“A new commandment I give to you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13.34-35
“ … love one another … ” Have you ever thought, “How can I love someone I don’t even like?” We do it all the time. Let’s parse a word here. We don’t “like” people’s actions. That doesn’t mean we can love them for who they are. We don’t like some of the things our children or our siblings or our friends do, but we still love them. Let’s begin to look beyond the actions of others and see them as God wants us to see them, part of the family of God. You say, “Man, that’s tough.” Well, take a look at these words: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” When God chose to love me, it was an act of His will, not an act of His emotion. You and I can choose to love others as an act of our will, laying our emotional involvement aside.
Why is this principle so important? Because Jesus said, “By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Have you ever heard someone say something like, “I’m not going to that church. They hate each other”? Friend, if you think the world is not watching how God’s people interact with one another, think again. If we want them to fall in love with Jesus, they need to see that we love one another. We don’t need to put on a show or pretend something that isn’t true. We need to get alone with God and forgive those we say we can’t love and ask God to help us love them with the same spirit with which He chose to love us. Just my thoughts …
“He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.” Proverbs 21.21
“follow after righteousness … ” What does that mean? Is that some mystical phrase, or is there something concrete that we can look at here? Each day when you get up, you plan to follow after something that day. Either you set your own agenda and pursue it, or you seek God’s face and see what He has in store for you and pray for wisdom to do what the Spirit tells you to do. To make the choice to do what the Spirit directs is to follow after righteousness. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but once we realize the our purpose in life down here on this earth is to glorify God, the choice becomes easier.
Solomon links righteousness and mercy together. It would seem that he is telling us that extending mercy to others is on the path of righteousness. When we do those two things, they lead to life. “But what kind of life?” you ask. It is a life whose sole purpose is to glorify God in all things. That may seem a little simplistic, but it is far from it. When you and I make that kind of commitment, we are going head-to-head in battle with the evil one himself. He does NOT want us living a life that glorifies God, that demonstrates righteous living, and that brings honor to God’s children. So, you can expect a battle every day and sometimes moment-by-moment. But, don’t allow the attacks of Satan to sidetrack you from the life that Solomon recommends to us here. It is worth the effort and God will be glorified and the world will notice. Just my thoughts …
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7.14
I wish I could count the number of times I have heard the verse quoted, or quoted it myself, or heard someone preach a message from it. Although we know it was written to God’s Old Testament people, we also know that God has a message for us in the verse.
I doubt that anyone reading this would not agree with the statement that OUR land needs healing. A simple newscast, the front page of any newspaper, or a conversation with a friend soon reveals that sin abounds on every hand. We often hear the cry in our churches for God’s people to pray for America. And I agree that we need to pray for America (or whatever country in which you reside). But I want us to see what God requires of us in order to heal our land.
There are four particular things that are named in this verse: (1) humble ourselves, (2) pray, (3) seek God’s face, and (4) turn from our wicked ways. I don’t hear a lot of talk about Christians humbling themselves. Maybe we are uncomfortable with the concept. Maybe we don’t know how or maybe we don’t know what it means. We may think, “Well, I only need to humble myself if I think I am arrogant.” No, I need to humble myself because of Who God is and who I am in His sight. When we talk about praying, do we begin with self and move on from there, or is our focus only on the sins and needs of others? What does it mean to you to seek God’s face? That is more than a “figure of speech.” That is an action on my part that causes me to realize that my actions, my attitude, and everything about me is operating in the very presence of the Sovereign Redeemer. I don’t think we need anyone to remind us what it means to turn from our wicked ways. We just need to do it. Everything else in the equation is up to God. When we do our part, I have no doubt that He will do His part. Just my thoughts …
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3.16-17
The longer I work with believers, the more I am amazed at the number of people who want to be able to pick and choose which parts of the Bible they accept. These verses tell us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God … ” It is not up to me to pick and choose but rather to accept all of God’s Word and believe it. Once I realize what the Word of God can do for me, I will want to accept it all. Notice Paul’s instructions to Timothy. It is profitable for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction, and (4) instruction in righteousness.
The word of God is fully equipped to give me everything I need to know about doctrine. I frequently hear believers say, “I don’t know anything about doctrine.” That is an indictment that says, “I don’t read the Bible.” You can’t read the Bible and NOT get doctrine. Doctrine is not some mystical something. It is simple WHAT we believe. In addition to doctrine, the Bible gives us instruction on reproof. What is reproof? Reproof is an expression of disapproval. God tells us what He does not like. We don’t have to wonder about it. The Bible also gives us correction. When God disapproves of something, He tells us what we should be doing that is right.
Finally, the Bible gives us instruction in righteousness. Righteous living is that which brings glory to God. This is not talking about perfect living, but righteous living. None of us lives perfectly but all of us can live righteously. Learning to make right decisions for life means listening to the Holy Spirit as He gives direction for each day. Remember, “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable … ” Just my thoughts …
“He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great. (14) The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children. (15) Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 115.13-15
It is interesting that fearing the Lord and his blessings are in the same phrase. You might be saying, “Well, I thought God blessed everyone.” You would be right in one sense, but the sense in which the psalmist is speaking here is what God does with and for His children. As His child, whether small or great, God has promised special blessings and those blessings will come as we demonstrate our fear of the Lord – our awe of Him because of Who and What He is.
