Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have love for others. Jesus was very emphatic that as Christians we are to show love for one another. First we are to love God then others. Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Jesus also spoke of loving others in John 15:12, 15 “My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” “This is my command:Love each other.”
Why is loving others so important? It shows we strive to be like Jesus. His character and love are perfect and He desires that we grow to reflect Him. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” What is this love supposed to look like? Romans 12:10 gives us direction. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Hebrews 10:24 tells us it is to be a continual thought in our minds, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
Where does this loving and honoring attitude come from? Since Jesus commands it, when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior His spirit indwells us and empowers us for right living! Paul eloquently wrote to the Ephesians in 3:17b-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Being filled with the love of Christ leads us into a life filled with love and good deeds towards others.
Suggestion: Ask God to send you someone special to love with His love today.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus speaks of His family of faith and calls us His brothers, sisters and mother in Matthew 12:48-50. ” 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus’ earthly family had come looking for Him and this was His reply. Those who believe in Jesus and strive to follow God’s Word are considered family by Jesus. What a privileged position this is! Not only are we linked to Jesus but we share a family position with all believers who know Him as Lord and seek to follow His ways.
This family bond is something very special. I have sisters in Christ that I see infrequently as our paths in life have taken different directions. It is amazing to me that when we meet it is as if we were never apart. That instant bond is there and we see love, trust and hope in being with each other. When a brother or sister leaves, it is always with the hope of seeing them again either here on earth or in heaven. The constancy of the bond of fellowship is always present and binds us in love.
Here are a few scriptures about brothers and sisters in Christ and how we are to work together: Romans 15:30 “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,” We are to pray and strive together to do God’s will. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” We are to stand together firmly as we work for the Lord with hope. Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” We have a shared love in Christ and a desire to stand firmly for Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 “As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” We are to work together to do good in the name of Christ.
What a great comfort and encouragement it is that we have brothers and sisters in faith that we can stand with in our shared love for Christ and work together to accomplish His purposes.
Suggestion: Tell one of your brothers or sisters in Christ how you appreciate their prayers on your behalf or how you love standing and working with them or how much you love and appreciate them or how much it means to you to have someone to share in the good work of Jesus or all of the above! A kind work of appreciation brings glory to God as He works within us.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the Father’s love. Knowing you are loved gives power, affirmation, hope and joy. Knowing you are love by God the Father fills us with confidence, hope, security, and comfort. Scripture speaks frequently of God’s love for us. Jesus was talking to the disciples about God’s love and his imminent return to the Father shortly before His death in John 16:27-28. “For the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. 28 Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” Jesus said I am dearly loved by God because of my love for Him. God loves that I love Jesus! When you think about one of your loved ones, aren’t there things you really love about them. Maybe it is the way they smile, maybe that they always hug you so tightly or say loving things to you for no reason except that they love you. This little portion of scripture gives us a glimpse into God’s character and love. He loves us dearly- not a little bit of love but a special love that is close to His heart. The motivation for this dear love is because I love His son. Isn’t that like a good Father? As earthly mothers and fathers, we love the kids that love our kids. We cherish them and want our kids to associate with them. Being a good Father, God loves and cherishes us with a special love because we love Jesus. What a privileged and heart warming thought to ponder today!
Suggestion: Think about your love for Jesus. How has He brought you to faith, and provided you with hope, joy, security and comfort. Know that the things you love about Jesus makes God the Father love you even more.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a spirit of power, love and self-discipline in my life. When you begin something new it takes time for your mind, body and spirit to accept your new commitment. You often doubt you have the resolve to see it through. However, God’s Word tell us that when we accept Jesus as our Savior and His Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts and minds, we have a new type of power living within us. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
Today thank God for the spirit of power He has put within you, for the love you have for yourself and others and the self-discipline to see things through. We are not to be timid and shy away from difficult commitments but bold and filled with His Holy Spirit to contend with the world and the challenges it presents to us each day. Take heart from Revelation 21:7 “He who overcomes [the world by adhering faithfully to Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”
Suggestion: work on your self-discipline today as you continue with the self-denial you chose on Ash Wednesday. Today will be easier than yesterday. Watch your self-discipline grow daily as we journey through Lent.
James 1:12 is one of my favorite promises of blessings God has for me. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
There are several truths embedded in this verse: God rewards steadfastness (perseverance, persistence, stubborn allegiance), There will be trials in life, God is always watching to see how we fare during our life trials, Our reward is eternal in nature and Our faith in God shows Him our love for Him. The Bible has a lot to say about perseverance and how it builds character. James addresses this earlier in this chapter. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Trying circumstances and people that God brings our way build our character for God and bring joy! We know that God is omniscient and watches all that we do. He is there in the nitty-gritty places in life protecting and guiding. 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us the assurance that His watchful eye is always upon us and He knows what we can bear. “ No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Our reward is eternal in nature and is received through faith in Jesus. Colossians 3:23-24 puts it this way “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” Lastly, our faith shows our love for God. Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” But Ephesians 5:2 and John 3:16 remind us that God loved us first. Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
If you are in the midst of a trial today, take James 1:12 to heart and be assured that Jesus is there with you, God is watching and your stand in faith will bear eternal rewards.
