Jesus’ Sacrificial Love

<strong>Jesus’ Sacrificial Love</strong>

A sacrifice is something given up for the sake of others.  Anything sacrificial is connected to a selfless act or a selfless course of action.

Jesus’ love for His Father and for mankind was a sacrificial love.  In order to obey His Father and to redeem mankind back to a relationship with God, Jesus became the Lamb of God (Joh 1:29, 36) who was slain before the foundation of the world.  (Rev 13:8)  In Bible times, the animal that was frequently used in sacrifices to God was a perfect, unblemished lamb.

Let’s see what the Bible says about such love.

We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. This is why we must give our lives for each other. 17 If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God.  (1 Joh 3:16-17 CEV)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  (Joh 13:34 ESV)

Live lovingly, just as the Messiah also loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice, a fragrant aroma to God.  (Eph 5:2 ISV)

If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, 16 and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do?  (Jas 2:15-16 TLB)

But do not forget to do good and to share. For with such sacrifices God is well pleased.  (Heb 13:16 MEV)

So not only did Jesus show us what love is, but the Word of God encourages us to model this same type of selfless love back to a hurting and needy world. 

We are encouraged to live our lives as an offering and sacrifice which is a fragrant aroma to God.  We are urged to do good to others and to share food and clothing with those in need.  In this way, we share the love and goodness of God with others.  God bless you.

Clothe Ourselves with Virtue

<strong>Clothe Ourselves with Virtue</strong>

How can we clothe ourselves with virtue?  For that matter, how can we “put on love” as instructed in Colossians 3:14?  And note that Romans 13:14 tells us that we have “put on Christ,” as does Galatians 3:27.

And what virtues are we encouraged by God’s Word to put on?

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  (Col 3:12 NIV)

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  (Col 3:14-15 NIV)

Your love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other.  (Rom 12:9-10 ISV)

. . . with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love . . .  (Eph 4:2 NKJV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Gal 5:22-23 NASB)

Wow!  This is an impressive list of virtues and good traits to pursue and to practice.

In the natural realm, when we want to be clothed, it is a conscious act of the will.  Our clothes don’t fly through the air and attach themselves to us, right?  We have to physically maneuver ourselves into the clothes, and then button or snap or zip them into place.  And we have to choose exactly what items we want to wear each and every day.

As believers and followers of Jesus, we must be just as deliberate about what virtues we choose to use in every circumstance and situation in our lives.  We must decide to be peacemakers, just as we must choose to be kind, humble, gentle, patient, peace-loving, joyful, faithful, and self-controlled. 

As we make the decision each new day to follow Jesus, we must make the decision in every circumstance and life situation about how to react to our current challenges or trials. 

In answer to our prayers to Him, the Lord will give us the grace and power that we need to weave these virtues into our lives.  The Holy Spirit will guide us if we yield to Him in humility and obedience. 

The Holy Spirit is the only One who can teach us and transform us into the image of Christ.  And best of all, He can be trusted to guide us lovingly and faithfully.  Hallelujah!

Hold Fast to Your Hope

Hold Fast to Your Hope

We have good reasons to cling to our hope in Christ.  First of all, God cannot lie, so we know that we can trust His Word.  Secondly, this hope will not disappoint us as Romans 5:5 states (below).

. . . so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us.  (Heb 6:18 NASB, emphasis added)

We must ‘hold fast’ [keep hold of; hang onto; grip] the hope set before us by the Lord. 

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy . . .   (Ps 33:18 NKJV)

God is keeping watch over all those who hope in Him and in His mercy.  Glory to God!

. . . because you are my hope, Lord.  You, Lord, are the one I’ve trusted since childhood.  (Ps 71:5 CEB)

The Lord, who is almighty and never-failing, is the basis of all of our hope.  When we base our trust in Him, we have placed our trust appropriately.

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.  (Ps 119:81 ESV)

We are wise when we put hope in God’s Word because His Word will not fail, simply because He watches over His Word to perform it.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  (Ps 130:5 NIV)

This also confirms the wisdom of putting our hope in God’s Word.

. . . and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Rom 5:5 NRSV)

In this verse, God promises that our hope in Him will never be disappointed or frustrated.  What a wonderful reassurance from the heart of the Lord!

A Good Spouse is God’s Gift

A Good Spouse is God’s Gift

A good spouse (whether husband or wife) is a gift and a blessing from God.  These next verses mention the blessing of a prudent and excellent wife, but a kind and loving husband is also a gift from God. 

