LOVE ANYWAY

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”

— Matthew 5:46

Let’s be honest. Sometimes we just don’t see eye to eye with some people in our lives. Showing them love can be quite a challenge, especially when these people are difficult, different, or don’t always show appreciation. But learning to love them anyway is a step closer to understanding the kind of love God has for us.

Have you ever thought about how out of balance our love relationship with God is? He first loved us, the Bible says (1 John 4:19). He made the first move and took the first step. By His grace, He sent Jesus for us to receive by faith. Our love in return, even on our best days, pales in comparison to that kind of love. Yet He loves us anyway. He doesn’t give up on us when we don’t give it back or show appreciation.

In Christ, God loves us anyway.

As we begin to grasp just how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ really is (Ephesians 3:18), we move closer to being able to love others in the same way God loves us. As we receive God’s love and grow in His truth, God is producing in us a love that has the power to love anyway. And that kind of love is the greatest mark we can leave on the world!

So who is God calling you to love anyway? A friend who is difficult or different? A grumpy family member? A coworker who never seems to appreciate your efforts? Maybe it’s your kids. As moms, we seem to always be giving and not necessarily getting much back in return.

Wherever we find hard-to-love people, may we open our hearts wide to receive God’s love, and then may we be quick to share His love. May He empower us to love anyway!

Lord, I praise You for loving me first. Thank You for not giving up on me, even when I didn’t love You back. Thank You for being patient, kind, and gentle. Pour Your love into my heart through Your Holy Spirit. Change me, and give me the power to love anyway. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Are there people around you right now whom you need to learn to love?

What is one way you can love anyway right now?

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from In Faith Gateway

GROWING FROM OUR HURTS

Genesis 50:15-21

Throughout history, people have suffered tremendous injustice and pain at the hands of others. None of us are exempt from conflict, criticism, and mistreatment. The question is, Are we growing more or less like Christ as a result?

Nothing that happens in our lives is an accident. As children of God, we know that everything coming our way is filtered through our Father’s loving, sovereign hands. And He can use whatever we experience to grow us in grace and holiness—yes, even injustice and abuse.

Joseph endured more unfair treatment than most of us can even imagine: He was sold into slavery by his brothers, slandered by Potiphar’s wife, and forgotten in prison. For years, it seemed that no good would ever result, but there was divine purpose in it all. Joseph learned more about God’s ways and was also being trained for the future.

The same is true for each of us. The Lord doesn’t want us to focus on the wrongs done to us and the pain we’ve suffered. Instead, He wants us to keep our eyes fixed on Him. As we read God’s Word, He reveals His ways and purposes, giving us guidance to walk with Him and patience to wait for His timing. And His indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to respond in a godly manner by forgiving those who wrong us.

Think about Joseph’s words to his brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). Remember, that is true in your life also. The pain you carry can be used for good if you’ll forgive your offenders and trust the Lord’s ways.

Bible in One Year: John 8-9

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

IF YOU DON’T USE THE TALENTS GOD GAVE YOU, OTHER PEOPLE GET CHEATED     

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10 NLT).

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:10, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (NLT). When you use your abilities to help each other, God is glorified.

God wired you to make a contribution. God did not give you talents and abilities for your benefit. They are for the benefit of other people, and their talents are for the benefit of you.

I am so grateful for people who are talented in areas that I’m not good at. For instance, I’m grateful for accountants. Because I stink at accounting! I’m grateful for people who know how to do taxes.

I’m grateful for people who have mechanical ability. I couldn’t fix a carburetor if I had to. I wouldn’t even know where to find it!

Everybody has different talents.

God has given me some talents. One of my talents is taking the Word of God and making it clear for other people to understand. When I use that ability, you get blessed. My talent is for you. It’s to help you.

But here’s the point: You’ve got talents, too. Are you using them to bless others? Are you using them to help others?

