Catching Up: Nov 14-27

Durruck

Pirate!
I've fallen a little behind on posting these, so today you get a BIG pile of them. Instead of flooding the top of the forums (Today's Popular Threads), I'm going to megapost it all into one. Sorry for anyone that doesn't like the format, but I figure it causes less interruptions in the long-run.

So without further ado, here we go:

2007/11/14
We Serve God By Serving Others
By Jon Walker

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIV)

Many people have the misconception that being “called” by God is something only missionaries, pastors, nuns, and other church leaders experience. But the Bible says everyone is called to serve God by serving others.

We are not saved by serving, but we are saved for serving. The Apostle Paul gives three insights related to this:

First, the basis for serving others is salvation. Paul says, “You were called to be free.” You cannot serve God until you’ve been set free by Jesus. It’s the prerequisite for serving.

Until you experience the transforming power of God’s grace in your life, you’re too enslaved by your own hurts, habits, and hang-ups to think much about others.

Without the freedom of forgiveness, you’ll end up serving for the wrong reasons: trying to earn the approval of others, trying to run away from your pain, trying to remedy your guilt, trying to impress God. Service motivated by these illegitimate reasons is bound to leave you burned out and ­bitter in the end.

Second, the barrier to serving others is selfishness. Paul warns, “Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.” The No. 1 reason we don’t have the time or energy to serve others is that we’re preoccupied with our own agendas, dreams, and pleasures.

Only a small minority of people use their lives to serve others, but Jesus said, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.” (Mark 8:35 LB)

Third, the motive for serving is love. Paul says, “Serve one another in love.” This is an important key to building community: 1 Corinthians 13:3 records, “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (MSG)

God is far more interested in why you serve others than in how well you serve them. He’s always looking at your heart, serving willingly and eagerly out of love for Jesus and gratitude for all he’s done for you.

You are most like Jesus when you’re serving others. After washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus said, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14–15 NLT)

What now?

· How can I help? – Consider your response to this Scripture verse: “Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’” (Romans 15:2 MSG)

· Who will you serve this week? – Ask God to bring to mind someone you should serve this week, and ask him what you should do for that person. Then do it!

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/15
Accept One Another
By Jon Walker

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7 NIV)

Jesus loves us even at our worst, demonstrating “his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

He accepts us among his beloved children, despite our messy lives, impure motives, and irritating attitudes. (Ephesians 1:6) His acceptance of us doesn’t condone any sin, rather it recognizes we are God’s workmanship, each of us a uniquely shaped child of God created for a specific purpose. (Ephesians 2:10)

One of the ways we reflect God’s love is to accept each other just as Jesus accepts us. This brings glory to God. (Romans 5:7)

Jesus was not afraid to be friends with non-believers, looking past the sin in their lives to see who God created them to be. (Luke 19:7) He understood that accepting the person is not the same thing as accepting their sins. As the old saying goes, “Love the sinner, not the sin.”

Jesus was ridiculed for being a friend to sinners. He accepted prostitutes, lepers, publicans, and the poor. He believed the kingdom of heaven was available to any who would turn to him.

When Jesus called Matthew to be a disciple, the tax-collector got a bunch of his tax-collecting friends together for a large banquet with Jesus. (Luke 5:30) Jesus jolted the religious culture by hanging out with a group of people who were stereotyped as spiritually bankrupt.

Some religious leaders approached Jesus’ disciples to ask why their master was associating with people they judged should be outcast – people who should not be accepted. Jesus responded to their inquiry by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Luke 5:31 NIV)

Like a doctor accepts a patient, regardless of the disease, Jesus accepts – he loves – us in our present condition and, like a doctor, his intent is to heal us of our sin.

In the story of the prodigal, we find Jesus talking again about this counter-cultural acceptance. (Luke 15) The father in the story unconditionally accepted his son back into the family. He embraced his son, despite what he’d done and where he’d been. Isn’t that what we all want from Jesus? Isn’t that how we’re all greeted by him?

