Loving God

When it comes to loving God, the risk is all His.

True love is about self sacrifice. Giving all that you have to love someone else and not doing it to receive that love in return.

You risk it all when you pour your love into someone else, you make yourself vulnerable to being hurt. You never know for sure if the other person truly loves you back. You cannot read their hearts.

But you can place your trust in God’s heart, because there has been no greater love shown than when He gave His only begotten Son to be sacrificed for us, so that we may be forgiven, and know mercy.

So when Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, and take up our cross, and follow Him, that’s what it means to love Him.

It does make us vulnerable, by exposing our hearts and true motives, but because He already loved us first, the risk is all His.

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The Older Brother

This is based on the parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32

While I think the story of the prodigal son is very important, what I find quite confronting, and uncomfortable, is the way that the older son reacted. And the reason for this is because as much as I see myself in the prodigal son’s journey of redemption, I also recognise vices of myself in the older son’s attitude.

Luke 15:30

“But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed him the fatted calf.”

This verse exposes the older brother as knowing all along what his younger brother was up to in the world. He knew exactly the trouble his younger brother was adhereing himself to, and he did nothing. He didn’t try and reach out to him, he didn’t check on him to see if he was ok, he just continued working in the field.

As Christians in the church, we often hear of our brothers and sisters who have since left, get into trouble, and yet we do nothing. We think to ourselves “well, they deserve it because of their actions.”

But God says that it’s not up to us to decide what they deserve, that’s up to Him. All that we are required to do is treat them the same way that God treats us, with love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. As Christians, this is our duty.

The older son takes great offence because he feels he has been wronged, as his sinful younger brother is receiving a royal welcome.

And what he perceives as special treatment, the father merely sees it as an act of unconditional love.

The prodigal son had sought happiness in the forgetfulness of his father, and he found it not, he realised this, and humbly, he came back. He rediscovered that happiness and love abounded with his father and in his courts.

The older son who had the privilege to abide his whole life in the presence of his father, saw his life as a burden. He took his blessing for granted and it no longer pleased him to be with his father – when it was all that the prodigal son wanted.

Luke 15:29

And he answering said to his father  “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.”

The prodigal son saw his father’s richness in love to be granted only through forgiveness and mercy, whilst his older brother saw his father’s richness to be earned through works.

He was not working for his father out of love, but from hope of reward. But the father’s riches is not a wage, it is a gift.

Sometimes we can be so caught up in the destination goal, that we fail to realise the importance of the journey. For us, Heaven is the ultimate goal. It’s where we’ll see Jesus face to face, and commune with our Heavenly Father, and live in the abundance of His riches, and where the streets will be gold. But is it possible to be so focussed on the goal, that we fail to realise the importance of our life on earth? That God made us for a reason, and that He is with us here too. But if we get busy doing works that will get us into Heaven, we will miss out on the blessing of knowing Jesus now, in our lives everyday. We can enjoy His companionship today

E. G. White, COL 211.2

Though you will not join in the greeting to the lost, the joy will go on, the restored one will have his place by the Father’s side and in the Father’s work. He that is forgiven much, the same loves much. But you will be in the darkness without. For “he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8). 

 

 

When all I can see are oyster shells

Matthew 13:45-46

Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

When all I can see are the hard, rough, ugly, and stubborn oyster shells Jesus reminds me in this parable, that He sees, and He died, for the shiny pearls inside of us.

He knows that we are not perfect, and He didn’t die for perfection, He died for the sinner, because He knew that we have the potential to be beautiful pearls.

So the next time I want to judge someone because of their differences to me, I ask God to remind me that He died for the pearl inside of them, and inside of me.

To know Him

Philippians 3:8-9 KJV

[8] Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, [9] And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith

As humans accustomed to the values of the world, we often, as Christians, can integrate the perceived worth of worldly culture into our lives.

Things like pride, fear of humiliation, and prosecution can stop us from fully coming to know God. These things have become important in the world, where image is everything and substance has taken a back step. As Christians we know that substance is everything, and thus we also know that growing our relationship with God should overrule any inclination to sway towards any popularity with our peers.

We don’t become Christians to become famous, popular, or to become wealthy, those are perceived values that measure a persons worth as determined by the culture of the world.

But to truly know Him, requires us to leave all that behind, to let go of what ties us and binds us to the encapsulating slavery of attaining the impossible. Chasing these worldly aspects will always lead to destruction. And understanding this will make following Him a whole lot easier.

Paul says that anything we may lose as a result of following Him, is to be counted as waste, as rubbish, and was never worth having in the first place. So don’t feel disappointed when riches don’t come your way, because you chose His path instead of the world’s, or even when you simply lose sleep to pray.

Mark 8:36 KJV

[36] For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Chose to know Him. For His reward is far greater than anything we could have gained in this world.

King David, unashamed 

2 Chronicles 15:29

But as the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David skipping about and laughing with joy, she was filled with contempt for him. 

2 Samuel 16:16

“she despised him in her heart” 

When the Ark came back into King David’s possession, he was so enthralled with joy and excitement that he wanted to rejoice in the LORD the only way he could see how.

By stripping off his priestly garments and any resemblance of kingship, he bore it all and humbled himself to be a mere man enraptured in God’s love. He did so in front of servants. He didn’t care who saw him, so vulnerable and lowly of stature. For he saw himself as a child of God, before his position of being king.

He let go of every attachment and every excuse as to why he wouldn’t be able to praise Him in the best way he knew how.

How often do we let earthly attachments hold us back and restrict us from fully praising Him? I know for myself, too often.

