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Posts Tagged ‘sacrificial love’

Quiet and overweight, the new girl in school was an easy target. She’d shuffle down the hall in nondescript clothing, her unkempt hair hanging across her face as if it knew she longed to be hidden. A year younger than she, I don’t recall her name although I remember the caustic words the pretty girls spewed as their victim sidled toward the row of lockers.

Something stinks.

Daintily waving their hands as if to ward off a stench, the two friends screwed their petite features in disgust and groaned. The boys and girls in the hallway began to titter in agreement and follow their lead. Something stinks.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to cry, but the quiet girl feigned ignorance and continued the long stretch toward class alone.

The silent, brown-haired tween moved away from our school as quickly as she’d arrived. There was no going away party and no opportunity to say good-bye.

I’ve often thought of her. I’d like to tell her I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t befriend her. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave. I’m sorry even children can be cruel, unkind, and uncaring. That even the most innocent of us judge others based on the world’s shallow standards of beauty, charm, and status.

Perhaps we can excuse away childhood callousness with psychobabble about pro-social behavior or not knowing any better. In adult circles, discrimination may be dressed up as inappropriate jesting as well as more overt practices. Lack of inclusion. Failure to hire. Avoidance. Sadly, those ruled by hatred may resort to violence-an occurrence with which we’ve become far too familiar.

...there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever. 
#theywillknowusbyourlove #discrimination Click To Tweet

But there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Using scripture to interpret scripture, we can learn more about God’s attitude toward discrimination. Let’s take a look at the following verse.

Matthew 22:15-16 (NIV) Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Oh, how I would love for God to say the same of me! Wouldn’t you?

Daughter, you are a woman of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others because…of who they are.

In the 90’s, country singer Shania Twain lent her voice to the tune “Don’t Impress Me Much”. Although the song’s message is worldly, it caught my attention as it poked fun at a woman’s self-consumed love interest and ended with the lines,

Okay, so what do you think, you’re Elvis or something
Whatever
That don’t impress me.

Christ lived a don’t-impress-me-much attitude.

Religion didn’t impress him. Power didn’t impress him. Wealth didn’t impress him. He gave up heavenly glory for earthly poverty in order to rescue you and me; in order to rescue the unimpressive.

Instead, Christ seeks after a life surrendered to Him.

Paul shares this powerful passage in Galatians 3:28 (NIV), “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There are no differentiations in God's kingdom. No VIP sections. 
Only Emmanuel will receive our adoration. Click To Tweet

There are no differentiations in God’s kingdom. No VIP sections. No special boarding passes or red-carpet moments. Paparazzi won’t chase after Elijah or Esther; only Emmanuel will receive our adoration.

In the same way, we are to remember “we are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Reconsider the words of James 2:1-5.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Both the rich and poor man described in the situation above are unexpected guests and neither is treated any differently than if they attended any other gathering. Let’s assume these men are unaware of Jesus’ saving grace. Will either of them be swayed by judgmental people within the body of believers? Will they come to know Him through me? Or you?

Christ’s people are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and, if we remain in Him, we will live differently. We will see, treat, and love others through the eyes of Christ. Oh, Friend—how often I fail when I live and walk in the flesh, but when the Spirit is in control of my heart, mind, and soul then transformation happens.

I care less about how others perceive me and more about how I can meet their needs. I’m less impressed by status and more interested in salvation. I look beyond race, creed, or color and see the tears, the pain, and a heart that pounds out the question, “Who will love me anyway?”.

James continues in verse 8, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”

Love.

We are living in world that throws love around until the word seems to have lost its worth.

I love chocolate. (True.) I love dogs. I love sleeping in on Saturday. I love…fill in the blank.

But the love James refers to is sacrificial, life-giving love—the soul-deep, Christ-shaped love people long for without even realizing it. Pure, beautiful, unadulterated love flowing from the throne room into our living rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms. Spanning the invisible boundaries of white churches, black churches, Hispanic churches, and Korean churches.

Christ’s love is greater and more powerful than anything you and I will face individually, locally, nationally, or globally and we can be part of the answer. In Him, we are persevering, love-offering, Christ-sharing believers.

Reflect

What action step can you take today to “love your neighbor as yourself”?

In what way is God asking you to move beyond the invisible boundaries of status, color, or race in order to break down the barriers of favoritism within the church, your neighborhood, or community?

