Friday, February 12, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Disciples


How Will I Know?
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 
– John 13:35 (ESV)

A month ago, the world watched the most poignant demonstration of anger, rage and hatred in this century. Many of the angry hoard who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building were professed Christians and patriots. Their demonstration of lawlessness was antithetical to John 13:35.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the Western world thinks about affirming the people with who we are in love. Some people evaluate their relationships based upon the cards and/or gifts that they give or receive. Personal esteem and future plans are often predicated on the swag of the day.

In 1985 when I was an undergraduate Theology student, Whitney Houston released a new song. The title was a question for all the ages: “How Will I Know?” The lyrics portray a young woman who was smitten with a man. She is seeking advice from a more mature person. She is seeking some metric by which to measure whether what she feels is true love or the deceptive feelings of infatuation. True to pop music, no answer emerges, but the song was catchy and memorable.

In the days when Jesus walked on this earth and taught the people living in that era, He developed a following. The Gospels portray Jesus as, patient, kind and prescient. He cared about His followers and gave them the master key to the Kingdom of Heaven. This key was not wood or metal, but it was tangible. It was an ethic of service and an ethos of love.

Prior to his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said to His disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Twelve disciples of disparate backgrounds: seven fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, two tradesmen, and Judas (the treasurer), rounded out the group. They lived, traveled and travailed together for three years. These disciples of Jesus Christ grew through the group dynamics of forming, storming, norming, performing and transforming. Even though there was some bickering and jockeying for position, they liked each other.

Near the end of His time with them, Jesus felt the need to show them that they needed to grow to a deeper level of relationship with Him and with each other. He made visible, tactile love the single most effective key to their futures. Like apples on an apple tree or peaches on a peach tree, love would be the stock in trade of His disciples, the true believers.

During this month in which love is the theme, please accept the following list as ways to demonstrate love like Jesus did, not just to your loved ones, but to others who may come into your sphere of influence. 

Here’s the list:

#1: Help if you can. If you can’t, refer and/or take them to someone who can. (John 2:1-11)

#2: Pray for them, ideally, while you are with them. When they experience the answered prayer, your words will resonate within them. (Acts 12:5)

#3: Be the guardrail for your friends. Guide them away from trouble. (Proverbs 27:6)

#4: Forgive and let go of your hurts and misgivings. (Proverbs 17:9)

#5: Be a servant of God and a friend to all people. (Galatians 5:13)

#6: Share optimism, kindness and love. (1 Corinthians 12:25-26 and 2 Samuel 9:1-13)

#7: If you know Jesus, introduce your friends to Him. (John 1:35-42 and Hebrews 10:24-25)

If your spiritual fervor and passion for change in your home or community must become active, please let it reflect the love of Christ. The principles above, once fixed on your mind, will guide you away from rebellion, anarchy, hatred and a spirit of murder. God’s love will propel you into positive action. Peaceful and purposeful benevolence will be the order of the day, even if you are met with resistance.

Gary Chapman, a 20th century writer of relationship books with a spiritual bent, cornered the market with his book, The 5 Love Languages. In his book he suggests that we all have the need for love and that we express and receive love in one or a combination of the following methodologies:

Words of Affirmation

Physical Touch

Receiving Gifts

Quality Time

Acts of Service

In the month of February, commit to sharing at least one of these manifestations of the love of Christ to at least one person every day. If you do, February may become the best month of your year. If you master the habits, every day will become better, in every way.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank You for creating love and making it the bonding agent of human relationships. Please shower the Earth with a new impetus and fresh anointing to love one another. Help us to see beyond our identifiers, race, creed, color, gender, age and pronouns that might easily separate us. Help us to see You more clearly in each other. Help us to embrace and magnify the You that we see, so that the world may be able to identify us as your loving, peacemaking, miracle working, disciples and thank You for the difference that we make in the world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.


Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md. 

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address, psanderson75@gmail.com.

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