God’s love is unconditional, He pours in so we can pour out.
~ Lisa Blair
We are to love one another unconditionally, as our Father loves us in our sinful state, without conditions, caveats, or exclusion. We are to have Jesus’s mindset.
Love breaks down walls and gives the giver peace despite the circumstances. We don’t have to like everyone or keep them in our circle if toxic in anyway, but as a child of God we are required to love them as He loves us.
God pours His love into us so we can pour it out into a dark world, casting light and changing the atmosphere. When we reflect chaos and hate, we are contributing to the darkness. When we, like Paul, love everyone as God loves us, our love attracts others who are seeking God and want a relationship with Him. We are the model of Christ. Are we modeling Him or living in the natural world modeling the evil one? Do we love unconditionally, are we kind, do we sacrifice for the good of others, are we patient, trustworthy, faithful, gentle and maintain self-control?
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14 NLT
Do we love our neighbors, those around us wherever we go? Are we the model God sets before man? The world sees Him through our actions. Are we modeling unconditional love through our actions or reinforcing worldly values and sel-righteousness? Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians stressing that we are to emulate Christ in all we do.
“Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility],” Philippians 2:5 AMP
Daily reminder, recite each morning – Today I go forth (intentionally) modeling Christ.
Images and Scriptures—YouVersion.Bible.com
Resource— Nelson’s Quick Reference. Warren Wiersbe
Desire and want may not lead to spiritual growth, what we need will lead to spiritual growth.
~ Lisa Blair
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV
Most people misconstrue this scripture to mean, ’all that we want and desire’. God knows what we want and knows what we desire. He also knows what we need to advance our walk and maturity as a Christian. Want/desire, and need are very different.
Praying for desire or want should include, ’ your will be done’, or ’if it is in your will, or some compilation of the phrases. Only God knows our spiritual road map.
Awake every morning to the bugle call. Time to get up and put on the Armor of God in prayer.
The full armor of God does not work if it is hanging up in the closet or strewn across the floor, likewise our invisible armor does not work if we do not put it on in prayer. Ephesians clearly explains God’s gift and purpose for what He has empowered each piece of armor to accomplish. He also explains that we cloth ourselves in prayer, not as a ritual, but as protection against the wiles of the evil one.
Sin is often subtle. Satan cloaks it in many ways, often through feelings of shame and guilt, leading us back into sin and hence, sinning against God.
How can this be so? All sin is sin against God. Yes, He freed us of sin that strangled us when Jesus suffered on the Cross and gave His life for us. We are no longer bound by our sins. We received salvation because Jesus died for our sins. Our Father promised us that He would give us redemptive life.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14 NIV
As humans, we will sin until Jesus returns and conquers Satan, but through redemption, we do not have to wear it like an albatross. It does not have to hang around our necks, carrying it with us into eternity. We have been given the gift of repentance. When we acknowledge our sin, we have the opportunity to ask God’s forgiveness. When we do so, He forgives us and removes the sin from our lives as far as the east is from the west.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:8-12 NLT
It is our faith that is affected when we ask for forgiveness only through guilt to relive the sin again and again in our minds. If God forgave us, removed the sin from us, we must do the same. If we don’t, we are sinning against God. We are doubting His Word and resigning ourselves to the prison (faithlessness) Satan creates to incarcerate us within the walls of our past.
Most of us have done things we are ashamed of doing. Things that, if given an opportunity, we might have done differently, but we cannot change the fact that it occurred. We can accept God’s forgiveness and attempt to refrain from committing the same sin again. We may also find that there are consequences for what we have done, but the most important thing is that we learn from what we have done, repent and thank God that we are not bound by it any longer; until we forgive and place it in the sea of forgetfulness, we are sinning against God.
God warned those (of the Jewish faith) who became the first Christians about returning to their old ways in the Book of Hebrews. This warning is the same today as it was in the past. Returning to our old ways is an intentional act of denial. We deny God’s love for us and promise to keep us and never leave us, we reject His promise of redemption. We speak repentance but continue to carry the chain, we sin against our Father simply by denying His forgiveness.
If you are like me, and most humans, we have to work on forgiving ourselves once God has forgiven us earnestly. We have to learn to stop returning to the mental scene of the crime so to speak, thank God and move forward.
Moving forward is an act of maturity. As we learn about God’s promises, we must use them to reinforce who we are in Christ. This is an ongoing exercise. Living a Godly life is a process. Paul equates life as a race and crossing the finish line occurs when we perish from this earth and take up residence in heaven with Christ.
Warnings are opportunities to change. We are warned before we continue to repeat our past. God promised we are freed from sin when we repent. Repent and do not return to the past; do not bind yourself in regret and guilt. You have been freed. Accept it and move forward. Our Lord placed our sin into the sea of forgetfulness, and we must do the same. Let God set you on level ground. God’s Will is to free us from sin.
