Sincere Love Requires a Purified Heart

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love is a verb
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

Love is a physical feeling or emotional sentiment to much of the world, and an empty action or, worse, words about action to too many in the church. Feeling and sentiment alone do no one any good. Words and promises alone do no one any good, but likewise neither does loving actions and a smile on the face while bitterness and anger linger in the heart.

One of the chief reasons we struggle to consistently love is because we’ve relegated love to mere behavior. If we harbor anger and bitterness and resentment in our hearts, life will give us plenty of excuses to be passive aggressive, procrastinate, and avoid the act or the person altogether. It is also true that we can genuinely find ourselves flooded, or we may have physical conditions that make it difficult for us prioritize tasks and control our behavior and impulses in the flesh.

At some point, we need to let love motivate us to stop letting life and our weaknesses push us around, come to the cross, examine our hearts, and lay out before the Lord honestly what we’re really feeling rather than going through the motions. Only there can we get rid of the weights and toxins that hinder us and be filled with his love and forgiveness and grace. That is the place where we can receive spiritual wisdom and the fruit of self-control, the power we need to be transformed and the strength we need to do his will,  to synchronize our heart to beat more in time with God’s and obey out of trust, love for God, and a genuine desire to do righteousness.

Lord, forgive us for pretending and going through the motions. We pray our love for you and others would be genuine and selfless. Search us, Lord, and show us what is truly in our hearts, and strengthen our relationship with you, bring us to a place where we will be comfortable confessing the “bad emotions” that poison us to you. Draw out of us everything that hinders us from loving both in deed and in truth. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true”]Sincere Love Requires a Purified Heart–Love not in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1JN3:18[/tweetthis]

 

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Live like a Citizen Of Heaven, not Hell.

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“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20)

This verse compares our eternal spiritual destination to earthly patriotism, as verses 17-19 urge us to follow the examples of strong, Christ-like believers ready for sainthood and warns us against conducting ourselves in the manner of God’s enemies, with the mindset of the secular culture, serving our own appetites, and being proud of this fact–a spiritually deadly recipe.

So this note of encouragement comes right after a strict warning, that we do not have to be such, that we can turn our hearts and minds upon our goal, eternal fellowship with God and each other in Heaven’s paradise, striving forward to be more like him day by day as we wait here on Earth for our Lord and Savior to return and keep his promise to restore our corrupt bodies back to the pristine conditions of the garden of Eden, like Jesus Christ’s own resurrected body in glory.

The hard question we must ask ourselves, and consciously make a good decision about, is whether we truly want to be like him or like following after the corrupt appetites of our fallen, broken flesh. The flesh is weak, yes, but is the spirit willing? None are so weak as the weak in spirit.

Lord, we confess we have areas where we have chosen to follow after the weakness of the flesh. We recognize our greatest weakness is of the spirit and the will, we are choosing by faith to accept the principles of a world we cannot yet see with our human eyes. Please strengthen us in our spirit today to resist the failings of the flesh, including our fallen emotions, and walk as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven as you are preparing us day by day to live with you there. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Who are we living for?

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“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

The immediate context is Paul’s statement to the basic effect of, “Guys, if I’m out of my mind, it’s for God. If I’m acting sane, it’s for your sake.” Christ’s love motivates us to live for something greater than ourselves and consider others’ needs, remembering Christ died for them, too. But we live ultimately for Christ. Let’s keep things in eternal perspective today and seek the love of Christ at work in our hearts today.

Lord, forgive us for our attachments to earthly things that the moth eats and rust destroys. Strengthen us to lay up our treasures in Heaven. I pray we would no longer live for ourselves and our own desires, but for you and your kingdom. Show us what course of action will bring you the most glory, and the most benefit to your whole people, the church, today. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Power, Love, and Self-Control.

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“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

This is very good news for many of us who struggle with not only fear, but discipline issues. Self-control has never been my strong suit. I  suspect I could probably get a medical diagnosis making it official, in fact. So I am ever grateful God’s Spirit helps with that, because I am rather helpless at it in my own flesh.

On the other hand, we can start to beat ourselves up when reading this. God’s given us a spirit of power, love, and self-control, yet we often aren’t quite what this verse has in mind. That’s fruitless.  Stop beating yourself up, and be patient and forgiving as you seek more of His Spirit as work in you.  He will help. We simply need to be faithful in abiding and surrendered to Him.

Lord, we open our hearts to you today. Remove any blocks keeping us from fanning into flame the gift of God in us. We thank you for  your spirit of power, love, and self control at work in us.  Thank you, God, that you have saved us. Remind us, and let us be convinced in our hearts, that you have called us to a holy calling,  not because of our works, but because of your own purpose and grace, which you gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. We don’t know why we suffer infirmity, but we know you are strong and able to work through us in our weakness. Grant us wisdom and hearts obedient to your will, and strengthen our minds and our hands to carry it through. In Jesus’ name we pray, Lord, amen.