How much does Jesus love me?

Written by: Tim Wood

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.   (John 15:9-17 ESV).

Jesus loves us as much as the Father loves him. This blows my mind. The same measureless, bottomless, fathomless ocean of love that Jesus experienced from the Heavenly Father is what we should experience from Him. And he tells us to abide in that love. Live in it. Remain in it. Think about it often.  Take joy in it. Walk in victory because of it. This unbelievable and unconditional love has a pass along effect.  In verse 12, we should love one another as Jesus loves us.  His love is the basis for us loving one another.

How much does Jesus love me? Let me count the ways:

  1. Jesus loves us with the same intensity that the Father loves him.
  2. Jesus’ love for me is the foundation of full joy in my life.
  3. Jesus loves me so much he calls me his friend.
  4. Jesus loves me so much that he gives to me inside information from the Heavenly Father.
  5. Jesus loves me so much that he chooses me and appoints me to bear fruit.
  6. Jesus loves me so much he listens to my prayers and answers.
  7. Jesus loves me so I can love you.

Persistence pays off

Written by: Tim Wood

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up (2 Cor. 4:1) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. (2 Cor. 4:8-9) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day (2Cor. 4:16).

Thomas Edison persisted. The father of invention failed more than he succeeded but he never gave up. As a result, Edison gave the world electric light, microphones, storage batteries, sound films, phonographs, and a thousand other inventions. Here are the principles he lived by: (1) Work to obtain all the knowledge you can about what you want to achieve. (2) Fix your mind on your purpose. Persist! Seek! The trouble with most people is they quit before they start. (3) Keep searching, no matter how many times you meet with disappointment. (4) Refuse to be influenced by the fact that someone else tried the same thing and failed. (5) Stay “sold” on the idea that somewhere a solution to the problem exists, and you’ll find it. 

Nehemiah is an example of persistence. Faced with the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and tons of opposition, he accomplished the task in fifty-two days. The Bible tells us how he persisted. First, he sought God’s help. “We prayed to our God” (Neh. 4:9 NIV). Second, he protected his vision. “We…posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (v. 9 NIV). Third, he refused to quit. “Should a man like me run away? I will not” (Ne 6:11 NIV).  Great principles to live by: pray, protect your vision and refuse to quit. In spite of the obstacles, the enemy, and the pressure—Nehemiah refused to give up. And God honors people with such a spirit.  We will face opposition but don’t ever give up. Persist. Because God has extended his mercy to us and given us a new way to live based on his complete forgiveness. Because God will never abandon us. Even in the midst of pressing times he is with us. Finally, because God is renewing us day by day.  God honors people who faithfully persist!

 

Walk in the power of the Spirit

Written by: Tim Wood

“So, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him (David) in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.” (1 Samuel 16:13)

David walked with the Lord in the power of His Spirit. Every child of God is anointed by God to walk in the Spirit of God with power. Sadly, too many fail to do so.

Vance Havner wrote, “We are seeing much today of service without the Spirit. There is an appalling ignorance of the Person and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not what is done for God that counts, but rather what is done by God that counts.”  A.C. Dixon said, “When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do. When we rely upon education, we get what education can do. When we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we get what God can do.”

God's persistent work in our lives liberates us from the idea that we can live the Christian life on our own. Each time we acknowledge our inadequacy, he fills us with more of his Spirit so we can carry on his work. He will not fill our sails with the wind of the Holy Spirit unless we admit that the sails are empty. This requires humility and confession.

Nobody believed David was qualified to be king, including Samuel.  But with God’s Spirit anointing the weak become strong for the glory of God.

How about you? Are you daily aware that the Spirit of God indwells you? Are you daily trusting Him for power? To serve? To obey?  Someone said, “Bethlehem was God with us, Calvary was God for us, but Pentecost is God in us!”

 

Standing on the promises

Written by: Tim Wood

The Bible is a storehouse of God’s promises. Someone estimated that there are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. A promise is a statement that one can depend on with absolute confidence. Think about it! God, the creator of all, gives us promises (in writing) declaring what He will do or refrain from doing. There are basically two types of promises in the Bible – specific promises and general promises. Specific promises are given to specific people for a specific time. There are all kinds of general promises which are given by the Holy Spirit to every believer of every generation. I believe that every day we should go to the Bible and search out the promises of God and fix our minds on them. Everyday pick out one or two promises and claim them, believe them, as the old hymn says, “Stand on them”. The general promises of God are for you, to strengthen you and to help you overcome the wiles of the evil one. Here are some promises to begin claiming:
God promises to forgive me – 1 John 1:7-9 / Isaiah 1:18
God promises to always be with me – Joshua 1:9 / Matthew 28:20 / Hebrews 13:5
God promises to protect me – Psalm 91 / Psalm 121
God promises to strengthen me – Isaiah 41:10
God promises to lead me – John 10:4
These are just a few examples of the promises of God to begin claiming every day. Make sure you’re standing on these promises and not sitting on them. George Muller, who founded many orphanges in 19th century England said this about God’s promises. “My faith is the same faith which is found in every believer. It has been increased little by little for the last 26 years. Many times when I could have gone insane from worry, I was at peace because my soul believed the truth of God’s promises. God’s word, together with the whole character of God, as He has revealed Himself, settles all questions. His unchangeable love and infinite wisdom calmed me. I knew that God is willing and able to deliver me. As it is written, He who did not spare his own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) – George Muller.

May God overwhelmingly bless you as you “stand on His promises”.

