Loving Sacrificially as Jesus Loved Us

loveOn Monday night I shared this simple little devotional at our monthly Bible study Ladies Night. Posting it was easier than writing something new…so here ya go. =) 

Tonight I want to share a few thoughts about one aspect of Biblical love. In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Since Jesus commands us to love each other just as He loves us, I started thinking about what that looks like. One of the most obvious aspects of His love for us is that it is a sacrificial love.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus loved us so much that He sacrificed more than we could ever imagine for us. He left His home in Heaven, where everything was perfect. There was no sin, no sadness, no broken relationships, no suffering, no misery, no sickness, no hunger and thirst, and no pain. He came to earth and was born into a modest family in a stable. He went from the glory of Heaven, where everyone recognized Him as the King that He is, to growing up surrounded by sinners, most of whom did not know He was God, or refused to believe. He experienced 40 days of hunger and thirst, He fought temptation, and He spent His time ministering to unlovely, sick, disgraced, and poor people. He invested years of love into a man who betrayed Him for money. And finally, He suffered unbelievable physical pain and the emotional torment of separation from His Father, ultimately giving up His very life, all so that we could be reconciled to God and have our sins forgiven. He sacrificed in all these ways so that we could be saved.

“He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)

In Jesus, we have an example of the kind of love we are called to show to one another.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn 3:16-18)

The world tries to tell us that love is about romance and feelings. Even worse, our culture emphasizes the importance of loving ourselves and seeking our own happiness. Relationships according to the world are about what makes us feel good.

But the kind of love that Jesus calls us to is a sacrificial love that puts others’ needs and interests above our own.

Think about one of the relationships in your life. Perhaps someone hard to love, or someone you interact with regularly like your husband, parent, sibling, roommate, or friend. Take a moment to evaluate your love toward that person. Do you show more or less love to them depending on what they can do for you or how they make you feel? Does your behavior toward them change depending on theirs? Are you characterized by willingly and joyfully making sacrifices for them with no expectation of thanks or acknowledgement in return? Are you motivated to love because of what you will receive back?

I was asking myself these questions about my marriage it hit me that often the “sacrifices” I make for Andrew are done with unspoken stipulations. For example, I will be joyful in my sacrifice provided he acknowledges what I have done. If I do not receive thanks in return, I may pout and wonder why I bothered going out of my way for him. Because my husband is a thankful guy, I do not often have a chance to practice sacrificing for him without acknowledgement, but I think often I just subconsciously expect and feel like I deserve his praise.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “it does not seek its own”.

If I am sacrificing in order to enjoy the praise or thanks of another, or to get some favor in return, or because it makes me look good of feel good about myself, it is not truly sacrificing at all. It is doing something with my best in mind, not that of the other person. That is not the love with which Jesus loves us. 

John Piper writes, “The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. That’s what God did. At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift – the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” 

It’s so easy to go through life with an entitlement mindset. It does not come naturally to us to love others sacrificially without thought for our own well being. But this sacrificial love is what we see modeled in our Savior, and it is the kind of love we are to practice.

Ironically, when we unselfishly sacrifice for others with Jesus’ love and in His strength, we are rewarded with the pleasure that comes from obeying and serving God. The satisfaction we might find in receiving praise or acknowledgement from people is fleeting. But there is lasting joy in pleasing the Lord!

This week, meditate on the sacrificial love that Jesus has shown to you. Thank Him for loving you with no consideration of what you could give back to Him, and ask Him to enable you to show that kind of love to the people in your life.

Image taken from fortalezadoguincho.com. 

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Cubed 09/13/2013

Here’s a quick photographic glimpse into just a few pieces of the past month.

Our homemade bows for Bow Tie Sunday.

Our homemade bows for Bow Tie Sunday.

California driver's license came!

California driver’s license came!

Homework by the sea.

Homework by the sea.

The beautiful Grace Church courtyard.

The beautiful Grace Church courtyard.

A good book and iced coffee, poolside.

A good book and iced coffee, poolside.

Bringing lunch to my favorite student.

