Another beautiful series of music videos by 20 Schemes Music that exalts the Saviour. The music comes from various talented individuals who fellowship as Gracemount Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Another beautiful series of music videos by 20 Schemes Music that exalts the Saviour. The music comes from various talented individuals who fellowship as Gracemount Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Do you hear the cry of the lost
Who for eternity will pay the cost?
Suffering torments they cannot tell
In the everlasting fire called Hell.
There they dwell where the worm dieth not
And no relief can ever be sought.
Eternal flames around them ’bout
Such horrid screams can you hear them shout?
It’s too late. It’s too late for me.
But please dear Jesus set my loved ones free.
Tell them of your saving grace
So they won’t come to this wicked place.
Send someone to warn with tears
Of this place worse than all their fears.
To point them to the Savior above
And tell them of your eternal love.
Prepare a man to be sent
And compel them to repent.
From all their guilt, sin, and strife
So they may have eternal life.
Do You love me, Father?
So much has happened…
It seems like trials come.
I fail so many times in life,
Regardless of what You’ve done
Do You love me, Father?
I see the wicked take control.
I know the time will come soon
When everything I say about You
Will probably be my doom
Do You love me, Father?
Those who have hurt me sore
Seem to get away with their sin.
They pretend to be one thing
Will they really win?
Do You love me, Father?
Why can’t I seem to do
The things I know I should?
Why do I hurt You, Lord
And do not the things I would?
Yes, You love me, Father.
I know the things I’m going through
Are to make me more like You.
I must suffer as a believer
Knowing You suffered for me, too.
Yes, You love me, Father.
Through these things I learn…
Faith, love, kindness, patience,
goodness, meekness, peace, and joy.
Yes, it makes so much more sense.
Yes, You love me, Father.
I thank You so much that You do.
I thank You for helping me grow
In so many different ways
You are making me to know…
September 26, 2017
The last section we dealt with loving and obeying the Lord by obeying His Word. Now, let me hasten to add that obedience to the Lord should not cause us heartburn. 1 John talks about loving the Lord and chapter 5:1-3, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
It should be our joy to obey the Lord in all things. He is our Father and His great love for us should give us joy to know we please Him when we follow His will, not ours. If His commandments aren’t grievous to us then the joy should bound through our lives and within our hearts as we do His will.
Does this mean we won’t experience heartache or that we have to paste a smile on our face and pretend we are something that we aren’t? Of course not! The tears of sorrow and heartbreak will flow for us as it does for unbelievers. The only difference is that the Lord will comfort us in the midst of our sorrows and heartache. He will give us peace while we continue on our earthly pilgrimage. You see, loving the Lord doesn’t mean that we always will do what is right.
The psalmist said in Psalm 37:23-24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for He upholdeth him with His hand.”
The Lord is with us and will always be there to give us strength in His path. No matter how difficult the way may seem, it’s a lot easier than trying to make it without the Lord. Family and friends will fail but our love should be always on the Lord and following His will. In fact, some of the worst enemies can be those within our own household because they have to live with the guilt and shame of their own sin by watching us seeking to live a life pleasing to Him.
Yes, we will also fail at times and probably respond in ways that are ungodly and not Christ honoring but the difference should be seeking forgiveness despite our failure. Loving the Lord is not mere sentimentality that makes our hearts feel warm and fuzzy on a cold day. We are in the midst of a long, hard battle that won’t end in this life. Part of that battle is following the Lord’s will in every area of life. Put on the whole armor of God, not just part of it.
Psalm 73:25-26 give us a very clear understanding of what the Lord should be to us. “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? There is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.” No matter what the thing or person is here on earth, no one and nothing should mean as much to us as the Lord, whether in heaven or earth. He is the only true God and worthy of all praise, honor, and glory! Love the Lord at all cost because He is the only One who can satisfy you!
In this day and age we hear all kinds of things about love with most of it not being true love but lust. Movies are shown that depict love as being selfish and demanding or controlling and manipulative.
The reality of love is that it’s unselfish and goes out of its way to help the other person. 1 Corinthians 13. Christ is the true depiction of love. He left His throne in heaven to become a man and die, be buried and rise again for our sins. He didn’t ask for anything in return because there is nothing we could give Him that would pay Him back for all He’s done for us. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
Yet while the Lord was on the earth He made the comment, “If you love Me, keep My commandments!” John 14:15. As we seek to go through daily life do we really show our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that we love Him? What would we have to do to show Him our love?
