Self Love

This is worth repeating! Who do you love? Do you love your self?

What is the greatest commandment?

Jesus said, ” ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire Law and all the demands of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NLT

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering that Jesus’ entire ministry is built around loving God and putting Him first. In fact, verse 37 is probably one of the most well-known verses in the entire Bible. I know that as a Christian, my heart and soul and mind belong to Jesus Christ; that He should be the Rock I base my life on. We’ve got that part down pat.

But what about verse 39? How are we doing with this one? You’re probably wondering about my title “Self Love,” and what it has to do with loving God. Over the years, I’ve struggled with self worth. I still do. Who am I, what am I, and what have I accomplished with my life; does anyone even care? I turned to outside sources – self help books, non-Christian counseling, meditation, astrology, exploring “past lives”, séances and other secular avenues. You know, not a single thing I did improved my so called self worth. I was still the same insecure, searching soul as I was when I started that journey, and the beginning of that journey was very inocculous. At a slumber party, one of the girls had a ouija board, and we didn’t see any harm in playing with it.

I knew Jesus. I grew up with Him being a strong presence in our home, but something inside me was missing. I loved Jesus, and I wanted to follow Him, but I didn’t give my entire being to Him. I doubted my self worth, and I believed the lies the enemy was whispering inmy ear. I opened the door to my heart and let Satan in. There is nothing innocent or innocuous about a ouija board! The door had been cracked open the night we “played” with that board, giving the enemy an easy way into my mind. If it was so easy for him to get into the mind of someone who loved Jesus, imagine how easy it must be for him to get into a mind who doesn’t know Jesus. Scary thought.

We know the first and greatest commandment. You must “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Pay attention to the second in verse 39 “…love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Your “neighbor” is not just the person or family who lives next door. Our neighbors extend beyond our dwellings, and encompasses every person on the planet earth. Every. Person. Our physical neighbors; our family, friends, coworkers; the staff at the coffee place or resturant or convenient store, even to – maybe especially to – the smelly, homeless person on the street.

You have to love yourself before you are even capable of loving another person, but we have to keep in mind that loving ourself doesn’t mean what the world wants it to mean. It isn’t selfish, “me me me” love. Self love doesn’t mean spending money you don’t have (i.e. credit card debt) to compete with others. It doesn’t mean spending hours at the spa being pampered, and it doesn’t mean that dream car/job/wardrobe, unless you have the income to enjoy those things after taking care of your responsibilities. I can’t condemn anyone for wanting to better their quality of life, because I do it, too. I really believe the lesson is treat each individual you come in contact with as a fellow human being. How we treat others is how we want to be treated, or it should be. Jesus also said And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 ESV (Read verses 27-36) “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

We don’t know their circumstances or how they came to be where they are. Our cab driver might have a PHD, and be unable (for whatever reason) to find work in his field. Our barista could be a person trying to make ends meet on a limited retirement income. We shouldn’t judge unless we are planning on living a perfect, mistake-free life. Minimum wage clerks should be treated with the same respect we give to sports figures, the CEO/CFO of our company, or anyone else. It’s difficult when dealing with certain situations to remember this. The next time a clerk is rude, tell them you’re sorry they are having a bad day, but Jesus loves them. When someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of cursing or flipping them off, think of the time you cut someone off. When we treat others rudely or with disdain, we aren’t loving ourselves or them. But for the Grace of God, we could be in their situation.

Seems like we all have something to work on.

Addendum: I first posted this a couple of years ago, and when I read it, I knew I needed to make some adjustments (so I did). I also have to admit to spending too much of my time lately feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have the thing I yearn for, a partner to share my life with. I count my blessings of friends and family, and even with the struggles I face daily, I am blessed. I still want that partnership, and although I am exploring a friendship (long distance for now) and praying it (he!) is the one I’ve been waiting on, I am also working on praying and resting in my LORD, and trusting in His timing. Pray with me on that!

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How Great Thou Art!

How Great Thou Art! Powerful old hymn:

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

“Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment* [*BEMA] seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:9‭-‬10 NASB

God wants us to do well. He wants us to be rewarded….. throughout His Word, He gives us the instructions on how to gain these rewards. He tells us that whatever we treasure shows where our heart lies. Everything we have belongs to God, so the focus of life is not what we have here on earth, but should be on what we send ahead.

