Love Letters

Our life is God’s love letter to the world. He uses us to communicate to our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors that He cares about them (2 Corinthians 3:3).

 

If we do not take the time to reach out to these significant people in our life, we deprive them of the love of God through us.

 

We may even shut up the Kingdom of Heaven to them and their blood will be on our hands (Ezekiel 3:18-20). It is important that we at least plant a seed of God’s love in everyone we meet.

 

It is easy to do this. We can give them our church bulletin and invite them to join us the next week. Offering them a ride to the grocery store or to church is another easy way.

 

We can hand them a tract with spiritual truth that they may otherwise never know. Starting a spiritual book club or Bible study in our neighborhood is another great way to reach out.

 

There are retired women and men in our church who would gladly teach such a study if we ask them; or there are great study guides in the Christian bookstore to use as a text.

 

We can bake a cake for a bereaved family, give a homemade card to a sick neighbor, or baby sit for a young couple to have a date night.

 

The possibilities are endless, if we listen to God’s Spirit and follow His directives. God equips us to walk in His will through Christ in us (Hebrews 13:20).

 

With Christ living within us, we experience rest for our soul (Matthew 11:29). We stop striving to perform for God, because Christ works through us (Psalm 46:10; Matthew 6:28-33).

 

This eternal rest is only available if we take our focus in life off the temporal aspects of our existence and place it squarely on eternal matters instead (2 Corinthians 4:18).

 

Prayer:

Father God, You gave us Your eternal life, which no one can take from us (John 10:28). We are joined to You, and we are beneficiaries of Your divine nature (1 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Peter 1:4). We have constant fellowship with You, the Son and the Spirit (1 John 1:3, 9; Phil 2:1).

 

You placed us in Christ Jesus and we are seated in heavenly places in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 2:6). You provide every spiritual blessing for us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Help us to share Your love with those You put into our life. We want to give You all the honor and glory for everything we think, say and do each moment of the day.

 

Thought for the Day:

The love and integrity of the testimony of our life for God may be the difference in someone believing in or rejecting Jesus as their Savior.

 

 

The Truth about Love

There are three common types of love. Each one is distinctly different, but we can feel all of them at one time – for one person or many people. EROS is passionate physical love. It includes sensual desires and longing.

Relationships built only on Eros usually end when sexual passion wanes. That is why people have affairs or casual physical relationships. Therefore, marriage needs more than Eros to survive.

PHILIA means friendship and connotes affectionate love between friends and family. It displays dispassionate camaraderie. Philia includes loyalty to friends, family and community. It exhibits Godly virtue, impartiality and delight.

Philia denotes a friendly type of affection between family and friends. It is a desire for companionship and enjoying activities with each other. Having a friendship with the people in your life and enjoying time to play, pray and share in common pursuits is vital in any relationship.

AGAPE means unconditional love. It refers to a deep sense of God’s pure, holy love. Instead of the sexual attraction of Eros or the deep affection of Philia, Agape is sacrificial.

Agape provides us with the feeling of contentment and satisfaction as we put each other first and highly esteem one another as better than our self (Philippians 2:3-4). True love takes effort and is not dependent on the other person.

Christ lives in us and is love personified. Regardless of how someone treats us, we love them with God’s love within us. It is not how we feel, but what we do to express God’s love to one another.

This does not mean that we do not honestly communicate to others how their behavior makes us feel; but we never give up on the relationship. We may have to establish boundaries, but we keep the relationship active.

Love is not what we expect from others, but what we provide for those in our life whom we care about. We are called to love one another, just as Christ loves us. Sometimes, that is a tall order to fill.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to display love to our parents, spouse, children, church family and even strangers regardless of how they treat us. This is only possible as we submit to Your will for our life and allow Your Spirit to reprogram our thinking to have the mind of Christ. Remind us that once we have this spiritual love, then the physical and the emotional feelings will follow after it.

Cause us to submit our self to You and to resist the devil. Then he must flee from us (James 4:7). His destructive suggestions that putting our self first, estrangement and divorce are not wrong, and that You want us to be happy, will vanish with his departure. Remind us that You want us to be holy. Help us to develop Agape love for others as we focus on submitting our self to You.

Thought for the Day:
Most people realize that we are far from loving one another with true self-sacrificing, lasting and sincere love; Eros and Philia come and go throughout the years, and they are never intense for long periods of time, but Agape lasts forever.

Successful Spiritual Warfare

Prayer is our lifeline to the Trinity. We continually communicate with God in prayer through each moment of the day (Matthew 7:8). We do not need a quiet place to kneel and pray.

We pray through the storms of life, the serene times of play, the busyness of our own making and the unforeseeable issues, which life unexpectedly throws at us.

Prayer changes us, the people we pray for, the circumstances surrounding us and the spiritual principalities and powers all around us.

In chapters nine and ten, the Bible records Daniel’s experience concerning answers to his prayer. One was a quick response and the other a delay of about three weeks.

