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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Love is Never Wasted

Be imitators of God as dearly loved children.

Love one another as I have loved you.

Build each other up. Encourage one another daily.

Don’t just look out for your own interests, look out for the interests of others.

Do nothing out of selfish motives or vain conceit.

Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; love your neighbor as you love yourself. This is the greatest commandment.

The words above are from the Bible. Many are from Jesus. I’d love to tell you that I always think love is a good idea. I don’t. Sometimes the logical response for me is to choose isolation from people and forgo loving anyone but God. As an introvert, loving people is sometimes exhausting. Sometimes, honestly, love feels like a waste of time. Just keeping it real…yet part of loving God is loving people, not just in word but through actions.

When you really love people, you are vulnerable to them. They have the power to hurt you in ways you never thought possible. Sometimes they do it and blame you. Sometimes they are ambivalent or indifferent. Sometimes people are cruel or unkind. Sometimes the people you’d give your life for are the ones nailing you to a rugged cross. My heart has some pretty interesting scars. 🙂

Guess what? No one bears more scars than Jesus. We cannot fully comprehend the pain our sins caused Him. He was marred beyond recognition. His friends denied Him, forsook Him, and betrayed Him. Love cost Jesus everything. He felt the weight, shame, and pain of every sin.

This same Jesus says to us, “Love as I love.” He gave us His Spirit to help us to love. He doesn’t ask us to do anything He has not done or will not empower us to do.

So what are we to do? Do we throw in the towel on this love thing?

We could, but we would be living a life in disobedience to God. God never gives us permission to stop loving people. He never gives us permission to hold grudges or withhold forgiveness. If we don’t forgive, we are not forgiven. God never stops loving. He said the world will know we are His by our love for one another. If we don’t love, we don’t know God.

You see the point of life is to be loved by God, love God, love people, do as Jesus does, & become like Him; not by striving, but by abiding in Him.

We are transformed by relationship with God. We are being transformed by what we love and worship. Hence God saying, “Love Me most! Love Me first. Have no other gods before Me!” We are slaves to who and what we worship and obey.

We are God’s Ambassadors on earth. We show and demonstrate to the world what He’s like.

Do you know anyone who reminds you of Jesus?

Do you know anyone who represents Him well?

Does the person you see in the mirror continue to grow into His likeness?

Sanctification (the process of growing more Christlike) is part of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. We can quench Him, resist Him, ignore Him, and offend Him. Yet He’s trying to work in us so we represent the Father well and become our truest selves.

Our world needs Christians who look, behave, and sound like Jesus. They’ve heard our sermons and worship, listened to our political agenda, but have they encountered Jesus? Have they seen Christ in us?

I ask these questions of myself. Am I becoming more like Jesus or more selfish and like the world? Am I loving people or harming them? Am I giving/serving or asking to be served? Is my life a reflection of His love and power? When God reveals weaknesses (which I have plenty of), am I asking Him to help me or making excuses for them?

Lastly, though I feel it at times, love is never wasted. People are not our audience, judge, or jury. We love and live for an audience of One. Every person will give an account for their lives. We are called to care more about what God thinks than people’s responses to us or their opinions. It’s for His Glory, not our own.

May we choose love. May we abide in the One who is love so we have love to give away. May we be known for looking, acting, sounding, and behaving like Jesus. He said those who abide (remain) in Him will bear MUCH fruit (John 15:5). I don’t know about you, but I desperately need Jesus to love people, including myself. Without God I am nothing and have nothing.

Have a blessed week! Be a blessing to others. The world needs what you’re carrying…Christ in you, the hope of glory.

You’re in my thoughts and continual prayers…

Love in Christ,

Erin

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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Finding JOY in Waiting!

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Photo credit (cruzine)

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him,~Isaiah 64:4 (NIV).

those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,~Isaiah 40:31.

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD,~Psalm 27:14.

I would love to be able to say I’m a truly patient person. This is not true at all! My natural personality is concerned with efficiency. God and I have had some rough moments because of my impatience. I couldn’t wait to finish high school. Then I was eager to finish college and find a job. Life was continually about fast forwarding. Fast forwarding past my mom’s battle with cancer…fast forwarding through working three jobs and having a double major in engineering…fast forwarding past every hurt, pain, trauma, near death experience…the cry of my heart was, “God I will be happy when this is over! I will have joy when the storms pass.”

Let me tell you, God didn’t remove the trials, traumas, pain, or all suffering. Some prayers were immediately answered, others were repeated, and others took years to see any fruit. He has and is teaching me that He is my JOY in all seasons of life.

The Questions:

1. What do you do when you’re in the waiting room of promise?

2. What do you do when your life doesn’t match your prayers?

3. What do you do when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired?

4. How do you handle watching others receive what you’ve been praying and longing for?

The Responses:

These are simply my reflections from life and the people God had wait in the Bible (almost everyone)! God does great things in seasons of waiting, much of which we don’t see.