The Hands and Feet of Jesus

A GUEST BLOG BY CORRINA JENNINGS

In the church, we often have a language all our own – a sort of “Christian-ese” kind of speech – insider lingo that means nothing to most everyone else, and dangerously stops being meaningful to even us if we aren’t careful.  We churchy-types will pepper our sentences with scripture snacks and trite religious sounding phrases like, “When God closes a door, He opens a window,” or, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” 

This kind of triteness dumbs down the gospel of Jesus Christ and causes us to miss the actual truth of Scripture, because it is buried so far down inside a tweet-able quote.  As ministers of the gospel, we have a responsibility to be intentional with our speech. Our words should be weighty and well-chosen.


One phrase we often hear Christians say is that we are called to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.

But, what does that even mean? 

For me, it conjures up the idea of an army of church members in orange vests picking up litter on the highway (you know…with our actual hands) or marching in a protest for justice (you know…with our actual feet) or doing some tangible act to correct injustice and heal society’s ills. Sometimes, it actually does mean all of that, but we have complicated it. And worse, we’ve buried the truth that’s at the heart of this phrase – so much so that we may not even know what it even means.

The phrase has its roots in I Corinthians 12:27, “For we are members of His body.”  Stop for a minute and think about that.  Wow – we have been grafted into the body of the Perfect One – the very embodiment of LOVE itself – we are now part of that.  What a responsibility!  You see, if I am to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” then I should probably begin by knowing what Jesus did with his actual hands and feet.

Answer:  He loved.

Being the “hands and feet” of Jesus simply means communicating the love of Christ to the people he created. You don’t need to fix all of society’s problems. You don’t necessarily need to wage a culture war for justice as you see it.  You just need to love people.

“This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other."   John 13:35

 Simple, right?   So how DO we love people?

Dr. Gary Chapman, Ph.D  (Philosophy) M.A (anthropology) wrote an entire book about how to speak the language of love practically within the context of human relationships. You’ve probably heard of his book, The Five Love Languages.  In the book, Dr. Chapman lays out five areas of interaction that can help you demonstrate love to those you care about.  His primary frame of reference was marital relationships, but the research about how humans feel loved and valued transcends relational boundaries.  So, for simplicity’s sake, let’s use Chapman’s five languages as our reference guide.

They are;

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

So how do we apply this to the church? Let’s do a love check, shall we?

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION – When was the last time you spoke words of affirmation to those in your sphere of influence?  Have you told your boss or employee how much you appreciate him or her?  Have you spoken encouraging words to the person working to serve you in a minimum wage manual labor or retail job?  Have you spoken life to a single mother and told her how amazing she is and what a good job she is doing? 

QUALITY TIME – “The great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.”― Shane ClaiborneThe Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

Giving our money is an important way to show love, but time is a rarer and often more precious gift of love. When was the last time you spent actual time with people – people who needed love? I mean, really - ate a meal or enjoyed conversation with them?  Jesus dined with sinners, beggars, lepers, AND his friends. He spent TIME with them.  When you give your time to people, you demonstrate love to them.

GIFTS – Giving gifts is a universally understood and MISunderstood way of showing love. Gifts can be interpreted as superficial, but when they are thoughtful or sacrificial, they communicate love in a very real way.  Jesus gave the most extravagant gift of all – Himself.  Scripture tells us that wherever our treasure is, our heart will also be.  So, being a radical gift giver in the name of Jesus is most definitely a way to embody His love.  Think about your money and your material things.  Can you bless someone else with it this week?  Can you give a gift that costs you something – for no other reason than to communicate love to someone? Groceries for a struggling family?  Baby supplies for a young family?  The gift of a date night for a young couple? Maybe the Lord is laying on your heart to give an extravagant gift to someone – a car or a house or something crazy.  Let the Holy Spirit be your guide, and ask God for wisdom to let HIS love flow through you – for HIS glory!

ACTS OF SERVICE – Sometimes, the basest act can have the most profound impact. Jesus taught us this when he humbled himself to wash the feet of his disciples. Be in the practice of looking for ways to serve others. Ask the Lord daily, “Who can I serve today?”  It might surprise you, but He ALWAYS answers that prayer.  Perhaps you can wash someone’s car?  Trim the neighbor’s hedge or clean their trash cans out for them?  Look for simple ways to go the extra mile, for no other reason than love.

PHYSICAL TOUCH - In our oversexualized culture, this can be a sticky area. We are going to assume that your heart in this is to always be relationally appropriate, so we can get to the point, okay? 

The truth is that God created humans with a desire and a biological NEED for physical affection, and this is not limited to a sexual context.  Scripture is full of references to the power of holy touch, and science reinforces this biblical truth.  When we shake hands, hug or stretch our arm out across a friend’s shoulder, the body releases neurological chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin that feel good and it inhibits chemicals that cause stress.

But touch doesn’t just feel good; it is vital to being human. When babies and children are deprived of touch, their brain development is permanently impaired, hampering their social abilities and resulting in lower intelligence.  Our bodies were created for touch and our lives literally depend on it.

Imagine if the church took a high view of the body as designed by God for intimate physical touch – what would that look like?  Reaching out across the sanctuary to link arms after communion? Healing prayers offered with anointing oil and warm physical touch?  A community of friends gathering to cuddle NICU infants or give manicures or pedicures at the retired living community?  What about holding the hand of a sick or dying church member or offering a hug to a worn out stressed mama? Physical affection offered to the most marginalized of our society can be a particularly poignant way to demonstrate the power of God’s love.  Our physical bodies are a conduit of God’s warm, inviting, intimate and comfortable presence in this cold, stark world and maybe, just maybe, the most powerful tools we have to “be the hands and feet of Jesus” are our actual hands and feet.