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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dealing with Storms in Our Lives





We all have lived through what seems like personal storms in our lives. Some of these storms can be small adversities or trials, while other storms may feel like we are living through personal tornadoes. Fortunately, whether humans encounter many small storms in life or a large tornadic storm of some magnitude, most people have the memories of better times in the past and the hope of better times to come that they cling to. In fact, many people know that these storms, or the ups and downs of life, will pass and that how the storms affect them is really about how they deal with them. Others, though, are constantly devastated by one personal storm after another. It seems that their lives are constantly being bombarded by trials, tribulations, and adversities. They always seem to be hurting in one way or another.

Christians, though, have been blessed with the hope of a glorious future, which helps them get through the storms and bad times within this earthly life. For Christians, the hope of a glorious future is more than just hope, it is faith in the reality of the knowledge or the assurance of a future in which they will someday live in eternity with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. In other words, Christians have not only hope for a future without storms, but they have peace in the knowledge that this future is true.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the Christians’ hope, peace, and faith in the assurance of eternity with God when he wrote: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  -- (Romans 5: 1, 2. NASB).

All of our lives have been made up of moments of extreme joy, moments of peace and quiet along with days filled with happiness. The hope of these pleasant or joyful times make our earthly lives worth living. However, most humans also encounter moments of sheer terror, trouble, and pain. These are the earthly physical and emotional storms of adversity that enter our lives, sometimes through no fault of our own. We simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time; we haven’t fully anticipated the consequences of our actions; or someone else has caused us worry, fear, or harm. There are also many other reasons for which we encounter personal storms in life. One of those reasons is simply that we live in a “fallen” world with many of its traps and temptations; ever ready to ensnare us when we or someone we know makes a bad decision. (Remember, paradise was lost when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Satan, the prince of this earth, now holds sway over the earth.). So, if a person does not have the Holy Spirit living in them as a result of their Salvation, that person has a much harder time avoiding and handling the personal storms of this life. But, if a person is “Saved” and listens to the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they will be given insight and guidance throughout the storms of life that may come their way. For, it is the Holy Spirit who helps and guides Christians in making better decisions, in coping with problems, and in trusting in God, if they are willing to listen to Him. Indeed, Christ told us: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” – (John 14: 26. NASB).

Dealing with Stormy Weather

Humans must deal with all kind of personal stormy weather, which usually comes about unexpectedly and disrupts their lives. But, when these terrible storms of life come, most people have within their hearts a hope that things will get better, which comes from their happy memories and past experiences that include past moments of joy, peace, and happiness on which to base that hope. Indeed, it is the memories of those joyous, peaceful, and happy times that get most people through a sudden storm in their life. In addition, they also have the hope of a better future. Based upon their past experiences these individuals know that this particular stormy situation will also pass, and they truly believe that things will get better. That is because most people are optimistic; believing that when these storms come that better times will also come again. However, there are other people who sometimes cannot seem to find an answer to their problems let alone find a way of keeping their heads above the terrible waves of a sudden storm. Unfortunately, the winds and the waves of a sudden storm can blow these individuals completely off course, causing their life to go from bad to worse. But, those who have Christ as their anchor know that He will keep them from being blown off course.

The Word of God tells us that, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” – (Hebrews 6: 19, 20. NASB).
but Jesus, … because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” – (Hebrews 7: 24, 25. NASB).

Jesus Christ is not only the Christian’s Savior and anchor, but when we pray through Christ, He makes intercession for us before the Father. Individuals who have Christ at the center of their lives and those whose foundation is firmly planted on the truth of the Jesus Christ know that they have a Savior who not only intercedes for them, but that He will guide them through whatever storms come their way. They also know that the One who previously went through many terrible things for them, including, beatings and death, can overcome anything. For, it is Christ who overcame the natural earthly storms He encountered when He was here on earth (See Matthew 8: 24-27), and it was Christ who overcame physical eternal death through His resurrection from the grave. (See John 20: 1-18). Now, Christ is also able to give all those who will believe on Him eternal life.

 Indeed, it is through believing on Christ as the living Son of God and our Savior that each person can be Saved and pulled through many of the winds and waves of this world’s life storms to become overcomers. Moreover, it is Jesus Christ who gives each of us the hope, grace, faith, and love, to weather all the storms of life that do come our way. For, Christ is there for any person who will believe on Him as the resurrected and living Son of God. Christ will help that person handle the storms of this fallen world. In fact, it is through the process of handling the storms of life in a Christ-like manner that we become more like Christ each and every day.

Obviously, everyone who lives on this planet will eventually face at least occasional days of frustration stemming perhaps from such things as: having to deal with a traffic jam; misplacing an important paper; having to deal with a child who has come down with some sickness and then suddenly has to stay home from school while their parents scramble to find a baby sitter; or having to deal with a person who daily seems to do everything in their power to cause them problems in their workplace. Even though these problems may not be great storms in life, such as a life altering disability or the loss of a loved one, it is during these frustrating adversities in life as well as during the life altering true storms of trials and tribulations that we all must to look upward. In other words, we need to take a deep breath, catch ourselves from lashing out, and then through prayer lift our thoughts and requests for help upward to the Lord.

One particular man in the Bible faced seemingly endless days of storms as he ran for his life from King Saul. That man was David, a man after God’s own heart. Yet, even when he finally became King, David continued to face storms from his enemies as well as storms that billowed up from his own human failures and faults. Even so, David wrote, “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  -- (Psalm 55: 22. NASB). The righteous are those that have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Although we live in a sinful fallen world and are constantly bombarded by the devil’s temptations, we must understand that we can have a Savior Who will keep us safe within the arms of God. Christ is there to intercede for us. That is why, even though we have to struggle on this earth, we should remember to rise above the daily distractions and frustrations that we encounter by thinking about what Christ would want us to do. Furthermore, we never have to face these distractions, frustrations, problems, struggles, or storms alone. For, God is there for us every moment of the day or night. (See Hebrews 13: 5b). Moreover, God has infinite patience even with our own fluctuating trust and faith, and He will reach out with His love, if we will just reach out to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Again, David wrote: “For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me. He reproaches him who tramples upon me. He will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.”  -- (Psalm 57: 1-3. NASB).

Rejoicing in our Sufferings

God is our unending source of strength! Believe it or not, we are to rejoice in our sufferings! The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and we exult in the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – (Romans 5: 3-5 NASB).