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” 1 Timothy 6:17‭-‬19 NASB

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 NASB

The preacher Adrian Rodgers said “Don’t give what’s left over, give what’s right.” And “Don’t give till it hurts, give till it feels good.” (Paraphrased)

“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42 NASB

Where is my treasure? Is it in front of me, so that I am heading towards it and heaven; or is it behind me and I am held back by it in the form of my earthly thoughts and goods? God expects an investment and a return on our TIME here on earth. There are several stories in scripture relating to a master entrusting his servants with money to see how they handle the stewardship and responsibility. That’s what God is doing with us; entrusting us with His world to see how we do. I haven’t been a very good steward throughout my life, but our gracious and Merciful LORD lets us start each day fresh. The Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers said: “I had forgotten two magnitudes: I thought not of the littleness of time, and I recklessly thought not of the greatness of eternity.” Another, anonymous source said quite succinctly “When you kill time, there is no resurrection.”

“So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12 NASB

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15‭-‬16 NASB

We are participating in rewards, partnering in ministry – we need to be intentional and thoughtful in our thoughts, our actions, and our prayers. Prayer is simply asking God for something.

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:5‭-‬6 NASB

Whatever you pray for, don’t give up. God’s “NO” is better than anyone’s “Yes.” A passionate prayer life shows trust and devotion. We each have our OWN race, no one else’s, but we aren’t running alone. Run to WIN. What is holding me back? Our “race,” our life, is our testimony to God.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of Faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the Right Hand of the Throne of GOD.” Hebrews 12:1‭-‬2 NASB

Are you in the race? The first step is the hardest, acknowleging that we are sinners (I am a sinner), and that we are totally reliant on the Mercy and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. We are all equal at the foot of the cross!

Delight Yourself

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.” Psalms 37:4‭-‬5‭, ‬7‭-‬8 NASB

Delight.

Commit.

Trust.

Rest.

Cease anger, forsake wrath, do not fret.

Words. So easy to write; so difficult to put into action! But go back to the first verse. IF we choose to “delight ….. in the LORD” ……. “He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Wow. Do you believe scripture? Do you know it to be the inspired Word of the Living GOD? I don’t trust easily. (Thank you _____ , you know who are.) It’s not easy for me to “rest” when what I desire is out there, and not with me. I want to do something to make it happen and I often take out my frustration in anger and wrath; I fret about not having my desire.

Delight.

Commit.

Trust.

Rest.

Opening up my Bible and searching the scriptures for God’s promises, His fulfilled promises, helps me to delight in Him. He doesn’t do as man does, and make promises only to break them. As far back as Genesis 3:14-19, we are living God’s promise to Adam and Eve today. The thing that strikes me, though, is that His promises are in His time, not ours. One promise that has always stood out to me was the promise to Abraham. He was to became the father of the nation of Israel, but he didn’t even have a child until he over 100 years old. That’s a long time to wait! Mary and Martha delighted in Jesus, and he restored their brother Lazarus to them – but first they had to trust Him, and rest in Him before the desire of their hearts was fulfilled. He doesn’t make everyone wait until they are 100 years old, or until a loved ones dies, although he might. His timing; His will.

The greatest desire of Jesus’ heart is to have each of us spend eternity with Him. To achieve it, because of our propensity to make wrong choices and spend our lives in sin, He made the ultimate sacrifice. He didn’t want to be tortured and killed in a most gruesome manner; He chose to, because that was what GOD, His Father and ours, required. Read Matthew 26, focusing on verses 39 and 42. “Not My will, but YOURS

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. [ But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” ]” Mark 11:24‭-‬26 NASB

Delight. Be content in your circumstances. Give thanks for everything.

Commit. It all belongs to the LORD. Decide to follow Him, and stick to the path.

Trust. GOD is in control. He knows what He is doing. Remember, He can see the big picture. All we have is one little snapshot out of eternity.

Rest. Quit fighting Him. Let Him lead you, and carry you, through any difficulties.

Co-Regents with GOD

Did you realize that man was created to rule with God? In Genesis 1-2, Adam and Eve were created as co-regents with God to rule over ALL of creation. He created us to be rulers over the earth. How are we doing?

“Then GOD said, ‘Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ And GOD blessed them. And GOD said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ” Genesis 1:26‭, ‬28 ESV

“The LORD GOD took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15‭ ESV

GOD is the Creator, and man is His Creation, created to rule over the earth and everything in it. He gave us free will to make our own decisions, so I ask again, how are we doing? Based on what I see, I don’t think the Creator is going to be giving us any commendations like this master did:

“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ ” Luke 19:17 NASB

The astounding thing to me is that even with the incredible mess we have made of our lives and the earth, JESUS CHRIST, Son of the Living GOD, integral part of the Trinity, still wants us to reign with Him for eternity (that’s a long time). He, Jesus Christ, is the second Adam, and we will reign with Him! Based on how we do here, we will each be put in a different place of authority. Faithfulness is the key.

