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Archive | God’s love

Do I Love God as Much as My Grandson Loves His Daddy?

My 19-month-old grandson Theo loves his daddy. I know what you’re thinking. All boys love their fathers. And yes, they do. But Theo loves his dad so much he can’t stop talking about it. In fact, I witnessed a scene recently between Theo and my son-in-law that prompted me to wonder if I love God like that.

It was Christmas Eve and all our family had gone to church together at 9am. After church we went to a local coffee shop to visit. My son-in-law Jeremy is on the church staff and had to meet us there a little later.

When Jeremy arrived, Theo ran to him calling “Daddeee, Daddeee, Daddee.” But what got me is what happened next. After Theo climbed in Jeremy’s lap and hugged him, he hopped down and ran to my husband, his grandfather. Theo touched Wayne on the leg, glanced back at Jeremy, then looked up at Wayne and joyfully said “Daddeee.” Then ran back to his father and climbed up in his lap again.

Theo did this 3 or 4 times before he finally settled down in his daddy’s lap. Each time he ran to Wayne, Theo’s “Daddee” included joy, excitement, and just a bit of a question. And all of us sitting there caught it. It was as if Theo wanted to make sure Wayne knew his daddy had arrived.

Theo not only adores his father and wants to be near him, he wants to share the wonder of his father with the other people he loves. As I watched this touching scene, God nudged my heart. I felt Him ask: Do you love me like this? So much you can’t help but tell others about me?

Why Do I Share Jesus?

Honestly, most of the times I’ve shared Jesus with others have been acts of obedience. I tell others because God has commanded us to tell. In recent years, I’ve been praying that God would give me a burden for the lost, that He would give me a heavy awareness of their eternal condition, so I would share out of a desire to help them.

But this is a different, deeper motivation. Do I love God so much I can’t help but share this joy with others? 

I wish I had a video of that day I told you about. I wish you could see the sheer joy on Theo’s face at his father’s arrival and his exuberance at sharing his presence with Wayne. Sadly, I don’t. But I do have another video that will give you a rough idea of Theo’s unbounded love for his dad.

My daughter Kelley took this video one day while Jeremy was out of town. Theo had been missing his daddy and couldn’t stop looking for him and asking about him. His 5-year-old brother tried to explain, but it wasn’t enough for Theo.

What about you? Do you love your Heavenly Father so much that you run to tell others how wonderful He is?

I pray we both grow in our love for God in this New Year. If you want to love God more, add your prayer in the comments! 

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It’s Not Too Late to Help a Child This Christmas

Last week, my husband and I did something new together and had a blast! We volunteered our time at a shoebox processing center for Operation Christmas Child.

When our children were growing up, our family packed three Christmas shoeboxes every year. Each of our kids got to pick boy or girl, the age category, and the items for one of the boxes. Since they are all grown, it’s been a few years since we packed one. So this year, we helped our 5-year-old grandson pack a shoebox.

Christmas Shoebox

When I went online to print a trackable label, I was drawn to the opportunity to volunteer. Since we moved last summer, we now live close to one of the processing centers. So I signed us up. We spent the better part of a day working and felt as if our time truly made a difference in the effort.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, delivers more than 9 million shoeboxes each year around the world. These boxes are checked and sorted in one of 8 processing centers across the United States. Volunteers are responsible for removing financial contributions, checking boxes for inappropriate items, adding additional items if needed, and sorting and packing the donations into shipping boxes.

Operation Christmas Child

4 Ways to Help a Needy Child this Christmas

It’s too late to volunteer at a Shoebox processing center this year, but it’s not too late to give to a child in need this Christmas. (FYI, in case your interested in volunteering next year, here’s the link to the Operation Christmas Child volunteer page.) Here are 4 opportunities to give now:

  1. Build a Shoebox online at Operation Christmas Child
  2. Help the child of someone in prison through Prison Fellowship’s ministry, Angel Tree
  3. Share the love of Jesus with a child in poverty through Compassion International
  4. Give a gift that helps a family in need through World Vision

Because of the most precious gift ever given to us – Jesus Christ our Savior! – let’s give back. I’d love to hear about ways you’re giving back this year!

Some other Christmas posts you may be interested in:

 

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4 Ways to Foster a Thirst for God

Do we really thirst for God? If we had to measure our desire for God, how would we rank it? Let’s try. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being hardly at all and 10 meaning you constantly desire to be in God’s presence, what number would you give yourself?

By the way, this is a personal question. Just think your answer to yourself. I simply want us to consider our level of spiritual hunger. Since we were made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16), we are at our most fulfilled and joyful when we are close to Him.

