Archive for the ‘Christ’s Love’ Category

Release Regret to Grasp Grace

December 28, 2010

Suggested Reading:

Matthew 26:69-75

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience… (Hebrews 10:22  NIV)

…And you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5 NIV)

Sandy shared her experience of praying one morning and sensing a need to caution a neighbor to closely watch her infant throughout the day. Sandy dismissed the thought after her husband said sharing this message would cause the neighbor to think she was “loony.” Later that day, the infant died from SIDS. Sandy regretted not following through to caution her neighbor. That remorse wasn’t easy to dismiss.

The disciple Peter battled regret. Despite Peter’s claim of loyalty, Christ told Peter he would deny Him three times. When the rooster crowed a third time, Peter wept bitterly at his failure.

Peter released his regret by recognizing Christ’s love remained in spite of his denial. He knew Christ went to the cross to secure his forgiveness. A forgiveness that ignited a boldness in Peter that death threats could not silence.

 Like Peter, Sandy is releasing regret as she grasps God’s grace. In understanding God’s love she is learning to trust God’s voice and obey His instructions over the voice of others.

Prayer

Father, help us release our regret to live in your forgiveness. 

Thought for the Day

Choose today whether to live in regret in the forgiveness of God’s grace.

Prayer Focus

Receiving God’s forgiveness.

More Than A Visit: God Became Us

December 27, 2010

Suggested Bible Reading:

Philippians 2:5-11

 Today’s Scripture:

“Although He existed in the form of God…emptied Himself…being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:6-7

As the serpent deceived Eve causing her to question God’s goodness and love, I, too, doubt God’s love when life doesn’t turn out the way I wanted. Disappointment leads me to question if God cares or if life issues are too trivial to be detected on God’s radar screen.

The incarnation of Christ confronts my thoughts, questions, and doubts regarding God’s interest, care, and love for me. At a dark time in history when God’s children suffered and when God seemed out of touch, God did more than visit and access their condition. He entered it. He became a living human being who experienced daily life.

A God who came to earth for me cares for me. The One who faced rejection and endured bitter death blows to die for me, loves me. He who paid an enormous redemptive price will never abandon me or dismiss my needs.

Being a human I realize questions and doubts of God’s love will still come. When they do, I’ll redirect my thoughts to the depth of God’s love demonstrated in Christ’s incarnation.

Prayer:

Father, when doubts of your love arise, redirect my thoughts to your unconditional love demonstrated through Jesus.

Thought for the Day:

God made more than a visit. He became us, died for us, and now lives in us.

Prayer Focus:

To know the depth of God’s love.

Love’s Disguise and Reveal

December 19, 2010

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. John 13:15-16 (NIV)

  

The master…

Became one of His creations

Entered our broken world

Experienced our pain

Embraced our darkness to

Expose His light

 

God came near

God with us

God for us

God delivered us

God in us

Majestic Power Incognito

December 18, 2010

As always

God approaches

As promised

Deity morphed

Humanity embraced

Power descended

Entering an adolescent’s womb

Strength packaged in weakness

His birth our hope

His confinement our freedom

His suffering our release

His payment our penalty

His death our redemption

His light penetrates my darkness

He Knows Me

November 24, 2010

This devotional has been revised and reposted. It was first posted on July 8 , 2010.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.” Psalm 139:1

“Please Lorie, please pray that God would give me words to explain myself to my dad,” was the prayer request of a down syndrome teenager. How I wanted to wrap my arms around this young lady and thank her for capturing and articulating the heart desire of every woman. How we yearn for words to fully express ourselves and long to communicate in a way that we are fully understood by someone who completely accepts us.

Unfortunately, the opposite is commonly experienced. We are not understood, not known intimately, and commonly dismissed. Our attempts prove futile, our words inadequate, and our energy is fully drained in unsuccessful attempts. We are left with unsatisfied longings, unmet desires, and the resulting disappointment that plunges us into hopelessness. To protect our injured hearts, we withhold speaking and eventually become silent. No longer living, simply existing. Our presence is acknowledged, but no one peers into our heart comprehending our thoughts, feelings, and the fears we are unable to communicate.

Like David, we have a friend who hears and understands the unspoken words of our heart. We travel with a life companion who thoroughly comprehends how our past experiences have framed us, defined us, and impacted us. He has faithfully traveled through each moment with us.

