Because He Loved Me First

 we loveIf someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  -1 John 4:20
New King James Version

What concerns God is whether a person is actually and practically following Him with his mind, actions, words, time and energy. This proves to Him whether one sincerely loves the truth or merely sees his religion as an intellectual profession or social occasion.

Our deceitful mind can find multitudes of ways, reasons and excuses to avoid confronting the real issue of life—overcoming, allowing God to form and shape us into His image. Knowing this very well, Satan works to involve the intellectually inclined among us in pursuits that though they may involve religion and are stimulating and challenging, have little or nothing to do with overcoming. The issue, however, becomes so “big” that God’s focus is lost under the ever-growing mounds of research.

He distracts others through conspiracy theories. Though these things may be occurring at least to some extent, and though people reason they are “watching world news,” it is not preparing for God’s Kingdom. It becomes so “big” in their minds that they are nearly consumed by it—it is all they can talk about!

Jesus said what is in the heart comes out the mouth. Where is there room for God in the heart when this other pursuit is crowding Him out? Are these people in danger of being swept away by the flood? I have noticed that people involved in this gradually become very suspicious and cynical of others, especially those with some authority. Satan subtly destroys the fabric of trust that any institution—be it a relationship, family, church or nation—must have to function.

The Day of the Lord is not yet upon us, but we are in the headwaters of the flood that is swiftly approaching. The flood of deception is a precursor of more physically persuasive tactics designed to deceive the whole world into accepting the lie. But for now, Satan is surely concentrating primarily on God’s called-out ones.

God is permitting a sifting to take place. Paul uses the word “delusion” in II Thessalonians 2:11, indicating a “wandering out of the way.” Does that not happen to people who are confused and have lost direction and motivation? They wander. They drift. They get tossed about in the winds and currents. But the love of the truth will keep a person clear-minded, focused on the right areas of life and motivated to overcome. And this will lead God to save them.

We need to examine honestly what receives our time and attention. We need to evaluate truthfully what is the focus of our lives. This will reveal whether we love the truth or merely profess to. Those who only profess to love it will be the ones sifted by the flood now swirling around us.

Jesus cried out in John 7:37, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Brethren, this is our salvation. He says He is the way, the truth and the life. Now is the time to dig deeply into His Word to make that foundation sure. And let’s truly live and build upon what we find there! — John W. Ritenbaugh

The Busy Unproductive Church

We-have-gone-from-being-fishers-of-men-to-being-keepers-of-the-aquarium
Luke 19:10  ~”For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Church membership does not decline because it’s that season and it’s happening everywhere. Nor do the numbers decrease as some will swear due to the “great falling away” that is prophesied in Scripture. Many congregations are thriving and growing. Some congregations grow to the point of population over-flow and new Church congregations have to be planted. The reasons that many church congregations fail is due to where our energy is focused.

The first things you will find in a thriving congregation is corporate praise, worship and prayer. Not just in little side ministries but as a congregation. The very heart beat of the congregation is Christ.  When this excitement is found in a congregation, it has the same effect as when the Lord walked the Earth; the people just wanna get out there and tell somebody about Him, just like the Samaritan woman at the well.

John chapter 4 says she ran to share the Good News with the people in her town. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, Jesus stayed and taught them for 2 days and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

A thriving church will not wait for a lost and dying world to find it… it will go out excitedly lifting Jesus to a lost and dying world and the result will be the same as when the woman shared the news… it will be Jesus Himself who draws them to Himself.

A failing church is very very busy… and very very unproductive. The congregation spends countless hours doing ministry business within the four walls of the sanctuary without ever going out to reach the community.  If we are all believers inside of the four walls… what do we accomplish for the furthering of the Kingdom by setting up endless committees, planning perpetual fundraisers, installing officers to oversee the committee’s officers and one another… not to mention endless meetings about the state of our congregation, our committees and our ministries.  How will we be fishers of men if we are too busy minding the aquarium?

Even Jesus let it be known that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  He was never busy heading up and establishing temple committees. We must get out and get busy while it is still daylight left, because no one can work in the dark.
I found this chart it is a good indication of where our congregations stand.
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They SHOULD Know That We Are Christians By Our LOVE!

e4193876132ff1be067e815038bf3d96John 13:35 ” ~By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

While been ministering at a winter cold weather shelter for the past 3 months my heart has been heavy with a few thoughts regarding the actions of a few Christian workers. Many people who are homeless and less fortunate than you and I are ill-treated throughout their daily lives. How can we in good conscious call ourselves Ambassadors for Christ or Ambassadors of Love if we look for petty reasons to treat them less than worthy, when we are put in positions to show them Love and offer them hope… who are we to lord it over them because we have made up our minds that we are the only ones who can help them? How can I in good conscious serve them with an attitude that they get on my damn nerves and they act as if they are entitled to my help? How can I exemplify Christ if I can’t show patience and grace?  WELL… if I am there to serve them ..are they not entitled to my 100% service, given with Love and respect?

The idea of having the mindset that I can deny them the smallest thing such as water or an empty cup, only because it is in my power to do so …makes me what? … large and in charge? Jesus said whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters… you have done this to me. If I deny a thirsty man water of which I have plenty… I denied the Lord. If I deny the hungry one who does not eat meat hot water for a cup of noodles or a cup of tea, I deny Jesus. Christians should really consider how we represent Christ when we are called to serve the less fortunate in our communities. When we think that no one is watching, Jesus sees and to some He will say… I was hungry and you denied me food, I was thirsty and you denied me a drink. When we ill treat those who come to us because they trust us to bring love and hope after they have been ill treated continuously in the world AND then we in turn treat them like throw away people… we are kicking and spitting on them when they are already down. Reminds me of Jesus carrying that cross and being mocked and spat upon. IT DISGUSTS ME!

Jesus said Love one another as I have Loved you. He said treat one another as you desire to be treated. WHAT JESUS DID NOT SAY IS THIS:
Jesus did not say if the one who is less fortunate does not respect you… do not feed him. Jesus did not say deny the smallest amount of love to the one who feels hopeless if that one does not like you. Jesus did not say when you serve others do so begrudgingly. We are not to consider our feelings and get all up in our emotions… it is not about US… it is about the ones we are called to serve.

This needs to be said and taken in to account for every Christian servant.