Love as He Loves: John 15:1-17
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:9-17)
When things are going well, we feel elated. When hardships come, we sink into depression. But true joy transcends the rolling waves of circumstance. Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the vine, and God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful (John 15:1-2). The branches are all those who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with Christ produce much fruit. When our lives are intertwined with his, he will help us walk through adversity without sinking into debilitating lows and manage prosperity without moving into deceptive highs. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily will keep us levelheaded, no matter how high or low our circumstances. Because Jesus Christ is Lord and master, he could call us servants; instead, he calls us friends. How comforting and reassuring to be chosen as a friend of Jesus. Because he is Lord and master, we owe him our unqualified obedience. Yet Jesus asks us to obey him because we love him.
We are to love each other as Jesus loved us. You may never have to die for someone, but there are other ways you can practice sacrificial love: listening, helping, encouraging, giving. Prayerfully consider someone who needs this kind of love today. Give all the love you can, and then try to give a little more.
|Source: Life Application Devotional, October 24, 2016
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For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. – 2 Corinthians 10:3
Who are you hanging your hopes on?
I thought my hope was in waiting on God. But this week I was shown I had been waiting on a man. Albeit, I excused my lapse in focus by assuring myself I was waiting on God to prepare this particular man for me. Go ahead and laugh – my foolishness is not loss on me.
I also excused my search by pointing to all the men and women in the Bible that God provided companions for to support them in their assignments – from Adam to Jesus. I have not been able to understand why my companion hasn’t been placed with me yet. The spiritual walk is difficult. Getting your spirit cleansed and keeping it right is an ongoing, never-ending process that requires supernatural balance, focus and support. However, it doesn’t require removal from the world. For Jesus prayed the Father in John 17:15-18
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
But dealing in the world is where our vision gets blurry, isn’t it? Even when our intentions are pure, our thoughts can be tainted. I was reminded last week to take even my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)
How are you thinking? I thought my thinking was in alignment with the Word, but as my Pastor said in Bible study this week, even being off by a centimeter or a millisecond is enough to doom you and mark you as disobedient to the will of God. I admit that shamed me. If the only thing I have going for me is willingly, obediently, and fully keeping God’s commandments, adhering to His instructions and waiting for His mark then missing anything is a crushing blow to my spirit. What must I do? I must continue pressing towards the mark….
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14)
A man at a dinner party last year told me and other ladies present, “If you’re waiting on a man, you’re wasting your time!” [Read everything else he told us in My God & Me, p. 221 ] I heard him, actually felt he was talking to me directly, but I didn’t want to think the message applied to me because God was taking care of the man I was waiting for, after all!
Over the past couple of weeks the story of God coming down to wrestle with Jacob has been bombarding me from different people and mediums. Again, I took what I wanted to take out of it. I wanted an answer and a timeline from the man I thought I was waiting for. So, I wrote him and asked him to bless me with his honesty: “Is there anything here?” He blessed me with his silence instead.
A couple of days later, I opened an email from Prophetess Tanya M. Baker through her FB group, Breathe International Kingdom Ministries. I had been shaken, tossed and spanked by the Word all week, but what she had to say knocked me over and opened my eyes:
“Even though Jacob has the promise of God that he will be the greater brother, and even though he just saw an army of angels following him out in the desert, he still doesn’t have the kind of faith to really believe that God can take care of the details.
You don’t have to make yourself good enough to come to Jesus, because that’s not possible. And yet, a lot of people still doubt the promise of God, and just like Jacob, they try to fix things themselves.
There might be a Bible full of promises, there might be a band of angels following you across the desert, but still you want to fix things your own way, and just like Jacob, you are going to come up empty-handed.”
Preach, Sister! Oh, my Lord! What a foolish, foolish woman I am! I needed that!
What are you struggling with? Identify it and give it to God. He’ll handle it and He will bless you for prevailing!
