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Unconditional Love vs. Unconditional Approval

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What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,a that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God, Romans 6:1-10.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives, Hebrews 12:6 and Proverbs 3:12.

I recommend reading the entire book of Romans in one sitting. I have included parts of Chapter 6. There’s a scary phenomenon I’ve seen on blogs and some Christian websites that say because we are saved by faith we can live however we want. It’s true God allows us to make choices. It is incorrect that God approves of a lifestyle of sin. God never approves of sin.

He forgives our sins. When we confess our sins and seek repentance, He washes away our sins. God is 100 percent holy and just. There would have been no reason to send Jesus to the cross if He were okay with us living any way we want. Sin carries with it the penalty of death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Someone without sin had to pay for our sins. Jesus did that for us so we could be raised from spiritual death to life.

God did what we could not do. And the righteousness of Jesus is imputed to those who believe by faith and follow Him. Following Jesus involves obedience, not to earn righteousness or approval, but out of love for Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments,” John 14:15.

God loves us no matter what we do. His love is agape, unconditional. He does not approve of or delight in sin. He never has and never will. It violates His nature as holy. His unconditional love is not unconditional approval. Jesus didn’t throw away the law, He fulfilled it and gave us His Spirit to empower us to live differently. Being born again means being given a new nature. We are no longer slaves to sin and sin becomes uncomfortable or unnatural.

Just as a human parent does not approve of their child disobeying, getting in trouble, abusing others or themselves, God does not delight in evil. He wants the best for us. He corrects us knowing sin is destructive. He’s not out to get us, but to help and protect us. Adam and Eve didn’t listen and we are still suffering from their choices. Sin is not our friend.

Key notes:

There is nothing we can do to make God love us more or less. Out of love He corrects us and leads us away from sin. He never approves of sin.

Grace empowers us to live righteous lives because of Christ in us. He changes us from the inside out.

Following Jesus includes making Him Lord over every area of our lives.

God doesn’t come to shame or condemn, but to convict and restore.

Jesus died for our freedom from sin!

Sweet friends, no matter the struggle, if our hearts long to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit will lead us on a path to becoming like Him. We don’t strive, we abide and follow. God loves us too much to leave us the same. If we harden our hearts it can lead to destruction (Romans 1:28). It is in our best interests to submit to God in every way.

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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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The Eyes of Love

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Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,~1 John 4:8.

There are so many verses in the Bible that tell us God is love. I thought when I started talking about God’s love people would rejoice about it! I mean He seems too good to be true, but He is not. He is better than good. I’ve found many people want God to be angry. They want God to punish the world. Many see Him as cold, cruel, unfeeling, unconcerned, weak, etc….Many people pick up old testament verses about God’s wrath and run with them.

Don’t get me wrong, God is perfect in holiness. He has the ability to give and take life. We honor Him, respect Him, and understand that without salvation we are lost and will pay the full penalty for sin. He is not a weak kitten; He is a consuming fire. He is passionate about justice. He cares how we treat Him and others. He is not a pushover. He is also not a bully. He made Himself vulnerable to us. He gave us a way to be close to Him.

If God is so good, why do we (humans) have such a hard time believing it…

1. We know God by faith. We must believe in order to receive. If we don’t believe in God, everything we see in the world will be filtered through that unbelief. If we don’t believe God loves us, our circumstances will validate our unbelief. Here’s an example. Have you ever met a person who believes the world is bad, people are bad, everything is bad? I have. They believe everyone is out to get them. So, anything that happens is filtered through that belief. I had a lady tell me that I did not like her as much as other people and she was convinced everything I did was to leave her out. On my end, I did like her. Anytime she felt slighted there was a logical explanation. She wasn’t a target for me. She believed she was the target, therefore her unbelief clouded her vision. If we believe God is angry, we will take our circumstances and make them fit that belief. If we believe God is good, then we view our circumstances through the lens of His goodness.

Example from life…

My car accident in January cost me a car and increased my expenses. If I think, God hates me, He is punishing me….then yes…that is what I will take away. If I think God loves me…He saved my life…I could have died…I have a nicer car…maybe the other car was about to break down and now I have a higher value for a totaled car than a trade in…then that is what I take away. What we believe is powerful.

