Loving People equals Loving God

Anyone can say, “I love God,” yet have hatred toward another believer.  This makes him a phoney, because if you don’t love a brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? For He has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.
1 John 4:20-21

Sometimes, in life, we can have people around us that really test our patience.   They aren’t the nicest of people, usually have a chip on their shoulder, and blame everyone around them for their issues in life.   Sometimes they  can bring out the worst in us.  Some people are really hard to like, let alone love.

I personally found this verse challenging, because  I have somebody in my life that I really struggle with.   I prefer to not be around them, this person is very abrupt, rude and impatient. She’s not nice to be around.

Funnily enough, sometimes, we ourselves are really hard to like, let alone love.   We don’t always respond well to situations, and we too  can be misunderstood and judged for our words and our actions.   We are not perfect.   The bible talks about our need to remove the log from our own eye before trying to remove the speck from someone else’s.

Loving people we don’t necessary like all that much is difficult, but the pain that we ourselves go through with dealing with these difficult people is nothing compared to the pain and anguish Jesus felt and experienced the day he was taken captive and brutally beaten and whipped. He was forced to carry his own cross up to Calvary, where they nailed his hands and feet to the cross.   He hung from a cross naked, knowing that His Fathers will for His life was to die so that mankind could live on.

If Jesus can love me despite my sinful nature, I need to die to self  and show that same mercy and grace to the person in my life in whom I struggle with.    I have wrestled with 1 John 4:20-21  and I admit that I really struggle to ‘love’ this person, but Jesus died for me, as well as for her.   I decided to pray that God would help me love her, because I want to honour God with my obedience to His word and desire for my life.  Maybe I’ll have to fake it for a bit, but I know that God will help me as I try to respond to her better.

I hear the Lord saying

I hear the Lord saying, 
“I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life.  I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.  So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before.  Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.  Just come with me!”   
Psalm 32:8-9 TPT

Do you like adventures?

This is one of my favourite bible verses of all time.   It’s a promise – from God to me.  Actually, a promise from God to all of us.   All we are asked to do is hold on and go.

To know that God wants to walk with me and direct my feet is so loving and kind.  I want to follow His lead and find out where he is directing  me.

I love love love how God says in this verse, ‘Don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before.  Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.  Just come along!”  It is an invitation to an amazing adventure.   An adventure where you are trusting God.  Living life the way he wants us to live.

Remember in Him, our burden is light, when we hold on and walk with Him.

 

Love like Jesus loves

“For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.””
‭‭John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭TPT‬‬

It’s not always easy loving people.  Some are easy to love, but as we know, there are some people in our lives where it is incredibly difficult to love.   Whenever I come across one of these prickly people, I find myself asking Jesus to help me love the person in question.  Challenge accepted!!

Sometimes I need all the help in the world to love some people.

Loving people is an important part of our Christian walk.  If we want to bring Jesus into the world of the people around us – we must show ourselves to be loving and kind.   This doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to be treated badly.  It means that we become like Jesus.   How would Jesus love these people?

There will always be people who reject us, but we need to let offence slip off us like the water on a ducks back.    Keep moving forward.  Don’t get caught up in the nonsense or the politics of the day.   Be smart, keep it simple and just love people for where they are at.

Keep in mind, we are the only bible some of these people we come in contact with might ever read.   Jesus first.  Me second.

Walk with me Jesus

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30. (MSG)

I think I have inherited my mums worry wart tendencies.   I hate being a worrier, but late at night when the house is still and everyone is fast asleep, I find that I am wide awake worrying about all the things in life that I personally have no control over .   I drive myself crazy.   Literally!

We aren’t supposed to live our lives worrying though.   Jesus wants to walk by our side and take care of us.   He already did the most amazing thing for us.  We are already redeemed through His blood, but we have to learn what it is to live in the understanding of what HE has already done for us.

Every single one of us want to live freely and lightly.   Not one of us want to live under a shadow of anxiety, or live our lives through a filter of anxiety.   We need to hand our burdens over to Jesus who has already paid the price for us, and remember what that actually means.  Remember that within the three days of Jesus dying for us – He went down to Hell and took the power away from the devil.   The devil has no power over us UNLESS we give him the power.   He will try every trick in the book, but we have to keep reminding him of his future.

