Have you ever been going along, minding your own business, and truth is profound in the mundane? That's what happened to me as I was trying to stoke the fire. Follow me over to Beyond the Nook and I'll tell you the story!
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One particular weekend last February was filled with beauty. The tables beautifully set beckoned us to sit, enjoy, feast and build community with one another. The living room was prepared with pillows, blankets and a warm fire to welcome us as we sat, stood, or knelt before the Lord. Over the satellite feed...we saw, heard and experienced the beauty of God with millions of other women around the world. We were only a drop in the bucket...but God was moving. This was IF:LOCAL. "IF:God is real...then what?" was the question asked and answered that weekend. We walked with Joshua as he lead God's people through his faith in the Lord's provisions. ...
Since late in November, I have been healing from some pretty deep wounds, and although the wound is healing well, and is not as raw as it once was, I realized last week as I was trying to reassess and set goals and priorities for 2015, that my thoughts were still being influenced by it's bite. So I came to the Cross, tainted glasses adorning my eyes, as feelings of a failure…confused, bewildered and astonished resurfaced.
In our culture, people all around us are starving for Love. Children, Twenty-somethings, Middle-aged and the Elderly are all looking for love, their hearts longing for it.
Love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. Luke 10:27
The keys to all the law, simply expressed, is LOVE.
If we long to show love to the hurting and broken, or even to our own family for that matter, loving God must be our first objective. Scripture tells us that love originates from the Father. That His very essence is Love and that we can only love Him because He first loved us. Love begins with God. His great love pursues us, and it is our choice to receive it and to love Him back.
Practically speaking, loving the Lord with all that we are means we consider Him in ALL that we do. We choose time with Him, our Relationship with Him, as first priority every day and then we follow His guiding for the day.
My dad says it all comes back to one simple phrase, “Die to yourself.” He says it so often that it has become kind of a joke. We always know if we are asking for counsel…it will usually come back to “Die to yourself.” It sounds pretty simple…but it is a choice we have to make every day. We die to the “to do list” that keeps us from that precious time with Him in the morning. We die to the book we really want to read until after we spend time in His word. We die to our compulsion to check social media until we’ve checked out our prayer-life. We put God in His rightful place in our day. We make Him the priority, so we can know and love Him more. Loving the Lord is a two way street. It isn’t God pouring out His love and me standing with arms open to receive it only to turn away and go about my business. He waits for me to respond to Him. The Lord longs for my love…He died for my love. He rightfully deserves my love.
We then have to love ourselves. For how can we pull the splinter out of one man’s eye with a plank in ours? (Luke 2:42) Accepting that “I am created in His image, a workmanship of God to do His will…and He calls me GOOD!” (Gen 1:27, Eph 2:10) allows us to love others, without letting our own failures, hurts and scars mar how we express His love. It’s putting on God glasses, so to speak, and looking at myself through His lens. When we understand how precious we are in His sight we can’t help but to want to share it with others…to give them a Hope and a Future. (Jer 29:11)
As we deepen our time with the Lord, He reveals in us His love for us.
As we allow His love to so engulf us that we ooze His goodness and mercy, and His pure and perfect love, only then can we truly love our neighbor. But love is more than a verbal expression, it is action ordained from and directed by the God of the Universe, love personified.
You see, love is an action. God showed His love for us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died and gave Himself up for us. (Rom 5:8) No greater love is this: that a man lay down his life for his brother. (John 15:130) These are scriptures that show the action of love. It’s giving up our wants in order to serve. It’s putting others’ needs before our wants. It’s “dying to yourself”. But we can only successfully love others well when we have first spent time seeking God’s direction and soaking up His love. Love is an action that is God directed and ordained and direction comes when we are in His presence. It is not serving the poor at a soup kitchen to check off your good deeds list. It is not contributing money to the mission field because it’s the “right thing to do.” Love in action is not a list of good deeds that do not originate in God’s leading in your life. If God hasn’t directed your heart to do it…it’s just dead works, my friend.
Too often, in attempts to spread the love of God to others, we fill our lives with service because we are “supposed to,” but we feel overwhelmed and frustrated. We tire and feel overburdened and overwhelmed. Scripture tells us that His burden is easy and His load is light. (Matt 11:30) Now that doesn’t mean what He asks of us will be easy or effortless, but it does mean the drudgery is gone. When we love and serve others as God leads us, he equips us for the task at hand and fills us with joy!
Single moms are crying out for love. Broken teens are longing to feel loved and beloved. Elderly widows are still searching for Love that never ends. Impoverished people are looking for love that meets their needs. People aren’t looking for a handout or to be the recipient of our “good deeds”. No! They are looking for true love. Pure love that can only come from the Father and stand the test of time and holds them in their time of dark. How will we know how to show love to them if we haven’t spent time with the only one who can truly love them right where they are, exactly how they need to be loved? We can’t. How can we love hurting people, people with scars when we can’t see past our own hurt and scars? We can’t.
Let us love deeply the God who created all things for His pleasure and who died to call us His own. May we see ourselves as beloved daughters and sons who are redeemed and seated in the high places with Christ so we may share His great love to those around us in a personal and meaningful way…that they would know the Love of Christ and be given a Hope and a Future in and through Him.
This post was originally featured on I Take Joy.com which is now SallyClarkson.com