Loving like Jesus

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Once a missionary was troubled because she didn’t love others the way she knew she should. For years she continually berated herself with the need to be more loving, but she continually failed, leaving her continually discouraged. Finally she started to meditate on God’s love for her, and without realizing it, her life was transformed so much that people asked her husband what had happened to her.

I’ve shared this story before. Though I’ve lost track of its source, it has always inspired me because I can identify with it so well. I’m frequently appalled at my selfishness and often tell myself “I need to be more loving,” but, like the missionary, I continually fail.  But when I meditate on His love for me, His love flows through me to others.

Since Jesus told us to “love one another just as I have loved you” (John 13:34; 15:12), I decided to look at some aspects of His love for us.

An initiating love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, ESV). God loved us even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6), ESV).

A gracious love. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV). He loved us when we were most unlovable and undeserving. He didn’t wait for us to “clean up” or get “good enough.”

A sacrificing love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). God gave not just a pittance, not just a fraction, but rather what was most dear to Him. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).

A forgiving love. “This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10, NLT).

A kind love. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:3-6, ESV).

A longsuffering love. “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Numbers 14:18a, ESV).

A correcting love. “My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12, ESV). God’s love is not indulgent. Sometimes love involves doing the hard thing of bringing sin to the surface so it can be dealt with.

This just barely scratches the surface of God’s love for us.

In the parable of the unforgiving servant, a man was forgiven a massive debt. However, instead of extending that same grace that he had received to others, he withheld forgiveness of someone’s very small debt and exacted a penalty. That story opened up to me the realization that my forgiveness towards another isn’t based on whether or not they “deserve it.” I did not deserve forgiveness, either. My forgiveness of others should be based on the fact that God has forgiven me so much more than anything I have had to forgive.

It’s the same with God’s love. My love for others should be an overflow of God’s great love for me. He took the first step in loving me, so I should not wait on others to make the first move. His love came at a great sacrifice, so I should not be surprised when love costs me. He loved me at my most unworthy and forgave a multitude of my offenses, so how can I withhold love from others?

Let me hasten to say that exactly how this works out in individual lives will vary. I’m thinking particularly of people who came out of abusive situations. Though we’re still called to love and forgive, and we need God’s grace to do so, we also need His wisdom to know how to navigate all the factors in such a relationship.

I frequently pray for God to help me be more loving, and He graciously speaks to my heart from His Word. Just last week, one day I came across passages about God’s love from three different sources just in my regular devotional reading, without trying to coordinate a study on this topic at all (that’s part of what prompted this post).

So while I continue to pray that I might be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:14-19), that “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9-11), and that God would make me “increase and abound in love for one another and for all” (1 Thessalonians 3:11-12), I also pray and seek God’s Word to “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [I] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2, ESV)

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday), Coffee for Your Heart, Porch Stories, Wise Woman)

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Laudable Linkage

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I have just a short list this week, but decided to go ahead and share it lest I end up with an overly long list next time.

The Secret to Loving (Really) Difficult People. “As followers of Christ, we do not have the option of not loving them. Loving one another is not merely a biblical suggestion. Jesus tells us, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15:12). The last five words are the challenge for me: ‘…as I have loved you.’

A Response to Andy Stanley on “Theological Correctness”, HT to Challies. “We should never put ‘theological correctness’ and unity at opposite ends of the spectrum…if we do not have the truth, we have no unity.”

Corporate Worship.

Motherhood Is Better Than the Media Claims, HT to Proclaim and Defend.

Be The Change You Want To See On The Internet, HT to Challies. Good stuff here.

And lastly, I found some things on Pinterest I could identify with. You? 🙂

(I couldn’t find the original sources for these pictures. Even though the last one has a web site listed on it, I couldn’t make it out.)

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Here are recent reads that have captivated my attention:

Love Like Birch Trees.

