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HOLDING CHRIST
Part 2

EXERCISING YOUR LOVE FOR CHRIST

Matthew 10:8 . Freely you have received, freely give. (NIV)

Mark 12:28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV)

You cannot hold what you do not have. When you have Christ living in you as a result of your being forgiven for producing the trauma of His death on the Cross, you keep Him or hold Him by exercising your love for Him. To exercise your love for Him you must send your love for Him, first toward Him then toward others. The more of His love you send to Him the more of His love you experience or get back. You send His love to Him on the wings of thanksgiving and gratitude for His loving you and forgiving you for crucifying Him. When you send Christ messages like "Thank you, Lord Jesus" and "I love you, Lord," then you find His love filling your heart and life.

To hold Christ and His love within you, you must be obedient to His teachings. If you are not obedient to His teachings, then His love will slip away from you. When you make His teachings a part of your everyday life, everyday behavior, and everyday thought patterns then His love will most surely stay within you. When you give His love to others, then His love comes back to you and that love lives in your heart.

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (NIV)

When you are a constant daily disciple or follower of what Jesus taught, He lives within you. When you live your life like He taught you to live, He brings blessings into your life so numerous you cannot count them all. When you live as He taught you to live, you will have His grace and love within you until you reach paradise.

YOU SHOULD HOLD CHRIST ONLY BECAUSE YOU LOVE HIM

1 John 2:12 I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (NIV)

Your heart holds Christ at your will. You should hold Him only because you love Him, not because you feel some kind of obligation imposed by customs, tradition, or theology. You should hold on to Christ because He forgave you for crucifying Him. You should love Him because He loves you and He willingly permitted you to crucify Him. You should love Christ because He loved you first, without knowing whether you would accept Him or reject Him. You should love Christ because He has loved you from the moment of your conception and His has always been waiting to pour out His grace upon you. You should love Christ not because someone tells you to love Him, but because His presence in your life compels you to love Him. How could you not love someone who loves you in this way?

GOD'S WILL

It is God's will that you love Christ and accept Him, but you are free to reject Him or shut Him out of your life. At any minute you can turn away from Him and walk your own path. You should hold on to Christ and His love for you just as if you were holding onto a rope trying not to fall to your death. For when you let Him slip out of your fingers, sure death awaits you.

LIVING WITH A CLOSED MIND

1 Corinthians 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (NIV)

Christ dying on the Cross is too often passively viewed from a distance far away. However, there will be no love, no grace, and no peace from Him if you are not willing to hold Him within your heart. Holding Christ means you hold His wisdom, His truth, and His word so tightly in your mind and heart, that you exclude any thought or idea that is not of God.

As a Christian, are you supposed to have a closed mind? Yes, because you are supposed to close your mind off from the dark forces that would destroy you. If you open your mind and heart up to the darkness then the darkness will come in and attempt to destroy what Christ is building up in you.

HOLDING ON TO CHRIST IN EVERYDAY LIFE

John 3:6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (NIV)

In your everyday life, you must try to live in both your physical dimension in this world, as well as live in the Lord's spiritual dimension. Although you live in a physical realm, you are a spiritual being. Your body is physical but your life or the energy that keeps your heart beating and lungs working is a spiritual energy. In your everyday life, you must exert maximum effort in holding on to Christ who is love that is spiritual energy and His teachings that help you hold on to His love.

ACTION OF SATAN

Matthew 4:1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (NIV)

It is the intent and desire of Satan to inflict pain, suffering, and temptation upon you so you will lose your grip or lose your hold upon the love of Christ. By inflicting suffering upon you, Satan causes you to lose your ability to focus. With enough pain put upon you, you begin to lose your ability to keep Christ's teachings and His love within you. There is always a battle between Satan and the love of God through Christ within you.

Ephesians 6:11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Your heart, soul, and spirit are the battlefield. Your free will determines how much of a hold or grip you place upon Christ's love within you. How tightly you hold to His love and His teaching determines whether Satan can influence you. The more you hold fast or hold on to the love of Christ and His teachings, the more victories you will win over Satan.

EXERT YOURSELF

John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NIV)

Nothing comes easy in life. The love of Christ can be alive in you. His love stays alive in your heart and mind only as you are willing to hold Him in your heart. To keep and possess the love of Christ in your heart you must exert yourself. You must continually try to hold the truth of Christ and His love within you. You must surround and protect the love He stores in your heart by filling your mind with His teachings. Each day, as you wage war against the power and force of darkness, you must grip His truth and keep His truth in your heart. To hold His love in your life and heart pray until every moment is a moment spent with God. Always do the right thing in every circumstance, be at peace in every moment, and live with the full knowledge of your salvation.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (NIV)

1 Timothy 3:9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. (NIV)

EXERT EVERY OUNCE OF YOUR STRENGTH

Once you have Christ in your heart, you must then exert every ounce of your being, every minute of your life, to keep Him within you. The avenue to Christ is within your heart. The road to the Cross begins and ends within you. You must do the very difficult task of confronting your sinfulness. When you confront the sinful nature of your heart you then see how far short of the mark you have fallen. When you truly see that you crucified Him then you are stricken with grief. When you truly see you pierced His innocent hands with nails then you are stricken with grief. When you truly see that you are the one who beat him and tore the flesh off His back, you are overwhelmed with the grief of your act. You might wish to run away from your personal responsibility in putting Christ on the Cross. No one wants to experience this kind of grief and guilt. No one wants to admit they had anything to do with taking the life of another person. Most of all, you would certainly not want to admit that you have any responsibility in crucifying Christ. However, you must admit that you did indeed crucify Him. Although you do not want to accept it, it was your sin that put Him on the Cross. You must confess your sin. You must admit to your role in Christ's murder. When you are able to stand before the Cross and accept the reality of your role in His suffering and death you are overcome with guilt. It is at that point, when you are crippled and broken with your grief, that you are to say to Christ, "Lord Jesus, I am sorry. Please forgive me." At that moment, Christ comes and puts His arm around you and says to you, "It's OK. I forgive you." At this moment in your life, your heart is open and touched by the healing love of His forgiveness. At this moment of your confession and your being overwhelmed with grief, His grace and love fill your heart. When you receive His forgiving love, you must then wrap your heart around Him. No matter how much you plead for Him to come into your heart and life, you must understand that pleading for Him to come in without wanting Him to come into your heart does not make it so. Only your godly sorrow and grief that opens your heart, followed by your asking His forgiveness for your sin, causes Christ to come to your side. Only your godly sorrow and grief from your putting Him on the Cross, will open the door of your heart so He can come in and cleanse you from all your sins and unrighteousness.

 

 

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018