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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

 

I was cooking the other day, a Matthew West song came over the speakers.  I was taken back by the concept portrayed.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.

 

Does it sound familiar?  “Love is patient..it is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrong…”  (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV84)

 

If you’re like me the first thing that comes into my head is not holding onto resentment.  It so easy to keep a list of the wrongs people have done to us.

 

However, there is another way we hold on to a list, a list of our own wrongs.   I find it’s easier to forgive others  than I can forgive myself.  If I sat down right now and wrote out every mistake I could remember it would be a doozie of a list.

 

Love does not keep a record of wrongs.

 

I think it’s the reason I and so many others are miserable, or freeze up when having to make a decision.  We’re reminded of all the mistakes we made, and they hang on to us like the chains of Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens’ book  A Christmas Carol.

 

The rehashing of mistakes and the fear that freezes me to moved forward replaces the calling God has given me to live and to live an abundant life.  I also push away from the rich love God has for me.

 

When I hold onto the list of my wrongs  and mistakes tightly, in essence I’m saying, “Your Son’s sacrifice was worthless, and your forgiveness is nothing.”  I’m doubting and that is sin.  Catherine Marshall in her book The Helper states this:

 

“He (Jesus)*  claimed to be the Savior, to be able to save us from any sin, any bondage, any problems. By disclaiming that with regard to any one of my problems, I am calling Jesus a liar and a charlatan – a fake prophet – as truly as did those who long ago howled for His death before Pilate and who drove in the nails…we think of sin as the breaking of laws, whereas Jesus thinks of sin as being bound.  Why would anyone with good will condemn a poor man bound with chains or tied with heavy rope?  Would he not rather want to free him?”

 

When we take our mistakes to God for forgiveness, He forgives and forgets.

 

See I have another problem that is linked to all this.  I can’t tell you how many times, the enemy reminds me of things I have done, and immediately I ask for forgiveness again, and again.  I can picture the Father smiling and saying,  “What mistake?”

 

Take a look at some of these verses:

 

“ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from  all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASB)

 

He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.”  (Psalm 103:11-13 NASB)

 

A person is blessed when they are forgiven, sins are covered and God doesn’t count it against them (Psalm 103:11-13 NASB)

 

“…For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34 NIV84 based on the new covenant that was fulfilled through Christ.)

 

Loving God means keeping no record of our mistakes for this simple fact, He loved us so much that He doesn’t keep a record of them.  The list was ripped up when we received Christ as our Savior.  Confession is for our benefit.  He forgave us at the cross.

 

It’s time that we forgive ourselves, let go of the past and move forward.  It’s not easy but through the work of Holy Spirit it’s possible.   If God is love then He keeps no records of our wrongs, so it stands to reason we should not keep a record of our wrongs.

 

*My emphasis

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My Father’s Love

Over the past several days, my quiet times have been in the book Identity by Eric Geiger. As he suggests, I am going through it very slowly, so that I can meditate on the words and let them sink deep within me; which also means I look up each and every verse he lists.

 

I can’t tell you how many times in my life, I feel that God is not there with me. Oh sure my head tells me that He is there, but when difficulties, failures, or challenges come and I don’t see Him working or can’t feel His presence doubts rise. Oh and don’t get me started when I sin, there is the feeling that my Heavenly Father separates Himself from me.

 

This morning’s reading focused on God’s love as a Father. The following verse came up, which, by the way I have read many times before:

 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

Like I said, I have read this verse many times but something new popped out at me, “…the love of God IN Christ Jesus our Lord.” Admittedly, I sat stunned for a few moments thinking. The thought occurred to me if God would go through such lengths to adopt me as His own child, why would He separate Himself from me?

 

His plan goes back to the first Christmas. He sent His Holy Spirit to impregnate at a teenage girl, who could have been stoned to death had not Joseph obeyed the angel and accepted Mary as His wife. This baby grew to become a traveling Rabbi, sharing His Father’s message of love, hope, and redemption taking twelve men with Him. He was hassled by the religious leaders of the day, who eventually sent Him to the cross for heresy. The truth of the matter is, this was God’s plan all along. He sacrificed His Son Jesus so that we could be assured of His love as His child, and be free of the bondage to sin.