How to Sit at the Table With Those Who Hurt and Offend You, HT to Linda. “Extending love to someone who offended you does not mean you’re accepting such treatment – it means you realize you cannot thrive in a place of anger and resentment.”

What to Say Instead of “I Know How You Feel” to Someone Who Is Struggling, HT to Linda. Sharing our similar experience in an effort to let someone know they’re not alone often just draws attention to ourselves and makes the other person feel unheard. This gives a helpful distinctive.

When Our Heroes Don’t Live Up to Their Theology, HT to Challies. How do we think about spiritual giants who were blind to the wrongness of slavery.

Helping Your Daughter by Being Her Emotional Coach, HT to Story Warren.

You Can’t Have Ethics Without Stories, HT to Story Warren.. “We often forget what the Bible actually is. If not a dictionary or an encyclopedia, what is it? The Bible is, among other things, he writes, ‘a faith-forming narrative.’”

Why Children’s Books Should be a Little Sad, HT to Story Warren.

How DNA Testing Botched My Family’s Heritage, and Probably Yours, too, HT to Challies.

And finally, this dog has a dedicated owner:

Happy Saturday!

(Links do not imply complete endorsement of sites or authors.)

Laudable Linkage

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I don’t usually post these two weeks in a row, but I came across a number of good reads this week!

Answering Claims That the Bible Contains Errors, and Why It Matters That It Doesn’t, HT to Challies.

What Expository Preaching Is Not, HT to Challies.

God Has a Heart for the Vulnerable. Do you?

Feel the Love

Doing Church Away From Church Isn’t Church, HT to Challies.

Nine Questions to Ask Yourself to Prepare for 2018, HT to Challies.

100 Years. 100 Million Lives. Think Twice, HT to Challies. I’ve been quite alarmed in recent months to see young people lauding communism. “For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world.” “Communism cannot be separated from oppression; in fact, it depends upon it. In the communist society, the collective is supreme. Personal autonomy is nonexistent. Human beings are simply cogs in a machine tasked with producing utopia; they have no value of their own.”

On Leaving Jerusalem. “While the media is great at capturing events, they are not so great (or so interested) at capturing context or proportion.”

Living Out Our Faith. Great ways to serve the Lord as a family.

Crying in Home Depot at Christmas.

Lastly, I don’t know anything about the speaker here or the film he talks about, so this is not an endorsement, but a friend shared this on Facebook and I found it interesting. I had never heard what he shared about the significance of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothes before.

Happy next to last Saturday before Christmas!

Laudable Linkage

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to share the interesting reads I’ve come across, so I have quite a list accumulated.

Love Is More Than a Choice.

How I Process the Moral Failures of My Historical Heroes. I’ve been pondering this for some time, with the thought of possibly writing a post about it, so I was glad to see some thoughts very similar to my own.

Pray Them Home: Three Prayers to Pray for Prodigal Children.

The Father Who Eliminates Shame.

Ecumenical vs. Evangelical, HT to Challies. A good, concise summary of the history and the issues involved.

The Not So Simple Life. “No matter where you land on this simplicity spectrum, all of these endeavors don’t satisfy the peace we hope to gain from the ‘simple life’…Even simplification is a vain pursuit when it takes up so much room in our minds and our hearts.”

Don’t Take This Personally. “We each cast ourselves as the star (and director and producer) in our own movie. All our life’s plots revolve around us. And all the people in our relationships are supporting actors. But here’s the catch: The supporting actors in our movies are actually busy starring in their own movies.”

Dear Girl: Please Don’t Marry Him. “Your fear of breaking off the relationship should be obliterated by the fear of making a foolish marital choice which is far, far worse.” I don’t know anything about this author, but thought this was a good article.

Teens Who Choose Life in Unplanned Pregnancies Need Support and Respect, Not Shame, HT to Challies. Being pro-life is not just a matter of being anti-abortion.

The Art of Days. Seeing beauty in the everyday tasks.

Let Your Kids In On Your Ministry.

Desire, Choice, Consequence: Building Character Through Stories, HT to Story Warren.

Member of the Family.

As You Grow, So Should Your Dresses.

Is the ESV Literal and the NIV Gender Neutral? HT to Challies. Very little, if any, translation from one language to another is literally word for word the same, due to differences in sentence construction, words for which there are no equals, etc.

6 Keys to Help You Be the Boss of Your Blog.

The Numbers Trap, HT to True Woman.

Is Screen Time the Enemy of Reading? I almost didn’t read this, figuring I knew where it was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised.

To a Schoolgirl in America: Writing Advice From C. S. Lewis.

Free ebooks, HT to Worthwhile Books.

I saw this on a friend of a friend’s Facebook, and I don’t know who originated it, but I think it’s great. The OT is so much more than moralistic stories.

What the Bible's About

(Links do not imply 100% endorsement of site or author.)

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Welcome to my (usually) bimonthly collection of noteworthy posts around the web! Hope you find something of interest here.

The Deadly Doctrines: Pattern and Protection.

How to Love When You Don’t Feel It.

Love’s Edges.

Boring Church Services Saved My Life, HT to Challies.

Completely and Utterly Lost. “If something is lost, you can’t find it. So if my will is lost in God’s will, then it is indistinguishable from His.”

How Not to Help a Sufferer, HT to True Woman.

Killed For Christ in the Amazon. This is a very short (a little over 4 minutes) retelling of Jim Elliot and his five missionary coworkers who were killed by the people then know as Aucas, told by his daughter Valerie Shepard. At such a short telling, there is so much left out, but it’s a good intro for people who might not be familiar with the story, and it was on the BBC web site.

A Just Silence, HT again to Challies. “We’ve all felt the pressure to speak out about things that we know little to nothing about. The increasingly prevalent sentiment is that if Christians-and especially Christian leaders-don’t speak up on the hot button issues of the day, then they are complicit in fueling social injustice.”

A Letter to the Young, Gentle Christian Mama.

Saw this online and thought it was so appropriate for social media of any kind:

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And this cracked me up:

Happy Saturday!

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Growing in Love

From The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond

A man once [read I Corinthians 13 once a week for three months] and it changed his whole life. Will you do it? It is for the greatest thing in the world. You might begin by reading it every day, especially the verses which describe the perfect character. “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself.” Get these ingredients into your life. Then everything that you do is eternal. It is worth doing. It is worth giving time to. No man can become a saint in his sleep; and to fulfill the condition required demands a certain amount of prayer and meditation and time, just as improvement in any direction, bodily or mental, requites preparation and care. Address yourselves to that one thing; at any cost have this transcendent character exchanged for yours.

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Laudable Linkage

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A lot of my blog friends and a family member or two are experiencing a lot of snow this week. A perfect time to get cozy and read some edifying material. 🙂 Here are a few thought-provoking reads that caught my eye the past week or two:

Are You Not Ready to Worship? HT to Challies. “A worship leader who’s aware that his/her congregation is most likely filled with people who aren’t exactly fired up and ready for…. epic worship…will present a congregation with the gloriously good news of a great and faithful God, a gracious Redeemer, and a generously outpoured Holy Spirit, instead of a guilt-inducing pressure to hype something up that isn’t there to begin with.” Yes. I hate to hear people being scolding for how they are singing or what they look like while singing – that’s not particularly worship-inducing.

Christian Life Beyond the Quiet Time.

Photobombing Jesus: Confessions of a Glory Thief, HT to Challies.

Five Tests of False Doctrine.

Theonomy, or “a movement that teaches the earthwide rule of God through the reinstitution of the Law of Moses for every nation.” Why people promote this and what’s wrong with the idea.

If Abortion Was About Women’s Rights, What Were Mine? From an abortion survivor.

9 Things Your Kids Need (But Won’t Tell You)

On love and marriage:

If You’re Looking for Romance, It’s Probably Right in Front of You.

