Give Your Love Away

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Jesus commands us as the second of the two things we must do to complete the law of all the prophets.  Being Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

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When we share the love that God has given to us we are in essence reflecting God’s love to those that we love.

When we have love in our heart and lives we won’t be gossips and hurting people by spreading hurtful things with an untamed tongue.  When we love we won’t be jealous and envious of others, rather we will join them in the joy of their fortune. When we love we won’t wish ills on others but rather be praying for blessings for them.   We will be looking for a way to be a blessing to them rather than caught up in our own lives.  We will be vigilant about noticing signs of distress that may mean that they need our assistance because that is the least that you would do for your own body.

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It may seem impossible or radical but let’s really think about our neighbor and not to be noisy but out of love and concern be attentive to what is going on in their lives.  Let’s open our hearts and doors.  No more driving in and out of your garage and into your house never even knowing who your neighbor is.  Walk down your sidewalk and introduce yourself.  Stop at the mailbox long enough to greet others in your apartment complex, who knows it might be an opportunity to show some love if not at the least a smile and you may make someones day.

This world has become very isolated but we don’t have to let it stay that way.  We can choose to look for opportunities to connect to others be that playing it safe by just being friendly or taking a chance and actually showing love to someone.

When I lived in England I learned a song, I believe it’s called, “Magic Penny”.  The lyrics go:

Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away, you end up having more.

It’s just like a magic penny.  Hold it tight and you won’t have any, but lend, spend it and you’ll have so many, they’ll just roll all over the floor.

For, love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away, you end up having more.

So may I challenge us to look for ways to give our love away?  God has an unlimited supply to restore and refresh us with.  Like the song says if we hold our love tight we won’t have any, it becomes a stagnant pond useless to anyone.  We must think of our love as a fountain where water never grows stagnant or rushing waterfall that’s mist nourishes all the plants that surrounds it.

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Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 21 Grateful I Can Change

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Today I’m grateful that I can change with the help of God.

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Max Lucado puts it well in, “Grace for the Moment: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional” in January 21st entry called, “A Heart Like His”.

God wants us to be just like Jesus.  Isn’t that good news?  You aren’t stuck with today’s personality.  You aren’t condemned to “grumpydom.”  You are tweak able.  Even if you’ve worried each day of your life, you needn’t worry the rest of your life.  So what if you were born a bigot?  You don’t have to die one.

Where did we get the idea we can’t change?  From whence come statements such as, “It’s just my nature to worry.” or, “I’ll always be pessimistic. I’m just that way.”…Who says?  Would we make similar statements about our bodies?  “It’s just my nature to have a broken leg.  I can’t do anything about it.”  Of course not.  If our bodies malfunction, we seek help.  Shouldn’t we do the same with our hearts?  Shouldn’t we seek aid for our sour attitudes?  Can’t we request treatment for our selfish tirades?  Of course we can.  Jesus can change our hearts.  He wants us to have a heart like his.

What a blessing it is to know that change is possible.  If we are living with the cancer of bitterness we needn’t die with it.  Jesus can give us a heart of love and forgiveness that will kill the cancer of bitterness.  If we are hanging on to things of the past Jesus can help us to live in the present and let loose of the past that only hurts and interferes with our todays.  As the poem says, you won’t find God in the past He isn’t, I was, and don’t look for Him in the future He isn’t, I will be, look for Him in the present because His name is, I Am.

I’m so grateful for where God has brought me from already and I look forward to where He is going to bring me to in my journey to become more and more like Jesus.

Let Jesus do the work He has in store for you to bring you into His likeness.  We all must remember our place at the wheel.  We are the clay and He is the potter, longing to mold and make us in His likeness.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Jesus Wants An Intimate Relationship 30 Days of Gratitude – Day 20

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Today I’m grateful that Jesus wants an intimate relationship with me.  He doesn’t just want to hear from me on Sunday’s or Wednesday nights, He wants to know and be invited into every part of my life.

He is omnipotent (all knowing) so He knows all about my life but that isn’t enough for Him.  He wants to hear it from me.  He wants me to open my heart to all the areas of my life that I might like to call secret.  How do I know this?  John 14:23

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

“We will come to them and make our home with them”, that is a pretty intimate relationship.  It’s a relationship of love.

We obey His teaching not because it will make us acceptable, we were made acceptable by what Christ did on the cross.  We don’t obey his commands because it will make us worthy.  Christ obeyed the commands of God and that didn’t make Him any more worthy than He had been at the beginning of time, nor did it make the perfect more acceptable.  He obeys God’s commands out of love for the Father.  A love so perfect its hard for us mere humans to understand.  But all the same that love is offered to us and out of an outpouring of that love we should obey His commands.  “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5  If we can live up to this commandment and the other that Jesus gave us “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Then we are obeying His commandments.

