Perfect Love

Something inside of me shifted. I just knew I wanted to help people. This was so unlike me, I always felt overwhelmed by life. But there was a spark firing off in my heart. I could feel the position of my heart changing. A new perspective was birthing. I was searching for ways I could help.

Because I felt a deep gratitude that Jesus had paid it all for me, I believed I should start paying it forward. It seemed right. However, I often felt anxious serving. I seemed out of place. I didn’t want to be seen or talked to. I just wanted to do what I was there to do and leave. My hands and feet were operating but something was missing. The missing component was love. The truth is, I did not have my running feet yet. But God had my ear. He was revealing His deep love for me.

This experience reminds me of 1 John 4:7-21. The “God is Love” chapter. It talks about knowing God as love, experiencing Him as love. God’s love is a course correction for the soul. It is a heart transplant that allows us to tune in to God’s heart for people. The love of God allows wholeness to take root and healing to grow. It has brought a security into my life that I can only explain by saying “God loves me”. That security has given me the confidence to pour into others. I now serve in confidence. And this is the confidence that I have: that what I have experienced is what others can experience too. I love because God first loved me. (1 John 4:19)

The love of God is a key component to our serving God. God is love. We are supposed to be acquainted with His love. The Amplified Study Bible says that “…everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] (1 John 4:8 ) What is opposed to love? Fear. If fear is the driving force behind our works or lack of works, we don’t have love. The Amplified Bible says “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgement] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. (1 John 4:18)

There is a purpose to the pursuit of knowing God’s love. Because God’s love is perfect, it casts out our fear. The knowledge of God’s love plucks the ailments of our soul that choke out good fruit. This is done by pursuing and receiving the love of God. Believe His love over your circumstances, over your fear. Walk toward His love so that you can love. As a result, you will serve and bear much fruit.

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Abide

Knowing God as love, as our love, is knowing God for who he is. God’s love is transforming knowledge when it is received in our hearts. I have found that when I pray in gratitude for His love for me, I am better able to love others.

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No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

1 John 4:12‭-‬13 NASB

Working with the Lord

Tomorrow was on the horizon. Another disruption to what I really wanted to do. I knew I had no choice. There were children and obligations. If I chose not to, our lives wouldn’t be covered. I questioned God. I considered calling in sick. None of it produced good. I took a deep breath, put on my determined face and drove to the warehouse. I thought, “I can do this, if He does it with me.”

I believed it was true. I believed Jesus was sitting in the passenger seat as I delivered groceries, door to door, for a year. My body groaned and ached. There were rainy days and icy roads. Long hours and rush hour traffic. But I had Jesus and that is what brought a seemingly unimportant job to life. Working with Jesus gave me a new perspective on work.

In the past, it seemed like my jobs were ill-fitting. I often hated going to work. In that state, I under performed. Comments regarding my accomplishments were that I lacked effort, organization and consistency. Not surprising since I didn’t want to be there in the first place. Now, I have a new life in Christ. The position of my heart is toward Him. Because my heart is changed, my perspective has to change. 

Inviting Jesus into my work helped me understand that everything I put my hand to has meaning. Work is purpose. I was able to connect work with helping others. This fulfilled my desire to have meaning associated with the function of my job. Showing up for work became worth while. In addition, my job was helping me! Jesus showed me that my work is a provision.  If I chose not to have an occupation, provision would cease at some point. God grew me through the work I did when I included Him in it.

Do you think I made a mistake with the title? You might be remembering Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” From cleaning our own home without pay to working a job for another with pay, all of it is supposed to be done for the Lord. What happens when we work without Him? The complaining “why?” starts to manifest in our soul, leaving us powerless. Where does our strength and help come from? Psalms 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” If our only conclusion about work is that we have a job to get a paycheck, it is lifeless. The key to seeing all of life’s activities as purpose is to not only do it for Him but to do it with Him. It is in this place where work comes alive. 

Jesus the Light of Life 

Have you ever heard that Jesus is life? He is! His life is the example we follow. His teaching is the Way we follow. His voice is the Word we follow. His resurrection gave us life so that we could bring Him into the world. Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 8:12 AMP

Photo props: Pearl via Lightstock 

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When the Enemy Comes

It was just after my husband got baptized when they asked me to do a video of my testimony. Life was going really well. I was working at the church, we had a stable small group, I was volunteering in women’s ministry; about to embark on leading my first Bible Study. Everything seemed to be in place. I felt innocent and free so I said, “Yes!” Being convinced of the power of healing and transformation through faith in Jesus Christ, I sat in front of the camera with joy. Little did I know that my pot was about to be stirred.

It started pretty small. A few offenses here and there, constant banter of gossip trying to deepen the offenses, a rift between me and my supervisor at the church. I thought I was being stalked. You read that right, someone was watching me and it scared me. A new manager was hired at my husbands job. This man was out for blood and his aim was to take out anyone who didn’t dance on his command. For months, my husband walked on eggshells. He worked long hours and weekends trying to keep the peace. Life was growing difficult with both of us working on the weekends. I resigned my position, on my last day of work, my husband called to tell me he was laid off and on his way home.

In the middle of all of this, the video was finalized. The enemy was doing everything he could to keep that video from seeing the light of day. About a month before the video was to be released, a storm sat over the foothills where we live. A torrent of water rushed down the hillsides into the cities that lay at their feet. The home where the film edit took place was flooded. Thankfully, a first draft had made it’s way electronically to the pregnancy center. Nothing is left of the video other than the few scraps that were taken out of the initial edit. After all of that, the pregnancy center was talking about not using it at all. It grieved me. It is a true miracle that this video made it to the airways.

