RSS

Love Yourself As God Does (Saturday Devotion)

  
Image created with Wordswag; used with permission. 

Morning devotion: Receive God’s love for yourself. Love yourself. Then love God and your neighbor as you love yourself. 

If you want to see me cringe, pull up one of those memes (word:picture) art that reads God first, others second, me last. Why do I cringe? I cringe because this method of love and living is not a full/accurate picture of what God told us in the Bible and it is not effective. Why? I have no agape love in me, without first receiving from God, to give to anyone. 

I grew up hearing people preach, “You must love God with all your might and love your neighbor. Put yourself last. Give until it hurts. Lay your life down. Be like Jesus.” What those well meaning preachers failed to mention was how much God loves me. They skipped a very important step. People who don’t know God’s love for themselves cannot and will not love others with agape love. It is impossible to give away what is not first received. 

The Father deeply loves Jesus. Jesus has always been loved, before the foundation of the earth-loved and one with the Father. Jesus knew the Father’s love for Him. His suffering for us was temporary so we could be included in the family of God (He paid 1 time for our sins). Jesus is not the slave, inferior part of the Godhead doomed to perpetual suffering. The Father gave Him the name above all names. He sits at the right hand of the Father. All authority given in His name. He is deeply loved. So are we. The Father loves us the same as He loves Jesus. 

The Bible says: 

  • We love because God FIRST loves us,~1 John 4:19. 
  • Love your neighbor AS you love yourself,~Matthew 12:31. 

I had to receive His love for me before I would ever be able to love Him back or anyone else. 

God invites us into relationship. He tells us to abide in Him, then there is good fruit (John 15:4-5). We are to abide in His love. 

I have plants. The few that have survived, they are champions. Some I call resurrection plants-dead today, rising tomorrow.😉 If I cut off a branch or limb of the plant, it shrivels up and dies. I can scream at it to produce leaves or flowers or fruit, and it cannot. It is no longer connected to the source of life. 

I tried striving for years to love God and love people. It left me wounded, hurt, defeated, broken hearted, ashamed (I am not loving like God), self condemned. As much as I tried to live up to the standard (Love God, love people, you last) I failed. Thank the good Lord God is smart to lead us to His truth. God began leading me to passages on abiding, receiving, knowing His love. He beckoned me over and over to know Him and receive from Him. It became my passion and platform; intimacy with God and abiding in Him. For freely we RECEIVE, freely we GIVE. 

Loving people is still challenging and quite costly. It hurts sometimes. 

Sometimes what we call love is enabling, or codependency, and/or tolerating abuse God would not ask us to tolerate. 

If we abide, and love ourselves, we learn to set boundaries. Boundaries are not punishment, they are safeguards set up to do what is best for both parties, not just one person. God loves everyone. Jesus suffered temporarily so we could be saved. He is not the eternal doormat. He rebuked Peter (Mark 8:33) and the Pharisees to their faces. He stayed in the temple instead of being with His earthly parents (Luke 2:43). He had boundaries and love for Himself and the Father. When people sought to kill Him before His time, He fled those places (John 6:15). He allowed Himself to be abused for our sin. We can tolerate abuse for no reason; that is not agape love. Love protects (1 Corinthians 13:7). 

We live in a world full of people who do not know, believe, or receive God’s love for themselves. Some are outside the church, some inside. You may ask how I can say this. I do not know every person in the world. I can look around at the state of the world. And I am not looking to judge. I am seeking deeper revelations of His love too. This is not heaven, therefore there are discrepancies between a place with no sin and a place overflowing with things outside God’s will. 

Every single sin is rooted in a lack of agape love. For love fulfills the law (Romans 13:10). Abuse, murder, adultery, fornication, lying, stealing, incest/rape, racism, sexism, prejudice, bigotry, hatred, lust, self hatred, insecurity, inferiority, rebellion, gossip/slander, rudeness/mean spiritedness, bitterness, unforgiveness, grudge holding, selfishness, jealousy/envy, self pity, control/domination, pride….every single one is an outward manifestation of an internal deficit of agape (God) love. 

The Bible encourages us not to think more highly of ourselves than we are. It does not tell us to believe thoughts about ourselves that are not aligned with God. This means we agree with God and that is not arrogance or conceit, it is God esteem. 

God esteem says, “I am deeply loved by God, chosen, seated in heavenly places with Jesus, a coheir with Him. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am an outward expression of the heart of God. Unique, beautiful (handsome), gifted, created with divine purpose, and set apart for His glory.” 

