Posts Tagged With: loved

Prayer for Guidance: Psalm 23

“Know ye that Jehovah, He is God: It is He that hath made us, and we are His; We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise: Give thanks unto Him, and bless His name. For Jehovah is good; His loving kindness endureth for ever, And His faithfulness unto all generations.” Psalm 100:3-5 American Standard Version

Today I have spent the whole day at Living Proof Live! It was wonderful being surrounded by the women that I love hearing the word of God spoken with Beth Moore’s beautiful Texas accent. Now I’m a worshiper, and my favorite part of the day were the praise and worship times when I had the opportunity to join with 180,000 women across the glove singing praises to the name of Jesus our Messiah! It was AWESOME! At one point my friend Cindy turned to me and with a big grin said “I bet it makes God so happy to hear this right now.” And I shared with her how this spring I was at a women’s retreat, The Walk to Emmaus, where we sang everything with only an acoustic guitar and barely any amplification. The sound of the women’s voices lifting up the LORD’S praises was simply too much for me to handle and I could rarely sing the first verse or two for the beauty of the sound! I could only listen and dwell in the smile of pleasure that warmed God’s heart as He was receiving our praises.

We were created to praise Him! His word says as much. He DELIGHTS in the praises that we lift up, either songs, poems, stories, tears, moanings, groanings, you name it I believe that He LOVES it! However, I also believe that it is the Enemy’s goal in life to steal those praises from our lips. To snatch them from our hearts. To ensnare them from getting to Jesus on the throne and in turn steal Jesus’ joy of hearing them. I want you to think about this for a minute. When you do something big for someone, and they say thank you, how much does it mean to you. I’m not talking about one of those passive, smile-and-nod “thanks”, I mean one of those heartfelt, from the bottom of their toes, THANK YOU’s. How great does that feel? And if it feels that good to us, then how GREAT must it make God feel when we say that to Him? Now just try to tell me that the Enemy wouldn’t want to take that away from God. I would not believe you if you tried! No, it’s Satan’s chief goal to steal God’s glory and His honor and His praise through every way that he abuses us, trying to get us to drop our arms, to stop our songs of praise, to keep us from writing our stories of triumph and victory over defeat, to stop our tears of joy from flowing to the altar. The Enemy wants them replaced with guilt and shame, fear and condemnation. As God shared this epiphany with me today, in that church as I stood singing at the top of my voice with my arms reaching out to the heavens in an attempt to touch the hem of His holy robe, do you know what I told Him? I told God that I would NOT let the Enemy win. That I refused to let the Enemy steal my joy, to steal my confidence in the grace under which I live. I will NOT allow him to convince me that my God, who DIED FOR ME, doesn’t love me. I will NOT allow him to shut my praises up inside of me for fear of the condemnation of people who simply don’t understand what living under the grace-filled-shadow of the hand of the Almighty looks like. It looks like a shattered heart that has been mended by loving hands that KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING! It looks like tears flowing, not from hurt, but from HEALING. No, living a grace-filled-life isn’t without pain, or battles; it’s loving and praising through them because we have the peace that passes all understanding. It’s KNOWING that God loves us, not because He showers us with gifts of THINGS or MONEY, but that He prunes us so that we may bear much fruit. Life is HARD, and it HURTS! But we choose the one of two places from which those hurts can come from; the hands of someone who HATES US with everything in him (the Enemy) or they can come from the hands of the one who LOVES US MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF! HE DIED TO SET YOU FREE! He died to show you He loves you. He died so that you could LIVE. But He doesn’t force us to accept that love. He doesn’t force us to accept that life. He merely lays it at our feet like a rose on the ground, and we choose to pick it up and cherish it like the gift that it was meant to be, or walk all over it like it’s worth nothing at all to us.

While Jesus was here, many people treated Him just that way; like a rose trampled on the ground. Like He was nothing, and we still do it today, nothing has changed but the way in which we shun Him. Often times, it’s with a church service that brings people together in His name and then never mentions it once in the service. It’s people coming and singing the pretty church songs, but their praises are a mere “thanks” and not a heart-felt THANK YOU JESUS! Going through the motions so that WE feel like we’ve been to church and done our weekly Christian duty. But those aren’t the praises that God seeks, that’s not what He desires. He desires our hearts, not our sacrifices. He desires our LOVE and ADORATION, not our empty praises. He desires a FRIENDSHIP, not just an acquaintance. God wants US, all of us, not just a part. He wants us to DIVE into the deep end of His love and splash around in His grace. To do a cannonball off the diving board, just because we can. But, HOW do we do that? How do we get there?

