The Gospel in a Nutshell: The Son of Man Came to Serve. Mark 10:35-45.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are all on top of the world! The glittering prizes of “our wealth and honor – our fame and fortune – of intellectual prowess our great importance” is highly prized in today’s world system but can too often bedazzle the eyes of believers as well, and even Christ’s own disciples were not exempt.

How petty and self-serving can we get? How petty and self-serving were these two disciples – James and John? They wanted special favors from their Rabbi.

They were arguing about who was to be the most important in their little group and were jostling for the highest and best position in Christ’s coming kingdom.

James and John? They thought more highly of themselves. But what a shocking silence must have descending on each person, when Rabbi Jesus stunned them into silence with these head scratching words: that even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life -as a ransom for many.

SELF-SERVING

How are the decisions we make impacting those around us?

Rabbi Jesus said that we should seek to love others as we would love ourselves (Matthew.22:39). Nothing could be more central to that command than for us to spend more time considering how our plans, actions, and words will either serve us or serve others, help, hurt, hinder, the people in our circle of influence.

As Christians we no longer “live to serve ourselves” (Romans14:7)—or at least we shouldn’t. God’s will for us is to see our lives as instruments of Christ to aid, build up, positively enhance the well-being of all the ‘neighbors’ in our lives.

Having been called by the humility of our Savior Jesus, to no longer simply look out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4), we should instead be driven to carefully ponder how pursuing our desires in that purchase, this move, or that meeting is going to affect and benefit others.

The world will continue to tell us to “Look out for number one!”

I’m all for that—as long as we remember that we’re not number one! Christ is.

And he has directed us to look out for the interests of the people with whom he has sovereignly surrounded us. Yes, every day we will make decisions for our own good, but they should all be evaluated with a willingness to modify them or even abandon them as we prayerfully consider their impact on others.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to think we are the centre of the universe. We get so wrapped up in our own world and issues of daily life, we forget about others and their struggles. The incredibly little word ‘me’ becomes most important. We somehow think all of ‘everything’ revolves (or should revolve) around ourselves.

All too often we think all of our feelings and ideas are the most important in all of the world. But guess what: often times, others probably have better ideas than we do. Life has a habit of jolting us into reality, and a lot of things don’t work out as we expect them to. We need to learn we can be wrong sometimes.

Some people love to talk, mainly about themselves, and can be quite dismissive about the point of view of others.

They are not all that interested in what you’ve got to say—they have already worked out their response before you can say too much.

You know people like that?

Does my opinion matter? Probably not.

The New American Webster Dictionary has a really great definition for selfish people: 

“they are much too busy absorbing their whole selves into themselves.”

It’s like everything revolves around them, and no-one else. It’s all about me, myself and I. The self-centered person loves no-one else except themselves.

James and John, Sons of Thunder, tried to bargain with their Rabbi for quite the most prominent places in the Kingdom Jesus is leaving behind, for themselves.

James and John, sons of Thunder, were in pursuit of all the wrong things – and even after they heard the words of their Rabbi, could not begin to understand the staggering implication of His words: “Give my Life as a Ransom for Many!”

Mark 10:35-45Amplified Bible

35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He replied to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit [with You], one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory [Your majesty and splendor in Your kingdom].” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism [of suffering and death] with which I am baptized?” 39 And they replied to Him, “We are able.” Jesus told them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared [by My Father].”

41 Hearing this, the [other] ten became indignant with James and John. 42  Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their powerful men exercise authority over them [tyrannizing them]. 43 But this is not how it is among you; instead, whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first and most important among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a [a]ransom for many.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

We are going to take a step back in time today to conceptualize, contextualize what Jesus meant when He asked Bartimaeus: “Come. What Can I Do for You?”

Jesus was asking Bartimaeus, “How will you, then, serve the Kingdom of God?”

