Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘love’

Real Relationships are Messy

Love.  Family.  Friends.  There is nothing like the holiday season to expose the imperfections of relationships.  Our ideals are so high; our desires grand.  The television commercials and social media shares leave us thinking everyone else has more love and better relationships than we do.  Take heart!  Real relationships don’t always look beautiful…and sometimes they don’t feel lovely either.  The truth is:

Real relationships are messy!

I believe they are meant to be…and God wants to transform the mess into a beautiful message of real love and real relationship.

Our lives are meant to be full of relationships. God, who is love, created humanity in His image for connection.  His image is marred in each of us but His loving pursuit of us is unfailing.  The vast difference between ourselves and the heart of God is revealed when we are in relationship with others.  Relationships show us where we are not like our Creator and inspire us to know Him more—and be more like Him.

God is the author of relationships, and the only source for success in relationships.    He is Creator and Sustainer.  His fervent, faithful love for each of us reveals our need for Him and shows us what it looks like to love others like He loves.

Committed, connected relationships don’t just happen.  Connection with others inevitably leads to hurt feelings and difficulties.  Relationships require attention, intention, effort and even sacrifice.  That is as it should be!  When relationships cause us distress—as every relationship will—there is a beautiful opportunity unfolding.

Do you recall how Jesus’ response to the accusers of the adulterous woman transformed the lives of all involved?  He simply wrote in the dirt.  As we walk through life, we must let Jesus write in our lives…whether we are the accuser or the accused.  Nothing anyone has done to me is greater than what I have done to the Lord of Lords.  In fact, when we sin against another, the sin pierces God first.   In relationship with others, we must train our eyes to look at Jesus first.  When we come to Jesus with our relationship issues, whether anger or hurt, He will reveal something within us that still needs transformation!

Rather than look to Jesus, our natural response to relationship problems is to lash back, make accusations, or hide in shame or self-protection.  Hurt people hurt people but healthy people help people.  The law of sowing and reaping is a vital relationship principle, but it is one that Jesus can alter!  In the natural realm, seeds of resentment produce a crop of resentments.  Anger breeds anger.  Seeds sown from the flesh and unholy spirits destroy lives and relationships.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil — and taking offense is a bait straight from Satan!  Refuse the bait and partner with Jesus to destroy the devil’s plans.

Scripture tells us that vision and understanding give us restraint.  Restraint is a powerful tool to employ in relationships.  Those tv commercials and Facebook posts are an idealistic vision.  Real vision comes from the Word.  Even in this godless age, many know John 3:16…

”For God so loved the world, He sent his only Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

The Father loved that Son whom He sent…that’s a bit harder look at love to embrace.  We like love that rescues.  We shirk love that sacrifices in such a profound way.  Even those who are willing to receive hurts to themselves resist allowing their loved ones to suffer.

We want loving relationships that give us only sweetness, and that is neither realistic nor beneficial.  Sincere love for another involves sacrifice and suffering on both sides FOR eternally good purposes!

Loving others is the spiritual service of a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Relationships matter!  As 2016 comes to a close and a new year dawns, let’s spend some time looking at God’s plans and purposes for the relationships we enjoy in our lives.  We’ll begin with exploring how to expose roots of bitterness to the light of love!  Follow this website or like the Facebook Page to receive notice of the next entry.

Finding Real Love

Human love is fraught with problems that come from our human nature–selfishness, self-centeredness and a lack of faithfulness.  We say “I love you” and really mean “I love how you make me feel.”  The only way we can really love is to receive the love of God and let it pass through to others.  True agape love–the love that is God–is beyond our human abilities.

It intrigued me to discover that only Peter expressed his love directly to the Lord.  We often talk of ‘loving Jesus’ but the Scriptures do not record many such expressions.  There are many commands to love God and discussions of love, but stating love directly is a different story.   You may recall that the disciple Peter saw himself as totally committed to Jesus prior to his arrest…and then he betrayed him three times. It’s also interesting to note the kiss Judas betrayed Jesus with came from ‘phileo’ love–the love that is based on shared interests.  When Jesus restored Peter, he asked him:  “Do you (agape) love me?”  Three times Jesus asked about Peter’s love.  Twice he asked Peter if we agape loved him, and Peter replied, “I phileo love you.” Finally, Jesus asked him if Peter phileo loved him.  Jesus knows our limits and he agape loves us…he meets us where we are at!

The gift of love from another can give us a glimpse of the faithfulness of God’s love.  Make no mistake:  love matters.  We are called to love and do the best we can.  But true love only happens when it flows from the Creator.

We love each other because he loved us first.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[c] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

1 John 4:19-20

Celebrate those who love you.  But most of all celebrate the One who is love and made it all possible..

Love is a VERB

Being loving is not an easy thing, but it is something we all desire to be! Love is a need for every person.  Stories written with love never end.

1 Corinthians 13 is the ultimate definition of what love looks like.  This is one of my favorite ways to remind myself what love looks like.  Perhaps it will bless you too.

Love is not just a word; it must be active and visible.  

I am loving when my actions are:

Patient. I don’t need to get even.

Kind. I seek to give and to do good.

Content. I don’t want what others have.

Humble. I don’t need to make myself look good.

Peaceable. I don’t always have to be right.

Courteous. I show respect.

Serving. I don’t have to get my own way.

Calm. I don’t blow up and lose my temper.

Forgetful. I don’t keep a list of ways I’ve been hurt.

Righteous. I want the best for others.

Truthful. I love God’s word and try to obey it.

Protective. I don’t say hurtful things about (or to) others.

Positive. I believe the best about others.

Hope. I believe good will come.

Endure. I will not give up.

Sometimes we need to read things ‘bottom-side’ up to have the TRUTHS penetrate.   Try this on for a change:

I am unloving when my actions say:

I will get even!

I will not be patient–I will not suffer long for you!

I have given enough!

I don’t want to do anything good for you!

I want more!

I am more important than you!

I am right!

I don’t care about what you need or think!

I want you to do it my way! I am mad and you need to know it!

I have been hurt by you too many times!

I want you to get what you deserve!

I don’t care what God says–I’m doing it my way!

I will say what I want–so what if it hurts you!

I know you can’t do that–you’re a loser!

I know you will never be loving to me!

I give up!

Transforming Love for a Rebel

Truth is, he was a worthless pony.

Truth is, love gave value to his life.

An untrained stallion, the pulling pony bullied larger horses, kicked and bit unwary humans and rejected all authority. In the eyes of my pre-teen daughter, he was a dream filled withdakotapossibility. His rebel heart drew out her desire to love—and be loved even in her own rebellions. Her desires are the same desires every heart has—to love and be loved despite ourselves.

Named Dakota by his owners, she saw much more. Under his untamed forelock lay a blaze shaped like a question mark. She re-named him “Moonlight Mystery.” Her love for him reveals some of the great mysteries of love.

Loving his potential, she poured her heart and her time into him. She gained his trust in tiny increments. The rebel in him could not resist the time and attention she lavished upon him. The love of God is like that too. As we allow Him to touch us with His love, we cannot resist its transforming power. The love of God draws us toward the potential He intends for us to fulfill.

It would make a sweeter story to tell you that this young girl’s love transformed the rebel pony into a productive, prancing cart puller. Sadly, her love was not empowered by ownership. Disgusted with the pony, the owner sent him away. She never stopped loving Moonlight Mystery—and his life has meaning because of that.

Her love allowed him to teach valuable life lessons on rebellion, love and purpose. Love is like that—it takes a muddy mess and transforms it with purpose into its potential. The love of God not only offers us the chance to fulfill our potential, it includes an offer of adoption into His family. Jesus paid the price to redeem us from the rule of sin—and transport us into His Kingdom as His children.

Love fulfills potential and purpose.

If earthly love does not fail, how can we resist eternal love? Refusing our rebellion, submitting to His sacrificial love, brings purpose to our lives. Jesus believed we were worth dying for…do we believe He is worth living for?

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.
The Message: Ephesians 1:4)

Sweet Post-script to this story:  We learned that “Moonlight Mystery” has since found an owner who loves him and is doing well!  Those seeds of love have been harvested!  Hallelujah!

Can you hear me now?

We all have those conversations with others that leave us feeling that nothing we thought we were saying was heard.  Whatever it is we intended to convey often takes a back seat to resentment and frustration.  Then, we assure that nothing is heard!

We live in a loud, loud world–where opinions are shouted as truth and personal preference is a god that divides and destroys.  Learning to hear and be heard is a vital pursuit.  We want our hearts to be intent on the cell phone slogan:  Can you hear me now?

A quiet heart resting in God is the key to hearing clearly.  It is also the key to speaking clearly.  When we have God in His rightful place, powering our lives, we will hear Him and heartothers will as well.

We intuitively understand the damage of speaking from a distressed heart.  ‘Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.’  When our heart is impure and filled with ‘us’ instead of Christ, the words we speak reflect that.

David–the man after God’s own heart–gives us insight into what happens when we relate to others with a disquieted heart.

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.  Psalm 73:21,220227162151a

A heart that is pained and bitter makes us senseless and ignorant.  We can’t even think through what we are hearing or seeing. Our relationships with others are cut off.  We stand before God as a ‘beast’ instead of one made in His image.

