Receiving God’s Love

God, I don’t really know how to approach You, but a person told me You loved me. Really loved me so much that You gave up your Son on my behalf. Now that’s really hard to believe! I mean, I’m not a good person, so why would You love me or do anything for me?

I’ve been in a deep, deep pit for most of my life. Wanting out but not even knowing how to try to get out. It seemed the harder I tried, the deeper I went. I can’t imagine anyone doing me any favors. No one ever has, so why should You?

But this person told me Jesus loves me and actually suffered all your hatred of my wrong ways, and now I’m free to have a good life, if I only believe that Jesus did this for me. Not only that, but I can become your child. Seems strange for an adult to become someone’s child, even God’s. I didn’t even know my own parents, and my childhood certainly wasn’t something I’d want anyone else to experience.

God, I don’t quite understand all this, but I’m trying. I do believe what I was told that Jesus suffered all your fury for all the horrible things I’ve done. I want to become a different person, a person who can do good for others. I don’t know how I could do anything good for someone; but the person who told me about you, said that I’d find things I could do that would help others. I’d like to be that way – helping people instead of all the evil I’ve done in the past. God, forgive me for all that stuff!

I’ve been rotten and don’t see how anybody could want me, much less You, God. But that’s what I was told, and something happened in my heart at those words. Somehow, I believed them, and they made me smile. I haven’t smiled in a long, long time. I can’t explain it, but something happened, and all the heaviness, anger and bitterness just melted away. Why, I feel like a new person; almost like a little baby just finding out what’s happening in the world and how to adjust to it. Just learning how to be loved, not by a person, but by You, God. Amazing!

Thank you, God, for doing whatever You did to make me feel this way, to give me this joy and this newfound hope. Thank You that Jesus suffered all your wrath over my evil deeds, so I can become a person who’s able to talk with You, to have a relationship with You. God, You are awesome! I just realized that if I’m your child, then You are my Father. What an amazing idea! I’ve never had a father, and now the God of all the universe is my Father. I’m so thankful for this person who told me about You because You have changed my life. You made me a new person, and I love You. I just discovered that: I love You because of what You have done for me. Thank You, Father! Thank You, Jesus!

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Abba, I Belong to You

As my church sang the song Abba[1], I thought in a way I hadn’t previously – yes, I do belong to my Father. That thought struck deep in my heart. I “BELONG” to my Daddy-God. He sacrificed so very much by sending Jesus to die so I could become His child. They both paid with all they had for my eternal life with them and so that here on earth I can have an intimate relationship with my Father God, Jesus Christ my Savior and the Holy Spirit. I am a daughter loving my Father because He first loved me.

First John 4:18-19 (The Message Bible) reminds us: There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life — fear of death, fear of judgment — is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love — love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

I like to call my heavenly Father Daddy-God. The word Abba means an intimate relationship, as a child might say Daddy today or as an adult might say Father. My earthly dad and I had a very good relationship, so I don’t have the major roadblocks some people do who didn’t know their earthly fathers or had abusive ones. I appreciate the freedom this gives me to relate more easily to God than some can.

Someone might ask who a small child belongs to, meaning their parents. That parent has responsibility to take care of and protect that child; he educates and trains the child, as well as providing food, shelter and clothes for her. In the same way, our heavenly Father takes care me, His child, so I do belong to Him, not including the tremendous price He paid for me.

As I thought more about belonging to my Father, I realized that makes it easier for me to resist any temptation that comes my way. I don’t belong to the devil, so I can stand against him and not give in to whatever he puts in front of me. I count on the blessings of my inheritance as a child of God and don’t need anything that will lead me away from those blessings.

Satan may approach me with wrong thoughts or actions, trying to lure me that way. Some of these God emphasized No to – There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Other times my enemy surprises me with those little nagging inclinations that aren’t wrong in themselves but are still activities where I know I need to limit the time I spend with them.

I thought of this verse, “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.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a NASU.)

I walk along the beach, paying attention to the gulls and other shorebirds. Further down children build sand castles and grab my attention. Suddenly I realize I’ve stepped into a cast net left carelessly behind and my sandals become tangled in it. I almost fall because I wasn’t paying attention.

That’s what the Hebrews verse warns me of – not paying attention when a temptation comes, or I’ll stumble into it without realizing it’s even there. One of those little things that isn’t bad itself but that I have to control is watching too much TV at night instead of studying my Bible or reading godly books. Nothing is wrong with the shows themselves, I just must not let them dominate all my time when I have instructive books to read or a Bible study I didn’t have time for during the day. I like to start my day with Bible reading and prayer, but often don’t have time before breakfast for real study.

