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

Condemnation or Conviction

There is a huge difference between condemnation and conviction. A person without Christ in their life might experience both of these; but a child of God is freed from all condemnation (Romans 8:1).

Satan condemns us, but God’s Spirit convicts us. For instance, when we choose to walk in slavery to the flesh, God convicts us to walk in the Spirit instead (Galatians 5:15-25).

Condemnation brings shame, hopelessness and discouragement with it. Yet, conviction brings relief, and gives us the opportunity to decide not to sin and to please God instead (James 4:7).

Satan will crush us with his shameful condemnation and attempt to cripple our soul in order to prevent us from ever serving God again. If we flee temptation, we also flee condemnation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Satan is the accuser of God’s children and he will attempt to belittle us, telling us that we are not enough, will never amount to anything and that we are a hopeless failure.

However, these accusations are contrary to God’s truth about us. God says that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). We have victory in all things through Christ in us (1 Corinthians 15:57)

As we submit to God and resist the devil, he has to flee from us (James 4:7-8). Nothing can ever separate us from the multi-dimensional love of God (Romans 8:35-39).

Prayer:
Father God, when Satan attempts to defeat us, remind us that You already gave us the victory through Christ in us (Galatians 2:20). Thank You for being so willing to forgive our departure from Your will for our life (1 John 1:9), and for giving us Your Spirit to help us to walk in Your perfect peace.

Produce in us a Godly sorrow, which pricks our conscience and reminds us not to succumb to Satan’s temptations (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). Prompt us to walk in Your Spirit, filled with His fruit, so that we will not fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:15-25).

Thought for the Day:
The blood of Christ frees us from the penchant to sin, as well as from the condemnation of the devil. – Revelation 1:5; Romans 8:1

Complete in Christ Within

We search our whole life for a person or accomplishment to complete us, to make us whole. We drive our self to distraction, like slaves who never measure up.

We want so desperately to find love, acceptance and abundant provision. Yet, our soul is fragmented all along the highway of life. Our identity is falsified with Satan’s lies.

Lost loves, rejection, physical abuse, belittling, deprivation, abandonment, high expectations and a myriad of other traumas and negative experiences will chip off pieces of our soul and leave it behind in our past.

The false labels, which we use to identify our self, are destructive and demeaning. They restrict us with feelings of futility and worthlessness. We feel hopeless and helpless.

We cripple our future with the pain of our past. We may do immoral things, but that does not make us a bad person. It only identifies us as a sinner in need of Jesus as our Savior.

Good people do not go to heaven, and bad people do not go to hell. Believers in Christ go to heaven and unbelievers condemn themselves to eternity in hell (John 3:16-18).

As we find our true identity in Christ alone, He takes us back to these losses and recovers our true self from the rubble we left behind. His love completes us and His provision satisfies us.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for renewing our mind and transforming it into the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Jesus freed us from the bondage, which Satan attempts to bind us with, and He gives us the right to become Your children (John 1:12, 8:36).

Help us to forgive our self for the sins of our past, just as You forgive us (Matthew 6:14). Remind us to follow the direction of Your Spirit through each moment of our day and to bring You the glory for our every thought, word and deed (Psalm 143:8).

Thought for the Day:
God is the only one who can restore our soul and make us co-heirs with Christ to His Kingdom. – Psalm 23:3; 1 John 3:2; Romans 8:17

Moving Forward through Forgiveness

God became man in order to atone for our sins, because we could never pay the debt on our own (1 John 4:19). Jesus loves us more than a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45).

Jesus relinquished his royal status and gave His life, so that we can live as God’s adopted children and joint heirs with Him to receive all that the Father owns in His Kingdom (Romans 8:16-18).

God forgives us of every transgression of His law; but unless we forgive our self, Satan keeps us under his bondage to degradation and sin. The shame we feel for our behavior is fed by Satan’s lies, which He whispers in our heart day and night (Revelation 12:10).

Satan knows that if we ever forgive our self, and dedicate our life completely to the God who saved us, he will lose us forever. There is no thought, word or deed, which we commit, that is too horrific for God to forgive (Romans 5:8).

Most of our choices are mistakes that we make without thinking, although some of them are premeditated. Yet, God forgives each one, which we confess, according to His mercy and justice (1 John 1:9, 3:9). He erases the injustice of our behavior with His goodness and grace.

God has a perfect plan for us and our true joy lies in following that plan (Ephesians 2:10). It is never too late to change. We can lay down our shield of lies and our heavy burden of pain at Jesus’ feet.

We come to God in our weariness and hopelessness, and He gives us rest for our soul and births life into our dead spirit, which we carried around within us for our whole life, until the day we repent (Matthew 11:28).

Prayer:
Father God, Your Spirit joins Your Bride in encouraging anyone who reads or hears Your Word to come to Your river of life (Revelation 22:17). Your voice penetrates the hard wall, which we build around our soul to keep out the pain of the past and the eventual pain of the future.

This wall crumbles when we face life’s difficulties with Christ in us. Help us not to patch up the wall of defenses and build it higher and thicker, and to realize that only Your love can protect us from life’s hardships and storms (Isaiah 4:6).

Complete surrender to Your call on our life will put us under Your umbrella of protection (Job 11:13-15). You give us a place of repose (Isaiah 28:12). You refresh and satisfy our faint heart (Jeremiah 31:25). You give us Your living water to drink for eternity (John 7:37).

Thought for the Day:
Forgiving others and our self is the key to freedom from the destructive aspects of life and it is the door to our freedom in Christ.

Communication in Marriage

Most couples dearly love one another, but have a hard time expressing their deepest feelings. They desperately want their mate to know they love them, but have no clue how to do this ( http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ ). When it comes to verbally expressing their feelings, they get tongue-tied. The old joke states, “I told you that I love you when I married you; and if I change my mind, I will let you know.”