Are you struggling to find hope in this unsettling time? If so, I have a free gift for you today. Each month you will receive a Bible study article like the one you read today from my book, The Persevering Believer: Hope in Every Season. The first several days are already available and you can download the excert

Quiet and overweight, the new girl in school was an easy target. She’d shuffle down the hall in nondescript clothing, her unkempt hair hanging across her face as if it knew she longed to be hidden. A year younger than she, I don’t recall her name although I remember the caustic words the pretty girls spewed as their victim sidled toward the row of lockers.

Something stinks.

Daintily waving their hands as if to ward off a stench, the two friends screwed their petite features in disgust and groaned. The boys and girls in the hallway began to titter in agreement and follow their lead. Something stinks.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to cry, but the quiet girl feigned ignorance and continued the long stretch toward class alone.

The silent, brown-haired tween moved away from our school as quickly as she’d arrived. There was no going away party and no opportunity to say good-bye.

I’ve often thought of her. I’d like to tell her I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t befriend her. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave. I’m sorry even children can be cruel, unkind, and uncaring. That even the most innocent of us judge others based on the world’s shallow standards of beauty, charm, and status.

Perhaps we can excuse away childhood callousness with psychobabble about pro-social behavior or not knowing any better. In adult circles, discrimination may be dressed up as inappropriate jesting as well as more overt practices. Lack of inclusion. Failure to hire. Avoidance. Sadly, those ruled by hatred may resort to violence-an occurrence with which we’ve become far too familiar.

...there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever. #theywillknowusbyourlove #discrimination Click To Tweet

But there is no place in the church for discrimination. Ever.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Using scripture to interpret scripture, we can learn more about God’s attitude toward discrimination. Let’s take a look at the following verse.

Matthew 22:15-16 (NIV) Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Oh, how I would love for God to say the same of me! Wouldn’t you?

Daughter, you are a woman of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others because…of who they are.

In the 90’s, country singer Shania Twain lent her voice to the tune “Don’t Impress Me Much”. Although the song’s message is worldly, it caught my attention as it poked fun at a woman’s self-consumed love interest and ended with the lines,

Okay, so what do you think, you’re Elvis or something
Whatever
That don’t impress me.

Christ lived a don’t-impress-me-much attitude.

Religion didn’t impress him. Power didn’t impress him. Wealth didn’t impress him. He gave up heavenly glory for earthly poverty in order to rescue you and me; in order to rescue the unimpressive.

Instead, Christ seeks after a life surrendered to Him.

Paul shares this powerful passage in Galatians 3:28 (NIV), “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There are differentiations in God's kingdom. No VIP sections. Only Emmanuel will receive our adoration. Click To Tweet

There are no differentiations in God’s kingdom. No VIP sections. No special boarding passes or red-carpet moments. Paparazzi won’t chase after Elijah or Esther; only Emmanuel will receive our adoration.

In the same way, we are to remember “we are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Reconsider the words of James 2:1-5.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Both the rich and poor man described in the situation above are unexpected guests and neither is treated any differently than if they attended any other gathering. Let’s assume these men are unaware of Jesus’ saving grace. Will either of them be swayed by judgmental people within the body of believers? Will they come to know Him through me? Or you?

Christ’s people are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and, if we remain in Him, we will live differently. We will see, treat, and love others through the eyes of Christ. Oh, Friend—how often I fail when I live and walk in the flesh, but when the Spirit is in control of my heart, mind, and soul then transformation happens.

 Click To Tweet

I care less about how others perceive me and more about how I can meet their needs. I’m less impressed by status and more interested in salvation. I look beyond race, creed, or color and see the tears, the pain, and a heart that pounds out the question, “Who will love me anyway?”.

James continues in verse 8, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”

Love.

We are living in world that throws love around until the word seems to have lost its worth.

I love chocolate. (True.) I love dogs. I love sleeping in on Saturday. I love…fill in the blank.

 Click To Tweet

But the love James refers to is sacrificial, life-giving love—the soul-deep, Christ-shaped love people long for without even realizing it. Pure, beautiful, unadulterated love flowing from the throne room into our living rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms. Spanning the invisible boundaries of white churches, black churches, Hispanic churches, and Korean churches.

Christ’s love is greater and more powerful than anything you and I will face individually, locally, nationally, or globally and we can be part of the answer. In Him, we are persevering, love-offering, Christ-sharing believers.

Reflect

What action step can you take today to “love your neighbor as yourself”?

In what way is God asking you to move beyond the invisible boundaries of status, color, or race in order to break down the barriers of favoritism within the church, your neighborhood, or community?

