Saturday, July 25, 2015

love is...

The other day, someone on Facebook posed the question, "What is love?"
I think this person was struggling with a tough situation, but that was a very good question. One that I have thought on since I read her question.
We all want to be loved and want to love others. Love is an important part of our lives.  Love is so important that it has been the subject of songs, poems, stories, books, movies and many plots throughout history in every culture. There have even been wars fought over the love of a woman. Remember the story of Helen of Troy? Love takes precedent in many situations.  But what is love?  What is true love?

The dictionary shows that love is both a noun and a verb. It is a noun defined as 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, and as a verb defined as 16. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person). (

There are many definitions listed in the dictionary. Love does have many definitions. Love is often viewed as a strong emotion, but love is more than just a feeling. In the purest sense, it is goodwill toward another and doing good for fellow man. 

We all want to know what love is. We all find definitions of love. Try to show love and like to feel love.  There is a little comic called "Love is..." that would appear in the comic section of the paper. It began in 1970.  Every week it would have a cute little pic and a little phrase about what love is.  When I was getting married, my father clipped out one of these and gave it to me before my wedding. I still have it in my wedding album.  It was so sweet.  I have always enjoyed those little comics.  I still like to read them. 

Love is shown in many ways.  It is...
A husband taking care of his family
A mother's sacrifice for her child's need
A father's work interrupted for time spent with a child
A stranger's act of kindness
An embrace in a time of heartache
A gentle touch
A smile of joy
A bedside vigil in a time of death

It is seen as self-sacrifice, self, control, putting others first, forgiveness, kindness, self-denial, selflessness, and given with no thought of personal gain. 

God is love and he has commanded His people to love.  We are to love our brothers (Romans 12:10) and prefer them as well as love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) above and beyond what they demand. 
We are commanded to love. God had a lot to say about love.  After all, He is love. He created it and gives it to us as a great gift to share.  He gave the ultimate gift in love. 

True Love is God
Love  is a manifestation of God in people. God is love and love comes from Him.  There is no love without God. Let that sink in. Without God, there is no love.  

1 John 4: 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

When we share love, we share God. Love is demonstrated in what we do for others. It is demonstrated by action. There is a lot of scripture that tells us to love one another. That is how others will know us. 

I John 4
Knowing God Through Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Seeing God Through Love
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The Consummation of Love
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Why do we want to love and be loved?
It is God manifest in us, sharing God with others. Others may know God through us, in our actions. We demonstrate who God is by our demonstrations of love. He demonstrated love with his ultimate sacrifice. Jesus lay down his life and died on the cross for our sins. (1 John 3:16)  In fact, John 15:13 says: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

All our actions and words should be motivated by love, love for God and love from God. 
What we do, say and think should come from God's great gift of love. That should be our witness, our testimony of who God is. 
How we speak to and treat others should reflect God. True love leaves no room for selfishness, hatred, anger, hurt, pride, destruction, bitterness, unforgiveness, harshness, intimidation, mean words or deeds, etc. 
Love is of God and is God. Even those who claim there is no God, yet feel love, display love and claim to know love, are experiencing the love of God.  Their very existence is only due to a God who is love and loves them enough to lay down His life for them. We are only here because of that love. 
We owe him more than we can even fathom.  Our very existence is based on love. Love of a good Father who wants His creation to love him, love one another and love even when no one else does. 
It is an amazing love that fills this world. It is a love that cannot be described by mere human words. 

It is high time that the body of Christ act on the love of God to a lost and dying world as well as to one another.  Love is what should move us, motivate us and call us to action.  Love should bring us to our knees in prayer for thankfulness for what He has done, but also in desperation for those lost in sin.  We really should love them enough to put our lives aside for a bit to spend in prayer for the souls going to  a real Hell, spiraling into utter darkness and disregard for the loving Savior.  There is more than just saying God loves them, there should be a love motivated desperation to see them saved before they face utter, eternal destruction. Do we love God enough to really love the way He did? Are we willing to lay our physical life down for the opportunity that another soul might be saved? Even a soul that might hate us, revile us, despitefully use us, and even wish us death?

