Let us not love with words alone.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:

Cross references:1 John 3:17 : Dt 15:7, 8; Jas 2:15, 161 John 3:17 : 1Jn 4:201 John 3:18 : S 1Jn 2:11 John 3:18 : Eze 33:31; Ro 12:9

Advertisements

So faith comes from hearing.

Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (ESV)

When I hear God’s Word, whether it is spoken, set to music or taught, my faith will grow. I need, then, to put myself in a place where I can hear (not just read silently) God’s Word. I’ve begun to look for new ways to hear Scripture.

This year, I am purposing to listen. Dictionary.com defines listen as: to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing.

To listen, I have to be focused on hearing, purposefully and selectively, because what I hear has the power to change to me.

One of those ways is reading the Bible out loud. This has a few great benefits. I stay awake (a serious consideration when it’s early in the morning or late at night!). Anyone who hears me also gets to hear God’s Word! And my faith is built.
When little children first learn how to read, what does their teacher make them do? Read out loud. Why? Hearing builds comprehension; it helps us understand the material better.
The same is true when it comes to reading God’s Word. “Faith comes by hearing.” Reading out loud helps build our comprehension of what Scripture is telling us, as well as our faith. This is good for us and our children!
We can read the Bible out loud to children or better yet, have them read to us! Even if just for a small pocket of time: on the way to school, after dinner, before bed, or coming home from sports practice.
Keep a Bible in the car, by your kitchen table, or near the TV. I once heard a great author say he grew up in a home with books everywhere. In every room, on every table, there was a book. It became a natural thing to just pick them up and see what each page held! Let’s do the same with God’s Word and make it easily accessible.
Hearing God’s Word is important. Let’s start listening today by turning on some praise music, reading Scripture out loud and listening to sermons. Our faith will begin building quickly!
Lord, I need to build my faith for all that You have given me in this life. Holy Spirit, whisper to me, showing me pockets of time when I can hear Your Word for myself and for my children too. Amen

Do not let idols replace your faith.

We have an enemy who tries to convince us with lies. John 10:9-10 says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
This enemy has been convincing us for thousands of years that God can’t fully meet our heart cries. Rather than turning to God to access His unlimited storehouse of wisdom, direction, comfort, and provision, we turn to idols. We seek to fill our God-hunger with what’s tangible. Sight replaces faith and it’s easy to forget our personal God.
Although I loved and served God during those hard years, I forgot He was personal enough to fuel my empty heart with meaning and purpose. When a move across country stripped my life from all responsibilities outside my home, I was desperate enough to cry out to God rather than fill my days again with more to do.
When He finally had my attention, God stepped in to the gap to reveal Himself in a personal way. My heart was finally being fueled, and in a way that satisfied rather than left me hungry.
I’ve lived life both ways – filled but empty, and fueled and content. Interestingly my life is still full with people who need me, clutter and laundry that still need to be managed and work and church responsibilities. But the emptiness is gone. God is the source of true fullness that never leaves me wanting.

Do not let failure define you

One of the greatest battles we fight every day is the one in our mind. Our flesh tells us to “Quit trying to live for God…We will never be good enough.

That is a lie.

Too many times we allow our failures to define us. So let me take the pressure off you. No man or woman in the Bible or in history, no believer who did something great to further God’s kingdom, lived a perfect life. Each hero of the faith loved the Lord, and despite their failures, never quit. What they did do is answer His call on their lives despite their failures, difficult circumstances, and people who hurt them or discouraged them

Our Loving Lord is for us and no matter how many times we fall, He is there to pick us back up as many times as it takes until He comes to take us Home. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that God cannot redeem what you have done. Just ask your heavenly Father to help you get up and let Him handle whoever and whatever is keeping you down—and you’ll win!

