Abide in Love

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

Since the beginning, it’s been about love.

  • He formed us to love us, not as a science experiment
  • He warned Adam out of love, not to keep anything from him
  • He parted the Red Sea out of love, not to show off
  • He poured manna from Heaven out of love, even though we grumbled while chewing
  • He thought of the Cross out of love, though He knew some would politely decline

There is much emphasis put on love throughout His word. It’s the first fruit of the Spirit mentioned. Out of faith, hope & love, it’s proclaimed as the greatest. God even declares Himself AS love.

Since we are created in His image, you know what that means. We are called to love as well. Better yet, we are called to love like Him. Is that even possible? Somewhat, yes. The intensity of our love could never come close. However, we can choose to mirror His style of loving & allow Him to love through us.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” – 1 John 4

There’s that word again…abide. That has been a theme each time I’ve studied fruit of the Spirit. Abide means to dwell, remain, or sojourn. The image that comes to mind is a baby bird under the wing of it’s mother. It is there in that secret place that He transforms us. It is in the abiding that we began to look like Jesus. The fruit begins to grow, and we start to flourish.

Love comes from abiding in Love Himself. 

 

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Lead Me

This week has been full of confirmation. The Holy Spirit loves to confirm when we are on the right path, and encourage us to keep going.

Ever since beginning the study on the Fruits of the Spirit, I have felt Jesus dropping breadcrumbs for me…everyday, He is showing me where to go next. I will be honest…it takes some surrender and stillness on my part to be still & listen. I have to quiet my soul. But He never fails to speak. His method of getting my attention changes. He loves to keep it interesting.

For those of you studying with me, I hope that you’re finding the breadcrumbs. We may be on different paths, some rockier than others. But they are there. Don’t rush ahead, because you may miss them. Don’t get discouraged if you’re having a hard time seeing them. Pause…look harder. Use your flashlight, the Word of God. It’s the only Light strong enough to find them. And don’t give up

Speaking of pausing, let’s pause to worship the One leading us…

Reflection

“God loves us just as we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way.”

From the moment the Holy Spirit makes His home in your heart, He begins a work in you.

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” – Romans 6:22

Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. It prepares us for the Day that we come face to face with the Holy One Himself. The end result? To bear the Family resemblance.

If we were to look in a mirror right now, we would see ourselves…flawed, imperfect, but saved. What we don’t see is the inner work of the Holy Spirit that is changing us from the inside out.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” – 1 Corinthians 15:49

There’s no instant gratification along this journey. Holiness takes time. Fruit doesn’t appear overnight. We must be patient with ourselves during growth. The end result will be worth the wait.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12

Why Fruit?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22

Throughout the Bible, emphasis is put on the importance of bearing fruit. There is no doubt that these are lovely traits to have, regardless of your faith. But as a follower of Jesus, we are called to pursue them wholeheartedly.

But, why are these traits called “fruit”? Why not good habits, or best practices? Why not use laymen’s terms?

He always has a reason. Psalms & Jeremiah shed some light:

 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORDand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” – Psalm 1

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8

Do you see the common thread here? We are likened to trees…rooted, flourishing, and bearing fruit. That is, if we are trusting, delighting, and abiding in the Lord.

Study Scripture: John 15

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

 

Dear Robin

Dear Robin,

Since yesterday, there have been many different reactions to the news of your passing. Sadly, the opinions and insensitive comments about your cause of death have overshadowed what should be a time of honoring you & your unique imprint that you left on this world.

Right now, our world is in upheavel. We can’t go a day without hearing some disturbing or frightening news. Your death sent many into a tailspin of sadness, which is probably the last thing that you want anyone to feel since you suffered with that yourself.

Can I be forthright? For a moment, I felt guilty about possibly focusing too much on a “celebrity” death. With the genocide in Iraq occuring, I didn’t want to shift my attention from what I was deeming a bigger issue. I forgot for a moment that we are all human, celebrity or not. This is a tragedy, Hollywood or not.

