Loving the Unlovable

Too often we judge people for their peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. We categorize them, box them up in neat little packages and stick them away on a shelf in our mind, ignoring them as much as possible.

Once in a while our paths cross again, and we are forced to interact with this peculiar individual once more. We take down our box, stick new labels on them and place them back on the shelf as quickly as possible. They may be our neighbor, spouse, child, sibling, relative, church member, co-worker or even our employer.

Please realize that within each of these precious people is a wounded soul. They are a product of a lifetime of events, which molded their personality to give them unique characteristics, which may irritate or even wound us deeply.

We may go so far as to harbor bitterness toward them and possibly even dismiss them from our life as a lost cause (Ephesians 4:32). However, these unlovable people are diamonds in the rough.

They are created by God, and He has a special plan for their life, just as He has for us (Ephesians 2:10). God put them in our life for us to minister His Agape love to them and to give them a secure and nurturing place to live (Matthew 5:47).

We are all fallible and have our own weaknesses and peculiarities. How would you want this person to treat you? There is healing for everyone at the cross of Christ.

Sometimes, people are unaware of God’s grace, and He gives us opportunities to give them unconditional love, patience, security and friendship to model God’s character to them. His plan for this relationship may be for us to help heal the deep wounds within their soul.

Prayer:

Father God, You create everyone in Your image. We are all unlovable until You redeem us (Ephesians 1:7). In fact, You loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Teach us that when we allow Your Agape love to flow through us to someone else, it is hard to stay angry at them or to consider them worthless.

Remind us to pray for them and to look for opportunities to bless them. You may just use this individual to bless us in some way too, if we look beyond the aspects of their life which irritate or hurt us, and love them anyway.

Thought for the Day:

Don’t throw people away, because God wants us to use our freedom in Him to love and serve one another, just as He died for and blesses us. – Galatians 5:13

Love in Marriage

Marriage is defined as a union of two individuals. God phrases it as two becoming one. This means that we no longer strive to please our self, but to submit to one another as joint heirs to the Kingdom of God (1 Peter 3:7). We no longer promote our own agenda, but meld our ideas to formulate a new way of life, which meets both of our needs.

When one person in the couple gives more than the other person, there is an inequity in both power and fulfillment. This imbalance will throw off the symmetry of the relationship and fuel negative emotions, which destroy intimacy. If undetected or not dealt with, these feelings will erode even the best of relationships.

In a Godly marriage, both partners build up one another up in love (1 Thessalonians 5:11), bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2), help to carry each other’s burdens (Colossians 3:13), edify each other rather than to criticize or tear one another down (Ephesians 4:29) and find God’s will for your marriage by praying together and seeking the Holy Spirit’s direction (Jude 1:20).

We all need praise, affirmation, love, appreciation and support. No one likes to be taken for granted, discounted or neglected. We often get too focused on work, children, church activities and community involvement and end up disregarding our mate and family. This is as much of a betrayal as infidelity. Make your mate a priority, second only to God. Spend time as a family and bond with love for a lifetime.

Prayer:
Father God, You knew us and had every day of our life planned out before we were ever born (Psalm 139:16). You gave woman to man as a helpmate. Teach us to value each other’s opinions, because there are many bad decisions, which could have been avoided if a couple discussed and prayed about it prior to carrying it out. Help us to avoid blaming and criticizing and to accept one another, even with all of our idiosyncrasies.

Thought for the Day:
Financial, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual fidelity is the key to marital success.

Understanding Emotions

God gave us emotions to express our self and the mood we are experiencing at any given moment. They are an important part of our soul, which includes our intellect, emotions and choices. Each emotion has many variations of intensity and nuances of feeling, such as annoyed, angry and enraged. We often think that we are too vulnerable when we express our true feelings, so we hide behind masks, which help us to pretend.

