WHO LOVES YOU – Part 2 – The Love of the Son

God proved His love for us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might live eternally through Him. Jesus loves you more than a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45).

This is true, authentic love: we did not earn or deserve God’s love, but He loved us first and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:9, 4:19).

Jesus left all that was His, relinquished his kingly status, forsook the glories of heaven; and for 33 whole years, He lived on this sin-cursed earth.

Then, at the peak of His manhood, He purchased us back from Satan for the Father by suffering the horrendous death on Calvary’s Cross.

He gave His life so that we could live as God’s adopted children, joint heirs with Jesus to receive all that the Father owns. We will dwell in God’s Kingdom and enjoy fellowship with the Trinity now and for eternity.

We begin each day by sitting at His feet and learning from Him: talking to Him, listening to Him, reading His Word, meditating on what we read, praising Him and waiting on Him.

He stills the chaos in our body and soul – our thoughts and emotions. We remain in His presence until we feel His Spirit directing our next step (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Jesus empowers us throughout our day and night. He never, ever leaves us for any reason or circumstance (Hebrews 13:5). He meets life’s demands on us by using our body and soul to accomplish His will in and through them.

Prayer:
Father God, You give us the gift of new life each and every day. Just waking up is proof that You love us. We often take for granted things like air to breathe and eyes to see; but each of these miracles is evidence to us that You love us.

Remind us to appreciate You and not to take You for granted. All through the day, You send people, events and natural wonders to bless us. We want to live in Your divine will through the divine opportunities You provide for us.

Thought for the Day:
Trying to find a fulfilling relationship with another human being is close to impossible, and only the rare interdependent couple ever succeed; however, every human being can find fulfillment in the love of God and in Jesus Christ whom He sent. – John 6:29

No Help for Us in God

Throughout the ages, scoffers and God-haters say that there is no help for us in God (Psalm 3:2). They deny His part in creation and they belittle the testimonies of His provision in the lives of His Saints.

However, those who are genuinely seeking for real answers in life find true solace in the everlasting arms of the Lord (Deuteronomy 33:27). He is our shield against the arrows of the devil (Psalm 91), surrounding us on all sides with His protection (Psalm 3:3).

When we faithfully shout praises to the Lord, with all of our trust and might, His answers are so miraculous that they thunder down from His holy mountain (Psalm 3:4).

We bask in His presence and enjoy all of His blessings (John 15:9; Psalm 103:2). Even in dire and frightening circumstances, we trust in Him with all of our heart (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Since God is our only salvation, we have no fear as we trust in Him. We stretch out on our bed in solace and enjoy sweet sleep, waking with energy, confidence and stability (Psalm 3:5; Proverbs 3:24).

Regardless of the circumstances, we stand firm on our Rock, fearless in any time of danger, or financial and relational loss, or just in our daily life. We plant our fist squarely in the face of the enemy (Isaiah 17:10; Psalm 3:6).

We are confident that true and timely help always comes to us from our Father God (Psalm 3:8). He clothes us with salvation and holiness, as we continually delight in Him (Isaiah 61:10).

The Lord is our strength and defense (Isaiah 12:2). When we walk in His truth and obey His Word, our peace is like a river and His benefits overwhelm us like the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18).

Prayer:
Father God, even in times of discouragement, when feelings of uselessness and hopelessness threaten to overwhelm us, our reward is in Your hand and You liberally supply us with all of our needs (Isaiah 49:4; Romans 8:28). We will continually rejoice in You, as our Lord, and find our joy in You, as our Savior (Habakkuk 3:18).

Although people persist in ridiculing us for our faith in You, and they look at us incredulously and mock and insult us, and sometime even take advantage of us in our weakness, we pray that You will draw them to Your bleeding side (Psalm 17:11, 22:7-8).

Thought for the Day:
A person’s animosity towards Christians is often birthed from conviction, and our Godly response to them may help them to surrender to God’s unconditional love.

School of Hard Knocks

Life often sends us through a crash course at the School of Hard Knocks. We feel overwhelmed and hopeless, because of the weight of disappointment smothering the life right out of us.

