The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.
“Let us agree,” said the Sun, “that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak.”
“Very well,” growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.
With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.
Then the Sun began to shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun’s rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.
Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.
If you are a man or a woman and claim to be a believer and part of the church, you are Jesus’s wife. You are His Bride and He is the bridegroom, and if we are His Bride, we need to ask ourselves the question, “what type of wife am I?” Am I asking God to send me a spouse, when I’m not even a good wife to Him. If you are saved, do you recognize you are part of the Bride of Christ? And instead of getting people to try and understand your love language, how about you trying to understand God’s love language.
Do you know what God’s love language is?
A) Quality time B) Words of affirmation C) Gifts D) Acts of service E) Physical touch F) All of the above
Answer: F, all of the above.
First of all, Jesus loves quality time. He loves when you spend time with Him in prayer. He loves when you dedicate the morning and just bask in His presence, and seek His face and dwell in His Word. He loves quality time when you dedicate the evening or when you set apart a time in your life where you’re fasting to get closer to God. You want to hear His voice and want to know His sound, and want to be in His presence. God loves quality time.
The Lord loves words of affirmation, not because He needs to be affirmed, but He knows that when you affirm Him, it affirms you! Can I mess with you a second? You don’t read the Bible for God, you don’t read the Bible for God, you don’t pray for God, you’re not watching this message for God, you don’t listen to sermons for God, you don’t worship for God, all that’s for you. You praying is not going to make God any more faithful.
It’s not going to make Him any more Holy, it’s not going to make Him any more righteous. You worshipping is going to help your mind from worrying, because you can not worry and worship at the same time, and a lot of us has got it muddled. We think we’re doing God a service, because we attend church, because we are giving, because we are praying, because we are fasting, and God’s like… don’t you understand I’m already Holy? I can’t get any holier than I already am. I am in a lane all by Myself, there’s no league, I have no competition. The devil’s not even my adversary, I have no competitors, no adversities! You are doing this for you, you’re doing this for your words of affirmation, it affirms you.
He loves when you use your gifts, why? Because He gave them to you. He loves when you worship, because you are using that gift. He loves when you exercise your gift of artistry, your gift of speaking, that gift of business skills, He loves when you do that, because it shows Him off.
The Lord loves acts of service, when you are serving your community, when you’re serving your wife, when you’re serving in the Church. He loves service because you are His hands and feet, so it makes Him look good when you do this!
And God loves physical touch, you know how you touch the heart of God. Anytime you choose His will over your will, that touches His heart. Anytime you say, “God I don’t want to do this, but I trust you and you’re my husband and I’m going to follow you, and I’m going to submit to you, it gives God glory.
One of the most common things that couples say to me is, “My wife and I just can’t seem to have a normal conversation anymore with each other. Our words seem so superficial and only about the facts of the day. We just never get to those heart-to-heart times of fellowship we used to have before we got married.” Have you ever thought or said these words? If you have, then this article is for you.
Why does conversation seem to turn in this superficial direction within a marriage? Once you understand why the communication has deteriorated between you, then you will see how to change it.
Why does communication deteriorate over time?
1. Holding resentment from past unresolved conflicts. This is one of the most common and obvious reasons why communication deteriorates in a relationship. If a prior conflict is not fully resolved, the heart becomes closed and the walls will go up and communication will shut down. This is why Solomon told his son, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Prov. 18:19). If you have been fortifying your heart with bars, you have unresolved issues. If you want the superficiality to be removed then you must identify and deal with these conflicts.
2. Hardening your heart. When you refuse to resolve your conflicts, a hardened heart will always be the natural result. Why is this true? Paul equated hardness of heart with an unwillingness to repent of your sin. He warned the Romans that, “because of your“hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5). If you are hard-hearted today, there will not be any heart-to-heart fellowship between you. It is an impossibility!
3. Allowing pride to control you.When pride controls your heart, you will relate to each other in one of two ways. First, you can be verbally harsh, authoritarian, and speak to your spouse with a superior attitude. Or secondly, pride can also make you indifferent to your mate’s requests to talk, and cause you to be unwilling to confess your own faults. These attitudes will only result in the walls being fortified between you. Remember, “By pride comes nothing but strife” (Prov. 13:10). Pride is the death-nail to heart-to-heart fellowship.
4. An unwillingness to talk. When one or both of you stops being willing to talk, your hearts only grow harder, and the walls are strengthened (Acts 7:57). This refusal to talk things through is another sign of the pride and hardness of your hearts. You are, in reality, moving further backwards and not forward in your relationship.
5. Dominating the conversation. If you dominate a conversation by the number of words you use, to attempt to overpower your mate’s point of view, this will only further drive you apart. You should never think that you “will be heard” by the number of words you use (Matt. 6:7). If you say the same thing over and over again but just in different ways, and you don’t allow your spouse to respond, nothing will get accomplished. This again only reveals more pride within your heart.
6. Trying to control and force. When one or both spouses attempt to dominate the conversation, this is a controlling and forcing technique that only assures there will not be a true heart-to-heart conversation. Trying to control a person or a conversation is not love! Controlling behavior is also another form of pride.
7. Not being a good listener.Listening is a vital part of good communication. But, do you want to be heard more than you want to listen? Do you interrupt your spouse and not allow them to complete their thought before you begin your rebuttal? Solomon declared this behavior as folly. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). The word folly means stupid or to be without wisdom. This unwise practice will guarantee that there will be no heart-to-heart fellowship.
8. Lying and deceitfulness. When there is dishonesty between two people there will be no trust. Lying to one another is a rejection of your marital oneness with each other. Paul said, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). If Paul taught this truth concerning Christians in general, how much more would it hinder your marital oneness (Gen. 2:24)? Lying and deceitfulness calls into question your entire relationship together.
