Love

Can anything erase your love for your husband?  What about your parents?  Children?  Your immediate response is likely “NO!” But that’s not the case for many women, including women in the church. A mistress or an addiction can seem to separate your husband from your love. Betrayal, neglect, abuse, terrible choices, and mental illness can often seem to separate parents and children from one another’s love.  In many of these situations, physical separation may be the best choice for all, but does that include a separation from love?  No.  Are you asking “what makes me think I know so much when I haven’t lived your pain?” Romans 8 and I have lived through a few of the above. Maybe not your specific pain that is as individual as you are, but I have had many dark nights of the soul. Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus is interceding for us, and verses 35 and 38-39 declare that there is no person or circumstance that can separate us from the love of Christ.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Romans 8:35

 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

“No person” means that not even you can separate yourself from His love. He is our example that we are to transfer into our own lives. Has anyone in your life ever nailed you to a cross and left you to die alone and humiliated?  Probably not, so that means that no one has betrayed you or treated you as badly as we all have treated Jesus. My “little white lie” just to keep myself out of trouble nailed him to the cross. So did my gluttony, lust, selfishness, and unkindness. Even my failure to look at a stranger and recognize them as loved by the Lord while I turned my nose up in disdain drove those thorns into His lovely brow. Not to even mention the rest of my sins! With that in mind, is it OK with God that I reject those who have rejected me? We know the answer, like it or not – No! I think the whole key is there in verse 34: Jesus intercedes for us; His prayers keep us close to His heart and because His heart is close, He continues to intercede. What a wonderful loop! Who has hurt you deeper than you ever imagined possible? Pray for him or her! Wayward children? Pray for them. Abusive parents? Pray for them; you keep praying over those hurts because you are still struggling with them.  Look, beloved sister, it all boils down to Jesus, you and your choice:

Do you choose to love? Do you choose obedience to the Lord and His directive in John 15:12 to love one another as I have loved you? It’s hard to make that choice, sister, but when you do, oh the joy and freedom you gain! When Jesus made the choice, He experienced death, but He gained the throne at the right hand of God! I choose to love.

About the Writer:
Cindy loves being an RN, wife, mom, and CiCi (that’s a grandmother, but I’m way too young  for normal terminology) to one sweet little 5 year old girl. She loves the Lord with all her heart and wants to serve Him with gladness till her dying breath. Cindy plans on starting seminary very soon. She can hardly wait for Wednesday and Sunday to roll around so she can sing with the choir and experience just a sliver of the joy we’ll have when we all get to Heaven!

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Love Tested by our Darkest Sins

“Lord I love you” is a powerful statement.  How do we protect ourselves from the hypocrisy of declaring it on Sundays, proclaiming it to receive affirmation on social media, but failing to hold fast to that commitment in the hard moments of our lives?

The proof of our commitment always comes in testing.  My commitment to love God has been tested again and again:  through the miscarriage of two of my precious children, through watching a sweet friend die of cancer, and through Satan’s destruction of God ordained relationships I held dear.  But trials have mercifully driven me to seek after God and to desire to know Him more.  God speaks often in the Bible of how testing and tribulation grow and mature our faith. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4)

While all trials test and grow us, I think there is a special significance and precious proof of our love of God in the devastation of dealing with our own sin.  Grieving over, confronting, and laying before Jesus my own sin has done more to strengthen my relationship with Him than any other type of testing.  These excuses reveal my failings, my inability to strengthen that relationship on my own, and my deep need for Him.  The truth laid bare is hard to handle, but it is freeing.

King David is a gloriously God-ordained example of clinging to the love of God in the face of our darkest sin.  The story of David’s horrific sin and the unshakable love that rescued David is laid out in 2 Samuel 11 – 12.

David lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery, and then had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah- who was an unfailing loyal servant to David- killed to conceal the fact Bathsheba had become pregnant from their tryst.  None of his schemes worked.  God used the prophet Nathan to reveal David’s unthinkable shame.  Nathan proclaimed, “You are the man!” and exposed David’s worst sins.

