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 can’t do it!”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Has anyone ever told you that “you can’t do it”? Has anyone ever doubted your abilities, skills or intelligence? You are hurt. You are angry. You begin to doubt your abilities or skills.

Stop! That is exactly what the enemy (Satan) wants. He wants to paralyze you with doubt and fear. He wants to stop or stall God’s plan for your life and he will use others to spew his hatred and venom to do just that.  John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” This is a spiritual battle, not one of the flesh (Ephesians 6:12). Yes, it is normal that we will get upset at others for spewing venom. However, we need to recognize where it’s coming from- the enemy.

In my life, I have come across many naysayers- family, “friends”, acquaintances and colleagues. Back in the day, I truly cared because I thought their opinions mattered. The only opinion that matters is God’s. He is the one who is going to judge you, not man (Eccl. 12:14). There is no denying that negative criticism hurts and even paralyzes us (it’s happened to me!) to the point where we don’t move forward with our plans in business or ministry, to name a few.

On a positive note, God sees in you what others cannot see. You are special and there is a special task for you in His plan. He believes that you can do it.  Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  This scripture tells us that God thinks differently than we, humans, do. He sees in you what others don’t. He sees your potential, your talents, your skills and the best part of all- you will use it all for His honor and Glory. Where it truly counts!

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” Matthew 20:15

Sadly, individuals think that the power they have via money, status, and  position or title is important. None of that matters in God’s eyes (Phil. 1:9-11). What truly matters is what’s in your heart, your obedience to God, your relationship with God and your love for others. Nothing in this world will last (1 Cor. 7:21) and it doesn’t fill you the way God’s love does.

You may be wondering, “How should I deal with these people and/or this situation?”

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pray for your naysayers (Matthew 5:44):  This is the best thing that you can do. Prayer works wonders! God listens. He cares. And He will take care of you and your situation. He will heal your heart and mind.
  • Let go and let God: Forgive and forget (not easy, but necessary for healing!). God  will humble your enemies before you (Mk. 12:36).
  • Be confident in your ability: God gave you talents (Rom. 12:6-8). Why would God give you those gifts if He didn’t believe in you? Hone these skills and use them for His honor and Glory. Where it really counts! 
  • Don’t be discouraged: Do not allow naysayers to stop you from living that life that God has planned for you, whether in business or ministry. And never stop honing those skills. Keep moving forward. God is with you and He will never leave you (Deut. 31:8).
  • Lean on Jesus: He is your rock and where you will find strength (Phil. 4:13). Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Believe in your ability! I am using the talents that the Lord gave me  to move God’s plan forward. Don’t allow anyone to ever tell you that “you can’t!”

God bless you and yours,

Ivette