9. Harsh and condemning words. Harsh words are like small knife wounds or razor blade cuts that slowly drain the life out of your love relationship. David said of his enemies who constantly pursued him, “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully”(Ps. 52:2). When harsh and condemning words are allowed to thrive in a relationship, they will bring destruction to every marriage. Be assured, there will be no heart-to-heart conversation within this marriage!
10. You don’t want to reveal anything that might be used against you in the next conflict. If you are afraid to be honest about what you are thinking, feeling, or what you have done, there can be no real intimacy in your conversations. This kind of fear will shut down any real heart-to-heart discussion, because there is no trust. If you are afraid to open your heart to your spouse, it reveals that there are several basic needs missing in your marriage.
11. Not spending time together. Sometimes the distance grows between a couple not because they have a major communication problem, but simply because they just don’t spend much one-on-one time together. When you don’t take the time to date each other, pray with one another, or recreate together, the closeness and friendship between you will die. Before you were married, as you dated, you spent plenty of one-on-one time together, which is why the communication was so much better. Don’t allow all of the distractions of life to keep you from the one person you are to be one flesh with.
These are just a few of the hindrances to heart-to-heart communication. If you recognize yourself in any of the above issues, you must realize that this is the reason the communication has deteriorated in your marriage. I would suggest asking God to forgive you, and then turning to your spouse and doing the same. Then take the steps in the next few paragraphs.
How to change the way you communicate, and get back to heart-to-heart fellowship.
1. You need to confront the problem. Many times, when couples struggle and they sense the distance growing between them, they beat around the bush with their mate, and don’t specifically address the problem. This is a major mistake. When this happens the problem only gets worse. If your car was running roughly or wouldn’t start, you wouldn’t just hope that the engine trouble would resolve itself. You would take the car into the mechanic to get the problem resolved. If you chose not to do this, one morning you would go out to start your car, and it wouldn’t run. So, don’t let the lack of heart-to-heart fellowship in your marriage get any worse. Resolve to talk to your spouse about it today.
How should you bring up this problem with your mate? Choose a weekend day, when you and your mate are not tired, and there are no distractions. Find a time when you can be alone, with the children playing outside, or at a friend’s house. Ask your spouse to sit down to talk, and express that you believe that you are drifting apart. Express your love and desire to change things between you. Don’t blame your spouse, but express that both of you are at fault, and that both of you need to make some changes. Go through the following steps.
2. Reconcile past issues. If you regularly fight about specific issues with your spouse, or you have past issues that have never been resolved, make a list of these conflicts and begin a discussion about how you can resolve them. Without a truly reconciled relationship with your spouse, your communication will never be heart-to-heart. Unresolved conflicts are what caused you to drift away from each other, and resolving them is the first step back. To help, I have two worksheets that would be very helpful for you to begin the process. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org and click on “Articles” and then “Worksheets” and print “How to Resolve Conflicts” and “How to Solve Conflicts.” Work through these together with your spouse to begin the reconciliation process.
Jesus made it absolutely clear that resolving conflicts with anyone was one of His top priorities. He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also said, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). So, if you have resentment toward your mate, or you know your spouse is upset with you, you have the responsibility to go to them and try to reconcile the issue. Keep talking and praying until it is resolved. When you take this step, you are removing one of the greatest impediments to having a heart-to-heart relationship again.
3. Admit your communication failures. Humility concerning your faults and your communicative abilities, is absolutely essential to opening up a new and deeper fellowship with your spouse. God has explained in many places throughout the Scripture that if you want revival and awakening in your souls, you must humble yourself. God spoke through Isaiah the Prophet and said, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isa. 57:15). Jesus spoke heart-to-heart with anyone who would listen to Him, and He was “gentle and lowly at heart” (Matt. 11:29). Humility is a fundamental key to this entire process.
Go back and look at the list of communication failures that I gave at the beginning of this article and consider if any of these are yours. Do you do any of these behaviors? If you do, turn from these today!
4. Be vulnerable. How does vulnerability affect your ability to communicate with your spouse? It reveals your willingness to be honest and open with your mate. Vulnerability allows you to admit your faults, ask forgiveness, and listen to your wife or husband’s thoughts, and speak heart-to-heart. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). What is Jesus encouraging in this verse? He wanted His disciple’s to be honest with themselves about their own sins before they ever tried to tell others about their faults. Honesty with yourself is an absolute necessity if you want to become vulnerable with your mate.
King David revealed his own vulnerability throughout the Psalms. What an example for all of us to follow. He could talk about his failures and sins, his fears, his personal struggles, and his hopes (Ps. 51:3; Ps. 34:4; Ps. 119:81; Ps. 42:5). But the question is, will you be vulnerable like this with your mate? If you won’t, then don’t expect your spouse to be vulnerable with you. If you want heart-to-heart communication with your mate, then vulnerability is essential!
5. Vulnerability also requires that you walk in humility. The essence of vulnerability is humility. You know your own struggles and faults; therefore, you are not quick to judge your spouse for his or her faults. You can admit your needs before your mate. You can give and receive encouragement and correction from your spouse. Note how open Paul the Apostle was with the elders of the church of Ephesus. He said to them, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews” (Acts 20:18-19). Can you talk about your struggles with your spouse? If your husband or wife has some helpful encouragement or correction, will you listen to it and not get angry?
Humility also enables a mutual submissiveness with your mate that further enables this openness and vulnerability. Peter clearly commanded this kind of fellowship with others when he said, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). Humility is the key to this submissive attitude that can listen to the other. In addition, without this vulnerability and humility, you will forfeit the great grace God wants to bestow upon your marriage relationship.
6. Choose your words carefully. One of the most critical requirements for heart-to-heart fellowship with your spouse will be the words that you choose to use. As Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). The word soft in this verse means tender or gentle words. The word harsh means to speak offensive and hurtful words. So, which takes place with your spouse on a regular basis, tender and gentle words, or offensive and hurtful ones?
