Let Your Love Continue to Grow

love grow

God’s desire is to see you and I grow and increase in every area of our lives.  He especially wants us to grow in the area of our love for others.  That’s because love is the greatest thing there is and it is all that really matters when it comes to eternity.  At the end of the day, at the end of our lives here on earth, love is what will last forever.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

In this verse, it is telling us that love and faith are connected.  You can’t have one without the other.  It is saying that faith works by love.  Love isn’t really about feelings and emotions.  Love is about the choice to treat people the way God tells us to in His Word.  The more we know Him, the more we know His Word by reading the Bible, the more we will walk in love.

I think the biggest reason that divorce is such a prevalent thing today is because people don’t have a clear idea of what love really is.  People are basing their love for the person they marry on their feelings and emotions.  Living off of your feelings and emotions will not sustain you when the tough times come.  Feelings and emotions head south in tough times and if your love is based on those things, your love will head south with them.  Then there is nothing left to sustain the marriage and it often results in the end of the marriage.  I have seen it happen first-hand.

Instead of feelings and emotions, we need to have a love like the one that God shows to us.  It is a love that forgives.  It is a love that will always be there in the good and bad times; when things are great and when things are tough.  It is a love based on what I can do for you and is not dependent on what you do for me.  A love seen on those terms will stand the test of time and last a lifetime.

My hope for each and every one of you is that your love will continue to grow and build a solid foundation for your faith.  Take at least a few minutes each day to read your Bible.  It is the greatest love story ever written.  God has filled it’s pages with so many examples of what real love looks like.   Through your connection with God, you will be strengthened in all of your relationships as you move forward into the life of blessing that God has in store for you.

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Having a Victor’s Mentality

victors mentality

When we look into the Bible, we see that Paul went through lots of hard times.  How did he come through?  He came through amazingly well through it all and he found God on the other end.  During all of Paul’s trials, he wasn’t complaining, living in self-pity or despair.  Paul shook off any defeated mindset he might have been feeling and he chose to have a vision of victory instead.  Paul had a victor’s mentality.

What was Paul’s secret?  Paul knew he would be victorious because he knew he had God on his side.  God can’t be defeated so Paul knew that if he was on God’s side, that he could not be defeated either.

That is what we need to do as well.  We need to have a victor’s mentality just like Paul did.  Let’s use Paul’s example of how we can choose to react to trials we face in our own lives.

Paul writes to us in several books of the New Testament and gives us a great example of how we should live our lives.  I am particularly fond of this verse that Paul wrote in the book of Romans:

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

You are not a weak.  You are not lacking.  The most powerful force in the universe is behind you and loves you and wants nothing more than to help you.  Each and every morning, you need to take a minute to remind yourself of this.  Wake up each morning and tell yourself this:

“I am ready for and equal to anything that comes my way.  I am full of can-do power.”

That sickness you have is no match for you.  That relationship issue is not going to keep you from your destiny.  The loss of that loved one did not stop the plan God has for your life.  When life gets tough and trials come, as they always do, don’t let it overwhelm you.  You can handle it.  You’ve been armed with strength from the most powerful God.

My challenge to you is to keep a victor’s mentality in everything you do because a victor’s mentality becomes a victor’s reality.

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Having a “I Can” Attitude

can do

When was the last time that you declared to yourself or someone else around you out loud that “I can”?  It is not something we commonly do even though we really should be doing that each and every single day.  In fact, most people, most people (including me) tend to magnify their limitations.  People tend to focus on their shortcomings.  Obviously, we have the goal of trying to improve ourselves as people and to do that you have to address limitations you do have so you can improve them.  The problem comes when we focus solely on our limitations and fail to ever spend any time thinking about the great things each of us has inside of us.

Scripture makes is very clear that all things are possible to those who believe.  That means that it is possible to see your dreams fulfilled.  It is possible to overcome that obstacle.  It is possible to climb to new heights.  It is possible to embrace your destiny.  You may not know how it will all take place.  You may not even have a plan yet, but all you have to know is that if God said that you can…you can!

Please understand that it is not saying that all things are possible to those trying to do it alone.  We all have many gifts and there are things that we can accomplish on our own, but each of us has limitations.  We will all come to a point where we can’t do everything on our own.  It is at this point, if we let God into our lives that we can let Him take over and then through Him anything is possible.  Nothing can defeat us.  We have the Creator of the Universe in our corner so there really is nothing that can take us down.