Bringing lunch to my favorite student.

In-N-Out shake date!

In-N-Out shake date!

My work spot in the TMS library.

My work spot in the TMS library.

Boogie boarding is our new favorite.

Boogie boarding is our new favorite.

Cooking meatloaf on a cooler day - 83 degrees!

Cooking meatloaf on a cooler day – 83 degrees!

{Seminary Journal} One-Month Expectations

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Photo by Rv Sun. A hike I took with our Bible study this week.

This is the 100th post here on Anchored! We’ve been here for a month as of yesterday. Last night at a small fellowship group with fellow sem wives, my friend Tia asked everyone a few questions related to what we’d expected to encounter down here, and how those expectations have been fulfilled or turned out differently. It was a good question. I thought about it a lot more when I got home and decided to blog some of those expectations.

  1. I expected our apartment to be tiny and cramped, but it’s not. There’s far more space than I’d even hoped for and pretty much everything we brought fits, with a little wiggle room.
  2. I expected church to feel big and overwhelming, and it does. But joining a fellowship group makes a big church get small really fast. I’m surprised that we run into people we know every Sunday, in a church of thousands.
  3. I did not expect to feel lonely, but I do. It’s not the homesickness I’d anticipated, it’s different. There are moments, after my work and responsibilities are done and Andrew is still doing homework, when not having my best friend or a family member to call for coffee or a game night hits me really hard and I feel very alone.
  4. I expected there to be many young married couples without kids in seminary, but there aren’t. There are tons of young families and a lot of single guys.
  5. I expected Andrew to be swamped with homework, and he is. God prepared me to be fully ready for evenings and Saturdays to be for homework. I’m encouraging Andrew to study and not making him feel bad about being busy. This week he got 105% on his first Hebrew vocab quiz! When I texted that I was proud of him, Andrew replied, “It’s a victory for both of us ’cause the time I spent studying was time I didn’t spend with you…but it paid off!”
  6. I expected it to be hot, and it is. It’s been around 100 or more all week. As I write this, it’s 101 and supposed to reach 103 this afternoon. The apartment is stuffy and cooking is a drag. But that’s no surprise and I’m learning to get used to it.
  7. I expected it to take awhile to make close friends, and it does. But we’ve already been so blessed to meet a number of amazing people who love Jesus and have a heart for people and ministry. I know there are very special friendships in store, likely with some of the people we’ve already met but haven’t spent much time with yet.
  8. I expected to be hard to find gluten free food, and it is. Until yesterday. I discovered Sprouts on the recommendation of friends. It is like our co-op back home, maybe better! It’s in Burbank but so worth the extra jaunt! Thank You, Lord!

Yes, there are a lot of good and hard things about this new season of life. It’s stretching, and Jesus’ presence and love are becoming more dear to my heart. Despite the tearful moments and the ache in my heart that sometimes doesn’t want to fade, I am very content and completely confident that today I am exactly where God wants me to be. No second thoughts, regrets, or misgivings. God’s work in my life is an encouragement to me, and I know He has so much more in store for my spiritual growth as the weeks roll on. Thank you for your prayers…there is no doubt He is answering them!

{Seminary Journal} All I Have Is Christ

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At Grace Community Church (GCC), there are two (identical) 90-minute worship services at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. During each one, there are various Fellowhship Groups happening elsewhere on campus. These groups are also 90 minutes long and are basically full-blown worship services, with a singing time and a sermon. Add the 90-minute evening service, and you’ve got a packed but oh-so-rewarding Sunday. Since moving to LA, we’ve spent each Sunday visiting different Fellowship Groups in the mornings to figure out which one to join. It’s been hard to attend a group or two and then have to wait an entire week to go to another, when we both want so much to jump in and start connecting with people and getting involved. We appreciated things about each of the four groups we’ve visited, but were excited this week to decide where we will land, for many reasons–Doulos (the Greek word for “slave”).

