Monday, December 31, 2012

No Offense, But.......

I've been rolling around thoughts on the Kingdom of God, and how to live in that Kingdom (to the best of my ability), every chance I get.  

The other day I told my Bible study class, I don't think Christians have the right to be offended by people outside the church, and I meant it.  Obviously it sparked some conversation, and we batted that thought around for a while.  

But I ran into a situation where I actually put into play the very ethics that I profess that we Christians should hold to as we walk through life. 

I was with my wife and stepdaughter visiting our "Grandma" at her old-folks home.  She has a nice room in a place where many elderly live - all with varying degrees of health and declining abilities.  Several of the residents hang out in the front lobby, sitting in chairs or standing by the front windows looking out at the day. We usually say a pleasant "hello" to most as we pass by, sometimes stopping to say a bit more to those we've gotten to know a little better than others.  

As I was waiting by the front doors for my wife to sign us out of the facility, an elderly lady with a scrunched up face (I think she's had a stroke), was standing with her walker looking at me.  She said something I couldn't quite hear, so I walked closer and , "I'm sorry, dear, I couldn't hear you."

She looked me in the eye and repeated herself, in a voice garbled the way stoke victim's voices sometimes are: "You're way too heavy", she said.

It was a statement of fact.  I am, indeed, way too heavy. 

"You need to go on a diet", she continued.

Now, everyone knows it is not politically correct to call attention to someone's weight, regardless of our thoughts on it, or how true or correct our thoughts are. We've been taught in our culture, its wrong to comment.  

But, she did, and there it is.  So now what do I do with that?

Within the space of about 2 seconds, I had several thoughts go through my mind.  

"How dare she?"
"She's old and her opinion is useless, anyway."
"She knows nothing about me or my life."
"Really, lady? Did you seriously go there?"

But thankfully my New Self, born of the Spirit, held sway with my heart, and I leaned close to her ear, since I do know she is somewhat hard of hearing, and said, 

"Thank you, dear. You're right, I am way to heavy and do need to go on a diet", and I smiled at her, and in that moment, truly loved her. 

I had a choice to make. I could assume she was a snarky old lady who thinks fat people at gluttonous laggards.  I could assume she was a mean old lady who just enjoyed pointing out people's flaws.  I could choose to be hurt by her words, and strike back in the way life has taught me, protecting my ego and my "positive self image" by putting her down, and elevating myself.  I could have responded with the ways of the world. 

Or, I could give her the benefit of every doubt, do as Romans says and consider her 'better' than myself, see the log in my own eye before trying to remove the splinter from her eye, and consider that perhaps, just perhaps, she was concerned in her way for my health. Perhaps she'd had a family member die from complications of obesity or diabetes. Perhaps she used to be heavy and knows the struggles that come with being overweight.  Perhaps she just wanted to talk and couldn't think of another way to start a conversation. 

Perhaps.  So I chose to run my response through the filter of love:

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (emphasis mine)
As I stood next to her, and told her she was right, she smiled a crooked half-faced smile, and her eyes lit up a bit. She nodded and said something like, "you work on that, you'll feel better". I couldn't quite understand her every word, but that's definitely the jist of it.

It is my assertion that we, Christians, don't have the right to be offended by people who are outside the kingdom of  God, in the way that we take offense and defend our sensibilities in the culture.  Our only job is to love people, fully, to the extent that Jesus loved us.  Jesus was not offended by you or I when we were outside the Kingdom, and He gave his life for us.  He loved me even before I was cleansed by His blood.

We should love others even before they are cleaned up and made acceptable, and even when they poke us in our tender emotional spots.  Jesus did, and they poked Him to the point of dying.

Just my thoughts today. Agree or disagree?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

God is Good? All the Time? God is Good All the Time!

Last Sunday I taught a lesson and I wasn't 100% certain I conveyed my message the way I intended.  I wrote a follow up I'd like to post here, so I can reference it in the future if needed.

I'd like to say a word about last Sunday's study. I've been thinking about what was presented, and would like to clarify a thought or two, just in case anyone misunderstood me.

