1 John 3:16.."By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
Love is the opposite of selfishness. Love gives of itself and is more concerned for the needs and well being of the other than for itself, laying down its own "life"...desires, needs, fulfillment, etc.
1 Cor. 13 is the best definition of love I know.
verses 4-7...amplified version..."Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride), it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening.]"
Everything spoken of in the love chapter is the opposite of our selfish human nature...our self love. Unless we are free from ourself, we cannot love.
So is it hopeless? Should we look at this as unattainable in our lives and just go on excusing our loveless actions? Only God can love like that!
Yes! Only God. That is why He calls us to His cross...to be crucified with Him, and risen up to a new life unto Him by His Spirit in us...so that "God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us." Rom. 5:5b
No we can never in our flesh love this way. Our human nature is selfish to the core. We will always put ourselves first, protect and defend ourselves, think more highly of ourselves, seek revenge when we are offended, etc.
The answer is not loving ourselves more so that we can love others as modern psychology teaches. It is to bring ourselves to the Cross of Christ and lay down our lives, being empty of ourselves that we might be full of HIM
How can we do this? It isn't through suppression...that only is another act of our flesh. It is in the same way we come to God for all things, beginning at salvation. It is by confession, surrender and faith. As we see our pride and selfishness stand in the way of being able to love and forgive, we agree with God that it is wrong, confessing it to Him. We surrender it to the work of His Cross asking the Holy Spirit to put it to death.
Then we look to Christ and HIS love in faith believing Him to take that surrender and shed His love in our hearts.
As we see and experience how much He has forgiven in us, and how longsuffering He has been with us, and loved us, then we are able to forgive, love, and give of ourselves to others.
Who are we to love? Our brothers and sisters in Christ, (even those who rub us the wrong way); Our enemies, those who persecute us, our neighbors....I think that pretty much includes everyone. We are called to show God's love to the one who is difficult to love, just as we were difficult to love before we knew Christ, (and some of us after as well!)
If there is someone in your life who is difficult to love and irritates you to no end day after day....I submit to you that if you are a child of God that He put that person in your life to teach you His love and to honor you by allowing you to be a vessel of His incredible love to that difficult person.
God IS love! If we live IN Him we must live in love! This is the mark of a genuine Christian life.
God bless and keep you!
1 Tim. 4:7-8.."But reject profane and old wives' fables, and excercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily excercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."
Have you done your spiritual excercises today? Being over 40, I've learned that if you don't use it, you lose it! I have a weak neck and shoulders. If I don't excercise them daily I start to get very bad headaches and my head feels too heavy for my neck to hold up.
I also have some areas in my spiritual life that are weak. I'm prone to depression. If I don't excercise the joy of the Lord, the enemy gets a foothold. Just like I need to get up and consciously do my physical excercise, I have to also do my spiritual excercise.
When I have doubts and fears, I don't wait for faith to drop on me, I excercise it. I go to God's Word and read His promise, and what He has to say about the situation, and I don't wait to feel like I have enough faith. That faith muscle becomes stronger as I excercise it.
When I'm depressed, if I wait to feel happy to rejoice, chances are I'm not going to rejoice in the Lord as commanded. I must choose to rejoice in Him! Why? Because He is my God who causes all things to work together for my Good and I can trust His perfect love and wisdom and care of my life.
Paul, who was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, falsely accused by false brethren, abandoned by friends, etc....said, "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord." Phil. 3:1, and again in Phil. 4:4 he says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"
I have found in those times when I excercised the Word and obeyed that Word, that the Lord was true to His Word and gives the grace, the strength, and yes...the joy, when things around are seeming to fall apart. We may not be able to rejoice in our circumstances, but we have good reason to rejoice in the Lord. In His presence there is joy!
If you have a tendency toward depression, let me make a suggestion for your daily excercise. Take Phil. 4:4-8, and go verse by verse...doing exactly what it says. Do this at least once a day and more if you feel drawn continually to negative thoughts. Don't just read it..DO it! Yes it takes effort and time, but the results are well worth it. This is our spiritual excercise...putting into practice the things which we have received from Him.
"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:14
God bless and keep you!
Don't be afraid to come into His light! Yes, even if it slays you....let the light penetrate all the way through your very being...let it have its way, until all is exposed to it and layed bare before the One who loves You more than any other...the One who died for you.
