Categories
Christianity

Today I Will Be Loving

As it has been a while since I last posted, just to remind everyone that of late I have been expounding  upon attributes that I aim to be, this being a question I must fill out in my daily journal page.  The latest one is today I will be … loving.

So, how can one be loving?

  • Share your wealth with the less fortunate, 1 John 3:17 “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?” 
  • In action and truth, 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
  • Lay down our lives for one another, this need not refer to literally dying for another, although, this could easily be expected of us, but, this could also refer to our becoming a living sacrifice for Jesus, dying to our own desires and living for Christ. 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
  • By honouring one another in humility, Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”
  • Bear with one another, Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
  • Speak the truth, Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
  • Our very lives should demonstrate love, Ephesians 5:2 “and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
  • Serve others humbly, Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
  • Show hospitality and care for strangers, Hebrews 13:1-2 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
  • In everything, 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Do everything in love.”

We have the ability to love like this because God has given us this power, 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

We have the ability to love like this because God loved us 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

So, who or what must I love?

  • Our enemies, Luke 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
  • What is good, Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
  • God first, Matthew 10:37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
  • One another, John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 1 John 4:20,21 “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
  • Your neighbour Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

What am I not to love?

  • The world 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”
  • Material possessions, 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

Why must I love?

  • So that people know you are a follower of Jesus, John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
  • For God to dwell in us, 1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
  • To drive out fear, 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
  • To cover wrongs, Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”
  • To fulfil the law, Galatians 5:14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
  • To overcome evil, Romans 12:20-21 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
  • To express our faith, Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” 
  • To set an example, 1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Surely one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible is that written by Paul to the Corinthian church, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13:-

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

To Paul, love is everything, love is greater than omniscience and omnipotence.  Love is everlasting, it will never cease to exist as prophecy and knowledge will.  In this passage, Paul warns us against the attributes that do not belong in love:-

Godly love:-

  • Does not envy
  • Does not boast
  • Is not proud
  • Does not dishonour
  • Is not self-seeking
  • Is not easily angered
  • Does not delight in evil
  • Keeps no record of wrongs

And Paul explains to us the attributes that are the very nature of true love.

Godly love:-

  • Is patient
  • Is kind
  • Rejoices in truth
  • It protects
  • It trusts
  • It hopes
  • It perseveres

As well as Paul’s beautiful teaching on this matter we have the perfect demonstration of Godly love in Jesus, who, by coming to us fully man, shows exactly what we are to do in order to possess Godly love. 

  • Jesus was patient, Mark 1:13 “and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.”  During His period of temptation, Jesus was thirsty, Jesus was hungry, for 40 days He went without water and food, despite the fact that He had the ability to provide Himself with these at any time.  It was necessary for Him to endure this period of temptation and that He did, with ultimate patience.
  • Jesus was kind, Matthew 14:14 “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus’ kindness, in healing, prayer, exorcism, in His very being.
  • Jesus rejoices in the truth, 1 John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Jesus came so that we would not just live an earthly existence which all too quickly is over but that we may have abundant eternal life with Him and in this Jesus rejoices!  Jesus drank wine and enjoyed meals with others, He brought 12 men into close fellowship with Him and was surrounded by many more followers including many women.  Jesus rejoiced in fellowship and he rejoiced in the Word of God.
  • Jesus protects, Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.”  In this passage, Jesus protects people from demons.  We also see Jesus protect his disciples from the storms that endanger their boat.
  • Jesus trusts, Matthew 18.21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” 1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”  Throughout His earthly existence, Jesus puts all His trust in the Father.  He endures all manner of pain and persecution for the trust He bears towards God.  He wishes that we will also have this trust and that no amount of persecution will affect our future hence why it is important that we continue to forgive others and not hold resentment that may impede our journey with Christ.    
  • Jesus hopes, John 17:20-21  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  Jesus has hope that we will all come to Him and be joined in the Holy Family.
  • Jesus perseveres, John 3:16 “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.”  Throughout His earthly life, Jesus knew how it would end.  Though he was terrified to the point of sweating blood, He persevered and had the courage to face the cross.