“If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us…..” 2 Timothy 2:12 NASB

“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21 NASB

“And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the LORD GOD will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:5 NASB

What will we reign over?

“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” 1 Corinthians 6:2‭-‬3 NASB

I know I’m not competent to judge anybody, or anything, yet my LORD is going to elevate me to co-rule with Him. That’s the most humbling thought….. He’s lifting you up to that throne, too, if you have accepted and acknowleged Him as your personal Saviour. Where are you today? Are you anticipating being co-regent with the GOD of the Ages, or are you still waffling? If you haven’t decide, remember, we aren’t promised tomorrow, or even the next 5 minutes. Make up your mind.

Dealing With Being Single

God knows what we are going through.

Remember Jesus? He was a man, and He lived His life without a mate. I believe that He was probably tempted; after all, He was a man, and He must have been lonely at times…. and I’m sure the enemy made sure temptation was placed in front of Him, too. Mary Magdalene was probably a beautiful woman, and she was close to Him. It is debated whether Jesus was plain, or non-descript, or handsome, but I don’t think that is important (although I do believe He was probably amazing looking). His personality was magnetic; He was charismatic and commanding. I imagine Him as a man Who would draw both men and women to Him. How could He not be tempted? But we know He didn’t succumb to the temptations. He taught us – teaches us – that our Father cares for us enough to want the best for us. He also teaches us that we have to put the Father first, and that’s where it gets hard (for me).

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT

That’s a pretty big statement from Hosea. The God Who created everything wants us, me and you, to know Him more than anything. When we actually take the time to study and begin to know our Father, we begin to know what real love feels like. I don’t like being single. I want to be half of a couple. Meanwhile, I need to listen to the words of Jesus and keep them in my heart.

“And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:30‭, ‬33‭-‬34 NLT

I don’t know if, or when, my Father will bring someone into my life to be a permanent part of it. I know that he must love the Lord and put Him first, and that he will want to treat me as his queen. Tall order, and one that only God can fill. Ruth Graham, a very wise woman, said “A happy marriage is a union of two good forgivers.” I don’t know that marriage is in my future, but I believe that her statement could also read “A happy relationship is a union of two good forgivers.” Whatever happens, I hold on to these words from the LORD:

“For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your GOD. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’ ” Isaiah 41:13 NLT

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD Who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1‭-‬2 NLT

I know that whatever happens, whether I am alone or in a relationship, I will never be alone. The LORD GOD ALMIGHTY has called me by name; I am HIS. Are you single? Praying for a relationship? Hold on to His Words.

The State of The State

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10‭-‬12 NASB

Read the headlines.

Christians around the world are being harassed and persecuted. Think it can’t happen to you? Do you own a business? Work at a church or other Christian organization? Want to hire someone to do some handyman or landscaping work, or a babysitter? Christians school? Then pay attention, because we can no longer ask about a person’s belief’s before hiring them, for fear of being sued.

Take your faith out in public, and in many places, even here in the United States, you face being mocked, degraded, and even pelted with objects or physically attacked. Jesus tells us it will happen, but look at what He goes on to say.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 NASB

He doesn’t really give us a choice. “Let your light shine…. glorify your Father…. ”

Making It Work

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24 NASB

Relationships take work. A lot of work. A wise person once told me that if my relationship was 50-50, it was doomed. It takes 110% from each party to truly be successful. We have to be intentional, investing our whole selves, including our time. I’m not saying you have to be together 100% of the time. In fact, relationships need time apart so that we don’t lose who we are as individuals, but we do need to be conscious of the time we invest. I’m sure it’s especially difficult for parents of small children to have that time investment in each other, but since I haven’t experienced it, I can only say to do what you can. Look for a great mentor couple! For me, it’s the little things that are so important. A random “I love you” text, or a hug, just because. The gentlemanly things like opening a door or holding my chair – those are worth major points! Telling me thank you, for the little things. Listening to me, letting me vent, without trying to fix it (although offering to is nice!). Apologizing when wrong. Forgiving when I am wronged! (A lot of these things go both ways, and it’s critical for me to remember that.) I have to keep my complaining and sarcasm in check, too.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12‭-‬15 NASB

“For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ” you shall love your neighbor as yourself .” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:14‭-‬16 NASB

Someday, I want that relationship. Who knows? Perhaps God will grant that desire. Until that time, I must rest in the LORD.