Tag Archives: God

God. Family. Country.

I was asked to create a design that incorporated what is most important to me. So what three things do I consider most important to me in life?  That’s easy.  God.  Family. Country.  But If you know me, you could have guessed my response.  And while there are a lot of people, places and things that I could consider “important” only those three speaks to and nurture the depth of me.  God, family and country is my personal mantra.  It is my mission statement and it defines my purpose in life.

Without a doubt, “the Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want.”  I’ve had my fair share of “wrong turns” and bad decisions.  If you only knew how many times God has had to intervene and intercede on my behalf.  So, you would be wasting your time and energy to attempt to convince me that:  1) God isn’t real or 2) that He doesn’t care for me.  Needless to say, you won’t find me turning to anything but God for direction and protection.  I am blessed to spend my life doing and being for His glory.

So what about this family thing?  It seems like it is common now to hate your family.  I mean literally hate.  I have spoken to people who openly denigrate their mom, dad, brothers and sisters.  I don’t know that behavior.  And, can’t understand it.  We didn’t bash our family on the phone with our new bestie or post personal affairs on social media.  Nope.  That just wasn’t done.  Growing up, the only people I would share my outrage or anger is with brothers/sisters and sometimes cousins, aunts and uncles.  Don’t get me wrong.  I had disagreements with my family but never have I taken it to the streets to discuss with people I have known for approximately 5 minutes.  But, it appears that is the norm. So many people are opting out of family.  They are just not interested in doing the hard work of relationship building.  They would rather their colleagues, neighbors, passing strangers and friends replace their mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

So, here’s the deal.  God in His infinite wisdom provided me with relatives.  Those relatives are my family.  Yeah, we don’t always agree but who does?  Family, to me, is sacred.  Let’s see what God says about family?

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (I Timothy 5:8).

If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loves God love his brother also (I John 4:20-21)

Country is just an extension of family.  Country isn’t a thing.  I understand it is a land but, in the true sense of the word, it’s a people.  It is you and I.  And, since I love my neighbors and my brothers.  I Love my country.   So, there you have it, GFC:  God, Family, Country.

What are three things you consider to be the most important in your life?

 

Share Your Testimony (SYT): A Father’s Love


….in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).

This testimony is from a reader, like you, who wants to spread the good news of God’s love for us.  God’s love is so deep that some reject it because they are unable to understand it.  But, the author of this testimony has not only accepted God’s love for her but she is willing to share her first hand experience with us all.

My life before I came to Christ.

Friday  morning  March 16, 2012. I was living with my boyfriend at the time, and on probation for possession of methamphetamine. I failed to appear for an appointment, and was in violation. Tired of being on the run, I decided I would return home, pay an attorney, see my children, and get in and out of jail as soon as possible. Well my earthly father, and my Heavenly Father had other plans. When I returned home, my father had me arrested. As I was led off to jail, I spit in my fathers face. The next day, when I sobered up, I realized it was my fathers birthday. How ashamed I was. Still 30 days in jail, and my intentions was to get out, and get high.
How I came to a cognitive knowledge of who Jesus is and what He did for me.
I was hungry. I thought for food. This woman in jail was so nice to me. She fed me, every time I saw her she would smile the biggest smile and say ” how are you today Ms. Christie”. A few days later she went home. I missed her, and thought, I hope she is doing well. I noticed an open book in the book return box. It had her name in it.  I was so disappointed when I closed the cover, and realized it was a Christian book, How  To Grow Your Faith. It meant so much to me, the way she treated me I read it anyway. In fact I read it three times in one afternoon. The book talked about the parable of the mustard seed. My cell mate said ” yes Jennifer if you have faith the grain of a mustard seed, you can move mountains”. I was in church part of my childhood. I didn’t realize people still lived ” knowing” and ” trusting” in Him. I had all forgotten this. My cell mate reminded me. I started talking to God, and reading my bible.
Circumstances surrounding my conversion.
A few days later, one of the girls in jail with me, was sitting at a table crying. I walked over and asked her ” what’s wrong? She replied ” my little girl is having surgery in two days, and she wanted to go home”. I felt so bad for her my heart was breaking. I went upstairs to my room, and prayed. I said
“Lord if you’re real I’m not worthy to ask anything of myself, but that woman is desperate to be with her baby, please let her go home. In Jesus name I pray amen”.
Now this book I had read said you have to admit, believe, and confess with your mouth. I had to go tell her. I thought, if this doesn’t happen these people are going to think I’m crazy. It didn’t matter what they thought of me, my only concern was for the family. I went back down stairs, and said Tammi, ” I just prayed and you’re going home to your daughter”. She said ” thank you they are checking on a furlough”. I then asked “what’s a furlough”? She explained. I told her ” Tammi, I didn’t know about furlough’s, I just asked that you get to go home with your daughter. She again thanked me, and went to her room. Two days later we all finished breakfast, and I hear her name called for court. I asked her cell mate, “did Tammi have court today”? She replied ” no”. I was so excited! She came back after a couple of hours. She started up the stairs, her face was red and soaked from crying. She cried out ” Jennifer you where right I’m going home to be with my baby”!
My spiritual growth from the time I accepted Christ to today.
I “knew” the Lord was real, and realized at that moment, the sacrifice He paid for me, and for all who believe. I know each day is a blessing, I finally found the food, I was so hungry for. The “real bread of life”. I have a peace about me, that people notice, and a sense that as long as He is in control everything will be alright. From an earthly father’s love to put his first born daughter in jail. To a heavenly Father’s love, to bring her out.