In this, His final act as man, Jesus epitomises the complete essence of Godly love, on the cross, Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus hung there, beaten, tortured, and laughed at.  Bystanders mocked Him that as the “Son of God” He was unable to get Himself down off the cross.  In all this, Jesus did not retaliate.  He showed ultimate humility.  When we are made fun of or mocked, our immediate response is to defend ourselves and show that we do not deserve this, that we are better than what others suggest, that we are above this mocking, yet Jesus, being God incarnate humbled Himself beyond all measure, for you, for me and for all who call upon His holy name.  In this way the cross is the ultimate sign of love.  Whenever you see an image of the cross, imagine Jesus upon it, pain etched across His face, the weight of all the sin of this world upon his shoulders, the very sin you and I commit daily, Jesus bore on that wooden cross.  What love is this!!

If you would like to find out more about the heart of Jesus, I would strongly suggest reading the book entitled “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund. Jesus describes His heart as “gentle and lowly”, Matthew 11:29.  The most powerful being in all the world, the creator of every aspect of existence has a heart that is gently and lowly! This is the love that is from God.      

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Categories
Christianity

Today I Will Be …. Content

Recently I have been going back over my Prayer Journal.  Each day I am to fill in a section entitled “Today I Will Be ….”  Often, my answer is found within the Scripture I have just read or from the writings of Oswald Chambers whose Devotional Bible I read daily.  Recently I felt urged to write blogs about some of the words that I chose “to be”.  The first is Content.

Today I will be content.  This word came to me as I pondered over John 8:11 “She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”  In this passage Jesus is speaking to a woman about to be stoned for her sin.  A previous verse contains the very well known, “… Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”, John 8:7.  This got me thinking about how our sin eats away at us unnecessarily because we are forgiven.  Whether Christian or otherwise, at some stage we feel guilt, and for many, guilt is a constant unshakable burden.  Scripture tells us this is unnecessary because Jesus is willing to take it from us. He wants so much to bear our sin for us that He went to the cross, voluntarily, in order to make this possible.  I am quite sure He did not suffer so, in order that we should continue grasping at our sin, desperately trying to hang on to it!  1 Peter 2:24 “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.”

What does it mean to be content?

Being content is being happy with the little things.  Luke 12:22-23 “He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”  Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Riches and material objects will come and go.  If we strive for the material, we will only desire more and more as the Dalai Lama points out “When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more.  Your desire can never be satisfied.  But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself “Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.””  There are many sad tales of extremely rich people, who have more than most could ever dream of and yet are discontented, never having enough to make themselves content.  This is a very real danger in our society of social media, where riches are constantly flaunted in our faces and more worryingly in that of our children’s.  It is important to consider the happiness that the little things bring and soon you will discover that the little things are actually the big things and the big things the little!!  When you wake in the morning to bird song, and look out of your window to the flowers, this is precious beauty that money cannot buy.  Or when you look out to the ocean or across the hillside, this is beauty, and this is a big thing!!

Paul is a fantastic example of someone who was content, 2 Cor 12:10 “Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”   We need not be reminded that Paul suffered horrific beatings, banishment, loneliness, shipwreck, persecution, imprisonment, rejection and yet through all of this he was content.  He understood the purpose of his suffering and he understood that laying in the midst of all this horror was the light of Jesus and he knew that by these very experiences he was serving Christ and in this way he found ultimate contentment!    

Mother Angelica perfectly sums this up “The Christian experiences and lives a paradox.  He possesses joy in sorrow, fulfilment in exile, light in darkness, peace in turmoil, consolation in dryness, contentment in pain and hope in desolation.”  To be firmly rooted in Christ is not for us merely to endure all the hardships of life but to endure them with perfect contentment as though both blessing and persecution are one and the same.  

How do we go about obtaining contentment?

This seems such a daunting task and it is unlikely that many of us will reach the contentment that Paul experienced or the contentment that Mother Angelica describes, however, this is our goal and there are ways to achieve this.

First, we are not to worry and fret, Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” 

Secondly, we must not concern ourselves with the past or the future more than is absolutely necessary.  Of course, there are times in our lives where we must rehash the past, when we are discussing events with friends or family, perhaps you are dealing with an issue you have had with someone.  There are also times when we must consider the future, for example we must ask ourselves, “Should we move to a new house?”  “Should we have a family?”  “Will this vocation suit me?”.  However, where possible we must leave our past and our future in God’s hands, Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Luke reiterates this in chapter 9, verse 62 “Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Thirdly, we must hand our worries over to Jesus.  We must remove our yoke which is heavily laden with our regret, sin, worry, fear, etc. and we must put on the yoke of Jesus which is light.  Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  1 Peter 5:6-7 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Next, we must understand that this is a learning process.  This is not something bestowed on us upon our salvation but something that we must work on throughout our lives, Paul, himself says in Philippians 4:11-13  “Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.”

