Loving Others as Our Self

Jesus made a point of telling us to love others as we love our self. Most of us despise our self, have grudges and disappointments and unforgiveness toward our self. We do not love our self at all (Mark 12:30-31).

Therefore, how can we truly love anyone else? We compare our self to worldly standards and find our self lacking. We listen to significant others in our life and adopt their opinion of us, even if it is negative.

We try all of our life to earn the unconditional love, respect, worth and affirmation we so desperately need. We sell our self short and give up on our self. We feel useless, hopeless, helpless and unlovable.

We are not powerful enough, rich enough, adorable enough, smart enough, talented enough, or attractive enough; we are not enough. We see our self through the eyes of others and we feel disappointed and ashamed.

However, God wants us to see our self through His eyes – as a person He cares about so much that He gave His life for us. He wants us to love our self as He loves us, and then to love others as we love our self.

We can start by accepting our self as He accepts us, just the way we are. We can make better, healthier, wiser and more nurturing choices. We can speak only kind, loving words to and about our self and others.

We can take care of our body, soul and spirit. We can accept our feelings and seek God to find resolutions for our negative feelings and unresolved conflicts. We can judge our self only through the eyes of God, not the eyes of the world.

We can stop using addictions, people, vocation and talents to make us feel better about our self. We can stop abandoning our self and taking our self and others for granted. We can stay in touch with who we are, what we need and how God is leading us all throughout our day.

Prayer:
Father God, enlighten the eyes of our understanding to see our self as You see us: as Your adopted children, co-heirs with Christ of Your entire Kingdom. Remind us to pay attention to our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental needs and to seek You on how to fulfill them.

Help us to accept our feelings and circumstances, even the negative ones, as Your tool in our life to bring us closer to total surrender to Your will and to keep us from depending on our human resources and understanding. Give us Your peace and joy as our strength. Remind us that without You we are nothing; but with You, all things are possible if we simply believe (John 15:5; Mark 9:23).

Thought for the Day:
Take the time throughout the day for a personal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual inventory; meet your needs or ask God to meet them; and then give yourself time to renew Your strength in the Lord and to rise up on wings like eagles. – Isaiah 40:31

Proof of God’s Love – Part 1

I love the discipline of the Lord, because I know it is a sign that He loves me (Hebrews 12:5-6). He points out idols, which I erect in my life; and He helps me to lay them down at His feet.

They are not obvious idols like money, addictions, covetousness or seeking other gods. They are sly, subtle idols, which usually stir up negative emotions in my soul.

For instance, I like everyone to be happy. I am tenacious and dogged, and I will move mountains to ensure that those I love are happy and content.

However, having everyone delighted and satisfied is an idol in my life. This state of sublime joy is impossible to attain through human effort.

I have to be willing for my family members to be unhappy and discontent, and to stop trying to fix things for them. I need to lay my family’s happiness at Jesus’ feet and allow Him to work out His will in their lives.

Another idol, which He recently exposed in me, is that I like having my ideas valued and taken to heart. I come up with good ideas, because of the analytical mind God gave me.

However, some people reject my ideas before they even hear my whole thought (Proverbs 18:13). They acclaim ideas, which other people have; but disdain most of my ideas. God delivered me from these idols and so many more.

The Lord only disciplines His children (Proverbs 3:12). This is a sign of His enduring love for us and that He cares enough to remove things from our life, which have a negative effect on us.

Prayer:
Father God, remind me to walk in Your Spirit and not to care if people receive my efforts to do Your will. They have issues of their own that You are working out in their soul. Their behavior and words are no real reflection on me.

I want to make a difference in people’s lives, but I do not want to walk outside of Your will. I lay down my need to help others and I commit myself to Your will for my life and theirs.

Thought for the Day:
Idols come in all sizes, shapes and packages; God will reveal them to us as we listen to His Spirit each moment of the day.

Go to God

In the midst of the worst trials we experience on this earth, authentic Believers can trust in the fact that God holds us in the palm of His hand (Psalm 18:35). We can cry out to our Lord, even in our distress, resentment and pain, and He will hear and answer our prayers (1 Samuel 1:10). As tears bathe our face, they are also cleansing our soul of the grief.

Tribulation often causes people to curse God, because they feel overwhelming disappointment in His lack of provision in the areas where they are grieving. We have certain unmet expectations, and we feel that God let us down. We allow Satan’s lies to pull us away from the only Being who can ever really help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

When our heart aches, God cares; but He knows our desires are not His best plans for us. He invites us to draw near to His throne and unburden our heart to Him. Any anxiety that plagues our life is important to Him, because He earnestly cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). He is our only true refuge and help in any type of trouble, and He gives us His strength to endure (Psalm 46:1).

We can trust in worldly substitutions, but they never satisfy and they cause addictions. In spite of our negative experiences, we can focus on the eternal rewards, which God has in store for us. He gave us His Word, which is full of prophecy, which was literally fulfilled. This gives us assurance that those prophecies awaiting fulfillment will also unfold exactly like He said they would and we will be blessed.