To those hiding away in fear concerned that once you are understood, you will be unloved, hear God’s thoughts for you… “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

Oh the joy of discovering the one who knows you intimately loves you completely. Rest in the assurance that “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Personal Prayer

Father, thank you for the safety and security of being known intimately and loved completely and unconditionally by you. Let the knowledge of your love empower me to live securely and confidently.

Reflection Question

In what ways has Christ demonstrated His understanding of you?

How does Christ’s humanity demonstrate His understanding?

Thought to Ponder

There is no greater human need than to be understood. There is no greater gift than listening in order to understand.

Quote to Consider

What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we fear more than anything else.

Frederick Buechner

Redefining Fatherhood

November 9, 2010

Suggested Reading

John 17:20-26

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”  John 17:26

Sunday’s sermon stirred a desire for healing in Joyce. She responded to the pastor’s invitation to come up for prayer at the end of the service. Joyce asked me to pray for her emotional healing to overcome the relational scars received by an abusive dad. After praying, Joyce shared that hearing me ask God to become a “father” to her, instead of bringing comfort, unleashed all kinds of ugly childhood memories.

Realizing that Joyce was transferring her experience with her earthly father into her image of her Heavenly Father, I asked a Joyce a few family questions. Upon discovering that Joyce was loved and adored by her grandfather, I suggested she picture her grandfather every time the word father was mentioned. I believed this would help her upgrade from a negative to a positive role model.

What I failed to recognize was as long as earthly people become our point of reference, our definition of father will be skewed. Jesus recognized earthly upgrades are limited and faulty, that’s why He came to demonstrate His Father’s love. My friend didn’t need an earthly example, she needed the ultimate model: the Father’s love demonstrated through Jesus.

Jesus’ words in John 17 express His desire for us to experience the same loving relationship He had with His Father. Christ showed us on Calvary how much our Heavenly Father loved us and what He would pay to have a relationship with us. The love Jesus received from His Heavenly Father was go powerful that He was willing to die in order for us to have this same relationship with His Father.

Now when I pray for people like Joyce who struggle in forming an accurate concept of their Heavenly Father, I direct them to the ultimate model…Jesus.

Personal Prayer

Father, expose and help me release any false beliefs and misperceptions about you. Help me to experience the depth of the loving relationship you desire with me.

Reflection Question

How can we recognize faulty assumptions and beliefs about God?

Thought to Ponder

You can’t trust your father until you know him.

Quote to Consider

“True and proper fatherhood resides in God and from this fatherhood what we know as fatherhood among us men is derived.”

Karl Barth

Christ’s Beauty Trumps Insecurity

October 22, 2010

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Cor. 4:7

Someone recently suggested saying the words of Song of Solomon 4:7, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you,” for two weeks every time I stood in front of a mirror or whenever I saw my reflection. While recognizing this recommendation was Biblically based, I questioned what needed to happen in order for spoken words to transform my life.

Speaking these words didn’t seem adequate in bringing a life change. I’m no idiot, I have flaws and I have sufficient evidence to support their existence along with friends and family who deal with my blemishes. Saying out loud, “There is no blemish in me” feels like a lie and the Bible says lying is a sin.

I struggled to understand how these words could bring a change in my perspective until I discovered the Song of Solomon paints a picture of Christ as a bridegroom. He is seeking a marriage relationship with His bride. Christ desires to be the treasure within this bride’s heart replacing her inner darkness with His presence. This partnership allows His life to flow out of hers releasing beauty. The psalmist understood this when he composed the words, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty.” (Psalm 84:1)

As long as I rely upon myself as my source of beauty, transformation will never occur. When I’m fixated on me, I’m blind to Christ. I look to external indicators as a source of beauty and performance as a measurement of my identity and value. Unfortunately, the more I look in the mirror, the more I see me, blemishes and all. 

When I stop my self-fixation and focus on Christ who is living within, I possess beauty that radiates outward.

I’m discovering that all insecurity problems are identity problems. When I become my reference point for beauty or identity, blemishes break out. Instead of covering them up I’m partnering with the Unblemished One who brings beauty into every heart that flows outward.

Personal Prayer

Father,

You know me intimately, love me completely, and of all the places in the world to live, You chose my heart. Let this amazing truth reframe the way I see and think. May this transforming truth allow me to see myself in the light of your incredible love.

Reflection Question

What are false beauty indicators?

How do we recognize when we are relying on our performance and physical exterior to frame our identity?

