Love and Hurts
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another.”
1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, rebellion, gossip, are all based on a lie—they promise good but only deliver bad. The person walking in the flesh is delighted when something bad happens to another. “Good job”, he might say. He might take advantage of someone else’s misfortune to advance his own cause. He might spread dissension amongst friends under the guise of a prayer need. He might decide that he could do the job better and put down the person who is currently doing the job.
On the other hand when we walk in the Spirit we love only what is right—the truth. We are not smug. We remember that we too once disobeyed God. We only examine the fruit and do not make up a reason why somebody acted the way they did. We rejoice when anyone is honoured and respected among people and are not jealous of them. We commend goodness. We exercise self-control and do not speak out until we have first taken our concerns to God. We seek wise counsel. We assume the best first and not the worst. We do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth.
Read Psalm 19:14. How much of your heart is directed to what is acceptable in God’s sight? What happens if your heart is directed this way (Proverbs 3:3–4)?
The Nike ad says, “Just do it”. God says, “Don’t do it!”
Don’t think or do what you know is against God’s word. Don’t give into temptation. Dr. Charles Stanley, the President of In Touch Ministries, teaches the halt principle. We are more likely to give into temptation when we are:
Make a note to yourself and keep referring to it during the day for the next week:
• I will remember to halt
• I will only examine fruit
• I will rejoice in honour
• I will commend goodness
• I will exercise self-control
• I will hold my tongue and seek god first
• I will not act or speak unless I have clear direction to do so
• I will seek wise counsel
• I will assume the best first
• I will make sure my actions line up with the Bible
• I will rejoice in the truth
Love and Hurts
“Above all things, have fervent love for one another, for ‘love covers over a multitude of sins’”.
—1 Peter 4:8
Genesis 50:15–21, “When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”
Love that always trusts starts with a good opinion unless proved wrong on extremely good evidence. When we trust, we believe in someone and are committed to them. We believe that what they have done was done with good motives. We believe that they intended no hurt or harm. We believe that what they have done has been done in the spirit of our friendship. Trust does not fail because of things we have heard. Maybe someone really has let you down. At that point love says, “I am going to hope for this person. I am going to find something good about them. I am going to pray for them and ask God to bless them”.
Love does not desert someone at a time when they need our prayers and our help. How many times do we have to put up with this person letting us down? Jesus said up to seventy times seven, which in Biblical terms means an unlimited number of times. God has forgiven us the biggest debt we can ever imagine—do we dare to refuse to forgive others for a minor offence? Trust ultimately believes that God can bring about change because nothing is impossible for Him.
Name the two tests of true Christianity (1 John 2:3–6).
If we are keeping God’s word, the love of God is being perfected in us. God’s love is trustworthy in every situation. He is always faithful.
The agony of our pain and disappointment in others can sometimes be too painful for us to bear. God knows this, which is exactly why He wants us to cry out to Him, trust Him with our burdens and have them lifted. If this is something you are identifying with right now, we want to encourage you to trust God with your pain or disappointment.
Lord, I name the problem I am going through right now:
I cast the burden I feel as a result of this problem onto You and ask that You care for it. Help me to trust You with this issue. Take any frustration and anger I feel. This problem is too great for me to handle on my own. Help me to wait on You in patience for Your perfect will to be worked out. You promise to work everything out for my good and I ask that You give me the strength, hope and love to get through this. Lord I want to pray for the person who has let me down in this situation. Help me to have hope for them and show me the good. Help me to love them as You want me to and bless them with your love.
Love and Hurts
“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving–kindness I have drawn you’”.
Deuteronomy 31:6–8, ““Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”” Joshua 1:5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”
I remember a particularly trying time in my life when I cried out to God, “Why Lord? Why did you let this happen? Why have you forsaken me?” In that moment I realised that I had just spoken the very words Jesus spoke as He hung dying on the cross. Almost instantly I felt the presence of God draw near to me. I had cried out to Him and acknowledged my anger and He had heard. He knew I was in pain. He knew that I was suffering. He knew that I was in the depth of agony. He gently spoke to me, “My child, I will never leave you or forsake you”.
It was then that I realised Jesus was not utterly forsaken on the cross and perhaps He had uttered those words so that when we too utter them in the depth of our pain, we would realise that Jesus was not forsaken. God had a much bigger and better plan than what Jesus was able to see when the only thing He could focus on was the pain. God’s plan was much bigger and much better.
God’s actions are always motivated by love. What purpose does God have for allowing us to feel forsaken (James 1:2–4 & 12)?
A life lived without God’s love will be one that continues to fight feelings of anger, frustration, loneliness, defeat and self-righteousness. A life lived with God’s love and trust in Him will provide peace.
God knows every intimate detail about you already—nothing is hidden from Him. Call out to Him right now with any pain or anger you are bearing. If you are feeling alone and forsaken, cry out to Him. Confess your sin and cast your anxiety on Him.
