It’s all about SACRIFICE!

February 26, 2012

Love is all about Sacrifice!  How do we Love best?  We lay down our own lives as Christ did for us, and we love others with the kind of love discussed in 1 Corinthians 13.  In my previous post, “It’s all about LOVE!” I encouraged each of us to take on the “Sacrificial Love Challenge” and I have found it is exactly that… a challenge.  This has also been a great learning experience.

To help in our processing of what Sacrificial Love is all about, I encourage you to set aside 35 minutes to take in message Pastor Scott Rains shared with us about Sacrificial Love.  The Sermon was titled “A Love Story Gone Wrong”.  Please visit this link to hear the message: http://sermons.hopenorthbranch.org/mp3/12/2012_02_19_LoveGoneWrong.mp3

I believe the starting point is to ask ourselves some questions.  What does Love really mean to us?  Are we using others to get what we want?  Or are we truly loving others?  What is our starting place for love?  If we believe in God, then our starting place is Him!  John 15:9-14 reads,

 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.  Remain in my love.  When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.”

We shall start with loving as God has loved us.  We do so by exploring His sacrifice for us and learning how to then share the same love with others.  Yes the term “sacrifice” is not a friendly term, and to many of us it brings us to a place of avoidance.  Many of us would avoid any sort of sacrifice at all costs.  We wouldn’t sacrifice our money, possessions, jobs, desires, etc.  These sacrifices are difficult to make.  Our desires are very difficult to let go of and when it comes to love we probably may not even consider sacrificing our own desires.  However, by sacrificing what we want allows us to find the best place from which to love others.  Let’s start to explore how we can love better by learning what we can sacrifice to open our eyes to the needs of others.  In doing so we can share this love with everyone around us.  Please read this aloud, “I resolve to sacrifice my own ways so I can best love my family, friends, colleagues, strangers and enemies.”


It’s all about LOVE!

February 24, 2012

Last week many of us celebrated Valentines Day with the ones we love.  We all have the opportunity each day to make a decision about how we love our spouses, family members, friends and colleagues.  Love is much more than a romantic emotional feeling.  Love is sacrificing one’s own needs for that of others, which provides us the platform from which we can love anyone, even our enemies(Matthew 5:43-48).  When talking about love, let’s ask ourselves this question, why do we love?

In some cases our motivation for love may be selfish.  This is the wrong kind of love, when it comes out of fulfilling our own needs.  Be reminded of the greatest commandment found in Matthew 22:36-40, which we have heard many times.  “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”  Then, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Consider this scripture as you watch the video by clicking the link here:   Relationships with Love

Our relationships are ever so important to us and if we want to share the best kind of love, it starts with loving God first, above all else.  How are we doing at loving God?  Do we love God more than anyone else?  Why or why not?

We need to challenge ourselves!  If we choose not to love God more than anyone else, our love for others is less than the best.  A challenge was proposed to us by Pastor Scott Rains during the message he shared over the weekend.  The challenge is listed below.  It is a 7 Day Challenge that you may begin today, tomorrow, or whenever you happen to read this post.  Be sure to come back for the next post which will include a link to the sermon, a must hear for many who would like to share the best kind of love with others, including their spouses, family members, friends and colleagues.  Will you take the challenge?

7 Day Sacrificial Love Challenge.

Each day this week think of a person you could love sacrificially: a spouse, child, parent, friend. Each night pray for God’s grace to empower you to love like Jesus!  Try inserting your name any time the word “Love” appears:

Day 1: Love is patient and kind.

Day 2: Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

Day 3: Love does not demand its own way.

Day 4: Love is not irritable

Day 5: Love keeps no record of being wronged.

Day 6: Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Day 7: Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.


Facing the Giants

February 13, 2012

Please take a moment to watch a clip from the movie “Facing the Giants”…

As I left off in the previous post, we have the opportunity to enter into the promises God has for us!  If we are in fact followers of Jesus Christ, we have the choice to enter into the Promised Land, where fruits are plentiful, as are the Giants that we will encounter.  This is where our faith is tested.

When we face Giants in our lives we have to ask ourselves if we will go it alone?  We often face these Giants alone and we find ourselves stuck, with challenges we cannot handle, and fear of failure enters.  The problem is that we make it all about our own power, rather than that which comes from God.  When we talk about the Promised Land, that which God has prepared for us, we forget about God’s power and for this reason we miss the opportunity to walk into God’s promises.  Many of the Israelite tribes missed the opportunity to walk into God’s promises because they feared the Giants that were in the land.

