It's all about LOVE!

It's all about LOVE!

Let all that you do be done in love.  Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But we know it’s often very hard.

In fact, Paul's words in verse 9 nail it on the head, don't they:

...there are many adversaries...

That's right!  Enemies, opposition, struggles!  All against loving...why?

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Loving and Being Loved

A few years ago on Valentines Day, I ran to Kroger to pick up a few needed items.  As I got out of my car in the parking lot and walked across the lot to enter the store, I saw a man leaving, carrying a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers!   For some reason, it moved me to tears. Here was a middle-aged, short, stocky guy...not handsome at all....not romantic looking or attractive in any way.  And yet, I realized he was incredibly blessed because he LOVES someone.

Maybe she's a wife, a sweetheart, a daughter, a mother...but he has SOMEONE to love.

And maybe she loves HIM in return!

Love is a gift...both sides of love -- loving and being loved.

If you love someone today...let him/her know!  If you are loved by someone today...be thankful!

Above all, dear friend, know that you are loved by your God...be thankful and let HIM know!

We love because He first loved us! 1 John 4:19

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

I love this poem.  I discovered in the form of a picture book when my kids were young.  Now I use it printed out with several Hershey Hugs and a real hug!  Give it a try!

Hugs by Ron Stopkoski

It's wondrous what a hug can do. A hug can cheer you when you're blue A hug can say, "I love you so," Or, "Gee, I hate to see you go."

A hug is, "Welcome back again," And, "Great to see you!  Where have you been?" A hug can soothe a small child's pain And bring a rainbow after rain.

The hug! There's just no doubt about it! We scarcely could survive with out it! A hug delights and warms and charms. It must be why God gave us arms.

Hugs are great for fathers and mothers, Sweet for sisters, swell for brothers. And chances are your favorite aunts Love them more than potted plants.

Kittens crave them. Puppies love them. Heads of state are not above them. A hug can break the language barrier And make your travels so much merrier.

No need to fret about your store of 'em; The more you give the more there's more of  'em. So stretch those arms without delay And GIVE SOMEONE A HUG TODAY!!!!

 

 

Loving and Being Loved

A few years ago on Valentines Day, I ran to Kroger to pick up a few needed items.  As I got out of my car in the parking lot and walked across the lot to enter the store, I saw a man leaving, carrying a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers!   For some reason, it moved me to tears. Here was a middle-aged, short, stocky guy...not handsome at all....not romantic looking or attractive in any way.  And yet, I realized he was incredibly blessed because he LOVES someone.

Maybe she's a wife, a sweetheart, a daughter, a mother...but he has SOMEONE to love.

And maybe she loves HIM in return!

Love is a gift...both sides of love -- loving and being loved.

If you love someone today...let him/her know!  If you are loved by someone today...be thankful!

Above all, dear friend, know that you are loved by your God...be thankful and let HIM know!

We love because He first loved us! 1 John 4:19

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

I love this poem.  I discovered in the form of a picture book when my kids were young.  Now I use it with my adult ESOL & GED classes, printed out with several Hershey Hugs and a real hug!  Give it a try!

Hugs by Ron Stopkoski

It's wondrous what a hug can do. A hug can cheer you when you're blue A hug can say, "I love you so," Or, "Gee, I hate to see you go."

A hug is, "Welcome back again," And, "Great to see you!  Where have you been?" A hug can soothe a small child's pain And bring a rainbow after rain.

The hug! There's just no doubt about it! We scarcely could survive with out it! A hug delights and warms and charms. It must be why God gave us arms.

Hugs are great for fathers and mothers, Sweet for sisters, swell for brothers. And chances are your favorite aunts Love them more than potted plants.

Kittens crave them. Puppies love them. Heads of state are not above them. A hug can break the language barrier And make your travels so much merrier.

No need to fret about your store of 'em; The more you give the more there's more of  'em. So stretch those arms without delay And GIVE SOMEONE A HUG TODAY!!!!

 

 

The Rest of the Gospel: Entering God's Rest (Chapter 25)

Chapter 25  Entering God's Rest Key Verses:

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. Heb 4:9-11 ESV

Read Chapter 25:  Entering God's Rest

1. Is your life characterized by an inner rest? What does your answer tell you about the degree to which you are trusting Christ as your life?

