Who Do You Love; Who Loves You?

I have been searching for the answer to this question most of my life, but do we understand what the word “love” really means? Oh sure, we can go to Webster’s or Merriam’s dictionaries and get the canned definition, but what does it mean? Is it the “intense feeling of deep affection” we find in our children? Maybe it’s “a great interest and pleasure in something – like ‘he loves football’.” Perhaps it’s the meaning we (and the world) put so much importance on, “to feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone.” The more I consider the word, the more I realize how overused it is. I love the smell of baking bread. I love my home. I love my toys. I love my school. I love everyone in the world. We love all of the temporal things in life, but where does that leave us in regard to family, friends, and our mates? Is our love for people as shallow as all that? More and more, love seems to have become a synonym for lust and greediness. Is our mate the right one, or is he or she the one right now? Why do we have such a difficult time choosing the people we love? I found the following very insightful:

Fear, pride, and lust are the root of many problems that crop up in relationships. None of these drivers aim at love.

Fear closes off and withdraws, but love opens up and gives freely. Pride will not tolerate the risk of exposing one’s self to another, but love risks vulnerability for the sake of the other person. Lust tells the other person you only want the parts you can use, but love embraces the whole person—on his or her best days and worst. (Excerpt from the devotional Dating In The Modern Age, by Ben Stuart)

Fear, pride, and lust. I think Mr. Stuart nailed how so many of us look at love. Looking at my relationships, and considering how I view love, I find that using GOD’s definition of love is much more satisfying than mine.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7‭, ‬13 NIV

All my life, I’ve looked for and obsessively searched for “love” as defined by the world – possessive “love,” lustful “love,” a trophy kind of “love” that would take care of me and sacrifice for me. The kind of love that GOD offers, whereas the world only offers fear and pride and lust. I have finally “found” the LOVE that does take care of me and sacrificed all for me, the unimaginable, all-encompassing and completely fulfilling LOVE, the Love shown to us by the MESSIAH, JESUS CHRIST, SON of the LIVING GOD.

Have you found Him?

Christ, Be With Me

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ, be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie,
Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise,

Salvation is of the LORD (repeat 3x)

This is a part of the Catholic prayer called “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.” My devotion today is based on this prayer, and I find it to be a very powerful and compelling prayer. I’m sure any Catholics who read this will find it familiar, but for those of us who are not Catholic, it could be our first exposure to it. The prayer puts in plain language the omniscience of GOD. He is with me. He surrounds me with His Presence and Protection. He never leaves me.

But what does it [Righteousness] say? “the WORD is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the WORD of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth JESUS as LORD, and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. for “whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved .” – Romans 10:8‭-‬10‭, ‬13 NASB

Is CHRIST with you? Have you called on His Name and claimed your gift of salvation from Him?

(Prayer is from the Catholic Bible School devotion, found on the Bible App by YouVersion.com)

Trust and Obey

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD.” – Philippians 4:6

“And we know that GOD causes all things to work together for good to those who love GOD, to those who are called according to His Purpose.”-
Romans 8:28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is Good; For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting. Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.” The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.” – Psalms 118:1‭,4,6-7 NASB

This hymn by John H. Sammis, written in 1887, captures the beauty of trusting in our Father God:

  1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
    What a glory He sheds on our way!
    While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
    And with all who will trust and obey.

    • Refrain:
      Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
      To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
  2. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
    But His smile quickly drives it away;
    Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
    Can abide while we trust and obey.
  3. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
    But our toil He doth richly repay;
    Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
    But is blessed if we trust and obey.
  4. But we never can prove the delights of His love
    Until all on the altar we lay;
    For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
    Are for them who will trust and obey.
  5. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
    Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
    What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
    Never fear, only trust and obey.

Sweetly written, sweetly sung, and sweetly true.

Rejoicing in Hope

“….. casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 NASB

So easy to say, yet how difficult to live! Where would we be without hope?

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” – Romans 12:9‭-‬13 NASB

Today, I find myself yet again anxious and fretting over finances. I desperately need another source of income in order to cover my financial obligations, and although I continue to search, nothing is presenting itself as a solution. This is the type of thing that our Father GOD permits in our lives, to teach us to rely on Him rather than ourselves. Letting go of my “control.” Again, easy to say and difficult to do! I want to fix it, and GOD wants me to let it go so that He can show us (me!) how Powerful He is. He is reminding me that there is a GOD, and I’m not Him.