In our lives we may have big dreams and we may be feeling led to take a risk, but we find that the fear overcomes that which we desire in our heart.  The truth is that God places many desires in our hearts and if they in fact come from Him, He can help us overcome the Giants that interfere.  As we heard from Coach Taylor, our new team philosophy should be about honoring and glorifying God in everything we do.  If we take God seriously and live out our faith, we can leave the results up to Him.

What Giants are you facing today that are keeping you from entering into the Promised Land?  Fear of failure and rejection?  Lack of resources?  Feeling of inadequacy?  Peer pressure?  Dream killers?  Reputation?  Change?  We all face different Giants and many of us have even overcome some of these Giants in our lives!  Are we sharing with others how we have overcome these Giants?  Are we facing these Giants together?  Are we reaching out to God and others for help?

Many of the Israelites feared the Giants that were in the Promised Land and as a result would have rather returned to the land of slavery in Egypt even though they had seen God perform miracles before.  In a recent message surrounding this story of the Bible, Pastor Scott Rains shared the following quote from Virginia Satir about people, “Most prefer certainty of misery rather than the misery of uncertainty.”  Which do you prefer?  The truth is when we walk toward the Promised Land, God does not promise it will be easy, but what He promises is much better than the certainty of slavery in Egypt, which many of the Israelites preferred.  We live a life of slavery and God wants to deliver us, however in doing so we will face Giants.  God wants us to be obedient, to rely on Him and to walk into the Promised Land He has prepared.  If you are facing Giants, I encourage you to seek God through prayer, through Scripture, through worship and through community to grow closer to Him so when you face your Giants you know you are not alone!  Just as Coach Taylor did at the end of the clip, God is asking if we will join Him?


The Promised Land…

February 7, 2012

What is our modern day Promised Land?  Over the past couple weeks this question has been on my mind and heart after a friend, Philip Kreis, had posed it following a message at Re:vive.  He then asked this question of our Bible Study Group as it was inspired through Scripture readings we have been walking through in the Year of the Bible Study.

As we read through the book of Exodus a couple weeks back read about how God had delivered the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the wilderness where He was to prepare them to enter the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land.  Then in Numbers 13, before God sent the people into the land, He sent spies to bring reports back to the people of Israel about the land that had been promised to them.  It is a land where all the promises of God will be fulfilled.  Who doesn’t want to live there?

Of the 12 spies that were sent, each representing their own tribes, 10 were afraid of going into the Promised Land.  Here was their report found in Numbers 13:27-29, “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country – a land flowing with milk and honey.  Here is the kind of fruit it produces(showing them the grapes, pomegranates and figs they brought back).  But the people living there are powerful and their towns are large and fortified.  We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!  The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country.  The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”  Thereafter one of the men who was not afraid, Caleb, encouraged them all that they could conquer the land, but the other men disagreed with fear in Verse 31 stating, “We can’t go up against them!  They are stronger than we are!”   There were giants to face, but we will get to that in the next post!

As for the Promised Land, these men clearly overlooked the fruits of the land that God had promised to them.  As we were talking about this it made me think of my own life and the “Promised Lands” in my life.  There are many modern day “Promised Lands” where God wants to lead us and as we grow in our relationship with Him, he continues to reveal that fruit that comes to us in these Lands.  These modern day “Promised Lands” may be Financial Freedom, Buying a House, Starting a Business, Getting Married, Having Kids, Retiring, etc.  In what light do we look at these “Promised Lands”?  In the light of the world or in the light of God?

One of the calls on my life is to lead others to a life where they too can experience a Land of Promises that God has for them!  So if we have seen a glimpse of this land, shouldn’t I share it with others?  This is the question I asked myself.  My prayer, O Lord grant me the strength and courage to continually invite others to explore the Promised Lands that God has for them in their life as I live by example in pursuit of the Promised Land you have for me.  It all starts with a relationship.  Our relationship with God leads us toward the Promised Land.  Will we choose to go into the Promised Land, stay in the Wilderness, or return to Egypt, the land of slavery?  I choose to go into the Promised Land and yes there will be Giants I must face.  Let’s face them together!