God did.  He died for every single person that has ever and will ever be on this earth. He died for those that choose to love him and those that try to destroy His truth. He died for those that seek to kill, steal and destroy. He died for those that say he doesn't exist.  He died for them because that was required to give them salvation.  He really needs His body to act on that love and reveal to those lost souls just how much they really are loved.  Wouldn't that change a lot of problems in this world?  Really, most sad, lonely people are hoping to be loved.  Let's figure this thing out and show the world who God is.
God is love. Plain and Simple. God is love. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

what is the motivation of obedience

Samuel is a man who understood hearing from God and obeying His word. Samuel was a child longed for then dedicated to God. He had a mother that had yearned and prayed to have him, then gave Him back to God for His service. She prayed over him and brought him new clothes every year.  I am sure she was checking up on her precious son.  She wanted him to be used of God. 
In 1 Samuel 3:1-19 we can read about young Samuel.  His mother had given him back to the Lord. He was there to be raise by and serve Eli the priest.  One night he heard God calling him.  He thought it was Eli and ran to him.  This happened three times. Eli realized that God was speaking to Samuel and told him to say "Speak for your servant hears."  
Samuel responded to God and heard from God.  When Eli asked him about what God had said, he was afraid to tell Eli the prophecy.  Eli encouraged him to not hold back and speak God's word. From that time on, he heard from God, listened and obeyed. His life was spent speaking the Word of God to the people and individuals as God directed. Samuel was used of God to anoint kings, direct their actions and declare the blessings and curses of Almighty God.
He did not let any of His words fall to the ground.
Later Samuel gave directions from God to Saul.  Saul was to wipe out an entire city.  While this may seem harsh, God knew that if that did not happen, there would be dire consequences later.  Saul disobeyed and did not follow God's directions. Saul made excuses and even tried to say they were saving the things they kept to offer as a sacrifice to God. Samuel declared that obedience is better than sacrifice and that Saul had lost the kingdom and the blessings of God.

Samuel was able to see that obedience to God brought good blessings or consequences and that disobedience brought destruction or negative consequences. 

Just like we make rules as parents to protect our children, God has laws to protect his children, us.
He does not have laws just to be mean or controlling. He has laws that are in our best interest. He wants to keep us safe from harm and hurt. Saul's disobedience led to a man later trying to wipe out all the Israelites in the kingdom. You can read in Esther that Haman was an Agagite.  Haman was a descendant of the King Agag that Saul had allowed to live a little longer. Our disobedience always has consequences. 

Hebrews 13:17
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Colossians 3:20
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 13:4
You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

1 Samuel 15:22
So Samuel said:
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandments He gave this answer:
Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

I often tell my kids that I want them to obey me just because they love me.  I want them to listen to me out of love and respect, not out of fear or just because they might earn something.  That is what God wants. He wants us to choose to obey His word, read His word, talk to him out of love for Him and respect for who He is.  He doesn't want a bunch of sacrifices that mean nothing. He wants our love.
That's why Jesus said:
John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.

I am pleased when my children obey.  I want to please God by obeying His commands. I want to show Him I love him through my obedience.  It is not a sense of obligation, a requirement of the church, or a way to show off my religiousness that should be my motivation. 
My motivation should be purely obedience in response to the love of my Savior and my love in return. 
That doesn't always make it easy.  
Samuel was afraid.  Fear, difficulty and frustration can deter us at times from obedience. Our own desires and feelings can interfere. But in the end, we must find it in our hearts that obedience is better than sacrifice. God just wants to be pleased with us. He wants us to obey. He wants us to be safe and blessed. He is a good Father.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

when I think of the goodness of Jesus! a testimony

When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He has done for me, my soul cries out, "Hallelujah!" "Praise God for saving me!"

It is testimony time!  I am overjoyed about what God has done.  He is a good God and He does more that we can even imagine.

Over the past couple of months I have thought of this verse, probably everyday.  I have cried it out in prayer over situations of which I knew I had no control.  When I was afraid, overwhelmed and unsure, this was the verse I repeated.

