You Just Knew I Had To Do It!

Standard
I have been gone for the past few weeks. Part of that time was spent with grandchildren in Indiana. I love being a grandmother. I don’t get to play the part often, but when I do I relish it. As I was looking at the pictures I just recently took that shows off my grandchildren I began to look at each child and remembered how much I love them. As I looked at the pictures of my daughters I felt an enormous amount of love for them. God sent me a gentle reminder this morning that sometimes I often forget.
 
As I looked at each child and the activity they were doing I thought about how special that child was to me. They all have a uniqueness in them. The child I looked at this morning is one that always wants to share with his brothers. He will often think of his brothers before himself. There is another one that is very caring and loves his momma so much you can feel it in him. There are my two granddaughters who are very loving and caring as well. All of them are special and unique in some way. I don’t love any one of them more than I love the others. They all are special to me. I have to remind them quite often that I love each of them just the same. My daughters are the same way. They are unique and special and have their own special qualities that I love.
 
As I was doing my morning devotions and thinking of my grandchildren and daughters (and sons in law) God reminded me of one simple almost forgotten fact; He loves us more than I could ever find it possible to love my family. He loves the uniqueness in us. He doesn’t love any one of us more than he loves all the others and he’s got a lot more to love than we will ever have.
 
Psalm 138:26, “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Steadfast means unwavering and loyalty. Endures means lasting. So what this verse is saying to each of us is that God’s love for us is unwavering and it is loyal. It lasts forever. There is never a time God will not love us. His love for us lasts forever. I want to repeat that only because I want you to hear really hear it. Say it aloud and let it sink in as you read it again: His love for me (say your name) is unwavering, loyal and will last forever. God loves me!
 

There were a couple of times I must admit I didn’t like the actions of some of my family while there. Their behavior disappointed me (I would like for you to believe my family is perfect and they are in so many ways, but they are human just like I am and they aren’t perfect just as I am not perfect or you are not perfect). There were times my daughters disagreed with one another and there were times my grandchildren were disagreeable, but for the most part, I think they did well. When they were misbehaving did I love them any less? No, I might have been disappointed in them, but I loved them just as much as before.
 
Psalm103 (from the Message), “God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.” God loves us even when we mess up. God looks past the sin and sees the sinner and loves. There is nothing we can do that will make God take away his love for us. Just like any parent, he might be disappointed in us, but he will never stop loving us.
 
As I was looking at all my pictures I heard God say to me, “I love you that much and more. You are special to me and I love you as much as I love anybody.” I sometimes forget the love God has for me or else I take it for granted, but this morning I was reminded and his love came through loud and clear. He reminded me he loved me so much he called me his daughter. I belong to God; I am his and nothing will ever change that. I sometimes look at others and think God must like them more than me because….., but God reminded me this morning He loves me as much as he loves the next person. He doesn’t love anyone more than another. We are all special and unique in his eyes. He loves us for who we are. For me, I have to get past the idea that God loves others more than he loves me. I was reminded of that this morning. I have to understand, know and truly believe God loves me as much as he loves you. God loves you as much as he loves me. We are loved by the one true parent that is not biased or shows not favoritism.
 
Are you feeling God’s love yet? Do you know how much God really loves you? Do you understand that God’s love is lasting and steadfast? Do you understand God doesn’t hold grudges, or nags or scold? Do you realize God loves you as much as the next person?
 
I hope you know all of this and if you don’t please know God loves you and will love you forever and nothing you can do or will do will ever change that. God is a God of love.
 
Dear God: Sometimes I take for granted the love you have for me. Sometimes I think God doesn’t love me quite as much as someone else for whatever reason. But today you have reminded me of the love you have for me. It’s deeper than a parent or grandparent’s love for their children or grandchildren. I was reminded that even though I mess up you still love me. I was reminded that you will never take your love from me. Thank you for your enduring and steadfast love. Let me never take that for granted. Help me as I share your love with others. In all these things I pray Amen.
 
Advertisements

At The Crossroads

Standard
We are almost at the end of the month and we have been discovering what love is all about. Love is our first Fruit of the Spirit. This month we are trying to get the love right. Next month we will add another fruit to our study. I hope you have enjoyed the journey.
 
I wanted to take today and study some key figures in the Bible and see what they did to show love or how they loved. Before this study began God showed me one of the key figures in the Bible and how he got the love right. It was a tough decision; one I am not sure I could make but he did and God came through for him.
We are talking about today about Abraham. Genesis 22 tells the story of Abraham and his son.
 
 “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his[d] enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

On my computer and in the many sermons I have heard on this the message it’s been about trust. They talk about how much Abraham trusted God. But, for me I see it as unconditional love. Yes, Abraham had to trust God, but he had to love God so much he was willing to give up his son. Sounds like someone else doesn’t it?
 
I love God. I love God more than life itself. But, do I love God enough to be willing to give up any one of my
daughters or grandchildren? I can’t say with a positive answer. If God came and asked me to do what he asked Abraham to do I am not sure I could do it. But, Abraham’s love for God was deeper than the love he had for his son. He was willing to sacrifice his son for God’s love. God does not call us to sacrifice anything especially our children for his love. His love is unconditional. I think (remember I am not a minister nor have ever studied in seminary, these are my thoughts) God needed to know the extent of Abraham’s love because he knew the kind of life he was calling Abraham to. He knew the plans he had for Abraham and he needed to make sure his love was genuine and his priorities were in line with God’s. Isn’t that amazing? When Abraham was willing to do what God called him to do God’s unconditional love stepped in and he didn’t have to sacrifice his son and at the same time God learned Abraham’s love was genuine.
 
I have never shared this with anyone, but on my Emmaus Walk several years ago I asked God what I needed to change. I thought I was a pretty good person and I wasn’t sure why I needed to be there. Soon after arriving and getting settled in God gave me a clear answer. I had my priorities messed up. You see God was on the list; he was way up there on my list, but he was not number one. My family was number one. Whenever anyone asked me to do something I always had to ask myself, “How does this interfere with my family?” I would only do things five days a week and it had to be during the day. Evenings and weekends were strictly for my family. I would go to church on Sunday mornings, but that was pretty much it. God was number two and family number one. All weekend God had to deal with me on this hard issue. I was not about to trade off on this, until one night I knew what God was calling me to do. God and I were at a crossroads and I had to make a decision. One of the hardest decisions of my life was changing my priorities; putting God first and family second.
 
I had no idea just like Abraham what plans God had for me down the road. I just had to love God enough to know it would be okay. From 1999-2005 we were blessed to be near family. God did not take them from me, but he blessed the time we had together. I found when I gave my time to God he would always give it back to me with time spent with family. God never took anything from me. He just needed to know who I would love more.
 
God does not call us to give up anything or to stop loving people or things. What he does want from us is to be number one in our lives. When we make him number one in our lives he blesses us with so much more. We all know Abraham’s story and how God blessed him. Abraham went on to be a Godly man and one of God’s best. God had to make sure Abraham’s love was in line with what God wanted Abraham to do.
 
God knew my future. He knew the plans he had for me. Although, I do not have family here in Texas God has blessed me with so many friends that I call family. He has given me so much more than I could ever ask for.
I did not have to do what God called Abraham to do, but I did have to make a choice. God knew what he was asking was not easy, but it had to be that way. God wants us to put him before anyone else or anything else. He will never ask us to sacrifice anyone or anything, but he will put us to the test to see who we love more. It’s all about getting the love right. I am sure Abraham got the love right. Now if I can just follow in His footsteps and get the love right then I might be on the right path.
 
This month I have looked at love from a different perspective. This week God reminded me of the challenge and the decision I had to make. He allowed me to see the love Abraham had for God and what he was willing to do. I am sure I will never be an Abraham, but God needed me to put him first in my life. I have and he has poured his blessings out on my more than I could ever have imagined.
 
Is God number one in your life? If God put you to the test how would you do? It’s not about giving up anything or sacrificing anything; it’s just about getting the love right and making him first in our lives. When we do that he blesses us beyond anything we could ever imagine. Make God number 1 in your life. You may not be an Abraham, but I promise you God will bless you more than you can imagine. It’s worth it. I know.
 
Dear God, thank you for the Abraham story. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. You never call us to give up anything or sacrifice anything, but you do call us to get the love right and that is putting you first. When we put you first you bless us in so many ways. Be with me as I move forward learning to love you as much as Abraham did and willing to do what you are calling me to do knowing in the end you will bless me. Amen
 
God bless each of you!

Who Is Up For A Challenge?

