Our love story

Crucifixion of selfFollow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”         Eph. 5:1-2 (NIV)

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As we continue our examination of the relationship between faith, hope, and love, I want to return to aspect of time. Remember that faith is based on past events, hope is based on the future and love happens in the present.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to love…now.

We have no control over what happened 2000 years ago, and we certainly don’t have any control over what will happen surrounding the return of Christ.

Our control is very limited…to ourselves…in the present.

God has allowed us the freedom to participate in the writing of the story of our lives. We can choose to write that story with the theme of self-love, or with the theme of sacrificial love. Paul reminds us what sacrificial love looks like…it looks like the life of Christ.

The choice of how to write our story is not made just once in our life without the chance to change the theme. We choose the theme of our story daily…throughout the day. If we start the day with the wrong theme…we can change it at any time.

It’s not uncommon that I start the day with one theme and end it with the other.

But each new day is a new start…a fresh chance to choose to live as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Once again…it is a process that involves continual choice.

What kind of story are you writing today?

Prayer: Lord, empower me to make the story of today a story of self-sacrifice in obedience to You.

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The result of love

Walking-1Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love…” Eph. 5:1-2a (NIV)

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Faith depends on the past, hope looks to the future, and love resides in the present. That is why Paul commands us in today’s verse to walk in the way of love.

It is love that causes us to become Christ-like.

Becoming Christ-like is an ongoing process…a transformation that is always occurring in the present. When Paul says we are to walk in love, he means be active in love in the present. Therefore, love is not just an emotion…it is an emotion that should translate into action. And it is that emotion and subsequent action that slowly transforms us more into the image of Christ.

Our faith has saved us by God’s grace and our future hope brings us joy. But here in the present, we are called to live a life of love that progressively transforms us.

That means we weren’t immediately transformed into the image of Christ at the moment we were saved. It is ongoing…a process…that lasts throughout our lifetime.

It is a process in which we will experience setbacks and discouragement. But our discouragement should be tempered by hope and our weakness strengthened by faith as we daily attempt to walk in love.

And as Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 13:8… love never fails.

As I seek to be a good steward of my time, please do me the favor of taking 30 seconds to write the word “yes” in a comment to this post.

Prayer: Lord equip me to walk in the way of love as You loved us and gave Yourself for us.

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Faith, hope and love

faithhopelove“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13 (NIV)

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In Conformed to His Image, Ken Boa writes how love relates to both faith and hope and why it is the greatest virtue. Regarding time, faith is founded upon events and promises from the past. Hope is looking forward to the future.

Love is active in the present.

We have faith in Jesus Christ because we believed and accepted His claim to be God 2000 years ago when He came to live among us as a citizen of Israel. Israel itself has a history of being chosen by God that stretches all the way back to the patriarchs.

Our faith is not blind…it rests on historical events.

Hope on the other hand looks to the future. Hope looks to promises that have not yet been fulfilled, but promises we believe in because of our faith. So while faith looks backward, hope looks forward.

Love meanwhile exists in the present. It is an emotion we cultivate and experience now…and this love expresses itself in action that also occurs in the present. Love grows out of our faith since we are able to love because God first loved us.

While love grows out of faith, it is fueled by hope. It is through love that we communicate our hope to those around us. It is love looking forward in hope that drives us to witness to those who do not yet know Christ.

It is our love that brings hope to those who are lost and suffering.

Prayer: Lord, allow my faith and hope in You grow into acts of love today.

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CMDA Weekly devotional

CMDA Weekly DevotionalAs you take advantage of CMDA’s weekly devotional for today, reflect on where your true hope lies.

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The results of true hope

Presence of God“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24b-25 (ESV)

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Today’s verse gives us an important reminder about hope…it is the unseen that brings out true hope. For us as believers, our true hope is an eternal destiny that awaits us because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

Because our true hope is unseen, we are exposed to a grave danger…the danger of shifting our hope from God and His promises to what we see. The practice of medicine provides a tremendous temptation for hope.

It brings us recognition and adulation from our patients.

It brings us a sense of purpose and meaning.

It brings security.

It brings financial reward.

Thus it provides great temptation to steal hope from Him. We must overcome this temptation if we want to be Christians who happen to be physicians rather than physicians who happen to be Christians.

That means overcoming…not just once…but continually.

It means regularly reminding ourselves that our true hope is not found in this world…it is found in the next. It means renewing that hope by regularly repenting of errant hope and actively resisting the temptation to trust in medicine or anything that is visible.

We can monitor our hope by examining our source of joy. Joy that is unwavering and not dependent on our circumstances helps assure us that our hope is well placed.

How dependent is your joy on circumstances?

Prayer: Lord, show me how I’m hoping in what is seen rather than what is unseen.

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Our true hope

Judgment Seat“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”                    Romans 8:23-24a (ESV)

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In A Layman’s Guide to Applying the Bible, Walter Henrichsen describes four approaches to hope. Some will have no hope, others a misplaced hope, and still others an ill-defined hope. But as followers of Jesus, we have a clearly defined hope.

Our hope is a vibrant inexpressible life in heaven with Jesus that will last the rest of eternity. It is not some vague promise of possible future reward but a clear straightforward promise of spending an eternity in heaven with Jesus. An eternity as Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 2:9 that is so good we cannot even imagine it.

When we come to faith in Jesus, we go from no hope or ill defined hope to a hope that is beyond our wildest imagination! It is not hope based on the temporary things of this world…it is hope based on His promise. The firstfruits of this hope is the indwelling Holy Spirit.

When we come to true faith in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit…and we are no longer the same person. We sense His presence and guidance in our life.

We are new creatures.

Don’t let the worries of this world drag you down…something far better lies ahead!

Prayer: Lord remind me throughout this day of the hope that lies ahead…and Holy Spirit, give me a taste of that hope when I become overwhelmed with this world.

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Ill defined hope

9_11“And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
 you will look around and take your rest in security.”          Job 11:18 (ESV)

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In A Layman’s Guide to Applying the Bible, Walter Henrichsen mentions four approaches to hope. I’ve previously dealt with no hope and misplaced hope. The third approach Henrichsen calls ill-defined hope.

Our hope is ill defined if we can’t immediately describe it with clarity. This happens when we have not given much thought to our hope. A good example of ill-defined hope is the response of many Americans to the attack on September 11, 2001. USA Today ran a story in January of 2002 stating that church attendance increased by 25% shortly after the attack, but by the end of 2001, church attendance had returned to pre- 9/11 levels.

After the national tragedy, many people moved from complacency to seek security in some vague faith. They began attending church for a short period of time. But because that faith was not based on truth or on a real relationship with Jesus Christ, their attendance fell as their need for security decreased. Their hope remained ill defined and did not translate into a real living faith.

As Christian physicians, we may believe and even proclaim that our hope is in Jesus Christ, while actually placing our hope in the financial and personal security that our profession provides.

The test for where our true hope lies comes in the inevitable painful events that we encounter in this life.

Trial and suffering are the crucible where we are tested and our hope becomes well defined.

How well defined is your hope?

Prayer: Lord, help me gain clarity on my true hope…and let it be fully based on You.

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