Why do we have to face the sufferings that come about from the storms of life and the tribulations that we encounter? Well, besides the fact that we live in a fallen world where Satan and his demons continually attempt to disrupt our lives through temptations, problems, and evil people, we or other people around us simply make mistakes or do things that cause harm or hurt to them or us. Christians, though, who focus on living for Christ and His Father will find that they can draw strength to handle each and every situation with grace, hope, and love. For every Christian is to focus on becoming more Christ-like each and every day. But, in order to become more Christ-like we must work at developing Christ-like character. That is why we must listen to the Holy Spirit whose job it is to produce Christ’s likeness in us. That likeness of Christ is represented by the fruit of the Spirit. “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, 23. NASB).

We could never develop Christ-like character if we never had any problems, because we would never have the opportunity to grow and mature in our faith, trust, love, and hope. Moreover, we could never rejoice in our problems if we didn’t have any problems, which means that we would not rejoice in the help and the growth that we received from God through our trust and faith in Him.

Storms of life can also be created by our own sinfulness. Besides living in a fallen world, humans have to deal with our sin nature, but when pressures arise it is hard to suppress our sinfulness of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, or immorality. Add these sins to the other storms that come our way and we can become the catalysts for disaster. But, if we trust in Christ, He can completely replace our old sinful nature with His holiness. How does Christ do that? Well, within our Salvation, or re-birth, Christ defeats these wicked and sinful urges with His own godly characteristics that we are to continually work on refining in us, which are given to us with the fruit of the Spirit.  As true born-again Christians, we are to allow Christ to dictate the course of our lives. That is why, when the storms of life come, we should rejoice that we are being refined and strengthened by the problems that we encounter.


Problems, trials and tribulations, whether small storms or large ones, help us develop Christ-like character. In fact, adversities, difficulties, and trials in life are often used by God to help us develop Christ-like character. This does not mean that God sends those storms and trials into our lives, but rather that God can use what occurs here on earth in the way of trials, temptations, adversities, and tribulations and even our own sinfulness within our lives to help us develop Christ-like character. Christ-like character comes about by relying on the strength, love, grace, and hope in Jesus Christ to get us through each situation. Christ-like character also comes by developing the fruit of the Spirit within us.

Each problematic situation we encounter within our lives can help us to learn to persevere, if we are only willing to cling to God just as Job did thousands of years ago. (See Job 1: 13-22). Today, it is only through persevering and leaning on Christ that we can develop Christ’s character, which results in hope; the hope of eternal life where there is no pain and suffering. In fact, it is through the hardships of life that we will be able to experience God’s eternal and abundant life to its fullest. Consequently, even the trials, or storms that we go through are actually the outpouring of God’s grace.

So, rather than doubting God’s grace and love when the storms of life come, rejoice in them. The Apostle Peter put it this way: “Do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  -- (I Peter 4: 12, 13. NASB).

I know that it is hard to rejoice when we are suffering. I can personally attest to that after my last bout of severe pain in which I momentarily thought that I could not handle it. However, through the grace of God, I was able to handle the pain. Although, I may not have been rejoicing at that moment in time, I did rejoice when the situation got better. Not only did I rejoice, but I found that I had relied upon Christ, throughout the entire episode. I relied upon Him, because He had personally told me that I would never have more than I could bear. His words kept me sane throughout the ordeal. You too, can rely on Christ and God, the Father, for all the storms that come into your life. Trust God, persevere, pray to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior, and meditate upon the Word of God.

Helping Others Through their Storms

Helping another person through a particular storm in their life, whether it is emotional or physical is what Christians are to do. We are to help those that are down and out. We are to share our knowledge, talents, information, and gifts in order to empower them. We are to show our love of others by actually doing something. So many Christians throw money at a situation and think that is all they needed to do. And, in certain cases money is appropriate. Others ignore people that they could reach out and help. However, most hurting and suffering people need to see the love of a Christian within their outstretched hand of help. The Christian hand that reaches out saying to the person in need: “May I help you? I would love to listen to you, and learn more about you. Maybe we can figure out together how you can get through this situation”, is showing the love of God through their willingness to listen and help. Whether it is bringing food to a shut-in, or just listening to or counseling another woman through a particular rough time, Christian women need to reach out to help and empower other women. Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one of the many ways that Christian women can serve other women and also serve the Lord. I know you can step up to the plate and reach out in love to help another. You can help another woman deal with the storm in her life. You can do it!

To learn more about Christian Mentoring read The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring by Vicky Lynn Thomas   


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Worshiping the Lord Through the Service of Christian Mentoring (ARCM)






Many of you may know that I have written a book entitled: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring. The subtitle is: “Women mentoring women with Christ at the center.” What you may not know, though, is what the title of the book stands for or what the service of Christian mentoring can mean for all true Christians. First and foremost, the complete title of my book was chosen to represent another way for Christian Women to bless and worship the Lord, as well as another way to receive personal blessings from the Lord. For, besides attending church services we can also worship and bless the Lord through our specific Christian service for Him that expresses our love of Him and the love that we have for other people.

Christian mentoring, which requires lovingly reaching out to other women to help, instruct, inspire, and empower them to be all that they can be, is a way that women can serve the Lord and help each other. Moreover, Christian mentoring does not require a large study group, or hours of time. It simply requires two women occasionally getting together to discuss, learn, converse, care about, and support each other. But in Christian mentoring it also requires Christ to be at the center of the mentoring relationship. Indeed, Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”  -- (Matthew 18: 20. HCSB).

The Three-Strand Cord

There are two important phrases within the title of my book. The first phrase is “The Three-Strand Cord.” The second phrase is, “of Active Relational Christian Mentoring.” I want to discuss today what both of those phrases represent and why I put them together to form the title of my book on Christian Mentoring. I also want to discuss how Active Relational Christian Mentoring is a service that honors, glorifies, and gives worship to the Lord.

Let’s start with the first phrase within the title of my book. So, what does the phrase “The Three-Strand Cord” represent and why did I choose this phrase to be a part of the title of my book? Well, a strong braided cord is usually created by taking three individual cords and intertwining them. This intertwining of the cords then creates a braided cord, which is much stronger than just one individual cord. But, it takes at least three individual cords to produce this single braided cord. In this case, the mentor, Christ and the mentee make up the three cords that are braided together within a Christian mentoring relationship. In fact, God’s Word, within the book of Ecclesiastes, tells us about the strength of such a braided cord.

King Solomon, who authored the book of Ecclesiastes, wrote:

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble … A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  -- (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10, 12. NLT). So, two people, a Christian mentor and her mentee, can stand together against the problems a mentee might encounter. However, the standing together doesn’t just have relate to problems, but can be based upon the needs of the mentee as well as her desire for growth in some particular area. This support or strength from the Christian mentor can encourage, empower, and enable the mentee to become strong, and perhaps she may even develop a desire to live closer to God as she sees the mentor’s Christ-like light shining out upon her. But, whether the woman mentee is a Christian or non-Christian, for the relationship to be strong, Christ has to be one of the braided cords within the relationship in order for the mentee to grow spiritually and in the strength of the Lord.