If you don’t use the talents God gave you, other people get cheated. The way you bring glory to God is by using your talents. “Use your gifts well to serve one another.” God is glorified when you use your abilities to serve others.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

 

YOU CAN ACCEPT PEOPLE WITHOUT APPROVING OF EVERYTHING THEY DO      

“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Romans 15:7 NLT).

Did you know that every time you show love, it gives glory to God? Because God is love, and glory is revealing what God is really like.

In a sense, God says, “I am loving. I am compassionate. I want you to be like me. I want you to develop my character.” You’re never going to be God. You’re never even going to be a teeny-tiny God. But God says he wants you to become godly. He wants you to develop his character. Like father, like son; like father, like daughter. He wants you to learn to love people the way he loves people. God is love.

Every time you do that, it shows God’s glory.

Of course, one of the ways you love others is just by accepting them. Just because you don’t like what people do doesn’t mean you can’t accept them.

It’s important to remember the difference between acceptance and approval. You can accept people without approving of everything they do. There is a big difference! We are to accept everybody; we are not to approve of everything everybody does. So no matter what people do or whom they do it with or how they do it or how long they do it, you are to love them. You are to accept them. It does not mean that you approve of what they do. God loves you, but it doesn’t mean he approves of everything you do.

Love is not saying I approve of everything you do. Love is saying I accept you in spite of what you do.

Romans 15:7 says, “Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (NLT)

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

DON’T WASTE THE WAIT

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. — Psalm 33:20–21

Have you ever noticed that there’s a lot of waiting in the Bible?

Abraham waited for an heir. Hannah waited for a child. King David waited for help. Israel waited for deliverance. But nobody likes to wait! As human beings, we like things to happen fast. Today is better than tomorrow. So it’s no surprise that some people in the Bible ran into trouble while they were waiting. Their waiting provided the perfect opportunity for their wandering.

Israel, fresh out of Egypt, is only one example. They had just seen the mighty hand of their Deliverer, experienced His gracious provision, and been blessed by His faithfulness. And yet, in a moment of waiting, they quickly wandered from God. In Exodus 32:8, we read,

They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf.

I can’t help but be struck by that phrase, quick to turn away. When God seemed slow to answer, they were quick to turn away.

How easily we can become discouraged, resentful, forgetful, impatient, and even disobedient when we’re waiting on God. Maybe you’re waiting for God’s provision. Perhaps you are waiting for Him to right a wrong. Or maybe you are waiting for God to fulfill a promise. Regardless of your waiting, don’t let it become an opportunity to wander. Be careful of being “quick to turn away.” Wait for Him in hope. Turn to Him in trust. God never wastes our waiting.

Father, help me wait in hope. Guard my heart against wandering, doubt, or resentment. Help me trust You and wait patiently for You. I know that You are faithful, good, and present, even in the waiting. In Jesus’ name, amen.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from In Faith Gateway

PAY YOUR TAXES!

Yesterday we learned from Romans 13:1-3 that we need to submit ourselves to the laws of the land if we want to live lives free from fear.  I want to focus your attention today on the remainder of that passage, Romans 13:4-7,

“For he is God’s minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.  Render therefore to all their due:  taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” -Romans 13:4-7

What I want to address today is the need to pay our taxes with honesty, not trying to dodge our responsibility.  It is a critical part of obeying the laws of the land as we discussed yesterday.

While I do not like working hard and in the end sending a large portion of every dollar to support the government, it is the right thing to do.  I am absolutely amazed when I learn of Christians who try to dodge their responsibility to pay taxes.

Friend, you must be honest and pay your taxes.  Certainly take advantage of all that the law allows, and do not pay more than you need to, but don’t hide anything.  You need to make sure you do this because when you do, you are being obedient to God.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Answers for Each day

WHERE WILL YOU SPEND ETERNITY?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

In our homes, we use smoke detectors to warn us of fire. Our car’s dashboard has lights to indicate a malfunction. We’d be foolish to ignore these warnings. In the same way, Scripture   passages warn us about the terrible consequences for rejecting God’s provision of a Savior.

