"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." (Colossians 3:14, ESV)
As Paul talks to the Colossians about their spiritual wardrobe, he arrives at his favorite garment—Love. Like Jesus, Paul believes in the two commands: love God and love each other. If you do those two really well, you will have fulfilled everything in the Bible.
In life, you can focus on the 'do nots,' but the harder you try to do the 'do nots,' the harder it will be to live a Christian life. For this reason, Paul says, 'Put on love." Check out this extraordinary garment called Love! Not only does it go well with compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and forgiveness, but it actually pulls together and connects the entire ensemble! In Corinthians, Paul declares that when it comes to faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest of the three. Jesus' ministry among the people was consistently demonstrating His love. Those who met Him were drawn to His love!
One can see why the Apostle Paul would instruct the church to put on love. It is the only garment that the Bride of Christ could wear that is worthy of her Groom! Love covers a multitude of sin! I want that garment on! Love keeps no record of wrong! I want that garment on!
Think of how beautiful you look to God, all clothed in the garment of Love! You will truly look great on earth and in heaven as you put on Christ and wear the garment of His love.
"For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2, ESV)
What is so attractive about the night to a thief? First, thieves like the night because it is easier to hide. At night, they can often 'slip in and slip out' before anyone knows they have been there. Secondly, thieves like the night because, under the cover of darkness, they can surprise their victims. Third, thieves like darkness because it is harder to catch a thief after he has already struck.
So why does Paul tell the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord will be like a thief in the night? God is not referring to Jesus as a thief who will come to steal from families. He is telling the church, "You need to be ready for the coming of the Lord!" The Lord will not announce His coming, so we have time to prepare for His arrival. He will show up like a thief, 'slip in and slip out' before anyone notices He has been there! Those who loved him the most will be gone! He will show up like a thief and surprise people unaware. And those who love Him will go with Him. He will show up like a thief, 'slip in and slip out,' and be gone before anyone can do anything. Paul's point is that Jesus is coming back. Be ready, not getting ready, when He comes
"At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—" (Colossians 4:3, ESV)
Paul lived with one thing on his mind: advance the Kingdom of God. His apostolic call pushed him ever deeper into the spiritual darkness of cities and nations. His goal was to take the Gospel to places it had never been before, to be the brightest shining light to those who had never heard it before. Therefore, upon departing Collosse, he had one request: "Pray for us!”
Pray that God would open to us a door for the Word! A door is simply a place of access. It can be open so that you can walk in, or it can be closed to keep you out. Paul was asking for prayer that the door would be open, granting access to those living in darkness so that they might see the light.
Every day, whether we know it or not, we encounter doors. Nations have doors. Cities have doors. Communities have doors. Families have doors, and yes, people have doors. Our prayer is to be that the doors would open up so that we might make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Some doors will never open until someone prays, "OPEN UP!" Whose life, family, city, or community might your prayer cause to open up to the Light of the Glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
"... And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14, ESV)
There exists a considerable risk between: "Maybe you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this." (Mordecai), and, "If I perish, I perish." (Esther). Risk is defined as that which presents the possibility of loss or injury. On one side, exists the possibility of success; on the other side, there is the possibility of loss or death. We face risk all the time.
The question is, "What will you risk for the Kingdom of God?" Risk is woven into our lives. We can't escape it. At times, we can manage it, but other times we cannot. Esther did not know what the outcome of her action would be. She had no special revelation from God on what He would do. She had to make a decision based on love for her people and the wisdom of Mordecai, her uncle.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego took a risk. "God can deliver us, but if he does not, we will not bow to you, O king." Paul believed that his trip to Jerusalem was necessary for the cause of God. Yet he did not know what would happen there. Arrest, affliction, imprisonment, death?
The love of God compels us to take risks! His love in us compels us to reach out to a lost and dying world with the Gospel. We never know the outcome; we only know God's value for people and our call to take risks to reach them!
"David said to him, "How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?"" (2 Samuel 1:14, ESV)
David was hated by King Saul, hunted by King Saul, and often humiliated by King Saul. Yet David refused to lift up his hand or his words against his king. On several occasions, David had the opportunity to take the life of the man who was hunting him down, Saul. He refused!
David's own men did not understand him or why he would not kill Saul and become the king that Samuel anointed him to be. Did not God anoint David to be King of Israel? But David realized that God had anointed Saul to be King of Israel as well. He was not about to stand in the way of God! He would be patient and watch how God would work things out.
The body of Christ is filled with 'armchair quarterbacks' making bold calls against leaders from the safety of their blogs, tweets, and posts. They have no regard for the plan of God; they look only for more followers or ego-building comments. So did this young Amalakite that David addresses.
