Category Archives: Love

Even If Your Mother Forgets, God Will Never Forget You

breastfeeding“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

I am not a parent, and my relationships with my parents are at best, distant, and at worst, abusive. Still, if you have ever been in love, imagine that feeling and multiply that by infinity, and that is God’s love for you.

Trying to understand God’s love when you have never received it in its appropriate form from your parents is an excruciating ordeal. I’m not saying that dysfunctional parents are incapable of love; however, because they are broken themselves, they do not have the tools to love their children appropriately.

If things worked out between you and your first love, I am happy for you. If they did not, remember only your own feelings for the other person. They were always on your mind, day and night, and spending the rest of your life with them would have been a dream! Complete acceptance for who you are — the good, the bad and the ugly — makes you feel utterly desired and safe. Mutual acceptance and vulnerability breed trust, and trust creates a safe space wherein you can make mistakes and be forgiven because you KNOW you are loved.

With God, you can be open with Him anytime, anywhere. The best thing is that He won’t judge you for what you’ve done because that’s what Jesus died for. The challenge for many is that He’s invisible; you can’t tell what He’s thinking or feeling, but you have the Bible, which is full of God’s promises and saturated with declarations of His love for you.

If you open your heart when you read the scriptures, you will see that it is SAFE to trust in God. He’s got your back and He always promises to NOT disappoint.

“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” ~ Isaiah 49:23

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.”  ~ Isaiah 43:4

My point is this: if you are like me, someone who is out of touch emotionally for the most part, you can still reach deep inside your heart somewhere and remember a time when you loved someone, like truly loved someone. Then you can begin to understand the depth and height of God’s love for you:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or 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

When relationships don’t work out, it’s because of someone’s (or both parties’) unhealed wounds. But God is PERFECT, and His love for you is unending, unlike human love, even a mother’s love.

#Godsloveisperfect #NothingLikeGodsLove #Christ #NoCondemnation #unfailinglove #safelove #love #relationships #broken #soul #heart #musingz4life #acceptance #trust

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Are You Forgetting Something?

unrequitedSo each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. – Psalm 78:7

The Israelites’ “forgetfulness” is the motif of Psalm 78 revolving around God’s unrequited love for His people, his “special possession.”  Despite all the wonders He’s done, despite the miracles, despite the good times and bad, the Israelites kept forgetting something – the heart of God.

Fault of the Israelites

The Israelites’ obedience and disobedience centered on one theme: their relationship with God.  Collectively speaking, they had a toxic relationship with God in which they were the ones abusing the relationship.  Sinning against God is not about violating the do’s and don’ts of the commandments; it’s about the impact of sin on one’s relationship with God.  Note the following characteristics of the Israelites:

  • Refusal to trust (Psalm 78:32-33)
  • Disobedient (Psalm 78:10)
  • Demanding (Psalm 78:18)
  • Tested God in their hearts (Psalm 78:18)
  • Refusal to give their hearts to God (Psalm 78:8)
  • Turned something positive into negative (Psalm 78:19-20)
  • Unbelieving (Psalm 78:22)

Yet in spite of all this, Psalm 78 ends with this verse:

 He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skilled hands. – Psalm 78:72

God appointed David to be the shepherd of the Israelites, who are described as God’s “special possession” (Psalm 78:62) and “God’s own people” (Psalm 78:71).

In my opinion, one of the greatest characteristics of a Christian is someone who demonstrates God’s undying love for you.  This means that no matter what you confess, no matter what background you come from, you can come face-to-face with this individual, knowing that he or she is walking with God so closely that they will lead you with a gentle staff and redirect you to Christ, the Overseer and Lover of your soul.  For it is Christ’s love that compels us and drives us forward and closer to God.

#Christ #ChristsLoveCompels #UnfailingLove #love #shepherd #GoodShepherd #musingz4life #mercy #remember #Godsmiracles #wonders #trust #trustGod

 

That One Thing: Loving Your Enemies

difficultI think most people have a problem with at least one or two scriptures that they wrestle with, even if they are Christians.  Jesus’s own disciples turned their backs on Him when they couldn’t handle His teachings:

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?”  John 6:60

Jesus was a revolutionary of His time and He still is today.  I’m sure you know someone in your large network of acquaintances who cannot fathom the idea of the existence of hell or the concept of the narrow gate that leads to heaven.  Different scriptures hit certain nerves for various people because it’s the one area we are not willing to “give up.”

