No One Is Beyond Its Reach…

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 Ephesians 3:17-19 (KJV)

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

The Lord does not base His love for us upon our character or achievements.

We know this because of God’s promise in John 3:16 and His action in sending Jesus to die in our place (1 John 4:10).

The Savior’s dealings with people show us the depth of God’s love.

Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, ministered closely with the Lord for three years but in the end chose to betray Him. Even though He knew what Judas would do, Jesus never rejected him. In love, the one betrayed forgave the betrayer. In another example, a woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned for her transgression. She was condemned by the religious leaders, but Jesus stepped in to protect her. Then, in love, He commanded her to sin no more (John 8:11). Next, consider Peter, who loved Jesus and desired to follow Him always. In a moment of weakness, however, he denied even knowing Christ. Though Jesus knew in advance the disciple would do this, His love for the man didn’t waver—a fact He proved by appearing to Peter after the resurrection and giving him a prominent place in the developing church. Two final examples are Zaccheus, the greedy tax collector who took advantage of his fellow citizens, and the Samaritan woman who, after a string of broken relationships, was involved in an immoral lifestyle.

None of this stopped Jesus from approaching both of them and offering His forgiving love.

Through faith in Jesus, everyone—even the worst of sinners—can become a child of God and experience the richness of His love.

No one is beyond its reach.

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Exerting Our Rights…

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Matthew 5:38-48 (KJV)

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We talk a lot about rights these days.

Yet the attention given to human entitlements hasn’t brought about corporate or personal freedom. Instead, most people are prisoners of jealousy (you have greater rights than I do!), greed (I deserve more!), or bitterness (my rights have been violated!).

Instead of focusing on the privileges due us, we should take the biblical perspective of loving enemies and forgiving persecutors (Matt. 5:44).

Believers lay down their rights so they can take up the cause of a holy kingdom. That doesn’t mean that we let people trample on us. Rather, we offer a proper response according to biblical principles.

In short, believers should be more concerned about showing God’s love to those who do wrong than about demanding their rights.

Maybe you’re thinking, But he doesn’t know how I’ve been mistreated. Indeed I do not. But what I do know is how Jesus Christ, our example, reacted to terrible abuse. He was betrayed by His friends, persecuted by His people, condemned by His peers, and crucified for our sins.

Yet He said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

Before assuming that Jesus’ capacity for forgiveness and love is out of reach for mere human beings, remember: His Spirit dwells in believers.

We can choose to give away our rights and let God’s love work through us.

Luke 6:29 says to turn the other cheek and give up more than is asked because expressing love outweighs exerting our rights. You can’t lose when you show others the boundless care of the Lord.

You gain His blessing, and, hopefully, someone will be saved because of your example.

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What an Overwhelming Assignment!

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Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

When a lawyer asked which commandment was greatest, Jesus’ answer was, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

He also quoted a second one: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt.22:37, 39). What an overwhelming assignment!

In our own strength, none of us can live up to this obligation, but God has provided a way for Christians to do the impossible.

The indwelling Holy Spirit works to produce His fruit in us, and first on the list is love (Gal. 5:22). In fact, the other eight qualities are really just descriptions of its expression.

Whenever we demonstrate kindness, patience, or gentleness, we see the Lord’s love at work through us, especially when the other person has been unkind and doesn’t deserve such pleasant treatment.

This fruit is not produced by trying harder to muster good will toward someone who is irritating or hard to get along with. Instead, think of the process more like sap running through a branch on a grapevine. The branch doesn’t make grapes; the sap does.

In the same way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love in us so that we, in turn, can pass it on to others.

Agape—or divine love—is the reason we are able to care for someone who mistreats us; it’s God’s doing, not ours.

Even the adoration we offer the Lord is not something that we can produce in our own heart apart from His assistance.

Though the command to love is enormous and weighty, God’s grace is enough to make it possible.

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Difficulty For A Reason…

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Psalm 9:1-2

1 I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

We are given amazing privileges when we trust in Jesus.

Recalling these promises is a good way to maintain a thankful heart, even when facing challenges in other areas.

Consider four such blessings:

Christ’s gift of salvation.

No matter what trial we’re facing, it is microscopic next to the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. The cross was a steep price to pay, but the Savior willingly took our place in order to offer us forgiveness and eternal life.

Assurance of God’s love.

The Lord cares for us unconditionally—that is His very character (1 John 4:16). Unfortunately, the storms of life can cause us to question this, but Romans 8:31–39 unequivocally tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Answered prayer.

We have the awesome privilege of talking to the Father about anything burdening us—and He never grows tired of listening to His children. Our omnipotent, omniscient God is not only able to help us in any situation; He also knows the best possible way to do so.

A personalized plan.

The Lord has a will, plan, and purpose for our lives that He will accomplish if we obey Him. No one is exempt from adversity, but we can trust God to bring good from everything He permits to come our way.

Hardships, temptations, and tests will touch us all, but the Lord allows difficulty for a reason—even when we don’t understand why (Rom. 8:28).

Therefore, submit yourself to the Father, thank Him for His wisdom, and be confident that He will accomplish His purposes for you .

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Dealing With The Dreaded Three D’s

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Job 3:25  The thing I greatly feared has come upon me.

Our Highest Good May Come From Our Deepest Suffering

Death, divorce, and disease could be called the Dreaded Three D’s of Misery. They seem to slice through life like a tsunami of sorrow, raising doubts and destroying dreams.

Recently, a friend and I agreed that last year was one that we both have decided to just as soon forget.  Each of us had suffered through at least one of the dreaded three D’s.

Our conversation bought Job to mind. In a short period of time, he lost his children, his health, his wealth, and even his wife’s respect. Job’s distress was so great that he pleaded, “May the day perish on which I was born” (Job 3:3).

Job wanted God to erase not just the year, but all memory of his existence!

He had enjoyed years of success and respect. Now he questioned the purpose of living (3:20).

Job wanted to die and be forgotten, but instead God made sure his name and story would be remembered forever.

Rather than give Job what he asked for, God gave future generations a blueprint for faith during difficult times– an inside look at the spiritual battle between God and Satan. A story of unwavering faith and God’s ability to guide us through the storms of our lives.

The result is a God inspired documentation about suffering that has comforted countless thousands of people.

When what we fear actually happens, we know, thanks to Job, that God can use it for good.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regained my helpless estate,

And has shed His own blood for my soul. –Spafford

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