A Psalm of David
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
Love and Hurts
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
John 15:7–8, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:5, “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.”
Back on the very first day of this devotional we looked at the importance of abiding in Jesus. Note from today’s verse that Jesus said if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, we will ask what we desire and it shall be done for us. The very first words that Jesus uttered as He began His public ministry were, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4). All scripture is given by God’s inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16). The only weapon we have to stand against the wiles of the devil is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Job treasured the Word of God more than his necessary food (Job 23:12). The Psalms are full of the exceedingly great importance of the Word of God (Psalm 119). Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing. We have already learnt that without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). No Jesus and no love equals nothing. Our relationship with God should be the most important thing in our life, our top priority, our exceedingly great treasure. By seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first, we will not have to worry about the things we need, but all these things will be added to us (Matthew 6:33). How? If we abide in Jesus (through prayer and obedience) and His Word abides in us.
Read Luke 9:23–26 and 1 John 2:3–6. Is there anything that you are treasuring more than obedience to God—spouse, children, parents, things, lust, power, money or your desire to be right?
The extent to which we value our relationship with God is clearly seen in our obedience and our love for others.
Every action God takes is an expression of His love because He is Love. Make a list of all the times that God has extended grace to you—that is, all the times you broke His commandments then humbled yourself and were forgiven. If you are anything like me, it will be a pretty big list. Try to name a few of the really big ones. Think about the compassion that was extended towards you each of the times you have listed. Think of ways you can extend that same compassion towards others even while they are still hurting you.
Love and Hurts
“For His anger is but for a moment, His favour is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”
On Wednesday this week we looked at Psalm 37. If we examine verse 7 we see that God desires us to rest in Him and wait patiently for Him. Joseph is an incredible role model when it comes to waiting on God. He was hated by his brothers and placed into a dark pit—he waited on God to deliver him from death. He was sold into slavery—he waited on God to deliver him into the hands of a kind master. He was wrongfully imprisoned—he waited on God to deliver him out of prison. He was separated from his family—he waited on God to restore their relationship. Joseph never lost faith despite being a lone Jew in the midst of an idolatrous nation. He kept himself pure so that he was not corrupted by their ways. He sought peace with all he encountered. He continued to hope.
Time heals pain. Time gives opportunity to increase knowledge. Time allows God to work everything together for good. Time with God comforts us. Time brings peace. Time allows hope to work. The key to allowing God to work over time is not to base our trust or feelings on the results we see. We don’t know His timing and we need to trust Him, not take back what we have given Him to handle. In all likelihood we will mess up His perfectly good plan.
Read 1 Peter 3:8–12. List the actions that God desires from you in your suffering.
Praying and then sleeping on a problem overnight will diffuse anger and give a fresh perspective.
Do you have a problem with someone that you have not managed to resolve? Have you been reacting instead of waiting for God’s timing and delivery? Look at the list you made under the Looking Up question today.
Write beside each word the way that you have been reacting. Pray through each behaviour and ask God to show you how you can respond differently in practice.
The actions God desires in suffering (1 Peter 3:8–12):
The way I’ve been reacting:
Love and Hurts
“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’”.
James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Matthew 15:8, “This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
St Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”. We will not find satisfaction while we dwell on our complaints or our self-pity. We will only find rest in the love of God. We know that love is a self-sacrificing love. When we are in our deepest despair, we need to call out to Him with a pure heart and He will hear us. We need to stop! Stop dwelling on our problem, stop discussing it with others and stop moaning about the people or the problem concerned. Stop saying that God is not interested in our problem. Stop blaming God for the problem. Stop saying that the problem has to be cared for before we can draw near to God.
All these excuses tell God that He is not powerful enough to deal with the problem. That is idolatry. Idolatry prevents us from enjoying fellowship with God as well as bringing fear, guilt, loneliness and double-mindedness. Instead of drawing near to God we are following after our own hearts. What we need to do is have a heart like Jesus. How? It starts with our thoughts, moves to our hearts, comes out of our mouths and is seen in our actions.
Our Saviour loves us with an indescribable, incomparable love. He wants to heal our pain and help us to experience the joy of our salvation.
Pride is one of the most destructive vices. What did Jesus mean by “deny himself, and take up His cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34)?
We need to completely empty ourselves of self-pity, put on self-sacrifice and imitate Jesus.
Give up self-pity for Lent. Here are some ideas of how to be prepared:
• When you feel yourself slipping into self-pity or moan mode, immediately go to God in prayer.
• Take your thoughts captive for Christ and focus on something good instead.
• Have another Christian friend pray with you about pride. Use the time for prayer not for discussion of the problem.
• Find a Psalm to pray through that will help during painful times (e.g. Psalm 40, 42, 51, 57, 61, 91, 142).
• Find out what the Bible says about the issue.
• Play your favourite praise music.
• Find a book of prayers based on Scripture that you can use for just such a time as this. Stormie Omartian has written a number of such books.