Life doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. When we ask the Lord into our hearts, we are immediately given the tools we need to live a life of grace.
Grace gives us freedom to be whole again.
When we allow the Heavenly Father to take the reins of our life and guide us through our life, we live a life that offers love and forgiveness to unimaginable degrees.
All God asks of us is that we love Him and obey what he commands. When we do that, He will send to us the Holy spirit to guide us through a life where we no longer have to guess what to do and when to do it.
If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
When we love God, when we obey His commands, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, lives in us, and guides us — providing answers, providing assurances, providing solutions to all that we see as challenges to a fulfilling life on earth.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
My friends, I do hope you have a very Happy New Year!
Song: You Set Me Free Copyrights: 2005 World Records Artist: Sandi Patty
As we come to the end of the year, many of us are taking a look at the things we have accomplished, relationships past and present, the good times, the bad times, the highs, and the lows. And, while reflecting, we bring out what I like to call our life calculators, determining in one moment how successful we have been all year. We are needlessly hard on ourselves, judging ourselves for no reason.
Honestly, sometimes, no matter what we do, life just happens! Some of it will be good and some of it will be challenging. Sometimes we will come out ahead and sometimes we will fall behind. In the end, with the Lord’s help we endure.
Whatever is happening in our life, no matter how we are feeling at any moment, when we need a pick-me-up, we need to call upon the Lord. He will be there for us. There is no greater feeling than the love that comes from our Father. And, when we feel lonely, when we feel unloved, and when we call upon the Lord, He will meet us wherever we are, wrapping His majestic arms around us, showing us His mighty and never ending love.
This year, as you contemplate how much you matter in this world; remember you are loved to no end.
With the Lord, there is always hope for a future filled with love.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Song: How Much Released: 2009 Video Performance by: Mandisa
Life is filled with trials, tribulations, and a whole lot of stuff that can bring us down and as scripture shows, we cannot live a fulfilling life without friends.
God asks us to have good friends who can help guide us through this life on earth.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
This year, I have had the great fortune of re-discovering a friend who I have known since high school. We have rekindled a friendship flame that the Lord started some 49 years ago. Guided by the Lord, we lift each other up in prayer and we love each other in the spiritual manner in which the Lord blesses among friends.
Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.
Proverbs 27:9-11 The Passion Translation (TPT)
I encourage you to keep close contact with your friends and also to make a re-connection with an old friend. When you engage in developing a lifelong friendship, you will be amazingly rewarded by the kind of love that sustains your life and builds your hope for the future.
How many times have you gone to a wedding and either the wedding administrator or the wedding couple read a passage from Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians? It is probably because weddings are a biblical sacrament about love and publicly professing our love for our intended mate and 1 Corinthians 13 is the chapter in the Bible about love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
When couples adhere to the guidance of the elements found in 1 Corinthians, they shall have a love that lasts forever.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
The Lord asks us to have faith in all things and having faith gives us hope that when our heart’s desire lines up with the Lord’s desire for us, then we shall have, without a doubt, all things great and wonderful. But, no matter whether we have faith and hope, when we have love, we have the greatest gift on earth.
Married couples obtain a kind of love that secures a partnership which is ordained by God. This kind of relationship is protected by the sanctity of our Lord most high. It should never be sacrificed or broken by man.
Eros love is the kind of love that makes our heart flitter whenever we think about someone or stand next to someone we are attracted to. Some people call this chemistry… butterflies in the stomach. Eros love is the kind of love that keeps us in pursuit of our desired partner. This is the dating phase of the relationship. It doesn’t last forever, but it is a valuable type of love because it helps us to be committed to furthering a relationship along until we can get to the next phase of the relationship which is agape love.
In the Bible, the book of “Song of Songs,” written by King Solomon of Israel, is a book filled with love dialog and poems written about the strong attraction between a simple Jewish maiden (the Shulammite woman) and her lover, Solomon, the king. In this book, they talk about their strong desire, longings, and feelings for each other. It is a very romantic book and what is fascinating about this book is that, as intense as it is, throughout the book, the longings and desires of the lovers maintain the true and proper perspective of a God-approved relationship.
Agape love is a self-sacrificing type of love. It is all about respect, serving, forgiving and putting others before ourselves.
If you are fortunate enough to fall into agape love… you have been given the greatest gift of all… to be able to love someone just because you choose to love them and to be loved simply because you exist.