Obedience is such an unusual concept in this day and age. If you watch many parents you will see the children go out of their way to hurt their parents. Granted, some of the parents deserve it because they encourage their children to be disobedient and ungrateful. What about those, though, that are trying to teach their children to be obedient? This is an age where everyone does what is right in their own eyes, many children dishonor their parents, and so many think that no one should be able to tell them what to do.
True believers are expected to obey the Lord, to keep His commandments if we love Him. It doesn’t get any clearer than this. We, who are true believers, are children of the Lord and, that being the case, we must be willing to honor and obey our Heavenly Father. He is first and foremost the One to whom obedience is necessary and, in so doing, we show forth our worship and praise towards Him.
You might say, “I do obey Him. My heart tells me when I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.” No, we can’t go according to what our hearts say as they are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. It is important for us to read and obey God’s Word as that is the guideline He gave us to follow. I know I’ve stressed before but it’s worthy of notice within our lives to show forth our obedience and love for the Lord. Do we love Him? If so, then let us keep His commandments in a way that shows Him that we do love Him.
Contentment…what a word and a very rare jewel. Who would have thought that this word could mean so much and change how we respond to our everyday situation. As I began reading through this book I realized what was missing in my life. I had not been content with the things I’ve gone through. Every time something happened I didn’t like I would complain until I realized what I was doing.
In recent years we have gone through some tremendous hurt and pain yet the Lord keeps reminding me, “Violet, trust Me! I know exactly what I’m doing whether you know or not.” I’ve read and reread this book and I thought it would be great to share little tidbits out of it with you. May the Lord bless each of you in the reading of the parts posted from this very special book.
The Rare Jewel of Contentment
By Jeremiah Burroughs
Thus you have the true interpretation of the text. I shall not make any division of the words because I take them only to promote the one most necessary duty: quieting and comforting the hearts of God’s people under the troubles and changes they meet with in these heart-shaking times.
The doctrinal conclusion briefly is this: That to be well-skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory, and excellence of a Christian. This evangelical truth is held forth sufficiently in the Scripture, yet we may take one or two more parallel places to confirm it.
In 1 Timothy 6:6,8, you find expressed both the duty and the glory of it. “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (6:8)—there is the duty. “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (6:6)—there is the glory and excellence of it, as if to suggest that godliness were not gain except contentment be with it. The same exhortation you have in Hebrews: “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have” (Heb 13:5).
I offer the following description: Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition. This description is a box of precious ointment and very comforting and useful for troubled hearts in troubled times and conditions.
Psalm 41:1-2 To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah. As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
The years have come and gone and I see myself not much wiser than I was when the Lord first brought me to Himself compared to actual years of a person. For instance, I was saved 25 years ago and yet I have to wonder about my spiritual growth. As I’ve contemplated life and it’s difficulties, I’ve also contemplated why it seems I’ve hardly grown in that amount of time. Yes, there have been times where I’ve been fervent and desired change but was it for the right reasons?
Not too long ago, Sony Elise posted about sin and holiness. In it she said, “I feel like, in many churches, more emphasis is placed on God’s forgiveness as opposed to His holiness. I am so grateful for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but there are often still consequences to the fleshly decisions that we make. This is one reason that it is important to walk in the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).” This can also be said about each true believer within their personal lives.
Why is holiness so important? It’s because God hates sin. If we love Him then we should love what He loves and hate what He hates. How can we pant for the Lord and long after Him if we are willing to entertain sin within our lives? Is it easy to get caught up in daily living and forget the Lord is sovereign and in control of each situation we are involved in? Yes! Is it easy to live as if we were atheists and completely shut out the Lord except for Sunday? Yes! Is it easy to get angry at those who hurt us and aren’t willing to make things right? Yes, again! And it’s so easy to fall over and over again!
We are all sinners but if we are true believers then we should seek to make things right! What if they aren’t willing to do so or even listen to us? Then we must forgive and move on! We can mourn over what happened but there comes a time when the Lord says, “It’s time for you to love me even more! Who do you have in heaven but Me? There is none on earth that you should desire except Me. Your heart and your flesh fail continuously but I am the strength of your heart. I am your Portion forever.”
My heart should respond with, “Yes, Lord! You are all that and more! My heart pants for You as the deer pants for the water and even more than that! My soul thirsts for You and I cannot be satisfied unless You fill me to overflowing with You! I want to do Your will no matter how hard it is, no matter what persecutions and sorrows I will go through, no matter who stands with me or doesn’t because I love You beyond life itself!” Yes, it will still be easy to fall and live that life without the Lord but let those of us, who are true believers, beg for God to give us such a love for Him that we hate what He hates and love what He loves.
