The Model of Unselfish Affection…

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1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (KJV)

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

In today’s passage, Paul talks about love and its preeminence over speech, knowledge, generosity, and self-sacrifice (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

The apostle then describes the nature of biblical love, which is patient, kind, humble, and slow to anger (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

However, we often struggle as we try to practice this model of unselfish affection.

One reason is that the godly expression of caring doesn’t come naturally to us.

Pure Christian love puts the other person ahead of our own interests, even when our human inclinations clamor to place self first (1 Cor. 13:5).

A second challenge is the temptation to withhold affection until others apologize or change their behavior.

We remember their offense long after it has occurred. That’s not what our Lord did—He loved us while we were still sinners, and He forgave us for every transgression (Rom. 5:8; Luke 23:34).

What’s more, it’s easier to point out someone else’s unkindness toward us than to see where we have fallen short.

Perhaps a friend has spoken impatiently and we responded with angry words. How easily we can use Scripture to point out the other person’s mistake, but how hard to admit our own.

We’re called to love God, as well as those around us (Mark 12:30-31).

We’ve received the Holy Spirit, who will help us learn how to care deeply for others.

Experiencing the Father’s affection and demonstrating it to others are to be two of the greatest joys in the life of a believer. Take time to memorize the attributes of biblical love, and look for ways to practice them in your relationships.

In times of stress, think about the list, and let the power of love transform your response.

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Today’s Uncertain World…

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Romans 8:31-39 (KJV)

31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Far too many relationships in today’s world are uncertain.

Disunity is found in marriages, churches, and international alliances. Yet there’s one relationship that is sure and permanent.

The Lord designed people for intimate fellowship with Him.

His love toward each of us is evident throughout the Bible. In fact, there is nothing tangible, intangible, past, present, or future that can separate believers from the Father’s love.

John 10:14 draws a comparison between Jesus and a good shepherd—a man whose ultimate task is providing for and protecting the flock. Christ’s character is one of passionate care for His people.

First John 4:16 clearly states, “God is love.” If we believe the Bible, then we cannot deny this fact about His nature.

We also see evidence of divine love through the Lord’s gifts and actions.

For example, He created us in His image (Gen. 1:26). He sent His only Son to die in our place, and He forgives us of our sin debt (1 Cor. 15:3). John 15:15 tells us that Christ calls us His friends—and what’s more, when we trust in Jesus, God adopts us and considers us His children (Rom. 8:15). He even blesses us with an Intercessor and Helper—the Holy Spirit (John14:26).

The Word is clear: God loves us passionately.

The affection we experience in our families is only a glimpse of the great compassion and care that God has for you. Think about the people you treasure most. Imagine what you would be willing to do if they experienced a need.

How much more will our heavenly Father be devoted to you!

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Worldly Goals…

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John 13:1-15 (KJV)

1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Do you equate success with wealth, acclaim, and power?

If we measured by these standards, then Jesus, who was rejected by His community and didn’t even own a house, was a failure. But, of course, we know that’s not the case. So God must use something other than these worldly goals to define success.

In fact, Scripture is clear that Jesus is our example—we should strive to be like Him.

So, what exactly was our Savior’s mission?

In today’s passage, we see the answer through His actions: He came to serve. Jesus performed the task of the lowliest servant when He took off His outer garment and washed the dirty feet of His followers—the very followers He knew would betray and deny Him. The next day, almighty God was crucified by His own creation.

In allowing this, He offered salvation to all—even those who nailed Him to a cross.

Jesus deserved glory but chose sacrifice and pain.

And He asks that we follow His example of service. With the exception of Judas, His disciples obeyed. In fact, they all faced great difficulty, and most died brutal deaths because of their faith.

But they willingly walked the path of humility because of what Jesus had taught them: “The last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16).

How do you spend your resources and time?

And which topics dominate your thoughts and conversation? These are a few indicators of goals that become driving forces in your life. You may long for worldly recognition, but God has a higher calling for His children.

Ask Him to foster a servant’s attitude in your heart.

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Reluctant Servants…

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Hebrews 6:10-12 (KJV)

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Most of us are quick to declare our love for God, but at times our reluctance to serve Him tells a different story.

Honestly consider whether you have ever found yourself saying or thinking, I love you, Lord, but don’t call me to do that!

Or perhaps you served Him, but with a flawed attitude: If no one else will do it, then I guess I will. What causes us to be reluctant servants?


Sometimes our schedules are so full that there’s no space to follow the Lord when we hear Him calling us to minister in a certain area. We all need “margins” in our lives if we want to abide in God’s will.


Perhaps you feel unqualified to serve, and you’re thinking, Surely there’s someone more gifted who could do that job. But that’s just an excuse; the Lord promises to equip those He calls (2 Cor. 3:4-6).


Sacrificial service is never convenient. It may require that we change our plans, give up our comforts, or even make financial sacrifices.

Lack of love: 

This is the hardest for us to admit—that we just don’t care enough. Our reluctance to serve others reveals a lack of devotion to the Lord. Those who love Christ with all their heart will joyfully serve Him by ministering to those in their families, workplaces, communities, and churches.

Are you quick to follow the Lord’s leading when a need arises, or are you a reluctant servant who’s preoccupied with your own plans and desires?

Any service we offer in Jesus’ name will not be in vain.

