1 John 3:16

Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 

Put Your Love where Your Mouth is!

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Isn’t it ironic how John 3:16, the love of God through Christ and 1 John 3:16, the love of Christ through us, coincide so closely together?  Both of these scriptures involve the giving of a sacrifice in love.  Both of these scriptures involve the laying down of a life as the ultimate expression of love. 

My conviction today is how shallow and conditional my love is.  It is not nearly so focused on others as it is on its own agenda.  That self-love wants to preserve and cater to this life rather than sacrifice and give it.  Rather we think it out loud or not, how much of our life is motivated by, “what’s in it for me?”  What is even more convicting is how we so often treat the ones that are the closest to us and that we say that we love the greatest with the most contempt, disrespect and selfishness.  Where does all of that line up with the love of God in us?  We talk about the love of Christ, we preach it to others and we go through the motions, but is that love, that agape love, alive in action in our personal day to day relationships.  

Husbands, why are we not bringing the love into the home?  Why do we not love our wives, like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it?  Why do we not love our brethren, rather than using and taking advantage of them?  Should it surprise us that the world has so much contempt for us as Christians?  A good deal of the contempt and mockery of Christianity has little to do with how much we are like Christ.  Our hypocrisy betrays us.  When Christians and churches don’t pay their bills, borrow and don’t return, and only take, but never give, what does that speak about the love of Christ in our lives?   Many of us need a reality check about what the love of Christ is, because it isn’t being seen in us.   Where has the depth of God’s agape love gone?  When that love is operating people will be drawn to Christ and they will know us by our love.  How do others perceive and know us now?  Is that self-giving, sacrificial love what we are known for?  

Our prayer should be, “God make me a giver like You are a giver.  Make me a lover like you have loved me.  Make my life a living sacrifice daily poured out to You as I serve and love others as You have served and loved me.  Help me to experience in daily deed and reality what it is to love my neighbor as myself.  Help me to put Your love where my empty hollow words have been.  Amen.”

 
 
Blessings,
#kent

His Church

October 3, 2013

His Church

Ephesians 5:25-30
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body.

We, the Church, the loving bride of Christ, are taking in our hands the faces of the world’s wounded, downtrodden and outcast. We are the voice of God’s love and good news to those that are looking for direction and purpose in their lives. At some point, I think most people come to the realization of how shallow and empty that life is without God in it. Some would scorn and say we just use God as a crutch, because we aren’t able to think for ourselves and have no mind of our own. I am just so thankful that I have the wisdom to recognize how lame I am without Him. They are right I have no more use for my mind, because I understand how much greater it is to have the mind of Christ. Yes, the world and its spirit will often mock and ridicule us, but in the end what do they have but themselves, a meaningless life and an eternity of darkness. Mock the church if you will, but a least she is full of light and hope. She has purpose for living and being. She is more than just the expression of humanity; she is the expression of God’s redemption working in humanity. Yes, we will find in her many cracks and flaws if we are only looking on the outward vessel, but contained within her is a treasure beyond measure. It is the awesome presence of God’s Holy Spirit and Life. So many and varied are her members, all of them unique and different, but each one reflecting some aspect and dimension of God’s nature.
The Church is the redeemed of the Lord. It is the blood of Christ that now courses through our veins with the life-flow of God’s life, love and forgiveness. His mind is renewing our mind. His thoughts are becoming our thoughts. His eyes are becoming our eyes as we see our world from a kingdom of heaven perspective. As we hear with spiritual ears the world’s voice, we are moved to compassion for the hurting and the weak. We are moved to indignation over the world’s sin and antichrist behavior, but in it all, we are the salt of the earth. We are the ones that season it with the flavor of life and godliness. We are the ones who bring hope and the message of God’s love and reconciliation. Our world is perishing before us as we speak, but are we speaking God’s life and His love? Are we communicating with our world only on its terms, or are we communicating in a manner that our world is seeing something different in us? It doesn’t take us standing on a soapbox, preaching hell, fire and damnation to communicate God to people. It takes living a life that is like His, full of self-sacrifice, compassion, righteousness tempered with humility. It is not about us being lifted up or us being better than others, it is about us rolling up our sleeves and being willing to get down in the mud and dirt so that we lift someone else up. God didn’t place us in the position of looking down on others. He has placed us in the position of servanthood, of being the least that we might serve the greater. People won’t care about what we have to say until they know we really care.
It is sad when see so much of the church caught up in the outward show of things, in crowd appeal, pomp and splendor. You are more likely to find the greater presence of the Lord in some small nobody minister of the Lord who is simply in the fields of humanity laboring for the kingdom. His notoriety is not in the way he dresses, or performs, or orates, it in the likeness he has to Christ and His nature. He stands out the way Mother Teresa stood out. These people are a unique breed who have lost their life in expressing His.
Is that who we are today? How much of our life is still about us? Most of us would have to admit an awful lot of who and what we are is still about us. This is not to condemn us, but it is not in living for us that we will find God’s highest and His richest blessings. We have to become about serving others and that doesn’t mean letting everyone manipulate you into what they think you should do. It is in being humble and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit to direct you in His purpose and His plan.
The Church is a beautiful woman, but she is not yet without spot or wrinkle. It will no doubt take the fuller’s soap to cleanse her and the fire of God to iron out her wrinkles, along with the washing of the water of the word. Each one of us is a part of what makes up God’s church and His bride. How are we living out our part?