What now?

· No matter where you are, Jesus meets you there – Ask God to help you as you let this truth drench your being: You are accepted by God. Some of us find it hard to accept others because we reject ourselves. (Pray about the meaning of this statement and see what God reveals to you.)

· Jesus looks at you with the eyes of love – Jesus knows everything you’ve ever done, everything you’ve ever said, everything you’ve ever thought – or ever will do, say, and think – and yet he still loves and accepts you. That doesn’t mean he condones your sins, but it does mean that, in his acceptance of you, he forgives you of your sins and he’s actively working within you to transform you into someone who is holy and Christ-like.

· No matter where they are, Jesus meets them there – and so should we. Ask God to help you embrace this truth: Other people are accepted by God too, just as much as you are. Again, this does not mean God, or you, condones their sins; rather, you’re on a mission to lead them to the Great Physician, who will heal them of their sins.

· Jesus looks at them with the eyes of love – Jesus knows everything they’ve ever done, said, and thought, yet he still loves them. Jesus forgives them of their sins and he’s actively working bring them home to him. Will you join Jesus in his work?

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/16
A Family of God’s People
By Jon Walker

Love your brothers and sisters in God’s family. (1 Peter 2:17b NCV)

We long to belong.

All believers “belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (Ephesians2:19 LB). This means church is not something we go to – rather it’s something we belong to – a family of God’s people. It’s more than an organization, more than an institution, even more than a group of like-minded people.

We are a family forged in the fires of God’s love, and we are to “be devoted to each other like a loving family” (Romans 12:10a GW). We are to love one another like brothers and sisters. This sense of family togetherness allows us to create authentic Christian community – where we are accepted, supported, and challenged to fully live out the purposes of our lives. We belong, and we help others believe they belong.

Family is synonymous with a deep, unwavering commitment to support one another, no matter how rough it may get. You do things for family that you wouldn’t do for anyone else – and you make allowances for family members that you might not make for anyone else.

For many of us, this image of family fails because we’ve never really been in a loving, wholesome family. We’ve only seen broken models, shattered relationships, and hurting hearts. The good news is that God wants to provide you with the very things you’ve longed for in a family, and he can do that in Christian community.

As we learn to love one another, our congregations can create the sense of family necessary to trust one another, accept one another, and serve one another. We learn the power of unconditional love.

Our congregations are meant to be Holy Spirit-led laboratories for learning to love one another deeply and earnestly (1Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22).

What now?

* Learn to develop healthy relationships – You may have learned unhealthy methods of relating in your “family of origin,” but in a community of believers there will be models of good relationships (and, frankly, models of the bad too – but seek out and learn from the godly ones). This “journey in community” will teach you the honesty, vulnerability, effort, and forgiveness it takes to keep relationships vibrant, transparent, and healthy.

* Learn to develop godly character – Godly character is often caught rather than taught, and in Christian community you’re likely to get a front-row seat to the character traits of others – as they will get a front-row seat to yours! Look for where you see maturity modeled, so you can learn – or catch – those traits.

* Learn the importance of biblical values – Within your congregational family, you are able to measure whether your values align with the standards of the Bible and mature, doctrinally-correct Christian beliefs: “One generation makes known your faithfulness to the next.” (Isaiah 38:19 LB).

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/19
Fellowship Without Forgiveness: Impossible
By Jon Walker

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

Fellowship without forgiveness is impossible.

As believers, we’re called “to settle our relationships with each other.” (2 Corinthians 5:18 MSG) We need to consistently forgive others and receive forgiveness from others, or we’ll “give up in despair.” (2 Corinthians 2:7 CEV)

Whenever we’re hurt by someone, we have a choice to make: Will we focus on retaliation or resolution?

