3 Practical Ways to Love One Another as the Bible Teaches

3 Practical Ways to Love One Another as the Bible Teaches

With all the unraveling of our social spheres over the last 12 months, it feels as if our society has forgotten how to love one another. Deep down, I know that’s not entirely true. Yet as I look around our hurting world and the ease so many seem to find in attacking each other from behind electronic screens or scowling from behind masks, it seems we could all use a fresh perspective on what it looks like to love like Jesus, just as we’re taught in the Bible. 

 

As Christians, how can strengthen our society through acts of love? In Christ, we have such power—and the impact could be greater than we imagine. 

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The lack of love we currently see in our world comes with dire consequences. Distrust is running rampant making us feel segmented—rather than unified—as a culture. It spurs loneliness, depression, anxiety, and also fear about the future. Deep in our hearts and spirits, we know it shouldn’t be this way. 

 

Loving people is important for so many reasons. It reflects the love God has for His creation. Our obedience in this area helps display the Gospel of Jesus, and love is highly contagious. The more we give it to others, they, in turn, will begin to love. We identify ourselves as ambassadors of Christ—as His followers and His representatives—when we love the people of our world. 

Pursuing a 1st John Kind Of Love

 

It isn’t always easy, even when we earnestly seek to obey the new commandment of the Bible. What seems like a lifetime ago, I connected with a small group of Christians who had a strong desire to love well. A few of the leaders in this group shared practical ways they felt our group could show greater affection and respect toward the people we met. The group seemed to go along with a few of the ideas but showed reluctance to many of them. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience. 

 

As we worked to put the desire to love into action, disunity crept into our group. Members disagreed about how we should show it, and which of our comforts we should lay down in order to help our community feel more welcome in our midst. As I walked through this struggle with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I felt both confused and disheartened.

The Blessing of Obedience

In 1 John, we’re taught that God’s love is perfected in disciples who walk in obedience to Him. We can know that we’re abiding intimately with Him when we are walking in His footsteps, doing as He did when He walked this earth. 

 

Each of us is called to follow hard after Jesus and do as He does. Radically speaking, this requires sacrifice. It requires selfless unconditional devotion toward others, and a willingness to decide to love even when feelings and emotions resist. That degree of obedience is hard to find. Even in Christianity, loving like Jesus is too often curbed by earthly motivations and current moods.

 

We read that Christ left His throne and came to earth as a man to walk among us. He laid down His life for you and for me. He was scorned, battered, ridiculed, and also beaten for us. The Son of God didn’t offer casual love, but radical love evidenced by radical sacrifice. We are called to do the same for others. If we aim to love like Jesus, there should be nothing that we are unwilling to do for or share in order to show that we love one of our brothers or sisters. And yet, our humanly hesitations prevail.

 

Acting in the Strength of Jesus

 

The entire experience within our small group opened my eyes to the limits humans often put on the love we extend. According to the sentiments of our group, it was fine to love one another so long as the group didn’t have to give up some of the comforts that they held dear. Though we’d read the Bible and desired to obey, we still had much to learn as disciples of Jesus. 

 

Sadly, this hesitant attitude toward love permeates pockets of Christianity and too few are willing to sacrifice in our love for one another. 

 

If there is one thing that our broken society has revealed, it is our lack of Bible-directed love for one another. As a society, and even more pointedly as disciples of Jesus, we’ve fallen short of the love that he’s called us to share. We can all do better. We must learn to let the love of Jesus course through our own veins so we can love as He does—not in our own strength, but in His. Christ will help His disciples walk in His ways and at the same time, grow our faith and the expression of our spiritual gifts. 

 

Helpful Encouragement to Love One Another from the New Testament 

 

Jesus gave His followers a new command, saying in John 13:34-35 (ESV), “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

The question becomes, how to love according to the Bible and the commandment that Christ gave in John 13. In the simplest terms, there are three practical ways:

Speak it

Show it

Receive it


Speak Love to One Another

We all know the power of words. Proverbs 18:21 in the English Standard Version says “Death and life are in the power of our words.” They can tear people down or build them up and Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) instructs that we use our words so they give grace to those who hear. 

