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"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." - John 13:34 (NLT)
Few things stir my soul more than the great worship and excellent teaching we receive on Sundays. I’m all ooey-gooey on Sundays. However, on Monday, my feet need to hit the ground living out Sunday. And again on Tuesday … and so on.
For the most part, Jesus was not in the business of issuing new commands. He was certainly within His right to do so, being God and all. Yet more often than not in Scripture, we see Jesus following the will of His Father.
No mere repetition of Leviticus 19:18, which declares we should love our neighbors as ourselves, John 13:34 calls us to a fresh, new kind of love. An imitating love. A sacrificial love. A divine love. “As I have loved you …” You mean, I’ve got to love people in the same way as Jesus has loved me? Yep. That’s exactly what it means.
The fact that He commands (not suggests) that we love one another is because He knew it would not be easy.
Truthfully, friends, some days I don’t feel like loving all the one anothers in my life. Some of those one anothers are difficult, ornery, or just plain mean. Yet I’m compelled to love them. If I’m really honest, I’ll tell you that some days love feels a little like work.
But one thing is certain. If I don’t love, I am playing right into my enemy’s hands. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, Satan wants you to agree with him and participate in convincing those one anothers of a lie he wants them to believe about themselves? I’m praying hard this week, friends. Lord, please don’t let me cooperate with my enemy toward anyone. Whatever it takes, may Your purposes for the lives of our one anothers be put into play. May I love as You have loved me.
So, be a warrior for others. Stand in the gap. Pray hard. Why? Because love works.
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." - John 13:35 (NLT)
I’m sure Ted Williams’ children meant well. The beloved American baseball player and manager passed away in 2002. They had him preserved cryogenically. Well, part of him. Just his head. Yes, you read that right. His head. Then, they signed a pact that they, too, would enter into biostasis upon their deaths. One of his children has already joined him in the freezer. Their stated purpose was that they hoped to be reunited as a family, even if there was just a chance.
This story made me sad, apart from the gruesome detail about the detached head. That sort of made me queasy. What’s sad is that there, in fact, IS a way Ted and his kids could know they can be reunited. It is through faith in Jesus Christ. You see, for Christ-followers, death cannot deny our reunion with loved ones. It can only delay it.
Jesus wanted you and me to be characterized by our uncommon love for each other. He wanted our love to be so profoundly obvious, that lost people would be drawn into a relationship with us, and with Him. He wanted our love to be so attractive and alive, that the world would realize there is something special about those Jesus-folks, and desire to know that same love for themselves.
This command isn’t for unbelievers, friends. It’s for us -- the Church. Sadly, church people disagree over silly, crazy things sometimes. But Jesus said it needs to look different among us. Among us, love will overcome the cynicism and skepticism that is leading the world toward eternal death. Why? Because love lives.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." - John 15:12 (NLT)
I was raised by one of the most loving mothers on the planet. Because of her love for Jesus, her joy abounded. Her godly, positive influence extended way beyond the borders of her little family. People stood in line for hours at her funeral to tell us sweet things about her. How she prayed with them. How she encouraged them. How she set them on a path to hope. How she was simply a friend when they needed one.
My sweet Little Mama was neither nurse nor physician. Yet, everywhere she went, healing seemed to follow. I once heard her say something I will never forget. She said, “Every day, in every way, you should treat everyone as though you think their heart is breaking.”
You know how gentle we are with those we know are heartbroken. We care for them in special, tender ways. We are mindful of our words and actions in their presence. We go above and beyond normal interaction to show we are there for them.
How do you suppose a sick and dying world might respond if you and I adopted this same attitude? Tender-hearted, Christ-centered love is impossible to resist. A hurting and broken world is desperately looking for something to fill the God-shaped holes in their hearts, friends. Actually, they are looking for Someone to fill them. Will you point them to Jesus with the way you love them? He’s the cure for what ails them.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Why? Because love heals.
"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NLT)
When I fell in love with my amazing husband, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Everything about him thrilled and delighted me. Seeing him made me smile -- with all 28 teeth showing! Joy bubbled up and out of me. That tall, handsome goofball had me in knots -- to the point that other people noticed something was different about me!
I was powerless to hide it and live as though it wasn’t happening. Hmmm. Does the love of Jesus do the same in us? Does it make us want to say and do good? Have we become powerless to do anything less than demonstrating that love fully?
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes an all-consuming, uncontainable, hair-on-fire kind of love: For Christ’s love compels us … That’s what the word “compels” implies -- a love beyond our ability to put a lid on, control or manage.
Moreover, 1 Corinthians 13:5 describes it this way: It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
This week, I’m challenging myself to gaze deeply in the mirror, and hit my knees in repentance. I want to grapple with anything that hinders me from fully loving Jesus or others and living the life He died to give me. Here’s what I’m asking myself today:
Is there any habit or practice in my life that could bring dishonor to me, my family or the Kingdom of God?
- Am I committed to having my own way?
- Do I struggle with a short fuse? Would other people describe me as hard to please?
- Am I a grudge-holder? Is there any hidden (or not so hidden) resentment toward anyone past or present?
Tough questions, to be sure. Wrestle intently, wise friend. Why? Because love compels.Share Tweet
"From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." - Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
I love the mission of this church: We exist to unleash a revolution of love.
My family came to Southland in 1971. I’d like to tell you I was two years old at the time, which would put my age now at 48, but, well, that would be a big, fat lie. I was 11.
I remember walking into the auditorium at the Hill ‘n Dale Road site (the first Southland address), and thinking, “This is the biggest church I’ve ever seen!”
Southland is the place my Little Mama really developed in her faith walk. She was mentored by a tiny little woman named Mary Ann Burdette. By the way, Mary Ann (in her 90s now) still leads a vibrant prayer ministry. You go, girl!
Mary Ann loved my mom like Jesus does. Because of that, my mom became a spiritual powerhouse, who then passed on the love of Christ to her five children and untold others. I can’t even count the number of people who are going to be in heaven because Mary Ann chose to love someone like Jesus does.
One person is all it takes to change generations. The power and authority of Christ at work in a person’s life can turn the tide of sin and brokenness into a legacy of faithfulness for a thousand generations.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
- Who has God placed in your path for you to love like Jesus loves?
Unleash a revolution of love in your life. Then watch, wide-eyed, as God moves in mighty ways, even long after you’re gone. There’s a revolution of love coming, friends. May it be us!Share Tweet
Why? Because love grows.