We must trust in God and seek Christ, Isaiah 26:3 “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace — in peace because they trust in you.”  Proverbs, 19:23 “The fear of the Lord is life; indeed, filled with it one rests secure and suffers no harm. Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We must understand that life is transient, what we are frantic about one day will be forgotten about the next, understand that things will pass, 2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Ecclesiastes  3:1-8

One way of finding contentment is to consider others before ourselves, this is true humility. when we give to others, we find contentment, what we gain for ourselves, can be destructive because we can find we are never satisfied but to give to others is a blessing,

We must let go of our earthly desires.  When Jesus sends the disciples on a mission he tells them to travel light, Mark 6:8-9 “These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.”  Our treasure is not to be found here on earth, our treasure is in Christ, it awaits us in heaven.  Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  If we look to our earthly treasures then we overlook Christ, but when we look to our heavenly treasure then we look to Christ.  Jesus told a parable that teaches us of the dangers of earthly treasure in Luke 12:16-21 “And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.  “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

One way of grounding yourself is by keeping the Sabbath.  By resting on the Sabbath we are free to devote this time to God, we can read Scripture, attend church services, listen to worship songs, watch a nice movie, spend time with friends and family, walk in the countryside exploring God’s beautiful land, spend time in the garden, do craft work, the list is endless.  This is a good way to connect your heart and mind with Jesus.  If you are unable to sabbath on a Sunday, you can make it another day or perhaps do evening to evening rather than morning to morning.

Lastly, look to the Heroes of the faith for inspiration.  When I feel a little flat, I love to read books about missionaries, Christian leaders, Bible characters etc as it provides such impetus for me to try harder.  Examples are Paul, Peter, Stephen, Mary Slessor, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Junior, Corrie Ten Boom.

I would recommend reading “Journey to Contentment” by Sally Welch which has many helpful exercises to help with finding contentment. 

I will leave you with two Scriptures which I hope will inspire and comfort you.  

Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Love and Blessings

Louise xx

Categories
Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

What Is Love?

This is the age-old question….  What is true love?  Many of us believe we are in love when we start to miss a person when they are not around, perhaps we have an experience and think “I wish this person was here to share this.”  Maybe when we put their needs above our own i.e. you watch a movie of their choice rather than the one you have been desperately waiting to see.  Godly love surpasses what we, as man are capable of, yet as Christians it must be our goal.  We may believe that we are experiencing godly love when we feel we would lay down our life for another person, John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.  Yet, how many of us would lay down our lives for a stranger, or still yet, an enemy, Jesus did, Romans 5:8 “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Love forms the basis of the two most important commandments which are present in all four Gospels, Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28 and John 13:34.

So, what does Godly love look like?

  • Godly love shows honour, Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”  More than this it humbles us to the point that we care more for the one we love than we do our own selves.  We put the needs of others above the needs of ourselves, we will go hungry in order that another can be fed.   
  • Godly love is everything, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing”.  1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.  Paul explains to us in these passages that love is everything, nothing compares with love, without love, one has nothing.  It is the essence of God and without this essence we are dead.   
  • Godly love involves action, 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Love is not something that we merely say to each other but something visible, love is alive, love is action in our day to day lives.  
  • Godly love is familial, Hebrews 13:1-2 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”  Love is not casual.  It is not a complacent “Love Ya” that is so common on today’s society but the type of love that one has for his own flesh and blood, for we are all made in the image of God and within the church we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are an eternal family. 
  • Godly love covers sin, 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”  We see this in our day to day lives, how often have our children misbehaved and treated us badly but we smile and forgive them because we love them.  We argue with our spouses then laugh it off because we love one another, were this an argument with a stranger we would surely not be so quick to forgive.
  • Godly love provides for others, 1 John 3:17 “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?”  John is not just suggesting that we help each other out but insisting that if we do not do this and we do not have empathy for others that we do not have God within us at all!  Paul also calls us to help each other, Galatians 6:2, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
  • Godly love rejoices in the truth, 1 Corinthians 13:6 “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Lies have no place in Godly love.  Lies are not of God.  Whenever we lie, we lie to God Himself, Acts, 5:1-4 “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
  • Godly love is our goal and our aim as Christians, Paul, in praying for the Thessalonians, asks for an increase in love, 1 Thessalonians 3:12 “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”
  • Godly love is part of the fruit of the spirit Galatians 5:22,23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,  kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,  self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  The fruit of the spirit is all goodness.  There is no law against these because in these there can be no evil.
  • Godly love is patient and kind, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”  Because we are so egocentric being patient can be exceedingly difficult for us, but we must strive for this virtue as this is part of Godly love.   
  • Godly love glorifies God, John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.”  When we radiate love, we radiate Jesus.  Others can see Jesus in us.  If, while we claim to be Christians, we mistreat others, are self-centred, angry, etc etc. others will not see Jesus in a good light, they will not think that this is a God they want to follow.  However, when they see kindness in the face of hostility, love in the face of hate, forgiveness in the face of bitterness, then they see our God for who He is, our loving God.
  • Godly love even loves enemies, Lev 19:34 “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”  Matt 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.  We see in the Old Testament as well as the New this commandment to love one’s enemies.  This is important in order to separate God’s people from the rest of the nations.  When we think of the most evil people that we can imagine in history, these people still loved their families very much, therefore, it is having the capacity to love those who would harm you that shows the power and glory of God, our Father.  Jesus taught us this beautiful in the Parable of the Good Samaritan:-   