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me to level ground. Psalms 143:10 NIV
Lord place me on solid ground, the land of uprightness (NKJV), lead me forward on a firm footing (NLT), lead me to level ground (NIV).
Failing to follow our Lord in our innermost being is living an outward life of a Christian. An outward life is one of self-righteousness and only a substitution for true faith. Releasing guilt must be an inner act of spiritual life in Christ that leads to Christian maturity. Holding on to guilt and shame is an act of spiritual immaturity, reflecting that we do not actually rely on Jesus Christ for salvation. Our sins are not unpardonable as was the case in the Old Testament. Christ provides the way for each of us who obey the gospel commands (by faith) to do so.
True repentance is complete surrender and submission to Christ and involves a change of mind and will to recognize and refuse our sin natures control over us and follow Christ. We must refuse to mentally return to the sin we committed, scolding ourselves over and over again. The Lord freed us from sin, accepted our repentance, and encourages us to move forward into Christian maturity. We should not sin against God. People who know what the gospel is about and refuse to repent and believe, in effect, crucify Christ all over again.
Believing the gospel through faith is an act. We have to intentionally hold fast to our faith, release the thoughts (guilt) that bind us, stop crucifying Christ over-and-over again, and move forward as maturing Christians.
Why do we struggle to live what we believe is enough, until we reach rough terrain, or old age and realize, God is our strength and relying on self is futile?
~ Lisa Blair
God created a headstrong people and gave us free-will. Free-will is the option to choose to live a carnal life or a Godly life. God does not stand in our way, but instead allows us to make the decision to choose Him, and live a Godly, eternal life, or flail about on our own, destined to rot in hell.
As we hunger for true life, we begin to understand that only God can provide the comfort we seek. Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the comfort and strength we seek come through the Holy Spirit, who instantaneously takes up residence in us, and becomes our inner man.
It’s mind-boggling to think that even as Christians, who have surrendered our lives to Christ, still find it difficult to be obedient and dependent upon Him. If you are, or were, like me and so many others, we were raised to be independent, to forge ahead relying on our own decision-making abilities, and take the bull by the horns.
Hearts and Bodies Fail, Death is Inevitable
The truth is, our bodies and minds fail us time and time again. At some point, we become exhausted, and we search for strength and realize we must rely on God, who is our eternal strength. There is no other, especially self that can release the fear, and the weakness felt when our bodies and minds fail, in life and death.
2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalms 18:2 KJV
God is our Rock, in Him, and only Him, do we have strength. When we realize He has given us options, we also realize free-will truly means surrender and not persevering on our own. It means relying on His strength to see us through.
Again, I emphasize, free-will has two sides. God wants us to choose to either accept Him as our Lord and Savior, thus being in relationship with Him and being insured of eternal life/salvation, or remain where we are in sin moving forward blindly.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV
When we fully and completely surrender, there is clarity in understanding that it is attached to obedience and dependency upon God’s Word. What seems confusing to many is that surrender is two prong and relies on total obedience and dependence upon Him. It does not mean we should enter into a catatonic state and wait for God to move us like a chess piece, it means to go to Him in prayer and ask for guidance while planning. It means learning his Word through reading the Bible and strengthening your relationship with Him. Once we begin to move down His path, we understand that we should not stray to the left or the right but to listen to His quiet, strong voice and allow Him to inform our decision-making.
God’s Will and His Way
Quite often, His plans for our lives are different than ours. How many of you have had wealth, prestige, and career opportunities that in your carnal world were exciting and clearly placed you on the path of success? Likewise, how many of you also heard God’s quiet voice saying, ‘stay with me, this is not your path’? God is the source of our happiness, not wealth, not public acclaim, not the clamor of friends, but relationship with Him. Knowing God is your strength is knowing that He alone is your supreme joy and that He is your friend and portion, now and forever.
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. John 7:17 ESV
Only God can give strength and comfort in the present and on our deathbed. Our flesh will always fail, but God is the strength of our soul and gifts us with eternal salvation. In health and in weakness, we should always attempt to persevere to walk in His Will and His Way, not our own. Without God, our life is only a self-inflicted burden without direction or cause. Without God in life and in death, we remain orphans, naked-without His covering, unprotected, and subject to eternal death. We remain portionless forever.
Each day should be a demonstration of what Gods’ love does for us and through us. Let others see His light shine through you. After all, we have been charged with the responsibility to do so.
~ Lisa Blair
What is agape love, and why are Christians responsible for sharing it with others?
Agape love is the highest expression of love, it is selfless, pure, and unconditional. We are the recipients of God’s love, and as recipients of His love, we are freed through it. His agape love indwells in us in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our light that shines through us into the outside world. This love is demonstrated daily through our words, thoughts and actions. We can either interact using our carnal character, our attitude, as our guide, or display the virtues of Christ, that inform our behavior.