2. We’ve had horrible experiences with people, especially Christians or parents. I wish it weren’t so, but people are sinful. People have done more to push people away from God than we’d imagine. None of us are perfect so we rely on grace. If a person has a horrible encounter with their parents or people who claim to know God, it can taint the view that God is love. Our parents are supposed to love us unconditionally as God does. Together they are to show us what love is. When they don’t, we have a hard time relating to God.

Christian means imitator of Christ. When we (Christians) fail to represent God’s love, we miss an opportunity for people to know how good He is. We can help push people away from God.

3. We’ve misread the Bible. People debate over the Bible all the time. I can say with true conviction that God is love. There are tons of verses on God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, desire for us, compassion, and grace. He does not love us in the way we may think, meaning our world’s belief that love means live as you please (that’s not real love by the way).

God has made the appropriation for all sin by sending His Son. I wouldn’t die for people I care nothing about. I would not send my son to die for people I did not like. I would not invite someone into relationship that I could not stand. God LOVES us.

4. We’ve based God’s love off our feelings or circumstances. If I wrote out for you my testimony you might question how I could say God is love. My circumstances have not always pointed to this truth. It is truth despite circumstances, feelings, or what we see. God is love, and He does and will work all things together for the good of those who love Him,~Romans 8:28.

5. We think love is a life with no pain and getting whatever we want, whenever we want it. I’ve met many people who say, “If God loved me then I wouldn’t have to go through this, or if God loved me, this would not have happened, or if God loved me, He would give me__________.” God loves us so much. He is not, however, obligated to do whatever we demand of Him. The Bible does not tell us a life with God means no pain. Jesus told us, in the world we would have trouble but to take heart as he has overcome the world. God’s love is not based on what He gives us, what He does for us, etc…Love is who He is. His love cannot change. We can’t see why He allows certain things to happen. I do know if He allows it, He brings something good from it. Read the book of Job, it’s encouraging.

Lastly, I will say if we ask for a deeper revelation of God’s love, we will begin to see it. It’s always on full blast and pointed in our direction. I believe it’s blocked many times by our unbelief. It’s there, we just can’t see it.

Papa, I pray any areas of our hearts that are not open to receiving Your love are softened. May we know the height, the depth, the width, and the vast expanse of Your love. When we see You, may we see love, the eyes of love. In Jesus name, Amen.

Love,

Erin

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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My Hero (The Perfect Father)

I told you last time I would post at least two blog posts about my walk with God. Here’s number two. I hope my journey inspires you to want to know God in a deeper way, to trust Him even when it seem illogical to do so, and to fall in love with a hero.

I grew up in a home with a pastor and Sunday school teacher. We will call them papa W and mama J. Two people who shared love with every person they met. Looking back, our home was filled with love and joy. I don’t recall an unhappy moment. Though they shared the good news with me, it wasn’t until I was 7 years old that I encountered Jesus. It was Easter and my family decided to watch the Easter movie. As a 7-year-old I was simply excited to spend time with parents. I had no idea my life was about to change. There’s this point in the film where Jesus is about to go to the cross. He’s beaten, mocked, and though not as graphic as recent films, it touched my heart. “He did that for me,” were the words that came out of my mouth. And I wept. I had met my hero, Jesus. He was willing to take on the sins of the world so I could have eternal life. I knew at seven; I wasn’t sin free. I did not always do what was right. I was a good kid, but I knew I wasn’t perfect, not like God. Here was my hero taking nails for me. He took my punishment so I wouldn’t have to. He was perfect for me and that was a good deal.

Well, a year later my biological mom came to take me with her. We’ll call her mama M. I had met her before. I knew who she was. However, I never thought in a million years I would have to leave my parents and go with her. She had tried for years to get me back and this time she won. The day I left mama J and papa W was a day I will never forget. Seeing my dad cry and the look of devastation on his face is still in my memory. I still recall looking through the back window of the car, my heart in a million pieces. As we drove away from the farm-house I could only think, “What will life be like now?

Mama M is a good woman. So, please don’t judge her. She and my biological father were married. When she was 8 months pregnant with me, he bailed. He decided he didn’t want to be married or have children. He left her. Papa W offered to adopt me to help out and she could have me back when she finished college and was able to rebound.