I honestly thought I would be blessed as a result of telling my story. To have so much commotion at one time left me confused. I blamed myself, believing that I sinned and grieved God. It never occurred to me that the video would be a player in what seemed like my life being laid bare. Instead of landing on my face in prayer. I fell on my back. I was a dead bug scrambling to hold on to life.

It’s been four years. I have learned a lot. Most of it lies in how I was being raised up in Lord. It is called sin doctrine (a.k.a. religion). I was believing a lie. Religion says that you are a sinner striving to do good. When bad things happen, there is sin in your life. I’ve had to go back to the beginning of my faith cry. Jesus died for all my sin, I am forgiven past, present and future. I am forgiven. Religion and grace cannot coexist. I choose grace. There I can put the blame on the one who caused the calamity, Satan. I declare God is good and the lover of my soul. Satan is my enemy. The mistakes made during that time are covered by the grace of God. 

If there is calamity on your life, take a look at what you are doing for the Lord. You are likely stirring up the powers that aim to keep the Kingdom from growing.  The enemy is after God, not you. It isn’t personal. If you can take the blame off of yourself and God, things will start to turn around. Remember: God is for you, who can be against you? If Satan comes against you, he is already defeated. What is coming against you has to end. It is a matter of getting understanding from the situation, putting the blame on the one who caused it, and seeking God for relief and restoration. God cannot fail in this because His promises are always true. Freedom lies in understanding that we have overcome by the blood of the lamb. When the enemy comes, land on your face and pray!

Nothing Can Separate You

Have you ever heard that God’s love is infinite? Romans 8:38-39 is the scripture that reveals this truth. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ. I believe that this love offers us a security to choose the good life. God’s love destroys the grip of sin. (Song lyric reference to Bethel Music, “There’s no other Name”.)

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Hope and Patience

Hope asks us to look beyond what we see to what we long for. If we can fix our eyes on Jesus when sorrow and fear enter our circumstances, we will be lead into hope. Can you envision the restoration coming your way? He is riding on a white Horse toward you. In His eyes is peace. In His hands is rest. Restoration is His speciality. Be patient, brothers and sisters, He is on His way! 

Photo props: Pearl via Lightstock 

Love in the Midst of Calamity

When calamity hits, hope seems far away. We need a rescue yet the hand of God is distant. Love is a rescue when we need security and hope. In this moment, could you say His love never fails? Can God’s love for you be your safety net in this time of trouble? Your story of love and hope can be an encouragement. In the comments, share your story of where love gave you hope for a rescue. 

Free Through and Through 

We all want to be free. Our soul desires it.  Yet we have a hard time living our lives without trying to follow a set of rules in order to be loved. Religion left me guilty, condemned and ashamed. Jesus freed me. Walking in freedom is often what we want but don’t really know how to do. Living guilt free, condemnation free, and shame free is the beginning. Entering into moment to moment relationship with God is the ultimate goal. The example of Jesus only doing what the Father was doing and saying what the Father was saying is our inheritance and where freedom lies. We never live our lives separate from God. Because the veil was torn, this life of freedom is ours. It cannot be taken from us. So, go be who God created you to be and enjoy your life! 

Photo Props: Pixel Creative via Lightstock

The Rhythm of Life

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

I awoke at 6:00am. My body was telling me it was time to get up. The warmth of my bed was yelling no. I could hear the cat clawing under my bedroom door. Breakfast time. I dressed in my morning comforts and open the door. The cat runs ahead of me, chattering and purring as if she hasn’t eaten in days. I feed her, mostly to quiet her. I grab my water kettle to start my morning brew. I glance at a plaque on the wall, it says, “Good Morning! This is God. I will be handling all your problems today.” Huh. I put coffee grounds in a french press and wait for the water to boil. All that fills the kitchen is the sound of the boiling water and the cat crunching her food. I breathe deep, staring at the wall. There has got to be more than this.

The rhythm of my life was a single drum beat. I was waiting on God. It’s a story only the enemy could conjure. A month after we bought our house my husband was laid off. The purchase was a victory over our past. We had been in a period of desperation turned to joy. Then we just fell off a cliff.  I didn’t have it in me to be desperate again. Now I was holding my breath. I was mad at God. Not wanting to admit it, I turned numb.

I poured my coffee and sit down in my chair. I opened my Bible. John 10:10. Abundant life. I thought, Jesus! I don’t feel like I have an abundant life. I am living the definition of insanity! Jesus responds in my Spirit, “You are alive.” Of course I am alive. What do you mean I am alive? Again, He said, “You are FULLY ALIVE.”

I didn’t get it right away but the words stuck with me. As I kept pondering those words, a basic truth was revealed. To be alive is to have the Holy Spirit. God was telling me that my numbness was producing death. I was forgetting He was in me. That I could just talk to Him. I might always be loved but I can only give and receive love if I am willing to open up and communicate.  One moment I sensed nothing, the next moment I sensed gratitude as I told God, “I am really mad at you.” When I decided to let go of my circumstances and talk, the position of my heart changed from circumstantial to hope. Hope lead to expectancy. Expectancy lead to faith. Faith moved the mountain of my circumstances. Turns out, He knew everything all along. My confession changed my perspective. A whole new world opened up to me, as I sensed He was always with me. A new beat began to play in my heart and I came alive.