What is love? Love can be felt and it generates emotions but it is not merely a feeling or an emotion. Love is a verb, an action verb. That means love is something demonstrated. We don’t just SAY we love, we SHOW our love. (Do note that I said “show” not “show-off”.) “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13. Jesus demonstrated His love for us through death on the cross. So as we give thanks to God on this Good Friday for demonstrating His love for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins, let us also love one another sacrificially and unconditionally. That would mean be kind to one another, speak with love and respect even to those we are familiar with such as our family members. For the Christian household, familiarity should not breed contempt. Honesty and openness are needed but they should not be an excuse for unkind words. As they say, good conduct begins at home, then we will be able to love others. Have a blessed Easter!
God has the power to deliver us from hurt and pain. He has the power to heal our sicknesses. He has the wisdom to counsel us and He has the patience to remain faithful even when we are faithless. He alone is God and no weapon formed against us will prosper because the Lord will fight for us, we only need to be still and know that He alone is God! (Lk.4:18-19; Exo.15:26; 1Cor.1:25; Isa.9:6; Exo.34:6; Deut.7:9; 2Ki.19:15; Isa.54:17; Exo.14:14; Ps.46:10) And by the grace of God, I have experienced all of these attributes of God when I was betrayed and rejected, when I nearly died from multiple medical conditions, when I was at a loss and needed wisdom, when I was without faith, when I could fight no more and when I was hard pressed from every side. The Lord is God and there is no other, none compares with Him!
Both personal and corporate worship are amazing means through which we draw close to the Lord, give thanks to Him for His love and faithfulness toward us, express our love and devotion for Him and recall to mind His goodness, kindness, love, mercy, grace, holiness and righteousness. The vehicle of music is a God-given means to give God’s truth access to the deepest recesses of our hearts in a way that is both personal and experiential. Coupled with the priority given to the study of God’s Word and the expression of God’s love through Christian service, we grow deep and strong in our faith. One must be careful never to depend only on worship and experience to build our faith in God for without the study of Scriptures, faith is without substance and crumbles easily in the face of trials and temptations.
The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth – who was always quick with a quotable quip for the press once responded:
“In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be: Religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, politics without God, and Heaven without Hell.”
White American pastor Clarence Jordan asked his brother Robert Jordan (state senator) if he would serve as legal representative of his church – the Koinonia community (an inter-racial Christian community, where white and colored people worshipped together, severely persecuted by white Christians in 1950s) and the following was how the conversation went.
“Clarence, I can’t do that. You know my political aspirations. Why, if I represented you, I might lose my job, my house, everything I’ve got.”
“We might lose everything too, Bob.”
“It’s different for you.”
“Why is it different? I remember, it seems to me, that you and I joined the church on the same Sunday, as boys. I expect when we came forward the preacher asked me about the same question he did you. He asked me, ‘Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ What did you say?”
“I follow Jesus, Clarence, up to a point.”
“Could that point by any chance be – the cross?”
“That’s right. I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross. I’m not getting myself crucified.”
“Then I don’t believe you’re a disciple. You’re an admirer of Jesus, but not a disciple of his. I think you ought to go back to the church you belong to, and tell them you’re an admirer, not a disciple.”
“Well now, if everyone who felt like I do did that, we wouldn’t have a church, would we?
“The question,” Clarence said, “is, ‘Do you have a church?'”
(From the book, “Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World” by Lee C. Camp)
Every pastor has the responsibility to teach our flock what’s truly right and biblical so that they have a proper view of God. When we do, our church members are less likely to blame God and quit on Him when things go wrong in their lives. They will know that we are to keep trusting God with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding (Prov.3:5). We often see fellow believers lean on their own understanding and as a result blame God, get angry with Him and reject Him altogether when things go wrong. I met this young lady in her 20s some years ago. Her church was and still is a very large church. She was sick, she had lupus and was looking to God for healing. Her church members told her God will heal her as long as she had faith. She did, she had lots of faith. Her pastor preached the same thing. However, after about a year or less, her condition got worst. When her sister, the only other Christian in the family, wanted to pray for her, she said no. She was angry and disappointed with the Lord and had lost faith in Him. We kept praying that she would turn back to God. Thankfully, a few days before she went home to the Lord, she agreed to be prayed for and she embraced God again. A close shave indeed! As you can see, flawed theology leads to a defective faith. That is why preachers got to get it right for we have a heavy responsibility. Remember what James said in Jas.3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
I’ve heard many people say “non-believers need to see miracles, then they will believe”. I agree to some extent, but it is not absolute truth. See Jn.11:45-46 for instance.
“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.”
The Jews saw the miracles Jesus did, MANY BELIEVED BUT SOME WENT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT JESUS (these ones obviously didn’t believe). Have you not met people who have experienced God’s miracles and power at work in their lives but still didn’t believe in Him or after believing for a short time, walked away from the Lord? I have. So what is it that could secure a man’s soul forever? It’s the grace of God essentially. However, having been saved by the grace of God does not mean we do nothing to grow in His grace. 2Pet.1:5-11 makes it clear…..
“For this very reason, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to ADD TO YOUR FAITH goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities IN INCREASING MEASURE, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to CONFIRM your calling and election. For IF YOU DO THESE THINGS, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV