#36 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 8

I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 10.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, and to be devoted to the body in love!

The eighth critical imperative is —8. Believers are TO HONOR ONE ANOTHER ABOVE THEMSELVES! (v. 10)

What does it actually mean to honor someone? We are to show them respect, care about what they care about, give them the benefit of the doubt. It sounds a bit strange to say to someone, “I honor you.” What is involved in honoring someone? Here’s a brief survey of that term in the Scriptures with my summary at the end:

Read more: https://larrydixon.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/ruminating-on-romans-some-thoughts-on-pauls-great-epistle-36-critical-imperatives-for-the-christ-follower-a-study-of-romans-12-part-8/

5 Reminders About Making Good Pastoral Care Visits

http://chucklawless.com/2021/10/thursdays-with-todd-linn-5-reminders-about-making-good-pastoral-care-visits/

How Not To Be A Discouragement To Others

Sometimes I get discouraged. How about you?

When I get discouraged, sometimes, I become a discouragement to others around me.

It is one thing to be discouraged. It is an entirely different thing to be a discouragement to others. But I find that my discouragement often times spills over into the lives of others and my discouragement becomes their discouragement. I lose sight of what matters, and I become a detriment to what God is doing in the lives of others. My circumstances cause me to want to project my discouragement on to other’s lives.

The Apostle Paul got discouraged from time to time. That gives me hope to know someone as spiritual as the Apostle Paul was discouraged from time to time. It is human to get discouraged. It is normal and expected. He told the Philippians in 2:19 that the best way to deal with discouragement is to hope in the Lord Jesus.

All of our aspirations come down to God’s sovereign grace over our lives. We hope in Jesus and thus we are encouraged because He cares about the details of our lives, all of them. He wants to hear about them. He wants you to share them with him. He wants you to acknowledge to others and remind them that your hope is in Christ and thus theirs should be too.

It doesn’t matter how small a detail you are dealing with. He wants you to hope in Him and encourage others to do the same.

The Philippians were very discouraged. Paul couldn’t come and see them because He himself was in prison. However, he writes this letter to remind them of his hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to them so they and He can be encouraged by mutual relationships and news they share with one another.

Don’t give up on relationships.

They may be your greatest source of discouragement from time to time, but they will also be the greatest source of encouragement for you.

Paul reminds the Philippians in 2:20 that he is sending Timothy who has relationship with them and there is no one like him who genuinely cares about their welfare. It is good to be reminded that others care, and we are not in this alone.

Recently I got a text message from someone in our church, it said, “I understand that you receive a FedEx load of prayer requests. A gentleman that I know was recently killed. He was not a believer and actually identified himself as a Satanist. His young son has been having a very hard time with his death. Would you be willing to join my prayers for him?”

I responded back and said I would be honored to pray for him to find hope and encouragement in Jesus. The world needs Jesus! We need to stay focused on being faithful prayer warriors and faithful servants for Christ.

When I get discouraged or burdened by the sorrow of this world, I think about the people of my life who are faithful servants of Christ and I think about the sacrifices they are making for him. I ask the Lord to remove my focus from those who have made it fully about them and are absorbed in their selfishness.

Who in your life do you think of when you need to remember to be a faithful servant of Christ?

Who in your life gives you encouragement when you think of them? Let them know, but also, keep thinking about them.

While Paul was being an encouragement to the Philippians, he didn’t know how his trial in Rome was going to go. He was uncertain and that uncertainty produced an anxiety in him like it would in you and me. He says in Philippians 2:24, “I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also,”

He is uncertain, but He is trusting in the Lord.

What in your life are you uncertain about that is causing you anxiety right now?

The Book of Acts doesn’t record Paul’s release from his Roman imprisonment, nor does it record his execution at the end of it. But evidence furnished by the pastoral epistles supports the hypothesis of a release during which Paul did additional traveling in Crete, Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Achaia. There is good reason, therefore, to believe that Paul’s hope was realized.