The New International Version of the Bible (NIV) translates the above same verse 12 from the Greek and Hebrew, but gives this verse 12 an little clearer understanding. For, in the NIV translation, verse 12 says: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Thus, I have used the phrase: “The Three-Strand Cord” within the title of my book to represent the importance of having Christ at the center of any Christian Mentoring Relationship. For, with Christ as the center cord within the braided Three-Strand Cord, there is a greater strength, spiritual awareness, and Christian caring than can be acquired with just two cords representing the mentor and mentee. Therefore, I chose the phrase “The Three-Strand Cord” to represent the most important part of all Christian mentoring relationships. In fact, each of those cords individually will represent the three individuals within the Christian mentoring relationship (ARCM). However, when taken together as a braided three-strand cord, they become even more powerful and strong.
   
I then used verses 9-10 from chapter 4 of Ecclesiastes as the foundational part of the title of my book, because in a Christian mentoring relationship there has to be at least two people to stand back to back and support each other in order for one or both of them to learn and grow. Moreover, even though one person, i.e., the mentor, within the mentoring relationship may have the strength, talents, gifts, or information, etc. to share with the other person, i.e., the mentee, in order for true fruit production and spiritual maturity to occur within the mentoring relationship Christ needs to be the connecting cord. For, Christ is the One who connects and provides love, wisdom, and Salvation for the other two people within the mentoring relationship. So, it was important that the meaning of verse 12 also be incorporated in the developing of the title of my book.

Within a secular mentoring relationship, it only takes two individuals to stand back to back just as King Solomon said, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one … If one person falls, the other can reach out and help….”. However, within a Christian mentoring relationship there needs to be the third person of Jesus Christ within the Christian mentoring relationship. So, to help us fully understand verse 12, I looked at another translation of that verse which says: “And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn asunder.– (Ecclesiastes 4: 12. NASB).  

Within a Christian mentoring relationship, Jesus Christ is the one that binds the other two cords together into a strong braided cord which cannot easily be torn asunder. Moreover, only with Christ at the center of a Christian mentoring relationship can there be a true spiritual and godly relationship. Indeed, Christ must be the third person within the relationship if true Christian mentoring is to occur. Furthermore, without Christ at the center of the spiritual relationship, there can be little to no spiritual growth for the mentee. For, Christ is the truth, trust, faith, love, wisdom, and hope that binds them together. On the other hand, without Christ at the center of the mentoring relationship there may be a lack of understanding between the mentor and mentee, as well as very little spiritual growth. That is why it is important for the mentor to know Christ personally and why it is so important for the mentor to bring Christ to the forefront of the mentoring relationship. Moreover, Christ is the cord that binds or braids the other two cords together and then gives them the strength to accomplish even more than they could ever hope to accomplish if standing alone or together by themselves. Furthermore, Christ is the cord that not only binds the two individuals in a godly relationship, but He is the cord that also produces trust, insight, love, understanding, truth, hope, faith, and wisdom within the relationship. But, most importantly, Christ also offers eternal Salvation to the mentee, if the mentee has not yet found Christ as her Savior.

Without Christ at the center of a Christian mentoring relationship, the two individuals within the mentoring relationship will not be able to accomplish all that God wants them to achieve. For, Christ is the glue that binds or braids the relationship together. Christ is also the hope that permeates the relationship, while Christ gives the Christian mentor the words to say that can touch the heart of a non-Christian mentee for Him. However, if both the mentor and mentee are true born-again Christians, Christ will also be there to speak into their lives and to give the mentor the perfect words needed to encourage, teach, and uplift the mentee, as together, the mentor and mentee learn even more from God’s Word. Additionally, no matter the type of help that is needed by the mentee, Christ will be there to give the mentor the needed words of encouragement for the mentee as well as godly insight into every issue. To be that godly mentor, the mentor just needs to pray, study the Word, and know that Christ will intercede before God for her/him.


Worship is part of Active Relational Christian Mentoring


 The second phrase within the title of my book is “of Active Relational Christian Mentoring.” It is this phrase that describes the actual fruit-producing service of Christian mentoring for the Lord and for other women whom Christian women are to help. But, this service to the Lord is also an act of worship for the Lord. In fact, it is through the mentor’s prayers, biblical study, and within the actual service of Christian mentoring that the mentor is actually blessing, worshiping, and honoring God. She is doing all these things as she teaches, informs, supports, encourages, and empowers the mentee to be all that she can be for God, herself, her family, and her friends.

Worship is God-centered, aware of one another only in that deep, joyous awareness of being caught up together in God.”  -- (Anne Ortlund). Christian mentoring can become that deep, joyous awareness of worshiping God when both the mentor and mentee focus on learning more about God and His Son, and when what they are doing or learning reflects back upon the world the light of Christ in all that they do. Indeed, helping another person is the epidemy of living out the commandment that Jesus gave to us when He said, “I command you to love each other.-- (John 15: 17. NLT), because it takes truly loving another person in order for us to give up some of our personal time to help her.    


Oswald Chambers in his devotional “My Utmost for the Highest” also wrote about worshipping the LORD. Chambers said that “Worship is giving God the best that He has given you.” So, what wonderful blessings has God given you to share with others? Obviously, God has given us life. He has also given us His love. Moreover, because of that love, He gave us His Son to die for our sins, as Christ took our sins upon His shoulders upon the cruel cross. All of that occurred so that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, could arise on the third day conquering eternal death for us. Because of Christ's resurrection, humans no longer have to spend eternity in hell. For, God has given to us, through His Son, the opportunity to receive Salvation and to be blessed with eternal life once our physical life on this earth is over.

Among the many other blessings that we have received from God while we living on this earth, God has created and blessed us with a glorious world on which to live; i.e., an earth that produces food, animals, shelter, and beauty beyond imagination. God has also given us the ability to exceed in many of our personal undertakings, if we so desire. He has also given us creative brains to make our world an even more comfortable place to live. In addition to our creative brains, God has given us emotions, companionship, and relationships that can sustain us and enrich our lives. But the greatest blessing God has given us is Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. And for those who are truly Saved, God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us in every way and in everything that we do, if we will just listen to Him. However, it is each person’s choice as to whether or not they will believe on Christ as the living Son of God and then whether they will listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit within them. In fact, God loves us so much that He will never force us to love Him back or force us to worship Him. In other words, it is totally up to each person as to the amount of blessings that that they will receive from the Lord or as to whether or not they will spend eternity with God.