We ask.

We all have a different way to get to that point with God where we are confidently leaning on Him, so I can’t tell you that’s there’s one way and here’s how you do it. We are all made uniquely individual and we all come to Jesus in exactly that way. But I can tell you this, you CAN ask Him to take you there. You can ask Him HOW to get to that point. And when you call to Him for help, guidance, directions, He WILL answer you. It’s a promise.

Prayer for Guidance:Psalm 23: “Lord Jesus, I want to know You more. But I don’t know how. I want to lean on You in confidence that You won’t let me fall, but I don’t know what that looks like. God PLEASE, help me get there. Right now I am Your lost little sheep in need of a Shepherd to guide me, lead me to that place where You are. Please help me to lie down in green pastures, lead me beside those still waters, because I believe that You will restore my soul. Lord, guide me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death right now Lord, but I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Lord, I believe that You do prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. That when You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Lord, I do believe that SURELY Your Goodness and Mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and that I WILL dwell in the house of Yaweh FOREVER. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!”

You know what I’m really enjoying about these scripture based prayers, they start out asking for something, and end up DECLARING THE VICTORY! AMEN! I am including a video (below) of a praise song with the lyrics included on the screen. If you are able, and I pray that God will allow you to read this particular post at a time when you are able to play the video, stand or kneel if you feel called. Sing along, raise your arms in praise to His sacrifice and His grace, and praise Him with a deeply felt thankful heart that He is GOOD and WORTHY of praise! HALLELUJAH!

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Bear Hugs

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9

I was just getting ready for bed and went to give my sleeping children just one more kiss for the day and to pray over them just one more time. But this time my daughter was still awake! She sat up and greeted me with a huge grin and through prune-y sucked fingers said “Hi Mommy”! My heart just melted! I sat down on her bed with her, wrapped her up in a big bear hug and squeezed her until she squeaked. I said, “Princess, I love you soooooo very much! And just think, I love you this much, and it’s not even close to the amount that God loves you, but He can’t hug you.” And I wrapped her in another tight squeeze. And it was in that moment that God chose to remind me how I had just prayed that He use me to show people how much He loves them. And how He was using me to show her and tell her how much He loves her… and how much He love me! More than a smitten mother’s love for her precious baby girl. Praise God! 🙂

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Labor

“We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers – continually remembering before our God and Father you work of faith and and steadiness of hope in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 The Tree of Life Version)

OK, so I wanted to try my hand at writing to a theme today. Usually I just write whatever the LORD puts in my head, but yesterday, sitting in church, listening to the sermon on work, I felt the Holy Spirit tug me and tell me to stretch myself a little and start things from a different angle today. When we talked with the pastor after the sermon he mentioned that when he does a topical sermon he always starts with a word search through the bible to see what the scriptures say on the topic. So naturally, that’s where I started too. There are 115 individual scriptures in the New International Version of the Bible that have the word “labor” in them. I didn’t even get past the first 8 before I didn’t want to look at them any more! Almost every single one prefaced the word labor with the word “hard” or “harsh”, how depressing! So I decided, maybe I should look up the Webster’s definition of labor, maybe that might be a little more inspirational for a devotional blog… nope! According to my Webster’s New Basic dictionary and Thesaurus labor means: “(n) exertion of the body or mind; task; pains of childbirth, workmen collectively. (v) work hard; strive; maintain normal motion with difficulty; esp. of a ship, be tossed heavily.” I seriously thought to myself, THIS is what we’re supposed to be celebrating today??? Are we crazy??? And now that I’m thinking about it more, most of us celebrate Labor Day with a day OFF from laboring! Now, that doesn’t make sense either. So how do I write something inspirational and hopefully uplifting about a topic that is so depressing?