The Bible speaks candidly about settling the score: “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV)

In God’s economy, it’s not enough to say we won’t seek revenge; we’re to press into the very heart of forgiveness, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave us. (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

The Bible is very clear that forgiveness is not optional for the Christ-follower. God sets this high standard because he knows how much is at stake in your life: Bitterness and unforgiveness are a cancer that eventually will destroy you from the inside out. Forgiveness is the scalpel that removes the tumor.

This doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to immediately forgive and be done with it. As you become more and more Christ-like, that will become possible, but for now you may have to work at forgiving someone who has hurt you in a particularly painful way. In other words, you may forgive this person but soon begin to feel a root of unforgiveness growing in your heart.

When this occurs, you can go to King Jesus and ask him to help you with this cycle. He will help you release the offender, and the Holy Spirit will guide you in your effort.

A major point here is that forgiveness is a choice you can make. The power of God, working within you, means you no longer have to remain a slave to unforgiveness or bitterness.

In Colossians, the Apostle Paul provides the basis and motivation for forgiveness: “You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13 NLT, italics added). When we remember the price Jesus paid to forgive us, how can we not forgive? (Romans 5:8)

What now?

· When you forgive, you’re not pretending it didn’t hurt – Forgiveness means you no longer hold the offense against the offender. It means you’ve pardoned the debt, and you’ve intentionally chosen to release the one who hurt you. We’re to love deeply, because “love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

· Stop right now and talk to God – Have an honest conversation with God about someone you need to forgive. Our heavenly Father knows that it’s not easy to let go of our hurts, but he will give you the grace to forgive.

· Be honest with God – Cry out to God; tell him exactly how you feel. He won’t be surprised or upset by your anger, hurt, insecurity, or bitterness.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/20
Settling Our Relationships
By Jon Walker

Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. (2 Corinthians 2:7 NIV)

We just discussed this truth: When we’re hurt by someone, we have a choice to make; will we move toward retaliation or resolution?

The Bible says we’re to settle our relationships with each other, consistently forgiving others and receiving forgiveness from others. (2 Corinthians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 2:7)

The power of God – working within us – means we’re no longer slaves to unforgiveness or bitterness. We can ask God to help us release any offender and find the courage to ask for forgiveness.

What now?

· Talk to God before talking to the person – Whether you have been offended or you are the offender, talk to God about the situation and receive his insight and direction. Center yourself on God and allow him to plant within you a deep, deep acceptance that all things really do work together for those who believe in his Father’s heart and in his incorruptible sovereignty.

· Ventilate vertically – Like David in the Psalms, use prayer to vent your frustration upward, rather than venting around you. If you’ve been offended, cry out to God, telling him exactly how you feel. He won’t be surprised or upset by your anger, hurt, insecurity, or bitterness.

· Confess your part of the conflict – In order to restore a relationship, begin by confessing any sins of your own that contributed to the broken relationship. Jesus says this will help you see things more clearly: “First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5 NLT)

· Always take the initiative – It doesn’t matter whether we’re the offender or the offended, Jesus told us to make the first move: “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (Matthew 5:23-24 MSG)

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/21
The Middle of the Mess
By Jon Walker

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” (James 1:2-4, NLT)

One Thanksgiving I woke up in a strange hospital in a distant city. On holiday, I was moments away from carving into a turkey, but groggily realized I’d been the turkey carved that day as my gallbladder was removed during emergency surgery.

Lying in the hospital, I reflected on how rough the year had been. In just short of 12 months, I had a kidney stone removed, a hernia repaired, an operation on my writing hand, my gallbladder sliced out (This is what happens when your mileage exceeds 40 and the warranty runs out on your original parts – Ha!).

And more painfully, my mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and we began to care for her.

Yet, I also reflected on the Truth that the year had, perhaps, been the greatest of my life. I’d learned that because Christ is in me, he’s also in the middle of the mess.

And I’d learned that the mess is there to show me where I was hanging my hope. It got me to seriously ask, “Is my hope based solely on God’s grace? Or am I basing it on something else, something less than God?”

If our hope is based on nothing more than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, then being in a mess is an opportunity for God show us how he works in our lives; and the struggles we face can provoke us into greater belief and firmer faith.

