Jesus gave this commandment:  “I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

But what if you don’t like the person you are to love? Then what? Do you feel uncomfortable admitting that fact? I do if I am honest and that is an “OUCH.”  Beloved this is not rocket science…we all seem to have fallen into this pit!   Remember James and John who audaciously went to Jesus and asked him: “Teacherwe want you to do for us whatever we ask.” [Mark 10:35] And how did the others respond to them when they heard this? Mark records that the other 10 became angry.

Can you relate? I can. 

But, Jesus used that as a teaching opportunity and we should learn from him. This was a time to teach them this principle: “whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all.” [Mark 10:44] Our servanthood should be marked by being willing to serve others just as Jesus served us. To be a follower of Jesus means we are known by this very character quality: loving one another. 

The Apostle John got the message loud and clear. Nothing like the lesson learned at the feet of Jesus! It is as if he is joining us over coffee and as we bumble our way through our confession, John lovingly reminds us that we must, it is not a well maybe I will think about it but we MUST not only love one another but we MUST keep the commandments as well because when we do we are walking in the same manner as our Master did.

So as we draw near to the time of our “hanging out,” John says we should endeavor to do that so when He returns “we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame.” [ 1 Jn 2:28 ]

Did we get the OUCH? I hope we did. Application Time: What will we do now?

Protected by the Power of God…1Peter 1:5a

I love my cup of java early in the morning. I sit with Jesus, my Bible, notebook and a cup of coffee. My coffee tastes even better with the creamer I add giving it a taste of sweetness. Perhaps that is you as well.  A couple of days ago I was enjoying my cup of coffee and found my mind focused in 1Peter where I have been for about a month now and only in the first chapter. Peter is speaking to my heart and it is my hope that He will be speaking to yours as well. Peter is counseling, giving advice, directing his words to a group of Christian believers who are stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place. They are “all in but hanging on” for dear life as they face suffering. What keeps them going are the words of Peter saying stay true to the One who paid the price for you chosen by the foreknowledge of God, sanctified by the Spirit FOR obedience to Jesus Christ whose blood was shed for you.

Listen to his words in vs 5a as he tells them they are “protected by the power of God.” That is how you weather the storms of life; trusting in a God whose heavenly armies and God’s love has reached down to protect His own. But too often we find ourselves like the Terrified Ten of Numbers 13.  They were like the half and half creamer we put into our coffee. They wanted God’s protection but their fear of the enemy was greater than the power of God. Peter is saying to these first-century believers that even though “God is capable of helping or defeating,” as the man of God told King Amaziah,  He won’t do it for those who are like the coffee creamer, half and half. God wants us all in like Joshua and Caleb so He gets the glory not us.

So where are you today? Are you all in but hanging on? Trust in God the maker of heaven and earth who can calm the wind and waves and your storm.