When we receive God’s love and abide in His love, we can and will without striving love God and others. 

Our self effort is futile, for we cannot manufacture agape. It comes from God, to us and through us. May you and I know (believe) the height, depth, width, and vast expanse of God’s love for us. May we freely receive and then freely give.

We are SO deeply loved. Praying for you friends. 

Love in Christ, 

Erin Lamb 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2016 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Enter My Heart (Love Poem from Abba’s Heart)

  
The love the Father has for us far exceeds our wildest imagining. His love beats passionately in His chest for all of humanity. Day after day, moment by moment, His heart beats with intense, unquenchable love. 

I hope this poem blesses you. 

Enter My Heart 

Written September 10th, 2016

Can you hear Me, calling out Your name? 

From the deep cavities of My heart I am beckoning you. 

Come closer. 

Come deeper. 

Come on in; enter into My heart. 

Come into My garden, lavish in life and flourishing by love. 

It is our garden; the garden I have custom designed for you. 

I have sown My seeds of beauty, tossed them freely into fertile soil. 

I have watered each seed intently, radiated My brilliance on them all.

What I have sown and grown, it was done for you. 

So you may see the love and care I have put forth for you. 

Come frolic in My fields of glory, free of worry and concern. 

Come bask in the wonder of My Presence, I desire to be with you most of all. 

Come through the gate of My Son, and keep returning here to this  place of love. 

There is no need to pretend or perform here. 

I am your safe place, your home. 

You are cherished, adored, and celebrated here. 

You are loved for who you are, not what you do nor what you have done. 

My love I freely give to you, pouring out all that I am so you may know the profound depths of My love. 

Come stand under the rushing waterfalls here, Living Waters to wash away pain, wounds, insecurity, and sorrow. 

You will be made new, restored, and rejuvinated here; here in My love. 

Enter into My garden, leave your footprints on the soft floor. 

Paint your murals with dew saturated petals on the garden walls. 

I wish for you to live here, in the garden of My heart. 

Can you hear My song here? The one written just for you. 

Will you dance to the melody? I will sing My love song over and over for you. 

You are My beloved. The one I sent My Son for. 

You are the focus of My affection, for you I possess such abounding love. 

So come My dear one, come. 

How I long to be with you. One moment will not suffice. 

I wish to be with you for all of your life, and on into eternity. 

You were created for love, created by love, and My love for you is beyond all human logic and reasoning. 

My love, come. 

My beloved, come. 

My child, come. 

Here I am standing firm in love, eager to surpass your wildest dreams. 


May God bless you, keep you, and His face shine brilliantly on you. In this season and in every season, may you and I abide in the heart of God. How He loves us so. Oh how He loves us. 

You are prayed for and deeply loved. 

Love in Christ, 

Erin Lamb 

Photo Credit: WordSwag, used with permission. 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 10, 2016 in From the Author, God's Heart, Poetry

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Follow Jesus (Abiding & Intimacy with God Part 10)

  
Photo Credit: Created with WordSwag, used with permission. 

Morning Devotion: Walking in the footsteps of Jesus. He only did what He saw the Father doing; said what He heard Him speaking. 

Jesus was the most effective minister who ever walked the earth because He only did what He saw the Father doing and said what He heard the Father speaking. He understood the importance of serving and getting away to just be with the Father.  

Jesus lived out of a place of intimacy with the Father. He met with the Father because He loved Him, not to just fill His tank or get something from Him. 

Jesus was and is love manifested in the flesh, there was and is no selfishness in God. The Father and Son connected heart to heart, pure intimacy. 

Jesus was not led by the desires of the people, led by pleasing people, nor was He led by His feelings. He was primarily motivated by the love He had for the Father and the desire to do His will. Do we seek the Father’s heart and seek to know His will? Love is about partnership, not simply receiving for our personal gain.

God pursues us to love us. And as He loves us, we fall in love with Him. When we fall in love with Him, we want to be with Him, over and over with Him. As we with are with Him, His heart begins to be our heart. 

The gifts, treasures, visions, and dreams He places in us begin to rise to the surface. We become the truest version of who He created us to be-purged of deception, fear, and insecurity. We meet heart to heart and spirit to Spirit with God. These times in the hidden crevices of His heart are where true transformation occurs. He deposits seeds of His goodness, love, hope, faith, joy, wisdom, insight, and we leave that place pregnant with promise, wisdom, understanding, love, and purpose.

