Love Like Jesus — Magnify His Message: Luke 5:1-3

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

Luke 5:1-3


How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved people enough to find a way to magnify His message, so more could hear His words of eternal life.

The way Jesus did it was to sit in Simon’s boat, a little way off shore, so the water could carry the sound out to the crowd still on land. In that way He could reach more people than if He had remained on shore with the crowd pressing against Him.


How to Love Like Jesus

I remember when I started this blog a few years ago. For the first six months or so my numbers were unbelievably skinny — I’m talking anorexic. There was one month in particular when I averaged around 14 page views per day. Around that time I started asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” I thought to myself, “What’s the point of magnifying Christ’s message if no one is listening?” But then I prayed about it — and the Lord showed me a few things…

1) From the beginning, a few of my family members have read this blog. The Lord showed me, even if they were the only ones influenced for God’s kingdom, wasn’t that alone worth the time and effort? Do I love these family members? Do I care about them? If I do, then why wouldn’t I want them to be influenced to draw closer to Christ?

2) Even at 14 page views, even if only say 4 out of the 14 per day actually read through a blog post, after a year that’s more than 1,400 instances when God used me to influence someone for His kingdom! Isn’t that more fruit than I would have born had I not blogged at all?

3) Obedience. Regardless of what happens with the numbers, God’s Holy Spirit has directed me to write these blog posts, so I must do it.

4) What about me? Even if not a single soul read a single word on this blog, I can tell you, I’m blessed, I’m influenced, I’m transformed every time I write a blog post. Many times, I’m the one who needs to hear the message the most.

So don’t remain on shore. Prayerfully consider taking steps to magnify your ability to share Jesus’ words of eternal life. Even if it means only reaching a few more people than you reach now.

Of course if you have the gift to do so, you can speak publicly, with a PA system to reach more people with Jesus’ message. But if that’s not you’re thing, there’s good news. Today there’s a myriad of ways to magnify Christ’s message. You can tweet. You can start your own Youtube channel. You can share on Pinterest. You can share on Facebook or Google+. I even know a Christian lady who started her own radio program.

Or, you can start a blog. In fact, if you want to start a blog or write a book for the purpose of sharing Jesus, shoot me an email at kurt@kurtbennettbooks.com and I’ll be happy to help you.

The great commission given to us by Jesus wasn’t just for pastors, preachers, and priests. It was for all of His believers. “Follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men,” Jesus said. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Jesus commanded. (Matthew 4:19, Matthew 28:19-20)

So prayerfully consider expanding your capability to share Jesus’ message.

And if there’s anything I can do to help, please email me.

The Holy Spirit may be providing you with an opportunity right now.

Don’t wait.

Leave the shore.


Related Links:

Bible Gateway

Francis Chan: Simon Says

Sharing the Gospel

How to Start a Blog on WordPress


Notes

I realize some may not have much experience sharing Jesus Christ with others. So below I’ve included a few simple thoughts about evangelism I hope you’ll find helpful. I want to thank the people over at GodLife for their great resource on the topic: Sharing the Gospel.


Pray

Pray God will bring people to you, people you can lead to Christ. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you recognize opportunities and to give you the words to say. And pray for the people God has put in your life to come to know Jesus.


Love

Just showing people God’s love, even in small ways, can move people toward Christ. You know I’ve found family members to be among the hardest people to talk with about the Lord. I used to argue with them about God and I can tell you, nothing good came from those arguments. It took years, but after finally recognizing the futility of debating (I know, I’m a slow learner) I finally started to focus on looking for opportunities to show them God’s love. Within a few years two of them gave their lives to Jesus.


Ask Questions

Ask questions like these to move their mind toward the eternal:

What three words would you use to describe your life?

What do you think happens after we die?

Who or what is God to you?

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your desire to know God?

What do you know about Jesus?


Share

Share your own experience with Jesus.

Talk about what your life was like before Jesus was a part of it.

Talk about what your life has been like since you’ve asked Jesus in.