 

How dare I even entertain the thought that He isn’t there with me through everything. But even that statement will not separate me from His love. Personally, I think He feels sorry for me when those thoughts come.

 

Someone made this analogy, that His presence and love is like a father who is holding the hand of his child as they cross the street. As much as that little one wants to pull away and run, the father’s grip is stronger and constant. Wow! The best part is, He loves us more than other’s love us or the love we have for our families. That’s huge.

 

How about you? Are you feeling like God has abandoned you or He doesn’t love you? Oh beloved, of the Father, He hasn’t left or stopped loving you. Reread the Romans verse, meditate on it, and allow God to speak through it into your heart.

 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

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“They’re not coming, mommy.”  My daughter sat in the car sobbing.

“Why not, honey?” I had never seen my daughter so upset.  It was her ninth birthday and her year to have a party.

“They are not coming to my birthday party if Georgia is invited.  No one likes her and they told me to un-invite her or else they won’t come.”

“What did you tell them?” my heart ached.  How rude of her friends to put her in that position.

“I told them I couldn’t do that.  Then she would feel left out if everyone else was invited and she would be un-invited.”

“I know that it was a hard decision for you, but it was the right one.  Remember what happened to Jesus when he went to the house of the tax collector Matthew?  The religious leaders criticized Jesus for eating with those who were not liked.  Jesus told them that he came to reach out to those who needed Him and extend the love they were not receiving from them.  Matthew eventually became a disciple of Jesus.  You may be the only “Jesus” Georgia will ever see.  You are treating her just like Jesus would and your friends are acting like the Pharisees.  I am proud of you.  Keep taking that stand and if your friends don’t come because of it, it will be their lost.”

I have thought about that conversation in relation to myself and other adults.  I have caught myself saying “I don’t want her at my table because she seems weird.”  In ministry people have come up to me and said I will go in any group you put me in but if so and so is in it place me in another group.”  Most of the time for me the issue is a personality conflict, the person rubs me the wrong way.  But God doesn’t see them any differently than He sees me.  Christ loves me, a sinner, so I am not in a place to judge their hearts.  He created them also, and just as I told my daughter, I may be “Jesus” to them.  I may show His love in ways I never thought I could.

My daughter continued to stand for what was right.  No one from her class including Georgia attended, only two friends from church.  But she had a great time with them and her parents who thanked God for her courage.

How about you?  Do you treat others differently because their personalities cause you to cringe?

It can be hard to love them as Christ loves them.  However, God doesn’t play favorites and neither should we.

“My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 (NIV 1984)

*reprint of an article I wrote in May 2010 for Purpose Sunday School Periodical.

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1 Corinthians states, “It (love) does not envy”.  However, I like the synonym jealous better.  The word has a stronger connotation and scripture uses it when describing God, Himself.   If love is not jealous then how can scripture tell us God is?

Sure God has a right to be jealous, for He is the One and only God.  He created everything.  But there has to be more to this jealousy thing than just that.  Take a look at this verse in Exodus.

 

“for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD,

whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”  Exodus 34:14 (ESV)

When I think of jealousy, the word “negative” comes to mind.  Someone gets jealous over another’s brand name sneakers, or career or degree.  I have a hard time believing God being jealous in this sort of way.  So if this is true, how does His jealousy and love for me fit together?

I looked at the notes for another verse Exodus 20:5 in two different versions and what I read hit hard.

“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I am the LORD your God am a jealous God…”  Exodus 20:5a

  • The first likened His jealousy to a marriage.  A husband or wife expects that his or her spouse will be faithful, loyal, and love them. When I became one of His children I entered into a relationship with Him. Therefore, when I put others, or things before Him, I am saying in essence, You’re not important to me. God wants me to put Him first, like my husband wants me to put him first before anything else including our children.¹
  • The second stated that His jealousy can be renamed zealousness.  He has a zeal (*a strong interest, intense enthusiasm; fervor) for me and therefore wants the best for me.  When other things or people replace Him, it’s not in my best interest.²

To be honest these two ideas brought real conviction.  Both exhibit how much He loves me and His strong desire to be in relationship with me.