Let holiness and grace reign in our hearts so completely that when people are around us, even though we sin regularly, they can say, “He or she has been with Christ!” They may not like us for the conviction within their hearts but we need to be like Him.
I long to be like the Lord Jesus but I fail miserably on a daily basis and yet…I want to be holy as He is holy. I want to thirst for Him to fill me in such a way that I seek to love Him and do what He wants in every way!
Let me see my sin, dear Lord,
as though I were looking through Your eyes,
My heart and the blackness that is within,
the sin for which You died
Let Your horror of sin be my heartbreak
Blur mine eyes with tears of agony
For if once I could see my sin the way You see
I would seek to hate my sin for love of Thee.
Change my sin sick soul, dear Lord,
so that I will become more like Christ
Make me pure and white within, dear Lord,
give me strength to follow You in this fight
May I stand for truth whatever happens
Give my heart holy tenacity
For Your death on the cross is what gave life to me
Now I want my life wholly given to Thee.
Last night, I was thinking about my family. I have five younger siblings. As I’ve watched them grow into adulthood, it’s been interesting how different we all are. We have different music interests, movie likes, convictions, etc. And yet we also share memories, stories, private jokes. I think deep down we also have a commitment to not allow things to become so mountainous that it negatively affects our relationship. Sure, we might strongly disagree with each other but most of our disagreements are not worth losing the friendship we have.
This is how the Body of Christ should be as well. If we really understood that “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5), maybe we would cherish each other more. If you were in an accident and lost your hand, you would no doubt try to find it and take it to the doctor to see if he could sew it back on. Yet, when a Brother or Sister cuts himself or herself off from the Body, we hardly notice. We may even think “good riddance.” I wonder if we would see more people come to know the Lord if they saw genuine love and care from God’s people.
This coming year, let’s ask God to give us greater hearts of love. Ask Him to give you His heart for those around you. I believe you would begin to look at people differently than you ever have before. God doesn’t look on a person’s outward appearance. He looks at the heart. We must learn to do that as well. As we draw near to Him, I believe He will help us to do so.
Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
As I look back over my life I am struck by the many times I’ve failed the Lord and others. I’m also struck by the many times family and friends have failed me. Each thing that I do is tainted with sin even when I think I’m doing things for the right reasons.
Whom have I? I think I have friends and family that will love me and never let me down but they let me down. I think I will be able to move forward and never let the Lord down or my friends and family yet I continue to do so. The reality is that I have no one except the Lord Who never lets me down. He is the only One!
Whom have I in heaven? Everything in this life points to the Lord Jesus Christ no matter what it is. The look of love from your sweetheart, the great fellowship within the church, the time of rest given where you recuperate from the cares of life, a wonderful day in which everything goes right, etc. are all pointers to the Person Who made all these things possible. Each gift we receive is from the Lord and should point us to the Lord. Our response should be total and complete adoration of God, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. James 1:17
Whom have I in heaven but Thee? People will fail you so you cannot keep your focus on them, it must be on the Lord. Leaders can fail and preach something that is contrary to the Word of God but we are to study God’s Word so we know God Himself. This will keep us from falling into the trap of false teachers. How do I know which teacher is false and which is true? The Word of God gives me discernment as I study it. I don’t study the Word of God just to gain discernment. I study it so I will know God and, in knowing Him, I discern who is teaching truth and who is teaching lies.
So the question is, Whom have I in heaven but Thee? This leads into the answer, there is no one but the Lord. Not only in heaven but on earth. There is none upon earth that I should desire beside Thee. If anyone or anything comes before the Lord then we are in sin against God. Our love, worship, and adoration of Him should be such that everyone and everything we care about is like hate compared to our love for Him.
There is none anywhere whether in heaven or on earth that should be so adored as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No one should be so desired as He. As we struggle through each day what can we find that is so desirable? Can the world satisfy us? Can our flesh satisfy us? Can others satisfy us? Can addictions satisfy us?
No! A thousand times no! My flesh fails me all the time. When I think I found something that makes my flesh happy and satisfied, it crumbles like the dust and soon I have nothing but bitterness and sin. My heart fails me, as well. The Bible is clear that my heart is wicked and sinful. Jer. 17:9. It is totally corrupt and nothing good about it. My flesh and my heart fails me continually but….surely something satisfies?
Yes, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever! So, in finishing up contentment we find that only the Lord can satisfy. When I was a child, a song came out that we sang a lot at church and home.
Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Only He can change your heart and make you fully whole.
