3/28/06

Encouragement for Today

 

“The Driving Force of Love”

Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries         

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/speaker_lysa.htm

 

Key Verse:

Genesis 29:20, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” (NIV)

 

Devotion:

Have you ever been so crazy in love with someone that you were willing to do anything, at any cost, enduring any hardship to make it happen?  I’m sure many of us could say that our husbands were worth this kind of persistence (and hopefully still are).  But could we say that about our relationship with Jesus?

 

One of my favorite love stories in the Bible is that of Jacob and Rachel.  Jacob’s love for Rachel gave him purpose and perspective which led to amazing persistence even when he was continually denied his right to marry her.  He served Rachel’s father for many years to become her husband because he loved her so much. And the best part is that it never bothered him how difficult it would be to finally win her, because he was willing to do whatever it would take.  I think this story can paint a great picture for us as we press on in our journey heavenward. 

 

If we dig into Scripture, I believe we will find that love is and should be the driving force behind the Christian life.  In fact, Jesus made it clear when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 23:37-40, NIV).  In other words, the entire Law of God is summed up in relation to love.  Just think about it:  Do not kill (love your neighbor).  Do not worship idols (love God).  Do not commit adultery (love your neighbor).  All sin breaks the bonds of love in some way – be it against God or someone else.

 

Now that we see love is necessary to please God, let’s take it a step further and ask ourselves how it will spur us on in the mission that God has set before us to reach the lost.  First, if we do not love God with all of our hearts, we will never have the persistence to walk in faith during the trials that are sure to come.  When we love, it allows us to trust.  If we don’t love God, how can we trust that He will see us through?

 

Second, if we’re not committed to loving one another, we can’t have the purpose needed to fulfill The Great Commission Jesus gave his disciples – to preach the Gospel to all peoples.  Until we have an aching heart for the lost that is truly born out of love, we won’t be able to put aside our own agendas for purposeful opportunities necessary to make that happen.

 

Do you see what love can do for our pursuit of the Kingdom of God?  A real sign of spiritual maturity is when we begin to look to God not for comfort and convenience, but for purpose and perspective.  With these we can persevere through potential difficulties and setbacks along the way.  We can see hope in what may seem like fruitless years of spiritual labor for the lost – either in sharing the Gospel or simply praying for someone. 

 

Like Jacob, a persistent person looks to handle the challenges of the Christian life in a way that honors God and allows personal spiritual growth.  The prize may take years to win, but it will be well worth the effort.  The inheritance is matchless and untouchable.  Because we love God, we look for and trust in His purpose for everything.  When you are crazy in love with someone, you’ll do anything for them – and do it with the highest level of sheer joy.  I want to be so crazy in love with Jesus that not only do I serve Him unreservedly, but do it with absolute delight and great expectation!

 

My Prayer for Today:

Heavenly Father, I pray that You would convict me if I have fallen short in my ability to love You or others with all my heart.  I know that many times it seems like my labor is in vain, so I ask You to give me perspective and remind me that my inheritance is not of this world.  Drive me to passionate love for both the admirable and difficult people around me.  Help me to see them with Your eyes of unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.   

 

Application Steps:

One of the best things that we can do is be intentional about our relationships with those around us.  If you know for sure that someone doesn’t know Christ, actively do the following:

 

  1. Pray and ask God to cultivate a deep passion for Him first and foremost.
  2. Pray and ask God to cultivate a sincere burden for the person you have in mind.
  3. Be proactive and initiate time with that person – even if it’s only brief conversation or a casual encounter.
  4. Before meeting with the individual think, pray, and write out a list of possible questions to ask them.  Doing this with help you to carry the conversation and potentially open up a door to share Christ with them.  Remember, you want to maximize the time you get with them to the fullest.
  5. If they do not seem open or receptive to what you have to say, be persistent!  Don’t give up.  You can live out a life of love in front of them that just may speak much louder than your words ever did.  Even if God prompts you to deliver a random act of kindness, be obedient.  You just never know what He is up to!

 

Reflection Points:

  1. When was the last time you wept for a lost person?
  2. What steps did you take to remedy the ache you felt?  Did you run from it?  Did you pursue them? 
  3. What was the outcome?

 

Power Verses:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (NIV)

 

Hebrews 13:1-3, “Keep on loving each other as brothers.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.  Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (NIV)

 

Luke 12:32-34, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV)

 

Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship god acceptably with reverence and awe.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_radicallyObedient.htm

 

Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldridge

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_captivating.htm

 

Living Life on Purpose, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_livingLife.htm