1. Seek God in seasons of waiting.
We need to continually seek God, yet many people pull away from God when they don’t get what they want. Relationship with God is the highest priority. If it’s not, we will replace Him with the thing we are praying for. God never longs to take a back seat to anyone or anything! As we spend time with Him, we are prepared for what’s to come and our heart condition is revealed.

What God is doing in us far outweighs anything He can do for us.

2. Ask, Seek, Knock.
Sometimes our lives don’t match our prayers because what we are asking for would destroy us. Sometimes our motives are wrong. Sometimes our motives are good, but the timing is not. Sometimes we are murmuring and complaining. Sometimes we are speaking word curses and death over ourselves-“I will never be free. This won’t happen for me!”

Though it’s painful, it’s a time to Ask God, Seek God, and Knock on the door of heaven. Ask God to reveal our hearts and His heart. Why do we want what we want? The Bible says God withholds nothing good from us. It’s not always our definition of good, it’s His.

Sometimes the answer is on the way, yet it’s delayed. See the book of Daniel. The angel was delayed. There was spiritual battling around Daniel’s request. Understand if God has a huge blessing in store for you, the enemy (though a defeated foe) has a plan to delay, distract, discourage, or harass.

3. Receive Comfort from the Holy Spirit.
He is called the Comforter. God is perfect in bringing comfort, help, and healing. I went through a season where in two years 5 family members died, two family friends, and I was in a car accident that totaled my car. Around my accident time (last year), three aunts died within three weeks. It was horrible and overwhelming. I needed God desperately; He was there for me. God will bring comfort, even if the comfort is needed because we are operating in unbelief about His provision. He cares more than we can imagine.

4. Celebrate Others Getting What You Want.
What God does for one, He’s willing to do for another. This is not easy. I have walked through this test many times. However, if you’re jealous, envious, or covet what others have, you’re not ready for God’s blessing. It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s about loving God first, loving others (this includes being happy for their blessings), and growing into Christ likeness. God loves to give good gifts to His children. He does not want us destroyed by the gifts He gives. If it will pollute our hearts or cause us to be more sinful, He’s willing to withhold.

God is Patient:

God is not as obsessed with time as we are. He’s not the Burger King God. There’s not always a fast food breakthrough. He’s after relationship with us. Relationship is cultivated over time.

Where Can I Find JOY?:

In God’s Presence. God is pure joy. Being with Him changes perspective.

In God’s Word. God keeps His word and promises. He cannot lie. Recite His word, meditate on the promises of God.

In Your History With God. What has God already done? What trials have already been overcome? How has God provided and taken care of you in the past?

In Serving Others. Anytime we are self centered it robs us of joy! Get out there and help someone else. Support someone else’s dream, offer to baby sit for new parents, volunteer to help/serve those less fortunate. The more our eyes are fixed on Jesus and blessing Him, the better off we will be! Serving the poor, broken, and hurting is a sure way to increase gratitude and joy.

Give thanks. Tell God thanks for who He is and what He’s already done. It is not enjoyable to be in relationship with people who only care about you because of what you do for them. Love God. Thank Him!

Lastly I will say, though we may forget, God does not forget His promises to us. He’s perfect in every way. If we move ahead of Him, we get Ishmael instead of Isaac.

God knows the plans He has for you dear friends, plans to prosper you, give you hope, and a blessed future (Jeremiah 29:11). I need this reminder, hope it encouraged you!

You’re loved and prayed for!

Erin

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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The Standard is Jesus

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Follow God’s example, as dearly loved children & walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us & gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering & sacrifice to God,~Ephesians 5:1-2.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing,~1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

Our lives will be measured by how we love. It’s not something that’s preached in many pulpits anymore, yet Jesus taught on it all the time. He taught we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. He stated if we love God, we would obey Him. He also stated there would be many when they see Him face to face who will say, “Look at all the good things I did in Your name. He will reply-I was hungry and you did not feed me, naked and you did not clothe me, in prison and you did not visit me…whatever you did to the least of these, you’ve done to Me. Depart from Me, I never knew You-(Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 7: 21-26).” These weren’t people who lived believing they’d miss heaven. They lived forsaking the greatest commandment; love. They lived not applying the Gospel to their lives. God cares how we treat Him and others. It’s all through the Bible.

Misunderstanding love:

Humans often equate love with warm fuzzy feelings or being able to have their way. Neither is biblical love. God corrects, rebukes, and provides consequences and boundaries for us so we can learn. He does not treat us poorly; He leads us to paths of righteousness so we are not destroyed by sin. No matter how we view it; sin destroys it’s host. As a loving parent, He can’t stand by and watch us kill ourselves. Though if we are super rebellious, He will give us over to our sin (Romans 1:28).