When Bartimaeus receives his miraculous healing from Jesus – whom will he be most grateful to, whom will he follow and serve – His Savior God or himself?

45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Here is the heart of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, given in one simple statement.

The foundation and basis of servanthood is giving – and Jesus gave His life as a ransom for all who believe in Him.

No one “took” His life – He willingly gave it up. 

Jesus, with all of His power and might did not come to be served as He deserves, but by His love and grace, came down to serve us. 

He served us by giving us a way to spend eternal life with Him even though we do not deserve it, nor can we earn it on our own merit. 

He gave His life freely so that we might have eternal life. 

He served us by being the payment for our sins.

Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but Jesus paid the price for us. He was our “ransom.”

The word “ransom” refers to the price one paid in Jesus’ day to release a slave.

We are slaves to sin, but Jesus’ life became our ransom that set us free from the bonds of sin.

To be a servant of Jesus, as Jesus himself modeled servanthood, means we must be willing to give up all rights to our life and to do anything God wants us to do.

When we look at Jesus’ ministry, we can see how Jesus served others, just as the disciples had seen Him do: they saw Him touch those that were unclean.

Without any partiality or bias, they saw him heal the sick, deaf, blind, and mute.

Without any partiality or prejudices, they saw Him raise people back to life.

Without any single thought given as to how they were different from him, they saw their Rabbi Jesus feed thousands with just a small amount of bread and fish.

Without biases or prejudices, knowing all their hearts down to the most finite of details, even knowing who would betray him, they saw Him wash all their feet.

They saw Him beaten and nailed to a cross.

Face to Face, Eye to Eye, Soul to Soul, Heart to Heart;

they quite literally watched Him die – for them.

Over and over again Jesus – the only Son of God – for the JOY, which was before Him, placed Himself in humble service to others – even death on a CROSS!

After he was arrested in Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter after Peter had struck the Temple Servant, Malchus:

“He had ten thousand angels at His disposal if his true intention was to call them down to ultimately “Subdue, and then Lord Himself over his Captors.”

He was in the Beginning! He was the Creator of the world!

He shared in the glory of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Yet He gave up all of Heaven to come to earth, born to a poor virgin girl in a stable with only an animal feeding trough for a bed.

He gave up his own majesty for the humility of needing his diaper changed. 

For JOY, He willingly accepted the humiliation and torture of the cross.

And we esteemed Him not?

And He went to the Cross ANYWAY?

Luke 16:15 AKJV 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Romans 5:8-10 AKJV But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Why would He do that for you and me?

Why should He do that for you and me?

Why did He do that for you and me?

His only reason for doing so, was to utterly and completely minister, utterly serve all of humanity throughout all the ages through His willing sacrificial death in our place so we could all one day spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

The greatest servant of all gave us the greatest gift of all because of His greatest expression of unconditional love for us. (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34)

We often talk today about our desire to utterly and completely “serve” God.

And certainly, we should be completely obedient to do what He asks us to do.

But we also need to remember Jesus did not come to earth to be ministered to.

He came so that he could utterly and completely minister unto us.

He still wants to utterly and completely minister to us today.

We don’t have to do life on our own.

He ready to utterly and completely help us.

When we are utterly and completely exhausted or anxious or fearful,

He tells us to cast all our care on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

When we need wisdom, He tells us to ask Him for it and He will give it to us generously (James 1:5).

When life gets busy and overwhelming, Jesus says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).

Whatever it is we face in life, Jesus utterly, completely, stands ready to minister to us.

If He utterly and completely loves us enough to die for us, you can bet it all He stands completely ready to help us through every single moment of our life.

How utterly humbling it is to know the Son of God longs to serve one like me.

“Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Jesus is speaking in broad terms as he describes what people in power can be like. They can freely coerce, intimidate, bully, threaten, and seek to control.

In contrast, Jesus says, we are called to live differently.

We must not follow the way of the world with its structures of riches, privilege, race, class castes, culture, nationalities, influence, politics, or religious elitism.