I must admit that I’m not always the best at loving the unlovely.  For that I’m truly ashamed of myself.  I don’t always follow through on actions as best as I could.  Sometimes I wonder what they are going to do with the money they ask for and then other times I think there but for the grace of God go I and figure it’s none of my business what they are going to do with it.  My duty is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and do as He guides me to do.  The rest is their business between them and God.  But maybe you struggle with me on this and maybe we could go to the Father and ask for His help in this matter.

Lord God, make me a more loving person both to You and to my neighbor.  I long to bring you pleasure.  Help me in that desire. Amen.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

What is Your Heart Reflecting?

In Proverbs 27:19 it states:

As water reflects the face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.

When I read that it got me thinking, what am I reflecting?  Am I reflecting confidence, steadfastness, peace, self-control?  If I have faith and trust in the Lord that is firm and unshakable, as it should be, for He is worthy of that faith and trust, then I would automatically exude confidence and steadfastness.  But do I?  Would I be likely to hear my Lord say, “Oh, you or little faith.”  More often than I care to admit I think I would.

If I rest in the shadow of His wings would I not naturally have peace in my life?  But is that what I do or do I fret and worry and try to do things on my own strength rather than rest in His strength.

If I allow myself to be controlled by the Fruit of the Spirit and develop that in my life would I not reflect self-control?  Yet do I yield to the Spirit on a daily basis or even hourly basis?  No not always, not even usually if I’m honest with myself.

Lord, I want to reflect confidence that comes from You so that others may learn that precious gift.  I want to be steadfast in my faith, firm and unshakable, help me to reflect this so that others will be attracted to the best You have to offer.  Lastly, Father I want to reflect a trust in You that will bring others to a saving knowledge of You.  And if You will, may I also reflect wisdom and discernment, so that people will be drawn to the words of my mouth because they come from You.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Life’s Roller Coaster

Sitting in an emergency room waiting for a friend who is sick and in pain to find some relief.

I feel so helpless as she lays there in tears, throwing up.  I pray the doctor comes soon but is that really adequate for all she’s going through? My mind goes back to other hospital trips when not much was offered.  “Lord, please let them find the source of pain and be able to fix it!” “Father she has no insurance and no income today please provide for her and stop this constant pain.”

So many different people in pain here, “Lord, help them all!”

Thank You Lord she sleeps! Sweet slumber eases her pain.  Thank You Lord for the pain medication.

This is truly humbling Lord, there is absolutely nothing I can do.  My job is done for the time being, I brought her here, she sleeps and I sit and wait for the doctor and his results. “Lord, please let him have some positive answer as to how to stop this for her.

This is the uncomfortable part of life’s roller coaster the not so much the fun part.  May be for you that’s the time when the coaster is chugging up the high incline and your nerves are at a peak in anticipation of the drop to come.

May be there is just no part of the roller coaster that you like.  May be you have avoided them all your life terrified of them.  I hear you, life can be terrifying as well.  Those of us that like control, like myself have to face the fact that with life there is no control and that is a very uncomfortable place to be.  But if we give God the control and allow ourselves to let go and let God we may just find that we can start to tolerate roller coasters driven by God.

May be flying free is freeing for you and the fun part but the slow chug chug chug up to the pinnacle just before the drop is the anxiety riddling part.  That’s how it is for me.  Once I’ve given in to the dips and loops and inclines the anxiety of the beginning of the ride is overrun by laughter and enjoyment.  Now in our life those uncomfortable times of the roller coaster, the chug for the next set of dips or the dips themselves are not times of laughter and enjoyment but they can be times of peace.  If we turn to God at all times in our life.  Whether we find ourselves in hospitals with friends, or worshiping at church,  when we yield ourselves to God, He will give us the peace we desire.

Notice something about roller coasters?  You are never in them by yourself.  Just as my friend had me with her in the hospital we both had someone else there that is there for us all the time.  God never leaves you in the roller coaster alone.  If you invite Him into your life He is there all the way.  Never will He desert you.  You never have to feel alone again.  Just ask Him into your heart, repent of your sins, and accept what Jesus Christ did on the cross for you.

Just as I release to the roller coaster, if we will release to God’s perfect will for us, our journey on the roller coaster will be to our benefit.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  –  Jeremiah 29:11-13

The Lord has plans for you and for me.  Those plans are to prosper and not to harm.  Please don’t get me wrong here, I truly believe prosper is a relative term.  Meaning that whatever is in God’s will for you to do He will cause it to prosper.  That doesn’t mean that you will necessarily become monetarily rich.  I have been doing my best to live out God’s will in my life and I am the last person you would define with worldly wealth.  But I am rich in things the world knows nothing about.  I have a faith stronger now than it has ever been.  I know no matter what that my God will take care of me.