Thought to Ponder

Christ tells us not to dwell on our glaring inadequacies, but instead reminds us that of the incomparable adequacy that comes from our relationship with Him. He is our adequacy, therefore our security and identity.

Quote to Consider

Insecurity is more than a complex emotion. It is a lie about our God-sanctioned condition.

 

Release the Past

June 10, 2010

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

 Let’s face it, we’ve all suffered the consequences resulting from the actions and choices of others. Words spoken in anger, physical and emotional attacks that wound. Hurts whose stinging pain penetrates the heart.  While we’ve all been the victim, we’ve all afflicted pain on others. The memory of our actions easily entraps us in regret and the endless cycle of “if only.”

It’s Paul’s life experience that makes his words so powerful. If anyone could have been plagued by regret, it would have been Paul. In his religious zeal he persecuted the church and martyred Christians.  He was the headmaster at Stephen’s stoning, where he watched a follower of Christ courageously die while praying for his accusers.

Like Paul, we can experience the transforming power of Jesus which exceeds the power of our past. We are not to deny our past (sins we’ve committed or sins committed against us), yet we are not to be trapped by them. When painful reminders of the wounds caused by others come, we need to remember that God has the ability to heal us from past hurts. Any pain he allows, he has a plan to use and heal. He paid the full price for our redemption and healing on Calvary.

 Let your woundedness draw you to the healer. Let Christ take your pain and make you sensitive to hurting people. Allow the regret of the afflictions you have caused to  inspire you to live a transformed life. Release the bondage of the past along with the regret. Paul, Stephen’s murder, chose to embrace grace, not guilt. This empowered Paul to live and die in a way that honored God.

Don’t allow the mistakes of your past to disqualify you from the future. Let your learning inspire you to live differently. God transforming truth is always more powerful than your past.

  • What pain do you need to release and ask God to heal and use?
  • What regret do you need to release and exchange for a transformed life?

Love Came Down

May 20, 2010

He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7 (NASB)

My husband’s new job drew us to CA. An exciting new adventure, surroundings, and increased warmth and sunshine awaited us. Reflecting back, I believe we needed a new life chapter. Some inner longing wasn’t satisfied and we believed a new environment would provide our wings a place to expand and grow.

Although the move became a downsize, two moving trucks carried our belongings to storage and we drove out with our car filled to the ceiling. I’ll be honest, my heart ached leaving behind 3 drop dead gorgeous French armoires, exquisite furnishings, and a floral painting that was a spectacular work of art.

I don’t want to dismiss my loss but I want to view life with a healthy and meaningful perspective. There’s nothing wrong with possessing things. You’re in trouble when they possess you. We are not to measure our value by things or accomplishments and instead are to measure our worth by Christ’s love and sacrifice for us.

When Christ left heaven he came empty of possession, no moving trucks preceded him.

He left a face-to-face relationship with his father to become an infant dependent upon the care of others for his daily survival. He released the opportunities and privileges of heaven to become a man. He surrendered the use of his abilities only to act at his father’s instruction and direction. This directed him to Calvary.

What motivated our move is not wrong, but I won’t claim pure motives. Yes, I downsized, but many possessions accompanied me. Nonetheless, I traveled here loved. Loved so much that Christ emptied himself of everything in order to pursue and possess a loving relationship with me.

I want to live in a fuller awareness of how much I’m loved.

Cost of Intimacy

May 18, 2010

You left your father and mother and your homeland…Ruth 2:11 (NIV)

I wonder if earth ever felt like home for Christ. Adjusting to a new environment is overwhelming and physically and emotionally exhausting. I used my GPS today to find a gas station where I could purchase a local map. Although my GPS got me to my location, I don’t feel like I know where I am.

 The journey to a new home helps me to catch glimpses into what Christ experienced in order to have an intimate relationship with me. Imagine leaving the ideal father and a picture perfect family environment. Physically separating yourself from their loving embraces in order to gather up and return estranged family members to their lost home.

The cost of what Christ left behind is multiplied by what he took on. Living on earth cost him the physical pain of Golgotha and the emotional pain of hatred, desertion, and abandonment.

I love that Christ never asks us to do anything that he hasn’t done. He willingly left home and family, endured the physical pain of abuse, and the devastating loss of a loved one. His pure and perfect intentions were questioned, doubted, and misunderstood. His sacrifice was publically mocked, mangled and massacred.

Remembering how much Christ paid to establish an intimate relationship with me, reminds me that my only true home is smack dab in the center of his will. Any journey that he leads is destined to bring me home.