John 13-15 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He considers us His friends.

What would we do without our friends?  We share just about everything with them, confide in them and trust them to keep it close.  I would hardly go to a stranger at the grocery store and tell personal information about myself, although I have to admit I’ve had many strangers share more than the basic communication with me at the store. I’ve decided I must have a very generic face and strangers feel they know me, or perhaps the Lord is setting up opportunities to share His love.  Either way, His love and truth are shared.

But with our good friends, we share all the extremes of our lives as well as the mundane little things that only our good friends would care about.  Sometimes we share information on our social networks that good friends are hungry to read but casual friends really don’t care about, and that’s okay.  We have buttons to handle that for us, like Ignore, Delete, Hide…oops, too much information. 

@ John 15
One of the most humbling days of my life was when, as a teenager, I read and understood the weight of John 15:14-15, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.  Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”  In my mind, I am His servant, but in His mind, I am His friend.  Because of the intimate things about Himself that He has shared with us in His Word and in our hearts, He could only be our friend.  This is NOT grocery store-sharing kind of stuff.  He has shared everything His Father has told Him – amazing!  This is an intimate relationship like no other.

Of course, the if clause is included in our friendship with the Lord, but it has nothing to do with His love for us because that is unconditional. However, if we want to be His friend, there is a condition to be met. “You are my friends if you do what I command… You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit…” (14,16)  We read in I John 4:14 that He loved us first and died for us (John 3:16), and this is what makes our friendship possible – He chose us.

We either accept or reject His offer of salvation, friendship and all that goes with it, and with our acceptance comes responsibility, as with any good friendship.  Our obedience to the Lord keeps that friendship alive as does our commitment to cultivating it through our love for one another. “This is my command:  Love each other.” (17)   If we’re going to be intimate friends with the Lord, we want to love and appreciate all His other friends as well, and, thankfully, God will help us do that. Friends forever!

The realization that Jesus is my friend carries me through moments when earthly friends are not close by me, and when without Him, I would feel so very alone.  When my friends are in need, I drop everything else to help them, and my friend Jesus is even more available to me than that.  He’s as close as the mention of His name.  I listen to the advice my friends give because I know they have my best interests at heart.  Even more so, my friend Jesus gives only the very best advice and direction for my life, and He can be trusted.

Moving Forward:  I am a servant of God, willing to do all that He commands, but I know that I’m also His friend.  I want to be the best friend I can possibly be.

Tomorrow @ Titus

Romans 13-14 (NLT)

Discover His heart: His gift of love compels us to share it with others

Several years ago I saw a touching movie about a young boy who started a campaign to encourage everyone to pay forward the kindnesses that others had shown them.  He alleged that in doing so, the world would be a better place and people’s lives would be changed for the good.  I agree!  I can’t help but feel indebted to those in my life who have shown kindness to me without any desire for payment and believe me, I am indebted to countless wonderful individuals.

I remember being given a car many years ago by a very dear couple, and this kindness changed everything for us.  Since that time, we have had the opportunity to pay forward that great kindness on two occasions, and nothing has thrilled us more.  But I have one debt that, frankly, I will never be able to pay, but I’m going to keep on plugging along at it until Jesus comes. 

@ Romans 13
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” (8)  Accepting God’s wonderful gift of love through salvation has forever indebted us to Him, and since His love is continual, we are obligated to continually extend our love to one another.  When we truly have experienced His love, this is not a negative obligation, but we are compelled by His sheer love and goodness to pay it forward.

“For the commandments say, ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.’  These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (9)   Paul said it here and in Galatians 5:14; and Jesus said it in Matthew 22:39, so I’m assuming it is acceptable for us to love ourselves.

I’ve known some people who are in love with themselves.  They think about themselves all the time, lavish themselves with gifts and praise, and it’s obvious that there is a love affair going on.  This isn’t the self-love that Paul was talking about.  If we didn’t love ourselves, we wouldn’t care for our needs by eating properly, clothing ourselves and providing a roof over our heads.  So with this obligation to love others, we naturally should be concerned that others have food, clothing and shelter. It almost sounds like some sort of compassionate welfare program where no taxes are required to pay for it, just love.  Sign me up!

All the commandments are summed up in this commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We wouldn’t steal from ourselves, covet or tell lies about ourselves because we love and care too much about our own welfare, and so it is when we love others.  However, love for others such as this is impossible without God’s help.  “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NKJV)   We don’t have to drum up this love for others on our own because the Holy Spirit equips us to love and to pay His love forward.

Compelled by God’s love and goodness and equipped by His Holy Spirit, we will obey the great commandment to “Love our neighbors as ourselves.”  But we need to understand that this is one debt where we will always have an outstanding balance because we just can’t outgive God, and we will always be indebted to Him.  It’s just the way it is. 

Moving Forward:  I’m planning to pay some on my debt today, as much as He enables me, because I’m compelled and equipped by His great love. 

Tomorrow @ Genesis 24-27

I John 1-3 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He commands us to love others in the same way He loves us

Love makes the world go round…love is a many splendored thing…love will keep us together…he loves me, he loves me not.  There are thousands of songs and sayings on the subject of love.  Nothing makes us feel more content and happy than when we feel loved.  It’s no wonder that John would once again tackle the subject in I John, but he wrote not so much about feeling love, but rather about showing love. 

@ I John 2
“Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new.” (2:7-8)  This commandment actually came from Jesus while He was still on earth, “So now I am giving you a new commandment:  Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (Luke 13:34)  It wasn’t a suggestion from the Lord or something to be considered.  No, it was a commandment.