The Holy Spirit reminded of something that He taught me not too long ago. When we lost Paul Walker so tragically, I was very affected by it. So young, and such a horrific He brought a phrase to my heart:

“For Whom the Bell Tolls”

It is an expression from a sermon by John Donne. ‘Donne says that because we are all part of mankind, any person’s death is a loss to all of us’: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

This statement rings truer than ever before. It’s ok for us mourn someone that we didn’t know personally. It’s ok for us to honor someone who touched our lives and taught us to laugh. It doesn’t mean that we care less about other happenings in the world. Rather, we are allowing ourselves remain compassionate towards all loss…all pain…and not pick and choose when we care.

Robin, we already miss you. May your spirit rest in peace.

#RobinWilliams

Business as Usual

This morning has been your typical Friday morning. My regular routine was no different than usual…have breakfast & cruise Facebook. The news feed is a mix of different things as it usually is, with current events, funny videos, and inspirational quotes. As I’m soaking it all in and catching up, something started to well up in me.

As I read of horrific, unthinkable things being done in Iraq…Ebola in Africa…Israel under attack…hurricanes near Hawaii…reality kinda slapped me in the face. Across the oceans, people are experiencing hell on earth.

Meanwhile, I am occupying my time researching the new Facebook Messenger app, and my “safety”.

Can I just say how embarrassed I was when my eyes were opened in that moment? The conviction of the Holy Spirit always rocks me to the core when it happens, but this was on a different level. I always joke about ‘first world problems’, but I became the butt of my own joke. How minuscule are my problems in comparison? We are blessed to live in a country that is not as bad off as some citizens like to think. The danger of living in this safety is that we get comfortable…we grow numb. We are appalled & outraged at the injustice we see, but we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Prophecy has been and is happening before our eyes. Please read in depth and research further as He leads. We need to step in spiritually & cry out to God for those who can’t help themselves. It’s time to shake ourselves awake & shake off self pity. The world needs us. Let’s not continue with business as usual. We have to make ourselves raise the bar.

I feel led to post these verses because in that moment, they were echoing in my spirit.

Matthew 24:3
Signs of the End of the Age

3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

9“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then many will fall awaya and betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The Abomination of Desolation

15“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you beforehand. 26So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

The Coming of the Son of Man

29“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,b but the Father only. 37For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant,c whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49and begins to beat his fellow servantsd and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Quenched

Have you ever asked for something, but then changed your mind when you received it?

Throughout the walk of a believer, inevitably we will ask God to change us. There is a pure desire within the heart of us to become like Jesus. Our prayers beg God to remove things within us that don’t please Him. We pray for development of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Subtle changes appear, and faith is increased. There is a transformation happening.

But then the flesh notices the change. Something is off. It’s territory is threatened, and it will not go silently into the night. Our flesh starts to put up a fight. As Matthew 26:41 says, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

We start to resist the work of the Holy Spirit. We cover our ears, pretending not to hear His whispers. The slow fade begins. We return to our sin. 1 Peter 2:22 is so blunt as to compare it to a dog returning to it’s own vomit. Instead of resting easy in the newness of the Spirit, we prefer the dingy familiarity of our old nature. Why do we not remain?

“Do not quench the Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19 

God is an all consuming fire…but He won’t spread if we keep snuffing Him out.

Yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit is what will truly bring breakthrough, power & freedom in our lives. This means laying down our will…our stubborn, hard-headed wills. Deep down, we know that we don’t know it all. God is not at all put off by any of this. In fact, He wants to use that weakness to display His power in our lives. His best work is done through broken vessels. Ones who have surrendered and admitted that they need Him, and that His ways are higher. If we will allow Him to have His way, imagine what He could do through us.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” – Galatians 5:16

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:4


“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Phillipians 1:6


“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” – Romans 7:15

 

 

It is He

Our God has always been very clear & concise in stating who He is. He is not shy, nor insecure about His identity or His ways. Throughout the Bible, one phrase is constant and commands your attention.

