What do you do when what is happening looks completely the opposite of what God has promised?

You believed He was a provider but to this day, you don’t have a baby.
You trusted His promise but up to now, you still didn’t get your promotion.
You prayed that things would get better, but things have gotten worse.

Abraham received his promise – Isaac. But he was going to face another test. In Genesis 22, God asked him to sacrifice his son on top of Mt. Moriah. There are 5 things I’d like to mention as lessons from this narrative.

1. Our faith is going to be tested through our obedience.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” – Genesis 22:1

Not very many love taking tests. Do you? I don’t. But tests reveal what we have learned.

There are tests that produce faith.
But there are tests that reveal faith.

When tests come, what does it reveal about you?

2. We can either reason on the basis of our circumstance or on the basis of God’s character.

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” – Genesis 22:5

“I and the boy will come again to you.”
What a faith statement!

But did he know God’s plan- that God wasn’t going to really make him do it?
I don’t think so.

But Hebrews 11:19 gives us a clue to what his through process was.
“He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

Abraham wrestled but came to a conclusion the night before. He logically concluded that God cannot lie. He made a promise (that he will be a father of many nations) and He will not turn back from that promise.

So he did not reason on the basis of his current circumstance but on the basis of the character of God – that He is faithful to fulfill His promise.

3. The promise given is as good as the Promise Giver.

Genesis 22:7. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When he resolved in his heart that God cannot lie and will not lie, he made this declaration: God will provide. He didn’t know how and he didn’t know when. But he was sure of it for some reason.

But since there is no one greater than God, He swore by His own authority and power. Genesis 22:16-17, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you.”

Because He is the ultimate authority and power, therefore, what He says, we can trust.

4. Obedience has to be immediate, persistent and ultimate.

Abraham woke up early.
He continued walking up the mountain with Isaac.
He drew the dagger when it was time.

His obedience was immediate, persistent and ultimate.

I love what John Calvin said, “We pay Him the highest honour, when, in affairs of perplexity, we nevertheless entirely acquiesce (yield) to his providence.”

5. God’s infinite provision is always greater than our finite problem.

Genesis 22:14. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Yahweh Yireh or the Lord will provide is a title given to God by Abraham. It does not only mean God being the One who supplies. Yahweh Yireh also means “God will see to it.” He will see to it that His plans and purposes will prevail in our lives.

Will it always be in the way we desire Him to provide? Will it be according to our timing or His? Not really. But one thing is for sure. He will see to it that what He has planned will be accomplished.

MY LIFE FEELS LIKE A WILDERNESS. WHAT DO I DO?

It seems like my life has become dry and lifeless.
I am not sure why I am in this situation.
I am hoping this doesn’t last for a long time.
I can’t feel God.
How can I get out of this?

While going through a wilderness situation, we often desire to get out of it. But is it possible that there are lessons God want us to teach while in the wilderness?

Hagar in Genesis 16 found herself in the desert. It wasn’t her fault that she was now a single mom. She felt abandoned, dismissed, and broken.

If you feel this way, there are a few takeaways I want us to learn from this narrative in Genesis 16.

1. God’s goodness far outweighs our personal brokenness.

It’s interesting that while in the desert, God still blessed Hagar. He promised that from her will come multitudes. God blesses her son exceedingly as Genesis 17:20 declares.

If you feel in a situation of brokenness, remember, God is still good. And He is still God.

2. Sometimes, it is in the arid wilderness that we find our genuine healing.

She was in a very difficult situation. But it was in the wilderness that she encountered God. Real and genuine healing comes as we meet God in the secret place; maybe even in the desert.

If you are in a dry, arid place today, never limit what God can do in those situations. He is a God who restores.

3. The most important thing to remember is that while we are in the wilderness, we are never alone.

Hagar experienced that. She understood what it meant to be abandoned by her master. But she also experienced what it meant to be near God. El Roi, the God who sees, revealed Himself to her.