 

 

As a tenet of Christianity, we’re taught in the Bible to guard our words and use them carefully. We’re to use our words to speak life. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (CSB) exhorts, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” 

 

Learning to love is one of our primary callings of the New Testament. But how do we draw near to God and use our words as Jesus directed in the new commandment? 

A Menu of Helpful Options

 

In her book Gracelaced, Author Ruth Chou Simons shares ways to use our words to encourage and build up. She says,

 

“Speak reminders of freedom in Christ. . .

Speak the joy of forgiveness in Him. . .

Speak encouragement for weariness. . .

Speak truth that convicts. . .

Speak warning of sin’s lies and deception. . .

Speak friendship and care for the battles ahead. . .”

 

These are tender reminders of practical ways to use our words kindly. We are to care for others as we care for ourselves. We can offer verbal encouragement for their spiritual health, their struggles with sin, and their connection to Christ—just as much as their physical well-being, their professional integrity, and matters within their families. 

Show One Another

Obedience stretches beyond our words and should permeate our actions also. In the Bible, obey Jesus and do as He does. We are to walk in good works (Ephesians 2:10, ESV), give to the needy (Matthew 6:2, ESV), and show acts of kindness for others (Hebrews 13:16, TPT).  

Practically speaking, as a child of God and in His power, we can each show love to one another by

  • Praying for them
  • Listening and seeking understanding before we speak
  • Delivering a meal for a family that is facing a challenge
  • Celebrating together 
  • Sending cards or notes of encouragement through text or mail (If you don’t know what to say, a Bible verse is often well-received)
  • Being vulnerable with them 
  • Including new people in ordinary activities that you enjoy
  • Sharing books or resources that may be helpful
  • Supporting a cause that’s important to them
  • Share opportunities to develop their spiritual gifts
  • Generously providing for the needy 
  • And so much more

 

No matter the way that you choose to demonstrate it, you are showing that you care about them and esteem them as a person. I don’t know a single person that isn’t encouraged and built up by feeling valued. 

 

Receive Love From One Another

 

Too often in Christianity, we’re eager to improve the way we show esteem, yet reluctant to receive it in return. It’s often our pride that hinders us from accepting help or encouragement from those around us. The truth, however, is that It’s a privilege to receive encouragement and help from others. And it’s also a gift from God, Himself. 

 

Receiving from Jesus is how we put our faith in action. It’s He who equips us to love in His strength rather than our own. Along the same lines, receiving the encouragement that others share is one way that we, in turn, receive it from God.  

 

Our Heavenly Father placed us in a community—a community where each of His followers reflects all that dHe feels for us. When we reject it from others, we in essence reject the love of the Father. When we reject their help and encouragement, we forsake a meaningful gift that He shares with us. 

 

Helpful Encouragement from Jesus—in John 17 

 

John chapter 17 shows us the prayers of Jesus. In His closing words—while praying for you, me, and all Believers—He prays that the “love you have loved me with may be in them and I may be in them” (John 17:26, CSB). Another version puts it this way, that which “You have bestowed upon Me may be in them [felt in their hearts] and that I [Myself] may be in them” (John 17:26, AMP). 

 

Jesus prayed that the Father’s love would flow through Him, that we’d experience in our hearts, and reveal it to those around us.  May we learn to speak love, show it, and receive it. All for His glory.

What Does The Bible Say About Loving God and Also One Another?

The Bible is rich with encouragement from Jesus and His disciples to love God and each other. I invite you to meditate and pray through each of the verses shared below. Our aim as Christ-followers should be to abide with Jesus so fully that His love flows naturally through us. 

 

Helpful Bible Verses About Showing Love to One Another

(Verses are from the English Standard version)

 

Psalm 63:3

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Proverbs 10:12 

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

Luke 10:27

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

John 14:15

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John 15:12

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Romans 12:10

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Ephesians 4:2

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 3:18

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 5:3

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should Christians Pursue Planning and Goal Setting?