The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money. I walked into a local supermarket yesterday, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display. On the love side, Valentine’s Day is a day when we can express our love for one another freely and not be thought of as sentimental or mushy. How about God? How does God express His love for us? Here is a familiar verse that gets right to the heart of God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For He did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
How much more love could God show towards us than sacrificing His only Son on our behalf? He loved us that much. He sent Him so that through faith in Jesus we could be saved and not condemned. Only sinless Jesus could erase our sin and present us whole and perfectly clean before our Holy God.
When you say ‘thank you’ today for a Valentine gift you receive, a card, note, flowers or someone simply saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, think about thanking God too. Thank Him for sending Jesus. Thank Him for making a way for your salvation and eternal life with Him. That is the best Valentine I can think of that is filled with all of God’s love for now throughout eternity.
Blessings on this Valentine’s Day.
The first few weeks of January I write about goals, motivation, change, etc. This morning God has laid on my heart the idea of rising up and going. That may sound weird, but where do you get your get up and go? What makes you want to get up in the morning and pursue your day? For the believer, it is partly motivated by their understanding that God has a purpose for each day. I love Lamentations 3:22-24 and here it is from the Message, which may bring new meaning to these verses for you, “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.” Knowing that God’s love and mercy are new each morning gives us hope and the ability to start a new day.
Another motivation for the believer can be taken from Acts 3:6-8 when Peter healed the man that had been lame from birth at the Beautiful Gate in Jerusalem. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” Then look what happened in verse 8 “And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” How about you? Has Jesus healed you in mind, body or spirit? What is your life’s reaction to that healing? Are you leaping and walking and praising God in your life? Today is the day to begin!
Each day, each year are new opportunities for us to walk, talk and live praising God. Let’s determine today to live that way. Put a smile on your face and live like you mean it because you know that God loves you, has mercies ready for you and wants to hear your praise as you journey through this day.
Walk with Him towards a day of blessing,
The Messiah next returns to Isaiah 53:8 as Handel continues to show the suffering and rejection of our Savior. His birth at Christmas is a celebration but it led to a pathway filled with grief and sorrow for our Lord Jesus. I think the Amplified Translation will help us to see this verse more clearly.
Isaiah 53:8 “After oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation [His contemporaries], who [among them] concerned himself with the fact
That He was cut off from the land of the living [by His death]
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke [of death]was due?
Jesus’ persecution by both the religious Jews in several illegal mock trials and then His judgement by Jews and condemnation by the Romans are what is spoken of here as oppression and judgement. His trial before the Sanhedrin is recorded in Matthew 26:62-67 “Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God:Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him.” Later before Pilate they all demanded death for Jesus. Matthew 27:20-23 “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
Verse 8 also states that Jesus would be cut off from the land of the living and sentenced to death for the transgressions of the people not his own. Paul puts this cutting off plainly in Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
How can we be encouraged by these words of suffering and death of our Savior? Jesus came as a babe fully aware of his life and purpose. Even as young as 12 when he spoke in the temple people were amazed. Luke 2:46-47 “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” When Mary and Joseph asked him about it he replied in verse 49 ““Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus knew His purpose and came to earth to do the will of His Father in heaven. He came for us. Are you motivated by the love of God to give yourself willingly to serve others? It is Jesus’ example to us given at Christmas for us to ponder and imitate in our own lives. What better time of year to put this into practice!
Part 2 of Handel’s Messiah returns to Isaiah for some prophecies of Jesus and what His time on earth will bring to pass. Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Isaiah 50:6 “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” Both of these prophecies were given hundreds of years before Messiah was born. They tell of the pain and suffering He was to endure both mental and physical. He was going to be despised, rejected, suffer beatings, insults, mocking and would be spit upon. During His ministry He was rejected and despised, Mark 8:31 “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” He would be beaten, insulted, mocked and spit upon. Matthew 27:26-32 “Then he (Pilate) released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.”
What do these prophecies say to us today during the Season of Advent? Jesus came willingly that Christmas into a world that would reject and hate Him. He came because He loves us. John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Because of His LOVE, He came. Praise Him today for coming and celebrate His victory over sin on our behalf. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11
This prophecy in Isaiah points to the coming Messiah as a shepherd who will tend His flock with care and love. Jesus called himself the good shepherd, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, John 10:11. A few verses later in 10:14 He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”. Some of the most tender and reassuring verses about Jesus’ love and care for us are found in John 10:27-28 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” No one, nothing, nowhere and at no time can anyone or anything snatch us away from Jesus. Once we belong to Him we are His eternally. He is with us 24/7 and is always accessible instantaneously through prayer.
Let the assurances of the good shepherd carry you through this day and bring you comfort.