Look for opportunities to share your own story about how Jesus has changed you. For me, one on one encounters seem to work out best.


Pray

Ask them if they want to invite Jesus into their life and then ask them to pray with you. Pray along these lines: “Jesus, I am a sinner. I need You to be my savior. I accept the work You did for me on the cross when You paid for my sins. Please come into my life. I want to follow You, no matter what.”

Tell them there’s nothing special about the words in that prayer but the important thing is that they’ve opened up their heart and invited Jesus in.

Then help them find a Bible to read, and a church to attend.

I’m no evangelist believe me. But with God’s help, I have had the privilege of leading a few people to the Lord.

If I can do it, you can too.

Financial Feast and Famine: Genesis 47:12-13

To read the previous post on Genesis go to Becoming a Great Man or Woman of God.


Read Genesis 47:12-13

There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. –Genesis 47:13



Years of Plenty

Kathy and I were so excited. Mortgage interest rates were all the way down to the 6% range, and, if you were willing to accept an adjustable rate, you could get down into the 4s.

I remember saying the words to Kathy, “Money is on sale, we should borrow as much as we can.”

So we did.

We borrowed, and then we borrowed some more. I could hardly believe what our banker was telling us — he almost never said no. We bought real estate, then we bought some more real estate. And our properties appreciated, at a record setting pace.

We were experiencing the years of plenty.


Years of Famine

You might be surprised to learn, if I had a time machine and could go back to do it over again, I’d borrow as little as possible. Why? Because that was the world’s way, and not God’s way.

The world says, “Buy it! Buy it now and pay later! You want this. You need that. Just borrow and get it now.”

“You deserve it!” The world says.

Why does the world relentlessly hammer away with these messages, day after day after day? They do it because it makes them money! They do it because you believe their message, and act on it. They do it because the system is set up for the world to win, and for you to lose. The companies attempting to convince you to borrow want to make money — at your expense.

God, on the other hand, doesn’t need your money. All of your money is His money to begin with anyway. And while the scriptures don’t prohibit borrowing, God does portray it in a negative light. “…the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 tells us. Borrow and you’re a slave to the bank. Borrow and you’re a slave to the credit card company when they raise your interest rate. Borrow and your spirit is a slave to the weight of debt hanging over your head.

Your financial well being doesn’t come from your income, your net worth, or your financial portfolio anyway. Research shows, whatever your range of income, financial well being comes with consistent saving and an avoidance of borrowing and high risk investing. Many financial advisers tell their clients not to pay off their homes, even when they’re able to, so they can write off the interest. But people living with a great sense of financial well being tend to ignore this advice. It turns out (not surprisingly) managing your finances God’s way brings peace. (see Well Being by Rath and Harter)

In our text, in Egypt and Canaan, there was no food. The seven years of plenty are over and now Egypt and Canaan are experiencing the seven years of famine.

You know what? That’s how it always is. Always. No economy moves in a straight line. Every economy has its years of plenty and its years of famine. Any casual student of history knows that. And God’s word tells us how to manage our finances in a way that accounts for these economic ups and downs.

Joseph saved during the seven years of plenty. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down, Proverbs 21:20 tells us. Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer, we’re told in Proverbs 30:25.

So any time you have the opportunity to save, jump on it!

You can always anticipate a time of famine ahead.

Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children. (Genesis 47:12)

Manage your financial blessings according to God’s word — and you will too.

 

Notes:

Harvard researchers have determined credit cards provide a psychological uncoupling from the money we spend with them, which of course creates a tendency toward the accumulation of debt. But the current financial system also provides opportunity for saving. Automatic payroll deduction into a savings account also uncouples us psychologically. A short time after it’s in place, auto-deducted savings are out of sight and out of mind, and are more easily maintained. (Well Being, Rath and Harter)

Love Like Jesus–Go Deep: Mark 1:35-39

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Mark 1:35-39

How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved people by going somewhere. He went to nearby villages throughout Galilee, preaching and driving out demons.

But what about before that?

What did He do to prepare Himself — to preach and drive out demons?