Michal was the daughter of a king, and now the wife of a king too. She was so preoccupied with her titles, and being a class above others, that she was unwilling to truly know God. Her positions fed her need for self exaltation, thus seeing David worship in the way that he did, embarrassed her.

And yet there was David, the chosen king who was anointed by God’s prophet; who has every reason to stay dignified in his royal and priestly apparel. But he chose to strip himself of anything that would hinder his ability to humble himself before God and praise Him, unashamedly.

 

 

Waste not, want not

When leaving my last job, they gifted me with a beautiful big bouquet of pink blooms!

It coincided with a cake order for my church’s 130th anniversary, so me not wanting to waste such pretty flowers, and also wanting to save time, I decorated my cakes with them!

Thriftiness at its finest

The flavours included, chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and vanilla icing on the outside. And banana cake filled with caramel pastry cream. Decorated with meringue kisses, piping detail, and of course blooms 😍

Great is the measure

Psalm 103:11-14

For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father pities his children, So the LORD pitied those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Freely, God blesses us with His mercy, forgiveness, and love; and freely we receive these blessings. However humbled we may be, we greatly accept these gifts.

But how willingly do we pass these blessings on to our neighbours? How often do we share the joy that comes from knowing God?

God’s blessings defies logic and mathematical sense, because when you share His gifts of love – kindness – mercy – forgiveness, they do not halve what you have received, they increase. In this sense, sharing increases the gift.

God’s love knows no bounds and is not limited by our worldly agendas and worries. His love is eternal and infinite, so don’t think that by sharing what He has gifted you, means that you will run out.

So it is then wise to freely forgive, freely love, freely show kindness, and freely display mercy, for the richness multiplies and freely it is given to us.

“For as high as the heavens above, great is the measure of our Father’s love!”

With love

2 Timothy 2:24

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient

Arguing with people never ends well. Someone always gets hurt, and the topic in question gravitates negativity towards it, despite how positive it may be.

When Jesus wanted to show and teach others that their behaviour was wrong, He always did it with love. He never argued with them, but gently, patiently, lovingly, and humbly, He would rebuke them.

He never pointed out someone’s flaws to prove His own righteousness, nor to inflate His ego, nor even to prove a point. He always shed light on their wrong doings in order to save their souls for God, and to give them eternal life. It was always about them, and not about Himself.

I liken it to quantum physics. A topic that seems incomprehensible, complex, and way out of my league. Now would I want someone to teach me through arguing, or to inflate their own ego, or to prove a point that I wasn’t smart enough to understand it? No.

That approach would scare me off from even wanting to think about elementary science.

Instead, if someone was to teach me with gentleness, patience, and kindness, then I would anchor to quantum physics more cheerfully and more willingly.

The same goes for the topic of God. To some, He may seem like a big scary figure in the sky, that is impossible to please, and full of complexity. But if we want to win souls, then we must share God the same way that Jesus did whilst He was here.

With love. With the purpose of sharing His gift. With kindness. With gentleness. With patience.

Through the valley

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

What a profound and impactful verse. Many take comfort in this Psalm; they find hope and peace in this text. They come to it during their darkest of times for a comforting and reassuring reminder that God is with us no matter how dark and scary the valley may be.

God is with you always.

He leads you through the valley, not to stay and set up camp. Not to settle down and make roots, but to keep on pushing forward, to keep on pressing on, and to keep on wading through.

Peace and joy await on the other side, and the journey is more than worth it.

I know that the valley is dark, and seemingly hopeless. Steeped deep in depression and doubt. It is a bitter brew of tea that is hard to swallow. And we wonder “where is God?” Where is He when we need Him the most? Where is He to help us endure this painfully over brewed cup?

(Jesus did take of this cup though, when praying to God the Father about His soon coming sacrifice, so He knows exactly how bitter it is)

But this verse says that He is with you always. He is not afraid of the valley, He is not dismayed by the trough of murky waters that try to drown you. He is there with you, holding your hand and leading you through.

And He uses this valley to bring out the best in you, to strengthen your faith in Him, and to cause you to realise His mighty power to pull you through.

His hand is never too short to reach us, and we are never too far from Him that He does not think of us.

There is peace in the valley, if we but just accept God as our help, our leader, and our protector. So do not fear, we will get through this valley!

O Love that will not let me go

One of my favourite verses in the bible is

1Corinthians 13:1

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

This verse has stuck with me since child hood. But I have only come to understand its poignancy in the last couple of years.

Spending my early mornings before primary (elementary) school reciting all of 1Corinthians 13 with my family, my tired eyes and immature brain could hardly comprehend the magnitude of God’s love buried deep within this scripture, let alone in this single verse.

Firstly Charity means Love, but not the kind of love that we use to describe our affinity for ice cream. It’s agape love. The highest form of love possible. It’s the love that God has for us, and it’s the love that we are to have for Him.

Love is so important. Because God is love.

1 John 4:8 KJV

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

And because God is love, you can swap out the word “charity” with God in the verse (1Corinthians 13:1).

Thus, it doesn’t matter if I know every language in the world, and if I have the gift of conversing with angels. If I don’t have God in my life, and if love is not the reason behind this gift, then I may as well be making nonsensical noise that no one can understand.

God does everything in love, because He is love. There is no other possible way for Him to act.

So let love be your motivation behind everything you do. And in doing so, you give God permission to perform miracles in your life.

And the more love you give, the more that love comes flooding back in waves of godly strength that uplift you, and give you courage to love the unlovable, and to show them Christ.

Life with God, is to have life with love, and I pray that it’s a love that will not let me go.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 KJV

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you