In the case of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-25, the young man was fired up because he had been following the commandments since childhood.  However, there was one thing he lacked, and when Jesus responded, He responded with love:

 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said.  “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

Maybe for you, being generous and giving up your material possessions for the less fortunate is not a struggle for you.  But there’s always that “one thing” that probably tests your heart and challenges your obedience to God.  Is it the problem of evil in the world?  Is Christianity too narrow for you?

For me, it’s the command to love my enemies.  That is one of the top scriptures that challenge me to the core.  I normally don’t have much of a problem cutting difficult people out of my life (not sure if that’s a sign of unforgiveness or just self-preservation from toxic people).  There is one individual in particular that I just cannot stand.  It’s sad to say, but because she’s a family member, there is no way around it.  Ignoring or disowning her would be so un-Jesus-like!  Regarding her as “my enemy” is sad indeed, but that is how I feel.  Still, God calls us to obedience and if I call myself a Christian, I have to keep praying about it, keep fighting for my faith to draw closer to God, and not give up.  Everyone deserves to be loved, and Jesus especially loved the outcasts of society – women, lepers, the lame, the blind, the sick, the poor, the “sinners” and so on.

This challenges me to the core, but I know that as long as I have breath in my nostrils, I get another chance to repent and work on the condition of my heart.  I would not want to face Jesus and hear Him say, “One thing you lack….”

#forgive #ImitateJesus #love #norecordofwrongs #lovedifficultpeople #patience #endurance #musingz4life

Love Sums It Up

loveDon’t you love it when Jesus keeps it simple? In case you have a hard time keeping track of the Ten Commandments or other do’s and don’ts, all you gotta do is love.

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

If we all got along and loved each other as God intended, then no one would get hurt. Of course, this world is not perfect and someone will inevitably hurt you. That’s why it’s important to have our “love” priorities straight:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40

Loving God first and foremost will enable you to love those who are difficult and “undeserving” of love. God will give you the power to love your enemies in the face of injustice. You will make your decisions based on what Jesus would do instead of what you would do. Hence the acronym, WWJD, which stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” You know what YOU would do but does that mean it’s right?  Loving God will empower you to make godly decisions instead of emotional decisions.

“Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Love Always Wins!

#love #God #neighbor #lovealwayswins #musingz4life

Are You in an SWB Relationship?

relationshipYou’ve heard of the term “FWB,” right? As it relates to spirituality, “SWB” is “Saved with Benefits,” meaning you’re saved but there is no commitment to obedience whatsoever. On a personal note, I thought I had a great relationship with God but there were still some areas in my life that were not quite right.

I’ve had an SWB relationship with God — loving the benefits of being a Christian without much sacrifice or suffering. When I say “suffering,” I don’t mean external circumstances or the past over which you had no control. I’m talking about it as in suffering for righteousness because nine times out of ten, obedience does not feel comfortable and it sure feels like suffering when you are denying yourself from what your flesh really wants.

“For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:16

Think not only of Jesus’s sufferings but also of Paul, Abraham, David, Job and other heroes of the faith!  These men are great examples who took their faith to the next level.  Each one is known for his unique love for God but when you closely examine their lives, you will also see how greatly they suffered in order to stay close to God.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24

Intimacy with God requires giving up worldly pleasures for the sake of a healthy relationship with Him based on love and obedience.  No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  If you are not serving God, you are serving something else.

We may not always be aware that we have an SWB relationship, but one way I realized this was through a conversation with a friend.  After listening to my complaints and rationalizations, she pointed out that many times we Christians like the benefits of Christ without suffering for righteousness.  To be honest, this conversation opened my eyes to see the countless times when I rationalized my sins in my own head and with other people!

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”  Proverbs 26:12

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”  Proverbs 3:7

If we are well-meaning Christians, I don’t think we are intentionally in SWB relationships with God, but sometimes we need a little help from friends (especially strong Christians) who will open our eyes to the true condition of our hearts.

