Love In Action

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Continuing on with our theme of “Godly Relationships” here at MOHL, I wanted to write a little bit on some of the practical ways we can show love to others.

Romans 12:9-13 reads as follows:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Wow… there are a lot of things written to us as believers just in that short passage.

Something I really want to point out from those scriptures is that a lot of those commands relate directly to the attitude in our hearts. It says that we ought to:

1. Honor others before yourself. This could mean a few different things, but I think mainly, it is really seeking to put the needs or wants of others above your own. Do you know of someone who is struggling with finances and they have no way to keep warm? Give them a coat to wear. Do you know of someone who is hungry? Bring them some food! Even giving a bright and cheery smile to the cashier in the store who has had a long day can bring some sunshine into their lives. You might be the only bit of happiness and joy that enters their life that day. You never know how God can use even the smallest things to encourage others. This goes into point #2.

2. Never be lacking in zeal and spiritual fervor for the Lord. As we continue on the paths the Lord has placed in our lives, He will lead us through the valley and the desert both. Sometimes, it feels like we have never been closer to the Lord, and everything is “going our way”. We’re in the valley…joy-filled, at peace, and excitedly going down the path of the Lord’s will. Then, He may choose to bring us through a dry, desert time. It seems as if everything is a struggle, like the Lord is far away and doesn’t hear our desperate pleas of asking for peace from the conflict, whatever it might be. Having walked through a time like this recently, I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing it was to have dear sisters constantly sending me scripture verses and praying for me. Do you know someone who is struggling in their spiritual life? The Lord may be calling you to be a witness to them as they walk through this time in the desert. Diligently seek to pray for them, look for little ways you can encourage them. Perhaps a note in the mail or some favorite scriptures written out on notecards and given to them will help them on their journey.

3. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. This part speaks for itself in many ways. Be joyful in hope… We have a great hope in the knowledge that one day, the Lord will return to take us home to be with Him for all eternity. We have a great hope because He chose, in His divine providence, to take on the weight of our sins and wash them clean. He took the punishment, that we rightly deserve, that we might be white as snow, and have this great hope! What a mighty, faithful and loving God we serve.  Patient in affliction… Our pastor was just teaching this past Sunday about how trials are brought into our lives for our good. We often do the most growing as we learn to further rely on the Lord, and less on our own efforts. When we are completely broken, we realize just how small we are, and just how mighty our Lord is. We may not understand in this life why He sent specific trials into our lives, but we can rest once again in the greater Hope- that the Lord works together all things for the good of those who are His own according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Faithful in prayer… once again, this part speaks for itself, but in many ways, how often are we guilty of telling someone that we will pray for them and then forgetting or never getting around to doing so? *raises hand* One way that we can really seek to show love to others is remembering to be faithful in praying for them, or over specific requests they may have shared with us. For myself, I’ve found that keeping a prayer request journal is a great way to specifically list out folks or requests that I am praying for during that time. It’s also neat to look back through and see exactly how God answered those prayers!

4. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Building somewhat on #1, sharing with fellow believers who are in need is one of the greatest ways that we can show love to others. One specific way my church tries to do this is by taking meals to families who have recently had a baby, lost a family member, are sick, etc. Having been on both ends of this, I can say that it is a blessing to both parties. Taking a meal to someone is a way of acknowledging to them that you know they are struggling with something at the time, and it is a very practical way of showing love to them. It truly blesses you knowing that you are lending them a helping hand in their time of need. When my family has been on the receiving end, it is so nice to not have to worry about cooking on top of everything else going on at the time, no matter what the circumstance is. There are obviously several other ways to help folks in need…I just used food as an example because here in the South, food is a big deal. :) As far as showing hospitality, the definition of hospitality means: “The friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” What better way to show hospitality to believers and non-believers alike than to host them in your home? Whether just for a meal or for an extended stay, oftentimes, one of the best ways we can be a witness to others is to have them in our homes, so that they can see the way we live, and Lord willing, to see the love of Christ in us and through us.

What are some different ways you can show “love in action” to others around you?