French writer, Paul Claudel said, “Christ did not come to do away with suffering; He did not come to explain it; He came to fill it with His presence.”

May we encounter El Roi, the God who sees, even while we are in the wilderness. For truly, He doesn’t just see. He also cares for His children.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH IS A RESULT OF SOMEONE’S IRRESPONSIBILITY OR WRONG DOING

You lost your job because your direct report did not submit the project proposal on time.

You failed your subject because your group mate did not put in the work she should’ve.

You can’t claim inheritance because you just found out that your dad wasn’t really your dad.

Your boyfriend broke up with you because he fell for your best friend.

What do you do when what you’re going through was a result of someone’s irresponsibility or worse, wrong doing?

A garden variety of responses can come to surface which would include anger, revenge, bitterness, apathy.

In Genesis 16, we read the story of Hagar. She was Abram and Sarai’s servant. Because the couple was given a promise and it seemed like God was not fast enough in fulfilling His promise, they took matters in their own hands and thought of a way to make the promise happen – for Abram to have Hagar as a surrogate mom.

But this wasn’t God’s plan. He said in Genesis 15 that the heir was going to come from Abram and Sarai’s union. Somehow, they forgot what God said and made their own solution to the situation.

Painful experiences have a way of missing God or distorting what He said. The promise may have been taking some time but God’s delays are not necessarily His denials.

They may have gotten a baby (Ishmael) out of their solution but it wasn’t the plan of God. Whatever we attempt to do without God is going to be a miserable failure – or worse, a miserable success.

It caused a conflict in the household. Sarai felt miserable and all the more insecure because she couldn’t bear a child. Hagar felt contempt towards Sarai for whatever reason. Maybe because she felt superior because she was able to give Abram a child. But whatever the reason, the situation got ugly.

She was dealt with very harshly. She had to leave Abram’s household. She fled to the desert.

Out of the blue, she found herself without a home, without provision, without certainty about the future – and all these as a single mom.

She’s in this situation only because Sarai told Abram to do so. And she was only being submissive to her master and mistress. Now she’s in this dilemma.

Fortunately, God shows up in the desert and encounters Hagar. He gives a promise of blessing to Hagar.

As a result, Hagar makes a declaration – “You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13, NIV)

One of the names of God is El Roi which means the God who sees. And the word ‘to see’ is more than just being able to visually gaze but as a shepherd would watch over his sheep is how God, El Roi, sees and watches over His children.

1. Knowing that El Roi sees me, I can be secure under His protection.

Job 24:23 says, “He gives them security, and they are supported, and his eyes are upon their ways.”

2.  Knowing that El Roi sees me, I can have significance because I know He loves me.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

When a child sees his parents watches over him, he can feel the love. Similarly, we sense His love as He watches over us.

3. Knowing that El Roi sees me, I can be satisfied in His presence. 

Psalm 121:1-3 says, “1I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;”

He watches over you and me. Because of that, I can be assured of His presence over my life. He will never leave, forsake or abandon.

May we always be reminded that El Roi, the God who sees and watches over us is with us.

 

 

 

REASONS WHY WE CAN CONTINUE TO HOPE

Hope is such a precious commodity these days. As we live in unprecedented times, it is very easy to slip into hopelessness and eventually spiral down to helplessness.

In 1965, Martin Seligman “discovered” learned helplessness. He found that when animals are subjected to hard situations that they themselves cannot control, the eventually give up and stop trying to escape.

The Bible gives us reasons why we can continue to hope and not give up. There are so many but allow me to give you seven.

1. We can have hope because we will continue to see His goodness.

Psalm 27:13 (NIV). I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

God’s ways flow from His character. Because He is good, His ways are always going to be good.

2. We can hope because His goodness is abundant.

Psalm 31:19 (ESV). Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

His goodness abounds and it is unlimited. We can trust that His goodness is not just for a certain time but for all time. We are His children. Jesus said that if earthly fathers can give good gifts to their children, how much more our Heavenly Father.

