Keep Going from Gospel Goodness

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” (Hebrews 6:10 ESV)

When the good news of Jesus gets ahold of you it is meant to radically change how you live. Instead of selfish pursuits we actually turn outward to extend love to others as a reflection of the love we have received in Christ. Now, we don’t do this perfectly. We still war with our flesh that demands it go first, but the spark is there igniting the fire that will burn for others.

To encourage this care more and more we are told that God sees it all. While our works do not save us, God does not disregard them. They don’t earn us relationship but they certainly please the One who extended us the grace that is our basis for love and effort. It is a life of glorifying God and he notices.

Today we can be encouraged that God is paying attention to how the gospel fuels our love for others and the works we do for his name. It is worship to press into our faith in Christ that we might be equipped to love. Let’s worship today.

In Christ… you are loved by the Father

Christian. What does that name even mean? Don’t answer that. The truth is, we could come up with a number of answers. Some would center around a political mentality or church attendance. Some may more  truthfully define the word as those that believe in Jesus, that he is God himself who lived a perfect life, sacrificed himself to cover sin and rose from the dead to give new life. This answer would be beautifully true. But here I want to define that word as someone united with, or in Christ.

Upon belief, our union with Christ is the defining reality of a Christian. It changes our status, it give us privilege beyond our imaginations and secures us beyond our own stupidity. In the coming weeks I will be sharing, with random regularity, some brief thoughts on what it means to be “in Christ” as reveal in the Bible. Today we embrace the truth that in Christ we are loved by the Father as he loves the Son.

Praying for his disciples (and us) before his death, Jesus says this in John 17:23, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

If you are in Christ, God loves you just as he loves Jesus. Hear this: God, the creator of the universe, the holy and perfect One, love you like he loves the Son he has been in unity with from eternity. In this love, we can love each other, which reveal Jesus to the world.

Ever feel unloved? We have no idea how lavishly we are loved by the Father. So loved, that he would send his Son to cover us and reconcile us to himself. This is no momentary, flirty kind of love. This is blood and flesh love. This is the ultimate of love. And it is yours in Jesus. As you turn from your rebellion and believe in Jesus, you are loved. This is walking on sunshine. This is being a room without a roof. This is being happy!

Beloved, you, in Christ, are loved by the Father as he loves the Son. Let that soak in and change your life.

Lenten Love and Obedience

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

When it comes to motivating, we use guilt far too much. Think of the way you tell the kids that they should clean their rooms because “don’t you love me and want to do what I say?” Even when we look at biblical obedience, it is far too easy to motivate with guilt rather than grace.

“It is true that the object of our love can always be detected in our behavior… If love for God isn’t present in our heart, then Godward obedience will be absent in our life.

But how do we grow our love without it becoming guilt-driven duty? And what does Jesus mean by these words that love will drive us to keep commands?

“Jesus is lovingly stating a fact, but he’s also making a precious promise: love will motivate behavior. He completely knows us, even the inmost thoughts of our hearts. He knows of our desire to obey and our shame and sadness because of our failures. But he also knows this: as our love for him grows, our obedience will grow, too.”

“Let me explain how the truth that love motivates obedience usually plays out in my heart. I think, Okay, I’ve got the “love God” part down, so now I need to concentrate on being more and more obedient to prove it. It’s right there that I fail to get the emphasis right. I gloss over the motivating role that love plays and focus in on what I need to do instead. I mistakenly assume that my love for him is what is should be. But this verse isn’t primarily meant as a correction to lazy believers. It is meant to tell us what the key to obedience is.”

“The key to a godly life is not more and more self-generated effort. Instead, Jesus is saying, “Love me and your obedience will flow naturally from that love.” The secret to obedience isn’t formulaic steps found in a self-help book. It is a relentless pursuit of love for him. How then do I cultivate the sincerity of love that motivates obedience? By focusing more intently on his love for me than on my love for him, more on his obedience than mine, more on his faithfulness than mine, more on his strengths than mine.”

So it is less about us and our love and more about Jesus and his love!

“Resting in the awareness of our perfect acceptance before him and in his intense desire to have us for his own will cause us to want to please him. It will make us love him, and love for him will always eventuate in godliness.”

Jesus doesn’t guilt you. “He isn’t trying to motivate you through guilt or pity. His love is fervent, eternal, uncompromising. Rest there, drink there, luxuriate in the warm sunshine of his smile; grow strong in his everlasting embrace. Confront your own sinfulness, yes, but only after you’ve remembered his love for you. Then love him and obey.”

Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 12.