You don’t have to solve all the tension of other people’s lives by trying to convince them you don’t have any in yours. Nor do you need to wallow in it, in order for people to be able to relate to you.

In order for people to be encouraged by you, people need to know you understand real life, yet you trust in the Lord for your future despite the uncertainties.

Who in your life shows care to you and seeks to encourage you in the Lord? Paul reminded the Philippians in 2:26 that Epaphroditus was that kind of friend to them. He had a love and a care for the Philippians that gave them renewed peace and encouragement. Are you that kind of person in other’s lives?

We all need people like this in our lives and we all need to be people like this in other people’s lives.

Whether it is a godly dad or mom, or pastor, or Sunday school teacher, or youth worker, friend, accountability partner, ministry director, mentor, care giver, or so forth and so on. Sometimes it is easy to fixate on what people have done wrong and feel sorry for ourselves and lose sight of what others have done for us because of what other have done to us.

When I come across people who have lost sight of what others have done for them, I remind them. I want to encourage them to honor those who have served them faithfully. It will bring huge encouragement into a person’s life when they turn and honor, bless, and remember the sacrificial things others have done for them.

It is easy to bog down in what people aren’t or haven’t done for you, but what about focusing on what others have done for you. It will bring a spirit of hope and encouragement back to your life and then you in turn can give that same hope and encouragement to others.

When each of us do this, it changes the world one relationship at a time from a world of unrest and discouragement to a world of peace and encouragement. We all have a part to play in this through the relationships of our lives.

 

It is so very important to be encouraged in life and to be an encouragement in life to others. As I near the age of fifty, I realize more each day how much I need encouragement and how much I need to be a reminder of encouragement to others. It is easy to lose hope. It is easy to give up. It is easy to see what isn’t. It takes courage to see what it is and can be. And when we declare these reminders to others, it not only gives others a chance to be encouraged but reminds us to be encouraged as well.

May the peace of Christ rule in your heart today as you seek to be an encouragement to others that brings peace to the storms of their lives.

Blessings,

Pastor Kelly

Help First

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it…. You are helping us.
2 Corinthians 1:8, 11, NLT

Paul occasionally felt overwhelmed, yet he wrote the Corinthians to encourage them, and they helped him by their prayers. There was mutual support.

Justin Bariso wrote about a day when he was overwhelmed and at the end of his fuse. Emerging from his home office, he found his wife overwhelmed too. Their kids were all over the place, and Justin gave into frustration and started yelling. Later he reviewed his own reaction and said, “I can’t do this again.” He developed a two-word strategy: “Help first.”

A few months later, Justin and his wife again felt overwhelmed, but this time he took a deep breath, told himself to help first, and got his wife out of the room for a break. He set the kids up with something to do, gave them something to eat, cleaned up a little, and gave his wife a hug. It totally changed things.[1]

Maybe those two words are a good strategy for us all.
Help first.

By helping first, you break the cycle of misunderstanding…You feel better about yourself, and you get others to feel better about themselves. 
Justin Bariso

Refreshing Christians

Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.

Do you know who they are? In what book of the Bible are they mentioned?  Old or New Testament?  You won’t find them in Hebrews 11–The Spiritual “Hall of Fame.”

More than likely they are reserved for the answer to a Bible Trivia game.  They are filed under Miscellaneous.  Unidentified. Or unknown.

Give up?  

They were three members of the Corinthian church that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 16:15-19.  So who were they?  And what did they do?  Well, Paul knew and so did the Corinthian church.

I urge you, brethren — you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints —  that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.  

I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men. 

These three men, unheard of, unheralded and unknown, find their place in sacred scripture, not because of some great deed.  World shaking exploit. Or miraculous work.  These men are honored because of their devotion. Their ministry.  Their encouragement.