Should Christians Pursue Planning and Goal Setting?

As Christians, should we pursue planning and goal setting?

 

Surprisingly, in some circles of faith I have been discouraged from doing so—to relax as I see God planning my life and directing each moment. I was led to verses such as:

 

Matthew 6:34 (ESV) “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

 

James 4:13, 14 (ESV) Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.”

 

planning and goal setting

 

Through these passages, it was reasoned that there was no point in creating a meaningful life plan or SMART goals. But there’s far more to consider.

 

God has a Plan

 

Interpreting certain Scriptures to mean “don’t plan for tomorrow” contradicts the nature of God and the words of Jesus. Through the full context of the Bible, we see that the entire journey of following Jesus and finding His success involves long-term planning.

Throughout the Bible, God reveals Himself as a planner. He is a God of order, One who prepares and plans for what’s coming next. We are wise to do likewise, so planning and goal setting are key.

 

As we follow Jesus, our aim is to become increasingly like Him. We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). God has a plan for us; we should have plans for ourselves as well. Our plans are best when aligned with His. Then they can most effectively help us accomplish His divine purpose for our lives.

 

The Bible is alive and active, able to breathe life into our weary bones and align our hearts and minds to God’s will—all by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only by seeking and relying on the Holy Spirit can we begin to grasp all that God’s Word reveals to us. It takes a lifetime of study and meditation.

 

That’s why we must always remain mindful of the context of His Word and its overarching revelation of Who God is.

 

What Does God Say About Success?

 

By scouring the Bible to discover God’s heart about planning, success, and even health and wealth, we find wisdom and encouragement that is often overlooked.

 

The Power to Gain Wealth

 

Deuteronomy 8:18 conveys that God gives us the power to gain wealth. It does not say God gives us wealth, rather He provides all we need to attain it. Looking deeper, the original Hebrew term for wealth implies far more than monetary gain. It encompasses valor, strength, virtue and might—all of which are worthy of an effective life plan.

 

The Path to Prosperity

 

Joshua 1:8 teaches that when we follow God’s ways, we will make our way prosperous. Again, God is not promising prosperity but providing all we need to make our own way prosperous. He gives us the means, but the doing is up to us. We can become prosperous in our relationships, finances, generosity, wellness, and so much more.

 

We have a responsibility to obey God’s ways and do as He calls us to do. Rather than sitting idly by and waiting for Him to move on our behalf, He tasks us with moving to action and helping others in His name. Planning and goal setting are monumental first steps in following Him.

 

Create a meaningful life plan and develop a daily routine to make it happen.

 

 

What Does the Bible Say About Planning for the Future?

 

Throughout the Word of God, we see His encouragement to plan for the future and not be caught unawares.

 

Proverbs 14:15-16 (NASB) “The naïve believes everything, But the sensible person considers his steps. A wise person is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.”

 

Matthew 10:16  (CSB) “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.”

 

Luke 14:28 (CSB) “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”

 

1 Corinthians 14:40 (ESV) But all things should be done decently and in order.”

The Proverbs 31 woman is a careful planner, thinking ahead and considering potential consequences and her family’s well-being before acting.

 

Ultimately, as God is planning our life we should be making plans to do as He leads.

 

 

How to incorporate Faith into Daily Planning and Goal Setting

 

When planning, it’s wise to aim for more than financial prosperity and business success. We can also plan for Kingdom living here on earth, for strong, healthy relationships and for peace and joy. By keeping God’s ways in the forefront of the planning process, Christians can more effectively serve as His ambassadors and maintain an eternal focus—even while working toward earthly success.

 

There’s a bit to reconcile as we balance surrender to Him while embracing our own responsibility. To effectively plan with this balance in mind, we can follow these simple steps:

 

Get Quiet Before God Before Planning and Goal Setting

Psalm 46:10 (ESV) says “Be still and know that I am God.” When we sit at His feet, God calms our fears and aligns our heart with His own. Every good, God-honoring plan should begin with prayer and time in His presence.