Many of our acquaintances are just so easy to love.  They’re kind, generous, funny or just plain lovable, and a commandment to love really isn’t necessary.  But there always are a few individuals that seem to go out of their way to be unlovable, and they are the ones that may require a commandment in order to be loved. “If anyone claims, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.  Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness.”  (9-11)

I really don’t see any loopholes here, and believe me, I’ve looked.  We may not like the things that the unlovables do, but we should love them just the same.  Think of the most unlovable soul in your fellowship in light of this truth:  the righteous, pure and holy God of heaven loves that soul enough to die for him or her.  Who am I that I would refuse to love?  Time and time again I’ve asked God to fill me with love for the unlovable souls who have passed through my life, and the process so often begins with forgiveness. God has been faithful to help me in this because that’s who He is – God is love. 

Moving Forward: Through His grace and goodness, I will love the unlovable today, and I pray they will love me. 

Tomorrow @ Deuteronomy 20-22

John 13-15 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He considers us His friends.

What would we do without our friends?  We share just about everything with them, confide in them and trust them to keep it close.  I would hardly go to a stranger at the grocery store and tell personal information about myself, although I have to admit I’ve had many strangers share more than the basic communication with me at the store. I’ve decided I must have a very generic face and strangers feel they know me, or perhaps the Lord is setting up opportunities to share His love.  Either way, His love and truth are shared.

But with our good friends, we share all the extremes of our lives as well as the mundane little things that only our good friends would care about.  Sometimes we share information on our social networks that good friends are hungry to read but casual friends really don’t care about, and that’s okay.  We have buttons to handle that for us, like Ignore, Delete, Hide…oops, too much information. 

@ John 15
One of the most humbling days of my life was when, as a teenager, I read and understood the weight of John 15:14-15, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.  Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”  In my mind, I am His servant, but in His mind, I am His friend.  Because of the intimate things about Himself that He has shared with us in His Word and in our hearts, He could only be our friend.  This is NOT grocery store-sharing kind of stuff.  He has shared everything His Father has told Him – amazing!  This is an intimate relationship like none other.

Of course, the if clause is included in our friendship with the Lord, but it has nothing to do with His love for us because that is unconditional. However, if we want to be His friend, there is a condition to be met. “You are my friends if you do what I command… You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit…” (14,16)  We read in I John 4:14 that He loved us first and died for us (John 3:16), and this is what makes our friendship possible – He chose us.

We either accept or reject His offer of salvation, friendship and all that goes with it, and with our acceptance comes responsibility, as with any good friendship.  Our obedience to the Lord keeps that friendship alive as does our commitment to cultivate it through our love for one another. “This is my command:  Love each other.” (17)   If we’re going to be intimate friends with the Lord, we want to love and appreciate all His other friends as well, and, thankfully, God will help us do that. Friends forever!

The realization that Jesus is my friend has carried me through moments when earthly friends were not close by me, and when without Him, I would have felt so very alone.  When my friends are in need, I drop everything else to help them, and my friend Jesus is even more available to me than that.  He’s as close as the mention of His name.  I listen to the advice my friends give because I know they have my best interests at heart.  Even more so, my friend Jesus gives only the very best advice and direction for my life and He can be trusted.

Moving Forward:  I am a servant of God, willing to do all that He commands, but I know that I’m also His friend.  I want to be the best friend I can possibly be.

Tomorrow @ Titus

Romans 13-14 (NLT)

Discover His heart: His gift of love compels us to share it with others

Several years ago I saw a touching movie about a young boy who started a campaign to encourage everyone to pay forward the kindnesses that others had shown them.  He alleged that in doing so, the world would be a better place and people’s lives would be changed for the good.  I agree!  I can’t help but feel indebted to those in my life who have shown kindness to me without any desire for payment; and believe me, I am indebted to countless wonderful individuals.

I remember being given a car many years ago by a very dear couple, and this kindness changed everything for us.  Since that time, we have had the opportunity to pay forward that great kindness on two occasions, and nothing has thrilled us more.  But I have one debt that, frankly, I will never be able to pay, but I’m going to keep on plugging along at it until Jesus comes. 

@ Romans 13
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” (8)  Accepting God’s wonderful gift of love through salvation has forever indebted us to Him, and since His love is continual, we are obligated to continually extend our love to one another.  When we truly have experienced His love, this is not a negative obligation, but we are compelled by His sheer love and goodness to pay it forward.

“For the commandments say, ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.’  These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (9)   Paul said it here and in Galatians 5:14; and Jesus said it in Matthew 22:39, so I’m assuming it is acceptable for us to love ourselves.

I’ve known some people who are in love with themselves.  They think about themselves all the time, lavish themselves with gifts and praise, and it’s obvious that there is a love affair going on.  This isn’t the self-love that Paul was talking about.  If we didn’t love ourselves, we wouldn’t care for our needs by eating properly, clothing ourselves and providing a roof over our heads.  So with this obligation to love others, we naturally should be concerned that others have food, clothing and shelter. It almost sounds like some sort of compassionate welfare program where no taxes are required to pay for it, just love.  Sign me up!

All the commandments are summed up in this commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We wouldn’t steal from ourselves, covet or tell lies about ourselves because we love and care too much about our own welfare, and so it is when we love others.  However, love for others such as this is impossible without God’s help.  “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NKJV)   We don’t have to drum up this love for others on our own because the Holy Spirit equips us to love and to pay His love forward.

Compelled by God’s love and goodness and equipped by His Holy Spirit, we will obey the great commandment to “Love our neighbors as ourselves.”  But we need to understand that this is one debt where we will always have an outstanding balance because we just can’t outgive God, and we will always be indebted to Him.  It’s just the way it is. 

Moving Forward:  I’m planning to pay some on my debt today, as much as He enables me, because I’m compelled and equipped by His great love. 

Tomorrow @ Genesis 24-27