These words are not meant to encourage a Pollyanna-type faith, where we pretend everything is okay, when it’s not. Life hurts; life is hard, but this truth reminds us that our true life is in Christ. With the Holy Spirit empowering us, trouble can become an opportunity to develop joy; even to experience joy: “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:3, NLT)

The issue isn’t whether God does what we ask, when we ask, in the way we ask. Rather, it means receiving God’s grace each day and showing how he works through any and all circumstances. Oswald Chambers wrote, “We are not here to prove God answers prayers; we are here to be living monuments of God’s grace.”

So What?

· Embrace the mess – Problems show us where we’re hanging our hope. Ask God to show you where you hung your hopes, and if they’re on anything other than God (such as a paycheck, a circumstance, a job, a relationship), then as God to gently compel and strengthen you to place your hopes fully in him.

· Don’t avoid the mess - Avoiding the mess – or having a bad attitude about your situation – may actually drive you away from God’s plan. Avoidance only enables you to keep your hopes hung on something other than a deep, intimate relationship with the Creator.

· God in the driver seat – If you believed that your current circumstances or problems were part of God’s big-picture, redemptive plan, how would you behave differently? (Read through the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis)

· Help me, Lord – Pray, ask God to be your strength as he guides you to endure whatever problems you’re facing. Thank him for standing with you in your circumstances.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/22
The Hard Work of Getting Along
By Jon Walker

“Let us agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.” Romans 14:19a (Msg)

As a devotional community of purpose, we have many international readers, which is why I’ll explain that in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 22. It is a day of thanking God for his provision. May we all use this week as a time of remembrance of God’s grace in our lives and to take the time to thank God for the many blessings he’s given us (including the many relatives who will visit this weekend! LOL). May God bless and anoint your week – jw.

If you have children, you’ll know exactly what I mean: Some days you look into their faces, and you see the attitudes of angels; on other days you want to scream, “Why can’t you just get along!” as they get into a cyclical argument about who moved a toy 1/32nd of an inch.

Sometimes these opposite attitudes shift back and forth six times in five minutes!

But let me ask you this: Do you think God ever looks at us – we adults; believers in community together – and he sighs, saying, “Why can’t my children just get along?’”

There are dozens of reasons we don’t get along with each other with the sin of pride right at the top of the list. But I think another huge reason we fail to live in authentic, consistent, committed, Christian community is because it’s too hard.

It requires real effort to work through our differences, to remain transparent and honest, to confront and to pay close attention to each other. Frankly, it’s easier to keep relationships superficial; to ‘demonize’ one another when we don’t agree; to cut and run at the first sign of trouble rather than commit to each other.

Yet, God placed within us a need for ‘stick-with-it’ commitments; his commitment to us is unbreakable, and he wants to see us extend the same commitment to each other (2 Cor. 8:5). But this kind of commitment takes time; something that has become far too scarce in our lives today (and that is a choice).

God knows we will live in a healthy, Christian community if we will commit to living our lives together beyond our weekly meetings, if we will make each other a priority - sharing our lives over coffee, after work, at the ballpark, in the hospital.

The only way for us to become a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24) is when we focus on the quality of our relationships, not mere quantity or mere acquaintances.

“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” (James 3:18, Msg, Emphasis mine)

So what?

· Love no matter what – How can you plan to help others at all times (not just when it’s convenient? Proverbs 17:17) ~~ How can you develop a strategy for loving others at their worst, not just when they seem loveable? (Romans 5:8).

· Show up – The most basic behavior of commitment is simply showing up. ‘If you care, you’ll be there.’ You may be surprised that your mere presence is a source of encouragement (Hebrews 10:25).

· Intentional Commitments – Other than your spouse, have you ever told someone else, “I will always be there for you.” This week established an intentional commitment with another believer. Approach the Spirit’s choice, and bless that person by saying, “I want to grow close to you as a friend.”