You see, God already clearly sees all that is there, but we are the ones who are blind...in darkness as to what is in our own heart. The only way we can see it, truthfully, is in His light.
ALL OUR SELF EFFORTS TO INSPECT OUR HEART WILL BE IN VAIN and only keep us in darkness. We must expose all before His light.
John 3:20-21.."For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
If we shy away from God's Word , finding it hard to read,....is it because perhaps there is a hidden place in our hearts we don't want exposed to His light? Are we rationalizing some sin or nurturing some area of our flesh perhaps that feels more comfortable when it is not exposed to God's Word of truth, and to the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
"Heb. 4:12-13..."For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
What do we gain by hiding from His light? If you are feeling empty, and dry; if you know your flesh is stronger right now in you than your spirit, having it's way, keeping you from His Word....there is only one answer! It is not someone's praying over you, or counsel, or reading a dozen spiritual books to make you feel good; it is absolute surrender to His light!
Open His Word...let His light penetrate...don't fight it! Let it expose and crucify your flesh. If you want to experience His resurrection power in your heart, you must first experience His death. There is no other way...and the Christian life cannot be lived without it.
John 12:24-25.."Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
Self introspection only brings death and more acts of the flesh...a self righteousness. The flesh cannot do anything...including crucify itself. Only the Holy Spirit can do that in us. As we sit at His feet, before His living Word, yielding ourselves to it, allowing it to expose our hearts, thoughts, and motives, bringing them before the cross in total faith and reliance on the power of His cross to cleanse and raise up to newness of life, then we truly walk in His light.
What does the psalmist say? "Search me, O GOD and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Ps. 139:23-24.
It is God who must do the searching with His search light....our part is to yield and to trust. By doing so, we will learn in time, not to be afraid of His light, but to love it, and to love His cross...the symbol of death...knowing that it's death brings resurrection life; knowing that it is the place we are set free from ourselves.
GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU!
Matt. 11:28-30 (NKJ).."Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Taking His yoke upon you...how do you do that? Absolute surrender to Jesus....trusting Him to take that surrender...this is taking His yoke. Without this there can be no perfect rest for our soul. Jesus IS our rest! We can't find it apart from Him.
If there is no rest in your soul, perhaps you are resistng His yoke somehow, striving against it to do things your own way, holding back from that surrender to Him.
Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." So many times I looked at that verse and said, "No Lord! The christian life is so hard!!"
If we are yoked with Jesus, are we striving to pull Him in our direction? Are we actually resisting His leading and His will...His yoke, trying desperately to trudge along the way we want to go? Then no wonder the yoke seems heavy!
But now if we give it up, trusting that if we completely yield all to Him, He will lead perfectly, we will find we can rest and He is in control.
In our flesh, we have temptations, desire's, worries, and fears. Our fleshly nature cries out for satisfaction. In our spirit, we cry out to God with spiritual hunger and desire for God and His righteousness, also craving satisfaction. But the two are opposed to each other. So we try to overcome and suppress the voice of our flesh but it seems to get louder.
In my own life and struggle, I wrote a song in the midst of this battle. The chorus was given to me at night as I lay in bed. Days later I wrote down the struggle to God, expressing my conflict to Him. Then He reminded me of the chorus He gave days before, which was my answer.
When I took my eyes off the struggle and the temptation itself, and onto Jesus, surrendering, trusting, feeding on Him, learning from Him, I found His rest and victory over my flesh.
Here are the words to "COME TO ME"
Oh Come to Me, all you who are weary, weary of your life; you've tried so hard on your own; Come to me, all you who are heavy laden, working and striving is all that you have known.
Come to me my child, and rest your head on my shoulder; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Come to me my child, and rest your head on my shoulder; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (chorus)
I'm so tired of fighting Lord. I can't seem to win. It seems like I'm free, then I fall back down again. I believe in Your Word Lord; I believe what you say. But desires inside, they keep pulling me away.
No matter how I feel Lord, I only want you. My flesh wants satisfaction. My spirit does too. I know that You've won, Lord; make it real in me. Make Your Word come alive now. Make my eyes see.
Cuz You're all I need Lord. Let my flesh die. The life that it promises is only a lie. But the life You promise Lord, is true life indeed. Nothing artificial; You meet every need.
All my striving is ended Lord; and I know I'm gonna win. When I rest in You Lord, I'm not a slave to sin. I'm no longer a slave to sin!
copyright by Ginny Larsen 1989 ©