“The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children.” It is not God’s purpose for us to go through life dealing with constant struggle. His desire is to “increase” us – I view that as material blessings. Some may be thinking that you have struggled every day for so long, you can’t imagine living any other way. let me assure you that God really does want to increase you and your children. In those areas where struggle exist, seek His face for the answers only He can give. When you are unsure of a decision, wait on God’s divine direction. He WILL come through for you.
I have discovered in my life that there are times when I want to get ahead of God because I am unwilling to wait for His answer. That is a mistake every time. When I am willing to be patient, seek His face, and wait for His direction, then I see the increase that only He can give. Try it. You’ll like it! Just my thoughts …
“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (31) Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31.30-31
“a woman that feareth the Lord … ” This is a powerful phrase to describe a woman of God. When Solomon speaks of a woman that fears the Lord, he is characterizing a woman who has spent time with God, determining Who He is to her. What does it mean for anyone to fear the Lord? As I have stated before, fearing God is not living in constant fear that God is going to arbitrarily punish them for something. Fearing the Lord means to stand in awe of who He is, to have a grasp of Who He is and how He chooses to interact in our lives everyday, not because we are deserving of it, but because He loves us. When you think of God, is it with a sense of wonder, a sense of awe, that He would love you – unconditionally?
On this day of recognizing mothers, it is significant to note that the woman who fears God is to be praised. It is noteworthy. Why? Because fearing God is an essential component in doing the work of a mother. If a mother is going to teach her children to fear God, she must fear Him herself.
“Give her of the fruit of her hands … ” What is the fruit of a woman’s hands? Is it not a life that models Christlikeness? Let me encourage every woman reading this to seek to model Christlikeness. Let me encourage every man to acknowledge it when you see a woman whose life models Christlikeness. Even though her works will praise her, it is encouraging when those who love her praise her too. Just my thoughts …
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2.20
I wonder how many times we have read that verse and said to ourselves, “Wow, that is a powerful verse” and never really thought about what Paul really said? “Crucified with Christ … ” really? Do we really understand the purpose of crucifixion? It’s ONLY purpose is death. When they hung Christ on that rugged cross, He had absolutely no hope of ever coming down ALIVE. So in a real world of daily struggles, for us to day that we are crucified with Christ, what do we mean? Do we mean that we are DEAD to our old life? Are we declaring that the sins of our past no longer have any hold on us?
Paul goes on to say that Christ lives in me. That changes the dynamic of daily living to know that God is living within us. When we find ourselves bound to our past, stop struggling and give the past to God once-and-for-all and begin to live the life Paul describes: “I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” God has not called us to a life of repeated failures because of our past. He called us to a life of victory because of the One who lives within us. Remember this. Acknowledgment of truth is not enough. It is the application of truth that makes a difference. Knowing that Christ died for us is one thing. Applying the truth that He lives within us and walks with us daily is something we must apply to how we live every day. Just my thoughts …
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. (2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12.2
Two critical statements here: (1) let us lay aside every weight, and (2) let us run with patience the race that is set before us. How difficult is it for you to identify the weight that besets you? Do you KNOW what you need to law aside in your life? Do you know what you need to do in order to run with patience the race that is set before you? These seem to me to be serious considerations for every follower of Christ.
What is it that will be an encouragement for each of us to lay aside the weight and run the race with patience? The encouragement comes when we look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Why is He worthy of our attention? Because He (1) endured the cross, (2) despised the shame, (3) and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. There is no one more worthy of my focused attention that the Son of God. In order for our daily walk with the Lord to be bearable, we must follow the counsel given here to keep our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. Just my thoughts …
“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. (21) For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. (22) Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Psalm 33.20-22
The psalmist here addresses the need of both the soul and the heart. He speaks about waiting, rejoicing, and trusting. Each one of these words speaks to an element of our walk with God. We must learn how to wait on God because He does not always work on our time frame. In fact, He seldom works on our time frame. This waiting is in connection with God being our helper and our shield. It may seem at times that God is not doing what we want Him to be doing when we want Him to be doing it and in the way we want Him to be doing it. But here is the simple truth – He IS our help and our shield. The rejoicing comes when we have learned to trust God absolutely. Our faith no longer questions what God does, how He does it, or when He does it. We simply trust Him and that leads to rejoicing.
In verse 22 the psalmist speaks of hope. Notice how this is phrased: “Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” It almost sounds like the psalmist is saying that he wants to have unconditional hope in God so that God’s mercy will be unconditional (according as we hope). I believe God’s mercy is an unconditional element of His love for us. THAT brings me hope. Let’s live our lives in light of the truths that the psalmist teaches us here. Just my thoughts …
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (2) Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51.1-2
When I think about the background of this Psalm, I ask myself, “Do I really need this? I haven’t done what David did.” You see, this is David’s confession after his sin with Bathsheba. Satan wants me to think that I am not as bad as David, so I don’t need to pray like this. But the truth of the matter is, sin is sin and I need to be as honest with God as David was.
“Have mercy upon me, O God … ” Only God can grant the mercy I need. IF God chose to give me what I deserve, hell would be my resting place. That’s not because I am a really bad person. That is because I was born a sinner. But His mercy is his gift to me through grace, because of His great love.
“ … according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” God’s lovingkindness is certainly not something I deserve, but because of His tender mercies, He manifests lovingkindness to me.
Verse 2 is David’s cry for cleansing: “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” In verse 10 he said, “Create in me a clean heart … ” He realized how his sin had affected him and wanted the cleansing that only God could give. Even though we are believers, we still sin and need God’s cleansing. That great truth is expressed in 1 John 1.9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness.” Praise His Holy Name! Just my thoughts …