Loving others isn’t an easy thing to do. Yet that’s the call God gives to us. And although no one can love unconditionally and perfectly like Jesus, we do need to show each other that same Christlike love. That means practicing patience and kindness even when we are frustrated with those around us. And finding joy instead of envy at another’s blessings. Christlike love isn’t based in arrogance or pride. It doesn’t intentionally provoke others nor keep a record of wrongs committed against us. It’s a selfless love, that is demonstrated through action. And is perfectly exampled by Jesus on the Cross. When describing love, St. Augustine said, “Love has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” Such a love is impossible in our own strength, but through God all things are possible, including loving the unlovable.
We’ve all heard the expression, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.” A perfect description of the Christian life. Because receiving Jesus as our Savior is a single step of faith, that turns into a lifelong journey. It’s a trek of constantly moving forward and growing in maturity as we walk with the Lord. And as we travel, along the way we develop Christlike characteristics that deepen our relationship with God. Characteristics that both allow the fruit of Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”, to shine through us for the world to see, and to lead lives that glorify God. And characteristics that mirror our Lord, providing wonderful testimonies to a desperate world. These include righteousness, walking on a path not led by the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:4). And of course obedience, walking in a manner worthy of God, because it’s the way we show the world, and God Himself, the love we have for Him. (John 14:15)
Author Ellen J Barrier once said, “I believe that parents who love their children do everything for them with love, even discipline.” But even when it’s done from a loving heart, no one likes punishment. Yet the writer of Hebrews tells us to rejoice when we’re being disciplined by God. Because it’s one of the kindest things He can do. For through discipline, we see the love our Father has for His children. As parents ourselves we understand that raising successful, independent, and healthy children comes from training them up in the way they should go. Training rooted in love, correction tempered with compassion, and punishment doled out with mercy. God wants just as much for His children to be successful. So from His great love, He doesn’t turn a blind eye to our mistakes. Instead He disciplines us as much as needed, and only as long as needed. And all for our good and His glory.
Judas was a man who stole from the poor, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, and ultimately hung himself in the potter’s field. But before we’re quick to condemn, we need to examine our own hearts. And look for any traces that might reveal Judas in us. Things like sitting in church every Sunday and declaring Jesus as Lord with our lips, but not our hearts. Or remembering God only when we need something from Him. And calling Him King merely as a way to achieve our own throne and glory. Judas repaid the kindness of Jesus with treachery. And he only regretted his actions because of the consequences they brought. Not because of the deep pain they cause the Lord. As Christians, bursting with gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice, our hearts should grieve when we cause Him to grieve. And work hand in hand with the Holy Spirit to remove any thing in our lives that is a betrayal to the One who gave His life to save ours.
While Paul traveled to Macedonia, he left behind his beloved Timothy to take charge of the church at Ephesus. It was quite a daunting job indeed. Timothy was young and inexperienced. And the problems of the church included the teaching of false doctrines, misconduct, and apostasy. But Paul believed Timothy had what it took to get the job done, and the faith to see him through. And so Paul writes a letter to his beloved friend encouraging, guiding, and warning him to pay close attention to not only the conduct of the church, but more importantly his own. Lest the message of the gospel be discredited.
I think about the story of the Israelites and find myself shaking my head. I wonder how a people, who had repeatedly seen the mighty hand of God caring for them every step of the way, could so easily turn away from Him and His love. Then I think about my own life. And how many times I too have seen His hand at work and still grumbled against Him. How many blessings have I missed out on? Because instead of walking in trust and obedience, I gave in to fear and rebellion. And how many days, weeks, and months I have wasted wandering in the wilderness? Thankfully, we serve a loving, kind, and forgiving God. Even after the people rejected Him, God cared for them as His precious children, meeting their every need. We too are His precious children, and with each step of our spiritual walk He cares for us. And no matter how far we may wander, He is always there ready to joyfully welcome us back.