Starting today, I want to challenge each of you (including me) to open yourself up to the possibility in your future by simply declaring this verse:

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

At the stoplight, when you are waiting in line, anytime you have a couple of free seconds, just quote this verse to yourself.  Let is sink down deeply into your heart.  As you do, God’s word will transform you from the inside out.  Faith will rise up in your heart and you will start to boldly embrace the blessings that God has in store for you in your life.

If you do this regularly, your limitations and shortcomings will fade away into the background of your thoughts.

Be a person that is known for saying “I can” and not for saying “I can’t.”

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Put Some Action Into Your Love

love is all you need

All You Need is Love is a great song by my favorite band of all-time, the Beatles.  The song has a great message.  They are saying that it only takes love to make a difference in the world around you.  I agree with that partially.  The idea of love is great and I agree that we do need love, but love without action doesn’t have much effect.

Let’s see what Jesus had to say on the subject of love.

1 John 3:17-18 (NIV)

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I’ve heard it said that you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.  Notice that this verse tells us that love isn’t just about our words or thoughts; it’s about our actions too.  Love is about reaching out and meeting the needs of others.  Sometimes meeting someone’s needs is as simple as a smile or sharing a word of encouragement.  Sometimes it means doing something or giving something more substantial.  There are many ways to show the love of God.  You could pay for someone’s gas or groceries.  You could go clothes shopping with someone.  You could even help pay someone’s bills if they are down and out until they can get back on their feet again.

Do you see a need in someone’s life around you that you could meet?  Remember, you are the hands and feet of Jesus in the earth.  The Lord wants to bless you today so that you can be a blessing to others.  He wants to work through you to show His love and compassion.

Today and everyday, look for ways to put you love into action.  The Bible says that it’s God’s kindness that leads people to repentance.  He wants to show His kindness throughout the earth through you.  Step out and sow good seeds of love by meeting the needs of others.  God promises that those seeds will produce an abundant harvest in your own life in return.

I want to give each of you an assignment.  Over the next week, find three different acts of kindness that you can show to others.  Even small and simple acts can make a huge difference in the lives of others.  If you want, comment back on this blog and share with us what you did.  You can include any effect it had on the person and also, what it had on you.  You might be surprised at the chain reaction that putting some action into your love can cause.

 

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It’s OK to talk to Yourself…if You Do it the Right Way

talking 2

When we look in the Bible, we see that Paul went through many trials.  He had been shipwrecked, spent the night on an open sea, and gone days without food.  He was falsely accused, beaten with rods, and thrown into prison.  If anyone had a right to be negative, bitter or complain, it would have been Paul.  He had been through and seen a lot.  Amazingly though, his faith for God never seemed to waiver.

Paul’s attitude was, “I can handle it.  I am ready for and equal to it.  Why?  Because Almighty God, the Creator of the universe has infused me with strength.  He has equipped me, empowered me, anointed me, crowned me with favor, put royal blood in my veins, and called me to reign in life as a king.”

Paul wrote many books found in the New Testament, including Philippians.  This was a book that he wrote specifically to the church found in Philippi.  In chapter 4 of the Book of Philippians, Paul writes these amazing two verses:

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

We can do all things since we have God within us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  We are all set up for greatness.  All we have to do is be willing to take it and that means doing it through God.  We won’t get very far by ourselves, but through God, who gives us strength, there are no real imitations to what we are capable of.

When we face difficult times in our lives, like Paul did, it is important that we talk to ourselves right away.  If we don’t talk to ourselves, our thoughts will talk to us.  We can’t let those negative, self-defeating thought play in our minds or we might be tempted to believe them.  Instead, declare that you are more than a conqueror, and you will boldly embrace the life of victory God has in store for you.

 

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Help Me I’m Falling

falling

We all know people in our lives who proclaim to have given their life to God.  It is a joyous event when they step over the faith line.  They are all revved up about Jesus and you can see their lives change dramatically.  It is an awesome thing to see someone go through.  Sometimes though, with time, their excitement for faith seems to fade and their lives start going back to the way they were before they gave their lives to God.  Sometimes these people still proclaim to be a Christian and still say they believe, but the way they are living their lives does not reflect that talk.  Some people end up turning away from God completely and may even go so far as to stop believing in God.  One thing I have always wondered is do the people who are saved but then fall away from their faith still go to heaven?

This seems like a simple enough answer, but it is not.  It is very hard for anyone to know the answer to this question because only God and the person who dies know if they go to heaven.  The problem is that God isn’t talking and that person is not coming back here to enlighten us.

