A Greater Power Than Mere Maids Can Spawn

DFB7D791-2C04-4180-821B-BB3BCC6CAC7D“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 1 Corinthians 12:9 NASB

What is our pride and joy? It may be our role as wife and mom, our job, church, home, health, location, or material wealth.  These things are not bad; they are gifts from God that can bring him much glory.  However, are we more prone to boast about our merits that earn us these or do we marvel and tell of the awe of God who gave us these gifts, talents and abilities?

People have told me I’m so strong and someone recently asked me to share how I coped with my loss.  It was in all honestly purely God’s power at work in the weakest point of my life.  It was God using Scripture and its truths to apply them to my life.  It was God placing churches, families, individuals and books in front of me to affirm His love and care.  It was the effective prayers of saints all over the globe.  It was God’s unexplainable peace washing over me.  This journey has been one of the most difficult I’ve had to travail, yet simultaneously the most blessed.  Paul himself boasted about all that the Lord had done in His life despite his personal weakness and distress.  I’m sure he did not enjoy being shipwrecked, getting beatings and being without food or clothes in the cold.  Yet, more than his personal comfort and well-being, his greatest ambition was wanting to showcase the power and grace of the gospel in his life.

When all is said and done, and we meet Jesus face-to-face, we will be utter shock at the awesomeness of God and His gracious wonderous work!  Why not start now? This life is preparation for the better one to come.  So why live with reservations based on fear of discomfort.  Jesus himself, for the joy set before him, endured the cross despising its shame (Hebrews 12:2).  Many spend fortunes trying to avoid suffering; and we as a culture boast about our lives of ease and praise a pain-free life as the most successful.  I read a sign for a dentist that boasted of their ability to put patients to sleep for all of their dental procedures.  Life should not be spent avoiding pain at all cost, but fearlessly living out the life God gave us while using the talents he has entrusted us to make more talents.  In all of this, we can point the watching world to the giver of good gifts—the Father of lights in whom there is no variation or shifting shadow due to chance.  (James 1:17)

Celestial Father, you are source of all power, wisdom, strength and every good thing.  Thank you for the wonderful gifts you bless us with– the ones that are pleasant like soft rays of sunshine and even the ones that hurt and feel like sharp thorns.  You bestow us the grace to endure every wave and come out shining like gold with heavenly crowns that we may lay at your feet.  Forgive us when boasting in ourselves.  Lord make us empty and pure vessels for your use.  In Jesus’ name.

 

Bringing to the Lord a Love Sacrifice

980CC0E5-07C2-4DD5-94AD-6EBC9FDD5C61“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.  Whoever does not love abides in death.  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our live for the brothers.”  1 John 3:14-16 ESV

My two boys are more than eight years apart; and nonetheless, fight with each other like sumo wrestlers.  The three-year-old thinks he’s going on twelve, and the twelve-year-old sometimes acts like he’s three again.  One of the lessons I’m teaching them right now is to love one another out of a love of God.

Being a single parent is one of the hardest most challenging tasks someone could ever be called to… It’s like trying to skate with only one skate or like attempting to jog a marathon with a crutch.  I often find myself on the floor.  However, that is where, by God’s grace, I am continually brought down to my knees and to God’s Word for help!   1 John has been a source of great fatherly weight and wisdom to bear on my boys as they are reminded that to love God they must love each other.

Their Daddy also left a mark for them with his words penned on a commentary he used to preach the entire book of 1 John verse-by-verse, that sticks out in bold ink, “Abel brought a blood sacrifice, Cain brought a fruit sacrifice.  Anger and jealousy led to murder.  Cain said, ‘God you want a blood sacrifice, I’ll give you one…’” (Josh Seibert)  As I pass down these truths to my children I am reminded of the importance of overcoming anger with love as a witness of Christ for the gospel.  “A new commandment I give onto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:33-35

A Christian parent’s deepest aspiration for our precious children is to ultimately see them come to saving faith.  We do our best to show them the truth of Christ; and only through His Spirit does God accomplish the transforming work of salvation through the Word of God and faith in Christ alone.  Whether single parents, first generation Christian parents, or one married to a non-believer–in Christ, we can all attain the privilege of passing on a godly heritage.  Like Timothy’s grandmother and mother, we can pass on our faith to our children, grandchildren and spiritual children by teaching them the Word and making its truth come alive best through our example of love, like that of Jesus’ not only toward them, but toward one another.

