Links & Quotes

Abraham is commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Look at Abraham’s faith in just one word: “WE will come back to you.”

Follow me on YouVersion so we can share more thoughts on God’s Word with each other.

Wil Robinson shares a fable from Leo Tolstoy with the three most important questions everyone should ask themselves. The three questions are: How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest? And, what affairs are the most important and need my first attention?

T.M. Moore reminds us how the promises of God can build courage in us. Check out all of the posts in his series called Brave Heart.

“Faithfulness is displayed in both word and deed—seen best by combining the Great Commission’s instruction to ‘make disciples’ with the second greatest commandment to ‘love thy neighbor.’ The beauty of the Gospel is found in both proclamation and demonstration. Neither comes first; neither comes second. Like the perfect marriage, it’s the duty of the Christians to take on each, giving 100 percent effort to both.” —Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians 

Fight The New Drug shared the results of a study of over 11,000 releationships, the five things the happiest couples have in common, and how pornography can undermine those relationships.

“Oh, that the eyes of sinners may be speedily opened—that they may see the difference of things, the beauty which is in holiness, and the astonishing madness that is in sin!” —Thomas Watson

Science is an important component in seeking truth. The Institute for Creation Research has an excellent perspective on the role of science for a Christian: “While the pursuit of science is certainly noble, it should be situated in its proper context and tackle matters within its empirically defined framework.”

John Piper observes, “The number-one reason why people in such seemingly hopeless situations purchase scratch-offs is because things already look so hopeless for improvement that the so-called ‘stupidity’ of wasting this dollar won’t really make anything worse.” This post elaborates on how the lottery preys on the poor.

God-Oriented & People-Focused

God-oriented & People-focusedYou can spin it around, roll it down the stairs, throw it high in the air, and still it isn’t phased one bit. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving fast or slow, if you’re at high altitudes or in Death Valley, it still works. The needle of the compass always points north.

It can’t help it: it is naturally oriented to the north pole. Whether it’s pitch-black outside, or 40 degrees below zero; whether you feel like north is “north” or not, the needle will always point its way back to north.

Jesus could be cheered by the crowds or jeered by them. People could shout “Hosanna!” or “Crucify Him!” The weather could be calm or stormy, His disciples could be courageous or scared to death, and still Jesus was oriented to His Father.

Every word Jesus said, every action He undertook, every lesson He taught, every prayer He prayed was God-oriented.

But not only that, even as much as people ridiculed Him, snubbed Him, rejected Him, or denied Him, Jesus was still people-focused. After being so cruelly treated, I think I may have turned from some people, or even turned on some people with some not-so-kind words. I may have even begun to withdraw from people. But despite the way people mistreated Him, Jesus remained lovingly people-focused (see 1 Peter 2:21-23).

Jesus us told us that if we stand for Him, we will be mistreated as well (see Luke 21:17 and John 15:20). But He also told us there was a reward for that mistreatment (see Matthew 5:11-12).

When asked what the greatest of all the commandments was, Jesus replied that it was to be God-focused and people-oriented

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

So a good check-up question for us all: How am I doing at being God-oriented and people-focused, no matter what the circumstances are?

Keep Your Love Up-To-Date

Busyness Can Kill LoveIt’s possible to be so busy doing good things that we forget why we are doing those good things. Worse than that: our busyness can actually kill what’s most important.

When Jesus addressed the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), He addressed a problem we in the West face today as well. Jesus said, “You are hard workers. You keep pressing on despite the obstacles. You are ministering to others, you’re making sure no wolves in sheep’s clothing infiltrate the church, and you even stand strong under persecution for your faith.”

But then Jesus drops a hard word on them: “Yet I have this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

The Ephesians were fighting the good fight. Yet this intense work and ministry detracted from what is most important: Love for God. The New Living Translation says verse four this way: You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first.

  • Busyness can kill love.
  • Fighting evil can kill love.
  • Standing for truth can kill love.
  • Ministering to others can kill love.

Ministering to others is not love. It can only come from the overflow of love. But if the love is not kept full, there’s nothing there to overflow, and we’re only “doing our duty.”

So Jesus challenges the Ephesians (and us) with these two steps: Remember and Repent.