What Appears Right May Be Wrong

One could probably guess, since I live in the DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia (DMV) area that daily anger interventions may be necessary. However, I’ve taken the politicking, aggressive driving and traffic congestion in stride because there is a lot to be enjoyed in the area. But, somehow I was taken by surprise at what happened at what I thought would be a quick and uneventful trip to the store.

I departed to go to the store at a time when traffic was least congested in hopes of getting to the store and returning at a reasonable time. All was going well until I got to the cashier to pay for my items. As I approached the desk to put my merchandise on the counter, a young lady quickly approached me and asked if she could go before me because she was on her lunch break and needed to return to work quickly. “No problem,” I responded. As she only had one item, her transaction was completed quickly. So, I began placing my items on the counter. Out of what seemed like nowhere, a lady approached the cashier and asked him why would he ring me up before her? Huh? I was honestly confused and so was the cashier but he did not speak. Where had she come from? Who is she? Before I could clear my head from the confusion she then proceeded to tell me that she knew I would be at the desk when she arrived. She told me to stop following her and that she knew I was the CIA. Again, huh? I didn’t know how to respond. I was truly baffled. She was acting a bit aggressive and speaking loudly. She continued on her rant about how America was going to Hell especially the CIA and then pulled out her cell phone and dialed the police. She told the person who was on the phone that there is a lady (me) following her and she needed to report it.

Believe it or not, I had the presence of mind to pray. I asked God what He wanted me to do or say in this moment. My spirit was not quickened to do anything but stay silent. Again, I asked, “Anything God? What should I do?” But I was not compelled to say or do anything but be mindful of my surroundings. The cashier continued to ring me up. He completed my transaction but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving. I asked him if he wanted me to notify anyone and he stated “no, everything would be okay.”

I spent days thinking about this incident…punishing myself for not reacting appropriately. But, what was appropriate? What was right?

Respond in Anger

I have never been a person to respond in anger so it was far from me to respond in that way on this occasion. Albeit, the lady was ranting quite loudly and acting aggressive, I was not compelled to respond likewise. I learned decades ago that you can’t “fight fire with fire.” It just doesn’t work. On most occasions, it only escalates the matter.

In fact, God’s word teaches me to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19). I can’t imagine being able to rightly think with my head and heart in anger. In fact, it seems like she was giving full vent to whatever rage she had in her for whatever reason but “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Proverbs 29:11).”

Respond with Encouraging or Enlightening Words?