The list of the blessings that God has given to each of us is endless, but being the selfish people that we are, we often forget to recognize the blessings that God has given us. Remember, "Worship is giving God the best that He has given you." Unfortunately, we often fail to give God our best in return. Moreover, in failing to recognize our blessings, we often fail to worship, honor and glorify God.

How can we fail to worship, honor and glorify our Lord, if we go to church and worship God there? Well, the worship of God should not only include our Sunday worship, but it should also include times of quiet wherein we meditate upon God and His Word. For time spent with God in prayer, meditation, and study, returns blessings to God. Moreover, our worship and honoring of God should also include active fruit producing services for Him, which then honors God and His Son, Jesus Christ, through our representation of God and His Son to others. So, whether it is through evangelism, teaching Sunday school, or any of the other numerous Christian out-reach programs we are often engaged in, women should also engage in the fruit production and worship of our Lord by reaching out to other women through Active Relational Christian Mentoring. For, we can become great fruit-producers for the Lord by reaching out to other women who may need our help, which means that we are in turn worshiping, honoring, and glorifying the Lord in our service to other women.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.– (John 4: 23-24. HCSB). Are you a true worshiper of God?

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one of the many ways that we can worship God through our personal fruit producing services for Him and others. In fact, it is one of the easiest ways to honor God and bless Him back for all the blessings He has bestowed upon you. Indeed, this particular ARCM service is a blessing to God, because in Christian mentoring we are either telling others about God, or we are shining the Light of Christ on other women through our personal Active Relational Christian Mentoring. In other words, we are then worshipping God through our active service of selflessly mentoring another.

Active

Notice that there are four very important words within this second descriptive phrase that I used for the title of my book. The first important word within the second phrase of Active Relational Christian Mentoring is the word “Active”, which denotes a positive action such as being energetic, dynamic, enterprising, lively, working, achieving, and accomplishing things all within a person’s active efforts.

Relational

The Second Word within the phrase Active Relational Christian Mentoring is the word: “Relational”. This word is used because God created relationships. In fact, God wants us to be in relationships with each other and in a relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. Indeed, we discover early in the first chapter of Genesis that God was first and foremost in a relationship with Himself, i.e., within the Trinity of God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Later, God created a mentoring relationship between Adam and Eve and Himself to teach them, to encourage them, and to bless them in their life on earth. But, most importantly, God wanted Adam and Eve to be in a relationship with Him. He wanted them to know Him and Worship Him.

It was unfortunate that Adam and Eve decided not to trust the Lord by accepting Satan’s lies instead of God’s Truth. Consequently, they lost their close relationship with God. Even so, in order to survive outside the Garden of Eden, God blessed them with other relationships, and now He blesses us, too, with a myriad of different kinds of relationships. These relationships include the relationships of husband and wife, parents and children, grandparents and children, as well as relationships with extended family members, relationships with friends, and relationships with other people, to name just a few. These relationships allowed the human race to not only survive, but thrive. But, it wasn’t until God sent His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, into the world to take upon His shoulders the sins of the world that mankind could again have a personal relationship with God. Because of God’s grace and mercy, we can again have a relationship with God, if we believe in and accept Christ as our personal Savior.

Once a person, through personal acceptance of and belief in Christ as the living Son of God, has come into the Salvation relationship, she will forever have a personal relationship with the Trinity of God. But, it is this personal relationship with Christ that entitles people to be called Christians. Moreover, God not only wants Christians to have a personal relationship with Christ, He also wants Christians to develop godly relationships with other Christians and to even develop acquaintance relationships with non-Christians in order to tell them about His Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior. In other words, Christians are to share with the rest of the world the Good News or Gospel message of Jesus Christ as the living God and Savior of the world, in the hopes that others will come to know Christ as their Savior too.

Every time we share the Gospel with someone that has of yet to come to the saving grace of Christ, we are worshiping God and blessing God for all that He has done for us. But sharing the Gospel message with another person is not the end of our responsibility. For, if the Gospel message touches the heart of a person in such a way that the person comes to know Christ personally, i.e., they believe on and accept Christ as their Savior, our time with them is not over. This should just be the start of an Active Relational Christian Mentoring relationship with that person. Because now we have not only a responsibility to mentor that new Christian in the knowledge of the Bible, but we also have the responsibility to mentor them in how to walk as a new Christian for the Lord. In other words, we are to be there to help them and to disciple them in living for the Lord.

Have you helped anyone come to know Christ as their Savior? Have you helped anyone learn how to develop a closer walk with the Lord? Or, perhaps you have helped a fellow Christian when they needed moral support, help, spiritual guidance, coaching, etc., or you have helped a friend when they were down and out? If you have, you have indeed not only blessed that person, but you have blessed, honored, and worshiped God with your active Christian mentoring relationship by helping someone who needed your help or expertise.

Christian

The third Word in the phrase within Active Relational Christian Mentoring is the word “Christian” which explains or describes the type of mentor that you are and the type of mentoring that you will be doing for the Lord. This word, “Christian”, also describes who you are in Christ. Obviously, there are many people out there in the world who are willing to mentor another person on many different topics or subjects, but there are not many people who actually represent Christ and His Father within their mentoring relationship with another. Christians on the other hand, should have at the forefront of all their mentoring activities, the representation of Christ to their mentee and their willingness to share their knowledge of Christ with another. So, whether a woman is mentoring another woman on budgeting or on some specific emotional need, she should be representing Christ and using the Bible, God’s Word, and prayer as her resources. We can bless and worship God when we read the Bible, share the Bible Scriptures with others, and when we use God’s Word to guide us in all that we do.

Mentoring

The last word in the phrase Active Relational Christian Mentoring is the word “Mentoring”. What is mentoring? Well, the basic definition of mentoring is that is the transference of knowledge, skills, insight, wisdom, values, and laws from one person to another within a relational format or setting. In other words, two people get together with one being the instructor and the other being the student, mentee, or recipient of the information that is being dispensed by the instructor or mentor.

But when all four of the above individual words are taken together there is a better definition or explanation for the phrase Active Relational Christian Mentoring. This definition of ARCM says: Active Relational Christian Mentoring, rooted in Christian faith, love, and service to Christ, is the voluntary and sacrificial investment in the life of another within a relational format for the purpose of sharing knowledge, values, gifts, skills, laws, and other God-given resources to empower and enhance the life of the person being mentored.

