WE ARE COMPELLED BY CHRIST’S LOVE

2 CORINTHIANS 5:14 NLT “Christ’s love controls (compels) us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 

PONDER THIS:

God calls us to live lives compelled by Christ’s love; but what He calls us to do in our weakness, He then enables us to do by His grace through the Holy Spirit. What does this look like? This side of heaven, we don’t know the mechanics of it. But it happens.
But God has given us His promise:
Romans 5:5b “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Paul wrote these words out of long and deep experience. It would be easy to imagine he was made of different stuff than us; that he found relationships easier than us because he was an apostle. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. He gives us abundant evidence that relationships could be difficult, painful, even tearful for him. But He learned that God’s grace really is sufficient, and God’s Spirit really does enable us to minister Christ’s love for one another. And He tells us again and again that God’s grace and God’s Spirit are for us too. He wants us to know that in Corsham, as in Corinth, what Christ’s love compels us to do, His grace then enables us to do.
So, we can hold together in love in ONE ANOTHERING.

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HOPE TO SEE YOU TONIGHT!

WHAT? Last One Anothering Bible Study-HOLD TOGETHER IN LOVE

WHERE? Corsham Baptist Church – Church Hall  

WHEN?  7:30PM, 26 JUNE 

WHY? To enjoy friendship, cakes, and spiritual food!

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GOD’S GRACE ENABLES US TO HOLD TOGETHER IN LOVE

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

We have spent this school year studying “One Anothering: God’s Gift of Grace For Our Growth In Christ.” I hope and pray it will be fruitful in all of our lives as we allow the Holy Spirit to teach and transform us.

In this last study we are coming full circle where we consider how all of biblical One Anothering commands hold together in love. It is very clear in scripture where Paul urges the Corinthian believers:  Christ’s love controls (compels) us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NLT

I am reminded of this pattern of Christ’s amazing love for me. The only way to One Another is to be compelled by and through His love to love others in the same way. I am held together by Christ’s love. His love holds me fast.

But to be completely honest, One Anothering can sometimes get messy and just plain difficult! But it is in this messy struggling that calls out biblical love! Jon Bloom says it like this: “Those extraordinarily difficult and painful things that can drive us crazy — that provide the very opportunities for the humanly impossible love of Christ to be exercised, giving visibility to the existence of the invisible God!”

Wow. But even with this wonderful and amazing knowledge that I truly believe, I still have those times when I wonder: Can I really live after Christ’s pattern in the messiness of my life and in the life of my church family?  I have cried out to the Lord many times, “I can’t do this! I am too weak; too sinful and selfish to exercise this humanly impossible love of Christ!”

And of course, Jesus answers my cry.  Every. Single. Time.  “My grace is sufficient dear daughter. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” So as we One Another dear sisters, it is God’s gift of GRACE in our lives.

You see, Paul says that God calls us to live lives compelled by Christ’s love; but what He calls us to do in our weakness, He then enables us to do by His grace.

GRACEGod’s grace not only pardons our sins, but His grace is also given to us by the free and compassionate influence of His Holy Spirit who is sovereignly operating in our undeserving lives. He gives us strength. He gives us power through the Holy Spirit. God’s grace is sufficient.  God’s grace is enough so that we may not become paralyzed in our circumstances and daily life, but that we may love one another as Christ loves us; that we  may press on in obedience to Him, our loving Father.

We CAN One Another with Christ’s love. It holds everything together…. through his amazing grace.

We will be exploring this more thoroughly in our time together on Monday, 26 June. 7:30 PM. Church Hall. Please put it in your diary! It will be full of friendship, filling our tummies with cake, and filling our hearts and souls with His Word!

Kathy xo

ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER … NOT ON FACEBOOK BUT ‘FACE-TO-FACE’!

lesley-grindrodI heard a simple but very profound story recently. A little girl came home from school beaming. Her Mum asked “Did you get a part in the school play?” “Yes” she said, “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer!” Some genius teacher, obviously anointed with the gift of encouragement, had helped a child discover the joy of encouraging others early in her young life.