Only you have the ability to choose how you will speak with your mate. You are the only one who can change the words you speak. Don’t blame-shift and excuse your own responsibility by saying, “I wouldn’t talk the way I do, if he or she didn’t come off so harsh toward me.” Being honest with yourself is vital in changing this part of your communication. You have the choice as to how you will respond! God has made it clear what He wants, He said, “choose what pleases Me” (Is. 56:4). This is your responsibility!
You can say things several different ways if you choose. When your spouse fails to do what you have asked them to do, you can say, “This is the fifth time I’ve told you that this bothers me. What is your problem? Are you deaf, or are you just dumb?” Or, you can say, “Honey did you forget about this or that issue? This is really important to me.” Then explain the reason why this issue is so important to you. Which response would create a conflict, and which would help you get to a solution? The answer is obvious!
7. Become a better listener. In most marriages one person is more verbal that the other. The person who is more verbal usually dominates the conversations which hinders the less verbal person from taking. Consequently, the less verbal spouse begins to believe their mate does not value their thoughts and opinions. This causes the less verbal person to retreat and not share equally, which destroys the ability to have a heart-to-heart fellowship together. This is why James taught the church, “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”(James 1:19).
How can you change this imbalance? It is just a choice. The more verbal spouse must learn to use less words, and the less verbal person needs to use more words. For couples that just can’t seem to do it, I recommend using a kitchen timer. Set it for one minute, and say whatever you need to say. Then reset it for your spouse, and allow them to talk without interruption. This ensures equal time. Eventually people learn to discipline themselves to give this equal time to each other. Remember, you can’t have heart-to-heart talks when only one person is allowed to talk.
8. It takes two to tango. The tango is the most intimate dance that two people can enjoy. Each must move and step in a precise manner, or the couple will step all over each other, or fall to the floor. My point is that communication is like the tango. Both partners must participate and work together to enable heart-to-heart fellowship. It can’t be done alone. You need a willing heart, and your spouse also must be willing. You both must deal with your own personal faults, and you both must choose to be vulnerable with one another. Each of you must listen and give equal time to the other to respond.
Therefore, I encourage you to respond to the Lord in your personal life, and allow Him to work within you to change the way you communicate. Focus on getting to the place of heart-to-heart communication with each other. It will take work, but the work will bring the rewarding relationship you desire.
All of the steps I have just outlined in this article must be obeyed by both partners. It can’t be done by just one spouse alone. One of you must choose to start to speak heart-to-heart with the other. Trust that God will soften your spouse to respond. Remember, not even God Himself with all His power and authority, can by Himself fix the relationship with mankind. Ultimately, reconciliation requires men to respond to Him in repentance. This is why Jesus commanded those who heard Him to, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, I am asking you to repent of your side of the problem as it relates to communication, and humble yourself before God and your spouse. You take the step to start the conversation. You won’t regret it!
There are a few theories out there on why women over a certain age are not married. Many of these may be stereotypical while others hold some truth.
I will be focusing on one of the most important reasons for why some single women are not married.
Before I go ahead, I want you to know this was hard to write, not because it’s not true but because of the magnitude of truth. I had touched on it in a previous post but had felt the burden in my spirit to focus squarely on it.
I know God wants me to speak about this and to do so in clear terms.
Here it is:
We are not married because we will forget God. Because getting married will take us away from God.
We have knowingly or unknowingly replaced God with marriage where our true service and our true love is not God but marriage or what we believe marriage will give us.
Our prayers for a good man have been unanswered and heaven has been silent not because God wants to deny us the good gifts he has for us but because he knows that this very thing we want will take us away from him.
We may promise or vow that we will be closer to him when we get married but is that really the truth?
We have to realise that God sees through our words. He is the only one that knows the true state of our hearts and our intentions.
Which means we can’t pay lip service to loving him.
WHERE IS GOD IN YOUR LIFE?
What are the things that matter to you? The things you focus all of your time and energy on. Many of us are so consumed with the need to get married and have children that every other thing takes second place.
Marriage becomes an idol in our lives and this idol will only grow bigger when we’re married to include the very husband and children we have desperately desired.
When we do this, we miss out on the most important relationship we could ever have.
One thing about idols is that we often don’t even realize what they are. We don’t realise how our identity, our happiness and our successes are tied to these idols.
Dear friend, it’s time for some honest introspection. Have you placed marriage on a pedestal? Do you believe your life will only make sense when you’re married and have children?
Do you equate your marriage with finding your purpose?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it will not happen. Should you force God’s hand or marry without recourse to him, you may find that your marriage becomes a den of problems rather than a haven of peace.
These words may seem harsh and hard but it wouldn’t be the first time. A look at the Bible will show how God feels when we demote him from his rightful place in our lives. The first and everlasting commandment is that we love God and that he remains number one in our lives.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”
“You shall fear the Lord your God and him only shall you serve…”
Deutronomy 6:13 (para.)
GOD MUST COME BEFORE MARRIAGE
Nothing and no one should take his place.
If you know you may have unknowingly done this, I know God is calling you to repent and come back to him.
“Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”
Never forget that God gave us marriage as a gift and for a purpose – for companionship, for his glory and propagation of his kingdom. We cannot misuse this gift.
Similarly, God is not a trader neither is he Santa Clause. Be careful that your worship is not a trade by barter where you believe you should be rewarded with a good husband for serving God.
We are to serve him and love him because his is God and is worthy of all our praise.
GOD LOVES YOU AND WANTS THE BEST FOR YOU
Here’s another truth, repenting and changing our ways does not mean we will get married. Even if we were to love God without pretence or expectation, we have to realise this is not an automatic opening for marriage.
Marriage is not a reward for being good
Why? Because God’s plan for your life may mean that you will get married now, later or not at all.
I know this is hard to read much more accept but it doesn’t change the truth. God knows the path he has for you, trust him to bring it to pass. I promise you that it will be the best for you.
We need to remember that Our time on earth is merely a blip in eternity.
According to Rick Warren of The Purpose Driven Life “Measured against eternity, our time on earth is just a blink of an eye, but the consequences of it will last forever. The deeds of this life are the destiny of the next.”
Which means we have to be careful how we spend it since it is this temporary life that determines our permanent location (heaven or hell, life or death).
I hope looking at your life this way gives you perspective and helps you prioritize the permanent things over the temporary.
GET MARRIED FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
Dear friend, please don’t get married for marriage’s sake. Do it because you believe it is the right time and the right person.
Don’t scheme, pretend, lie or sin to get married, your life and identity in Christ is worth more than that.
I am always comforted knowing that God knows what’s best for us. You might not understand why it’s taken this long, you might even think he’s forgotten you, but know that he hasn’t.
He wants us to trust that he will give us what is right for us. Even if you’re feeling the pressures, even if everyone around you is getting married (and did it on their own terms, without God), realise that you’re different. No two lives are the same, so stop focusing on the lives of others.
As God’s child, you’re working under heaven’s rules not earth’s rules. This means you cannot live according to the precepts of the world even though you’re in the world.
Be encouraged! Remember that with God, it will all work out for your good and will definitely be better than anything you could have imagined for yourself.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
A dictionary definition of a Christian would be something similar to “a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teachings of Jesus.” While this is a good starting point, like many dictionary definitions, it falls somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means to be a Christian. The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word “Christian” literally means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or a “follower of Christ.”
Unfortunately over time, the word “Christian” has lost a great deal of its significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has high moral values but who may or may not be a true follower of Jesus Christ. Many people who do not believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a “Christian” nation. But going to church, serving those less fortunate than you, or being a good person does not make you a Christian. Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. Being a member of a church, attending services regularly, and giving to the work of the church does not make you a Christian.
A Christian is not all about rituals, going to church, or doing certain things while refraining from other things. Becoming a Christian is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through repentance and faith, is what makes a person a Christian.
The Bible teaches that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” So, a Christian is someone who has been born again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is “…by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
A true Christian is a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day. John 1:12 tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God’s Word (1 John 2:4, 10). A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has been given new life in Jesus Christ.
What Is a Believer?
In the New Testament, the word believer is used for a person who is convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and the author of salvation. The Greek word usually translated “believer” or “believing” carries the idea of faithfulness and loyalty (John 20:27; Acts 16:1; 2 Corinthians 6:15). A believer is one who faithfully trusts in Jesus Christ.
A believer is one who has received the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God into their hearts and repented of their sins, resulting in a new creation (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17). A believer does more than hear Jesus’ words and accept what He said about God; a believer allows the information to change him (see John 2:23–24). Saving faith is more than mental acceptance of the facts regarding Christ; it involves repentance and unreserved commitment to Him. True believers are those who hear the Word of God, believe it in their hearts, and recognize the value of the message to the extent that they take up their crosses to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23; 14:26–33).
In the Bible, believers were also called disciples. A disciple is one who actively pursues becoming like the one he or she admires. The disciples of Jesus were so committed to becoming like Him that their detractors began calling them “little Christs,” or “Christians” (Acts 11:26). The unbelievers may have meant the term as an insult, but such a name is the highest compliment believers can receive. Our goal as believers is to be “little Christs” in our words, actions, and values (Romans 8:29).
Sadly, the term Christian has lost most of its meaning in our secular world. It has come to mean one’s religious preference, akin to Buddhist, Muslim, or atheist. Today, many people call themselves “Christians” or “believers,” but the label has more to do with culture or upbringing than true faith in Christ. Not so in the first century. Believers lived quite differently from their unbelieving peers. They may have come from any number of wicked pasts, but they had been redeemed and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9–11). There were no cultural benefits of being a believer. To believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah often meant persecution, rejection, and even death (Acts 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 4:8–10).
Believers “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Such faith often comes at a high cost relationally, socially, financially, and even physically. Jesus warned prospective believers to “count the cost” of following Him (Luke 14:25–33). Paul warned that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Believers across the world are right now suffering for their faith, just as Paul and the other apostles did. Even in nations once free, believers are facing increasing hostility toward the exercise of their faith.
A believer has many promises of God to comfort and encourage him and motivate him to greater service. A believer has experienced the new birth: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). A believer has a relationship with God that sets him free from his old life of guilt, shame, and sin (John 8:36; Romans 8:2). A believer experiences a love like no other and is empowered to love others (John 10:11; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:11). A believer has access to God’s presence and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, who comforts, protects, leads, and guides (Ephesians 2:13, 18; Hebrews 4:16; John 14:16–18).
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). Believers are those who have found the narrow road that leads to life and remain steadfastly on it no matter who or what opposes them (John 8:31; 2 John 1:9).
How Do I Know If I’m A Christian?
Jesus taught that the condition of a person’s heart will manifest itself in his or her behavior: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” (Luke 6:43–45; cf. Matthew 7:16). So, when considering whether or not you are a Christian, you can consider the kind of fruit that is produced in the life of a Christian:
1. Complete trust in Christ’s death and resurrection as sufficient payment for the debt we owe God. A Christian is one who trusts Christ exclusively. Doubts come when we fear we must add something to the work of Christ to ensure our salvation. Ephesians 2:8–9 makes it clear that we are not saved by our works, but by God’s grace alone. No matter how righteous we may appear, none of us come close to earning salvation (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23). We can neither add anything nor take anything away from the Savior’s sacrifice. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” He meant that He had paid in full the sin debt of all who trust in Him (John 19:30). A Christian rests in the gracious promises of God in Christ.