ARCM is Faith, Love, Worship, and Service to Christ

The above definition of ARCM has several important aspects to it. First, ARCM is rooted in Christ faith, love, and service to Christ. Christian mentoring, then, is a way to show our faith and our love of Christ through our service to God and His Son. Notice though, that in order to engage in ARCM, a Christian must voluntarily and sacrificially invest in the life of another person. How does one go about investing in the life of another person? Well, she must voluntarily or willingly offer to and then engage in Christian mentoring, i.e., teaching, informing, sharing, listening to, and caring about another individual by establishing a mentoring relationship.

Taking time from your own life and family to engage in Christian mentoring is a sacrifice on the part of the mentor. It is also a way to show another person that they are loved by God. Christian mentoring is also a service to Christ, because Christ wants us to care about and be of service to those that are in need. That is why it is so important to listen to the needs of others and be willing to help or empower another individual to become all that they can be for God, themselves, their family and their friends. This may come about through the sharing of a particular talent, a gifting from the Lord, knowledge acquired through schooling, information obtained, or wisdom received from the Bible and God. Whatever, a person has to offer within a Christian mentoring relationship, though, should be for the ultimate glory of God and the benefit of the mentee. Then that service becomes a form of worship to God.

Sacrifice

We all have strengths and knowledge that we can share with another. We just have to be willing to sacrifice some of our personal time to help another person. If we are willing to mentor another, we will receive so many benefits and rewards that we would never have expected to receive. For, God blesses those who are willing to share their time, energy, knowledge or expertise with others. Indeed, we are explicitly told that “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” – (Proverbs 11: 25. MSG).

Jesus Christ told us “You (that is, His disciples and now all Christians) are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”  -- (Matthew 5:14-16. NIV). Obviously, good deeds include our service to others in the name of Jesus Christ.

Worship of God then includes our willing service of sacrifice to Him and to others. Indeed, every day can be a time of worship when we help others in the name of Jesus Christ. In fact, we don’t have to just attend church and be led in a worship service in order to worship God. For, we can worship God with not only our words and deeds, but also with our sacrificial heart by showing others that we honor and glorify God in everything that we do. Active Relational Christian Mentoring then is just another way that we can worship God and also help or empower another person through a developing relationship with Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we help or empower another person through sacrificial Christian mentoring, we are shining the light of Christ out upon them and into the world.

Spiritual Riches

Did you know that when we fail to worship God for whatever reason, we are forfeiting the spiritual riches that God has set aside for us? Every day we are given many opportunities to put God at the center of our lives, but when we fail to put Him there, we are giving up spiritual riches that we could have had. Don’t forfeit your spiritual riches. Put God at the center of your life and then through gratitude for your Savior, Jesus Christ, take every opportunity to share your faith with others.

If you don’t know how to start a Christian mentoring relationship, read my book entitled: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring. You can find it on Amazon, at Barnes and Nobel, at Christian Faith Publishing Co., as well as at iTunes and Google Play. If you are interested in worshiping God through the service of mentoring, this is a good and easy book to read. It has personal stories in it as well. It will also help you learn how to worship God through your love of others. It will also show you that God has Spiritual Riches just waiting for you.

Check out my book at the following link:


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Truth About God and His Love


God's Love
As we enter the new year people usually set New Year Resolutions hoping to better their life. But among all the resolutions that people make, we seldom hear of someone resolving to search for the truth about God and His love. Yet, this is probably the most important resolution that anyone can make. Why is the search for the truth about God and His Love so important? Well, people are always searching for love, but they are not searching for the source of all love, nor are they searching for the truth about God, who is the source Love and Eternal life.

The Apostle John wrote: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for loves comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God – for God is love. God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”  -- (I John 4: 7-10. NLT).


People have always searched for love. From the moment that we are born most humans are wrapped within the arms of their mother or father and other family members who hold them closely to express their love for them. Very early on, then, new born babies quickly recognize the love that emanates from those who care for them and from those who hold them close. In fact, babies usually quieten down easily when they are picked up and snuggled by a parent, because they recognize and feel that they are wrapped in the arms of love. 

Later, as a child grows, he/she continues to look for love and love’s acceptance as being a valuable person. This love and acceptance is felt and seen through the loving arms and kind words of parents and family members. Unfortunately, those children who are born into love starved family situations do not feel love or hear kind words, so they will eventually seek love and acceptance in all the wrong places. In fact, they often cannot recognize true love and true love’s acceptance, because they never had love and acceptance in their formative years. That is why these individuals can be easily duped into believing that someone actually loves them when they don’t. They are love starved and are desperate to be loved!

(I have again broken a rather long post into sections that are designated in purple. That will allow you to stop at any point along the way and be able to pick up again at a later time. Don’t feel that you have to read the entire post at one time. However, I do think that the content is worth the read over a period of time. I hope you enjoy this post. Happy 2018.)

Satan’s Lies

There are many different ways that the devil dupes love starved people into believing that they have found real love and real love’s acceptance. One of those ways is through the use of gangs. Today we have gangs across the world, including the gang of ISIS, that entice young people into belonging to a “family” gang that will accept them and need them. They join a gang because they feel lonely and unloved. Supposedly they can become part of this gang, organization, or so-called “family” and then they will be cared for and become an accepted and beloved family member.

Sadly, many young people join a gang because they have not felt loved, or because they did not have a family environment in which they felt that they belonged. So, when even some unknown person or situation gives them an opportunity to feel loved or to feel that they belong, they suddenly give their allegiance to them in return for the willingness of the gang members to accept them and give them brotherly love back.

These gangs, organizations, and even cults can become a death trap. But, Satan doesn’t care. In fact, Satan entices people into these gangs because he wants humans to ultimately feel unloved or be destroyed. Why does Satan want us to feel unloved? Well, this is all part of Satan’s larger plan to separate humans from the love of God. He uses the hurtfulness of this fallen and deceitful world and individuals' personal need for love to steer certain lonely and unloved individuals into gangs and into other evil situations that can entice them into believing that they are really being loved and accepted for who they are, even though they are actually being abused and deprived of real love. For Satan believes that if humans feel unloved they will be less likely to turn to God for love, and he certainly does not want people to turn to God for anything and especially not for love. So, when parents fail to express love to their child, faith in God, or tell their child about God’s love there is a great chance that the child will grow up searching for love in all the wrong places.

But it isn’t just gangs that Satan uses to separate humans from God’s love. Satan uses all the evil devices of this world to bully and deceive humans about the truth of God’s love. So, whether it is Satan’s deception regarding immoral prostitution, gangs, or even cliques established within schools, businesses, and the social arena, he can continually find ways to deceive humans about love. Even joining or being swept up into a political ideology that projects hatred toward others for their different beliefs takes many people deep into the realm of hatred which is the opposite of love. Most importantly, Satan uses different meanings for the word “love” than the one that God first established. As a result, humans seeking love are often led into the immorality and deceitfulness of a supposedly loving relationship.