Oh, for the body of Christ to mature and watch, particularly their words directed at leaders. The young Amalekite thought it was nothing to take Saul's life and ultimately met the same fate. May we have a heart like David's and refuse to be character assassins. May we bless and not curse. Pray, and not judge. May we walk in the culture of heaven.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22–24, ESV)
As Jeremiah laments over Jerusalem, he seems to be going deeper and deeper into a ‘dark place.’ It matters what we think about while passing through dark times. If you think about dark things, your heart and thoughts will also become dark. This is why the Word of God must always stay before us as we encounter dark times.
In fact, Jeremiah 3:21 says, “But this I called to mind, and therefore I have hope!” Jeremiah remembered the Word! The Word came as a light amid the dark ponderings of his soul. The Word is a light to our feet and a lamp to our path. What did Jeremiah remember?
First, he remembered the steadfast love of the Lord. And this loyal love never ceases. Steadfast love is a love that is always faithful. It never quits. It never gives up. It is always there! Second, he remembered that God’s mercies never come to an end. That is who He is. Not only do they never come to an end, but they are new every morning Third, he remembered, “Great Is Your Faithfulness!”
When Jeremiah remembered these things, he remembered that God was his portion! God was with him in covenant! Therefore, we say, “I will hope in Him!
“But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
(Ruth 2:11 12, ESV)
Ruth’s friendship, affection, and care for her mother-in-law, Naomi, were quickly noticed in this new land where she found herself. Her future husband and destiny were tied to how well she lavishly loved Naomi. Ruth would see the land give back to her as she served and attended Naomi. Boaz was impressed with her selfless ways! She denied herself to minister to Naomi effectively, and the word was getting around!
When Boaz finally speaks to Ruth, he reminds her of her service to Naomi, and he blesses her. Often, when it comes to family, we forget that these are the people closest to us that God desires us to minister to most often. Because family is familiar to us, we forget the capacity for ministry that exists right in front of us. Concerning family, don’t miss the blessing: “The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49, ESV)
As we quickly approach the holiday season, let us not forget those in need. We don’t often associate the destruction of Sodom with the neglect of the poor and needy. But God did! He declared that her guilt was that she had plenty of food, pride, and prosperous ease, but she did not aid the poor and needy. The Hebrew word for ‘aid’ is a word “that refers to the part of the arm that is used to perform functions of a man’s will.” Sodom had no desire to help. Therefore, she had no will to help. This led to her destruction.
To avoid Sodom’s fate, I would suggest that you open your eyes, listen with your ears, and feel with your heart. Let compassion rise when you see another’s lack, hear of their misfortune, or feel the pain of another’s adversity. There is no end to what you can give to during the holidays. But the most meaningful ones are the ones you can give to and secretly admire from a distance the joy your giving brings them.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas, let your arm carry out your will by aiding those in need. Don’t let the feelings of excess and prosperous ease trick you into thinking all is well. Be an extravagant giver! And remember, it is not the amount that counts; it’s the measure!
“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16, ESV)
The Book of Ruth is loaded with truths that touch the heart. Read it, and your heart will become glad knowing the depths of love and commitment shown in its four short chapters. The name ‘Ruth’ means friendship. You ‘feel’ friendship throughout the book and are impacted by it. And in Matthew 1:5, Ruth is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. Ruth, a Moabite woman, makes the genealogy of Jesus! How interesting!
When she entered into the Jewish covenant through marriage, she became a friend of God, a friend of the Jewish people, and a devoted friend and ‘daughter’ to Naomi, her mother-in-law.
Naomi does her best to convince Ruth to leave and find a husband among her people, but she refuses. Not only does she refuse, but her resolve to stay with her mother-in-law increases. Her commitment stands out: “I am going with you. I will accompany and care for you. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
Friendship is a relationship of mutual heart bonds between people in a non-sexual way. It is far more powerful than an acquaintance, for it has to do with closeness that is of the heart. Ruth gives us this picture of friendship in all the relationships in the book.
"Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice." (2 Chron 7:12, ESV)
I have to admit, I am envious of Solomon. One, the Lord appeared to him in the night, and two, he heard the words, "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place." Can you imagine encountering God and hearing those words from Him?
Destiny was literally unfolding right before Solomon's eyes. The king had finished building the temple and the palace. All Solomon needed now was for the God of Israel to come and fill the temple with His presence. You, my friends, are the temple of the Holy Spirit! Like a wise master builder, build your life upon 'The Rock' according to His Word. Build with gold and silver, not wood, hay, and stubble.
As you build your life upon the Rock, pray that God will come fill your life fresh and new with His presence. Pray that God would impact your families in lavish ways. Pray that the Lord Jesus himself would appear to you to encourage you and mark you as one of His chosen ones. Pray that your life would be an overflowing well of His life that touches generations.
May your life be a mile marker that future generations look back on for guidance, direction, and encouragement! May your life be the life that God chooses to manifest His presence through!
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