One Hour in a Restaurant Doesn’t Make a Good Marriage.

On politics and social media:

7 Questions to Ask Before Posting About Politics on Social Media

7 Ways to Do Political Punditry Wrong in a Polarized World

And lastly, I debated about this one lest it sound like I thought yelling at God was ok. But if you think of it more like an anguished prayer, I think many could commiserate with this little boy:

Thankfully it’s not too cold where we are, and next week doesn’t look too bad except for some cool nights. But I am ready to see spring!

Have a great weekend!

 

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Loving as Jesus loved

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Some years ago I read in a missionary biography about a woman who struggled for years to truly love the people she came to minister to. Finally she stopped looking at herself, her failures, her lack, and began thinking of God’s love for her. And almost unconsciously on her part, God changed her heart, to the point that people commented to her husband on the change.

I thought I knew which writer shared that, but I’ve looked through her books and haven’t found that passage. Yet that lesson has come back to me many times over. I feel the same lack, and pray often for repentance, forgiveness, and change.

How does the Bible tell us spiritual change comes? II Corinthians 3:18: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Jesus said, in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” He had said it before in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” just after the section about about in Him. Ephesians 5:1-2 say: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

So how did Jesus love? This is a topic worthy of much more study, but after just a brief time of thought, I have plenty to meditate on:

Jesus us loved us “while we were yet sinners” Romans 5:8. He didn’t wait for us to clean up our act before He extended love to us.

He loved us before we loved Him: “We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:19. He took the initiative.

He gave Himself.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. Galatians 1:3-4.

 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2.

 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:14.

That giving involved inconvenience, weariness, misunderstandings, false rumors, humiliation, pain, and death.

He ministered to others when He was the only One who deserved to be ministered to.

He laid down His life for us. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” 1 John 3:16. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13.

He loved not only in word but in deed.

Early in my Christian life, I had trouble forgiving others because I’d get stuck going over and over what they did to me, how wrong it was, and how they didn’t deserve forgiveness. And then I encountered the parable of a man who was forgiven a devastating amount that would have been the absolute ruin of him, yet wouldn’t forgive his fellow man a very small amount. That made clear to me like nothing else that forgiveness wasn’t based on how small or large the wrong or how “deserving” the wrongdoer was. It was based on God’s forgiveness of me. I had wronged Him so much more than anything anyone else has done to me, yet He fully forgave. In light of that, how can I withhold forgiveness from anyone else?

Similarly, my love for others is not based on whether they deserve it and doesn’t come from my paltry efforts. Oswald Chambers said in the My Utmost for His Highest reading for April 30, “The springs of love are in God, not in us. It is absurd to look for the love of God in our hearts naturally; it is only there when it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” When the Holy Spirit sheds abroad His love in my heart, when I abide in Him, when I behold His great love for me, then His love will fill and overflow from me to others.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Mondays,  Testimony Tuesday, Wise Woman, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-Filled Wednesday, Thought-provoking Thursday)

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Laudable Linkage

Here is some good reading for this fine October day:

We Die a Thousand Ways in Love. “If God himself was willing, in love, to wash even feet, why would we refuse to lower ourselves, in love, for one another? Christian love sets aside social status, cultural norms, and the comfort of convenience to joyfully meet the inconvenient needs of others.”

Is It Love If I Don’t Feel It?

An Illustration of Repentance. I found this very helpful.

6 Ways to Transform Your Reading of the Gospels.

5 Ways Persecution in Iran Has Backfired. No one welcomes persecution, but when it comes it’s so great to see how God’s work goes on and even flourishes.

Meet the Perfect Parent and Perfect Child.

Real Life Is Edgy discusses the ongoing arguments about whether Christian fiction should include certain objectionable words, scenes, etc. in order to accurately promote “real” life.

And these graphics from Pinterest describe me well and made me smile:

spontaneityscratchblanketHappy Saturday!