Archive | May 2012

A Journey through God’s Love Part 4-Agape

Isn’t it amazing how life just flies by and time escapes us! I have been wanting to work on part 4 of A Journey through God’s Love for some time, but have had so many other things keep me from writing over the past couple of months. However, the Lord has graciously provided a time for me to escape and enjoy the peace and relaxation of His glorious creation. There is no better place than nature to feel and see the evidence of God’s love for us, which brings us to the next part of A Journey through God’s Love—Agape love.

God is indeed a God of love. His love is like no other love we, in the mere flesh, can comprehend. Our finite minds are stuck on a human love that is conditional, mercurial, dependent on feelings that go up and down based on the circumstances and stages we encounter in our life. This is certainly not the love that God gives us. To fully understand the extent and reach of God’s love, we must first understand the Greek and Hebrew meaning of love.

Greek

Agape – love, affection, or benevolence, love feast, dear, desire to do good to others, good will, charitable, kindness, lavish, rich, abundant and splendid love

Hebrew

Hesed – (from God) God’s love or kindness toward people and redemption from enemies and troubles, preservation of life from death, redemption from sin, keeping of covenants; God’s faithfulness to His covenant people and the blessings and mercy He shows His obedient covenant people
Hesed – (from man) Doing favors and benefits, kindness toward others, kindness extended to the lowly, needy, miserable, piety; commitment from man who have entered the covenant with God and are self-giving, trust Him, have deep affection for Him, and joyfully submit to Him
Racham – to have compassion on or upon, to love, to show mercy or have pity on

So what does that all mean? What does Agape or Hesed mean? It means, in short, that God’s love is never-ending, unconditional, given freely, and fulfills promises. To understand agape love is to understand God, for God is love. He is the perfect image and reflection of love, the very definition of love itself. 1 John 4:7-11:

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

God loves us as we are. In fact He loves us so deeply, so passionately that he sacrificed His most precious joy so that we could share in the inheritance of Heaven rather than the eternal death and separation from Him!

But the scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:22-29

Paul refers to the promise twice in this passage. This promise was made to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3 when God established a covenant with Abraham, telling him that he would not only found a great nation, but that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him. Indeed we are blessed because from Abraham’s faith and obedience came the lineage through which Christ was born. Christ is the promise, the fulfillment of blessings from God’s covenant with Abraham, the fulfillment of God’s love for us. We are able to gain access into the gates of heaven, to be heirs in Christ’s inheritance of eternal life because God loved us so much. He knew we were prisoners to sin, knew many would hate Him, curse His Son, and turn their backs on Him, yet His love put all that aside and He chose to give us grace, mercy, compassion, and the promise of life eternal.

Scripture provides God’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…..

When God paints an illustration of love through Paul in the writings of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, he is in fact evincing who He is! This kind of perfect love is impossible for any human being to deliver, thus we must rely on the Spirit of God to help us, to give us a deeper understanding of love, to draw us closer to God, helping us, in obedience, to receive love and express agape love to others.

There is no way, any one person can represent true love every day, in every way, to every person. We are not designed in our flesh to do that. We are, however, designed in our spirit to do that. But our spirit must align with God’s in order to carry out agape love. So, keep praying, keep seeking, keep asking God to reveal to you what true agape love is, to show you how to love, and to give you the strength and compassion to love, even those you don’t like or whom you call enemy.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Matthew 5:44-47

When we begin to love as God has loved us, unconditionally, continually, and completely, then we will see the fruit of that love begin to blossom. We will see lives changed. We will see hearts softened. We will see faith strengthened. We will see hope restored. Be the true reflection of God. Love others because He first loved you, not because others will love you back. Love others because God gave all He had for you to live fully, not because others will respond to you. Love because God loves you!

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 & 13

Only the Start

Being a single mom for the last 10 years has been a journey in and of itself. I have struggled to make ends meet, stressed about money and bills, I have worried about my son and his emotions, and have had my bouts of loneliness. Through it all I have found healing, renewed my trust in God’s provision, and found faith I never knew I had! Through all the turmoil and stress of divorce and the aches and pains of heartache, God has given new life, new reasons to love, and new opportunities to become the woman He created me to be.

