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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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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Little Ways

This month, our topical theme here at Meditations of His Love is Experience Produces Character. Melinda asked that we share some of the different experiences that we have had through the years as we have walked with Christ.

This past year, my grandmother was diagnosed with and died from cancer. I wrote the following blog post shortly after she passed away, sharing about one of the unique and special ways the Lord encouraged my family and I through His word, as we walked through what was *undoubtedly* one of the hardest times in our lives. Perhaps you, dear friend, are walking through a struggle of your own. I pray that this testimony of the Lord providing encouragement to me during that time will be a blessing and encouragement to you. May we always trust in the Lord and seek to stay faithful to Him, even when it is hard. <3

~Miss C

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From June 10th, 2013:

 

It has been interesting to look back at many of the ways the LORD has sent encouragement to us over the past several weeks.

When I look back over the past few months, I can see where the LORD really spoke to my heart through very specific Bible verses. During the weeks following after we learned about my grandmother’s cancer, and then continuing on as we cared for her until her homecoming, the LORD revealed scriptural truths  to me as I sought comfort in His word. As they were laid on my heart, I felt led to write down those verses and hang them beside the sink, so that I could work on memorizing them while doing dishes or cooking during the day.

“The day we found out she had cancer, February 14th, the verse that came to mind after much prayer was James 1:2-4 :

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

While it was hard to see at the time of my grandmother’s cancer diagnosis, and admittedly, is still very hard to see at times now, we are to completely and totally rely on God and trust in Him. Even when situations seem to be at their absolute worst, we are to TRUST Him. Really, really trust Him- with our whole heart. God never sends us trials or situations greater than what His grace will allow us to bear. Never will He leave us or desert us in our time of need. We are to REJOICE when He sends trials to us. We should always seek to rejoice in the sanctification that comes from bearing burdens here on earth and know that working through those difficult situations in a godly manner is ultimately a manner or refining for us. A way of making us more like our beloved Saviour. It is so hard to rejoice in the midst of troubles….of worries…. of burdens that feel too large to bear, but through God’s grace, I pray that we all weary not of doing right and seeking to consider even the largest of burdens a JOY.

The second verse that God placed on my heart was Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

I believe God was continuing to reveal to me that this season of my grandmother struggling with cancer wouldn’t last forever. Like many other things in life, this was a season and it too would pass. There were days when it was all I could do not to weep as the enormity of situation began to sink in. There were many nights when I cried myself to sleep thinking over all of the what-ifs and possible scenarios…

And that is when God laid Psalm 27:13-14 on my heart:

“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”

At this time, as we were approaching the second chemo treatment, we were watching my grandmother begin to slip away as the cancer began to take its toll. I can’t even begin to explain what it is like to watch someone suffer the way she was beginning to suffer. The pain that began to show itself on her face… watching the difficulty she was beginning to have just walking around our home. I found myself constantly praying the second part of that verse: “Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.. Lord, please help me to wait for you- please help me to be strong and take heart and wait for you.

The next verse that was laid on my heart was 1st Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The day I felt led to write out this verse and add it to the others beside the sink was the day before my grandmother passed away.

God’s timing in things is always perfect. Oftentimes, we can’t see why He directs things a certain way or puts specific situations in our paths, but we can rest in the fact that HE does know and that His ways are always perfect! What an amazing peace it is to know God directs all and that He has already numbered our every step here on this earth! I believe His timing in revealing that verse to me was perfect. I certainly didn’t know that God would take my grandmother home the next day, but God was telling me to rejoice in my circumstances whatever they might be. While my family and I are still suffering the loss of my precious grandmother, we can rejoice in the fact that she is no longer suffering- no longer in pain. She is in the joyous presence of our heavenly Father, and what a blessed thought that is!

