The Love of God

a muilt-colored fence with the word love painted on it

We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

God’s love is the wind under my wings. It is His love that lifts me, sustains me, and carries me. As I glide along these currents love, it is He, my Lord and my God, that directs me, reveals to me and empowers me to fulfill those works that He has appointed me to do. And by His power and His authority those works are accomplished; none is mine and none carry my name upon them. They are His which gives me immeasurable joy.

This song, “When God Ran”, sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, is one that will “bless your socks off.”

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

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Find Out What Is Hiding

boy playing hide and seek

Recently I shaved off nearly all of my beard. It had been at least a decade since I was mostly clean-shaven. It freaked out my wife. Now it’s growing back, but it was fun to see her reaction. She couldn’t look at me for two days!

One thing I discovered when I shaved was that I had a blackhead on my cheek. It had been hiding under my beard, utterly invisible to me and everyone that saw me, nevertheless it was there. 

It was quickly exhumed before I finished shaving. But that got me wondering about things in our lives that we don’t see and neither do others; they are still there. 

God Shows Us What Is Hiding

Often, things that need to be removed from our hearts and minds are shown to us through God’s Word. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10

Being a devout Christian doesn’t insulate us from God’s correction. He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Have you ever heard or read a passage of Scripture that caused a spike of fear to arise in you? It may have been so small that you quickly extinguished it with logic. Still, it had shown itself in your soul. 

The truth is that God’s Word is alive and directly confronts us about things we may not even be aware of as unrighteousness. The Holy Spirit calls us on to greater mercy, greater righteousness, greater holiness. When we feel even the smallest tug on our hearts, we can be sure the Holy Spirit is working within us, calling us to a more intimate relationship with God and preparing us for higher assignments from Jesus.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Fear is Like a Tick

A hard-bodied tick of the family Ixodidae, the lone star tick

So much has changed in this world since I was a kid. As a kid, I spent most of my time outside. We didn’t have the vast array of entertainment options that kids have today. A couple of things I’m glad we didn’t have back then were mosquitoes that carried the West Nile virus and ticks that could infect us with Lyme disease. It was “safe” outside, so most of a kid’s world existed there. A side effect of outdoor life was that kids got ticks. I certainly got my share of them.

Bring In The Fire

Whenever Mom found a tick on my body (yes, Mom always checked), I knew what would happen next. It was imperative that the tick pulled its head out of my flesh. So, she would get a kitchen match, the kind that has a match head on one end of a short stick of wood. She would strike the match, get a good flame, blow out the match, and then she would take the hot match head and place it on the tick. 

The hot match would disturb the tick’s supper, and it would pull itself out of my body. Mom was always ready with Kleenex® tissues in her left hand. The moment the tick’s head was visible, Mom swooped in like a hawk grabbing a rabbit. It was a sight to behold. I’ve used her technique many times, and it has served me well (warningthis is not a medical recommendation). 

Get It All Out

Here’s the point of my story: For a Christian, fear is like a tick. It is alien to us*. It doesn’t exist in God. Fear stealthily crawls over us until it finds a place to feed. Then it then burrows into us and begins its damage. For us to remove fear it must be completely cast out. In the following verses, we can see that this is God’s will.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) and 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

It may not be obvious, but fear is the opposite of love – let that sink in. Love moves us towards others in the spirit of self-sacrifice while fear shrinks us back from others in the spirit of self-preservation. To get the fear (whatever kind it is) completely out of us we need perfect love.

The Opposite of Fear is Love

It’s simple math. Love and fear are opposites, therefore perfect love equates to zero fear. But how can we possibly have perfect love? If we try to remove fear without God’s help, just like a tick, a piece of that fear will remain in us and likely cause us much harm; God wants all of that fear out of us.

Hmm. Who do we know that has perfect love? Give me a moment. Yes! God is perfect love. So how do we get the tick of fear out of us? We ask the Holy Spirit to fill us up completely. If we are full of the Holy Spirit of God, then we are full of perfect love. Our thoughts, actions, ambitions, motives are transformed; our minds are transformed (Romans 12:2) when we are full of the Holy Spirit of God, full of perfect love. God’s love at work through us is like a hot match head applied to a tick; fear is cast out!

* The only fear a Christian should have is the kind referenced in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

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Who Am I?

a sign with a question mark on it

Who am I, that the lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
– Casting Crowns

There are approximately 7.8 billion people on Earth, and the average human head (an average scalp measures approximately 120 square inches, or 770 cm²) has about 100,000 hair follicles (Gray 2003). – Quora This means that at any one moment there are 780 trillion hairs that God is keeping track of (Matthew 10:30).

If God cares enough to sacrifice His Son to offer you salvation and if God cares enough to impart to every believer the Holy Spirit of God (John 14:15-17) and if God cares enough to keep track of the number of hairs on your head, then be encouraged. hen be encouraged for God knows who you are.

I hope this song by Casting Crowns blesses you today.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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Carrying Kids

Air Force officer with wife and kids

I was reading Isaiah 60, which is about the restoration of Israel. This chapter paints Israel as a beautiful woman. We don’t discover the subject of this prophecy until verse 14, where we find “the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” But here is what captured my imagination as I was reading this chapter; verse 4:

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

I have a bunch of kids. They are now all grown, but countless times my wife and I carried a child of ours on our hips. When I read, “and your daughters shall be carried on the hip” my heart leaped within me.

God’s Word is so real, so expressive of the human condition. And God continually calls out to humanity for restoration through Jesus. If God gets down to details as small as carrying kids on our hips, He truly understands us and loves us.

Photo: Air Force Reserve Command

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Steadfast Love

I don’t mean to be repetitive, but the love of God has been on my heart recently.