I really really wanted God to inspire me to say something that would encourage or enlighten the lady but nothing came to mind. I mean nothing. After thinking about what happened, I have come to realize that the only appropriate response should have been God inspired. Of course, I could have quoted scripture but would that have meant anything to her. In God’s time and under God’s direction are seeds planted and watered. I Corinthians 3: 7-9 (NIV) tells me that “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” As a co-worker in God’s service, I can only plant and water as directed by God.

On this occasion, nothing came to mind. I know what my human knowledge and human understanding was telling me would be the appropriate response. But, I live in the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). What may give the appearance of being right may not actually been appropriate or helpful.

Respond in Silence

Perhaps God did answer. Perhaps my silence was the response God wanted from me. If the lady was looking for confrontation, anything I said could have escalated the matter.

The truth is that my disappointment in my response was due to me thinking I knew what God wanted. Instead of praying, waiting for His reply and trusting that reply, I felt there was more I should be doing. I have come to realize that we are all broken in different places and that God heals us in those distinct places according to His plan. And, my silence is how he chose to use me that day. There was no further incident. She left the store shortly after I did. And, I pray that God heals whatever ails her.

Student to Teacher: Reflections

Danyelle 1This year has presented a lot of challenges, changes, and development for me. As a 2013 graduate, fresh out of college, I decided to switch from the role of student to the role of teacher. When I started my role as a corps member for an educational non-profit, I envisioned myself as somewhat of a humanitarian with a certain agenda. I planned to go into the school system and make a significant difference in the life of every child that I encountered. I was going to inspire them, I was going to motivate them and I was going to save them from the negative influences of the world. I was ready to conquer and I was ready to teach! I mean, I went to college and I’ve been through my fair share of life so what could possibly go wrong??!

Reflecting on this year with my students, I’ve realized that I am the one learning an abundance of new information. There is nothing that truly prepares you to teach or even to learn. They’re both processes of life and they happen simultaneously through life experiences.   Working with eighth graders of varying personalities, strengths, talents, and challenges has given me an opportunity to learn what it takes to really motivate people. By understanding what is important to my students, what makes them unique as people, and what they are responsive to, I have been able to inspire them. My agenda now has shifted from “saving my students” to showing my students that someone cares about them. I’ve learned that simply showing that you care has been the greatest motivating tool and allows people you care about to “save” themselves.

Simultaneously, during this period of revelations in my life, I found myself in a new church where I’m also learning and growing spiritually. I usually find myself so wrapped up in learning Scripture and engraining it in my heart. My greatest hope is to be able to eventually teach others and help them grow nearer to God. In the meantime, I learn and I observe until it is His will to have me inspire others. There have been many things that I have learned through Scripture and through being a student that I believe will help me be more ready to help others:

  1. Patience

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV

In order to do what’s in the Scripture above, we need to exercise patience. We should be patient with others as we are patient with ourselves. Everyone has their own individual learning journey. Everything will happen at its own appointed time. We must be patient though and slow to become frustrated. We must be diligent.

Every day, I consistently tell my students different ways of managing self-control. Some days, it feels like nothing I tell them is getting through. I tell them to be patient and quiet as they raise their hand to get the attention of the teacher and as soon as I turn around I hear a student scream, “Miss! MISS!” Students are constantly in verbal combat over who can say the most degrading things to each other and neither will “take the high road”. In report card conferences, I hear way too many “She gave me an “F”, because she doesn’t like me!” instead of I earned an “F” because I sleep in class. Then, one day a student says, “Ms. Danyelle, I listened to what you said and ignored those girls that said something mean to me. Now, they’re upset and I’m chillin’.” Although this seems like a minor feat, this student has taken a step towards being able to manage their emotions. There are unseen processes that are happening within the learner, but if the teacher is consistent and diligent, the learning does take place. It’s important to be patient.

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).”

God said it! Therefore, we can only conclude that loving your neighbor is SUPER important. We cannot say that we love one another if we draw barriers with our preconceived notions and judgment. We cannot draw closer to one another and draw others closer to God unless we try to understand, empathize with, and truly love one another.

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be (James 3:9-10 NIV)

It’s important to always be considerate of one another. We cannot say that we truly love God if we do not love others made in God’s image. We have all fallen from grace. We must humble ourselves before God and love one another, “flaws and all”.

