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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of December 10, 2012

Listen to your prayers, because they locate your level of spiritual maturity.

What are you praying for? Are you asking God to give you more stuff--a bigger house, a new car, a bigger salary? What you pray for indicates what is important to you.

It is a great lesson to examine what the people in the Bible prayed for.

King David, in Psalm 27:4, prayed, One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. He asked God for just one thing: that he would dwell in God's presence. David clearly knew that in God's presence he would receive everything he needed (see Matthew 6:33).

Paul also didn't pray for worldly things. Instead, in Philippians 1:9, Paul prayed that the church would walk in love: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more. Paul knew the importance of love, and so he made it a point to pray that the church would grow more and more in love.

Furthermore, he prayed that believers would be strengthened spiritually: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16).

In short, your prayers can tell what you consider to be important. If you are only praying for worldly stuff, then you are neglecting what is of lasting value: knowing God, dwelling in His presence, walking in His love, and being strong spiritually.

Therefore, decide to adjust what you're praying for. Learn to listen to your prayers, because they locate your level of spiritual maturity.

Before you can love others, you must receive God's love for yourself, because you cannot give away something you don't have.

God deeply and intimately loves you! His love for you is unconditional—no strings attached, and there is nothing that you can do to get God not to love you. Indeed, Romans 8:38-39 says that there is nothing that can ever separate us from God's love.

Knowing that God loves you is central to your understanding of the Gospel, for the entire Gospel is based on God's love (See John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10). The good news is that God hasn't withheld His love from us; instead, God has poured out his love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).

But what do we do with that love? We know God loves us, but so what? What should we do with God's love? Give it away! Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11). In other words, our response to the news of God's love for us needs to be to love others. Indeed, Jesus repeatedly commanded us to love others (See Matthew 5:43-47, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 6:27-35, John 13:34-35, John 15:12,17).

However, it is impossible to love others unless you know, believe and receive God's love. 1 John 4:19 says, We love because he first loved us. In other words, we are able to love other people, because God first showed His love to us. If God hadn't shown His love to us, we would have no standard and no example on which to base our love for others.

Similarly, 1 John 4:7 says, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Here again, our ability to love one another is only because love comes from God.

Think of your ability to love others like a glass of water. At first, the glass is empty. If you don't have any water in your glass, then you obviously can't give water to anyone else. But when you hold your glass under a faucet and let the water pour out into your glass, it will fill up. Then, once it is full, your glass will overflow, and you can let the water pour out to everyone around you.

If you don't have love in you, then you can't give love to anyone else. Therefore, you must first receive God's love, before you can love one another.