bella undaunted

Love

The Love Month is here!! The bible is filled with examples and verses on how to love others. Of course, it begins with the fact that “God is love.” It’s who he is. It is not just a character quality. We are able to love because he first loved us and because he lives in us.

Love lives in us!! This makes our capacity to love unending because God is eternal and love is who he is! As we focus on God in us, we can love others the way he does. Let’s look at some ways the word of God tells us to love others.

 First Jesus tells us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then he says to love our neighbor as ourselves. I’m going to assume you love God. If you don’t, I encourage you to make Jesus the Lord of your life. That’s where loving God begins. We are unable to truly love ourselves if we don’t love God because we are made in his image and likeness.

Second on the list is to love yourself. We can’t love others if we don’t love ourselves. When we don’t love ourselves is when we react negatively.

After loving God and loving ourselves, we are able to love people. Here are some verses that tell us how to do that.

Jesus tells us to love our enemies in Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27 & 35. In these verses, he encourages us to bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who use or persecute you. In our flesh that is the last thing we may want to do, but it’s what God does all the time. He sent Jesus before anyone accepted him. After we accept him, many times we do things that are contrary to what he wants. He never stops loving. One of the last things Jesus did before he died was to ask God to forgive the people for what they did.

In Matthew 5:46 Jesus asks, “If you only love those who love you what good is that?” It’s easy to love people who are kind to you or who love you. The difficulty we have in loving people who do not love us is dealing with the fear of rejection. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we might get hurt. God has a different idea. He put himself in a place of huge vulnerability when he sent Jesus to the earth. It was a gamble, but the gamble paid off in spite of all the people who have not received him. We have the same capacity because he lives in us.

Most of us are aware of the statement Jesus made about laying down our lives for our friends. He said this is the greatest love. It’s what he did. Most of us won’t be required to die for anyone, but we can lay down our lives for others. We do it by not insisting on our own way, by giving of our time and resources, by thinking of others and putting them first….

1 Corinthians 14:1 states, “Let love be your highest goal.” Wow! Most of us do not put loving people as a goal, but the bible tells us to make it our highest goal. When we love others, that’s what real success is all about. 

Let February be the beginning of your quest to love God, love yourself, and love others and you’ll have a very successful life.

Character

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Happy New Year!

 Goals are what most people focus on at the beginning of a new year. As I was praying about what to write, I felt I should discuss character. For without good character, success means nothing.

 Character has to do with the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual; a person’s good reputation. Synonyms are: integrity, honor, moral strength, moral fiber, strength, fortitude, backbone, resolve, grit, willpower, reputation.

 In the bible, there are several places that tell us where strength of character comes from.

 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Jesus is our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. As believers in Christ, we get strength of character through our relationship with the Lord. It’s in our DNA. We grow in it as we grow in our knowledge of who we are in Christ. God is holy and we are too because we are in him.

 Trials and troubles help form character as we endure through them. Enduring means we continually put our trust in the Lord through tough times. As we trust him, it develops strength of character in us. Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4 attest to this. When our faith is tested, endurance grows. As our endurance is developed, we become strong in character and ready for anything. It’s going through those tough times with joy because of our trust in the Lord. We have joy and peace in believing. True character development comes through faith in God.

 In Matthew 13 and Mark 4, Jesus tells the story of a farmer planting seed. In it, he speaks of different types of ground the seed is sown on. The seed that lands in the gravel is like a person who hears God’s word and instantly responds with enthusiasm. Because there is no character, when the emotions wear off and difficulty arises, they have nothing to show for it.

How often do we hear something, get excited about it. and when it gets difficult, stop going in the right direction? It happens at this time of year all the time. We make New Year’s resolutions and don’t keep them. The gyms are packed in January. After that, the numbers continually go downhill because people don’t endure. They give up. We all do it. We decide we are going to improve, but don’t want to pay the price for the improvement. When we do stick to it and pay the price, the benefits far outweigh the cost. We accomplish something and good character is built in us.

I want to encourage you to endure through the hard, difficult times. When you do, good character is developed and it makes for smooth traveling. Proverbs 11:5