Tag Archives: Life

Love Everyone Always

Luke 10:25-28 “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Willow Creek Community Church has promoted a series called Love Everyone Always.

It asks “What does it mean to live out the teachings of Jesus?” then answers “We kept coming back to the commandment where Jesus tells us to love our neighbor.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

loveeveryonealways

Love, Joy, and Peace

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”

This devotional comes from Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship.

The future is something we all should be thinking about, because we need to plan ahead. Not only do we need to think about what we will do in this life, but also what we will do for all eternity.

An extensive survey conducted in the United States by a leading polling agency distributed questionnaires to people of various ages and occupations, asking, “What are you looking for most in life?” When the results were compiled, the analysts were surprised. Most expected those who were polled to say they wanted to achieve certain materialistic goals. But the top three things that people wanted in life were love, joy, and peace—in that order.

Galatians 5:22 tells us the fruits of the Spirit include love, joy, and peace. Thus, the very things people are looking for today can be found in a relationship with God. Yet some have given up on these things. They say, “Love, joy, and peace? That’s a pipe dream of flower children. Give me a break. You are not going to find love, joy, and peace in this world . . . not in the real world I live in.”

Would that describe how you feel right now? That isn’t the way life ought to be. In a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we are promised not only life beyond the grave, but a life that is full and rich and worth living on this earth. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus gives us life with purpose and, of course, life with the hope of Heaven.

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Reasons for Thanksgiving

Psalm 107:1-6 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”

More Reasons to be Thankful from Al Bryant

  1. We thank God for life and health. These we share together. When plague strikes a city, terror reigns. Thank God for conscious well-being and supply of daily needs.
  2. We are thankful for the benefits of civilization, for ordered government, for scientific improvements, for education, good streets, institutions of benevolence, industry, and art. America has done much to improve the lot of the common men and women like ourselves. We must share it with the world.
  3. We are thankful for a Christian environment where temperance and goodwill are encouraged, and fellowship with kindly folk is possible for us all. What would we be without the church, the open Bible, and the Gospel of Christ? These are values beyond man’s power to estimate.
  4. We are thankful for faith in the midst of tragedy. There is a God who understands and cares. Dark and mysterious is our life, but His way is good and true. Our trust is in our salvation.
  5. We are grateful for the vision of better things to be, for the promise of Christ’s kingdom and universal brotherhood in Him. It is our highway from despair, cynicism, and degeneracy.
  6. We thank God for the hope eternal. This life is but the seed of a life that will blossom into unimaginable glory according to the promise of God.

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

The Exchanged Life

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

We have the chance to emulate the character of Christ in us. Christ is an example to follow in life; when trials and tribulations come, when we feel discouraged when life is unjust, we should consider the sacrifice that Jesus has underwent.

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My Fortress and My Deliverer

Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” The ever present God is our fortress, a source of strength and cheer. With Him we can meet life’s challenges triumphantly.

Coburg-Veste

Thursday of the Commandment

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Holy-Thursday-Maundy-Thursday-2015

This commandment was given by Jesus on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.” This is the commandment: “love one another: just as I have loved you.” But what about Galatians 5:14? “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” If the whole law is fulfilled in “Love your neighbor as yourself,” what more can “Love one another as Christ loved you” add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by “as yourself.” Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.

So John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us “as he loved himself ”? Listen to Ephesians 5:29–30, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

In the horrors of his suffering, Christ was sustained “who for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.

Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action on Maundy Thursday and tomorrow on Good Friday. “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1). He loved us to the uttermost. And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.(1 John 3:16).

This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.

Love to the Uttermost Devotional Readings for Holy Week
John Piper

Jump Into The New Year

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yardsoff. John 21:4-8

070602-F-6335P-340It’s a new season! The New Year 2014 has arrived and 2013 is safely behind us now with it many happy memories, passive struggles, triumphs and defeats. Whatever the past year held for you today is a new day! That is why I love the first day of each year so much. However, many people become depressed with the passing of the holiday season assuming life will become mundane and normal all over again. What is your perspective this morning? Did your enthusiasm end when the ball dropped and the celebration ended with Auld Lang Syne? The disciples who followed Jesus had experienced the miraculous. His ministry blossomed into healing and deliverance right before their eyes. Jesus taught these men daily. He walked with them. He resided with him. These followers experienced an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ every day. Then the unthinkable happened to their Messiah, He died. How could this happen? Was it the death of their dream? It was the end of one season and the beginning of another. So these men went back to life as it was before Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter and several other disciples went back to fishing. It was their livelihood before Jesus. It was their normal routine. When Jesus was gone, all Peter could think to do in his moment of sorrow was return to some normalcy of life and so he did. But his season as a fisher of fish had ended and as they floated in the boat they had not caught a thing. Jesus was watching from the shore. He called out to the men inquiring of their catch. When they confirmed that they had caught nothing, Jesus directed them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. Their net could not hold the multitude of fish. Now in the natural what are the odds that when fishing in a small vessel that if there are no fish on one side of the boat that there will be abundance on the other side – unlikely at best. That is when the revelation hit one of the men and he said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter did not wait to discuss the futility of his proclamation instead diving in the water to be with the Lord. He left behind the fish and went for the Prize – Jesus. Peter did not want to go back to his old life but wanted to be with Jesus where He was! Today is the beginning of a new season for you too. It is a time to make a choice whether or not 2014 will be the year that you reside in the dwelling place of God in the Presence of the Lord or if you will go back to mundane living struggling to survive. While the choice seems obvious, note that only one disciple was in a rush to be with Jesus leaving behind natural blessing to get to Him. The others hauled in the fish with them!