Joelene made the comment about how some people toss about the phrase "God is so good!" or "God is good!" in a somewhat flippant way. I think the point Joelene was trying to make, and that I seized on and was trying to also point out, is that sometimes people use that phrase attributing goodness to God, when what they really mean is "Life is so good", or something in their life circumstances is good, at that particular moment. I don't always feel that phrase, flippantly tossed about by some, is a real acknowledgment of God's graceful provision in their lives.

We rarely hear the flippant or jovial use of "God is so good!" when we suffer trials and problems. Its at that point that many cry out to God for deliverance from our circumstance, and pray for the restoration of our life circumstances to that place of 'no more discomfort' that we expect God to provide for us. In the midst of our trials it is often difficult to see that, indeed, GOD IS GOOD, in spite of what our emotions might be telling us!

What I wanted to emphasize is that God is indeed SO GOOD that He is all about doing good for us in every circumstance! Paul makes it clear to us in his letters to the Thessalonians that I was reading today.

The most basic circumstance from which all other faith about God's goodness sprouts is that He saved us from eternal judgement and made us right with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He saved us from eternal death. 1st Thessalonians 1:10 tells us that "Jesus, whom God raised from the the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgement."

That's good news from a God who is good! That's something to always be thankful for!

But the Good News of Jesus Christ does not promise us a life of "no discomfort", as some seem to expect or desire in the Christian life, but the Good News promises God's very own power to deal with the troubles that life brings. The Good News promises us that God will use those trials to mature us and build our faith in Him.

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 that the Thessalonians "received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you." Clearly, the church in Thessalonica was persecuted from the start, but they took joy in the message of salvation! They understood the depth and importance of what they'd been taught, and took joy from it, despite the persecution that came because of it.

But Paul knew that trials and troubles, as inevitable as they are, can bring our faith into question, if we let it. In 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4, Paul wrote that he sent Timothy to Thessalonica to "strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would come - and they did, as you well know."

Because Timothy brought back a good report from Thessalonica about the strong faith in the church, Paul wrote in chapter 3:7 that he has 'been greatly encouraged in the midst of our (own) troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith." Paul and his group were going through their own suffering, but were encouraged by the faith of the Thessalonians. That's just beautiful. Think how you've been encouraged by a dynamic believer who has been faithful and grown in their faith through a trial. It's inspiring!

Clearly, the Christian faith does not promise an escape from the trials of life, be they spiritual or physical. In fact, Jesus promised the spiritual trials would intensify through persecution.

But is God good by allowing us to go through all these trials? God makes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike, but.... he promises us, His children, that he will never leave us or forsake us, and we will be able to bear up under the trials because God will use them to His purpose. That is a Good God!

Consider Paul's words to the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5: "We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering."

Also, in chapter 3:5, Paul writes: "May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ."

And God will never forget us, although His timetable is not always our timetable when we look for answers to prayer.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 tells us "and God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven." Even if we can't see it right now, there will be a rest. It may be a ways off, but it will be there. Have faith.

There is hope, in even the direst circumstances, because God is always faithful to His character and to His cause. He will accomplish His plans, and use even the worst trials to strengthen our faith, if we trust Him.

James 1:2-4 states it in classic terms: " Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

That is great news to hear when I'm going through tough circumstances - God is using it to grow my faith. He leaves nothing wasted. That is a Good God! He may not provide the miracle I expect or desire, but He is faithful and to stand by my and go through it with me. He will use my endurance to grow my faith.

So, my point was not to discourage people from being pleased and joyful in the Lord, especially in good times! Consider those good times a blessing, and pass the blessing along to others! When God fills our coffers, He is indeed good! He wants us to bless others with what God has blessed us with! When we experience times of comfort and plenty, of course "God is so good!" Indeed, He is very good! Use those times to be the sacrificial servants of others, giving to those in need, supporting those who need help, loving others and comforting them from the strength God has given you during your time of plenty! And in all you do, give thanks to God and tell others of his goodness, remembering what the true basis of His goodness is, his Love for us and the wonderful salvation provided us by his grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.

But when tough times come, remember, THAT SAME GOD is still good! He is still looking out for your good, wanting to build your faith and your endurance, but to (I believe) above all advance His kingdom through what is going on in your life.