Paul pays them a great compliment.  He calls them “refreshing Christians.”  To refresh means to provide rest. To renew strength. To rejuvenate.   How?  We don’t exactly know.  It is believed that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus during his third missionary journey.    So these three men came to Ephesus and supplied something for Paul that was lacking.  Something he needed.  Something that lifted and encouraged him.

Today we need more folks like Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.

Continue at: https://thepreachersword.com/2013/06/06/refreshing-christians/

A Prayer about loving well

These thoughts are from Everyday Prayers: 365 days to a Gospel-centered Faith by Scotty Smith. I have read it most everyday for several years. I am always reminded and encouraged by it. Higly recommend it.

And so we know and rely on the Lord God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. The perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:16 – 19

Gracious Jesus, today I am remembering the call to love well all kinds of people at all kinds of situations. I am recognizable as one of your disciples by the way I love others ( John 13.34). This would be an unbearable burden if you didn’t love us as you do. We love you, anybody, only because you first loved us.

Help my love well the members of my immediate family. They are at the same time. Easiest and the hardest people to love, day in and day out. Sometimes I think I have the greatest family on the earth; sometimes I think I would trade one another in for a Diet Coke.

Forgive me when I want friendship to be simply mutual admiration society rather than a community of groaning, grace, and growth.

Help me know how to love the depressed and sad people in my life.

Help me to love the poor, the orphans and widows, The marginalized, for among them I will surely find you, Jesus.

 

Balancing Liberty in Christ with Brotherly Love

By Frank King 

Salvation in Christ delivers us from the bondage of legalism. We are not saved by rules of dos and don’ts, but we are saved by grace through faith in what Christ did on the cross for us.

I often say that the book of Leviticus is perhaps my least liked book in the Bible. It’s got all kinds of rituals, sin offerings, trespass offerings, offerings for when you touch something that’s unclean, etc. On the other hand, when we read the book of Leviticus as a Christian, you will appreciate even more the fact that Christ has delivered us from the legalism of the Law.

Actually, our liberty in Christ is two-fold. One, we are liberated from the legalism of the Law. And two, we are liberated from the bondage of sin. For whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

We must be careful, however, not to become lifted up about our liberty in Christ. For not everything that’s lawful is expedient (1 Cor. 10:23). In other words, something may be lawful or permissible but not in the best interest of the gospel. Accordingly, sometimes, brotherly love is far more important than the expression our liberty in Christ.

To drive this point home, Apostle Paul uses a simple example involving two divergent views on the foods we eat. He writes:

“I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Romans 14:14, NASB).

Liberty in Christ vs Brotherly Love

Read the rest: https://frankking.net/2021/07/balancing-liberty-in-christ-with-brotherly-love/

