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Love Your Neighbor

Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 22:39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

That is a pretty amazing command, think about what Jesus is saying, he taught us that everybody around us that has a need is somebody that we need to be neighbors with. And then he tells us that loving those neighbors is almost as important a command as loving God.

That’s enormous, we can all agree that loving God is really important but for me to care about my neighbor almost as much as God that is absurd from a human point of view. God, do you really remember how I was treated, did you see what happened the last time I went out on a limb to help somebody? Chances are that your neighbor isn’t Fred Rogers.

To live by Jesus rule requires for me to speak and act out of great love for my neighbor, Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary says:

By this rule we are taught to bear with, love, and forgive him; to rejoice in his felicity, mourn in his adversity, desire and delight in his prosperity, and promote it to the utmost of our power: instruct his ignorance, help him in his weakness, and risk even our life for his sake, and for the public good. In a word, we must do every thing in our power, through all the possible varieties of circumstances, for our neighbors, which we would wish them to do for us, were our situations reversed.

This is so opposite of our human reasoning that I will have to work on applying it until the Lord takes me home.

Lord, it seems almost impossible to live out this rule, it is too easy to give my neighbor what he deserves rather than showing him grace and mercy. Help me to show grace and mercy just as abundantly as you showed it to me.

Receive the Gift of Power

The Commands of Jesus Series

Luke 24:49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as My Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Those of us that know the Lord have an awesome source of power that we need to be sure doesn’t come unplugged.

The Holy Spirit takes care of us directly and he gifts us gifts so that we can do things that we couldn’t have imagined doing. (1Cor 12:11). Check out what he does for us:

  • He is our Advocate that will always be with us (John 14:16).
  • He will be there to lead us into truth, he will teach us and he will remind us of the things that Jesus already taught us (John 14:26).

It was not intended for me to follow Jesus commands without any help. I need to be sure that I am as powerful as I can be by staying in the word each day and praying for God’s direction in every detail of my life.

Do Unto Others

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 7:12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

What a huge saving that our country would have if we could all live a lifestyle full of kindness. We could shut down most of the courts and we could get rid of a bunch of the law makers in Washington, how about the size of the police force? What a big pile of money that we would have to use on more important things if we treated everybody that we come into contact with just as good as if we were treating ourselves.

Jesus gave us an awesome example of how to live and how to treat other people, it wasn’t enough to show us what to believe, he also showed us how to allow our beliefs to affect our lifestyle. Living by this simple rule will help you get rid of envy, slander, theft, adultery, we would become a lot more like our Savior.

Jeremiah 7:5 But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice.

It is time to stop the never-ending cycle, we all want to be treated good but somehow we don’t allow that to affect how we treat others, we want to receive mercy but we are slow to give it out.

Help us Lord to put aside our jealousy and envy and concentrate on treating the other people around us as well as you have treated us. After all you took better care of us than we ever deserved.

Lent and the Theology of Asceticism

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

“What are you giving up for Lent?”

Most Christians who have spent any time in a church that observes the Liturgical Calendar have probably had that question asked of them. The idea itself is not a difficult one, at least not as difficult as the actual faithful compliance to it. In the simplest of terms the Christian carefully reflects on their life, picking something that brings them pleasure and enjoyment but that is not necessarily spiritually fulfilling. For the period then that marks the beginning of Lent until Easter Sunday they give up that one thing, and in doing so, use that time to focus on their faith, on the pious acts and thoughts of devotion that will lead to their own growth.

So popular is the concept of Asceticism Theology during this time of the year that even the faithful who couldn’t name another Feast Day, Festival, Fast or Observance on the Church Calendar are, at the very least, vaguely familiar with the concept. Some even go as far as to partake in those acts of abstinence and self–denial that mark that ceremonial sacrifice.

In and of itself Lent is a perfect example of how the disciple of Christ can strive, as commanded by Scripture, to live by the example of our blessed Savior Himself. (1 Corinthians 11:1) After all, each step in the life of that perfect Son of God was marked by sacrifice, from the humble birth that marked His entrance into this world, (2 Corinthians 8:9) to the forty days in the desert fasting and praying before beginning His ministry, (Luke 4:1-13) to the very act on the cross that surrendered His life for ours. (Mark 15:21-41) Yet, in this Lenten tradition, do we miss something of the true nature of sacrifice and spiritual growth?

You see, if we generally accept that something isn’t spiritually fulfilling, if we generally accept that something doesn’t offer to us the spiritual growth we need in order to become the disciple that we should be, that we believe that we can be, to the point where we believe it is beneficial to us to give it up for a period of time, is it beneficial for us to take it back up after Easter Sunday? Given to Christ, we must constantly consider the nature of what it means to be a true follower of Him. In this our lives must be given to careful examination as to what we do and who we are, realizing ‘”Everything is permissible” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” but not everything is constructive. “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

Perhaps, at Lent, one may give up television to focus themselves on Scriptural Study during the time they might otherwise be watching it, perhaps someone may give up their Saturdays to volunteer somewhere and meet a need that is there. Yet if this is important to do, if we believe that these sacrifices mark something significant for our growth, then why limit it to a short period of time rather than taking it back up again? It might be that during our Lenten observation we abstain from candy or junk food and soda. What if, instead of going back to the candy bar or the potato chips after Easter, every time you crave that snack fix you put the money you would have spent on it in a jar and later donate it to a charity or to someone in need?