Unrealistic expectations prior to marriage often ruin a couple’s chance at happiness in the marriage. No one can live up to the fairy tale romance they dream about or the practical expectations they anticipate. Many people also think they will change their mate once they get married. One man put it this way, “Honey, what you see is what you get. I’m not changing for anyone or for any reason.”

We also misunderstand what our mate desires from us. We get frustrated, angry, resentful and feel hopeless because we cannot measure up to the ideal, which we think our mate wants. If we realize that we are both human and have foibles and idiosyncrasies that make us the unique person we are, then we can be more accepting of our self and one another.

There are realistic goals for marriage, however. We want our mate to care about how they look; and we appreciate their efforts to dress neatly, to stay groomed, to maintain a reasonable weight and to be caring and loyal. Our mate will be less tempted to look outside of the marriage if we present an attractive package within the marriage. We also want our mate to cherish us and to desire our company.

One key to a happy marriage is honest communication. Not brutal honesty, but loving, confident, uncritical expressions of what we want and need. It puts undo stress on a couple to try to predict what gift our mate wants for special occasions or what behavior they are expecting from us. The second key is a servant’s heart. In all things, we can love, serve and accept each other’s differences (Ephesians 4:2).

Prayer:
Father God, You give us the desire to love and to be loved. It is our most basic human need. We know without a doubt that Your love for us is the most fulfilling and the most urgent of our human needs. You do not love us for how we perform, because You loved us while we were still depraved sinners (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). Help us to love one another unconditionally. Our mate may choose to leave us, but we do not have to take their choice personally, because we know You will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)

Thought for the Day:
Men and women both thrive on praise, appreciation and affirmation, rather than on criticism, condescension and being taken for granted.

Choosing a Marriage Partner

Most couples dearly love one another, but have a hard time expressing their deepest feelings. They desperately want their mate to know and love them, but have no clue how to show or share their feelings. We take each other for granted and settle into a stale rut. The old joke states, “I told you that I love you when I married you; and if I change my mind, I will let you know.”

Unrealistic expectations prior to marriage often ruin a couple’s chance at happiness in the marriage. No one can possibly live up to the fairy tale romance we dream about or be the person someone else expects us to be. Many people think that they will change their mate once they get married. One man put it this way, “Honey, what you see is what you get. I’m not changing for anyone or for any reason.”

We end up frustrated, angry, resentful and feeling hopeless, because we are always arguing. If we realize that we are both human, we can both relax a bit. We all have foibles and idiosyncrasies, which make us the unique person that we are. Rather than insisting on our own way, we can find a third choice, which meets both of our needs.

The key to a happy marriage is honest communication. Not brutal honesty, but loving, confident, uncritical expressions of what we want and need. We do not like to guess what our mate expects or is thinking. It puts undo stress on a couple to try to predict what gift our mate wants for special occasions or what behavior they are expecting from us. ( http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ )

There are realistic expectations for marriage, however. We need the same goals, dreams and principles. We need to have similar ideas on raising children, where to worship and how to spend money. We need to laugh together, play together and cry together. We need someone who will accept us as we are and who will support us through the hard times, someone who will love us for a lifetime.

Prayer:
Father God, we know without a doubt that Your love for us is the most fulfilling and the most urgent of our human needs. You do not love us for how we perform, because You loved us while we were still depraved sinners (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). You gave us the desire to love and to be loved. Remind us to seek Your will for our potential mate and to receive Godly counsel before making the final decision. Thank You for never leaving or forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5).

Thought for the Day:
Both men and women thrive on praise and affirmation, rather than on criticism and unrealistic expectations. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

A Hopeful Existence

There are many facets of this life, which rob us of every positive emotion known to man (2 Corinthians 4:8). Circumstances buffet us and beat us up until we have no emotional energy left; and, sometimes, not even any physical stamina to put one foot in front of the other (2 Peter 2:9). We lose our optimism, feel hopeless and grow bitter and cynical.

We draw within our self and push other people away (Isaiah 41: 10, 13-14). We lose all hope of a better life and we have a hard time getting out of bed. Our soul – our mind, will and emotions – often deflates with worry, doubt and pessimism. Our negative self-talk beats us up. Our heart is disturbed and we see no solution to our problems.

Total surrender to God is the key to making sense of our circumstances. Relinquishing our self, our family and our future to God, and putting our worries in God’s capable hands, is the only way to keep sane (2 Corinthians 9:8). God only gives us grace for today. Tomorrow’s grace will not come until tomorrow.

The only resolution is to keep our hope in the Lord (Psalm 43:5). As we walk in obedience to His Spirit, moment-by-moment throughout the day, we find more fulfillment than we ever thought possible. Our soul finds rest only in God (Psalm 62:5). As long as we are still breathing, there is hope for our situation (Ecclesiastes 9:4).

If we dictate our plans and goals to God, He remains silent; but if we relinquish our future to His will, everything is possible (Mark 9:23). We take our eyes off our self and put them on Him. With our faith in God’s faithfulness, He keeps us in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).

Prayer:
Father God, You care about us and draw very close to those who are defeated and heart broken (Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 53:4). You not only binds up our wounds, by nursing us back to physical, emotional and spiritual health, but You also heal us by repairing the situation, which caused the injury in the first place (Psalm 147:3). We put our hope only in You and You lead us through life one step at a time (Matthew 6:31-34; Psalm 39:7).

Thought for the Day:
Our Lord is our Helper, so we have no need to fear what mere mortals can do to us. We cry out to Him in our distress and pray to Him for help, and He hears us from His sanctuary; our prayers reach His ears. – Psalm 18:8