The Test for True Life: Love

Would life be meaningful to you if there was no such thing as love? According to the Apostle John, life without love is…, well, death. “Anyone who does not love remains in death” (I John 3:14b). John says that the way we know that we have received life from God is that we are able to love our brothers. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers” (1 John 3:14a).

So, what does it mean to love others?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).

John reveals here what this life of love is like.  It is like the life of Jesus. Loving like Jesus means that we are willing to sacrifice our lives for the sake of others. Jesus did this for us on the cross.

Loving like Jesus means that we will help those in need (cf. 1 John 3:17). We respond with compassion to help those around us who are in need. We are to respond to them as Jesus did.

Loving like Jesus means that we will not just talk about loving, serving and helping;
we will actually do it. When our loving actions give evidence of the values of Christ we profess, we are seeing the proof of a heart that has been changed by Christ. This evidence of Christ’s love living in us gives us confidence to stand before God (cf. v. 21).

So, according to John, if you really want to live, now and eternally, you need to
receive and then share the love of Christ with those around you. True love means living like Jesus did. That’s true life!

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The Quest – Day 39

This is the devotional for Friday, November 3, 2006 which is the 39th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 39 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 39 – Life in the Spirit of Christ

We live life in the Spirit of Christ every day through a thousand daily choices.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV)

To develop Christlike character we must look to Christ as our example. Then we consecrate ourselves completely to God. Next, we receive His gift of sanctification. Then we move from one growth cycle to another for the rest of our lives.

If you have heard that God quantum-leaps you to Christlike maturity in one moment with one prayer, you have been misled. Yes, our consecration can be accepted and our hearts purified in a moment. But the work of maturity is done in the many choices we make daily.

In our Scripture text for today Paul speaks of God’s incredible freedom that enables you to choose daily the way you think, value, and live. You have the freedom to choose one of two ways of life:

    Two preferences
Life in Christ Jesus, or
Life in the flesh, by which paul means living according to the carnal nature of humanity that prefers self over God

    Two walks
A spiritual walk in step with God’s value system, or
A fleshly walk in step with one’s own value system

    Two laws
The law of the Spirit of life – not a list of dos and don’ts, but the guidance of our deep love for God
The second law is the law of death – the outcome of doing what you please ends in spiritual death.

    Two powers
The power of Christ to forgive and free us from sin, or
The power of the old, condemning law which is powerless to deliver us.

    Two loyalties
Loyalty to the Spirit in which our pleasure is to do His pleasure, or
Loyalty to the flesh in which we become enslaved to our desires, passions and addictions

    Two destinies
Eternal life, or
Eternal death

Each day we have a choice between these two ways of life. You validate your consecration and affirm your sanctification in daily choices as you continue to live out your resolve to make Christ Lord of all!

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by choosing life in the Spirit of Christ.

The Quest – Day 26

This is the devotional for Saturday, October 21, 2006 which is the 26th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 26 of Frank Moore’s insightful book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 26 – Heart Pure

You can be heart pure with a single-minded heart toward God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NIV)

Author Frank Moore says that he hates the bait and switch. He has seen a product advertised in the newspaper, but the sales clerk politely informs him that the item is currently out of stock. But he tells him they have a much better product that costs only $50 more.

The bait and switch sometimes occurs in our quest for purity. We read the Bible and talk with Christian friends about God’s provision for our spiritual development and maturity, so we pursue it. Then somehow during the process we find we’ve been switched to performance-based approval.

Now, don’t misunderstand. Becoming a Christian always leads naturally into a new lifestyle that flows from becoming a new creature in Christ. It becomes a problem, however, if we attempt to reduce our Christian lifestyle into a codified checklist of duties.

Purity of heart is singleness of purpose for God’s will and way. More than anything, the person with a pure heart wants to find and do God’s will. So does single-mindedness classify a believer as pure in heart? If you’re talking perfect performance, the answer is no. Maturity and growth bring that. If you’re talking about perfect motive or desire to please God, the answer is yes.

When a small child gets her dad a glass of ice water while he’s working it is an act of pure love. So the dad forgives the muddy water from his child’s unwashed hands because the glass was full of love! Is your action always flawless? No. Can the desire of your heart be pure and clean? Yes!

The memory verse for this week is Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 3 of the Quest, or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by loving God out of a pure heart.

The Quest – Day 25

This is the devotional for Friday, October 20, 2006 which is the 25th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 25 of Frank Moore’s insightful book, The Power To Be Free.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 25 – Undivided Loyalty

Heart purity requires an undivided loyalty.

