Let Love Win

LET

When we think of love, we think of what Hollywood often shows us. Most romantic comedies follow the same formula. Some crazy dare or set of improbable circumstances or mistaken identity bring two very different people together. Then they get to know each other, and their obligatory odd friends and/or family. Next up is an argument about the need for honesty followed by a time of separation and silence, and finally a rush to the airport for a tear-filled reunion, followed by an uplifting soundtrack.

The reality of God’s love and the fantasy of worldly love are worlds apart, however.

I’ve been reading C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity lately, and amongst its many quotable passages is this truth, in  the chapter discussing marriage:

“The promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way.”

He’s right, of course and it’s a truth rarely discussed. That selfless principle applies to all forms of love, not just romance. God calls us to a higher love. The Bible talks more often about phileo (friendship) love, and agape (unconditional) love than eros love (romance).

Love is more often a choice, not a feeling. It is not about us at all. Lewis goes on to say that if married couples only promised to love each other when they felt the warm, fuzzy feeling of love, then one or both partners would walk away after the first argument, or the possibility of  a more seemingly attractive option.  If we are driven only by feelings and impulses and whatever only brings us pleasure, then we will examine every person or circumstance with those strict, selfish parameters. A life led by feelings is flesh, not Spirit driven. It’s not a life that honours God with all that we have.

God showed Himself to the world in the form of Jesus Christ, and of all the things that Christ’s life showed us, how to love is at the top.  1 John 4:8 says it simply – God is love. That’s how God chose to represent Himself. He created love, He embodies love, He promotes love and He shows us how to love. It is impossible to learn to love in a way that He requires, until we first lean in to His love and let it cleanse us and realign our values and priorities. We only know what love is because He created it. The love we have in Him is far greater than feelings or infatuation or selfish pleasure.

Loving the way God does, and wants us to, costs. It is selfless and challenging and inconvenient, but it is also much more. It is victorious. It is life changing. It is empowering. May love be the motivation for all that we say, do and think. Is our love the same as His, or are we acting by what we’ve known as love from our past? With God we can love people, even strangers or enemies. We can love others, even when at that moment we may not particularly like them.

God’s love isn’t rational, in a worldly sense. Let’s face it, God’s overwhelmingly generous and gracious love doesn’t make sense to our sinful minds. He created the world and Adam and Eve, and us, because of love. He sent His Son to the cross because of love. Even when He disciplines us, it’s due to love. His love is a risk, and because of free will, there’s no guarantee that we will love Him back. We will never be worthy of such enormous love, but we must always be thankful for it, and never stop giving it, while expecting nothing in return. His love is the reward, and through that love, others can see Him through us.

Let Him redefine what we think love really is. God is love, and if we are His followers, so should we be. Let love in, and let love win.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

1 John 4:7-12

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 1:9-11

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Be At Rest

Be At Rest 1

Be At Rest 2

Rest isn’t something we hear of often, but it’s important. Christian life is all about balance, as is illustrated wonderfully in the story of sisters Martha and Mary and how they approached Jesus. Busyness doesn’t equate to holiness, even if we’re busy doing seemingly holy things. We are not machines created solely for work. We are beings created for the purpose of having a relationship with our God and Father. The work we do stems from that connection, whether that be stacking chairs at church, raising a family, or whatever it is that our calling and gifting stir us to do. God doesn’t want us just to work. He also wants us to rest. How great is that?!

It’s important that we discover what God’s definition of rest is though. It doesn’t mean ignoring our responsibilities and watching TV. Even in rest we can be productive. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites us to come to him to find rest for our souls. That’s such a warm and generous invitation. His rest is more than just an afternoon nap or a cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace (although those are great too!). God rested after creating…creation, Jesus slept, and Psalm 127:2 says, “God grants sleep to those he loves.” These are all great encouragements. The kind of rest that we can embrace in Him is more than just rest of the mind and body, however. It is the rest of the soul. It’s the kind of peaceful comfort that we only find when we sit at His feet and enjoy all that He is, and all that He offers us, where the cares and distractions fall away, so all we are left with is, is us and Him – together. It’s the kind of rest that Philippians 4:6-7 describes; the kind of calm awareness that comes when we give Him our anxiety, and receive His peace, the peace that makes no sense according to our circumstances, but makes complete sense once you know who God is, and that He is in the midst of your circumstances, yet also sees beyond them.

Hebrews 4 speaks of two different kinds of rest – the rest on the Sabbath, and also the heavenly kind, in which we will truly be free from all of our striving and work on earth, with all of its internal and external opposition. It’s interesting that the New Testament describes those believers who have passed away as being asleep, for outside of Him, there is no true rest, and in eternity, we will forever live in that everlasting, peaceful rest.

Rest in Him, so we may be strengthened for our work. When He works with, through and for us, we will know rest, both now, and one day, in eternity.

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” “

Psalm 46:10

“And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.” “

Revelation 14:11-13

God Confidence

LIVE

In Psalm 18:29-32 King David declared, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”

In Psalm 62 he describes God as his rock, fortress and salvation.

David had  a wonderful assurance before his Father, and was described as a man after God’s own heart. It may seem brash or brazen to be bold before Him, but God welcomes it, and Christs’s sacrifice allows it. By our own righteousness, we have no chance of coming in to His presence, but by His Son, the way for us has been gloriously and victoriously made forever open. To live with confidence in God, and not in ourselves, is a wonderful way to discover true freedom. Anxiety and fear disappear, and certainty in His promise and character grow. When the storms come, we can be like Christ, asleep on the boat, knowing that God is with us, and that His love and power never changes. (Mark 4:35-41).

We may be surprised at how often we make decisions based on temporary things that don’t lead us to a greater sense of fulfillment, or a deeper intimacy with Him. How different would your life be if you lived in God confidence, rather than with confidence in the things that don’t last, such as your finances, looks, health or even friendships? Your choices would be made in full faith, trusting Him above all else, and you’d be released to be molded by Him. Your perspective and priorities would be kingdom,  rather than earthly, minded.

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3:12

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

1 John 5:14

“Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.”

Proverbs 3:25-26

 

 

 

God Is

God is ______

How we view God determines how we live. It really is that simple. So, who is God to you? Is He dead or alive? Vengeful or patient? Generous or mean?

Our priorities, values and choices hinge on who we think God is. Thankfully, we have the Word, the life of Christ, as well as His revelations to ourselves and others to guide us in to accepting a correct view of God. This greatly helps us to live a life for the God we know, rather than just the God we know about.

If we come to God in prayer with a distorted perception, we aren’t embracing His glorious fullness. Pray with awareness, and in awe, of His kindness, patience, forgiveness and power. His Word tells us that if we confess our sins, He will forgive us. (1 John 1:9). It tells us that He is a generous Father (Matthew 7). It tells us that He will draw near to us when we draw near to Him. (James 4:8). Coming to God expecting Him to condemn you, or punish you or ignore you is not coming to God as He has revealed, and longs to reveal Himself . He died so that you may experience all that He is, and all that He has for you. Don’t rely on what others have told you about God. He wants a relationship with you. He wants to reveal Himself to you. He wants to embrace you.

God never changes, and that is why He is our dependable Rock and Fortress in an insecure world, and as we lean upon Him in humility and worship, we find ourselves discovering more of His splendour. Like any relationship, our one with God, changes and deepens as we spend more time with Him. It is the most astounding, surprising, beautiful relationship we will ever have. Hear Him. Be open to His revelations about Himself. Get to know Him. Who He really is.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

James 1:6-7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:7-11

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:11-13