Thirst for God

In the 63rd Psalm, David the shepherd king expressed his desire for God:

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

If I’m being honest, I can’t claim these words as my own every day. The things of life claim my attention and even sometimes my priorities. But, thankfully, I’m growing and they describe my desire for God more than they used to.

4 Ways to Foster a Thirst for God

In Psalm 63:2-8, David gives some insight on how we can foster a growing desire for God. Though I’m sure there are more, I spotted 4 specific ways.

  1. Worship with God’s People – David experienced the presence of God in His house among the people of God. And it whet his appetite. Let us not neglect gathering with other Christians to worship.
  2. Practice Praise – I know some days we don’t feel like praising God. For instance, those days when everything and more seems to be going wrong. And those days when we struggle with grief or pain or loss. But every day, we can remember God’s steadfast love. And we can praise Him.
  3. Meditate on God’s Past Provision – Sometimes our current circumstances are so difficult and heavy we can think of nothing else. We wonder if and when God will come to our aid. Reflecting on times in the past where God has intervened, helped, strengthened, or comforted will give us reason to draw close to Him.
  4. Go to Him First, Always – I don’t know about you, but sometimes when trials hit God may be my second or third or last person I run to. Probably because I’m too focused on the physical instead of the spiritual. God longs for us to go to Him first for strength, help, provision, comfort, and support. He want to help us. He is just waiting.

As we purposefully and consistently practice these things, we will experience God’s presence and provision. And as we do, our desire and longing for Him will grow. Once we taste the goodness of God we will not be able to get enough.

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5 Signs of Authentic Faith

Are we living out true, authentic faith in Jesus or simply fooling ourselves? It’s easy to tell, if we take an honest look. The apostle John challenged first century believers – and believers today – to do just that. In his first letter, John clearly laid out signs of authentic faith. And he clearly stated his purpose in writing:

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

John wanted his readers to be sure they were saved. He longed for them to stand firm in God’s truth and not be swayed by false teachers. And he wanted “false believers” to wake up.

He did not tip toe around the truth. That would not do them, nor us, any good. In the first two chapters of First John, the apostle gave us 5 signs to test our faith. His “If we…, then…, but…” style describes what a true relationship with Jesus will – and won’t – look like.

5 Signs of Authentic Faith

  1. If we walk in darkness, then we do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light we have fellowship with God.
  2. If we claim to have no sin, then we are deceived and we call God a liar. But if we admit and confess our sin, God will forgive us and give us Jesus’ righteousness.
  3. If we do not obey God’s commands, then the truth is not in us. But if we obey God, it reveals we truly know Him and His love is made complete in us.
  4. If we do not love fellow believers, then we still live in darkness and prone to fall. But if we love other believers, we live in the light.
  5. If we love the world, then it proves we do not have God’s love. But if we do not love the things of the world it shows we truly have eternal life.

So, how are we doing? Are we walking in the light or in the darkness?

You may also be interested in: How to have a relationship with Jesus

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In the Midst of Change, the Best Remains the Same

I feel as though my life is all boxed up, but change is coming…

Literally, our life is in boxes. My husband’s retirement in December started it all. He had planned to work another two years, but when his company offered an early retirement opportunity, we knew it was time. We decided to move our plan forward – to sell our home in Houston and move to the Dallas area where our daughters and their families live.

After the holidays we began working to get the house in top shape. Power wash the driveway. Weed the flower beds. Paint some walls. Then came all the staging work – pack away the family photos, take the animal heads off the walls, and pack up the “extra” decor.

The house officially hit the market April 20th. We really expected it to take a few weeks at least. But we received three offers in the first three days. The biggest problem was we had no where to go. So, we took a quick trip north to find a new home.

We closed on the new place last Wednesday and minor renovations began the next day! The movers come to help us make the actual move next week! All our stuff should be inside the new place by mid-June!

In the meantime, I’m packing. And packing. Selling a few extra things and donating some others. Everything else has been put on the back burner. That includes blogging! But I wanted to work this one in to give you all an update.

Oh, and in the middle of it all, I received a contract from my publisher for a new book! That project is at the top of my list – right under “unpack boxes!” (Watch for more about this later!)

I’m in the midst of a lot of change right now – husband’s retirement, moving away from a church family that I love, selling one home and buying another, changing cities, and moving my elderly parents from Louisiana to Tennessee to be near my brother (that’s a whole other story!) But the best of it all remains the same. My husband has been consistently at my side for almost 34 years. Our family still loves and supports one another.

And, most importantly, my God is the same faithful, all-powerful, gracious Father I’ve always known. He is the same God in Dallas that He is in Houston. Or New York. Or Mozambique. We will find a place among His people in our new home. And He will have work for us to do there. I can’t wait!