The sad part is I am not always faithful to put Him first.  When I come willing and confess my wrong and ask that He change my heart, He will restore the relationship.

I think that His zealousness (jealousy) for me is one of the mysteries concerning His character I will not understand fully until we are face to face with Him.

How about you? Does knowing that God is zealous for you cause you to think differently about your relationship with Him?  I challenge you to ask Him today to show you how zealous He is for you.  I would love to hear how He chooses to show you His love.

“So that Christ may dwell in your hears through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:17-19 (ESV)

*Webster’s dictionary definition of zealousness

¹Taken from Exodus 20:5 notes NIV 1984 Study Bible

²Taken from Exodus 20:5 notes ESV Study Bile

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Kind:  adj: sympathetic, gentle, benevolent Syn: loving, compassionate, generous

To describe God’s loving kindness was a challenge for me.   I never really sat down to think about what kindness looks like.  When my girls fight, I automatically say “Why can’t you be kind to each other?”  It seems like common sense and to a certain point it is.

I love how the Book of Ephesians describes the ultimate act of His kindness to me.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead I our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ –by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:5-9 (ESV)

 

Even when I was full of sin, He loved me.  God made a way for me to be one of His children through His Son Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

But His kindness doesn’t stop there.  Because He is my redeemer He will have compassion on me (Isaiah 54:8).  He will provide what I need and will do kind things and give blessings (Isaiah 63:7) just because He can.

My youngest daughter came home with a medal for being on the honor roll. She was so proud that she took it with her when she walked our dog.  Upon returning she was sobbing.  Somehow it came loose from the ribbon and was lost.

We retraced her steps and could not find it.  When I asked where she thought she lost the medal my daughter said the drainage ditch.  Unfortunately we had a heavy rain the day before and the ditch was full of water.

I sent her back into the house empty handed then sat on a bench and prayed, “Daddy, help me find this medal.  I know Grace is important you therefore what is important to her is important to you.  Please show me where it is.  I will not leave this golf course until I have it.”

I walked the path taken earlier, nothing.  I even went into the ditch and kicked around the high grass, still nothing.  Frustration set in, and I began wondering why God didn’t show me where the medal was. “You cared about the woman who lost the coin, and the man who lost the sheep, I know you care about this lost medal.” I decided to check the ditch again.  There on a narrow strip of grass that I had walked through five or six times and saw nothing, now presented me with the shiny medal.

I felt like the woman who found her coin.  I clutched it to my chest as the tears rolled down my cheeks.  I praised and thanked God all the way back to the house for showing His kindness to me and my daughter.

He certainly didn’t have to do that, but He did.  Why?  Because He loved me, loved my daughter and wanted to demonstrate His kindness to us.

How about you?  If you have seen His provision, or been given an unexpected blessing, or just had a good day, you have experienced His loving kindness. Praise Him and thank Him for it.

“I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted [*me] that he has granted [*me] according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”

Isaiah 63:7 (ESV)

 

*added for emphasis 

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When it comes to the love of God I have found myself overwhelmed. The other day I was struggling to decide what to do for my quiet time so I prayed about it.  The passage that came to mind, was 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the “Love Chapter”.  I’ve studied it before as it applied to my marriage or parenting, but not in relation to God’s love.  However, the parallel between this chapter and God, made perfect sense.   What better scripture to learn about His love than the Love chapter.

As a Christian I am to be a reflection of Him and if that is true, there is a need for me to see God’s character.  That brought up some serious questions right out of the gate such as if God is patient didn’t He lose His patience with Israel?  Or If love isn’t boastful, doesn’t God boast about Himself?  Of course God is God and He has the right to do both.  But then how does that relate to me?

The first three verses seem to be common sense.  When I took a deeper look I believe I  gained a fresh perspective of who He is.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love.  I am nothing.  If I give away all I have and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.” 

