I want to encourage our church family and you to do what we have talked about a couple times the last few weeks. Please STOP & PRAY as often as you can. When God leads you to pray, do it at that moment. When someone asks you to pray for them, stop and pray right then. When a situation or a struggle or a need comes to you, stop and ask God to deal with it. I believe this is a habit everyone who follows Jesus must have.
But take some steps with me in another direction. It is so important that we allow the character of God to run through our lives. His overwhelming compassion ought to be a daily reality and straight from our hearts. That is a heart that has been changed, transformed, and warmed daily by God Himself.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Don’t stop loving people. Man, it is so easy to allow personal pain or bitterness to keep us from showing others God’s love. When something gets in the way of our feelings toward other people, we have the tendency to be fake or less than genuine when we are with that person. That is human nature. I am not saying we can mean to people we don’t like or are mad at. We ought to do all we can to have peace and to be able to be kind to others.
We can’t stop serving people and honoring people through the way we live our lives. Honoring people comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. We honor people when we encourage or when we praise them. We honor people by helping or serving them as well. Be creative in finding ways to honor the people around you.
Working hard and staying passionate about God is a choice we have to make. Living with hope is also a choice. No matter the situation that comes into our lives the way that we deal with each one speaks to our faith in God. If we have hope in situations that call for less than hope, we show people who God is and what He has done in our lives. Looking at trouble and praying rather than stopping shows that your confidence goes far beyond yourself to someone bigger and better than you. It is all about God.
Pretending, letting your feelings take you in a negative direction, not honoring others… all of those are stop signs that identify the fact that you are not connecting with God. Really loving people, being genuine, honoring people, having hope in hopeless situations … those are signs that you blew through the stop sign because you are connected to God and connecting often.
Choosing not to stop when it is natural to be selfish is characteristic of someone who is continually seeking God.