Standing Through The Storm: Love Your Neighbor

 
 
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LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

The scriptures teach that God is committed to one major objective in the lives of all His people; conforming us to the image of His Son. What is the “image of His Son?” It is found in the words of Jesus, Himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark10:45).

It makes sense then to say that God desires the same for us. After bringing us into His family through faith in His Son, the Lord sets His sights on building into us the same qualities that made Jesus distinct—a servant’s heart and a giving spirit. It’s so easy to lose sight of our primary calling as Christians. Even those who lead must do so with an attitude of genuine humility and an authentic desire to help others.

The best-known symbols of Christianity are the cross, theichthus (fish symbol), and the dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. Probably the least known—yet most appropriate for the Christian—is the symbol of the towel and basin. The towel Jesus used when in humility and service, he washed and wiped his disciples dirty feet. Jesus instructed his disciples after washing their feet that they were to wash one another’s feet.

J. Dudley Woodbury tells a poignant true story that occurred in the dismal refugee camps of Peshawar, Pakistan. The fighting between the Majahideen in post-Soviet Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban resulted in thousands of refugees flooding into the camps near the border. Most of the children in the camps ran around barefoot in both the intense heat and intense cold.

A Christian organization brought in hundreds of sandals for the children but decided not to just distribute them but care for the children’s feet as well. So they utilized as many Christian volunteers as possible who washed the children’s filthy feet, put medication on their sores and prayed for them silently as they gave out the sandals.

As he tells the story, some months later a Muslim primary school teacher in the camp asked her students who the best Muslims were. One little girl raised her hand and responded, “The kafirs.” (unbelievers).

After the teacher recovered from cardiac arrest, she asked, “Why?” The little girl said, “The Mujahedeen killed my father, but the kafirs washed my feet!”

Missions to the Muslims, he concludes, will be affected less by the flames of 9/11, or even the flames that started the Arab Spring, than by the inner flames that are ignited if we so follow our Lord.[1]

RESPONSE: Today I will look for ways to serve others in genuine humility as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, help me love as You did, serve others as You did and give of myself as You did!

1. J. Dudley Woodberry, “Muslim Missions: Then & Now,”Christianity Today (September 2011), p. 36.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

 

 

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A Good Thing: Decision Making

 

Day 15 Theme: Decision Making
We have no might against this great company…neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee– 2 Chronicles 20:12

This is what great leadership looks like! King Jehoshaphat knew that the enemy forces facing his own people were far more powerful than his small army; as he reviewed his options, he also realized there was no human scheme or strategy that could save them.

Rather than blustering or bluffing his way forward, however, he admitted to his own people, and to God, his inadequacy and led them together in this prayer for help.

“We do not have the strength to face this challenge on our own,” they confessed. Have you come to this point in your life, in your struggle? Not where you give up, but where you give up trying to solve and fix and overcome in your own strength, by your own willpower.

“Neither know we what to do.”Have your reached your wit’s end? Have you come to the limit of your own ingenuity or cleverness? Have you reached the point where there really is no light left at the end of the tunnel, no hope of figuring out your own way out?

Then this is the perfect place to say to God, “My eyes are on you, now.” What do you want me to do? Where do you want me to be? Where should I lead my family, my children, my church?

It is when you reach the end of your own rope, and put all your weight on God’s, that you will discover His strength and wisdom to help and to guide and to save.

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NIV Devotions for Women: Letting Go of the Familiar

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Letting Go of the Familiar

Genesis 19:1–26

Letting go of the familiar is tough. Changing careers or colleges or moving to a new city can take an emotional toll on us. It’s even more difficult to leave behind old habits, attitudes and behaviors.

Lot’s wife wasn’t able to let go of her home in Sodom, even though God sent angels to warn her family to run for their lives because judgment was coming. In fact, the angels’ warnings included such grave commands as “Don’t look back” and “Don’t stop.” Why in the world did this woman choose to stop and look back? Could it be that she loved the life she was leaving too much? Though Sodom was full to overflowing with sin and vice, apparently the dark and oppressive city was comfortably familiar to Lot’s wife.

It is difficult to leave the familiar behind. That fact is as true today as it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction—even when God himself is saying, “It’s time to move on.” If you’ve ever struggled with a destructive habit, you’ve felt the pull of the familiar—even as you’ve sensed God’s nudge, “Move on now.” You’ve experienced the temptation to turn back just one more time, for one last look, one last taste, one last “fix”—even as God has whispered, “Don’t look back.” Maybe you’ve agonized over a loved one’s downward spiral, desperately attempting to rescue them time and time again—until finally God impressed upon you, “Stop. Let go.”

Unlike Lot’s wife, none of us has ever become a pillar of salt by turning back for one last peek. Yet we all struggle with the difficulties of letting go of the old in order to grasp the new. Take heart. God understands that letting go of the familiar is hard. Yet he has called us to move on to new life in Jesus Christ by letting go of our old worldly lives, our old habits, our old dreams—to boldly move forward without looking back. When you feel God’s call to move, allow him to guide you. He will give you the grace to do whatever he has asked.

Reflection

  1. What does the passage in today’s reading teach you about letting go in order to move forward?
  2. Why is it so difficult sometimes to let go of the past?
  3. What is one thing you think God may be asking you to let go of right now? Spend some time praying that God will help you let go of whatever is hindering you from moving forward in your spiritual journey.

Genesis 19:26
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Related Readings

Genesis 12:1–7Numbers 14:1–38Philippians 3:13

About the Church of God, Cleveland TN

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“Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” (Song of Solomon 6:10).