2. Obedience. A Christian is one who obeys the Lord. In our rush to magnify the wonderful grace of God, we often treat obedience to God as optional. But 1 John 3:6–9 says that a person’s attitude toward sin is how we tell who belongs to God and who belongs to the devil. Salvation transforms our hearts (James 1:22). Romans 6 gives a thorough explanation of why we turn from sin when we are saved: we have died to it and are now alive in Christ. The attitude of a true follower of Jesus is one of sorrow over sin. Proverbs 8:13says, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil.” A Christian hates his own sin and has a strong desire to turn from it. A Christian loves the Lord and shows that love through obedience (John 14:21).
3. The witness of the Holy Spirit. A Christian is one who is led and encouraged by the Spirit. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” When we surrender our lives to Jesus, His Holy Spirit comes to indwell us and changes the way we view the world, ourselves, and God. He brings an understanding of spiritual truths we could never before grasp (John 14:26). He helps us commune with the Father when we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26). He comforts us by bringing to mind the promises of God. He gives us a knowing that quiets our hearts when doubts arise. Romans 8:14 says that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God.” A Christian has confidence of his or her adoption into God’s family because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15).
4. The love of God’s people. A Christian is one who shows a sincere love for the family of God. First John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” Although we should love and befriend everyone, Christians naturally gravitate toward other Christians. Second Corinthians 6:14–18 explains why. God’s instructions are for us to grow in love by serving our brothers and sisters and helping them bear their loads (Galatians 5:13–14; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:22). A Christian is known for his love for other Christians (John 13:35).
5. Ongoing discipleship. A Christian is one who continues to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus did not call us to be fans, but followers. He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). All Christians go through seasons of greater and lesser growth, but there is always an upward move toward God. It may at times be two steps forward and one step back, but there will be progress. If we continue in the same worldly mindset we had before conversion, chances are that we were never really converted at all. A disciple is one who looks to Christ for instructions. A disciple yearns to be more like Jesus and rids his or her life of distractions, temptations, and obstacles to that goal. When God adopts us as His children, He desires that we take on a family resemblance (Romans 8:29). A Christian will look more and more like the Savior.
It is good to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you question whether or not you are a Christian, then self-examination is in order. Doubts about our salvation can be troubling, but false assurances are worse. Thankfully, we have Scripture as our guide. There are specific things we can look for when determining the validity of our profession of faith: trust in Christ, obedience to His Word, the presence of the Holy Spirit, love for God’s people, and continued spiritual growth. We don’t need to live in doubt. When Jesus is Lord of our lives and we live to please and honor Him, we can know beyond a doubt that we are Christians (Matthew 6:33; Luke 6:46; John 14:15).
How To Become a Christian
Jesus Christ declared that He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The question then arises – why did we need to be ransomed? The idea of a ransom is a payment that must be made in exchange for the release of a person. The idea of a ransom is most frequently used in instances of kidnapping, when someone is kidnapped and held prisoner until a ransom is paid for the person’s release.
Jesus paid our ransom to free us from bondage! Bondage from what? Bondage to sin and its consequences, physical death followed by eternal separation from God. Why did Jesus need to pay this ransom? Because we are all infected with sin (Romans 3:23), and are therefore worthy of judgment from God (Romans 6:23). How did Jesus pay our ransom? By dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21). How could Jesus’ death sufficiently pay for all of our sins? Jesus was God in human form, God come to earth to become one of us so He could identify with us and die for our sins (John 1:1,14). As God, Jesus’ death was infinite in value, sufficient to pay for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). Jesus’ resurrection after His death demonstrated that His death was the sufficient sacrifice, that He had truly conquered sin and death.
This is the best part. Because of His love for us, God has made it exceedingly simple to become a Christian. All you have to do is repent and turn from your sinful ways, and receive Jesus as your Savior, fully accepting His death as the sufficient sacrifice for your sins (John 3:16), fully trusting Him alone as your Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). As mentioned, becoming a Christian is not all about rituals, going to church, or doing certain things while refraining from other things. Becoming a Christian is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through faith, is what makes a person a Christian.
Are you ready to become a Christian?
If you are ready to become a true Christian by receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior, all you have to do is believe. Do you understand and believe that you have sinned and are worthy of judgment from God? Do you understand and believe that Jesus took your punishment upon Himself, dying in your place? Do you understand and believe that His death was the sufficient sacrifice to pay for your sins? If your answers to these three questions are yes, then repent of your sins and place your trust in Jesus as your Savior. Receive Him, by faith, fully trusting in Him alone and making Him Lord of your life. That is all it takes to become a Christian!
**More on how to become a Christian? To be born-again or saved? HERE
It is terrible but true—sexual predators target churches. In the mind of a predator, a church offers a compelling target and, too often, an easy target. I recently worked my way through On Guard by Deepak Reju and learned that there are at least six reasons why sexual predators specifically target churches.
“…Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
1. Christians Can Be Naïve About Sexual Predators
Some sexual offenders state it outright—they go after churches because Christians tend to be naïve. Anna Salter says, “If children can be silenced and the average person is easy to fool, many offenders report that religious people are even easier to fool than most people.” Reju says, “Christian are, generally speaking, trusting folks.
Child abusers recognize this fact and want to take full advantage of it.” He quotes a former prosecutor who lays it out: “For a variety of reasons, we naively tend to automatically lower our guard when we are amongst professing Christians. This same naïveté is why offenders flock to the faith community; no other environment provides them such quick and easy access to children without fear of raising concerns.”
2. Christians Can Be Ignorant of the Problem
Christians are not only naïve, but also ignorant—ignorant of the problem of abuse and the extent of the problem within faith communities. Many Christians consider it unlikely or impossible that abuse could happen within their church, so they fail to take adequate measures, they ignore warnings and they disregard reports.