The Presence of Jesus Christ in your life will change the outcome each and every time without fail. There is not one thing that this earth has to offer that is better than the favor that is found in His Presence. You can spend thousands of dollars looking for a cure for a disease when in an instant God can heal your body for free. A man can spend his entire life securing fame and fortune and die with a bankrupt soul only to be tormented for Eternity. Matthew 8:36 – “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Even the closest followers of Jesus Christ struggle with discerning physical wealth from spiritual inheritance. Will 2014 be the year that you decide to fully trust in Jesus Christ and make Him the Lord of your life? Salvation of your soul is secure in the knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ. Righteousness comes from doing something with this great knowledge. Jesus becomes Lord of your life when you submit all that you are to Him. Peter knew that all He needed was in Jesus Christ. His life did not matter in comparison to the gift of knowing the Lord and being in His Presence. Maybe some would say that Peter was overzealous for God. The Lord obviously provided a blessing in the multitude of fish caught that day and he just left the gift behind. I say that Peter was the only man of faith on that boat! See Peter recognized the sign in the miracle. Jesus did not meet them on the beach that day to fill their stomachs but to feed their souls. Peter was starving for Jesus! It is such a hunger that drove Peter from the boat into the sea to meet the Lord leaving behind natural sustenance for Eternal substance.

Deuteronomy 11:13-15 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, hewill give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.”

Will 2014 be the year that you decide to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul? It seems like a simple question but the way that you respond will make the difference in prospering in 2014 or experiencing the same frustrating limitations of 2013. Peter had made some crucial errors in the days preceding his meeting with Jesus on the beach. He had denied the Lord in His Dying hour. He had hidden in fear for his life. It was not a defining time for this disciple. Many men would have been afraid to face the Risen Lord with such guilt and shame, however; Peter had to be where the Lord was in spite of himself. His Need for Jesus Christ would propel him into His Presence. Take time today to return to 2013 what belongs there. Guilt and shame are not welcome in this new season of your life. It was nailed to the same cross that Peter’s sins were attached to. Prosperity in the coming year is a matter of the heart and soul. What is your response? Will you jump into this new season as Peter did or will you just keep rowing the boat? The choice is yours. I encourage you to jump into 2014 and leave the past behind. There is nothing in 2013 that will outshine what the Lord longs to do in you for 2014! What are you waiting for? Jesus is waiting on you!

Art of Life

Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence isfullness of joy; At Your right hand arepleasures forevermore.”

LORD, it is not life to live,
If Thy presence Thou deny;
Lord, if Thou Thy presence give,
‘T is no longer death to die.
Source and giver of repose,
Singly from Thy smile it flows;
Peace and happiness are Thine;
Mine they are, if Thou art mine.
We live from day to day, as it were, by chance; and forget that human life itself is as much an Art, governed by its own rules and precepts of perfection, as the most complicated profession by which that life is maintained or adorned.
The art of life consists in taking each event which befalls us with a contented mind, confident of good. This makes us grow younger as we grow older, for youth and joy come from the soul to the body more than from the body to the soul. With this method and art and temper of life, we live, though we may be dying. We rejoice always, though in the midst of sorrows; and possess all things, though destitute of everything.

Hurry Up, God

 Psalm 70:1-5 “Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O Lord! Let them be ashamed and confounded Who seek my life; Let them be turned back[a] and confused Who desire my hurt. Let them be turned back because of their shame, Who say, “Aha, aha!”  Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified!”
Has God ever been slow in your life? He was in David’s. This undoubtedly was one of the psalms written when David was being harassed by King Saul. So he cries out, “Lord, why don’t You do something? You’re being awfully slow.”
Have you ever pondered the delays of God? He is never in a hurry, but once He starts to work, watch out! He patiently accomplishes His work. David pleads, “Make haste, make haste” (v. 1). He repeats his plea in verse 5: “I am poor and needy; make haste to me, O God!You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.” If right now it seems as though God is tarrying instead of working, if it seems as though He is delaying instead of acting, what should you do? Seek Him and wait on Him and love Him. Verse 4 says it beautifully: “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!”‘ We’ve seen that phrase before. David, when he was sinking, said, “I . . . will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Ps. 69:30).