Life is not always what we want it to be for we live in a world filled with sin, a world that is selfish and destructive, out only for more and more and not concerned with who it destroys in the process (Romans 3:10-18). But there is hope. There is something that will fill you with beauty, peace, and joy; something that will bring healing to the broken-hearted, comfort to the down and out, hope to the desperate, and renewal to the old and worn. God is that something.

God has such a deep love for his creation, for his children, for us. It is a love so deep that he gave his only Son Jesus Christ to die for us so that we could be close to him (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9). How many people do you know would die for you, let alone send their child to die in your place? Christ died that we might live and live fully; that we might embrace the promises of God and hold to the blessings he places in our lives through the storms. He came that we might find truth and be set free from the shackles of sin and destruction of this world in hopes that we will be all he created us to be (John 8:32, 36, Romans 6:22, 2 Corinthians 3:17). He died that we could have a prosperous and hopeful future; a future with him (Jeremiah 29:11).

Life has hardships but don’t let them pull you away from God, the one and only way to get through them! May you fill your life with him. Trust that he holds you in the palm of his hand under the shadow of his wing. I pray you let go and let God lead from today and onward. God bless and keep you and shine his light on your path!

Only the Start

Watching and waiting
Hopeful expectations abound
Listening and praying
Letting God’s hand surround

Holding to the truth of God
Not rushing in
Keeping Biblical boundaries
Avoiding fleshly sin

Seeking and wanting
Desiring so much more
Reading and praising
Trusting what God has in store

Knowing God has a plan
He holds the key to my heart
God’s light leads my way
This is only the start

The Present is a Gift

Today is indeed a gift, hence the reason it is called the present.  An old saying, but nonetheless true!  I have been running from one end of creation to the other like a wild banshee with work, parenting, housekeeping, and building a relationship, not to mention Bible studies, worship and Church.  I would trade none of it, but man there are those days that I get so busy that I forget what is truly important, what is most valuable in my life.

God is so often pushed to the side as there are so many other things that vie for my time.  I squeeze Him in as though He can wait for those 5 minute moments here and there in the car, in the shower, or anyplace else I actually have a moment to be left alone.  As I reflect on the last few weeks, I have come to realize that my priorities are out of whack.  ALL that I HAVE, I HAVE because God gave it to me.  NOTHING is my own, NOTHING have I created, NOTHING have I earned.  It is all GOD.  Take a look at Deuteronomy 8:10-18

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

God has provided us with all we have…food, land, house, water and wealth.  Nothing comes from us, but from God’s BLESSINGS.  Each breath we breathe, each step we take, each thought we think, each word we say, each letter we type are all gifts from God.  The car that starts each morning, the job that supplies all the necessities of life, the family that comes along side of us, the church that builds us up all are gifts from God.  The home you sleep in, the computer you communicate with, the water you drink and bathe with all are gifts from God.  NOTHING is my own, but all beautiful gifts from God to remind me of his covenant to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  They are there to remind me of eternity, to set my mind on things above, not to be taken for granted.

Glancing upon all that God has truly blessed me with has gently reminded me that He loves me so and desires to spend time with me and to be a part of my life, from the mundane to the hectic parts of it.  How could I push Him aside when He has so richly blessed me indeed?  How could I shove Him into convenient little moments that don’t allow time to really listen to Him?  I feel my finger pointing at me accusingly, with “shame on you” emanating forth.  When we love someone, we want to spend every waking moment with them, talking to them, listening to them, laughing with them, and basking in the joy of that relationship.  God is no different!  He loves us and wants to spend every waking moment with us.  Should we not desire the same?  Yes, we need to live life and take care of the responsibilities God has given us on this earth.  However, we need to prioritize and make sure we are making time, scheduling and planning longer than 5 or 10 minutes to sit with Him each day.

Enjoy the gifts of the present and take time to thank and honor God for all He has blessed you with and to hear His still, small voice!  All my love to you!

