Radical LOVE!

IMG_0869.JPG
(Image credit Instapray)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,”-Jesus.

Jesus never asks us to do something He will not empower us to do. He gave us the secret to loving like Him in John 15:5. He told us to abide in Him. If His Spirit is in us, we can love! God is love. These are some thoughts I’ve been pondering about love in God’s Body (followers of Jesus).

In fellowship and covenant (committed love)…

Who will you die to self for?

Who are you willing to continually sacrifice for?

Who are you willing to carry when they cannot carry themselves?

Who are you willing to support even if it’s not convenient for you?

Who are you willing to pray for until they get breakthrough?

Who are you willing to join your life to so they are blessed beyond measure because of the gifts God placed in you?

Who are you willing to continually love, even if they do not love you?

God invites us to enter into covenant with other believers. It’s not about saying I love you…it’s about living I love you. Loving when it’s hard. Loving in winter, spring, summer, and fall. We are called to love one another as Christ loves us. It’s not a love that is in word only. It’s a love that causes us to throw off our selfishness, pride, apathy, complacency, and passivity. Are we committed to this kind of love for one another? This kind of love lets the world know we belong to Jesus. Here’s an excerpt from the Bible on the friends who carried their friend to Jesus. This is the radical love that God is calling every believer to…Christ’s agape love.

The Help of Friends – Luke 5:17-20

One day Jesus was teaching the people. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there too. They had come from every town in Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. The Lord (God) was giving Jesus the power to heal people. There was a man that was paralyzed (crippled). Some men carried him on a mat. The men tried to bring him and put him down before Jesus. But there were so many people that the men could not find a way to Jesus. So the men went up on the roof and lowered the crippled man down through a hole in the ceiling. They lowered the mat {into the room} so that the crippled man was lying before Jesus. Jesus saw that these men believed. Jesus said to the sick man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (ERV)

I went through a very hard season and I can say I spent most of it relying heavily on Jesus. I can say I am thankful for the people who loved me in the beginning, middle, and end of the storm. The people who didn’t make it about them, but enabled me to just get to Jesus. I am human just like everyone else, in dire need of Jesus. I need comfort just like everyone else in loss and pain. If you encounter one person who loves you unconditionally and is willing to sacrifice for you, you are richer than most of the people in the world.

Many people have associates. Many people have buddies. Many people have people willing to take from them. Many people have someone to hang out with and participate in activities. Not very many people have friends willing to risk their very lives to save them.

We don’t need more self-centered Christians. We need more willing to lay down their lives as Christ did for us. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s painful to love, especially when you aren’t loved in return. Yet love will always be the greatest commandment and the true marking of a disciple of Jesus.

What if every believer lived a life a love?

No person would feel disconnected, unsupported, alone, or unloved. Yet, this is not the reality. We have people in church every weekend who feel absolutely unloved and uncared for. We don’t need to play Christian games or say, “I love you,” if we don’t. We do need to ask God to fill us so we have something to offer others. We need to live the Gospel, not just know the Gospel. It’s our mission. It’s our purpose on earth-Love God, love people.

May we love, and love well…it’s a process and it’s a journey…yet it’s what we are called to in Christ. And it’s possible through Christ who gives us His strength. Those who abide in Him will bear much fruit (John 15:5). I pray earnestly that I can live what I know of Jesus, let Him live through me. So imperfect, yet so dependent on Him for everything.

IMG_0420.JPG

Be Ready & Sow Generously

20140527-164533-60333064.jpg

Here are some nuggets I wanted to share with you from time with God and experiences.

1. Be ready in season and out of season…to share the Gospel and do the work of ministry.

2 Timothy 4:2 New King James Version (NKJV)

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

It’s easy to sit idle; there is nothing wrong with rest. It’s prudent for us to be continually aware that as Ambassadors for Jesus, we can be called on at any moment to do the work of ministry. This weekend I was prepared to share worship music with a few kids. Once I got to my destination, they had me lined up to do worship at church on Sunday. If I had not been playing and worshipping in my free time, I would not have been prepared for Sunday. At any moment we can be called upon to teach, preach, exhort, rebuke, share the Gospel, pray, or minister to other people. Are we ready? Are we cultivating intimacy with God so we have something to share? We can only release what we carry and give away what we already possess.