We suppress our feelings in an attempt to be patient and to get along with people, trying not to nag or to complain. Once our patience runs out, however, this usually compounds the problem due to a rise in the intensity of our feelings. Prior to the point of frustration and anger, it helps if we will calmly express how someone’s negative behavior or words are affecting us and making us feel. No one is perfect, and we all have value and worth.

As we take frequent stock of our emotions, we get a clue as to how we are really doing in that moment of time. If we are not being treated properly, our emotions give us a clue that this abusive behavior is not acceptable. Our underlying thoughts fuel our behavior. We simply need to get alone and take the time to journal or to think, in order to get in touch with how we really feel at the core of our soul.

Sometimes, following the roadmap that emotions give us leads us back to the disturbing incidents in our past, which still affect us today. Then, once we understand the cause of our emotions, it is much easier to explain to others how we really feel. Their offensive behavior may be just a misunderstanding, or a lack of discernment or manners on the part of the other person. That is why relationships work out better if we express how we really feel before our soul hides behind a mask.

If the other person sees no problem with their words or behavior, or if they consistently disregard our needs, we can erect boundaries to protect our soul from their painful words and behavior. Putting distance between them and us, or changing our focus about how their actions, opinions or beliefs affect us, will ensure that our heart is not constantly bombarded by their insensitivity and callous behavior.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to choose our words carefully and to speak up when we are violated by another person’s words or actions. Help us to change our focus about their behavior, so that we can maintain the relationship without severing the unity between us. When the whole world misunderstands or criticizes us, You are holding out Your arms, ready to pour out Your love and grace on us in our time of need. We can unburden our heart to You, sharing with You our deepest feelings without any fear of censure or ridicule.

Thought for the Day:
We can pay attention the red flags that our negative emotions give us and use our words to express how we really feel before we let our emotions dictate our behavior.

Raised to Walk in a New Life

– Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12

Jesus poured out His life on this earth for all of mankind. During three years of ministry, He had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). He was criticized for eating with publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:10). He experienced rejection, even from his own people (Matthew 13:57). Jesus ultimately laid down His life on Calvary’s cross for the salvation of anyone willing to accept His redemption (Rev 22:17; Acts 17:11).

Then on the third day, He raised up His own life again to exactly fulfill the Biblical prophecies about His life, death and resurrection (Isaiah 7:14, 53:12; Psalm 49:15, 24:7-10). Jesus then delivered those who died prior to His death and set them free (Ephesians 4:8-9). He became the first child of God to raise from the dead (Colossians 1:18). Then God lifted Him up to the greatest measure of His glory and authority (John 17:5).

God raises us to walk in a new life as well. Since Christ now lives within us by His Spirit, His power and authority are working in the life of every authentic Born Again Believer. As we walk in His Spirit, we fulfill the will of God. We mature in our walk of faith and we realize the awesome attributes of God in us. This humbles us and causes us to bow to Him in complete surrender.

God’s Spirit points out sin in our life, and then we cooperate and allow His Spirit to transform us both with the mind and character of Christ (2 Peter 1:4; Philippians 2:12-13). He frees us from sin and the corrupt desires of our flesh. He cleanses us from the root issue causing our penchant for sin. We die to our humanity and allow God to mature us in the Spirit, so we can live in the fullness of His resurrected life (Ephesians 3:19).

Prayer:
Father God, You never, ever leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5). We have faith in Your faithfulness. We rely on You and relinquish to You our worries, fears and insecurities (Matthew 6:25-34). Your love provides us with safety in the storms of life, as well as the provision we need in order to walk in our new life on this earth. Help us to glorify You on this earth just like Jesus did (John 17:4).

Thought for the Day:
Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith are not dependent upon our circumstances or our feelings or even our health, but only on the Holy Spirit within us in our new life.

Behavior Does Not Define Us

I used to think I was a bad girl, because I occasionally did bad things. It took me years to come to the realization that I am a good girl, even though I do bad things sometimes. I did not realize that I am a separate entity from my behavior. I thought that my behavior defined me. I tried to earn my goodness by my behavior; then, when I failed, I felt utterly lost and worthless.