Delight Yourself in the LORD

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  -Psalm 37:4

Delight Yourself in the LORD

Delighted in the LORD

All he does for me

Learning and growing every day

Becoming all he created me to be

Strengthening my walk with God

Letting him lead the way

Enjoying time with him

In his word I will stay

Resting in the promises of the Lord

In him I place my hope

Knowing he will never leave nor forsake me

Thus with this life I can cope

Walking each day with great expectation

Spirit and soul refreshed anew

Meeting the desires of my heart

Awaiting all God will do

Happiness

I just asked my friends what happiness meant and got several responses.  I was told that it does not have a quantifiable definition, but is a choice we make to enjoy the blessings that come our way.  Happiness was also said to be coexistent with love: If you love yourself, God, and others, then you will find happiness.  Happiness was also considered an illusion filled with sadness and confusion, only occurring based on events that happen in our life to elicit happiness.  When the event doesn’t happen, we are not happy.  Still one other related happiness to the love of family and friends who love you for who you are, not for what they want you to be or think you should be.  So, what is happiness?  It is kind of like the ultimate question that Pilate asks of Jesus in John 18:37-38.  Pilate is interrogating Christ and Jesus responds to his inquiry by telling him that “everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  Pilate than responds, “What is truth?”  We never get to hear Christ’s answer, never get to hear the answer to what truth is or how we will know it is truth.

Happiness is much the same way.  We can ask, interrogate, inquire, but still the answer remains aloof for no one can define it with a singular, unified definition.  Rather, happiness is defined through the lens in which the person views life.  Interestingly enough, there is a bit of truth to each person’s response to my question, “What is happiness?”, if you look at happiness by earthly terms.  However,  happiness is indeed defined by scripture and even more so, it comes when we listen to Christ, just as we will know what truth is when we listen to Christ.  In Psalm 68:3, David says, “may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God, may they be happy and joyful.”  When we rejoice with all that God has done for us (sacrificing His one and only Son for the propitiation of our sins, giving us hope in eternal life, and power to conquer an earthly death), all He has spared us from (persecution, eternal condemnation and separation from Him), and all He promises us throughout scripture (providing protection, giving the desires of our hearts, hearing our cries and our prayers, loving us unconditionally) then we will truly know happiness and joy.  Not just one, but both.

Scripture also tells us, in Ecclesiastes 2:26, that “to the man that pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness…”  Once again truth is spoken.  We were created to bring God pleasure (Zephaniah 3:17) and when we do, we are filled with treasures from heaven above, including happiness.  God = happiness.  I like that equation.  Simple, yet true.   Simple, yet often difficult to fathom.

We get so stuck in the whirlwind of what the world defines happiness to be, when in reality there is no earthly definition.  If we rely on things, people, or events to make us happy, then expect to be miserable.  Things will rot, get stolen, be too expensive, or get lost or destroyed.  Then what?  Happiness will fade.  People will let us down, hurt us, disappoint us, turn their backs on us, and mistreat us.  Then where is your happiness?  Gone.  Events last only for a while.  A birthday party is over.  The New Year’s Eve celebration is finished when the clock exceeds midnight.  Christmas fades into a time of bills and debt.  Then what?  When the world determines your happiness, you will never truly be happy.   However, if you allow God to define your happiness, it will be eternal and no one will ever be able to steal it from you.

God is happiness, and not anything or anyone can destroy God.  God is love that fills our hearts with happiness and joy.  God is truth, that sets us free from bondage, bringing happiness and peace.  God is light, keeping us from getting lost in the chaotic world in which we live, bringing happiness and clarity.  God is wisdom that guides our thoughts and decisions, enabling us to choose wisely, bringing happiness and contentment.  God is happiness.

Don’t let your happiness and joy rest in the arms of the world where it will get dropped and be destroyed.  Live your life for God, and find peace, joy, contentment, love, forgiveness, eternal life, and hope….all bringing eternal happiness, not just to your heart, but your soul as well.

 

This is the day that the LORD hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

 –Psalm 118:24

 

 Happiness

Resting in the cradle of the world

Rocked to and fro

Awakening the reality

Happiness is fleeting

 

Nestled in the breast of God

Held tightly by the arms of love

Filled with peace, joy, comfort, and hope

Happiness is eternal

 

Swinging in the branches of life

People pushing and pulling

Pain, disappointment, and rejection

Happiness is fleeting

 

Securely attached to the hand of God

Protected by the Almighty

Enveloped by grace and forgiveness

Happiness is eternal

 

Wandering through memorable events

Enjoying the moment

Time passes and all is gone

Happiness is fleeting

 

Journeying through life with God at the helm

Letting Him have the power

All is well with your soul

Happiness is eternal

 

Take a look through the lens of life

Decide today which path to cling

Of the world or from heaven above

From which should happiness come