Let’s start by taking a look at what God tells us in the Bible regarding this subject.  Peter addresses this in the 2nd chapter of 2 Peter.

2 Peter 2:20-22 (NIV)

20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

It would seem to me that the Bible sees it as a very bad thing to fall away from God.  It uses some very strong imagery like a dog returning to its vomit and a sow wallowing in the mud.

There are basically two positions people take on this question.  Some people say that the people in these verses were saved, but by falling away, they lost their salvation.  They support their view by observing that:

  1. These people had a relationship with Christ.
  2. These people had escaped corruption.
  3. These people had since become entangled in sin again, worse than they were before.

People who hold this view also see the tragic results of falling away from God as reasons why the New Testament warnings against falling away are so vital.  Here are two examples of this:

Galatians 5:4 (NIV)

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NIV)

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Other people have a different position on this question.  They see salvation as an irrevocable gift.  They believe people can appear to be saved.  These are people who know about Jesus and their lifestyles appear to improve.  But this view concludes that such changes are merely superficial and that such people were never truly saved in the first place.  Those who hold this position see a distinction between genuine Christians and those who merely dabble in Christianity for a time.  Here are two good examples found in the Bible:

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 2:19 (NIV)

19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

There is a third view on this and it incorporates elements of both of the above positions.  This view says that some people fall away because they were never sincere in their faith while others fall away because they neglected their faith.  The dividing line in these various opinions seems to depend on one’s own view of God’s grace.  The question then becomes: Are God’s promises irrevocable or do they depend on our response?  Do we have eternal security in Christ or do we have conditional security in Christ?  These questions will never be fully answered this side of heaven.

So what view do you have on this idea of falling away?  I would love to hear your responses to this.

I would say that I would lean towards the third view that incorporates elements of each position.  People do fall away.  Some people were never sincere and were never saved in the first place.  God knows the state of each person’s heart.  You can’t put on a good cover and fool God.  If you are not sincere, you will not receive salvation.  Other people are sincere and do receive salvation, but for whatever reason, neglect their faith and can lose the salvation they once had.  I believe that God gives each of us free will and we ultimately choose our own destiny regarding whether we go to heaven or hell based on our response to God’s gift of grace.  I believe we have eternal security in Christ as long as we believe in Him, but if we don’t believe in Him, we are on our own and we will not be in heaven.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people walking around who think they are saved and they really are not.  That is pretty scary stuff.  I think we all need to work on developing a deeper submission to God.  We can do anything with Him, but alone, we can fall so easily.

Each day you live you either are walking towards God or you are walking away from God.  There is no staying the same.  Let’s keep walking towards Him each day and everything else will take care of itself.

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I Am Powerful

declaration

A few weeks ago I was exposed to a declaration at one of my weekly Bible studies I participate in.  I decided to do an experiment in positive affirmations and their effect on our lives.  I kept this with me and I read through it 3 times each day for a whole week.  I read it when I first got up in the morning, again over my lunch break, and finally again at night before I went to bed.  I would follow reading it with about a 2-3 minute prayer to God thinking about the things I had just read.  I can tell you that the effect was very powerful for me.  My attitude that week was more positive than normal and I felt more empowered than I had in quite some time.

I would like to share with you this positive affirmation.  This was written by someone in the children’s ministry at Bethel Church in Reading, CA.  This declaration was designed for the children in their church to help call out the powerful potential within each of them.

Obviously, this is not just for children.  We all have powerful potential within each of us.  Kids have the same Holy Spirit inside of them that we do.  I think we need to do a better job of tapping into that power on a daily basis.  We need to live out this power in our daily lives.  But first we have to believe it.  I’m not talking about simply agreeing with it in our minds, but about living like we believe it.  We need to read this declaration, believe it, and live it.

I want each of you to commit to copying this down and reading it at least once each day for a whole week.  At the end of that week, ask yourself if you felt more empowered or more positive during that week.  Please comment back to this post after you have completed this little experiment and let us all know how it went for you.  What did you learn from this experience?

Here is the declaration:

I am powerful, and what I believe changes the world! 

So today I declare:

God is in a good mood.

He loves me all the time.

Nothing can separate me from His love.

Jesus’ blood paid for everything.

I will tell nations of what He has done.

I am important.

How He made me is amazing.

I was designed for worship.

My mouth establishes praise to silence the enemy.

Everywhere I go becomes a perfect health zone.

And with God, nothing is impossible!

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