 

Love Like Jesus

I confess, I’ve had many gods over my lifetime. For most of the time my kids were growing up my kids were my god, then when they left the nest my wife was my god, then tennis, then my real estate portfolio, then my job. Of course none of these things are evil in any way, but each had a place as the ultimate in my life, ahead of the God of Jesus.

Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. …his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

If everyone were looking for you, where would they find you?

Would they find you away from the house, in a solitary place, praying, or reading God’s scriptures?

Or would they find you with family, or on the golf course, or playing that online game you’re hooked on, or on Facebook, or watching football?

If people wouldn’t find you going deep in your relationship with God, in the way Jesus did, people won’t find you loving people like Jesus did either.

Think this through with me: If the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Messiah Himself carved out deep times with His God before serving Him, how much more do you and I need to?

A person will carve out time to spend with his God. The only question is: Who or what is your God?

What is it for you? Is it family, or golf, or that online game, or Twitter, or Facebook, or ESPN? Whatever your god is, I’m guessing you carve out time for it, right?

Or is your God the same God as Jesus’ God. The way to tell is to take an honest look at where your time is spent, where your energy goes, where your money winds up.

Your God is where you invest yourself.

To love people, Jesus first loved His God, by investing Himself in His God, in the morning, in a solitary place, One on One with Him.

Before you can love like Jesus, you must love God first, in the way Jesus did.

To love people like Jesus do what He did. Go to a solitary place, be alone with God, just you and He. Pray to Him, pray with Him, read His words written to you.

Then go and love people.

Try it.

You’ll be amazed at the difference.


Notes:

…Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)

Becoming a Great Man or Woman of God: Genesis 47:7-12

Read Genesis 47:7-12

Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

Genesis 47:10



Great Men of God:

He was intimidating. He was a bad to the bone long haired biker who loved to party. Skeeter Jackson was up to his eyes in the biker culture and I’m not talking about Bikers for Christ.

John Webb was a clean cut, responsible, hard working man. He was everything opposite of Skeeter Jackson. And Skeeter’s life represented everything John was opposed to. But in spite of that, John reached out to Skeeter. He did his best to gently show Skeeter Christ’s love.

In our text we see Jacob bless Pharoah. He blessed him even though Pharaoh was exceedingly different from Jacob culturally. He blessed him even though Pharaoh was different from him ethnically. He blessed Pharaoh even though he was different from Jacob religiously.

Billy Graham was like that. I recently read the book The Preacher and the Presidents. Over the course of his lifetime, Billy Graham had friendships with nearly every President of the United States, regardless of their politics or religious beliefs.

Jesus loved and blessed other people, without regard for who they were as well. Jesus blessed adulteresses, corrupt tax collectors, and prostitutes. He loved zealots and skeptics. He blessed Jews and Gentiles.

All great men and women of God seem to do that.

All great men and women of God seem to have that one thing in common: they have a way of loving people without regard for differences. And they consistently bless people regardless of how others view them.

 

The Rest of the Story:

Skeeter Jackson’s story didn’t end in the biker culture. As a result of John Webb’s tender overture on Jesus’ behalf, Skeeter made a decision for Christ. Immediately afterwards he lost his desire for alcohol and drugs. In a short time he turned his life around completely. Skeeter Jackson was a new man in Jesus.

Shortly thereafter, John became a firefighter. After awhile he encouraged the regenerated Skeeter to apply, and, with John’s help, Skeeter became a firefighter too.

A few years after that a skinny kid from Chicago became a firefighter for the same department there in the Rogue Valley, in Oregon. He was assigned to Skeeter’s crew, and, more than anyone else, Skeeter influenced him to give his life to Jesus Christ.

That skinny kid was me.

So love people who are different from yourself. Bless people who are shunned by others.

See people the way John saw Skeeter, the way Jacob saw Pharaoh. See people the way Jesus saw the prostitutes and the tax collectors.

See people the way God sees people.

Find and focus on the good in people then love them, and bless them.

Become a great man or woman of God.