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21 NIV)

Carlos studied to be a medical doctor. When an area church found itself between pastors, God used this experience to call Carlos to full-time ministry. Carlos had the potential to earn one of the largest salaries in his country as a medical doctor. Yet he chose to live in a modest home and earn a modest salary as he fulfilled God’s call on his life. His undivided loyalty to Christ affected his entire life.

The verse for today comes from Jesus’ encounter with a rich young man in Matthew 19:16-22. The young man approached Jesus with the pure intention of asking an honest question. In Jesus’ day it was taught that God granted eternal life based on the performance of good deeds. This way of thinking is still around. The young man wanted to know which good deeds would assure eternal life.

Jesus pointed him to the Ten Commandments, but He failed to mention commandment number 10, “Do not covet.” The young man said he had followed these commandments perfectly, or so he thought.

But Jesus called for the young man to be perfect. He called him to deal with his internal problem of coveting by outwardly letting go of the material possessions he loved most. These possessions defined him: others even called him the “rich young man.” Now, Jesus does not condemn owning material possessions or working a job which pays a salary. But He does require us to remove all stumbling blocks that stand between us and fellowship with God and following His will for our lives. That’s why Jesus’ last words to the young man were, “Come, follow me.”

We also must watch for subtle stumbling blocks to our spiritual commitment. These include anything that means more to you than pleasing God completely. Such stumbling blocks will make you weak and ineffective in your commitment to Christ because they divide your commitment. Once you remove them, you clear the path to heart purity.

The memory verse for this week is Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcast at www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 3 of the Quest, or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net.

Build your faith today by offering God your undivided loyalty.

The Quest – Day 19

This is the devotional for Saturday, October 14, 2006 which is the 19th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 19 of Frank Moore’s great book, The Power To Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, focusing on Discovery 2 of the Quest, or if you’d like to hear previous messages in The Quest series, please sign up for our Faith Nazarene Church podcast. You will find the link at www.buildyourfaith.net

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 19 – Is This Thing For Real?

God’s love is for real.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 NIV)

Love is a good thing! We know we need it and should give it to others. Love gets lots of attention from world religions, secular society and the entertainment sector, yet our hearts long for something more. This longing takes us on a quest to find a deeper kind of love. What we’re searching for can only be found in the love of Christ.

Christian love comes from God, the source of all love. Only though knowing Him and living in relationship with Him can we find love for the live we long for. 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” But can we love in that way just by willing it? Haven’t you noticed that loving by sheer willpower just doesn’t cut it?

The Bible tells us that we must first accept God’s love for us. Only then can we turn around and love others the way He loved us. Christian love is not something we generate from within by determined willing or imagination. Rather it is God living through us to love others. We do not create Christian love; we simply pass it on as a gift. When God lives in us, His love flows through us, even to our enemies and those who frustrate us.

It may be tempting to dismiss the idea of Christian love as unrealistic. However, remember that God places His love in us the same way He gives us salvation. If you can accept the miracle and mystery of His salvation, you can also accept the miracle and mystery of His love. Receive it; pass it on. It’s that simple.

The memory verse for this week is Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcasts. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith by receiving God’s love and then sharing it with others.


The Quest is Coming

“The Quest” Kickoff Week

My Dear Friends,

I believe that God has a purpose for our lives. In Philippians 2:13 the Bible tells us that God is at work in our lives “to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

It is clear that God has a plan and purpose for us. The question with which many of us wrestle is this: How on earth can I live a life of purpose? Good question!

Beginning next Tuesday, September 26th, we will be on our Quest to find the answer to that question. So let’s roll up our sleeves and set our minds to the task. If you begin to get discouraged along the way, just remember what’s at stake here. We are going to discover the power to be free to do the thing God wants us to do! We welcome this 40 Days of Discovery.

Why on earth would you settle for anything less?

The Quest consists of four commitments for spiritual growth:

Attending our weekend services (or if you can’t attend, listening to the podcast)
Daily readings in the book, The Power to Be Free  (our daily e-mail devotional summarizes the daily reading)
Attending weekly small group meetings (contact us for days, times & locations)
Memorizing one quotation from the Bible each week
This Sunday, September 24th is our Kickoff Sunday! Please plan to join us and receive as our free gift the book which will provide our daily devotional material for our 40 Days of Discovery, The Power to Be Free. Our Sunday School classes will be focusing on the Quest for the next 6 weeks, so make Sunday School a priority, or plan to attend one of the Small Groups meeting during the week.


(Our FaithBuilders Blog and Podcast will accompany us on this journey, so if you want to read or review any of the devotionals during the Quest, or download them as podcasts, visit this site. Check out our church website at www.jaxnaz.org. The Faith Church Podcast site will provide audio recordings of the messages from the Quest series.)

