Christian Love is…

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But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” ~ 1 Peter‬ ‭4:7-9‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Peter says the end is near and because of that Christians should remain alert, continue in prayer, and focus on loving each other.

In my Bible, this section of 1 Peter is labeled “Living for God.” It reminds me of an old hymn that begins, “Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please him in all that I do.” I think Peter would have appreciated the word “striving” here because it seems a lot like the word, “fervent.” These words give us a picture of an athlete straining to win. They speak of perseverance and intensity. Love is fervent, and Peter was fervent. He tried hard, but he didn’t always succeed. Yet in his failures, Peter learned that love is also forgiving. He learned “love covers over a multitude of sins.” Jesus’ love covered Peter’s sins, and His great love will cover yours and mine as well. Should we not also cover and forgive as Jesus does?

Love is fervent and forgiving, and it is practical and demonstrated with attitudes that glorify God. The practical application taught here is to show hospitality to one another – without grudging. Peter understood hospitality as more than greeting people before or after church services; more than having friends over for dinner. Real hospitality is expressed in self-sacrificing ways without grumbling or resentment.

Fervent, forgiving, practical, glorifying God – true Christian love will create strong bonds and have amazing results because true Christian love always points others to Jesus!

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” ~ John 13:35

Meditations on Mark

“And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.” – Mark 7:35-36

It’s a mystery to me that sometimes Jesus told those whom he healed to go and tell others, and sometimes he told them to keep silent. The reasons for this are not always obvious from scripture, and I’ve read several commentaries that try to give various explanations. But all attempts at explanation aside, there’s one thing that I cannot get past- that disobedience to Christ, no matter how well-intentioned, is still disobedience.

I don’t want to read too much into this passage here. The man who was deaf and dumb was indeed healed by Christ, but the fact remains that Jesus kept ordering him not to tell anyone what he had done, but he just kept doing it.

Hendriksen takes a pretty strong view of the man when he says, “…it takes more than admiration and enthusiasm to be a true follower of Christ. Many Christ-admirers are lost. The true mark of discipleship is revealed in John 15:14, ‘You are my friends if you do what I bid you.’ The people were doing just the opposite.”

This takes me to a place of self-examination. Am I a Christ-follower or simply a Christ-admirer?

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“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Matthew 10:43-45

This seems to defy human thinking. Just take a look at children, what do they do? They fight for the front seat in the car, they want the first piece and biggest piece of cake, they want to be the leader of the pack, etc. Our natural tendencies are not to sit in the back seat, but to drive the car.

Probably the most famous missionary quotes of the twentieth-century was made by Jim Elliot when he said “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Men and women who spend their lives in the pursuits of power and fame lose everything in the end. Those who seek first the kingdom of God and walk as Christ walked, serving others, gain everything in the end.

Lord, I pray that you help me to keep this in the forefront of my very human mind.

The Nazarite (one who is separated)

Numbers 6:1-2 – And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when either man or  woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord.

Mark 12:11 – When they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Mark 13:13 – and ye shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Psalm 49:15 – But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

Psalm 49:20 – Man that is in honor and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

Proverbs 10:27a; 28a – fear of the Lord prolongeth days; hope of the righteous shall be gladness.

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The Lord is speaking to me today about the Nazarite. I feel like I have separated myself unto the Lord. I pray that God helps me to be found faithful in all that He requires and asks me to do. Please God give me strength and help in this hour, from Your Word or from any source You chose. Please God give me discernment.

The Nazarite (means one separated) was a person who was separated completely to the Lord. Absention from wine, the symbol of natural joy, was the expression of  devotedness which found all it’s joy in the Lord. The long hair of the Nazarite, was naturally a reproach to others.  It was a visible sign of the Nazarite’s separation and willingness to bear reproach for the Lord’s sake. The Nazarite found the perfect fulfillment in Jesus who was holy, harmless, undefiled, “separate from sinners” and utterly set apart to the Father and allowed no mere natural claim to hinder or divert Him.

Scripture references for above statements:

Wine an expression of joy –

Psalm 104:15a – and wine that maketh glad the heart of man

Joy in the Lord –
Psalm 97:12 – Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 
Habakkuk 3:18 – Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my salvation. Philippians 3:3 – For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Philippians 4:10 – But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Hair as a reproach to men –

1 Corinthians 11:14 – Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

Holy, Harmless, Separate –

Hebrews 7:26 – For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens. 

Set apart to the Father –

John 1:18 – No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 6:38 – For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

No natural claim will hinder him –

Matthew 12:46-50 – While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister ad mother.

These passages and the study regarding the Nazarite was a real encouragement for me. Often this walk is so difficult because of the loneliness. Sometimes for me though the loneliness is right in the middle of a crowd. Often it seems there is no where to fit. I don’t fit with one crowd or the other. Lord help me! I ASK YOU, PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS and TO BE CONTENT WHEREVER YOU MAY HAVE ME. In JESUS Name. Amen!!!

Must Everything Change?

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To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; He hath made every thing beautiful in his time. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, 11a

Everything must change. Just as God created the earth to move from one season to the next, He will also allow changes and seasons in our lives. Some of these changes, like the seasons, are expected, beautiful, and welcome. Others come unexpectedly, unwanted, and leave us wondering what to do next.

