Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. – Deuteronomy 7:9
How precious is your unfailing love, O God! – Psalm 36:7
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. – Psalm 86:5
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. – Psalm 86:15
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever. – Psalm 136:26
Love that Endures
From: Our Daily Journey
Nearly 40 percent of singles in a 2013 study described feeling isolated in their churches. One researcher concluded, “[Singles] . . . feel invisible and think about leaving.” That statistic doesn’t surprise me. As a single person, I’ve experienced feelings of isolation in churches composed primarily of couples who socialize primarily with other couples. I’ve also experienced awkward silences when I reveal I’m not dating, married, or even actively seeking a spouse.
It can be easy for churches to embrace mainstream culture’s tendency to idolize romance while seeing friendships and community as optional, superficial, and non-committal. In that worldview, singles can be excluded from being known and loved at a deep level, while couples can sometimes enter marriage with unrealistic expectations.
The apostle Paul described the church, not as a collection of couples and singles, but as an interdependent body meant to share joy and suffering together (1 Corinthians 12:25-26), where each person is uniquely gifted and needed for the good of the whole (1 Corinthians 12:7,21-22). And when Paul described the “way of life that is best of all” (1 Corinthians 12:31), he didn’t describe marriage but the love the community of faith is called to embody (1 Corinthians 13:12-13), a love that “never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
When believers deepen their experience of community and unity through the Spirit, we grow into a love deeper than our own individual needs, one where we’re invited into a calling much bigger than ourselves (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). And we also grow in our witness to the transforming power of Jesus’ love, the love that will last forever (1 Corinthians 13:13).
[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]
When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son. —Galatians 4:4
Why is being on time so challenging for some of us? Even when we start early, something inevitably gets in our way to make us late.
But here’s the good news: God is always on time! Speaking of the arrival of Jesus, Paul said, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4). The long-awaited, promised Savior came at just the right time.
Jesus’ arrival during the Roman Empire’s Pax Romana (the peace of Rome) was perfect timing. The known world was united by one language of commerce. A network of global trade routes provided open access to the whole world. All of this guaranteed that the gospel could move rapidly in one tongue. No visas. No impenetrable borders. Only unhindered access to help spread the news of the Savior whose crucifixion fulfilled the prophecy of the Lamb who would be slain for our sins (Isa. 53:1-12). All in God’s perfect timing!
All of this should remind us that the Lord knows what time is best for us as well. If you’re waiting for answered prayer or the fulfillment of one of His promises, don’t give up. If you think He has forgotten you, think again. When the fullness of time is right for you, He’ll show up—and you’ll be amazed by His brilliant timing!
Not ours to know the reason why
Unanswered is our prayer,
But ours to wait for God’s own time
To lift the cross we bear. —Anon.
God’s timing is always perfect.
The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Sanctification requires our coming to the place of death, but many of us spend so much time there that we become morbid. There is always a tremendous battle before sanctification is realized— something within us pushing with resentment against the demands of Christ. When the Holy Spirit begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle starts immediately. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…his own life…he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
In the process of sanctification, the Spirit of God will strip me down until there is nothing left but myself, and that is the place of death. Am I willing to be myself and nothing more? Am I willing to have no friends, no father, no brother, and no self-interest— simply to be ready for death? That is the condition required for sanctification. No wonder Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us falter. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ on this point. We say, “But this is so strict. Surely He does not require that of me.” Our Lord is strict, and He does require that of us.
Am I willing to reduce myself down to simply “me”? Am I determined enough to strip myself of all that my friends think of me, and all that I think of myself? Am I willing and determined to hand over my simple naked self to God? Once I am, He will immediately sanctify me completely, and my life will be free from being determined and persistent toward anything except God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
When I pray, “Lord, show me what sanctification means for me,” He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in me— it is Himself in me (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).
|July 20, 2018
Trying Not to Crash and Burn
“But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.” Psalm 31:14-15 (NLT)
“Mom, quick … look at that lady!” My 14-year-old son shouted as we headed down the interstate on an errand-running Thursday afternoon. “She should not be doing that,” he added for emphasis.
I glanced over at the car next to us, expecting to see someone without her hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions like my by-the-rulebook-boy does when he’s training behind the wheel. Instead, I nearly ran off the road while gawking at what my Driver’s Ed patrolman had spotted.
Next to us was a woman cradling her cell phone on her right shoulder, holding an open fast-food salad container in her left hand, ripping open a salad dressing packet with her teeth and her right hand … all while steering her car with her knees!
What in the world!? My boys and I thought surely if she kept up this multitasking method of driving, she was going to cause a crash.
I would NEVER attempt to do all of that when I drive, I smugly thought to myself. Entirely too dangerous and probably against the law. Yep, when it comes to being a safe-driving expert, the apple doesn’t fall far from the “Honey-you-didn’t-use-your-blinker-back-there” maternal tree.
It wasn’t until later that night it hit me. Sure, I might not dangerously multitask when driving, thereby risking collision. But in my day-to-day life? In my schedule? In my “sure-I-can-take-on-one-more-responsibility-so-everyone-will-like-me” way? I sometimes dangerously multitask to the point I am heading for a crash.
Taking on too many responsibilities, no matter how “good” they might appear to be, can often render us ineffective for service to God. Yet, He knows our limits. He understands our capacities. He is willing, if we’ll ask Him, to help us navigate the busyness and activity that often trips us up.
On one of my so-busy-I-couldn’t-breathe days, I opened my Bible and read today’s key verse: “But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly” (Psalm 31:14-15).
While I’m sure the psalmist David was talking about actual physical enemies — men who could chase, catch and ultimately hurt you — I realized that day my enemy was busyness. Too many activities and responsibilities outside my four walls were about to do me in. They chased me, cornered me and worst of all, were about to go in for the kill.
Thankfully, God can rescue us from the barren life of busyness. He invites us to hold our too-full plates up to Him, allowing Him to scrape off all the activities and responsibilities. Then, He’ll place only the items HE longs for us to possess back on our plates.
When this happens, we can create space in our calendar to retreat, places of sweet respite in our days where we connect with God. Times when we slow down and sit still to listen and learn from the Creator of time itself.
So, how about it friend? Let’s allow God to scrape off our distractions before we crash and burn!
Dear Lord, forgive me for allowing busyness to overtake my life — crowding out others and worst of all You. Help me as I purpose to place only those items on my plate that You long for me to have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.