Mentoring Minutes

Loving Others

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39)

Over the past year plus, leading up to the CHRISTmas and New Year Holidays we shared 2 series in line with the 2 Greatest Commands in Scripture (Mark 12:29-31)…1) Worship God alone and love Him with your entire being, and; 2) love others as you love yourself.

Knowing God, worshiping Him alone and loving Him with all we are is the 1st and Greatest Command…and one we spend very little time in our lives and churches helping folks grow and mature in as disciples of Christ. This leaves us empty as we then begin to try to love others as is taught and systemically programmed into our churchianity lives. This was the purpose of our series on the Names of God and I pray that each of us will continue to grow in our love for Him.

Not only are we struggling to fulfill and help others fulfill the most important and greatest command but in so doing we’ve made it nearly impossible to know who we are in Christ and love ourselves in the way that He did so that we can humbly and sacrificially give ourselves away to love others…even more empty in our attempts to show the world His Love! This was the purpose of focusing on our Identity in Christ series so that we are truly equipped through these to continue to mature in our love for God and for ourselves, according to His Love.

In Christ, as we grow in this Love, we can begin to live out this same Love for others….beginning in our love in our families and in the Family of Christ, to strengthen our walk in Him as disciples and together as His Church. Until we do so the world will continue to mock our empty, half-hearted efforts of programmatic service and love.

BTW – there are many effective worldly organizations that meet many of the needs of this world but they can never meet the deepest needs. When we try to meet the same needs with programs and systems rather than in deep loving relationships we offer little more than these organizations.

In near perfect timing we closed out these 2 series leading right up to our CHRISTmas and New Year’s focus and this week we begin our final series on the Greatest Commands…LOVING OTHERS!

Only when we can die to self and learn to love as He did…God first, ourselves next so we can die to self to then love others will we see a world clamoring for His Love!

I pray that Christ’s Church will awaken to doing it His way rather than the world’s way. This is our upcoming focus that is done in relational love and servant-leadership rather than in buildings, systems and programs that reach many but love few…and often a very shallow love at that!

Join us and invite others as we move into this series on loving others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:29-31) but point them back to the previous series and help them grow FIRST in a whole-life love for God and then knowing who they are in Christ so they can truly love as He did. With this as a long introduction for a much needed message let’s dive into this series on…

Loving Others – How to “One Another” in Christ

As we’ve been preparing for this, our next step in this journey of Love is to “love others as we love ourselves and as He loves us (Mark 12:31; John 13:34-35)! Bear with the redundancy here as we prepare to move into loving one another according to His Word.

Remember that in Christ’s Covenant Order commands, we must first have a heart and be learning to worship God alone and love Him with all our being (the “Names of God” series I referenced begins on Oct 18, 2021 through the latter part of January 2022). He then teaches us to know and love who we are recreated to be in Christ and as He does so we learn of His great Love for us and how to love ourselves and then give ourselves for His sake and the sake of others (see “Identity in Christ” series beginning on Feb 3 through March 11, 2022).

Again, my prayer and hope is that as we take God at His Word and the priority of His commands we are much more able to love others as we are called and commanded to do.

Did you know that there are, by most counts, 59 “One Anothers” in Scripture that literally guide us in practical ways as to how we are todo just that…love one another! Over the next few weeks we will be looking at these “One Anothers” and building on the foundation of His Love for us (1 John 4:19; John 3:16) and our love for Him (Mark 12:29-30) and how we can humbly love our self (Mark 12:31)…then we will be much more capable and able to “love one another as He has loved us” (John 13:34)!

This is how discipleship moves from loving God to loving others and must be done in relationships and communities. BTW if you are married every one of these should begin in your marriage and family…how are we going to “one another” in His Church if we can’t first do so in our most intimate of relationships and those which precede His Church in time and priority…how can you lovingly lead in my family if you can’t first do so in your own? (paraphrase of 1 Timothy 3:4-5…keep this in mind throughout this series). For those who are single or single again, remember that your love and identity is in Christ (as is true for all of us) and continue to “one another” where Christ has planted you.

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Throughout this series we will explore all the ways we are called and commanded (remember Scripture is full of commands but no demands – we must lovingly choose to follow in obedience to Him and His truly being our Lord) to love one another and fulfill the greatest commands.

