December 2014

hollyMerry Christmas. Many of us are spending time with family and friends during the holidays. It’s difficult during these times to have stress-free relationships without God’s love in our hearts. On the other hand, when His love reigns, anxiety and strife that often accompany these times, won’t be given place. I have found that experiencing God’s love, grace and peace is the key.

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1

The Gift of Love…

Usually, we think of love as the fruit of the Spirit, which is accompanied by joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control – all overflowing from our hearts. 2 But without God’s gift of love through Jesus Christ, we would not know real love.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 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.” 3

Christmas is all about love. Simply, the Scriptures teach us that for us to love, we must first respond to God’s love. It may be difficult if we weren’t raised responding to parental love. As a result, we carry baggage from the past that creates strife during the holidays, which is all due to the lack of experiencing God’s love.

Responding to God’s Love…

I’ve known men and women who have been in spiritual, mental and emotional ruts for years, until they responded to God’s love. They have been molested, battered and abused, having the scars to show it. However, after experiencing God’s love, grace and forgiveness, they are able to overcome and move on by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” 4

It is well known that hurt people hurt people, but healed people heal people. That is what this outreach is all about, bringing healing to the people. Two thousand years ago, our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to provide healing to the world. All we must do is respond to what He did. Healing has already been accomplished at the cross when Jesus said “It is finished.” 5 All you must do is receive it, take hold of it and be healed today.

A Loving Relationship…

When the eyes of our understanding are opened to God’s amazing grace, our relationship with Him flourishes. Because of His love, He has provided salvation, healing, acceptance, righteousness, peace, provision, joy and much more. All these things are revealed by the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us.

“And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.” 6

As Christians, God lives in us, and we live in Him, which makes our relationship with God real. “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.” The apostle John continues by stating, “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 7 His love empowers our relationship with him and with one another.

Living in God’s Love…

A few minutes ago, I returned from a Christian 12-Step group focusing on Step 11, “…improving our conscious contact with God.” As we focused on God’s love, grace and acceptance, we broke up into four small groups of six men for more transparent sharing. By the end of the group, the Holy Spirit had ignited the group to go forth living in God’s love. His love freed us to walk in the Spirit.

“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” 8

My prayer is that we’ll live more like Jesus during our family gatherings this year and years to come. Otherwise, we’ll deeply regret it in the end. Remember, “We love each other because he loved us first.” 9

A Prayer for You…

Heavenly Father, I turn from trusting in myself and my own works for salvation. I confess that Jesus is my Lord. I believe in my heart that you raised Jesus from the dead, and I receive Your gift of salvation right now by faith. Thank You for revealing Your love and grace to me!

I recognize my need for Your power to understand Your Word and to live this new life. I desire to receive Your revelation knowledge. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. By faith, I receive Him right now. Thank You for baptizing me with the Holy Spirit. You are welcome in my life.

Scripture References (NLT):

1 1 Jn. 4:7,8
2 Gal. 5:22, 23
3 1 Jn. 4:9,10
4 1 Jn. 4:11,12
5 Jn. 19:30
6 1 Jn. 4:13-15
7 1 Jn. 4:16
8 1 Jn. 4:17
9 1 Jn. 4:19

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