We’ve all experienced times when we’ve felt unappreciated. When it seems like you give and give yet nobody notices. What you do seems not to matter to anybody. But then God sends someone along with an encouraging word and it’s like water to a parched throat in the desert.

Have you ever noticed how people’s faces light up when you look them in the eye and cheer them on? Have you ever pondered what it costs to encourage someone? Nothing! Yet in an age when we’re more ‘connected’ than ever through social media, many are feeling lonelier, more isolated, unloved and unappreciated. Is it possible that using social media is causing our real-life relationships to suffer?

A while ago I had to admit I was guilty of neglecting my closest relationships. I’d fallen into the ‘black hole’ of my laptop and phone.  I’d started to forget the immense value of personal contact.

be an encouragerOh how easy it is to get suckered into thinking that clicking ‘like’ on a friend’s Facebook post or photo is equivalent to giving them personal encouragement! How subtle is this trap of satan to ‘isolate’ us in front of phone or computer screens, gathering our list of on-line ‘friends,’ while real-life friends and even family are relegated further into the ‘background’ of our lives.

Technology is a gift, but it can also be a crutch. It can make us lazy in our relationships and instil a false sense of having more real friends than we do. Just because someone takes two seconds to “like” our latest post doesn’t mean they’d take off an entire afternoon to help us in a crisis. Having a thousand on-line followers doesn’t equal a thousand trustworthy friends.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, Paul reminds us to intentionally gather together: “…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together… but encouraging one another…”

Life’s best connections happen in person. God created us to live in community, and while digital communities can certainly enrich our lives, they can’t replace the joy of eye contact, laughter, tears and hugs, or the love and encouragement of a live human friend.

So, how about you, dear friend?  Are you developing your skills as an encourager? If the spoken word doesn’t come easily to you, why not start by writing someone a simple old-fashioned note of encouragement?

Dear Lord, I’m so thankful for the relationships you’ve placed in my life. Would you help me discern what encouraging words my sister needs to hear today? I want to show her your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

“LOVE MUST BE SINCERE” Romans 12:9

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Sharon Durant, contributor for today’s blog

It’s easy for me to accept someone who is like me, and thinks the same way as I do. It’s easy for me to accept someone with the same musical taste as me, the same sense of humour and the same style of parenting.

It’s hard to accept someone different to me, and hard to accept that God has called them to be part of his family.

So what can I do? How can I genuinely accept my brothers and sisters? After all, ‘Love must be sincere’. Love must not be fake.

When I first arrived at our London church and began getting to know the very cross-cultural church family, there were a lot of differences. Dress sense. Hair styles (I mean, who sticks their hair in a bun on top of their head?). Hospitality customs. Musical taste. Parenting. Accent (shudder). Although these differences could have made it hard to sincerely love the church family, I tried not to focus on what was hard to accept. Instead I wondered, what has God found acceptable about them?

The answer was simply Jesus.

God accepted them because of their repentance and faith in Jesus. That was all he wanted to find in them, and he found it.

On reflection, what has God found acceptable about me? Exactly the same: Jesus.

Incidentally, it was the only thing he found acceptable about me.

When it comes to sincere love for others, I need to review my standards for accepting other Christians; I can’t set my standards for acceptance higher than God’s standards! What am I looking for to accept others? I am looking to see Jesus shining through them.

As soon as I see Jesus – his love, grace and Holy Spirit at work – I know I have common ground with this believer. It helps me to love them, knowing we both have the same goal, same hope, same Lord. It certainly helped me a lot in our London church when, rather than being frustrated when they weren’t becoming more like me and my preferences, I began to accept that other Christians are becoming more like Jesus.

Together, as a church family, we started displaying the family traits of compassion toward each other, the same ‘eyes’ of faith, prayerfulness, and the same humility that our big brother Jesus showed. When we accept each other on those terms, with the Gospel at the centre, love truly can be sincere, despite our differences.

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