The deceitfulness of love can be found within the abuse that can occur for someone within some dating relationships. This same type of abusive deceitful love can be found in some marriage relationships, which is just another way that the devil can separate humans from the real love that God wants for them. Eventually, those victims that stay in a loveless and abusive relationship will have been brainwashed into believing that they are not worthy of love or that the other person really loves them in some strange way. Indeed, Satan often helps the unloved victim to justify the other person’s lack of love by convincing the victim that the other person just does not know how to show love, but he/she really loves the victim. In other words, the emotional or physical abuse of a spouse is just that person’s way of trying to show love, which of course is a lie. To make matters worse, many of these abused individuals can’t seem to get out of the abusive relationship, because they have come to believe the lie that the other person really loves them. Why? Well, they cannot recognize real love because they somehow missed out on the early expression of true love from parents and family members when they were a baby or child. Satan certainly jumps for glee when he sees so many humans deceived about love and sees them searching in all the wrong places for real love. Indeed, Satan perpetuates his lies in order to get humans to sin and dabble in all kinds of his evil ways and sinfulness.

There is no love in Satan. Instead, Satan is prideful, selfish, and filled with hatred toward God and God’s created humans. Moreover, Satan certainly does not want humans to experience the love of God. For when we experience the love of God and accept the greatest gift of His love, Jesus Christ, we will be forever changed. Indeed, every human who accepts the free gift of Christ’s love, is re-born into a new creature who will never allow Satan to again control their lives. So, Satan works hard and does everything he can to derail or change a human’s belief system about love so that the human cannot recognize God’s love and cannot accept Christ’s sacrificial love. The truth is that every individual who does not recognize and accept the truth about God's love and His Son, Jesus Christ, will be forever separated from love. For, those in hell will never again experience any kind of love.

Many people can’t recognize God’s love. In fact, many others cannot even begin to understand the concept of love here on earth between humans, because Satan has twisted and distorted the concept of love in so many different ways. Yet, the Apostle Paul gave Christ’s followers the true meaning of human love, and he told them how this real love can be expressed between one another and reflect the type of love that God and Christ want for them. Paul said:



“Love is
Patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.
Love will last forever. …
There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love -- and the greatest of these is love.”
(I Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13. NLT).


If you can recognize the truth about love and accept the greatest love of all which is given to us by God through His gift of Jesus Christ, you will be able to lead a life that is lived daily in love. But can you recognize God’s love? Again, the Apostle Paul has given us a glimpse into the greatness of God’s love when through the Holy Spirit Paul wrote the following Scriptures in a letter to the Ephesians. Paul wrote:

I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  -- (Ephesians 3: 17-19. NLT).


The Truth About God’s Love

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.”  -- (Genesis 1:1. NLT).

That verse is really about God’s love. In fact, the Truth about God’s love was recorded long ago within the Bible. For, the Bible is God’s recorded Love Story with the people He created. You see, God is Love! Moreover, God wanted to express His love in an even greater way than He expressed His Love through the persons of the Trinity of God. But, how did God decide to express His love? Well, long long ago God’s love began to be expressed when He created the angels. Later, God chose to express more of His love through the creation of this universe, the solar system and the earth. For, God planned to create beings to live on earth who would be able to not only love each other but love Him too.

To begin to understand the depth of God’s love, we first have to understand that God did not have to create this universe or this earth. Rather, in His greatness and power God could have created anything. But God chose to express His love by creating humans who could love. God is love, so God chose to pour out His love on His creation. These beings and their habitat would be special with the potential to communicate with God and to love God in return. For God knew that if love is to grow, it must be expressed, enjoyed, and reciprocated. In other words, love must be first given away if one is to receive love back. So, that is exactly what God did. God gave His love to the beings He created, but first God expressed His heart of love through the creation of this world on which these loved beings would live and thrive. In other words, God expressed His love for us by first giving us a place to live, by then creating us, and then by giving us a way to communicate and spiritually express our love back toward God.

We could express our love of God through the fellowship we could have with God and through the relationship that God could have with us. Furthermore, God’s love could be and was expressed through the development of a loving relationship with His Creation. Indeed, humans are loved by God, and we are each very valuable in the eyes of God.

God’s love was unconditional. That is, God offered His unconditional love to each human, but unfortunately, starting with Adam and Eve and those people that followed, many people rejected and still reject God’s love. Why did they reject God’s love? Well, Satan told them a lie. A lie that Adam and Eve believed. So, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God had to kick them out of their perfect loving home, because they had sinned.

Why Do Humans Reject the Truth?

Today, there are now many more reasons why humans reject the truth of God’s love. First of all, people are afraid. They innately know that they are sinners and that God is a Holy God Who cannot look upon sin, so humans are afraid to come before the loving Holy God. Even Adam and Eve hid themselves from God in fear when they realized that they had sinned, even though they had previously felt the love of God on a daily basis as they walked with God in the Garden of Eden (See Genesis 3:8). Although God wanted fellowship with them, Adam and Eve fell for Satan’s deception and lost that daily fellowship and the perfect loving relationship with God. But God was willing to give humans a way to repent of their innate sins by believing on His Son, Jesus Christ. So, even after the fall from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were told that God would someday send a deliverer. That is just what God did when He sent His Only Son to earth to take people’s sins upon His shoulders. So, today no one has an excuse for hiding from God. But, many people still hide from Him. They continue to believe the lies that the devil tells about God and His love through the intellectually elite and those that have no idea of who God really is. Many people believe the lies that come from these intellectually brilliant men and women who have been deceived by Satan.

Still God wants all to come to the saving grace of His and Christ’s love. But, God knows there will still be many who refuse to accept His offered love. Eventually, God’s Holy Spirit, will quit calling an individual to come to Christ. Then that person’s rejection of God’s ultimate gift of love, His Son Jesus Christ, will lead them into the death trap that Satan set for them which is eternal hell. I don’t know about you, but I have accepted God’s gift of eternal life by accepting the sacrificial love that God offered through His Son, Jesus Christ. If you can read this, you still have a chance to accept God’s loving gift before you take your last breath. But, once you take your last breath, it is too late. For, you have chosen to believe the lies of Satan and reject God’s gift of love.