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV)

 

  1. God speaks and understands all languages, for He created them.  Not only that, He listens to thousands of them all at once.  He doesn’t have to say, “You in Russia don’t talk until I hear those in England or Mexico.”  He loves me so much that He can intently listen to anyone, anywhere at anytime and all the while be listening to me as if I was the only talking to Him.
  1. He understands all mysteries and all knowledge, yet He allows us to glimpse a fraction of what He knows such as black holes, and gives us the ability to build ultrasounds to see His creation of an unborn baby.
  1. He gave up all the riches of Heaven to put on a human body and live among us as a member of a poor carpenter’s family.  Then He made the ultimate sacrifice of shedding His blood as the payment for our sins.  That is some kind of love.  Because of His love I can be free, be part of His family and live with Him forever.

I don’t know about you, but the above gives me chills.

How do you see His love? Are you awed by it?   Do you want to reflect the same kind of love?

I would encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 13 for yourself. Ask Him to show you something new about Himself and give you a new perspective of His love.

As I share what God is showing me, I would also love to hear what He is showing you about His love whether it be from your own Bible study or how He has been working in your life.

 

1 Corinthians 13, Psalm 139

 

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We all make mistakes. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

If you are anything like me, some mistakes wreak havoc with my emotions and my relationship with God. They can even zap my energy to get things done. I found myself in this exact situation recently.

My motives were great at first, however the choice led to guilt and questions like  “I am so unworthy to talk to Him, and read His word how can I call myself a Christian or even go to my local place of worship?” Let me say this before I continue, we are not worthy but have been made worthy when we have accepted Christ as our Savior.

I am a recovering “Perfectionist”.  By the way there is only One perfect and that is Christ. With that said, when the mess up is big in my eyes, perfectionism attacks with power. Instead of focusing on what can I learn from the mistake, I beat myself up sometimes until I’m sick.

Enter the two “safe” people in my life, my husband and my mentor/accountability/prayer partner.

Mike is a wonderful man who I am grateful God gave to me. As I confessed to him my mistake, he talked without condemnation and best of all, showed me the positives that could come out of it.

JoAnn is wonderful, godly woman. As I poured my heart out to her she also listened while I sobbed. She gave this input; “Christine, you must get back into the Word. The only way to find relief and release from the guilt, which by the way is not of God but Satan himself, is to allow God to battle for you through His Word. Read verses that talk about His love for you. It will be amazing what you will learn.”

So I did. I talked to Mike about what I had been learning through my Bible reading and a book I was reading. Surprise appeared on his face.

“You still feel guilt over this?”

“Yes.” I cried.

“Honey I’ve got just the verse for you that I have memorized. By the way, guilt is not of God.”

Hmmm, where did I here that before? Here is what he shared with me:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on  to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet
to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.   I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:12-14 *

I realized how easily I forget His promises that He has given me. Promises like:

Romans 8:1  – There is no condemnation for those of us who have accepted Christ
Deuteronomy 7:7-9 –  He doesn’t love me because I’m important or perfect but because I am His
Psalm Psalms 66:20 –  He will not hold back His love from me
Psalm 17:8  – I am the apple of His eye
Psalm 94:12-19 –  He won’t reject me but uses the mistakes to teach me
Zephaniah 3:17  – He is with me, mighty to save me, delights in me, quiets me with His love and rejoices over me.

But one of the neatest things is His love is all encompassing:

Psalm 36:5  It reaches to the heavens (it’s above me)

Psalms 23:6 – His love follows me (It’s behind me)

Psalms 26:3 – His love is before me (it’s in front of me)

Psalms 139 –He knows me and hems me in

Ephesians 3:17b-19 His love is wide, long, deep and high

Now close your eyes and picture yourself.  Place a red heart where these verses say God’s love is.  We as His children are totally surrounded by His love.

I wish I could say that the guilt is totally gone. It’s not, but it has diminished, as I have called out to God. I’m better then I was 5 days ago and better than yesterday. The worse thing I can do is runaway from the Father. During these times I should be running toward Him.