 

Related Links:

Cerulean Sanctum

Insider Look at Christian Outreach to Sex Industry Employees on NotAshamedOfTheGospel.com

Love Like Jesus — God’s Will When You’re Suffering: Luke 4:28-29

Photo by Edward Lim, Creative Commons

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.

Luke 4:28-29

 

How Jesus Loved People:

Jesus was rejected. He was rejected in a way you or I will probably never have to experience. He had just read from the scroll of Isaiah, implying very strongly He was the One Isaiah was referring to. He had just told the Jews God miraculously provided for a Gentile widow, rather than a Jew, through Elijah. (see 1 Kings 17:8-16) And He had just told the Jews God miraculously healed a Gentile of leprosy, rather than a Jew, through Elisha. (see 2 Kings 5:1-14)

These things He said infuriated them. And the enraged mob left the synagogue en masse. They took Him to the edge of a cliff to throw Him off. (Luke 4:16-30)

I’ve never been rejected in that way. Have you? So how does Jesus respond to what can only be described as murderous hatred?

He does good. In John 4:46-54 we see Jesus, still in Galilee, not long after He had suffered at the hands of the Galileans, doing good. An official’s son lay sick, and Jesus healed him.

 

How to Love Like Jesus:

I lost all my followers, yesterday. What I experienced is not even remotely close to the rejection and suffering Jesus experienced, because I’m only talking about Twitter followers. I’m trying to figure out a way to reach the lost, on Twitter, and I made some sort of mistake in the process, so my account was suspended for it. And now I’m suffering (sort of).

Did you know the Bible tells you what God’s will is for you when you’re suffering? 1 Peter 2:15 tells us we’re to do good when we’re suffering.

To this you were called by God because Jesus, the One who saved you, set an example for you. (see 1 Peter 2:21-24) He did good and gained followers. He did more good and some followers rejected Him. He did more good and nearly all His followers rejected Him. He did even more good and they reviled Him. He did yet more good and they crucified Him.

So you might say, why would I do good? Jesus suffered at the hands of the Galileans and the religious leadership of His day and responded by doing good, and where did that get Him? He lost nearly all His followers, He was reviled, and He was crucified.

That’s true, but what happened in the end? What good was done — ultimately? The relatively few disciples who remained, turned the world upside down for Christ! The consistent good Jesus did while suffering at the hands of others resulted in an astounding bountiful crop for God’s kingdom. According to the Daily Mail, a British online newspaper, Jesus Christ has 2.2 billion followers today.

So how do you love like Jesus? Do good in response to suffering — even when you don’t feel like it, or perhaps, especially when you don’t feel like it.

And yes, you might do good and lose followers for it. You might be reviled for it. You might even be crucified for it. But it doesn’t matter, do good anyway.

Because it’s God’s will for you when you suffer.

Because you were called by God to respond this way.

Because ultimately it will bear abundant fruit.

Jesus loved people by consistently doing good in the face of rejection and suffering.

You can too.

 

References:

Bob Thornley teaching: 9/5/12

9/11 and the Coming Election: Genesis 47:1-6

Photo by 9/11 Photos, Creative Commons

To read the last post on Genesis, go to Ready to Die.

Read Genesis 47:1-6

Joseph’s family are now with him in Egypt, and while that’s good, he still has a big frog to swallow. He has to present some of his family members to Pharaoh and gain permission for them to settle in Egypt, in the land of Goshen.

So Joseph goes to Pharaoh and tells him his family is in Goshen. He chooses five of his brothers and he presents them to Pharaoh.

What’s your occupation? Pharaoh asks.

Your servants are shepherds just as our fathers were, they reply. And we’ve come to live here for awhile, because the famine is so bad in Canaan we have no pasture for our flocks. So please, let your servants settle in Goshen.

Pharaoh says to Joseph, Your father and your brothers can settle anywhere you like. Put them in the best part of Egypt. Let them live in Goshen. And if any of them have special talent with livestock, put them in charge of my herds.

