plan B.” In the game of tag, we’re it. As the preacher spoke the next Sunday, he made the comment the church in America has quit producing disciples. We have turned to the consumer Gospel. It’s the Good News too good to share. So we don’t. I am guilty of that. I listen to numerous sermons week after week. I am studying the Bible hard for my benefit. But what about others?

How is the Good News supposed to live past this generation unless we share it? But how do I put the things I am learning into practice? The blog is one thing but am I really helping others follow Christ through my blog? Am I helping to disciple any one? Is there anyone following Jesus because of me? No, I would say not. It’s not too late for me to use the remaining time of my life to do just that, to put things into practice. God has given me a voice. I am to use it for His purpose to help others follow Jesus.

We should be modeling the first body of believers found in the Book of Acts. I get it. I understand what we are experiencing here in America is not really what this message is all about. I should be serving Jesus where Jesus wants me, doing the things Jesus taught and loving others as well as I love myself. His message to the disciples was “follow me.” And they did. And that’s the message of today. Either I am all in or not. It’s my decision, no matter where, no matter what, no matter how. Jesus said to follow Him. Yeah, I get it. I’m all in. Lead on!

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:14-18a

The Little Things

The last day in the village in Honduras, one of the young men told me it was a blessing for women of the village to see the women on our team working alongside the men – doing the same work. I didn’t understand the significance of this when he told me this, but I understand better now. Jobs were handed out by gender, and women do not cross the gender line. I don’t know how this will impact the village, but this young man said it was a very good thing to see. What I considered normal, the village took notice.

I wasn’t sure why I was going on this mission trip. To tell you the truth, I have never done any evangelizing. I was hoping I could just go and serve other people. It ended up, that’s what the mission was all about. We helped to build a church, we painted a building for another church, and we ministered to several of the missionaries there. Did we win souls to the Kingdom? I didn’t see anything happening on the outside of our work. But we were examples of Jesus’ love because we did what we were called to do. The women and the men pitched in together and did the work that needed to be done. I don’t know the impact, but God does.

As I consider the mission trip, there is one thing that has stood out to me. God calls us to the little tasks. We are to go and do the things to help others. God asks us to do the little things as He works in it to bring about something good. Through the good works, we show the love of Jesus. We are being more like Jesus when we see the needs and fulfill them. One gender maybe able to do something better because of the strength needed for the job, but everybody can do their part to get the job done. And that’s what the team did, small task after small task.

One of the first tasks we did was pick up trash around the church. Was that significant? No, but several in the village noticed what we were doing and started picking up as well. We put it all into a pile and it was burned. At other times while the roof was being built, kids had their toe nails polished by one of the team members. Our main job was to show love toward the ones we came in contact with. No matter where we were, in the village or in the city, whoever crossed our path we wanted them to see Jesus.

If all I did was offer a smile to someone who was having a bad day, then it was worth it to go. If all I did was pick up trash or mix concrete so that the women of the village saw something new, then it was worth it. I don’t know how God will use the things that were done that week for His kingdom purpose but I am sure of this: He will do something through my smallest efforts. He is that good!

And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17 (Amplified Bible)

Love Letter

My dear Child,

I want you to know I am with you. I have never left your side. I feel your heart beating next to mine. I know you probably don’t feel me next to you, but I am here. I wanted you to know, I have not left you to walk alone. I want you to feel my presence. I want you to know how much I love you. I want you to grasp how wide and long and high and deep my love is for you. I want you to understand there is nothing you could do that I would take my love from you. There is nothing you could do that would cause me to love you more. My love surpasses your understanding. Know this, I came for you. I came to bring you healing and hope. I came to show you the love that only comes from my Father. I did not come to condemn you. I came to love you so much so that I died for you. I stretched out my arms for you and said “I love you this much.” I lived and died so that you could live with me for eternity. Do you believe me when I say I came for you? I love you with all my heart, and I want you to love me as well.