 

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14 One Anothers for the Church Today

God does not intend for us to live out our faith on our own. When He saves us, He saves us into His family, the church, so we can live and grow together with other believers. We cannot be everything God desires for us, we cannot fulfill God’s purposes for us, we cannot receive everything God has for us, without a vital connection to a local church.

One another churchGod designed the church to be a unique fellowship. The Bible uses the Greek word koinōnia to describe this spiritual relationship between believers (Acts 2:42). Koinōnia means “having in common, sharing, partnership, fellowship.” Individual believers both receive what they need and give what others need within the context of the church.

 So, what does this giving and receiving – this koinōnia – look like? There is not one single passage in the Bible that gives a detailed, all-encompassing description. However, the New Testament is peppered with examples, principles, and commands about what believers should be for each other. For example, the phrase “one another” is frequently used to point to a specific way believers should relate to other believers. Although the following list is not comprehensive, these 14 “one anothers” are a great start to helping us understand the koinōnia of the church.

14 “One Anothers” for the Church Today

  1. Love one another (John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:7)
  2. Comfort one another (2 Corinthians 13:11)
  3. Serve one another (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 4:10)
  4. Restore one another (Galatians 6:1)
  5. Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  6. Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  7. Build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  8. Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
  9. Do good to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
  10. Meet one another’s physical needs (James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:17)
  11. Pray for one another to be healed (James 5:16)
  12. Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
  13. Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16) – correcting wrong belief and behavior and instilling correct belief and behavior
  14. Spur one another to good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)

These “one anothers” reveal the scope and depth of our koinōnia relationship – from putting the needs of others before our own to allowing another believer to hold us accountable for our behavior. This spiritual relationship is so different than anything we can find in the world. Only in the church can we give and receive everything God intends. He has provided everything we need through “one another.”

In what ways have you experienced the unique koinōnia of the church?

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4 Questions Answered about Real Love

Real LoveWhat is real love? If you believe the movies, it’s defined by two beautiful celebrities locked in a passionate embrace. Our culture equates “love” with sexual attraction.

But that’s not real love. That’s just physical desire. And it’s fleeting at best. Like chocolate on a hot day, it doesn’t last long.

Why do we love? If you follow the example of our culture, we “love” to benefit self. We love those who deserve it or those who can help us in some way.

But that’s not real love. That’s simply shallow selfishness.

Our culture – and even ourselves – cannot teach us about real love. Only God can.

What is real love?

But God’s Word has the answers. The Bible defines love. The Bible tells us how to love, who to love, and why to love.

Real love is divine love. God calls us to love one another like He loves us (John 13:34-35). The Greek word translated as “love” is agape. It is love of volition, not emotion. We can choose to act in love toward another. Agape is also based on the character of the one acting in love and not the worth of the recipient. God loves us because of His perfect, holy nature, not because we deserve His love.

God loves us because of who He is not because of who we are. He loves because it is His holy nature to do so. That’s why God’s love is completely unconditional. It is based on His perfect self.

God’s love should be our example. Not our culture. We love others because God loved us first. Even when we didn’t deserve it.

How should we love?

This is a tall order. Jesus said we are to love each other like He loves us. Jesus gave His life for us. He put our needs ahead of His own and trusted the Father with the outcome. (See John 15:9-14.)

Who should we love?

Jesus told us to love three groups of people. First, we are to love our fellow believers (John 15:12). Second, we are to love “our neighbors” (Matthew 19:19). Third, we are to “our enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Huh. That sounds like pretty much everybody to me.

Why should we love?

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We are to love others because God loves us. He made us in His image. He calls us to reveal the love of Christ to the world. He is a God of love and we are to be people of love.

Love others like God loved us. Big assignment. But we also have a big, loving God.

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16b

Love. God is our reason, our example, and our enabler.

What do you find the hardest about loving others as God loves you?

 

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A Glimpse of Heaven

heavenI feel like I got a little taste of heaven yesterday. It was “International Day” at our church – a special day set aside to celebrate the diverse cultures, nations, and peoples represented in our church and community. Displays with traditional clothing, special items, and food filled the Great Hall. We freely sampled yummy dishes from India, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, and more.