Prayer:
Father God, as we reflect on Your glory, our looming trial will reduce to trivial concerns. You hear our prayers regardless of the lack of eloquence of our words. You know our heart and delight in our trust in You. We bring our struggles and trials to You and leave them in Your hands, knowing that You will always work out even the most horrific situation for our good, even though it does not feel like it at the time (Romans 8:28). We trust in You alone to meet our needs and to give us showers of blessings throughout the day. Thank you for Your faithfulness in every area of our life.

Thought for the Day:
The trouble with God’s blessings is that we often take them for granted and do not even notice them, because we are too busy worrying.

Unfailing Love

All creation tells of God’s glory, and no one has an excuse not to believe in Him, because of the beauty and marvel of nature (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20). All of nature praises God. The trees and rivers sing for joy and clap their hands (Psalm 92:12, 98:8; Isaiah 55:12; 1 Chronicles 16:33). Even the rocks will cry out in praise to God, if His people fail to exalt Him (Luke 19:40).

God is righteous and demands perfection; yet He proved His love to us by sending His only son to pay the debt for our sins. Jesus also gave us His perfect righteousness (John 3:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God always forgives our transgressions and redeems us from our sins (Psalm 130:8: 1 John 1:9). God is an awesome God and He reigns in heaven and on earth (Psalm 68:35, 47:8).

God is a mighty warrior on our behalf. We find our contentment in His presence in our life (2 Chronicles 16:9; Zephaniah 3:17). Even if the earth quakes and volcanoes shatter the mountains, God’s unfailing love for His people will never be shaken. His promise of peace will never be taken away from us (Isaiah 54:10). God’s love for us is unconditional (Romans 5:8; Psalm 86:15).

His love does not rely on our behavior, but on His commitment to all of those who hope in Him (Psalm 33:22). God actually takes pleasure in those who trust in His steadfast love (Psalm 147:11). As we hope in God’s affection for us, He keeps His eye on us (Psalm 33:18). We are never alone and He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). Since He loved us before we ever loved Him, we can also love one another (1 John 4:9-11).

Prayer:
Father God, we are more than conquerors in life because of Your love for us. Once we put our trust in You, nothing could ever separate us from Your love, which You give us through Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 8:37-39). You are rich in mercy. You made us alive spiritually along with Jesus, because of your love for us (Ephesians 2:4-5). Thank you for caring about every detail of our life (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Thought for the Day:
God’s plan for authentic Believers is to prosper us, never to harm us and to give us hope for our future. – Jeremiah 29:11

Why Don’t I Feel Joy?

God did not intend for us to live life on this earth in depression and fear. He delights in us and wants His righteous children to be glad, and to rejoice before Him with contentment and joy (Psalm 68:3). There are several roadblocks in this modern world, which prevent our soul from experiencing the joy that is our heritage in Christ, and several keys for living a joy-filled life.

There is no scenario on earth that can entirely eliminate stress. We are going to experience the complexities of providing for our self and our family. There is only one solution to this problem, and that is to simplify our belongings and expenses. The more we have, the more we have to work to pay for it, and the more we want. Everything we own in this life actually owns us and holds us in bondage.

Allowing our soul to grieve our losses is another key to joy (John 16:22). If we hold grief inside, it discolors the joyful circumstances in our life. By suppressing sadness, we also suppress joy. Consider your own needs. Otherwise irritability, depression and even anger or bitterness develop. Commune with your self and meet your needs, so you feel more satisfied and joyful. Show compassion to other people too.

Let go of every toxic, negative emotion plaguing your soul. Change any of your concerns you can. Let go of the issues, which you cannot change, and rely on God to free you from their bondage (Romans 8:28). Put all of your hope in the Lord, instead of in circumstances. Set goals, which are meaningful to you. Surround yourself with positive people. Praise the Lord all day long, so your soul shouts out with joy (Psalm 71:23).

Make more free time in your day. Do not overly schedule each moment with chores and responsibilities. Plan outings or events, which you can look forward to enjoying. Schedule some playtime into every day. Take a few moments at the end of each day to journal and relieve your mind of clutter. Every night, list five different things that you are grateful for and praise God for them as you fall asleep.

Prayer:
Father God, trials work patience into our life, which leads to contentment and fulfillment. Thank You that we can joyfully traverse trials, because we dwell in Your presence (James 1:2-8; Psalm 16:11; Isaiah 12:6). We find joy in the shadow of Your wings, because in your unfailing love we shall never be shaken (Psalm 21:5-7). Remind us to take time to list the blessings You bestow on us each day and to allow Your joy in us to demolish Satan and all negative emotions.

Thought for the Day:
As we trust every area of our life to Him, our God of Hope fills us with all joy and peace, so that we abound with hope by the power of His Spirit. – Romans 15:13