2. Does being at rest mean that we will cease having any soul fluctuations? Explain.

3. According to Hebrews, what is they key to entering God’s rest? What might that look like in your life? Use a specific example from your life this past week in your answer.

4. What is the prerequisite for entering God’s rest? Give some examples of how this operates in our lives.

5. What does Dan mean when he says to turn your spiritual eye inward? Is this a self focus or a God focus? Explain.

6. What role does communion with God play in experiencing God’s rest?

7. What happens to the externals on the path to God’s rest? How is God making this happen in your life now?

8. In what ways are you seeking for God to give you something beyond Himself? In what way is He insufficient for all your needs? What is God saying to you about this right now?

9. What did Barbara mean when she told Dan to only talk about the unseen? What message is there in that for us?

The Rest of the Gospel: Loving God (Chapter 24)

CHAPTER 24: LOVING GOD Key Verse:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 ESV

Key Question:

Who is my point of reference, God or myself?

Read CHAPTER 24: LOVING GOD

1. What did the story Dan told about his daily experience in South Carolina have to do with loving God?

2. Your life is probably quite different than Dan’s was then. Nevertheless, what might God want to say to you through Dan’s experience?

3. What does it mean to love God in the way that He loves us? How might that look in your life?

4. What does the fact that God has already poured His love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5) have to do with loving Him back?

5. What role might suffering play in this process of purifying our love for God? How has God used suffering in your life this way already?

6. How would it change our lives if our main objective was simply to love God?

7. Write a summary statement about God, the One who loves. How does keeping the object of our love in constant focus affect our love toward that person? What does that mean for you personally?

The Rest of the Gospel: Detached Living (Chapter 21)

Chapter 21  Detached Living Key Verses:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

Key Question:

Are you wholly attached to Christ or is He just "a piece of the pie"? Read Chapter 21: Detached Living

1. In what ways have you tried to make Jesus part of your life pie, instead of Him being the entire pie?

2. When you look at your life, how have you resembled the seed sown among the thorns, letting the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things crowd out God?

3. How are these ways of living (from #2) antithetical to living the reality of Christ in you?

4. Ask God what aspects of your life He says subtract from true life, rather than add to it?

5. How might God be calling you to reorient your life, so that “Christ in you” is a lifestyle, not just another piece of the pie? What in your life, from God’s perspective, may not be necessary?

6. If we truly give ourselves to our passion, what does our life as we currently live it say about what our passion is? How can we make God more our passion?

7. How does Dan define detached living (bottom of page 217 and top of page 218)? How did Christ’s life demonstrate detached living?

8. What struck you about what Dan said about the desert fathers?

9. At this point in your walk, how could you press right in on Jesus? What would that look like?

It's all about LOVE...always IS!

I was reading in my devotions the other day...actually looking for something else...when the Holy Spirit arrested me right here:

open door

open door

...a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries... Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men [spiritual adults], be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:9, 13-14 ESV

Let all that you do be done in love.  Sounds so easy, but NOT!

In fact, Paul's words in verse 9 kinda nail it on the head, don't they:

...there are many adversaries...

That's right!  Enemies, opposition, struggles!  All against loving...why?

Because it's all about love.  It always is!

love

love

And the love Paul is talking about is GOD'S LOVE...not our touchy-feely kind that comes and goes.  It 's unconditional, sacrificial, others-oriented.  And that's not only hard, but impossible apart from God Himself.

So what are the adversaries that we typically struggle with?

Try these for a starter:

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, we are totally loved and accepted by our Father God.  So we can pass this God-Love on to others.  We can love with HIS love.

How?  By letting the Living, Loving, Indwelling Christ love through us today.

But, you might say, that's all well and good, but I am not particularly feeling loved myself today.  Maybe the place to start is by letting yourself be loved by the Father.  He's always loving you, searching you out, whether you feel it or not!  Bask in the Father's love...and then don't hold back!   Let it flow out...or as I like to say, let it rip!

Because...

