I got this old song stuck in my head this week. I think it was old when I first heard it in 1984.
“I’m so happy and here’s the reason why;
Jesus took my burden all away.
Now, I’m singing as the days go by;
Jesus took my burden all away.
Once my heart was heavy with a load of sin;
Jesus took the load and gave me peace within (my heart and)
Now I’m singing as the days go by;
Jesus took my burdens all away.”
Author: S. W. Gavitt
It made me dig into God’s Word so that my head and heart would be stuck with God’s truth way more than it would be stuck with the melody to the song or to the feelings I had been experiencing.
What do you love the most about God?
What do you love the most about the people in your life?
What do you love the most about your daily circumstances?
Currently, I have the joy of taking a theology class every Wednesday night for 7 weeks at my church. This past Wednesday, after teaching about the attributes and character of God, our pastor asked us to discuss in our groups which attribute we loved the most about God.
Little did he know how much that question would stick with me.
Little did I know how much it would beg to be asked about everyone and everything.
What would happen if we all began to ask the “what do I love most” question about God, the people in our life, and our daily circumstances?
Last week, I confessed that I had no (correct) idea about what the word “prodigal” meant. That confession was easier than this week’s. 😉
This week, when I first asked myself, “Why do I do the good things I do,” my initial response was, “to get closer to Jesus and to bring others closer to Him as well.”
Maybe my years as a kids pastor had me programmed to quickly raise my hand and give that correct church answer in hopes of winning some candy.
I didn’t get the candy.
Nor did I get the peace in my heart that I had answered the question 100% honestly.
Had I been answering the question, “Why SHOULD a Jesus girl do good things?” I would’ve been absolutely correct. But as I shared in this week’s video, that wasn’t the question.
This week on Facebook, I saw a video of a fun elementary school teacher giving his class a spelling “pop quiz”. The kids didn’t know it ahead of time, but it was a brilliant April Fools’ Day joke in which the teacher made up words and threw in 3 or 4 “silent letters” at the end of many of the words. It was a great joke.
I almost felt like the internet was playing a joke on me when I looked up the word “prodigal” that I heard for the the first time as a kid in church. I was sure that it meant “lost” or “wayward”, because the prodigal son in the Bible was always the lost and wayward son.
John 15:9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. (NLT)
In the last two weeks, we’ve been camping out in John chapter 15 (the REMAIN or ABIDE chapter), and we’ve seen how Jesus instructs us to:
Remain in Him,
Remain in His Word,
and today….(drumroll, please,)
Remain in His Love.
Truly, I thought talking about His love was going to be the easiest and most cheery. That was until I got stuck on the one phrase in verse 9:
“…even as the Father has loved me.”
That’s how Jesus says He will love us.
When I asked the question, “Just HOW did God love Jesus?”, sorry for being a Dory Downer, but my mind immediately went to all the suffering He allowed His Son to endure.
John 15:7-8 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (NLT)
I find it fascinating that twice in John chapter 15 (verses 4 and 5), Jesus says, “If you remain in Me and I (He – Jesus – remains) in you”, but in verse 7 He says, “If you remain in Me, and MY WORDS remain in you, you can ask anything you want, and it will be granted.”
Why did He switch it from “I” to “My words” remaining in us?
I’ve been a bit under the weather the past almost two weeks, and when you live in Illinois, under the “weather” could mean something different every day. I was bummed to cancel all my music students last week to not share the love with them, but the really bright side was it allowed me all kinds of time to hang out in John chapter 15, and dig deeper than I ever had before.
This week’s post has more of a Bible study format, and I consider it my “thank You note” to God for allowing me to get sick, 🙂 for directing me to this amazing chapter, and for drawing me back into more study of His Word.
I will forever call it the “REMAIN” chapter, as Jesus says the word “remain” 8 times in the first 9 verses. I spent hours each day, and still only got through verses 1-17, which seemed to easily fall into 3 sections:
REMAIN in Him. (John 15:1-6)
REMAIN in His Word. (John 15:7-8)
REMAIN in His love. (John 15:9-17)
I so very much want to get better at all three.
“THROW AWAY YOUR LIFE.” …Shari Tvrdik
This past weekend was quite inspirational to say the least.
On Saturday night, I attended a missions banquet put on by Cup of Cold Water Ministries. There were highlights of missionaries serving around the world, and my dear friend (whose family just returned from eight years of service in Mongolia) spoke about throwing your life away for the sake of the Gospel. She communicated with such assurance that denying ourselves to follow God’s lead is the only way to truly live.
Even if God’s lead takes you and your four kids from rural Happytown U.S.A. to the slums of Mongolia with no indoor plumbing and negative fifty-degree weather.
And I believe her. I listened to her and remembered the “welt belt” of flea bites I wore around my waist for weeks at a time in the winter when I lived in Chile. The only way to ease the pain and swelling was to put ice cubes directly on the bites to numb them, while the air inside our house averaged 40-45 degrees at night. And I still look back on those years in Chile as the best years of my life.
Last week, I shared some practical ideas to improve our “loving like Jesus” skills. One practical idea was to look over the list of the 15 descriptions of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…
(patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not rude, doesn’t demand it’s own way, not irritable, keeps no record of wrongs, doesn’t rejoice with injustice, rejoices when truth wins out, never gives up, never loses faith, always hopeful, perseveres)
…and then decide which one of the 15 you need the most work on, and ask God to help you grow to love like He does in that area.
Today, I wanted to dial it in on one – the one appropriately placed at the very end of the list – love endures all things.
“Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34 NLT)
I confess that I don’t love others like Jesus does.
I really want to, but I don’t.
I really want others to experience the love of Jesus and be drawn to Him by my words and actions, but I fall short.
Here are five ways I would tell someone else to get started in loving like Jesus. I’m going to intentionally live out these five this week: