***For those who are following my blog...just an update to say I have decided to add a song to the bottom of each entry that I feel connects with whatever I am writing about. Personally, music speaks to my heart in a way not much else does. So, after the fact, I added a song to each of the entries below. Feel free to scroll down and check them out.***
Have you ever felt like God had a message just for you? You hear something you believe is from Him and then it is confirmed over and over and over again. Sometimes it's a challenging word; something He wants to change in your life. And we all know that change is never easy. But in our heart of hearts we want to be challenged because we want to be changed for the better.
At the beginning of the year, the ladies in my life group (aka small group, Bible Study, etc..) were challenged to think about a word we wanted to be "our personal word" for 2014. Something that we want to grow in this year, where we want to see God work in our life. And then attach a Bible verse to it. Throughout the year we are praying for one another and at the end of the year we will celebrate with one another at the changes God has made in our lives as a result of focusing on this area.
My 2014 word is LOVE. The challenge I heard as I was praying about what word to pick was that I need to understand at a heart level what it means for God to love me. Not just in a "yeah, I know God loves me because the Bible says so" kind of way, but in that deep place inside me in the depths of my heart where I never doubt it and where it creates power from the inside out. And then, to share that love with others in action as an overflow. The scriptures that I chose are from 1 John 3:1 and 1 John 3:18.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
I'm going to take you backwards here before I go forward:
If you are new to my blog and you don't know me at all or very well, you have probably picked up on the fact that I am a Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ. I chose to give my life to Jesus (put my trust in Him and follow him all the days of my life) when I was 9 years old. At that time, I believed at the basic level, with the heart of a child. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit draws us to the Father. Although I didn't know all the details and my faith was simple, I knew enough that God chose to connect me with Him through the death of his Son Jesus and that he would love me and protect me throughout my life. As I grew older, I was the "good church girl". I don't say this sarcastically, I truly am thankful for the life I have lived and to have a story that says I have been fortunate to avoid many things in my life that could have taken me down a bad path and that I chose at an early age to focus my life on trying to be more like Christ. But I am most definitely not perfect and have had to grow a ton in my faith and in "Christ-like" behaviour...and I still need to grow in this every single day. For most of my school days, church was social for me and I learned about God but I don't think a whole lot sunk in. My focus was on other things. In college I became much more focused on allowing my relationship with God have an impact on my life and my faith deepened so much. But a blind-side in my life has been insecurity. I never thought about that before as a lack of understanding about God's love. But I'm beginning to see it now. Once, on a mission trip in Florida, I walked out of a prayer meeting feeling just awful. Feeling like I have nothing to offer, what am I even doing trying to help other people understand who God is. Someone who was on the trip with me that I didn't even know that well, walked up to me, looked me in the eyes, lifted my chin with her finger, and said to me, "lift your head up, YOU are a daughter of the King". I've never forgotten this and it encourages me today, 11 years later. I needed a reminder that day that God loves me because I am his child. He created me for a purpose and nothing can get in the way of his seal on my life. This is unconditional love from my heavenly Father.
So I am on a journey this year to find out what God wants to show me about his love. That I am on the right track has been confirmed so many times in the last several weeks. It's really undeniable. First, my other small group has been doing the study by Henry Blackaby called "Experiencing God" in which the majority of the study talks about God's love. Then, a book I have been asked to read for work as self-improvement is called "The Loving Life" and uses the book of the Bible "Ruth" to explain living a life of love. Then, my pastor has just finished a 4 week sermon series on different types of love. Yes, God, I believe you have my attention. I have already learned so much and I look forward to what is to come.
My pastor said this morning "God cannot love you any less than he does right now, and he cannot love you any more than he does right now." (By the way...this is true for you today as well!) God's love is not based on conditions or on anything that I can do for Him. He does not love me because I gave my life to him at an early age or because I've lived as a "good girl". He will not stop loving me when I mess up or when I forget to pray. He loves me because he loves me. How freeing is that! How does that change how I think about Him? What does that mean for my life? Answering these questions are the first steps in my journey. And then, even though doing things doesn't change God's love for me, it should ignite something in me that want to show God's love to others and to live a life of visible love. We need more genuine love in this world don't we. I want to be someone that adds love to the world.
I think in the world we live in today, the word love has been so distorted that it's hard to grasp what the original word means. I pray that my heart will take hold of what God's love really is and that I will have the courage to make necessary changes in my life to live in this understanding of love.
For God so loved the World (How He Loves) www.PeacewithGod.net: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iB8FeoUoQI
How He Loves (full song): David Crowder Band: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzfPHnoT0-0
-The Real Me