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/23
God Meant It for Good
By Jon Walker

“… You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result …” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

May this be a time of Thanksgiving for you – Praise God that he makes “all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, HCSB)

The life of Joseph was anything but peaceful. It was filled with youthful folly, broken dreams, and the mean-spirited actions of others. Yet he remained a man remarkable for his lack of bitterness or regret, always seeing God as the “Great Engineer” behind even the worst of circumstances.

In a final confrontation with his brothers, he graciously noted, “You meant it for bad; God meant it for good.”

The theology packed in that statement is astounding. ‘God meant it for good means --

You can accept the past -- No sin, no action, no choice on your part is too big for God to handle – or too big to be worked for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His name. Just ask Joseph; Better yet, ask his fearful and famished brothers, who were forced to rely on him for survival.

You can embrace the present -- There’s no need to play the ‘what if’ game. The past is gone, and no energy you expend will ever change it. The future is in God's omnipotent hands, so you’re free to focus on the present. Your job is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, trusting Him to forgive the past and transform the future. Martyred missionary Jim Eliot once wrote, “Wherever you are, be all there,” not living in the past and not fantasizing about the future. God wants you in the present because that’s where His grace will flow.

You can look expectantly toward the future -- Even if you make mistakes today, God still controls your future. Walking in the Spirit, you can live life to the fullest, unafraid of making mistakes and unconcerned you may stumble into some terrible circumstance that takes you out of God's control. Even when things appear to be terrible, you can trust that God is working out some divine plan through you.

So what?

· No matter how bad things get -- God is still able to bring good out of it. Today, thank God that nothing – no disaster, no delay – is bigger that his ability to turn it into something good and godly.

· Thank God and let go - Thank God that he is sovereign over your past, your present, and your future.

· Give God the circumstances, disasters, hindrances, hurts, and sins from your past;
· Give God your current situation, your disasters, hindrances, hurts, and sins of today;
· Praise God that he can work anything in your future for godly good, that you can walk in confidence that there is nothing anyone can do to you, or anything you can do that will be beyond the reach of God’s Grace and redemption.

· Look for God’s hand -- Walking by faith means you see God’s hand even in the most difficult of circumstances. You trust in his ability and his willingness to transform the bad into godly good. God is not limited by people’s motives; in other words, it does not matter why someone hurt you, God can still transform a deliberate, mean-spirited situation into something for his good.

· What will you allow God to change? – There it is: some situation, or event, or person in your life who, as far as you can tell, ‘meant it for bad.’ How do you think God meant it for good? Ask God what he wants you to do with this situation (event or person). When he answers, do it. We’re praying for you now.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/26
Playing Second Fiddle
By Jon Walker

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 (NIV)

Next time you bite into a hamburger, I want you to think about how your trip to the fast-food-burger-barn can become a ‘spiritual act of worship.’

The Apostle Paul calls us to be living sacrifices, alive in Christ -- moment-by-moment being conformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ. Our spiritual act of worship includes gratefully acknowledging that our heavenly Father is still on the throne of grace and that he has the right to guide us, lead us, and prompt us about any particular thing we do or any specific decision we make throughout the day, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

Eugene Peterson, in The Message, paraphrases Paul’s words this way: “So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering ….” Romans 12:1a (MSG)

In other words, your whole life becomes an act of constant worship when you live, work, and breathe as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23).

Now, you may be thinking, What does this have to do with ordering a burger and fries at the fast-food-burger-barn?

Let’s step into that answer with a confession about myself: You could say I’m in recovery for impatience, a sin I took my sweet time to confess before God (meaning God was patient about my impatience). When you get honest about it, impatience is a form of pride. It says, ‘I require immediate attention (because I’m too childish to wait); ‘My time is more important than the time of others;’ ‘I know better than anyone else what must be done;’ ‘My need is urgent, everyone else - get in the slow line.’