Are you struggling to find hope in this unsettling time? If so, I have a free gift for you today. Each month you will receive a Bible study article like the one you read today from my book, The Persevering Believer: Hope in Every Season. The first several days are already available and you can download them here.  I pray they are a blessing to you.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

I pray they are a blessing to you.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

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Love is when

My pastor calls it the Great Exchange; the way God gave everything in order that you and I might gain from His loss. As I read the scripture about Christ and the thief on the cross, I’m struck by the truth of the Great Exchange and the scandalous love God has for people.

For sinful, hell-bent, hurting people. For the blind, the bleeding, and the broken. For the promiscuous, the pompous, and the prideful. For the self-proclaimed righteous and the down-in-the-dregs criminal.

Christ exchanged his existence in the presence of the Divine for exposure to the depraved because of His overwhelming love for people in need of mercy.#hope#salvation#mercy Click To Tweet

Christ exchanged His existence in the presence of the Divine for exposure to the depraved because of His overwhelming love for people in need of mercy. His riches for poverty. His home for homelessness. His robes of righteousness for our redemption. His unblemished life for our salvation.

Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me inParadise.” (Luke 23:42-43)

In His last moments on the cross, the mercy of Christ's salvations ushered a repentant man into the arms of heaven.#thegreatexchange#mercy Click To Tweet

In His last moments on the cross, the mercy of Christ’s salvation ushered a repentant man into the arms of heaven. Oh, the beauty of this ultimate exchange! Christ’s own final, holy breath for the eternal redemption of a thief.

It was not by accident the criminal hung in agony by the Christ. There was a plan for his salvation from eternity past and it was death on a cross that brought him close to the heart of his Father.

The Great Exchange of more than 2,000 years ago fulfilled God’s design to invite you and me into the Kingdom, too. But, there are others. Others who are waiting to hear the name of Jesus in far off lands. Others who are familiar with His name, but only as a curse word. Others behind bars or self-made prisons of sin and sensual living.

The world is in need of hope, friends, and we must be the ones to share Him.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6:8)

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I often link up with the following: LMMLinkupPorch StoriesTea and Word Tuesday, Blogger Voices NetworkTea and Word TuesdaysWorth Beyond Rubies WednesdayLet’s Have CoffeeSoaring With HimPurposeful Faith, Encouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsImparting GraceDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementFaith and FriendsFaith on Fire, anitaojeda, Dance with Jesushttps://www.rachelmarielee.com/  www.instaencouragements.com, Fresh Market Friday

 

 

 

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The place name dogged me all week–my thoughts returning again and again to the words of John 18:5.THE NEW YOU

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. (NIV)

Familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, I knew of the events preceding the crucifixion. The humble Creator stooping over the dirt-encrusted feet of His disciples and cleansing them of Jerusalem’s desert sand—the actions of a servant. Christ—breaking bread in the presence of beloved companions and a friend turned foe.

But until a few days ago, my eyes seemed to pass by any mention of Kidron Valley. What could be its significance? Why hadn’t I noticed before? Jesus walked purposely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to reach the Garden.

The symbolism is too rich to ignore. Kidron Valley, meaning black or sad, was a burial site to Jewish kings, priests, and prophets encased in tombs along the rocky slopes. And today? Thousands of limestone coffins stand end to end—the bodies of Jewish hopefuls awaiting deliverance through the long-awaited Messiah.

I can almost imagine Jesus surveying the valley and its surroundings. There, high on the slope, He could make out the southeastern edge of the Temple. How many hours had He spent within its walls proclaiming the truth? Inhaling deeply as He passed by a stand of olive trees, Christ might have swept His gaze to the far edges of the landscape and noticed the Mount of Olives. Did His stride quicken as He anticipated ascending into Heaven from that hill—the Father’s call beckoning Him home?

Determined, Jesus continued on as the dark valley rose sharply on either side–evening shadows deepening. He knew the history of the place—He’d seen it clearly from Heaven’s throne room. Christ knew of the treachery encased between the walls of this gorge—when the Chosen Ones had displayed worthless idols here. The people turning away from I Am not once…not twice…but three times. (1 Kings 15: 12-13, 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Chronicles 19:16).

Jesus knew—they would again turn from the Way and choose another.

And soon, the blood of hundreds of thousands of lambs would spill into the wadi, filling the valley with the scent of death; innocent blood staining its walls. The disciples might have noticed a look of satisfaction cross Jesus’ face as He considered the near future—that moment when His own, untarnished blood would pour out for all sin and sinners. Once for all—if they would only accept His gift. The perfect Lamb. The ultimate Sacrifice. The exchange of the Sinless for you and me.