 

3. We can have hope because what He started He will complete.

Philippians 1:6. NLT. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

What good work He began, He will complete. His power is never limited by any crisis or situation.

 

4. We can hope because He will fulfill His purpose in our lives.

Psalm 138:8a (ESV). The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Uncertainty brings a lot of insecurity. But in a time of uncertainty, there can be security! It can only be found in the Lord because He always… ALWAYS… has a purpose.

5. We can hope because He will guide us.

Psalm 32:8. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

This gives us so much hope. He will not just guide us along the best pathway. He will also watch over us. It is one thing to give instructions but it is another thing to know that He is with us through those pathways.

 

6. We can hope because the best is yet to come.

Proverbs 4:18 (NIV84). The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining every brighter till the full light of day.

We are righteous not because of our own merit but by the blood of Jesus alone. And because of that, we can claim that our path is like the first gleam of dawn. It starts like a flickering light but it gets brighter and brighter because we are with Him.

7. We can hope because He can work things out for our good and for His glory.

Romans 8:28. ESV. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

He knows the beginning and the end because He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. We can have this confidence that God doesn’t only sees all things but He knows all things. And this gives so much hope because we can trust in His plan – that He will work all things together for our good and ultimately for His glory.

BESIDES GOING TO HEAVEN, WHAT ELSE DID JESUS ACCOMPLISH FOR US?

When we don’t understand the worth of something, we don’t value it as much.

We’ve been given an incredible gift. The more we realize what we’ve received, the greater the appreciation we will have. The following are the 4 things Jesus accomplished for us through His sacrifice in Calvary.

1. PEACE WITH GOD.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The peace Paul speaks about is the fact of peace more than the feeling of peace. 

We were at enmity with God. We were at odds with God. Some may say, “I feel peaceful.” That’s true. But you may not necessarily be at peace with God. 

It’s like sitting on a lounge chair, drinking your mango shake on the deck of the Titanic. You feel good for now but the boat is about to sink. It’s a temporary illusion.

But when we come to faith in Christ, we are reconciled to the Father through Him. We now have peace with God.

The peace with God is the fact.
The peace of God is the feeling.

The peace with God is judicial.
The peace of God is experiential.

The peace with God is objective.
The peace of God is subjective.

2. PRIVILEGED ACCESS

Romans 5:2 says, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…”

Dr. Kenneth Wuest, a New Testament scholar, describes the word access as a person having the privilege of having an audience with the king because he has the right set of clothing.

You and I can’t enter the presence of the King of kings without the right clothing. Our personal clothing is like filthy rags (Is. 64:6). But thankfully, He has given us the robes of righteousness (Is. 61:10) when we surrendered our lives to Jesus. 

As a result, we have unlimited access to the Father through Jesus.

He has given us the keycard to keep going back to the presidential suite because of this privileged access. 

3. PERSPECTIVE OF THE FUTURE

Romans 5:2 says in the JB Philips translation, “Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future.”

We have a happy certainty of the glorious things God has for us. Hope is a confident expectancy and anticipation of that which we have yet to see.

When we see Him face to face, we will no longer be marred by sin, but freed from the corruption of our depravity and released from bondage of our sinful nature.

As Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic (paralazyed neck down) beautifully puts it,


“I still can hardly believe it. I, with shrivelled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees, and no feeling from the shoulders down, will one day have a new body, light, bright, and clothed in righteousness—powerful and dazzling. Can you imagine the hope this gives someone spinal-cord injured like me? Or someone who is cerebral palsied, brain-injured, or who has multiple sclerosis? Imagine the hope this gives someone who is manic-depressive. No other religion, no other philosophy promises new bodies, hearts, and minds. Only in the Gospel of Christ do hurting people find such incredible hope.”

4. PURPOSE TO OUR SUFFERING

Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

Was Paul out of his mind? Why would we rejoice when there’s suffering?

