Faith

What is the meaning of true love?

Many people are in search of love and I wonder if they are looking in the right place for it. I can’t blame them. Who doesn’t want to feel loved?

I was one of those people who was in search for love. I wanted to fill that void in my heart. However, I searched in the wrong places– I looked for it in man.

The results: a failed “romantic” relationship, damaged friendships and strained relationships within the family.

There was hurt, anger and emotional damage; however, God works it out for our own good. I am happy to report that relationships with my family are better and I married a loving man (That God chose for me!). Only God can do that! And it didn’t happen overnight.

(Honestly, the blog post’s introduction started very differently. Not sure why the Lord changed it, but He knows all things. I don’t know who needs to read this today– there is hope in your marriage, friendship and family relationships. Give it to God. Only He can fix your problem…)

Bible Study: What is the meaning of true love?

The Bible defines love as follows:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

(If this verse is difficult to understand, check out the NLT translation.)

Does this describe the love that you feel for your neighbor? for yourself? How can we say that we love others, if we don’t love ourselves?

One the greatest examples of true love is Jesus’ sacrifice for us– He was selfless, kind to all sinners, patient with His enemies and he endured rejection, humiliation and death on the cross.

One of the most quoted verses of the Bible, based on my observations, says it all.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Take a moment to meditate on this verse. If that doesn’t demonstrate God’s love for us. I don’t know what does.

Are you willing to sacrifice your only son for those in this world? Let’s be real. Would we die for our enemies? Probably not. Jesus did.

Jesus loved His neighbor as He loved Himself. He came to serve (Matthew 20:26-28). Let’s love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Let’s serve one another in love. Do we love genuinely? Or is it a “convenient” love? Would you offer your neighbor the only meal you have in your kitchen?

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Galatians 5:13-15

There is no greater love than the one God has for us.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

And there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

God should be our first love. The first commandment says:

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

How do we know that God should be our first love? In the book of Revelation, Jesus questions those who have fallen away from their first love.

And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:3-5

It is time that we turn to our first love. Jesus is coming for His people sooner than we think.

Many people are too busy living their lives that they don’t think about eternity. Where will you spend eternity? Please think about it.

I challenge you to seek God today. Tomorrow could be too late.

Jesus loves you and so do I.

God bless you & yours,

Ivette

 

 

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Ministry

Behaviors & attitudes that affect ministry. What can we do about it?

If you’ve worked in ministry for a while, you have come face-to-face with many questionable behaviors and attitudes. I’ve met Christians who have “walked with Christ” for more than 10 or 20 years. Even 50 years! Awesome, huh? But the problem is that you’d think they started to “walk” yesterday.

Allow me to explain……

Christians aren’t perfect, but we should work together, as one. We are one body of Christ, not twenty. Unfortunately,  a few people claim to “walk right”, but the”old man” follows them around.

For example, we ask for her advice on a ministry opportunity or event, and she has many excuses as to why it wouldn’t work. She is negative, refuses to help, but then complains of the outcome. If we don’t feel it is the right opportunity, pray about it. Perhaps, God wants us to take on that ministry opportunity or role. How do we know if we don’t pray about it?

Phillipians 2:14-15 says,

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Scripture is clear, do not murmur or dispute about ANYTHING!  Do NOT complain. Why? God is telling us, via His Word, that He doesn’t want us doing so. Let’s obey.

Let’s go deeper!

We should set the example (John 13:14-16). We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:12-14). We should lead lives differently than those of this world (Romans 12:2). We shouldn’t give anyone a reason to criticize us (Phillipians 2:15). What will they think of Jesus? We are His ambassadors after all, aren’t we?

In my experience working in ministry, I’ve observed behavior and attitudes that should not form part of a Christian’s life.

Below are a few that I’ve witnessed. (I am sure there are more!!)