Which leads me to the last verse I wrote out and hung beside the sink- Jeremiah 17:14:

“Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”

God revealed this verse to me through a Bible study I was doing a few weeks ago. I felt very strongly God was showing me that verse specifically as a balm for our wounds. An encouragement that healing would indeed come. We serve such a faithful and merciful God- it is so true that His mercies are anew each morning! As we continue through both of these seasons of mourning and healing, I know that through His mercies, our hearts will be restored. I am so thankful He continues to whisper His truths to us each day, in the most amazing of ways. What a mighty God we serve!”

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~He will wipe away every tear~

He Will Wipe Away Every Tear

Life oftentimes throws us “curve balls”. Unexpected circumstances seem to abound at times, swirling and whirling and tossing us about the waves of life until we feel like we are absolutely broken, crushed, and unable to even breathe.

We can all relate to struggling with difficulties in this life. Living in a fallen world, the effects of sin are all around us. Each day, we struggle with different things brought into our lives. For you, maybe it is the death of a close family member or friend, or receiving news of a life-threatening medical diagnosis. Perhaps it is being shunned by a close friend, or having a relationship shatter into an oblivion of tiny little pieces. It might be struggling with having enough money to put food on the table, or feeling absolutely alone, drowning in your doubts and fears, whatever they may be.

The Lord has told us that one day, when we go to be with Him, He will free us from the earthly burdens of pain and mourning:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21:4

What a blessed promise the Lord gives us in this scripture passage! What a joyous thing it is to know that we will be dwelling with our Heavenly Father in perfect peace, and not experiencing the pain and suffering that is found while we are still on earth. What a blessing it is to know that the Lord, in His infinite goodness and mercy, chose us to be His people, and that we will be with Him forever!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” - Revelation 21:3

The Lord will dwell with us…among us. Can you imagine what a wondrous thing that will be! No more pain. No suffering. No sin! As the Bride of Christ, we will be *with* Him in His kingdom, with the tumultuous effects of sin no longer plaguing us. I feel so very blessed that He chose to count me among His own! <3

My dear sister, when you feel as if life can’t possibly get any worse, remember the promise the Lord has given to us; for He remains, now and forevermore, true to His promises. One day, He will take us to be with Him, and He will wipe every tear from our eyes. No longer will we be afflicted by the effects of sin. Praise be to His holy name! <3

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Beloved Bride

Beloved Bride

Beloved bride.

What an absolutely beautiful name those of us carry who are in Christ. We are His beloved bride; His redeemed, sanctified and forgiven ones, set apart and chosen by Him before the beginning of time to be his very own.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” - Isaiah 61:10

He has provided us with beautiful bridal clothes of salvation, given by the ultimate sacrifice of His one and only son. What an amazing sacrifice the LORD has given that we might live!

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” - Ephesian 5:25-27

He gave up what He loved most of all, so that we, a fallen and undeserving people, could find salvation and life eternal through Him. Can you even imagine what pain He must have endured, sending His only son to the cross, in order that we might live? Can you imagine what Jesus must have experienced as He took on the weight of all of our sin upon himself? And yet, the sacrifice was made. The sacrifice was made so that we might be spotlessly clean, no longer clothed in the filthy rags of sin, but in the beautiful bridal clothes of radiant, sinless purity, and in the shining truth of righteousness.

While we are still on this earth, He knows that we will continue to fall short. We cannot, as humans, achieve a life without sin while we are still dwelling in our temporal bodies. When we do fail, the Lord is faithful to draw us back to Him and wash us clean once more, ever patiently sanctifying us as He continues to mold and shape us into whom He would have us be. He has promised to be our faithful bridegroom, drawing us ever nearer and closer as He washes us time and time again from the iniquities of our sins, and sets us back upon the path we ought to go. He is preparing us each and every moment for the glorious day when He will take us home, for He will be our bridegroom, and we will be His beloved bride.

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,  in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” - Hosea 2:19-20

I invite you to celebrate with me today, dear sisters, of being counted among the Lord’s beloved bride- set apart, redeemed, forgiven, and chosen to be His own. <3

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Invisible Feast

This familiar line of Psalm 34 is so profound from an evangelistic perspective.  King David spends most of this song proclaiming the benefits of his personal experience in trusting God, then tells anyone who hasn’t experienced this to taste and see for themselves.  The whole point of tasting something is expectancy.  Your eyes see a bowl of food and before a bite even touches your mouth, your tongue and salivary glands are perched, receptive for a taste.