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Spend time with Him in His Word and prayer daily – read and study the Scriptures in this post as a way to start
  2. Ask The Holy Spirit to teach you
  3. Find one practical way to love someone close to you on a daily basis
  4. Pray for someone who may not get along with you (or you with them) and how you can love them

Contact us at loveandlordship@gmail.com.

What’s in Your Future?

Happy New Year – Hope, Peace, Joy and Love to You in Christ!

If you want to know the hope, peace, joy and love of Christ today, into the New Year and throughout your life, begin by asking and answering this question, “What’s your focus?”  In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul states by The Holy Spirit, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer person is decaying, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  Is your focus Temporal of Eternal? 

As we wrap up CHRISTmas and 2022, the craziest of years in our lifetime (at least for most of us), what are you looking forward to…or what are you fearing as you look to the New Year? If your focus is on the things of this world (temporal) you will likely be caught up in more worry, anxiety and uncertainty that will drag you down.

However if your thoughts, no matter the circumstances, run toward God, His Word and Kingdom (Eternal) then you can be assured that He will provide, prune, prepare and protect you for His Kingdom (Eternal) fruit and purpose!

Oswald Chambers says, “We think that we must reach some predetermined goal (temporal), but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty (eternal). (Parentheses mine and added)

He goes on to say that the eternal life, the life hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), is a gracious uncertainty!  Uncertain because of the temporal nature of this life but gracious and even glorious as you walk with Christ into what He has prepared for you to live out for His Glory (Eternal) even as you do so in this life (temporal).  Which are you focused on?

Are you focusing on this world…or are you living in this world with a gracious uncertainty by faith, focused on His Word, His Will and His Kingdom? You can have the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that Christ brought to us at CHRISTmas this day and year, into 2023, and beyond into Eternity as you live with your focus on the Eternal today!

Remember there is only One HOPE that will endure beyond 2022, beyond 2023…forever (Romans 15:13)!  That HOPE is found in Christ alone!

That Hope is found in His Unfailing Mercies and Amazing Grace…

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Lamentations 3:22–24

In the Jewish culture that the Bible was written in (which we should pay close attention to in order to truly understand context and meanings even for today) the end of one year and preparation for the next was focused strongly on repentance. We would do well to spend time reflecting not only on the blessings and trials of the past year and looking forward to better things in The Lord for the coming year…we should take the time to look introspectively to where we are personally in our walk with Him.

As we humbly repent we can be assured that His mercies are new every single day…we do not receive what we deserve because Christ came, lived and died to receive the punishment that should have been ours. Praise and thanks to The Lord for His unfailing mercies toward us!

Christ promises Hope (Romans 15:13) found only in Him; Peace unlike the world gives and one that I can’t fully understand so must accept by faith (John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:6-7); a Joy in any and every circumstance that is complete in Him and allows, and even compels, me to find it (Joy that is) in the most difficult of trials and circumstances…including 2022 (1 John 1:4; James 1:2-4) and finally; Love that is based on covenant and commitment and not on fleeting feelings and emotions…His Love is forever Faithful (John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 13:8a; 1 John 4:7-21)!  It’s not the Love of the world and you and I can count on it always. 

Notice the contrast of His hope, peace, joy and love (Eternal) to that of the world’s fleeting and circumstance and emotionally-based desires rooted in the selfish flesh (temporal).  Which are you focusing on as you wrap up 2022 and look forward to the New Year?

Faith is the key to living in His Love & Lordship that will bring and mature these incredible traits and assurances into your life regardless of what you, or we, have face, are facing or will face in the future!

An upside down world will not win! Election fraud and mainstream media cover-ups will not win! Diseases will not win! Social anarchy and chaos will not win!

Christ has already won and promises that victory to all who believe in Him as Savior and Lord (Romans 8:26-39)!  

Make it a great Advent/CHRISTmas season with family and loved ones in Christ!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – His mercies are new every morning and are never ending (Lamentations 3:22-24) and His grace is all-sufficient to save us and meet all our needs in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 4:19)!  He alone is where we can find Hope, Peace, Joy and Love that endures for all time and eternity!

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) – Do you know Him?

  1. Spend time with Him in His Word and prayer daily
  2. Seek Him and ask Him to help you know Him
  3. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you
  4. Pursue a loving relationship with Him… Christ died to give it to you
  5. Choose the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love found only in Him not the false pretenders found in the circumstances or struggles of the world or in our fickle feelings.

