Love

Give Thanks to the Holy One!

 

This Thanksgiving season is a perfect opportunity to give thanks to God for His great mercies towards us. The Lord is awesome, and He is worthy to be praised! He is the provider of every good thing. He has placed everything in order, including the sun, the moon, and the stars. The Lord has created everything for His purpose and for our enjoyment. The varieties of shapes, colors, and sizes in animals, bodies of water, flowers, trees, and fruits are all amazing and incredible!

Jonah, a Reluctant Prophet (Part II)

Jonah knew the Lord as gracious, merciful, patient, and abundant in lovingkindness (See Jonah 4:2). These are all amazing and powerful characteristics of God. However, this time Jonah was displeased because the Assyrians (the people he didn’t like) were going to benefit from them. So the Lord used an object lesson to teach Jonah about loving others. …

The Power of Resurrection

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10

The truth is that we were all enemies of God. Some aggressively rebelled against Him and others just lived their lives making their own plans apart from God’s laws and ways! All of us were born under sin and shaped in iniquity. We inherited the nature of sin from Adam, and we also committed our own sins in variety of ways. Every sin is a declaration of our will over God’s will, laws, and ways!

Praise God for Jesus’ obedience to the cross and for the Lord’s resurrection power raising Jesus from death to life! His death, burial, and resurrection gives us hope for an abundant and eternal life! He has the power to forgive every sin and to give us a fresh start in life.

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 21:21-22

Just as God breathed life in Adam, Jesus breathed life in His disciples. What Adam lost in the Garden of Eden, Jesus regained on Calvary and gave it to His disciples. Jesus reconciled us to the Father by being our advocate and for dying for our sins, so we can be free from the sentence and the punishment of sin. We no longer have to carry the burden of shame and guilt in our lives, but we can lay it down at the cross and pick up His forgiveness, restoration, and hope for our lives. Now we can walk as living beings having our relationship restored with the Father! We are no longer enemies of God, but we have been accepted in the beloved! Because Jesus lives, we can live a life fully dedicated to the Lord. His peace is our peace!

I am reminded of the Lord’s Prayer that He taught His disciples. He began by declaring that our Father is worthy to be hallowed and honored. Jesus changed our relationship to a Holy God. We are no longer distant from a Him but we can call Him Abba Father! Through the cross, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the living King! We belong to the Kingdom of God, and we become partakers of Jesus’ nature who is the firstborn among many.

Whether we were saved years ago or just accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we continue to be in need of Him. Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will is done on the earth as it is in heaven and that His Kingdom is being established upon the earth. Furthermore, He told them to ask for their daily bread and forgiveness and instructed them to forgive others as well. He also taught them to pray that they are not led into temptation and that the Lord would deliver them from the evil one. Every area that Jesus mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer is a reminder of our desperate need for the Lord and His presence, mercy, grace, enablement, protection, wisdom, and discernment. Our job is to listen to His voice, surrender our will to Him, and do what He asks us to do. This is the life of a believer in a nutshell. It requires faith, hope, love, and obedience, and in the process we grow and mature in the fruit of the spirit and become more effective for the kingdom of God!

That’s something to shout about and praise the Lord for! Lord we thank you for sending your son to die for our sins and for the sins of humanity. Thank you Jesus for your obedience to the Father. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that we are no longer orphans in this world, but we have the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us into all truth and righteousness. Thank you Lord for your kindness towards us. Thank you for revealing yourself to us. We pray that you would reveal yourself to our loved ones and that they can experience the love, forgiveness, restoration, and deliverance of Jesus and the power of Resurrection in their lives!

 

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Love the Lord Your God (Part III)

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  Matthew 22:34-40

I shared in the last devotional that Jesus’ commandment to love the Lord has different elements that we should slow down and meditate on. Last time, I wrote about loving the Lord with all our hearts. In this devotional, I will share about loving the Lord with all our souls.

How do we love the Lord with all our souls!? The more we allow our soul to come under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the more spiritual we become, which allows us to love the Lord genuinely rather than out of our fickle feelings or thoughts of the moment! Before we knew Christ, our soul was in charge, and it took its cues from the natural world and our five senses. We were carnal beings before we came to salvation. Carnality has to do with all the fleshly desires and operating only from a natural and visible perspective. After salvation, our spirit man should grow to become the one in charge and our soul should come under its control, otherwise we will love the Lord based on our natural senses and circumstances rather than our communion with God!

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?  For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Paul told the Corinthian believers that they were carnal. One of the ways that we know someone is carnal is that they have remained childish in their faith and refuse to grow up. They cannot handle weighty things of God, and they are still in need of milk to be nourished and nurtured by someone else. Their spirit man has remained infantile!

If we are going to love the Lord with all our souls, we need to have a soul that is surrendered to our spirit man. The Bible directs to grow up and to put aside carnality. Paul gave us some of the symptoms that can help determine if we are fleshly and carnal or if we are spiritual. He told the Corinthian believers that they have factions, envy, strife, and division. These individuals were still controlled by their carnal nature, and they had not allowed the spirit of God to take control of their  souls.

Unfortunately, carnality is prevalent in the body of Christ. We can see strife, division, and competition between different members or groups in the church. Generally, people claim that it is somebody else’s fault. Someone else is the problem or started the strife. The truth is that carnality begets carnality, and we don’t have to allow others to trap us in it.

A spirit-led life requires self-control, forgiveness, and trust in the Lord in order not to get engaged in carnality. We cannot control or correct others’ behavior. Our part is to not get into the ring of strife and avoid a carnality that would feed the flesh and cause more harm for us and others.

Jesus has commanded us to love Him with all our souls.  We don’t have to allow anyone to pollute our souls. We can say “no” to our flesh. We have to continually subject the soul to be controlled by our spirit man rather than our fleshly tendencies. It is not an easy process, but the more we do it and see the fruit of the spirit developing in us, we grow in maturity. It also allows us to have more faith the next time when a situation comes up that tries to take over our souls and cause us to walk in carnality!

Thank you Lord for making us aware that many times we have been carnal and have not loved you with all our souls. Please forgive us for not obeying your first commandment. Give us the grace to remain alert and to allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our souls!

 

Image by silviarita from Pixabay