The emotions God built into us are to alert us to the need to go for Him–for a clean-up, a restoration to what really matters.  We can’t simply acknowledge our unrest, we must confess it for the sin it is.  David didn’t dismiss his sin by excusing himself or accusing another…he said “I was senseless and ignorant.”  He owned his limitations and honored God.  Then, we see a beautiful picture of how God brings each of us into relationship with Him–and how we can restore relationships in our own lives.

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory. Psalm 73:23,24

God does not toss us aside or even turn His back on us when bitterness and pain causes us to be foolish and ignorant.  He holds us fast and guides us with kindness.  He refocuses on what really matters and leads us toward that.

My tendency in brick wall conversations is to drop the matter and move on.  Sometimes that is the right choice.  But always, loving others and leading them toward what really matters with kindness is the right choice. 

As Christians, we are called to make disciples of Christ.  We can only do that if we surrender our lives so Christ can be seen and felt.  Insisting on our opinion, requiring others to see things as we see them or feel about things as we do is not the way of Christ.   Through Jeremiah, God told His people, I have drawn you with cords of loving-kindness.  He is unchanging.  May we change into more of His likeness.

Love is action

Love–like faith–is action!  The heartbreaking evil of this week and the anger it generates took me to this old look at love.  May we all prayerfully seek the love of God and then let it flow out of our lives.  We change the atmosphere by living with a loving attitude.  1 Corinthians 13 show us what true love looks like!

Let’s practice being people who are:

Patient. I don’t need to get even.

Kind. I seek to give and to do good.

Content. I don’t want what others have.

Humble. I don’t need to make myself look good.

Peaceable. I don’t always have to be right.

Courteous. I show respect.

Serving. I don’t have to get my own way.

Calm. I don’t blow up and lose my temper.

Forgetful. I don’t keep a list of ways I’ve been hurt.

Righteous. I want the best for others.

Truthful. I love God’s word and try to obey it.

Protective. I don’t say hurtful things about (or to) others.

Positive. I believe the best about others.

Hope. I believe good will come.

Endure. I will not give up.

The flip side of love is exactly what we are seeing played out in the news…individuals declaring and acting on selfish hatred:

I will get even! I will not be patient–I will not suffer long for you!

I have given enough! I don’t want to do anything good for you!

I want more!

I am more important than you!

I am right!

I don’t care about what you need or think!

I want you to do it my way!

I am mad and you need to know it!

I have been hurt by you too many times!

I want you to get what you deserve!

I don’t care what God says–I’m doing it my way!

I will say what I want–so what if it hurts you!

I know you can’t do that–you’re a loser!

I know you will never be loving to me!

I give up!

The Source of Love – not a sample of love

For more than half of my life, Valentine’s Day has been celebrated with one man:  my husband, Craig. His love has been a blessing and privilege I could not earn and often don’t deserve.  It has shown me what the love of God looks like.  His love brought stability to me–and created two more loves of my life:  our children Rusty and Riesa.  But this really is a piece about the source of love…not just lovely samples of it!

God, in His infinite wisdom, actually led us to have this poem read at our wedding.  We didn’t honor God in those years, nor did we understand how true this is.  But accepting truth doesn’t make something true.  It either is true or it is not.  The love of God as a necessity is truth.

Marriage Takes Three

Human love is fraught with problems that come from our human nature–selfishness, self-centeredness and a lack of faithfulness.  We say “I love you” and really mean “I love how you make me feel.”  The only way we can really love is to receive the love of God and let it pass through to others.  True agape love–the love that is God–is beyond our human abilities.

It intrigued me to discover that only Peter expressed his love directly to the Lord.  We often talk of ‘loving Jesus’ but the Scriptures do not record many such expressions.  There are many commands to love God and discussions of love, but stating love directly is a different story.   You may recall that the disciple Peter saw himself as totally committed to Jesus prior to his arrest…and then he betrayed him three times. It’s also interesting to note the kiss Judas betrayed Jesus with came from ‘phileo’ love–the love that is based on shared interests.  When Jesus restored Peter, he asked him:  “Do you (agape) love me?”  Three times Jesus asked about Peter’s love.  Twice he asked Peter if we agape loved him, and Peter replied, “I phileo love you.” Finally, Jesus asked him if Peter phileo loved him.  Jesus knows our limits and he agape loves us…he meets us where we are at!

And that brings me back to this Valentine’s Day.  Craig’s love changed my life…changed who I was because it gave me a glimpse of the faithfulness of God’s love.  Make no mistake:  love matters.  We are called to love but true love only happens when it flows from the Creator.

We love each other because he loved us first.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[c] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

1 John 4:19-20

Celebrate those who love you.  But most of all celebrate the One who is love and made it all possible..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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