Don't lose heart when God does not appear to answer prayers in the way we expect. Stay strong in the Spirit, grounded in God's word, and committed to advancing His kingdom by loving God with all your heart, all you mind, all your soul, and all your strength, and loving others as as we love ourselves.

Remember, we serve Him. He doesn't serve us.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saving Steve While Trying Not To Get Wet

Something happened to me today that really shed some light on just how much our 'human nature' fights against our Kingdom desires in this world.

I helped a homeless person today. 

Ok, I know, big whoop, but I do have a point I want to make.

I had just finished getting gas at Safeway when I saw a guy in the parking lot who had tripped over one of the concrete curbs and fell backwards into some bushes.  It was raining out, and as I drove by, I saw he was sort of struggling unsuccessfully to sit up on the curb. He was kind of leaned over to his side, one leg up in the air some to try to gain balance and sit up straight.  From his hair-do to his clothing to the ruddy alcohol soaked shade of skin on his face, he looked like a local homeless type.

I drove by then did a u-turn in the parking lot.  By the time I'd gotten to him (turns out his name is Steve), another young man was talking to Steve, asking if he was OK.  Steve was jovial enough, not angry at all, telling us he was fine. He smelled like a brewery, so part of Steve's problem was clear enough.  

The young man and I got Steve to his feet, where he pulled out some paperwork (discharge papers from a hospital) and told us he was just trying to get home to North Highlands - quite a jaunt from where I was at Madison and Dewey. The young man and I talked to Steve for a moment, getting him steady on his feet.  The young man got Steve a bottle of water (Steve chuckled and asked if we had any beer), then the young man told me he had to go - his kid was in the truck waiting for him. I said I'd take care of Steve, and the young man left, pointing his finger skyward and telling Steve to "hang in there".  The young man was a Christian, and I was grateful for that. 

Another young man with several tattoos came by to see if I needed any help with Steve, and stood by with me while we talked for a couple of minutes.  Soon the fire trucks arrived (someone must have called 911 when Steve fell), and the firemen took over from there, coaxing Steve into the ambulance for a ride back to the hospital to look at the scrape on his head he got when he fell. One of the fireman told me they knew Steve very well,  and that they'd taken him to the hospital many a time. The tattooed fellow gave Steve about 5 bucks for the bus ride home when he left the hospital. Once in the ambulance, I told Steve to take care, and went on my way to visit my dad for breakfast.

Good deed, right? Yea for me, reaching out to the poor, stopping to help the lost and less fortunate, etc etc.... 


Do you know what my first reaction was as I drove by?    

(Keep going. Don't stop.)  

That's right.  

(Don't stop.)  
(He'll be fine.)  
(He's grungy and dirty.)  
(He's scary looking.)  
(His hair is a mess and he has horrible skin.)  
(Its wet outside, and you knew he's going to smell bad.) 
(You're gonna be late to your dad's house.)  

Get this, and I'm being honest here: it even flit through my mind, quick as a hummingbird, that -  

(Maybe he likes the rain.  Yeah, he's sitting on the curb in the Safeway parking lot, trying desperately to sit up, because he likes sitting in the rain.)

The reason I bring this up isn't to have anyone encourage me with "but you helped him!" or to be consoled by hearing "it's only natural to be afraid" or whatever.  That's not the point.  I'm glad I was obedient and stopped to help, and I pray Steve will be OK, and that God would have someone to help him in the future if he needs it.  

I'm amazed, though, at just how quickly my "old self" asserted itself.  The selfish thoughts came so quickly.  The "you don't need to do anything" or "someone else will take care of it" thoughts flooded my mind so suddenly and so naturally.

This made me think of Paul's admonition in Romans 8:7, where he says, "the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will." 

It took a thoughtful act of the will for me to turn my car around, and thank God the other young man had already started to check on Steve, because he gave me encouragement to get out and help, too. 

More and more I'm learning that to follow Christ is a day by day, indeed often moment by moment, decision to yield to Him and follow him. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me."