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
— 2 Corinthians 12:9

When Excuses Won’t Do

Judges 6:1–27
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
Judges 6:15
Isn’t God amazing? Throughout the Bible he patiently works with complainers, self-doubters and rebels. And not only that, but God also works his plan through truly weak people, like Gideon—or like a man and woman in marriage.
Gideon had good reason to fear an assignment from God to deliver the children of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. His faith and his clan were weak, and the Israelites were mixing Baal worship with God worship. Even just talking to the Lord must have struck fear in Gideon’s heart: Didn’t he also deserve to be punished for failing to worship God with his whole heart?
Gideon thought his conversation with God was all about him. But, as we find out, Gideon came to realize he was just a player in God’s story, and God was the One with the power to save Israel. God patiently worked with Gideon to remove his doubts and to make him aware that God alone was his strength, telling him in verse 16, “I will be with you.”
So how do we complainers, self-doubters and rebels respond when we encounter God’s assignments in our married life? The first challenge is that there are two of us for God to deal with. Since God established the marriage covenant, he’s not inclined to undermine it by leading a husband and wife in different directions.
When my husband Grey and I were ending a one-year overseas mission assignment, the director of the mission agency challenged us to return as career workers. Grey was game, but I was unwilling to commit because I didn’t want to take on the challenge of raising financial support. We had funded one year of mission work with our own savings, but relying on God to lead people to support us caused me great anxiety.
While Grey stayed steady in his commitment to return to the mission field, I, like Gideon, whined about it and then asked God for a sign. When the first sign came (I encouraged Grey to look for a job in the United States, but all those career doors closed), I asked for another sign. Gideon-like, I was setting up my own fleece experiments.
This time God’s response was unmistakable. People started giving to us. Check after check finally brought me to the conclusion that God wanted to use us, ordinary people, to do his work overseas. We were nothing special, but raising support went well. We went back to the field for nine more years.

Forgive one another

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

Forgiveness is hard to imagine, when you have been hurt. Something happened to us that shouldn’t. A person said something hurtful or vengeful. Or an unfair situation caused us harm. Those events can make us feel angry or bitter, and those emotions make us feel trapped, affecting our relationships, our understanding of God, or our trust in others.

Scriptures like Colossians 3:13 may feel less a path to healing and more an affront. Forgiveness seems impossible. Especially when you are waiting for someone else to apologize, or change, or you just keep on with your heart guarded and closed off.

Why would God ask us to forgive? Perhaps God sees that we were made for something besides being hurt and trapped.

Forgiving allows God to remove the debris, carve a path to your heart, and gently lift you to freedom. Just as God sees the sparrow (Matthew 10:29), He sees you. He knows how hard it is; He knows that you’ve resisted forgiving others because it seems too hard.

You won’t be on this journey alone. God waits with open hands. Today is the day to begin to forgive. He is prepared to set you on a new path where you can walk again, and one day to fluff your wings and fly.

Dear Jesus, forgiving has seemed impossible. But today I will hop into Your hand, no longer resisting where You desire to lead me. Instead, I’m opening my heart to forgiving the past so that I can fully live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Make the Most of Today

Matthew 24:36–51

Carpe diem.

This Latin phrase means “seize the day,” and it certainly echoes a valid objective. We do need to seize each day, because we don’t know whether tomorrow will come or just how much of this life remains for us.

But what if we did? Imagine if a clock on the bottom of one foot digitally displayed how many days remained before we died. Theologian Francis Schaeffer put it another way: “Life is like a clock with no hands. It’s ticking but you never know when it’s going to strike midnight.”

What a sobering thought—for those living in the 1st century or the 21st century. Despite all of our advances in safety measures, in both industry and transportation, and all of our progress in the medical field, life still maintains a measure of unpredictability for us today. Accidents still happen, and people still suffer from strokes and coronary artery disease, often seemingly out of the blue. Nearly everyone has a story to tell regarding a friend, family member or coworker who has experienced something like this.

The 1st century disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). In the midst of his teaching, Jesus replied, “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).

In a way, Jesus urges his followers to “seize the day” because no one knows when he will return. But we do know that each of us will come face-to-face with Jesus and give an account of how we have lived for him. Each of us in large measure determines how that encounter will go.

Jesus wants us to be ready no matter when he returns—to be “faithful and wise” servants (Matthew 24:45). Who are the faithful and wise servants? Those who are ready—those whom the Master finds doing his will when he returns.

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 11:30; Matthew 25:14–30; John 9:4; Philippians 1:20–26

“Praying always.”

“Praying always.”
Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock–Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication”? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God’s answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

What about those who never hear about Jesus?

Acts 4:12 –
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

There may be no satisfactory answer to this question. The Bible is clear about the exclusive claims of Christ (see Jn 14:6). Yet we also know God is merciful and absolutely just. It would seem to contradict what we know of his nature if he did not account for the disadvantages of those who, through no fault of their own, have never heard of Jesus.
From another perspective we have to say that even those who have heard the name of Jesus do not deserve to be saved. Salvation is always the result of God’s love for us, not our love for him. It is his grace—not our efforts—that saves us.
Still, God’s grace requires a human response. Christians have a responsibility to make Christ known in all the world so people have the opportunity to respond (see Mt 28:19–20). Ultimately, we can trust God to judge the world justly.