  1. Controlling: Some people cannot handle not being in control. If ministry doesn’t move forward their way, we hear about it. It’s not about the “self”, it’s about the body of Christ. We do what God tells us to do, it’s not what we want to do. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
  2.  Jealousy: She takes her eyes off of Jesus and looks at man (Hebrews 12:2). She looks at the accomplishments of others instead of focusing on her own. She is never content and covets what her neighbor has (Exodus 20:17). If we walk in the Spirit, we understand that all we do as the body of Christ is to build the church, not the self. (1 Corinthians 12)
  3. Self-Centeredness: If she isn’t the center of attention or isn’t called to take part in the service, she gets angry, jealous and complains. And when we ask her to help in other areas, she rebels. It’s not about what pleases you. It’s about what is pleasing to God. Are you pleasing God? (1 Corinthians 3:2-4) If one isn’t submitted to God, how do we expect to take part in service?
  4. Discontentment: Nothing is ever good enough. Everything we do in ministry is a problem or not right. She doesn’t contribute to the cause and she isn’t happy with the outcome either. Again, it’s God’s way, not ours. He will use whomever He wants to complete a mission. (Philippians 4:11-13)
  5. Laziness: She wants the ministry to progress, but she never volunteers to help. Someone asks her to do something and she never responds with a “yes or no”. Years go by and she still sits in the pew. She isn’t motivated to take on her ministry. How can you say that you love God and His ministry, but you don’t step out in faith?  (Hebrews 6:11-13)

I’m sure you’ve heard this expression, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Well, if you have nothing to add, sit quietly, pray for God’s ministry, and let others work. There is no reason to add drama when all we try to do is bring souls to Christ. There is no need to go into a long excuse about why you can’t do it, why the idea won’t work, etc. Let God work. Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:6-10).

How do these attitudes and behaviors affect ministry?

  1. It slows down ministry as the focus is no longer on it.
  2. It discourages the body of Christ.
  3. It adds stress to the brethren.
  4. It tears town the body of Christ.
  5. It sets a bad example for newborn Christians.
  6. It ruins our testimony before others.
  7. The body of Christ and ministry suffers because talents are not being used to its full potential.
  8. We aren’t reaching “lost souls” fast enough because we focus on “putting out the fires”.

Ministry isn’t a straight line, it looks more like a zig zag and circles. God has the last say in the matter. We should aim to emulate Jesus, not man.

Let’s be real! Be honest with yourself.

Are we failing to live a life that is pleasing to God ? What kind of example are we setting as Christians? Are we a walking testimony? Are we full of drama? Is the “old man” attached to our hip?

My desire is to see the brethren move forward in their ministry, calling or personal endeavors. But no one can force a person to take on the cross. All I can do is pray that the Lord will deliver her and ignite passion in her soul and for His ministry.

While I realize that this post is harsh, we should speak truth. However, we cannot leave this post without a few tips that will encourage us in ministry.

What should Christians do?

Pray. Pray. Pray. Sometimes, it is easy to open our mouths and tell that person a little about herself. It’s tempting! But we shouldn’t do that.  Prayer changes everything.

Offer an encouraging word. Remind her that we aren’t perfect, that we are “in this” together, and if she needs help, you are there for her. Let’s build up the body of Christ, not tear it down.

Maybe, this is an opportunity to host weekly prayer or chat sessions.  She may need extra support and prayer during a difficult time. Let the Spirit lead you.

Set up biblically based workshops that will help her move forward in her ministry. Ones that will encourage her, help her develop a new skill and build her confidence.

Have you noticed any of these behaviors in your ministry? What have you done to help the brethren? Will you join me in prayer for all who are struggling right now?

Comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

God bless you & yours,

Ivette

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Christian Life

You have everything you longed for, but it’s not enough…

You feel blessed to have everything you dreamed of– a successful career, the house with a white picket fence, healthy children, a doting husband/wife, money etc., but you are running on empty. You have it all, but you don’t feel complete.

You want more and you continue to search for that one thing that will “fill you” on the inside. That one thing that will complete you. There is an emptiness in your soul and you can’t pinpoint it. The search is tiring and you want rest, but you can’t seem to find it.

We come to a point in our lives, where we don’t feel good enough. You try and try, but it’s never good enough. The question is: Not  good enough for who? Why do you feel this way? What makes you feel this way?

Perhaps, you’ve heard it before? All you need is Jesus.

In Him you will find what you need– rest.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

He will give you rest from all that is weighing you down. He will fill your cup. You will find peace in Him.

Be real with Jesus. No need to build a wall, hide or pretend that everything is okay. He knows it all, but He desires to hear it from you.

I don’t know what you are struggling with today, but know that God loves you and He wants to fill your cup with peace, comfort, love, and so much more.

You are more than enough. Jesus is more than enough for you!

