Living in Love

1 John 4_16

God has given us so much, he gave us his perfect son, and let him pay the price for our sins because he loves us. In 1 John 4:16 it says God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God. By living in love, we can live with God. We can show the love that he gives us to others, and we can be an example of Christ Jesus. If we have a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, we can love others the way God wants us to, and show them a path of compassion. By loving others we can show them God and what he has given us.

-Blair Simon
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What He Wants Me to Do

1 tim 1 5

There have been times when I have wondered what God wants me to do, not in a big way, but smaller, things I can do daily. So when I went through the quiz material from this summer 1 Timothy 1:5 quickly became my favorite verse. “But the goal of our instruction is love, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”- 1 Tim. 1:5

Paul wrote this when he was instructing Timothy on how to run the church, and it applies to us. We have a goal, to love, and we can do this everyday. When we are loving to others it shows God’s love through us.

-Blair Simon

More and More

2 thess 1 3

I love Paul’s prayers!  They are some of my favorite parts of his letters.  You don’t find him praying about the weather (you know, those ‘no rain so we have a nice picnic’ prayers) and not too often about health needs – but always about spiritual growth and Godly matters.   One example of Paul praying for the church is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12.  He starts out thanking God that the Thessalonian’s faith is growing MORE AND MORE.  How could your pastor or a church member be able to gauge the growth of your faith – is yours growing or shrinking?  How can you tell?  How can others tell?  Next he thanks God that their love for one another is growing.  Can you say the same for your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ?  How can you tell?  How can others tell?

How many of you have heard people complain that God is not just – if he was He wouldn’t allow evil and trouble.  I love Paul’s answer.  “God IS just:  He will pay back…and give relief…This WILL HAPPEN when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.”  (1:6,7) No need to question God’s justice.  His clock is better than ours anyways.  God IS Just.

In 1st Thessalonians Paul tells us to encourage one another with the message that Jesus is coming to earth again!  2nd Thessalonians reminds us to not be deceived, for the Man of Lawlessness – the Anti-God – will be coming too, and will deceive many who have refused to love the truth.  In order to stand firm for Jesus’s return – we must be loving the truth and prepared for evil and lawlessness and deception.  “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you.” (2:15)  Learn those teachings well – and cling to them – and pass them on to others.

Thank you God for your words through your servants.  Help me to hear, learn, live and pass along your words and your way.
Marcia Railton

Indiana Jones Jesus

spur-2

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:13-16)

For many years, this passage confused me. I thought Jesus preached peace, but here he is flipping tables and fashioning his own whip. He seems more like Indiana Jones than the Jesus I learned about in Sunday School. The image of Jesus throwing a tantrum in the temple is so jarring and powerful because it is an exception to his otherwise gentle and peaceful nature.

In this story, Jesus reminds me of the mother of a young toddler. Most of the time, the mother is sweet, gentle, and tender-hearted towards her child. One day, however, the child reaches to turn the knob of the stove, igniting the flame. The mother slaps the child’s hand away to teach him that he should never touch the stove, because it could seriously hurt him. The mother doesn’t usually go about slapping her child, but when the consequences of a situation are severe, serious actions must be taken. Even though the mother may have hurt or scared her young child, she did it in the child’s best interest. Sometimes a slap to the hand is much more loving than an “it’s okay, sweetheart.”

At first glance, Jesus’ wrath in the temple may seem out of character, but really, it’s just a different manifestation of his character than we are used to seeing. At the core of Jesus’ character is a passion for the Church, a cause he would eventually die for. When he sees people taking advantage of the Church, he is understandably angry and disturbed. He takes a slap to the hand approach here because of the severe consequences of the situation. Jesus is no less loving than before; his love is just shown in a different way.

Confrontation makes me uneasy, but sometimes it is necessary. I’m not saying you have to make your own whip like Jesus did, but be willing to engage in uncomfortable discussions to help discipline a brother or sister out of love. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may SPUR one another on toward love and good deeds.”  A spur is a small spike on the heel of a horse rider’s boot used to direct the horse. Like the slap on the hand, the spur may temporarily sting, but it serves a purpose. We have a responsibility to spur our brothers and sisters on toward following Jesus a little closer each and every day.

“We’re all rough drafts of the people we’re still becoming” –Bob Goff, Everybody Always

 

-Mackenzie McClain

Love and Forgiveness

1 Corinthians 16 14

Throughout this week we have discussed topics on having a Christ-centered life, God’s Will vs. our will, our purpose in life, worshipping by singing, standing up for Christ, and thriving. Today we are going to discuss two important attributes and characteristics of Christians. We, as Christians, should love and forgive. Here’s why!

God’s Word, the Bible, sets the example of a Christian’s life. Throughout the Bible we find the word love. Love is a strong word. Right? A lot of times we use the word love without meaning.

To begin, I believe 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the Bible’s definition of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

-1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Here are other scriptures that reference love:

“Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:14

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

-1 John 4:8

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

-1 Corinthians 13:13

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

God wants us to love Him, His Son, and each other. God loved us first! He loved us before we were born! He loved us so much, that He sent His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world. That’s pure love. Jesus Christ was obedient to His Father and followed His will. Jesus loves us too! We should love God with everything we have. We should display the love of God so others can know Him and receive His love. If we do not love one another, then we do not know God! God is love! Everything revolves around love.

Another important Christian characteristic is forgiving others. I understand, it’s hard to forgive people sometimes. It’s hard to forgive people who make fun of you, call you names, or just act rudely. But it’s something we have to do!

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 12, Jesus says that we should pray to our Heavenly Father, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

That’s huge! We are praying and asking God to forgive us of our debts and sins. After and only if we also forgive those who sin or have debts against us.

That’s right! You heard it! We have to forgive others so God will forgive us.

