Growing up I learned that love had to be earned based on how well I performed. The giving of love was by works and not by grace. This way of receiving love was instilled in my father by his father and he naturally brought it into his parenting relationship with his own kids.
“We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19)
Performance based love is rooted in fear and not in the freedom of grace love initiated by God. My earthly father inflicted a ton of rules that I had to adhere to. Eventually I figured out that I would never be able to consistently meet his standards. God accepts us as we are, with all our imperfections and shortcomings. He not only loves us first but wins our heart with His kindness towards us.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us…but according to His own mercy…” (Titus 3:4,5)
God is love and He delights in pouring out His love on us. So much so that He sent His Son Jesus to remove the barrier of ‘works based love’ which could never satisfy our longing to be loved and accepted.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…In order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16, 17)
There is no fear in the perfect love of our Heavenly Father, there is peace of soul knowing that we are loved and accepted just as we are. His love brings freedom to soar into fulfilling our God-given purpose on this earth.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” (1John 4:18)
Nothing can separate you from the love of God! (Romans 8:38, 39)
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4)
Image: Nature’s Love, J. Shauk
From the moment we gasp for our first breath at birth we announce our need for a Savior. With the second breath our struggle begins with embracing it. Instead of embracing this need we strive toward building a self-sufficient lifestyle that conveniently obscures our view of the One who has known us since before we were born, who saw our unformed substance. (Psalm 139:13-16)
The crazy belief around building a life of self-sufficiency is the false belief that independent living is possible, that creating enough resources to get along without help is obtainable. And yet we find that in the last chapter of our lives we suffer regret over relationships that have been sacrificed for gain in life.
We were created for relationship and dependence upon God from the beginning.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
God also provided the resources that we would need during our life on earth and the abilities, gifts and talents to bear fruit, to live a prosperous life balanced in spirit, soul and body.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 1)
In our pursuit of self-sufficiency we presume that our resources have come about from our own hard work, gifts or talents. God warns us that when we trust in our own ways all that we build for ourselves will be destroyed. (Hosea 10:13) He encourages us to turn from pursuing a self-sufficient lifestyle to one of dependence upon the One who owns it all.
“For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10)
At the age of 14 God showed me my need for a Savior and the futility of trying to build a self-sufficient lifestyle. I believed falsely that it would protect me from being betrayed by others and the world in general. God was inviting me to journey through life with Him as my provider and One in whom I could depend on for provision that would result in works that would not be destroyed. His invitation was simple;
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Everyone needs a Savior and His name is Jesus.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Enduring faith requires a long-term view driven by divine purpose that is specifically designed to shape your heart for the work and impact God has placed you on this earth to fulfill. And the secret to enduring is obedience.
Jesus modeled obedience in a very practical way. His example did not require years of maturing and experience nor perfect life circumstances or achievements. He simply chose to submit Himself to God and His plan for His life. He believed that the only way to please the Father was through living in obedience to Him.
“But have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God…emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Enduring faith is also rooted in our love for God. If we truly love God we will choose and commit to the process of enduring trials or tests that come into our lives. John the Apostle said that our love for God is proved by our obedience to Him.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Lastly, enduring faith requires waiting. Those who endure are promised supernatural provision to persevere to the end. Jesus goes before us and brings light to our path, we must choose to follow Him. He is the way, the truth and the life according to John 14:6. And when our enduring has accomplished God’s desired end, when we have been transformed by taking on more of the likeness of Jesus, we will know that God’s work in this area is completed.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
God cares for you.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
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Love wins. It triumphs over all things. And this is possible because God loved first and through His all-powerful love He caused His light to shine upon the just and the unjust. We all enjoy the daily benefits of the light of His grace and love.
“The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us.” (Psalm 118:27)
God is love. We can know His love by placing our trust in His Son, Jesus, who is the light of the world (John 8:12), the bright morning star (Rev. 22:16). This Jesus, who loves us is the rock and anchor of our faith, the answer to all that we will ever need, the Savior of the world. He died and rose again in order to offer eternal life by taking our place on the cross. He is the Stone that the builders rejected who in triumph has become the Cornerstone of faith.
