Keep believing in them

1 Corinthians 13:8 NKJV

Love is a powerful force in dealing with others, and the Bible says that it “never fails.” Other things fail, but not love. Most of us have heard the story of Helen Keller who became blind and deaf as a toddler after an illness, and yet went on to impact the world with her courage and kindness. But there is a “story behind the story.”

It’s about “little Annie,” who was locked in the dungeon of a mental institution outside Boston – the only place, said the doctors, for the hopelessly insane. At times, Annie behaved like an animal, attacking those who came close to her cage. At other times, she sat in a daze. But an elderly nurse who held out hope for all God’s children began taking her lunch break in the dungeon, just outside little Annie’s cage. She hoped in some way to communicate love to her.

One day she left her dessert – a chocolate brownie – next to Annie’s cage. Annie made no response. But the next day, the nurse found the brownie had been eaten, so every Thursday she brought one to Annie. As the weeks passed, doctors began to notice improvement in little Annie. After several months, they moved her upstairs. And eventually the day came when this “hopeless case” was told she could return home.

By that time, however, Annie was an adult and she chose to stay at the institution and help others. One of those she cared for, taught, and nurtured was Helen Keller. Little Annie’s full name was – Anne Sullivan.

Since God loves us and never gives up on us, we must do that for one another. And that’s the word for you today.

Soul food: Rev 15-18; Mark 14:12-26; Ps 124; Prov 12:26

Commanded to love

John 15:12 NLT

Jesus said, ‘I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!’ (v.11 NLT). The ‘things’ that we must do to have His joy in our lives are outlined by Jesus in the next verse: ‘This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.’

That can feel like a pretty challenging commandment. We’ll have to do a lot of growing and maturing in order to keep it. But to enjoy the life Jesus wants us to have, we must commit ourselves to doing it.

God created all kinds of people with different temperaments and personalities, so He clearly loves variety. When God made the first person He said, ‘It was good.’ Not only are there varieties of people, but there’s ‘good’ in everybody and that’s what we need to be looking for.

A lot of our unhappiness in life is caused by people not being what we want them to be, or doing what we don’t want them to do. We often have unrealistic expectations of others, and sometimes we don’t even communicate those expectations with them. We think people will know how to love us.

So how can we enjoy each day if we’re going to have to deal with people we don’t get along with? We need to make up our minds to love them. In 1 John 4, it says: ‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love’ (1 John 4:7-8 NIV). We don’t have to like their ways, but we still have to try and see them through God’s eyes, and love them.

Job 29-31; Matt 24:36-51; Ps 55:1-11; Prov 8:17-18

Love what you do

Colossians 3:23 NASB

You will know that your job is your “calling” when you do what you love, and love what you do.

Philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie said: “The average person puts only 25 percent of their energy and ability into their work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50 percent, and stands on its head for those few and far-between souls who devote 100 percent.”

Thomas Edison loved work. In his latter years he established Menlo Park, the world’s first factory for making nothing but inventions. It was a forerunner to the private research laboratories now maintained by so many large companies. At Menlo Park Edison promised to turn out “a minor invention every ten days, and a big thing every six months or so.” At one point he was working on forty-seven things at once. Other inventors may have been richer, but no inventor has ever been more enthusiastic or successful.

When you believe that what you do makes a difference, you have a different feeling about what you do. When you believe your job has worth in God’s eyes, you’re no longer vulnerable to the critics or dependent upon the cheerleaders.

Paul said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me” (Acts 20:24 NIV). One of the last prayers Jesus prayed was “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV). If you are serious about pleasing God, make that your prayer too.

Soul food: 2 Sam 20:1-22:30; John 5:1-15; Ps 15; Prov 24:7

Sharing God’s grace (1)

John 4:10 MSG

When the Samaritan woman met Jesus at the well, and He asked her for a drink of water, He also said: ‘If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you…living water.’

Jesus constantly showed mercy to the people who least deserved it. The woman didn’t have a spotless life. She had already had five husbands, and she wasn’t married to the man she was living with. In her society’s eyes, she was an outcast. But Jesus offered her grace anyway.

We should ask ourselves how we would react in that situation. Are we generous in sharing God’s grace with others, or are we sparing with it, only sharing it with those we think are ‘worthy’? What if God only offered His grace to those who He thought were ‘worthy’? Most of us would probably fall short. But God’s grace says, ‘I know everything about you, good and bad, I know all your shortcomings and sins, and I still love you.’

We can often live our lives as if we’re scared of God, and fearful that He’s going to punish us. We forget about His grace, love, and acceptance. That doesn’t mean we’ll escape His discipline, but His correction comes from a place of love and of wanting us to be the best we can be.

After Jesus had spoken to the woman at the well, she ran back to her village, saying, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did’ (John 4:29 NCV). Even though Jesus knew everything about her, He still made her feel loved and accepted. She wanted others to feel what she felt, and we should be just as enthusiastic to share God’s grace too.

Eph 4:17-6:24; John 2:12-25; Ps 89:1-14; Prov 23:10-14

How to fight – and win

1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV

Here are six proven Bible strategies for defeating the Enemy when he comes against you. (1) Think aggressively. “Fight the good fight of faith…to which you were…called.” Plan and calculate like a general preparing for battle; study how to engage and defeat your enemy the Devil. (2) Pray aggressively. We are told to approach God’s throne “boldly” (See Hebrews 4:16). Which means aggressively! Don’t be bashful with God. He’s your “Abba,” which means “Daddy.” And you’re His redeemed child, so approach Him with confidence and ask for what you need. (3) Speak fearlessly. The apostle Peter writes, “Speak as though God himself were speaking through you” (1 Peter 4:11 NLT). In other words, use a commanding, authoritative tone when you resist the forces of evil. “Be strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10). (4) Give generously. The level at which you give is the level at which you receive. “Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:24-25 NLT). No offering is too small, and none too great. (5) Work intently. The Bible says whatever you put your hand to, do it with all your heart (See Ecclesiastes 9:10). Don’t approach your tasks with dread and a desire to escape. Stir yourself up in the Holy Spirit and get the job done (See 2 Timothy 1:6). (6) Love unconditionally. As a follower of Christ, you must endeavor to love others as He loves them – unconditionally and sacrificially.

Soul food: Song of Solomon 5-8; Luke 23:39-49; Ps 91; Prov 21:28-31