Standard
It’s the start of a new year. I wasn’t sure what God had planned for me. Early last year I found a devotional I wanted from my favorite author so I purchased it and put it back; anticipating for the New Year to roll around so I could start using it. I was excited as I got the book out and read day 1. It didn’t disappoint.
 
One of the focus points in this book is the Fruits of the Spirit. I have read them and studied them many times, but have not really taken the time to delve into them like I should. After reading day one I started doing my daily chores, but something kept nudging me. God kept my thoughts on the fruits of the Spirit.
 
I went and grabbed my book. Maybe I was to put them into practice and make each one of them the focus for each month of the New Year. I took my book and began to count the fruits of the Spirit. I soon realized there were nine of them. Then God quickly shared with me it takes nine months for new life to be born. Yes on occasion it could take less time, but ideally it is supposed to be nine months. Nine months for a new life to be formed and ready to live life. As I thought about this I thought about how if I took each fruit and applied it to my life each month and built upon it until I got all nine of them studied I could be a new creature in Christ at the end of the nine months. God was challenging me to put into practice those fruits of the Spirit for nine months. I grabbed my book once more to see what the first fruit was. I opened my Bible to Galatians 5:22-23, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” The first one listed is love. Well, I must say I was a little disappointed; love? Really? I think I do that really well. After being nudged by God I thought maybe I should rethink whether I do love well or not.
 
It’s so easy for us to love our family and friends. It’s so easy to love those who love us, but what about those who don’t often like us? Or how easy is it to love those who get mad at us? I was quickly reminded of Luke 6:32, “”If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” I am no different than anybody else if I just love those who love me back. I have to be different. What would make me different? Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…” The key is to love everyone even those who wish to do you harm. Can I honestly say I have done that? How many times have I held my love back because of some silly reason or something they did or because they didn’t deserve it? Has God held his love back from me because of something I did, said or because I didn’t deserve his love? Not a chance, God loves me all the time, not just when he chooses to love me. I have to work on that one.

How many times do I flippantly say I love someone without really thinking about it or acting like I really do? Sometimes I think of it more as a gesture than a heartfelt emotion. Again, I can think of a few times people has said to me, “I love you” and I replied back I love you too, but did I really mean it or was it simply a reply? Guess I have to work on that one too.
 
So as you can tell I do have to work on love in so many ways. Love is more than a warm, fuzzy feeling towards others. It’s not the romantic kind of love God is looking for. It’s more than all those things. It’s letting God love others through you. It’s all about agape love; unconditional love. Love is seeing others as Christ sees others and loving them through it all.
 
As I reflect back I really do need to work on the fruit of the Spirit called love. I need to love others the way God loves me all the time, in all ways; not when it’s convenient for me, but all the time.
 
This month I will be studying about love; looking at scriptures about love and trying to get the love right. I will be praying about love and what it is God wants me to learn about love and loving others. When next month comes along I won’t forget about love I will just add to it. It’s going to be a challenge, but one I am ready to take on.
 
I challenge you to join me as together we begin to look at love the way God looks at love. I challenge you to look at scriptures, pray about love, and find ways to express your love not only to family and friends, but to those who might challenge you. The next time you tell someone you love them, think about what you are saying; do you really love that person or is it just a nice gesture or a reply that makes everyone comfortable?
 
We often challenge one another at the first of the year about losing weight or changing habits or whatever I challenge you to become a new person in Christ with me by taking on the Fruits of the Spirit for the next nine months.   Won’t you join me?
 
1 John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Dear God I don’t always get the love right. Help me as I begin to look at love. Help me this month to understand what love really is and what you are calling me to do as your disciple. Teach me about agape love and unconditional love. Let me love others through you. But, most of all help me to show love toward others this month. 
 
God bless each of you!