Each step Jesus took in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, friends, brought us closer to Him. Because of His death and resurrection, we can claim the beautiful promise of Ps. 23,

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)

 

 Thank you, Jesus, for walking the dark valley of sin that we might be the sinless ones. Praise God for His mercy and overwhelming love. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adjusting the volume, I pressed the black button on the panel’s surface.  The tremor in the woman’s voice struck a chord as words filled the lonely space in the car.  “I always thought I had to prove myself–to convince Him that I took my faith seriously.”

A series of images played in my mind–family members, friends, church acquaintances–and I wondered.  How many women are striving to earn God’s stamp of approval?  Attempting to love God by doing more…serving more…being more.

hands-407389_1280

If you are that women, dear one, please hear the heartbeat of God in these words.

God loves you–just as you are.  Nothing you do will convince Love that He made a mistake in choosing you as Daughter.  No action on your part can separate you from His life-giving, freedom-imparting, grace-conferring love gift.

Eliminate the mental checklist of do’s and don’ts.  Discard the heavy baggage of comparison.  Step into the throne room of Agape and embrace the liberty of a love large enough to see the true you.  You created in Hs image.  You dressed in Jesus’ innocence.  You loosed to live as a woman in relationship–not rules–with the Lover of your soul.

 

Scripture for Reflection:  

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:28-29)

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We are, if we have chosen the good part, sitters at the feet of Jesus, just as Saul
of Tarsus sat at the feet of Gamaliel; Christ is to us our great Instructor  

–Charles Spurgeon

 

An uncommon God, He lived as a common man. Exchanging the beauty of heavenly glory for human flesh, Christ—the One who had strolled through the streets of heaven–walked the streets of everyday towns filled with common people burdened by common problems.

woman-caught-in-adultery-2

He–who had known perfection–surrounded himself with the imperfect. He willingly gave up abundance for poverty, worship for rejection, and self for others.

hands-731265_1280Why did Jesus—who once stooped to breathe life into dust—bind himself to the earth…to men and women whose feet carried them further from truth and deeper into the deception of self…of false hopes and misplaced dreams…of willfulness and rebellion?

 

Because He knows what we are made of. (Psalm 103:14) And simple dust, once stripped of protection, shifts in the wind—sometimes mere inches while at other times it is moved completely from its place…drifting and unsettled. For hundreds of years, Dust had lived under the dark curse of sin–tossed about this way and that.

No one remained untouched. Suffering. Disease. Death. Corrupt men subjugated innocents to forced labor—stealing youth and hope. Outcasts—considered less than human—suffered in pain on the edges of the city while rotting flesh ached for relief. Human souls cried out to heaven and Jesus was the answer. And in becoming like the rest of us, God made clear the extent of his love for Dust.

 

A love so encompassing and grace-filled that He intentionally wandered from place to place—offering forgiveness, speaking words of love, and bringing the kingdom of heaven to aching, hurting people. And, unlike any other god before or since, the man named Jesus died to save Dust. The same feet—soiled and dirtied from travelling to the dwellings of Despair and Need—were nailed to the tree. Their blood flowed downward and marked the hill at the base of the cross. And blood and Dust became inseparable.

Jesus gave everything for this woman of dust. He gave everything for you, too, dear Friend. And at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus we receive the life of a common man and an uncommon God. 

Scripture for Reflection

Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction… (Duet. 33:3)

…and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. (Luke 8:35)

…but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

 

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In the sheltered simplicity of the first days after a
baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of
two people existing only for each other. 
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I thought I understood love–it’s complexity, depth, and vulnerability.  Then I had children and all of my preconceived notions about love were shattered.  Blossoming in their place like a seedling receiving its first drops of water, a pure, true love sprang up.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

It was a love strong enough to urge a sleep-deprived mother out of bed during the black hours of the night to comfort a colicky infant; a love tender enough to encourage a mother to stay for endless hours in the NICU singing softly to the baby struggling to for every breath; and a love dedicated enough to stretch and exercise her son’s twisted feet despite his cries of pain.

I thought I understood love–then I had a Savior.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

His was a love merciful enough to offer forgiveness to a lost and lonely child; a love tender enough to be a Father when she was without hers; and a love sacrificial enough to give his life in her stead.

Parenting is the closest I’ve come to experiencing the sort of love He has for us.  Real love.

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