If we wait to feel love, we will only love a select few. God didn’t tell us to only love the happy, shiny, nice people. I wish that were true, but it’s not. He said love everyone! He gave His Spirit so we had 24/7 built in love. If I only loved when I felt love, gosh, that’d be 10-20 percent of the time and only a few people in my life. I’m not primarily a feeler; I’m a thinker. My brain dominates my heart. I’m learning to allow the Holy Spirit to direct my brain.

Love does not always equal friendship:

God didn’t tell us to give everyone full access to our lives or to be close friends with everyone. Trust me, you will be destroyed if you give everyone the same access to you. Be friendly, compassionate, a servant to all. Even Jesus only had a few disciples He pulled closest to Him. His love was the same, the level of intimacy was not.

I’ve upset many people in my life by ending relationships that causes chaos, drama, trauma, or simply weren’t helping me grow like Christ. My goal isn’t to please people; it’s to be in God’s will. If it’s destroying your relationship with God, it’s abusive, there’s never peace, etc…ask God what type of relationship it should be. Married people have a greater responsibility. If it’s a random person you befriended, love them…but set boundaries. Even married people are called to point their spouse to Christ by setting boundaries, correcting, and rebuking. Jesus corrected, rebuked, and had boundaries with people. Pray for, bless, do good, yet don’t let people continually destroy what God is trying to build.

The standard is Jesus!

Jesus is the standard. Even if the entire world stands against you; your role is to represent (Re-Present) Jesus. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you. Bless those who curse you. It is the way of a disciple of Jesus. It’s not easy; it’s possible through Christ who gives you strength.

Lastly…

We are not mini saviors. We are called to imitate Jesus by walking in love! We are called to be His ambassadors of love in the earth. The world will know we belong to God by our love.

Be blessed today. You are loved with an everlasting love!

The key to loving well is abiding in the One who is love (John 15:5). We love because He first loves us. We recieve His love and let it pour out onto others.

Love in Christ,

Erin

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Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Finding JOY in Suffering

Hebrews 12:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Joy and suffering don’t seem to fit together. They evoke different reactions. If you ask people if they’d like to sign up for a lifetime of joy, most would say yes. If you offered suffering, many would run in the other direction.

I will be forthright with you. I hate suffering. I endure, I don’t delight in suffering. Jesus for the joy set before Him, endured the cross. I’m guessing, but I don’t believe He was laughing, singing, and having a party on the cross. The Bible tells us He was in pain.

Our sin was a heavy burden, a tremendous weight. His body was tired, worn out, beaten, bruised, and His flesh torn off His body. He heard the mockers. He saw those He came for and loved yelling, “Crucify Him!” People He walked with, taught, and served, abandoned Him in His hour of need.

The movies don’t do the crucifixion justice, we couldn’t stomach the true image of what sin cost Jesus. It cost Him not only physically, but relationally.

The only disciple present when He took His last breath was John. Where were the others?

Jesus suffered greatly.

If that were the end of the story, it’d just be sad.

That’s not the end of the story!

Jesus rose with all power in His hands. One mans sin cost the world greatly. The Son of God paid greatly to set things right. The gain far surpassed the suffering.

I’m in no way stating sickness, death, loss, tradgedy, and horrific events are to be celebrated. No way. None of the experiences I’ve had with sickness, loss, betrayal, burying loved ones, traumas, accidents….evoked celebration.

Here’s what I have learned.

1. God never abandons us during seasons of suffering. Never does He leave or forsake. He’s close to the broken hearted!

2. God’s comfort surpasses understanding.

The day we buried my mum, I felt a peace I can’t explain. I held my dad’s hand and felt concern for his heart. He’d loved the same woman for most of his life. He knew her longer than I had been alive. God gave me grace and peace. Losing a parent is awful. I lost my best friend. Yet, Jesus stepped right in to fill voids on my heart and life. I’m not a big crier, yet this season produced so many tears. Tears I know God bottled. During many days and nights of sorrow, God was there.

3. You develop empathy for others who are suffering or struggling.

4. You learn to lean on God in deeper ways.

5. God promises to bring good things out of bad situations. It’s not always immediate. Some things take years to heal (trust me I know). Yet the healing power of Jesus far exceeds our pain.

6. God gives us grace to get through and soar above the storms.

I’ve annoyed many people in life by maintaining joy in some pretty horrific situations. I’ve been called Pollyanna, fake, phony…I’ve learned that God works things for good. So, I don’t have to remain depressed or oppressed. I know from experience what it’s like to wallow in sorrow. I prefer the opposite, continual seeking of God’s face. I can draw from the well of His joy.

Jesus rose! I too can rise. So can you!

7. God will keep in perfect peace those who’s minds are stayed on Him.

It’s one of my favorite verses. I know when I feel overwhelmed, if I can get to a place of focusing on Jesus there’s a peace that comes. He gives beauty for ashes and joy for mourning.

Father, in seasons of intense suffering or pain, help us to see You. You are our comfort, peace, joy, hope, and love. You don’t delight in our suffering; I pray we see You want the best for us. I ask for abounding blessings, in Jesus mighty name.

 
 

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