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Archive for the month “May, 2013”

The TRUE LOVE Checklist

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  

Galatians 5:6

____  I know and believe in god’s love for me through Jesus Christ.

____  I personally respond to God’s love through repentance and trust, worship and obedience.

____  I understand that God wants to love others through me.

____  I have sincerely forgiven those who have hurt me in the past.

____  I am genuinely concerned about:

             ____  my family          ____  my neighbors

             ____  my friends          ____  those who trouble me

____  I tend to put the best construction on every situation.

____  My highest value in life is relationships.

____  I am happy to serve others’ needs with the abilities God has given me.

____  I will follow the Holy Spirit’s lead as daily needs and opportunities to love others arise.

____ I will share my responses to this survey with ___________________.

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.  (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

J.E.

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You Don’t Get to Pick Your Neighbors

Luke 10:30-37

30 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 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.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Lionel and Charlene were the kind of neighbors everyone wants. When Julie and I moved in, they made us feel right at home. They introduced us to other neighbors, answered our questions and cared for us. Nice neighbors are easy to love. If all I had to do was love Lionel and Charlene ‘as myself’, I could coast into Heaven!

One day Jesus was asked a question by a very pious Bible teacher; “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered with the Two Greatest Commandments of loving God completely and loving neighbor as self. At hearing this answer, the pious professor asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Instead of defining an area where the guy would need to act neighborly, Jesus told the story of The Good Samaritan.

It’s important to note here that Samaritans claimed to be Levites and the keepers of the ‘true’ Jewish faith. Samaritan literally means, ‘keeper’. The rest of the Jews rejected their claim, and Samaritans were ejected from Jewish life. No worship in the Temple. No eating with ‘true’ Jews. Outcasts.

Back to the story— a Jewish man had been mugged and left for dead. A priest walks right by, and later so does an off-duty priest (Levite). Then an enemy comes by—a Samaritan— someone who would normally expect to be disrespected by a Jewish man. He has pity on the bleeding Jew.

Jesus asks this pious teacher, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor…?” The law expert replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Then Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus is extending the boundaries of our thinking here. As we go about our day, who is our neighbor? The answer is: everyone. Who was the Samaritan? Outcast, needy, hurt, helpless, mistreated, enemy, less-than-you. Who was the Pious Professor? Holier-than-you, smarter-than-you, better-than-you, richer-than-you.

Everyone’s a neighbor to everyone.

After eleven years of being our neighbors, both Lionel and Charlene succumbed to cancer in the last few months. I miss them. I find myself wanting to pray for godly new neighbors, but what if God wants to put me right next to someone else – nosy, uncaring, belligerent, hellion, noisy, huge family, a cohabitating couple, sex offender, scoffer, flaming homosexual or constant complainer? The truth is, these folks already are my neighbors, whether they live right next door, on the other side of town or the other side of the world.

God, help us to love all our neighbors as ourselves, and give us the grace to be genuinely merciful.

“Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

R.T.

Pray for these churches:

First Baptist of Coldwater

Northview Christian Church

Ambassadors For The Lord

2 Corinthians 5:14-21

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 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. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

            Ambassador. What a title! It is significant and it is what you are as a Christian. As a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven you are God’s representative to this world. You no longer have to look at people in regards to their past. You now get to look at people in the light of their future, if they become Christians. Wow! What a wonderful responsibility the Lord has given to you. Congratulations!

As God’s ambassador, what is your responsibility? Love others into the Kingdom of Heaven. How? Inform your family, friends, and acquaintances that God won’t count their sins against them. God will wipe their slate clean. They can be a new creation and have a new beginning! God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for their sin. When? This happened when He died on the cross. Why? So that we could be made right with God through our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for us! Reconciliation!

God makes His appeal to people you know through you!

What is required on their part to be reconciled with God? A lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ. This message was proclaimed by the apostles on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:37-41 and continues until the Lord returns. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day anyone can deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus!

So, Ambassador __(your name)___, do a great job loving your world by giving them the opportunity to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

 

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

(2 Corinthians 5:20)

J.D.B.

Pray for these churches:

East Ovid United Brethren Church

Lockwood Community Church

We Imitate the People We Admire

Ephesians 5:1-2

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 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.

            Take time today to admire God. Look at Creation and admire his strength. Look at yourself and admire his patience. Look at the cross and admire his love. We become like those we admire.

The apostle Paul urges us to become imitators of God, as dearly loved children. Children who are raised in an environment of love naturally admire their parents, imitate their behaviors and adopt their values.

I recently attended my Uncle Bill’s funeral and had a chance to catch up with his sons, my cousins. Not having been around them for years, I was surprised by how clearly I could see my uncle in their faces and hear him in their voices. Their speech patterns were sometimes astoundingly similar to his.

That’s what Paul wants for us. He wants us to look and speak like our Father.

When Pastor Mark Thompson was recovering from a violent assault, he was unable to attend the state championship cross-country meet in which his son was competing. And so he sent his brother, who is also a pastor, telling him: “I want you there at the beginning of the race. Holler a lot. … Then at the end, I want you to really cheer loudly. And I want you to make your voice sound like mine.”

That’s what Paul wants for us. He wants us to make our voice sound like God’s.

But we can only succeed in imitating God to the degree we know that he loves us. That’s why Brennan Manning said, “… it’s more important to be loved than to love. When I have not had the experience of being loved by God, just as I am and not as I should be, then loving others becomes a duty, a responsibility, a chore. But if I let myself be loved as I am, with the love of God poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit, then I can reach out to others in a more effortless way.”

Ask God to show you, during the course of this day, how much he loves you – just as you are, not as you should be. See how he loves you! Then go and imitate that love as you talk with, work with and even argue with the people in your life.

S.L.

Pray for these churches:

Crossroad Bible Church of Sherwood

Gospel Lighthouse

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