He Loved Them

 

man holding sheep statuette

One of my favorite bible verses is John 13:1. I read it one time and it was different from many of the other times I read it. It was that translation that drew me to it. The verse means one thing taken alone and another when taken in context. Both ways are powerful so let’s take a look at both.

when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end (he now showed them the full extent of his love) John 13:1

       In context after the verse, we see Jesus wash the feet of his disciples showing that even the Son of God was a servant and showed humility as an example of how we are to live. If this world were to set pride aside and love each other with a servant’s heart, we would live in a much better place. A place that is one step closer to Heaven and the presence of God. This verse, in context, showed that Christ wanted his disciples to understand a very important lesson about his followers having a servant attitude and heart.

       The verse that first caught my attention and stirred my spirit had the words shown in prenthesis above. Instead of focusing on what comes after, my heart reach toward the beginning of the verse. Jesus knew that his time to go to the Father had come. It was time for him to be betrayed and crucified. Knowing that time had come, he was now going to show the full extent of his love to his diciples by dying for them even though they were not ready to fully understand his sacrifice. Imagine the love it takes to go to the cross when his disciples, and many people today, still don’t understand or accept his sacrifice. Imagine as a parent you sacrificing your well being and happiness to a child who may never understand or acknowledge your sacrifice. Although that is supposed to be our job as parents, the selfishness of this world draws parents away from the love our Father showed us by allowing His son to die for us.

       Neither understanding of God’s living word is incorrect. The lessons Jesus came to teach us are so numerous that his words live forever and grow in the hearts of his followers through the help of the Holy Spirit, the helper that Jesus promised us as he joined the Father in Heaven.

       Read this verse and see that Jesus loved his disciples to the end of his life and he continues to love us until the end of time. Don’t miss his perfect life and sacrifice for your sin, and don’t miss the servent’s heart we are called to have as we follow Jesus.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends – John 15:13

       Sometimes laying down your life means putting the well being of other before yours. Laying down your life could be death it could also be humility. Both require sacrifice, the laying down of your own self-interest and ambition.

Humble Fellowship with God

thCMOI1M6P
Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the LORD. (Psalm 4:4)
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
       

          Look at the scriptures above. Read the first slowly and let it take you to that silent place where God calls you to receive Him. Then use the second scripture to bring deeper meaning to the underlined portion of the first scripture. Now sit with the first passage again.
          When God allows us to struggle through trials we have two options: run to the comforts of this world or run to everlasting comfort in Him. God is our firm foundation and our refuge. Difficult moments are times when He calls us into deeper relationship with our Father, our Creator. Turning to God is described in detail in the passage above. It doesn’t have to be taken literally but let’s look at what it describes.
          Tremble (in your anger) do not sin (turn toward things other than God (idolatry)). Trembling could be in fear or anger, both draw us out of comfort. We then have a choice of where we can find peace in the storm. We can choose between the Creator and His creation. The eternal or the temporal. God desires a relationship that grows deeper as our spirits mature. The best way to grow in relationship is through the difficult times where we have to rely on God’s provision and comfort to carry us through.
         When you are on your bed (alone and away from distraction) search your heart (for what God is looking to teach you in this turmoil) and be silent (so that you may hear the still small voice of God). The world and its business look to captivate our attention and draw us away from the stillness we need with God. Seek the quietness and seclusion you require to draw close to God and avoid distraction. Search your heart, in openness and honesty to see where the Lord is missing in your life or situation. Where do you need in insert His power and rely less on your own? Look for the lesson God has for you. He loves you too much to let you remain idle. Seek and find what the Lord has for you. Then the most difficult part, be silent so that His voice can be heard, and the presence of His Spirit can work in your heart. Ask for understanding and be still to receive what God chooses to reveal to you.
          Offer the sacrifices of the righteous (humble spirit of thanksgiving) and trust in the LORD. Our sacrifice to God is submission, and a willingness to follow God’s will over our own as they become the same. Give thanks that God loves you enough to correct and lead you. Be thankful that as His chosen you are able to hear His calling and turn to the shelter of His love and faithfulness. Then trust that God is fighting battles that you cannot fight. We can rest assured that battles fought by God are fought to completeness. He will bring about His will which far surpasses our dreams. Turn to God and seek the fellowship described in Psalm 4:4. See the loving relationship and guidance the Father has for you.

Obedience Over Effort

th9MN0GIKX

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” – Samuel (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

                The religious actions of people will never take the place of God’s desire for obedience. People think that they can please God by doing things that they feel serve Him. God desires your service for His kingdom but He desires to lead you in your service. Samuel says in the scripture above that divination (prediction) can be considered rebellion and presumption (assumption) is considered to be on par with immorality and self-reliance. We can’t walk a path that we have designed for ourselves and then be disappointed when God won’t honor our misguided decisions in how we should follow Him. In the case above, Saul was told to kill all of the people and the livestock of the people God had chosen. He instead kept their king alive and brought back all of the good livestock to sacrifice it to the Lord. He directly disobeyed God’s order to kill everything. His intentions might have been good but God was looking to be obeyed. What use does God have with the things He created being sacrificed to Him? The intention of sacrifice was submission and obedience in its implementation. Bypassing what God has called you to do and trying to serve Him in your best efforts will not please Him. Don’t fall victim to self-reliance in how you want to be part of God’s kingdom. Let the Spirit He gave you through your faith in Jesus as your Savior guide you into your service for Him. Recognize Him as Lord and let obedience through love be what drive you into relationship with your Creator.