Monthly Archives: August 2013

How to Love God – Part 5

How to Love God when it Hurts

“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5-6

This passage carries tremendous significance in our individual relationships with God. First, it teaches us the truth (not distortions caused by human experience) about how God really loves us. Secondly, it teaches us how we are to love Him in return.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

As a child of God, we must learn what it means to love God’s eternal heart. Because a relationship with our Almighty Creator is the greatest privilege any human can ever receive, we actually need His infallible truth as a basis to steward this relationship well. We must lean on God’s word to learn how to love Him.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:7-11

He is love. He is the Word made flesh. And He is the Faithful One who gives us daily instruction and the grace to melt His holy heart.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

Love is not easily angered. Perhaps it’s better stated this way: God is not easily angered with you. He’s not waiting to punish you, judge you, or criticize you.

If we do believe that He harbors negative thoughts of us, it becomes easy for us to feel negative towards Him. You will become mad because you believe He’s mad, and this very attitude opposes His love. This type of thinking is not based on Holy Scripture, which shows us the truth that God is perfect, and so is His anger. Because He is fully just, He knows how to express His anger within His holy boundaries.

On the other hand, we are not perfect and our anger can create problems. This is an area where God has challenged my heart, both in my relationship with Him and with my husband Keith. Whenever I have felt irritable, quick tempered, touchy, or fretful with God or with Keith, it usually derives from one of two things: me not understanding something (a decision, a desire, or an outcome), or me not immediately getting what I want.

Praise be to God, who provides a way for us to love Him selflessly and without anger through His grace. My hope is that if you are angry with God, tell Him. Be honest with Him because He already knows. He will listen, and when we also listen, we can hear Him respond in love. And we will come to realize that the majority of the things we are angry with Him about have stemmed from our own misconceptions.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Holding grudges against God may seem inconceivable to some (based on the Word’s description of God), but unfortunately many of us have personally felt this way. At times, I’ve experienced horrific trauma in my life that left me wondering, “where was God?” Perhaps you have as well. Millions of people endure pain and suffering every day – hunger, rape, violence, divorce, dissolved relationships, betrayal, and many more. But if we truly want to get on with our lives and really enjoy God, we have to stop blaming Him for every painful experience.

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:15

God doesn’t hurt us; this broken, sin-stained world is what truly hurts us. On the contrary, God is the One who restores us. And keeping a record of wrongs while billing Him for each offense will never work. He’s already paid the greatest price ever recorded in history when He ransomed us from the grave and provided freedom from death.

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

If your heart is burning with bitter resentment, be angry towards the one who causes it – Satan. But don’t let the enemy rob you of an opportunity to love the Everlasting God and experience the greatest life you’ll ever know.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Photo provided by scross.co.za
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God and a White Picket Fence

White-picked fence

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Psalm 115:3

Many of us living in the U.S. can easily visualize an idealized image of a white picket fence neatly arranged on a well-manicured lawn. Either we’ve seen it in person, or we’ve imagined it as part of the “American Dream.”

A white picket fence has always symbolized perfection in my mind. However, its meaning has honestly become unappealing to me, because we as humans will never obtain perfection on this earth.

However, God is perfect. And He does own a fence, perhaps better known as His holy border.

You see, God is a real-life (yet divine) Person. It’s easy to think that He would not have boundaries since He is omnipotent and omniscient. But as His children, we can cause serious tension between us and the Father if we do not respect His boundaries in our relationship.

I never thought that respecting boundaries would be a need in my relationship with God, but it is. And perhaps it is for you as well.

What does it mean for God to have boundaries?

Essentially, there is a separation between what God is willing to do for us and what we must be responsible for doing ourselves. He has specific roles: God is Creator, and mankind and the universe are His creation. God is Ruler, and He ultimately controls and governs His world. God is Redeemer, so He alone is the One who saves, heals, and restores His creation who are lost and broken.

“The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” 103:19

“Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?” Lamentations 3:37

What does it practically mean to respect God’s boundaries?

As His child, God will faithfully instruct you in what is best for your life. But He will not necessarily nag you nor cross your will if you decide to refuse His instruction. He may respect your “No” even if He doesn’t agree with it. And He will undoubtedly forgive us and restore our hearts if we turn to Him after we experience the destructive consequences of not originally following His wise direction.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

The point here is that He can respect our “No.” He neither forces nor manipulates us to follow Him in any way. Why then do we throw a fit, ignore Him, curse Him, or stamper off in bitter fury when He says “No” in His infinite wisdom?