The Bible tells us how to be reconciled to God so we can spend eternity with Him. We need to understand and accept the following truths:

Sin separates us from God (Rom. 3:23; Col. 1:19-22). Because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, we are all born with a nature bent away from the Lord. His justice requires that we pay for our transgressions.

God sent His Son Jesus to make that payment for us (1 Corinthians 15:3). Only the death of one who was perfect would satisfy the Father’s righteous judgment. Jesus lived a life without sin, which qualified Him to become our substitute. He willingly took our place and died on the cross in order to pay our penalty. God accepted His death in place of ours and declared us righteous in His sight (Rom. 3:22).

Salvation is a free gift, received through faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9). Our good works will neither satisfy divine justice nor pay for our transgressions. They are not what God requires for forgiveness or adoption into His family. Faith in Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6). When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, heaven becomes our eternal destination.

God wants you to live forever with Him. If you haven’t yet made your eternal destination certain, do so now.

Bible in One Year: Luke 12-13

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

 

WHY WOULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN, GOD?

“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” 1 Kings 19:3a (NIV)

There are three filters of truth through which I process life events:

  1. God is good.
  2. God is good to me.
  3. God is good at being God.

This is my starting place when looking at circumstances both wonderful and hurtful. These truths help me consider good things God might be doing, even with realities that don’t feel at all good. They bring me back to the goodness of God as the starting place for my continued trust in Him. These truths help settle my runaway fears and chaotic emotions when feelings beg me to question, Why would you let this happen, God?!

I’m not saying this is easy. I’ve had some really heartbreaking things happen in my life over the past couple of years. I had so many ideas of how my life should go, including notions of what a good God would and would not allow into my life.

I said I trusted God, but in reality, I think I trusted in the plan I thought God should follow. And when my life took shocking turns so far from my expectations, my soul shook. My peace evaporated. And everything in me wanted to run and hide and stop trusting God.

This is where we find Elijah in 1 Kings 19. If you’ve never read 1 Kings 18, I highly recommend it. It’s a chapter where we see God use Elijah to prove to the nation of Israel that He’s the one true God in a miraculous and powerful way. Elijah must have been on a high, seeing God do what he expected God to do. And in essence, Elijah looked good himself as the “prophet who won the showdown at Mount Carmel.”

But oh, how quickly things can change. How quickly Elijah’s absolute trust in God evaporates with one death threat from Queen Jezebel. First Kings 19:3a tells us, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”

The events taking place in 1 Kings 18 and then 1 Kings 19 are both spectacular and sobering. Spectacular as we see the Lord magnificently prove His supremacy and might to all of Israel. Sobering in that, in spite of God’s tremendous showing of power, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are not overthrown, and Elijah ends up running for his life into hiding.

Why was Elijah fearful and in despair? I have a feeling his desperation came from the same soul-shaking place I mentioned earlier — unmet expectations. Elijah probably assumed Ahab and Jezebel’s unholy reign would come to an end after the mighty feat of the Lord. Yet, that was not the outcome, and in that place of unfulfilled expectation, fear ultimately crumbled faith.

Even though Elijah experienced the miracle on Mount Carmel, he still succumbs to the fear of persecution. Elijah flees into the wilderness, exposing the truth that even a great prophet like Elijah is still human and falls terribly short in terms of both faith and affection for the Lord.

Even so, the Lord deals graciously and gently with Elijah — drawing him close with a whisper and giving him instructions of what to do next.

God doesn’t fix things the way Elijah thinks they should be fixed, but He does lead him. And isn’t it interesting the Lord leads him back through the wilderness? (1 Kings 19:15) After all, that’s often where God takes His people to teach them His perspective that blooms into deeper faith.

The Lord gives Elijah a second chance to face the same struggles before he ran and hid, except this time with right perspective and faith.