God has brought me through much and I feel confident that I am able to handle things that once during my life would have overwhelmed me.  And I am able to listen to my Father’s voice and to head His instruction so that I might go the way He wants me to, which is for my benefit.

God wants to bless us but He also wants all of us.  In Jeremiah He promises that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart.  Our God is a jealous God and there is no room for anyone but Him to fill that whole in your soul.  He wants to be the love of your life.  Before your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/or addiction.  God wants all of you and then from the fullness of God can you give to others or overcome your addictions.

God’s Boundless Love

No matter what the enemy might try and tell me God reminds me that I am worthy of His love.  As an infant is worthy of their mother or father’s love, so am I.  Neither of us have done anything to deserve it nor are either of us capable of doing anything to deserve it.  It is simply because we are and that our parents or Parent’s love is overflowing with love at the sight of us.

It is nothing that I can explain or comprehend it is a gift that I must trust and accept and have faith in.

Sometimes I feel so unworthy I have problems understanding God’s Boundless Love for me.  Then I read His Word and I put my trust in Him and I realize I am worthy because Christ’s blood makes me worthy.

Yet as I read His Word I find jewels that show me that He loved me even before I came to Him.  How boundless is that?

How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.  – Psalm 36:7

This verse in Psalm was written long before God came down as man.  And look there is no partiality in it.  Both high and low among men find refuge.  He is so loving that He takes all types.  No one is too good or too bad for Him.  He loves all equally.  Now that’s boundless love.

He said: “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth – you who keep you covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. ”  – 2 Chronicles 6:14

and said, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or earth below–you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.”  – 1 Kings 8:23

Both of these counts are part of Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple.  These verses reveal again God’s faithfulness in His love towards Israel but they also add our part,  “continue wholeheartedly in your way.”  Does that mean that God does not love sinners?  Heavens no!  We are all sinners.  What it does mean is that He expects us to do our best not to sin and when we do by serving Him wholeheartedly, we come to Him when we sin and ask forgiveness. Back then it meant a guilt offering, now it means repentance and change and the blood that was shed by animals is the blood that was shed by Christ.  He is now our guilt offering.

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”  – Deuteronomy 9:12-13

Here we see the Lord asking His people to love Him and serve Him with all their heart and all their soul.  God is into relationships.  He is offering all of Himself to us no barriers. All we need do is ask.  Ask Him for wisdom and it is ours.  He wants to give it to us.  For knowledge, He says yes. He even tells us in His Word to ask for such things.

Yet, out of love like any parent He may not tell us everything.  He may be silent when you want to hear from Him.  It’s not that He doesn’t care.  It’s that He does care.  To love someone enough to be quiet when silence is needed is love in deed.

I wonder if it is as difficult for Him as it is for earthly parents to give that tough love?  The love that we all need from time to time, but hate getting.  I wonder if it breaks His heart too?

The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.  It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere.  Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.  – Deuteronomy 13:3b-4

These verses in Deuteronomy show another side of God’s love.  He tests us to see if we will serve Him and Him only.  This may sound strange to you to call this a side of God’s love, but it is only one who cares for you that would care if you are following what he says and commands.

The absentee parent won’t check up on you or anything and won’t give you any guidelines.  The loving parent will give you guidelines for your best interest and will watch you to make sure that you are following those guidelines.  That is a parent who truly loves you.

I had a friend who had parents that didn’t pay attention to her or give her the love that she desired.  She started starting fires in dumpsters and calling the fire department so they would put them out.  It wasn’t until a loving pastor took her under his wing and started giving her very severe guidelines that she felt loved and accepted and stopped her very unsafe behavior.

God wants to spare us of unsafe behavior so He has given us commands to follow for our benefit.  Like any child we will most likely test those boundaries but hopefully after testing come back to God in a humble spirit and ask forgiveness for not obeying Him.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, His love endures forever.  Give thanks to the God of heaven.  His love endures forever.  – Psalm 136:1, 26

Each verse in Psalm 136 states a different quality about God to give thanks for and at the end of each one it says, “His love endures forever.”  How comforting that is.  Not just for a lifetime or 100 years or even 1000 years but forever.  That’s infinity past, the present and infinity future.  I don’t know about you but that gives me a sense of security.

Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.  You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.  – Luke 11:42

Here Jesus is letting the Pharisees and all within hearing distance know that their works weren’t enough.  They had neglected justice and the love of God.  He made it clear that although they had tithed this in itself was not enough.  They lacked justice and love of God.  Without these two things how could they say they were truly following God.  Love if anything is just.  They were supposed to be leading the people to God yet they were not following God themselves, this is what made Jesus so mad.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  – Romans 8:28

Here Paul writes to the Romans that God works all things for the good of those who love Him.  Now this again shows that we have a part in this love relationship.  He has amazing and boundless love for us and is looking for us to love Him back.  When we do love Him then God works all things for our good.