2. We are stewards not owners….

Everything we have; money, time, talent, resources, gifts, our bodies, relationships, it all belongs to God. We are not our own but were purchased with Christ’s blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Therefore, we don’t own, we steward what is given. The parable of the talents teaches us that God cares what we do with what we are given (Matthew 25:14-30). The more faithful we are over what is given, the more is given to us. So, when people complain…God is using this person more than me or they have more opportunities than me…the key is to look at what the person did with the little that they had. Did they use it for selfish means, or did they invest it for the benefit of others? Did they take care of what and who was entrusted to them or did they abuse, neglect, or misuse what was given?

We cannot ask God to lead nations if we are unwilling to serve where we are and who is right in front of us. If we will not care for what we already have, how can God entrust us with more? This is my own conviction…how am I ministering to my coworkers, neighbors, family, people who interact with me on a daily basis. Am I pointing them to Jesus? Am I using the things God has already given for His glory?

3. We reap what we sow…

Those who sow sparingly, reap sparingly. Those who are stingy normally do not prosper. God calls selfishness sin and does not reward selfishness. In the realm of God’s Kingdom, those who give or sow into things other than themselves reap a bountiful harvest. The key to abundance is giving,~Bill and Beni Johnson. The world says the key is hoarding and self-focus. It is the opposite in God’s Kingdom.

It may seem if you are sowing or investing, that you have less than others. The truth is, the longer the sowing season, the greater the harvest. When God speaks of blessing, He speaks to the end of a thing. Some people will live lavish lives on earth and have fewer or little rewards in heaven. Yes, there will be rewards given in heaven and we will co-reign with Christ (James 1:12, Matthew 5:12, Matthew 25:21, Revelation 2:10, Revelation 22:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:12-14, Matthew 6:6)…and there are so many more Bible verses about rewards in heaven. What we do here does matter. Our earthly life also prepares us for our heavenly assignment.

God blesses us not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of every person around us. Every person has been given something from God to help other people. The Holy Spirit in us has the ability to minister, encourage, help, bless, and love others. No believer is without something to offer. The question is; will we let God live and love through us…even if it costs us greatly? Our blessings cost Jesus His life.

Luke 6:38 New King James Version (NKJV)

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

Some people are waiting on breakthrough, for their dreams to come true, and they are unwilling to sow/invest into anyone else. Joyce Meyer said this once and it stuck with me, “If you want something, start sowing it.” The point isn’t to give expecting something in return. The point is that God is faithful to His word and it’s good to take the focus off ourselves and help other people. The call of every believer is to help other people and to love them. It’s not something Jesus offered as an option, it would be nice if you did this (Matthew 25:31-46).

If you want your dreams to come true, start helping others with their dreams. Don’t neglect what you need to do, but help other people. Sow and invest in others. If you want good friends, be a good friend. If you want help, be willing to help others. If you want to be treated well, treat others well. If you want to be blessed, bless others. It’s not about getting, yet if you don’t sow it…you are going to reap what you sow; those who invest nothing, reap nothing. And we always reap more than we sow. A seed produces a seemingly endless harvest. Jesus told us to treat others well, even our enemies. It doesn’t mean we run out and start doing everything for everyone. It does mean we seek to do no harm and look for ways to bless others-being led by His Spirit.

If you’re a sower and your harvest hasn’t come yet, no worries. It will come and it will be more than you sowed. And it’s crucial to know it may never come back from the person or place you sowed into. You may not even see it this side of heaven, yet our God is faithful to His word. If you haven’t sowed or invested in anyone else, I encourage you to start giving, discipling others, and investing in the spiritual growth of others…not out of obligation or to get, but to represent Jesus. He’s done so much for us, how can we refuse being good to other people? It’s for His Glory. We show the world the character of God. As we reap a harvest of blessings, we can turn that over and bless more people for His glory.

May we live in such a way that people say, “When our paths crossed, I encountered Jesus and I was blessed.” He’s amazing. Let’s keep our eyes on Him and let Him live through us…for His Glory and the blessing of others.

You are continually in my prayers…and I am not just saying that. When I pray, you’re covered. Also Jesus lives to intercede for us…so you are always covered in prayer.

Have a blessed and wonderful week. Be a blessing to others…show the world how awesome our Papa is! He overflows with love and generosity. May we let Him live through us so others are richly blessed.

