Love comes from God. He loved us first. We love because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). Again and again in the Bible, we read how God loves us. We read of His love in action. John wrote that we shouldn’t just say that we love each other. Love isn’t simply words. Instead, “let us show the truth by our actions.” Let us love people by our actions. If we act in love, then we are showing our love.
John wrote a lot about love. Remember he was the beloved disciple. He walked with He Who is love. In 1 John 3:14, we read, “If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead” (NLT). John is saying that if we do not have love, that we are dead. Dead. Because if we do not have love, we do not know God (1 John 4:8). If we are not alive in Christ, we are dead in our transgressions.
Today, take time to accept God’s love and renew yourself in it. Consider how God loves you. Ask God to teach you to love like He loves. Aim to intentionally share His love with others. Ask the Spirit to reveal anything you are doing without love. Let us speak words of love, but let us also act in love.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” – 1 John 3:18 [NLT]
One of the biggest spiders I have seen this warm season made a nice home at the arborvitaes. Every day I would see this huge web constructed and the large spider just sitting there. I tried to keep my distance. He hung around for days. Eventually, we didn’t see him anymore. I thought we were safe. Little did we know, the spider found a way into my sister’s car. While she was driving to work one morning, the spider decided to interrupt her drive. She shared with me this great excitement. I’ve been there; it’s not fun.
The evils of this world like to hang around, lurking around just as this spider. We often think we are safe because we keep our distance. But just like the avoidance of the spider lurking about, so there can be trouble if you don’t address the nearby evils. When there are temptations lurking, when our friends or family are knee deep in sin, or when we start to even allow sin to take residence in our homes—this keeps the door wide open for the devil to do his work. The devil doesn’t sneak through the front door with a bright neon sign announcing his coming. He sneaks through the cracks. He enters when you least expect it. Remember, he is clever.
We are not always going to be prepared for an attack. We are human—we have our good days and our not-so-good days. To be best prepared, consistency in our walk with Christ is very important. Put on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6), and remember that this is a daily need. Continue to surround yourself with that which will keep your eyes on Jesus (see Philippians 4:8). Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Spend time with godly friends. Remember, the Spirit of God will help see you through to victory.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4 [NASB]
After the twelve spies surveyed the land, only two came back with a good report. Ten men came back to share their fear of the strong people of the land. When the people were speaking negatively about the situation, Caleb boldly stepped forward. The Bible says that he “silenced the people before Moses.” He exclaimed, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30 NIV).
Caleb trusted the One behind the promise. He trusted God. Ten of the spies couldn’t look past the problems they saw with the land. They couldn’t imagine that God would see them through, that God would deliver on His promise. They were stopped in their tracks, stopped by mere men.
God says that Caleb had “a different attitude than the others have.” He also was called loyal. His loyalty didn’t change with circumstances. He was loyal. Some of us have an attitude problem today. We have the attitude of the ten, instead of the attitude of Caleb; we have an attitude of fear and distrust, rather than an attitude of trust and confidence. The Bible speaks of this hope—this confidence—we should have as believers. We should be confidence for judgment day (1 John 4:17-18). We should have confidence for prayer (1 John 5:14). We should be confident His plan is perfect and He desires what is good for His children (Romans 8:28). We should be confident that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). May the Lord be your confidence (see Proverbs 3:26, Job 4:6).
“But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.” – Numbers 14:24 [NLT]
“And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:10 [NLT]
This past week was a difficult one for me. My routine was missing in action. Sleep escaped me. My level of pain was at its highest. We were relocating. I was working every day, all day. It was draining.
I was standing at work in pain, tired and dreading the end of my shift when I would return home to move more stuff to the new place. I asked a friend if she had some hard candy like a Lifesaver, because my throat was dry. Little did I know, a customer was listening to the conversation. As I finished with his order, he handed me the Lifesavers. I argued that it was against policy to accept things from customers. He then said he would leave them sit for me, that it was his policy to be nice. Jokingly, the lady behind him said she liked Three Musketeers. I was amazed as I spied him picking up yet another small gift to bring another smile around.
My day was not going well. I was exhausted and found myself on the verge of tears, nearly falling asleep standing, and wearing more braces than ever before because my body was feeling the week’s work. Then here came this fellow who became a lifesaver for a moment. His attitude and generosity had a great impact on me and the other customer. One small gesture had a ripple effect. It was a great reminder of our great Lifesaver. The gentleman paid attention to those around him and took action. It did not cost him a lot of money. It did not cost him a lot of time. This reminds me of something Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” – 1 John 4:7 [MSG]
As I prepared for the next lesson I would be teaching, I peered onto my bookshelf in search of other resources to help me study more in depth. I noticed a “tablet” that I was given months ago, almost five months to be exact. My best friend’s mother handed me this “tablet” that said “Holy Bible” on the front, suggesting that I could possibly make good use of it by filling it with notes. When I received the tablet, I paged through it and noted that it was unused. When I was packing my suitcase to leave, I slipped a photograph inside of my son that was taken weeks ago at a tourist attraction so that it would not get bent. Months later, I saw that I had carefully placed this “tablet” on my bookshelf beside the book “The Story of Jesus.”
I pulled this “tablet” off the shelf and contemplated what I would put inside. Maybe I could fill it with some notes. For some reason I paged through the “tablet” this time, and I realized something was different about this “tablet.” It wasn’t a tablet at all. It was a book—a special book that is used by pastors, teachers and speakers. This “tablet” I wanted to fill with notes was already filled with a useful teaching tool. It was not empty, though I had intended to fill it. The way it works is simple. Flip through the booklet holding the bottom, and the pages are blank. Flip through holding the top of the booklet, and the pages look like a brand-new coloring book. Flip through holding the middle and the eyes will meet fully colored pages.
This booklet shows the different stages we can be located at in life. If we see the Bible as meaningless, the pages as good as blank, we haven’t accepted Jesus and may even declare that God does not exist. Our life, as such, is very empty because the void that only God can fill is vacant and we try our hardest to fill it with things that can never work. Then there are the pages without color, but showing us a nice outline. We can choose to color in as we wish. We understand that there is a God. We go to church. We accepted Jesus, but yet there is part of our lives that we are holding back. We truly haven’t given Him our heart. We are on the borderline, wanting to walk forward but not wanting to give up control. Finally, there is the beautifully, colored pages that are full of life and symbolize what God brings to our lives when we accept Jesus into our lives and we walk with Christ.
Here I wanted to fill this “tablet” with notes. Here my friend’s mother did not realize what she was giving me. Sometimes we try to fill the Bible with what we think it says. We use it as a tool for our own good. Sometimes we try to fill the void in our lives with something other than God. And sometimes, we have something right in front of us and we do not realize what it is because we do not take the time.
Today I encourage you to spend time with God and His Word. It is never too late to open your Bible and to pray for the Holy Spirit to help you glean what you personally need to hear at this moment. Whether you know it or not, there is this amazing, sovereign God of the universe who loves you. The thought of that alone colors every one of the pages of my life.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
– 1 John 4:9-12