 

Seek God’s Will

Actively seeking God’s will ensures our plans don’t stem from a place of fear, anxiety or worry. We’re to rest in His provision and seek His ways above our own. Matthew 6:33 (CSB) declares, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you”.

 

Follow God-Given Dreams

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4 (CSB) which says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Many believe the verse implies God will give us everything we desire. Instead, it reveals that He plants desires in the hearts of His followers. Our hopes and dreams are inspired—and ordained—by the loving God of the universe. We can confidently write these dreams in concrete. They are a gift from God that we are to nourish, protect, and pursue.

 

Get to Work With Your Plans and Goals

As you step into service toward God’s will, first plan with care then put that plan in motion. By following His ways, we will see His unquestionable partnership in the work we do in His name. The psalmist cries out in Psalm 90:17 (ESV), “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

 

Respond to God’s Lead

It’s said that as we write our dreams in concrete, we’re to write our plans in the sand. In other words, we’re not to become slaves to our plans but to leave room for God to move and direct or path. God has a plan. Knowing He’s always at work helps us (as Matthew 7:7-8 teach us) to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking to continuously seek His direction and lead.

 

Remember to Plan Rest

Every plan must include time to rest, refuel, and rejuvenate. We’re to practice self-care as we serve the Lord with diligence. Mark 6:31 shares Jesus’ specific encouragement to His disciples to find rest. We must be filled with Christ to pour out to others in His name. Just like meaningful work, intentional rest requires careful preparation and planning.

 

 

Should Christians pursue planning and goal setting? The Scriptures and the heart of God are clear. Yes, we’re to make careful plans and diligently work toward God-inspired outcomes. By all means—plan, prepare, set SMART goals. Follow a proven process to help you create a meaningful life plan and adopt a daily routine to make it happen. Then enjoy the manifold blessings that God pours into your life.

 

As followers of Christ, it’s our aim to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when we enter Heaven. To live a life worthy of His acclaim doesn’t come by aimlessly drifting. It requires intentionality and execution of a meaningful plan.

 

I invite you to discover how to create a meaningful life plan in my half-day workshop called Hero on a Mission. I’ll walk you through three important steps and provide the tools and resources you need. Come select a date that works on your calendar and let’s get started!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

War Room Prayers for Marriage

War Room Prayers for Marriage

Marriages are facing trials and challenges like never before. The enemy of our souls continues to rise up and attack our homes and families. Some wonder if war room prayers for marriage—lifting your relationship before God in the most vulnerable and intimate way—can help a marriage survive. The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Marriages can survive. What’s more, they can thrive and flourish. Prayer is a key that unlocks doors of hope and possibility.  

When troubled and in crisis, prayer for marriage—specifically Scriptural prayer—can break through barriers that you never dreamed. We don’t always know what to pray when we feel broken and healing looks impossible.

How can I pray for my marriage?

To celebrate over 3 decades of marriage, I wrote 31 Specific Prayers for Your Marriage.  It’s a prayer devotional specifically for marriage and it will help you pray daily. The tools and insights add power to your prayers by relying on the Word of God. When a marriage feels broken, we often don’t know how to form the words to pray. This devotional will fuel your prayers and give you tools to pray fervently and effectively for your relationship.

The eBook is available to download now!

 

Our Miraculous Victory —through Prayers for Marriage

You might wonder if a marriage can survive infidelity. Or if any marriage can withstand the loss of a child. Such tragedies feel nearly impossible to navigate.

During a season when my own marriage nearly crumbled, the Lord prompted both my husband and me—independently—to pray. We were separated, lying in beds literally miles apart from one another. That’s when the Holy Spirit prompted each of us to pray. Sure, we’d asked God for a few things here and there, but we had no idea how to begin praying fervently, baring our souls before God. But He led us through and the more we prayed, the more comfortable it became.

The results of those prayers were nothing short of miraculous. We’ve now had more than 30 years together, and I am both humbled and grateful that our marriage did more than survive. It thrived. All glory goes to God for the victory and I believe He used fervent prayer as a weapon of warfare.