Reju says, “Many Christians don’t know how to distinguish likability and trustworthiness. They confuse the two categories, assuming that if someone is courteous and nice, they must also be trustworthy. Moreover, some Christians behave as though the problem doesn’t exist, and some look with suspicion on reports of abuse. They believe children are lying and are more prone to take an adult’s word. Sexual predators know that these dynamics operate in churches, and they know they can get away with a lot on account of it.”
3. Many Churches Offer Sexual Predators Access to Children
Perhaps most simply of all, churches offer access—and often very easy access—to children. Reju says this well: “Because churches are always looking for help with children’s ministry and often are facing shortages of volunteers, sexual offenders know that churches are desperate. In children’s ministry, volunteers are often late. Some cancel at the last minute when they had promised to volunteer.
Others don’t even bother showing up for their service. So, when a courteous, kind, reliable man walks in and offers to help, who’s going to turn him down? No other organization provides such quick and easy access to children. Sexual predators know this, so they show up at churches, eager to make themselves known and ready to serve.”
4. Many So Called Christians Abuse Authority
Sometimes authority is put in the hands of evil individuals who then abuse that authority by taking advantage of others. Christians are rightly taught to submit to authority, but not always warned that there are situations in which authority can and must be defied. “Child abusers will use positions of spiritual authority to gain access to children and abuse them.
Ask yourself: If a pastor or priest walks into a room, what’s your normal disposition? Most of us have a degree of caution around strangers until we’ve gotten to know them and built a trusting relationship. But pastors and priests are often afforded trust just because of their position as clergy.” This, of course, has been proven again and again by sickening news headlines.
5. Churches Can Be Manipulated by Sexual Predators
Church offers religious roles or language that abusers can manipulate to accomplish their ugly purposes. Child abusers often use church-based roles in order to provide rationale and cover for their abuse. An offender may take on a role like Sunday school teacher, nursery worker, youth minister, camp supervisor or pastor in order to gain the position he or she needs to access children. He may “also use religious language to confuse a child’s understanding of God, sin or faith. An offender might tell a child that he is loving the child when in fact he is abusing him.
The child might have a sense that he is sinning in some way, especially if he hears from his parents or the church that sex outside of marriage is sin. But when a Sunday school teacher or pastor or priest tells him something like, ‘God told me to do this, so you must obey me,’ or ‘This is not sin, but love,’ the child will not only be confused but will be inclined not to second-guess a religious authority figure.” Religious roles and language can provide all the cover an abuser needs.
6. Many Churches Offer Cheap Grace
Sometimes abusers are caught, but even then they may get away with their crimes. Abusers count on receiving cheap grace—grace that comes far too freely and with far too little cost. “Abusers are not dumb. They know that if they cry, offer words of contrition and promise never to do it again, they are very likely not to have to face significant consequences.
Pastors and churches are very forgiving. They are quick to apply the gospel—and very, very slow to apply the consequences that come from the law.” An offender will weep and admit that he was wrong and promise never to do anything like it again, and the church may respond by determining they will let it go this once. But when they do that, they simply allow the offender to go right back to his behavior, and allow the child to remain a victim.
In the face of all of this, it is no wonder that the Bible calls us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). But while all of these dangers are true, and while abusers are deliberate in targeting churches, this does not mean that we are left defenseless. For that reason the bulk of Deepak Reju’s book is dedicated to creating and enforcing policies that will protect the innocent—innocent children who participate in church activities, and innocent adults who care for them. Please, will you have someone in your church read the book and see how you can better prevent abuse in your church fellowship.
** Article by Tim Challies at Church Leaders – challies.com / Book by Deepak Reju called “On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church” / Photo by Adrien Olichon at Pexels
I just wasn’t feeling the love. If everyone has a love tank, mine was low. And it was making me cranky. I have read about loving your husband, but love was the last thing I was feeling.
It wasn’t my husband’s fault really. Due to military life, I hadn’t seen him in a month and didn’t get to talk to him as much as when he’s home. I wasn’t getting my quality time. Or my words of affirmation. Or my acts of service. Or physical touch. Or gifts. None of the five love languages and I was feeling it.
The lies began in my mind. “He doesn’t really want to come home.” “He would be texting you more if he really missed you.” “He would have sent you flowers if he really cared.”
I knew I was only feeling this way because my love tank was low. And I knew it wasn’t my husband’s fault at all. I knew deep down he wanted to come home to me just as much as I wanted him to get home. But that didn’t stop me from feeling grumpy. If he took too long to text back, I wanted to lash out. I wanted to say, “Forget it. You don’t really care!”
Thankfully, I’ve read some great books on marriage and I’ve heard some great sermons on being a godly wife. The things I have learned over the years came back to me. I remembered how in one book it told me that I have to give love to my husband even when he doesn’t deserve it. Even when I’m not feeling love, I have to give love.
If I lashed out, it would cause him to lash out, which would cause me to lash out. We would both be hurt and therefore angry at one another. A vicious cycle would ensue and round and round we’d go into a big ugly fight. A fight that would really only be caused by circumstances we can’t change and lies being thrown by Satan.
So this time, instead of throwing angry words and causing a fight, I wrote Travis a big long text telling him how much I loved him and how much I couldn’t wait for him to get home. I went to the grocery store and I bought him a bunch of his favorite foods to have when he got home. I made the choice to love him even though I wasn’t feeling much love.
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” — Psalm 141:3
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” — Colossians 2:20
I realized I can’t show Travis love only in hopes of getting love back. These books and sermons have taught me that love isn’t selfish. It’s the exact opposite. Love is selfless. Love is showing someone you care without expecting anything in return.
“When an action doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love. Ultimately, comfort is not the issue. We are talking about love, and love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Love is a choice.” — Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages)
By loving my husband this way, I am loving Christ.