Love in Christ,

Erin

20140527-165331-60811904.jpg

Not Invisible (Operation God is Love)

20140505-180434.jpg

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble,~Psalm 41:1.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,“~Matthew 25:31-40.

This past weekend Operation God is Love commenced. It’s been ongoing in prayer and other aspects, yet going out into the community started this past weekend. God sees the people we don’t see. God cares about the people we don’t care about. Every person on the planet matters to God.

Our journey started at 9 am with breakfast, fellowship, worship, and prayer. Then we ladies headed into the city. We parked, grabbed our supplies, and started walking. We walked and prayed. We prayed for a release of God’s Kingdom in the area. We prayed blessing over businesses and protection over the people who live there. God has given us authority in His name to push back the darkness.

We stumbled across a young homeless man. We shall call him Martin (not his real name). We offered him a goodie bag (cereal bars, snacks, bible, info, etc) and prayer. It didn’t seem to be enough. There was a sadness in his eyes I still can’t shake. We invited him to lunch…as we sat with him in this city pizza place…his story is one I won’t forget. He’s partially disabled, has no family help, and has lots of pain. He showed us the pins and injuries in his legs, and spoke with tear filled eyes. “Churches give you food and handouts, but rarely a place to stay or help finding employment. Shelters give preferential treatment to women and children. They give you food, but no bus passes to get to a job. Other people assume you’re an addict so they won’t help you. People walk past you on the street and look at you like you enjoy begging. I am so ashamed. I want to work. I want to take care of myself“~Martin.

We watched Martin wipe away tears. Though we prayed for healing, favor, freedom, provision…he needs a miracle. He said he couldn’t understand why we’d stop and listen to his story or invite him to eat. He wondered what church sent us out..we told him we came on our own. No pastor sent us out. We told him Jesus sent us to love people, plain and simple. Martin matters to God. He held his head low every time we told him how much he meant to God.

We met many homeless people. We met a woman and several men. All with tear filled eyes, profound stories, and a desire to be seen, fed, & loved. I don’t know fully how they all ended up there; is it or was it their fault they are on the street. It doesn’t matter. Jesus tells us to love people. The greatest solution and Redeemer I know is Jesus. He didn’t tell me to only love those who love me or the shiny, happy, wealthy people. He said love everyone as I have loved you.

I don’t advocate just handing out money to people, unless God leads you to. I don’t advocate going out alone into cities to help people. We go out in the day, in a group, and stay on well lit and public streets. We don’t go into houses or dark places. We don’t carry loads of cash. We don’t give out personal information or offer to do things for people beyond the scope of the mission or Holy Spirit leading.

I do advocate feeding people, getting them necessities, pointing them to places to get help, giving bus passes, gift cards, blankets, small first aid kits, hand sanitizer, praying for people, listening to their stories, showing people the heart of Jesus, etc…

Lastly there was Paul (not his real name). The morning after worship, one of the ladies said let’s wait and see if God gives us clues about people we need to share the Gospel with today. I kept getting blue sweatshirt, but dismissed it. While we were talking to Martin, Paul rides up on a bike in a blue sweatshirt. Thought nothing of it. Once we left lunch with Martin and his friend, we went looking for Paul. We found him on a ledge watching cars go by.

Paul was suicidical. He had told God that day he had planned on running out into traffic because he had no hope. We told Paul, “God sees you! God loves you. There’s hope in Jesus.” We were able to share the Gospel with Paul, to bring hope and encouragement, and pray suicide off him. We told him the blue sweatshirt story and how God sent us there for him. He too cried. It’s moving to see a grown man cry. We gave him goodie bags for himself and others.

Paul, Martin, Sam, Lorrie… The people we met, none of them asked us for money. They were happy to hear the Gospel, for prayer, to be given a hug, for a meal, for someone to listen, for someone to care about them. Love wins! I can’t do everything. You can’t either. We can do something!

I’m excited to hopefully share more testimonies with you throughout the summer. I am praying God invades our city, nation, the world with born again believers willing to love the least, the last, and the lost.

See picture below of us with Sam (not his real name). Quite the character. He prayed for us! How sweet is that. He kept saying how blessed he was and how good God had been to Him. Ah, to have perspective… God bless friends. You are deeply loved (John 3:16).

Love in Christ,

Erin

20140505-191827.jpg