Jesus loves us simply because we exist. We don’t have to do anything but believe in Him and believe that He suffered the ultimate price of death for us.
Jesus showed His love for us by the ultimate sacrifice He made on our behalf.
Imagine being stripped of your clothes and forced to walk through town, being ridiculed; imagine wearing a crown of thorns; imagine being poked and prodded along the road to the place where your enemies would hoist you up and hammer nails into your hands and feet, attaching you to a cross and pushing a sword into your side so that you would bleed out and die.
It’s all unimaginable to me. Just getting a paper cut on my finger is enough to send me wailing. But, Jesus endured much more than a paper cut. He endured excruciating pain and torture simply because He loved us. And, all we are asked to do in return is to love and believe in Him.
When Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for our sins, He knew it would mean paying the ultimate price of death for us. He knew it would mean the end of His life and it didn’t matter to Him. He did it for us because He loved us so much.
My friends, when we place someone else’s needs before our own, when we sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others, this is Agape love.
Living to Love
Agape love is the unselfish love of one person for another. It is a brotherly love that corresponds to the love that God has for mankind.
In order to engage in Agape love, we must let go of emotions and live to love.
We must learn to forgive.
First, understand that people are people and people are not perfect, consequently, people are bound to make mistakes.
Even people who profess to love us are capable of saying or doing something that we find offensive. When that happens, first, we must forgive them and then if we feel it is necessary, find out why they did or said what they did. Then, even if we are not satisfied with their answer, forgive them anyway. Why? Because if we are living a Christian-based lifestyle, we know that this is what Jesus does for us.
Jesus forgives us. Thousands of years ago Jesus paid a price for our sins, and that price was death. And still today, He forgives us without questions or asking us to jump through hoops to receive His forgiveness. Forgiveness is ours to receive just for the desire to be forgiven.
In living a Christian-based life, forgiving, even when we do not feel it is justified, is the first and foremost God-demanding act of love we must master.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Live to love. Live to forgive. Live to receive the blessings of the Lord simply because He loves you unconditionally.
The season of winter brings with it a time of year that we call Christmas time. We come together with family and friends and share love in the way of hearty feasts and gift-giving. And, while it is a festive time of year, the true reason for the season is in recognizing the birth of Jesus.
Every year, I listen to a song that is probably my favorite song of the season. This song, “Mary Did You Know?” addresses the woman who gave birth to baby Jesus. This song asks the most profound question of the mother who gave birth to the greatest person on earth – Jesus.
Yes! Mary Knew
Yes. Mary knew that her baby boy would be the Son of God. Mary knew that her son would be our Savior.
In the Bible we read the story of the angel who came to the virgin Mary to tell Mary she was going to give birth to a king:
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But, the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.
Who is the Great I AM?
In the song, you will hear the name, The Great I AM. I want to take a moment to explain that I AM is the name God gave himself. You can read more about God’s name by reading the story where Moses is at the burning bush and asks God to reveal his name, God replies “I AM.”
God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM.” And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.”
In the Hebrew language, I AM is the holiest name for God in the Old Testament.
The Song: Mary Did You Know?
In the following song, singer Jordan Smith, finalist in the television show called The Voice, sings a wonderful rendition of Mary Did You Know?
How awesome it is that we serve a mighty God, one who is able to see beyond the surface of who we display, but looks into our heart and sees the goodness of our soul.
There are times in our lives when we are going to stumble and fall. We are far from perfect, this fact we know to be utterly true. There are times when we are going to say things that hurt the feelings of others, times, whether on purpose or by accident, when we are going to do things that cause physical injury to ourselves or others.
Our hopes and dreams, whether pure or dishonorable, will expose our inner soul. We cannot hide from our God who knows every hair on our bodies, who has our numbers written in His book. He knows us through and through, yet, He still loves us, imperfections and all. Our sinful nature was borne into us, but because His son Jesus sacrificed His life to make up for our sins, we can now rise above sin. We can be whole again. We can become pure by our love for the Lord.
This morning I woke up singing this song in my head, “You are awesome in this place, Mighty God…” As I sang this song, I felt the Mighty Spirit of God surround me. And, it felt wonderful. So my hope for you is that as you go throughout your day today, that you may feel the Holy Spirit in your presence. No matter who you are; no matter what you do, you can always come home to a God who loves you. Always!