How to Love Others as We Love Our Self – Part 2 – Setting Godly Priorities

 

Once God freed me from bondage to codependency and Satan’s lies that others would only love me if I gave myself sacrificially for them, He started me on a liberating journey that taught me how to love others as Jesus loved me.

 

He taught me that I have value in and of myself regardless of what anyone else thought of me or did for me. Self-care became part of my routine instead of an afterthought that never materialized.

 

I learned that I am not responsible for the happiness of others, and to think that I am was an idol in my life. I had to lay my preconceived ideas at the altar of God’s truth and learn a whole new way of living.

 

It is only sinful to care for our self, if we are self-absorbed and self-centered. We are unbalanced, narcissistic and selfish if we think only of our self or of our self first and foremost all of the time.

 

A husband is to love his wife as he loves his own body; and yet, if he hates himself or does not value himself; then he will never learn to love his wife or anyone else either (Ephesians 5:28-29).

 

For most people, however, it is natural to care for their needs as well as the needs of others. Some give to get, but many nurturing, caring people give to bless others; and they end up receiving a blessing in the giving.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You taught us to enter Your rest, so that we are not driven by stress, perfectionism and enabling other people. We have Your abundant life, which starts at the moment of our Salvation (John 10:10). Thank You for teaching us to grow, develop and succeed in this life by living by Your principles.

 

Thank You for teaching me that the more I value myself as You value me, the more I teach other people to cherish me too. As I come to You to meet my emotional, mental, relational and spiritual needs, You help me to set my priorities in the correct order, You remove from my thinking the satanic drives of perfectionism and guilt, and You lead me by Your Spirit to help others only when it is Your will for me to do so.

 

Thought for the Day:

We cannot nurture our self or anyone else if we are burdened by guilt and deprivation, or stressed and overworked all the time; we can learn to nurture our self and others by watching how Jesus lived a balance of self-care and ministry to others.

 

 

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A Fruitful Life

One work of the Holy Spirit in our life is to sanctify us by continually, although often slowly, replacing in us the negative attributes of our personality with His spiritual fruit.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 describes for us the fruit of the Spirit…”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

 

Sometimes, it is confusing to put the meaning of these words in simple terms. The definitions I like are:

Love – affection for others

Joy – exuberance about life

Peace – serenity

Patience – willingness to stick with it

Gentleness – compassion from the heart

Goodness – kindness that pervades our entire being

Meekness – humility and service

Self-Control – guided by the Spirit

Faith – trust that God knows what He’s doing

 

When I compare these to their opposites, the negative characteristics cause me to shudder. I certainly want no part of them in my character:

Envy, strife, hatred, bitterness, self-centeredness, pride, criticism, worry, depression, quitters and complainers, backbiters, and people who put work and fun ahead of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

 

The Good News is that the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us sanctifies us moment-by-moment! He replaces:

hatred with love,

depression with true joy,

discontentment with peace,

irritation with patience,

criticism with gentleness,

backbiting with goodness,

pride with meekness,

excess with self-control,

and worry with the faith of God as we are controlled and guided by His Spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we thank You for putting Your fruit in us in place of the negative traits we learned from others, those that are ingrained in our personality with which we are born, and those that we develop through the disappointments of life.

 

We give our life to You to mold and make into the divine nature of Christ as He abides within us. We want to be lights of Your character to the world around us, and to have the mind of Christ rather than the whims of our flesh, the world or the devil. Thank You for Your sanctifying work in our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

God replaces our negative character traits with the fruit of His Spirit as we willingly submit to His surgeon’s scalpel, the Word of God, which divides our flesh from our spirit.

– Hebrews 4:12

 

Satisfied in Jesus

As we mature spiritually, we walk in godliness with contentment and receive a great advantage both in this world and the next (1 Timothy 6:6-7).

 

Like Paul, we learn contentment regardless of the circumstances in which we find our self – deprived and in want, or pleasant and blessed (Philippians 4:11-13).

 

Contentment drives out striving and stress and teaches us to find our satisfaction in Christ alone. It also prevents us from neglecting our walk with the Lord, or living at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1).

 

We enter God’s rest and abide there even when life threatens to overwhelm us (Hebrews 13:5). Striving causes contention and competition; however, God calls us to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).

 

We have not seen with our human eyes, or heard with our natural ears, or imagined in our finite mind what God prepared both now and in eternity for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 

He promises us our daily bread and everything we need in order to survive in this world. He clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds of the air and loves us and provides for us just as richly.

