Tag Archives: god loves us

Blessed

Many of us grow up thinking of God as a righteous judge who is out to get them the moment they mess up. Knowing we are human is to know that we can’t be perfect. That means that it’s only a matter of time before God gets mad at us and condemns us. It creates stress on those who think they can overcome temptation with will power alone, and apathy on those who know they can never measure up. Legalism chokes the life out of Christians and creates fear. That fear is used to persuade people into putting on a facade that everything is ok and that they aren’t struggling with anything. It creates a Church who can no longer find healing because they can’t confess their sins one to another.

When Jesus walked this earth, He challenged the legalistic Pharisees constantly. He pointed out their hypocrisy and shed light on how they used legalistic teaching to stay in power. They hated Him for it, but the people loved it. His teachings were authoritative and directed at helping people to know God. He had compassion on the masses, spoke in language they could understand and crowds followed Him wherever He went. While He is a righteous judge, He is also compassionate and loving. He blessed people wherever He went, not based on their status or financial value, but based on their humanity. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 marked a shift in how we view God. His blessings are available to everyone, no just a select few. Read this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount and think about how God has and is blessed you because you’re you.

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.

Matthew 5:3-11 NLT

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Wrong Assumptions

Have you ever made the wrong assumption about something? If we’re honest, we all have. There was a guy who wanted me to hire him for sales, but he didn’t dress the part for the interview. Everyone else showed up in a suit, but this guy wasn’t even wearing a tie. When I asked questions, everyone sat up, looked me in the eye and gave confident answers. Not this guy. He slouched in his chair and barely looked up at me when answering. He seemed to lack the confidence to be in sales, but he had all the answers I was looking for. My wife suggested it was easier to train him how to present himself rather than to teach someone else the core values I was looking for. I hired him, and he was one of the best hires I ever made.

It’s easy to look at someone and make judgments about them because they don’t measure up to our expectations. That’s what happened to Jesus. He was born in the right town, but the people expected great fanfare for the Messiah. He became a great teacher, but He didn’t teach what they thought He should teach. They assumed He would fight the Romans and free Israel, but when that clearly wasn’t His plan, they assumed He wasn’t the Messiah and crucified Him. They thought they had God’s plan figured out, but their assumptions were wrong. They’re not alone.

We all make incorrect assumptions about who God is and what His plan is. One of the biggest misconceptions is that God is angry and is waiting for us to do something wrong so He can zap us. John 3:16-17 says, “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (TPT) God didn’t send Jesus to condemn you to Hell. He was sent to reconcile you to God. He loves us so much that He didn’t conform to our expectations, but instead died in our place so that we could live eternally in His place. If you’ve made the wrong assumptions about God, Christmas is a great time, to change your mind.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

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Evicting Shame

Have you ever had someone in your life who constantly reminds you of your past mistakes? Sometimes it’s a spouse, a friend or a family member, and sometimes it’s your own voice in your head. They seem to bring them up at the most inopportune moment. No matter what you do, because of them, it’s like you can never move on. You’d like to move on and forget it ever happened, but they’re there to make sure you never forget. It’s difficult to move forward when you’re constantly looking backwards. Your past becomes like a ball and chain that impedes your progress.

That’s what shame does. I believe many of us live with it constantly holding us back. “No one will accept you if they knew about… You can’t go back to church now. You’ve been gone too long. You don’t deserve to be happy. How can you call yourself a Christian?” Shame is a master manipulator who hits below the belt in an effort to kill our desire for growth. Understand this: SHAME IS NOT FROM GOD! These voices and thoughts are not God speaking to you. He loves you and wants you to succeed and grow and move forward. He wants to set you free from shame, and it starts with you refusing to listen to that voice.

I love Zephaniah 3:17. It says, “The LORD your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (AMP). God is a warrior who is fighting for you to win this battle. He loves you and doesn’t bring up your forgiven past. He rejoices over you and delights in you because you are His child. That’s who God is. It’s time to kick the voice of shame to the curb and to embrace God’s voice. Anytime those other thoughts come in, push them out. Don’t entertain them. Open your Bible and replace them with what God really says. You are forgiven. You are accepted. You are loved.

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

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Quality Time With God

After my wife and were engaged, my dad bought each of us “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In the book, we read how people give love and receive love. Each of us typically want to be loved in one to two ways. The book goes through the five love languages (physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts and quality time), and it also gives you an assessment to help you know what your love language is so that you and your spouse can keep your love tanks full.

We know from Genesis that we are made in God’s image. I think what that means is that we have a lot of God’s qualities in us. We know that He shows us love, therefore He wants to be shown love. We know that John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” he’s also given us the Gifts of the Spirit. I believe one of God’s major love languages is gifts. Abel showed God love by bringing Him the gift of his best lambs and it made God happy.

I also believe God’s other dominant love language is quality time. He loves to spend time with each of us. That’s why prayer is so important. I love Psalm 27. It’s loaded with good stuff. In verse 8 it says, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’” (NLT). I hear God saying, “Come spend some quality time with me,” to each of us. Do we respond like David?

