Loving God, Loving Others

by Christina Rose

“Just then a religious scholar stood before Jesus in order to test his doctrines. He posed this question: “Teacher, what requirement must I fulfill if I want to live forever in heaven?” Jesus replied, “What do you read in the Law? How do you understand it?” The religious scholar answered, “It states, ‘You must love the Lord God with all your heart, all your passion, all your energy, and your every thought. And you must love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Jesus said, “That is correct. Now go and do exactly that and you will live.” Wanting to justify himself, he questioned Jesus further, saying, “What do you mean by ‘my neighbor?’ Luke 10:25-29 TPT

The Pharisee lawyer tried to trap Jesus with the question, “What do you mean by ‘my neighbor?’” thinking he would trip him up and make himself look good. Jesus saw it coming and he responded with The Parable of the Good Samaritan. He told the story of a man who traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho who was attacked by robbers and left for dead.

Both a priest and Levite who were traveling down the road passed by, ignoring him. But the third man, a Samaritan, took pity on him and bandaged his wounds. He put the man on his donkey and brought him to an inn, giving the innkeeper money to look after the injured man and promised to return for him. Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him. ”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:36-37 NIV).

We lived in a wonderful neighborhood full of young families and retirees. The park and playground were always full of happy kids playing and laughing. And then there was Rose.  Rose was a retired schoolteacher who lived alone across the street. She had lived in the neighborhood for many years and often took walks to visit her old friends and check on the young families.

One day as we were leaving the house, Ashley groaned, “Mom how does she do it? She must peek behind her curtains all day waiting for us to come out of the house. Now I’ll be late for practice again!”  It seemed every time we opened our door, she opened hers and headed across the street to talk to us. As she moved very slowly with her arthritic feet and was in the early stages of dementia, it required great patience to make her understand that we were on our way to somewhere and couldn’t be late.

One year early in November, she shared she had already bought our Christmas gifts. I gulped. We always had a quiet Christmas with our little family, and it had never occurred to me to invite Rose. She could be loud, bossy, cantankerous and frankly, a lot of work. I didn’t know how to tell her she wasn’t welcome on Christmas day, so I invited her. She then asked me what she could bring for Thanksgiving, so I caved and invited her for Thanksgiving, too.

This began years of inviting Rose over for holidays which could be challenging at times, but even more challenging would have been knowing that she was sitting across the street alone.  One year after dinner, she looked at me with tears in her eyes, and said, “I wish you were my mother.”  She was old enough to be my mother, but in that moment my heart melted. There was just a little lonely girl inside that cranky old lady who had lost her mother at a young age. My compassion increased in that moment, as I realized how much Jesus wanted me to love my neighbor Rose, which we did until she passed away a few years later.

Over the years I found many neighbors who needed someone to care. My firefighter neighbor was standing in his driveway one morning, sobbing. His wife of many years had just died, and he didn’t know how he would live without her. Another friend was standing in her front yard in shock. Her husband had unexpectedly died of a sudden heart attack. Sandy worked the night shift and needed to borrow milk and diapers at five am.

We were born to love and help one another.  Reaching out to neighbors with gestures of love glorifies the Father and honors his son Jesus, who died to give us eternal peace.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 NLT)

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Have you been blessed by loving a neighbor? Please share!

Ambassadors of the God Who Sees

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB

Less than five years off the street, I simultaneously craved love and fought against it. I hungered for Jesus but acted as if I didn’t know Him. And in part, I didn’t. I had bits of knowledge, enough to cross over from death to life, but not enough to propel me into freedom.

To the onlooker, I was rebelling against God and His truth. My husband and I went to bars almost every Friday and Saturday. It wasn’t uncommon for us to stay until last call. We were living together while unmarried, and quite honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind that this was wrong.

My entire worldview was contrary to God’s. This worldview, this way of thinking, had developed slowly, over almost two decades. Transformation—which always begins first with the heart and then one’s thoughts—would take time. And love. And Gentleness.

Patiently, bit by bit, God brought light to my darkness and truth to my falsehood.

He used three people in particular, one I initially found strange. This man worked with my husband, a railroader, and in time, a friend. He kept coming around, offering to help, giving and letting us borrow things. Wanting nothing in return. Every once in a while, he’d throw Jesus into the conversation, or subtly say he was praying for us. And then he’d leave.

No pressure. No Bible thumping. No condemnation.

God also sent two pastors our way, one right after the other. They stopped by, joined us for coffee. Took us to lunch and dinner. Answered our questions, but mainly acted as friends–as if oblivious to our drunkenness, foul language, and frequent fights.

They looked past the outward gunk to the hurting, hungry hearts beneath.

And here’s the deal—had they come at us with condemnation, with any expectation, I would’ve bolted. Hid. Maybe never entered a church again. Though I might not have known a lot of Scripture, I had years of condemnation, of self-loathing. Of shame. Of believing I was unworthy of God’s love.

And God saw me (Genesis 16:13). He saw my hurt, my confusion and deception. My shame. And instead of calling me to rise to where He was, He came to me. As the God who bends down to listen (Psalm 116:2). Through three obedient and faithful men, God shattered my expectations, broke through my defenses, and built steady and enduring bridges, gently, lovingly, drawing me closer to Himself.

We moved four years later, and those men never saw the results of their patience. For all they knew, their efforts had been wasted. They have no idea the impact their relationship with this sinful, foul-mouthed couple from the west coast made.

Except for one of them—my husband’s coworker. Last year, this man, the one who’d so patiently reached out, joined us for dinner. It wasn’t long before our conversation turned to my writing and ministry, and all God has done through a street-girl turned speaker. That night, we were able to share how God used his efforts, nearly a decade later.

He’d chosen to build bridges. To show love. To trust that, God would bring two broken, sinful people to Himself, in His perfect timing. He didn’t consider himself responsible for the end result. He was but a guide along the journey, long before any fruit from his efforts emerged.

I’m reminded of their example when I encounter others so different from me. My initial reaction is to pull away, to self-protect and choose the comfortable. To resist focusing on the outside and stay focused on the broken heart within. I’m reminded of who I’ve been, yes, but also of who I am now—another representative of the God who sees, loves, and transforms.

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Ambassadors of the God Who Sees – insight from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

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unless this cowboy recaptures her heart…

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Join the conversation: What ambassador of God has had an impact on your life?