The Commandment to Love

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
                                                                   —Deuteronomy 6:5
This verse perfectly defines the relationship that God intended between Himself and Israel and all mankind. “Though this requirement is not explicitly stated in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:1-22), it is, according to our Lord Jesus Christ, the essence thereof, and the first and greatest commandment given by God to man (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28).
If this is the greatest commandment, then failure to love God with one’s entire heart, soul, and might must be the greatest sin of which one could be guilty. Indeed, not loving God is the root of all sin. Nor is our Lord’s summation of the Ten Commandments a condemnation only of atheists and pagans. It is also a terrible indictment of most Christians. How shamefully little love we give to God! “With all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might!” said Jesus. My own conscience has been deeply convicted.
The second commandment, according to our Lord, is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Obedience to this command is the essential evidence of truly loving God. John reminds us, “He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20). Love of neighbor is the inevitable result of loving God. These two commandments (to love God, then neighbor), like blossom and fruit, are inseparable. There cannot be one without the other. Moreover, “On these two commandments,” said Jesus, “hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). Here is the essence of all Scripture and of God’s requirements for mankind.
Were it not for God’s grace and the redemptive work of Christ, this clear teaching from Scripture would hang over us like a death sentence. We have disobeyed the first and greatest commandment, and as a result could not keep the second. The penalty for sin is death—eternal separation from God and from the life and love that is in Him alone. How desperately we need a Savior! And, oh, how God’s gracious and complete provision in Christ should create in our hearts the very love for Him that He longs for from us!
Loving God, Not Self!
The church is busy with conferences, conventions, seminars, and workshops where numerous subjects from healing to holiness, from prosperity to prophecy, from miracles to marriage counseling, are taught and discussed. Yet the subject of loving God is too often conspicuous by its absence. Instead, there is much emphasis upon loving self—a teaching unknown in the church until the recent advent of Christian psychology.
Jesus said, “On these two commandments [first, loving God; second, loving neighbor] hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). Since these two commandments are the essence of Scripture, nothing further need be nor can be added. Yet to these two has lately been added a third: the love of self. Moreover, this newly introduced “law” is declared to be the first commandment and key to all else. It is now widely taught that self-love is the great need, that we cannot fully love either God or neighbor until we first of all learn to love ourselves.
The preeminence of loving self began to be promoted more than fifty years ago by Erich Fromm, a blatantly anti-Christian humanistic psychologist who believed in man’s innate goodness. He dared to say that Jesus taught we must first love ourselves before we can love others when He said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 19:19). Other humanistic psychologists such as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers picked up Fromm’s concept of self-love and popularized it.
In fact, far from teaching self-love, Christ was rebuking it in the statement quoted above. He was saying, “You feed and clothe and care for yourselves day and night. Now give to your neighbors some of that attention that you lavish upon yourselves. Love your neighbor as you excessively love yourselves.” Such had been the Christian understanding of this verse throughout history. Christ would hardly tell us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves if we did not already love ourselves enough. But Fromm’s perverted interpretation, through Christian psychology, gained an entrance into the church.
In 1,900 years, no Christian author or preacher had ever discovered a single verse in the Bible that taught self-love and self-esteem. Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Spurgeon, Moody, and others found just the opposite: the necessity to deny self and to esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Nevertheless, humanistic psychology’s emphasis upon loving self inspired Christian psychologists with a new interpretation of Scripture that seemed to support their new profession. Bruce Narramore wrote, “Under the influence of humanistic psychologists like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, many of us Christians [psychologists] have begun to see our need for self-love and self-esteem. This is a good and necessary focus.”
Tragically, this humanistic influence has corrupted Bible interpretation so that the lie of self-love now emanates confidently as the new truth from pulpit and Christian media through pastors, preachers, teachers, and televangelists almost everywhere. The sad corollary is that the essential love of God is neglected and self-love is made preeminent. No longer are we being convicted of our failure to love God with our whole heart, soul, and might as the gravest of sins and the root of all personal problems. Instead, we are told that our problem has been a poor self-image and lack of self-love, and we are being urged to focus upon loving and esteeming and valuing ourselves. What a deadly perversion of Scripture!
There is a growing emphasis today upon world evangelism, and surely that is needful and commendable. We ought to obey the Great Commission given to us by Christ. There is also an awakening social conscience, a concern to demonstrate practical Christianity in caring for those around us, from the unborn threatened with abortion to the homeless and deprived. And so it should be. Yet that which must come first—a deep love of God—is largely forgotten.
“Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned” (1 Corinthians 13:3) may be commendable deeds, but if they are not motivated and sanctified by an all-consuming love for God, they are of no value at all in His eyes. Have we really faced the teaching of this great love chapter? How amazing and sad that love of God is buried in the flurry of activity to serve Him. Indeed, the average Christian, while he may love much else, including even the world, which he is forbidden to love, gives little serious thought to loving God.
Heaven will be the ecstatic joy of eternal and infinite love. What a taste of heaven we could have now—and at the same time bring satisfaction to our Lord!
Many issues of great concern legitimately occupy the attention of church leaders and their flocks. Yet the greatest commandment, and that which God desires from us above all, is scarcely mentioned, much less given the prominence it ought to have in church fellowship and individual lives. How tragic! And what an indictment of Christianity today. None of us is innocent of this great sin. My heart has been broken as I’ve been convicted anew of how far I fall short of keeping the essence of God’s commandments. I have cried out to Him with new sorrow and longing that He would help me to love Him with my whole heart and my neighbor as myself.
The Bible is filled with injunctions to love God, with explanations of why we ought to and of the benefits to be derived thereby. Here are a few examples. Look up others and meditate upon them:
  • And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul…that thou mayest live…for he is thy life, and the length of thy days. (Deuteronomy 10:12; 30:6,20)
  • Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments. (Nehemiah 1:5)
  • All things work together for good to them that love God. (Romans 8:28)
  • Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
God even tells us in Deuteronomy 13:1-3 that He allows false prophets to work signs and wonders as a test to see “whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” We live in a time of such testing. Loving God fervently will keep us from apostasy.
Yes, love is commanded. True love begins in the will, not in the emotions. That love is commanded seems incomprehensible even to many Christians. The world has conditioned us to believe that one “falls in love” and that love is a romantic attraction between the sexes. “Boy meets girl and falls in love” is the most popular theme of novels and movies. Yet “love” without God brings sorrow.
“Falling in love” is perceived as being helplessly swept up in a mysterious, euphoric, overpowering feeling over which one has no control and which, inevitably, loses its magic. One is thus equally helpless in “falling out of love,” and thereafter “falling in love” with someone else. A commitment of the will is missing. We are commanded to love with purity—God first of all, with our whole being, and then our neighbor as at least a partial correction of our natural tendency to excessively love ourselves. Love is a commitment to God that demonstrates itself in human relationships.
Yes, falling in love transforms for a time those who experience this emotion. One suddenly becomes a different person. Someone else becomes more important than oneself, bringing deliverance from the slavery to self that ordinarily imprisons us all. Self no longer receives priority, but another has become the primary focus. The love and attention that once was lavished upon oneself now is given to the one who has become the object of one’s love—and that brings tremendous freedom and joy. This temporary release from self-centeredness explains more than anything else the ecstasy of love—a fact that those “in love” generally fail to realize.
Love Is a Commitment of the Will
If loving others is so transforming, how much more so to genuinely and deeply love God. How can this come about? God is so great, so far beyond our finite ability to comprehend, that it seems impossible to know Him. And it is impossible to love a person (except with God’s love) whom one doesn’t know. Love is above all personal.
It is being taught in the church that the best way to get to know God is to visualize Christ, who is God manifest in the flesh. Visualization is the most powerful occult technique. Visualizing an entity, even “God” or “Christ,” puts one in touch with a masquerading demon. Yet visualization is becoming more popular than ever in the church.
Denying any occult involvement, teachers of this technique declare, “Visualize Christ as your favorite artist paints Him—then talk to Him and He will respond.” What a delusion to enter into a relationship with an imaginary “Christ”! Even if the picture created in the mind were absolutely accurate, which it is not, it would be like “falling in love” with a picture and imagining that it was talking back. Such behavior borders on insanity, yet it is seriously promoted by leading Christians.
It is also suggested that visualizing Bible scenes helps to understand their teaching. Such a practice is not only occult but illogical and misleading. Obviously, visualizing oneself seated among the listening multitude will not help to understand the Sermon on the Mount. Most of those in His day who saw and heard Jesus with their physical eyes and ears neither understood nor obeyed what He said. Knowing God and His Word is not aided by images, even if accurate—much less by imagining scenes for which the Bible gives insufficient data to recreate them. “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard,” but God reveals Himself and His truth to our hearts “by his Spirit…because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:9-14).
Images appeal to the flesh. Beauty is only skin deep. Solomon says that “charm is deceitful and beauty is vain” (Proverbs 31:30 NASB) and Peter warns against outward attractiveness and commends “the hidden man of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4). What folly to think that an image of Christ created by one’s imagination helps one to know and love Him.
Love is not primarily a feeling. It is a commitment. This is the missing ingredient in much that is called love today. A genuine and lasting commitment to one another is often lacking even in Christian marriages due to worldly influence and the promotion by church leaders of loving, esteeming, accepting, and valuing self.
Commitment is also the missing ingredient in many a Christian’s relationship with God. Rather than working up a feeling that you love God, make a commitment to Him to love and obey Him. Jesus promised, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him” (John 14:21-23).
We need to know God and His love in our hearts. As we seek Him in His Word and in prayer, He will reveal Himself by His Spirit. We are to love Him with our whole heart, soul, and might. May He grant us a fresh conviction of the sin of not loving Him as we ought, and may the desire to obey this first and greatest commandment become our passion. Only then will we begin to manifest that love for one another which Christ said would be the mark whereby the world would be able to recognize His true disciples—those to whom He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Imagine If, We Loved Like Jesus (“Shrunk Sermon” on 1st John 2:7-11)

