May 29, 2009

I am His

Of First Importance today..

“I am His by purchase and I am His by conquest; I am His by donation and I am His by election; I am His by covenant and I am His by marriage; I am wholly His; I am peculiarly His; I am universally His; I am eternally His.

Once I was a slave but now I am a son; once I was dead but now I am alive; once I was darkness but now I am light in the Lord; once I was a child of wrath, an heir of hell, but now I am an heir of heaven; once I was Satan’s bond-servant but now I am God’s freeman; once I was under the spirit of bondage but now I am under the Spirit of adoption that seals up to me the remission of my sins, the justification of my person and the salvation of my soul.”

- Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth

Have a GREAT weekend with this in mind!

May 12, 2009

A Love for God's People

“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

What does it mean to have a love for the body of Christ? Does it mean just praying for them? Does it mean that we have to be at their beck and call? And how does that fit in with loving God. Lately I have been struggling with how all of this fits for God and love for the brethren. I have a natural tendency to want to serve and to "do good" to people only sometimes I do that at a cost of neglecting my own family and also my own soul. I also tend to not understand when others do not desire to serve their brothers in Christ. I know there has to be a balance and I am praying that God will help me balance them both. And if you pray for something, God hears and in His time has shown me some things about what it means to love.

Two weeks ago, at my parents church, their pastor preached on 1 John 4:17-21, God's Perfect Love. His fourth point (from v. 20) was "God’s Perfect Love Stands Over Against Spurious Professors of Love!" Vs. 20 says “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Pastor Quinn goes on to say "In verse 12, for someone to claim they’ve seen Almighty God and in verse 20, for someone to claim they love God, and yet both times, they are found not to love others, whom they do see and could actually minister to, they are liars on both counts. They have neither seen or love God because they fail the human love test!" WOW - if we are not ministering to the very believers that we see on a daily, weekly basis then how can we love God? Pastor Quinn goes on to say... "Are you genuinely reaching out in love toward others? Or, are you one of these spurious professors of love? The difference between the two actually reveals the true nature of your relationship to God. I didn’t say it is the basis of your relationship with God, but it does reveal it to you and others."

Then, pressing on in my attempt to find out what it means to love, I came upon a sermon by John Piper entitled "Savoring God by Serving the Saints". I knew this would shed some more light on my dilemma. Mr. Piper's main Scripture is Hebrews 6:9-12. What of the questions that he seeks to answer is "What is the relationship between serving the saints and showing love to the name of God?" In Hebrews 6:10 it says "serving the saints, as you still do" and Piper goes on to explain this... "Virtually all the translations agree that the relationship here is between the end you are pursuing and the way that you go about pursuing it. The end pursued is showing love to God's name, and the way to go about pursuing it is to serve the saints." He goes on to say (and I'm paraphrasing) is that a lot of churches and ministries stop here and say "well there you go, by serving you are proving your love for God!" Well that is wrong. That just puts a guilt trip on people...that's not showing the love of God. From the rest of that sermon I gain that loving the saints should flow out of an overflowing heart of satisfaction in God and we share that with the saints. Pastor Piper closes the sermon by saying the following "The point is to encourage us that when we serve and keep on serving, even in the small and seemingly unnoticed ways, God will never forget. Every note you write, every call you make, every visit, every gift, every late night conversation, every turning the other cheek, every unrequited kindness, every service out of love for his name God sees and he will not forget them to all eternity. So let us love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and for the sake of his name let us serve one another! He will not forget. His justice guarantees it."

I guess in writing all of this is that I want to challenge you to love the brethren. Whether that means putting aside your own liberties to come along side a struggling brother or if that means praying for them on a consistent basis. How are you serving your church? I will leave you with 1 Peter 4:10-11 that says "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in it various forms. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." I know the prayer for my life and for my church is that as we serve one another, God will be glorified in our service but also that our body will grow in unity as we administer God's grace to each other. How are you serving and why?