As authentic Born Again Believers, we have Father God, Brother Jesus and their Spirit – who defend, protect, advise, guide, provide for and love us, so much that Jesus laid down His own life for us (1 John 2:1; John 14:16, 15:13).

We can have faith in God’s faithfulness, because He proves His love for us each moment of every day. He provides a miracle to accompany every trial, such as: spiritual growth, lessons learned, or blessings, which come in spite of our suffering.

In our trials, God surrounds us with His ministering angels, provides for our needs, builds our faith, gives us wisdom to share with others, and uses us as an example of one who maintains faith in God (Hebrews 1:14; Philippians 4:19; 1 Peter 1:7; Luke 22:32).

God’s Spirit uses trials to shape in us the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, faith, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith (Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:3).

God also teaches us contentment, which fills our heart regardless of the severity of the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). God continually abides in us through everything we ever experience (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27).

At times, Satan tempts us to blame God for our losses and to feel anger towards Him for what we perceive as Him letting us down. However, God sees the big picture and He allows trials for our ultimate good.

Prayer:
Father God, as we live through the school of hard knocks, remind us to adopt an attitude of joyful acceptance and thanksgiving. Help us to focus on Your sovereign purpose in everything we experience (Romans 8:28). Remind us to trust in Your foreknowledge and grace (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 4:16).

Your infinite ways exceed our finite human understanding; therefore, we can always trust that You have our good at heart.
We trust in Your faithfulness to fulfill all of Your promises, even when the circumstances appear hopeless.

Thought for the Day:
Praising God in and through trials helps us to feel contentment in spite of them and gratitude for His presence in us through each one of them. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18; John 17:23

Living in God’s Presence

I used to think that God wanted me to work for Him. I was under the impression that He desired for me to spend all of my time serving in the soup kitchen for the homeless, going to Bible studies, taking abandoned children into our home, helping to lead worship in my church, teaching adults how to read, witnessing to everyone I met and a myriad of other activities.

However, these very activities stole time away from my ability to actually live in the presence of God (1 Chronicles 28:9). Remember when Jesus went to the pool? He only healed one man (John 5:1-18).

Another time, when He walked through the crowd, only the woman who touched his garment was healed (Luke 8:43-48). Jesus did miracles and taught the crowds as He saw the Father working.

However, He spent more time in solitary places communing with our Father God (Matthew 6:9-13, 11:25-26, 14:23; Luke 6:12, 22:32, 22:41-44, 23:34; John 11:41-42, 12:27-28, 14:31, 17:1-26). He lived in the very center of God’s will.

We can learn a lesson from Jesus’ life. He listened to God, heard His direction and did only what the Father said and did (John 5:19, 5:30, 8:28, 12:49). God calls us to do this same thing.

We no longer rely on our human reasoning to direct our day. We seek the Lord and He directs our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). We walk through our day communing with our Father and following His Spirit’s direction even if it makes no human sense.

Sometimes, I actually argue with the Spirit’s leading, or discount it as a human thought, which just floated through my mind.

Maybe I am tired and I do not want to follow the Spirit’s leading. I have my own agenda for my day; so I decide to take a nap or go to the pool or play a game of Scrabble instead of obeying my Father’s will.

When I do, I quickly learn that I grieved the Holy Spirit and missed an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, God will lead us to nap, because of what lies ahead in our evening, or He has a person at the pool or the park whom He wants us to talk to about Jesus.

The point is to walk in the Spirit, so that we do not reap the consequences of living in the flesh (Galatians 5:15-25), thwart God’s will for our life or quench God’s Holy Spirit. We will have more time to rest in His presence.

Prayer:
Father God, keep our thoughts centered on You as we learn to walk in Your ways. Help us to understand that You do not want us to work for You, but to do the works, which You created us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Remind us that it is not by our works of righteousness, or our might and power, but by Your Spirit that we live, move and have our being in You (Titus 3:5-7; Zechariah 4:6; Acts 17: 28).