The statements of Jesus in John 15:4-5 are quite true. He said, “I am the Vine and you are the branches. If you remain (abide, stay connected to, cultivate intimacy with) me-you WILL bear abundant fruit.” 

The fruit of Jesus is evident not only in His words but in the way He lived. He perfectly represented the Father. He gave all of humanity the key to living like Him-abide. 

Abiding is to cease striving and operating in the flesh. Striving leads to stress and self righteousness (look at how holy I am by what I have done). No one stands before God except Jesus holy (has never sinned). We take on His righteousness by faith through the wonderful work of grace. So we can say, “I am standing and abiding in what Jesus has already done. I receive by faith and remain (abide) in Him.”  

Praying for you!! You are so deeply loved. 

Erin 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

Tags: , , , , ,

God is Pursuing You (Saturday Devotion)

  
A deep, intimate, flourishing relationship/friendship with God is available to any person who wants one. He so loves the entire world. We have as much friendship with God as we desire. He is consistently pursuing the world, to love the world. 
God is never too busy, or too annoyed to be an incredible friend, loving Father. I have not met anyone who holds a candle to Him. God love (agape) far, far, far surpasses human love and only His (agape) love does not fail. 
Looking for love, be with God. I love people, yet they are not my source of love or security or identity or joy or confidence. God is. 
Being with God and receiving His love leads to…💛
💫Loving God (we love because He first loves us). 
💫Loving ourselves (we receive perfect love for ourselves from God, and grow to love ourselves unconditionally).
💫Loving others (we can only give what we possess and release what we carry. We love our neighbor as we love ourselves).
💫Godly confidence (it’s not about our thoughts or what we think of who we are. Who does God say we are). 
💫Peace and Joy (God’s love brings with it peace, contentment, and overflowing joy).
💫Wisdom and Understanding (His thoughts are far higher than mans. His wisdom incomparable).
💫Awe (intimacy with God evokes awe-how marvelous, majestic, wonderful, and glorious He is!!!).
💫Healing and Restoration (no one does it better than God. He gives beauty for ashes and joy for mourning).
💫Purpose and Identity (The purpose of something is known best by the One who created it).
💫Transformation (we are deeply changed not by our striving, but by abiding. Apart from Him we can do nothing). 
💫Courage and Compassion (the more intimate we are with God, the more His heart becomes our heart. His courage becomes our courage. Fear, selfishness, and pride dissipate in His presence, when we receive). 
So sweet ones, the invitation is open to all. Whosoever will let them come. God will not force Himself on anyone or into any busy schedule. He knocks on the door of the heart and says, “I love you. May I come in? I long to be with you and be known by you.” How He loves us so.

Papa God help us to respondto your  relentless pursuit! May we know You for who You are and know who we are in you. Help us to cease being busy and make time for the greatest love we could ever have. Thank You for everything. In Jesus mighty name, Amen. 

I leave you with one of my favorite worship songs: Wrap Me in Your Arms

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Proximity Is Not Intimacy (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 9)

  
Morning thoughts on intimacy: Proximity does not equal intimacy. Nor does proximity or just spending time equal friendship. 

There were people who traveled with Jesus, ate with Jesus, and considered themselves disciples or friends of Jesus. Yet those who followed Him and dined/traveled with Him many of them still did not know His heart. When you read the Gospels you will read of their doubt, unbelief, selfishness, pride, issues, and denial/betrayal of Jesus. 

Only Mary showed up at the tomb of Jesus. Only John (of His male disciples/followers) showed up at His crucifixion. On the night before He was betrayed, they went to sleep, though He begged for their prayers. 

The disciples could touch His flesh and still missed His heart. They walked with Him yet were not good friends to Him in His time of need. 

We can spend time with people, read about their life, and still miss being intimate with them. Why? How? If our focus is inward, we can be sitting right next to someone and not know them. If we are filled with unbelief we can be close (proximity) to Jesus and still miss knowing Him. If our eyes are set on, “What can I gain from this relationship, what is in it for me? What about me? How can they bless or validate me? I think, I feel…me,” we miss out on the greatest gift-knowing God. And if we are that way with people we miss out on knowing them too. Me centered living does not launch us deep. 

Even some of the relatives of Jesus did not truly know Him. Those in His community mocked Him, scorned Him, and were offended by Him. Some thought He was crazy. They were in proximity with Jesus, they were not intimate with Jesus (truly knowing and believing He was the Son of God). 