I have been forgiven by God.

Let me say this, fear can come into play with some of our mistakes. This can be a good thing for it becomes a warning flag that we are heading in the wrong direction and change is needed. But take heart forgiveness is waiting with open arms. Brokeness admits the wrong , leaves it as God’s feet and allows  Him to restore  and help us move on.

How about you today? Do you have a hard time fighting the guilt or embarrassment over your mistakes ?

Don’t run from your Heavenly Father.  Read His Word, leave your mistakes with Him and allow Him to restore you.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8:1

*Please note all verses quoted and listed are from the NIV 1984 version of the Bible.

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It’s that time of year again.  If you’re anything like me I have good intentions to keep my resolutions only to find myself in December making the same ones because I didn’t follow through the year before.

 

In 2013 I want to be different.  Where have I heard that before?  But this year I have only two things on my list so it should be easy.  Right?

 

First, is the number one resolution most people make, lose weight.  As I get older I am realizing the importance of eating well, exercising and keeping my weight down.

 

The second is to love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength.  When I do this everything else in my life will line up.  It will affect me as a parent, wife, individual, ministry worker, and writer.  It will literally touch every aspect of life because I will be obedient to God and recognize His voice.

 

In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 6, Moses told the Israelites, that one loves the Lord completely by obeying the Law.  He told them to write it and place it on the foreheads, and arms.  Even today some sects of Judaism still tie little black boxes on their foreheads and arms that contained the law.  It was to go with them as a reminder of who they belonged to.

 

I heard Beth Moore address this very idea in her Bible study on “Deuteronomy”; I said to myself “We don’t tie little black boxes to our bodies today, so what do both of these have to do with me?”  And as if she read my mind, Beth mentioned those t-shirts or jewelry we wear with Biblical thoughts or verses.  You know the ones.  They sell in them on-line and in Christian bookstores.  They’re knock offs of the current movie, or social status pages.

 

But then she asked a pivotal question.  “Do we really believe what we wear?” Moses was telling them to take it deeper.    It wasn’t the letter of the law they were to follow (tying the boxes to the forehead or arm)  but it was the heart of the law, don’t just learn the Word but believe and live it out.   Do I really believe what one cross pendant I have says, “With God all things are possible”?  When my Father tells me to do something that seems impossible do I say “Sorry I can’t do that” or do I say, “Okay I will trust You and step out of my comfort zone.” Sadly it seems to be more of the first, than the second.

 

I’m tired of good intentions.  I want to follow through, not just to become like Christ, but to point others to Him.  Change comes by meeting with Him on a daily basis, memorizing His word, applying it and praying.  It won’t be easy, but it is doable with the Holy Spirit’s help.

 

How about you?  Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?  Are you tired of the way you life is going and want to live in a Christ like way in 2013?

 

Seek Him out.  Change starts with a relationship with Him.  Ask Him to show you what loving Him so completely looks like. Loving, trusting and being obedient to God is not a one size fits all deal. Each person is unique.

 

If you have never come into a relationship with Him, I encourage you to go to the page “An Invitation” (tap is at the top of the screen).  The page will walk you through what it means to do just that.

“Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be written upon your heart.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-6 (NIV 1984)

 

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Giving Thanks

Every year for Thanksgiving I usually sit down and write out a list of the things I’m thankful for. This year I want to share with you my list containing promises from His word.

He has adopted me as one of His children

Romans 8:15-16 “For I did not receive a spirit that makes me a slave again to fear, but I received the Spirit of daughtership. And by him I cry, “Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself testifies with my spirit that I am God’s child.”

He is always ready to forgive me

I John 1:9 “If I confess my sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive me of my sins and purify me from all unrighteousness”

He created me, and I am special to Him

Psalms 139:13, 14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.”

He loves me with a love like no other

Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

His love for me is so deep that he gave up His own Son Jesus to pay a debt I couldn’t pay

John 3:16 “For God so loved Christine that he sent his only Son, that if Christine believes in him Christine shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Because His is my Father and loves me deeply He will discipline me so I may be more like His Son

Psalm 94:12 “Blessed am I whom you discipline, O Lord, the one you teach from your law.”

