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2 Corinthians 12:19
New King James Version (NKJV)

“Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.”

Thus says the Lord,

“There are many who, when I speak, turn away from My teachings. They despise My correction. They blaspheme My laws. There are many, when I speak, who think I am too harsh, too strict, too unwavering. But it is not so. Am I not perfect and you not flawed? Or is it I who am flawed and you perfect? Tell Me, if you know.

“Do I say this to boast? People boast to impress. Who is greater than I, to whom I should flaunt Myself? So if not to boast, why then do I remind that I am perfect and you flawed? Because so many despise My teachings. And if not the teachings, they despise the vessel through which I choose to express those teachings. And if not the vessel, then they despise the means through which the vessel is led to teach.

“Do I waste My Breath for the sole intention of discouraging your life? Are My motives to keep your from your whims and desires? Are My motives to be strict and unrelenting? No. But I teach for your instruction, your uplifting, your protection, your care. If I am Love, don’t you think that when I speak, and correct, and chastise, that I do so out of love? I certainly do not chastise out of jealousy, or anger, or frustration.

“Don’t you see, precious ones? I rebuke because I love. I teach because I love. I correct because I love. And to reject My teachings and the means through which I choose to teach, is to reject My love. Do not be so blind that you would walk away from love for the sake of pride or selfishness.

“For in My Love is My protection. In My Love is the gift of hope. In My Love is salvation. In My Love is provision. In My Love is joy. In My Love. In My Love. In My love.

“And nowhere else.”

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God’s love is marvelous to an extent that we cannot comprehend. We try. We dream. We hope. But take my word. We. Do. Not. Understand. Amazing love; salvation’s motivation, suffering’s soothing ointment. Amazing love. Too vast to comprehend.

Christ’s suffering was apparent but unrelateable. We wonder. We think. We ponder. But take my word. We. Are. Not. Aware. Amazing suffering; a gift to us, sin’s only redemption. Amazing suffering. Too deep to relate.

The Spirit’s touch is sweetly undescribeable. We seek. We breathe. We coax. But take my word. We. Can. Not. Express. Amazing touch; exhilarating to the soul, delight of the spirit. Amazing touch. Too precious to let go.

Do we know that the extent of our love equals the extent of our commitment? For if we do not love, how then can we be devoted? And if we are not devoted, where comes the commitment? So I ask, if we do not truly love God, then can we be surprised when we struggle with committing to Him? Most likely, it’d be more a battle than we would like.

You see, I believe that the trouble with commitment has more to do with our awareness of God than our actual willpower. What do I mean by awareness? I mean, if we know God as a distant, unforgiving God whom we are not sure we can trust, then we will struggle with committing to Him. However, if we know God, truly know God, as a savior, a friend, a provider, a healer, a deliverer, a redeemer, then our admiration of Him will skyrocket. Our adoration of Him will grow. And our love for Him has no choice but to follow in tow.

Our commitment to Him will rise.

In my experience, I have found five different types of God-followers in this world:

  •          The Forgiven –the ones who have been forgiven of such a depth of sin that their devotion to their Forgiver is quite substantial.
  •          The Delivered –those whom God has healed from such a world of pain (emotional, physical, mental) that they can’t stop singing His praises.
  •          The Dedicated – they live a sound and content life, find God to be faithful through the normal life trials, and they are willing to stand by Him because He has proven Himself faithful.
  •          The Luke-warm – they who have found God to be a pretty cool dude and they are willing to put up a good face for the salvation of their souls.
  •          The Backslider – the ones who once followed God with passion but for whatever reason, they have turned their backs on His tender mercy but are not truly content with their decision to leave Him.

 

The first two tend to be real hot in their love-walk. Why? Because their awareness of God is hot. They know Him in an intensely personal, appliceable way and He has become important to them. The dedicated do know God on a personal level, they love Him, and are dedicated to Him. But though their passion is hot, it’s not always as fiery as the Forgiven and Delivered tend to be. The luke-warm followers are weak in their love-walk. They don’t know God personally enough to really develop passion for His ways. And the backslider is one who harbored misconceptions of God, and when life took a turn those misconceptions failed to sustain their committmet to Him.