Because I belong to Father God, I put on the spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18[2]). This armor covers me from head to toe in front, but safety only comes when I’m fighting. God gives me no protection if I’m running away. Watchful prayer guards me from Satan’s snares so I don’t step into that cast net. I pray with and for others to give and receive mutual support as the body of Christ on earth.

Fortunately, when I do get caught up in temptation, there’s a way back to the loving relationship with my Daddy-God. First John 1:9 (Message) encourages us:  If we admit our sins — make a clean breast of them — he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. My Father doesn’t hold a grudge! He wants our rapport flowing full of love more than I do, so as soon as I honestly turn away from the wrong I’ve done, He’s quick to forgive me and take up where we left off in our relationship.

Abba, I belong to You – now and forever!

____________________
[1] Abba (Arms of a Father)
>Jonathan David & Melissa Helser

You’re more real than the ground I’m standing on
You’re more real than the wind in my lungs
Your thoughts define me
You’re inside me
You’re my reality

Abba, I belong to You 

You’re closer than the skin on my bones
You’re closer than the song on my tongue
You came running down my prodigal road
You came running with a ring and a robe
Grace is the collision on the way back home
With the arms of a Father who won’t let go

Songwriters: Ed Cash / Jonathan David Helser
Abba (Arms of a Father) lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing

 

 

[2] Ephesians 6:10-18: And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. 11 So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. 12 This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. 18 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

 

Come, My Child

Imagine you’re the parent of a child you’ve always been close to; you could talk about anything and did. Slowly that child drifted away from that intimacy, talking only about school as a whole and not staying as close by as previously. He put you on the back burner. How would you feel? What would you do to regain that previous relationship? This child still wasn’t doing anything particularly wrong; he was keeping curfew, his grades were still high, but you missed the way he’d share what his day had been like, what his friends were doing. Something changed and you didn’t like it.

Now suppose you were standing before God and you’re the child who’s not as intimate as you used to be. Yes, you pray and read the Bible but you don’t have that time of just being with your Father. You’re not a nominal Christian but you notice the difference in the way things are. You may even wonder what’s happened. At church you think it would be great to be as close to God as some others seem to be; but when you leave, nothing changes. One day you’re praying and hear your Father quietly whisper this to your heart:

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.

“Come now and let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow; though they are red like crimson they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” (Isaiah 1:18-19 New American Standard Bible.)

“Come and buy food without price. Money can’t buy my food, only love and devotion can (see Isaiah 55:1-4).  How can you buy without money or price? You can buy with love, devotion and time – a time of withdrawal from the world. ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near’” (verse 6).

Jesus’ blood paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins – all of them. Not just the biggies, but the simple things like saying something unpleasant to your family or friend, having a wrong attitude, neglect of Bible study, little time in prayer. Jesus’ blood covers all these and all the other wrongs we do. His blood protects us from the enemy of our souls. It does so much more than we give it credit for, but that’s not our focus now.

Are you willing to set aside more time to spend with your heavenly Father? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to have His way? How much time out of the day do you actually spend thinking about God? Is it enough for the relationship with Him that you desire? I’ve been in this place and asked myself these same questions and find I need more time with my Daddy-God to be satisfied, for He can fill voids nothing else can. We were created in His image and when we let go of that deeper relationship, our hearts yearn for it; we notice the void. Let’s listen to those words again, and go feast at the Father’s table and find the life-sustaining nourishment we need.

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.”

What will I do? What will you do? Our soul’s prosperity hinges on the answer.

 

Passover and Easter – What They Mean to Me

 

While I don’t have any Jewish ancestors that I know of, I grew up learning the intense story of the Jewish Passover and how the blood of a blemish-free lamp put on the doorpost of their home saved the first-born from certain death, even among the animals. Then the whole family with their flocks escaped from slavery in Egypt to journey into God’s land long ago promised to Abraham, the founder of the Jewish people. I know that story like it was a part of my personal history.

As I reflect on it this morning, which is the first day of Passover, I see how similar it is to my story. In what way, you might ask. Jesus, the Son of God, lived as a perfect man on earth and then died on the cross so that He might be that blemish-free Lamb for me. This enables me to escape from slavery to sin (Romans 6:16-18, 7:14) to become a willing servant (and friend, see John 15:15) of God. It means I now have power not the do the wrong things I really don’t want to do. It means I don’t have to be addicted to anything, no matter what it is because Jesus died to set me free from all bondages.

What does that mean practically? It means I know that I’m a beloved daughter of God Almighty, a joint-heir with Jesus Christ with all the treasures of heaven. Even if no one else in the whole world loved me, I am deeply and passionately loved by my heavenly Father. That love gives me security in a sometimes-hostile world. That great love says resources beyond the normal human means become available when I need them. My husband and I live not far from Houston, Texas and sometimes go there. A couple of times over the years cars pulled in front of us from another lane, seemingly only avoiding the front of our car by a couple of inches. I thanked my Father of Love each time that we weren’t in an accident. While that’s not saying that disastrous things don’t happen because I’m a Christian (because they do), it is saying I feel an extra measure of protection because angels watch over me (Hebrews 1:14).

