ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER

The last four weeks the theme has been LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  All the other “one another” commands are embedded in the foundation of God’s love in Christ for us. “Love one another as I(Christ) have loved you.”

Today begins our focus on “Encourage One Another.” Throughout the Bible we see instructions to encourage one another and verses that are meant to encourage us.  Here is just one of many:  “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.  Why is encouragement emphasized in the Bible? It is mainly because encouragement is necessary to our walk of faith both personally and corporately as a church.

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at this important command; what the Scriptures teach us and how to apply it to our lives.

I came across an acrostic which I want to share with you below. I found it very helpful practically, as I evaluate myself with how well I actually encourage others. My tendency is to speak before thinking, especially with my family. Then it is too late. The damage is done. The guilt sets in. Oh, the “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s” in life with my tongue! Can you relate?

We are to build up, not tear down; to encourage not criticize; to speak the truth in love, not to speak the truth in hate(tone and manner)
think-acrostic

So I want to challenge us with this acrostic as we begin this month’s journey of “encouraging one another.

THE CHALLENGE:

1.  List the key people in your life; ie., family, lifegroup.

2. With this acrostic tool-journal, evaluate, and pray with how you are encouraging your key people.

We are in this challenge together, I will let you how I am getting on. Let someone else know how YOU are getting on too!

Praying 1 Thessalonians 5:11 over us all this week,

Kathy x

 

Advertisements

BLOWN AWAY

love-one-anotherHave you heard the sayings “blown away” or “can’t wrap my mind around it?”

These sayings are what I think of when I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts,                                                             always hopes, always perseveres.”

In this broken world, it seems completely implausible to love in such a way.  Paul though, is writing to the Corinthian church of what love is in no uncertain terms. God, the Creator and Author of this amazing love, is revealed through Jesus Christ.  We as Christians really have no excuse for not knowing what love is.  If we love one another as Christ loved us, then the world will know we are his disciples.

SO, how would the world recognize us as His disciples?  “They would know us by our patience. They would know that we are Christians by our contentmentmodesty, and humility. They would recognize us, for we would not be rude. We would seek the best for others, be difficult to make angry, and refuse to keep count of how many times we’ve been hurt. They would know us because evil makes us sad, and truth makes us happy. They would know us because we protect the defenseless and we do not live in suspicion of others. They would know us by our hope. They would know us by our perseverance.”

That is what love looks like. Those should be the marks of Christ’s disciples towards one another.

We CAN wrap our hearts and minds around this radical love Paul is talking about! It is not only plausible, but God is able to do in and through us more than we could ask or imagine. HOW?  BECAUSE OF JESUS. I am “blown away” by this reality of his sacrificial love and grace!  This reality is precisely how we are able to love each other through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Today, please ponder with me the mystery and wonder of the love that put Jesus on the cross for you; for me. Let’s praise God in Jesus that He has made a way for us to love others as Christ loved us.

Now, let’s go out and be RECOGNIZED as one of His disciples!

COUNTER CULTURAL LOVE

one+anotherI was googling how many songs about LOVE there are. Millions.  Love Songs sing of Puppy Love, Crazy Love, Baby Love, Higher Love, Vision of Love, Power of Love, Easy Love, Love Hangover, Addicted to Love;  You Can’t Hurry Love, but then What’s Love Got To Do With It?  Songs talk about Losing That Loving Feeling, I Will Always Love you, Will you Love me Tomorrow, I Can’t Stop Loving You, The Greatest Love of All.  This broken world LONGS for love! But as the old country song goes, the culture is “Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places.”  It is so easy for us to get caught up with our culture’s disillusionment of love. It has distorted God’ gift of romantic love and friendship.  This “love” has been reduced to selfish feelings that come and go.  In my younger days I had fallen into this deceptive, temporary longing for love as the world so sadly demonstrates. I got off track so many times! In God’s mercy He brought me to my senses. In his grace and sovereignty He is using my rebellious, disillusioned past for His glory in helping others to learn from MY mistakes. I long and pray for women to know that love is so much more than what the world portrays.

To love others as God in Christ has loved us is Agape. It is counter cultural. The world doesn’t understand it. Agape love is from within. It is love in action and trumps “feelings.” The familiar John 3:16 shows God’s agape love: “He so (agape) loved the world that He gave His only Son,” and Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own (agape) love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Wow– Completely. Utterly. Unselfish. Unconditional.Committed. Love.

God the Son came down from glory to be nothing; to be a servant to teach the disciples how to love like he loved them. He called them friends and His children, even though they made one mistake after another. He loved them through their stubbornness and wayward, daft hearts. He loved them when they denied and betrayed Him.  He taught them, He corrected them, He WASHED their feet. It was for their highest good. Now He says, “Love each other like I have loved you.” This is biblical love. This is the love that transforms us and enables us to demonstrate love in action to one another to a watching world; a world which doesn’t know where and how to find it!  When people consistently see this kind of uncommon love exemplified in us, the Body of Christ, people will take notice. They begin to wonder if the gospel could be true! But when we consistently fail to demonstrate agape love we nullify the message. “I don’t need Christ or His church! Besides I have my own community with my running group, in my Zumba class, in my gardening club.” There are many places people can go and find communities of shared interest.  But true agape love is hard to find. Ultimately, it can only be found in the Body of Christ, the church.