 

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Loving God’s People

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit
unto unfeigned love of the brethren,
see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
1 Peter 1:22

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As believers in Jesus Christ we ought to be walking in harmony and holiness, 
and yet we often struggle with our relationships with one another - we struggle with showing love.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get along with everyone,
but from God’s divine point of view there is only one body.

There is one body, and one Spirit,
even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all,
through all, and in you all.
Ephesians 4:4 - 6

. . . unto unfeigned love of the brethren.

We should not attempt to “manufacture” love,
but the the love we share with each other must be generated by the Holy Spirit.
This is not only a spiritual love, but a sincere and fervent love.
We must strive with all of our energy to bestow love unto the brethren.
We show love to others when we treat them the same way God treats us.
It is not a matter of feeling but of willing, and this is something we must constantly work at
if we are to succeed.

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. . . see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.

pure heart ought to be in each one of us
and it should encourage us to build and maintain unity among God’s precious people.

St. Augustine said it perfectly,
In essentials, unity.
In nonessentials, liberty.

In all things, charity.

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May your week be blessed, dear friends!

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5 Ways to Build Edifying Relationships

Relationships with the Body of Christ can be a frustrating thing…though it’s a necessary part of our walk with Christ. As Christians, we’re called to be in edifying relationships with other believers. However, there’s a lot of division, favoritism, backbiting, hate, and gossip that goes on in the Church that causes harm to the Body of Christ. I’ve not always dealt in a godly way in some of my friendships with members of the Body of Christ.

The Word of God has some things to say about Christ-honoring relationships among His Bride. It was His desire that we use our friendships to build each other up in the Lord and point each other to Him. These are just a few ways He’s called us to go deeper in our relationships.

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1. Invest in other Christians without expecting anything in return. Do we develop friendships because we get something from them? Or do we genuinely love the Body of Christ & unselfishly desire to serve them? It’s comfortable to find relationships that feed our insecurity and our need for acceptance. Being in a friendship because we’re getting something out of it is a selfish and empty way to live our lives. However, these relationships often end in frustration and emptiness. Instead, learning to give and serve others without expectations will bring true and lasting joy to our hearts. Genuine love for others may not always be reciprocated, as I’ve found out before, but I’m learning that it is better to give than receive.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (1 Peter 1:22 ESV)

2. Give relationships space. It’s easy to have our “foots in our neighbor’s house” in today’s instant communication. Most of our relationships are a mere text, phone call, tweet, email, Facebook message away. Have you ever just wanted some distance in a demanding relationship? I know I have…when I’m constantly getting texts/emails/etc. from someone. It’s made me realize that part of edifying relationships is giving people rest from outside voices, including our own. Being respectful of our friends’ time and priorities is part of genuine love. It’s okay if we don’t hear back from them in the same hour, afternoon, day, or week.

“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” (Proverbs 25:17 ESV)

3. Speak Truth in love into your friends’ life. I’m realizing I’m a bit too eager to please in my relationships. It’s gotten me into a couple messy situations I could have avoided if I was willing to stand up for the Truth. In all of our relationships, whether it be with family or close friends, we are called to build up one another in Christ. Part of loving others is encouraging them and exhorting them to pursue Christ. It’s okay for Christians to gently and humbly discuss different opinions and thoughts on the Word of God. It grows us. We shouldn’t be afraid of reproof or debate…if someone is brave enough to humbly point out something to us they feel is contrary to the Bible, then we should be grateful they love us that much! Hopefully, we will be able to do the same for others. And…it’s actually good for us to have people who we’re close to that disagree with us on issues…”likemindedness” can actually be a warning sign for a mediocre Body.

