If God Loved Me

1 Corinthians 15: 34

For some have no knowledge of God’s wonderful love.

I think this is one of the biggest keys in all of Christianity, that is understanding the love the Father has for each of us. The verse above is Bible so it must be true but even if it was not in the Bible and you had simply spoken it to me, I would believe it.

It is easy for us to relate this passage to non-believers. If they knew of the love of God, we reason, then they would be believers too. My ministry, though, is not to non-believers but rather to the saints. I make this distinction to point out that I think this passage speaks to Christians. I believe few of us, myself included, have yet to grasp the love which God has for us. This applies to ministers as well.

I know this because I too hear the messages from the pulpit which lack the understanding that God is love and that He loves us. I know it applies to the saints because I hear the comments we speak which reveal our heart belief that God does not truly love us. Further, our actions speak even more loudly than words. We do not act like people who are convinced that God loves them. As I wrote about in the Word of the Day entitled Frozen Heart, this is the example of the mind being convinced but the heart unpersuaded. We believe in our minds; our thinking agrees that God loves us. In our hearts, though, we lack the substantive belief that would allow us to rely on His love.

Now that we have identified a problem, the real question is how to fix it. Well, by now we have figured out that we can fix nothing in our own strength. We must rely on our partnership with the Trinity and here is the real heart of the problem. How do we go to God and partner with Him when our heart of hearts doesn’t truly believe that He loves us?

Most often, even when we see an issue like this, we don’t do anything about it for two reasons. The first being what I just identified, we don’t completely trust Him. Secondly, we don’t really know what to do. Our relationship with Him may be that we don’t feel we have paved avenues to Him, but, as much as that feels true, it is not. Jesus told us that he is the way (John 14: 6). Do you trust Jesus? I have known many people who have affection for and feel close to Jesus but have almost no relationship with God the Father. Actually, I was one of those people. There were two things I did which bridged the gap for me. First, I went to God through Jesus. In my visionary capacity, I saw myself walking into the throne room accompanied by Jesus. He took me to God and presented me. It was a very empowering experience. As I watched the scene unfold, I could see the joy and pride on Jesus’ face as he presented me to God. That bolstered my confidence. Then I looked upon the Father and I received the welcoming presence He radiated towards me. His eyes were for me rather than Jesus. He didn’t dismiss Jesus, but His attention was for me. That was significant because even with Jesus in the room, Father gave His attention to me.

In my previously emaciated relationship with God, the only role I played was as a servant. I only encountered the Father to pick up an assignment, a task. As I began to engage with Him, I began to see myself differently. No longer do I enter the throne room and drop to a knee, head bowed, awaiting orders. Now I run and jump in His lap while He carries on universe business. I am the child who enters my Dad’s office or the boardroom while He is working. I am always welcome and always permitted.

The other thing which helped me begin to see God as loving parent was a shift in my visualization. A friend of mine recommended this. Back in the days when I was struggling to find the loving, affectionate part of our relationship she suggested I meet with God in a location that was comfortable to me. So, I met with Him at my conference table. At that time I was practicing law and conducted a lot of business at the conference room table. Being able to talk with Him when He was in my place of comfort rather than in His throne room helped me to be able to talk with Him in a more relaxed manner. Then one day we moved from the conference room to the kitchen table. Very rapidly He became Yahweh and Dad to me. I never call Him “God” now, accept in referring to Him with other people.

Don’t forget to just talk with Him about this subject and also, this is an excellent opportunity to use your two-way journaling. The bottom line is this, if you will give Him an opportunity to show His love for you, He will. It is a top priority for Him. We have to be proactive though. We can’t keep Him at arm’s length, treat Him as a far distant deity and still be able to receive the assurance of His love that we need. If we would learn to pour out our hearts to Him, speaking earnestly and honestly from our hearts, He would be able to lead us into intimacy with Him. I had to begin at my conference room table because that is where I was but that is not where we meet any longer. He will always meet you at your point of need, if you let Him but the initiative and control always belongs to us.

