Loving the Unlovable

Lets just be honest, some people are really hard to love.

But Jesus tells us that we are to love God and our neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40). Also the New Testaments commands that we love one another (1 Thess. 4:9, 1 Pet. 1:22, 1 John 3:23).  And if we would be honest enough, we would all have to say that we struggle every now and then when it comes to loving other people.  Some people just seem to be unlovable people, but I want to share with you several reasons why we must love even the unlovable.

  1. God loves them. “For God loved the world in this way. . . .” (John 3:16). He loves the arrogant church member, the person caught in sin, and the follower who denies Him. That’s the point: He who loves all of us with an amazing love and expects us to love others in the same way.
  2. We show the power of the gospel by loving all people.  Jesus said our love for one another would be one way to show the world His love (John 13:34-35).
  3. We live in Christian obedience when we show love toward all. Christian love, while not being devoid of emotion, is an active love, a doing love – evidenced by how we act toward others. Christian love means we act as a Christian toward all people, even when our feelings aren’t there.
  4. Love motivates our praying for unlovable people. We can’t change unlovable people. No program will fix the person who is power hungry or judgmental. Lasting transformation occurs only under the power of God – and that means we must pray for even for the people we like the least. To not pray for them is to be unloving.
  5. Unlovable people are often loners, and loners need help winning spiritual battles. The church of Jesus Christ is designed to be a body, a family, an army, a people of God. We have never been intended to fight battles alone; instead, we fight together, guarding one another’s back. Loving an unlovable person is one way of helping him fight spiritual battles he’s likely losing on his own.
  6. We are all sometimes unlovable. All of us sometimes act less than Christian. Maybe nobody sees it, and perhaps it doesn’t happen often – but it’s still un-Christlike. We, too, will have those days when we need undeserved love. Perhaps others will model then the love we’ve first shown them.

Can They See Jesus In Me?

READ: Titus 1:15-16, 2:7-8, 11-15 (NLT)

THINK: Do the people around know that you follow Jesus? Have you told them? Have you shown them? Can people who dont know you tell that there is something different about you, just by the way you conduct yourself? Do you say “No” to anything that could compromise your devotion to God or His standards? Do you say “Yes” to opportunities to do good, to honor God, to encourage others and to influence them for Christ? Could people get an accurate impression of what Jesus is like by what they see in you?

RESPOND: What behaviors and character traits should be evident in those who follow Christ? Do you say that you know God but then deny Him by the way that you live? See 1:16.

What is Gods “grace,” and what is its purpose? See 2:11. Having received Gods grace, what should you be able to learn and do in response to temptations and ungodliness? See 2:12. What does it mean to say “No” to these things? What insight does verse 14 provide about why Jesus gave His life for us? How should this affect your daily life?

PRAY: Pray that your faith will be confirmed by your actions. Pray for boldness to live out your faith. Give God thanks for His grace and for the hope and strength it provides. Thank Him for the blessed hope of Jesus return.

ACT: Pay particular attention to your attitudes and behaviors today. Be sure that they reflect your devotion to Christ. Exercise self-control by saying “No” to ungodly or questionable behavior and “Yes” to all that is Christlike.

via FIRE | FIREStarters – Titus.

No Compromise

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.”  (Daniel 3:13-17)

Even with the possibility of losing their lives, the 3 Hebrew boys refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue.  They had made up their minds that they wouldn’t compromise their faith in God.  They were determined that they would stand for God even though everyone else around them was bowing down.

How about you?  Will you stand up when everyone else is bowing down?  Will you remain committed to God even when it means facing persecution or will you compromise?  It may not be easy to do the right thing and it may not always be popular but compromise is never the right choice.  But here’s what I know: when we take a stand for God, God will stand with us.  The 3 Hebrew boys were thrown into the fiery furnace but God was there with them.

Taking a stand for God will cause us to stand out.  It will even bring persecution and suffering.  But when we stand for God, it honors Him and honoring Him is what matters most.  We don’t have to compromise.  With God’s help, we can take a stand and make a difference.

Live the Life | Ignite Your Faith

Peter. One of Jesus’ “top” disciples. Walked on water, healed the sick, and even raised the dead. Pretty impressive credentials.

And yet Peter was just a “regular guy,” just like you and me. He wasn’t perfect. He knew what it meant to mess up. And he messed up a lot.

But despite his flaws, Peter knew what a Christian should look like. He even gave us a checklist; you can find it in 2 Peter 1:3-11.

Here some ways you can live your faith:

Know God. Peter says God “has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3). So, to look like a Christian, we need to know God. And we do this through prayer, reading our Bibles, and hanging out with other believers

Flee temptation. Peter tells us to “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1:4). Ask God often to protect you from sin, to give you the wisdom and courage to make good choices.

Show your stuff. Peter shows us what a Christian looks like when he tells us to “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (1:5-7). Memorize that list of qualities, then “make every effort” to live them out daily.

Rate yourself. Peter says we should “possess these qualities in increasing measure” (1:8). Rate yourself on each of the qualities, using a scale of 1-10. (No 10s allowed, because 10s don’t leave any room for improvement!) Ask a trusted friend to rate you on each as well.

Form a plan. First, thank God for those 8s and 9s; he’s working in your life! Now ask yourself: “How can I improve in these other areas?” Pray about it. Read Bible passages about those qualities. Think of ways to put these things into action. You might pursue “knowledge” through an in-depth Bible study, or practice “brotherly kindness” by doing volunteer work on Saturday mornings.

Get a friend’s help. Ask someone to hold you accountable, someone who will ask you the hard questions about how you\’re doing. Let’s say you struggle with self-control, especially in the area of gossip. You need a friend who’s willing to tell you when to pipe down. (Lovingly, of course!)

Listen to God. Be sensitive to the “nudging” of the Holy Spirit. God will remind you when you\’ve messed up, and he\’ll let you know when you get it right.

Don’t lose hope. Sure, you’ll make mistakes—just like Peter did. But as you seek to live a godly life, you can cling to this promise from Peter himself:

“For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:11).

via Live the Life | Ignite Your Faith.

With All Your Passion

Luke 10:25-28
25A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”
26Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”
27He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
28Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

Eugene Peterson has written a book called The Message, wherein he has translated the Bible into today’s words and phrases. I think it offers a fresh perspective on some familiar Scripture.
Let’s look at verse 27 from The Message: “He said, ‘That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence–and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.’”
I love that Mr. Peterson used the word “passion!” Love God with all your passion!
What are some things you are passionate about? A sport? A hobby? A friendship? How does the energy you put into these things and the excitement they generate compare with your relationship with God? If God wanted you to give up one of these things so you could spend more time focusing on your faith, what would you do?

God gave us all passions, talents, and abilities to use and enjoy. But God does get disappointed when we spend all of our time and energy on other things–only squeezing in God in the time that’s left over, if at all.
Making our relationships with God our highest priority would make God much happier, and, ultimately, it would make us much happier, too. Give God your passion. Give God your all.