So if we find ourselves among luke-warm or backsider status but we don’t want to stay there, what do we do? Look at the last paragraph and see if you see a pattern. The more God is able to prove Himself to His people, the more dedicated those people become. Why? Because with every answered prayer, every provision, deliverance, healing, etc, God is revealing Himself to His people. And as He reveals Himself, we see more and more of just how awesome He is. And the more we see, the more impressed we become, the more devoted we become, the more love we extend, and the more committed we grow.

In other words, the first step to grow in commitment to God is to decide to become more committed. And when we bring that desire into our prayer life, God begins to open our eyes to His glory.

I would like to share a personal Word that the Lord gave me Monday night. I was deeply upset and not really sure why. Just emotional, possibly. But I was questioning love in my life. I was questioning whether I was loved, whether I loved myself. (Btw, I just finished watching a movie that dealt with this issue and no doubt triggered these emotions).

Anyway, I was crying and I couldn’t stop. I felt weak, pathetic. I wondered, how could anyone love me? I have so many problems. I’m an emotional wreck.

And God told me, “I love you.”

I became angry and lashed out at Him: “You love everyone, Lord! What’s so great about You loving me? You love murderers for goodness sake. Of course you love me. But how is that special? To be loved as one out of so many others. There is nothing unique in that love.”

He said, “Your family loves you.”

So I snarl, “Of course they do. They’re stuck with me. I’m blood.”

Then He said, “Your church family loves you. Your apostle, your first lady, your friends love you.”

“Humph! Apostle’s like you. He loves everyone. They’re all like that. They love me cause they’re supposed to. That’s Your command, after all.”

(Boy, was I feeling a little cranky or what?)

So I settled down in my bed, where my dog was knocked out from his park adventure. God said, “Your dog loves you. You are his closest friend.”

Finally, I agree. Yup, Bastian does love me. So I pick him up, and cradle and pet him. Now, normally, petting is his favorite past-time. That night? Poor boy climbs right back out of my lap, drops back onto my blankets, and resumes his Zzzzz’s. I start crying again. Bastian hates me. Completely hates me.

And in that moment, I finally realized I hated myself. I didn’t feel important to anyone. I didn’t feel needed. I didn’t feel wanted. I didn’t feel anybody loved me so why should I love me? Something must be wrong with me, hideous about me, unwanteable about me. And because of that, I hated myself.

So finally, when I was proceeding  with my intent to cry myself to sleep, God must have become fed up with my pity party. He said, “Daughter, get up and get your notebook.”

“Why?” I sob.

“I have something to say to you and I want you to write it down because I don’t want you to forget it.”

So I get up and grab my notebook. And God said, “When you are finished, I want you to tear out the paper and keep it with you. And whenever you doubt that you are loved, I want you to read it and remember how I feel. I also want you to share it, because you are not the only one who feels this way.”

This is the Word He gave me:

The Word of the Lord to His beloved,

“Think you that I do not love you? Dearest, you are my heart and soul. Whenever I gaze upon you, my soul longs after you, to comfort you and bring delight to you. Just because there are many doesn’t mean that my love for you is not special. It is special. It is unique. A very special love for a very special you.

I adore you, sweetest one. Do not ever doubt that. You are my sun and moon. When you smile, you light my heavens and I am enchanted. You are special to me. Very special. One in billions. There is no one like you.

You ask does anybody love me? Beloved, I love you. I love you so much it causes me pain. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Now you must learn to love yourself.”

Needless to say, I did not cry myself to sleep that night. I drifted off quite contentedly.

Dear Abba,

Thank you so much, my Lord, for all that you have done for me. When I was lost, you found me. When I was alone, you became my friend. When I was sad, you comforted me. When I was broken, you healed me. Oh blessed savior, because of your goodness, when I was glad, you danced with me. When I wept tears of joy, you wept with me. When I laughed, you smiled at me. How glorious you are, my God, my Lover, my friend. How glorious you are.

