Dimensions of Love

As we get closer and closer to Valentine’s Day the topic that most people are talking about is love.  It’s true that many people take this whole month to really focus on love and romance and I think that can be a very good thing.  It’s not a good thing when this month or these 14 days are the only time that you focus on your relationships, but sometimes it’s good to really dedicate extra time and effort to something that should be very important to you.

In thinking about the topic of love and romance it got me thinking about one of the biggest topics around love for people of faith, God’s love.  There’s a lot we can learn from His love and how He loves, so as I was working on my devotion this week I ran across a few verses that I wanted to share with you here today because they share a really important reminder about love. Take a look:

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Psalm 34:8

“…may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.”  Ephesians 3:18-19a

The interesting thing about all of these verses is that they talk about love in multiple dimensions, using multiple senses and in experiencing it beyond the obvious.  The challenge many of us face in experiencing or living love is that it’s not instant.  It’s not something we can throw a bunch of money at and get what we want.  Love takes work.  It’s something that is best experienced when you fully immerse yourself in it.  It’s like many wines that it often gets better with time, but unlike wine you can’t just leave it alone and expect it to get better.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be as simple as a child loving their pet, or loving how your partner holds your hand.  But in other ways it is complicated because many of the best loves do have multiple layers and depth to them.

So this week as you think about your Valentine plans or you think about the person that God has planned for you in the future, I encourage you to try to see love outside of the box that you may have stuck it in.  What have you missed about love?

Made For Love

As we head into the next month already all around us there are signs and reminders of the holiday coming up: Valentine’s Day.  Whether it’s a holiday in your world, or if you’d rather we not talk about all that romantic love, the topic of love is one we really should talk about, even if we’re not going to talk about the romantic type of love.

I believe that everyone should learn to love themselves.  If you don’t love yourself you really should work on coming to terms and making peace with who you are or taking the steps to make changes in your life to get to a point that you can love yourself.  It’s not an easy process for many people, but I believe, and everyone I’ve talked with who has worked on it says it is worth it.  Some things you will have to learn to accept, but many things you can change.  We’ll talk more about that in the coming months, and if you want to work on it personally with me, I do offer coaching.

But back to love.  The good news is that as a person of faith you should have some automatic love from the people in your faith community (something else we’ll talk about in the future), but even if you don’t have that support, you definitely have God’s love. Throughout the Bible it talks about how central God’s love is to what He does, how He interacts with people and animals and the earth and even the choices that He makes.   God’s love includes forgiveness, grace, overcoming imperfections and growing, which means you don’t have to be perfect all the time, nor does He expect you to be perfect.   God knows that life isn’t easy and sometimes we make mistakes, other times we’re tired and sometimes we just can’t summon the effort to do the thorough job that we should.  And there are even the occasional times that we poke the bear and decide to do the wrong thing, even though we know it’s wrong.

Under the belief that God knows everything, we believe that God knew exactly how things would play out in the Garden and knew exactly what it would look like in our world today way back when He created the world, and even still God chose to create each and every one of us.  God made each of us with a purpose and He made each of us with love.  The great thing about God’s love is that even if you’ve wandered from the love that you were born from God’s love is there ready for you to return to at any time.

“We’re not only made for a purpose.  We’re made for a person who loves us.” Holley Gerth
“We Exist for God.” 1 Corinthians 8:6a

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving is just a day away and I’m looking forward to it!  I love what it means, the gathering of family and friends and of course the opportunity to eat!  Today I wanted to share some verses of thanksgiving, verses that speak to what we have to be thankful for, and even verses to challenge us and keep us humble.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.”  Psalm 1:1-2

“”These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.””  John 16:33

“”For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”” Jeremiah 29:11

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:57

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all we have, for the very gift of life, and for the gift of God in our lives.  Things could have gone so much differently for us, we could not have a God who’s so involved in and invested in our lives.  We could have fewer blessings and promises that we can depend on.  We could not be able to see the workings of God in big and little ways in our lives and the world.  We could be less individual and more similar.  We could all face significant challenges and threats on our lives.  And most of all we could be without hope in the future and in a permanent home in Heaven some day with God.  And those are just a few of the things we can think about this Thanksgiving as we gather around the table.

