Friday, February 24, 2012

What Are My Choices Saying?

John 14:2 (NIV1984)
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

John 14:21 (AMP)
The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]

“Yes, Father, I’ll go.”

Who knows if there were actual words spoken regarding Jesus’ leaving magnificent heaven to live for a while on flawed earth? Relating it to human terms: it must have been some kind of culture shock!

Talk about obedience.

Can we come anywhere near His example?

This is the second week of our goal to love God with our whole heart. As this week’s verse states: those who obey God are the ones who really love Him. Is that a bit sobering to you? It is to me.

Face it. If God is determining my depth of love for Him by the level of my obedience to Him, how does my love for God measure up? (Not to mention the fact that He deserves my love and obedience.)

It’s easy to say I love Him, but do my choices prove my devotion to Him? What kind of relationship do I want with God?

Which brings us back to this week’s verse. Did you notice the last section? If we purposely strive to obey Him, He says He will show Himself (make Himself real) to us.

Can you imagine Jesus making Himself real to you?

Let’s pray that for each other!

And as we walk in faith, attempting to obey him, His power is unleashed in us allowing us to accomplish these weekly goals.

What do you think?

     • During this season before Easter (Lent), do you want a closer relationship with God?

     • What one change are you willing to make in your life to become more obedient to God? (God knows you cannot do this on your own. If you ask Him, He will help you change)

The last post “A Goal That God Has Gotta Love” elicited some interesting comments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to hearing what you have to say this week as we continue with our goals.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Goal That God Has Gotta Love

Deuteronomy 6:5 (NASB)
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:5 (AMP)
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.
Everyone felt it – especially the woman standing half-dressed in front of the condemnatory crowd. Even a passerby could sense the crowd’s impatience, eager to inflict “righteous judgment” by stoning the woman caught in adultery.

She stood alone – afraid to look up, fighting back tears. Surely her fate was sealed.

Or so it seemed.

“I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more,” Jesus said after sending her accusers away to consider their own sinful history.

This story can be found in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John. We’re not told what the woman did after this encounter with Jesus; but I know how I would’ve responded. Although I’ve never committed adultery, I too have been forgiven much.

And since I’ve been shown great mercy, I love God a whole lot.

However, I don’t love Him as fully as I could.

What would it be like to love God with every thought, and with all my strength? How would my actions and my motives change if I esteemed Him with that much intention and energy?

As I continue to recall times I experienced His mercy, would it stir within me an increasing desire to love Him with all my heart?

As we memorize or meditate on Deuteronomy 6:5, let’s make practicing to love God with our entire being this week’s goal. And as we pray for each other to succeed, can you picture how delighted God would be to hear those prayers?

What do you think?

• Does recalling times God has forgiven you, make you want to practice loving Him more?

• What does it mean to you to love God with everything that’s in you?

• What changes do you hope to see in your relationship with God as you pursue this goal?

• If you have chosen another goal, let us know how we can pray for you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Can Something So Magnificent Happen Again?

Ephesians 3:19 (NIV 1984)
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:19 (Amplified)
[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
 “Lord, I want to experience Your love. Please flood me with Your presence.”

A few years ago after reading this week’s verse (in the Amplified), I was filled with so much emotion that I literally stood up and prayed those words out loud.

The thought of actually being flooded with God Himself brought me to tears of anticipation and awe. I was so excited just even imagining the vastness of what I was asking. The joy that followed was astounding.

Did it last?

As with most of my spiritual victories, the business of life distracted me, until I gradually returned to a knowledge that He loved me, rather than the daily experience of His love. But with your help (prayers and accountability), I will return to this glorious verse and begin again to enjoy the fullness of God.

Does knowing that Someone so great loves you change the way you handle stress? How is it transforming your prayer life? Your feelings about God? (Next week, we’ll focus on how we can love Him more.)

For those of you who are continuing the goal to personally experience God’s love more and more, let me (and others) know how you’re doing. Is it changing the way you think about yourselves or others?

If you’ve set different goals for this week to overcome specific behavior or sin areas, let us know how you’re doing and what Bible verses are helping you. How can we pray for you?

What do you think?

     • Did you gain a deeper understanding about His love while memorizing verse eighteen last week?

     • Is learning how much God loves you affecting the choices you’re making – for yourselves or for others?

Friday, February 3, 2012

It Didn't Look Like He Was Glad To See Me

Ephesians 3:18 (NIV1984)
(that you) may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ

Ephesians 3:18 (AMP)
That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]

The line was long but moving steadily. We were all dressed the same, in our long white robes. I was nearing the front of the line and I could see Jesus’ face beaming as He greeted each newcomer into heaven – until He saw me. His countenance changed from one of loving delight to that of well-I-guess-since-you’re-here-you-might-as-well-come-in kind of look.

And each time (during that period of my life) when I envisioned the day I would enter heaven, the above scenario played through my mind.

I didn’t doubt my salvation; I just couldn’t imagine that He would be happy to see me.

Furthermore, I’m sure my feelings of being unlovable (even by God) played a lot into many of the destructive choices I made during that time. But as I spent time memorizing and meditating on His Word, the more secure I became. I became rooted in His love for me. But it wasn’t easy to get to the point where I could even begin to comprehend such great love.

However now I see Him not only beaming, but holding me tight on that future day. In fact, there are times I’m convinced that I’m His favorite. Yet, there are still days when I need to experience His love more deeply.

Which brings me to my February goal: to know and recognize God’s love for me more and more.

How would our lives change if we spent this week asking God to help us apprehend how much He loves us? Is it possible to grasp such a love? Can you think of a more enjoyable pursuit?

How would realizing the depth of His love for you change the way you think about yourself – and others?

Since this is the month we celebrate love, I thought we’d spend the first two weeks meditating on God’s love for us, and then the last two weeks on our love for Him.

Next week, we’ll memorize and/or meditate on the next verse.

By the way, we are also approaching the season before Easter (Lent). I want to encourage us to spend this time really pressing in to grow spiritually. One of the links I have on this website, Ryan Graham’s “Truth in Faith” has a 68 Day Challenge. It’s a simple plan that can make a difference in our relationship with God during Lent. Check it out.

I couldn’t close today’s post without mentioning God’s greatest act of love:

John 3:16 (NIV1984)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.

What do you think?

• Will meditating on how much God loves you change you?

• Who do you know could use prayer to discover God’s loves for him or her?

• What is your February goal? What area in your life do you want God to help you with?
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