God loves you. No doubt, you’ve been told that a zillion times, probably to the point where those three words have little or no impact on you.

Think back to the first time when someone said to you, “I love you” and meant it. Perhaps it was a boyfriend or girlfriend, maybe your mom or dad, or perhaps someone that took you under their wing.

Steadfast Love

In Psalm 103:8 (ESV), we find, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” It’s very likely that the first time someone romantically said they loved you, their love was not steadfast. That person is probably now so far in your rearview mirror. But that’s not God.

In 1 John 4:19, we read, “We love because he first loved us.” When my wife and I got married, we each had expectations, but they were not the same expectations. It took years to work through presumptions. But that’s not God.

God’s love is strong. His love is resilient. His love is steadfast. It hardly notices a wrong (1 Corinthians 13:5 ESV). God’s love is grounded in truth and reality. He knows all of you.

Just a Reminder

So, today, I want to remind you that God’s love for you is active, it’s not lost when you mess up. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)

Does God love Christians differently from non-Christians? Yes. His love is different because believers have exercised faith in God’s Son. As a Christian, God’s in your life for eternity. For you to grow in God’s love, you reciprocate His love.

How do you reciprocate God’s love towards you? You do this by practicing the presence of God. One way is by “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” (Ephesians 5:19 ESV)

Be joyful, for you are loved!

Photo by Blake Barlow on Unsplash

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Would You Get Me My Sweater?

woman carrying a stack of sweaters

When it comes to serving one another, a friend of mine used the following example: Brother, I’m willing to die for you, but don’t ask me to get your sweater!

It seems easy for us to make grand sacrifices, like “I’ll sell all I have and move to Outer Mongolia.” Apostle John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16 NIV

It’s the laying down of our lives for small things that so easily trips us up, like fetching someone’s sweater or emptying the church’s dishwasher. 

By the way, – Did you know that our English word mogul, meaning an important or influential person, comes from the mispronunciation of Mongol, as in a person from Mongolia?

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The Era of Argument

younger sister pulling hair of older brother

When I think of the 1960s, I remember the hippies’ response to nearly everyone was “peace & love, man!” Sadly, I was a hippie during those years. The peace & love phrase was just a way to say, “I don’t want to argue. You stay in your own way, but leave us alone.” 

When the time comes when I can look back on the era in which we currently live, I am sure that one of the hallmarks will be arguing. Is anyone else tired of this? Our society is so fractured that I am expecting any day now for someone to find social ills with Neapolitan ice cream! 

Argument Absorbers

Back in the day, if your car didn’t have shock absorbers, you’d be beaten and rattled to the bone while driving. But thanks to French cyclist J.M.M. Truffault, who invented shock absorbers in 1898, we can now drive in comfort. 

Thankfully, as Christians, we’ve been taught to be argument absorbers. One of our jobs as representative of Jesus in this world is to absorb the social bumps and jolts and thuds that happen around us. We absorb by demonstrating peace in a checkout line that is slow or responding positively instead of getting angry when someone wants us to get worked up over something that has ticked them off, or speaking love into disagreements or hatred.

I find encouragement in what the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write in 2 Timothy 2:8-10, 14 (NLT):

“Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.”

Photo credit: FotoGrazio on / CC BY-NC-ND

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God Loves

drawing of the stick man hanging from a heart

God is love. (1 John 4:8)
God is good. (Luke 18:19)
God loves peace. (John 14:27)
God loves peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9)
God loves justice. (Isaiah 61:8)
God loves righteousness. (Psalms 33:5)
God loves humility. (James 4:10)
God loves meekness. (2 Corinthians 10:1)
God loves gentleness. (2 Corinthians 10:1)
God loves repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
God loves faithfulness. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. (John 3:16)

There are many more verses that speak to the love of God, but I hope you are encouraged today. The one true God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Ancient of Days. The triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – loves you. He loves you deeply, individually, and uniquely.

If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then, through Christ Jesus, you have the ear of God, and He will grow in you all those characteristics list above, and more besides, for God is love.

If you have not yet received Jesus then you can learn how, here:

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How do we Love God?

A person showing a homeless man compassion

My wife and I recently bought a shed to make into my office – she wants me out of the house. 😉

We had ordered a custom version. Nothing wild. We just asked for a standard door, four extra feet for the length, and two extra windows. No problem!

Well, as so often happens, there was a mixup with our order. As I talked through the problem with the shed company’s sales guy, he bumped up to an office guy, who then bumped me to receive a call from the district manager.

Not to take anything away from the shed company but less than an hour before my conversation with the district manager, a dear brother that I’d not heard from for at least six months texted me and said God put me in his thoughts, so he wanted to check and see if I needed anything. Yes! I needed prayer. Then I received a text from another dear friend. We called to talk about her Christian missionary blog, but she said that she’d pray for me.

Then the district manager called. We had an adult, intelligent, pleasant, meaningful conversation. The outcome was that the company would make the modification my wife and I had expected. We’re happy.

Many people like to quote the scripture, “…God is love.” not knowing the full verse in 1 John 4:8 (ESV), which reads, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God’s promises always carry conditions. So, what terms are included in us loving God? We get a glimpse in the Old Testament book of Micah which reads:

Micah 6:8 (ESV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

There’s more that God requires, but this passage can get us pointed in the right direction. We are to personally act justly even if the law gives us a loophole, and to love mercy even when we have every right to demand “our pound of flesh” and to walk humbly in every aspect of our lives; this may be the most challenging requirement. 

Humility is not a weakness, for it requires incredible strength, which can only come through our faith in Jesus Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit within. Our perfect example of humility is Jesus. Through Jesus, we can love the way God desires, and that’s good news.

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