What blessings lie behind the door of selfless love? Blessings that are opened to us and to others when we choose to walk by faith and not sight. Will you choose love? Will you walk by faith, die to self, and experience what blessings lie behind the door of selfless love? Love is a choice; it’s not a feeling.

Love Never Fails
by Susan Sampson

Love is a choice; it’s not a feeling.
Love chooses the gentle and quiet spirit over the screaming.
Love is an action; it is a verb.
Love never chooses the selfish way; instead, love follows God’s word.
The Lord says that love is patient and kind.
Love never says, “Hey, that’s mine!”
Love is slow to become angry and mad.
Love makes the choice to say, “Rejoice and be glad!”
Love doesn’t keep count of all the hurts that come our way.
Rather, love looks to the Lord and chooses to pray.
To pray for a forgiving spirit and a humble heart;
Love gives everyone a brand new start.
Love always trusts; it turns away from all fear.
Love always hopes and always perseveres.
Love is a choice; it’s not a feeling.
Choosing to love is the only way to live a life of meaning.
Jesus Christ chose love that day;
The day he laid down on a cross and chose to stay.
It’s the hands of our Savior, scarred from the nails;
That show us the truth; love never fails.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1Cor. 13:4-8

Thistlebend Quiet eMoment

by Laurie Aker

Focus Scripture: Luke 13:1-5 ESV

There were some present at that very time who told him about
the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans
were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because
they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless
you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen
on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them:
do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others
who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent,
you will all likewise perish.”

____________________________________

Portions of today’s devotion have been taken from
“Supernatural Lessons from a Natural Disaster”
by John MacArthur

Wrong Thinking vs Right Thinking:
If things are going good then you must be a good person.
If things are going bad then you must be a bad person.

The common thinking of the day in New Testament times
was that if you had calamitous events in your life,
it was because you were a bad person.
It was the judgment of God on you.
For example in the Gospel of John chapter 9,
there was a man born blind and the Jews said, “Okay,
who sinned, this man or his parents that he would be blind?”
Human calamity, disaster, and illness was related to sin.
If you were alive and you were doing well, it meant
that you must be a good person.

That way of thinking has continued far beyond
New Testament times!

In 1861 there were a couple of severe calamities
that occurred in London. One of them was a train wreck in which
23 people were killed. The other was a tunnel disaster
which killed quite a number of people. This became such an
issue among Christian people that Spurgeon preached a sermon
on those two accidents from this text. It was September 8, 1861, and
he preached a sermon to dispel the absurd idea that God killed those
people because they were traveling on a Sunday. We wouldn’t have
a congregation if that was the way God operated. But there was this
crazy idea that, you know, if you breach the Sabbath,
God may kill you in a tunnel disaster or crash your train.

What about today?
What do events like these events mean? What does it mean when a
tower collapses and kills indiscriminately Christians,
non-Christians, adults, children, evil people and moral people?
What does it mean when a plane goes down and everybody
dies without regard for their relative morality, or spirituality
or knowledge of God? What’s the point? Is God picking
on certain people by assembling them together in the right
place to just kill them all?

We know a lot of very wretched,
evil, wicked people who are doing very well. They’re healthy
and prosperous and living long lives and doing everything they
can to corrupt our culture. And we know some very good people
who died in terrible calamities…car wrecks, train wrecks,
illnesses, even hurricanes.

We still struggle to think biblically in the face of
tragedy and disaster.
We must be careful with our thoughts.
We must take every thought captive to obey Christ.
We do not understand or know the mind of God.
He is God and we are not.

So when tragedy hits someone,
it isn’t that we must be better than the people who have
experienced tragedy because we haven’t experienced tragedy.
No. God has been merciful.

It isn’t that we must be better than the people who died
because we haven’t died.
No. God has been merciful.

Conversely if tragedy hits us it doesn’t mean that we
are worse than other people.

If death or illness comes it doesn’t mean that
we are loved less by God.

TAKING THE TRUTH TO HEART

When people go through great trial and difficulty they
don’t need our judgment, they don’t need our platitudes,
they need the love of Christ.

When people are suffering
they need God’s love, grace, and truth
and they need our love, kindness,
compassion, and prayers.

When we are hurting
we need the same.