 

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to look for Your hand of provision for us in our daily walk and to live in contentment. We thank You for giving us everything we need to fulfill Your will for our life (Ephesians 2:10).

 

Bring us to a place where we cease from our carnal striving and where we set our affection on things above and not here on this earth (Colossians 3:2-17). Give us the divine mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), create in us a clean heart, and renew a holy and purposeful spirit in us (Psalm 51:10).

 

Thought for the Day:

God gives us all good thing to enjoy – every good and perfect gift, which we need as we dwell with Him in contentment and thanksgiving. – Philippians 4:6

 

God Truly Cares for Us

Deep thinkers, mystics, scientists, authors and poets all try to pinpoint the origin and meaning of life, but they reject the truth of God’s Word. Then they come up with theories they cannot prove, even by their own laws.

 

Many people find fulfillment in their career, children, mate, church ministries, world travel, a new home, a sporty car, completing a “bucket list”, serving in a charity, getting involved in local politics, triumphing in a career, delving into alternative spiritual activities – which deviate from the traditional Christian world view.

 

This fulfillment may last for years, but as we age, we lose interest in these pursuits, because they do not really provide us with lasting fulfillment. Our human plans often operate on impulses, and are otherwise the results of us reasoning things out.

 

We are never quite able, however, apart from Christ, to come to understand the complete truth about life (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The wisdom and power of a nurtured life come only from the unconditional love of our crucified Christ (1 Corinthians 23-24).

 

Boasting in our own knowledge and human abilities is useless and quite humorous (1 Corinthians 4:7, 5:6). Looking above our human wisdom to Jesus, who is our only true source of wisdom and joy, is the way to bear lasting fruit in our life (John 15:11).

 

Making Jesus the center of our focus and submitting to God’s Spirit within us allows the Trinity to sanctify our carnality and nurture Christ’s divinity within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

We die to our self more each day, relinquishing our earthly pursuits in favor of spiritual maturity. Our soul – our thoughts, decisions and feelings – prospers, which allows our body and spirit to prosper as well (John 3:1:2; 1 Corinthians 15:31).

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for the opportunity to share in the peace and glory of Christ in us. We face the trials of each day with hope and optimism, because we know that there is a seed for a miracle within each one (Hebrews 12:2-3). Remind us to stop relying on our human talents and to depend solely on You, finding out what You are doing in our life and joining You (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Clearly reveal to us that trusting in our self is useless and we end up humiliated and feeling hopeless. It is only as we walk away from evil and wholeheartedly embrace Christ in us, that health returns to our body and nourishes our bones (Proverbs 3:7-8). Reveal the truth to us that as we choose Your will over our own will we grow deeper in our union with Christ abiding within us. Jesus is all we really need to succeed in this life (1 John 3:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Thought for the Day:

In our times of trouble, we cast our cares on God, because He truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7); He gives us His peace in exchange for our worries (Philippians 4:6, 7; 1 Peter 5:7; John 14:27); and when Satan plagues us with guilt over our past, Jesus removes condemnation for those who trust in Him (Romans 8:1);.

 

Fearless in the Face of Adversity

Fear is one human malady that plagues everyone. Even the most macho man fears something or someone. The most independent woman has fears – even if she buried them in her subconscious mind.

 

Fortunately, Jesus died and overcame our fears for us. He gave us His Spirit to abide in us and bring to us His power love and a stable mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

 

Our Savior generously gives us wisdom when we need it, which dispels our fears (1 Corinthians 1:30; James 1:5). We slip right out of the depression, caused by Satan’s lies to our mind, when we focus on God’s love, kindness, faithfulness and compassion (Lamentations 3:21-23).

 

God gives each of us a measure of faith to fulfill His will for our life (Romans 12:3). Christ is the strength of our life (Psalm 27:1; Daniel 11:32), and we can accomplish His will because He dwells within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

We no longer feel that we are “not enough”, because we know that we can live up to God’s expectations of us through Christ in us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God is always in our corner, so we do not need to concern our self with people who may not approve of us or accept us as we are (Romans 8:31).

 

We shed the shroud of bondage, which Satan and the world wrap around us and we enter the liberty of the Saints of God (2 Corinthians 3:17). Refusing to accept the devil’s condemnation, we walk in the victory of Christ in us (Romans 8:1).

