Tag Archives: loving God

Love (Ruth 1-4)

The book of Ruth is about love. I imagine many of you had Ruth’s declaration of love for her mother-in-law Naomi read at your wedding. It’s a beautiful passage. But if we read the book of Ruth merely as a love story, I believe we miss some important lessons God wants us to see. The first is this:

Love is more than words. If you look at Ruth you see a woman whose love made the choice to leave her family and follow Naomi and Naomi’s God. Ruth left everything familiar to her, and willingly went to live in a country that very well could have considered her an enemy. But her love for Naomi was stronger than any ties she had to her former life, and she showed her love – not just with those beautiful words – but by choosing Naomi over anything else.

Love is self-sacrificing. You never see Ruth demand her rights. She never acted like Naomi owed her something for the “sacrifices” Ruth made for her mother-in-law. Instead, when Naomi told her to do something, Ruth obeyed every detail without complaining or without thought for her own comfort. She went and worked a step below a servant because she and Naomi needed food. To me she is an example of someone who emptied herself of herself, which is totally opposite of today’s philosophy of life and love.

Love is courageous. When Ruth went to Boaz at night, she put her reputation, the possibility of rejection, and her very life on the line. She knew she was doing the right thing for herself and Naomi, but doing the right thing came with risks. Ruth had the courage to go to Boaz because of love.

I think you could read Ruth’s beautiful declaration of love all day everyday, but the words themselves are meaningless unless that love is lived.

Let me just say that if you are thinking about getting married, I pray you love and are loved like what we see in the book of Ruth. This kind of love is more than words or feelings. The question is not, does he (she) make me happy. The question is, am I loved in the details of life, in the hard times as well as the good. Is my welfare more important than a video game or a shopping spree? And, even more important I think, do I love that person like that, too.

If you can’t answer “yes” to those questions – run! Marriage is hard enough without the added complication of a love that isn’t genuine, active, self-sacrificing, and courageous.

But let me ask us all this question. Do you (do I) love God with this kind of love? Do I show Him I love Him, or am I satisfied with saying the words to Him when I pray? Do I love others like He told me to? Do I obey Him without question? Do I choose Him above anyone and anything else? Is my love for God self-sacrificing and courageous?

I think that’s what God would have us take from the book of Ruth. Love is not a feeling so much as it is a lifestyle, a choice to live love. I want to love God like that. He deserves that kind of love.

Choose Who and How Today (Joshua 22-24)

Choose today who you will serve.

My mother underlined Joshua 22:5 in her Bible. This is what it says:

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

We can choose to serve God, but we have to understand that we cannot serve Him on our own terms, by what makes us feel good, or what is easy. If we choose to serve God, we must also choose how we serve him. Because God does not accept unauthorized fire. (Leviticus 10)

According to Joshua, choosing to serve God means choosing to:

  1. Love God. Jesus Himself said this is the greatest commandment.
  2. Walk in His ways. Makes me think about the fruit of the spirit. Do I walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? It also reminds me that walking in the footsteps of Jesus means taking sin very seriously, in my life and in the lives of those around me.
  3. Obey His commands. The Ten Commandments are still the measure of holiness God expects of all of us. Yes, we are incapable of obeying not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law. Yet we are commanded to obey. To do otherwise is to sin.
  4. Hold fast to Him. As a Christian, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I must realize that my distance from Him is determined by sin in my life. If I want to hold fast to God, I need to recognize sin and repent of it.
  5. Serve Him with all our hearts and all our souls. God isn’t interested in servants that simply go through the motions, servants who are faithful on Sunday yet ignore Him on Monday. You can’t serve God if your loyalties are divided. When He says “all” our hearts and souls, He means it. 100%.

So with Joshua I am asking us to choose today who we will serve. Ourselves? Our families? A religion? A career? Or will we choose to serve God today?

Then, I am asking us all to consider how we will serve? Are you all in? Am I? I pray we can all answer that with a resounding YES!

 

December 27; Don’t Forget

Revelation 2-5

God has some amazing things to tell us through John’s letter to the seven churches. In them He addresses each of us, and challenges us in our walk with Him.