Imagine if, Cain had walked a path of love. Imagine if Cain had loved Abel instead of hating him. Imagine how things would have been different, for Abel, for Cain, and for Adam and Eve.

Imagine if, the people of Noah’s day had walked a path of love. They were known for their violence and that violence led to the flood. Imagine if they had love for each other instead of hatred. Imagine how things would have turned out different.

Imagine if, Pharaoh had walked a path of love, loving the Hebrew people instead of making them slaves. Imagine how the exodus story may have turned out differently.

Imagine if, the inhabitants of the promised land had walked a path of love. They were in the habit of sacrificing their children among other atrocities. Imagine if they had more love for their children than their false gods.

Imagine if, the people of God in the Old Testament had walked the path of love, loving God and each other. They were called to be a light shining in darkness. Imagine if they had kept God’s commandments and had taken care of the poor, sought justice for the oppressed, and had refrained from following the practices of the former inhabitants, like worshipping other gods by sacrificing their children. Imagine how things would have have turned out differently in so many ways including the avoidance of the consequence of their behaviour, the fall of Jerusalem and the exile.

Read more: https://clarkedixon.wordpress.com/2021/05/12/imagine-if-we-loved-like-jesus-shrunk-sermon-on-1st-john-27-11/

Experiencing Loneliness

Hebrews 13:1-6 Keep on loving each other as Christian brothers. Do not forget to be kind to strangers and let them stay in your home. Some people have had angels in their homes without knowing it. Remember those in prison. Think of them as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who are suffering because of what others have done to them. You may suffer in the same way.

Marriage should be respected by everyone. God will punish those who do sex sins and are not faithful in marriage.

Keep your lives free from the love of money. Be happy with what you have. God has said, “I will never leave you or let you be alone.” So we can say for sure, “The Lord is my Helper. I am not afraid of anything man can do to me.”

All of us feel lonely from time to time, perhaps because of ill health, a busy work schedule, or moving for a new job or school. When that happens, we find it harder to reach out to friends. Our mind starts telling us no one’s interested in our thoughts or feelings, and we build walls around our heart that let few people in. The more we withdraw, the worse we feel.

But it’s important to distinguish between loneliness and aloneness, because believers are never truly alone. Yes, everyone feels isolated at some point, but God never intended for us to live disconnected from one another (Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper that is right for him.” Gen. 2:18). Ever since creation, He planned for us to enjoy an intimate relationship with Him and with others. First, He established a personal relationship with Adam and then provided him with Eve. Note the order: Intimacy with God precedes intimacy with anyone else.

In the absence of a personal relationship with the Lord, loneliness prevails, and the only way to be connected to the Father is by trusting Jesus as Savior (Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father except by Me. John 14:6). When we do that, we receive His peace (“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give peace to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27) and the promise that He’ll always be with us (Teach them to do all the things I have told you. And I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Matt. 28:20; Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you,” Heb. 13:5). Believers are forever His children and never truly alone.