Here’s a good lesson for us. When God is not moving as rapidly as we think He should, when our timetables do not coincide, what should we do? Rejoice in Him, love Him and magnify Him. Let Him worry about the timetable. God is always working, and we know that all things are working together for good (Rom. 8:28). But He waits for the right time to reveal His victories. Let Him watch the clock.
God’s delays are a part of your character-building process. The next time God gives you a delay, encourage yourself by remembering that He never stops working for you, and He knows when and how to help you. Submit to His timetable and His care.

Titanic Tragedy Radios Life Messages To Us Today

 Titanic tragedy radios life messages to us today

“Oh, they built the ship Titanic,
to sail the ocean blue
And they thought they built a ship
that the water couldn’t go through.
But the good Lord raised his hand,
said the ship would never land.
It was sad when the great
ship went down.”
Or so the version went that we sang at Camp Wise, in Chardon, Ohio, in the 1970s, a song that had been sung at summer camps for the previous 50 years, is sung still, and might very well be sung forever.
Exactly 100 years this Sunday, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, taking the lives of 1,500 passengers. With a weekend sure to be dedicated to its memory, the question is: why? Why this shipwreck? What about it so resonates in the public’s mind? The Lusitania, torpedoed in 1915, took 1,198 lives and is a trivia question. Nobody sings about it.
The obvious answer is that the Titanic story has something for everybody. There is luxury and poverty, heroism and cowardice, its midnight iceberg rendezvous a payback for the boast of being “unsinkable.” Movies and books keep the memory alive, as does its presence in the language — almost everybody knows what rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic means.
As the son of a radio operator, who grew up listening to the urgent chirpings of Morse code coming out of the Hammarlund Super Pro radio receiver displayed in his den, the part of the Titanic story that always gets to me is the heroic tale of the Marconi operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride.
As the junior radioman — he was just 22 — Bride had the night shift. It was just after midnight, April 15, 1912, and he was telling Phillips to go to bed, when the captain stuck his head into the wireless room.
“We’ve struck an iceberg,” Captain Edward Smith said. “You better get ready to send out a call for assistance.”
Ten minutes later Smith was back, telling them to start calling for help.
Phillips began tapping out “CQD” ­— “CQ” meant “calling all stations” and “D” meant “distress” — as well as the ship’s location and call letters, “MGY.”
“He flashed away at it and we joked while he did so,” Bride recalled. “All of us made light of the disaster.”
Bride told Phillips that here was his opportunity to send an “SOS.”
“It’s the new call and it may be your last chance to send it,” Bride said. “We picked up first the steamship Frankfurt. We gave her our position and said we had struck an iceberg and needed assistance.”
Phillips reached the Cunard liner Carpathia. “Come at once!” he signaled. The liner replied it was 58 miles away and “coming hard.” Phillips told Bride to tell the captain. “I went through an awful mass of people to his cabin,” he later said. “The decks were full of scrambling men and women.”
Over the next two hours, as the ship slowly sank, Phillips kept sending out distress signals, hoping to find a closer ship ­— there was one, but its radio operator had gone to sleep. Bride kept tabs on what was going on outside.
“I went out on deck and looked around. The water was pretty close up to the boat deck. There was a great scramble aft, and how poor Phillips worked through it, I don’t know,” Bride later recalled.
Phillips suggested “with a sort of a laugh” that Bride look out and see if all the people were off in the boats, or if any boats were left. Bride found one collapsible boat left, only because the men were having an “awful time” trying to get it free. Captain Smith returned to the radio shack one last time.
“Men,” the captain said. “You have done your full duty. You can do no more. Abandon your cabin. Now it’s every man for himself.”
“I looked out,” Bride said. “The boat deck was awash. Phillips clung on sending and sending. He clung on for about 10 minutes, or maybe 15 minutes after the captain had released him. The water was then coming into our cabin. He was a brave man. I learned to love him that night and I suddenly felt for him a great reverence to see him standing there sticking to his work while everybody else was raging about.”
Bride returned to the collapsible boat, and was holding onto it when a wave crested over the deck and washed it away. He turned for one last look at the ship, “smoke and sparks were rushing out of her funnel.” Bride lost hold on that boat and had to swim through the icy water to the other boats, as the band played “Autumn” on deck. Hands pulled him into another lifeboat. Phillips perished.
For me, the Titanic radio operator story is a metaphor for life. It signals to us something about duty and perseverance in the face of difficulty. You’re not the captain. You didn’t design the ship. You don’t own it. But you stay at your station, no matter what, tapping out your messages with all the skill you have, as long as you can, until relieved.