Jesus speaks about our attitude towards one another and how love is unconditional and expresses the nature of God, 1 John 4:8m NIV.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The main reason unbelievers don’t see Jesus is because a veil is covering their hearts and their “spiritual eyes.” They cannot see Jesus through the veil. Their hearts are covered and their minds are blinded. Says who? Says God. He tells us in His Word, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4) [Christian Post, Dan Delzell, Contributor. Turning To The Lord Lifts The Veil. July 2013]
We are charged with and commanded to love. We can longer view the world, our family, friends, and associates through carnal (human) eyes. The veil has been lifted from our eyes. We are commanded to love unconditionally. We can no longer focus on situations, or circumstances;we can no longer hate others, lie (little lies are often more deadly than pronounced lies because they are more difficult to discern), cheat, or steal. Stealing can include stealing someone’s happiness with foul words discrediting them, or frowning at them to unsettle their continence.
LIFE BY THE SPIRIT
Galatians 5 explains why we can no longer rely on our old behavior to govern our lives. My last Post was about being freed, we are free of our sins, because Christ died on the Cross for us and is now sitting at the right hand of God. Freedom comes at a cost, we must shed our old selves for our new selves. We are children of Christ, and we belong to a new family. This means we have to exchange our old behaviors for our new virtues. Paul wrote in Galatians,
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b]15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
ACTS OF THE FLESH, OUR CARNAL SELF
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Our carnal nature ensnares us to follow the world, we are bound to it. We are either God’s’ children, continually fighting against the carnal pull, or we are the evil one’s children embracing our own demise.
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
As Christians, we can strive to overcome our carnal nature, crucify our flesh and live by the spirit. This is accomplished by changing our attitude, our behavior, to align with the Fruit of the Spirit. As we do so, we mature and become more Christ-like through our walk.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
THE CLOSING POINT
God so loved us He gave us His only Son, who suffered for us in human form to experience trials, temptations and failures to free us of sin. Our suffering will never equal or come close to His, nor will our love for others, nonetheless, when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior we are bound to spread the Good News that is based on agape love. Our veil has been removed and we shed the shackles of sin. It is time that we love our neighbors and those of this earth as God does. My mother once told me, ” never hate, love everyone as God does, it is not the person but the behavior that keeps them bound to the flesh.”
Every person has the birth right of redemption if they received Christ as their Lord and Savior. As Christians, we continually receive God’s love, despite our sins. As Christians, we have been commanded to love one another unconditionally. No excuses. The world has been in turmoil throughout history. We are but a vapor that appears for awhile and then vanishes away, 1 John 4:14, paraphrased. Our Lord is the High Priest. He is eternal, and so is His Word. Again, we are commanded to love one another as He loves us.
References – Biblegateway.com; GotQuestions.org; The Christian Post; BibleHub.com
Compassion is part of our Christian lifestyle. Why aren’t we living the precepts we are governed by?
A few Wednesdays ago, my BSF small group discussed compassion as part of lesson 10. Living as Christ’s Followers, 1 Peter 3-5.
During the discussion, compassion was trending as predominately a Christian behavior, more so than any other religion. I believe most religions encourage their members to become more compassionate, this also includes secular groups, such as schools. Compassion is sought after by most people. It is a common theme among humanity.
Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is hurting, in pain, or has misfortune and is accompanied by a strong desire to help those who are suffering. (Bible Verses for Compassion. Biblestudytools.com)
The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9 NIV
When he saw the crowds (in the towns he visited), he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like the sheep without a Shepherd. Matthew 9:36 NIV
The difference between Christians and others and every other religion is that it is more profound, in that it is part of the makeup of our living God. The key is ‘living’ God who exudes compassion as part of who he is and the inspiration that we, too, internalize as part of His righteousness in the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. PS 116:5 NIV
Only Christians have a God who lived on earth without sin, was persecuted, suffered for us, died on the cross, and rose to heaven promising He will return someday to retrieve all believers and carry us to heaven with Him. He washed away our sins to give us new life and promises to return to earth and collect us (the believers) upon His return to usher us into heaven.
And as if that wasn’t enough, He returns a second time to receive those who had a change in heart and received Him as their Lord and Savior after the first were ushered into heaven. Our Lord is compassionate to the point of saving the least of us. We cannot earn His compassion; it is ours despite our flaws. He left the 99 sheep to go after the single lost sheep and carry him home. No other religion can share our testimony about compassion.
Reference – BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, mybsf.org; Scriptures – Bible.org; Images – Google Images
I am a Christian, a retired teacher, a mother and a grandmother. I love to read and I love the Lord Jesus Christ! Unless otherwise specified ,all visual illustrations are from the YOU VERSION APP of the Bible.