What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Day 13: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

When Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment?” In other words He was asked “Jesus there is all these commandments, there is all these do’s and don’ts; give us the cheat sheet Jesus, give us the spark notes.” This is what Jesus responded with:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31 NIV)

In other words, Jesus said the greatest commandment is love God and love others. The fact that Jesus answered this question, because most of the time He would tell a story or answer the question with a question, shows that He really wanted to drive home the importance of love. All 600 plus commandments Jesus summed up with one word “love.”

Essentially Jesus was saying “Without love, you have nothing. But with love you have everything.” You can have everything, but if you don’t have love, you have nothing. You can have nothing, but if you have love, you have everything. You can obey every commandment there is, you can follow all the do’s and don’ts, you can cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s; but if you don’t have love, it means nothing.

Paul summed it up like this in his first letter to the Corinthians:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self‑seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13 NIV)

So what’s love got to do with it? Everything!

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Come

Day 12: Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.

Recently I have been invited to multiple friends’ weddings. If you have ever been invited to a person’s wedding, whether a family member or friend, you know the proper protocol. First you will receive a “Save the Date” postcard in the mail giving you a heads up on when the wedding is so that you can set aside that date in your calendar. Next you will receive a formal invitation. At this point you have the option to accept or decline the invitation to the wedding.

Similar to a wedding invitation, you have also been extended an invitation. Jesus says this in Matthew:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

James the brother of Jesus writes:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8 ESV)

The ball is in your court. You are not waiting on God to move. He is waiting on you. If you would just take that initial step toward Him, He will come running to you. I know this to be true because of what Jesus says in Luke:

 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 ESV)

Jesus is referring to a son who had turned his back on his father, wasted his inheritance, and screwed up his life. But when he made the move to come back to his father, the father ran toward him and embraced him. Some of you may think that you have screwed up so bad that God has turned His back on you and would never accept you back. You believe that you have wasted your life and that God is disappointed in you. That is a lie. He is waiting for you. He is longing for you. He is anxiously anticipating your return. He earnestly wants you to just come home.

This is the invitation that we all have. God has already made His move by sending His Son, Jesus, now it is our turn to respond. Jesus is calling out to you “Come.” Will you respond to His invitation?

Friends

Day 11: Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him.

Rodney Atkins has a song called “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.” The whole thesis behind the song is that, when you are going through a tough time in your life, the people who show up to help you out when you need it the most are your true friends. Have you ever been in a bind? Have you ever been in a really tough time when you needed someone to help you out? Who showed up? Did anyone show up?

I have been there. One time I was flying back from Boston to Greenville, South Carolina and I missed my connecting flight in Atlanta. I was stranded at the Atlanta airport needing help getting back home to Greenville. However, everyone I called either didn’t answer or couldn’t come to pick me up. I finally got a hold of a friend who was willing to make the 2 hour drive one-way to come pick me up so I could spend the night in my own bed and not at the airport.

Now this was a sign of true friendship. Jesus says this in the gospel of John:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15 NIV)

When everyone else in life abandons you, Jesus says “I won’t abandon you.” He won’t leave you stranded where you’re at. Jesus came down, died for you, in order to pick you up. Because of His great love for you, it compelled Him to action. When you’re down, He will pick you up. When you’re in need of help, He will reach out His hand. When you’re hurting, He will stretch out His healing. He calls you friend.

Do You Surrender?

Day 10: Surrender your whole being to God to be used for righteous purpose.

Surrender and Submission have to be the two words in our English language that people use the least. No one wants to surrender because that is considered a sign of giving up. No one want to submit because that is seen as weakness. But the truth is, until you are willing to surrender, until you are willing to submit; you won’t be able to reach your full potential, achieve the purpose that God has for you, or walk in the greater things Jesus promised for your life.

Paul implores us to:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1 NIV)

In other words, Paul is telling us to surrender to God all that we have. To submit to His plan for our lives. I love what Perry Noble points out in this verse. He points out that Paul says to surrender as living sacrifices. The only problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar. I believe that many of us surrender initially to God but when the fire gets hotter or we get a little bit uncomfortable, we climb down from the altar. We don’t truly surrender all to God. We don’t truly submit to His will.

Paul goes on to write to the Galatians:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24 NIV)

The only true way to live is to die to yourself. True success in life is when we surrender to God and serve others. The only way our dreams become our destinies is if we die to ourselves. If Jesus is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all. Until you surrender all, you will not succeed at all.

So what is it in your life that you are holding on to? What do you need to surrender to God? In order for God to bless you with something more, you must let go of something less. Jesus doesn’t ask you to surrender something in your life if He is not going to replace it with something greater. Don’t crawl off the altar any longer. Stay. Sacrifice. Submit. Surrender. And see God move in your life-like none other.

Well Pleased

Day 8: The Lord takes pleasure in His people.

I recently heard a message by Robert Morris where he explains how God’s greatest desire is you. This is proved by the fact that God sent His only son, Jesus, to die for you.