In the later, when God’s archangel finally broke through Satan’s lines of hindrance drawn in high places to prevent the answer from being delivered, he explained all of this to Daniel in detail.

These are some of the most amazing verses in the Old Testament. It enables us to realize the spiritual warfare going on around us as a reality and an entity to take seriously.

These verses encourage us to “pray-through” in every situation and to persevere until God delivers His answer, rather than to give up after a weak attempt to petition our Deliverer.

Sometimes, our prayers are carnal and self-centered; designed too heap on our self the riches of this world (James 4:3). God does not always provide what we want, especially if He knows it is not for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

Yet at other times, Satan steps up his resistance in order to discourage us from believing in God, trusting Him with our life and walking in His order for our day.

God inspired James to tell us that if we submit to God’s will and resist the devil, he has no option but to flee from our presence (James 4:7-9). This is the secret to successful spiritual warfare.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for deigning to form an intimate, personal relationship with us – the Creator with the created. You desire our continual fellowship while we live on this earth and look forward to our death when we come to abide in Your presence forever (Psalm 116:15).

Your angels rejoice when one sinner repents and crosses over from eternal death into life, adding yet another Saint to Your Kingdom (Luke 15:7). You rejoice over us with singing and You love us with an everlasting love (Zephaniah 3:17). We can barely grasp the full meaning of this relationship, which You offer to everyone ever born on this earth.

Thought for the Day:
Most people never avail our self the opportunity to enter into this intimate union with our Creator and King, because we despise the shame of the cross and resist the opportunity to totally surrender our will to His.

Prayer Journal

Contrary to popular belief, God cannot answer the prayers of an unrighteous person. Even if we are Born Again, if we harbor unconfessed sin in our heart, God will not stay in our presence (Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 15:29).

Otherwise, there is no sin too horrific or concern too trivial to bring to Him in prayer. We can talk to God about anything and everything that is on our mind, and then sit in companionable silence to listen as He speaks to us.

So many people are intimidated by the concept of prayer. They hesitate to speak to God, because they think that He is too busy with the rest of the world to be bothered by our petty concerns.

They would never, ever pray in public, because they are afraid that people might judge their efforts and find them lacking. Yet, prayer is as easy as talking to your best friend. Jesus is our very best friend (Proverbs 18:24).

The only perfect, righteous man ever to live on planet earth bore the shame of the sins of every person ever born. Yet, He is our Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11).

He willingly gave up His life for our eternal security (John 10:16-18, 15:13). He loves us without measure. He gave us His Word as our comfort and our guide.

Praying Bible verses gives us the life-giving power of the Word behind our prayers. These verses were well written by people who felt just like we do. They inspire us to pray using our own words too.

We can journal in a notebook as we pray, in order to record the issues on our heart. Then, when God answers those prayers we can record the date in our journal, which will increase our faith.

Taking time to listen to God’s answers as we pray allows Him to communicate with us in His still, small voice in the center of our being – in our spirit.

The more we sit in those quiet moments, the more we will hear from God, and the more we will come to recognize His voice (Psalm 46:10). He will lead us throughout our day in this same way.

Prayer:
Father God, prayer is the opportunity to speak to You, the God of the Universe. There is no being higher than You and Your ways are beyond human reasoning, because You already know the end from the beginning.

Listening to Your truth through Your Word and by You speaking to us in times of prayer is the greatest opportunity we can ever experience on this earth. We find our true joy only in Your presence in our life.

Draw us ever closer to Your heart and remind us that You are waiting to hear our voice in praise to Your glory, in contrition for our sins, and in wonder, both for who You are and for all that You do for us each day.

Thought for the Day:
Although God may not give us the answer we requested in our prayers, He will always give us something better; even if it does not seem like it at the time.

Whole-hearted Devotion

In the wilderness, the pillar of fire kept the Israelites warm in cold desert evenings, and the cloud gave them shade under the hot desert sun. They clearly saw God’s will when He moved the fire at night and the cloud by day to direct them (Numbers 9:20).

Yet, I think that we actually have more of an advantage of walking in God’s will than they did, because we have God’s Holy Spirit residing within us every second of every day.

Even in times of trouble and uncertainty, God is happy to generously give us His wisdom (James 1:5). He searches our heart and discerns our every desire, thought and motive (Jeremiah 17:10).

When we serve God with wholehearted devotion, a submissive will and an obedient mind, He tells us whether to turn to the right or the left to find His will for each moment of our day (1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 30:21).

When our delight is in the Lord, He actually puts His desires in our heart (Nehemiah 7:5; Psalm 37:4). As we commit our thoughts, choices and feelings to the Lord, He leads us in His will for our day (Proverbs 16:3).

Some people enjoy physical abundance with more money and possessions than they know what to do with; however, they have a life filled with greed, strife and disappointment (Proverbs 15:16).

Even when we have few material possessions or advantages, we have an abundance, because it is covered with God’s love (Proverbs 16:8). Our ways are peaceful and full of God’s favor as we serve Him with wholehearted devotion (Proverbs 3:17).

