Loving God, Hating Evil

I love that when I open Facebook to put my thoughts out there, it asks “What’s on your mind?” Today, this is on my mind: Loving God, hating evil; living as God would have me to.

“As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!” – Psalms 119:7

How does that translate into our lives today?

“Jesus replied, “My Light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the Light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going.” ” – John 12:35

So many of us spend our lifetimes stumbling around in the dark! Where is the Light? How do we find it? There is ONE source for the Truth; ONE source for the Light, and it is made available to anyone – ANYONE – who wants it. That source, the Handbook for Life, God’s ‘Instruction Manual’, is the Bible. God-breathed, God-inspired, God-given.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” – Romans 12:9

It’s all about Love, Light, and freedom from an eternity in hell – and yes, Virginia, there IS a hell, an actual physical place that bleeds over into the world. I have seen glimpses, and it almost destroyed me. “HATE what is wrong.”

The one thing that God is adamant about is to LOVE Him. To accept Jesus Christ; to acknowledge Him as the One Way to true contentment in this world. When we love Him, and we give HIM the priority in our lives, we are more likely to recognize evil. If we read His ‘Instruction Manual’, the Bible, we are more likely to recognize the “wrongs” in our life.

Are you willing to turn your back on the things the world deems acceptable? Are you ready to have friends and family tell you that what they are doing is all in fun, and not at all sinful, in order to justify their actions? Loving God and following His Word is often difficult because of people around us, but the joy and contentment He provides is well worth it!

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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!

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.

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…. ”

Grace, Compassion, and Justice equal Blessings

“Therefore the LORD longs to be Gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have Compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of Justice; How Blessed are all those who long for Him.” – Isaiah 30:18 NASB

GOD waits on me. He waits on you.

Did you understand that statement? GOD waits on you. He is waiting on me.

Reading the scriptures, the Words of the Living GOD never fail to amaze me. The Truths that are written so matter-of-factly. The miracles. The history. The Almighty Creator put these words into the hands and the mouths of men who put them on paper, so that thousands of years later the words would be here for us to see. Depending on the source you use, some 35-40 actual men put words on paper (or clay or papyrus or parchment) over a period spanning as much as 3400 years. From the very beginning of time, we know there is a Triune God Who loves His creation, and Who made us, humanity, to be with Him. We also know that He gave us the ability through the gift of free will to choose whether we want to be with Him, or without Him. Even when we choose to go our own way, He patiently waits on us.

Who do we think we are that we make the CREATOR wait on us?

What arrogance. What conceit! And yet, He still waits; He even longs for us. Do you remember falling in love? That giddiness you felt in their presence; the longing to be with that person? Just to hear their voice, or to get a note or text? Multiply that a thousand times, and we might get close to knowing how much our LORD longs for us. I’m impatient. I don’t like waiting. I want my love to be here now. I don’t want to wait, and I’m not inclined to be gracious or compassionate about the wait. Isn’t that just like us, though? We want what we want now…… while our GOD waits patiently, graciously, and compassionately for us.

He offers us the shelter of His Mighty wings. His angel army watches over us. The more we learn about the LORD, the more protection we gain from the enemy. How Blessed we are to call Him LORD!!

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalms 91:1 NASB

Image from Pinterest.com.

Know My Heart

O LORD, You know my heart!

And OH, what a scary thought that is at times! He knows my desires. He knows my heart. He knows my thoughts before they are even formed. He knows them all; the good, the bad, the ugly, and He still Loves me.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. ………For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. ………Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” – Psalms 139:1‭-‬6‭, ‬13‭-‬18‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NASB

Too bad we humans can’t be that way. Not to know each other’s every thought (how scary would that be!), but to love each other without regard for their thoughts. For me, the radical conservative, that looks like loving the raging liberal without judgement; not letting their views on socialism and my Saviour turn my regard into hate. It means that regardless of whether their actions and/or their behaviors disgust me, I will love them, just like JESUS loved me.

Even before I began as a simple zygote in my mother’s womb, GOD knew me and loved me. He knew how I would be as a child. He knew I would come to love Him as a child and young adult, and He knew precisely how, when, and for how long I would turn away from Him – and He loved me anyway. He knows to the second how long my life on earth will be. He knows that even now, as I write about how much He loves me, I struggle with the idea that He can love me, a sinner who continues who stumble and fall through life.

Why does He love us much? Why? We constantly – and continually – disappoint and hurt Him, sometimes inadvertantly, but oftentimes deliberately. We keep doing the things that we know are wrong. We desire things that aren’t good for us. We reject His Son and His sacrifice….. and He keeps on loving us.

AMAZING GRACE. Sweet Mercy. Unconditional Love.

I don’t understand why GOD, the Supreme and Mighty, All-powerful and All-encompassing, Creator, puts up with us puny little creatures who stand on the earth He created as we shake our collective fist at Him. I would have destroyed mankind eons ago and stuck with dogs and horses. They are much easier to deal with! Yet in spite of our rhetorical fist waving, God loved us – Loves us – enough to make the ultimate sacrifice. He sent His Son Jesus to live among us, to teach us, and to die for our sins so that we could have eternal life with Him.

Amazing Grace.

He knows your heart. Do you know His?