In a world of religious confusion and chaos, it is often difficult to find absolute truth and genuine Christian love. Nevertheless, the Word of God promises a haven of safety from the erroneous teachings of the world and a beacon of light to shine in the darkness. Christ spoke concerning His Church, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14).

Who is She?

“My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her” (Song of Solomon 6:9)

In the midst of the great apostasy of the last days, God has a true Bride. She is “called, chosen, and faithful.” The Church of God is the worldwide, divine institution of believers committed to accepting the whole Bible rightly divided as their rule of faith, practice, government, and discipline, as the Holy Ghost has revealed it in the Scripture. Established by Christ in 28 A.D. and arising from the Dark Ages in 1903, The Church of God is committed to fulfilling the four-fold purpose of Her divine creation.

To Keep and Guard the Truth

Amidst a world that does not believe in absolute truth, The Church of God has been given the responsibility to keep and guard the pure truth of the Word of God. “Beloved…ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). In his writing to Timothy, Paul reminded him that the Church which Christ established was to be “…the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth…” (1 Timothy 3:15).

In his letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul acknowledged that it was never the intention of God’s plan for humanity to be “…tossed to and fro, ad carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”, but the Church is to “…[speak] the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:14, 15).

Holiness is one of the Church’s distinguishing marks. Those who are determined to serve the flesh have corrupted true holiness in the last days. God’s Church will faithfully demonstrate the truth of true holiness to the world, both in spirit and in lifestyle. “Thus said the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain” (Zechariah 8:3).

To Evangelize the World with the Full Gospel

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

The expression “full gospel” is in common use today. Many church organizations refer to themselves as “full gospel” churches; however, what most mean by this terminology is that they not only preach salvation, but also, a doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism. By definition, the word “full” means “complete or entire; to the utmost extent.” In order to preach the full gospel, the Body of Christ must teach the “all things” which Christ commanded. Among these teachings are repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, resulting in the born again experience, sanctification as the second definite work of grace, providing deliverance from the sinful Adamic nature, baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues, biblical holiness without which no man shall see God, restitution, water baptism, the Lord’s Supper and feet washing, the gathering of God’s people into one fold, perfection of the saints, and all of the other Bible truths.

The world must receive the complete message and only the Church is commissioned to provide the full Word of God. God’s Church cannot focus on a few popular teachings, but rather, she is responsible to teach and preach God’s Word — complete, entire, to the utmost extent. Only then can it be said that the “full” gospel has been given to the world.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

To Gather God’s Sheep into One Body

“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him”(Ephesians 1:10).

To be “in Christ” is to be saved. Evangelism is the Church’s primary commission; however, Christ never intended for His sheep to be divided among man-made institutions. The same Christ who brings salvation established His Church (Mark 3:13-19) and“purchased [Her] with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). This fold is provided for the protection and direction of Christians, for they are His sheep.

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him [shall] the gathering of the people [be]” (Genesis 49:10). This passage is the first recorded prophetic word concerning the gathering together of all God’s people. As the coming of the Lord draws nearer, the great inflow of all the other sheep into the fold will continue to increase rapidly. Prophecy states that “They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, [saying], Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant [that] shall not be forgotten” (Jeremiah 50:5).

To Provide Ministry for the Perfection of the Saints

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28).

The Church has been commissioned to continue the work which Jesus began. His analogy in the Gospel of Mark reveals this truth and responsibility. “[For the Son of man is] as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch” (Mark 13:34). He projects the same role in the Gospel of Luke. “He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:12, 13). To occupy is more than to fill up space. It also means to fulfill the duties of an office or position. For the Church to occupy until Christ comes, She must do the work which has been assigned to Her.

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).

Perfection has been the goal of The Church of God from the beginning. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Even the children of Israel were commanded to be perfect. “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God” (Deut. 18:13). God requires no impossibilities. Perfection carries not only the attribute of holiness, but also, the connotation of maturity and completeness. In his letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul admonished the Church to lay aside immaturity (Ephesians 4:15), and in the epistle to the Hebrews, the readers were instructed to “…go on unto perfection…” (Hebrews 6:1).

The Church has been given the responsibility to preach and teach until all Christians obtain Christian perfection. There can be no perfection outside of the Church, but only greater and increasing confusion, because there is no government to ensure unity of faith and doctrine outside of God’s organized theocracy.

A Divine Call for the Divinely Established Church

There are many churches in the world today, all of them man-made except one. “My dove, my undefiled…” (Song of Solomon 6:9) is the one that Jesus came to build and purchase with His own blood. She is now on course to finish Her earthly work and prepare for the rapture, after which She will enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb.

With over twenty-one thousand members, worshipping in over five hundred seventy churches in forty seven nations of the world, The Church of God is committed to fulfilling the divine call which is set before Her. Although, human reasoning may deem the task too great, by the guidance of the Spirit, She will endure and fulfill the commission which He has given to Her.

The Church’s greatest days are just ahead as God fills Her with divine glory. She is gradually moving from glory to glory until She reaches the “…the fulness of Christ…”(Ephesians 4:13). He will grant an anointing and power to take the whole Gospel to the whole world. As His sheepfold, She will serve as the nucleus for the gathering of all of God’s sheep. As His building, She will grow into a holy temple and become the habitation of God through His Spirit. As the Bride of Christ, She will put on robes of pure white and be presented to the Lord without spot or wrinkle. She will be holy and without blemiImageImage