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Encouragement

July 21, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Praying for More Love Today

"and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;"

 1 Thessalonians 3:12, Page 1848  

      When is the last time someone told you that you were doing something very well, and then followed it up with encouragement to do even more?  Most of us hear a lot more about our failures than our successes.  When it comes to love, we all need to love more and more and more. 

       In 1 John 4:7, we read: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God."  We should notice several important points from this verse.  First, only born-again Christians love with God's love.  Non-Christians may do many nice things, but they will never love with God's love, because they have not been born of God and they do not know God.  Second, all love comes from God.  While our capacity to love with God's love starts at the moment we receive the gift of salvation by faith from Jesus, we only exercise our capacity to love under the direction of God.  The Holy Spirit bears the fruit of love in our lives (Galatians 5:22, page 1825), and the first and greatest commandment requires us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:36-40, page 1542). 

       When we put these ideas together, we see that Paul commends the Thessalonians for their great love, but also commands them to love even more.  Paul looks to the Lord Jesus to increase their love for one another, and for all men.  Just as only born-again Christians can love with God's love, Jesus causes us to love more and more.  He empowers us to keep His commandments, for without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:1-7, page 1686).

       Finally, Paul emphasizes that the ministry team loves the Thessalonians, and trusts Jesus to increase their love for them.  Part of having spiritual friends involves watching Jesus develop greater love among His family members.  He builds greater and greater love for each other, so that we all thrive on God's love.  Notice that our prayer lives should be focused, in part, upon praying for God to increase our love more and more for the brethren.

        So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we pray that God will fill our lives with love for God and each other.

     ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we actually love each other more and more, with the love that only God provides.

       ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we fail to pray for love and implement love among our friends. 

Application for Today

        Today, I want Jesus to cause me to love my friends in Christ more and more.  Who will you love today? Will you show them your love?  Are you praying for love today?