The Assurance of His Love

My husband and I married almost 60 years ago. The assurance of each other’s love kept us together all these years, even when we were selfish about something. God definitely played a big part in this, especially in areas where we disagreed. We both continued faithful to our marriage, no matter what happened. Even when control seemed to rule in my husband’s thoughts, I never doubted his love for me.

In the same way, I’m assured of my heavenly Father’s love for me. Even when I don’t understand his ways with me and with others, I never doubt his love for any of us. Prayers that remain unanswered don’t cause me uncertainty of that care. You might ask, “How can I be so sure?” Just like with my husband’s love, that assurance of God’s love remains deep in my heart. I know that I know both their love, and I never doubt their faithfulness to me.

John 3:16 (Amplified) speaks about that love: For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish but have eternal life.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (Amplified) states: But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect you and guard you from the evil one.

Would you give you only child to save someone who committed evil acts? Most likely not and neither would I! While many go to war to protect their country, what God did sealed us from hell’s fiery torment, if we only believe in Jesus. Simply believing Jesus lived a good life on this earth at one point carries no weight with God. Certainly, the devil knows that also.

Awareness of going our own way instead of God’s and trusting that Jesus’ death on the cross exempts us from living a life totally and eternally separated from God. Then we make Jesus our Savior but our Lord as well, doing as He wants instead of going our way.

My prayer for you today is that you’ll be totally assured of your Father’s love.

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“I Just Want to Hear Your Voice”

Usually I talk weekly with our children, three of whom live a distance away. Loss of kidney function hit our older son last year, making me to want news more than ever. Recently his wife and I had talked about the ups and downs with their lives every week, but I hadn’t talked with our son in two or three weeks.

I called one night and talked with her but then wanted to talk with him, so she checked but he was already asleep. I called the next day, which was Saturday, and we did have a good conversation. You must understand he works hard at a full-time job and has anemia besides the kidney loss. He must start setting up dialysis equipment by 7:30 at night so he’s on dialysis by 8:00 in order to be finished in time to get up early the next morning and go to work.

While I’d talked with his wife regularly and had knowledge about them, I suddenly had a yearning to simply hear his sweet voice. Of course, when I mentioned this to him, he made a joke about his voice being sweet. Possibly no one else thinks his voice is sweet; that’s a mother’s or wife’s interpretation.

Since this happened recently, my mind drifted to it during my worship time. That’s when God spoke to my heart and said, “I just want to hear your voice.” My loving Father hungers for more time of intimacy with me. God feels that way about all of us! He knows all the facts about our lives but loves us so much that He aches to hear our voices more all the time. Especially during a time of trouble or struggle. My friend, is your loving Daddy-God saying that He yearns to hear your voice?

At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart. (Psalm 5:3, Passion Translation.)

I am passionately in love with God because he listens to me. He hears my prayers and answers them. As  long as I live, I’ll keep praying to him, for he stoops down to listen to my heart’s cry. (Psalm 116:1-2)

 

 

 

Who Am I?

Do you have low self-esteem? Many of us do, and for most of my life I did. Circumstances work to make us feel this way, though our situations may be far different. What changed? I learned who I am as a child of God. I also learned that I need to reinforce the positives in my life and not the negatives because that gives them more power if I think about them most of the time. If you’re in this condition, you might every day look in the mirror and repeat the following:

 When I confess Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I am saved from sin and have eternal life with God. (Romans 6:23, 10:9; John 17:3)

 When I confess my sins, they are forgiven by God. (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17; 1 John 1:9)

 All my forgiven sins are far from God’s remembrance. (Psalm 103:12)

 I am a beloved daughter/son of the Lord God Almighty. (Romans 5:8; 1 John 6:10)

 I am worthy because Christ died for me. (Romans 8:32; 1 John 4:10)

 When I feel guilty for past sins after I earnestly confess them, Satan is lying to me because I am no longer condemned by God for them. (Romans 8:1)

 God is for me! (Romans 8:31)

 God has promised me good and not evil, and He works for my good. (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28)

