When you think about love, what does it look like? Like a precious lady teaching stories of the Bible to a class full of kids? Like a sweet older couple who are madly in love with one another, hand in hand in faith and love, although their faces are lined with wrinkles and their steps are shortened? Like the heart of one serving with respect and diligence to put food on the table for hungry mouths and empty bellies at a shelter? Like the innocent face of a newborn baby who is pure and sinless? There are a lot of people who display selfless, active, and unconditional love each day by their actions. Love is a decision that acts unselfishly, unconditionally, and nonjudgmentally!
THINK ABOUT THIS, LOVE is Jesus Christ … Jesus suffers long, He is kind, He does not envy, He does not parade Himself, He is not puffed up, He doesn't behave rudely, nor does He seek His own, and He is not easily provoked. He thinks NO EVIL and doesn't rejoice in iniquity! He bears, believes, hopes, and endures ALL THINGS. Jesus is love with flesh and bones. He is a compassionate heart with a loving nonjudgmental look for the worst of us and serves, cares, and sacrifices anyway! He is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6.
Let's do all we can to follow the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and love with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” -- 1 John 2:6
“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth . . . I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isa. 43:19 Our life with God is a journey. It may be hard sometimes, but it is a journey worth traveling! Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations and the only impossible journey is the one you never begin. (Prov. 3:5-6, Jer. 17:7)
We all go though trials and obstacles. (Jam. 1:2-4) God uses events in our lives to shape us, to teach us, and to help us grow. We must continually try to avoid Satan, confess our sins, and forsake them. Paul advises us to “Put on all of the God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” Isa. 41:10
New beginnings always bring feelings of excitement, refreshment and thankfulness. This happens at weddings, new births, graduations, retirement, etc. Reflecting on some our “New Westpark Beginnings” (new births in Christ, restored souls, land for a new building, established leadership, first permanent minister), we have a lot to be thankful for. No words can express how blessed we are. Praise and glory to our great God for all of the new things He has done! May His blessings and protection continue to rain down upon us as we continue this journey!
The Joyful Life we seek ...
Let us rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say, Rejoice. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. The blessing of the Lord, it makes it rich, and he added no sorrow with it. So, ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy.
Philippians 4:4, Psalm 16:11, Proverbs 10:22,
John 16:24, Romans 14:17, Galatians5:22
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Col 1:16-17
The sovereignty of God used to be a given in church and was a common subject of preaching. Is this the case in these times? We must take time to read and take in scriptures like the one above, Heb.1:3, Eph.1:11, and Psalm 115:3. God has unlimited power, does what He chooses, and has sovereign control over the affairs of man, nature, and history. His power is absolute and infinite. He’s the potter and we’re the clay. Being God and being almighty, He has the power and the right to do whatever He wishes and is under no obligation to us.
There are aspects of God’s sovereignty we can see and experience, but we’ll never truly understand it on this side of the grave. Digging in the Word, being led by the Spirit, allowing God to have His way in our trials - these will shed light on these aspects but our hope in putting all the pieces together will have to be placed in eternity. “For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1Cor.13:12
Let us continue to grow in understanding of His will and His ways. Amen!
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
Herding sheep in David's time was hard work. There was nothing romantic about the night shift. Shepherds did not relax on balmy evenings under the twinkling stars. They braved numbingly cold nights and worked hard to protect their sheep from predators. Night and day, they were never passive toward their flock. Shepherds had to lead, tend, feed, protect, and nurture the animals in their care. They provided everything necessary for their flock’s safety and well-being. To appreciate the size of this challenge, remember that sheep are fearful, defenseless animals. They will drink from any body of water that they stumble upon - dirty or clean. They will not lie down unless they feel entirely secure. Sheep are susceptible to certain diseases. Indeed, sheep need lots of care.
The Bible tells us we are like sheep. On our own, we are defenseless against the power of sin and death. Without guidance, we will drink from any source of information and entertainment. We look everywhere for security, and we're vulnerable to diseases of our spirt, our emotions, and our mind. We, too, need a lot of care. I thank God for appointing Jesus to be our Good Shepherd.