“The selfish indifference of unbelievers stands in sharp contrast to the generous compassionate love that believers exhibit.  In place of those sinful traits, Christians manifest genuine love to others, especially fellow believers, because the love of God shed abroad in their hearts.  They sincerely obey James’s injunction; ‘Pure and undefiled religion is the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.’” John MacArthur

Love’s Valiant Triumph

56C9815F-ABFF-40DE-BD99-DFA1D34D22DB“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8

The most heroic example of love that has ever been demonstrated took place on an old rugged cross two thousand years ago and leaves us a lofty legacy to look to as the best enactment of love.  It had nothing to do with two lovers on a lavish date, human sized fluffy teddy bears, nor an over indulgence of chocolate or candy shaped like a heart.  His love was shown red and bloody–messy and wrought with pain, anguish and suffering.  Jesus showed us the greatest act of love with His self-abasement, not self-gratification.  He did not demand honor and adoration even though that’s what He rightly deserved, but gave all his privileges up for us who did nothing to deserve even an ounce of his immeasurable love.  Jesus came as deity somehow wrapped in humanity.  As God, He had the right to come down from the cross and make us pay for the gross sins we’ve piled up against Himself.   Yet, he did not use His divine rights but denied Himself to attain full conformity to the Father’s will and save us from our sins.

MacArthur animates a portrait for us of the harmony between the Father’s will and Christ’s loving self-sacrifice, “The Father did not force death upon the Son.  It was the Father’s will, but it was the Son’s will always to perfectly obey the Father.  He had a free choice.  Had He not had a choice, He could not have been obedient.  (John 10:18) He was commanded by the Father, but not compelled.  As love incarnate, He became the perfect example of the truth He Himself had declared: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’”

My late husband was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease at an advanced stage in 2016.  He chose to undertake a bone marrow transplant that gave him the best chance of life, despite the pain and suffering that it entailed.  The last sermon series he preached was on suffering and the sovereignty of God.  He had the biblical conviction that the sanctity of human life stretched from the womb to the tomb.  He chose to be an example of how to suffer to the glory of God and had countless opportunities to share Christ through his difficult journey.  During his last days in the hospital I couldn’t bear the sight of his pain; yet I also could not stand to leave his sight.  Unlike ever before, I saw Jesus’ love displayed through his suffering.  This servant of God, emptied himself for love and shone as a bring light to all who watched him from the hospital walls to wherever his story was heard.

Dear Lord, our God who loved us to the cross and back–thank you for your self-less and unfailing love! Thank you for your sweet Holy Spirit to teach us to live like your Son.  Forgive us for the sins that took your Son to the depths of the cross.  Help us to be like Him and be willingly emptied of ourselves and live a life marked by love no matter the cost and the pain.  May we lose our life that we may find it eternally.  We ask in the beautiful name of our Savior–Jesus!

 

Love is…

37DB362D-F706-4E18-ADE7-3BE948192650“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:8-10

With Valentine’s Day coming up, ‘love’ is in the airways everywhere.  What thoughts or emotions come to mind when you hear the word love?   The Bible makes a bold statement about love in the verses above.  God speaks to us and reveals where true love is found—in Him.  The Lord saved me when I was twenty-three years old and going into my senior year in college as a single mom.  Having never been wed, I desired to experience marriage—God’s way.  My first Valentine’s Day as a born-again Christian I had been praying simply for a date with someone who shared my newfound faith in Christ.  Although God didn’t answer the way I would have hoped for; he answered in a much bigger and better way.  That Valentine’s Day I decided to take Noah out to explore San Diego on the trolley.  We didn’t really have a destination, we just rode for the fun of it.  We ended up stopping by the mall and met a young lady who had shopped at Forever 21, who prints a Bible verse on the bottom of their shopping bags, which opened up to a gospel conversation.  What stood out to me most of that day was how much joy I experienced on my ‘date’ with God and my little son.

We crave love in a tangible way.  Marriage is a wonderful way Christian couples not only demonstrate God-given and empowered love for each other but their love for the Lord as they paint a living picture of the gospel.  As the wife submits to her husband as unto Christ, and the husbands loves his wife like Jesus loved the church and gave himself up for her, the gospel is proclaimed without words.  However, marriage is meant to point to the greater, eternal covenant.  We must not forget how God has demonstrated his great love for us in the most tangible way.  Jesus felt the nails pierce his hands and feet.  He felt the thorns inflict bloody wounds upon his head.  He bore physically pain and suffering that he never deserved.  He did it in the name of love, because of His astounding love for you and me.  What’s even more amazing is that he did this while we were still reviling against him.  This is agape love which by definition is selfless, sacrificial and unconditional.  It is simply who God is.  He is love, and his example of love is its most purest personification.  That is why when a married couple proclaiming Christ says they need a divorce because they are no longer ‘in love’ is such an affront to the gospel and brings shame to the His name.  My spiritual mentor and friend came over to see our new home and have lunch with us.  She brought beautiful flowers because she figured I didn’t have a husband to bring me flowers.   This is biblical love demonstrated in such a tangible way.  When we love one another, we point each other to Christ and His gracious purposeful love for us.

Heavenly Father, you are love.  God, You alone are love’s origin and lifeblood.   And you never tire of pouring out your love for us.  Your love is an inexhaustible fountain.  When we think of love may we embrace and emulate you and your sacrificial love.  May we win others to Christ by showcasing to the world real love that is firmly rooted in truth and only possible through the Holy Spirit.  In Jesus name