Thought for the Day:
If Jesus did not speak for Himself, do anything through His own effort or strength, or teach anything of His own devising, how can we do otherwise?                                        – John 12:49-50, 7:18, 5:19, 30, 14:31

Focusing on the Eternal

I was born with a melancholy personality. Over the years of my life, God’s Spirit transformed many of the negative melancholy characteristics into His fruit. I went from a reclusive introvert to a spirit-filled extrovert.

I used to drown in depression, but now I only experience brief moments of melancholy. My former pessimism is swallowed up by optimistic faith in God’s faithfulness (Hebrews 12:2). It is all a matter of our focus.

Do we see the glass half empty or half full? We make innumerable choices every day, all day. If we use the Philippians 4:8-9 formula, we will choose to think about, say and do only positive words and deeds.

We keep our mind on eternal matters, rather than on worldly, carnal aspects of life. “God promises that if we take care of His business, He will take care of ours” – Kevin Bradley (Matthew 6:33).

Unless we are reaping some corruption, which we sowed into our life, there is nothing that will happen to us, which is not already part of God’s plan for us. Give the truth of this statement some time to sink into your soul.

We no longer tremble in fear of the next natural disaster, relational issue or financial loss devastating us. God has all of this, every single part of it, under His sovereign control. He has a perfect plan for our life (Ephesians 2:10).

Although the destruction accompanying trials seems horrendous at the time, there is always a seed for a miracle in the midst of the catastrophe, and it will eventually turn out for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

Prayer:
Father God, you never allow Your Saints, whom You make righteous in Christ, to go hungry (Proverbs 10:3; Psalm 37:25). When we honor and obey You, we lack no good thing (Psalms 34:9-10). When we trust in You, we prosper in every area of our life (Proverbs 28:25). We are Your adopted children, because of our position in Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:20). You are our good and loving Father and You care about every aspect of our life.

Thought for the Day:
We serve a living Savior and minister at the pleasure of our King.

Ask and Receive

God’s promises to us are positive and guaranteed (2 Corinthians 1:20). He tells us to ask and we will receive (John 15:7, 16:24). One of the favorite verses in today’s Christian ranks is that God will give us a hopeful future, that He has our best interest at heart and that He wants us to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11).

Due to this fact, many Bible teachers counsel people to stand on God’s Word. Of course, it is a good idea to read and pray God’s Word. The Spirit uses God’s Word to anoint our spirit, to encourage our soul – our mind, choices and emotions – and to strengthen our body.

However, many people will point to a verse in the Bible, hold the book up in God’s face and demand that He provide us with the humanistic fulfillment, which we interpret the verse to say. We take the verse out of the context of the rest of the verses around it, and we do not consider who the verse’s author is talking to when he wrote it.

Rather than demanding that God provide what we want, we can sit quietly in His presence and receive from Him what He chooses to give us. We praise and thank Him, even if His answer is hardship and suffering. We can give thanks to God for His love and generosity in the most dire circumstance, which life throws at us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

God’s presence in our life is a more valuable treasure than any earthly, carnal provision we expect. Even if we are homeless, dying in a hospital bed or falsely accused and in prison, we can rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4-9). All of God’s promises come to us through Christ’s atoning work; and we give God the glory for whatever He provides for us (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Prayer:
Father God, trials are not a sign of Your rejection of us, our lack of faith or our immature spirituality. In this world, Jesus had tribulation, and we are not more privileged than our Lord (John 13:16). Help us to see the seed for a miracle in every trial You allow into our life (Job 1:8; 2:3). Thank You for teaching us submission to Your will, appreciation for Your blessings, and for molding us into the image of Christ through the things that we suffer (Hebrews 5:8).

You are our provision and protection, and our heart trusts in You and Your supply; we will sing songs to You, because our heart greatly rejoices in Your loving presence in our life (Psalm 28:7). Rather than demanding, grabbing or insisting on Your blessings, we will sit quietly in Your presence and surrender to Your will for our life.

Thought for the Day:
As we change our focus from temporal to eternal aspects of life, things of this earth will fade in their importance to us. – 2 Corinthians 4:18

Confidence in Christ Alone

So many Christians still fall into the trap of attempting to gain their esteem through self-effort. We want to feel good about our self, because of the belittling, condescension and criticism we receive. Life positions us for this tendency by giving us praise for our successes, good behavior and accomplishments; and then rejecting or punishing us for our failings.