No matter how much it may appear that someone’s life is full of prosperity, it means nothing if they haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Because material things may fill our lives but can never fill our hearts. Nor can they provide the comfort and peace of resting in the eternal promises of Jesus. That’s why it’s so important we as Believers, are sharing the gospel. And not just because Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:19) But also out of kindness, compassion, and love. There are many who are hurting, empty, and lost in this world. Those desperately in search of hope and happiness. We have the great privilege of being able to share with them the “Good News” they are seeking. Everyone of us has a unique testimony to give. And you never know if yours is the one God will use to help one of His lost find their way home!
When someone we love hurts, our first instinct is to want to jump into action and fix the problem. Because their pain is our pain. And our world won’t be right again until theirs is. But what about those times when we can’t make things better? What do we do then? We do one of the greatest and most powerful things we can, we pray. There is great strength in prayer. For as James tells us, the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16) Petitioning God on behalf of another is faith in action. We’re laying the hurt of our loved ones at His feet, and asking Him to take action. And having full confidence that God will do what we can’t. Although it can be hard to, “let go and let God”, we have to remember that as much as we love the people we pray for, God loves them even more. And getting on our knees, praying that He will work powerfully and mightily in their lives, is how miracles happen!
Micah was a prophet called to deliver God’s message of judgement against Israel. Kindness and goodness were in short supply at the time. And corruption and abuse had become the practices of the day. Especially when it came to rich versus poor. Sound familiar? We serve a holy and righteous God. One who won’t forever turn a blind eye to wickedness. And the warning Micah gave Israel of God’s approaching consequences, he also gives to us. Practice justice or face the consequences. The Lord is just, and He expects the same from His people. Being just means in all His ways God is fair, impartial, dealing justice according to His righteousness. Neither can He be bought nor bribed. His Word is true, and His decisions final. (Duet. 32:4) And the justice He wields, He tempers with love and grace. And it’s that kind of justice He expects us pass on to others.
Calvary Chapel Pastor Accused Of Running Persecution Themed Boot Camp
Calvary Chapel pastor Chet Lowe is being accused of running a Christian boot camp in California where adult students were subjected to “simulated torture.” The students said the boot camp, Patmos: Reality Discipleship, pushed them beyond their breaking point. Students went on to say Patmos used firing squads and middle-of-the-night chases by “Muslims” to make them rely on God, leaving some traumatized and some questioning their faith. One said she left the camp in a wheelchair. Another said he was forced to survive alone outside in the snowy mountains for four days with only communion crackers and grape juice. Read more about the boot camp here.
Texas Law Requires Public Schools To Display “In God We Trust” Signs
A new Texas law requires schools to hang posters of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” in every building on their campuses, as long as the posters are donated. The bill, SB 797, was passed last year by the Texas legislature and states that campuses must display “a durable poster or framed copy of the United States national motto” in a “conspicuous place in each building of the school or institution.” It also requires that each poster have an American flag “centered under the motto” as well as the state flag of Texas. Read more about the law here.
Hundreds Of Churches Lost In Ukraine War
About 400 of Ukraine’s 2,300 Baptist churches have been lost during the war with Russia, according to Yaroslav Pyzh, president of the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary. Pyzh also said that as Western attention has been less focused on Ukraine, “donations are dropping down big time, not like we had two or three months ago. People are just tired of the war, but I see a tremendous decrease in donations.” Ukraine had the largest Baptist population in continental Europe before the war, with over 100,000 believers. Pyzh is focused on rebuilding, with Nehemiah as his guide. Read more about the losses here.
Micro Preemie With 50% Survival Rate Finally Goes Home
A baby girl born four months premature was finally cleared to go home last week after spending more than 500 days in the hospital. Tyler Robinson was forced to deliver her daughter Autumn after she suffered a uterine rupture at the end of 2021. Autumn was just 23 weeks old and weighed 1.1 pounds at the time of her birth. The preemie faced severe health complications, including an inconsistent heart rate and underdeveloped lungs, which caused a chronic lung disease known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Last week, Robinson was finally able to take her daughter home after spending 524 days in the hospital. Read more about this little miracle here.