The Gift of God

A guest post by Ronald F. Pounders

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

“Love is a beautiful thing.”

“Love is a physical attraction.”

“Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

“Love is something you show to people you like.”

The Bible agrees that love is a beautiful thing but says it is much more than just a feeling.

Love is a verb—it actively participates. Go to the Bible and seek all passages which refer to God’s love. They all have one thing in common—”God loved, so He gave” or “God so loved, so He did.”

This gives us a clue as to the meaning of love—it’s foremost characteristic is an active quality which evidences itself in giving to others, in pouring out its feelings in deeds of kindness.

Love is a way of living life to the fullest. Psychologists tell us that man has two basic needs: to love and to be loved.

God is love. Love is the very essence of His being.

Jesus is God’s love personified. Because He loves us, a relationship with Him is possible.

God loves us for ourselves. God loves unconditionally. God loves unselfishly. God loves us while we are still His enemy.

True love is reciprocal—the more you give, the more you get. Love in this way is difficult, however God rewards those who take up the challenge. He forgives our sins. He drives out our fears. He gives us greater strength to love.

We may be unable to meet everyone’s needs for love. We can meet the needs of a few and meet some of the needs of others:

“I am only one, but I am one.

I can’t do everything, but I can do something.

What I can do, I ought to do.

By the will of God — I will love

and lighten someone’s load.”

 

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Taking What Does Not Belong to You

A thought recently came to my mind. Though I do not remember exactly how it developed, I thought it was profound because I had never noted such a simple fact in over 24 years of living.

Every gospel account reveals that two criminals were crucified when Jesus was crucified (cf. Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:39ff; John 19:18). Furthermore, two of these accounts specifically indicate that these criminals were robbers (Matthew and Mark).

These two thieves were being put to death because of what they (probably) never claimed to have taken.

Jesus was being put to death because of what He (boldly) claimed to have given (John 10:28).

Have you considered His gift? Why would you not make the simple switch, and take it?

Why Jury Duty is Good for You

Imagine yourself on a jury. You are here to determine whether the claims of Jesus are true or not. Among all who could take the witness stand, to whom would you want to listen the most?

In John chapter five, Jesus is telling the Jews that there are at least five witnesses that verify who He claims to be (John 5:30-47, cf. 5:16).

Since the Jews did not believe Jesus was who He said He was (5:18), and since some today do not believe Jesus is who He says He is, He offered these five witnesses as support for His claims. They are:

  1. John the Baptist (5:33)
  2. The works (i.e. the signs) of the Father (5:36)
  3. The Father who sent [Jesus] (5:37)
  4. The Scriptures (5:39)
  5. Moses (5:45b-47)

I would encourage you to take a marking tool, and circle/underline/box all the references to ‘testimony’ and/or ‘bearing witness’ in this section. In my NASB, I have circled about 11 references to either of these two terms.

Considering these testimonies is important for five reasons:

  1. Jesus exercises just judgment (5:30)
  2. His word abides in those who believe in Him (5:38)
  3. You are given a choice to come to Jesus (5:40, cf. 5:25)
  4. You may have life (5:40)
  5. Your belief can be affected by peer pressure (5:44)

If you have not searched the Scriptures or considered the testimonies of Christ, will you not make the simple switch? Will you believe His words (5:47)? Who will you receive (5:43; cf. 1:11-12)?

A Man Who Can Speak to the Dead

I have occasionally entertained the thought of being able to communicate with my grandfather, who died before my parents were married. Recently I stumbled on this article. Even now, I am quite awestruck at some of eHow.com’s suggestions for communicating with the dead (e.g. pendulums, seances, trances, and more). What about you?

Can you relate to having similar thoughts? Was there someone in your life you wish you could talk to at this very moment? John talks about one man who can speak to the dead.

In John 5:17-29, you will find that the power of Jesus is outlined in seven descriptions:

1. The Son does what the Father does (5:19).

2. The Son does great works (5:20).

3. The Son gives (spiritual) life (5:21).

4. The Son judges (5:22).

5. The Son has life in Himself (5:26).

6. The Son executes judgment (5:27).

7. The Son will call the dead to life (5:25, 28).

These facts point to one important conclusion. Jesus has the power to grant both life and justice towards you.

Since Jesus can give both life and justice, you and I must decide to either obey God’s standards or live according to our own standards (5:29). John implies that listening to Him and obeying Him is a choice (5:23-25, 29).

Your choice should be done with the knowledge that a resurrection will take place–either to eternal, spiritual life–or to judgment (5:29).

In the end, Jesus gives life to whom He wishes (5:21). He wishes to give life to those who have decided to hear, believe, and obey (5:24, 29). Have you made this decision? If not, will you not make the simple switch? What will happen to you when you hear His voice (5:28)?

My Brother-in-Law is Better Than Yours

If I told you I had a lame brother-in-law, what would you think of my attitude? If you think my brother-in-law is a low-down, dirty, rotten, good-for-nothing kind of brother-in-law who still lives with his parents because he’s too lazy to get a job…you’d be wrong.

My brother-in-law is coming to town. Believe me, Santa Claus has nothing on this guy. Pete is a happy-go-lucky kinda guy, who basically travels the nation to encourage countless congregations. Pete is a man on four-wheel drive, and hardly any of us in the family can slow him down…quite literally, in fact. He spends most of his time in his wheelchair, because he has never taken a step before in his life. He is lame, but only in the physical sense. Let me ask you…do you know someone who is lame?

How would your life change if you had a child who would never be able to walk? My guess is that you may go to John chapter five to consider the lame man in John’s gospel.

John’s lesson for his readers, in John 5:1-18, is repeated numerous times. John displays that Jesus is the great healer. This is emphasized in at least seven verses in this context (5:6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15).

Why is this important? Jesus warned this man who was healed that there is a sickness that leads to something worse (5:14). This sickness is sin. When Jesus heals you from your sin, you can walk in a way you never have before (5:8-9).

If you notice very carefully in verses 6-8, you will see that Jesus asked the man a question. Clearly, being made well is a choice, correct? When this lame man made the choice to be made well, Jesus healed him. You too must decide if you want to be made well and decide if you want to do what Jesus tells you to do.

If you do not decide to be made well and/or do not decide to do what Jesus tells you to do, then you will remain sick. If you keep Jesus’ words, you will never see death (cf. 8:51).

In sum, Jesus can be your healer, no matter your age (5:5). That is, if you make the simple switch and choose to submit to His power and wisdom. What is your choice? Will you arise, take up your pallet, and walk?