Genesis 47:1-6

9/11

Today is the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. While I was still a firefighter I traveled to New York City, after the towers were attacked, with a group of Christian police officers, firefighters, and dispatchers to see what we could do to help. I spoke with many firefighters who experienced the loss of family and/or friends when the twin towers were taken down. (There were so many killed, very often firefighters had to choose between attending the funeral of a fellow firefighter who was family, or one who was a friend, because they were held at the same time) I attended funerals where Mayor Giuliani addressed the crowd. I spoke with forensics specialists who collected gruesome evidence at ground zero.

I’ve given this terrible tragedy a lot of thought over the last eleven years. And I’ve not just thought about 9/11, but I’ve also given considerable thought to our country’s leadership during that tragedy, and the leadership to come in the 2012 election.

I’ve come to a conclusion.

Egypt’s Tragedy

Egypt had a tragedy with the potential to kill more than we lost on 9/11. A seven year famine could have been devastating. However through God’s intervention with His servant Joseph, Pharaoh and Egypt escaped this famine relatively unscathed. But in spite of his success, can’t you just hear the criticisms that must have come from the people?

Pharaoh didn’t handle it right. He shouldn’t have given the best of the land to Israel and his family. He shouldn’t have given them positions of authority over Pharaoh’s flocks. That land and those job positions should have been given to Egyptians. This only happened because Joseph is so well connected.

The Coming Election

Just a few minutes ago I came across a video about how 9/11 was an inside job. How President Bush knew. How it was all a part of Bush’s effort to usher in the new world order. (I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, so I won’t dignify this video by posting a link)

The last few months of the presidential race, I’ve seen both sides meet out huge doses of negative campaigning.

On Twitter and Facebook I see my friends and family lambasting the opposition, either Republican or Democrat, Romney or Obama, depending on their political leanings.

But think this thing through with me — Remember back to that moment of optimism after “our guy” won the election? How’s that been working for us? After “our man” was in office for awhile, was there any appreciable difference? Time and time again when “our man” is in there, the real tangible changes made have been negligible. Many today maintain that the differences between the parties are rapidly narrowing. The reality is…

…putting your time and energy into politics won’t make a difference.

The Answer

In a democracy, where we elect our leadership, we will continue to get what we ask for. You and I and the rest of the voting population are responsible for who serves in political office. And the voting public seems to choose leadership that doesn’t change much, time and time again.

In a democracy, the voting population gets what they deserve — every time.

You know what? Pharaoh’s decisions concerning the famine, Israel, and Israel’s family weren’t made because of Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s decisions concerning the famine, Israel, and his family were all a part of God’s divine plan.

God is where the power is for change. So why invest your time and energy into a man?

Here’s my conclusion: Take all the time and energy you invest in the political process and reapportion it into prayer. Because here’s the real solution to effecting change in a democracy:

Revival.

Because after revival, the voting public will no longer put up with mediocre leadership. They’ll vote in better (not perfect but better) leaders into office. After revival, many of the country’s problems will be mitigated. We’ll see a reduction in corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, broken families, crime, etc. We’ll see these things improve because after revival more people will walk through life closer to Christ.

So stop bashing the other guy, whatever side you’re on, and start praying.

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival in your family, in your church, in your city, in your state, in your entire country.

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival in you.

God is where the power is for effecting change.

Pray.

Love Like Jesus — Reach Out: Luke 4:14-15

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

Luke 4:14-15

How Jesus Loved People

After an impromptu stay with the Samaritans for two days, Jesus continues on to Galilee. And as He travels, He teaches in the synagogues in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hear we see Jesus loving people by reaching out to them. He reached out to people by teaching them about God, by opening the scriptures to people, and by teaching them about Himself.

How to Love Like Jesus

Sarah Coiner is thirty-six years old, and she has cerebral palsey. Compared to the average person, there’s not much she can do. In fact, because of her condition, she can’t even feed herself. But amazingly, she doesn’t focus on what she can’t do. Sarah focuses on what she can do. And one of the things she can do is answer emails. These emails she responds to aren’t just any emails, they’re emails from people inquiring about God. So Sarah who can’t even feed herself is obeying Jesus’ commandment to “go and make disciples of all nations, …teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

You know, I don’t feel like I could ever reach out by teaching in a synagogue, or a church, or even a youth camp meeting. Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you’re shy, or maybe your talents lie in some other area: writing, or music, or carpentry, or sewing, or maybe you’re talented with technology.