This was a defining moment for David.  When confronted with guilt, our natural reaction is to fight back and rage against the exposure of the truth.  David’s love for God conquered all those impulses, and he instead turned to the Lord and lamented:

I have sinned against the Lord. (2 Samuel 12:13)

David would later write several beautiful Psalms, including Psalm 32, in acknowledgement of what God had done to rescue him from his iniquities.  What defined David, a man the Bible would call a man after God’s own heart, was not his worst moment, but his reaction to his worst moment. His action was rooted in a deep love for God.  He repented because he loved God more than he loved himself.

Sin separates us from the love of God.  But our love of God means we are willing to lay aside the encumbrances of this life and the sin which so easily entangles us and run to Christ.  We die to self, stop the justification, explanation, and minimization of sin and say, “I want Christ more, I love Christ more.”

Love God today.  Lay your sin before Him.  Turn from sin and say, “Lord, I’m depending on You to free me from the deepest, darkest corners of this sin.” We can count on the Lord’s grace, mercy, and unfailing love.  He honors those who love Him and nothing proves that love more than confronting our sin and casting it off.

About the writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

 

 

I Don’t Want Your Love

I love being a mommy. My little girl, soon to be four, is the apple of my eye. When she chimes in with an unsolicited “I love you, Mommy,” from the backseat of the car or while I’m cooking dinner, my heart melts. Lately she has been asking for more and more hugs, and I am more than contented to oblige her with that! However, sometimes I have to remind her that, as much as I treasure her affection and heart-warming hugs, words, etc., what I really want is for her to obey me because that is what God asks from her (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1).

For example, I ask her to put up her shoes or toys or come sit down at the table and she, in response, asks for a hug. Or she knowingly chooses not to follow my instruction and asks for a hug instead of coming clean with a confession. I can definitely see how a hug would be a nice alternative to other forms of discipline, but last time I checked, hugs were not compelling enough to encourage her to change.

Each time I am met with my daughter’s choice of affectionate “love” over “obedience,” I am reminded of the commonality of our human struggle — to express love how WE want to or to love as GOD wants us to love.

 Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:46-49

 

Though I cannot guarantee that my daughter will accept the truth that God equates obedience with love (1 John 5:3), I can pray and remember that for ME to love her well, I must remember how important it is to teach her that love and obedience go hand in hand.

These are my steps to action:

  1. PRAY-Pray that our children will know Christ and have the heart change to want to obey God because of His love in their heart.
  1. BE FAITHFUL-Faithfully train up our children in the ways of the Lord according to the Bible.
  1. KEEP IT MATTER-OF-FACT-Keep anger and rejection far away during times of discipline. Keep it matter-of-fact: remind children that the best thing they can do to show their love for us as parents is to honor God and us, because when we ALL obey God (children and parents included) God promises it will go well for us.
  1. MEMORIZE-Memorize Proverbs 21:3 with your children: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (NIV)
  1. SHOW LOVE-Pray like crazy that my actions, attitudes, words, and YES, even hugs, would come across as those of our loving Savior Jesus Christ.

 About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Love is a Choice

 As Christians, we know that love is far more than those butterflies someone might feel on her wedding day. It’s much more than romance or a mere “feeling.” The ultimate sign of the love God had for us was demonstrated on the cross.  It’s the first verse we memorize, the one we all know by heart:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Love is something we can experience as a wonderful, happy feeling, but it’s much more than that. Love is sacrifice. Above all else, love is a choice. God reminds me of that on a fairly regular basis.

When I entered into the covenant of marriage 18 years ago, I was feeling the love. It was warm and happy.  My beloved and I were surrounded by family and friends before God, declaring our promises to each other. It was easy to love my husband on that day. There are still many moments when it is easy to love him, but plenty when it isn’t.

When people in my life behave in a way that bothers me, it’s more difficult for me to love them.  When they are grumpy or argumentative, love becomes a chore. God has to remind me what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-45:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 

If Jesus commanded me to love my enemies, then that love should extend to grumpy family and friends as well.  Sometimes that’s really difficult to do. Sometimes I’m the grumpy one and have to ask forgiveness.  But when I choose to love, even when someone is grumpy, it always turns out better.

Doing so isn’t easy, and it requires asking Jesus to show me the way in every moment. When I start the day asking how I can show Him to others in my life, He inevitably gives me the opportunity. When I have the discipline to choose love, even when it isn’t easy, I allow Him to shine through me. And, when I feel like it’s just too much to bear, I remember the cross and make the choice, one moment at a time, to love – even when I don’t feel like it.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.