Learn to USE your Bible - Week Two - Part Three 💕
What does it mean to belong to Christ?
Neglected? Ignored? Unnoticed?
Not even close to how God sees you.
If you are feeling unnoticed and under-appreciated, take a look at how God sees you in I Peter 2:9:
“You are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.”
Or this description from Isaiah 61:10:
“He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness, like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding, like a bride dressed in jewels.”
When your self-esteem sags—remember what you’re worth. Remember that you were bought with a price, not with something that ruins like gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, the pure and perfect lamb.
Remember that. Meditate on it. Focus on it.
“Allow God’s LOVE to change the way you look at you.” _11.18.11 Max Lucado.org
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” _Oscar Wilde
What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism [religion] is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good – crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:22-25 (The Message)
I love the way The Message Bible translates this portion of Paul’s letter to the Galatian church. He’s telling them how their actions and words will change IF they belong to Christ and are lead by the Holy Spirit. It’s an amazing transformation.
In the Amplified Bible translation of this same passage we find what I like to think of as God’s “ingredient” label for his kids.
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which his presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence).Galatians 5:22-23 AB
If you pick up a jar of fruit preserves in any market you’ll always find a list of ingredients on the label: fruit, sugar, pectin, and usually a bunch of stuff no one can pronounce, listed in order of the quantity used. The ingredient used in the largest quantity is always listed first on food labels.
If you follow that analogy, it would seem God intended his kids to be filled, first and foremost, with LOVE. It is a concept that falls right in line with our quite time scriptures for the past week.
I pray that you have been spending a “quiet time” with Jesus every day. I pray that through reading and hearing the Word [as you spoke it out loud] your heart has been touched and expanded. And, I continue to ask God to renew your heart, that you may be rooted deep in God’s love for you.
Let’s talk about establishing where you are with accepting God’s love for you. And about accepting yourself.
Love one another
Honestly, before we can truly love anyone else we must love ourselves. Here’s what Jesus taught:
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighboras yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
LOVE! It is the most critical ingredient when it comes to making changes in the negative attitudes and self-images associated with our old self. The old nature, unrenewed, will keep us from experiencing the very best God wants for each and every one of us.
Many people, who have been around religious circles for awhile, have heard an illustration for Psalm 23 that speaks of shepherds who sometimes break the legs of sheep which habitually stray, in order to teach them not to stray.
Do you think such teaching tells of God’s LOVE? NO! That erroneous teaching — “The Lord is my Shepherd, He breaketh my legs” — brings needless fear of God’s punishment. It says nothing of his grace, love and mercy.
That kind of false teaching is what God’s Word refers to as “leaven”. Leaven or yeast has an effect on the whole loaf. Jesus cautioned his disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6)
In Leviticus 2:11 God’s Law says:
“No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the Lord made by fire.”
The leaven of the Pharisees was their doctrine of legalism. Legalism judges and condemns people who fail to keep God’s laws. The leaven of the Sadducees was their doctrine of humanism. Humanism discounts the supernatural and teaches that everything can be explained away using reasoning or science.
When God told his people in Leviticus 2:11, “No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven,” we are reminded that how we appreciate Jesus, our grain offering, must not be mixed with wrong teachings. For example, when we talk about “suffering with Christ” (Romans 8:17), we must know that it is not about suffering sicknesses or lack, things which Jesus has redeemed us from, but suffering persecution, scorn and rejection for his name’s sake, which we are likely to face as Christians.
What you believe about Jesus is important because the Holy Spirit bears witness only to the truth.
When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come.John 16:13
So ask the Holy Spirit to unveil the beauty of Christ and the perfection of his finished work to you when you read God’s Word. Find out from the Word how much God loves you, sending his Son to die for you. Find out how Christ has redeemed you from every curse and paid for you to enjoy all of God’s blessings with his sacrifice at the cross.
Clear away any leaven from your believing and the power of the Holy Spirit will be released for the breakthrough you need because you will have cultivated an understanding of God’s LOVE for you.
Let the Love of God change your life.
Life changing LOVE has to be established in small steps.
- Step One – Recognize God’s love for you…personally.
- Step Two – Develop real, genuine love for yourself…
- because God loves you.
- Step Three – Give away your love to others,
- God IS Love
We can learn a lot about LOVE from John, the beloved apostle, by studying his first recorded letter to the Christians he loved and served. He calls them “my little children” and “beloved.” his tone is warm and intimate as he shares his concerns for them. He fears they are being led astray by false teaching so he calmly and deliberately recalls the fundamentals of the Christian faith for them.
This letter is a love letter! A letter written by John, yes but, a letter dictated by the Holy Spirit, (2 Timothy 3:16) which means it is as alive and as relevant today as it was in the first century AD.
You may be able to pick out some highlights from the letter as memory verses you’ve heard quoted, or quoted yourself.