Let’s just assume for a moment you’re right. Let’s say you can’t reach out through teaching in a church. So how then can you love like Jesus loved by reaching out to people?

There are some amazing ways to reach out to people today. And one of them is so easy and so simple, someone with cerebral palsy can do it. You just answer emails. That’s it. You just respond to emails. You see millions of people, lost people, type in searches for God or Jesus, and there are websites to provide these searchers with an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ. One example of this type of opportunity is with Global Media Outreach. They’re set up so people inquiring about God can do so with an email. And the results are exciting. Lives are being impacted for Christ by people like you doing what Sarah Coiner is doing. People are accepting Jesus as a result of someone like you just answering an email. In case you’re interested, you can learn more here.

So there may have been a time when someone who’s shy like me, or like you, could make a case for sitting out. But today, there’s nothing stopping us from diving in.

Jesus loved people by teaching them about Himself.

You can too.

Dive in and contact Global Media Outreach or a similar organization and just ask what they’re about. They can help you to obey Jesus’ commandment to “go and make disciples of all nations, …teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

You’ll be glad you did.

Ready to Die: Genesis 46:5-30

Image by Areta Ekarafi — Creative Commons

Read Genesis Chapter 46

To read the last post on Genesis go to Deeper Relationship With God.

Last post we saw Jacob draw close to God when he stopped to make a sacrifice to Him on his way down to Egypt. After he makes his sacrifice, God gives him direct confirmation, that he should go to Egypt and reunite with Joseph.

So Jacob loads up the carts Pharoah gave him, and he and his family, and his flocks and herds, and his entire household travel to Egypt.

When he arrives in Goshen of Egypt, Joseph takes his chariot out to meet his father. As soon as Joseph appears before him, he throws his arms around his father and weeps for a long time.

Then Israel says to Joseph, now I’m ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you’re still alive.

Genesis 46:5-30



Jesus and Joseph:

Again we see Jesus manifested in Joseph’s life. Israel’s reunion with Joseph after seeing him alive is a picture of the Father’s reunion with His Son Jesus, after Jesus rose from the dead.

Speaking of the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus said, “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)


Ready to Die:

We also see a dynamic illustrated here for you and for me.

By now you’ve probably heard about the famous Stanford University marshmallow experiment involving four year old kids. One at a time these kids were presented with one marshmallow, and then offered a deal: they could either eat the one marshmallow immediately, or, not eat the marshmallow while the researcher left for a few minutes. If they were willing to wait without eating the first marshmallow, until the researcher returned, they could have an additional marshmallow.

What’s typically discussed is how this experiment proved to be a powerful predictor of success in the adult lives of these subjects as they were followed closely into their forties. Those who were willing to delay gratification were far more likely to experience success in relationships, and in life in general. For instance, the SAT scores of those who waited for the second marshmallow were on average 210 points higher than those who didn’t wait.

But what’s not often discussed, is what the experimenters discovered in the later iterations of this experiment. When I think of delayed gratification, I think of will power. But what these researchers discovered was, the how behind the ability to delay gratification has little to do with willpower. But has much to do with focus. Those who were able to focus on something else, while waiting for gratification, were the ones who were successful at achieving their goal of attaining the second marshmallow, or, later in life, experiencing a successful marriage, earning a degree, or finding success in their career.

The lead researcher made what I thought was a very insightful statement: “We can’t control the world, but we can control how we think about it.” (Read more: Don’t! — NewYorker.com)

I think in today’s world where we’re inundated with news, information, and entertainment, this idea of focus is more important than ever.

You see, our own selfish nature is like that first marshmallow. You just can’t resist it. Trying to use will power to prevail against your selfishness just doesn’t work. Like the kids who were successful in the experiment, the secret to success where selfishness is concerned lies with focus.