He’ll give you peace you never knew
Sweet love and joy, and heaven, too
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
The Lord is the only way to true satisfaction and contentment. He’s the only way to be able to change and grow, whether physically or spiritually. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Nothing and no one can live apart from Him because, in Him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28. Praise God that He is the strength of our hearts, those who are true believers, and our portion forever to make into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
Truth in grace. I love the new blog title. I’ve said for years that some people have no problem “speaking the truth” (or what they perceive that truth to be) but they forget the “in love” part. If we love each other, our words will be “gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6).
People complain about the internet being a place where some say things that they would never say to a person’s face. I personally love this mode of communication because it gives me time to think through how to respond to a person or situation. Not that I always do it perfectly, but I have the opportunity to slow down and allow God to speak through me as opposed to speaking off the top of my head words that might be full of pride and ignorance.
Whatever we do, whether in word or deed, we are to do it to the glory of God (Col. 3:17). I pray that I will never lose sight of that truth.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Of recent times, I have been doing much soul-searching in particular as it applies to Defending Contending. I have seriously considering everything from closing it down to transferring ownership to another person. However, the more I have considered this, the more tense I became. This was not because it has been mine for so long, but because this has been an opportunity that the Lord has used to help me to grow and to be able to share with others. I have been writing at Defending Contending for 9 years come the end of January 2017.
During that time, there have been things I have both read and written that I have cringed. There are posts written that have caused my heart to break before the Lord and I have had to seek repentance for my own stubbornness and lack of Christ-likeness. We have gained many viewers and lost more than we have gained. I believe that we are in a state of flux within evangelical Christianity and my heart has long been to reach out to our readers in a way that still point out the truth without being hateful, spiteful, or vitriolic in any manner even when we disagree with others.
With that in mind, I believe for the time being that a change in direction will be a profitable move. I want to lay these out just briefly.
1. A new name – Truth In Grace — Reason is simply because we are truly called to preach and teach truth, but I believe we are called to do so with grace. The new picture on the website says, “Truth without grace is a prison; Grace without truth is chaos.”
2. A new tagline – “Sharing truth and faith in a spirit of love and grace.”
3. A new direction with posts
4. Additional contributors — I have just this evening reached out to two people that I believe could be a blessing to our readers.
I believe that this new direction, name change, and tagline are still very much in line with where The Pilgrim was going with the blog when he started it. Yes, we have all had to learn and I pray this will continue to reach others with a gracious spirit years in to the future.
However, I know that with the additions and changes, there will be other differences to deal with which is another reason for writing. Not all of us, even now, are in full agreement on every aspect of doctrine. I have no doubt that our differences are not salvific in nature, but I also understand that can be debated by some if they choose a hard line on some points.
For example, through the ages, men like Spurgeon, Sproul, MacArthur, Wilkerson, Conway, Baucham, Lloyd-Jones, etc. would have all agreed on many points of foundational truths that are unassailable, but they would have disagreed on some doctrines that, in my humble opinion, do not make a difference in whether a person is a true believer or not. Another example would be where Lloyd-Jones stood on the work and role of the Holy Spirit as compared to say Sproul or MacArthur. Yet, I have no doubt that they would have been gracious to each other and would have learned from each other.
Many of you know that I hold to the doctrines of grace, but it is not a drum that I have ever made a point of beating others up on. I can respectfully agree to disagree with another and still call them my brother or sister in Christ. I can disagree on things like family integrated or Sunday school, or in the style and meaning of missions, or in the version or music styles I choose to use and still call the other side of the coin a brother or sister in Christ.
Not everybody who has or who will write at DefCon are staunch Calvinists. Each of us are at different points in our Christian walk, and even one who is mature in the faith in many areas can still have much to learn as though they were a new believer. Brothers and sisters, as I get older, my heart’s desire is that my mind would be brought into closer communion with the Lord of glory. We will not be found in glory based on or divided into groups according to what we believed on certain issues. We will be in glory because of what Christ alone has done for us.
I know that each of you will have to make decisions as to what direction you will go into the future. As for me, this is where I believe the Lord would have me to walk. My issue will be that every post provides encouragement, edification, or exhortation according to the principles of God’s Word. Simply put, my intention is not to linger on one issue, one doctrine, or even appear as though we are nothing but a discernment blog. The new blog will be so much more, as the Lord blesses and is glorified.
If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please feel free to reach back out to me.
I am so thankful for all we have been through down through each season that you have been part of our readership. My prayer is that this will continue for a long time, but it needs to move in a new direction effective immediately. You are my brothers and sisters in Christ even if we do not ultimately agree in the end. Thank you for your understanding.