Psalm 27:13-14

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

First of all, God blessed me with two beautiful children. They are wonderful and healthy kids.  I love them. My youngest, my son, was born with a cleft lip and palate.  This has required surgeries for repair.  His first surgery was at 5 months old for his lip. His first palate repair was at 1 year old. He also ended up developing a cholesteatoma in his ear. This is a cyst that could have grown into his brain.  This was found and ear surgery done.  The other ear had surgery as well to repair a hole in his ear drum.  God blessed with leading us to an expert ENT who writes the textbooks on these type of ear repairs.  My son's hearing is absolutely perfect today.

Recently, after a videoscope was done, the plastic surgeon felt it was important to complete a second palate repair on his soft palate.  It was still split and air flow when speaking was affected.
On June 9th, my little boy went to surgery.  His palate muscles were moved and reattached.  A tooth was pulled from the middle of his palate and some small holes were closed.  He had a mouth full of stitches.
Five days later, he woke up crying with a lot of pain.  I looked in his mouth and realized the stitches had all popped.  I saw a hole and swollen tissues. Being Sunday morning, we went straight to church. The church gathered and we began to pray.
When I spoke with the doctor that day, he said we would have to wait for the tissue to heal up before redoing the repair.  The tissue was too raw and swollen.
One week later, we went back to see the doctor. He looked and said, the muscles were attached and moving.  This was good. The skin tissue was still not attached, but it looked like he may not need further repair.  If he does, it will be very minor!  We will go back in 6 months for a followup.

On top of that, I began to get the medical bills and infomation from the insurance about what they would cover.  I began to add up the amounts.  I realized we were looking at paying well over $5,000 dollars for this surgery.  My husband and I prayed and said, "God always provides."  He has never failed. We had received a letter from the hospital requesting some financial information.  If we qualified, they would help us with the amount we owed and set up payments.  I mailed all the information they requested as we left on a trip to visit family. When we got home two weeks later, there was a letter from the hospital.  It said, "We are unable to provide financial assistance at this time due to your level of income. Please call regarding the amount you owe at the top."  I looked at the amount.  It was $0.00.   I opened another letter from the insurance.  It stated the amount they covered along with the statement:  The hospital has decided to accept the amount covered as paid in full.  Your cost is $0.00.  I was beyond shocked! I still can't quite get over the shock.I quickly handed it to my husband and asked him to confirm it.

God has proven to me over and over, how he can provide. When I really put my trust in Him and not worry about things, he does amazing things. He provides blessings from amazing avenues that I never expect.
We have recently purchased a newer car and this week we had to go to get the license plate and registration paperwork. When we got there, the clerk asked if we had the proof of insurance for both of our vehicles. We gave it to her.  She then explained that the money paid in for the registration was more than needed. She then applied some of the extra to pay the registration on both vehicles through the next year and handed me back a check for $309.  This was exactly what we had just paid for a service on the car.

I can say that I have seen the goodness of the Lord!!!!!

I am reminded everyday that God promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6).

In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus taught us not to worry.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I knew going into this summer, God would have to be there.  I knew going into this summer that we were facing some challenges. I also knew that if I stood on the Word, He would be there.
He has done so much more than I ever dreamed.  I could sit here and type all day about the many things he has done for us the past two months, but I will save that for another time or a personal conversation.

I just want to encourage everyone that God knows our needs before we even speak them in prayer.  Stand on His Word and trust Him. He's got it. Even if it isn't going the way we hope, He is still there, holding us and caring for us. He is a good Father.

In Isaiah 26:3 it promises:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Philippians 4
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I have learned a lot about giving to God everything. In times of need or times of plenty, God already knows. He has the answers.  I definitely sing, "Hallelujah" for all He has done and what He will do.
Thank you, Lord!

The following pic, may be gross, but it is a collage of the before during and current look of my son's mouth.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

joy in the sorrow

Part of life, is death.  We all experience death at some point.  The death of loved one, and even face it ourselves.  The death of a loved one can be hard. I attended a funeral this weekend of a dear lady and it got me to thinking about how God is always present and His love carries us even through our losses. Seven years ago, I lost my mother. She was very precious and the greatest mom.  I was talking with a dear lady this evening about the loss of her husband. We were sharing about how God was there and carried us through that loss. While we mourn our loss, we rejoiced together in the knowledge that the Hand of God was there.  She shared with me about how God had spoken to her and told her that morning and told her she would never see her husband again.  She told me details about how she had read a scripture he carried in his wallet just the day before. She read it several times.

Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When she heard the news the next morning, her first response was "Thank you Jesus!" because this verse flooded back to her and she realized he would never be separated from the Jesus. He was with him.  Those with her thought she had lost it!  While she mourned his loss, she could also rejoice in knowing he was with His Savior.  They had just given their hearts and lives to God just six months prior to the accident that claimed his life. She was able to stand on the word of God and recognized the hand of God operating right where she needed it. Even down the song he was listening to when he passed. 

When my mother passed away. It was a hard moment, but God was there. My parents were traveling.  They had spent Sunday preaching in Mississippi and had left Monday morning to head to Alabama.  On that little two lane highway, Revelation 22:12 was posted on a billboard, 
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
A head on collision claimed my mother's life just moments later.  God knew that time was coming.  He had arranged for emergency providers to be on the scene with a nurse on her way to work, EMTs on their way to work and an off-duty officer two cars behind.  My dad survived with some serious injury.  I shared with my friend about how God's love and peace felt like a bubble surrounding us.  It is so hard to describe.  But I felt His presence so strong. Even as I mourned a great loss, I could  find much evidence of God's love right there.  He was so real and strong when I was weak.  
This last week, as I attended the funeral of this dear lady: a wife of a pastor, a mother, grandmother, friend to all,  I was again struck by the fact that even in the loss, God was present.  He was there as she passed and there to comfort those left here. Words, songs and a message from a man of God about how her time of juggling all the cares of life was over and now she could sit at the feet of Jesus for eternity.  She had chosen the good part. 

I guess overall, I am comforted to know that God loves us so much that even through loss, he does not abandon us.  What is death for a child of God? In reality, it is birth into our eternity. We are released from this life of cares and concerns into the ever glorious presence of the one our soul longs for. We are  released from troubles and trials, work and worries, into an eternity of peace and love.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Why would the death of a saint be precious?  It means that that saint will be with him forever.  No more  worry.  It is like birth.  When a baby moves from the womb into this world, there is struggle and sorrow for the mother. There is pain,  but it brings that baby into her arms and into her life. Just as death brings sorrow and pain, it also brings a soul into the loving arms of the Savior. 

Ecclesiastes 3
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

God reminded me that there a time and purpose for every season in our lives.  We are all here for a short time. We do not have forever here on earth, but we have eternity to consider.  
Some people say, "we only live once," as a reason for their poor choices of behavior.  I think it should remind us we only have this one life to make a choice to know the Savior.  He really brought all of this world into existence to allow for man to come to Him.  He wanted to create a being that would choose to love Him and have a relationship based on that love.  This life had the purpose of bringing about a connection and relationship with God that would last for eternity.  Sin perverted that purpose.  
Through Jesus, we have access to the love of God and an eternity of the greatest joy of heaven: His presence.

Some may question, "Where is God?" when they face trials, death of loved ones and other terrifying event.  My answer is, "He is right here!" Hebrews 13:5 tells us that he will never leave us or forsake us.  He is our ever present help in a time of need. Hebrews 14:6 He will hold onto us and he will preserve us.  He never leaves and he never forces himself into our lives. When we choose Him in our lives, he is faithful to find our passing as a moment of joy.  He will comfort the brokenhearted and mend the broken heart.  
Seven years ago was hard, but I can say that Jesus carried me, even down to a song on the CD, mom was listening to, "Mama's teaching Angels How to Sing,",  I can sing it with deeper meaning now.  I can face death knowing I will get to be released into God's loving presence for eternity.  I can rejoice over a soul now lost to this world  but born into eternity at the feet of Jesus , choosing the good part. God will whisper His love into your heart, He will carry you through the journey and provide comfort we need. All of that just to bring us to eternity with Him. Death isn't so bad after all.