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LOVING SOME AIN’T EASY
A little girl was saying her evening prayers. There was a slight pause, and then she continued, “God, it must be difficult for You to love everybody. There are only four people in my family, and it’s hard for me to love all of them.”
Loving others does not always come easy. In fact, some people are almost impossible to love. As someone once said to me, “I love that person just enough to get into heaven.”
But loving others is not an option, it is an obligation. Jesus said, “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” This was not a new commandment. It can be traced all the way back to Leviticus. But the disciples of Jesus saw a totally new way to love others. He taught them in and through His life and death to love others in a sacrificial way: His way – the way of the cross.
To love sacrificially demands that we go beyond the ordinary ways of helping people. It means that we are willing to be inconvenienced to help anyone who has a need we can meet. It means that we are willing to share the best of what we have – not only the surplus “junk” we no longer need. It means we may have to sacrifice something we value. But so was the way of the cross. This kind of love will draw others to Jesus because the world rarely sees it but needs it.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to show others how much I love You by the way I live and the way I love others. May my life be an example of mercy, grace, and kindness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 13:34-35 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
An aircraft mechanic was completing his final inspection before a plane’s departure. Having made major repairs, he was satisfied that everything was ready. Then he noticed a small drip of water coming from the lavatory. It did not seem serious since it was so small, so he cleared the plane for take-off.
As the plane climbed to its flying altitude, the drip became a little larger. The water began to freeze, and a large piece of ice was formed. Finally, it broke loose, hit an engine and destroyed it. The plane was then forced to make an emergency landing. Although no one was injured, it caused serious and unnecessary damage, and there was a great loss of time. The repair to the plane cost much more than it would have cost if it had been taken care of when it was first noticed.
So it is with sin. It usually begins with a small, stray thought or an unhealthy desire. We allow a vision or idea to grow, expand and develop, and it eventually overwhelms us, and the temptation leads to sin.
God’s Word contains an important promise: “With every temptation, He will provide a way out.” How marvelous are His power and protection! No matter how difficult the choice may be – if we ask and look for and search thoroughly, we will find His “escape route.”
When tempted, we must turn to Him and claim victory in His Name.
Prayer: Father, we cannot live without being tempted, but we can avoid sinning if we trust, obey, and rely on You and in Your Word. Give us victory over sin! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: James 1:13-15 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
In the great game of baseball, victory is not determined by hits – only by runs. It is not decided by double plays or even a no-hit performance by a pitcher – only by runs.
A player may hit the ball, slide safely into the third base but get no further and not score. He will be remembered as being “left stranded.” He will not be recognized for “three-quarters of a run.”
This is true of everything in life. Few people are ever recognized for how well they start. Normally, they are remembered for how well they finish. We may run hard, overcome obstacles, work our way through difficult situations, but unless we accomplish our goals and “score,” we are normally forgotten unless we finish well.
There is a sad verse in Paul’s letter to Timothy. He speaks of Demas, and writes that he “has deserted me because he loves the things of life…” A former co-worker of Paul’s, he exchanged his calling from God for worldly pleasures and values. Perhaps Demas never counted the cost of serving Christ. Maybe he became weary in well doing and lost his enthusiasm. We do not know the reason, but we see the results. And here is the lesson for each of us: Rather than condemn or criticize him, let’s look for the “Demas” that may be in each of us.
Prayer: Lord, never let us lose our love for You or the life You have called us to live. May we be faithful, fruitful, truthful, loyal, and never forsake or desert You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 2 Timothy 4:10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.
IT’S NOT ALL LOOKS
The pastor of a church in a rural community had been complaining about not feeling well for several months. His wife finally persuaded him to see the local doctor. Concerned that he would not explain all of the details of his illness, she decided to accompany him.
After his examination, the doctor asked her to accompany him into an adjacent room. After a moment he said, “I really don’t like the way your husband looks.”
After a few moments, she said, “I don’t either.” Then she continued in a hushed voice, “But he’s a wonderful pastor, a great husband, and an excellent example for the children to follow.”