The only reason is when we understand that there is a purpose to the pain. We are averse to it. None of us wake up in the morning asking God for a painful day. When we’re going through suffering, our initial prayer is for God to take us out of it.

But Paul says that there is a purpose to the pain.

Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and You are our potter. All of us are the work of Your hand.”
 
Will you let your Father, the Potter, shape you?
Will you allow pain to shape us or break us?
 
Having a relationship with Christ is not an escape from trials but a guarantee that those trials have a purpose.
 
May we be reminded of these that Jesus accomplished in our salvation.

 

 

WHEN THE BATTLE IS LONG, GOD’S COMMAND IS TO BE STRONG.

We are in faith for a cure to COVID 19.
However, we are told that the vaccine could take about 18 months.
 
God sometimes takes us out of the storm.
But there are times God takes us through the storm.
 
Jesus healed Blind Bartimaeus.
But didn’t take Paul’s thorn out of his flesh.
But he did say “My grace is sufficient.’
 
But while we are in the midst of the storm, what do we do?
 
In Joshua 1:2-7, God was leading the Israelites into their promised land. Moses is dead. He was the one who led them through the desert for 40 years. Now Joshua, his assistant, has taken over as leader. They are facing giants in the land. It won’t be a quick take over. This took some time. There were miracles like the falling of the Jericho wall but there were still many lands and people groups to conquer.
 
We are in the middle of a pandemic and it seems like this may take some time.
 
In the midst of the battle, when it gets extended, what do we do?
 
When the battle is long, the command is to be strong.
 
How can we be strong in the midst of a battle?
 

1/ Hold on to God’s promises.

 
Joshua 1:3. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.
 
We need to be familiar with the promises God has given us as his children.
And then hide them in our hearts.
It will get us through the hardest of times.
 
I remember going to Baguio with my family as a kid. Those days, we still didn’t have TPLEX and SCTEX, our nice highways. Thus, it would take 8-9 hours to get there. But the promise my mom gave was that I would get choco flakes from Good Shepherd. That kept me enduring through the gruelling journey.
 

2/ Be confident of God’s presence. 

 
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.
 
One thing is for sure, because He is with me, I going to be okay.
In fact, no one or no thing will be able to stand before me… not even this pandemic.
HE. IS. WITH. ME.
 
Growing up in an all boys school, fist fights weren’t uncommon. Especially during basketball games, we would get into fights. But as long as I had Bien, my team mate and good friend with me, I was okay. He was strong and courageous. Magaling manindak.
 
But we have someone way bigger and stronger than a team mate.
We have the God of the universe by our side.
He is for us and not against us.
 

3/ Embrace God’s precepts.

Joshua 1:7. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
 
God has given us principles to live by.
Not because he is a cosmic killjoy.
He gave them so that we can live the full and abundant life he has prepared for us.
Sin will keep us from our destiny.
Disobedience will deter us from our purpose
But his Word will keep us aligned and calibrated that we may bring him glory.
 
As we study His word, it will do us well to obey his word.
We are commanded to obey His Word for our good and ultimately for His glory.
His Word is a light unto our path and a lamp unto our feet.
 
His word doesn’t just teach us but also trains us for war.
This is so critical especially when times like what we have come, we can stand our ground and keep moving forward until we get to the other side.
 
When the battle is long, the command is to be strong.
Strong in his promises.
Strong in his presence.
Strong in his precepts.

A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT WILL HISTORY SAY HOW THE CHURCH RESPONDED TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

Covid 19 will forever be remembered as a disease caused by a virus which led to a catastrophic event not just in China, but has spread throughout the globe. Hence, the Pandemic.

In 1918, more than a hundred years ago, a similar pandemic which lasted for almost 3 years, infected 500 million people. 

These pandemics have caused painful disruptions in the lives of thousands and millions of people – businesses closing down, stocks plummeting, companies losing money, families going hungry, and lives being taken away. 

In the midst of the crisis that we are facing today, where is the church? 

History has repeatedly shown how the church, the body of Christ or the people who follow and love God, has been an extension of His hands and feet. 