So sadly, in our growing agnostic and atheistic culture, there’s a problem with tasting God.  It’s choosing to see an empty bowl, yet challenged to taste its contents.  How do you taste something that you cannot reason exists before you?  If you have an empty bowl, you have no expectancy.  No faith.

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This makes me think of a scene in the Peter Pan film sequel, Hook.  A grown-up and skeptical Peter joins the lost boys at the table for supper.  After grace, the boys begin rabidly pulling off the lids of empty stock pots, grabbing for empty bowls, and scarfing down their seemingly invisible feast.  They gulp, smack, and sigh with satisfaction as a hunger-wearied Peter watches in unbelieving yearning.  He resolves to go hungry, until he scoops a spoon through his empty bowl and has enough faith to at least pretend to fling “invisible food” at one of the boys.  Peter is shocked to not only see the boy’s face covered in flung food, but also a whole feast on the table before him.

The moment faith enters into the heart, it reaches into a bowl of seemingly invisible fare, and finds riches in Christ beyond human comprehension.  Those of us who have tasted this, know this in our very soul.  So how do we encourage the skeptical onlookers to taste with expectancy?  We follow David’s example in the rest of Psalm 34, and share our testimony of God’s existence in our lives.  As Peter Pan watched the lost boys enjoying a meal he couldn’t see, so the lost world must see our total joy and satisfaction in Jesus Christ!  We needn’t stuff invisible fare down our unbelieving friends’ throats; because without faith, they can’t taste it. Let’s just live!  The evidence will be you, alive in Christ; “his praise continually in your mouth” (Ps.34:1), and your deepest needs met (Ps.34:4, 34:10) in the fullness of Him.

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Press on!

This year…

You’ll make mistakes and have regrets; don’t be defeated, press on! Christ is your victory!

You’ll be discouraged and feel oh-so-weak; don’t be insecure, press on! Christ is your hope and strength!

You’ll fail and sin and need to repent; don’t stay and wallow, repent and press on! Christ is your Risen Savior!

You’ll have trials and times filled with pain; find comfort in Jesus and press on! Christ is your comfort and peace!

You’ll be ignored, betrayed, or resented by someone you love; don’t grow bitter, press on! Christ will never forsake you!

presson

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It’s going to be a good year, and it’s going to be a hard year for all of us. Trials and tears are inevitable, but then, so is the love, hope, peace, and grace of Christ. This year, instead of letting the trials defeat us and make us bitter, let’s allow them to build our faith. Let’s let the love of God bloom in our hurting hearts.

I don’t want to fear the trials and battles ahead in 2014, because I know that if I’m experiencing them, I’m growing through the grace of Christ. It is good for me to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Life isn’t easy, and it’s the difficulty that makes me more like Christ as I allow His work to be done in my life.

Out in the World
-Edgar A. Guest

I would not shirk the task nor scorn the fight,
Nor ask a life untouched by doubt or care;
Lord, give me strength to battle for the right,
And courage for the burdens I must bear,
I seek not always shelter from the rain-
A timid child at life’s small window pane.

The wind blew yesterday. A cruel storm
Snarled at the toilers of the busy world,
And at my little window, sung and warm,
I watched the angry snowdrifts as they swirled.
Thought I: “The weaklings at their firesides stay,
Only the brave men venture out today!”

Grant me the open world where tempests blow
A man’s place in the ranks of men I’d fill.
Grant me to brave my share of doubt and woe,
To dull complaining let my voice be still;
Let me be out there, fighting might and main,
Not an on-looker at some window pane.

Don’t live a comfortable life, sitting at your window pane, this year! Press on! Fight brave and might battles of the Lord! His upward call resounds, answer the call and press on.

“..One thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind
and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal
for the prize
of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:13-14)

 

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