Funnily enough, it doesn’t take long to fall asleep when I kick the devil out of my room in Jesus name.   The worry subsides and I fall asleep.

The Eye of the Storm

Matthew 14 is the famous loaves and fishes story, but have you ever read the story from verse 1 of chapter 14?

It is here that we find out that John the Baptist had been imprisoned. Herod wanted to kill him, but he thought there would be an uprise in the people if he had John killed because the people believed that John was a Prophet.  Then Herrod was put in a position where he had promised the daughter of Herrodis, that he would give her anything she wanted after she danced for him at his party.

Her request was that the King give her John the Baptists head on a platter!  And so, to save face in front of his guests, he obliged and had John the Baptist killed as the girl requested.

The disciples took care of John’s body and then went and told Jesus.

In Verse 13, it says, “When Jesus heard this, He went away from there privately by boat to an isolated place. But when the crowds heard, they followed Him on foot from their towns. As Jesus came ashore, He saw a large crowd and felt compassion for them and healed the sick.”

Jesus purposely left the crowds to have some time on his own.  I imagine he would have felt as though he was in the eye of the storm.  John was his cousin, they grew up together, John was his friend and confidant, probably the one person who Jesus felt closest too, and now John was dead.  The eye of the storm is the most difficult place to be.   It’s the place where our emotions rage in the middle of our situation.

The passage goes on to say that the crowds followed Him.  They wanted to hear more of Jesus’ stories, and so they sought him out and followed Him.  Jesus obviously wanted time out to grieve his friend,  BUT the people needed him, and He knew what His purpose was.  He loved John, but He was here to do something really big.  Jesus had to put his sadness into perspective.  Yes, He was sad about John’s death, but He knew he was sent to earth for a period of time to do something amazing for the people.  For Jesus – it was always about the people!

So, Jesus spent His time with the people, and then he realised that it was getting late.  He cared for the people, and considered they might be hungry.  He speaks to the disciples about his concern for the people, and then a young boy comes forward with his bread and two fish.  There was more than 5000 people.

We all have something going on in our lives, but we are called to a greater cause. Like Jesus, we are called to a cause that promotes the kingdom of God, we are to be the salt in a world that is falling apart.    No one is perfect, no one has perfect situations, but God will use us where we are when we listen to Him and see His love for the people in our lives and around us.

This chapter shows us that even when we are in the eye of the storm, we need to pray and continue to what we can for others around us.  God is our helper and our provider.  He will walk us through the storm, but our eyes need to be be on Him.

Matthew 14:22-26.

A Grateful Heart

“Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭1 THESSALONIANS‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭AMP‬‬

The Will of God for our lives is that we are required to be ‘thankful’ in EVERY situation we find ourselves, and to continue to give thanks no matter our circumstances.

Do you ever read the bible and say, ‘Far Out! My situation is so big and so ugly right now, I don’t know how to be thankful at this moment?’ 

I think we wouldn’t be human if we found being thankful easy.  Life isn’t easy at times, BUT when we have faith and put our trust in God, we know that our God is going to help us get through our situation.  He walks beside us!  He is going to turn our situation into a testimony for good – even when we don’t understand how this might happen.   All we need is a little faith that God will walk through our situations with us.

The verse says we are to rejoice always AND delight in our faith.  Never stop praying –  Persist even when we feel like our situation is too big for us.   Never underestimate God’s love for us.     Having faith in God, reminds us that He is bigger than us, and He is the one who is going to work it all out for us.

 

Be Still and Know that I am God

“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”
‭‭PSALM‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

One of my most favourite things to do in my life is to go down to the beach and sit by the waters edge and look out towards the horizon.  I love to watch and listen to the waves build and crash onto the shore line.   It brings peace to my soul.  There is something incredibly calming about being at the beach.

Maybe watching the surf do its thing reminds me that there is an amazing creator of this picturesque universe  –  there is someone bigger than ourselves.  I love the beach for so many reasons, but most of all, because it reminds me every single time I go there that God is the creator of the universe, and BOY He did an amazing job.