“This is the Lord’s doing, it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:23)
Jesus said that we can know that we have come to know Him and God’s love if we keep His commandments. We can know that His love is being perfected in us. (1 John 2: 3-5) Our new nature in Christ removes the right to be selective in the commandments that we keep, our new nature delights in responding like Jesus would respond in everyday circumstances. His love did not leave us as orphans to work this out for ourselves, He gave us a Helper, the Holy Spirit who empowers us to walk in God’s light.
“And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3)
We are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) as we pursue fulfilling a lifestyle of obedient faith in love.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15: 9-11)
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Arriving into the land of promise is often preceded by a clearly defined path laced with life instruction and spiritual maturity along the way. Maintaining the promise land lifestyle is often far more difficult.
The land of promise showcases God’s blessings. He promises abundance and multiplication far beyond what we can produce through our own efforts. Blessing our households, our offspring and all the work of our hands.
“The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And He will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 28:8)
He promises to give us favor with mankind by placing us in positions of leadership and will make us prosperous in what He has called us to do and to become with only one condition…to faithfully obey His voice, being careful to do all His commandments. (Deut. 8:1) Herein lies the dilemma of maintaining the land of promise.
It is one thing to arrive into the land of promise, it’s another thing to maintain it. And God knew our tendency to wander into disobedience and provided a way back before we had to ask.
“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey His voice in all that I command you today, will all your heart and with all your soul…” (Deut. 30:1,2)
According to this passage we can know that obedience keeps us in the presence of God’s blessings and disobedience drives us away from God’s blessings. But thank God that His mercies are new every morning. His hand is always extended with new tender mercies calling us back to Him but it must be with all our heart and soul. On this condition He is eager to restore us again to the land of promise.
“…then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and He will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.” (Deut. 30:3)
When we decide to walk in obedience to God out of love for all that He has done for us, with all our heart and soul, He promises life in His blessed presence. The way into His presence is through Jesus, His Son.
“For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as He took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments…when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 30:9,10)
Choose to maintain your land of promise in obedience to God who loves you and desires the best for your life.
Photo Credit: Skilal
Love is kind, a very becoming character trait in a person. When seen exhibited in a person it tends to spread. One kind act often leads to another.
It is easy to display kindness towards kind people but how do you respond to an unkind person? Did you know that Jesus said we get no reward for being kind to kind people. He modeled kindness to an unkind world towards Him.
“but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
We’ve all benefited from God’s kindness, His blessings are shed abroad, even upon the unkind.
“…For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 7:45b)
Let kindness begin in your closest relationships. I have found this to be the hardest test to pass but once you master being kind in your own household it will easily spread abroad. Kindness brings out the greatness in us when done through the kindness extended to us from God.
“…Your kindness made me great.” (Psalm 18:35b)
Love is Kind.
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5:46)
What is the desire of your heart? What do you long for in your life to see God fulfill?
Many of us have deep longings that are pursued according to what we believe is the right approach, however God offers an approach that may not conform to the wisdom of the world but promises to lead us into the fulfillment of our deep desires.
It begins with trust. Not trusting in our own ability and skill but trust in God who establishes us in His will.
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:1)
To befriend faithfulness is to cultivate a lifestyle of obedience by honoring God in our daily roles. His Word, the bible leads us into His truth about how to live in a way that pleases Him.
As we learn about God and all His goodness and love toward us we will begin to delight in Him. As I learned to delight in God my deep desires and longing for a blessed life began to center on God’s plan for me. Understanding that all things come from God it made sense to delight in the Giver of all things good.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:2)
Once we learn to trust in the Lord we are lead to delight in His involvement in our lives then we must commit our way to Him.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” (Psalm 37:3)
Trust, delight and committing places us in a position for God to act. The same God who did not spare His only Son (Romans 8:32) will also give us the very best for our lives. He promises to give us the desires of our heart once we are in right relationship with Him.
Wait for God’s best, befriend faithfulness!