How convinced is your heart that Father loves you? You know it in your head, sure, but does your innermost self feel His affection? Can you wrap words around His love for you or does your internal mechanism choke if you try to speak about His love? Do you know that God loves you more than your spouse, children and grandchildren do? That’s big but you should be able to feel that inside of you so that you are so sure that you would bet anything on it. I hope you will give this some thought today and maybe you can have a chat with Dad about it too. Certainly talk with Jesus if you have any reservations.

Frozen Heart

Romans 14: 5

Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Being convinced in our minds is the easiest part. The mind is willing, but our hearts are unconvinced. Have you watched the Disney movie, Frozen? Well, here is another life lesson from my “Everything I learned, I learned from Cartoons” anthology. Of course, last week the Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks, was not animated, but you get the idea.

One of the central characters in Frozen, Anna, was injured by her sister Elsa’s freeze power. Elsa’s frozen shot hit Anna in the head. Their parents, the Queen and King, rushed Anna to a troll elder for help. The elder encouraged them saying, “You are lucky it wasn’t her heart. The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.”

In this I hear the voice of God speaking. Today, as I refreshed myself on exactly what the troll elder said I quipped to myself, “How is it that a troll knows this, and we do not?” We have fallen into a pattern of intellectual service to God but little engagement with our hearts. Of course, some people are better at engaging their hearts than others. Each of must learn, though, how to persuade our hearts to the Word of God.

I confess, I learned early to study the Bible and I have always enjoyed studying it. I’ve learned a lot too but there was a significant component missing from my Christianity. In 2006 I discovered what was missing. It was a heart connection with the Father. Honestly, this was a challenging time. I had to learn to join to the Father with my spirit. In the deep parts of our being, we have built safety walls and not even God is allowed to penetrate that perimeter. Our tender feelings are safely stored away there as well as what we perceive as dangerous memories and experiences. We learned to lock away everything that makes us tender and certainly anything which makes us vulnerable. So, my Christianity became one of intellectual pursuit. I wasn’t seeking God’s heart. Sometimes I wasn’t even seeking His thoughts. I wanted His Word, His knowledge and His wisdom. Leave my heart out of this and speak to my brain. Can anyone relate to this? You see, I could read the Word and get knowledge from it. I could mentally agree to the ideas and categorize them into their proper place in the file cabinet of my mind. Easy-peasy! That was not good enough for Father though. He wanted into my heart.

Your mind and mine, will accept most of what we read in the Bible and file it comfortably away. The trouble comes when you try to convince your heart that these verses and promises are not facts and intellectual ideas but rather something to embrace with your spirit, something to be believed in your heart and then, implemented. Can I stand on the quaking bluff and defiantly declare that the Lord, my God, is my rock and my strong refuge, and I will not fear! It’s a nice thought, a beautiful verse. It’s a good passage to preach about and even to use to encourage your friends, but . . . is it more than that? Can my heart be persuaded that it is absolute truth? When I use the word absolute in this way I often thing of absolute zero. It is the place of undeniable reality, ultimate truth. Can we take these Bible verses and convince our hearts that they mean what they say? Or, as has become our Christian custom, do we say, “That is not for today, miracles have passed away, that is a promise only to the Jews,” or any of a number of excuses? The Bible says I am healed. My mind says, “Yes, Jesus is our healer.” But my heart knows that I do not really believe that Jesus will heal me even though God’s reality is that He already has healed me. Faith and belief, as a Godly paradigm, demand that I reconcile these concepts.

Your heart is much more powerful than you mind. Your brain takes in a lot of information, but your heart tells it what to do with it. Do we file it away in the vault or do we undertake to integrate it into the very fiber of our being? Most of us smile and nod, smile and nod, but we do not challenge ourselves to take God at His Word. I cannot even imagine how it makes Him feel for us to say, “Yeah, but . . ..” He knows, though, that our mind can accept His challenging ideas but our hearts quake. Truth be told, it takes some guts to get in touch with your inner self. Most of us are too afraid to do it, too afraid to face God’s truths and our realities. What will we find, what will we feel? We’ve done a great job of anesthetizing ourselves so that we don’t have to feel much of anything and then God comes along and says, “Let me live, work and breathe in the very core of your being.” Of course that is scary, but, God is love and we can trust Him. He will always love and accept us. He wants to lead us into abundant life, but fullness of life is for the brave of heart. Everything fabulous comes at a price. The price of this abundant life that Jesus came to the earth to give us is thawing this frozen heart.

The Big, Bad Wolf

Psalm 34: 4

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Fear is a pernicious emotion. It draws us into ever deeper dread, and it draws to us all sorts of negative experiences. Once fear gets a foothold in our spirits, it invites all its little buddies to come torment us as well. We may begin with a fear of spiders or of heights only to realize one day that fear lurks around almost every corner. That is its nature. It wants to invade every part of our lives and it will if we don’t resist it. Thank God that He is our provider in every sense.

In the context of yesterday’s verse, we looked at 1 Chronicles 28: 9, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him.” In Father’s never-ending quest to encourage and edify us, He sends us this good news today from Psalms. We discover that not only does He let us find Him but that He answers us and our needs in that moment. Going one step further, when we seek Him, He delivers us from those insipid fears that plague our heart. There is healing in His wings, so every encounter with Him brings healing. He touches our hearts, our minds and our bodies with His soothing touch. His love roots out fear even that which has been lodged in our souls for many years. There are two keys, though which will help dissolve those fears.

When we search for God with our hearts, then it is our heart which finds Him. This may seem like semantics but there is a very real principle involved. Searching with your heart opens your heart to Him. The alternative is to search for Him with our minds. I am not suggesting that is a “bad” approach, just not the most potent. If you search with your mind you will still find Him but you will learn about Him more than engage with Him. This is the case because you are presenting your mind to Him. It is best if we present our hearts to Him. Allow your mind, will, emotions and personality to aid you but go to the Lord, seek Him with your innermost being. That is your heart or more precisely, your spirit.

Second, relinquish your fears to the Lord. Begin in a space where you accept and acknowledge that fear has no place in your heart. Expect Yahweh to vanquish those fears. This scripture reveals that if we are afraid, we have need of deliverance. I think we live in a time when we have come to accept fear as part of life. That is the exact opposite of the message the Father is communicating to you. His intention is to deliver you from fear. This means that you must let go of it. That can be harder than it sounds because you are surrounded by people who, almost proudly, confess to being fearful of at least something. Secondly, you may have lived with fear a long time. The familiarity may make it difficult to release the hold it has on you and that you have on it.

Fear is, functionally, a distrust of God. We don’t think of it that way, but it is true. To live with fear is to say to God that you don’t trust Him. The fear of heights or whatever is stronger, bigger and louder than your faith in God. Does that sound harsh? It is not my intention that it scald you. There is, however, an even more accurate way to articulate fear, if you can bear it. Fear is faith in Satan. It is the acknowledgement that he has power in your life and over your life. Deny that obscenity. Faith in God vanquishes fear because there can be no fear where the love of God prevails. Fear is like the big, bad wolf in the story of the three little pigs. He was big and frightening but, in the end, he was overcome, defeated.

Therefore, whatever that area is where fear has taken hold, infuse it with the love of God which has the power to deliver. Speak faith words over it. Do not continue to confess fear but rather replace those fear expressions with ones of faith.

Father is on site to deliver you from all your fears. He has promised you that if you will seek Him, not only will He answer you, but He will give you His deliverance. Don’t live below the God level, the level of life Jesus died to give you. Do not tolerate fear in your life. It is not of God nor meant to be a part of you. Call on the Almighty to be a keeper of His promises and present your heart to Him for healing and restoration.

Lordly Necessity

Deuteronomy 10: 12

Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

First, you can line through the name Israel and write in your name. That is how you should read this verse. Second, please recall that you have to modernize this language. We no longer use the word “fear” the way it was used in this context. A better, more modern word would be revere. You would not go amiss by replacing the word fear with the word love either. God’s first requirement of us is that we love Him. That makes perfect sense doesn’t it. We wouldn’t be part of His family if we didn’t first love Him.

Secondly, we are to walk in all His ways. Selah. Pause and think about that for a moment. What are His ways? What does it mean for us to walk in His ways? Think about a typical day for you. What does that look like? How do you perceive that you do walk as He walks? In what ways do you think your walk and His diverge. I do not think this means walking around preaching all day. I believe it means acting like Him in all of the normal things you do. For example, grocery shopping, pumping gas or being on the job, if God was doing those things, what would it look like? How would He progress through a normal day? Walking in His ways not only means doing the things He would do but also doing every day the way He would do. How are we spending our time? How do we use our words? How do we interact with others? How do we set our priorities and carry out the necessary tasks of life? I would add, are we listening to Him on a minute by minute basis or even on a daily basis so that we can get His direction, His leading so that we can follow in His footsteps?

Love Him! That is the directive. Do we? How do we? Is this a passive verb or is it an action verb? What did the author intend to convey when he wrote that we are to love the Lord, our God?

Finally, we are to serve the Lord with all our heart and all our soul? What does that even mean? First, how do we serve Him? I would suggest that first we probably need to spend some time with Him, ask Him what He would have us do and then listen. Second, it probably has something to do with serving and ministering to His kids. Then the calling upon our lives is to do that thing, whatever it is He shows us, to do that with all our passion, with all our heart, with all our strength. It ends up being the passion of our lives, the driving force.

Our lives are never better than when we are ardently engaged with our divine Father. It is that which will fill you with the greatest joy you can know. Let us, then, endeavor to follow this scripture’s leading. Let’s meditate on it until our spirits understand the meaning of it and then let us pursue the Spirit’s leading with vigor.

Reasoned Idiocy

Ecclesiastes 7: 24 – 25

Whatever it may be, it is far off and very profound—who can fathom it? So I turned my heart to understand, to search and seek out wisdom and an explanation of things and to know the stupidity of wickedness and madness of folly.

I recently wrote a criticism on how Christians, perhaps especially clergy, seek to understand the things of God. Including myself, we often attempt to reason out God and His ways. We vainly try to comprehend spiritual matters through an application of our intellect. The bottom line may be this, we are just not that smart. We worship our great intellect, but it really is nothing when we probe the deep things of God. It’s like asking a gnat to understand our thoughts. They are just without capacity. I continue to watch us, though, attempt to reason out the great mysteries. It makes us look even more foolish and again the thought runs through my mind, “We just aren’t that smart,” and it seems the evidence is in our vanity.

See what this verse says in contrast. In order to understand the profound, we must turn our “hearts” to understand. Boy, that sounds soft, doesn’t it? I always hated that ooey gooey stuff at church, which might explain why I floundered so long at the pool of rationality and why I enjoyed philosophy and logic in college. Now, I have traveled this great distance just to find that all the answers were in the one who lives in my heart if I should be so bold and daring to search my heart.

I am not alone. Our entire culture has raised reasoning above God. If a thing cannot be understood through our intellectual prowess, then it lacks genuine credibility. Want proof of how we have enthroned intellect above seeking God with our heart? Here is this same verse from the NASB version, my preferred version, “I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation.” It’s not until you go to the footnotes that you discover that the editors couldn’t swallow the word “heart” so they replaced it with “mind.” How do you like that?

We will never find truth by seeking it with our minds. That is just the reality, like it or not. I wish spirituality and divine truth were a function of reasoning, but they are not, and really, it is for the best because, once again, “we just aren’t that smart,” we think we are but, that is fallacy on top of fantasy.

All of the great mysteries of the world and beyond are yours to know. God has saved up all His knowledge and wisdom for us. We must go down into our hearts and seek Him and His wisdom. He is more than willing to reveal His truths to us, but we must first connect with Him, and He does not live in our brains. To get to the “heart” of a matter, you must search with your heart. All truth lies within reach if we will learn to seek our Father humbly and diligently with our hearts. It’s all there for you if you can get out of your head.

Acceptable Meditations

Psalm 19: 14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

This scripture may be familiar to you. Check out this one too, “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him, (Psalm 104: 34). I have read Psalm 19: 14 for years. When I do, I think about the words of my mouth. How much thought have you given to what you meditate on?

Two thoughts occurred to me as I compared these scriptures. First, God’s interest is not in what we think but rather that which issues from our hearts. Do we even consider that we can mediate in our hearts as well as in our minds? We do take things to heart though, don’t we? Those are the issues that are of central importance to us whether they be instances of offence or gifts of kindness to us. We hold those things in our hearts and roll them around and around in the very spot where they can do the most harm or the most good. That is why forgiveness is so important. We can take someone’s bad deed and instead of forgiving them and sending that offense away, we deposit it into our hearts where it can fester and grow. And we wonder why we have health issues.

Another revelation from these scriptures that may startle you when spoken out loud is that our heavenly Father can see the meditations of our hearts. Whoa! Is that a bit scary? That bad thought about someone that we have held onto is now buried in the tender tissue of our hearts AND Father can see it. Jesus revealed this to us in Luke 16: 15, “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts.” Still, somehow it just doesn’t register that God is looking on those thoughts and meditations of the heart. Does that make you hold your breath for a moment? It does me. Those thoughts are not good for us nor are they good for anyone. The Spirit living inside us certainly does not enjoy them. Paul said it best, “Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable,” (Philippians 4: 8 GW).

Done and Done

1 Corinthians 2: 9

Just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

The part of this verse which really grabbed me was that God has already prepared things for us. The verse does not say that once we pray, God will prepare these things which are beyond what eye has seen and ear has heard. It says that He already has prepared all these things for us. That is a pretty big revelation. This substance, these things which God has already prepared for us is beyond what has ever entered our hearts. That is the second part of the revelation, that God has already created things for you that you currently don’t even know you want.

Ephesians 3: 20 says that God is able to do for us beyond all we can think or ask. Before we have even dreamed up the next idea or want, He has already created and stocked it for us. He has already prepared things which are beyond our ability to dream or think. So, ten years ago, for instance, or 20 years ago, God prepared the things that you want and need today. I hope this is a revelation which is sinking in. Take it a step further though.

He has already prepared things for you which no human eye has ever seen, which no human ear has ever heard and which no human heart or mind has ever conceived. There will come a day when an idea, concept or dream will drop into your mind. That idea will require resources. That dream will be an expansion of your former thoughts. Where does it come from? Perhaps God is the source of these ideas and dreams and before they are ever perceived, God is already at work providing the means by which they can and will be realized.

If God has already stocked the storehouse, if He has already prepared the resources, then the only question is, how do you requisition the materials. I believe the answer begins right here. We must first apprehend this simple appreciation of God’s provision. We need to allow this revelation to take root in our hearts so that we know and believe that all we need has already been prepared. This is the beginning of living those dreams.

God has great plans for your tomorrow and your today. He is giving you hopes and ambitions and He has already laid aside the substance of those dreams so that you make walk in success and enjoy all the good things He has prepared for you.

Will knowing this verse change your prayer life? Will it alter the conversation you have with God? Will your prayer ask God to provide when the Bible is telling us He already has or will your begin to look more for distribution than manufacturing? Tomorrow can look very different today because now you know He has already provided.