In Christian love and grace,
Over the past few months, I have not been able to get on Defending Contending that much for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I have been very busy with work, working on a professional level exam in the evening, and trying to squeeze in time for family with what little bit of time I have left. Having said that, I wanted to take a few minutes to say that I appreciate those who have been able to contribute and who have commented.
Yet, with the responsibility of sharing with others comes another responsibility that I believe is even more important. This responsibility has been sadly lacking in some of the things that have been shared and I want to clarify a few points so we can move forward. The responsibility of which I speak is that, as true believers, we are called to reflect Jesus Christ in all that we say or do. Our position can be right, but if our disposition is wrong, then we are wrong. Being belligerent, obstinate, hateful, derogatory, or even caustic does not reflect who we are in Christ.
Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have walked the path before us. When I think of this passage, I cannot help but wonder what they would say to us if they could read our words or hear what we say to others who are true believers. As but one example, I wonder if they would wince when our words are written or designed to tear strips off of those who believe in salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone yet are not in total agreement with us on some point of doctrine that has nothing to do with our salvation.
It seems that on a regular basis, we can get sideways with others for a variety of reasons and in the process we forget that part of being in Christ is that we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. This has not always been the case here at Defending Contending, and even I have had to back off and extend an apology to our readers and our commenters for not being gracious. Again, my position may well have been right, but my disposition only inspired others to dive for shelter instead of looking to Jesus Christ.
Too often it seems that we forget the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul reminded the believers of Corinth that we are not called to be followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Luther, or Calvin, or MacArthur, or Sproul, or Paul Washer, or fill-in-the-blank. When we put our eyes on mere men who are fallible and by no means 100% correct in every single area of their life, we will be disappointed. Not only will we be disappointed, but the world will have reason to wonder as to who really paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. They may well wonder why we spend more time trying to defend points of doctrine over acting, speaking, and listening in ways that are truly glorifying and Christ-honoring.
Recently, we have had posts that were meant to be words of encouragement only for the gloves to come off and comments began to spin out of control. The post was never intended to be anything more than apples of gold in pitchers of silver. The short post got hijacked and it became a stomping ground for people from different ends of the spectrum to parade how they felt. Several posts recently have been such that I cringe when I look back and read them and the comments. I wonder what in the world we are really doing or what we are attempting to do.
Finger-pointing does nothing profitable. Thus I felt this post was necessary to hopefully clear the air. First, let me reiterate that I am unashamedly, first and foremost, a Christ-follower. Second, I hold to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God that is good for ALL that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Third, I do not have any desire to follow a mere man. Yes, I, myself, have posted comments or quote or even sermons from men like MacArthur, Washer, or Dr. Steve Lawson, but they are men just like me. Others quote Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Sproul, or whoever as though they are to be esteemed to the level of the apostle Paul.
Anybody that cares to take the time to read through more of this blog will know where I have stood for the more than 8 years I have written here at Defending Contending. I have no intention of backing down from defending truth or contending for the faith. Many of you already know that I do not use the term Calvinist to describe myself. Most would be hard pressed to tell you exactly where Mark Escalera stands, but I am willing to share if I am asked. I have no issues standing against false teaching or false teachers. What I do have an issue with is the attitudes that are portrayed at times that are not Christ-like.
I have almost shared enough for now, but I want to share just a couple more things. Not every reader, nor every person who comments, nor even every person who has been asked to contribute stands on the same ground theologically. While I disagree on various points with each contributor, I still have the final say on the blog and who I invite to write here.
I would kindly ask that each reader remember that ultimately, I am the one that is responsible for Defending Contending and that this is not, nor will it be, a forum for just anybody to come here and defend and contend for what everyone else believes. If a person comes here and desires to share, there are still rules that are not going to change.
If you come to DefCon just for the purpose of trying to change all of our minds on a particular area, then please feel free to start your own blog. We do not mind questions, nor do we mind disagreements. But, writing inflammatory comments or demanding to be heard on one side or another of a particular issue will not be tolerated. If you have a comment that is held in moderation, I do not need 1, 2, 5, or 10 more comments letting me know that your comment is in moderation. I have a busy life and it may not be answered for an hour, a day, or even 2 days.
As for those who write blog posts here at DefCon, I respect each one and each one has added to the mix various points that I appreciate. This is true whether it is George Alvarado’s points on evangelism or apologetics, Manfred’s book reviews or posts on various doctrinal issues, J.L. Pattison’s posts on various topics, or even Sony Elise’s words of encouragement. Each of these individuals are my friends, some closer than others, and I will defend each one of them even if I do not always agree with them with everything they post or will post.