When Israel saw Joseph alive, or to put it another way, it was when he turned his focus on Joseph alive, that he said, “Now I am ready to die.” (v. 30)

It’s the same for you and it’s the same for me. When we focus on our greater than Joseph, Jesus, when we focus on Jesus alive, something important happens to us. When Jesus becomes alive to me, like Israel, I become ready to die. I become ready to die to my selfish desires. When Jesus becomes alive to you, you become ready to die to yourself, in a way that elevates God and people above yourself. When Jesus becomes alive to us, we become ready to release our selfishness and put others before ourselves.

You might be asking, How? How do I turn my focus on Jesus alive? The answer is found in  prayer. Our focus turns to Jesus’ aliveness, when we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Him to us.

So before you read His word,

before you pray,

before you sing His praises,

before you take communion…

…ask.

Ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon you,

that you will see Jesus,

alive,

in your life.

Love Like Jesus — Living Water and the Fluid Life: John 4:40

time management Love Like Jesus…when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. John 4:40


How Jesus Loved People

Jesus was on his way to Galilee when He encountered the woman at the well. It should have been just a short break for water and maybe a little food before continuing on to His destination, but that’s not how it worked out.

His Holy Spirit led conversation there at the well, led to the people of that Samaritan town to urge Him to stay. So, He did. For two days Jesus shared the words of eternal life with the Samaritan townspeople.

How to Love Like Jesus —  Living Water and the Fluid Life

I love the way Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as living water because when we’re led by the Holy Spirit, our lives often become fluid. (John 7:37-39)

I used to live a life that was just the opposite. I was scheduled to the hilt. I scheduled activity after activity, meeting after meeting, appointment after appointment, both professionally and personally. My motivation was sincere. I wanted to be as productive as possible. But you know what? I left no room for the Holy Spirit to direct my life. How could He? I didn’t have a minute to spare.

Over scheduling yourself is a great way to kill the Holy Spirit’s influence in your life, and His corresponding fruit, which is love.

Jesus didn’t live that way. Here He is, the most important person on the planet, on a trip to Galilee, and, following the direction of the Holy Spirit, He takes two whole days out of His schedule to talk with the Samaritans.

Can you imagine someone important today, say a candidate for president, spontaneously taking two days out of his schedule to talk to one small group of ordinary people? It would never happen. Most people I observe in our culture today don’t leave room to live a fluid, Spirit filled life. They like to keep busy. They have things to do. And when the Holy Spirit presents opportunity, they usually don’t respond, because there’s nearly always a previous commitment. Stop and talk with the lonely awkward guy at church? Can’t, gotta lunch date right after. Share the Lord with the newly divorced guy at work? Can’t, gotta make softball practice. Invite the unsaved friend to Bible study? Can’t, too much already going on that day. This doesn’t describe a life led by the Holy Spirit.

A life led by the Holy Spirit is a life that’s flexible, free, and fluid. When you choose to live such a life, you’re in for both good news, and bad.

 The Good News

The good news is, if you live this flexible life, you can love people like Jesus did. Availability, flexibility, fluidity translates into opportunity for the Holy Spirit to direct you to love people. To love people like Jesus loved people.

The Bad News

The bad news is, some people don’t deal well with spontaneity. When you live this way, you’ll be misunderstood. Some will say you lack discipline. Some will even think you’re flaky. Some will become upset with you. That can be tough to take. Especially when some of those people are people you care about. Some might come from your church. Some might even come from your own family. It’s absolutely essential you respond to those people in love. And I think the more intimate time you spend with God, in His word, and in prayer, the better you’ll handle those who misunderstand your Spirit led life.

In the end though, it’s worth it. Yes you’ll come under criticism for what some will perceive to be a disregard for structure, but the fruit that’s born makes it all worth it. Look what happened when Jesus loved this way, many of the Samaritans from that town believed.

So to love like Jesus, live a life that’s flexible, free, and fluid.

Jesus did.

You can too.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:14