Jesus says we are to be counter cultural servants, following HIS example. He came not to be served but to serve and “to give his life as a ransom for many.”

All our relationships—parent-child, wife-husband, pastor-congregation, teacher-student—need to be refreshed from tendencies to control and manipulate. Instead, the focus should be on serving others, helping people to flourish, and empowering everyone to honor, worship, and follow Christ.

Are you a servant in the example of Christ in your circles of influence?

In what ways are you serving others as a neighbor, friend, spouse, parent, family member, teacher, or church member?

We are children of the heavenly Father and disciples of Jesus, who did not consider glory a thing to be grasped, but who humbled himself to die on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11).

Christ’s life was the exemplary witness to the truth of these words.

He was the eternal Son of God – the King of kings and Lord of lords.

All power in heaven and earth had been entrusted to Him, but He did not demand the service of others but knelt to wash His disciple’s feet.

The One before Whom all creation will one day bow in humble adoration, came to be Servant to all…

and His final act of Service to the children of men, was to become the pivotal point in the history of the universe –

when for the JOY which was before Him, He gave His life as a ransom for many.

Because of Jesus, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices so that the name and kingdom of God are made known.

His words must be our legacy. His example must be the pattern for our lives.

By His death and Resurrection, Jesus bought us out of Satan’s grasp and brought us to an everlasting freedom through the ransom price he paid.

We are now called to follow his example and live his life in our world. We are to serve and sacrifice for others. Living to serve others is the Jesus-way of life!

May we, in these radically challenging contemporary times we must navigate, be endowed with the mind of Christ – for although He was the Son of God,

He learned obedience by the things that He suffered – and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, to pay the price for the sin of humanity – and to ransom ALL of those who trust in His name.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Jesus, thank you for you dying in my place so that my sins could be forgiven. Help me to live my life so that it brings honor and glory to you. May I learn from your example of servanthood to serve others that you have placed in my life so that your love shines through every act of service and every spoken word. Help me, please, Holy Spirit so to remember you stand ready to serve, to minister to me in every situation, I face in life. 

Lord God, Author of my life, I pray for wisdom and grace to know how to suffer with You in this life and to give my life in service to others and to You. Keep me from my hankering after every glitz and glamour of this world and may I, like Christ humble myself, become truly obedient to Your word, selflessly follow in Your footsteps – so that Your name may be glorified, in Jesus’ name I pray, Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.

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Romans 5:8 |The Surprising Gospel of God: What does the Surprise Look Like? “I Loved You at Your Darkest!”

The Love of God. It’s a complicated thing. Every generation tries to understand love, fall in love, and explain love. People have gone to extremes to display their love for others, and thousands of years ago God did just that for each one of us.

In Romans 5:8, Paul tells us God demonstrated His love for us this way: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Out of the abundance of God’s great love for us He sent His only Son to pay the debt for our sins, even though we were all His enemies, powerless and ungodly. God’s display of love was not conditional.

It was not based on anything we had done or could ever do for Him. God knew that without His timely intervention we would be forever separated from Him.

Jesus’ obedience displayed grace in an amazing way. Jesus poured out His life for the forgiveness of our sins so we could be reconciled with God. Each of us, through faith, can have the opportunity to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and experience peace with God, hope in every situation, and eternal life.

Having a relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean life is always easy. Rather, it provides us with the ability to face anything that comes our way. We can have hope in all situations, confident of God’s grace, His faithfulness, and His 100% willingness to do whatever it takes to fully restore our relationship with Him. 

