Happy Labor Day! Early in my Christian life, I worked hard to love God with all my heart as commanded, but I was going about it all wrong. It wasn’t until I began to realize his love for me, that my love for Him grew amazingly.
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins… we love each other because he loved us first.” 1
A Laboring Response…
Lea wrote from Scotland in response to my card inquiring about her condition.
“It was really nice for you to check up on me by sending a card. It’s great that God put me on your mind, because I’ve struggled with depression and nightmares for the past few weeks. It’s a good sign from God that you wrote me.
“I’ve been following a Bible plan, reading by Bible quotes book, and a Children’s Picture Bible that I got at a local church sale for 50 pence. Again, thanks so much for writing me, which really made my day. It was an answer to prayer to know that God is listening to me.
“I’ll start reading the Scriptures listed in “The Blood of Jesus” brochure you sent. “My Behavioral Exchange” really spoke to me, because I drank, took drugs and was desperate for love, leading to promiscuity. I felt rejected when men didn’t stay with me. My desperation for love and acceptance got me involved with the wrong crowd, and my life became a mess.
“When I went to church at age 21, I gave up alcohol, drugs, and smoking. The Lord really helped by saving me, for which I am so very thankful. I am 17 years sober, except a couple of years between 21-25, where I struggled with addiction. It was worse because I didn’t know I also had a mental health issue, which was really a bad mix of alcohol and drugs.
“I know God is real because I haven’t been suicidal for over 22 years. I slit my wrists on many occasions. I was run over by a car at 16, and at 17, after injecting insulin, I was in a coma for four days. So, there must be a God, right? Obviously, He meant for me to live and be happy helping others.
“Again, thank you for your prayers for me and my family. I greatly appreciate it, and thanks for the friendship. It means a whole lot. Your friend, Lea, Scotland, U.K..”
A Laboring Life…
After reading Lea’s testimony, it’s easy to see God’s hand in her life. I’m sure many of you can identify with her, yielding to the enemy of your soul (thoughts, choices and emotions), and causing much pain for yourself and others. “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” 2
It's laboring to look back over a painful life, be truthful about our sins, and be transformed like Lea. Laboring means “to exert one’s powers of mind or body, especially with painful or strenuous efforts.” Some just called it “work,” but be assured, salvation is solely a work of God’s grace in our lives. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” 3
A Laboring God…
I have often said that The Holy Bible is God’s love story, revealing His love at work in the hearts of men and women. We see mankind trying to work out its own plans with utter failure. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” 4 We make the same foolish mistakes as those we read about in The Bible, but God is always present to rescue us from our painful consequences when we turn to Him in faith. Slowly, we wake up to His labor of love and that we were meant to be “…God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” 5
We were in the mind of God even before he made the world. During creation, He created everything we’d ever need for all eternity, leaving nothing missing, nor broken. The apostle Paul calls it Spiritual blessings, saying “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” 6
A Laboring Jesus…
It’s important to realize that Jesus did all the work for our salvation, so we’re not tempted to work for it. “He [God] is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” 7 I’d suggest The Blood of Jesus Chart that Lea mentioned: 1) Meditate the blood scriptures, 2) Recognize that you are bought with a price and brought into the presence of God, 3) Confess each scripture with your mouth daily, and God’s glory and presence will follow, 4) Pray from your throne room position in the Name of Jesus Christ, and 5) Praise God with the revelation of being seated with Christ in heavenly places because of the blood of Jesus. His blood “…cleanses us from all sin.” 8 Jesus said,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 9
This practice may seem labor-intensive, but I assure you that entering into the throne-room rest of God by faith in Jesus’ blood will enhance your relationship with Him. At first, it will take diligence, but in no time, by confessing the blood of Jesus, His presence will flood your soul as the forces of darkness surrender, “And they overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” 10
Lastly, “When the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” 11
A Prayer for You…
Jesus, thank you for forgiving my sins and saving me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. I rejoice that Your resurrection from the dead shows Your complete victory over sin and death – making me holy and acceptable in God’s sight. Thank You for providing the way for me to have a relationship with my heavenly Father and eternal life. Thank You for hearing my prayers and sending Your Holy Spirit to heal me in areas where I have been wounded, and my emotions have been damaged. Thanks for the strength and wisdom to walk in the center of Your will now and forevermore. In Your holy and precious name I pray, Lord Jesus, Amen.
Scripture References (NLT):
1) 1 John 4:10,19
2) Eph. 2:4,5
3) Eph. 2:8,9
4) Pro. 14:12
5) Eph. 2:10
6) Eph. 1:3-6
7) Eph. 1:7
8) 1 John 1:7
9) Matt. 10:28-30 NKJV
10) Rev. 12:11, NKJV
11) Titus 3:4-7