He who finds a wife finds what is good, gaining favor from the Lord.  (Pro 18:22 CEB)

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents but a prudent wife is from the Lord.  (Pro 19:14 NIV)

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.  (Pro 31:10-12 ESV – see also verses 13-31)

As the Scriptures teach us, EVERY GOOD THING is from our heavenly Father.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  (Jas 1:17 NASB)

A good spouse blesses us in so many ways by providing:

  • Companionship and connection
  • Attraction, intimacy and passion
  • A confidant and spiritual partner and
  • A sense of purpose in having children and raising them together.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  (Gen 2:24 NKJV)

. . . and the two will become one flesh.’[So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  (Mk 10:8 NIV) Spouses from the Lord become one body with their partner—united in faith, love and bringing glory to God.

Don’t Criticize Others

Don’t Criticize Others

Judgement is God’s exclusive privilege.  We fellow believers and servants of the Lord are not entitled to come to a “verdict” about anyone.  If we are eager to judge, we should judge only ourselves.

Let’s see what the Bible teaches us on this subject:

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  (Rom 14:13 NIV)

Rather than criticizing our brothers and sisters, we should eagerly endeavor to avoid placing hindrances or blockages into the paths of fellow believers.

My friends, don’t say cruel things about others! If you do, or if you condemn others, you are condemning God’s Law. And if you condemn the Law, you put yourself above the Law and refuse to obey either it 12 or God who gave it. God is our judge, and he can save or destroy us. What right do you have to condemn anyone?  (Jas 4:11-12 CEV)

We should never be cruel with our words. We must not think that we are above the Law—but we are called to obey it and to honor it.   Only God has the authority to condemn.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God . . .  (Rom 14:10 NIV)

Why should we try to pass judgment on our brothers and sisters in Christ?  What justifies us in despising our brothers and sisters?  Remember, we will ALL stand before the judgment seat of God. 

When we show mercy, kindness, and love to others, we please the Lord because we are actively following His beautiful, holy example.  Glory to God!

The Deep Things of God

The Deep Things of God

What is meant by the phrase ‘the deep things of God’? 

These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  (1 Cor 2:10 NIV)

In the verse of Scripture shown above, the word “depths” translates the Greek noun βάθη, which is the Accusative, Plural of βάθος (bathos). In this context, Paul is using a word that refers to “deep water” to portray a parallel idea in an attempt to describe the complexities of and the secret and careful plans of our God.

This word that represents the depths of God (the deep things of God), refers to greatness, immensity, profoundness, impenetrability, and mysteriousness.  It goes beyond surface considerations and into the serious, innermost study of God’s nature, His purposes and His love.

Let’s continue looking at the Bible:

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.  (Joh 14:26 NIV)

The Holy Spirit was given to every believer at the moment of salvation.  (See Ac 2:38; Eph 1:13)  The Holy Spirit teaches us all things and helps us to remember everything that He has taught us.  As we obey the Word and walk in faith, our relationship with the Lord grows stronger and more mature.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  (Lk 10:21 NIV)

“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”  (Amos 3:7 NIV)

The two verses immediately above mention that God reveals hidden thing to His people.  These are clearly deep things of God that the Holy Spirit shares with the children of God.  The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom, insight, and revelation knowledge.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  (1 Cor 2:11 NIV)

No one can know the thoughts of God other than the Holy Spirit who dwells within every believer.  (See 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16)  This same Holy Spirit will teach us about the profound, loving, and merciful God whom we are blessed to serve.  The longer that we are in relationship with the Lord, the more deeply we mature in the faith, and the more familiar we become with the deep things of God.  Glory to God!

God’s Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

God’s Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

When we understand and comprehend God’s perfect love for us, it drives out all fear.  Let’s see what the Bible has to teach us.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  (1 Joh 4:18 NIV) 

The perfect love that we receive from God is unending, unfailing, and persevering.  Glory to God!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Tim 1:7 NKJV)

The spirit of fear is not from God but comes from not being able to trust God completely and comprehensively.  God has given us the Holy Spirit as well as the fruit of the spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  (see Gal 5:22-23)  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of power.  (See Acts 1:8)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  (Rom 8:15 NIV)

The spirit whom we received when we accepted Christ as our Savior is the Holy Spirit.  (See Acts 2:38; Eph 1:13; Rom 8:16)  Once we accepted Christ as our Savior, we became children of God.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  (1 Joh 4:12 NIV)

The Bible verse above reminds us that no one has ever seen God in His complete, divine revelation.  Even Moses only saw the back of the Lord in Exodus 33:18-23.  However, as we believers imitate the love of God for mankind, we demonstrate God’s love to humanity. 