...it's all about love.  It always is!

love, heart, candles

love, heart, candles

Love Will Find A Way Steve Green

Love will find a wayTo follow where you runLove will cover youAnd shield you from the sunThis will all be doneJust to heal you, to heal youLove will lift the veilYou try to hide behindLove will kiss your tearsAnd turn them into wineThis will all be doneTo reveal you, reveal you

REFRAINLove will take your shameLove will lift your headLove will take the blowThat was meant for you instead

Love will take your shameLove will lift your headLove will take the blowThat was meant for you instead

Love will never leaveNo matter what you sayLove will look beyondYour brokenness todayThis will all be doneJust to name you,This will all be doneTo reclaim you, reclaim you

REFRAIN

Love will find a wayTo follow when you run


In Pain...Two Things I Know

Tears
Tears

Surely goodness and steadfast love shall follow me all the days of my life... Psalm 23:8 PAIN!

Bloody! Cutting! Unrelenting! and Soul-numbing...or is it? 

For me, pain has a way of sifting through the non-essentials of life!

And I find my soul awakened abruptly from its numbing slumber to longing, loss, grief, confusion, perspective...

...but most importantly, the presence of GOD.

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.   C.S. Lewis

In pain as in joy, I'm learning to hold onto two truths that are my "Unchangeables," my non-negotiables:

GOD IS GOODThe LORD is good...

I AM LOVED...and His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

And it seems the enemy of our souls always assails at those two points with hislies.  It happened in the Garden, and it happens every day in my life and in yours.  We are just dull to recognize it.

But I'm hear to affirm by faith...

God is GOOD!

God's character is often bought into question when we face the "hard things" in life, like sickness, death, broken relationships, financial reversals, and so on.

When our son and daughter went through serious health problems (cancer and what turned out to be benign tumors) within months of each other, it threw me into incredible pain and confusion: "How could this be happening to my children!?" "What kind of toxic waste dump have we been living in!?" And I struggled on...for a long time!

reflections on Christ - crucifixion
reflections on Christ - crucifixion

Finally, it was Jesus' words to His disciples, the night before He died, that stabilized me:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

But why all the suffering?  God's Word tells us that because of the Fall, everything and everyone has been suffering:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:21-23

God's plan hasn't been stymied because of man's fall into rebellion.  God is weaving all things in our lives into His eternal plan in Christ.

tapestry, front & back
tapestry, front & back

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.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29

As Bible teacher Kay Arthur says,

Everything in our lives is filtered through fingers of Love!

And that brings me to my second "Unchangeable"...

I am LOVED and you are too!

We all are seeking perfect love...loving and being loved in a real and deep way.  This is God-given.  But I get myself into trouble when I expect perfect love from another person, or I try to live up to others' expectations simply so that they will love and accept me.

The realization that I am loved with an everlasting love by the Lover of my Soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, enables me to let others off the hook.  It also frees me to admit and repent of my failures to love...and then forgive myself.

house
house

Maybe this is part of what we each must go through in adulthood in coming to grips with our "parent issues."  In a perfect world, all of us would have been parented by perfect parents who met all our needs.  But in reality, none of us has...though some of us have had some pretty darn good ones!

But in finally coming to grips with our grief and loss, we can forgive others for not loving us as only God can.

It's at that moment that you and I can fully embrace God's incredible, perfect love for us...and embrace our life, choosing to love with the love with which we have beenloved by God.

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Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing,... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing— nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable —absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:35-39 MSG

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Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 ESV

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Kaden the student
Kaden the student

Bible Students:

Click on the highlighted links for further study.  There are several Bible-based articles by Biblical scholars, Scripture references, and links to other posts that have further explanation and Scriptural background.

Recommended Reading:

book -- One Thousand Gifts
book -- One Thousand Gifts

When I was in the midst of writing this blog post, I came to chapter 5 of Ann Voskamp's beautifully written book One Thousand Gifts:  Dare to live Fully Right Where You Are. Ann shares the raw pain and suffering in her life that led her to the same conclusion-- God is always good and I am always loved. I was delighted, surprised (but why should I be!?), and encouraged that God is speaking this same liberating message to His children everywhere.  I highly recommend this beautiful book!