The CHRISTmas Blessing

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7

In CHRISTmas Memories 2022 we recognized both the ups and downs that CHRISTmas can bring.  In CHRISTmas Stories 2022 we shared a unique perspective from the “least” of the CHRISTmas players, the Bethlehem shepherds, and the role they played as well as lessons we can learn from them. 

In this post, I want to turn our focus directly to the choice that Jesus made which makes CHRISTmas a reality and in doing so gave us the model for our lives and relationships…that of humility and sacrificial love.

Before we unpack The CHRISTmas Blessing I thought it would be worthwhile to point out some things that you may or may not have previously contemplated with regard to the gifts of the Magi (Wise Men) and Herod’s killing of the boys under two years old in Bethlehem found in Matthew 2… 

At about one to two years of age Jesus is visited by Magi or Wise Men (we assume there were three because three gifts are mentioned but The Bible does not indicate how many).  They are overwhelmed and worship Him, presenting Him with the familiar gifts that some scholars say signify His roles as King (Gold), Priest (Frankincense) and The Sacrificial Lamb (Myrrh)…certainly something to think about.  This is beautifully portrayed in the movie, The Nativity, albeit the Wise Men arrive while he’s still an infant in the cave, which is highly unlikely.

What God does next is incredible in protecting His Word that is now become flesh…The Magi are warned in a dream not to return to Jerusalem and Herod (God’s providential protection of this Baby)…Joseph is warned in a dream to go to Egypt and then to return with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth after Herod’s death.  Isn’t it amazing how God orchestrates things clearly and plainly and/or totally behind the scenes to fulfill His prophecies?  God has always protected His Word just as He did His Word in the Flesh!

The reality of CHRISTmas is this…nothing else matters if this didn’t happenJohn 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:14The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth

The Rest of the CHRISTmas Story

This is what I call the “The Rest of the CHRISTmas story” in Scripture…Immanuel – God With Us found in John 1 and Philippians 2:3-8.  Follow along with me…

Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

What does CHRISTmas…for God to take on human flesh in Christ really mean?  What is the lesson for us as His followers?  Philippians 2:3-8 describes Jesus love and humility and calls us to have the same attitude which parallels the life that He calls us to as His disciples in Luke 14:25-35.

Jesus Example for us (Philippians 2:3-8)

 – Humble Attitude (vv. 3-5)

– Emptied Himself   (v. 6)

– Experienced all of humanity (v. 7)

– Gave His all for us (v. 8)

Jesus Calling of us (Luke 14:25-33

– Christ before all (v. 26)

– Die to self (vv. 26)

  – Count the Cost (vv. 27-32)

  – Give up all for Him (v. 33)

Casting Crowns in their CHRISTmas song, God is With Us, say it this way, “You’re the Savior we’ve been praying for, In our humble hearts You will dwell, You are in us, You are for us, You are with us… Immanuel.

Immanuel – God. With. Us. From the humble stable in Bethlehem to the humble hearts of mankind!  Each heart must have a Bethlehem experience and find room for Him. Have you received Him into your heart and life?

We must remember the beautiful story of CHRISTmas with all the incredible characters, events and scenes.  However, we must be careful to remember the real purpose of that first CHRISTmas, the Blessing we were given and what it calls us to.

The Beauty of CHRISTmas in a Culture of Self

December Nativity scenes are still quite common (that’s a good thing) even in an age where they have become political fodder in public schools and government facilities.  In the “commonness” we can easily forget how sharply these scenes call to our attention the self-absorbed culture we live in.

First of all, there’s the pure, common teenage virgin, leaning over the manger, who responded with a humble “yes” when divinely charged with bringing about the pivotal point in all of history!  She said, “I am The Lord’s servant, may it be unto me as you have said” (Luke 1:38), knowing full well that the burden of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy would continue far beyond nine months for her entire life.  Her faithful obedience allowed your burdens and mine to be lifted for eternity.

Then there’s the man who stood quietly beside her, remembered by all of history as good and noble because he put this young woman’s welfare, and the Precious Child she bore, above his own reputation.  He raised God’s son, not his own flesh and blood, and he did so without hesitancy or complaint.

Of course, there’s the central figure…God as a Baby…Jesus Himself.  As pointed out in “the rest of the CHRISTmas story” from Philippians 2 above, he emptied Himself of His Divine Glory, took on the form of a lowly human servant and, in doing so, bore all our sin, debt and brokenness on the Cross.  Check out Self-Giving in The Nativity for more and note the “beauty” in all that God does in contrast with our culture, to which I would add question displayed by Mary and Joseph…Which is more beautiful and fulfilling, the sacrifice, purity, engagement and marriage that honors God’s love for us or our culture’s alternatives to relationships and sexuality?”