God has called us to be the salt and the light of the world.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

The goal is to bring honor and glory to God!

Even with the challenge of not meeting together in a particular place, God has brought our hearts together to continue to worship Him in the way we serve His people – by providing food to the needy, shelter to the frontliners, and prayer and comfort to the anxious and grieving. Through these, many will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as we continue to demonstrate and declare the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is more powerful and potent than the virus we are facing now. It does not only provide temporary relief or comfort, but offers hope of a fruitful life here on earth and a promise of eternal life.

Let us continue to spur one another in keeping the faith. The God that we worship, who created the Heavens and the Earth, neither slumbers not sleeps. He is in full control and will always be Sovereign above all. Let us fix our eyes on Him and continue to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as to what He wants us to do or say to the people around us – physically and online. How would God want us to respond in different situations we find ourselves in during this crisis?

A hundred years from now, this pandemic will be in the history books. 

What will history say about the church?

I love what Ptr Adam Mabry said from our Every Nation Boston Church, “I believe this is our best moment.”

Let’s embrace it, and let’s engage.

WHAT CAN WE DO WHEN WE FACE CRISIS?

With the continuous threat of a major outbreak of COVID-19, what can I do to respond?

Last week, during our Metro Manila pastors meeting, Pastor Gilbert Foliente encouraged us from God’s Word. Sharing from Genesis 41, he presented principles we can glean from when the people of God were also faced with a major crisis which at that time was famine.

External threats are beyond our control. Romans 8 describes to us that the “world groans.” There is going to be a new heaven and a new earth. But in the mean time, what can we do?

Egypt, during the time of Joseph, had the threat of famine. The Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret his dreams. What happened during that time gave us a template on how to respond when crisis hits.

1. TRUST GOD FULLY.

The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. (Genesis 41:32, NIV)

All that happens in God’s creation does not escape God’s attention. He is sovereign and He is in full control. This means that nothing takes Him by surprise.

Because of this, we can trust that though we may not know what the future holds, we do know Who holds it.

Psalm 33:11-12 says, “The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

2. LEAD CONFIDENTLY.

“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:33)

Every one of us are in some form of leadership capacity. We lead teams, families, units, corporations, organizations. At the very least, we lead ourselves. And as we lead, we can influence others positively.

Joseph was placed in charge over all of Egypt. And after that, he led with confidence knowing that it was God that was ultimately leading him. He wasn’t looking for a job. He was just there as a messenger. But God raised him up for His purposes.

In times of crisis, will we be the voice of faith or the voice of fear?
In times of trouble, will we be a beacon of hope or a source of unbelief?

Joseph trusted God to give him wisdom. We can do too.
Wisdom is being able to do the right thing at the right time.
Joseph had discernment.

And discernment is being able to distinguish between two options.
God has the ability to empower us with discernment to make the right decisions.

3. WORK IMMEDIATELY.

He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:46, NLT)

As soon as Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he worked instantaneously. He didn’t take his sweet time. He went for it right away.

When crisis hits and danger is immanent, we need to be decisive and work swiftly because it can mean life or death.

The famine during Joseph’s time wasn’t coming until 7 years after his appointment as Governor. But he went to work right away.

4. PREPARE THOROUGHLY.

He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:46, NLT)

As soon as Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, not only did he work immediately, he prepared thoroughly by inspecting the entire land of Egypt. He studied, learned, evaluated, surveyed, supervised, worked. He did all he can to prepare for the famine.

We will believe God for the best.

But we will also prepare for the worst case scenario.
The important thing is to stay connected to the Holy Spirit so that He can give us clear instructions for what we need to do.

At the end of the narrative, we see in Genesis 41:57 that “… all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.” In the midst of crisis, Joseph, who represented the people of God, became a blessing to the world.

As we encounter crises, whether current or future, we can trust God fully, lead confidently, work immediately and prepare thoroughly. And as we do, the people of God, the church can be a blessing to the rest of the world.