The beach is a fantastic place to go to, to be still and acknowledge Gods amazing work, but to also praise and worship Him for who He is.

 

 

Jumping out of the Boat

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:25-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am the kind of person who struggles with a bit of anxiety, when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone.  It takes me time to contemplate, mull over, and talk myself into doing things that frighten me.

I really admire Peter.  He seemed to have this Aussie ‘give it a go’ kind of attitude.    I imagine him to be a go-getter.  Someone with what we like to call gumption or guts to do things that most people struggle with. Peter completely trusted Jesus.

The first step is always the hardest step.   Matthew says that ‘Peter got down out of the boat’.  I picture him bravely stepping out of the boat and heading over to where Jesus was standing.  If it was me, I would have had to summon up the courage to get out of the boat, and then literally chucked myself over the edge before I chickened out of it.

I will say though that once I have taken the first step, it seems like the pieces of the puzzle come together and then off I go.  I might start with wobbly courage, but as I go along, the confidence grows and I learn to trust that it will all work out.

I get the impression that Peter confidently got out of the boat, he was probably excited, his adrenalin was running, and so once he was at the water he simply stepped out.  His eyes locked in on Jesus.   There was no sign of  wobbly courage, but when the wind blew, he realised he was walking on water, and through fear, he became unsteady, and his faith wobbled.

We are like Peter in so many ways.   How often does fear knock us off our faith perch?   I’m not sure how strong that wind was that day, but it was enough for Peter to notice it, and instead of keeping his eyes locked in on Jesus, he allowed the distraction to take his gaze off Jesus, and of course he began to sink.

I like the concept of wobbly courage because it means I am actively looking at God for direction.  My faith might wobble at times, but when I look back into the eyes of love and acceptance, I am  sure everything is going to be okay again.

 

Strength and Dignity

Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; And she smiles at the future [knowing that she and her family are prepared].”
‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭31:25‬ ‭AMP‬‬

I am surrounded by strong, kind and honourable women.   Women who I really admire and look up too.    I value these women in my life.   For many of these women, their smile hides their troubles – They stand tall despite their circumstances.   What I love most is that their trust is in God, and their joy is in Him.    They walk to the beat of God’s drum, and choose to look UP rather than at their circumstances.

It is through friendship that I know their circumstances.

‘Strength and dignity are her clothing…’

The thing with clothing is that we put on our clothing.   We choose our clothing, and we dress ourselves with our choices.   What do we clothe ourselves with?   Words can build us up, or they can break us down.    The choice is ours really. Our identity needs to be in Who God says we are.

It is through strength and dignity that we are strong and secure.    This brings us joy, because we don’t question our worth, our identity, or whose we are.     It is easy to smile at the future when our complete trust is in God, Our Father in Heaven.

So as we get dressed for our day, what words are we going to dress ourselves with?  What words are we going to speak over our lives?    Today I give my day to God, and I choose to believe His words over my life.  It’s going to be a great day.   Let’s go!!

Where is my hope?

                     You are my refuge and my shield, I have put my hope in your word.
                                                                           Psalm 119:114

Right at this minute – This is my verse.   I say this because I had what I like to call a catastrophic day.  I don’t often have catastrophic days, but today was for me a very upsetting day.   We all have them from time to time, but as I was scrolling through instagram, feeling rather blue and blah about my closest friend deciding to throw away our friendship, this verse literally grabbed my attention.

Right now, I don’t know if the friendship in question will ever be okay again, but my refuge and shield is in Jesus.   In His word He has said, He will never forsake us.   In His word He promises to be our Comforter.    Right now I need a comforter….and while I feel sad about a lost friendship, I know that Jesus is my refuge and shield.   He will help me get through this time.    Losing a close friend is hard and will take time to get used to her absence from my life, but my eyes need to be on Jesus.   For it is He who will comfort and look after me.

To despair means ‘the absence of hope’.    When we put our hope in God’s truth, it is impossible to despair.   Right now, I choose to continually put my hope in God.   I pray for my friend, and let her go.