Much like a good marriage (where we make constant choices to honor our spouses and do what pleases and is good for them), we make daily, constant choices to honor Christ and do what pleases Him and is good for His glory.

I find "dying to self" to be much harder than anyone told me it would be.  I'm hoping this is one of those things where we say - if it's not hard, it's not worth doing, right? 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Antioch Ranch Jan 2012 - Leaving Full of Love

Antioch Ranch, January 2012

As I write this its Saturday afternoon around 12:30.  Alene and I are sitting outside of the Hammer House at an aged picnic table, beneath a gnarled old apple tree stripped of its leaves by the winter’s cold.  Woodpecker holes riddle the tree trunk in intricate rings that run from the ground all the way out to parts of its limbs.  There must be thousands of holes.  The noonday sun is warm but not overpowering, and the air has lost its morning chill in favor of a gentle, still coolness.  Alene has prepared a small picnic of Brie cheese with sautéed mushrooms and onions, cream cheese and hot pepper jelly with crackers, sharp cheddar cheese, salami, and soft sourdough bread.  She is reading her book, and I am writing my missive.

Yesterday we walked out to the Cabrillo Lighthouse at Cabrillo Point (over one mile round trip so there’s my workout for the day – or so I thought).  We sat and watched the ocean, scanning for signs of passing whales.  It didn’t take long to see the distinct spouts of the whale’s great exhalations as they breached the surface to draw new breath.  The ocean was calm, making the distinct spout shaped vapor cloud easily visible.  It was a sight neither of us had seen before.  We watched in amazement as spout after spout shot up into the air over the ocean.  We didn’t get to see too much of the actual whale bodies, though, which I would have liked.  I was able view them through my binoculars just a little as their backs barely broke the surface of the water to draw breath.  From a great distance we did see a pod of whales exhale all at once and a large tail swing up and down in the water. Nonetheless, the ocean was spectacular, and seeing signs of whales for the first time in our lives was exhilarating!

Thursday we went up to Fort Bragg and sat on the bluffs and sat for several hours in our lawn chairs, watching the ocean waves.  I constantly scanned the horizon for signs of whales, but saw few.  Friday was certainly the best day for that.  We got ice cream at Cowlicks, and a pizza at the Pizza Factory, and ate back at the cabin while watching Facing the Giants, a film Alene had never seen.

However, despite all the beauty and tranquility we’ve experienced this week (oh, and the weather has just been marvelous! It hard to believe its January here!),  I think Alene will agree with me, it’s the fellowship, joy and love we have found in our relationships with the people here that will keep us coming back.

God has blessed us abundantly.  I thank Him with all my heart for the people we’ve been able to meet and the stories we’be been able to share.

Jerry and Pat Westfall, the owners, greeted us with open arms, a hug, and a smile.  They seemed genuinely pleased to have us back. (Jerry told Alene and I he wishes we could come up every month!) They share their stories with us, and we share ours with them.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re not all up in each other’s business, but the genuine Christian love, the love that Jesus said that his disciples should have for one another – that love with which Christ loves us – is evident in their lives.  That’s what makes it so easy to connect with them – that shared love for Christ. They also seem to have a God-given knack for making people feel at home, and they’ve endeared themselves to us in a way I don’t think
they even understand.

And I don’t we’re alone in that assessment of the Westfalls and what they’ve built here.  I think there are many families who cherish them as we’ve grown to do.

As I write there are two other families here.  One is a young family with two teenage children who came for the weekend to prune the many apple and plum trees on the property.  They were up early and at work trimming and clipping like mad.  Jerry told us this family has been coming here for several years, and they barter their labor in the orchard for time in a vacation home later in the summer.  They prune, the Westfalls give them a home later in the year.

What a wonderful relationship, ya know?

Last time we were here, Jerry and Pat told us about another man, now somewhere in his 60’s, who comes each year simply for the purpose of helping to chop firewood.  There is an extensive need for firewood here, being the main source of heat for the homes, so that entails a lot of wood cutting and splitting throughout the year, which they do by hand.  Yes, no mechanical splitters here.  Just axes everywhere.  This man has been coming here each year for more than 10 years, just to help cut wood for the Westfalls.  Just for the joy of the doing, and the friendship and the beauty of the place.

