Welcome

Welcome to Heartsprings, where I share what springs forth from my heart for God and His people. I pray that what you find here blesses you and draws you nearer to your Heavenly Father who loves you like no other.

In His love,
Brenda :-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fervent Love

"Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart" - 1 Peter 1:22
The New King James Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1998, c1982.

According to Strong's concordance of the Bible, "fervently" in the Greek is ektenos which means "earnestly, intensely". It comes from a verb which means to "stretch out the hand, thus it means to be stretched out -- earnest, resolute, tense".

What I take from this verse and the original meaning of the word "fervently" is that the brethren, the body of Christ, is to be stretched out for one another. Our love for each other should be intense and earnest. The brethren should be a priority, even if it stretches us thinner than we already are. We have choices and we need to prioritize. When I think of this I think of the early church and the way they were there for one another at all times. They prayed for each other constantly. When someone was in need, the church reached out to meet that need. They shared everything; "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need." -Acts 2:44-45
The New King James Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1998, c1982.
That is some fervent love, they were all together and had everything in common. If someone was in need they would go so far as to sell their possessions to help. I don't see a lot of that in the church today.

Our society today is a very busy society. In spite of all the modern conveniences that were supposed to save us time and make our lives more leisurely, we are busier than ever. We don't have time in a day to sit down and write a note of encouragement or pick up the phone and call someone just to see how they're doing. Our modes of communication are more impersonal than personal these days. Facebook, MySpace, and instant messaging have replaced face-to-face contact. We talk about getting together; "Let's do lunch" or "We need to have y'all over for supper", "We should get the kids together." Have you ever heard yourself saying these things knowing full well it wouldn't happen any time soon? I have. I have a list of people I intend to invite for dinner, but haven't yet. There are a multitude of reasons why we don't get around to it. Our lives are truly busy. We wake up in the morning, blink a couple of times, and it's bedtime. It's crazy, and we need to stop the madness. Our lives are controlling us rather than the other way around. We are sorely lacking a fervent love for one another because of our busyness and the justification thereof. I wonder if our justifications will fly with God when we stand before Him. "Father, I was just so busy! The kids had soccer practice, the laundry was piled up, my in-laws were coming to visit, I just didn't have time to pray with sister so-and-so when she was sick and next thing I knew I was at her funeral." I wonder what He would say to that. I'm sure He would be gracious and loving, but would He say "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Somehow I doubt it.

I want to run this race He has set before me well. I want to be a good and faithful servant. The whole idea of fervently loving my brothers and sisters in Christ is a burden on my heart. How can I be obedient to this command in my busy life? Well, I actually have a few ideas. When I make an appointment I write it down in my date book, so why not make an appointment on my calendar to write someone a note. Make another appointment to invite someone to lunch, or actually schedule having someone over for dinner. Rather than sending messages on Facebook, why not call one of my Facebook friends and actually hear each others voices? My husband and I have even contemplated turning off the internet altogether. THAT would give me some time to devote to fervent love.

Love is not just a feeling, it is also an action. If we're not taking action to let others know we love them, we're not really loving. We are not only called to love one another, but to do so with fervency; in an intense and earnest fashion. That's serious love, active love, the kind of love God has called us to. So, what's YOUR excuse?

Use It or Lose It

It's interesting how many sayings or catch phrases society thinks it came up with that in reality, have their origins in scripture. "Those who have understanding will be given more. But those who do not have understanding, even what they have will be taken away from them." -Mark 4:25 (Use it or lose it). I could list several others, but that's for another note. :-)

What I want to share here is my reaction to this particular verse. To be quite honest, it scares me. I have understanding of many things, but I don't always put that understanding into practice. I understand that it would be good for my soul to rise up early and spend time in the Word. I understand that it would be good for my body to avoid certain foods and exercise every morning. I mull that understanding around in my brain as I lie in my comfy bed justifiying why I'm still in it. "I'm so tired and my poor old body is sore", I whine to the voice in my head telling me to get up. More times than not I end up falling back asleep and finally getting up an hour later with the sun streaming through my window and kids demanding attention. The opportunity to put my understanding into action passed me by. I allowed the window to close. Not only did I ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I failed to use the knowledge that He's given me. That, my friends, is a pure and simple lack of wisdom. Wisdom is putting your knowledge and understanding into practice. I WANT to do that. I WANT to be wise and follow every leading of the Spirit, I really do. I suffer from a severe case of the age old battle between flesh and spirit, and too many times I allow the flesh to win. I allow my aching joints and arthritic neck and back to determine my level of obedience really. How pathetic is that?! I know in my spirit that as a child of God, I am called to rise above my circumstances and when I do, God is there to help me. I've testified to that before, how God helps me do so many things in a day in spite of physical limitations. When I finally do get moving, He is always faithful to meet me and help me.