It’s important to note that we often show love in the way we want to receive it. To keep a relationship healthy, we have to learn to show it in the language of the person we are in a relationship with. Quality time and gifts may not come naturally to you, so you’ll have to work at it. Take some time today to spend some quality time with God. I know you’re reading this as a part of that, but take some time to just sit in His presence so you can hear what He has to say. You’ll be surprised by how your relationship with God changes.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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Proper Behavior

One of the crazy things about having children is not just how much they look like you, but act like you too. I’m convinced that DNA does more than give them the physical traits you have. Often my son will do something and my wife and I will laugh and say, “That’s your child. You do that too!” He often demonstrates mannerisms that he hasn’t seen us do and it’s obvious those have been passed down. There are other times though when he sees how we behave end he mimics it. It’s not always the good behaviors either.

Most children will learn their behavior by watching their parents. If you raise your voice when you’re frustrated, they will too. If you laugh boisterously, they will laugh that way too. They are watching you to see how they should act and react. They even use the same expressions. It’s been said that what parents do in moderation, the children will do in excess. In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul took this same concept of children copying their parents behavior and told us to mimic what God does since we are His children. 

He wrote, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG)” Our first step is to watch what our Father God has done and is doing. We learn more about His behavior the more we read the Bible.

I love that Paul wrote, “Mostly what God does is love you.” John wrote that God is love. As believers, we have been called to a life of love. Love for other believers, but also love for the lost. Just like a parent, we don’t always know how to express that love. Sometimes it comes out in doing good deeds for them and in providing for the needs of someone in a desperate situation. Other times it comes out very restrictive. In trying to protect their spiritual security, we do things that they don’t understand. It appears to suffocate them and push them away. We have to be careful in how we love others.

Paul throws in that God didn’t love to get something back. He gave because He loved. That’s huge for each one of us. We need to learn to love others by giving ourselves to them. God held nothing back when He demonstrated His love for us. He didn’t send His highest ranking angel to die on the cross. No, He sent His only son. He didn’t say, “Ok, I gave you my son, now you need to give me more sacrifices and more offerings.” In fact, he required less from us than before. We no longer had to sacrifice our best. We just had to simply accept His gift of love. In return, our love for Him is displayed in giving Him our lives.

Our lives lived for Him should reflect and mimic the love He gave. Spiritual beings should look at the way we behave, look at God and say, “That’s your child. They act just like you!” I’ll go a step further. It shouldn’t just be spiritual beings, but human beings should be able to look at you and recognize you belong to God through your actions. Jesus put it this way, “They’ll know you’re mine by your love.” Go out today and love extravagantly the way God does. Be recognizable to others as His kid because of your actions not just your words.

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God Is Your Refuge

September 11, 2001, was a day that no one who was alive will forget. Since it happened, people have placed blamed on the hijackers, the government, Muslims, George W. Bush and God for the attacks. No matter who you believe was behind it, there is evil in this world and it seeks to destroy. On that day it destroyed lives, buildings, families, people’s sense of security, health, hope and trust.

In John 10:10, Jesus said that it is the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy. It bothers me when people place the blame on God when bad things happen. That is not who God is. In the same sentence, Jesus said that His purpose is to give a rich and satisfying life. He does not cause bad things to happen to you. James 1:17 tells us that whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father.

Why is it that we blame the bad things on God, but not the good things? Somehow we think that we are responsible for anything good that happens in our lives without the help of God, yet we are not responsible for bad things that happen. The Bible is full of scriptures that show consequences for actions: honor your father and mother so that your days may be long (Exodus 20:12), a man who is diligent in his work will stand before kings (Proverbs 22:29), if you are faithful with the small things, God will make you faithful over many (Luke 16:10) and if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains (Luke 17:6).

Too often we associate God as someone in the sky who is waiting for us to mess up so He can crush us. Yes, just like there are consequences for good actions, there are consequences for going against what He says too. The difference in what the reality of who He is and who we think He is in those times is that He doesn’t want us to stay in those consequences. He always provides a way of forgiveness no matter how bad the sin. He doesn’t want to leave us there so He has provided a way out. II Chronicles 7:14 says that if we will humble ourselves, pray and turn from our wrong doing, He will hear from Heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land.

God has no desire to leave you in sin or to destroy your life. He wants you to live freely in Him, overcome evil and to walk in forgiveness. Your life matters to Him. When evil seeks to destroy you, your life, your home, your business or your relationships know that you can run to God for help. He is a strong refuge (Nahum 1:7). He is help in time of need (Psalm 46:1). He raises a standard when he enemy comes in like a flood (Isaiah 59:19). He fights for you (Exodus 14:14). No weapon that is formed against you will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). If He is for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31)?

If you are under attack today, proclaim those promises that God has given you in scripture. I’m not telling you these things out of faith. I’m one who has lived those promises and has seen God do it in my life. I know His Word is true and He can be trusted. I have seen Him be my refuge and fight for me when I didn’t have the strength to. I’ve had the enemy come in like a flood and try to destroy everything. When that happened, I cried out to God who lifted up a standard and held back that waters before they consumed me too. If He did it for me, He’ll do it for you. Ask Him and trust Him with your life.

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