Tag Archives: God’s love

The Seeds Of Good Deeds

When you think of Christians who are known for their good deeds, Mother Teresa usually tops the list. She is someone who gave her life to those who were less fortunate than herself. While she is certainly the most famous, she’s not the only Christian to be known for her good deeds. In fact, each of us should be doing things for others, not as a requirement for salvation, but as a fruit of it. Giving to others should spring out of our love for God.

When I look at my own circle of friends, I’ve got friends who care for orphans, feed the homeless, provide disaster relief around the world, are surrogate mothers for those who can’t have children, run foster homes, who give money sacrificially, are missionaries and so much more. Jesus said we would be known for our love and our fruit. To do good deeds, you don’t have to do big things that change the world. Just do something that changes the world for one person at a time.

Romans 7:4 says, “And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (NLT). When we become Christians, each of us are capable of producing a harvest of good deeds. The only way to get any harvest is by planting seeds. Look around you today. See where you can plant seeds of God’s love in other people’s lives through a good deed. This world needs to see more of God’s love, and you and I are the ones He’s called to do it.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

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Love Without Action Is Dead

We’ve all heard the verse James 2:17, “Faith without works is dead.” It’s a verse we hear from the time we are children. We are not saved by our works, but works flow out of our salvation. A person who is given a second chance at life sees things differently and lives differently. A person whose life is rescued by another lives in gratitude to that person. Because they are thankful, they act differently. So we too act differently when we are saved. James understood this and wrote that verse in his letter. John said it a little bit differently though.

In I John 3:16-18, John had some strong words as well for us. He wrote in verse 16, “This is how we know what love is: Christ gave His life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others. (GNT)” Giving our lives for others is one of the works James wrote about, John took it a step further and described it as an act of love. This can mean that you would give your life in the place of someone else’s, but that doesn’t happen often. Instead, the Message writes it like this, “We ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.”

Giving ourselves sacrificially for others is something we can do often and repeatedly. Giving our life is a one time thing. As Christians, we should have a mindset that is looking out for others. I Corinthians 13:5 (depending on the translation) says, “Love does not seek its own,” “Love is not selfish,” and “Love cares more for others than for self.” True, Christian love gives itself for others. John believed that so much that in verse 17 he wrote, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? (NLT)” Living sacrificially for others is a sign of God’s love in us.

He didn’t say give everything to that person, he said we have to show them compassion and help them. If someone sees a fellow believer in need and turns away, John questioned whether they had God’s love in them. Living sacrificially for others means you offer your resources, your skills and / or your time to those who need it most. God’s love in us recognizes that we have things to do for ourselves, but puts the needs of others ahead of our own. It acts in their best interest. Proverbs 19:17 says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and He will repay you! (NLT)”

John finished his thought about living sacrificially in verse 18 like this, “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it MUST be true love, which shows itself in action.” We can’t just sit around and talk about God’s love, we must do something to show it. We don’t have a choice according to this verse. Not only is faith without works dead, God’s love in us without action is dead. It’s time we quit talking about our faith and started living out our faith. It’s time we quit talking about God’s love and started showing God’s love. Look around you today and see which believers needs you to live sacrificially for them.

 

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Prayer: God Never Changes

Lord,

I want to start off by praising you for giving me another day to live. I don’t want to take any day you give me for granted. I know all too well that things can change instantly. I’m thankful that you have provided for my needs. You have given me all that I have and made sure that I have more than enough. Even through lean times, you have sustained me to ensure I didn’t go without the necessities of life. In times of plenty and in times of poverty, you have supplied all of my needs.

I’ve learned throughout my life that you are consistent. As I watch the seasons change, I’m reminded that you never change. It seems as though everything changes here, but I can count on you never changing. Your love for me doesn’t depend on what time of year it is, how well I serve you or how much money I have. It is constant as well. I’m reminded of the scripture in Romans 5:8 that says, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Your love isn’t conditional. It never changes.

In a world of changing situations and changing people, it’s good to know you never do. You are my rock and my foundation. I can always rely on and trust in you because I know you will always be there for me. When people have deserted me, you have stood by me. When people have failed me, you have never let me down. When others have knocked me down, you were the one who picked me up. I have learned to put my trust in you rather than in others. Thank you for your faithfulness.

Help me to forgive those who have failed me, let me down or hurt me. Help me to seek forgiveness from those I’ve hurt, let down or failed. There’s not one of us who are perfect. There’s not one who doesn’t need grace from another or from you. Teach me how to give your type of love, forgiveness and grace to others. I want to be proactive in demonstrating the kind of love you have shown me. I know I have a long way to go, but you are the one who can help me get there.

I now pray for those who have wronged me in some way. Bless them, Lord, instead of cursing them. Show them the same compassion you showed to me. I can hear your words as you prayed for those who put you there: “Father, forgive them.” I pray the same for those who have wronged me in some way because I know it was a part of your plan to get me where you needed me and to make me who you wanted me to be. Help them to find their forgiveness in you. May they see you as the unchanging rock you are and learn to trust in you rather than to hurt others.

In Jesus’ name I pray.

Amen.

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A Call to Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to truly love people. As Christians, we are called to love others. Jesus said that the world would know we are His disciples by our love for others, but is that what we are known for? I’ve been reminded a few times this week through conversations and quotes I’ve read that we need to learn to love more than we are. We spend more time judging than we do loving and that’s a problem.

One of the quotes I read this week came from Mother Teresa. It said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” We have to fight against our human nature with this one. It’s easy to sit and judge, but difficult to go and love. Loving others requires us to act and it’s not an easy thing to do at times. Judging simply involves talking and requires little effort. It’s up to each one of us to consciously keep our mouths closed and to show others love instead.

Another quote I was reminded again came from Peter Strople. He said, “When in doubt, love.” If you aren’t sure what to do in a certain situation, ask yourself how you can show God’s love to that person. If you were the on,y one who had the opportunity to show God’s love to them, what would God ask you to do? Don’t pass the buck. You may be the only person who can show them God’s love and He is waiting on you to act on His behalf. Mark Batterson said, “Inaction is action. Indecision is a decision.” By not doing anything, you are telling them everything.

I also read an article about Uncle Si Robertson from Duck Dynasty this week. He was asked what his favorite verse was. He said, “John 3:17. Everybody knows verse 16, but nobody looks at verse 17.” In the Message it says, “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help.” Jesus didn’t spend His time judging sinners. He spent His time building relationships with them. Why aren’t we following His model?

I’m writing this today to myself as much as to anyone else that bears the name Christian. We are known more for judging than for loving. We are known for pointing fingers instead of helping hands. We’ve been so caught up in being in the world, not of the world that we’ve built walls between the ourselves and the ones we’re called to help. It’s no wonder that church growth is comprised mainly of switchers instead of new converts. We spend time and money trying to build a better service than the church down the road instead of spending time and money on things that help to build the relationships needed to truly grow the Church.

It all comes down to love. It’s not our minister’s job to do it, it’s ours. They can’t touch as many people as we, the body, can collectively. We can’t grow the Church because we’ve separated ourselves from those who need God’s love in an effort to stay clean. Jesus hung out with leppers, prostitutes and the worst of sinners because that’s who needs His love the most. It’s time we followed His example, built relationships with unbelievers and showed them His love in action. Don’t sit in judgement behind walls. Get your hands dirty and love others.

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Worthy of God’s Love

I’m not sure why I am constantly surprised by the goodness of God. There are times where I am just caught off guard at His faithfulness. I look at my life and I see all of my short comings and wonder why God would choose to bless me and to pour out His love on me. I know that I am unworthy of any gift that He gives, yet He still opens up the windows of Heaven and pours them out.

I think that’s one of the areas where it is hard to understand God because our minds try to rationalize Him as a human with human behaviors. We know the we are spiteful and hold grudges and we expect Him to. When He doesn’t, it blows our mind. I love how the psalmist put it in Psalm 36:5 when he said that His unfailing love is as vast as the heavens and His faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. It is so deep and so wide that we can’t begin to understand it.

I always want to rationalize it and understand it rather than to accept it and abide in it. I want to break it down and figure it out instead of just trusting in it. I think David understood it. He knew of the power that God has to forgive and forget. He relied on it and knew he was in trouble without it. You wonder how can an adulterer and murderer like David be a man after God’s own heart? Well it’s because he understood God’s ability to forgive and to forget.

It’s beyond me how God does it. I try to be a man after God’s heart and I fall short. I try to be like Him and I find I’m more like myself. I try to do what He asks and I end up doing what I want. I start off working hard to please Him, but in the end, I do what pleases me. That’s where God’s faithfulness kicks in. II Timothy 2:13 says in the Amplified version that even if we are unfaithful and untrue to Him, He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.

How is that possible? How can God remain faithful and true to us when all we seem to do is our own thing rather than His? It’s who God is. He is a God who loves us more than our doubts, our mistakes, our short comings and our fears. He is patient and kind. His love knows no end and is not conditional. He is not human and is not limited like we are. Once we remove those human characteristics of who we think He is and accept His divine nature, we can begin to get a glimpse of who He really is.

There were several in the Bible like David and Paul who got a glimpse of that. I don’t think it is reserved just for them though. God wants to open Himself up to you and me and to give us a glimpse of who He is. We fight and push back because we think we are unworthy. It’s when we finally realize how unworthy we really are that He has us right where He wants us to show His faithfulness and love. Don’t push back away from it. Swim in that river of his love that is as high as the clouds and is as vast as the heavens. His love for you doesn’t depend on whether you think you’re worthy. He thinks you are and that’s what matters.

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Get out of the Gutter

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As I was praying this morning, I began to think back to my teenage years and my early twenties. I saw places where God corrected my path and even prevented me from making decisions that could have affected the rest of my life. At the time, I didn’t see what was happening or know how close I was to making life altering decisions. As I began to thank God for helping me to stay on the right path, I saw this image of a bowling ball bouncing between gutter guards.

I see now that those guards where there keeping me in the lane. My life hasn’t gone down the center of the lane headed for a perfect strike. Instead, it has bounced from one guard to the other. I’ve gotten course corrections all throughout my life. The further down the lane I go, the less I’m hitting the guards. I’m glad they’re still there though. I know I still need them from time to time.

Just like in the game of bowling, the guards don’t always prevent the ball from rolling into the gutter. It happens. It happened. My life did roll down that gutter for a while. I went past the guards that God had in place to keep me in the lane. Thankfully, even in the gutter, God put a course correction for my life. I had the opportunity to bounce out of the gutter and back into where He wanted me.

When life rolls into the gutter, it’s easy to forget that you can get back into the lane God has for you. It’s easy to think that you’ve somehow messed up so bad that God can’t fix it. Your mind tells you that you should just stay there and keep rolling all the way to the end. It’s a hopeless place because so very few exit the gutter. But even in the gutter, God is still ready to put us back in right standing with Him. He knows that even when He rescues us from it, our lives will still bounce back and forth.

What I have found is that God is patient, kind and forgiving. He never stops loving us even if we go past the guards He set up in our lives. He’s constantly waiting for us to call out to Him for help. He’s looking down that lane to see if we’re ready for a course correction. I think He delights in getting us out of the gutter and putting us back into the lane where He wants us. There’s nothing that you or I could ever do to keep Him from loving us and wanting to put us back where we belong. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness.

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