The food made my belly happy, but the service touched my spirit. Dozens of people holding the flag of their home country lined the front. Then as individuals from 15 different countries each shared John 3:16 in their heart language, my eyes filled with tears. At first I was surprised my reaction, then the Holy Spirit brought a passage from God’s Word to mind:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:  “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10

International DayPastor Bruce’s message yesterday focused on the glorious truth that Jesus came for all people. He reminded us of the angel’s words to the shepherds the night Jesus was born:

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  Luke 2:9-11

Yes, at Christmas let’s remember that Jesus came for all people. But let’s also remember that Jesus came to die for all people:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18

Heaven will be a bit like “International Day.” People of all shapes, sizes, colors, languages, and cultures will fill the throne room to worship the King of Kings.

I don’t know what language we will speak in heaven, but there will be no language barrier. We will be one people. All brothers and sisters with the same God and Father. Praise Him!

Will you be part of the heavenly throng? If you’ve never made a decision to receive the gift of life Jesus offers, why not do it today? (Find out more)

 

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We Are Not “All God’s Children”

All God's ChildrenI hear it all the time: “We are all God’s children!” Sounds good, doesn’t it? That would be great! All humanity united in one family. With one Father.

Just one problem with that. That’s not what the Bible teaches.

Yes, all humans are creatures of God. We all belong to Him because He formed and fashioned us. We were made by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). Made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Made for His glory (Isaiah 43:7).

And yes, God loves all people (John 3:16). He longs to be in right relationship with each and every individual (2 Peter 3:9). He desires that all people come to eternal salvation through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:3-6). In fact, He desires this so much that while everyone was still in utter rebellion against Him, God sent His Son to die to save us (Romans 5:8). That’s how much He loves us. That’s how much He loves you.

But not all people are children of God.

The Bible makes a clear distinction between those who are “God’s children” and those who are not. Only those born by God’s Spirit through faith in Jesus are children of God (1 John 3:1-10, Galatians 3:26, John 8:34-41).

“To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13, NIV

The Bible also tells us what a child of God looks like. How they will behave. Here is a short list of some of what God’s Word says.

5 Characteristics of a “child of God”

  1. They love Jesus (John 8:42).
  2. They believe that Jesus is the Savior (1 John 5:1).
  3. They love God’s children (1 John 3:10, 5:1).
  4. They are controlled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, 14).
  5. They obey God (1 John 2:29, 3:7-9).

Are you a child of God? You don’t have to wonder. God longs for you to receive His gift of salvation and be assured of eternity (Find out more here.) And there are so many benefits in being a child of God!

8 Benefits of being a “Child of God”

  1. God’s children have been “redeemed,” set free from sin and eternal death by Jesus’ sacrificial death (Galatians 4:4-5).
  2. God’s children are His heirs, inheriting spiritual rights and privileges and eternal life (Romans 8:17).
  3. God’s children have direct access to their Father (Galatians 4:5-7)..
  4. God’s children have a special intimacy with their Father (Galatians 4:6).
  5. God’s children will grow to become like Jesus (1 John 3:2).
  6. God’s children have peace, unity, and equal status with each other (Galatians 3:26-29).
  7. God’s children will experience a future resurrection (Romans 8:11).
  8. God’s children have the presence and confirmation of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).

Have you every heard the incorrect statement “We are all God’s children?” Maybe you’ve said it. Why is it important that we understand the truth?

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Where is Peace?

peaceOur country is in turmoil. Peace alludes us. One group pitted against another. Hatred, violence, and fear feed an ongoing stream of tragedies.

Thursday night, snipers fired on police officers during a protest in downtown Dallas. Twelve were shot, five of them died. Two more police officers were ambushed Friday in two separate incidents in Georgia. Philando Castile killed by police in Minnesota. Alton Sterling killed by police in Baton Rouge under questionable circumstances. And these things happened just last week.

One sinful act fosters another. Grief, pain, and loss overwhelm us. We seem to be caught in a downward cycle with no escape. What is the answer? Where can we find peace?

In America today, tension and even open hostility exists between races, political parties, economic groups, and faiths. But this is nothing new. Divisions and hatred like this have existed since creation in every generation.

When Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, there was no stronger example than the hostility between Jew and Gentile. But even with them peace was possible.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:13-18, NIV

Lasting peace is not possible outside of a saving relationship with Jesus. Our sinful humanity keeps getting in the way.

Plus, peace is not simply a state of being. It is a Person. No matter how vast our differences or great our hatred, all people can find commonality and peace in Christ Jesus. When individuals are reconciled to Jesus, they are also reconciled to each other.

When we enter into a saving relationship with Jesus, His Spirit begins to transform our hearts and minds. He begins to chisel away the hatred, fear, and pride and fills us with His love, security, and selflessness. Walls break down. Relationships form.

Yes, let us both preach and practice peace. Let us reach across the aisle with hands extended. But let us also share the Gospel message of Jesus. Because without Him there will be no lasting peace.

 

 

 

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