HOW CAN I RESPOND IN LIGHT OF THE COVID-19 CONCERNS?

There are a garden variety ways to react but God has given us ways to respond through His Word.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)

God has not given us a spirit of fear. In the midst of COVID-19 concerns, Christ followers (the church) can shine as light and serve as a preservative of faith like salt. This is not a time to move in fear but to move in faith because of what God has given us.

1. POWER

There is power available to us and that is the power of prayer. The God we serve is ALL MIGHTY. He is omnipotent. That means, He has the ability to arrest this virus whether supernaturally or medically.

That being said, Jesus declared in Matthew 18:19, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” We can agree in prayer and trust God for the results.

2. LOVE

Jesus tells us to love as we have been loved by Him (John 13:34). By His death in Calvary, He demonstrated the full extent of His love for us for all of eternity. Our sins have been forgiven and our eternal life has been secured.

Because of this love that we have received, we are now empowered to love others. We need to move in love.

Thus, there’s no room for xenophobia, apathy, neglect, malevolence or even detestation.

The early church conquered Rome through love in the midst of famine, pestilence and plague. They had no power, influence or wealth and yet through love, Christianity spread all over Rome.

3. SOUND MIND

Faith without works is dead. While we will continue to trust God through all these, we will move in wisdom. We have been given preventive measures by the World Health Organization. It will be wise to follow them. Following preventive measures does not mean there’s no faith. We have been given a sound mind to exercise wisdom in these times.

May we continue to move in faith not fear, love not malevolence and wisdom not neglect.

HOW CAN I LOVE WHEN MY OWN LOVE TANK IS EMPTY?

 

Generally, there are three kinds of love that we see and maybe even experience every day – unidirectional, transactional and unconditional.

Unidirectional is the kind where I will stay in the relationship and keep the friendship as long as I am receiving from the person I am with.

Transactional is more like a 50/50 proposition. As s/he gives, I, too, will give. As long as s/he is giving something and I have something to give, then we’re fine. But when we’re all out, we bail from the relationship.

Then there’s the unconditional kind of love. I will keep giving even if there is no expectation of being reciprocated. That kind of love is sacrificial and selfless.

But how can I keep giving when my own love tank is already empty? Fair question.

In John 13:34, Jesus said, “…love one another just as I have loved you.”

He gives not only a new standard – to love people but also a new source – His love for us. Self-love is not a bad thing as long as we understand that it is totally insufficient. Sometimes, we don’t even know how to fully love ourselves.

But Jesus gave and demonstrated the full extent of His love for us in Calvary (see Romans 5:8). As a result, we can draw from that unconditional, unending and unlimited supply of His love for us.

How did He love us, then? And how can we love others with the kind of love He loved us with?

1. SERVE

Matthew 20:28 says that “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus loved us by serving. He served by giving His life as a ransom. A ransom is to pay off to purchase someone’s freedom. We were enslaved to sin and through His death and resurrection, by faith in Him, we have been set free.

Application question: Who has God called me to serve even if that person has offended me? Remember, our sin is an offense towards God and yet He still served us.

2. SACRIFICE

Part of sacrifice is suffering for the benefit of others. 1 Peter 3:17-18 says, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.”

Because Jesus sacrificed for us by not repaying our offense with punishment but with grace, we are called to do the same.

1 Peter 3:7 (NIV) says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Application question: Who has God called me to not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but instead go the opposite spirit by blessing and doing good to them?

3. SEEK THE GOOD

God had every right to bring punishment. But instead of justice, He showed mercy and grace. He sought to do good for us through Christ. His desire is not just for us to have life eternal but also life abundant (see John 10:10).

Application Question: How can I seek the good of those I don’t necessarily agree with or even those that offended me?

We are told by Jesus, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Our love for people makes God visible to people. 1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

May God grant us grace this week to draw from His supply of unending, unlimited and unconditional love so that we can love others the way Jesus loved us.