Love In Action

romans121913

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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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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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.

foodfight

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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