We are called to weep
with those who weep, help both those
who are suffering and comfort
and encourage those in trial.

Romans 12:9-21
9 Let love be genuine.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in
showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints
and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you;
bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise
in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give
thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible,
so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved,
never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God,
for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
20 To the contrary,”if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty,
give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap
burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.

AND BRINGING IT TO LIFE

Choose one truth from today and apply it to your heart.
Take it with you throughout the day.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,
Lord, please give us a heart of love and compassion for others.
Help us turn to you in the face of tragedy.
Please grant us grace to turn fully from our foolish
and unbiblical ways of thinking.
Lord give us eyes to see those who are hurting and
those who need encouragement.
Help us extend the love of Christ.

In His hands for His glory,
Laurie

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—A Thistlebend Ministries eMoment devotion. To have eMoments emailed to your inbox, subscribe on the bottom right of our Home page.

by Susan Sampson

I had to share this excerpt from one of the recent eMoments because it was so powerful!

Laurie quoted a passage from an article by J.I. Packer called “The Heart of the Gospel” which is in the book “In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement.” He writes,

“The measure of God’s holy love for us is that ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ and that ‘he….did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Rom. 5:8). Evidently there was no alternative to paying that price if we were to be saved, so the Son at the Father’s behest, ‘through the eternal Spirit’ paid it. Thus God ‘set aside’ the record of debt that stood against us….nailing it to the cross’ (Col. 2:14). Had we been among the watchers at Calvary, we should have seen nailed to the cross Pilate’s notice of Jesus’ alleged crime. But if by faith we look back to Calvary from where we now are, what we see is the list of our own unpaid debts of obedience to God, for which Christ paid the penalty in our place…”

Jerry Bridges is an author and theologian who talks about “preaching the gospel to ourselves.” So…rather than waking up and being consumed by my to-do list, this is the list I should look to and thank the Lord for what He has done for me!!

As I was reading through Ephesians 4 yesterday, I read one of the study notes which explains the format of Paul’s letters – “in which doctrinal truths are stated first, then application to life is built on that doctrine. The exhortations of scripture become empty moralism without this gospel foundation.”

When we are being ministered to by the Gospel, it is like having your extreme thirst quenched with a cup of ice water! But when we forget the truths of Ephesians Chapters 1-3 or don’t take them to heart and believe them by faith and only focus on the exhortations we start thinking wrongly.

Suddenly we might start thinking we must teach our children Chinese, Portuguese and Latin; spend our next 4 summers in Madagascar; throw away everything we own; stop wearing make up and shaving our legs; make our children floss twice a day; make them be perfect; make us be perfect; make our husbands perfect; hide all our sins; and don’t let anyone know what’s really going on behind our perfectly made up faces!!!!

And we wonder why there is exhaustion, depression, confusion and hopelessness!!

Moralism is not the Gospel! It is anti-gospel.

Christ came to set us free! He obeyed the law perfectly in our place! He knew we couldn’t ever obey the law perfectly! He knew we needed to be saved. He came to seek and save the lost! He came to rescue sinners, to dine with sinners, to make sinners His brothers and sisters, His co-heirs!!!

The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. It says that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, we ALL (and this includes all the “perfect” people you know and see)…we ALL deserve the death penalty. Eternal damnation in hell. Separated forever from God and all that is good. Unimaginable suffering that will not ever end.

This is what Jesus saved us from!!!!

This is why we can call Him Savior!!!

This is what we cannot save ourselves from!!!!

This is precisely why we need a Savior, a Rescuer!

That is why the Gospel is such good news!!

Mercy can be defined as not getting something you deserve. Christ has given us mercy. Grace can be defined as getting something you don’t deserve. God has not only declared us not guilty, keeping us from getting the death penalty we all deserve, but set us free and gave us eternal salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit! Himself!!! His power, His love, His mind, His heart! And so much more!

We are now one with Christ. A part of His very body. Saved, sealed, delivered.

If any of you are struggling like I am to recover from moralism and legalism, let us continue to confess our unbelief of the gospel to our Blessed Redeemer. Let us preach the gospel to ourselves everyday and take these truths to our hearts, believing them by faith! Let us continue to ask Him to pour out His amazing grace. Grace that saves. Grace that heals. Grace that washes us clean and sets us free.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19).