The good news is that, in Christ, our failings are not failures. They are simply lapses in judgment, over-reactions in a situation or misinformed decisions. The solution to this is to walk in God’s Spirit each moment of the day, with our focus on His direction and not on our human thoughts, plans and goals (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Walking in the Spirit requires thinking with the mind of Christ, rather than relying on our human observations (1 Corinthians 2:16; Galatians 5:15-25). God’s plan for us started before our birth and continues to our last breath (Psalm 139:13-14; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 2:10). At salvation, we died to our human mind-set, and Christ is now our whole life (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3-4; 1 Corinthians 2:3-5).

Through God’s Spirit, we have the ability, confidence, love and self-discipline to live a successful life (2 Timothy 1:7; Proverbs 3:26; Psalm 138:8). Our self-esteem comes from Christ in us, and God’s unconditional love for us.
Even during trials, our confidence in God and His promises remain steadfast and true (Hebrews 10:35-36; Matthew 6:34; James 1:12).

We boldly approach God’s throne to receive forgiveness and grace in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). Christ and His Spirit within us strengthen us to walk in God’s will all the days of our life (Philippians 4:13; Acts 1:8). This gives us more confidence than anything we could ever accomplish through our own self-efforts.

Prayer:
Father God, no matter what we face during our lifetime, we have no need to fear, because we rely on Christ in us rather than our human capabilities (1 John 4:18). Even if the most horrendous issue ever known to mankind comes against us, we have confidence in Christ abiding within us (Psalm 27:3). You are with us no matter where we live, what surrounds us or what occurs in our life (Joshua 1:9). We have all of our confidence in You, rather than in our self, because we know that You work out even the negative issues of life for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

Thought for the Day:
We find joy, even in the most trying difficulty; because when we pray with gratitude in our heart, surrender to God’s will and have faith in God’s faithfulness, He guards our heart and mind through Christ in the most miraculous ways. – Philippians 4:4-7

The Glory of the Lord

God tarries His coming, not because He is slow to keep His promises to us, but because of His patience to allow everyone the chance to repent and believe (2 Peter 3:9, 13). As we draw close to God, His glory fills our life. We allow His glory within us to reflect to the world around us, as His Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God’s glory appeared in the pillar of fire and the cloud, which protected the Israelites in their desert wanderings, as well as the consuming fire on the mountain and on Moses’ face when he descended from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 16:10; 24:17; 33:22). God’s glory within us also allows us to face trials with victory and faith.

God’s glory within us is more precious that the finest gold, and is the result of a life spent reading His Word, obeying His Spirit and giving Him all praise, glory and honor until we see Him face to face (1 Peter 1:6-7). God’s glory fills the life, which has faith in His faithfulness, rather than bitterness over the past and fear of the unknown future (Isaiah 6:3, 40:5).

When we finally see Jesus, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him in His glory (1 John 3:2). In our Heavenly residence, we will live in our immortal body and enjoy the benefits, which Adam and Eve had in the garden, and which Jesus had after His resurrection. The rewards God has in store for us are everlasting and glorious, and we will finally attain to the fullness of Christ.

Prayer:
Father God, we pray that we will decrease, so that You can increase within our mortal body even now. We want to reflect Your glory as it increases within us. Remind us to surrender all of our cares to You, because You care about us, as well as everything, which pertains to us on this earth (1 Peter 5:7). Even in the face of persecution, strengthen us from within and keep us in the palm of Your hand (John 10:28). Thank You for giving us Your glorious new life through Your Son’s sacrificial death and resurrection.

Thought for the Day:
At the coming of Christ, the whole earth will be filled with His glory.
– Psalm 72:19

My New Life in Christ

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, I transitioned from high school to college. My jet black hair, cut in a long shag, hung down past my shoulder blades. I wore long flowered dresses and flowers in my hair, as I flirted around the edges of the Hippy movement. I did not participate in the drug or free-love culture, but I was definitely a flower child.