When we are truly intimate with someone we see them as they are, not as we wish them to be. We listen to their heart, and what matters to them begins to matter to us. We love them deeply for who they are not what they can do for us. We know their voice, the way they move, their heart and motivations, the intonation in their speech. We can in detail tell others about parts of their inner world. 

Intimacy is not a destination; it is a journey. A perpetual journey to know someone deeply, beyond the surface and simply stating surface facts or what we have read or heard. 

God invites us all to know Him deeply and for ourselves. Intimacy is more than reading the Bible and attending a few services. It is a laid down life of being loved and known by God, then loving and knowing God in return. It surpasses the intimacy that can be shared between a husband and wife in covenant. And this intimacy extends on past life on earth…into eternity. 

May you and I continually pursue intimacy with God and dive deeper in covenant relationships as well. May we be people of depth, moving beyond shallow or surface knowings. 

I have heard His heart cry, “Do they know Me?” Let’s be pursuers of His heart as He pursues ours. God is worth knowing. How He loves us so! He is pursuing us to love us. 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Invest & Nurture (Weekly Devotion) 

Morning devotion: Healthy relationships require mutual investment. What we feed and nurture grows, what we starve or neglect dies. Intimacy is an ongoing mutual pursuit. 

I have plants. I had one I took to the basement once and well I forgot about the poor thing. There is minimal sunlight in the basement. It obviously was not watered. Guess what? It died. Dead. Dead. Super dead. There was no feeding, nurturing, or investment in the plant. So it died. 

I also have bank accounts, as do most people. If I pull up and try to withdraw 10 million dollars, the cashiers will send me a note, “Insufficient funds.” I have not deposited 10 million dollars, therefore I can not withdraw the amount. 

Relationships are like the plant and bank account. What we neglect, or ignore often withers and dies. It is not enough to invest in the beginning and then do nothing coasting on commitment. Intimacy will wither and fade. 

God invests richly in us and has no lack. So we are not adding to His bounty per say. God does want our love and pure devotion. When you truly love someone, how they treat you matters. We are encouraged in Scripture to love God; love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength-to love Him above a spouse, child, family, or friends. In order to deepen our friendship, I must purposefully seek Him. Our friendship grows when I seek Him to know Him. “God what is on Your heart today? I am here to love You God. Thank You God. My heart and life is Yours God. I am listening, what do You have to say?”

God so loves the world despite reciprocation of love. It does warm His heart to be loved in return. Unrequited love is no fun. Trust me I know this well. 

The same goes for relationships with people. If we never talk to them except when we need or want something, we have reduced them to being an ATM. They are a resource for us and not a person. 

I read a quote that stuck with me, “The problem with the world is people were meant to be loved and things were meant to be used. We have people being used and things being loved.” 

I had someone tell me once, “I love you Erin. You are always there for me. No matter what you are there.” This person I only saw when they needed something or did not have a boyfriend. I was completely ignored otherwise. They never asked how I was doing, never contacted me to just say hello. Guess what? The relationship died. I was a friend. They were not. I found people who treated me like a human being who is loved. 

Healthy relationships require some investment, otherwise they wither and die. 

How can we be a good friend to God and others? How can we nurture the relationships that we have? 

What we feed, nurture, pay attention to grows. What we ignore and neglect withers. May we not abuse the unconditional love of God-“He will never leave me so I will treat God however I want.” May we also not abuse the love of people. One day we may look up and they have moved on to where they are supported, honored, and love is reciprocated. 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Draw Near to God in Trials (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 8)

  
Image created by Wordswag, used with permission. 

I have been thinking of you. I have been thinking of the world. If you turn on the news it is quite easy to become unsettled, fearful, or to experience great sorrow. 

I asked the Lord what to share and His response was, “Share a message of hope. My children need hope.” 

What message could possibly be shared to lighten the load of mother’s losing their children, children losing their parents, bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks, viruses, and the sorrow that is repeated on the news? What about hope in the midst of our own challenges?

Last week I sat in a funeral watching my friend, his children, and our mutual friends grieve a great loss. What do I say to two young children who lost their mother? What do I say to my friend who I know loved his wife deeply. We had so many conversations about the healing power of God. What could I say through his tears and my own? I wept for a very long time. My heart ached deeply. Yet life had to go on right? I spent the night before the funeral trying to clear up other issues. I could not even grieve. 