The verb tense for remember is the present tense. That means it’s something we need to do now. I cannot tell my wife “I love you” nine times on Monday morning and expect that I’m covered for the next 10 days. In the same way, we cannot tell Jesus we love Him on Sunday morning, and then go off to do our own thing for the rest of the week. That choice will not allow us to overflow with love; in fact, it will be just the opposite: we’ll be running on empty, just doing our duty.

We must keep our love up-to-date. Remember often how much God loves you, and express your love to Him. And if you find something in your life that is more of a focus that Christ, repent. Turn from that and turn back to your first love.

Thursdays With Oswald—What Motivates My Service?

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

What Motivates My Service?

     If my love is first of all for God, I shall take no account of the base ingratitude of others, because the mainspring of my service to my fellowman is love to God. The point is very practical and clear. If I love someone and he treats me unkindly or ungenerously, the very fact that I love him makes me feel it all the more, and yet Paul says loves “takes no account of evil,” because self is absorbed and taken up with love for Jesus Christ. 

     If you are going to live for the service of your fellowman, you will certainly be pierced through with many sorrows, for you will meet with more base ingratitude from your fellowman than you would from a dog. You will meet with unkindness and “two-facedness,” and if your motive is love for your fellowman, you will be exhausted in the battle of life. But if the mainspring of your service is love for God, no ingratitude, no sin, no devil, no angel, can hinder you from serving your fellowman, no matter how they treat you. 

From Biblical Psychology

The Bible tells me to love my neighbor as I love myself. But I also know that my heart is naturally evil, that I am naturally self-centered and self-absorbed. I can only love myself correctly if I see myself correctly; and that can only happen if my heart has been made new through the forgiveness of my sins.

That’s why the first greatest command is: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:29-30). When I love God first and best, I can see myself correctly: As a trophy of His grace. Then—and only then—can I love others in a way that will never be exhausted, nor offended; nor will my motivation to love my fellowman be diminished by others’ ingratitude.

Thursdays With Oswald—Don’t Love People Too Highly

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Don’t Love People Too Highly

     The natural man does not like God’s commands; he will not have them, he covers them over and ignores them. Jesus said the first commandment is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Men put the second commandment first: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The great cry today is “love for mankind.” The cry of Jesus is “love for God first,” and this love, the highest love, the supreme, passionate devotion of the life, springs from the inner center. 

From Biblical Psychology 

I can only love my wife as I understand how Jesus loves me.

I can only love my kids as I understand how my Heavenly Father loves me.

I can only learn to love my friends as I learn how the Holy Spirit reveals God’s love to me.

If I want to love others better, I must learn to love God more fully: with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, all my strength.

Don’t try to love people more than you love God, because it cannot be done.

Do You Want To Be A (Better) People Pleaser?

I know a lot of people who want to please others. This pursuit, however, can get you into hot water. For instance, when you need to confront a friend on their poor behavior. Or when someone doesn’t properly express their appreciation to you for appreciating them.

The Bible gives us a better way to be a people pleaser. 

Paul wrote: So we make it our goal to please [God]… (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Instead of goal, the King James Version says, “we labor.” If it is labor, then it truly is a labor of love: work that is challenging, but rewarding. In fact, the rewards are so overwhelming, that the sweat of labor is quickly forgotten.

The Greek word for labor/goal means work that is activated by the love of honor, and so it brings forth our very best effort.

I desire to honor God and please Him, and I desire to be honored by God and find my full pleasure in Him. After all, as the Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

So my labor of love is activated first by my love for God; and secondarily by my love for others. Isn’t this what Jesus gave us as the Great Commandment (see Luke 10:27)?

It is God Who has made us for this very purpose [to enjoy Him forever] and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come [honor and eternal pleasure]. (2 Corinthians 5:5)

The Holy Spirit helps activate and direct my labor of love. The Spirit uses my labor of love to draw others to Christ; the Spirit assures me that my labor of love is bringing honor and pleasure to the Father. And in that knowledge, I find my pleasure to continue to labor in love.

So if I want to please people, my goal must be a labor in love that pleases God. Out of the knowledge of His pleasure and honor, I am better prepared to present a labor of love to others.

God pleaser (first) → People pleaser (as an overflow) 

The better we please God, the better we’ll please people.

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