Beloved. You.

You are beloved (1)

Whatever the name on your birth certificate. Whatever names others have called you. Your truest name is, “Beloved.”

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either” (1 John 3:1, VOICE).

“This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10, VOICE).

The Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, testified, “We know how much God loves us because we have felt his love and because we believe him when he tells us that he loves us dearly. God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him. And as we live with Christ, our love grows more perfect and complete; so we will not be ashamed and embarrassed at the day of judgment, but can face him with confidence and joy because he loves us and we love him too” (1 John 4:16-17, TLB).

May we believe God when He tells us that He loves us dearly. Remember, He is not a man that he should lie. Let His word stabilize your emotions and banish all doubt suggested by your circumstances. As stated in this note in the VOICE translation related to 1 John 3:1-2,

“When we feel like we are not good enough to be loved by God, we should remember that God’s love is greater than our doubts. We must silence the sounds of condemnation so we can hear the voice of God’s loving assurance and remember that He has selected us to be part of His family.”

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2) 

Beloved. That is who you are.

Advertisements

The Love of Advent

Love

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6, NKJV)

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, AMP)

Today is the last day of Advent 2017. Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of our Savior. There was no other way to redeem us so He, the Word through whom all things were made and are sustained, He became flesh for us. May this truth constantly boggle our minds, bend our knees, and so fill our hearts with gratitude, that our lips and lives overflow with praise and worship.

May your Christmas be filled with wonder.

The Joy of Advent: Day 18

Joy (3)

“But let all who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice,
Let them ever sing for joy;
Because You cover and shelter them,
Let those who love Your name be joyful and exult in You.
For You, O Lord, bless the righteous man [the one who is in right standing with You];
You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12, AMP)

Prayer

Abba Father, You are our refuge. We chose to trust You, trustworthy God, and today we sing for joy at Your goodness and amazing, incomprehensible love. You cover and shelter us, Father. Your very name is a strong tower into which we run and are safe. We exult in You!


Other posts in the Advent 2017 series can be found here.

 

 

The Joy of Advent: Day 17

Joy (2)

In the first verse of his song, “Count your many blessings,” published in 1897, Johnson Oatman, Jr., tells us,

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

“Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

This is a wonderful, life changing practice, as Ann Voskamp demonstrated aptly in her book, “One Thousand Gifts.” This Advent season we reflect on the truth that, of all the blessings God has given us,  nothing compares to this, “… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:5, NIV, emphasis added). Our redemption was all His doing, and His doing only.

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law] , so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. (Ephesians 2:8-9, AMP).

Prayer

Father, this Advent season, let us hear and read and experience this truth as if hearing and reading about and experiencing Your amazing love for the first time. Noel.

 


Other posts in the Advent 2017 series can be found here.

Advent: Week 1 – Hope

 

AdventWeek 1_ Hope

Introduction and Day 1

Today is the first day of the 2017 Advent Season. What is Advent? Advent is a season of preparation for Christmas and extends over a period of four weeks. As stated by  Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts, “Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘coming’ or ‘visit.’ In the season with this name, we keep in mind both ‘advents’ of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.”

Prepare. My Christmas tree is decorated. Candles stand like sentinels next to angels and a Nativity scene on the fireplace mantle. Wreaths are on the front door and above the fireplace.  Several presents have been purchased. It is safe to say that my preparations for Christmas have begun. But more than I attend to the details of my tangible and visible preparations, it is critical that I give the most attention to the  preparation of my heart.

Four themes are emphasized during Advent: Hope. Peace. Joy. Love.  In keeping with the Advent calendar, hope is my focus this week, primarily through the lens of Scripture.

What is Hope? According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, hope includes, “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment,” “someone or something on which hopes are centered,” and “something desired or hoped for.”

Someone or something on which hopes are centered.”

“For You are my hope, Eternal One:
You, Lord, have been the source of my confidence since I was young.
(Psalm 71:5, VOICE)

“And again, Isaiah says: ‘There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.'” (Romans 15:12, NKJV)

Prayer for Hope

 

 

31 Days of Loving Well: Truth

Truth

Week 2: Day 8 – Loving Myself Well: Introduction

In this the second week of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes event, I have set myself the goal of learning what it means to love myself well.  At first glance, the idea of loving myself well seems somewhat self-centered but Jesus said the second of the two greatest commandments is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NKJV).  I understand this to mean that how I love my neighbor will be a reflection of how I love myself and, to love my neighbor well requires that I love myself well.

As is noted in the Matthew Henry Commentary on Matthew 22:39, “There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified: but there is a self-love which is natural, and the rule of the greatest duty, and it must be preserved and sanctified. We must love ourselves, that is, we must have a due regard to the dignity of our own natures, and a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies.” (Matthew Henry Commentary, Vol.5)

—— 

Loving myself well does not originate with me or within me. Loving myself well begins with knowing, not facts, but knowing truth. I do not ignore facts but I base my life on truth. Doing so requires that I give my Father’s words, His view of me, priority over the facts or human opinions. I have to learn what He says about me; this is central to loving myself well.

Here are some of the things He who cannot lie says about me, “I am His child,” and a dearly beloved child, created in His likeness. In addition, He says I am His masterpiece, more than a conqueror, and chosen and accepted in the Beloved. And these things are just a fraction of what He says about me.  I can love myself because He loved me first and will always love me.

—–

This post was written for Day 8 of the 31 Days of Loving Well series. The prompt is, “Truth.” The Introduction was written before the five minute timer began and the links to the Scripture verses were added after the five minute time frame elapsed. To read other posts in the 31 Days of Loving Well series, please click here or on the image below.

Loving well

 

Any comfort from His love?

it's a girl!

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love?…” (Philippians 2:9, NIV; emphasis added)

Definition of Comfort:*
1:  strengthening aid: a) assistance; b) consolation in time of trouble or worry; solace
2:  a feeling of relief or encouragement 

Is Christ’s love for you a strengthening aid? Does it assist you? Give you consolation in time of trouble or worry? Does His love provide solace? Bring relief or encouragement? Does His love inspire you with courage, spirit or hope? Spur you on? Make you more likely to do something?

Christ’s love is and provides all of the above but experiencing these benefits of His love, requires that we believe that He loves us. Experiencing the benefits of His love requires that you personally believe that He loves you.

Do you believe that God loves you? Doubts about His love can arise and torment us when our belief in His love for us is based on our circumstances. Our circumstances, however, do not provide proof of His love. The unchanging, unequivocal proof of His love is found in His Word. A powerful example of this proof is expressed in 1 John 4:9-10 (AMP) –

9 By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath].

Doubts about His love for us can also arise as a result of our failures, our sins, especially those we have confessed and returned to repeatedly. His love for us, however, has never been based on us, as is demonstrated in Scripture verses such as Romans 5:7-8 (NKJV) –

7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

His love is also steadfast, unchanging (Psalm 86:15; Psalm 136). He is love and for Him to stop loving requires Him to stop being Himself and He cannot change.

Whatever your circumstances or failures, you can know and believe that God loves you. You can accept His love for the first time or be reassured of His love for you. You will find His love to be a strengthening aid that provides assistance and solace, gives consolation in time of trouble or worry, brings relief and encouragement. Inspires you with courage, spirit and hope.  Spurs you on. Makes you more likely to do something (for example, accept yourself and love others).

*merriam-webster.com