What gracious compliments! There are not many who measure up to His standards. However, we as Christians are challenged to live lives that are examples. Paul said that we “must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind,” and “to let everything we do reflect the integrity and seriousness of our teaching.”
When we live according to God’s standards, we will be examples for others to follow. If we live according to His instructions, we have the right to be heard when we speak, teach or talk. Additionally, we can provide counsel and comfort with certainty to those who are discouraged and in need if we are faithful to His Word. Are you an example of Him?
Prayer: Help us, Father, to live as an example of Your love, grace, and mercy by doing good deeds every moment of every day. May our lives imitate Your Son’s! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Titus 2:7-8 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. 8 Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.
It was his first day as a general. For years his one goal was to pin a star on his shoulder. Sitting behind his desk for the first time, with his personal flag behind him, he felt as though he had finally “arrived.” He was anxious to impress his staff with his accomplishment.
There was a knock on his door, and he shouted, “Enter.” He reached for his phone, and wanting to impress the men who were quietly walking into his office, said, “Thank you, Mr. President, for calling. It was good to speak with you. Yes, sir. Goodbye.” He then hung up the phone.
Turning to the men before him, he asked, “And now, men, what can I do for you?”
“Yes, sir, thank you, sir. I’m your aide, and these men have come to connect your phone.”
There is nothing wrong with wanting to succeed. But there is something wrong with wanting to succeed for selfish, self-seeking, self-centered reasons. Pride brings with it the idea that we deserve whatever we can get. It creates a greedy appetite within us and leads us to believe that we should have whatever we can get or should have whatever we want in life. It makes us want far more than we need and leaves us unsatisfied with what we have. Sometimes God has to humiliate us to teach us humility. “Pride comes before a fall!”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to trust You for our needs, to be satisfied with what we have, and to be thankful for Your love. May we be covered with humility and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: James 4:6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
HIDDEN BY MASKS
Early in the history of Greek drama, the theaters had no scenery, and the actors wore no costumes. When they performed, the actors would carry a mask on stage, and when it was time for their part, they would hold the mask in front of their faces and speak.
The word “hypocrisy” came from Greek drama and refers to ‘one who is expressing feelings, beliefs and values that belong to someone else.” In Scripture the hypocrite is a pretender: one who is acting a part, one who is false, tells lies or is godless. They are with us today – speaking, acting and expressing words they do not believe – and behaving differently from who they really are. Times have changed but hypocrites have not.
Jesus despised hypocrites with a passion. He spoke of the hypocrites who loved to pray publicly so others could see them and think that they were living a religious life. On another occasion, He told the hypocrites to get the log out of their own eyes and stop criticizing others for having a speck in theirs. He also spoke of the Pharisees and advised people to beware of their self-righteous, hypocritical, and spiritless behavior.
John wrote, “If someone says ‘I belong to God’ but does not obey His commands he is a liar.” If what we do or say is not consistent with what God requires of us, we must ask God for forgiveness, repent, and change. There is no room for hypocrites in the Kingdom of God.
Prayer: Forgive us, Father, when we have disobeyed Your commands and professed what we did not possess. May our lives be as honest as was Your Son’s life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: 1 John 2:4 If someone says ‘I belong to God’ but does not obey His commands he is a liar.
GOD’S OUT TO GET YOU!
In one of their cartoons, Hobbes and Calvin were having a serious discussion. Said Hobbes, “Is there a God?”
“Well,” answered Calvin, “I’m not sure. But someone’s out there trying to get me!”
He was absolutely right. God is out there, and He is trying to “get” everyone!
Jesus said, “I came to seek and to save the lost!” He initially made this statement in His meeting with Zacchaeus. And, if you recall, as a tax collector, he was in one of the most unpopular professions of his day. But, it didn’t matter to Jesus: He was always searching out seeking to save the lost. This was His message and His mission. Zacchaeus was just as valuable to God as anyone and everyone else. In fact, Jesus was out to “get him.”
No matter who we are or what we have done or are doing, Jesus wants us for His own. It is not what we know or who we know that will save us. Remember – Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham, the religious elite. But, that could not save him. Only his faith in the Savior, the Son of God, could. And, only one’s personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can save us from our sin.