Besides that, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death and His ascension into heaven means that He sits beside Father God (Romans 8:26-27, 34; Hebrews 7:25) praying for me and for you! That brings me great assurance, plus the Holy Spirit lives in me so that silently when I have no words for what I want to pray, He knows what I need and speaks the words needed sometimes silently and sometimes in a language I can’t understand.

The full meaning of Easter means that my heart remains peaceful even when my circumstances become troublesome or dire (John 14:27). Does this automatically happen? No, I must put those circumstances into my Father’s hands and allow Him to work them out. I don’t worry and fret but keep my eyes focused on Him. I discipline my mind so that my focus remains on all the many reasons I have for thanksgiving and not on my situation. While I don’t ignore or pretend it doesn’t exist, it’s not the whole point of my life during that time. Certainly, I ask my Father for wisdom in dealing with that condition and take wise steps to help it become as good as possible.

Easter brings joy. Joy overshadows happiness because it lasts when the reason for the happiness passes. Joy gives life zest and encourages us to look forward to what comes next. Joy makes life worthwhile, even in the hard times. Joy sets me free from the drudgery of daily life. Joy keeps me focused on Jesus, who is Joy.

Look up because your redemption draws near – Jesus is with you and lives in you (Galatians 2:20). He continually prays for you (Hebrews 7:25) and He will never leave you or forsake you (Psalm 27:9, Hebrews 13:5). Rejoice, for He is risen! That means you and I have new life!

Almost Unbelievable Blessings – But Believe Them!

Let me introduce you to two amazing verses that probably most believers read over without paying proper attention to the real meaning of them; I know I did. These are Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6. Only more recently have I given them real thought, though I’ve read the Bible most of my life, and even wrote a simple study of this book long ago. This meditation covers the first verse and soon a second will cover Ephesians 2:6 because they contain too much material to discuss at one time. Continue reading

Admiration of My Father God

Father, thank you that I can call Almighty God, Creator of everything, my Father! That’s amazing to me – that you would allow your holy Son to come to earth, live a perfect life, die an agonizing death, then go back home to heaven, now sitting beside you and praying for me. That’s unimaginable! No other god ever mentioned on earth would think to do such things; they condemn me and require much of me if I believe in them. But you love me unconditionally. I fathom this only a little but it gives me great joy.

Yes, such joy to know that One who lives eternally understands and loves me with all my shortcomings and inadequacies. You accept me just as I am. I don’t have to try to make myself better. You don’t require that of me; instead, you ask me to simply trust you to make all the inner changes required, and I do. You enable me to change for better. I know that deeply-rooted issues I simply can’t change; the pain from them is too great. But Father, you know how to solve those issues and erase that hurt. You take my sorrow and give me joy. You are amazing!

Father, I can’t begin to grasp how fantastic you are – forever present, holy, just, forgiving but punishing when I won’t give up evil ways, loving even those who turn against you. But you are merciful, gracious, kind, self-controlling to the extent of relenting your anger when I repent and follow you. You look at me with longing for my love and a deep relationship with me, communicating all through the day. Even when I go through trials, you comfort me, giving me your Holy Spirit to guide and direct me.

Awesome, wonderful, majestic, totally true, totally just, totally love – no words can describe you – so far are you above anything I can imagine. But the bottom line is that you love me and are my heavenly Father. Though I can’t totally comprehend all this means, I rejoice in it!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish [in hell*] but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him [in God’s Son, Jesus Christ*] is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18 New American Standard Bible.)

* My insertion.

Merry Christmas as We Celebrate Our King

Merry Christmas! What a wonderful day to celebrate Jesus’ birth as a human baby so He could grow and be tempted just like you and I are[1]. Then one day He died on the cross to pay for our sins[2] and all the many ways we’ve turned from God – total good and truth. Not only did Jesus die, but He rose from that grave and 40 days later went back to heaven[3], where He now sits at God’s right hand praying for you and me[4]. What a marvelous thought! Continue reading

The Christmas Season

At this special time of year
We think of others far and near;
As we give gifts to those we love
Let us also give to the One above.

Churches tell the story in word and song
So many will know where they belong;
Christmas is a time of good will to others
Men more willing to help their brothers. Continue reading

A New Day

Do I greet each new morning as an adventure? Do I ask God what He has in store for me that day? No. Usually as I tell Father good morning when getting out of bed, I don’t think of an exciting day, though I don’t dread them either. It’s simply another day, right? Perhaps it would be better to see the day as an adventure; for instance, whose path will I cross that day? Will I have an opportunity to share Jesus with them? Can I pray for them? Will they bless me in some unforeseen way? Continue reading

Trouble Changing Wrong Actions?