In conclusion, my entire point of the post is to bring us back to the reality that we will all disagree until the Lord takes us home. Then we will quickly come to the understanding that we were not right on everything. However, that will quickly fade as we realize how glorious it is to be worshiping with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To find ourselves standing, kneeling, dancing, waving our hands, stomping our feet with glee, or running the hills of glory will be all worth it in the end when we see Jesus Christ, who ALONE is the author and finisher of our faith. I expect, in the meantime, that we each strive diligently to be gracious to each other so that others will see the reflection of the Master Carpenter.
Several years ago, my sister and I were discussing “love languages.” My typical response, when someone asks what my love language is: “I just like to be loved.” There are things that especially make me feel loved but I know that everyone has a different personality, so I am grateful for any effort someone makes to show me that they love me. The one “language” that I didn’t think affected me at the time was “acts of service,” to which my sister replied, “Maybe it’s because you expect those things.” Ouch!
I’ve pondered that a lot since she said that and, although my initial response would have been to deny that possibility, there may be some truth to that. There are so many things that my family does to serve me that maybe I have become accustomed to and have lost sight of the fact that those things are done out of love whereas, if they stopped, I would probably feel the lack.
When someone shows you hospitality, I’m guessing you would be appreciative and sure to thank them. Yet how often do you thank your family for the things they do? When your wife makes dinner, do you let her know how much you appreciate her willingness to do that night after night? If your husband is a hard worker, do you tell him what a blessing that is? If your child does a chore without being reminded, do you thank him or her for the act of service? Have you thanked your Mom and Dad for the sacrifice they made while you were growing up?
Family and close friends are often neglected when it comes to showing appreciation and gratitude, but they are the ones who may need to hear it the most. Don’t assume they know how blessed you are because of them; tell them!
I don’t know that I will ever say again that “acts of service” aren’t a big deal to me. The fact is that my friends and family don’t owe me a thing, but I am grateful that they love me and are willing to show me in a variety of ways. I pray that I am faithful to show them love and gratitude in return.
I hope you will purpose this week to let people know how much even the little things mean to you. You will probably brighten their day.
Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by
Do you ever feel that way? As though God is so busy tending to everyone else’s cries that He doesn’t have time to hear yours? I expect everyone has wondered that at some time or other but, for those who have walked with the Lord for any length of time, you know that He is never too busy for anyone who cries out to Him.
I heard someone say that, when we have walked with God a while, it’s not as important that we receive immediate answers to our prayers. In fact, it’s during the waiting periods, when we’re not hearing anything, that the greatest growth can come if we let patience have her perfect work.
There are still times I wish God would answer me sooner but I can honestly say that I never doubt that He hears me and that He cares. If our prayers were always answered right away, there would be no need for faith.
If you are asking the Savior not to pass you by today, take courage. He has not forgotten you. Your answer is on the way. It may not be the answer you want but it will come. Let your trial draw you closer to Him. And know He loves you more than you could ever imagine.
Throughout most of my life, I have wondered how many true friends I really have. It’s easy for people to say, “I’m praying for you” or “I think of you even when I don’t write,” but I always wondered if that were really the case (although I am guilty of thinking of people more than I write as well).
Lately, I have realized that I do have a few close friends, and I sometimes wonder why since many seem to have none.
John 15:13 tells us: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
I used to interpret this in terms of dying, but that is not the only way to lay down a life. I have been blessed lately by friends who are willing to serve me, going far and above the call of duty, and I’ve decided nothing says friendship like that does. I am very blessed to have a family that loves me and does so much for me but I’m not sure how to handle it when others do those same things for me. At the same time, I’m very grateful when they do.
I am also thankful for friends who text and email me just to see how I’m doing. This takes a bit of time and thought on my friends’ part so speaks “care” to me as well.
And last but not least are the friends I know who pray for me frequently. I know this is often what gets me through life. Without this, I’m convinced my struggles would be greater so I do not take this for granted.
True friendship can be measured in different ways. What means a lot to me may not mean a lot to you but the point is that the world is in need of people who really care. Christians should radiate love to everyone around them.
Christians should be trustworthy, not given to gossip or slander. Too often, people suffer in silence because they don’t know who to trust, and the fact is they may not have anyone to trust. This is so sad.
You are called to be a Light in a dark world. Part of being that Light is being different. The only one you should be comparing yourself to is Christ. He epitomized love and care and compassion, and He wanted His children to extend that same love, care, and compassion to others. Instead, we tend to focus on ourselves and our needs that we forget about those who could use a kind, comforting word.