Luke 10:25-37  “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”  He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself”.  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”  In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

  • Godly love is the Law and the Prophets, Matt 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”.  Gal 5:14, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Romans 13:8-10 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law”.  When one is truly filled with Godly love, it is physically impossible to break the Law, if one has the love of God, one cannot steal from another, or murder, or blaspheme, the evil is not present because the love is too great!

God has demonstrated this love for us, 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.”  God bore the pain of parting with His Son for us, the very people, who turned away from God, who would rise up against Him…  God, our mighty Father humbled Himself, taking the form of man for us, for those who would blaspheme against Him. 

God, in His very being is love.  He does not just love as an emotion.  His very person is love itself.  1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We cannot be separated from this love, Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I hope to come back to this again and cover this in more detail especially looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 so please check back soon!

Meantime, please meditate on the many Bible verses I have shared with you, pray about them and let us all try and live them out more and more in our day to day lives for God’s Glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Categories
Uncategorized

How To Write A Prayer Journal

In an earlier blog I suggested using a prayer journal to help you if you are struggling to pray or if you want to develop your prayer life.  These are available online in journal format or there are single page designs which you can download for free from the internet.  Just type in prayer journal or prayer sheet and then click on images and you will see a large selection that you can print off.

I have designed a simple one based on the “ACTS prayer guide” I spoke about earlier:-

I have attached a PDF link for you to use should you wish to download this.

There is space for the date at the top so that you can fill this in and later go back and check what you have written.  You may wish to do this to see how your prayer life has developed over time or how your focus has changed!

The Adoration Section is where you praise God.  Write down His glorious attributes or simply how much you love Him. 

The Confession Section is where you admit where you have gone wrong.  We know that all the sin we confess will be forgiven so do not let this affect you negatively but simply admit your guilt and let God’s gracious forgiveness be upon you.

The Thanksgiving Section is where you write down all the things you are grateful for.  I find depending on my state of mind, this can be overflowing to the point I struggle to stop, or I can find it hard to think of anything.  When I am feeling negative, I have learnt to think simple, I woke up, so I am alive, I have been granted another day.  I don’t know how many of you watched I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here last year, but I was really inspired by Caitlan Jenner’s attitude.  Every morning on waking she would shout to the rest of the camp “It’s Another Day to Excel!”  What a positive attitude!  I think this sort of enthusiasm is something that we all should strive for!

The Supplication Section is where you write your prayer requests.  These may be for your own needs or the needs of others.

You may need additional space for any one of these sections, so I have created Individual Prayer Sheets for each of these.

Adoration Journal

I have included lines in order to write words of praise to God and then I have left a blank space at the bottom in order that you can get creative should you wish.

Supplication Journal

I have included space for name, prayer request, date of prayer and date of answered prayer. 

Thankfulness Journal   

As with the Adoration Journal I have included lines in order to write all the things you are thankful for and a blank space in order to get creative.

Confession Journal

I have included space for your confession and a space for the date of your confession.

I have been lucky enough recently to be introduced into Creative Christianity and it has changed my life!  I do not think I can quite put it into words….  I just feel like my life with God is fuller in some way, that rather than giving things up for Christ, I have been given so much more.  My life is enhanced by my walk with God.  I would like to devote a blog entirely to this so I can hopefully inspire you to have the courage to get creative, so I will not go on too much here! I will just say that the blank spaces on your prayer sheets could be used for further writings, poetry, lettering, drawing, paints, decorating with stickers etc.  There are so many fabulous ideas in which you can creatively worship God. 