Romans 5:6-8 Amplified Bible

While we were still helpless [powerless to provide for our salvation], at the right time Christ died [as a substitute] for the ungodly. Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to willingly give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a good man [one who is noble and selfless and worthy] someone might even dare to die. But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

The Apostle Paul tells us here in Romans 5:8 that God has shown us his love in the death of Christ. The One who created the heavens and the earth, the One who rules overall, the One who is in the heavens and does whatever he pleases—this One has shown his love to us in the death of his only Son. John 3:16 rings gracefully in our ears, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”

This verse explains what Jesus said in John 15:13 when he told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

What Jesus says in John 15 he accomplishes at the cross in John 19 and Paul explains it to us here in Romans 5:8. This is the single most important story the world has ever known. The scale of this sacrifice is still being weighed today.

In fact, for all eternity we will see that the cost and the prize do not seem to balance, but there is glory in this gospel that fills up the throne room of heaven and shoots joy down to our hearts like lightening. This is a surprising gospel.

Romans 5:8 explains this surprising gospel by revealing how God shows his love to us in a surprising way, to a surprising people, and at surprising cost.

God shows his love in a surprising way.

I want us to linger here for quite a few minutes. Let this sink in, because this is abundantly and completely glorious. God shows. God is not a quiet, reserved, no-big-deal king. He’s not afraid to shake the world. He’s ambitious and he’s bold, he loves radically. The very expanse of heaven declares the glory of God.

Why else do stars exist? Why are sunsets as beautiful as they are? What purpose do they serve outside of lighting your heart on fire? God puts on display his love.

These two words, “God shows”, speak to both camps of people, those who think they are too good, those who believe they are too unworthy for the love of God.

From every which direction of our circumstances, we are confronted here with what God does. He shows. He is a relentless lover. He is always inviting us, not just so that we will agree on a limited intellectual level that we are loved, but also beckoning all of us to feel deep in our hearts we are both invited and loved.

It’s as if he is speaking to each one of us from the depths of eternity, “Look. I know some of you think you don’t need me. Some of you think you can’t have any part of me. What made you doubt my love?” “What can I do to change your mind?”

Do we realize the surprising ways in which God loves each and everyone of us?

He doesn’t stop with mere words we may never read or study, he does not stop with parting seas, he doesn’t stop at pillars of fire, or clouds of glory, he doesn’t stop with breaking down walls at the sounds of hundreds of great trumpets, he doesn’t stop with voices from heaven or angels standing before us. He doesn’t stop with a promise we’re just as likely as not to completely, abundantly ignore.

He doesn’t stop with a great or lesser earthly king. He doesn’t stop with one nation, mighty or weak. He doesn’t stop with only one people group. He doesn’t stop with “just good enough”. He doesn’t stop with perfect teaching or with amazing miracles. No, he stops with the death of the Son on the cross. God the Father loves so intensely that he could not give anything less than the absolute best that he had to offer himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son.

God shows his love to us in a multitude of ways but the supreme way he shows his love to us is in the death of Christ for us. What greater love is there?

We, in all our sin and all our messiness – WE – were loved enough by God that he would die for you. He did not just tell us that. He showed it two thousand years ago at 3:00 in the afternoon on a hill called Calvary outside of Jerusalem.

And, even more surprising, he yet, he still shows his love in the death of Christ.

These words are in the present active tense. God, today, now in this moment, is showing us the love, he has for us through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ.

What we see right here in our Bibles – this black text on a white page – is lifting Jesus up before us right now so that we can see with the eyes of our heart the very love of God for us. Do you see it? Oh, I pray you do! Father, open our eyes!

Now, in this exact and exacting moment, that’s the kind of Gospel love we need, the kind of surprise we each need, that’s the unrelenting kind of love God has.

Is not that even 0.01% surprising to you?

Today, surprise yourself and surprise a friend or two or three and Reflect:

  • Have you ever seriously asked Jesus into your life? If so, take some time to thank God for His grace. If not, please surprise God, learn more about His salvation. 
  • How can you surprise someone – show grace to someone today?
  • Do you have hope God can get you through any situation? Why or why not?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God, from the beginning, you were the word. You sent your only son to save us all and he even allowed himself to be tortured and crucified to obey you. Bless me with the gift of understanding and of unshaken faith in you. Let me know the meaning of your words in the Bible and how to live accordingly. Open the door of my heart, fill me with your light and understanding. Alleluia! Amen.