“….. Rejoicing in Hope, Persevering in Tribulation, Devoted to Prayer …..”

Simple, right? Hah.

Actually, it is simple for those who are confident in their salvation through JESUS CHRIST. With JESUS in my heart, and the HOLY SPIRIT beside me, I am inundated with Hope. Without their presence to lift me up above the muck and mire of everyday life, I could only flounder around and eventually succumb to hopelessness and helplessness, allowing it to overwhelm me. I’ve been there, stuck in those feelings, and it is definitely not a good state of mind. Because JESUS loves me (and you), He waits alongside me until I lift my eyes to Him and ask for help. I almost think that Paul got it backwards. If we are not first praying, how can we possibly perservere in tribulation? Where is our hope, if not in the LORD?

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” – Psalms 121:1‭-‬2 NASB (Read all 8 verses of Psalm 121. Powerful!)

I encourage you – and me – to learn these scriptures, especially Psalm 121; to hold on to the words of the LORD whenever despair and hopelessness raise their ugly heads and try to drag us down. There is nothing more Powerful in the Universe than our GOD: FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT. Nothing. Remember,

“….. at the Name of JESUS every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth …..” – Philippians 2:10 NASB

REJOICE at our HOPE in the LORD!

AMEN.

He IS Coming Back!

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the Word of GOD the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His Word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the LORD one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The LORD is not slow about His Promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:3‭-‬9 NASB

Sometimes, I just want GOD to send me a text saying “This is what you need to do,” and “Just so you know, I’ll be back on this date at this time.” I would love to feel completely confident that each thing I do corresponds with His Plan for me. Am I alone in wondering and asking? I think not, else why would JESUS and His disciples make such a point of telling us to be ready for His return? Peter was speaking directly to the current population on earth when he wrote this letter! GOD is not slow to keep His Promise to return to earth and to defeat our enemy, Satan, nor is He slow when it comes to answering our prayers (our ‘wishlists’ for Him). No, if you read the Bible, His Word, you will find countless examples of the LORD keeping His promises. We are such a hard-headed bunch, we have to keep asking Him to prove Himself to us.

Really?

When GOD promises, you can know without any doubt at all that His promise will happen. With our prayer requests, He always answers, but it is often not the answer we want. We throw temper tantrums and hissy fits, like little children who don’t get their way. Countless scoffers maintain that JESUS MESSIAH hasn’t come the first time, so how could He be coming back? This I know without a shadow of a doubt: JESUS came as the MESSIAH, just as FATHER GOD promised; He died for us on the cross, He was resurrected from the grave, and He will be back! (We just don’t know quite when that will be…..)

The world is, and always has been, full of mockers of JESUS MESSIAH. Mock all you want, just remember this:

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He Who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He judges and wages war. His Eyes are a flame of fire, and on His Head are many diadems; and He has a Name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His Name is called The WORD of GOD.” – Revelation 19:11‭-‬13 NASB

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD. He was in the beginning with GOD.” – John 1:1‭-‬2 NASB

Just making sure everyone knows that JESUS IS LORD, HALLELUJAH and AMEN!

(Image from Pinterest.com)

The Big Bang, or Creation?

“Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you; He eats grass like an ox. Behold now, his strength in his loins And his power in the muscles of his belly. He bends his tail like a cedar; The sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze; His limbs are like bars of iron. He is the first of the ways of GOD; Let his Maker bring near His sword.” ….. “If a river rages, he is not alarmed; He is confident, though the Jordan rushes to his mouth. Can anyone capture him when he is on watch, With barbs can anyone pierce his nose?” – Job 40:15‭-‬19‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NASB

Dragon? Dinosaur? Figment of Job’s imagination?