Lord Help Me Get the Love Right Part 2

Standard
A few weeks ago I blogged about getting the love right; I said if you could get the love right everything else would fall into place. This is a perfect example of getting the love right. 
A woman posted on one of the pages I follow on Facebook this encounter with a gentleman. It happened after picking her son up at work. As most teenagers she asked if he was hungry and he replied he was. She went into Arby’s and was buying him something to eat when she felt the urge to buy extra. She followed her prompting (I am convinced it was the Holy Spirit). She caught a glimpse of this man carrying a backpack looking down the whole time. He walked past them and went into the gas station next door. She pulled in to the gas station and motioned for him to come over. She asked him if he needed a ride in which he replied he did. So she told him to hop in. Smelling the sandwiches and knowing she bought extra she offered him something to eat. She dropped him off at a shed behind a restaurant. He was staying with a friend and two dogs in this shed. He asked her if she had any work for him to do. They were both without jobs and needing a hand up finding a job. She noticed they had ice chests to keep things cold and was cooking on burners hooked up to a car battery. They did have a grill with no wood or charcoal. They were taking showers with a water hose. One man had a sore on his face. When she asked he said it was cancer. 
She could have left these men and think nothing more about them. She didn’t stop there. On this Facebook page she posted the story only in more detail and then went on to ask for some help for these gentlemen. Offers of jobs, water, hygiene products, clothing, blankets and winter items are just some of the donations this woman has collected for these men. She is selling some of her own things so she can purchase items for them. The out pouring of love and generosity is amazing. One of the replies was from someone who is a manager at Arby’s and she posted this sweet man comes around often and he is very sweet and polite. 
The woman who went the extra mile said in her post, “I love when I get an urge to buy more food because I always come across someone who needs it. My children always say, ‘how do you always seem to know?’ I just tell them that’s God’s way is never wrong.”  It is my guess that she does this often for many people. 
What a story! I am thinking she has the love right. How many of us would have thought about doing this and then stopped and thought about our own safety? Or thought about the money we work so hard for? How many of us would have given it a thought and then turned away and dismissed the thought?
I am not proposing we all go out and do this. I am sharing an example of how once we get the love right the Holy Spirit will work through us to help others. We can’t think about the outcome. I am not sure the outcome will change these men. I am not sure these men will change their lifestyles, get jobs and become successful. That is not our call. Our call is to get the love right, follow Christ’s example of helping others and to offer love and prayers to those in need. Matthew 25:34-40 reminds us this “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
The other thing that really touched me is the lesson she is teaching her children. She is teaching them about love. She is teaching them about listening to the Holy Spirit and God and doing what she is able to do. She is teaching love, not fear. They are learning to get the love right. 
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 21:31
“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10
When we get the love right everything else will fall into place. I think she got the love right. Do we have the love right? I know I still have a lot of work to do yet. 
Dear Lord: I ask that you bless this woman, her children and these men. They just may be angels sent from you to see how we are doing on getting the love right. Help us to get the love right and then let the Holy Spirit work in our lives. Give us the urgings just as you did this woman to help those who are in need. Help us to respond to your nudging knowing you never get it wrong. Thank you for teaching me it’s all about the love. Amen