I hope this has been helpful to you. 

Happy Journaling!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Categories
Uncategorized

How are we saved?

I presume if you are reading this that you are a new Christian, considering becoming one or just trying to find out a bit more about Christianity.  If you have been visiting a church or meeting Christians, you may have been asked the following questions:-

“Are you saved?”

“Are you born again?”

“Have you said the sinner’s prayer?”

“Are you baptised?”

I found these types of questions very alarming when I was first asked them.  I had absolutely no clue what they were talking about and I also had no idea whether this was something I wanted to be involved in or not!  Having grown up with the idea that one’s religion was a private matter it was uncomfortable for me to hear people speak like this! 

Now I understand these questions, I can assure you there is nothing to be scared about.  It is just part of being a believer.  Let us look at some Bible verses in order to understand what being “born again” means. 

Paul tells us in Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;”  O.K, so, here we see what we must do in order to be saved, we must confess with our mouths that “Jesus is Lord” and we must genuinely believe that Jesus came back to life and that it was God who raised Him.  Luke further emphasis the need for faith in Acts 16:31 “  “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  The only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ, as Acts 4:12 tells us “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

You may ask “Do I need to be saved?”  The answer unquestionably is Yes!!  Romans 5:9 states “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  So, without being saved we face the wrath of God and we will perish, in other words, we will not be accepted into heaven.

You may still ask, “How does being saved work?”  When you realise how holy and perfect God is, it becomes apparent just how sinful and depraved we are and therefore how does this holy God save us?  Our holy God cannot look upon evil yet by His great grace He saves us.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”  2 Timothy 1:9 “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,”  Here we can clearly see that our being saved has nothing to do with us but God and His grace that He has extended to us.  You will see that this passage also mentions that this grace is granted us in Christ Jesus.  This refers to the crucifixion.  Only through the atonement of Jesus can God look upon us sinners and grant His grace to us in order to provide us with salvation.   

So, how does being saved happen?  Another word for being saved is salvation or being born again.  The Ordo Salutis tries to simplify all these weighty theological doctrines into a chart.  There are different forms of this chart, so I have used a simplified version.

First God must call you to Him.  You may have felt a growing or sudden desire to attend church or perhaps someone spoke to you about Jesus and you felt the need to learn more.  This is effectual calling.  God has called you and you have responded.  Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

Next you are regenerated.  You may have heard this term before on a popular science fiction series!  The difference here is that on the outside nothing has changed, you still look exactly the same but, on the inside,, you are changed, you are born again, John 3:3-8. 

Justification means that you are made right with God.  This is where the sacrifice of Jesus comes in….  Imagine you are in the dock and God is judge and jury, you are convicted of sin and sentenced to death, then Jesus, God’s only Son stands up and demands to take your place so that you may live …  This is the truth of what He has done for you.   You are now justified, and God will not hold your sins against you.  Ephesians 1:13 “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise”

God, accepting this substitution, frees you from the guilt of sin and adopts you into His Family.  You are now a Child of God.

Now the hard work starts!! It is time for you to be transformed into a likeness of Jesus.  This does not happen overnight and, indeed, it will not happen during your lifetime.  Bit by bit, month by month or year by year you will notice that you become more and more aware of your sin, that you strive that bit more to avoid the sins of this world and instead work hard as Jesus’ hands and feet on earth.      

Only at death will we be made holy so as to be acceptable to live with Jesus in heaven.  This is called glorification.

I hope I have managed to explain a little of this vast subject.  A lot of complex doctrine is involved here but the basics of what you need to know are:-

To be a Child of God you must be born again, not as in an infant birth but a birth of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will come to you in order that you can do the work of the Lord and understand Scripture well.  For this to happen you must genuinely believe in the resurrection of Jesus and say the words “Jesus is Lord”.  There is a Sinner’s prayer that is not found within Scripture but may be useful for you to have an idea how you can pray about this.  I have detailed a simple example below:-

All that is important to salvation is that you voice the words “Jesus Is Lord” and that you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, however, an important part of prayer is the confession of sin and the request for forgiveness so if you are comfortable praying the prayer above then Go For It!!   

I understand this is a lot to take in so if you have any questions, please get in touch with me and I would be more than happy to help you.

Do not forget to call on the Lord!  Romans 10:13 “for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Love and Blessings

Louise x