Elijah sees God’s plan is good — even if it isn’t the way Elijah would have written it himself. And the same is true for us. God’s plans don’t have to match our plans for them to still be good.

What can we personally take away from studying these events in Elijah’s life?

Perspective is the key to trusting God. And so often the clarity we need to see things from God’s perspective happens in the wilderness experiences we all wish we could avoid.

Maybe the three truth-filters which helped me can help you in whatever life circumstances that seem unfair, unreasonable or hurtful beyond what you can bear. Let God whisper His truth that He is good. He is good to you. And He is good at being God.

Father God, I’m so thankful You don’t condemn me for my fears. Instead, You have given me the gift of Your perspective-shifting, lie-sifting, head-lifting Truth. Help me use Your Word to preach truth to my own soul when I start to doubt Your goodness. Teach me how to use it as the powerful and effective weapon it is when the enemy tries to convince me I have been forgotten and forsaken. Let it remind me that You see me, You love me, and I am safe — both in Your hands and in Your plans. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid.” (NIV)

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Proverbs 31 Ministries

NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our LORD.”

(Romans 8:38-39, KJV)

WORD:

People may come and go from your life, but God is always with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love goes way beyond any human love you have ever experienced. Human love may be conditional, but God’s love is supernatural; it’s unconditional and knows no limits. There’s nothing you can do to earn His love and nothing you can do to stop His love.

The Scripture tells us that His love is patient and kind. His love believes the best. His love redeems and restores you. No matter what you’ve been told or what you may think about yourself today, you are His most prized possession. There’s nothing that can separate you from His love! Remember, faith is activated by love. As you allow Him to flood you with His love, your faith will be ignited, and you’ll be empowered to live the abundant life He has for you!

PRAYER:

Father, thank You for loving me and setting me free. Thank You for working in my life and restoring the broken places. Everything I have I surrender to You. Fill me with Your perfect love in Jesus’ name. Amen

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Today’s Word

BE HIS EXAMPLE

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. — Matthew 5:16

Whether you realize it or not, you’re an example. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re too weak or inadequate to be one — there are people who look up to you and are watching to see how you live. And God wants you to be His representative to them.

Jesus came into this world as a Servant, humbly giving His life so that we would be reconciled to the Father. And God’s will is that we imitate what He did for us by serving others. We perform loving acts of service that meet the spiritual and practical needs of those around us so that they’ll grow closer to Him.

There are so many people around you in need today — not just physically or financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Everyone you meet needs someone to encourage him or her. Will you make time to reach out and show them the awesome, unconditional, sacrificial love of Christ? Remember, God sees everything you do in His name and will bless you for all you do in obedience to Him (Hebrews 6:10).

Jesus, show me where I can serve others with Your love and compassion. Work through me to draw others to Yourself. Amen.

My hope is in Jesus because He is worthy of my service.

See God

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. — Matthew 5:8

Do you want to see more of God’s work in your life and experience His presence in a more profound way? Would you like the capacity to perceive His protection and provision in your work, trials, relationships, and in every aspect of your existence? Jesus tells you the way: pursue purity.

When you purge your life of all the behaviors and attitudes that displease God, you clear your vision of the impediments that usually obscure His work in you. You receive a clearer understanding of how He’s behind every good gift you receive (James 1:17) and how He gives meaning to all your struggles (Romans 8:28). Without sin clouding your thinking and deadening your spiritual senses, you become more aware of how the Father is engineering all circumstances for your ultimate good.

So keep your heart pure by seeking and obeying the Lord. Invite the Holy Spirit to convict you through God’s Word and repent of sin as soon as you’re conscious of its presence. And in all things, do as He says. After all, obedience always brings blessing, and when the reward is seeing God, you’re receiving the ultimate desire of your soul. It’s certainly worthwhile!

Jesus, purify my heart and help me see You in every aspect of my life. Amen.

My hope is in Jesus because in Him is everything I need.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Faith Gateway