Do It On the Basis of Love

“. . . I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.” Philemon 9 NIV

Have you ever been asked to do something that the world might call crazy or naïve? Many times as believers we are called to do just that.

The apostle Paul’s words of appeal above come from a letter he wrote to his dear friend and fellow worker Philemon. Philemon’s slave Onesimus had apparently stolen from him or wronged him in some way and then run away. After that, Onesimus met Paul and became a Christian and was then ready to return to Philemon and make things right between them.

This is where Paul came in. He acted as an agent of reconciliation, appealing to Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as if he were welcoming Paul himself (read the short book of Philemon for the entire beautiful story told in just twenty-five verses.)

In other words, Paul said, if you love me, forgive and welcome him. More than that, the implication here is also an appeal to act out of love for Christ—to extend the love that Christ himself would extend.

I wonder if there are any situations in our lives right now where the Lord might be saying, “I appeal to you on the basis of love . . .” Has someone wronged us or someone we love? Or maybe a person noted for bad or even criminal behavior has recently come to know Christ. Many times our first reaction is to say, “Yeah, sure.”

But what would the Lord have us do? I think his message to us would be the same as the one Paul sent to Philemon so many years ago—if you love me, forgive and welcome him.

How can we do any less than offer forgiveness when the Lord has extended unconditional love and forgiveness to each of us? Let’s do what he wants us to do. And let’s do it on the basis of love.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV

*Who will you forgive on the basis of love today?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by qthomasbower, Creative Commons License

Vital Behind-the-Scenes Forces We Need

“. . . your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV

Work. Labor. Endurance. What images do these words bring to mind? We’re not talking marshmallows and kittens here. We’re talking rolled-up sleeves, sweat, and long-distance runs. We’re talking effort and strength.

Tasks and qualities like these that take strength and determination won’t happen by accident, will they? Behind-the-scenes forces such as planning, preparation, and prayer all play a role in carrying out our tasks, achieving our goals, or running the race life has placed before us.

In considering the scripture above, let’s look at the Thessalonian believers to whom the apostle Paul was writing. In spite of the severe suffering they faced (1 Thes. 1:6), they were at work serving God.

Notice the behind-the-scenes activity that Paul mentioned was present in their lives. How was their work produced? By faith. What prompted their labor? Love. What inspired their endurance? Hope. Hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s consider for a moment the behind-the-scenes forces present in our own lives. Among the many influences at work in us personally, is faith playing a key role in the work we do—whether our day-to-day work or our service to God? Is love the motive, the impetus behind our labor? Is hope spurring us on, helping us to endure so we can finish strong?

Let’s learn from the Thessalonian believers and make certain that faith, love, and hope are playing vital behind-the-scenes roles in our work and in our lives. Remember, it won’t happen by accident.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” Ephesians 3:16 NIV

*What can we do to strengthen one or more of these behind-the-scene forces in our lives?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Matt Trostle, Creative Commons License

Worthy of Our Pursuit

“. . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11 NIV

When you hear the word “pursue” what comes to mind? I think of going after something or someone—striving to capture or attain a deeply desired object, person, quality, or state of being. When we have to pursue something, it doesn’t just fall into our laps or happen naturally. “Pursue” speaks of action, involvement, effort.

From our earliest days, the world around us teaches us to pursue certain things. Money, education, good jobs, status, relationships, possessions, health, beauty, success—in other words, the American dream.

None of these things are wrong and can, in fact, be used for great good. But if we’re focused on what the world holds up as worthy of pursuit, chances are we’ll neglect things far more important.

In the scripture above, look at what Paul instructs Timothy to pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. In using the word pursue, Paul must have known that these things would not come automatically to Timothy. He knew Timothy would have to go after them. He knew he would have to take action, that he would have to make an effort.

Take a closer look at Paul’s list. It’s filled with some biggies, isn’t it? And if these qualities are not easily manifested in my life, it shouldn’t surprise me—they take effort. I have to go after them. (Personally, I struggle with gentleness in certain situations so I’m encouraged to know that it does indeed take work. And isn’t it interesting that gentleness is keeping company with major spiritual pursuits like godliness and love? Wow.)

So what are we pursuing in our lives right now? Do we need to make some adjustments or additions to our lists? Let’s not reach the end of our days and discover we’ve spent all our efforts going after things that won’t matter in eternity. May all of our pursuits be worthy. May they all be guided by God.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

*What are you planning to pursue this year?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it. Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.) p.s. If you sign up after Jan. 27th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

Radical Faith Prepares for Answered Prayer

“And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.” Philemon 1:22 NIV

Radical faith. The apostle Paul demonstrated it on numerous occasions, didn’t he? When he wrote the words above to fellow believer Philemon, he wrote them from prison—a place he frequented because of his bold displays of faith.

Being imprisoned didn’t dampen Paul’s faith as we might imagine. In fact, he made plans to visit Philemon based on his hopes of answered prayers. He encouraged Philemon to act in faith as well. Paul exhorted him to prepare a room for him—to behave as if the answer to prayer had already been granted.

And when Paul told the Corinthians to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), he not only doled out instruction, he lived it himself. His instruction to Philemon shines as just one example.

What kind of faith are you and I demonstrating in our lives today? Could someone point to us and say, “Look at how she lives by faith. Look at how she trusts God.”

Are we like Paul? Are we living in the hope of answered prayer? Let’s think about what we can do right now to live in expectation and to prepare for the answers that God will send. Let’s show some radical faith.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NET

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by familymwrCreative Commons License

Endurance Possible with God’s Unfailing Help

But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.” Acts 26:22 NIV

Do you ever wonder how the Apostle Paul from Bible times endured the many trials and times of crisis that came his way? After his dramatic conversion to Christ and being called by God to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul faced not only trials and imprisonment, but his very life was threatened time and again.

At one point after one of his arrests (when the Jews had seized him and tried to kill him,) Paul had the opportunity to defend himself before the Roman king Agrippa. Paul shared  a bit about his personal history, his eventual conversion to Christ, his ministry to the Gentiles, and the resulting opposition he faced from the Jews—including how they tried to kill him.

Paul then summed up his life to that point with this powerful testimony: But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.” (Acts 22:26) In everyone’s hearing, he pointed to the One who had been his strength.

Yes, Paul had been able to endure the hardships and dangers in his life because of God’s unfailing help. In spite of all that had happened to him, he was able to stand before King Agrippa—and stand up to all the opposition he faced—because God was with him being his strong support.

Is this your testimony too? Our testimonies are such a good thing to remember when times are bad, aren’t they? Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that God has been with us to this very day and that he will continue to be with us come what may.

If any of us are struggling to hang in there today, let’s remember that endurance is indeed possible with God’s unfailing help. He didn’t let Paul down and he won’t let us down either. He will ever be our strong support. He will ever be our Rock.

God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

*When have you felt God’s strong support in a very great way?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. It is too late to get in on this issue’s giveaway, but if you subscribe, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by DVIDSHUB, Creative Commons License