Christian love has two parts: affection and action. Love feels something on the inside. Love does something on the outside. These two parts work together in the lives of those who follow Jesus to help us relate to each other like Jesus relates to us. When we look at how His love for us is, we see how our love for others should be. To the degree that we anticipate and appreciate His care for us in seeking our good, we will reflect that same lovingkindness towards the people in our lives as we seek their good. Spurred on by His love, let us love today like Jesus … caring about others and caring for others.
For genuine, growing Christians, our relationship with Jesus increasingly influences how we live. As we turn to the Bible and turn its pages, we learn of His good plans for us, His gracious promises to us, and His guiding presence with us. Only when we regularly read and respond to the Bible can we be who we were made to be and do what we were made to do. That’s why it is essential that we… Read it. Pray it. Live it. Share it. If your ultimate aim in life is to be as happy as you can and bring as much honor to God as you can, there is no substitute for the nourishing, encouraging, strengthening, transforming Scriptures.
God wants us to be happy. When He tells us in the Bible to do, say, correct, believe, feel, think or share something, it is not to take away our happiness; it is to take away the things that are in the way of our full and lasting happiness. We must trust that God is after our happiness, that He knows best how to bring about our happiness, and that what He tells us in the Bible is designed to lead us into happiness. Doing what God tells us is not always easy, popular or instantly gratifying. But it is always for good, always better in the end than sin, and always the best option for making us truly, ultimately, and eternally happy.
At His first coming, Jesus took our place so we can be with God. At His second coming, Jesus will take us to a place where we can be with God. We live in the present between His two appearances: when He came to live, die and rise for us, and when He will return for us. It’s hard now. It’s sad now. It’s messy now. Yet it’s not without peace, hope and joy … because it’s not without Jesus. Jesus came to make us right with God, He is with us so we can make it through this world, and He is returning to make all things as they should be. Take heart! For though things aren’t yet perfect, the day is coming when they will be.
God wants us to be happy. When He tells us in the Bible to do, say, correct, believe, feel, think or share something, it is not to take away our happiness; it is to take away the things that are in the way of our full and lasting happiness in Him. We must trust that God is after our happiness, that He knows best how to bring about our happiness, and that what He tells us in the Bible is designed to lead us into happiness. It is His grace at work when He tells us what to do, gives us power to do it, and delights us in Himself as we do it. God’s way is not always easy, popular or instantly gratifying, but it always leads to real joy.
When was the last time you gave up something for the sake of someone else? In other words, their gain required your loss because in order to help them you had to… Sacrifice money. Sacrifice time. Sacrifice sleep. Sacrifice comfort. Sacrifice plans. While it’s good to do good at any time, there are many times that in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we will also need to have the self-giving heart and mind of Jesus too. We are to show up and speak up for others not just when it’s easy, convenient and fun, but also when it’s hard, troublesome and unpleasant. This is how we are loved. This is how we are to love.
Loving others includes being happy that they are happy … unless the source of their happiness is sin. People can find happiness in things ranging from cheating on a test to cheating on a spouse, hurting themselves through addictions to hurting others through mistreatment, and ignoring family needs to ignoring God. This is not the time to be happy for them; it is the time to help them. We should support: Godly ambitions, but not selfish ones. Godly affections, but not sinful ones. Godly actions, but not senseless ones. Let us encourage each other to be happy in ways that will not be regretted in the end.
Many people feel like their prayer isn’t “working” so they barely or rarely pray at all. Prayer, as with all of life, should be about God being honored in us and us being happy in Him. This is why we are to pray for… The hallowing of His Name. The coming of His kingdom. The doing of His will. This results in His glory and our good! Know this… Prayer isn’t about filling up our kingdoms with what we think will make us happy; it is about being filled up by all He offers in His kingdom so we can actually be happy. You can be sure of this: the prayer that “works” is the prayer that “wants” all that God has for us in Jesus.
Day after day He says it. Day after day He shows it. God lets us know He loves us in countless ways if we will listen and look for it. Sometimes it sounds like a plea for repentance or a call to faith or an invitation to serve or a warning of danger or a word of encouragement. Sometimes it looks like a timely-met need or a quiet moment to rest or a special time with loved ones or a normal day with food, clothing and shelter. But most verbally and visibly… It sounds like “A Savior is born,” “It is finished,” and “He is risen.” It looks like a manger, a cross and an empty tomb. God speaks and shows His love best through Jesus.
There are two basic kinds of help. First, there is help for things I can do without you. Second, there is help for things I cannot do without you. I can lift a cumbersome box by myself, but your help would make it easier. I cannot lift a couch by myself, so your help would make it possible. As branches to the vine, we only receive the second kind of help from Jesus. He helps us do things that we could not do apart from Him (John 15:5): bear fruit, do good, live rightly, have faith, glorify God, persevere, experience His joy, everything. His help doesn’t just make these things easier. His help makes these things possible.
One of the reasons why are told to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) is because all other things we might rejoice in will change. Circumstances change. People change. Interests change. When we look for our ultimate joy in something that isn’t steady and reliable, neither will our joy be. Circumstances can become unfavorable, people can become unpleasant and interests can become unfulfilling. But God doesn’t change! He never goes from good to bad. So, let us enjoy the gifts of God as a means of deeper joy in Him, remembering… We can have unending joy when we look for it in our unchanging God.