Abba, I would repent to you on behalf of your Body. We have sinned greviously in your eyes. We have grown complacent in your work. Oh beloved Father, our righteousness is ashes at your feet, but I appeal to you for forgiveness upon your people. We have judged and criticized each other in the naivety of our hearts. We have dwelled in things that are not to your glory, and quick to our downfall. We have said things to each other that we ought not to say. And we have placed ourselves on pedestals where we ought not to go. Forgive us, and clothe us again in garments white as snow.

May I make another appeal to you, oh mighty Creator? I ask that you send a fresh wind of your Spirit upon the Church. We have become bones and dirt in a cemetary of churches. We dance, but with no joy. We sing, but with no truth. And we speak, but with no power. Your Body is dying, my God and King, and I ask for your ressurection power upon your people. Breathe new life into our spirits. Breathe new joy into our souls. My Lord Jesus Christ, just as you were ressurrected on the third day, I ask that you ressurect the dead spirits among your people. Fan the fire of passion across the nations, and stir up the call unto repentence.

Oh Master, I would make a decree and declaration upon the land, as is my right as joint heir with Jesus Christ. I decree and declare, oh mighty God, that your people will dance again under the power of the Holy Ghost. I command a great wind of love to blow across the earth, to once again teach us the compassion of your ways. I speak to the spirits of every member within your Body and I say now, Sons and Daughters of the Almighty God, arise and be restored to your proper place as rulers of the earth. Take your place within the Body of Christ. I command every gift that has fallen to misuse to be stirred up again under the banner of love and faith. I command a fresh wind of spiritual power to spread throughout the nations, according to each person’s stewarded ability as decided by the Holy Spirit. And I declare that the last days of the church shall be greater and filled with doublefold power than the days of it’s beginning.

And I seal the words of this prayer and declaration with the spiritual signet of the Holy Spirit and empower it with the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Love Amid the Ashes

Back Cover Blurb

When her beloved grandfather Isaac dies, Dinah must follow his final command: travel to Job’s household to marry his son. After Job’s world comes crashing down, Dinah finds herself drawn to this great man brought low. What will she risk to fight for his survival?

My Review

Author Mesu Andrews weaves a heartrending story of two lives; Dinah, daughter of Jacob, and Job, wealthy servant of the Most High. I was originally drawn to this book because of it’s unique take on the two character’s stories. Who would think to introduce the shamed Dinah to the prestigious but soon-to-be-shattered Job? But Author Andrew does, and she does it skillfully.

The reader can tell that Andrews did her homework on the detail she places into her character’s environment; anything ranging from specific geography to the way they prepared food in biblical times. And the story itself is very gripping. The reader can feel Job’s pain and is sorrowed by Dinah’s reputation. I wanted to cheer for them when they overcame obstacles and hug and cry with them when their pain is deepened. In fact, I was so entranced with their lives that I didn’t want to return to my own.

Excellent storytelling aside, there was a few technicalities that bugged me. The characters seemed to lack much depth. I understood their concerns and joys, but I didn’t feel like I really got a glimpse at their individuality. They weren’t very unique beside the individuality of their stories. I did, however, see a decent character arc in which they matured and grew throughout the story.

That said, the writing was a tad bit dramatic. The author used certain wording and exclamations that was meant to convey emotion but succeeded mostly in making her characters seem melodramatic at times. And though this made me raise a brow a few times, it was easy to ignore for the interest of the story itself.

Overall, I say bravo for a gripping tale full of love, redemption, and hope.

I give Love Amid the Ashes 4 out of 5 stars.

Thus says the Lord,

“Take heart, little children, for I have overcome the world. I know of your suffering and your pain. I hear the voice of your prayers. Take heart, little children, for I have overcome the world.

“Many think that I am cold-hearted in my dealings with man, that I turn my face from their gravest of needs. But it is not so. I am compassionate and caring. I hold my people in the palm of my hand.