To Ephesus God addresses those of us who are busy serving God, doing good work, keeping on keeping on. But something is missing. The busyness has overshadowed our first love, that love we knew when we were first cleansed from sin. God warns that without that fervent love for Him, our service to Him will lose its effectiveness.

DON’T FORGET WHY WE SERVE.

To Smyrna God speaks to those of us going through difficult circumstances. There are some people in our world today who suffer imprisonment and even death because they serve God. Others of us face unfair treatment, slander, rejection. Don’t be afraid, God tells us. He is the One who died and came back to life. That second death can’t hurt us.

DON’T FORGET WHO WE SERVE.

To Pergamum God has a word for us who live in a fallen world where sin runs rampant and evil surrounds us. Stay true to His Name. Don’t let the teachings of Satan creep into our hearts, no matter how popular the lies become. Know the Truth according to Scripture. Repent if you’ve deviated from that Truth. It’s serious business to accept the lies.

DON’T FORGET WHAT IS TRUE.

To Thyatira, God addresses those of us trying to live in two worlds, that of Christianity, and that of immorality. As Christians we help our neighbors, express love, and are people of faith. But we also tolerate immorality, even to the point of believing immorality is not sin. Some of us actually participate in immoral conduct, even if it is only in the privacy of our homes in front of a screen. God tells us there are serious consequences for that. Hold on, God tells us. Don’t give in!

DON’T FORGET HOW WE ARE TO LIVE.

To Sardis we hear a warning to those of us simply going through the motions. Oh, we do Christian sounding things, say Christian sounding words, but our hearts are dead. God tells us our deeds are only half done if that’s the case. “Walk with me,” God pleads. “Obey. Repent.” There is life in Christ.

DON’T FORGET WHAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED.

To Philadelphia God speaks to those of us who are feeling weak. Maybe it seems our efforts are in vain, that we have no place in ministry But God also commends us for being true to His Name, for serving patiently, perhaps quietly. If God opens a door of opportunity, He will bless our obedience. Again He encourages us to hold on!

DON’T FORGET WHO LOVES US.

To Laodicea God addresses we who are lukewarm Christians. We are pretty self-assured, happy to be saved from hell, but not wanting God meddling in our lives. God says we make Him sick. He tells us to earnestly repent. “Knock,” He says. “I’ll come in and fellowship with you and you with Me!”

DON’T FORGET WHO IS AT THE DOOR.

There is so much in the book of Revelation for us in 2019 concerning our relationship with God. I’m looking forward to ending the year listening to what He will say to me, getting to know Him better, and to growing my walk with Him into something useful for His kingdom. I hope you’ll join me.

October 29; To Love God

Mark 12:18-40; Matthew 22:23-23:36; Luke 20:27-47, 10:25-28

I don’t think I can skim over what Jesus says is the greatest commandment. So I’ve sat here for a bit and pondered what it means to love God. Is it the kind of love we see on “The Bachelor?” Is it the kind of love we express when someone gets a new haircut? Is it a love that gets more than it gives, is is dependent on circumstances?

What does it mean to love God the way He deserves?

First of all, Jesus tells us we need to love Him with our whole heart, that part of us that is our hopes and dreams, our life and our emotions. It’s that which makes me me and you you. The question is, do I love God with all of me?

Jesus says we should love God with all our soul; the eternal, spiritual part of us. Does my love of God translate into complete trust, obedience, worship and praise? Is my love of God that which drives my faith? God is spirit, and we who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Does that define my love of God?

And Jesus says we should love God with all our mind. Love of God is not a mindless emotion. Can I honestly say I love God with good sense and thoughtful choice? Is my love for God simply a reaction toward His love for me, or is it a conscious decision to love Him because He first loved me?

The Ten Commandments would be so much easier to obey if we loved God like He deserves. Jesus said loving Him is the greatest commandment.

It’s that important.

August 15; A Broken Heart

Ezekiel 20:30-22:31

Do you know how, when you are close to someone who is grieving, you can feel their heart break? You ache because they are hurting so badly, and you know you just can’t fix it for them. Watching a loved one go through the darkest time of her life was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

The thing about reading the Bible as God’s love letter to me, expecting Him to speak to me, and getting to know His heart through His own words, there are times I feel like I’m watching Him grieve, and my heart breaks for Him.