We may not see or understand the good at the time that it is happening, but good doesn’t mean joyful or happy.  What God is talking about here is, He will work all things out to our benefit.  Even if we may never in this life understand what the benefit is.  He loves us enough to make the tough decisions.  And like some parents have to make tough decisions for the benefit of their children so does God.

The main benefit is that we become more like Christ.  That is God’s goal. He loves us enough not to let us stay the same or stagnate.  He wants to see His children grow.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  – Romans 8:38-39

Now this is the most comforting of all the verses.  There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Now if that isn’t boundless love I don’t know what is?   Death can’t.  Life and all it’s trials can’t.  Demons can’t, sorry Satan try as you may you can’t.  Angels can’t.  The past and all those old tapes running through your head, they can’t separate you from the love of God.  The present and all it’s worries or concerns – it can’t.  The future and all of the unknown, it can’t.  No matter how high or low it can’t.  Nothing else in all creation, nothing you can imagine or dream of, can separate you from the love of God.  Now if that doesn’t give you a sense of security in Christ Jesus our Lord, nothing will.

God loves you and me more than anything else that He has ever created.  Why else would He send His One and Only Son to come down to earth, to die on the cross for our sins?  To be raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father so He could make petition for us.  Telling the Father, “Dad that one’s mine I died for him/her.”  And the Father saying, “Welcome my child into my house of rest.”

We needed reconciliation and God loved us enough to provide that for us in the guilt offering of His own Son.  Who is now our High Priest.  That is boundless love.  He didn’t abandon us because of sin.  He provided us a way back to Him.  That is what God’s love is unconditional, forgiving, boundless love.  Thank You God!

A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 5

Gab appeared in the hallway and stayed in the shadows where he observed as, Jack went on to first tell her how he had managed to not only loose the house in the fire but because of his ill temper as he put it he had managed to loose the business as well. How he had met Gab that night the last night of the business and all that they had done together.

Janet’s response surprised Jack. She seemed pleased that they had shared the food and his encounter with the homeless rather than being furious about loosing their livelihood. He went on to tell of Esther how peculiar she seemed in the light of that place and how her story had got him thinking. “Do you think that this Christ could truly do what this Esther woman claims He did for her?” he asked Janet. “What do you think?” Jack replied, “Janet if you could just see how Esther truly had nothing, not even most of her teeth anymore but the joy that she had seemed genuine enough. I can hardly believe that I’m finding myself envying a woman that has nothing but this Savior she speaks so lovingly about. I also need to tell you that I realize that I’ve been perfectly awful to you and Julie. I don’t understand how you could stand living with me. It’s like my eyes have been opened up to the man I’ve been and I can’t say that I like him very much, to be honest I very ashamed of the husband and father that I’ve been to you and Julie. I wouldn’t blame either one of you if you wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. I felt that way coming here. I was hoping you would be asleep and I could just be near you with my thoughts. I was too ashamed to hope that you would want any part of me. I was bad enough when our life was perfect but since the fire I’ve avoided you and Julie when you both needed me the most.” At this Jack stopped he heard something he wasn’t sure his ears were serving him well, it sounded like tears and laughter. This is definitely not the response that he was expecting. Jack questioned, “Are you crying or laughing at me?” Janet softly responded, “Oh, Jack, don’t you know that this is what Julie and I have been longing for, even before the fire? The tears are tears of joy and relief that our life together might be all that I’ve been hoping and praying for, please forgive the laughter but it just hits me as funny that now that you’re becoming the man I’ve always loved, you think that now I would turn my back on you. Heaven’s no! God is finally granting the desires of my heart.” Jack was shocked, “How could I be married to you for so many years and not know that you were one of them, a Christian? You weren’t when we met and married were you?”Janet lovingly responded, “No, Jack, I did not deceive you when we were dating and got married into thinking you were marrying something other than what I was.

Not long after our marriage I got lonely. You were so distant and busy with the business. It seemed the only time you needed or wanted me was to parade me around and use me as a show piece at various events other than that you were content to have me stay at home and be a dutiful wife. You gave me everything but what I longed for most, you. Then a neighbor invited me to some teas at her church and at one of them I finally realized the emptiness in my heart could never be filled by anyone but God. So I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It wasn’t that I was trying to keep it from you; I desperately wanted to share it with you. The problem being we never really talked and you were always so busy that this has been our first real conversation since my conversion decades ago. I asked my Christian sisters how best to approach you with my faith. They suggested that I do as the Bible says for wives to be submissive to their husbands and to always be loving to you and that through my actions not my words an opportunity to speak might present itself. Since the restaurant kept you so busy it was easy to fellowship at church with you never even knowing I wasn’t home because you were always at work. Then when Julie was born my sisters in Christ helped me to train her up in the Lord. At every meal she prays that her daddy might love her like her Heavenly Father. She will be so pleased to know that your heart has changed.