If you have a true friend in your life, someone you can lean on in your times of trial, who will pray with you when you need it and never make you feel like a burden, take time to tell that friend how thankful you are to have them in your life, and be sure to pray for them in return.
If there are people that God has put in your life to be a friend to, be faithful to be that true friend that points them to Jesus and shows them His love. After all, you may be the only true friend they ever have.
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles (Matthew 5:39-41).
I love the Sermon on the Mount, as this is where Jesus taught His followers to not merely obey the law but to go the extra mile in serving God, experiencing life with Him instead of just doing the bare minimum (the Pharisee way).
Although the Bible is the guideline for every true Believer, the above verses are ones I never hear taught. I hear more people who are concerned about being taken advantage of, and whose focus is on defending themselves and their “rights.”
Jesus went on to say:
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matthew 5:46).
I agree that evildoers should be punished, and Scripture affirms that, but Jesus taught us to go the extra mile in order to live at peace as much as possible and to love those who do us wrong.
Maybe part of the problem is that we think of love as warm, fuzzy feelings toward a person when, in reality, love is something that comes from the heart. It is refusing to be angry and bitter no matter how much of a right you have to be so.
I realize this is easier said than done, but this is where the Holy Spirit comes in. James 5:16 tells us that “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” I am testimony to the fact that, if you desire desperately to have a clean heart toward someone who has wronged you, God will answer that prayer.
My bottom line is this: Do you respond to situations like Jesus would? There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. There may be a time to defend yourself, but I believe that it’s often pride that causes our flesh to become defensive and retaliate. We need to stand for truth, but our focus should be on Christ and glorifying Him. If that is not your motive, pray for wisdom before you do anything other than what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
In 1995, Violet and I were preparing for life as missionaries overseas but living in a church system that was bound by legalism and very little love. There was little true love for the brethren, for the true church of the Lord outside of each local churches own doors, and even what often appeared as a true lack of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Worship was perfunctory and traditions were the order of the day.
That year, having only heard of Shannon Hills Bible Chapel, I encouraged my brother, John, to visit. It was a sovereignly ordained plan as John never looked back. He would call us and tell us how wonderful the brothers and sisters were, how accepted he was for who he was, and most importantly, the wonder of the worship, especially around the Lord’s Table, which was celebrated every Sunday morning.
We planned a trip back to Greensboro to visit the assembly, and oh, the refreshing of our souls that Sunday morning in May 1995. Walking with our boys into the room where the Remembrance Feast was preparing to start. The first person to greet us was actually an older man with a round smiling face and a firm handshake. It was a man we quickly grew to love and respect, a true brother in Christ by the name of Harvey Shelley. In his introduction, he simply welcomed us and with no pretentions asked us if we had a personal relationship with the Lord. Assuring Bro. Harvey that we did, he told us that we were more than welcome to not only attend but to partake of the bread and the wine when the elements were passed.
It was at Shannon Hills that we learned what it meant to truly love others. Our hearts were encouraged, and our lives were changed through the ministry of the word from each brother who brought the Word each week. Celebrating communion each week was the highlight of our week and is still remembered to this day with great fondness.
Later that year, in November, my brother, John, had a massive heart attack at 22 years of age and went to be with the Lord. Through that difficult time, the Shelley family was a great encouragement to us. I remember one Sunday being overcome with grief and we had to leave as we did not want to disturb the others who were worshipping. For whatever reason, Bro. Harvey was walking through the hall back to the meeting room. I could not bring myself to speak and he simply wrapped his arms around us and let us know that they would be praying for us and to know again that we were loved by the Shannon Hills family.
We moved the next year, but have had several opportunities to go back and visit North Carolina. Without a doubt, each visit required us to go and worship with our Shannon Hills family. Every visit included opportunities to speak with those we loved and cherished. Shannon Hills has always sought to encourage us through the passing years and the staples of that encouragement were the elders, including Harvey Shelley. Each time we returned, it was as if we had never left.
This last week, we saw the news that Bro. Harvey went to be with the Lord that he loved. He had served as an elder at Shannon Hills for over 50 years. Yesterday, on Sunday after the worship services had concluded, a memorial service was held for a man who will be greatly missed. His smile, his graciousness, his willingness to just listen when you needed an ear to hear you, a warm friendly hug, his words spoken at the Communion Table, and much more will long be remembered.
Yesterday morning, with no knowledge of what had happened, one of the music selections at our little mission included what is one of my two favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art.” My heart was stirred again as I remembered all the Lord had done for us and included a prayer in my heart for the Shelley family that they would be encouraged in the Lord.