 

This gives us hope to face tomorrow, which we know from experience is filled with unknown catastrophes and issues. We no longer fear the future or allow anxiety to consume our soul when we cast all of our worries on Jesus, who eternally cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You calm the confusion in our life by placing in our spirit the Author of peace and the knowledge provided by His indwelling Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12, 14:33). Jesus already overcame the trials and tribulation of this life, and His presence in our life gives us Your victory in every trial (Romans 8:37; John 16:33).

 

Thank You that Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law of sin and death by giving us Your Spirit of life (Galatians 3:13-14). Remind us that we can find true contentment only through our service to You, regardless of our circumstances (Philippians 4:11). We spend our days singing praises to Your name.

 

Thought for the Day:

Life’s set-backs and roadblocks try our faith and make our dependence on God stronger than our reliance on our human strengths and wisdom, because His infinite ways are higher than our finite plans and goals.

 

Fullness of Joy

In the presence of God is the only spot on this earth where the fullness of joy resides. He offers us pleasures that last throughout eternity (Psalm 16:11; 139: 23-24).

 

We often look for natural, human experiences with God, but His ways are so much higher than ours. God enjoys sitting with us in silence; no revelations, no rushing wind, no mighty supernatural gifts deposited in our life. Just golden silence in the presence of our King Jesus.

 

At other times, we need a notebook to keep track of all the ideas He imparts to us during these intimate times of devotion.

 

We may make a to-do list for our day, or a prayer list of people He wants us to lift up in our prayers that day, or people we need to forgive or those from whom we need to ask forgiveness.

 

Only as we deliberately enter the recesses within our own soul, and only as we conquer the clutter in our life and thoughts, and empty our self of selfish ambition and attitudes, can we hope to discover His presence in our life.

 

However, the amount of clutter in our soul leaves no room for Him to make His presence known to us. God will give us a plan to straighten up the inner and the outer clutter in our life.

 

Listening to God with our undivided attention in these times of aloneness is the key to growing spiritually. We find that we look forward to our times alone with God.

 

Prayer:

Father God, when we abide in You, negative emotions such as fear, confusion, distress, distrust, and dread no longer fill every recess of our soul. We learn to trust in You regardless of the natural events taking place around us. We sit with awe-filled wonder at the magnificence of Your will and way in our life.

 

Give us this day only that which we need to serve You; and teach us to wait patiently on You for each new day, hour and moment that You give us to attend to You with our whole heart. We release our negative emotions to You and receive from You the cry of Your heart instead.

 

Thought for the Day:

Ephesians 3:16-19 (Amplified Bible)…“ May God grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. 17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, 18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; 19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being]]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

 

Bruised, but Not Broken

Violence can break a person, a relationship, personal belongings, etc. Something whole is handicapped now…maybe glued together, but never the same again.

 

Sometimes the fracture is undetectable, but it is there nonetheless – influencing every day of our life, leaving us damaged, cracked, fragmented and wounded.

 

Fear, confusion, insecurity and brokenness leave us vulnerable, crushed, strained and fractured. Ravaged by the choice made by someone else, our life is less than perfect. We often injure others because we are no longer whole.

 

Jesus paid the price to help us to mend from these injuries and flaws. He allowed the Roman soldiers to spill His blood, so we can be healed in body, soul and spirit (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

 

Jesus heals the brokenhearted by the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18).Troubles and trials may press in on us from every side, but Jesus breaks the yokes which bind us to them.

 

If we trust in and rely on Him alone, He does not allow life to crush us (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20). He encourages us when we are disheartened to keep us from being driven to despair (Psalms 34:18). He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).

 

This persecution reveals the character of Christ in us, as we share in suffering in this life similar to His (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). Our anguish here on earth cannot even compare to the unspeakable glory and joy that God will reveal in us and to us through the power of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You comfort all who mourn (Matthew 5:4). You require from us a spirit, which is humbly broken and contrite (Psalm 51:17). If we fall upon Christ by faith, we may be crushed; but never broken, because He will save us (Matthew 21:44).

 

Conversely, those who reject Your Son Jesus actually expose themselves to danger, ultimate ruin and eternal destruction (Luke 20:18; John 3:16-18; Romans 11:19; John 15:5). You will not allow the crushed stem to be completely broken or their feeble light to be put out entirely (Matthew 12:20).

 

Thought for the Day:

A bruised and broken life is full of mercy and compassion for others, and God uses us as a conduit of His love to those who suffered what we have suffered.