The perfect love of God—which has forgiven and cleansed us of all of our sins—drives out fear.  It drives out the fear of eternal punishment, as well as the fear of what other people think of us.  It drives out the fear of the unknown because we know that God holds us in the palm of His hand and has provided all that we need for life and godliness.  (2 Pet 1:3) As we believers experience God’s love inside of us, it empowers us to live for Him and to love others.  As we mature and grow in grace and walking in the love of God, we model the love, forgiveness, and mercy of God toward all with whom we interact.  Praise God!

The Light Shines in Darkness

The Light Shines in Darkness

We all know that in a dark place, even the tiniest light—say from a lit match—introduces light that is quite CONSPICUOUS.  In John 8:12, Jesus declared that He is the light of the world.  In the dark world that contains death, sin, and evil intentions, Jesus brought light and life and the precious gift of eternal salvation to mankind.  Glory to God!

Let’s see what the Bible says on this topic:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (Joh 1:5 NIV)  Light will always win over darkness, thanks to our Creator God.

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  (Joh 3:19-20 RSV)  Notice that a lot of evil deeds are done in the darkness and in the nighttime hours.  Criminals will often break lights on a street or in a hallway in order to hide their cruel activities.

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”  (Mt 4:16 NKJV)  Light dawned upon the earth in the form of baby Jesus, born in a manger in a stable.  Jesus brought us the gift of salvation.

For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.  (Ps 18:28 ESV)  The Lord “lights” the lamp of our soul within us.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer, the Holy Spirit makes His home within each one of us.  Hallelujah!

Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.”   (Joh 8:12 CEV)

Here is the same verse as above, but in a different translation:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12 NKJV)

As we continue in our relationship with Jesus Christ, our light shines into the world.  Our interactions with every person that we meet, whether loved ones or strangers, makes an impact upon each one. 

When we follow the example of our Lord Jesus, then our interactions will reflect His love, forgiveness, and mercy.  We will extend a loving and helping hand to all who need it, and encouragement to others.  In this way, we shine the light of God’s eternal love into the earth.  Shine brightly, dear brothers and sisters!

We Know Love, Thanks to Jesus

We Know Love, Thanks to Jesus

The Scriptures teach us that humanity knows love and is acquainted with love because Jesus gave up His own life to reconcile us back to our Father God.

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.  (1 Joh 3:16 NKJV)

 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Rom 5:8 NIV)

 Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it . . . (Eph 5:25 NCV)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  (Eph 5:2 ESV)

All of these Bible passages refer to the fact that Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice was an ACT OF LOVE.  The Lord tells us through the Word that we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Husbands are admonished to love their wives even as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed Himself on behalf of the Church. Husbands should want to protect their wives and children even as the Lord did.

And we’re encouraged to follow the example of Christ, and to become (as He did) a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  This gives us a reason to examine ourselves and to ask ourselves if we are demonstrating our love in ways that are spiritually and relationally significant to our nearest and dearest.  God bless you as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you in showing love to everyone in your life!

Rooted in Christ

Rooted in Christ

The Scriptures talk about our being rooted in Christ; rooted in love; and as branches grafted onto a tree which depends upon its roots.

. . . having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.  (Col 2:7 NASB, underscoring added)

We are firmly rooted in Christ by establishing a strong faith in and reliance upon Jesus Christ so that we won’t fall or be tossed around by the harsh circumstances of life.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  (1 Cor 15:58 NIV)

This passage (above) reminds us to stand firm (unshaken; immovable).  We should not allow ourselves to be tossed around by every wind of circumstance which may be bitter, severe, or critical.  Rather, we find our strength and hope in our faith in Jesus Christ.

. . . that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love . . .  (Eph 3:17 NKJV)

We are rooted and grounded in love because Jesus Christ is the son of God; and God is love.  (1 Joh 4:8)  Jesus is God’s love shown to us in human flesh.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.  (Rom 11:17-18 NASB)

The root or foundation of the church is Jesus Christ.  (Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17)  He is the root who supports the church and all of its individual members.  We rely upon Him for life and for everything that supports life!  We are blessed indeed!