You see, without Immanuel nothing else matters.  If He’s not Immanuel, then Lord, Shepherd, Friend, Brother, Savior…nothing else matters.  God With Us…He not only came to us, He became us, to save us and offer us Eternity with Him! 

Without CHRISTmas there is no Easter – no chance of salvation if Christ doesn’t put on flesh, doesn’t become human and give up His life as the perfect sacrifice and atonement for us.

Oh, He is forever King of kings and Lords of lords…but He could never have been our Savior/Lord had he not become a baby…become us…Immanuel!

That’s CHRISTmas…The womb of a virgin, the manger, the swaddling cloths, the hay, manure, cows, sheep and maybe even a dog or two…That’s God wrapped in our injured, dying, decaying flesh!  Don’t miss this!  Everything else you hear this season…Savior, Lord, Shepherd… everything – could only happen because He became IMMANUEL – GOD WITH US…He came as us!!!

Enjoy all of it because He not only came to us…he became us!  We have every reason, even in the struggles, stresses and trials to rejoice because of CHRISTmas!

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Have you considered that God becoming flesh in the Christ Child at CHRISTmas had to happen or there would have been no sufficient sacrifice for us on Good Friday? How does the “Other” CHRISTmas story in this article affect your perspective of CHRISTmas? 

Love and Lordship…Action Item

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. How does the Truth of an empty manger, an empty cross and an empty tomb impact you? 
  3. In your prayer time ask The Holy Spirit to draw you closer to Him as He reveals to you the significance of what Christ did for you at CHRISTmas.
  4. Find at least one way to share CHRIST this CHRISTmas.
  5. Highly recommend you take time to watch these with family and loved ones…The Chosen’s The Shepherd and  Christmas With The Chosen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOTkTBxTxEA).

Before this week’s Top 10, I want to share one song that is my all-time favorite.  It’s included in this post because it so fully encompasses all that God shared with us in Immanuel at CHRISTmas.  Listen to Welcome to our World.

This week’s Top CHRISTmas list… here’s my Top 10 Players in the story of CHRISTmas and what we may learn from them…

10 & 9) Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) – both patient servants of God who waited on Him and their faithfulness provide a powerful testimony to who Christ was and is to Mary and Joseph and to us today! How may God use you as you choose patient waiting on and faithfulness to Him?

8 & 7) Zechariah/Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25; 39-45; 67-79) – Jesus aunt and uncle, parents to John The Baptist. What role might God have for you?

6) John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-17; 57-66) – Jesus cousin and forerunner announcing Christ as the Chosen One of God…born just months before Jesus Himself. How are you helping others to know Jesus?

5) Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) – the lowliest, most humble of human beings were the ones visited first by God and the very first to enter into His Presence (after Mary and Joseph) – See CHRISTmas Players for more. The last shall be first…where are you?

4) Joseph (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 2:1-7) – The humble, virtuous man chosen by God to be Jesus’ earthly father. How difficult and yet what an incredible honorable task to the one who was willing to bear it…what about you and me?

3) Mary (Luke 1:26-56) – The Blessed Mother of Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who by faith was willing to trust in God no matter how difficult His assignment for her would be or become (v. 37-38). Are you walking in faith to trust God for the impossible…have your way in me, no matter what?

2) Jesus – (Matthew 1:21-23; Luke 2:16-20; 29-32) – The Savior of the world, Immanuel – God With Us…in the flesh! Need we say more? Absolutely and that’s what Love & Lordship is all about so we’ll keep doing it every day! I pray you know Him and will do the same!

1) You and Me – (John 3:16; Philippians 2:3-8) Stay with me here…of course Jesus is by far the most important player of CHRISTmas! Without Him there would be no CHRISTmas, salvation or eternity. But think about it…He placed us above Himself (just following His lead) by leaving all of heaven to come to earth at CHRISTmas to save you and me from our sin, death and hell. Each one of us was on His mind. Let’s humble ourselves and do the same…place others above self and Christ above all! This is CHRISTmas! 

Make it a great CHRISTmas season with family and loved ones in and for The Lord (Matthew 1:21-23)!