I leave with you one of my favorite songs interpreted by Chris Tomlin:

 

If you are in need of prayer, please comment below or contact me.

 

God bless you & yours,

Ivette

 

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Christian Life

Forced to take an “unscheduled break” from blogging?

A few months have passed since I last posted on my blog. Unfortunately, a plague stopped by my house. (Ha! Plague?!)

Plague is an exaggeration, but let me tell you, it really felt like that. Everything from asthma, viruses, 36-hour bugs and colds hit our home. It felt like it was never going to end. It was a frustrating period for me and my family. This has never happened in my household! Back-to-back illnesses.

Who wants illnesses to linger for months? Exhaustion hit me and I needed to rearrange my schedule a bit. It wasn’t easy and I’m sure you have experienced this at some point in your life.

The result– an “unscheduled break” from blogging.

My personal definition of an unscheduled break is anything unexpected that keeps me from completing a task. As hard as you try to keep it together, it just seems like it won’t work.

“Unscheduled breaks” happen. How we decide to deal with the “break” is another issue. Whether it is a break from a project, blogging or ministry, there is a reason for it. And there is one!

We have a real enemy and his name is satan (I don’t like capitalizing his name! He doesn’t deserve it.). He attacks those who are moving forward in God’s will. And this is what happened in my household. If you are a Christian who serves in Spirit and in Truth and you are under attack constantly, you are doing something right.

Then comes victory.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

I learned that persistence is key. Keep moving forward in God’s will. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Keep your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).Put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). The Great I Am is fighting for you and me. God is good and He deserves all the Glory.

What can we do during this “unscheduled” break from blogging, besides getting frustrated and crying an ocean?

  • Take a deep breath, you will be okay
  • Stay connected to God via prayer
  • Create a scripture list & keep it handy
  • Keep a notebook with you at all times and  jot down blog post ideas
  • Stay active on social media
  • Immerse yourself in the Word
  • Pray harder….

Have you had an “unscheduled break” from blogging? How did you handle it? Please share your thoughts below.

God bless you & yours,

Ivette

 

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Faith

Nothing in this world can save us, but Jesus

There is nothing in this world that can save you, but Jesus. If anyone tells you otherwise, it is a lie.

Jesus is the only way to salvation. Good works can’t save us. Social status or fame can’t save us. Money or material possessions can’t save us. Heck, our pastors can’t save us. There is only one way– Jesus.

Scripture tells us that the only way to God is through Jesus. To know Jesus means to know God. He is the only way to salvation.

“Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” 

                                                                                           John 14:5-7

Mistakenly, people think that good works save. That it’s the ticket to heaven and it’s not. I am not saying that it isn’t good to work for the Lord. The truth is that if we rely on good works to save us, we’re in trouble. Why? Because we are placing our faith on our works and not on God. Grace saves us.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:6-8

Just as good works can’t save us,  fame and social status can’t either. We live in a world where popularity, money and fame influence many people, but these don’t influence God. He doesn’t play favorites. He looks at your heart! How is your heart doing today? Time for a check up?

If we play favorites, we sin. Sadly, this happens a lot in society. If we have nothing of “value” (according to worldly standards) to offer, people don’t notice us. But God doesn’t work that way. He loves us. We are worthy in his eyes. Every single one of us.

“If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” James 2:8-9

Just as good works, fame, and social status can’t save us, money can’t either. Money is necessary to conduct an exchange, but it won’t  buy our salvation.

In the book of Acts, chapter 8, Simon saw many people receive the power of the Holy Spirit after the disciples laid hands on them. Simon’s excitement go the best of him and he desired that particular gift. He offered money to buy that gift.

Peter was angry when he heard Simon’s offer. He told him that we cannot buy God’s gifts. Just as we cannot buy any of the  gifts that God gives to us, we cannot buy our salvation.

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Acts 8:19-21

It is clear. Jesus is the only way.

To avoid deception and false teachings, it is imperative that we understand the Word. This is why our pastors encourage us to read our Bibles daily.

We should delve into the Word. It’s not just about familiarizing ourselves with the most popular characters or stories in the Bible. We need to understand what the Holy Spirit speaks to us through scripture. We need to meditate on the Word.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3: 14-16

Let’s stay vigilant.

God bless you & yours,

Ivette

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