Why can’t we also give Him space to have His own righteous opinion? If we want to be in real relationship with Him, we must respect His boundaries. We can’t cross His white picket fence, bang on His door and demand that our way be done, while claiming that He isn’t acting quick enough.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2

Let’s get one point straight here: God does no wrong. He isn’t even capable of sinning against us because He is a spotless lamb that is the incarnation of love. If we’re angry at God, if we’re confused by God, if we’re disappointed by God – more than likely it is because we haven’t gotten our way in our timing and we’re shifting the blame to His holy throne.

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” Isaiah 46:9-10

God is free from us. He doesn’t do anything out of our compulsion, manipulation, or control.

If God gives us a promise and we take it upon ourselves to arrange every detail, then we’re not acting out in faith; we’re trying to control God’s Sovereign plan. We must take responsibility for the disappointment and anger that emerge as a result of our actions. Abraham faces this very dilemma once Ishmael is born (from Sarah taking matters into her own hands) even though God had promised them both Isaac. If God has given a promise, He will faithfully open up the doors and diligently align the necessary details in order. If we try to do what only God can do, we cross His boundaries and try to take responsibility for what is rightfully His.

“You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Romans 9:19-21

Will we allow Him to have the freedom to be who He is in our relationship?

 

 
 Photo provided by century21almar.com

 

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A Warrior's Stance

A Warriors Stance

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2

The morning is cold and hazy. Grey skies loom overhead as I stand in bitter anticipation for the day at the center of a battlefield. And I’m alone again (or at least that’s how I feel).

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Whether the enemy is working to destroy me through lies and temptations, or whether my own brokenness is causing me to see through a distorted perspective, I’m constantly engaged in a war with the truth. Perhaps this can be more accurately stated: “I’m in a war against myself.”

This is exactly what we experience as His beloved. We fight against our own deceptive flesh, the enemy of our souls, and the corrupt world in which we live as we step out in faith to follow and trust our Eternal God.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

When Jesus speaks, He often refers to me as His “Warrior Princess.” As cheesy as it may sound to the ears of the unbelieving, this is who I am. Kinda like a modern-day warrior that fights on the front lines of battle with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In some situations, I’m not fighting alongside Jesus; My flesh wants to fight against Him.

I sense many of you reading this today are exactly where I am. Your white-knuckled fists have clung to the sword of God’s truth (and His promises to you) as you’ve slayed the lies of the enemy (and those you tell yourself) with His aid. You’ve been expecting a great victory (a breakthrough, a miraculous healing) to burst into your life at any moment.

  • The telephone call from your doctor stating your cancer is gone.
  • The girl you’ve been praying for finally gives you permission to pursue her in a courtship relationship.
  • The spouse you’ve been fasting for is finally freed from a destructive addiction.
  • The call from a company presenting a new and exciting career opportunity.
  • The day you look at yourself in the mirror and really love who you are.
  • Or the day when the baby you’ve been trusting God for finally arrives.

But in reality, it hasn’t happened (as of yet).

Slowly, the battle begins to morph into something different. It’s no longer about combating confusion, doubt, and despair through the authority and power of the name of Jesus Christ. Instead we start opposing Him.

This is when you may realize that the promise you’ve been standing on (and fighting for) hasn’t fully been surrendered to Jesus. And that your thoughts and ways aren’t really in sync with the God Eternal. We need to understand that God truly is Sovereign. Even though we fight together, He’s still the Commander who gives me the very weapons and instructions we use to fight.

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’.” Isaiah 55:6-9

We can choose to oppose God because we don’t fully trust His amazing heart. As much as Jesus and I have been through together (many seasons of trauma and triumph), I still don’t always immediately agree with Him or understand what He is choosing to do in my life.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

I have a choice, just as you do. Will we trust Him, beloved? Will we trust Him for they very promises He gave us?

Will we retreat back from the battle lines that we’ve created and rest in the safety of our Commander and Chief Jesus Christ?

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

He’s calling us back into the security of His arms, beloved. Whoever you are, He wants you to refocus your gaze on Him.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalms 39:7

May we as His children of valor embrace God’s perfect timing, His ways, and His wise strategies for our individual lives. Regardless of what our feelings may tell us, He is faithful and He is good.

“Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.” Psalm 85:11-13
Photo provided by daringtolive.ca
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