Another Part Tomorrow …… Struggling with the Surprise

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1 John 3:16-24– By this, do we know the genuine, true love of God? Are we Loving by Deed, and by God’s Truth?

It was perfect LOVE that caused the almighty God act in the affairs of mankind, to send His only begotten Son into the world to become the sin-sacrifice for the entire race of humanity and it was perfect love that caused the Lord Jesus Christ to lay down His life for us. It was perfect love which caused the Lord Jesus to be a perfectly willing sacrifice, to talk the talk and walk the walk all the long and humiliating and painful way to be crucified upon the cruelest criminal’s cross… willingly, so all who believe on Him might not perish but have everlasting life.

Ponder for a while in your 21st century heart those words “perfect love.” What comes into your mind? What thoughts come rushing into your soul that either say; “I can hold my head up high to that one!” or “my head now “comfortably” rests on my knees and my “perfect” shame are resting ever before mine eyes.” Be vigorously and rigorously honest with yourself – God is right beside you!!! Whose standard of “Yeah, I got this love thing down perfectly” “Hallelujah”” are you living, loving, placing before Jesus as your standard of Christianity?

Read and reread Psalm One. Place your standard of “Hallelujah” before God!!!

Now, let us examine today’s text,

1 John 3:16-24 The Message

16-17 This is how we have come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

When We Practice Real Love

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In the most perfect example of love in all history, God sent His only Son into the affairs and works of mankind. For the sake of love alone, the Lord Jesus offered for mankind’s consideration the supreme example of ultimate love when He willingly laid down His life for friends and enemies alike. Jesus’ Perfect Love is made manifest in its highest measure at the cross of Calvary and as His children we might ponder our own hyper dramatic, self-serving standard of perfect love.

Mankind is steadily crumpling under the weight of sin and collapsing under the satanic influence of evil, which is suffocating a world in distress, but the true character of the spiritual Christian is based on a godly love and stands in stark contrast with the evil hatred that reigns supreme over this fallen world system.

From our 21st century context we cannot begin to imagine what it cost God the Father to turn His back on His only begotten Son and pour out the full force of His holy hatred of sin… upon HIM. It was for love of us that God the Father poured out the full force of His holy wrath for the accumulated sin of the whole world, upon His innocent and dearly beloved Son – Whom He had loved from before the conception of the universe. And He did it out of LOVE… for the world.

From our 21st century “smart phone” applications we cannot dare presume to comprehend what it cost the innocent Lord Jesus, Who as God incarnate… had to freely lay aside His eternal majesty and supreme glory and be clothed in our decaying human flesh… and then be made indescribable sin for you and for me.

The eternal Creator God demonstrated His perfect standard of love towards us in that while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:6-8), He laid down His perfect life for us and became a perfect curse and a perfect hissing – as the weight of the accumulated sin of the world was laid perfectly upon His shoulders – and He did it for perfect LOVE of an imperfect you and for perfect LOVE of an imperfect me.

When we look at the cross of Christ and the blood that He shed for us at Calvary – we see incarnate LOVE. and we know what real godly love is by this: that the only Son of God, Christ Jesus perfectly laid down His perfect life for us. Ought not we for HIS sake, imperfectly lay down our lives for our imperfect brethren?

One “soul grabbing” “spiritually sobering” passage of biblical text which grabs our attention in this regard is the message of 1 John 3:16-18, where it is written:

1 John 3:16-18 Amplified Bible

16 By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers. 17 But whoever has the [a] world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? 18 Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].

What a marvelous, memorable message that is! Let us look at those words and the surrounding context to learn about God’s will for love in our lives.

Love – a recurring theme in this letter. Love for our fellow Christians is one of the dominant themes of this epistle, especially in chapters three and four.