#relationships #God #compromise #SWB #musingz4life #righteousness #holiness #obedience #love

Taken for Granted

gods-handsIt’s easy to take people for granted after you’ve known them for a while.  The initial excitement of a new friend or lover wears off after a few months.  The term “Seven Year Itch” refers to the decline in happiness around the seventh year of marriage, but most people I have talked to these days have never had relationships that even made the five-year mark, let alone a year or two!  Divorce rates in Christian marriages continue to skyrocket.  If we cannot fathom what perseverance means in a marriage to another human being whom we can see, how can we understand perseverance in a relationship with God whom we cannot see?

Look at how God pursues us:

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;

I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me
to my very face…”

 ~ Isaiah 65:1-3

All day long, God holds out His hands to a people who continually reject Him and choose to pursue their own imagination.  I’m not referring to imagination as in terms of delusions, but it’s more like dreaming of your future without including God in your plans.  When you plan for the next 30, 40 or 50 years until you die, do you consider how your life could glorify God in ever-increasing measure, or is it all about you?  God looks for you even though He never crosses your mind for a millisecond.

 11 “But as for you who forsake the Lord
    and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
12 I will destine you for the sword,
and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”

~ Isaiah 65:11-12

 How about those who have already tasted the goodness of God and still choose to forsake Him?  Forsaking God is not an overnight process.  It varies for everyone, depending on how much one compromises with evil.  The more you compromise, the faster and easier it becomes to backslide.

 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

 ~ Matthew 13:3-9

 Some who come to the faith last a short time, while others last a very long time and then they fall away.  Very few last until they breathe their last, and that’s why the scriptures say that the road to destruction is wide but the gate to heaven is narrow (Matthew 7:13).  God reaches out to us every single day.  He reaches out to people who don’t know Him yet and extends the same to those who already have a relationship with Him.  Walking with God means having a loving relationship with Him, not only “till death do we part” but for eternity after death.

Have we taken God for granted and chosen the wider path, or will we pray and ask God for help to be obedient so we can stay on the road less traveled?

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome.”   

1 John 5:3

#NarrowPath #PleaseGod #love #obedience #musingz4life

With Acceptance Comes Great Expectations

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17 (emphasis added)

 Jesus’s absence of condemnation is demonstrated in John 8:2-11:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 
Jesus came, not to condemn, but to save. This is a comforting fact evidenced by Jesus’s response to the religious leaders in this scene.  When an adulterous woman was “caught in the act,” the teachers of the law were more than eager to indict her.  Not only did they want to humiliate her publicly, but this was also a trap they were setting up for Jesus (John 8:6) in case He said something wrong in the presence of many witnesses.

If you have ever been brought before the judge for a crime you committed, you would know the feeling of gratitude and relief if the judge decided to acquit you completely — with no lighter sentence — just completely scotch free. The woman did not have an attorney in her defense. She could not plead “not guilty” because she obviously was not innocent. Yet Jesus’s generous mercy demonstrated His great compassion for this lady.

The irony was that no one except Jesus was innocent. Jesus challenged anyone “without sin” to be the first to cast a stone (John 8:7). One by one, each person stepped back and walked away. Just because they did not sin in the same way as this woman did not mean they were innocent by any means.  Everyone struggles differently. It is not our place to judge someone else for their weaknesses. All we can do is practice compassion like Jesus and ENCOURAGE people to repent.

God’s Mercy

King David was well acquainted with God’s mercy and man’s wrath. When David sinned against God and God gave him options of how he’d like to be punished, he chose to fall into the hands of God (2 Samuel 24:14).

Jesus knows your sins. He knows everything you have done in the past, but He still has compassion on you.  Complete and absolute acceptance based on unconditional love is one of the greatest gifts in life.  If receiving unconditional acceptance from another human being feels so wonderful, imagine how much greater that feeling is when you know that the Creator, Savior and Judge of the entire universe accepts you because of His unconditional love for you.

God’s mercy is great but with acceptance comes great expectations. He accepts you as you are, keep_moving_forwardbut this means leaving your life of sin so you can live the rest of your life to please Him (1 Peter 4:2).  All we can do is keep moving forward and closer to God, leaving the past behind us.

#KeepMovingForward #FixYourEyesonGod #musingz4life #ForgetthePast #God #mercy #forgiveness #acceptance #grace