About that same time, I read The Cross and The Switchblade, by David Wilkerson. Through the pages of that book, I found Jesus as my Savior. As a student at the local junior college, I joined the Baptist Student Union and met a fellow Catholic who was also looking for a more intimate relationship with God. We dated and felt led to rent two old homes in downtown Pensacola, FL.

God soon filled them up – one with young women and the other with young men. These young people, on their way to Pensacola Beach, were hitch-hiking, or riding the rails across the country and jumping off just two blocks from these two homes. We dubbed the boy’s house – a beautiful, old, two-story Southern Colonial home – the One Way House.

We offered the sojourners the solace of three days and nights with clean sheets, three square meals and a shower if they agreed to attend the nightly Bible study. Many of these young people accepted Christ as their Savior. Then, on the final day of their stay, they either traveled on their way or stayed on in the area.

We helped those who stayed to find a job and affordable housing, and they continued coming to Bible studies every night. Our reputation soon spread. We had about 150 people meeting every evening of the week with a hunger for God’s Word.

Each day, those who did not have jobs would clean the homes and then help to cook meals for lunch and supper. Those who worked gave their earnings toward the household budget, and we had all things in common, just like in the book of Acts (Acts 2:44, 4:32). On one particular day, one of the men fixed three pancakes each for the eleven people who were at the house during lunch time.

As we sat down, three new travelers came in the front door. Without mentioning a word, two of the men and I agreed through our facial expression to give our pancakes to the newcomers. As the cook placed three pancakes on each person’s plate, all fourteen of us ended up with three pancakes. God multiplied that food and our faith at the same time.

Another afternoon, I went to the freezer to thaw out something for supper that night. The huge chest freezer was totally empty. Several of us joined hands in the kitchen and prayed for God to provide. With the final “Amen”, I opened the freezer and found a huge ham inside, which we cooked with scalloped potatoes, green beans and home-made bread – compliment of our pancake chef.

God continued to bring salvation and miraculous provision to us throughout the years that He anointed the One Way House ministry to function. We made life-long friendships and many of us continue to pray for one another even now. Coming from all walks of life and various states, we all had one major aspect in common – the love of Jesus Christ for each other and for the lost world. What a great way to start my new life in Christ.

Head Over Heels in Love

We do not need another person in our life in order to feel loved, affirmed and validated. We do not need any one to complete us, because we are complete in Christ in us (Colossians 1:27, 2:10). The more time we spend in silence, peace and rest in His presence, the more we come to know His love, which transcends any human love ever possible.

God fills us through our entire being with all of His fullness (Ephesians 3:19). He proved His love for us by sending His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live eternally through and with Him. This is genuine, authentic love, which we did not earn or deserve. There is nothing we can think, say or do that would discourage His love for us.

Most Believers understand that God’s hand upholds the earth in perfect balance, and keeps us all living and existing on planet earth. However, we often take for granted those issues of life, which require no thought. Things like air to breath and eyes to see. However, each of these miracles is evidence to us that God loves us.

God gives us the gift of life each and every new day. The fact that we wake up is proof that He loves us. Sadly, so many people do not truly believe that God actually chose us and adopted us as His beloved children. All through the day, He sends people, events and natural wonders to remind us of His love for us.

God also reveals His love to us in nature, and by the numbers on a clock, through an escape from a catastrophe, a hug from a friend, a letter from a distant relative, a smile from a stranger, and through so many unexpected ways throughout the day. If we are not too busy to notice His little love notes, this makes us feel so precious, cared about and surrounded by God’s love.

Prayer:
Father God, Your unrivaled peace and joy flood our soul as we sit at Your feet. They flow through us and out of us to everyone You bring into our life. You restore to us the joy of our salvation when we fail You, and You hold us up by Your generous Spirit (Psalm 51:10-12). We can never thank You enough for the myriad of ways, which You prove Your love to each one of us individually. You always keeps us in the palm of Your hand (Isaiah 49:16). As long as we have Your love, it is enough to sustain us throughout eternity.

Thought for the Day:
In actuality, God is head over heals in love with us. – 1 John 4: 8-11