Maybe I should just start at the beginning. That’s what God did. If we look at the Garden of Eden and the very first thing that God gave Adam to do, He put him in the garden to “work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15). But this job wasn’t labor, it wasn’t rife with toil or harshness. It was a labor of love! The ground had not been cursed yet, and was therefore easy to work. There wasn’t even sweat involved in the work. But then that serpent of old slithered in and ruined everything! He tempted, they ate, they were ashamed and hid, and then… in walks Daddy. Of course, like any good parent knows, He doesn’t really have to ask “what happened here”, because He already knows, He can see the evidence all over the ground, their faces, their fig leaves, but most of all… because He’s God. They offer Him their feeble excuses for what they’ve done and then their punishment is doled out:

“16 To the woman he said,“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen 3:16-19)

The very first appearance of the word labor in the NIV is in the curse for the woman and birthing children, it will be labor. Curious, I looked up the original Hebrew for this verse and found that it can also be translated as worrisomeness, labor, pain, toil or sorrow. Now please, moms out there, tell me, how many of you have birthed a child and NOT been plagued with worries, pain, toil and sorrows ever since your child was born? The physical pain of birthing that child may have concluded at its delivery, but all the rest of it certainly hasn’t stopped since! Just this week my four-year-old has shed blood 3 times in a four-day-span and the worry that I have been wrapped up in as to the cause of all this blood shed has eaten me up inside! Yet, I also don’t know a mother out there that wouldn’t say that all of this labor of mothering is anything other than a labor of love. It’s hard, totally not glamorous, but completely worth all of it!

I have to admit, in the last 2 years I have been laboring. I’ve studied hard, researched til my brain hurt and written until I thought my fingers were going to fall off, all for the sake of spreading the good news that Jesus saves! Not just our souls for eternal heavenly purposes, but for TODAY and the life that we were created to live! I can’t even begin to count how many hours I have spent at my desk pouring over the scriptures trying to find the understanding I felt I needed to be able to tell people in an informed manner what God can do for them. I filled an entire book with the knowledge and insight that I gained from the Holy Spirit. And I OFTEN referred to True Intimacy as a child or a baby. I labored, like many people would never understand, to birth that book. The concept in it and the rationales behind them. Many never written out, but simply there in the background of the page, written in red between the lines.  When it became very obvious that it was not God’s plan to immediately publish True Intimacy in a 3D printed format, I have to admit, I was crushed, but obedient and went the direction that God led me; this website. Creating it, praying for it, learning (the hard way) how to put it together and work the programs, to even writing and posting daily, it’s all been hard labor. But every second of it has been worth it, my labor of love for my creator and for you. Through this entire process I have said “people need to know about this!” and that’s why I’ve been writing. Not for the money or the fame of being a “published author”, although that has certainly been part of the dream, but for the simple fact that God delivered my husband and I so completely from the bondage of past sins that all I wanted to do was tell the world that Jesus saves! That Jesus frees! That Jesus loves! That God cares… about YOU! And honestly, if I never see a penny from royalties to the things that I write in His name I’m perfectly fine with that as long as the good news is being spread and read! And really, I think that’s the whole point of labor. Laboring in love for the people around you who will benefit from your toil. Putting our selfishness aside and putting those people first. When we make a dinner for someone who is home bound, it’s still labor, but the labor isn’t as toilsome when done in love, don’t you think? Perhaps that is because our hearts are lighter and therefore our burden is lighter as well. I don’t know. I just know that when we’re laboring for someone else to benefit it seems a lot less like labor and a lot more like love. 🙂

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Day 8: Sacrifice

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him 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

When we love someone it requires personal sacrifice.  Sometimes it’s with a simple compromise: I want Chinese for dinner and Christian wants Mexican so I sacrifice my desire for Chinese because I love him.  At other times though, to prove our love to one another, it takes something a little more drastic.

After 5 ½ years of dating, I started having doubts about my future with Christian.  Since he was the only man I’d ever been with, I was starting to feel like I had missed something.  So one night I asked him to come over to talk, because I was planning on breaking up with him.  After many hours of tears and talking, I was ready to leave him.  I had given him my engagement ring back and everything.  But he wasn’t going to let that happen.  He asked if I was willing to take a walk with him and I said “sure”, despite the fact that you could see our breath as we walked.  When we got to the fountain at the center of campus I asked Christian why he was so disappointed that the fountain was off and he replied, “I was going to run through it to prove my love to you.”  Christian was willing to sacrifice his health and his comfort to prove to me how much he loved me; because love requires sacrifices, sometimes big ones.  The ultimate and perfect love of God for us, required the ultimate and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, for us.