We must never forget that God is “out to get” everyone to know, love, and accept His Son as their Savior. How can He do this? By abiding in us, being with us, and working through us.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for providing our salvation and the opportunity to work with You to reach others. May what You have done for us, help us to “get others.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.
Perhaps there is no one word that is more confusing, more misunderstood, more diminished in its significance or abused than the word “love.” Although it contains feelings, it is much more than feelings. Although it includes emotions, many times emotions are abused and misused. While it includes sentiments, it is more than sentimental desires that fluctuate from day to day.
Feelings, emotions, and sentiments change from moment to moment and day to day because life is dynamic, and every situation different. True love, God-love, must be seen, observed, lived, and expressed in the behavior of a Christian.
What I do with and to and for someone is what matters most in demonstrating and describing love. If we have any questions about this type of love, we simply need to look at the life of Jesus and meditate on His words: “God so loved this world that He gave His one and only begotten Son!” This is not a sentimental love, nor an emotional or feeling type of love. It is a love that was initiated by God, demonstrated in the life of Jesus and to be seen today in and through the lives of Christians today.
This love is the foundation of all relationships: first for our relationship with God and then our relationships with others. “God-love” will keep a relationship strong and healthy and bring individuals together in a common bond. In fact, this love will unite people in spite of flaws and faults, failures and foolish deeds. As Christians, we are obligated to “demonstrate God-love.”
Prayer: Father, fill our hearts with God-love, a love that has no limits, never gives up, puts others first, always demonstrates compassion, and proves our concern. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: John 3:16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Years ago a fire destroyed a large warehouse that contained many tons of ice. Although the firemen had tens of thousands of gallons of water available to extinguish the fire, they could not be used. The ice was in “cold storage” and beyond reach. The building burned to the ground even though it was full of “frozen water.”
God has given each one of us unique gifts and talents, skills and abilities, to do His work. We all are as different as our fingerprints and designed to do things that honor Him. Too often we imagine that what He wants us to do is beyond our capabilities.
We tend to see problems and issues that would require massive amounts of money or large numbers of people to bring change. We look beyond the immediate to the distant, even unimaginable, and find excuses not to do what God places before us.
If you recall the beginning of the earthly ministry of Jesus, He invited ordinary men to join Him in His extra-ordinary work. They had no special training but they did have a special commitment. We know that they were committed because we read that “they spent time with Jesus.” These “ordinary men” put aside their personal interests and began to see life through His eyes. He taught them to see the spiritual needs of others and how to meet those needs.
If we are willing to “spend time with Jesus,” follow Him closely, listen to Him carefully, and pray to Him sincerely, we will be able to do the same.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to always be alert for opportunities to tell others of Your love, salvation, and hope. If we love You, we will follow You and serve You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Matthew 4:19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
FROM TRIALS TO TRIUMPH
What do you do when you have a difficult time pleasing someone?
George Crum was the chef at a famous country club in Saratoga Springs, New York. One evening there was a guest who ordered fried potatoes to go with his meal. When his order of fries was served, he asked the waiter to return it to the kitchen saying they were too thick. This happened several times. Crum became frustrated. But he did not give up.
Challenged, he took his sharpest knife, sliced some potatoes wafer-thin, deep-fried them in boiling oil, and sprinkled salt on them. Then he had the waiter take them to the guest. The guest sampled them, smiled and decided to pass them around the table to his friends. Everyone enjoyed them and ordered more. The “potato chip” was born that evening and has become one of our favorite snacks.
There are times in all of our lives when people irritate us or bother us. It seems like nothing we do will ever please them or meet the standards they have set for us. No matter what we do or how hard we try, it is not going to be good enough. So, we are tempted to give up or quit. Paul said, “God causes all things to work together for our good.” This includes the most painful problems and difficult demands of life. In all things we must trust Him, be willing to do our best, and leave the results to Him. He, not others, knows what is best for our lives.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for giving us problems to solve and challenges to meet, so we can grow strong. Help us to be patient, to be polite, and to persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.