Last evening, I saw an obituary page had been posted for Bro. Harvey. I clicked on the link and the music for “How Great Thou Art” came flooding out the speakers of my computer. It has been a blessing reading the tributes to a man who loved the Lord so much.
Today is Monday and many have the “Monday blues.” I go to work today celebrating that my brother and friend no longer has to worry about Mondays or any other day of the week. The Remembrance Feast that he loved so much to remember our risen Lord at is now the entire focus of Bro. Harvey’s attention. My brother no longer worries about sin or any distractions from the Lord of glory.
Though we are many miles away, our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the Shelley family as well as the Shannon Hills family. May the Lord grant them peace in their hearts. We do not grieve as those who have no hope for we will see him again.
Communication. Everyone knows that this is important in relationships, but many don’t seem to know how to communicate well. Or maybe they just don’t want to take the time to do so. Communication is more than just talking; it’s also important that you weigh your words and deliver them in such a way that the hearer will not only hear, but will also understand what is being said and will receive it with thanksgiving that you had the conversation.
The way you say things can make a person smile, or it can make them defensive and angry. It can let them know you love them, or they may feel like you don’t.
Because this can be hard to accomplish, some give up and decide to let a lot slide, regardless of how they feel, but this is not the answer. Instead, you need to ask God to help you to “let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Be willing to admit when you are wrong and, if you are confronting someone about something they are doing wrong, do it humbly, realizing that you are not always right either.
I think true humility is one of the hardest things for humans to achieve, including Christians. Everyone wants to be liked and thought well of. When someone tears us down and, in our mind, makes us look bad in front of others, our flesh rises to the surface. This is one reason we must not do this to others.
Maybe you were hurt recently by something someone said or did. Or maybe you see someone making a major mistake and you feel you need to talk to them. Take time to pray until God’s love fills your heart for that other person. This can make all the difference. Without love, you are like a “sounding brass or tinkling cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). In other words, you are easier to ignore.
Relationships are important. They are the only thing we will take to Heaven with us (assuming they are in Christ). Do not take them for granted. Do not let pride cause them to disintegrate. A good friend (or spouse) is hard to find. When you find them, you must fight for (not with) them! The enemy wants to do everything he can to tear God’s people apart but, if you are faithful to fight against his tactics, you will find overcoming victory, and God will perform an even greater work in and through you, as well as give you stronger relationships that will last through the fiercest storms.
The pastor commented on Sunday that he had more friends when he was in the world than he did in the church. I remember an unsaved friend telling me the same thing. She preferred hanging out with prostitutes and people who did drugs, because they were “loving and accepting.”
I realize that is a cop out, but there is some truth to that. Unbelievers often treat their “friends” better than Christians do. It seems we forget the greatest commandment: love.
I feel bad that “What would Jesus do?” was a fad, because that is a question we should ask ourselves. Are we responding to others the way Jesus would?
I am not of the belief that Christians should not “judge,” but there is a difference between acknowledging that someone is sinning and actually being judgmental. As humans, it is easy to look down upon those living in sin instead of realizing that, but for the grace of God, that could be me! Even in the Church, people tend to gossip about others instead of going to them and challenging them to keep walking with God. This is not really love for others. It is more focusing on others’ sin in order to get the focus off of your own.
God did not save you because you are a good person. If you are truly saved, it is more than likely because you saw your need and knew that you were wretched without God. Don’t lose sight of that. No one is hopeless, but I believe many have been turned off due to the lack of love they see in those who claim to love God. As John asks us, though, how can we love God when we don’t love our Brothers and Sisters (1 John 4:20)? And I would add, how can we love God when we don’t love everyone that He died to save?
True love is carrying a burden for those who are hell bound. It is interceding for them and being willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus when necessary. There are a lot of hard hearts in the world, but I’m convinced that there are still many who will respond to love.
Love is also seeing the needs of your Brothers and Sisters and looking for ways to lift their burdens. It’s taking time to listen to their struggles when you would rather be doing anything else.
I work with Christians, so I am not around unbelievers that much. I am also not good with words, except on paper, so I struggle to walk up to someone I don’t know and begin a conversation. But I hope I am never too busy to share a kind word or a smile, to recognize a need when there is one and be willing to fill that need. I pray that, every time I walk out my door, people see Jesus in me. This time of year, especially, people are hurting, and they need hope. Don’t neglect to show God’s love wherever He opens the door for you to do so.
I also hope I am never too busy or preoccupied with my own struggles to be available for a Brother or Sister in need. Jesus was constantly giving, and we need to be willing to do so too.