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“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly…” ~ Colossians 3:16

In Deed and in Truth

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This week as I’ve read from 1 John through the #SheReadsTruth reading plan, I am yet again reflecting on what it means to truly love. Mostly the way I understand true love is in the way I love my children. It is not always a selfless love, but it is a love that seeks their good, that desperately wants them to do right, that never gives up, that forgives, that teaches and admonishes them, that sacrifices for their needs but doesn’t indulge them. So when I think about my brothers and sisters, I try to think of loving them the way I would love my kids. It is a love that requires relationship and trust. It is a love that requires proximity and investment. It is a love that requires consideration and care. It is also a love that requires righteousness.

Love is filled with goodness and rightness with God. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” He is faithful and just to lead us into righteousness–and we will have fellowship with one another. We will be purified from [our] dead works to serve the living God.

As I strive to love my husband and my children and my church family well, I often forget that a love that honors God in deed and in truth, asks me to honor God first in my heart. I cannot expect to open my hand to my needy brother if there is greed in my heart. I cannot expect to mourn with the grieving mother if I have judgement in my heart. I cannot expect to reconcile with my church if I have bitterness in my heart. Let us be cleansed from all sin as we walk in light and in truth. Let us not be overcome by the darkness, as it is already defeated. Let us love with our actions and be sincere in them. There’s no need to fake it til we make it–we need only let God’s truth wash over us and ask for the strength to confess the hurt, the unforgiveness, the anger, the distrust in our hearts and be made new. He is able to do more than we can imagine.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

What are you learning this week from your time in 1 John? Are you enjoying the reading plan? We would love to hear from you as we read through these letters together!

Dwell

 

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Sometimes when God has something to show you He brings it to you from many different places. He recently did that to me with two little verses. I’m sure I had read them a million times, but something struck me and gave me pause as I slid over them this spring. Then I began seeing them in other places and they started digging deeper and deeper into my heart.

Before we began planning for the ministry year, Brandi asked if anyone had a verse they thought would be a good theme verse for the year. I instantly thought of my verses, but before I got around to responding someone suggested we ask Grace to help us choose. Knowing she would have the perfect choice (and really, who’s going to make a suggestion after that), I tucked my verses away for another day. Weeks later we were at a planning meeting and Kathy asked if we were going to go with Grace’s selection of Colossians 3:16-17. I wasn’t really sure what it was because I am horrible with references. So I had no clue what it would be when she started reading. I couldn’t believe it when it hit my ears and it was the same verses! I tried to convey the utter supernatural working of this miracle to the ladies in the room, but the enormity of it seemed to be lost on them. They had apparently never met my friend, the Holy Spirit.

The thing that struck me the most was the intimacy of a God who cares enough to give us a path, even in a verse. He is still moving among us. Even when we’re struggling. Even when moving forward feels like running through mud. He whispers a way. He nudges our hearts.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossian 3:16-17

I love these verses. So many things about them. But I really love them when you back up and start with verse 12.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossian 3:12-15

How do we dwell together? Especially if we’ve been so apart? Compassionate hearts. Kindness. Humility. Meekness. Patience. Bear with one another. Forgive. And above all else, love.

One of the things I love about scripture is that, as emotions carry us lots of different ways and tear at our hearts, truth is truth. God’s word is truth. And as we seek to walk in that truth, the Spirit within us will heal our hearts and make us whole. We don’t have to hold our hurts in our hands, we can place them into the hands of Jesus and rest freely and peacefully in obedience, knowing that as we do His will He will handle the rest.

Things are always complex. There are many sides to every circumstance. Many thoughts. Many hurts. Different thoughts. Different hurts. But our common thread is that Christ is our Savior. When we focus on that, the rest looks so small. We have so much more in common than we could ever have apart.

Let’s dwell there together.

One way we hope to dwell together is by linking arms in the Word. United in hearing the same truth as a body of women. There’s a really great app called “She Reads Truth”. It’s filled with different plans, but as you work your way through the current reading plan, not only will you be joining with us, but also with women all over the world as we read the same daily Scripture readings together. On Monday, September 26, a new plan starts covering 1, 2 and 3 John. We hope you can start it with us. You can download the She Reads truth app or go the shereadstruth.com to access the plans. We look forward to a new journey, and a fresh beginning.

Take Up Your Cross

 

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Wake Up – All Sons & Daughters

I haven’t talked to one person at Cornerstone in the past month who isn’t hurting. Some are reeling from the betrayal of an accused elder and the suffering of young girls, some are hurting over the loss of elders and friends from the body of Cornerstone. Some have a cancer diagnosis, a broken marriage, some have attended recent funerals of lives lost too soon.

None of us is whole, but for the cross.

Scripture says, By His stripes, we are healed, but I don’t know that we are walking in healing. I don’t mean the kind of healing that denies pain and suffering. I mean the kind of healing that endures pain and suffering for the advancement of the Kingdom. For the sake of becoming mature and complete.

We are, indeed, in the middle of a mess—a scandal even. But we are God’s people. We have the power to respond to this mess with peace and with joy. Let us continue to pursue truth and justice and mercy, but let us do it knowing that God indeed has the victory. He is the Most High. He is the Almighty. He is the great I AM, and we are His. If God is for us, who could be against us?

But we have to be for God, too. And that means it’s time for me to take up my cross. That means in the midst of my own pain and frustration and, maybe, anger, I keep carrying my cross for the sake of the Gospel—for the sake of lost souls and for God’s glory.

In Jesus’ utmost suffering, He was offering hope and life to the thief on the cross. He was in prayer for the ones who had nailed Him to that cross. Forgive them, Father.

So in the midst of our pain, let us press on.

Elementary-aged children at Clinton Elementary, in our own backyard, need you to step in for them. For 30 minutes a week, they need you to take up your cross and intercede for them.

Young women in crisis pregnancies are desperately seeking mentors to meet with them once a week and show them what the good, good Father looks like.

This is our call. Yes, let us heal. Let us work out our pain and talk it out until we become one in Him. But let us also, while we are being restored, bring restoration to the world—reconciliation to God, the Father, the great Physician, our Creator, in whose presence we find our strength, through Christ, the Savior. Emmanuel.

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