Abide in My Love- Series Introduction

abide

Welcome to Abiding Hearts at Home’s first series, Abide in My Love.   Over the next 9 weeks we will be looking into God’s word and what Jesus meant when he said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love”. (John 15:9)

As we have discussed before, abide means to continue or dwell.  If we are called and commanded to live out this love and continue in it, we must know it more fully.  We will look at Paul’s definition of love  in 1 Corinthians 13  and specific examples of how Jesus Christ shows us how to love through His life and ministry.  As it has been said, “The best interpreter of scripture is scripture itself”.  More than anything else, I am relying on the scriptures to help us define love and how to apply it to our lives.  I am always continually amazed how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through God’s word and moves us to reflection, repentance, and action.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

If we are abiding in his word, we are armed with everything we need to learn, reflect, correct, and discipline ourselves to be doing the work that Jesus calls us to do; love one another.  Let’s take a minute here to read some scripture about God’s love and the love we are commanded to give to others. I am assuming that you have read or heard these passages before and are familiar with them and the context they are written in.   More thoughts and truths on these verses will be discussed in this series, but for now I want to let God’s word speak directly to you.  I encourage you not to skim over them, but pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to see them as if for the first time. Let the words resonate in your heart and ponder the weight and significance of each truth.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 19:19)

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 22:36-40)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:27-38)

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:20-21)

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:9-10)

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:16-17)

Jesus’ love for us is to be the foundation of our love for others.  

Love had its perfect expression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. (Ephesians 2:1,4-5)

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:7-9)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12)

I look forward to this series and what God has to teach us through His word.  I am praying that hearts will be changed (including my own) and we will all learn a little bit more about God’s love for us and feel moved to love others in obedience and out of a heart of thankfulness.

Abide in His Love,

Melissa

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Serving with Love in the Home

LittleFeet

My kids’ feet stink. I am not exaggerating; S.T.I.N.K.  In the hot and humid Louisiana summer their little feet sweat.  Even in those half sneaker, half sandal shoes they wear everyday they just get gross.  We have a shoe shelf (pile) at the front door and sometimes when my husband walks in from work he gets a not-so-very-pleasant welcome to his nose. Occasionally each shoe gets a sprinkling of baby powder and a spray of air freshener, but the problem returns the next time they wear them.  Sometimes it is even unbearable to sit next to them on the couch, or heaven forbid, the dinner table.

So inevitably most days I end up cleaning at least one little person’s feet.  Sometimes we use soap and water, sometimes-just baby wipes.   Just the other day, in a moment of frustration and annoyance of the stinky feet problem, I was roughly wiping my child’s feet.  They winced a little and I realized how rough my hands and my heart were being on them in that moment.   I was convicted and ashamed. Mostly because of my ignorance to the very close comparison it all had to Jesus’ beautiful example of loving service from John 13.

Before the Passover Jesus, knowing his fate, humbled himself before his disciples.

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:4-5;12-15)

As parents, especially mothers we have ample opportunity to live out this lesson Jesus gave.

We clean up snot and spit-up, sometimes even with our own clothing. (Note how Jesus wiped them with the towel he was wearing.) We change diapers and wash clothes only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.  We cook elaborate meals only to have to get up from the table and clean the huge mess in the kitchen.  Whether you work or stay home, raising kids and caring for your family is a demanding job.

If you are like me though, from time to time, or even quite often you may find it hard to do these things without getting frustrated.

“Really? I just did your laundry yesterday! How could your hamper be full already, boys?”

“We were late for church again (or didn’t even go) because the baby had his third diaper blowout of the morning just as we were putting him in the car seat to leave.”

“How did you get peanut butter in your hair? We haven’t eaten peanut butter in 4 days!”

“You were just sitting on the potty for an hour. Why did you immediately come and pee on my bed?”

For me, personally it is always a pride issue in my heart.  Somewhere deep down some little voice is telling me I am somehow higher than all this mess.  But I am not.  That is a lie.

This is my joy.  This is all I ever wanted and more.  When I start to hear those little voices get louder (because they NEVER seem to go away), I have to remind myself of Jesus’ example.

He humbled himself to clean the filthy feet of grown men, even the one who was about to betray him and hand him over to those who would crucify him.   How easy it would have been to skip right past Judas’ feet or even wait until Judas was gone to do this act of service and love.  But he did it with love.

Here are 4 ways that we can look to Jesus’ teachings and learn from his example of love.

1. Jesus didn’t just command us how to live, he SHOWED us.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:15-17)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)

2.He showed us that following Him would not be easy or comfortable.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

3. He showed us that we would never be expected to do it on our own, for we cannot.

When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the word, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. (John 13:1-4)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15: 5-7)

4. He showed us that service is full of love, self- denying and sacrificial love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

It is a blessing to have these three beautiful children to care for and this home and this family to be my work day in and day out.  Even when it is dirty, frustrating, stinky, monotonous and tiring it is the work the Lord has called me to do and I am commanded to do it in love, forgetting myself and putting the needs of others above my own.

Do I always succeed in this? NO. I fall short. I fight the battle against pride in my heart from moment to moment.  But this I know:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

May we be encouraged by these truths and grow in love as we serve our families; abiding in Him.

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