John 3:30 (NIV) – He must become greater; I must become less.
“My heart cries out, ‘Oh, Lord, let me be undone!’ I choose not to stand up, grow up or get a grip. I want to fall down. I want my hands and my heart to stay loose, yielded into His heart and His love. It is about being made more like Him, not more like me. I will contend to be undone. I will ask Him to help me stay undone. Not finished, always ready, always wanting to be more like Him. His life and His love poured into my empty life, to fill up and overflow from this little jar of clay. What is a Christian? Someone who is like Christ. Maybe we are not Christians yet, but by God’s grace we are becoming Christians, becoming more like Him. Growing smaller rather than growing up. Going lower still until we become nothing and He becomes everything.” [Baker, Heidi. Learning to Love, 124-125.]
As we desire to love and minister to others, we sometimes make it about ourselves. At times, we reason that there has to be this “perfect storm” in order for us to start loving others. But God is always ready. Let’s pray that God will reshape our thoughts and our lives so that it is all about him – not about what we can or cannot do, what we like or don’t like to do. May God become greater, may we become less!
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV) – For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
“The gospel is not just a mechanism for getting people saved. It is the announcement of a love that has changed the world, a love that therefore takes the people who find themselves loved like this and sends them off to live and work in a totally new way. The energy to get up and go on as a Christian, as one who works for the gospel comes not from a cold sense of duty, not from a fear of being punished if you don’t do your bit, but from the warm-hearted response of love to the love which has reached out, reached down, and reached you.” [Wright, N.T. Paul for Everyone 2 Corinthians, 62.]
The word “compel” connotes a strong force that thrusts us toward something we would not ordinarily do. It is also accompanied by a sense of urgency. We were called by God in love to live a life of love. We can live in this way because of Christ’s victorious work on the Cross! Let’s pray that today, Christ’s victorious love will permeate every part of our lives and compel us to love those around us!
2 Corinthians 5:13 (NIV) – If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
“Learn to live in the intimate love of God. Believe that God can take you who are well fed and well clothed and make you hungry, thirsty, desperate, and completely dependent on your Father’s love so that your eyes will see those around you who are in need of fresh bread from heaven. If you are that someone in the desert who will die without a drink of water, God can pour out His Spirit so that your heart is compelled by love.” [Baker, Heidi. Compelled by Love, 8.]
It’s not difficult to see Heidi Baker’s passionate love for the most broken and destitute people in the world. What we don’t see as easily is what compels her to love – an intimate “out of her mind” love for Jesus. It is her active intimacy with Christ that results in her love for others. Without this personal intimacy, it is not possible for her to love and it is not possible for us to love. May our love for others begin here – with an intimate love for our Lord.
As we worship to the song “Lord I Need You” (tap here) by Matt Maher, let’s confess our need for him and be drawn into His presence today. Let’s experience afresh his deep love for us.
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— they do no wrong but follow his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.
“In each case, there is a clear connection between keeping the commands of Christ and showing affection to Christ, between loving and obeying Jesus. By repeating himself so many times, Jesus added triple exclamation marks to this principle. This helps to ensure that we do not miss what he is saying: one of the best ways for us to show our love for Jesus is simply to do what he says.” [Ryken, Philip Graham. Loving Jesus More (Kindle Locations 777-780). Crossway. Kindle Edition.]
Love is found in action; it’s that simple! Love is not love until it is demonstrated. We can show our love for Jesus, by simply doing what God has said. In Psalm 119:1-8, the psalmist expresses his desire to be steadfast in obedience to God. Spend some time praying through these verses likewise, that we would also be steadfast in obeying the ways of the Lord.
Inˈsist/– verb – demand something forcefully, not accepting refusal.
Titus 3:8,14 (NLT) – This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.
Titus is a very interesting letter, in that Cretans had quite the reputation of being lazy gluttons. But Paul is calling for a counter cultural approach. The display of love for Jesus is the doing of good that is entirely “not normal” to their context, and there is an aspect of urging, an insistence (3:8). This will be beneficial to the church and for the people of God to become productive, in contrast to their current culture (3:14). Our M.O. as Christians is to live in the calling of the people of God according to what is “normal” in God’s kingdom. Paul insists and demands we live this way, and no other way.
Today, may your faith grow, as we trust in God, and devote ourselves to doing good, building one another up. As you pray, worship with this song “Your Love is Strong” (click here)written by Jon Foreman, for His love is strong, and He knows what we need to live as his people.
Galatians 6:8-10 (NIV) – Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Walking by the Spirit, life in the Spirit is doing good; a harvest of eternal life comes by the Spirit, these two are inseparable. Life in the Spirit not necessarily “feel good” moments, but don’t let it stop you from doing good. As Pastor Mark shared the example from Sunday – in learning to be a servant leader and allowing others to be served first – eating last may be painful, but do not lose heart! Don’t let it stop you from serving others as we are living for the kingdom!
Let us pray, “Lord, lead us more in doing good, so it can flow out of me to others. Thank you that your Spirit lives in me and I can love you like this with my actions and my lips.”
“I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken”
These lyrics from the song “Build My Life” speak of the ultimate demonstration of love, which is shown in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the same love that flows through our veins, that we can live upon and trust in, and not be shaken by anything we face in this world.
Today, let’s pray and worship to “Build My Life” (Click here) as you believe and build your life on Jesus’ love!
James 1:22-25 (NIV)– Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
“But Jesus calls us to receive this grace by exercising faith — by making behavioral demands on us. He does this because (1) our behaviors are the external demonstrations of our true internal desires, and (2) our behaviors themselves become a means of sanctifying grace. ‘If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them’ (John 13:17). Holy habits actually work to deepen our beliefs, increase our affections, and intensify our desires. Do what Jesus says. Do whatever it takes to want what’s right. And then, with that new heart, do what you want.” [Bloom, Jon. “Passive Christianity is a dead Christianity.” www.desiringgod.org]
As we see in James and the article above, action and blessing are inseparable fruit of the Christian who remembers what “they look like.” Today, let us pray and receive afresh faith in line as those who have been loved by Jesus. Let this prayer lead you to exercise faith in action to love Jesus today, for you will be blessed!
Luke 7:44-47 (NIV) – Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
What was Jesus pointing out for Simon to see? This woman’s beautiful and loving actions of broken and passionate thankfulness were evidence of the forgiveness she had received. She loved much because she was forgiven much.
What was Simon so blind to? His great need for forgiveness.
John Newton expressed, “I once was blind but now I see,” and it became evident throughout his life and till the very end as he expressed, “although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
Through the Holy Spirit’s ministry, let’s pray that we would continue to humbly see who we are before the Lord and know deeper “Christ is a great Savior!” Let’s also pray that today that we will live victoriously in our forgiveness reality, closing with this song, “Raised to Life” performed by Elevation Worship.
Luke 15:11-14, 17-18, 21-22, 24 (NIV) – Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father…
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “
Though so undeserving and lost, our Father in Heaven saw us from a long way off and was filled with compassion and found us. Let’s prayerfully remember in thankfulness our Father’s heart for us as we listen to this song, “Prodigal Son,” by Keith Green.