On a glorious day in February of my 18th year of life, God made real to me the fact that He bought me by the blood of Jesus and redeemed me by His Son’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:19). He came to live in me and He started the process of converting my carnal nature into the nature of Christ. He set my feet on high places (Psalm 18:33), and renewed my self-image to my true identity in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17).

I am no longer burdened by the notion that I need to be perfect in order to be loved. Father God, who created me, and Jesus, my Brother, who laid down his life for me, both love me unconditionally. I am not a mere mortal, but I am empowered and indwelt by the Spirit of the Living God (2 Corinthians 3:18).

I am not the person that I was at 18. Over the successive years of my life, God freed me from the tyranny of self-effort (Ephesians 2:8-9). He taught me that I am not a bad person, but I simply do bad things now and again. He is faithful and just, and He always offers me forgiveness for my transgressions at the very moment I repent of them (1 John 1:9).

We never have to allow satanic influences to condescend, criticize or bully us into thinking that we are “less than” we should be. We are actually complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). We are “more than” conquerors through Him, because He loves us (Romans 8:31-39). With Christ in us, we are lovable, interesting and sufficient individuals (Philippians 4:13) who are loved by the eternal King of the universe.

Prayer:
Father God, we thank You for redeeming us and making us special and unique individuals in Your Family. You give us victory each and every day (1 Corinthians 15:57). We continually walk in Your love and bask in Your fellowship. Thank You that Jesus also loves us and gave Himself up for us, as a sacrifice to atone for our sins (Ephesians 5:2).
Thank You too that we are the apple of Your eye (Zechariah 2:8; Psalm 17:8).

Thought for the Day:
We are crucified with Christ and our flesh no longer lives, because Christ lives in us and freed us from our sins by His blood. – Galatians 2:20; Revelation 1:5

Salt and Light

God made His Saints as salt and light in our world (Matthew 5:13-16). As light, we reveal the hidden wounds in a sinner’s life; and as salt, we create a thirst in their soul. Sinners resent being reminded of their sin, and despise those who keep them accountable. Unbelievers often criticize Christians when we tell them the truth. As ungodliness increases with the growing apostasy in our world (2 Timothy 3:12-13), these people attempt to extinguish our light in order to hide their darkness.

When salt sits in the box, it clumps together and loses its usefulness (Matthew 5:13). It is only as we allow Jesus to pour us out, that we are any good to His Kingdom. Speaking God’s truth will season, cleanse, heal, preserve and prevent decay in the life of those who will listen and believe. Hopefully, those whose thirst we amplify will want to quench it with Living Water (John 7:37-39), which only comes through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Mark 1:14-15).

Salt also enhances sweetness, such as bringing out the natural sweetness of melons. Expecting Christians to be sweet as pie, sinners resent the salty truth of God’s word. It is actually those preachers who dilute and sugar-coat the gospel of Christ that steer people in the wrong direction. They falsely imply that life in Christ is all about health, wealth and success. They disguise sin, calling it a weakness or saying it is biologically predestined; therefore, Jesus accepts it.

These lies lead people down the eternal path to destruction, rather than the narrow way of truth. Eternal joy comes from living in the presence of God for eternity. Although Authentic Believers all over the world are persecuted more and more, just like Jesus was during His lifetime (John 15:20), we are not deterred from sharing the truth of God’s Word. We do not merely listen to the Word and deceive our self, but we also obey God’s Word is Spirit and sincerity (James 1:22-24).

Prayer:
Father God, Your Word is truth and shall never pass away (John 17:17). Help us to be lights, which shine into this dark world, illuminating the way for whosoever will to come to salvation in Jesus’ name (Revelation 22:17). Until we walk in and share Your Truth, it simply remains a thought in our mind and does no good for anyone (2 Timothy 3:7). Your Spirit leads us into all truth (John 16:13). Give us the courage to continue to share it.

Thought for the Day:
The power of Christ working in us can accomplish more than we could ever imagine. – Ephesians 3:20