Pretty cool, huh?

There’s another family here that came just for Saturday night.  They have a 13-year old girl celebrating her birthday, and although the homes are not normally rented out for one night at a time – the Westfalls bent their own rules to let this family come and bring several of the girls friends to have a wonderful birthday in the woods.  As I write (sitting under the gnarled apple tree), the kids are laughing and playing, ringing a bell on the porch, swinging on a tree swing – doing the things that kids do.  It’s wonderful.

Now, I know this life that I experience here, while on vacation from my world, is simply a reprieve.  I thank God for the privilege of taking such a reprieve.  I know not everyone can do this, which makes it all the more important to me that, while we’re here, we seek God every day, just as much or maybe even more so, than we do at home.

In seeking God, I’m discovering that I have a purpose in life.  We all do; each and every one of us.

We’ve all heard “God has a purpose for you”, but if you’re like me, you’ve always wondered what it is.

“What am I here for, God? What do you want me to do?”

Well, I’m excited to say that I’ve discovered what God’s purpose is for my life! Seriously!
Recently, the purpose has become clear, evident and urgent.   I have a direct, distinct, focused and forthright directive from God Almighty telling me His purpose for my life.  I know what it is, and I am going to strive to be about that purpose every day, every hour, and every moment.

I’m finding a new fulfillment in knowing God’s purpose.  Meeting the Westfalls, and Lance and Susan Hollingshead who live up here and work and serve God with the Westfalls, has brought a new dimension to my understanding of God’s purpose for my life.  I’ve gotten to see His hand at work, and Alene and I have begun trying to translate that to our own lives.  God is faithful and His blessings have been clear and evident!

I hope you’re still reading and wondering what this wonderful purpose is that God has for my life.

I’ll tell you a secret, first:  it’s the same purpose for your life.

Exactly the same.

Your purpose, your mission in life, your directive from God Almighty, is exactly the same as mine.

That mission is to Love.

Love God, with all your heart..

Love your neighbor the way you love yourself.

Love one another in the body of Christ as Christ loved us.

Really, I mean it.  It’s that simple, and that profound.

If you discover no other purpose, no other drive, no other gift or meaning to your life aside from the purpose to love because of God’s love for us and for the advancement of His kingdom – then I believe you have discovered enough to have an abundant, fulfilling, useful and purposeful life in Christ, and enough to make an impact on your world for God.

You will have discovered enough for your life to have meaning, purpose, and direction.

Love is the purpose, the mission, and the plan for which God made everything – the universe; the earth; you; me. Everything was made so that God could manifest His love.  Creation was an act of love. Redemption is an act of love. Everything God does is an act of love.

And we are to love like the Father.  Matthew 5:43-48 says:
““You have heard people say, "Love your neighbors and hate your enemies."  But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.  If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what's so great about that? Don't even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven.”  (emphasis added)
I have discovered that, if my life’s purpose is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my mind, all my strength, and all my soul – to truly love God and find my joy in Him – then I will naturally love the things He loves.  I cannot love God and not love God’s world and everything in it.

Let me put it this way: If I truly love my wife with all my heart, submitting to her and putting her needs far and above my own, looking out for and doing every good thing for her and not wanting for anything other than to protect her and her heart and her good reputation - then how can I not love the people and things that she loves?  It’s simply not possible.  If I love my wife this way, I must love the people she loves; otherwise it would grieve her to know that I don’t love someone she loves. To honor her is to honor the things she deeply honors.  To love my wife is to be one with her, in purpose and in spirit.  The things that are important to her become important to me because I love her, and want good for her in all things.

To love God, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, means the same: I must love and honor the things and people that God loves.  All of it.

Who does God love?


How does God love them?

Fully.  All the way.  Without reservation or holding anything back.  Completely.

I have found that when I place God first, before all others in my life, and begin to honor the things and love the things that He loves, I cannot help but begin to fulfill the second commandment – to love others as myself.

God loves me and he loves you– fully.  If I love God, then I love the things He loves. If you love God, then you must also love the things He loves or you don’t love Him.  And if God  loves me, then I must - I have to - love myself because God loves me. I'm bound to love the things and people that God loves! 