Lord, Help Me Get The Love Right

Standard
This religion thing is hard. I get things sorted out in my head and I think I got things figured out and then I read something in the Bible that makes me question my beliefs. I am involved in a Sunday school class and we read different books by different authors and they bring up issues that question how I believe. I then begin to worry if I am being led astray, if what the Bible says is being watered down and changed to fit today’s lifestyles or if I am living life the way God wants me to. My response is often God help me to understand and get it right. I don’t want to harm anyone, I don’t want to lead anyone astray and I don’t want to miss the mark. So, today is one of those days I am wondering about what I believe; am I getting it right or am I missing the mark? How do I resolve this issue so I don’t fret and worry? 
 We are reading “Half Truths” by Adam Hamilton. They are clichés we often say that are not necessary true statements found in the Bible. Many of them I have used in conversation in one way or another. I did not realize until reading his book how distorted they could be taken. So once again I am questioning some things I believe and some things others are sharing with me. Now I am not here to discuss Adam Hamilton’s views; right or wrong. I am here to share with you how I dissolve my dilemma. 
In a recent class where we were discussing the book one classmate brought up the fact that God only gives us two major commandments which are, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Here it is pretty simple: we are to love God first with our whole heart and mind. We are to love God in the same way he loves us. He loves us unconditionally and we are to love Him unconditionally. The second one says we are to love our neighbors in the same way. According to Adam Hamilton (page 150) he says this, “As Jesus’ teaching made clear, your neighbor is everyone you meet, and even those you haven’t met.” In my mind I can live with that definition. I don’t wrestle with that idea of who my neighbor is.
In the book he talks about Billy Graham and his daughter Gigi at a banquet with President and Mrs. Clinton. On the way back to the hotel they were discussing all the difficulties the President and Mrs. Clinton were going through with his impeachment and his obstruction of justice. Another statement made by Adam Hamilton is found on page 159 where he says this, “Gigi said her father’s simple comment was, ‘It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict; it’s God’s job to judge; and it’s our job to love.”  Once again we are to love our neighbors; not convict, not to judge but to love. I am called not to judge my neighbor on his or her sin. I am not to convict them of their sin, and I certainly am not called to judge. 
I have a friend who says something like this, “My prayer is Lord help me get the love right.”  Someone in the class said this is so simple, but we want to make it complex. If I can just get the love right which means for me love people with the same love God has for me; unconditionally then everything else falls into place. If I truly love people the way God loves me then I am not going to say or do anything that would harm them, steer them in the wrong direction or damage them in any way.
Religion is hard; living a Godly life is hard, but it’s because we make it hard. God didn’t want it to be so hard it was impossible to attain. It’s impossible because we live in the world that wants to share their ideas of religion on us. It’s hard because we listen and read everything we can by everybody we can. All we need to do is ask God to help us get the love right. If we can truly love others like we should we won’t see the sin in their lives. We will see them just as God sees us; a forgiven people who Christ died on the cross for. 
I think I am going back and work on the simple commandments of loving God with my whole heart and loving my neighbor. If I do that everything else will fall into place and I don’t have to worry about how I deal with all the other things. I am human and I know I will not always get the love right, but at least I can begin to make that my prayer and let God begin the work in me. 
How are you at following the two greatest commandments? When you see others do you fall in love with them or do you see their sin and want to judge and convict them? When others fail do you still love them or do you see the wrong they did? Can you get past seeing the pain they might have caused you and see them as forgiven people whom Christ died on the cross for? Lord, help me get the love right.
Dear God, my friend has the right idea when she asks you to help her get the love right. If I get the love right then I won’t bring harm to others. If I can get the love right then I will be living the kind of life you have called me to. Help me to see others as you see me and as you see them. Amen

I Can’t Do It, But God Can!

Standard
February, the month we all talk about love. I was going to resist, but God wouldn’t let me. I lead an online Bible Study and we are dealing with 1 Corinthians 13. I am using a Max Lucado Study guide. Reading his study guide and listening to God brought me the message I want to share with you.
I had always enjoyed reading 1 Corinthians 13. It was a sweet passage. Then one day someone suggested I read it and put my name in it. So, I read it like this: Becky is patient, Becky is kind, Becky doesn’t brag, and isn’t arrogant, and so on. That passage changed for me. It wasn’t so sweet when I made it personal. I began to see where some of my faults were.
 This is a passage that we just can’t live up to. We can accomplish some things and at points in our lives we are patient, kind and not arrogant, but to live this way daily we can’t do it. We live here on earth; it’s just not possible. Do I beat myself up over it? No, I just accept that there are some things I can do and do well and other things I need God to work on yet. A construction job in process is exactly what I am.
One morning as I was reading my study guide Max suggested we put Christ in place of love. So it would read like this: Christ is patient, Christ is kind, Christ doesn’t brag, or isn’t arrogant and Christ isn’t rude and so on. Now the passage once again makes sense to me and is much sweeter. I want a Savior who is patient with me. I want a kind Savior especially when I mess up for the hundredth time for the same thing. I like this verse too, Christ never fails. I need to know I have put my hope, faith and trust in someone who is all these things to me. I need to know when people fail me there is someone in my life who will never fail me or disappoint me.
Max suggests that rather than let this Scripture remind us of a love we cannot produce, let it remind us of a love we cannot resist – God’s love. Some of us have been looking for love in all the wrong places. Some of us have never known what love could be. When we place our lives in Christ we can know what true love is all about. God’s love for us never fails, He never gives up on us, He is never rude to us and He is never arrogant towards us. He never keeps a record of those things we have done wrong, He doesn’t list our complaints. He listens to us and then gently works through those things with us.
If you are seeking love this year and just can’t seem to find it look toward Christ for filling that void. If you have had trouble knowing what love is or what it looks like look toward Christ and find the true meaning of love.
Once we turn our lives over to Christ and we allow Him to love us to the fullest we then begin to emulate Him. At times we begin to be patient and kind. We find we are at times not so jealous and we aren’t arrogant. Once we let Christ live in us we find we aren’t as irritable and people look a little different to us. When we understand fully that God doesn’t count our mistakes or keep a record of our complaints we let go of those things we are holding onto against those who have wronged us or complained about us. We can then begin the journey of living our lives through the fruits of the Spirit, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” Galatians 5:22-24 (The Message)
We will never fully live out 1 Corinthians 13 while living on this earth, God knows that, but what He does expect from us is an attempt. We first turn our lives over to Him, let Him fully live in us and then ask Him to help us accomplish 1 Corinthians 13.
Take the time to read 1 Corinthians 13 placing Christ’s name in place of love. Do you know this Christ? Do you know this love? I encourage you today to get to know this Christ and His love for you. Christ is passionately waiting for you to come to Him.
Accept His love and His way of life for you and you will receive the blessings He has waiting just for you.
Dear Lord, 1 Corinthians is an example of your love for me. It shows just how much you love me and if I come to you I can experience not only this love you have for me , but the many blessings you have in store for me. Remind me not to beat myself up when I fail to live up to this passage. Teach me O Lord that it is more about your love for me. I can’t accomplish this while I am here on earth, but I can begin to move forward and begin to work on those things you have shown me I need to work on. As I move forward in your love help me to begin the put the fruits of the Spirit in my life and live fully for you each day. Amen 