As Christians we often know we’re not living like we should and keep trying to change so we can please God but don’t always succeed. Why? Maybe it’s the way we think about it. We try to overcome bad habits on our own, asking God to help us.

The good news is we don’t have to fight our wrong actions because they died when Christ was crucified! Maybe you say if such a thing is dead, why does it keep on occurring? Why do I keep on doing what I don’t want to do? I fly off the handle if someone says the wrong thing to me, and I really don’t want to do that. How can that happen if it’s dead? Continue reading

Blue-Eyed Grass

 blue-eyed-grass

 Blue-eyed grass sometimes gets sown in a garden but often it’s found among other wild plants in a yard or field, being planted there by birds who drop the seeds. Some might even consider it a weed if trying to grow a lawn of only a specific grass. Even though it’s called a grass, this flower is actually a member of the iris family. Continue reading

The Majesty of God

Mt Moran & Jackson Lake

Mt Moran & Jackson Lake

As I thought about the majesty of God, this picture came to mind. My husband and I love to visit the Teton Mountains in Wyoming. They rise 7000 feet above the valley floor, a very different concept from when you’re in the higher mountains in Colorado. There, you look up and see them towering above you, yet because the elevation is so high where you are, you may miss an aspect of just how tall they really are. In viewing the Tetons, you see them shooting straight up from the ground, especially if you are driving a back road where you are fairly close to them. Continue reading

God Is Love!

1 John 4:8 and 16 say, “God is love.” That is the first, and possibly the hardest, thing we need to learn about God. That He loves me. Yes, me, Sandra. Yes, you put your name there. Say it out loud, God loves me, ______. From early in life we’re told we’re wrong, too loud, too quiet, too short, too tall. When others don’t criticize us, we turn on ourselves. Continue reading

The Horrible Price of Crosses

My husband and I traveled home from the Rio Grande Valley yesterday and I noticed a small, white cross on each side of the road. I’d seen them a few weeks ago when we’d been to Rockport but not paid attention to what they honestly stood for: The horrible price those parents paid. The devastation that moment of truth brought; the never-ending loss. Continue reading

Hummingbirds, Whooping Cranes and Mountains

My husband and I enjoy going to Rockport, Texas where in September we watch as thousands of hummingbirdscrop hummers gather to stock up on food before making the long trip to South America for the winter. These miniature jewels barely weigh 0.11 ounces, being only 3.75 inches long with a wingspan of 4.5 inches; yet many of them fly directly over the Gulf of Mexico. What a wonder our Master Creator made. Continue reading

Faith Requires a Decision

A victim of your circumstances? Yes, some things about our situation we can’t change. But we can change how we think about and react to that problem. We can have a victim mentality or we can have winner thinking. What do I mean by that?

In Luke 4:24-25 when Jesus spoke to the paralyzed man lying on the mat and told him to get up, the man had to choose to obey. He could have chosen not to believe Jesus and stayed lying there and been bedridden the rest of his life. But he chose the winner’s way. Jesus put mud on a man’s eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7). The man made a choice. He could have said, “Here’s water that’s closer, I’ll just wash in it,” but he wouldn’t have been able to see because he didn’t obey Jesus’ word to him. Again, faith required a decision. Continue reading

The Three Chickadees

           As I watched my bird feeder at breakfast, I saw three chickadees trying to get some seed, which they were sure was inside the feeder. They went all around the tray on the outside but to no avail. Then two of them even pecked at the plastic sides of the feeder. They could see the seeds inside, but they would not come out. Why not? Continue reading

How Does God See You?

Your Father God sees you far differently than you may see yourself. Sometimes I’m my own worst critic; aren’t you? At least I used to be until I learned that no matter how I view myself, my Father dearly loves me. Then He gave me a love for myself that quit believing all the lies Satan would tell me. I now recognize when I do wrong and admit it, apologizing to whomever I have hurt. I ask my loving Father to forgive me and know He has wiped my slate clean; therefore, I don’t have to carry that guilt any longer. Continue reading

Get Rid of Those Chains!

Please see the poem “Unshackled Wings” which goes with this meditation.

Have you ever been in such a prison? Maybe you say, “of course not; I’ve never committed a crime that would put me in jail.” No, I never wound up in jail either, but in a prison nevertheless. For a very long time I didn’t recognize it because it had become such a part of me – insecurity, inferiority, trying to do things to prove my worth. Yes, I was a Christian and a “good girl” from my early childhood. But somehow over time, people said things that while wrong, I believed, and when I reached adulthood, I wasn’t very sure of myself.

Continue reading