Yet, Paul said when we sacrifice our own choices and preferences in deference to others - when we honor others over ourselves - we please and worship God. (Romans 12:1, 10) Eugene Peterson suggests Paul is saying this: “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”(Romans 12:10 MSG)

As I read this passage, I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudging – you know how that goes – ‘Hey, this passage is about you and your impatience; now what are you going to do about it?’ My immediate answer was -- to head off to the fast-food-burger-barn for some ‘comfort food.’

It was lunch time, and as I was walking into the burger barn, I started jockeying for position, trying to get through the door before any slow looking people got in front of me. Maybe you’re one of the people I knocked out of the way; then again, maybe you’re one of the people who, just like me, rushed to get the best place in line.

As I grabbed for the door, the words ‘Practice playing second fiddle’ lit across my French fry-deprived mind like neon sign energized by the Holy Spirit. And in that moment, God guided my thoughts to this:

‘What does it matter in eternity if I get my Big Burger Deluxe 35 seconds later than someone else?’

I stopped, and I opened the door for the people behind me and let them go through in front of me.

Here’s my point – Allowing others to go before me when I was in such a rush went against my natural inclinations, but God was telling me to sacrifice my natural tendencies, to lay them on the alter before him so that the Holy Spirit could energize my actions. As Ian Thomas teaches – God replaces our instincts with the Holy Spirit.

By practicing at playing second fiddle, this mundane moment became an act of worship.

What Now?

· Honor God in all you do – “So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering ….” Romans 12:1a (MSG)

· Go with faith, not fear – As God guides you to places in your life where you’re still not living in sacrifice (that is, being a living sacrifice); ask him to show you what specific fear is keeping you from the faith of your living your everyday, ordinary life before God as an offering.

· I can’t or I won’t – When God confronts you with a natural instinct, a portion of your life where you tend to be self-centered instead of other-centered, as him to show you the difference between ‘I can’t change ….’ And ‘I won’t change …’

· Pick one behavior – Read through Romans 12:6-17 and pick one behavior that you need to offer before God as part of your living sacrifice. Chose an area where you’re weak, but where you’re willing to submit to God’s great and gracious strength.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

2007/11/27
Getting Practical About Love
By

“Little children, let us stop saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 (LB)

My big sister said, “Since the two babies are due almost at the same time, it would be like having twins. I’d love to have two babies at once.”

She was talking about adopting a baby in addition to the one she carried. She was talking about adopting my girlfriend’s baby. She was talking about helping us through a crisis pregnancy.

These are words of love from a sister, love she showed by action. Love is not a passive noun; it’s an active verb. It’s something you do more often than something you feel.

What is in our hearts flows into our actions; we show the fullness of love within our hearts when we do things for others. God fills our hearts to overflowing as we drink deeply from his love. In turn, we become a fountain overflowing with God’s love. The Apostle John describes this as rivers of living water flowing from us. The life of Jesus flows from us to them when we put action into our love.

This actionable, practical love is displayed in the life of Jesus, and he taught it to his disciples. Jesus told his disciples they’d be known by their love as revealed in their actions.

Jesus gets specific in Matthew 25:35-36:

· You gave food to the hungry.

· You gave drink to the thirsty.

· You invited a stranger into your home.

· You gave clothes to the naked.

· You cared for the sick.

· You visited the prisoners.

This love in action is summed up by Francis of Assisi: Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.

What now?

· Overflow of God – Ask God to fill your heart with so much of his love that it begins to overflow into the lives of those around you.

· A Peanuts Theology – There is a famous Peanuts comic strip where Sally, Charlie Brown’s little sister, is seen standing inside a warm, dry house looking through a window at Snoopy, who sits on top of his dog house freezing and wet. Instead of inviting Snoopy into the house, or providing for his comfort, she says, in effect, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well” (James 2:16 NCV). Let this image keep love in action on your mind.

· Practice Practical Love – What are ways you can practice practical love? Ask God to identify people in your life who need to experience love, and ask him to show you what you can do to show them love.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.
 
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