Inside the eBook, each of the 31 daily marriage devotions provides a Bible passage or two to focus on God’s truth, a specific prayer based on the Scriptures, and a simple step of faith to encourage tangible action in your journey of prayer. By engaging with this prayer devotional, your marriage and relationships will see blessings. We know from experience these prayers will strengthen your marriage through:

  • a refreshed closeness to the Lord
  • developing a strong practice of prayer
  • softening your heart toward your spouse

Use it as a daily devotional, shared prayer time for couples, or take your time and savor the experience by pouring yourself into the prayer and suggested steps of faith. 31 Specific Prayers for Your Marriage is available now with immediate download.

Prayer Devotional for Marriage

 

 

Nourishing Your Spirit Though the Holidays: Part 6

Nourishing Your Spirit Though the Holidays: Part 6

Throughout this series, we examined nourishing our spirit and discovered how we are designed to connect with God. Our connection is called “abiding” in the Bible and John 15 teaches that we are to abide in Christ as a branch abides in a vine. The connection should be seamless, uninterrupted, and whole.  If you’d like to start at the beginning of the series and read Part 1, click here.

 

Benefits of Nourishing Your Spirit

 

The benefits of nourishing your spirit are countless. By abiding in Christ, we learn to receive the love that God so freely supplies. We receive confidence, knowing that we are His. Most notably, when our spirit is nourished we bear fruit—not from our own efforts, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit that flows through us. This fruit manifests itself in real life, even when life gets messy and difficult.

 

It’s true that life gets harder as we age. Our problems get bigger. The good news is, when we draw closer to God day by day, we lean increasingly on Him and His strength. I often wonder how people navigate life without His support.

 

In my personal life, I’ll share that my mom is very sick. Four weeks ago, the doctors said she had only weeks to live. She’s 85 with a bad heart, and she’s very weak. In-home hospice started so we receive frequent visits from nurses, social workers, and even a chaplain if we wish.

 

The burden of 24-hour care is carried by the family.  I set up a video baby monitor and I receive notifications on my cell phone if she even moves her covers in the night. We have a lot of people in our house right now and I have more help than I could ever wish for. But it’s still hard. It’s so hard.

 

Mom and I have not always had a great relationship. I’m her only surviving child and she has lived with us since my dad passed away 18 years ago.  Watching her decline so rapidly is heartbreaking. What slays me and keeps me up at night is that she doesn’t know Jesus. She wants no part of Him.

 

Abiding Through Difficulties

 

In this season of caring for her, in the midst of the demands of ordinary life, abiding looks different for me than it ever has. There’s not much uninterrupted time to sit and wait on Him. So I pray on the go. I keep my feet moving while I worship. And I read only a few sentences of the Bible at a time.

 

Mom is increasingly anxious when I’m not close by so leaving the house is tricky. I’m so thankful for technology and online sermons from our church that help keep me connected with the body of Christ.

 

I know that God is fully aware of my situation. From before the foundation of the world, He knew we’d face this and He walks with us. Somehow, I love her as He does. In a mysterious way, it brings joy to serve her and care for her. Somehow, I’m grateful for the opportunity to honor her.

 

The Fruit of Abiding

 

The other day, I stood at the coffee pot, just simply filling a cup and I was overwhelmed by His nearness. It brought such peace and assurance to my heart. I could feel His passion, His love, His affection.

 

This is the fruit of abiding. And it’s not just for me. It’s for all of God’s children who are willing to let the love of Christ fill all the empty places in our hearts.

 

The joy of Christmas is knowing that God came to be with us. We celebrate His birth and the anticipation of remaining in His unfailing love. Because we were created to connect with God. And when we do, we are never, ever alone.

 

When we abide in Christ, we connect with Him, which allows us to be radically loved by Him. We grow to be more like Him, to love others more fully, and to be full of delight about who God is for us.  That is what makes Christmas merry.

 

Merry, Merry Christmas to you, my sweet friends.

Nourishing Your Spirit

Nourishing Your Spirit During the Holidays: Part 5

Nourishing Your Spirit During the Holidays: Part 5

The craziness of the holidays can get to us all. Even just a few days before Christmas, when the frantic pace hits its peak, nourishing your spirit by taking time—even just a few minutes—for the Lord can be a game-changer. Instead of greeting the people you loved in a stressed-out, frazzled, hot-mess type of attitude, embrace them with warmth and patience. Shine the light of Christ by first pointing your heart toward your lifeline, the true Vine, Jesus our Lord and Savior.

 

In Part 4 of this series, we observed the benefits of abiding. We began an introduction detailing how to Abide in God. The first step in abiding is following Jesus. If you missed that post, you read it here.

 

The second step is to practice two things:  Be silent and wait.

 

Nourishing Your Spirit Through Silence and Waiting

 

Silence is our friend, yet it feels so foreign to our society. We’re almost always surrounded by noise: the TV, music, podcasts, crowds, traffic, and thousands of media interruptions. To practice this second step of abiding, get into a quiet place and practice becoming comfortable in its warm embrace. Next, ask God to reveal Himself to you.  These things will happen very slowly and you’ll need to work on it every day.  So, the second thing you need to learn to do is to wait.

 

When Moses went to the Mountain to receive God’s instruction, He waited for six days. Six, Days. Before God showed Him a thing. And Moses sat quietly and waited. In our own lives, we wait two minutes and think it’s more than we can bear. If you feel like God isn’t showing up, remember that Moses waited for six days—non-stop. That will make your wait feel a lot shorter.

 

Keep at it. The wait is worth it.

 

Nourishing Your Spirit Through God’s Word and Prayer

 

The third step to abiding is to connect with God by reading the Bible and praying.

 

I’m not suggesting you read the whole Bible before bed tonight. But begin reading. If you’ve never read the Bible, start with the book of John. It’s closer to the back than the front. Read just a few verses a day and in your times of quiet and waiting, ask God to help you understand what it says and show you how it applies to your life.

 

To pray simply means to talk to God. Tell Him about your problems. Ask for help. Invite Him into your celebrations. Just talk with Him as you would a friend.  It will feel awkward at first, but it gets easier and even enjoyable as you grow in it.

 

In prayer, you can also express your worship and your gratitude. This means thanking the Lord for the things that anger and frustrate us as much as for the blessings and happiness He brings. Make a point to recognize God’s activity in your life (including the character-building moments) and express my gratitude to Him. It’s easy to thank Him silently or aloud, alone or with your family. Showing thanks is a quick and simple way to invite the Lord into every aspect of my day.

 

The Investment of Time

 

Believe me, I understand that I’m encouraging you to commit time during one of the busiest seasons of the year.

 

Remember, the Lord knows your frantic, holiday pace. Holidays (originally termed ‘Holy Days’) were His idea—along with celebrations and festivals. Making time to be still with Him doesn’t require an hour or even 30 minutes. It requires just enough time to turn my heart and focus on the Lord.

 

In my own life, this may look like 5 minutes locked away in the bathroom reading Scriptures on my iPhone, trying to tune out repeated knocks on the door. It may be purposefully turning to Him during my first cup of coffee before anyone else is awake. It may happen in my car, one of the only silent environments I can find. Whenever it happens and however it looks, this intentional practice is essential to abide in Him.

 

 

Those of you who have walked with Jesus for a while now and are thinking, Cathy we already know to do all of this.

 

Yes. I understand. The problem is, we often stop the foundational practices of our faith. We stop reading the Bible and think, I already know all of that. We stop praying, thinking God already knows what I need.

 

What if we treated our earthy relationships like this? If we stopped talking to our husbands believing they (should) know everything about us by now. [[Don’t try this at home.]] That’s no way to abide. It’s trying to coast while moving uphill. We are created to connect with God.

 

Learning the Chords of Nourishing Your Spirit

 

We need to stay faithful, nourishing our spirit in the little things.  The simple steps I’ve shared are like chords on a guitar. When we know the chords—when we practice them— we can put them together and play countless songs. Without knowing the chords, we’re just making noise.

