by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries
Week 4 of Advent: Love
The World vs. God on what love is
Every day, we are challenged with the ways of this world conflicting with God’s ways. From the news media to prime time TV to even our friends – we have to choose. We even have to choose who we will call friend and how that applies to our lives. There is something special about the bond of love and fellowship between friends, yet even among friends there are disagreements at times and friendships can be broken. However, in John 15:13-15, Jesus tells us about the greatest love – a love that transforms us from the inside out and a love that can transform the world and the way the world thinks about love.
Hollywood would have us believe that love is about sex. Disney would have us believe that love is “happily ever after.” But Jesus tells us what true love is.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. — John 15:13-15
These verses is about transformational love. As children of God, we are no longer enemies of God. God doesn’t even call us servants. When we do what he tells us to do, he calls us friends. God desires to have a relationship with us and that is why we celebrate Christmas. It was for this reason that God sent his only Son into our world – so that the world would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God wants to have fellowship with us because of His great love for us
God, the creator of the world – and the creator of you – desires to have fellowship with you. The world “fellowship” can be defined as a friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests. What interests do we share with God? Following his commandments. Jesus, who is God’s Son and our Savior. We fellowship with God when we read and study His Word and spend time in prayer. We fellowship with him when we obey his commandments. And when we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we are fellowshipping with God. When we are attending church and worshipping God, we are fellowshipping with Him.
God’s fellowship with us came at a great cost
Because God loved you so much, He makes it clear that He wants to have fellowship with you, but that fellowship came at a cost: the life of his only Son, Jesus whose blood cleanses us from sin and transforms us from being enemies with God to children of God. This is what Jesus said in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus was talking about himself. This great love cost God his Son and it cost Jesus His life.
But how great is our love for God? Does our love for Him cost us anything? Have we laid down our life in surrender to him? As we celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Savior, we need to remember the reason he was born in the first place – to lay down his life for us. Is there anything on this Christmas day that you have not laid down in surrender to him?
Because of God’s love, we have friendship with Him
Philips Criag and Dean sing the popular song, “I am a friend of God!” The lyrics are:
Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me it’s amazing!
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend
It can be hard to think that the Almighty God and creator of the universe calls me friend – but he does! And if you have asked Jesus to save you of your sins, you are his friend too! It is his desire to be your inner most friend – to transform you into his friend.
Where there is friendship, there is intimacy. Can you say there is intimacy between you and God? Psalm 51:t6 says, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” The only way to have intimacy with God is by daily Bible study and prayer. You can not develop a relationship by just showing up on Sundays and spending an hour at church. Friendships take daily time and intentionality.
As we celebrate Christmas today, remember to take time to spend with Him – after all it is His birthday that we are celebrating and he longs to have friendship with you – a friendship that gives you freedom from the troubles of this world. A friendship that brings you closer to His Father as he transforms you to become more like Him.
Because of God’s love, we are renewed
Webster’s defines renewed as “Made new again; repaired; re-established; revived; renovated; regenerated.” To be renewed means that we change our mindset forever. When God created Adam and Eve, they were without sin until the moment in the Garden of Eden when Eve gave into the temptation. Every single person since that time has been born in sin. But when Jesus gave is life for us and we accepted His gift of salvation, he renewed us and re-established our relationship with God. Before, our sinful selves were conformed to this world. But as a child of God, He transforms as and renews our mind so that our focus is on doing the will of God.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” When God renews us, everything within us becomes focused on what He would have us to do and we step forward in his plan for us obediently, without delay.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to give us peace
When we are lost in our sin we do not have peace with God. But Jesus left he glory and splendor of heaven to be born as a baby to a young teenage girl who was still a virgin. He took on human form and knew the hardships of life, the betrayal of Judas, experienced a tortuous death all became of his love for us. And because of that great love, we can experience fellowship and friendship with him and the renewal that transforms us into his likeness. This is the entire meaning that Christ came to give us peace. Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” But it is only in fellowship, friendship, and renewal that the peace of Jesus Christ centers within us and flows out of us.
This Christmas, can we seek to have more fellowship, friendship, and renewal in our lives as we focus on the great love of Jesus and what that love cost him?
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:
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