Blessings,
kent

Labels are for Cans

May 8, 2013

John 8:31
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

Labels are for Cans

Do you ever notice how our culture always likes to put labels on people, as if by a label we can accurately judge the content. We label people by race, color, creed, religion, denomination, by what your job or career is and by who you hang out with. Maybe it is just in our nature to categorize people by labels, then we can generically place them where they fit best in our thinking and even our prejudice.
I always hated labels, because every individual is different and while we may share certain commonalties that doesn’t make me a this or a that. Even in the religious world everyone feels more comfortable if they categorize you by faith, church or denomination. Immediately, that somehow qualifies us to judge rather this person is on my side or the other side.
Multitudes of people wear the label of “Christian”. What does that mean, that they were raised to believe in a God or that they really follow Christ?
Jesus didn’t come to gather Christians, He came to make disciples. A disciple is someone who has more than a casual belief in something; it is a person that follows a certain discipline. What was the discipline of Christ? According to John 8:31 it is abiding in His Word, then are you truly a disciple. It is a lifestyle, not just a belief. It is the fabric of what you live out of.
In John 13:35 Jesus give us another qualification and evidence of being His disciple. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Wow, we don’t always see that working among a lot of the so-called body of Christ. Do your really love your brothers and sisters or just the one that fit under your label and even there, there if further divisions and discord.
Here is another qualification that Jesus gives us as a disciple in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.”” Again in Luke 14:27 He says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” We have to be willing to go where Jesus went and to suffer what Jesus suffered. It means as Paul said in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
How are we doing so far? Are we just “Christians” by label or disciples by action and lifestyle?
Luke 14:26 gives us another hard one, “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” That means that in comparison to our love and commitment to Jesus, not even the ones we treasure and love most in the earth can compare, not even our own selves. Our service, love, allegiance and commitment is first and foremost to Him. In comparison to that love, we hate all else.
It is easy for us to get comfortable under the label of Christianity, but that is not what Jesus called us to and that is not what He called us to do. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives us this commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He didn’t tell us to make Christians or even believers or sell everyone on this ideology. He told us to go a make disciples and how can we do that if we aren’t one?
This should convict all of us of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus and the cost of what He asks us to pay. Do we just embrace it with our minds or are we walking it out in our lifestyle as we abide in Him? True Christianity is so much more than just labels it is the content of who we are in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

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