“It is He…”

If someone was to ask me to describe God…there is no way that I could fit Him into words. His majesty and wonder are beyond mere words. Even when Moses asked Him what he should say when the Israelites asked him  the name of who sent him, God simply stated, “Tell them ‘I AM has sent me to you’.” This displays the profound simplicity of our Creator.

The true Author assisted the writers of the Bible in their attempts to describe Him. The verse below is one that summarizes the Father beautifully:

“God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is he served with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things:  And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the  whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.” – Acts 17:24

This verse displays His sovereignty. God has a handle on all things…the whole world truly is in His hands. He is all sufficient & all knowing. Another verse that eloquently describes our God is:

It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
  He removes kings and establishes kings;
  He gives wisdom to wise men
  And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
  He knows what is in the darkness,
  And the light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:21

When Jesus came, this phrase continued to be prevalent.

And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” – John 9:35

When I see this statement, I feel God’s declaration, assuring us that He is who He says He is. There is something about this phrase that is very finalizing. It settles any questions, any arguments.  It leaves no room for doubt. He is instilling confidence in us each time it is written in the scriptures. We can declare who He is right along with Him. He is arming us with a confession of bold faith in Him. Our prayers and praises can be filled with the same confidence, proclaiming our King’s victory. When we feel fear, or when we are walking through the valley, declare this verse and stand upon the solid Rock.

“…the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.” – Isaiah 33:22

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Other scripture references that include this statement are: John 8:24, Psalms 60:12, Zechariah 6:12, 2 Kings 17:39, Amos 5:8, Amos 9:6, Job 9:5, and Acts 10:42 (and many more)

Ludicrous

God loves to get a rise out of people.

You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day. You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters. By day you led them with a pillar of cloud,and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.” Nehemiah 9:10

To this day, His works and ways make people stand in awe. Some of them are so outrageous, that people just can’t believe the stories. They are just too much, too far fetched. They’d rather stay comfortable than dare to believe in something outside of their box.

Me, on the other hand…

I want to believe in something ludicrous. I want to believe in something that I couldn’t think up on my own.

I want to believe in a God who does wonders, and never stops coming up with new ways to amaze me.

Who would want a god who is boring & predictable with nothing in their pocket?

The burning bush, walking on water, being resurrected…I stand in awe at the mere thought of it. Imagine seeing it, living it.

Some would rather believe in nothing than to take a chance on Him.

He takes chances on us everyday. He does so knowing that we will fail. But He never once turns away.

Have you ever considered that one of His reasons for performing outrageous acts is to get our attention?

We must allow ourselves to be open minded and not put God in a box. Isaiah 55 says that His ways are not our ways.

Don’t forsake eternity just because you don’t understand. He wants to show you many things, but most of all, love. Let Him.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:18

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” – 1 Corinthians 1:25

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6
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“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” –

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Word

This morning as I was studying my bible, I came across a very beautiful verse.  This passage has always moved me deeply each time I read it. There is just something about it. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1

There is so much revelation and depth to it. It gives light to so many truths about Jesus Himself. Here is a breakdown with cross references.

He is called The Word of God

“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. ” – Revelation 19:13

He is one with the Father

I and the Father are one.” – John 10:30

He is the reason for existence and source of life.

“For from him and through him and for him are all things.” – Romans 11:36
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16

He is the Light of the World

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:5

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 4:3

He has overcome

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” – Isaiah 9:2

No amount of words could live up to the glorious one that is Jesus Christ. Mere words do not do Him justice. They don’t even come close. But until we see Him for ourselves & we lay eyes on our Salvation, the Holy Spirit provides us glimpses of His glory in the Word. These glimpses ignite the longing for our King. May we be drawn to The Light.