Those around me did not feel or know the pain. It was not their pain. Some did not even acknowledge I had any grief. God, however, did. He did what He does best. He stepped in as a best friend, and brought His unfailing comfort. 

Last week and the past month have   presented some deep challenges and awesome truimphs. Such is life, right? I found hope, love, help, joy, and comfort in the place I know best, the heart and arms of God. 

So, in thinking of what message I could share of hope, I can only think of one thing-God is our sure hope. I only know of one message that can bring hope to a hurting world. The message is Jesus. Hope has a name and it is Jesus. There is no greater name and no greater love or power than the love and power of God. 

If we are to place our trust in anyone or anything, let it be God. 

Some things we are delivered through…

There are so many things in life we are called to walk through. There is no, “Beam me up Scotty,” and we are transported to a place away from trials. God promises to walk with us  through every single challenge; I know no better friend or comforter. 

The Bible tells us there will be tests, trials, and tribulations as a result of the fall of humanity and persecution for living a godly life. The Bible says the godly WILL face persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). 

God did not leave us without hope. He gave the world His Son, His Spirit, His Presence, His promises, angelic help, and His Word. He also gave believers every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). 

Let’s take a look at His word. I love Psalm 23. Here is an excerpt. 

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with meYour rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me,~Psalm 23:4. 

As stated, there are challenging situations we are called to walk through with God. God does not always deliver us from evil. He sometimes delivers us through evil. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. He was not consumed. 

We see the uncompromising, supernatural strength and power of God in challenging seasons if we lean on Him. We may be weak or challenged; His strength is made perfect in our weakness. 

In a world that says there is no hope, God says: 

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows],~John 10:10 (AMP).

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.],~John 16:33 (AMP).

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation],~Isaiah 26:3. 

These verses give us keys to living in victory. 

  • Focus on God.
  • Trust God.
  • Take refuge in God.
  • Set the mind on God.
  • Be courageous, confident, filled with joy.
  • Fear no evil (from Psalm 23).

Abiding in God and deep friendship/connection with Him brings peace in the midst of trials, challenges, and storms. He is the Source of peace, agape love, joy, and hope. 

What are we hoping for, expecting from God? 

  1. God to keep His word! He cannot lie. If God said it, you can expect it to come to pass (1 Thess 5:24, Deut 7:9).
  2. God to work all things together for the eventual good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). 
  3. God to hear our prayers. The answer may not come exactly the way we think, yet God answers our prayers that align with His will (Matt 21:22, Job 22:27, 1 John 5:14-15). 
  4. God to bring comfort and deliverance (2 Cor 1:4, Psalm 34:19, Psalm 50:15). 
  5. God to empower us to destroy the works of the devil (Acts 1:8). If we have the Holy Spirit, we are already empowered! 
  6. God to help us overcome because He has overcome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith,~1 John 5:4. 
  7. God to turn our sorrow into JOY, our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). 
  8. God to avenge the wrongs (Romans 12:19). 
  9. God to reward those who stand strong until the end and every person according to what they have done (Romans 2:6, Revelation 22:12). 
  10. Jesus to return and reign on the earth (Matthew 24:29-31). 

No matter what we face, we have a sure hope in God. I will share this last story and end in prayer for you. 

Part of Operation God is Love ministry is praying for the sick at the free clinic. Last Tuesday, I was on the schedule to go. My heart was already heavy from a loss and some relational issues going on in my circle. I had not slept well in days. Yet, I went and gave thanks. 

One of the first ladies prayed for was going  through some of the same things that I was either dealing with or had walked through in my life. I wept with her. Almost every time I start to feel a tinge of discouragement, God sends along someone going through the same things I have walked through in life. 

This woman left with tremendous hope. Her situation was far more dire than mine, yet to have someone to hold her while she cried and to mourn with her brought some healing. She stated she was over Christian counselors who offered scripture yet had no real experience with victory over pain. 

Your (our) challenge is not wasted. God wastes nothing. We can walk out of the fire and stand boldly with someone in their fire. We can be an instrument of hope for someone else.

Our friendship with God is also deepened in trials if we draw near to Him. God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). 

May you and I draw near to God in every season. 

Papa God, I ask for every hurting soul to be bathed in Your comfort tonight. I speak peace over torment, pain, chaos, any strife, worry, or relational troubles. I speak life over every dead situation that You want to live. I speak comfort to every place that hurts. May each of us find hope in You alone. You do not fail! In Jesus mighty name, Amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin <3

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,