 

Abiding is what helps us encounter the real love of Jesus, embrace our real purpose, and become bold agents of real change.  Abiding in Christ results in fruit that shows up in real-life. In Part 6, the conclusion of this series, I’ll share how the practice of abiding is manifesting itself into the hard parts of life. I hope you’ll join me right back here for the final segment!

 

Nourishing Your Spirit Through the Holidays: Part 4

Nourishing Your Spirit Through the Holidays: Part 4

Welcome back! In part 3 of this blog series about nourishing your spirit through the holidays, we learned that abiding in Christ is an uphill climb that doesn’t leave room for coasting.  We can’t coast while moving uphill. If we try, we’ll slide backward rather quickly.

That’s a problem.

 

We don’t want to fall back because we’re created for connection with God.

 

When I remain in Christ, I learn to allow myself to be touched by His love. I learn to receive the love that flows so freely and generously from Him.

By dwelling with Him, new confidence begins to rise within me. I begin to live differently because I know that I am His beloved child.

As I abide in Jesus, I never have to wonder if He loves me or if I have His favor. I know I do. God never changes and His love is fixed and secure.

When I abide in Him, He gives Himself and He is love.

What beautiful benefits to abiding!

 

Bearing Fruit by Nourishing Your Spirit

 

Another benefit is the fruit we bear as we connect with Jesus, the vine. Think of it this way: When a branch abides in a vine, it bears fruit. The branch doesn’t wish for grapes or pray for grapes. It doesn’t concentrate hard enough or muster enough inner strength to cause grapes to burst forth.

 

Its fruit is a natural result of its connection to the vine. The vine does all the work and manifests its beautiful fruit through the branch.

 

When I stay fused with Him, I bear fruit. Not the fruit of my labor, but the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). All the traits I long to possess become possible because they flow through the branch right into my life where they are expressed outwardly toward others.

 

And in seasons where I’m NOT abiding in Christ, it should be obvious because that’s not what flows naturally out of me! When my connection with the Lord is interrupted, my fruit may be wilted, or unhealthy, or non-existent. My spirit feels dry and dusty. I become selfish and ‘me’ focused and I lash out at people I love. My impatience shows and I become harsh and embarrassingly uncontrolled. I find myself doing the very things I don’t want to do and wonder why I’m acting so irrationally.

 

My tendency is to blame hormones or stress or lack of sleep. Yes, those all factor in, but the bigger reality is that I’ve lost connection with my lifeline. I become either too busy or too distracted to focus on Jesus. In my weakness, I try to draw strength from my flesh. All the while, Jesus waits for me to turn to Him to supply all my needs. He stands ready to provide generously if I’d only seek Him.

 

The question is how.

 

How do we abide in Christ?

 

You’re about to embark on a journey and I want you to remember that because abiding doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. It’s a process of growth. I encourage you to use a journal (find a great one here) to track your progress. Sometimes growth happens so slowly we don’t realize it’s even happening. And then we look back to our starting point and we realize how far we’ve come. A journal will help you do that.

 

The first step to abiding is following Him.

 

Jesus paid the price for all our wrong-doing. The work on the cross is finished, but we must accept the gift He provided. We must respond to His sacrifice. The words of Jesus in Mark 1:15 tell us how to respond: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (NASB).

 

Repent and believe. To repent involves turning with regret from sin to embrace God’s divine forgiveness. To believe means to commit ourselves to Jesus and trust that He has removed our guilt and shame. His sacrifice restores our connection with God and provides a way for eternal reconciliation with Him.

 

If you are not trusting in the Lord, will you stop right now and turn toward Him? Turn from your prior thinking and embrace the love of Christ. He is the only One Who can fill the emptiness inside. Remember—we are created to connect with God. He has already done the work to make it possible. Will you respond to Him? Will you accept His invitation?

 

Our first step in abiding is to put our trust in Jesus.

 

Now, we need to draw near to Him and develop a relationship with Him. In Part 5 of this blog series about nourishing your spirit, we’ll examine two additional steps to building abiding faith. I look forward to meeting you there!

 

Nourishing Your Spirit

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