Jesus – though He had done nothing sinful or against the law in His entire life – was betrayed by one of His closest friends, arrested, and secretly whisked off to an immediate trial in the dead of night.  The Sanhedrin found Him guilty and sentenced Him to be flogged, and die by Crucifixion.  Once sentenced, He had one chance to “get out of it” so to speak. At that time, it was the festival of Passover and during the festival it was customary for one prisoner to be released.  They were given their choice between the Savior of their souls and a murderer for a rebellion against Rome.  The Jews chose to release Barabbas the murderer (which is how it had to be for God’s plan of redemption to work).  Jesus heard His friends and neighbors chanting “Crucify him, Crucify him, Crucify him”.

The book of Matthew tells us that Pilate released Barabbas, had Jesus flogged and then handed Him over to be crucified.  Usually when retelling the story of Jesus’ sacrifice we focus on the crucifixion, skipping the fact that He was flogged – or brutally tortured – first.  Flogging is where they whip your torso and your back.  But it’s not just a simple whip like a horse whip, its long leather straps with fish hooks and metal shards woven within them so as to inflict the maximum amount of pain possible without actually killing the person.  Most times after being flogged the skin would be hanging open, the victim’s bones, muscle and internal organs completely exposed.  It is one short sentence in the scriptures, but it was not a short sentence for Jesus.  It was long and painful, and only the beginning.  Next, He endured more pain and humiliation as the soldiers dressed him in a “royal” robe and placed a crown of thorns on his head.  Beating it into His head with a reed while spitting on Him and mocking Him.  Once the soldiers were satisfied with this utter humiliation they took His robe, put His clothes back on Him and led Him out to be crucified.  By custom, crucifixion victims were forced to carry the 75-100 pound cross-member of their own cross for roughly 1/3 of a mile.  In John it says that Jesus carried this Himself, but in the other gospels it says that Simon, a Cyrenian, carried it for Him.  It is very likely that Jesus started out the journey carrying His own cross; however after being awake all night long, beaten, bruised flogged, beaten more and humiliated, He lost His strength quickly and couldn’t carry it any further, requiring the assistance of Simon.  Once He reached Golgotha He was placed on top of His cross where they drove spikes between the bones of His wrists and the heels of His feet.  Not the small wood nails we’re used to seeing in the hardware store but spikes, large metal spikes.  He was lifted into place on the cross, hung at 9 in the morning according to Mark’s gospel.  He was placed between two criminals, equating Him with criminals; something He was not.  As people walked by Him on the road they mocked, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself.  He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.  HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIEGHTS IN HIM; for He said, “I am the Son of God.”  The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. (Matthew 27:42-44)  But that’s just it.  He COULD have saved Himself!  Just one word and He could have sent 10,000 angels to free Him from this pain and absolute humiliation but He didn’t say a word.  He endured every bit of it.  Just for you and me.  He hung on that cross, blood and life slowly draining from Him, excruciating pain and humiliation, His lungs filling with blood making it more and more difficult to breathe, slowly dying for SIX HOURS.  Luke tells us that for the final 3 hours of His torture it was dark.  Finally at 3 He cried out “It is finished” and died.  That, my sister, is part of the punishment that you and I deserve for our sins, and yet we will never receive that punishment… because Jesus took it all for us.  After watching the Passion of Christ I asked, “Why God, why would you do that for me?  Me?”  He replied, “Because my Beloved, that’s just how much I love you!  I love you so much I would rather die than live without you!”

Sigh…

Christian was willing to be cold and wet and sick for me, which was very romantic.  Christ was willing to be tortured and died for me.  So who loves me more?  There is NO possible way that Christian who is human can love me as much as Christ who was completely human and completely God.  Christ had a choice; He didn’t HAVE to do it.  He didn’t have to suffer the humiliation and the pain, yet He CHOSE to go through that so that we could live with Him forever!  The ultimate love required the ultimate sacrifice to prove that love, and it DID prove it!  When we ask Jesus how much He loves us, He says “This much” and spreads out His arms, reminding us of how He died for us.  He… chose… YOU.  He loves you that much.  He died and endured things that no one, human OR God should ever have to endure, and He did it to prove to you how much He loves you.  Love.  That’s what it’s all about, LOVE.