We have a responsibility girl friends- to biblically love one another. Then we can reach the world with this agape, biblical, Christ-like love- one person at a time.

Find one relationship or duty in your life that lacks love. Pray. Give God’s agape love through the agape love He gives to you every day through Jesus.

 

 

DON’T JUST PRETEND TO LOVE OTHERS, REALLY LOVE THEM

one+anotherI am very excited yet hugely challenged as I contemplate our study series this calendar year, ONE ANOTHERING: A GIFT OF GOD’S GRACE FOR OUR GROWTH IN CHRIST.

“One Another” commands are used many times in the Word of God; almost half are given to instruct the Church! So, this is a very important aspect as followers of Jesus Christ.  It is clear that God does not want us to live the Christian life in isolation, but in community. It is His heart.  This process of “one anothering” is one where God matures and builds our character into Christ’s likeness more every day; and to build each other up in the body of Christ.

The first theme that we are studying this month (September) is LOVE ONE ANOTHER. This theme is the foundation for all the other “one another” commands. They are embedded in LOVE. For without love, we are nothing, as 1 Corinthians 13 so aptly teaches.  Love is over all.

I am daunted by this at times.  How can I really love others sincerely from my heart all the time? Romans 12:9-10 says this: “Don’t just pretend to love others, really love them….love each other with genuine affection; and take delight in honouring each other.” (NLT) The reality is I CAN’T love others like that with my own love; in my own strength. But, I AM ABLE TO WHEN IT IS THROUGH CHRIST’S LOVE empowered by the Holy Spirit. And the only way to do that is not performing a “to do” list but to actually connect to the vineVine and remain there. (John 15:7-9) Then I will be more able to participate in Christ’s love instead of just trying to imitate it outwardly. This process helps me to sincerely manifest His love to others.

You see, it is always a heart issue at its root. The behavioural issues are the fruit. I can be good and love for awhile, but my sinful, weary soul will give out; apart from Christ.  At times, my sinful nature wants to lash out in self-justification, self-righteousness, self-defensiveness, self-pity. Self. Hmmm. Is there a theme here? When I find it is becoming more difficult to love, it is then that I realize that I have jumped right off the Vine and into the self-absorption pit.  It is only through daily remaining in Christ and preaching the Gospel to myself that I am able to sincerely love others as Christ has loved me. Can you relate?

You know, we can do this loving thing; together. And we can do this because it is the Holy Spirit enabling us to stay connected to the VINE-not do it merely out of duty; and to participate in Christ’s love for us- not just imitate it.  In this way, loving others as Christ has loved us is not so daunting after all.

So, who do you find difficult or tedious to love right now? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Daily.Connect. Participate. Manifest. GOD’S LOVE IN CHRIST.

Our Bible study questions will be on the blog tomorrow and in hard copy at the churches on Sunday. Now is the time to reconnect or meet with your study buddy! If you don’t have a study buddy, see Anne Holmes, Vicky Stephenson, or myself(Kathy Larkman) and we will get you sorted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONE ANOTHERING: GIFT OF GOD’S GRACE FOR OUR GROWTH IN CHRIST

one+anotherThis is the name of our study for the school calendar year 2016-2017! Our women will come together to address the theme of “One Anothering” from scripture and how God actually uses our relationships with one another to conform us into Christ’s likeness. Every relationship, even difficult ones, is a gift of God’s grace for our growth in the knowledge and likeness of Christ.

I hope and pray you will take this time to participate in the study for yourself, after you take care of everyone else. It is important- not only for building and maintaining community relationships, but for you. Think of how many hours we spend doing things that aren’t really important and not going to matter in the end.  They will not satisfy. What I am learning more everyday is the most important things are the unseen things; how God works in our lives. And we come to know our God most clearly in His word to us. And when we know God better, the more we will love God. This will then enable us to “one another” with increasing consistency.

The bible study comprises three different areas:

  1. You will meet with a “study buddy” to go through bible study questions within an hour time frame, once a month. God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other. This one-to-one component brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear. Guidelines are provided on the blog as well as hard copies provided at our churches. If you don’t have a study buddy, please contact Anne Holmes and she will direct you.
  2. We will all meet together as a group one Monday evening a month (usually the last one). This evening is a time for us to come together for fellowship and look more closely what scripture is teaching us and how to apply it. Meeting times and details are provided on this blog and laminated book marks are provided at our churches.
  3. GRACE PLACE Blog will share insights of application from this study. Hopefully this will provide continuity and focus on what the Holy Spirit is teaching us through the study.

The ongoing challenge in studying the scriptures is to allow the knowledge to sink into our hearts!  Can you think of people who have great knowledge about the Bible, but the love of Jesus is not in their hearts? Why is that?  Because it hasn’t penetrated to where they really live; they have never made it real and is just an academic exercise. Don’t let that be you.  Ask yourself: How does this apply to me?  What standard does God have for me? How is it talking to me? God will work with you on that.

So if you love the Lord even just a little and long to love Him more and to reflect Him more faithfully in “ONE ANOTHERING”, this Bible study will encourage and stretch you in that direction!

There is more practical information on this blog regarding this study. Any questions, see me, (Kathy Larkman), Anne Holmes, or Vicky Stephenson.

Picture1