So, why is it that some people are unwilling to accept the love that God has offered to us for eternal life? Well, first many people refuse to read God’s love story, i.e., the Bible, to see and understand how much God truly loves them. Other people refuse to see the difference made in the lives of those who have accepted God’s love. Instead they accept the nonsense of the intellectual elites who believe they know more about love and knowledge than God does. But if people would just pick up the Bible and read it, they would begin to see that God cares more for them than do the intellectual elites, the snobs, the philosophical perverters of the truth, and the political correctness police.

Another reason that people reject the love of God and the gift of Salvation is that Satan continues to lie to them about God. First, Satan tells people, especially those who believe they are intellectually brilliant, that there is no God. Then, Satan tells them that if God exists, that God does not care about them, but rather lives up in the Heavens somewhere just watching His creation kill each other. Finally, Satan tells people that no loving God would let hungry little children die, therefore God either doesn’t exist or He is some sadistic God who doesn’t love them. These are all lies! For, Satan is the one who brought us into this fallen world with diseases, hate, and trauma when he lied and tricked Adam and Eve into taking a bite of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus causing them to sin. Consequently, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the perfect loving garden, i.e., paradise. Now we live in a fallen world.

Today, many people who believe they are intellectually brilliant refuse to believe in God or Satan. They have convinced themselves that do not believe in God. But they also do not believe in Satan. Consequently, they do not realize that Satan exists or that he is their enemy. Satan is evil and will do anything he can to get humans to follow his deadly path which leads into eternal damnation within hell. That is why Satan promotes humans finding love in all the wrong places. He doesn’t want humans to find the love of God. Nor, does Satan want humans to discover the gift of sacrificial love that God gave to anyone who will believe on His Son, Jesus Christ, and to anyone who will accept the gift of Salvation offered through repentance from their sins.



Even Within This Fallen World, God’s Expression of Love for the Israelites and For All of Us can be Found Within the Bible



I don’t have time or space here to write about all the times that God expressed His love to the Jewish people throughout God’s recorded love story within both the Older and Newer Testaments. But, I would like to list a few of the highlights of God’s love over the years. We know through the Scriptures that God created Adam and Eve out of love. However, God also disciplined Adam and Eve out of His love for them. Later we are told that God saved Noah and His family because of His love for them even though the rest of the people of the world had allowed themselves to be seduced by the evil that Satan was promoting and perpetrating with His lies and evil ways. All accept Noah and his family died in the flood.

The Lord allowed the earth to be gradually repopulated by Noah’s family. However, even though new generations of people on the earth understood what had happened with the flood and were told why the flood occurred, most were eventually seduced by the evil that Satan promoted and the lies that he told about the importance of their man-made gods. People again did not believe in a loving God or the existence of only one God. Then, when one man named Abraham finally believed in God’s existence and truly loved Him, God reached out in love to provide for this man, Abraham, and helped to guide him safely through the deceitful traps that Satan would set for Abraham. Indeed, Abraham was protected many different times over by God’s promises and His love. As Abraham’s family increased and eventually became millions of people strong, we also read within the biblical Scriptures that God loved the Israelite people, who were the descendants of Abraham, so much that when they were oppressed and cried out to God to be saved from the Pharaoh’s harsh treatment, that God heard their cries and saved them.

Unfortunately, Satan continued to ply his evil schemes and ways upon the whole human race, but focused upon the Israelite people to bring them down because they were especially loved by God. Therefore, the Israelite people were continually deceived by Satan and enticed by the ungodly ways of the world that Satan put before them. They would sin, but then when they realized they had done wrong, they would again repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. Because of God’s love for them, every time that the Israelite people repented for their wrong doing, God would accept their apology and help them. That does not mean that God did not discipline them or punish them just as a good father disciplines or punishes a child who has misbehaved. Rather, God loved them so much that He did not want them to continue down the wrong paths that would give Satan even more opportunities to deceive them even further. So, God would discipline the Israelites, helping them to see where they had gone wrong and how much He truly loved them. At other times, God came right out and told the Israelites just how much He loved them even though He knew they would again falter and would again need discipline. That is exactly what God did when He sent a message to them through the prophet Malachi.

This is the message that the LORD gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi. ‘I have loved you deeply,’ says the LORD. But you retort, ‘Really? How have you loved us?’ And the LORD replies, ‘I showed my love for you by loving your ancestor Jacob. Yet Esau was Jacob’s brother, and I rejected Esau and devastated his hill country.”  -- (Malachi 1-3. NLT).

What was God telling the Israelites in His message to Malachi? Well, although this message of love applied specifically to the Israelite people, it is really a message of God’s love for all people in all times. Indeed, just because people often become cynical about God’s love, especially in times of economic hardship such as the devastation of Esau’s hill country or even during times of political or economic stress, does not mean that God did not love them or that He does not love us today. For, God loves us because He created us. In fact, the reward God gives to those who love Him and His Son is the reward of eternal life, which is dependent upon each individual’s recognition of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as their Savior. Do you love God? Do you love Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you repented of your sins and asked Christ into your heart? If not, now is the time to make this life and death decision for Christ.

I love reading the book of John in the Newer Testament. And, I also love reading the other three books that the Apostle John wrote, especially the book of I John. One of the reasons that I love reading I John is because John so succinctly explains to us that God is Love. In chapter three, John wrote:

See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children, and we really are! But the people who belong to this world don’t know God, so they don’t understand that we are His children. Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when He comes we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.” – (I John 3: 1, 2. NLT).

John continues to explain in I John about God’s love and our responsibility to love Him and other people. John says:

If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. We know what real love is because Christ gave up His life for us. And so, we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters.”  -- (I John 3: 14-16. NLT).


God Sent His Only Son to Show His Love and Mercy

God sent His only Son to earth as God incarnate in a human baby. This baby grew up into a man who walked the earth telling people about the love of God. Christ shared with people what God expected of them. But everywhere Christ went, the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to catch Jesus in some blasphemy or in the breaking of one of the Jewish laws so they could arrest Him and get rid of Him. One day the Jewish leaders were harassing Jesus in the Temple. They asked Him under whose authority could He heal people on the Sabbath. Jesus said, “I assure you the Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. … I assure you that those who listen to My message and believe in God Who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”  -- (John 5: 19, 24. NLT).

We know that the Sadducees and Pharisees did not believe Jesus and eventually found a way to trap Jesus through the disciple Judas who was ultimately indwelt by Satan. They not only captured Jesus but they sent him to the cross on Calvary to die a humiliating and painful death. But the grave could not hold the Son of God! Indeed, Christ arose on the third day with over 500 people seeing Him alive again. Later, after Christ had gone back to Heaven, the Apostle Paul wrote to the new Christians in the Roman Church about the love that it took for God to send His only Son to His death for us. Paul wrote:

For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with Love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s judgment.