The Pilgrims created Thanksgiving because they were thankful for the most simple of things: being alive.  They were thankful to have found friends in the Native Americans and in their own ability to survive and work on thriving in a new world.  They weren’t celebrating billion dollar successes, curing serious diseases or finally helping world peace happen.  No, the were just thankful to be alive.  This Thanksgiving I encourage you to take time to be thankful for the big and little things in your life.  Everyone has something to be thankful for, even if it’s as simple as being alive.

A Healthy Attitude Towards God

This month we’ll be talking about the topic of health.  Of course we’ll talk about having a healthy spiritual relationship with God and what role that relationship should play in our lives, so today I want to start with what some consider to be the beginning of a healthy spiritual relationship with God: belief in God, and what that belief means to you.  I think that the concept of belief is like the concept of decisions: you can be in control of the decision you make or you can choose to give that control up by choosing not to make a decision.  You can choose to believe a certain thing, or you can choose to believe nothing.  We’re all given the choice of what and whether we want to believe.  Some see indisputable proof through events in their life or people who they have crossed paths with, while others see just coincidences or luck.  Some refuse to open their eyes to the possibility that there is more in the world and others believe in miracles.

One of the things I think is central to having a healthy belief system and relationship with God is the attitude you have. Yes bad things happen in the world but I also believe good things happen in the world.  I believe how you see your “glass” (half full, half empty etc.), how you choose to live your life and the attitude you have towards that life greatly influence the outcome of your earthly life, and the same is true for your spiritual life.  If you want to honor God, want to fulfill the plans He has for you, want to be used and want to make a difference, your relationship with God will be much different than if you show up when you have to and participate in groups/events because it’s expected of you.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”  The first question has to do with health: how do you see your body?  Do you have a positive attitude about your body? Do you respect it? Do you at least try to care for it?  And the second question directly ties in: what’s your attitude towards God and the Houses of Worship here on earth?  Are you respectful of the physical locations and their components or do you just expect them to be there cared for by someone else?  Are you truly expecting to meet with God when you attend them?

What attitude do you have towards God and the role He plays in your life or could play in your life?

A Purpose of Hope

As we start out this month looking at the topic of purpose, one of our greatest purposes and callings in life as people of faith is to share hope with the world.  So today I’ve got some verses of hope to share with you.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

“I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.”  Psalm 16:7-8

No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:39

“For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6

“Jesus [said] “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die….”  John 11:25-26

“My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.”  Psalm 62:7

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.”  1 John 4:9

What words of hope would you share today?

Reminders of Love

Sometimes what we need is to be reminded that we are loved.  Life can be one frustration and disappointment after another and that gets old pretty quick.  So today I have a few verses of love and encouragement to remind you that you’re not alone.  What’s your favorite verse that reminds you of this?

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”  1 John 3:11

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”  Proverbs 17:17

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”  Psalm 46:1-3

“If you look to him for help, he will put a smile on your face. You will have no need to be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Proverbs 21:21

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Live with Love

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.  And do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

As we get into the home stretch of the end of February and our month of discussions about love, this benediction-type verse spoke to me.  If you’ve been in some of the more traditional churches they always end the service with a blessing to take with you into the week.  It’s a bit of encouragement, a bit of reminder and a way to tie the whole service together.  Of course, our topic for February, love, should never be closed or summed up, but like life rather than being our entire focus it can be just simmering beneath the surface for the rest of the year and brought up occasionally.

Love is tough.  There’s no other way to put it. It’s not easy to be in love with the pressures and challenges of life today.  It’s a little easier with the changes in culture to love someone unexpected or atypical, but any relationship has its moments of challenge and frustration.

It’s not easy to be a person of faith either.  Not only do spiritual relationships take work, it’s not always easy to keep them up with the pressures and provocation of life today.  This is probably one reason that spirituality and love have always been close companions; they’re so similar in many respects.

When it comes to faith, love and life there’s only one thing you can do: keep pressing on.  They cannot be made in a single moment, but in collective moments over time.  You need to press on, be persistent, be determined and be patient as things grow and develop.  You can’t learn all of life and love’s lessons in one bite, but you need to learn each lesson that is sent your way.

The one thing you have to keep in mind at all times is that it’s better to love than to not love.  Life and faith are only made stronger with love.