 God will hear me when I pray to Him. (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 66:17-19)

 No one can take me away from God. (John 10:38; Romans 8:38 & 39)

 God knows me intimately. (Psalm 139:1-16)

 God chose me and has a purpose for my life. (Jeremiah 1:5; John 15:16)

 God gave me a spiritual gift to be used to glorify Him and help others. (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1 & 4-12, 14:1-6; Ephesians 4:11-12)

 I am not worse or below others, but I am not better than others either. (Romans 12:3)

An old saying tells us that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. This means that we are all equal because God has no favorites. He loves everyone the same, and that is what gives us our worth: that He loved us enough to send Jesus to pay the death penalty for our sins. Therefore, we rejoice because we are the beloved daughters and sons of the Lord Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth.

A Christmas Present for Jesus

How much easier it is to talk the Christian talk than it is to walk the Christian walk. Even moral unbelievers can sometimes pass as Christians if we don’t really know them. Why? Because sometimes Christians don’t appear to live that much differently than the unbelievers.

My husband once worked for a Muslim man from Turkey, who outwardly lived as clean and good a life as any Christian. He was a good husband, father and boss; my husband and others who worked for him respected him for his ability and judgment. He didn’t smoke or drink, curse or talk badly about others. We knew his wife and children, and they all had a good family relationship. He believed in Allah instead of believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

How much easier it is to go to church,  give to the church and appear to be a faithful Christ-follower than it is to regularly check out hearts and see if Christ really has first place. Yes, we should and do love our families and care for them. We must give time to our jobs. But no matter what we do, is it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Obviously we can’t stop every time before we do something and ask, “Am I doing this to glorify God?” But we can ask ourselves if our life purpose is to live for His honor. We can ask ourselves if anything we do would discredit the fact that we claim to follow Christ. Are we loving? That was Jesus’ most outstanding characteristic, for everything He did came from love for God and people.

The Bible tells us to examine ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Supper or Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27 but see verses 23-32 for context.) Do we? Merriam Webster Dictionary defines communion as an act or instance of sharing or as intimate fellowship or rapport, besides the way Christians ordinarily mean the word. To me, the Lord’s Supper is all of these and needs to be taken very seriously but joyfully. Paul warns that it must be taken seriously. And why joyfully? Because of all God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son sacrificed for us so we can have intimacy with Them.

In Luke 46-49 Jesus compares a person who calls Him Lord but don’t obey His commands to a person who builds his house on sand, but a flood comes and washes away that house. James says someone who doesn’t obey the Word is like a person who looks in a mirror but then forgets what he looks like as soon as he turns away (1:22-25).

Both these Scriptures discuss how believers need to respond to God’s Word. Whether we’re personally reading the Bible or hearing it read, it should touch our hearts and gradually change us so that we more nearly display some of Christ’s characteristics.

Is there any greater present we can give our Lord this Christmas (or any other time!) than to make our life’s purpose to follow Him more closely?

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him (Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation).

My Prayer

Father, I love You, but it’s such a small insignificant amount compared to how You love me. Teach me how to love You more. Give me a fiery, burning love for You that will never lessen or be quenched.

You are so almighty, all-powerful, mountainous, marvelous, without any kind of defect or lessening. You are all-in-all! Nothing and no one compares to You. You were before all and will endure for everlasting. All-powerful Creator of all that exists. You always were; You always will be.

In spite of all your marvelous might, You love me. You cherish me. You forgive me! Even when I miss opportunities to worship You or to magnify your name, your love never fails. You are merciful to me and compassionate. You see my broken heart and bring me peace and joy. You give me strength when I am weak. You direct my steps with your eye. You protect me from the evil one and show me how to stand strong against him. You teach my hands to war against him. You surround me with your love and sing over me.

And Father, what You do for me, You will surely do for another. You have no favorites. You gave your Son to die for each person in the world, so surely You would love them as well. You teach me how to love others as You have loved me. Indeed, without knowing your love for me, it’s difficult to fully love others unselfishly, without an agenda, even when we don’t recognize it.