Prayer:
Father God, You love us so much, that when we ask, we receive; when we seek, we find; when we knock, You open doors for us to walk in the center of Your will (Matthew 7:8). As we always look to You and seek Your face, we find our delight in Your presence within us (Job 22:26, 27:10; Proverbs 3:5-6).

When our thoughts, words and behavior please You, even our enemies live in peace with us, and You grant us our heart’s desires without withholding any of our requests (Proverbs 16:17; Psalm 21:2).

A baby bird sits in the nest, trusting its parents to fill its gaping mouth. As we have a similar trust in You and we open our mouth wide, as our Heavenly Parent, You always fill it (Psalm 81:10).

Thought for the Day:
Our life is not our own, and it is not up to us to make decisions and to plan our activities for our day; instead, we pray and God communicates to us where to go and what to do.           – Jeremiah 10:23, 42:3

Reacting to Life

When we are attacked for our choices and feelings, we must fight with spiritual weapons, not carnal, human ones. Our warfare is not against a person, but against the spiritual powers, which operate behind the scenes and through people. Realizing who the real enemy is enables us to fight with the spiritual weapons the Lord gives us (2 Corinthians 10:4).

My father reacted to life as a bipolar, rage-aholic. In my younger years, I compliantly did as I was told; but with age, I learned his behavior and I stood up for myself. I used anger to protect my interests when anyone made a decision that affected me, or when they did not listen to my feelings or my needs, discounted or ignored me, or did not take me seriously.

After I surrendered my life to Christ, I still used anger to make people take me seriously. What I did not realize is that anger is not God’s way (James 1:20). Anger manipulated me into acting as a tool of the devil. He discouraged and wounded people through my outbursts of anger. The root of any issue goes deeper than human decisions, personalities, schedules and life choices.

With time, I learned to gain the person’s undivided attention and to express very firmly that my needs are either not negotiable, or that an alternate decision needs to be made that I am comfortable with. This is an effective method if the other person is spirit-led and listens to my needs, does not discount or ignore me, and takes me seriously.

Otherwise, I make it very clear, without anger, that I am upset about the decision being made; and I will make alternative decisions, which will provide for my needs. Divorce is never an option, and quitting a job before securing another one is not advisable. However, we can protect our self from another person’s upsetting decisions and behavior, by getting counseling and by using a time of separation to work out the opposing issues needing reconciliation.

Prayer,
Father God, remind us that we are all living in spiritual warfare (1 Peter 5:8). If Satan can use some decision to split a relationship, he will do it. Your Word tells us to turn the other cheek and to go the extra mile (Mt. 5:39); but after we do this, we often need to take a stand. Help us to journal our feelings, to pray about the situation, to ask You to intervene on our behalf and then to try to communicate our needs once again. Remind us that a period of separation for the purpose of reconciliation allows both parties to live apart for a time, to get counseling and to find a way to resolve the issue, which is causing them grief.

Thought for the Day:
Put the devil to flight and preserve your marriage and other relationships by preferring one another, never insisting on your own way, laying down both sets of preferences and finding a third alternative with which you can both live happily. – James 4:7

Contentment and Godliness

Many people disparage the idea of feelings in the Christian life. They consider emotions as a negative aspect belonging only to the carnal nature. However, God gave us emotions to express the needs of our body and soul, and to effectively communicate the reality of Christ within us. God is not an impassive, immovable being; but according to scriptural verification, He is full of all of the same emotions, which we feel within our soul.

God is the perfecter of our feelings and the supplier of all of our needs. He advises us to weep and to rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15). He comforts us in our fears and encourages us when we are disheartened. As we abide in divine communication with our Creator, we receive from Him everything we need to live in contentment and godliness (1 Timothy 6:6-11). Our whole being, body and soul and spirit, receives and lives in divine life through Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:4).

Nothing inspires fear and anxiety within us more than the idea of living in this world without the resources we need. Christ in us is our only hope of living in glory both now and in eternity (Colossians 1:27). God’s forgiveness inspires our devotion and His grace keeps us ever faithful to His service. He conforms us day by day into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Without Him, we cannot reach our ultimate goal of tranquility and enlightenment (James 3:17).

God prunes and cleanses us through sanctification until we are empty of our self and filled with all of His attributes. This is accomplished one moment at a time. God inspires our thoughts, which control our decisions and actions (Philippians 4:8). The nature of God, which is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), replaces every carnal impulse within us that is enmity with God (James 4:4). We confidently place our self under the nurture and direction of our holy God (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Prayer:
Father God, You show us what is good and right, and what You require of us. You simply want us to act justly and to show love and mercy to everyone everywhere, and to live in and through You with humility (Micah 6:8). You do not care about our human power or abilities, because it is only by Your Spirit that we accomplish anything of value on this earth (Zechariah 4:6). Our divine union with You applies to and supplies every aspect of our life, even the mundane issues such as what we eat and drink (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). Therefore, everything we do is for Your glory.

Thought for the Day:
The divine life of the Trinity dwelling within us enables us to dwell in godliness and contentment (2 Peter 1:4).