Characteristics of God, Godly Living

Finding Captivating Love {Devotion}

While this post is over a year old, it is worth making sure its contents are shared with all of you – my lovely readers who are dearly loved by our heavenly Father. Allow it to soak into your spirit, help you draw nearer to Jesus Christ, our King, and ponder the truths of our great God and His Word!


Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance (1 Peter 1:1-2).

In 1 Peter 1:2, we learn a few interesting things.

  • God has a purpose regarding us.
  • We are chosen.
  • We have been made holy.
  • We have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb (that is, Jesus Christ).
  • Grace and peace are ours in full measure.

The question I want us to answer today is….

How are you at living out these basic precepts that make up the Christian faith? It can take some of us many years to finally grasp the fact that we are –

  • on God’s mind (that He has a purpose for us!)
  • chosen by God alone (and it has nothing to do with our works)
  • cleansed (really cleansed) by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus, the Messiah!)
  • God’s grace and peace are completely poured onto every aspect of our lives, if we will allow God to do it!

What would our lives look like if we really grasped these truths? What would my life look like, if I really knew that I was loved by my Savior? Not a conditional kind of love that is based on what I do or don’t do, what expectations I completely miss by a long-shot, and any other human measure I can concoct in my mind.

Jesus loves, really loves, me and you. To such an extent that He came to earth.

Think about what kind of longing that would take.

“I am going to earth, to redeem them.”

“I will be forsaken, unloved, hated in fact, punished for what THEY did (for our sin, and He did it with such amazing love), and I am going to BRING them back. I am going to FIX our broken relationship, because I dearly love them and created them.”

This is true, friends.
Our reality.

God’s love is passionate. He is absolutely for us! And, this is the kind of love that God has for each one of us.

There is this song I reheard at a conference, but it took on a whole new meaning while there. “Live Like You’re Loved (Hawk Nelson)”. What would it take for me to live like God loves me? Not on some mini-level. We are talking about a football stadium, out of this world, full blown confidence, kind of love that God has for each of us.

The love of God is beyond anything we could ever comprehend.

We could take all of the oceans of the world, line them up next to each other, and it still wouldn’t even come close to the greatness of God’s love for us. All He wants is to be with us. To spend time with us. It’s a relationship!

Thessalonians

Week 2: Wrap Up

What was special about this week’s message? I invite you to comment below, and share with me (and other readers) about how God spoke to you in this week’s Bible study on 1 Thessalonians

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-20

… We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did (vv. 7-8, MSG).

Jesus’ Deep Love

Jesus Christ loves all of humanity. He saw and felt the agony of our lost relationship due to our disobedience. Sin separates us from God, and Jesus went to incredible lengths to bring us back into a right standing relationship with the Father, where we can stand in His presence, enjoy sweet intimacy with God, and have our prayers heard! Jesus Christ took our sins, died on our cross, and rose again. Because of Jesus Christ, we can be restored and have our God-shaped hole in our spirits – filled! Will we accept Jesus Christ and let Him love us?

If we are following Jesus Christ, it is because someone had the courage to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with us. Praise God!! We know the mighty power and love of our Risen Lord, but need to share the Good News with others – so they can come to know the love of our Savior and how He can radically change their lives for the better.

This kind of boldness comes only from being with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

What Scripture Says:

We can show others His love, by the way we treat them. Scripture teaches us a few things, in regards to treating others as a means to share Jesus with others.

  • Love others the way you love others (Matthew 22:39).
  • Do good to all people, especially those in God’s family (Galatians 6:10).
  • Be wise in the way you interact with non-believers (Colossians 4:5-6).

Learning How to Treat Others

Relating to others has never come easily for me. Even if it is out-of-my-element, God is calling His sons and daughters to go into the world and share the Gospel and ourselves with others.

Before we can do so, we have to learn how to treat others. We need to learn how to love well, starting with how we love (and treat) ourselves.

This is where leaning into Jesus really counts, because He is the One showing me to love. While He shows us how to love, it has to begin by realizing the love He has personally for each of us. This is the most important relationship we have, with Jesus Christ. So, I need to nurture this special relationship. Christ ought to be my motivation in how I treat others, for these acts of kindness can last for eternity.

Jesus, You are our Hope! You are why we can have the strength to change the way we treat others. Thank You, Lord!

Thessalonians

Week 2: Friday Five (1 Thess. 2:7-20)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths on 1 Thessalonians 2:7-20. . .

(1) Through these men’s example, we are reminded that we can share the Gospel of God and even our own lives as a means to witness to an unbelieving world (vv. 8). We see in this week’s memory verse that these men did not only share the Gospel of God. While they could have, they did some even more impactful by sharing their lives – allowing their lives to show off the power of God.

(2) We need to live out our lives in a way that pleases God (vv. 12). God will send others into our lives who will “plead… encourage… and urge…” us in our Christian walk. They will continue to lead us on in our faith journey. There is this one Proverb that says it best:

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another (Prov. 27:17; NASB).

(3) We can follow in these men’s footsteps, by thanking God for how those in our midst have responded to the Gospel (vv. 13). These men got down on their knees and thanked God for how the Thessalonians responded to the Gospel of God. They knew who was the reason for the Thessalonians coming to Jesus Christ. It is by God’s grace, and His grace alone, that we have been saved.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy (Titus 3:3-5a, NIV).

(4) We, too, will suffer for our belief in Jesus Christ (vv. 14). The believing community of Thessalonica suffered persecution for what they believed. It is as Scripture teaches us that others will despise us, because of Jesus Christ. When the world rejects Christ, they will also reject – even injure/kill those who worship Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord of their lives. But the God we serve is sooo faithful to us, even when others come against us!

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. That is why the world hates you (John 15:18-19, NCV).

(5) We can love and treat others we mentor in a likeminded way. The men of God diligently chose how they would care for the Thessalonians. They loved and treated them like treasured family. This is, in part, to why the Thessalonians were their pride and joy. The men poured much into this community of believers. They were not people they knew for only a moment, but knew well!

Thessalonians

Week 1: Friday Five (1 Thess. 1:1-2:6)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:6. . .

(1)  Our prayer lives are to be the strongest aspect of the Christian life (see 1:2-3). One of the more noteworthy aspects of this section of Scripture is their prayer lives. These were men who knew the significance of the need to praise and pray to the Father. If we want to grow as believers in Jesus Christ, we would be wise to take cues from their example –

We always thank God for all of you. We keep on praying for you. We remember you when we pray to our God and Father. Your work is produced by your faith. Your service is the result of your love. Your strength to continue comes from your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1:2-3, NIRV).

(2) God dearly loves us, and has chosen to call us His own (1:4). The most important form of love comes from our heavenly Father. We have been hand-picked by Him and passionately loved. Because of the way God loves us, we know that we will never have to walk alone. God, our Creator, is the One who walks with us – even carrying us, as we face difficult days in our lives. We need to keep our eyes focused on the One who loves us more than any other ever could!

(3) Our faith rests in our Lord Jesus Christ, and is transformative (see 1:6, 9-10). The Thessalonians’ lives were changed from the moment they first heard the Gospel and chose to believe. They put all their heart, soul, and mind into what they believed to be true about Jesus. They never half-heartedly believed, but the way they trusted Jesus showed up in every aspect of their lives.

. . . They tell about how you turned away from statues of gods. And you turned to serve the living and true God. They tell about how you are waiting for his Son to come from heaven. God raised him from the dead. He is Jesus. He saves us from God’s anger, and his anger is sure to come (1:9b-10).

(4) Our actions will change, in light of faith (see 1:10). As we gaze at the way the Thessalonians’ lives were changed by their beliefs in Christ, we can be encouraged that our lives can experience the same kind of transformation. As we place our faith in Jesus Christ, and no other, our lives can be radically changed.

(5) While our goal is to please God, not people, our faith-filled lives causes us to become examples of what it looks like to follow Jesus Christ (see 1:7-8, 2:4-6). Before we can become examples ourselves, we must be taught. God has given us Christ-centered people in whom we can see how they lived out their faith. Paul called people to imitate him, as he imitated Christ. He taught with his words, but as well as his very life.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1, NIV).

As we follow our Lord Jesus in faith, we are given many others who show us how to trust Jesus as the Lord of our lives. These people help us learn what it means to have faith in Jesus and allow it to alter the choices we make. As we grow, we are gifted the opportunity to entrust others with what we have been taught. It is a continual gift to others in the church.

 

Thessalonians

Week 1: Learning About His Love

How is everyone doing with this week’s study and memory verse? Our memory verse for the week is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:4, which says –

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you…

The Spiritual Election

We need to know deep in our spirits that election, which has already taken place. God has chosen us. There is no other’s vote who counts more than God’s. God has specifically chosen you, to become His own son or daughter, through the sacrifice and salvation found in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We recently went through a significant presidential election. One filled with emotions and arguments. This is not the sort of election that has taken place in Heaven, concerning us. God specifically and lovingly chose us. He has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), and this is why we have been chosen. Being chosen has absolutely nothing to do with our appearance, talents, health, or how far we have come in our lives. We are chosen specifically, because God loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him!

Being chosen by God is fully dependent upon who He is. He desires to spend time with us, who are uniquely made by Him. He is our good good Father, and honestly wants to be with us more than anything else!

Loved Anyway

It’s hard for me to envision in my mind that God has seen all of humanity at their best and worst, yet He has still chosen me.  Especially on days like today, where my struggles are real, I cannot imagine the process of being chosen. As hard as it is to believe, because I wouldn’t choose me on a day like today, God has purposely chosen me and dwells with me in my moments of trouble.

He has chosen us. He wants to just love us and be there for us. If we could grasp this truth, our entire perspective would change. As we grasp this truth, we begin to look at our relationship with Jesus differently and become increasingly more transformed than the day before.

This kind of love is what led the prodigal son home. The Father’s love is incomparable to anything else we could ever experience. We are fully welcomed into our Lord’s presence, because of what Jesus Christ has done. We have been ushered into our heavenly Father’s presence, from the moment we begin to follow Jesus Christ.

We might liken this moment to being invited to a party, but it is far different than anything we could ever experience. We are invited to sit at the table with the very guest of honor Himself – Jesus Christ. We are fully welcomed, involved in heartfelt conversation, and given the tremendous privilege to enjoy Him and His presence.

We need to realize that… God’s relationship with us is the highest thing on His “to do” list!

The Ultimate Love

This is the ultimate kind of love, where we will be welcomed, entertained, to be fond of, and to be dearly loved. Also, to be well pleased and contented with. This means: we will always have God’s full attention. He is not going to get restless in His relationship with us, and move onto the next one. God is fully invested in our lives, and desires to be with us more than anything else!

Because of His enormous kind of love, God has chosen us. We have been hand-picked by God to have our relationship with Him restored, through His precious Son Jesus Christ!

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