40 Days of Purpose – Day 36

This is the devotional for Sunday, June 4, 2006 which is the 36th day of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 36 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 36 – Made for a Mission

You were made for a mission!

“In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world.” John 17:18 (Msg)

God is at work in the world, and he wants you to join him. This assignment is called your mission. God wants you to have both a ministry in the Body of Christ and a mission in the world. Your life mission is both shared and specific.

Jesus clearly understood his life mission on earth. At age twelve he said, “I must be about my Father’s business,” and twenty-one years later, dying on the cross, he said, “It is finished.” Like bookends, these two statements frame a well-lived, purpose-driven life.

If you will commit to fulfilling your mission in life no matter what it costs, you will experience the blessing of God in ways that few people ever experience. There is almost nothing God won’t do for the man or woman who is committed to serving the kingdom of God.

If you want to be used by God, you must care about what God cares about. What he cares about most is the redemption of the people he made. He wants his lost children found! Nothing matters more to God; the Cross proves that.

Always be on the lookout to reach “one more for Jesus” so that when you stand before God one day, you can say, “Mission accomplished!”

The memory verse for this new week is Colossians 4:5 (NIV), “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church.

Build your faith today by accepting God’s mission for your life!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 18

Welcome to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This is Pastor Bill Crane.

This is the devotional for Wednesday, May 17, 2006 which is Day 18 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 18 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 18 – Experiencing Life Together

Life is meant to be shared!

“Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. Colossians 3:15 (CEV)

God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship. “Fellowship” now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food, and fun. The question, “Where do you fellowship?” means “Where do you attend church?” “Stay after for fellowship” usually means “Wait for refreshments.”

Real fellowship is so much more than just showing up at services. It is experiencing life together. It includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting, and all the other “one another” commands found in the New Testament.

The Body of Christ, like your own body, is really a collection of many small cells. The life of the Body of Christ, like your body, is contained in the cells. For this reason, every Christian needs to be involved in a small group within their church, whether is it a home fellowship group, a Sunday school class, or a Bible study.

The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other.” 1 John 1:7 (NCV)

The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. Darkness is used to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in the light, we bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are. You were created for community.

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. It is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. For more information about Faith Church visit us at jaxnaz.org. Build your faith today by sharing life with other believers. If you don’t have a church home, we welcome you to join us!

Memory Verse for the week: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5

40 Days of Purpose – Day 16

Welcome to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This is Pastor Bill Crane.

This is the devotional for Monday, May 15, 2006 which is Day 16 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 16 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 16 – What Matters Most

Life is all about love!

“Love means living the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is this: Live a life of love.” 2 John 1:6 (NCV)

Because God is love, the most important lesson he wants you to learn on earth is how to love. It is in loving that we are most like him, so love is the foundation of every command he has given us. “The whole Law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself.” Galatians 5:14 (LB)

Of course, God wants us to love everyone, but he is particularly concerned that we learn to love others in his family. Why does God insist that we give special love and attention to other believers? Here’s why – God wants his family to be known for its love more than anything else. Jesus said our love for each other—not our doctrinal belief—is our greatest witness to the world. He said, “Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 (LB)

In heaven we will enjoy God’s family forever, but first we have some tough work to do here on earth to prepare ourselves for an eternity of loving. God trains us by giving us “family responsibilities,” and the foremost of these is to practice loving each other.

The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. It is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. For more information about Faith Church visit us at jaxnaz.org. Build your faith today by loving one another.

40 Days of Purpose – Day 6

This is the devotional for Friday, May 5, 2006 which is Day 6 of our 40 Days of Purpose. For these 40 days we will be posting daily devotions based on the material in Rick Warren’s best selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life. We invite you to get a copy of the book and read daily one of the 40 chapter of the book along with us. We are scheduled to read Chapter 6 in the book today. Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional.

DAY 6 – LIFE IS A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT

Life on earth is a temporary assignment!

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away.” Psalm 39:4 (NLT)

To make the best use of your life, you must never forget two truths:

– First, compared with eternity, life is extremely brief.

– Second, earth is only a temporary residence. You won’t be here long, so don’t get too attached.

In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life—longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity. We’re not completely happy here because we’re not supposed to be! Earth is not our final home; we were created for something much better.

In God’s eyes, the greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those who treat this life as a temporary assignment and serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity.

When life gets tough, when you’re overwhelmed with doubt, or when you wonder if living for Christ is worth the effort, remember that you are not home yet. At death you won’t leave home—you’ll go home.

Our memory verse for this week is Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)