As a child you’re looking for a hero. I thought my hero had bailed. Where was God? Where was this loving God? I’d lost a stable home with two parents? I had no idea where my biological father was or why he’d abandon a pregnant woman and his child. I begin to grow angry with God. Yep, angry. Outwardly, I was the perfect kid. I did what I was told. I got great grades in school. However, inside my heart grew more and more cold.

Mama M and I were as different as night and day. She’s not emotional. She’s extremely logical. She rarely shows weakness. She’s tough. I was a marshmallow. I learned from her not to cry, to be strong. I learned to be better than everyone else at school work because I needed to show the world what I was made of. I learned from Mama M to strive to be the best. So, I put those things on God too. God must have wanted me to suck it up and deal with life. God must have demanded perfection, and I needed to shape up. The truth is, God required none of those things. Since I believed He did, I became even more angry with Him. Why? I could not be perfect. Every time I tried and strived, I failed. He became cold, unfeeling, and stern in my eyes. I still refused to turn away from Him completely, as hell didn’t sound enticing. But He wasn’t my hero. I believed a lie that I needed to be good in order to receive God’s approval since that is what I needed to do for certain people in my life. It’s a lie that is crippling and damaging. God’s love is freely given. We don’t earn His favor. It’s a gift. Jesus was perfect for us so we rely on His righteousness and not our own.

So, when did God come to the rescue and become my champion again? It started with a boy. I told you last post I had to ditch him due to his verbal abuse. Well, he didn’t start out that way. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been with him. At first he was charming, loving, and sweet. Awe, until he wasn’t. He wanted to get married and ride off into the sunset. I was still working on two engineering degrees at the time and the workload had me swamped. Getting married wasn’t even in my mind. He kept insisting it was the right path. So, I prayed. Yes. I got down on my knees in my room and asked God (who I was still angry with) if I should marry this man. Funny thing happened. Our relationship went from okay to awful. The more I prayed, the worse things were. Hmm….that’s not good. I kept praying because I needed an answer. Feel free to laugh. One day in deep prayer (means longer than 2 minutes), I cried out to God, “Should I marry him?” And I heard a voice with my natural ears say, “NO!” I at first thought I was losing my mind. I had never heard God speak. At the time I thought, “God only spoke to people in the Bible.” He spoke to priests and holy people. He wasn’t talking to me. Maybe it wasn’t God, I resolved. But it was. Sometimes God speaks to us and other times He speaks through our circumstances. He saved me from hitching my life to someone who was not good for me. I should have seen with my own eyes, but He made sure I knew the answer was no.

Since then He’s saved my life a few times; from allergic reactions to medication during a routine surgery which almost killed me, to changing flights prior to September 11 (I was supposed to be leaving for Florida that day and changed my flight to leave days earlier. For some reason I couldn’t book the flight for the 11th), to being trapped in a car under water and getting out even when 911 didn’t show up. He (my hero) kept stepping in to save my life. Some could call the incidents flukes or luck, but I know they were God. I’ve had too many moments where my life was spared. I’ve seen Him do amazing things through prayer. Even when I was angry with Him, He still loved me and continued to pursue my heart. When I was in college and quite broke and hungry, He’d send random people to give me money or food. He became my best friend. When I had no real friends, God was there for me. Gosh, my heart’s been through the ringer but God’s always been there. He never left my side. He heals. He saves. He delivers. Jesus is my hero.

Looking back as a child I could have simply believed God was love and experienced His love. I could have rested in my identity as His child. I had no grid for what that meant, so I took the long road. I learned more by experience. Being angry with Him was not beneficial for me, however He didn’t seem offended by my misunderstanding of who He was. He didn’t send His wrath down to teach me a lesson. God loved me right where I was. He didn’t condemn. He extended grace, love, and mercy. He was loving me all along, I just couldn’t always see it. I was blinded by pain and hurt. Neither of those things kept Him from pursuing my heart.