Our husbands are merely vessels to Christ. We love Christ by loving our husbands. We serve Christ by serving our husbands. Even when our husbands deserve the exact opposite of love, we should love them because that is what Christ has called us to do. It’s an act of obedience.
“With eyes of faith, envision Jesus standing just beyond the shoulder of your spouse and listening to every word you speak in every conversation, pleasant or tense. When you speak lovingly or respectfully to your spouse, you are speaking to Christ. Your spouse just happens to be there too.” — Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Love and Respect)
The great thing about love is it can become a cycle as well. When we pour all our love into our husbands, it changes them. It makes them want to love back.
If we love on our husbands, it would cause our husbands to want to show us love, which would cause us to love him better. We would both feel loved and therefore happy with one another. A virtuous cycle would ensue and round and round we’d go into a healthy marriage!
I know this is something I’m still learning. It’s something I will always have to be striving for, always asking God to help me love my husband the same way Christ loves me — even when my own love tank is low. Because when we speak lovingly to our spouses, no matter how they have spoken to or treated us, we are speaking lovingly to our God who so desperately deserves it.
How have you struggled with loving your husband? In what ways, have you loved him even when you weren’t feeling love in return?
***Article and Photo By Tiffany at Seeingsunshine.com
Jesus told His disciples in the sermon on the mount that any man, who looked on a woman to lust after her, was committing adultery with her. He went on to say that it was better for such a man to pluck out his eye than to go to Hell with both eyes (Matthew 5:27-29). He taught thereby that constantly lusting after women sexually with one’s eyes was enough to finally send a man to Hell.“Believe that God will help you in every possible way to give up this sin immediately and permanently.“
The fire of lust in a man’s heart today is the same hellfire that has burned in every man’s heart, since the time of Adam. Only the fire of the Holy Spirit can destroy it. Your heart will either burn with lust to sin or burn with love for Jesus. Your choice has to be one of these two: Either the refiner’s fire now or hellfire in the future. There is no third alternative.
The Jewish people, to whom the Lord spoke, already had a very high moral standard through the Law. They lived by a strict moral code, where sex outside of marriage was always punished by death. There were no pornographic books or magazines or television programmes in that day, to tempt people to immorality. Every woman in that society was decently dressed, and men and women hardly ever spoke to each other. Yet, even in such a society, with all its restrictions, the Lord knew that men lusted after women, and He had to warn His disciples against it. If it was so in such a strict society, how much more He would warn young men about this in the lewd society that we live in today.
Today’s society throws fuel into our minds through every possible means, to feed our sexual passions. This is why we all have to be more careful in our day. If you are serious about putting out this fire of lust, then you must be serious about cutting off the supply of fuel. And you must cut off the source of that fuel, fiercely and radically, without any mercy. This is what it means to pluck out the eye and to cut off the hand. Jesus was commanding us to destroy the thing that causes us to sin. Jesus was more aware than anyone else of the danger of sin and the reality of hell-fire – and that was why He urged such radical spiritual surgery, in order to be saved from sin.
The application of the Lord’s command to us today is, “If your television-set causes you to sin in your mind, get rid of it immediately.” It is better to go to Heaven, having missed out on TV, than to go to Hell along with the TV stars whom you have watched on the screen. Or if it is some magazine, or a particular type of music or internet website that stimulates you and causes you to sin, do the same thing with those magazines, videos and websites. Surely there can be nothing on earth that is so precious to you, that you must keep holding on to it, even if as a result, you finally miss Heaven and go to Hell.
Even as you read this, Satan will be quick to whisper to you, “You will surely not die (go to Hell) for something so small as that.” And he will cleverly tell you that lusting after a picture in a magazine or after someone you see on the TV, or the internet is not really adultery. Don’t listen to him – for Jesus has warned us that Satan has been a liar from the beginning.
Don’t just say concerning this sin, “I’ll try to do it better in future”, or “I’ll try to give it up”. The Bible warns us to abstain from even the appearance of evil. Believe that God will help you in every possible way to give up this sin immediately and permanently. Take up the battle from today, and don’t give up until you have cut off the head of this Goliath that has defied you who are a soldier in the army of the living God.
1 Corinthians 7:1 warns us to avoid physical contact with girls. When the Holy Spirit says something is “not good”(as He says there), that should be enough for any disciple to avoid it altogether. Legalists live by the letter, whereas disciples live by the spirit of the commandment. For example: Jesus knew that it was adultery to lust after a woman in one’s heart, because He sought to understand the spirit of the seventh commandment. In the same way, if you are wholehearted, you will see what lies at the root of all of God’s commandments. See what Paul tells Timothy: “Flee from anything that will give you the temptations that young men often have” (2 Timothy 2:22-Living). You must flee from all such possibilities of temptation.
The Lord is cleansing His temple once again. His temple now is your physical body. Allow Him to do a thorough job in it at once.
“Please help me! Please don’t send me back!” screamed 7-year-old Preena as she jumped into Amy Carmichael’s lap, clinging to her neck. The little girl had just escaped from a Hindu temple in the middle of the night while her guardians were sleeping. She tiptoed quietly through an unlocked door and pushed open the heavy gate running as fast as she could.
Preena’s mother had given her to the temple priests in hopes of winning the favor of the gods. Amy did not know what was going on, but she knew this little-frightened girl needed her love and protection.
The Missionary: Amy Carmichael
Amy Carmichael had come to India as a missionary to reach those who did not know Jesus. Amy was sure that God did not want her to marry and have children of her own. That decision had been settled many years before. But was He now asking her to settle down and become a mother to an unwanted Indian child?
Life in Ireland
Amy Carmichael grew up in a wealthy family in Ireland. Her father owned a flour mill business. She went to the best boarding schools and had many fine things.
But one day Amy’s life changed without warning. Her father’s business began to lose money and it closed. Mr. Carmichael worried so much about his business that he became ill and died.