There are any number of things that the disciple, in their lives, can point to and pick out knowing that it perhaps does not have a spiritual application and that sacrificing it will do them good. It doesn’t mean they have to give up everything in their lives that gives them enjoyment and pleasure. Still, if it is something worth sacrificing for a short time in order to better yourself, if it something you can sacrifice in order to edify and uplift others in love and hope, setting an example with your life for others, then why limit yourself to only giving it up for a short time?

In faith the life of a disciple should be one given to self-examination, reflection and sacrifice. This is not just a Lent Theology or one that should be marked on our calendars with a countdown as to when we can stop depriving ourselves. It is a way of life meant to focus our hearts and our soul so we can be better people, guided by hope and love in the examples of our blessed Savior.

Study your life, examine yourself for what is in your life that you can give up, and if you already have, don’t just run down the clock. Make a commitment to yourself, to your faith and to God, and let your life be a testimony to the nature of our Savior. Give up so you can give of yourself, and let this be a daily witness to the love that you have and the love that guides you.

Fear Not

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 10:28-31 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

What do I have to worry about? Not a thing! The only thing, the ONLY thing that matters at all is where I am going after my life on this planet is finished and since that issue is settled then what else is there?

The God of this huge universe takes care of the smallest of his creation, the insignificant details of creation are personally known to him. Surely he will take care of me, after all I am made in his likeness, I have a soul that will live on after this body is worn out and gone, certainly he knows the details of my life and cares about everyone of them.

God has said “Fear not!” over and over again all through the Bible, he knew that we would struggle in this area, he wants his people to live by faith in him without fear that comes from relying on yourselves.

Romans 8:35, 37 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

I stand in awe of you Lord. It is amazing that you created an infinite universe and placed me in one little corner of it and yet you want a relationship with “little old me.” Thank you for taking care of me.

You might like to read:
Christ Passion For His Lost Sheep // Helping God When He Needs It // Focus On God

Be Wise As Serpents And Harmless As Doves

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 10:16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.

The world is not a safe place for your soul, you better watch out for the intense warfare out there and for those that want less than the best for your eternal destiny. The world is full of wolves, those people that are working for the devil, they are ready to persuade you to leave the narrow way and join them on one of the many attractive paths that are leading to destruction.

Jesus tells us that we need to be wise and be harmless, to illustrate His point he uses a couple of animals to help us get the picture:

Snakes – I have killed a snake or two and I have learned that the snake is very evasive and can get away from his enemy pretty quick.

Doves – I have never seen an unpleasant, rude dove, they don’t usually inflict very much pain. Living as harmless as a dove requires that I avoid provoking somebody’s anger against me, it means that I have to be gentle and kind.

I need to keep my guard up against the devil’s tricks and be careful that I live my life full of grace and gentleness to those around me that need to hear the gospel so that I won’t turn them away from the truth that they need.

Thank you Lord for your word and for the truth that is there to keep us from harm.

You might like to read:
The Night That Changed Everything // Peace On Earth, Really? // So Much To Be Thankful For

Pray For Laborers

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 9:36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Jesus had good news to tell to everybody that he came into contact with, he didn’t stay home and keep it to himself, he was out there sharing with the crowds. He even taught his message inside the church, after all the good news that he had to share was so different than the message that was being preached in the synagoge that he had to go there too.

Jesus had a lot of concern for the lost sheep, they were everywhere, people that needed the gospel message presented to them. People that know that they can’t measure up, people that were tired of legalism, people that needed hope, people that needed purpose. They were everywhere, and they still are, all of those “sheep without a shepherd” are still out there, there is still a lot of work to be done.

There are not very many people doing the work, there are not enough people that are walking the narrow path to heaven and out of those that are following this path there are too many that are not sharing the good news.

We ask you Lord to employ more laborers, may we get serious about the work that you have called us to.

You might like to read:
Pride Will Mess You Up // Spreading Some Gospel Seed // Christ Passion For His Lost Sheep

What’s In Your Wallet?

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 6:19-21 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Accumulating wealth is a great idea, go for as much of it as you can get, in fact let’s be greedy about it. Well that is if you are thinking about the treasure that you are storing away in heaven.

I need to let go of my earthly treasure and use it to help me accumulate treasure in heaven. I must not be proud of how well I can provide for my needs or place my trust in my earthly wealth, instead I need to be generous and willing to help those that are in need that I have the ability to help. That way my treasure will be stored in the right place to prevent suffering any loss, there isn’t any access for thieves and the stock market won’t crash, this treasure is made to last.

1 Peter 1:4 and we have a priceless inheritance–an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

Help me Lord to remember that my money belongs to you, help me to know how to use it for your purpose.

You might like to read:
Greatness Redefined // How Is Your “I” Problem // Using Your Money Wisely

Agree With God About Your Condition

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 4:17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. “

Jesus first command to us is to repent, he begins his work the same way as all the prophets, and John the Baptist had done. That’s the place that we all have to start in our relationship with God, every relation has to be repaired in order for it to grow. If I am still blatantly going against God, then there isn’t going to be a foundation to build a relationship on, it will be like the man building his house on sand. (Matthew 7:26)

Through repentance we are agreeing with God about what we have done that caused the breakdown. This repentance should imply sorrow for our offenses, true regret for breaking our relationship with God, the very sins that resulted in Jesus cruel death. (2 Corinthians 7:10, Romans 5:8)

God did for me what I was powerless to do for myself, I need to realize the only sense of fulfillment and joy in this life is through a relationship with my creator, a relationship made possible by Jesus.

Matthew 3:8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.

Help me Lord to be quick to access my sins and to see them the way that you see them. Thank you for loving me enough to desire an intimate relationship with you.

You might like to read:
Be Born Again // God’s Adoption Program // I Am Thankful For God’s Deliverance