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Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV)
 
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6 ESV)
 
4. Let go of relationships that harm our relationship with Christ. There is a point when we have to let go of a friendship that destroys other relationships in our lives. If a person who claims the name of Christ is dragging us down spiritually, not encouraging us in our walk with Christ, not listening to Biblical counsel and encouragement, and is being a distraction to pursuing a deeper relationship with God, it may be time to let that go. If a person makes us feel guilty for not spending more time with them, it’s time to let it go. When relationships with other believers cause more harm than good, it’s not a sin to walk away and we should seek to do it peacefully and humbly.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Romans 16:17 ESV)
5. Pursue a deeper walk with Christ. The biggest cause of conflict in relationships is a lack of Christlikeness. The cure for this is for us to grow in our own relationship with Christ. We need to be seeking Him first, before we seek out relationship with others. The quality of our relationships will often reflect how much we desire a closer walk with God. If we want quality, deep friendships, we need to be developing a deeper abiding in Christ.
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What are some ways you have found to build Christlike relationships with other Christians? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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A thought or two on Godly friendships

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For many, many years, I prayed that the Lord would send me Godly friends.

Over the past couple of years, the Lord has been so very gracious and answered my prayer in abundance. He has sent specific people into my life at the most perfect moments.

When it seemed as if my family and I were the only ones walking along a particular path, He sent a special group of friends to me that I “met” online. I’m still writing back and forth with several of those ladies, and each one of them hold a special place in my heart. There were many times when I would be having a particularly rough day, and I would have a letter or email from one of them in my mailbox or inbox. It literally brightened my whole day! These ladies have shown the love of Christ to me in incredible ways, and while many of them I haven’t yet had the privilege to meet in person, I pray the Lord will allow me to meet each one of them if it is His will.

Along with these special online friends, over the past year especially, He began to bring ladies into my life that I see in person quite often now. It is so wonderful to get together with them and simply fellowship, or if the situation arises, to stop and pray for one another. There have been a couple of girls in particular who have literally stopped what they are doing right then to pray for me, and made it a point to encourage me if I had been struggling with something. They have prayed faithfully and diligently for us as my family has walked through some rather difficult situations over the past year, many of them making themselves available to help with things as we have had needs arise.

It’s really made me think a lot about the blessing that the Lord has given us through Godly friendships, so I was excited to see that our topic for the month here at Meditations of His Love is “Godly Relationships”. I’m going to focus specifically on Godly friendships today.

In the scriptures, there is a lot of value placed upon having Godly relationships with others.

We are encouraged to seek out relationships with those who are of like-mindedness to us. We, as Christians, should be constantly seeking to encourage other believers to strive ever more in the pursuit of Christ, and in becoming more like Him each and every day. We need to love each other. REALLY love each other. Not the lovey-dovey sort of love portrayed in sappy Hallmark movies, but with a sincere, sacrificial  love. A mirror of the love the Lord showed us when He took upon Himself the burden of *our* sins, that we might live a life unshackled by the chains and bondage of sin, so that we will go one day to live with Him in heaven for eternity. We should seek to show the beautiful, sacrificial love of Christ however we can to encourage and edify other believers, encouraging them to seek the higher things of the Lord.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Hebrews 10:24-25

Sometimes, it is difficult to put aside our wants, needs or desires to be a servant to others. To love them, even when they are at their most unlovable. However, it’s not up to us to choose whom we will show love and grace to and whom we won’t.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud,but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” - Romans 12:9-16

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.- Romans 14:10

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” - Romans 14:13

We are to put aside our selfishness and pride, and endeavor to show our brothers and sisters the love and mercy the Lord has shown to us.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” - Romans 15:7

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” -1st Corinthians 10:24

I’m so thankful for the grace the Lord showed us when He chose us to be His very own. I feel overwhelmed with joy and awe that He would choose us, despite our wickedness and sinful natures. I’m awestruck that He continues to pour out His love and mercy. To even further demonstrate how much He loves us, He set apart a people for Himself, and equipped them to minister and love one another so that we might all be mutually encouraged in the faith. What an extraordinary blessing! <3

May we all seek to show the love of Christ to one another in our relationships with others, faithfully seeking to show His mercy and grace in our day-to-day walk alongside each other. Remember to pray for one another, and look for ways you can be an encouragement in someone’s life. You may never know how big of a blessing you are to them while they are struggling.

~Miss Court

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