God’s Greatest Gift is Love Let’s Unwrap Some Love

Standard
We will not get to all of God’s gifts but we are hitting the biggies. One of God’s greatest gifts is the gift we all want most. Can you feel it? Do you know what it is? Well here we go let’s open one of the last gifts for this season.
The gift God has given us is the gift of His love. He loves us and offers this gift to all. It’s His unconditional love. He loves us no matter what we may do. He may get mad at us, but that doesn’t stop Him from loving us. God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” John 3:16 God loves us so much He sent His only Son to come and take away our sin. He loves us so much He has given us eternal life with Him if we only confess our sins, turn our lives around and follow Him. 
You may think you are unlovable, but that’s not true. God loves you and He doesn’t care who you are, what color skin you have, or what you have done in the past. I can’t say it enough: God loves you! You are loved!
I can remember the saying we all used to say as kids,
Nobody loves me, everybody hates me
Think I’ll go and eat worms
Long ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones
See how they wriggle and squirm
I used to sing this and have a pity party, but this is not something we have to sing about anymore because God loves you!
I can remember when I fell in love with my husband. I thought that was the greatest love of all and it’s great, but God loves me more. When I had given birth to my children I thought there was no greater love, but that’s not true either. Someone once told me when I was expecting my first grandchild there was no love like that of a grandmother to her grandchild. That love is extraordinary, but God’s love is greater than that also.
In the New American Standard Version, love is mentioned 348 times — 133 times in the Old Testament and 215 times in the New Testament. In the New International Version, it is mentioned 551 times — 319 times in the Old Testament and 232 times in the New Testament. There are 538 instances of the word “love” in the New Revised Standard Version, 317 in the Old Testament and 221 in the New Testament. (Sources: christianbiblereference.org) I’d say love is pretty important to God. 
Just as important as God’s love is for us He commands us to love one another. In John 13:34 you’ll find these words, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We are to love one another unconditionally with the same love He has for us. There is a song we often sing and it goes like this:
I love you 
With the love of the Lord 
Yes I love you 
With the love of the Lord 
I can see in you 
The glory of my King 
And I love you 
With the love of the Lord
We are humans we can’t love everybody, but what we can do is ask God to put His love in our hearts and to see others as He sees them. When we see them as God sees them we can reach out in love to them. I often think if God has so freely given me His love how can I deny loving others?
What would this world be like if God were like us and loved with emotions and feelings? There are a lot of disappointed and hurt people running around. But God is not like that and we shouldn’t be either. Let’s learn not to love with emotions and feelings, but love as though God lives in us (and if we have confessed God as our Father than He does live in us).  
This Christmas take the love God has to offer you and open it knowing He loves you and cares about you. Let’s offer that same gift to those who we come in contact with….even those whom we don’t get along with or like. 
Dear God: Thank you for loving me even when I don’t feel it or deserve it. There are times I don’t even love myself, but during those times you still love me. Help me to know I am loved and then to pass that love on to others. Remind me your love for me is unconditional and I should follow your commands and love others unconditionally. Love is the greatest gift given to us by you; may I never abuse your love for me by not sharing that same love with others. Amen.