Jesus continues by saying in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

That is plain and simple to understand. We need to forgive one another, if we want to be forgiven by God.

Love and forgiveness flow together hand in hand. If we love one another, we will forgive one another. If we do not love one another, we will not forgive others. If we do not love, we do not know God, because God is love.

Because of God’s love, we have pathway to salvation. He gave His Son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, died, was resurrected, and is coming back again! That’s the Good News of the Gospel.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Romans 6:23

We all are sinners, and the price of sin is death. Sadly, because of sin, we all will die. Jesus gives us hope. Because of the shedding of Jesus’ blood, God has forgiven our sins. If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and are baptized, we will be saved. We have hope that when we die, we will be asleep in Christ, until He returns. When Jesus Christ returns, the dead in Christ will be raised and those who lived a righteous life will be resurrected to life eternal in the Kingdom of God. Don’t you want to be a part of that? I know I sure do!

Today I encourage you to live a Kingdom life. Love one another and forgive those who sin against you. God wants us to live according to His Word, His will, and His way. We are His children!

-Brenan Dominguez 

 

Hi everyone, 

I enjoyed sharing several topics with you all this week! I hope you have grown in your faith and learned something new this week from these devotions. I hope and pray that you will continue to grow and learn. I encourage you to read your Bible daily. Every time you read your Bible you will learn something new! Remember that God has a plan and a vision for your life. Find that vision, set a goal, and work toward achieving the goal. Our ultimate goal as Christians should be glorifying our Heavenly Father. 

If you need someone to talk to, you can always leave a comment here or find me on facebook.

Until next time, 

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” -Numbers 6:24-26

Children of God – LOVE

romans 12 9 10

Today we are going to talk about loving like a child. Throughout the Bible we, as Christians, are called to love. Love your neighbor as yourself, love your friends, family, pray for your enemies, love the Lord your God with all your mind, all your heart and all your strength. If you grew up in the church you were probably taught that God IS love, and we learn to love from him, but did you ever stop to think about how children love us? Again, we can really take a page out of their book to see how we can better love others, and how we can better love our one True God. I am absolutely not saying children are perfect at loving, I mean, how many times have you seen a three year old hit their friend for no reason? I see it many times a day, and it surprises me how quickly they own up to it as well.


In my class I have one little girl who has formed an attachment to me; her face lights up when I walk into the room and she never wants to leave my side. If I leave before she gets picked up, she cries because she does not want me to leave. Through her, I have seen how to love other people, even better. This girl is so excited every morning to show me something new, or to tell me something that she did with her parents the night before. Think about it, when was the last time you were excited to tell God about what was going on in your life. You can justify it, to yourself; “Oh God already knows what is going on in my life, he’s always there anyway.” But here’s the thing, God may already know what is going on in your life, but he wants to build a relationship with you, one that is a two way street, one where you tell him about your good days and your hard days. A relationship where you can share the things you are excited about and ask for guidance in the times where you are the most unsure. God calls us to love and build connections and relationships; a lot of children are pretty good at this.


Somehow children are good at picking up on the emotions of those around them. They tend to notice when someone is sad, or angry, or when they are happy and having a good day.  If you pay attention, many children will reach out and try to help you in the ways that they know how. They will offer to share their favorite food, or their favorite toy, or they will climb into your lap and ask you to read them a story in the cutest voice they can possibly muster. Do you share this kind of unconditional love to the people around you? Your friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even the people you don’t particularly get along with? If not, this may be an area to work on, I know it is something that I am striving to be better at.


Here are some verses talking more about love.

1 John 4:9-12 “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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”


Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”


Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”


Romans 12:9-10 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”


Jesus tells us to have faith like a child, let the children go to him. Are not all children of God? Having faith like a child is one of the ways we can truly find our faith. There are so many components to this act of having faith. There is listening, trusting, seeking comfort, wanting to learn, and today loving. I challenge you today to observe how any children in your life express their love for you, or their peers, or adults, or anyone they interact with. If you do not have children in your life, try to think about how you can love people more, and really work toward that unconditional love that we are called to as Jesus’ followers. Thank you for reading today, and here is a song to go along with today’s devotion.


“Hold Us Together” Matt Maher

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd4dFXMuy-8


~Jana Swanson


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A Character Defined by Love

Fruit of the spirit

The Holy Spirit produces these things in our life.  It is important that we know and understand them well, so that we can apply them to our lives.  When the fruit of the spirit is at work in our lives, amazing things happen. Your whole life blossoms and bears fruit.  One of the most wonderful fruits of all is the giving and receiving of love.

The word love can mean many different things, as you can see from the many different dictionary definitions.  We also find different kinds of love throughout the Bible, four of them specifically. Eros is the Greek word for sensual or romantic love.  Even though the term is not found in the Old Testament, Song of Solomon vividly portrays the passion of erotic love.  Storge is a term for love in the Bible that you may not be familiar with. This Greek word describes family love, the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children, and brothers and sisters.  Philia is the type of intimate love in the Bible that most Christians practice toward each other. This Greek term describes the powerful emotional bond seen in deep friendships, this is the most common type of love.  Agape is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This term defines God’s immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind. It is the divine love that comes from God. Agape love is perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, and pure.

There are so many people who go through life without feeling human love.  However, God’s plan is for every person to eventually experience His love flowing through them, so that each person can say “my cup runneth over with love.”  The funny thing is that when people are trying to feel love they often forget to read the greatest book ever written about relationships, the Bible. The Bible reveals how we can experience love for God and people that exceeds human capability.  The highest and purest form of God’s love is God’s divine and sublime love that He offers to share with us!  The perfect example of the ultimate nature of God is, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).  God wants to transform us so that our character is also defined by love.

-Katie-Beth Fletcher