I know there are some things keeping you from giving me your heart completely. That’s okay, I’ll take whatever you want to give me today, just let me in. I have waited for you. I know there are obstacles in front of you, and I am prepared to go with you through them. Let me walk with you. I see you where you are right now. All I ask is for you to reach out for me. Let me help you. Let me heal you. If you really don’t know me well, I have a whole book about my life. My Father had His servants write about me before I was born to tell of my coming. He had others write about my life here on earth. The whole Book is written so that you will know me and love me as I have first loved you. My servant John was allowed to see things that have yet to come. I have made a place for you, and I am coming back for you.

I long for you to open the words and let me speak into your heart. There are so many things I have to tell you, but you have to be ready to hear. Are you ready to listen? Be still with me for just a little while, and I promise you, I will be made known to you. It’s never too late to start a relationship with me. I promise when you look for me, I will be found. I am here and I am ready. My peace I give to you this day if you will just ask. I am knocking on your heart, please let me in.

Your friend,

Jesus

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

Love Language

Last week, I wrote about love. This seems to be a theme for me right now. Back before the holidays, I was searching for my “love language.” How do I experience love? I was struggling with my Mom not being with me anymore. She showed her love by giving gifts. But I found my language was about quality time. When I was processing all this information, I had an epiphany. Jesus’ love language is about “acts of service.” We show love to Him by serving others. I know; I should have known this all along. But it finally registered with me. I wrote about this also in my first blog in 2013. (I know, I’m repeating myself again.)

I am currently in the Beth Moore Bible study called “James Mercy Triumphs.” There was one point she made on this particular day – “Live It.” We are to live out our faith. Faith without works is a dead faith. I’ve heard this time and time again. I get it. I go home from the study group and listen to a sermon while I eat lunch. It was awesome! But the main take away was this: we are to serve others if we are to be successful in this life (success in God’s viewpoint not the worlds). It’s not about me. The preacher issued the challenge to make God first priority, others second and ourselves third. If we do it in that order, we would change our world, and we would change the world.

God had already spoken to me about this before the holidays. Did I ignore the “suggestion” about serving others or did it slip my mind? It doesn’t really matter at this point. I need to find a place to serve in the community. I need to be out in the world serving others. I need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I need to show that I really do love Jesus. It’s good to have this revelation, but I need to put things into action. There is too much to do for the sake of the kingdom and time is growing short. It’s time to change the world!

I am changing my mindset – “It’s not about me.” my new theme. I love Jesus! It’s time to show it.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

Love, Love, Love

This is the word that has been coming up over and over for a few weeks now. What’s love got to do with anything? It is the only word that matters – apparently. God loves us so much He sent His son for us (John 3:16). Jesus states the greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, our souls and our minds (Matthew 22:37). The second most important commandment is to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Yeah, love is important. But what is on my mind today as I am writing this, how do I show love to God and to others? Is it going the extra mile? Is it to help others who cannot help themselves? Is it to feed His sheep? Is it worshiping Him through serving others? Yes, to all the above and more.

I am contemplating going on my first mission trip. I have had opportunities to go in the past, but there have always been obstacles to going. One time I had the opportunity through my church, but I didn’t have the vacation time and money was also an issue. Another was the place of service – I just didn’t want to go there (yeah, I know, wrong attitude). I am now in a new church environment where they are all focused on serving others. I am in the right place at the right time in my life. I recognize the need to go and serve even when it’s uncomfortable. I have the opportunity to go this year. Yes, there are obstacles to going – money still being a part of it. Will I push through and take the step of faith? Is this the right time?

The answer will determine how much I believe that love and service go hand in hand. In John 13 we find the story of Jesus bending down to wash his disciples’ feet. Someone else should have done it when they entered the room, but no one did. He even washed the disciple’s feet who would betray him. He stooped down in front of Judas. Did Jesus look into Judas’ eyes as he lowered Judas’ feet into the water? I imagine Jesus’ love was etched into every action on that day; His last day before His crucifixion. Jesus tells us that we would be blessed if we do the same for others. It must have been important enough that He took the time on that crucial last day to show the example of service.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:14-17

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