For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by His life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.”  -- (Romans 5: 5-10. NLT).

This same love that God expressed in sending Christ to die for our sins, and the same love that Christ expressed in dying for our sins, was again expressed in His sending of the Holy Spirit to live within us, i.e., within Saved Christians, to guide us in loving others every day. In fact, it is through the Holy Spirit that Christ has given every true Christian the power and the love that is needed in witnessing for Christ and in loving others. Indeed, Christians can pray for strength, power, and love as we need it to care for and be there for others who need our help.

Paul also addresses the responsibilities and debts of Christians in his letter to the Roman church. Paul wrote:

Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all requirements of God’s law. … Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements.”  -- (Romans 13: 8-10. NLT).

It seems strange that the Apostle Paul would call the love of others a debt. Well, the reason he does so is because we are all indebted to the love of Christ that He lavishly poured out on us when He died for our sins on the cross. But, loving others like Christ loved us is the only the beginning of showing our appreciation to Christ because it is the only way that we can even begin to repay our debt to Christ. Even so, we will always be obligated or have a responsibility to love others because of the love that Christ expressed on the cross, which will always be greater than any expression of our love. In other words, we need to continually express our love for our neighbors and for Christ by engaging in service to our Lord and by helping those that need our help.

  
Jesus Christ is the living Son of God. Eternity or Eternal life, which is living with God and His love forever, begins when a person accepts Christ as their Savior and culminates when that Saved person physically dies here on earth. For, upon our physical death, those who have believed in Christ as their Savior will go to live eternally with God and Christ. The Bible tells us that God is the source of all life and that it is through God’s love that we exist. So, it is also through God’s love that we will exist throughout eternity with Him. In fact, God loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever should believe on Him could have eternal life.

Once we choose to believe on Christ and accept the love of God given to us through His Son, we begin a new life. We are re-born into a new person who lives to express God’s love within our lives here on earth. We are members of the Kingdom of God and as such we are to tell others about the Gospel message, i.e., the message of Jesus Christ who offers Salvation to anyone who believes on Him as the living Son of God. As re-born humans we are share God’s message of love with everyone we encounter in some way or another.

Expressing Christ’s Love to Others

Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  -- (John 13: 34. NLT). Those who have accepted Christ as their Savior have also become disciples of Christ. As disciples we are to show the same type of love to others that Christ showed to people while He was here on earth. This was a revolutionary statement because Christ is love! Jesus’ love was a sacrificial love that we are to emulate through our service to others. This type of love and service to Christ will bring others to the spiritual knowledge of Christ, while keeping believers united together in their focus on God. For the world in general is hostile to God, and Satan continues to encourage disbelief in God and Christ. That is why we need to understand what true Christ-like love is all about. Then, as disciples or believers in Jesus Christ as the living Son of God and representative of God’s love, we can be living examples of Christ’s love.

The Action and Attitude of Love

Love is a verb or an action word. Moreover, love is more than just a warm feeling or a euphoric feeling when we are around someone we love. Love is an attitude. This love attitude is then revealed to others within our actions toward them and others. Love is revealed within our actions of helping another or in our sharing of our talents and gifts with another person even when it is not convenient for us to do so. Love is revealed when we give to another sacrificially when it hurts. Love is revealed when we devote our time and energy in giving or helping in another’s welfare instead of thinking only of our own welfare. Love is not allowing Satan to push us to the point that we become angry about some hurt. Instead, we don’t push back in anger, but rather absorb the hurts and forgive the other person. Although this type of love is hard to do, the expression of this type of love is noticed by others which opens the door for witnessing about Jesus Christ and His sacrificial love.

We all believe that love is important. But, love is more than just a feeling that effects our emotions toward another human, or more than a euphoric and eventually empty feeling that causes many to engage in immoral behavior. That type of love is not love at all. Instead, love is a choice and requires not only a loving attitude but a loving action. True love comes from God who is the source of all love. But to express true love we have to make a choice that culminates in an action that projects our love on others. Remember, that Christ did everything in life and in death with both an attitude of love and with actions of love.

To understand love, we have to look to God who is the source of love. So far, we have discovered that God created us in love. In other words, because God is love, He created people to love. Then, God chose to love humans even though we are sinful people and often fail to love Him back. However, God’s love for humans gave each of us the right to be free to choose whom we love. For even though God wants a loving response from us, He will not force us to love Him. Therefore, God’s love was expressed in action. God’s great love for us caused God to offer a solution or chance for humans to overcome the problem of sin that keeps us away from God. What was that solution or loving action? Well, God’s solution for our sinfulness was expressed in His loving actions of offering His grace and mercy. In other words, God has given every person the chance to repent of their sins. For, God sent His Only Son into the world to die for our sins and then to arise from the grave conquering eternal death. So, by believing on Christ as the living Son of God and by repenting of our sins we can have eternal life or a loving relationship with God forever. But this is a choice that each person has to make. Then, if that person decides to accept this free gift of God’s love and mercy, he/she can receive eternal life, which is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us individually.

Once a person has accepted the love of God and the sacrificial love of Christ, that person has been reborn into a new person who recognizes the love that God has bestowed upon them. This new person in Christ also has a responsibility to repay this debt of love that they owe to Christ by loving others as Christ loved them. That is why all reborn Christians have a responsibility to reach out in love to others to share the Gospel message. Indeed, all reborn Christians need to reach out in love to help those less fortunate or to help those in need. Are you willing to step forward in this new year of 2018 and love others as you love yourself? Are you willing to lovingly care about those around you?

How Can Christians Express their Christ-like Love?


There are so many ways that true Christians can express their Christ-like love to others. For example, love can be expressed in personal service to the church family. Love can be expressed in charity work. Love can be expressed in good deeds for others. Moreover, Christ’s love can be expressed in services performed for the glory of the Kingdom of God. One of those services is the service of Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM). If you haven’t listened to and mentored another person in need, ARCM is a very rewarding service that benefits both the mentor and mentee. Just about anyone can help another through the giving of their time to mentor. If you have a loving heart that cares about the needs of others then you would make a good Christian mentor. If you are interested in finding out more about ARCM, pick up the book: The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring by Vicky Lynn Thomas, which can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Christian Faith Publishing, iTunes, and Google Play.  The following is the link to Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Three-Strand-Active-Relational-Christian-Mentoring/dp/1635753007/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511818396&sr=8-1&keywords=The+three+strand+cord+of+active+relational+christian+mentoring

Happy New Year and don't forget to resolve to find out the truth about God and His Love!