During the worship portion (which we absolutely loved) of Doulos we sang All I Have is Christ. To me, that song embodies our church family back in Bellingham, since it has become a favorite staple there in recent years. I couldn’t help but cry as we sang the chorus together in Doulos and I pictured our church at home, worshiping God at the same time. As I pondered the profound lyrics, I was reminded again of what a precious thing it is that no matter where I go, I have my Savior there with me. “Hallelujiah, all I have is Christ.” I had Him back in Bellingham, surrounded by familiar faces, and I have Him here in LA, where everyone and everything is new and different. I am still His, and He is still mine…and no matter what the future holds, that truth will never change. Amazing!

Andrew and I are both 100% excited about joining Doulos and growing under the solid teaching of Pastor Travis, who we know through mutual friends. It’s great to finally feel like we “belong” somewhere, instead of floundering. I can’t wait to share more of how we learn to love this group as it becomes home for us.

Stay tuned for a guest post from a very special individual!

Fervent Love: A Paul and a Timothy

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There are roses growing right outside my kitchen window. =)

You probably thought I’d forgotten all about our “current” Fervent Love series, but here’s another post. =)

Fervent love may look like discipling a brother or sister.

I remember at one of our church’s recent missions seminars, the guest speaker suggested that everyone have a Paul and a Timothy in their lives. The idea is that you always be learning from an older brother or sister, while sharing what you’ve learned and grown in with someone younger. I like this concept because it stimulates continued personal growth while encouraging giving of yourself to others.

For most of my life, my mom and I have met regularly for a mostly informal discipleship time where I can learn from her and share what I’m going through. Sometimes we go through a book, although often we talk for so long we run out of time to read together. =) So for now, she is my primary “Paul”.

A year or so ago, I added two “Timothys” to my life. I met with, discipled, and prayed for a younger sister in Christ regularly, and very informally counseled/mentored a young lady as she walked through a difficult time. Both relationships were a tremendous blessing to me, probably more than to these friends! It was exciting to be able to share what God has taught me through failures and victories in my life. Maybe He used me to spare them from making some of the mistakes I did. The Lord also used our times together to show me how much He has blessed me and to remind me of difficult seasons He carried me through and brought me out of.

Hopefully if we have younger siblings we’re all building those relationships with purpose and being an intentional, godly influence in their lives. For me, especially since I don’t have sisters, the timing seemed right to add another opportunity to invest in someone younger. Now, of course, I’ve moved, but I’ll try to stay in touch with these gals, and perhaps find a new “Timothy” in our new church.

How about you? Do you have a “Paul” you are learning from? And do you see an opportunity to turn around and give back to a “Timothy”? It’s a great way to grow and be stretched in new ways.

Cubed 08/07/13

We are into our new apartment! I’ll be posting a photo tour of it sometime in the next week or two. We absolutely love it and are thankful beyond words that God provided something so perfect for us. It far exceeded our expectations or even hopes.

In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the last week-and-a-half, cubed. So much more happened, but I’m not very consistent about photographing it.

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Last softball game.

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Welcome treats from Andrew’s mom.

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Leading the campout Olympics again.

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Snuggles with Tilly.

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A coffee/dump/errand run with Jordan.

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Morning coffee at the campout.

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Saying goodbye to our place in Bellingham.

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Crepes date in Fairhaven with my Frog.

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Visiting Jordan at his work place.

Best friends saying goodbye.

Best friends saying goodbye.

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Cousins/best friends reunited.

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Driving by the church/seminary.

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Our awesome moving team.

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Arriving at the apartment for the first time.

{Seminary Journal} Our Spring Creek Send-Off

We spent our last northwest weekend at our annual church campout, and it was one of the most special several days I can remember. On Saturday night, the church had an informal send-off for us. My dad shared some sweet thoughts and prayed for us, which was very precious. Afterward, others from the flock added encouragement. We’ll remember all those kind words and memories for years to come. It was an amazing way to close off this chapter of life–we are so blessed by the support our church family is showing as we embark on this adventure. You will all be tremendously missed!

More on the past week to come later. We hit the road at 4:30 AM tomorrow!

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