So, my friends. As you embark on this journey with me to know His heart, I hope and pray you dive in deeper with Him. If you’re angry with Him or don’t understand Him, talk to Him. It may seem like you are talking to the air, but you’re not. He’s listening. Keep talking. Keep seeking Him. He will speak to you. He will answer. My prayer is that He reveals His great love for you in ways that you’ve never imagined. God loves you. He is for you. He is not intimidated by your anger, sin, or failings. He is merciful, kind, compassionate, loving, forgiving, and your biggest advocate. Thanks for reading my longest blog post ever. You’re in my thoughts, in my heart, and forever in my prayers…

You are deeply loved!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Who’s My Father? (The Perfect Father)

The Perfect Father

By Erin Lamb, all rights reserved

Dear friends, I am so excited about this series on God as the Perfect Father. One thing that stirs my heart is the misrepresentation of God’s heart. He doesn’t need anyone to defend Him. However, I’m passionate about His heart being accurately portrayed. Why you may ask? I’m surrounded by people who don’t know God. Some claim to be atheists, some believe God hates them, some are so overwhelmed with shame they can’t imagine a loving God, and some have been told God is a cruel task master. My heart aches for the world to know how GOOD God is. So, as we embark on this journey together, here are some things I’d love for you to ponder.

1. All human beings were created in God’s image and are His children. He is the Father of all creation (Genesis 1). Some of His kids are reconciled through Jesus and some have yet to be reconciled or may refuse His love. In His heart every child has value. God is daily pursuing reconciliation with His kids.

2. God’s parenting is perfect, we just don’t always experience His love. He has been misrepresented by humans. Our earthly parents may have failed but He is perfect. Developing a personal relationship with Him is the only way to fully know His heart. No person can have the relationship for us, we must accept His invitation for ourselves.

3. God knows all, sees all, and hears all. I’ve heard people say they are too far gone for God to bless or love them. Well, here’s a thought to ponder…God knew everything you would do before you were born. He is not limited by time or space. You were His idea. Your parents were His idea. He loved you before you were born. He loves you today. There’s nothing you can do to change His love!

Prayer for you:

Father I ask for every person who visits this site to have an encounter with Your heart. May they have a deeper revelation of Your love as their loving Father. For those who don’t know You, may they be reconciled to You, the One who loves them most.

P.S You are deeply loved and have a loving Heavenly Father!

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in From the Author

 

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The Perfect Father

The Perfect Father

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clipart
By Erin Lamb, all rights reserved

“For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16.

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love,” Psalm 145:8.

God has been presented as cold, stern, demanding, punishing, and even aloof. On this journey to exploring His heart those statements have been proven to be the furthest things from the truth. God is passionate, loving, patient, filled with joy, compassionate, forgiving, and involved. His love for each of us is personalized. He is the perfect Father.

So, what constitutes the perfect father? They say people filter their view of God through their parents. If a person has loving parents, then it is far easier to see God as loving. Set aside the view of your earthly parents and come join me on the journey to knowing the perfect parent, God.

Some Characteristics of the Perfect Parent:

Unconditional Love. The perfect parent loves their child not based on their performance or abilities. Their child is the object of their love because they are an extension of who they are. We are made in God’s image, Genesis 1:27. We are His children.

Patience and Mercy. The perfect parent is filled with patience. God is perfect in patience. He knows our weaknesses and limitations. God is not a cruel task master. He knows without His help we are doomed to fail. He did the work for us on the cross, so we could depend on Him.  He overflows with mercy, as well as patience. When we fail, He asks we confess our sins, then He forgives us our sins. He extends mercy.

Provides Instruction & Lovingly Corrects. Leadership is a fundamental characteristic of the perfect parent. They lead by example and correct in love. If they see their child is headed for disaster, they will do all that they can to help their child get back on track.

Protect, Provide, Comfort, and Encourage. The perfect parent is concerned with the well-being of their child. They make the best interest of their off-spring the highest priority.God cares about every detail of His children’s lives. The perfect parent is their child’s biggest cheerleader.

“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?”  Matthew 6:26

Leaves an Inheritance/Blessing. The perfect parent has blessings set aside for their child. The Bible states a righteous person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, Proverbs 13:22.  God has given all those in Christ a share in His inheritance. God offers blessings and every spiritual blessing in heavenly places for those who receive Jesus as Savior, Ephesians 1:3.

Those are just some of the characteristics of God as the perfect parent. There is so much more. He loves us more than anyone on this planet. My prayer is that we have a deeper revelation of His love.  We are deeply loved.