You’ll experience the joy of giving and the assurance that the Lord won’t forget your sacrifice.

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Ask, Seek, and Knock…

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Matthew 7:7-11 (KJV)

7  And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Those who ask will receive answers. Those who seek will find. Those who knock will see the door open.

The acrostic “A-S-K” will help us remember to “ask, seek, and knock.”

The Lord wants us to pray to Him, not only because it honors Him but also because it helps us to grow deeper in our relationship with Him.

Furthermore, prayer taps us into His work in the world.

At any given moment, you can pray for anyone anywhere on earth and have confidence that the Lord of the entire universe will hear you and respond in the most effective fashion.

For this reason, prayer is one of the best ways to get involved in God’s mission.

What a wonderful privilege it is to be able to participate in the expansion and functioning of God’s kingdom by asking the Lord to help His children and impact His creation.

Another reason the Lord instructs us to pray is to build our faith in Him.

Even sinful men give gifts to their children. How much more does our holy heavenly Father enjoy giving good gifts to those who ask Him (Matt. 7:11)! It pleases Him to help us along in our faith as we learn His Word, practice His presence, and allow His thoughts and ways to become our own.

The Lord also loves to answer our prayers and see us grow bolder in our walk and witness.

God’s Word tells us that He is faithful because He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13).

Be certain to set aside time every day to talk and listen to Him, and you will learn this truth firsthand.

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Our Motives…

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Isaiah 57:15 (KJV)

15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

The two most important disciplines in the life of a believer are Bible study and prayer.

It is impossible to grow continually in Christ without practicing both.

Prayer is the primary means by which we talk to God, and it is also a way He teaches us.

When we pray, we’re petitioning the Lord and trusting Him for the answer. In doing so, we learn to listen to Him, just as we learn to wait for His response. And He loves for us to honor Him through this spiritual act of worship called prayer.

Indeed, prayer is one of the best ways to honor God.

When we pray to our heavenly Father, we are acknowledging that He is God, that He truly is “the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy” (Isa. 57:15). God alone deserves glory, and we ascribe honor to Him when we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

That is, we are to maintain a God-focused attitude throughout the day—continually asking Him to govern every detail of our lives.

Today’s passage says that our Father dwells both on a high and holy place and also with the contrite and lowly in spirit. This means that our motives and the condition of our hearts are very important in prayer. Simply wanting to “get our way” is not the spirit of prayer that honors God.

Furthermore, it does not produce prayers that He will answer.

The heavenly Father longs for an intimate relationship with His children.

 Time spent in communication with God is the best way to grow close to Him.

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No Matter What the Situation…

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Psalms 25:4-10 (KJV)

4  Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
5  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
6  Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
7  Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.
8  Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9  The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

If we’ll let the truths of Scripture fill our minds, guard our emotions, and influence our conduct, God will richly reward us.

I’m talking about spiritual blessings here (though He at times chooses to bless materially as well).

By reading and meditating on His Word, you’ll learn to understand His ways.

This isn’t something we can figure out on our own, because His ways are unlike ours—they are higher, bigger, and eternal.

Also, your relationship with the Lord will grow increasingly more intimate because He chooses to reveal Himself to those who seek Him and obey His instructions. When you see that God always keeps His promises, your confidence in His faithfulness will soar.

No matter what the situation, you’ll know you can trust Him.

Then He’ll transform your worries into joyful anticipation about what He’s going to do next in your life. Even if hard times await, you’ll be convinced that the Lord will work them out for good.

A life grounded in truth is powerful.

Those who live by the Word develop spiritual discernment, which guides their choices and guards against deception. Because they demonstrate wisdom and godliness, the Lord enables them to impact others greatly.

Since He knows they can be trusted, He also gives them greater responsibilities and opportunities for service in His kingdom.

With all this available to us, wouldn’t it be wise to invest our time and energy in building the truth of God’s Word into our lives?

The other activities which clamor for our attention seem so important or pleasurable, but none of them can offer us the spiritual riches of a life grounded in truth.

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His Gracious Work in You…

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Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (KJV)

12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

The Bible portrays the Christian life as a walk.

It speaks of walking in the Spirit, in God’s ways, in love, and in truth. Our lives, then, shouldn’t be stagnant; they ought to move and develop to be increasingly like the life of Jesus.

Scripture calls this sanctification. (See 1 Thess. 4:1-8.)

But what if you feel you’re going backward instead of forward?

Turning around can happen only by faith in Christ. Here’s how to correct your course:

  • First, have assurance that God keeps every promise. The Bible contains an amazing number of guarantees for believers, including wisdom for the asking, God’s constant presence, and peace when we focus on Him.

    • Second, anticipate the Father’s response. In other words, joyfully expect that your confidence in His promises will lead to blessing.

    • Third, be aware daily of His involvement in your life. By spending time in the Word and prayer, you will become sensitive to what He is doing.

    • Fourth, pray boldly because you are God’s child (Heb.4:16; Gal. 3:26). Approaching the Father in such a manner isn’t a prideful confidence, but an overflow of your assurance in Him.

    • Finally, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is the true test of your belief. As James 2:17says, faith without action is dead.

Can you sense that your life is progressing and you are maturing into Christ’s likeness?

Or do circumstances and character traits seem to hold you back? God promises to continue making His children beautiful throughout their lives.

You can resist Him or cooperate with His gracious work in you.

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