It is the crucible (you should look at that definition and the next) of affliction where our faith, love and hope in Jesus is revealed. It is easier to abandon than commit, leave than stay, judge than love when the crucible of affliction is present in your heart, mind, body and soul. God is a redeemer of people and He often has to take us to the furnace before He takes us through refining.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
So today, for the love of Jesus, commit, stay, love because of your faith, love and hope in Jesus. I know it is hard on some of you right now, but know that God is at work even when you cannot see Him. Trust His heart when you cannot see His hand. Be encourage God ain’t finished!
This morning God led me to 1 Thessalonians to begin a new personal time with the Lord. Paul’s letters to Thessalonica were very encouraging to the local church then and great guidance for us today. I believe God clearly gave three significant indicators of living God’s will. Look at this verse.
“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. “ (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV84)
- Work produced by faith.
- Labor prompted by love.
- Endurance inspired by hope.
The Spirit then brought to my remembrance
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV84)
Consider this today and your life. Are these three indicator’s your life and legacy?
Can we bring ourselves to care for others with great concern and sincere appreciation? Can we offer ourselves up for the good of others? We must see people instead of commodities. Behind each face is a person who is important to God. Our treatment of others is rooted in how Christ treated us. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Rom. 5:8, NLT) God’s greatest act of love for us was before we were loveable. God did not wait for us to get cleaned up. He sacrificially came after us. We need to be people who love. We must not just let it be a Christian slogan. The slogans don’t work anymore. It has to come from the heart that has been changed by the heart of God. Strong love is a gift from God that is ours to use. Remember these words from Ephesians 3:17–19
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (NLT)
We have made love too small. The voices we have heard all of our life have been from sources of small love. The voices are in our brain and they scream small love. That is why it is so critical to renew the mind. That is why knowing the great expanse of Christ’s love is paramount. We must comprehend the incomprehensible nature of His love. His voice should override the voices of our mind that tell us to limit our love. The voices we have heard and learned from tell us that if we love completely we will get hurt, so we have been trained to limit love. Jesus said, “Love God with everything you are and your neighbor as yourself.” (paraphrase mine). Today, I want you to know you are able to love. You are able to demonstrate sacrificial love that smells good to God. It is a “sweet smelling aroma” when we love like Jesus.
You have probably learned that life is about using others for your own fulfillment. We seem to learn that if we lower the level of morality we will experience greater love and acceptance. We are tempted with sexual immorality and covetousness. We lower the value of others in order to increase our own value in our eyes. These are assaults on our ability to love. You can love the way Christ loves when you listen to His voice, live in His power and obey His Word.
If I am not convinced that God is a loving father, then I question Him about every circumstance in my life. If I’m suffering, I ask “Why”? If all is good, I feel loved. Yesterday I read a post by Tony Evans.
Trials must first pass through God’s hands to reach you. Trust Him.
I can trust those who am am confident love me. My loving father is always looking out for me even when sickness, hurt, pain, confusion, etc. come into my life. I know I have a loving Father. How about you?
We all have someone that we really want to encourage when they are going through a tough time. Trying to find the right words to say seems to sometimes be the most impossible thing to find. It is like trying to make a sentence out of alphabet soup. The letters are always moving. I know so many people right now that I do not know what to say. The cliches that I have often used, “It will be okay.” “God will work it out.” “This too shall pass.” “You grow in the valley.” (ha) “We live in the valley.” “Roots grow deeper during a drought.” all seem empty. Here is the truth and sometimes the truth is not what we want to hear.
Sometimes there is no making sense of it. There is no understanding it. There is no way to change it. It is what it is.
But then what? There is no hope in that. For the person that does not believe in Jesus, I cannot help. For the believer here is what I have to give.
- We don’t live as those without hope.
- Jesus really does love you.
- Jesus is sufficient in our weakness.
- Joy trust God even when the circumstances don’t change.
- Realize when you are confused Jesus isn’t.
- Heaven is real and life is a vapor.
- Hold on to Jesus and there will be times when you have to hold on so tight that your knuckles will turn white.
- Don’t judge the world through the lens of your suffering but through the lens of God’s love.
1 Cor 15:57-58; 2 Cor 12:8-9; Gal 6:9; 1 Thess 4:13
“What are we going to do with the rest of our life?” That is the question that seems to be popping up in my mind most these days. In the days we (Mary Anne & I) have left, we don’t know and have never known how many that will be, what are we to do? If it is a week or 30 years, what are we to do? I think God has given me an answer that really seems pretty simple. It is not a Christian motto that never really seems true or the slogan that would make sense on a bumper sticker. It is really just two things.
- We must accept God loves us unconditionally, that is without any conditions. This results in joy, freedom and celebration.
- We need to respond to God’s love faithfully. God demonstrates His love in many ways and circumstances. In each of those our greatest act of love is to join Him.
So simply put if each of us will accept God’s unconditional love and respond to God’s love faithfully we will walk in the fullness of the Spirit and make an impact in the world in which we live.