P.S Check  out http://www.facebook.com/erinlambpoetry for your opportunity to win a free copy of I Thought I Knew What Love Was and a gift card (US residents only for the card).

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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I AM (poem)

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clipart

(Love letter from God)

written by Erin Lamb, all rights reserved.

I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together, Isaiah 48:12b-13

I AM

the One who’s been in your yesterday and collected every single tear;

carrying you when you could not take a single step or even muster the strength to stand.

I’ve sailed on the sea of your tears and bottled each one.

I AM

the One who saw your depravity and decided I would exchange My life for yours.

I surrendered My rights, for you to have freedom, so your heart and Mine could collide.

I AM

the only One who knows you fully,

seeing you exactly as you are and how I intended you to be.

I look at you through the eyes of love; what matters to you, matters to Me.

I AM

the One who loved you first.

You will never outgrow your welcome, here in My embrace.

I AM

the One who plants flowers on your path, lights your day with sunlight,

and breathed life into your lungs.

I AM

here when you are happy, and I remain when you have lost peace.

I AM

the One who will never leave you nor forsake you.

My covenant I must keep, not out of a burden or pure obligation,

but out of love for you, the object of My affection.

I AM

rest for the torn, worn, abused, and fatigued;

the One who stands as your defense.

I will not leave you alone or defeated.

I AM

the One who has waited for you to see that only I can make you truly happy and complete.

My heart is longing to fill your sense of belonging,

as you have cried out on bended knee.

I AM

the Redeemer,

who takes all that has been lost and shattered, bringing restoration, hope,

renewing your sense of wonder.

I AM

the miracle worker.

Marvel at the works of My hands.

What is impossible with men, I can do with one word spoken from My lips.

I AM

the One who stands alone with the perfect key to your heart;

the only One who can make you whole.

You may look for another savior, but no other one you’ll find.

I AM

the Alpha and Omega;

the One who created and holds all time.

I AM

the bookends that hold your life together,

and with one whisper I can call you home.

There is no one who can stand above Me, I’m sovereign over all.

I AM

the One who created all life,

and I applaud My great work called you.

I made you for Myself, for My likeness to shine through you.

If only you could see what I see, who I made you to be.

If only you knew, in the depths of your heart, how much you mean to Me.

I AM

the One who loves you unconditionally.

My love is unlike what you’ve known.

It is not based on what you do or what you have to offer.

I love you with a love that is unbreakable, unmovable, and I will not fail you.

You may not understand My ways, but when you bask in My love

you’ll understand that I only want what’s best for you.

I AM

the One who comforts you.

In this life there will be pain, there will be loss, and sometimes your heart will ache.

I AM

the One who went ahead of you to prepare a place with no sorrow, and no pain.

A place where you and I could forever remain.

In Me there will be no more death, for I defeated it once and for all.

Take hold of My love, right here, and right now.

My love is a love that will not and cannot disappoint.

I AM

the ultimate Creator; you were made for My Glory.

All creation points to Me, and how marvelous are all My deeds.

So, My child, come.

Come to the One

who knows everything there is to know about love.

I AM

the One who can love you better than you can love yourself,

better than anyone else can.

I can see what you cannot see,

and I can make your dreams a reality.

I AM

the One to meet your deepest needs.

What your heart needs is more of Me; more of My love, more of My grace,

and more time where we meet face to face.

All other loves are simply substitutes that can not love you the way that I do.

I know you.

I see you.

Even with all that I see; I chose you, I choose you, and I want your heart to abide in Me.

There is a God sized void in all of us whether we recognize it or not. Something inside us that wants to be loved just the way we are. We long for a love that will not fail us or disappoint us. We long for security, comfort, hope, healing, justice, and unconditional love in a world that can be dark, bleak, and full of shadows. There is only One I know who does it perfectly; His name is Jesus. God knew we needed a Savior. Jesus is the only One who can save us. He is the only One who can complete us and make us whole. He sees us exactly the way we are and as the person we were created to be. We won’t find a better love. He is the only One who can do the impossible. My prayer is that God takes us so deep into the depths of His love, we are never the same.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in From the Author, God's Heart, Poetry

 

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