The family could no longer afford expensive things. Amy had to drop out of school. She spent the next ten years helping her mother take care of her younger sisters and brothers.
One cold, dreary day as the young Amy, her mother and brothers left the church, Amy saw something that changed her life. An old beggar woman came staggering out of the alley. Her clothes were torn and mud-soaked rags covered her feet. Amy felt sorry for the woman. She and her brother helped the old woman down the alley. When she saw other people from church pass by them, she was embarrassed to be seen with the woman and hid her face. As she continued to walk with the beggar, Amy noticed a fountain in the center of the road. She studied it closely. Then she heard a voice say, “Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw — the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the foundation survives, he will receive the reward.” She turned to see who was speaking but saw no one. Amy knew that she appeared kind by helping the old woman, but she knew her heart was wrong. From that moment on, she decided to hold her head high. She was no longer embarrassed. When she got home, she searched the bible and found the words she had heard. Amy knelt by her bed and promised God that in the future she would only do things to please him.
Another time she and her mother stopped to have tea and biscuits in a restaurant. As they ate, Amy saw a dirty little beggar girl with her nose pressed against the window. The poor little girl, with no food, touched Amy so much that she made another promise. She promised that when she grew up she would give her money to the poor.
Amy Carmichael became very excited about doing what God wanted her to do. On Saturday evenings, she would go with her pastor to the poor neighborhoods to hand out tracts and food to the poor people known as Shawlies. The Shawlies made so little money that they could not afford hats so they used their shawls to protect their heads from the cold. They were eager to learn about God. Amy’s heart went out to them. She moved into their neighborhood and slept in bug-infested beds to be closer to the people. She prayed about building a church for them to attend but didn’t know where she would get money for such a large job. She did not want to ask the rich people in her old church who didn’t seem to care about the Shawlies. Instead, she and the Shawlies asked God to provide it. God answered their prayers and a new church was built.
Time to Move On
Amy began to sense that God wanted her to tell people in other countries about him. There was one problem though. Amy had an illness that made her so sick she had to stay in bed days at a time. Despite her health, she knew she must obey God.
Life In India
Amy traveled the India countryside telling anyone who would listen about Christ.
One day Preena, a little Indian girl, was collecting water for the temple near where Amy was speaking. Preena stopped to listen as Amy told the ladies about her God who loved everybody the same. He did not put people in different classes as the Indian caste system did. Preena was very interested in what Amy was saying but knew she must not be seen listening to the stranger. She tucked Amy’s words into her memory and hurried back to the temple.
Indian girls were often unwanted and were given to the temple to serve as prostitutes. Because of this, when Preena arrived at Amy’s door, Amy knew she could not send her back. The little girl would be beaten, even killed, if she were returned. Amy could have been charged with kidnapping and thrown into prison. But it was a chance she was willing to take.
Over the 50 years she spent in India, Amy Carmichael took in hundreds of unwanted children. She became known as “Amma” or mother to them.
God’s love should be reflected in our actions no matter how big or small the action is. So, let us honor God by serving and giving what He has given us. This is a true act of service to all.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20-35).
In Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” there is one love language that is called “Acts of Service.” On the website, it says that these are the people that seek action rather than hearing words that pertain to affirmation. Even so, this does not mean that love-affirming words do not affect these people, it is that they view acts of service, both received and shown, as love.
For example, when Mary poured the expensive oil called “pure nard” on Jesus’ feet, she was performing an act of service to Jesus by anointing Him (John 12). But an even better example, the most important example is that Jesus came to serve and to give His life for us so that we could be saved.
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).
Faith and Acts of Service
In James 2, the Bible talks about faith and works. The Bible says that “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’ — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:14-16).
Therefore, it is true that actions speak louder than words said. You can have the faith that your spouse will be healed or anything that you are believing in. Prayer is an act of service too. But many times, we believe and do not pray.
Many times, we have faith and do not serve or act. Jesus’ act of service for us was sacrificing Himself by being tortured, bruised, battered, and dying the most horrible death that we deserved. No one can comprehend the love that God has for us by sending His Son to die for our sins.
God did not have to do that, and Jesus did not have to go through with it all. But because of His love, His act of sacrificing His life for us is an act of service that no one could ever do again. My point is that serving one another is truly love as we are called to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Serving Ourselves Vs. Others
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).
One of the most difficult things to do in life is denying yourself to others. Showing love for others has our pride submitted to humility and service to God. But if we let our pride, our ways, or our own thoughts rule over our humility, then we are a disservice to God and others. We know what to do but do not (James 4:17) because of prideful, selfish reasons.
Even the smallest acts that are selfish could be that you choose something that you wanted at the supermarket, and you do not ask your spouse if they want something too. That may seem very small and insignificant, but the small actions count too.
Those small actions can lead to greater actions that could negatively affect the relationship. Hebrews 13:16 says,“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
But knowing that you would rather serve yourself rather than others is not showing God’s love and grace to others. As hard as it may be, we have to learn to be more selfless and show God’s love to others.
The Greatest Mission of All
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity.
And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:12-17).
Jesus asks us to go into the world to speak the Good News to all, to make disciples, heal the sick, raise the dead, and much more. He has commissioned us to do His work of saving the lost. This is an act of service. We love because He loves (1 John 4:19).
We serve because He served us. We sacrifice because Jesus sacrificed His life for our sins. How could we hold back what we have learned from Jesus and not give that knowledge to others? We are chosen because God believes and trusts us to serve Him by speaking the Good News to the world.
God’s love should be reflected in our actions no matter how big or small the action is. So, let us honor God by serving and giving what He has given us. This is a true act of service to all.
A Closing Prayer
Father, I thank you for giving us these revelations and showing us what true acts of service are. I thank you, God, for giving your Son so that we could live again. I pray for all of us to learn to be selfless and show your love to God to the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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