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God's Love

I was studying the first epistle of John recently and noticed again the apostle’s emphasis on love. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and: “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19; NKJV). He loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross for us (1 John 3:16) and He calls us His Children (1 John 3:1). His love is perfected in us (1 John 2:5; 4:12, 17) as we walk in His Word (1 John 2:5) and love and obey God. The love of God is to keep His commandments (1 John 5:2). We and people watching us can be confident that we are Christians when we express love for each other (1 John 2:7; 3:14). We are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 4:20-21; 5:1) and John adds that if we do not do this, we cannot claim to love God (1 John 4:20). The apostle clearly states that if we do not love our brothers and sisters, we are still dead in our sins (1 John 3:14) and we are not of God (1 John 3:10; 4:7). If we truly have an intimate, ongoing relationship with God, His love should shine from us (1 John 4:16), and we will walk in love as Jesus did (1 John 2:6).
The apostle John repeatedly urges us to: “love one another”, in this epistle (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7). In fact, he wrote that, we should be willing to lay down our lives for each other (1 John 3:16). Love for others is more than words but has to be expressed in deeds and in true sincerity (1 John 3:18). With all the worldly resources that we have at our disposal if we fail to help our brothers and sisters materially how can we claim that the love of God is in us? (1 John 3:17).
The apostle John is so clear on God’s love for us and the Lord’s command that we allow that love to flow to others. Let us love as God loves us (1 John 4:19)! Do I hear an Amen?

Sold out for God.

In recounting the trials he had experienced in serving God, the apostle Paul was able to say: "but none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24; NKJV). Wow! He had very clear priorities for his life. Jesus clearly taught us that our focus in life must be to sacrificially follow Him, to be more and more like Him (Matt 16:24-26; 2 Cor 3:18) and to be His ambassadors to the world around us (2 Cor 5:12-20). Our own earthly needs and desires should be a secondary consideration. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt 6:33; NKJV). As we focus on Him first He will meet all of our need and bless us abundantly (John 10:10). "According to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:19). Did you get that? According to His riches! That means now on this earth, a life of abundance, peace and fulfillment followed by our final inheritance in Heaven with God for ever (Col 3:23-24). You cant beat that!

The veil, the victory.

"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Matt 27:50-51; NKJV). When Jesus died on the cross the veil in the temple that separated the holy place and the Most Holy (see Exodus 26:31-35), was obviously torn not by man but clearly by the hand of God. Prior to this time only the high priest entered the Most Holy place and he only once a year (Heb 9:6-7). This act of God at Christ's death signified that the way was now open for all men and women to come into the very holy presence of God (Heb 10:19-20). In fact, Christ lives in us as Christians (Gal 2:20) and we: "are the temple of the living God" (2 Cor 6:16; NKJV). Through His death and resurrection Jesus stripped satan of all power and authority to harm us in any way shape or form (Col 2:15). Jesus won forgiveness for us (Col 1:14) and access to all God's power, fullness and blessings (John 10:10). When we asked Jesus into our lives as Saviour, we became His children (1 John 3:2). Turmoil, trials and tribulation may come against us and around us but God has and will deal with all of that (John 16:33) and will always provide the way out (1 Cor 10:13).
Be encouraged, we walk in victory; keep your eyes on Jesus.

How is your foundation?

In these days of turmoil and trials we all need a firm foundation for our lives. Jesus showed His disciples that He was the rock on which His church would be built (Matt 16:18). He said that if we built our lives on the rock of His Words we would withstand all the storms of life (Matt 7:24-25).
The apostle Paul taught us that the only true foundation is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11). He also emphasized that for himself, he considered everything in his past as rubbish (KJV uses the word dung) compared to knowing Christ (Phil 3:7-8). He exhorted us to be: "grounded and steadfast", in our faith in Jesus (Col 1:23; NKJV). Paul further wrote: "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Col 3:16; NKJV). As we immerse ourselves in God's Word it will change us to be more like Him, we will learn how He wants to bless us (Ps 1:1-3), protect us (Ps 3:3) and how He wants us to shine as lights for Him (Matt 5:16).

Be Holy!

"Because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy"" (1 Peter 1:16; NKJV). The apostle Peter quotes God giving instructions to His people Israel. We should strive to be holy (Hebrews 12:14) as we are the temple of God. His Holy Spirit lives in each one of us as Christians (1 Cor 3:16-17). So what does it mean to be holy? Well, it is to be sinless, upright, pure, full of integrity or simply put, to be just like God! Sounds a like tall order! However, pursuing holiness will bring us into intimacy with God (Ps 15:1-2), His peace (Ps 119:165) and blessings (John 10:10).
We are to cleanse ourselves of the sinful ways that characterized our lives before we gave our lives to Christ (2 Tim 2:20-21). So how do we do that? As we see more about God and His plans for us in His Word, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the picture we see (2 Cor 3:18). Be patient, this Christian walk is a journey and even the apostle Paul said he had not attained or apprehended all God had for Him but he pressed on (Phil 3:12-14). Be encouraged, press on the rewards are amazing!