“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with GOD, let him answer it.” – Job 40:2 ESV

For this is the Truth:

GOD created it all: the Universe – Light and dark; stars, suns, and planets. He landscaped the earth with rocks and dirt and water. He added all of the vegetation, then He created all living things. He saved His crowning achievement for last; He created man in His Own Image: Adam, then Eve, and all generations that follow. We were created to worship our Creator; to be His companions, and to be the caretakers of this beautiful world He created just for us! How are we doing in our job? Pretty poorly, in my opinion. We question – and deny – that the Almighty could have created the universe in only 6 days. We are determined to “prove” that man could not have possibly co-existed with dinosaurs. (If you fall into that camp, I would encourage you to read the beginning passage again.) We refuse to be real caretakers; instead, we are trashing the earth, the gift He lovingly gave us. Just look at the oceans and rivers and how polluted and trashy they are, and the dirty cities we inhabit. We aren’t even taking care of our humanity! It’s okay to kill our children before they are born, but it’s horrible to use the plants and animals the LORD gave us to sustain us? Rather than submitting ourselves to our Creator, we act as though we are His equal…..

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken. “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. “Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? “Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together? “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?” – Job 38:1‭-‬41 ESV

Image from wikipedia.com

Coming Home

I believe that “home” can be anywhere, as long as you are with people who love you. You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying “Home is where the Heart is.” When we marry, home should be wherever our spouse is, and if we are single, we usually choose to make our home near friends and family – people we know we can count on. It saddens me to hear grown people, and especially married people, say they want to go “home”, when they really mean they want to stop being a grown-up and go back to their parent’s home. We can go to visit our parents, and even stay for a while…. but is that really our home any longer? I know I’m always welcome at my mom’s home, and I know I have friends and family who would welcome me into their homes. I welcome to my home any family or friend who wants to come for a visit. It’s all just temporary though, because my REAL home is in Heaven with my LORD.

I read a devotion I’d like to share with you. It’s from “Right From The Heart 1-Minute Devotions,” titled “Going Home.”

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20

Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” There’s no place like home. No matter how bad we mess up or how disappointing life gets, it’s the one place they have to take us in.

Jesus told of a wayward son who messed up big time, wasting all his dad had blessed him with. He became homeless and was so hungry he wanted to eat leftover slop fit only for animals. But when he came to his senses, he thought about home. He knew he didn’t deserve to go there, but he went anyway. And his dad was so overwhelmed with joy he welcomed him home.

The dad represents God, and the wayward son represents you and me. It’s Jesus’ way of telling us that we all mess up–but nobody messes up so badly that when he decides to come home to the Lord, the Lord won’t welcome him back to a right relationship with Him. Is it time for you to come home to the Lord?

I’m not sure that I agree with Robert Frost in saying that “home is where…. they have to take you in,” at least, not in the sense that our parents or siblings are obligated to help us or “take us in.” I suppose, though, that would imply that our “home” is necessarily with our parents. Our true “home” could be elsewhere. Turning to the scripture, I have been that prodigal, and when I came back from my selfishness, I was welcomed “home,” back into my family’s hearts and lives. I had turned my back on my parents and on GOD, wasting my life and my resources. In spite of myself, they never gave up loving and praying for me. I think that’s how you know you are home, wherever there are people who don’t give up on you; the people who love you and pray for you in spite of you.

Looking at your own life, have you been a prodigal son or daughter? Have you made it difficult for your family to like you, as I did? Not everyone has a birth family they can return “home” to as I am blessed to have. Abuse – substance, physical, emotional – circumstance, and not having JESUS CHRIST in their lives, these things can prevent us from going back to our earthly families. Are you concentrating on looking for your earthly home and not finding it? Do you yearn to be able to go “home”? It is sometimes impossible to find here on earth, and that is a sad, heartwrenching reality for many….. BUT!! Here’s the GOOD NEWS!

Regardless of whatever is happening or has happened in your life here on earth, whether you have a “home” or you are looking for one, there is One Father waiting for you with open arms, unconditional love, and forgiveness. The GOD of everything, the FATHER of all, is standing right next to you, just waiting for you! All we have to do is to acknowledge that JESUS CHRIST is GOD’S Only Son; that He lived on earth as a man, He died as the ULTIMATE sacrifice for our sins, and that He rose from the grave on the 3rd day, victorious over death and hell. He gave His all for you and for me. Can we do any less for Him?

A reminder to us all.