Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).
Are there people in your life, too, who knowingly or not, cause contention? When I choose to admit it, those people and uncomfortable situations are so often what send me to the Lord in prayer. Often times I have prayed for them to change when God shows me that it is I who need to change too.
Isn’t this exactly what God wants? A change in my heart? When Jesus dealt with the people who despised Him so much that they took satisfaction in the brutal suffering that He endured until death, He looked at them with love, forgiveness, and understanding, realizing that they didn’t really know what they were doing.
Oh, to have that much love in my heart! Maybe the table He is preparing before me in the presence of my enemies is really my own heart.
Now God saw all that He had made, and indeed, it was very good! Thus the heavens and the earth were entirely completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested (Gen 1:31-2:2).
Although no work by God can be called small or insignificant, the creation of the heavens and earth “in all their vast array” had to be one monumental task. What do you do after you complete an immense work? If I am satisfied with my effort, after a well-deserved sigh, I sit down, put my feet up, and rest—mission accomplished, satisfied that it is good, relax and peacefully rest.
THE most monumental task was accomplished by God through His Son. Let’s look at what Jesus did as noted in Hebrews:
After he had provided a cleansing from sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Highest Majesty.
His mission was accomplished. It was finished, done, totally complete.
Through our faith in the work of the Son, our purification from sin is finished, done, entirely complete. We need not, nor can’t, add one thing more. It is more than enough. We can rest assured that it is very good.
Greater love has no man that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
We often hear bout heroic men who throw themselves on mines or grenades in order to save their brothers. Although most of us are not faced with situations that require a life-terminating decision, we can give our lives for others in other ways. Loving parents come to mind as they often sacrifice materially, and sometimes dreams and ambitions, for the greater good of their children.
Of course, the greatest love was shown by Christ Jesus when He allowed Himself to be unjustly accused, physically put to death, and worst of all, painfully separated from the Father as He bore the sins of both His friends and enemies as the perfect sacrifice of atonement. The Good Shepard gave His life for His sheep.
By this we know what love is.
Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).
Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.
The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.
Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.
Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.
Thanks to Vicki for suggesting practical applications
For when I preach the gospel I cannot boast since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel (1 Corin 9:16).
I really, really dislike the feeling of being “obligated” to do things. If I do something, or give something, or say something, I would like it to be from the heart, not because of guilt or duty. The flip side is also true. If something is good, I really, really enjoy sharing it, especially with those I love.
When I am walking closely with the Lord, it’s impossible to keep quiet about God’s activity in my life. The word “compelled” in this verse tells us that Paul’s heart was so full of joy and the understanding of the full meaning of the gospel that it spilled out of him.
In the words of Jesus, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Let my heart be filled with your Spirit, Lord, so that no bitterness, but only love , flows out.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (I Cor 13:4-8a).
Today’s discussion is not exactly about relationships; it is about prayer. It has been said that in order to communicate with God effectively, we need to discipline our mind. I know that personally I like to start with a prayer of thanks, but often I end up with random thoughts a thousand miles away. My question today is, “How do we know whether or not a thought comes from God.”
This is why I chose Corinthians 13 as the verse. God is love. Any communication that comes from Him follows the principles outlined in these verses. If our thoughts are selfish, revengeful or even prideful, they did not come from the Father.
We can certainly be honest with God about our feelings, but His answer once we leave our “secret place” (Matt 6:6) will never direct us toward any idea or action but love.
These are just beginning thoughts on understanding God through prayer, but it seems that time and time again, the right answer to most questions is love.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22:37-40).
Did you know that there are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally and may carry criminal penalties? And that is just federal. As we are sitting here right this minute, we may be unknowingly breaking some kind of law or code.
Following Jesus is so much simpler, not necessarily easy, but definitely less complicated. In fact, if everyone followed the two laws outlined by Jesus, we would not need any other law. With the love in our hearts from God (the source of all love), we can turn that toward others. If we truly loved others we would never do anything that would be detrimental or harm them.
Simple, but not easy. Over and over our human nature takes the lead. Even Paul, one of the people throughout history who was most dedicated to the Lord, Jesus Christ said, “ I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Visualizing life governed by the greatest commandment gives us a little glimpse of one little facet of eternity. Law–less, because we will all be governed by perfect love.