Watch & Listen and you’ll know
What is the man you’ve been hanging your hopes on, telling you? Now that my blinders are off and the ear plugs removed, I’m no longer making excuses for what my former hope had been telling me for years:
- I have no encouragement or support for you
- You are not worth my time
- I don’t want to know you
- I’m not going to provide for you
- I’m not going to honor you
- I’m not going to claim you
- I’m not going to love you
- I don’t want you
Now, he never spoke any of those words, but his actions (and lack thereof) did. I honestly would have preferred the bluntness of the spoken word. Then again, if he had gifted me with such unrelenting clarity, I would have missed my struggle.
Another magnificent piece placed before me this week was “Wrestling With God” by Rev. Bruce Goettsche (www.unionchurch.com). The Reverend outlines Jacobs struggle from Genesis 32:22-32, below are the points that spanked me (when I put myself in Jacob’s place):
- Jacob is afraid. He reaches out, he asks God for help, and he seeks to make some kind of restitution. But in all of these things, Jacob is still resisting. He is still holding back, relying largely upon himself.
- Jacob knew the right words and could perform the right actions . . . but his heart still was not completely the Lord’s. It’s easy to have superficial faith. However, a crisis forces us to grapple with our real feelings and our true faith.
- God did not just want Jacob’s worship. He wanted his heart. And He wants the same from us.
- Jacob was standing between his past struggle with Laban and the impending struggle with Esau. God comes at this time because he wants Jacob to realize that his real struggle all along has been with God.
- God asked Jacob his name to see if Jacob was ready to face who he really was or if he was going to continue to fight the Lord.
- The struggle was necessary for Jacob’s growth
- God allows the struggles in the hope of producing faith. It is in these moments that we have a choice. We can give up . . . or look up.
- We need to realize that we are the problem and we need someone to change us.
- What Jacob didn’t realize was that the greatest battle being waged was the one being waged in his heart: “Who will be in Charge?”
- Jacob wanted God’s blessing but did not want God’s ownership of his life. Jacob had a surface faith – he wanted the benefits of God, but not a relationship with God.
Today I can tell you that the best I could imagine for me is nothing compared to what God has in store for me! I know He always, without fail, has my best interests in heart. I can tell you that even though my tainted thoughts blurred my vision, I am now able to better see my True Champion: Jesus Christ and the far-thinking Father who sent Him! They have spoken plainly about their feelings and intentions for me. Not only that, they followed their words with action.
- God sent His Word to teach me
- God loved me so much, He gave up His Son
- Jesus loved me so much, He willingly went to the cross and laid down His life
- Jesus provided a comforter for me during his physical absence
- Though the world leaves me all alone, Father, Son & the Holy Spirit are with me always
- Jesus left instructions on how to love like him and how to identify a husband like him
- My Father knew me before He formed me in my mothers’ womb
- Even when I can’t, He can; His strength is glorified in my weakness
- My Father made certain from the beginning that EVERYTHING I encounter will benefit me
- From beginning to end, He tells me I am wonderful, marvelous, resourceful, worth more than anything else in His creation, beautiful, courageous, well spoken, a problem solver, a warrior, a king, a priest
- I have dominion wherever my feet tread, I am full of integrity, honorable, self-disciplined, a citizen of heaven, His ambassador, created to receive His love, I am COMPLETE, I am fulfilled, I am blessed and well favored.
- I’m His one and only. He’s faithful, He will never forsake me, He’s my covering and my protection, and He’s committed to our union. He’s in it for eternity.
- He wants me.
- Though He provides for me abundantly, even now, He’s preparing something so much better!
WOW! My head knows all that and so much more, but could it be my heart missed it? My Champion is forever fighting me for my attention and favor, even when I don’t think I’ve strayed. Yeah, such love and acceptance may seem daunting for a flesh n’blood man to live up to. Luckily, they don’t have to do it on their own. We can all choose to allow Jesus Christ to live in us and love through us. That’s a fact. God wouldn’t have based His word on love if He wasn’t prepared to give it, spread it and have us multiply it by use. If love wasn’t important He wouldn’t have created us as physical representations of His spiritual realm. I want to live and love in all of God’s promises. I want EVERYTHING He wants for me! I don’t wish to miss any portion of my blessings… so I wait. I will wait on God and trust in Him, something I thought I was doing, until my actions said otherwise.
Know that you are blessed in your struggles!