He sends blessings because He can

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does, not change like shifting shadows.”

When temptation comes, He will not allow it to be more than I am capable of handling in His strength

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized me except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear. But when I’m tempted, he will also provide a way out so that I can stand up under it.

That even in the hard times, I will become more mature and complete if I allow Him to work

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, Christine whenever, you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of you faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I am competent to do what He has called me to, because He gives me the competence

2 Corinthians 3:5, 6 “Not that I am competent in myself to claim anything for myself, but my competence comes from God. He had made me competent as a minister of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

He makes the path clear to accomplish what He wants me to

Revelation 3:7 “These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

I am His and nothing can take that from me

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things I am more than a conqueror through him who love me. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The best promise, after my salvation, is that one day I will be with Him

Matthew 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many room; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Thank you Father, for the promises you give to us in your Word. They give us hope, peace and comfort. As we sit around our tables and give thanks for that we are that we have and what we do, may we give thanks for sacrifice your Son made so that we may live with you some day. May we be lights to the world that is in the dark?

In Your Son’s precious name

Amen

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

*All verses are from the NIV 1984

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Hate or Love – Choose

Today’s blog is stepping out of the norm for me.  It’s  a challenge rather then encouragement.  But because it has been so heavy on my heart, I wanted to share it with you.

Anger is a powerful emotion. It causes us to move toward making good changes or toward bitterness. But for me recently, my anger led to heartbreak and compassion for my community and for the world.

Lately on the news there has been much anger expressed. I was angry when I first read about the murders of our Ambassador to Libya and three others. But then a feeling of sadness enveloped me.

Why would a god ask for hatred and violence of anyone who was offended by what another person said about their beliefs? I have heard people say Christians would never do that when some one wouldn’t agree with our principles. Really?

As there are extremists in the Muslim world, there are extremists in Christianity. Take a look at the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades. Some will say “Yeah that was hundreds of years ago, not now.” I ask again, really?

I’m thinking of the extremists that hold hateful and condemning signs at gay pride parades and abortion clinics, or even burning religious books and making films that were meant to offend, all in the name of freedom of speech and God. It has even entered into the political arena. I can’t tell you how tired I am of politics, mud slinging and the angry Facebook pages from both sides. We should be praying for our leader’s hearts to change toward, God and vote our beliefs.

I read in Scripture of a God who came to earth to walk among men to show the love He had to offer. He chose to mingle with the unlovables, the social outcasts of His day. He didn’t agree with the lifestyle or the religious fanaticism but He loved them anyway. Because He loved them where they were at, many were drawn to Him.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for what we believe. But look at the response to Chick-fil-a and their president who endorsed traditional marriage. Who made the bigger statement, the critics of the president or those who took a stand with him? There was no anger voiced by those who went out to support. Even the responding protest was almost non-existent. I turned on the news to see the response. The reporter was the only one there.

Yes, we need to speak the truth of God’s Word, but with love. One daughter has been asked about her God at school. Someone said they didn’t believe in her God because He hates gays.

“That’s not true,” my daughter said, “He loves them but does not like the choices they make.”

It’s called loving the sinner and hating the sin.

The day after I read the article on the Middle East, I read on Facebook “Pray for the victims’ families.” I think that is a given. How about praying for the enemies?

God is the perfect judge. One day everyone will be called before Him. It won’t be about what we have done in His name but what we have done with His Son Jesus that will make or break us. He will have His day to judge the world. For today though, as the church, and as Christians our job is to show His love to the world around us not be condemning but to speak the truth with love, not hate.

Which do you choose? Hate and anger? Or love and compassion? Are there people in you life that just know how to push the buttons and give you reason to be sarcastic with them? Are your words full of anger or love?

Ask God today to change your heart not just towards the big issues but the everyday stuff as well. Let’s be the vessel He uses to bring others to Him through love.

 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  IF I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserveres.”

I Corinthians 13:1-9 NIV 1984

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