This view of God completely contradicts how we tend to see Him in our world today. Our viewpoint of God is that He is standing over us waiting for the moment when we screw up so that He can punish us with His wrath. Why would a good God who wants good things for His children be lurking over them ready to pounce at the very moment they mess up? Yes God disciplines, but He only disciplines those He loves. Just like an earthly father corrects his children in order to protect them from eminate danger if they keep traveling down the path they are on, your Heavenly Father corrects you in order to protect you and place you back on the path that leads to the purpose He has for your life. God does not discipline you to punish you, but He corrects you to protect you. In fact David writes in Psalms 18:

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection. (Psalms 18:30 NLT)

David goes on to write at the end of the Psalms:

For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the humble with victory. (Psalms 149:4 NLT)

The greatest example of this truth is displayed in the very first words God says about His son, Jesus, when He was on the earth. Listen to these words:

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17 NLT)

And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Mark 1:11 NLT)

This is what God says about you. You are His dearly loved son. You are His dearly loved daughter. And you bring Him great joy. Don’t allow anyone to tell you else wise. Don’t let the lies keep you from experiencing how much God loves you and is pleased with you. He delights in you. He takes pleasure in you. Walk in that truth today. Knowing that when God looks at you, He doesn’t see your faults and failures but He sees Jesus. And because of that, He is well pleased with you.

Everything

Day 7: For everything comes from God alone everything lives by His power and is for His glory.

I love the LifeHouse song “Everything.” Especially the bridge that says “You’re all I want. You’re all I need. You’re everything. Everything.” It puts this life that we live in perspective. That everything we want and that everything we need comes from God and is found in Him alone. But not only does it all come from God and is found in Him, but it all lives in Him and is sustained by Him.

Peter pens this in his second letter:

By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3 NLT)

In other words, God has given us all that we ever would need and this comes from knowing Jesus. Today we want to rely on our own knowledge, education, and wisdom to give us everything we need. Unfortunately, this always leaves us lacking and longing for something more. True satisfaction is only found in the Savior. Everything you will ever need comes from Him. He is the Source. He is the Lifeline. He is the Supply. He is the Sustainer.

Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians:

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NLT) 

So if you find yourself always in want, find your satisfaction in the Savior. If your world is falling apart, place your faith in the Sustainer. Jesus is your source. Jesus is your supply. Jesus is all you need. Jesus is everything.

What Are You Looking At?

Day 6: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. Now what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

Your perspective is everything. The way you see things is how they are going to be. Do you see the glass as half empty or do you see the glass as half full? Are you always pointing out the negative or are you looking for the positive?

The writer of Hebrews tells us:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 NLT)

It’s hard to worry about your circumstances when your eyes are focused on Christ. It’s hard to look at your situation when your eyes are fixed on the Savior. The writer of Hebrews knew this. This is why he provokes us to keep our eyes on Jesus. All your worry, anxiety, and stress will fade when your faith is founded in Jesus.

Paul, who is considered the greatest man to ever live apart from Jesus, wrote this:

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT)

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT)

You ever notice why the rear view mirror and side mirrors are so small in comparison to the windshield? I believe it’s because for the majority time we are driving, we are moving forward not backwords. In other words, what Paul is invoking upon us, is to quit looking in the rear view and side mirrors. Look forward through the big windshield. Keep your eyes focused straight ahead. You can’t move forward while looking in the rear view. You only go backwards. In order to see the bright future God has and to charge on forward into the purpose He has for you, fix your eyes on Jesus. Don’t look to the right. Don’t look to the left. But keep your gaze straight ahead.

So what are you looking at? Are you focused on your failure or are you fixed on your future in Jesus? Are you looking in the rear view or are you peering through the windshield?

 

Little Things

Day 5: Unless you are faithful in small matters you won’t be faithful in large ones.

I just recently finished reading Steven Furtick’s book “Greater.” The whole premise behind the book is that in order to live in the greater life that God has in store for you, you must dream big but start small.

None of us, if we are honest with ourselves, want to start off small. We don’t like the word patience. We don’t like to wait. We want it now. And we want it big. You know what I mean. As soon as we graduate college, and I say we because I am in the same boat, we want to jump right into the six figure job with the big corner office overlooking the skyline. When we start a new job, we immediately want to go straight to the top. We don’t want to go through the process. We don’t want to climb each rung on the corporate ladder. We want to skip the steps in between and shoot straight to the top. We want success. And we want it now.

Jesus tells us differently in two separate occasions in the book of Luke. Here is what He says:

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12:48 ESV)

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in very little is also dishonest in much. (Luke 16:10 ESV)

All throughout the Bible when we look at the lives of those who we consider to be great, they had to start small and be faithful in the little things before they were entrusted with much more. Joseph had to be faithful in the prison before he was promoted to the palace. Moses had to be faithful in the desert before he became known as a deliverer. David had to face the lion and the bear before he faced the giant. Elisha had to be faithful washing Elijah’s hands before he was performing miracles with his own hands. Paul set up tents before he set up churches. Even Jesus had to be faithful to go to the cross before He was given a crown.

So if what you’re doing seems small, insignificant, and unimportant to you; it’s not. You are being prepared for much more. If God would to bless you with greater before you are ready for it, it won’t be a blessing it will be a curse. A blessing becomes a curse when you’re not prepared for it. You must first be faithful in the little things before God is going to bless you with the greater things.

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