First, we are to love God with our entire self, more than everything else in our life.  Then, we are to love our neighbors more than ourselves.  This is especially important in marriage because it’s your love for God and your husband that is the greatest testimony to the people around you.  Your husband is your very own personal gift from God himself, show your husband you really love him, even when it’s hard and you really don’t feel like it.  If you claim that you love God, but complain constantly about your husband you are not showing him or the people around you the kind of love that God gives.  No matter what we’re doing or what our attitudes are like, God still loves us deeply and continues to show us all the time.  When we are being our most difficult, He still loves us; because He knows that that’s when we need His love the most.

Christian’s comments:

We have all had to sacrifice things before. But no one has ever sacrificed like Jesus did. He sacrificed His life; AND He did it VOLUNTARILY! Do you know why? Because He loves you that much. If you love your wife, you are going to have to make some sacrifices. You can’t just expect her to make them all.

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Day 7: Princess

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”.  Revelation 19:16

God is the King, and not just any king; He is the King of all kings.  He is the Lord over all other lords.  He is the ruler of everyone and everything.  Boy it feels so good to say that!!!  You know why?  Because just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.  (Ephesians 1:4-5 emphasis mine)  WE are the siblings of Christ!  WE are the sons and daughters of God Almighty!  WE are in God’s royal family.  You are His daughter, His baby girl.  Now stay with me here, if God is THE King of kings and we are His children (Rom 8:14 & 16 and Gal 3:26-29), then we are princesses!

Oh, but wait, it gets even better!  As God’s children we receive royal benefits as well!  In Matthew 7: 9-11 it says what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! If we love and cherish our own children and want to give them good things, then how much more does God our Father want to give good things to us!?!  He loves us so much more than we could ever comprehend; of course He wants good things for us!

1 John 3:1 tells of how God LAVISHES his love on us, His children.  When was the last time you had human love lavished on you?  How great was it?  Now think about all the times in your life you’ve felt really loved, all those times it was God using that person’s arms to hug you, their voice to encourage you and make you laugh.  But that’s not even the best part of being His child.  The best part is how it makes you valuable.  Here’s a little bit from one of my journal entries:

“Oh the changes He’s made!  I wonder if He lets us screw up when we’re young so that He can show off by fixing us as we get older.  I had no idea I was so broken.  I thought my worth was in my body and my sex appeal, no, not ALL my worth, but the majority of it.  Through this journey (of the sex fast and writing this book) I’ve discovered my TRUE worth and value and that I’ve been bought with an un-payable price.  I’m more than priceless, I’m Christ’s.  By attaching myself to HIM my value becomes more than who I am or what I do or wear.  It’s who I’m with.  I am the LORD’S and He is mine.  My value comes from Him and the fact that I am His child.  My children are priceless to me because they are mine.  I am priceless to Him because I am His child.  I have an “all access pass” because “I’m with Him”.  I’m with Christ!  With Christ, all things are possible; including turning a stay at home mom into a princess and a mechanic into a prince charming; completely sweeping me off my feet, in every sense of the word.  Thank you Lord!  Praise be to You alone!  You did all this.  Thank you for being in the heart-changing business!”

Christian’s comments:

Husband, your wife is a daughter of God. God is THE King of kings. So that makes your wife a princess and she should be treated as such. If you start treating her as a princess, she is most likely to reciprocate that back to you. If you want to be treated as royalty, you first need to treat her as royalty.

A side note to the wives. Your confidence in yourself is one of the most appealing aspects about you. If you show off your confidence and royalty (remember not stuck up and snotty, precious royalty), your husband will have no problems treating you as royalty.

Tamar used to wear somewhat baggy clothes to kind of hide her curves. Recently, since our first fast, she has started wearing clothes that fit her well. They show off her curves (which are very sexy) without being revealing. She has confidence in herself so she doesn’t feel like she needs to hide anymore. And believe me, I complement her every chance I get.

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