From a whole heavenly host number of angles, the Spirit through John appealed to these first-century disciples to love one another. That is just a part of whom God’s children are, recognizing this truth: “. . . we should love one another” (3:11). Would it be correct to say that God commands members of His church in our own troubled 21st century context to love each other? Read for yourself: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (3:23).

Love in word – When we read, “. . . let us not love in word or in tongue” (3:18), that is not a divine decree forbidding children of God from verbalizing their love for one another. The point being made here is that we ought to do 100% more than talk about love – we need to show it in our action. Jesus told His apostles,

“. . . I have loved you” (John 13:1-17, 34-35, John 15:9-17). Paul wrote the same thing to the saints in Corinth, saying, “. . . though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2 Corinthians 12:14-15). When it comes from our sincere sacrificial heart, saying, “I love you” doesn’t violate Jesus’ teachings.

Love “in deed and in truth” – Again, that is the plain point of 1 John 3:18. Genuine love for other humans is something that we put into practice.

In this context, we see that such love was exemplified. It was shown by none other than the Lord Himself. What was His greatest manifestation of love for humanity? “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (3:16). What kind of perfect love was that? It was perfect love in perfect action, love sacrificing, love doing what always will be in the very best interest of others.

In this context, we also see that such love is expected of every single follower of the Christ. He exemplified it and He expect it from us, too. In view of what He did for us, we know, “And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (3:16). In this matter, Cain seriously failed his brother (3:12). We must not do the same. When we see our brother in need of material goods, we need to have compassion, open our hearts and our stockpile of blessings, and help! (3:17). Until we grow to the point of putting love into helpful action, we are just talking and tinkering, prancing and dancing around and maybe, deceiving ourselves.

Love in deed and in truth – love from the heart. Immediately following the charge for you and me to love in deed and in truth (3:18), in each of the next three statements/sentences there is reference made to a Christian’s heart. Look at them: “our hearts before Him” (3:19), “our heart” (3:20), and “our heart” (3:21). Our heart may or may not condemn us (3:20,21). God sees! God knows!

Words are words. Action is action. But do the words and/or action come from the heart? Are they sincere before God and man, or are we like the hypocrites of Jesus’ day who looked great on the outside but were a mess within? (Matthew 23:27,28). Yes, God calls us to put love into action, but none of us should believe the faulty notion that all action shows true love. Such is not the case. Action without proper motivation (love!) is empty, fraudulent and seriously fruitless.

Lack of love – This is not a very pretty picture, but it is one which John sets forth before us. If I fail to love my brother in the Lord, which is the same as hating him, that makes me a murderer (1 John 3:15). Is that relevant today? That is what the Bible says, and such language gets my attention. What else?

If a child of God does not love his brother, he is “not of God” (3:10). Such a disciple of Jesus is acting like Cain (3:12). Raise your hand if you want that label (“Acts Just Like Cain”) for your conduct. The world hates us, and we expect that (3:13), but we do not expect to see such among God’s family. What else?

One who does not love his brother abides in death, which is separation from God (3:14). The saint who hates his brother is a murderer, and the consequence of being a murderer is one does not possess eternal life (3:15). You see, my own relationship with God, depends on exactly “how do I treat other people now?”

Think about it.

Ponder it in your heart.

Ponder it in your soul.

Ponder it in your strength.

Ponder it in your weakness.

Ponder it in all of your imperfections.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Today, O’ God, this is my perfect plea, Lead Me out upon thy Level Ground!

Loving Father of mine, teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your Holy Spirit lead me forth on level ground. I see your faithfulness and goodness in what you have done for me throughout my life. I think about all these things, and I thirst for you. Let me hear of your unfailing love every morning, for I am trusting you. Show me how to talk. Show me where to walk, for I give my whole self to you. Keep me on firm footing for the glory of your name. Alleluia! Amen.

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