So, if I am to love others as I love myself, then the logic follows –because God loves others just as he loves me, and I love God with all my heart, then I must love others the same way God loves them.

Fully.  Completely.  Without reservation.

I find this concept of love so basic, so intrinsic, so immutable and necessary, that it sometimes becomes difficult to grasp.  Love is all God asks us to do.  Nothing more.   He asks us to let that love motivate our actions to good works, and to motivate one another to show our love by our actions.  In this way, through our actions of love in the world, the world will begin to see God through us.

Pastor JT preached at our church last week about spiritual gifts and our hearts and purpose.  I think Christians sometimes spend too much time wondering what our spiritual gifts are, and chasing after ways to determine our places to serve in the church.  Now I agree with everything JT said.  But as he was preaching on gifts and our heart and mission, I couldn't help but think “love will motivate all of that”.

If your gift is teaching, I believe that if you simply set about the mission and purpose of our first calling - loving people as Christ loved us with all your heart – you’ll find your gift.  I’m willing to bet that gift of teaching will begin to manifest itself because, flowing from the love in your heart, you will naturally begin to be a teacher of some kind. You will see opportunities in life to mold, shape, and direct others for God.  I believe the Holy Spirit will find us and encourage us while we are obedient to our first and highest calling – to love God and others specifically for God’s glory.

If your gift is serving or encouraging, I believe the same thing.  If you set about your highest calling of loving God and loving others as He loves us, then how can service and encouragement not flow from your love and care?  I believe it will manifest itself, and before you even know it, you will be in the middle of exactly where God wants you to be. Loving and serving for His glory will bring your heart the joy the Bible talks about. Your spiritual gift will begin to manifest itself without you even knowing that it’s happening.

Love, my friends, is the highest calling we have in God.  If you know nothing else about your purpose in Christ, what God wants for you to do with your life or any of those types of questions, know this:

We cannot do anything of worth for the Kingdom of God without love.  We cannot witness for Christ without love.  We cannot serve a meal and have it mean anything for the Kingdom of God without love.  We can’t teach preschoolers and have it mean anything for the Kingdom of God without love.  We can’t preach, speak, eat, drink drive, read, serve, give, buy, sell, travel, exercise, sit, stand, run, or do anything in life and expect it to have any impact for the Kingdom of God, without love.

It is a high bar that Christ sets for us – loving the way He loved but, but it’s the bar He set.  That is the standard we aim for. That is the goal with which we struggle with every fiber of our being and the help of the Holy Spirit .      

I leave you with this from the apostle Paul to think about – something that my friend Joelene hit directly on the head in our Sunday school class last week without even knowing I was going  there anyway – which leads me to believe the Holy Spirit is guiding me to write something in truth: 1st Corinthians 13 says,

“What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others.”

1st John tells us that God Is Love. Love is our highest, first, foremost calling.  From love, everything in the Kingdom of God flows. 

Pray with me that the Holy Spirit would begin to impress upon us, my church family of fellow believers, that without love, we are nothing.  But if we love God, and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to love others as if the lives of the entire world depend on it – in fact, beg and supplicate the Holy Spirit to teach us to love that way – then our nothing becomes everything for the Kingdom of God.

I don’t want to be useless to the King.  I don’t want you to be either.  Never mind praying about seeking our calling – God has already given it to us.  Pray that we can follow this calling of love, because I am convinced if we do this – love God and love others as Christ loved us, deeply and truly, letting love become the over-arching purpose of our lives – every other calling in our lives will flow.

The Great Commission of Jesus himself is nothing if not a command to love the world as He loves the world, telling everyone we meet about Jesus, and directing them toward the great hope of salvation in Christ.  His desire is for all to be saved, and if we love what He loves, then that is our desire too.

If we don’t love – we are nothing.

Let’s not be nothing for the King.

Love manifests itself in many ways.  Have open eyes and ears to see the ways you can love people for the King.

The sun is hanging low in the sky, now, and the air is getting crisp, but my love for God is running high! Thank you Lord!