“Think you that I would forsake the very ones for whom I died? For whom I bore the lashes, the thorns, the nails? For whom I was raised and crucified?

“Yes, I see the suffering and the agony. I see the violence and the pain. I know of the hunger and sickness, disease and disaster. I know of these things. They are forever before my eyes. And my heart breaks with your suffering, with your pain. I have not turned blind eye. I see and I love. I weep as my children cry.

“Know you not that my love is greater than yours? So if you, loving within the limitations that you do love, know how to have compassion upon the needs of this world, don’t you think that I know even more? Don’t you think that I help even more? Don’t you think that I intercede even more?

“Tell me, imperfect ones, why do you judge perfection? For do I know best? Or do you?

“Therefore trust me, my children, and know that I do care. I do have a plan. I do see your troubles. And I have not forsaken you.”

Who loves the Lord the way that He loves us? Who honors the Lord the way that He honors us? Who treasures the Lord the way that He treasures us?

Oh children of the earth, can we think beyond you and me? They and I? Can we move beyond our own desires, fears, and dreams? Can we care for God the way that He cares for us?

Harken to my voice, sinners and saints. We think ourselves rulers of this world. Content in our houses. Driving our cars. Raising our families. We think ourselves accomplished with degrees beneath our belt. We think ourselves seasoned with experience to share.

But I say, look beyond the simple bubble wherein lives your universe. I say think about the Lord who has blessed you with the house, cars, and children. Do we have time for Him when we have no need? Do we have love for Him when prayers go unanswered? Do we have devotion for Him when earthquakes ravage our nations?

But our time is limited. Our love is conditional. Our devotion is variable.

And when we walk content, Jesus weeps. When we judge each other, we rend the heart of God. And when we ignore the beggar in the street, the prostitute walking to that car, the teenager selling drugs, the druggy manipulating for money, the rapist fleeing the scene, and the murderer serving his time, we ignore the Christ who suffered and died for them, you, and I.

Because it’s not just about you. It’s not just about me. It’s not just about them.

It’s about our King of kings. Can I love Him the way that He loves me?

I say, if the fruit of our lives is any indication, the answer is no. If the grieving of His Spirit troubling my soul is any indication, the answer is no. I say, if the emptiness of our churches in a Christian nation is any indication, the answer is no.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Brother and sisters, beloved and friends, there is still time to change.

I plead. I plead. There is still time to change.

But not much.

One day, I asked God, “Lord, we ask so much of you. It’s always about what we want. What we need. But Lord, what do you want? What is your greatest desire?”

And I heard Him say, “My greatest desire is that my people learn to love each other.”

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

Thus says the Lord,

“Love must go deeper than the everyday definition of affection. Love often requires discipline to maintain. Have you ever sparked a fire and never took the time to tend it? What happens? It burns out.

“Love is often an extension of self, saying, I will give of me to be of assistance to you. I will sacrifice my very life, if that is the cost of your salvation. Even, I will wake to pray for you, no matter how much sleep it will cost me.

“Love is patient with others’ shortcomings. It doesn’t throw up its hand and quit after a mere couple times requiring forgiveness. It presses on, even when there seems no reward in sight.

“However, sometimes love is required to be so powerful that it will turn away and say, enough. I have extended my hand to you. I have fed you. I have given you affection. I have provided for your needs. I have been patient. I have been kind. And you have taken my love for granted. Therefore I will withdraw the abundance of love’s blessings and I will wait. I will wait, beloved, until you can love me in return.

“That is how I am with my children. My heart is theirs. Do they know that? No. But so great is my love for them, so overflowing is my devotion, that my heart is quite honestly in their hands. Yet instead of holding it with as much tenderness as I do theirs, they are quick to shred it to pieces.

“But this is what I say; I will still be patient. I will still wait. I will still love with the abundance of my tender mercies. I am here, child, waiting. Waiting till the day that you can truly come to love me in return. Amen.”