Today I read His words, His pronouncement of judgment on His disobedient children. I heard His anger, realized the fierce punishment that was coming their way. God is really mad.

But through the years of reading the Bible, I’ve come to understand – in part – God’s heart. Of course I don’t claim to totally get Him, but I know Him enough to know that when He is angry, when He is bringing judgment on His people, He’s doing it from a broken heart.

He says things here in Ezekiel like, “I will pour out my wrath on you…,” “I will make you an object of scorn…,” “I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made…,” “I will gather you in my anger and my wrath…”

I read His words, but I also see His tears. The God I know takes no pleasure in punishing His children. The God I know longs to walk with us, fellowship with us, bless us. That’s His will for each of us. It’s we who prevent that by our choices to sin. It’s we who break His heart.

When you were a kid and your dad stood in front of you with that belt in his hands, both of you knowing you deserved what was coming, did you ever hear him say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you”? I hear my Heavenly Father saying that today, and I believe it’s true.

My Heavenly Father, I don’t want to cause You pain. I don’t want to break Your heart. I don’t want to be a rebellious child you need to discipline, because today I see how much that hurts You. God, I want to bring you joy. Forgive my sins. Create in me a clean heart. And may all I do and say today put a smile on Your face. I love You. 

 

Song Of Solomon; Pursuing Love

Who doesn’t want to be loved? Unless there is mental illness or emotional baggage, I think all of us would admit a longing to be loved, passionately, exclusively, intentionally loved by another. The entertainment business thrives on the topic of love because they know love is the driving force behind nearly everything we do.

But I wonder, then, why there are so many divorces because one or both parties have “fallen out of love.” Friend, the Bible is pretty clear that true love is never out of our control. You don’t believe the lie that says “you can’t help who you love,” do you?

The Song of Songs is a beautiful picture of the passionate, exclusive, intentional love we all long for. In here you will see the man and woman seeking each other at various times. You know that sometimes your spouse needs you to take the initiative, don’t you? Sometimes you need to be the one to reach out, to plan something romantic or surprise them with something special. One person can’t always be the instigator of affection because true love is a two way street.

You will see in Solomon’s Song that neither of the lovers is willing to simply listen to what someone else has to say about their loved one. The watchman said one thing, the lover went and checked it out personally.

You will see examples of the couple taking time for each other, to study each other, to rest in each other while shutting away the rest of the world. You will see mistakes, and forgiveness, a love that thinks less of what it takes than what it gives.

Your marriage depends on the choices you make, not just the feelings you feel.

And so does your relationship with God. Everything in the Song of Solomon that applies to marriage applies to a healthy relationship with our Savior.

We know that He pursues us. Do we pursue Him, too? Do we spend time in His Word and in prayer? Do we long to know Him passionately, exclusively, intentionally the way He longs to know us?

Do we reach out to Him during the day? I remember watching my parents, the way Dad would reach out and touch Mom’s hand, or pat her leg. No words, just that gentle touch that said “I love you.” Do we, likewise, let God know during our day that we are loving Him, too?

All of us long to be passionately, exclusively, intentionally loved, AND WE ARE, if we know the Lord.

Let’s determine to nurture that love, and love God passionately, exclusively, and intentionally back.

Psalms 17-18: I Love God

Before I even opened my Bible this morning I prayed, “God, I just want to praise you today. Nothing controversial, nothing political. I just want to love you today.”

Does God answer prayer? Does He meet us at the point of our need? Imagine my surprise when I read the first verse of Psalm 18:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.

I love LOVE how God makes His Word come alive, how He can speak directly to our hearts from these precious pages.

So I read this psalm, not looking for the ways God worked in David’s life, not trying to identify with David’s suffering, but the fact that God did meet David’s need.

So…

To the God who is my rock and salvation (vs 2), who hears me (vs 6), who has dominion over creation (vv 8-15), who took hold of me and rescued me (vv 16-17), who delights in me (vs 19), who is the giver of every good thing, and turns my darkness into light (vv 20-29), who is perfect, flawless (vs 30), who prepares me to fight my enemy Satan (vv 30-36), who gives the victory (vv 37-45), who is worthy of praise…

I love You!