So, why is that first step so difficult? Why is getting out of bed in the morning one of the hardest things I do all day? I don't really know yet. :-) What I do know is that I don't want to lose what little understanding and wisdom I have. I need to do what I understand is the thing I should do. I need to be the person He is calling me to be and use the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that He has given me so that He can give me more. I need to use it so I don't lose it, and in Him I know I can. Amen!

Unity

Unity – Ephesians 4:3 (1775) henotes – (S) oneness, i.e. unanimity; -unity. (Z) one, of one. Oneness, unity. Syn.: sundesmos (4886) that which unites, a bond.

“A kingdom that is divided cannot continue, and a family that is divided cannot
continue.” –Mark 3:24-25 (NLT)

The body of Christ is a family, and if we are not united we cannot continue. We cannot perpetuate the gospel, contribute to the kingdom, or in any way attract a lost world to its Heavenly Father. Without unity we are rendered ineffective; impotent; paralyzed; useless. Churches are destroyed by dissension, marriages crumble when there is no unity, without a common bond there is no fellowship.

Unity in the body of Christ is a foundational need. We must learn to agree to disagree when the issue is not a salvational one. To argue every little point of doctrine is simply immature and petty. “Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” –I Corinthians 1:10 (NLT) “United in thought and purpose.” That is what we need to be. We need to keep our focus on the One who unites us, and His plans and purposes for our personal lives, and for the body of Christ as a whole. I do not believe that doctrinal divisions are His will. To me, they are a manifestation of man’s stubbornness and pride. That’s just my opinion, which is of little value really. The point here is that whether we are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Non-Denominational, if Jesus Christ is our foundation – the glue that binds us – we are family. If this family is to continue, we must be in unity. Arguing amongst ourselves, leaving our church family because our pride was wounded, taking on offenses that are rooted in nothing but ego, only serve to divide us and sabotage the work of Christ. I’m not saying you should never leave your church. There are valid reasons for moving on. We need to make sure our reasons are indeed valid, and not simply a matter of pride or bruised ego……or because we didn’t like the color of the church walls. God may have put you in that church to improve the d├ęcor!

When we are in right standing with God, listening to His Holy Spirit, following His guidance and direction, we will be where we are supposed to be. No church is perfect, no person is perfect. There is NO perfection this side of eternity, so stop looking for it. Be where you are supposed to be, set aside pride, and be honestly open to what God wants you to do. Make unity a priority. Take selfish thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, and fervently love your brothers and sisters in Christ, with all their imperfections. “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”-I Peter 1:13(NKJ) Don’t put your hope in the worship music, or the amount of charisma the pastor possesses, or the congregation. Place your hope nowhere but in Christ, and He will never steer you wrong. He will keep us in unity. Amen.

Suffering For Satisfaction

"After his soul suffers many things, he will see life and be satisfied." -Isaiah 53:11
This was part of my devotional reading this morning and it really spoke to me. This portion of scripture is referring to Jesus, and I can see how it can relate to us as well. It seems to me that the things I have suffered have contributed to maturity in me. They have caused me to look at life with a new perspective and helped me learn to be content with what I have and where I am. Not overnight, of course, and usually after a time of fit pitching, but in the end I come to some sort of understanding - an enlightening, if you will. If I really stop and think about it, rather than just reacting, I really can rejoice in my suffering because I know it will end in satisfaction, and I know this because God is in control of every situation of my life. Not everyone can say this, unfortunately. Not everyone allows God to be in control of their situations, and their situations can have less desirable outcomes. I so often marvel at the fact that so many people endure this life without Him. I could not imagine it. I truly believe that without Him I would probably have been committed years ago. On my own, I am not very strong - emotionally or physically. I have been able to endure because Christ has strengthened me to do so, and Christ has strengthened me because I acknowledged that I was weak on my own and asked Him to be my strength. I ask Him every day to be my strength.

My physical limitations alone require His strength. He has allowed me to suffer a "thorn" in my flesh (actually in my bones), that causes me to rely on His grace to physically move. To His glory, I not only move, but accomplish many things in a day including carrying around a 23 pound 7-month old, and picking up a 3-year old. Every day I am amazed by His love, grace, and mercy. Because of my "suffering", all of my "sufferings", and the way He carries me through them, I have come to rely greatly on Him and to be thankful for the work He is doing in my life. I truly understand that His grace is sufficient for me, His love for me is unconditional, His mercies are new every morning, and He has a plan and is working all things for good. Because of this understanding, I can be satisfied with where He has me. I am willing to suffer when the suffering leads me to the satisfaction of knowing Him, which when I cling to Him in the midst of it, is exactly what happens. There is no greater satisfaction than that which comes with knowing Him better and loving Him more. To that end, no suffering is unbearable.