We tend to equate the winter season with death and the spring season with life. Although it may appear and feel that way in the natural, there is actually just as much life in the dormant seed as in the brightest bloom.

The answer to all of our changes and our changing times is to put our faith in God, who does not change! King Solomon said that God makes “everything beautiful in his time.” He will transform the winter season of your life into spring…in His time. When we accept changes and trust His timing, asking the Lord to show us the beauty and purposes of even our hardest seasons, our faith will grow and we will experience transformation like the landscapes of spring.

that I might not sin against Thee

These are the Scripture passages I am hiding in my heart.

Matthew 10:1 – And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

Isaiah 53:5 – But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Revelations 4:8 – And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty, which was and is and is to come.

Luke 6:19 – And the whole multitude sought to touch Him; for there went virtue out of Him and healed them all.

John 11:35 – Jesus wept.

Psalm 103:2-3 – Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.

Luke 4:40 – Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them.

1 Peter 2:24 – Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

James 1:1-10 – James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. It any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

 

 

 

Don’t Complain!

Don’t complain!!! Most especially don’t complain or murmur regarding leadership or align yourself with this form of rebellion. If you do, you are flowing in the same demonic spirit that caused the earth to open up and swallow a people. (see all of Numbers 16) This is how my morning conversation with the Lord and my daily Bible reading began.

“The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.” ~ Proverbs 11:6

“Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.” ~ Psalm 54:2

“And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.” And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled. – Mark 15:3-5

“Then Pilate said unto them, why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly. Crucify Him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. – Mark 15:15

God has really let me know without a doubt that He has indeed given “ear to the words of my mouth.”  He has been speaking about my words, the words of others, and His Word.

He wants me to check and deal with what I allow into my heart, words of others and my own thoughts. He wants me to be careful and purposeful regarding what I allow myself to meditate on. The Holy Spirit has shown me specifics in my life that create and allow an atmosphere of sin to develop. This kind of environment breeds thoughts in my head and an attitude in my heart that eventually leads to words coming out of my mouth that displeases Him. I noticed while reading in Numbers that is said the sin of the “children of Israel provoked the Lord.”  I believe although He is a God that loves and is long-suffering, that we provoke Him so much. We grieve the Holy Spirit. I am incredibly thankful for His mercy.

Over the years I have looked back at my life and wished I could go back and make changes. Why??? Because I wish there had been a different outcome to some areas of my life because hopefully I would live my life for a different result.  I have regrets that involve every area: marriage, family, friends, money, job. Looking at ALL my regrets from this vantage point, it is easy to see where I took the wrong path that led to the undesired outcome. Hindsight is 20/20, they say…they are right. But it would be good if we could use our regrets to learn some valuable lessons.

We can never go back and change or take away, but we can from this moment forward keep the outcome in mind when we make our choices. Today is the day to stop living in the “past” and live our nows with eyes on the “eternal” and outcomes in the future that are pleasing…be it outcomes of good word or deed  or meditation. Today we can make choices that will bear for us reward or bear for us regret in the future. If we chose correctly on this day we won’t have to wish we had done something or said something differently tomorrow.

As it regards this, I need to make decisions that are very purposeful – based on the Words of the Bible and everything; even the words of my mouth and my thoughts should mirror a Christ like life.

When Christ did not address the Chief Priest or Pilate to address the accusations of the people, His silence was very purposeful. I also believe that Pilate surely came to a place of regret that he was “willing to content the people” when it came to his moment of decision. I think, if we aren’t careful we will find ourselves standing before the altar guilty of that same sin and it could be consequences of a snap decision that we did not think through before we spoke or acted. Always, always our words and thoughts and actions just must line up with the Word.

Each person will be accountable for their own words, thoughts and deeds and as it said in Proverbs today, transgressors will be “taken in their own naughtiness.”  We have definitely had our warning.

A few of the ways we use words that displease the Lord:

  • Words of unbelief
  • murmuring
  • leading others to murmur
  • slander
  • evil report
  • denying Christ
  • complaining
  • gossip

Thanks for reading. This is some of what the Holy Spirit spoke to me today through my daily reading of the One Year Bible.

So, what has the Lord been speaking to you today?

The Power of Testimonies – Luke 24:8-12

And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass. ~ Luke 24:8-12

Early in the morning after Jesus’ burial, a group of women went to the tomb and found Jesus gone. They were greeted by an angel who reminded them of Jesus’ promise of resurrection. Then Luke records an astonishing detail: after they had remembered Jesus’ words, the women believed and went to share the good news with the disciples and “all the rest.” But, the disciples didn’t believe them.

Their testimonies were enough though to make Peter get up and investigate. He ran to the tomb and saw that Jesus was not there, but the linen cloth was, and Peter left “wondering” what had happened. We know that Peter later became a man of great faith, but isn’t this amazing – God used a few women in Peter’s life whose testimonies stirred him to get him to question, investigate and wonder.

Is there someone with whom you’ve shared the truth about Jesus that hasn’t yet believed? Do they think you or your faith seem crazy or excessive? Do they doubt your testimony? Don’t be discouraged. Keep telling them about Jesus, what you’ve seen and all He’s done for you. Maybe your testimony is what the Holy Ghost is going to use to stir someone to question, investigate and wonder about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for themselves.