Father, You amaze me and I thank You. I’m eternally grateful to You. I bow down and worship You and sing your praises. You are my God. Teach me to love You more. Amen.

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!

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.

That God-shaped Hole

Feeling kinda down and don’t know why? Your family life is going well, your job’s OK, finances are sufficient for your needs, health is adequate. Yes, you’re not overflowing in any of these areas but things are sufficient, so then why do you still feel like something is lacking? You’re somewhat depressed without being able to understand the reason.  Let me tell you my story. Continue reading

J-O-Y

For Christmas a few years ago I was given the three letters to spell joy and as I looked at them today on a what-not shelf, I realized the subject of this devotional. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying to find “joy,” consider Jesus first, others second and yourself last. I thought that way for most of my life but the last few years, I’ve realized that the first commandment Jesus said is to love God with all our hearts and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:37-40). The more I’ve thought about this, the more I say we must love ourselves before we can know how to love others! Continue reading

God Loves YOU!

God loves you. Let me repeat: God loves YOU! Yes, He really does. No matter what you have done. No matter what you have not done. No matter who you are. Father God sent His son Jesus to die so that anyone who believes in Jesus becomes a child of God. Continue reading

Salvation and Righteousness Flow!

Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them. (Isaiah 45:8 New Living Translation)

Father, this is my prayer today: that the heavens would open wide and pour out your righteousness upon me, upon my family and friends, upon everyone. Turmoil abounds all over the world today; perhaps never was your justice and honesty needed more than now. Everywhere I look exists terror and fighting or the threat of it. Many governments seemly don’t care for their people but only their greed. Even nature groans with earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, drought, fires, blizzards and excess heat. Who can make sense of it all? Continue reading

The Disciple Jesus Loved

John the Apostle wrote the Gospel of John as well as the letters of 1, 2 and 3 John. Probably no others books in the Bible talk more about love In his gospel he always referred to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” “How arrogant!” you think. No, he simply knew how Jesus felt about him. Yet, Jesus loved all the other disciples equally well, just as well as He loves you and me. Continue reading

Words or Deeds?

When I think of all God’s blessings, “Thank You” becomes such an inadequate expression. Simply knowing His arms wrap around me in love demands more than this humble phrase. As I read the Bible, I find more expressions of my Father’s tremendous love. How can I express my thanksgiving? Continue reading

The Highest Way of Love

What can I do to show God I love Him? Various actions demonstrate our love, like reading the Bible, praying, serving however He asks, and giving our tithes and offerings. Trusting God, however probably is the highest way we prove our love. I don’t mean trusting Jesus as our Savior; that’s only the beginning when we grasp that Father God loved us enough to let His Son Jesus die in our place for our rebellion against God. Continue reading

Blue-Eyed Grass, Part 2

blue-eyed-grass 

Looking closely at a blue-eyed grass flower, you notice how complex it is: inward from the outer three leaves with their notches is the light blue or violet flower-like part, then comes the deep purple, and finally the three yellow stamen. All this for a flower that’s only about one-half inch across. While it can grow taller, those I most often see are less than six inches. That’s a lot for a flower that’s often inconspicuous. Continue reading

Fathomless Love

 

Fathomless love: Deeper than the deepest ocean. Higher than the sky. Can you understand it? Neither can I. More than a man loves his wife; more than a mother her child. They would give their lives for the other. More than that is the love of the Father above. Continue reading

Seeing God’s Face

To see God’s face is to know Him, as far as we are able, and to be assured of God’s character. Why do I say that? Perhaps there is much more to seeing God’s face, but that is what I’m understanding at this point. God’s character stands for Who He is, just as ours stands for who we are. Continue reading

Gold Dust

About 40 years ago I was visiting my parents to help out while one of them was in the hospital. It was not terribly long after I’d asked Jesus to be my Lord instead of simply my Savior – as an adult; I’d done that as a child but then turned my back on it. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and such joy as I’d never known. Either as I went to sleep or as I woke up, in my mind’s eye I saw myself rise up out of the bed and very fine gold dust was sprinkled all over me. 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