  1. Humility

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Job 8:7 NIV

God is always at work to lift up those who are humble. So, we should always stay clear of false pride. Everything that man is proud of is temporary, it fades. High positions, power, money, and clothes are all here today and gone tomorrow. Those who remain humble, have a bright future.

I can see humility within my students and myself. Those who are bold enough to admit their faults and ask for help, receive it. Those who remain prideful and chase away help that comes to them, generally have a harder time maintaining. I admit freely when I have made a mistake or if I simply do not know an answer with my students. Now, that they know that I as an adult, a human being, make mistakes they feel free to admit their own and feel more comfortable.

  1. Be diligent

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15 NIV

We must be diligent in teaching and learning “…because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” We must be consistent, we must constantly be striving to do better and we must always share our experiences with others.

There are many things that are important in teaching, but one of the most important things has to be organization and consistency. In a world where everything is constantly changing, God stays the same…his Word stays the same. We must mirror this in our studying and our actions.

 

Danyelle 2Danyelle Lashay graduated from Howard University with her Bachelor of Arts in Economics. She is currently completing a year of service with City Year Greater Philadelphia. Danyelle looks forward to starting a graduate program in Public Administration & International Education Management at Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College in the Fall. She enjoys sharing her insight about education, current events, and spirituality. You can follow her on Twitter, @Mitchell_Dany.

My Hope: 4 Reasons to Rejoice

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (I Peter 3:15).

By the time I reached the age of 6, I had a considerable amount of reasons to feel despair. With every passing year the more heartache, disappointments and defeats began to mount. At certain points in my life, it became really difficult to remain optimistic about my outlook. However, today I can say with certainty that my Savior never let me go. He was always there….that “flickering light” of love, hope and joy within me…that notion that there is a reason to rejoice.

I Peter 3:15 says I should be prepared to give an answer to those who ask me my reasons for hope. I have countless reasons but if I had to summarize them all in one song it would be Tye Tribbett’s, He Turned It. The lyrics to the bridge of the song is

The devil thought he (had me). Thought that my life was (over). He thought by now I’d (give up). He thought I had no (more). But that’s when someone (Greater). Stepped in my (situation). My morning has now begun…”

The lyrics to the bridge of this song alone succinctly express my reason for hope. Quite simply, I am hopeful because: 1) Jesus died and rose to save me, 2) I am the Child of the Most High God, 3) I am Heir to God’s promises, and 4) there will be no more sorrow or tears.

Jesus Died and Rose to Save Me

Saved from Death: There is a lot in God’s word that has helped me to understand the magnitude of my Heavenly Father’s love for me. He sent His only begotten Son as a sacrifice so that I may have eternal life (John 3:16). I no longer have to fear death. I now know that because I believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of my Heavenly Father and that He came into this world to save me and have risen and now sit on the right hand of my Heavenly Father, I shall have eternal life. So what shall I fear? I know if I continue to believe what the world tells me and all of the “noise” around me, I have lots to fear but that is not truth. I have to continue to meditate on the truth of eternal life so that I stay firm in my joy when everything around me indicates I should be in despair.

When I take a moment to truly grasp the magnitude of the love God has for me I become overwhelmed with emotion. I imagine sending one of my daughters into the lion’s den to save…let’s say, an enemy. Would I do it? While I know when all is said and done my daughter will be okay….just the thought of her being tortured, even for a moment, is unbearable. But, God love me so much that He did just that. Jesus was sent as an atoning sacrifice for me….for you. What a love! I don’t think I will ever fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of such love in my present state.

Saved from a Worldly life: There is a peace…a completeness…a purposeful feeling when walking in the will of my Heavenly Father. I have a testimony of doing things my way…living a worldly life with all the emptiness it provides. But, it pales in comparison to living for my Heavenly Father, through Jesus.

Scripture teaches me in Chapter 2 of Titus that “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (v. 11-14).”

I recall a time in my life that I was often criticized by people I considered to be friends. I would often hear words like “holier than thou,” and “bible thumping.” Initially, it really hurt that my friends didn’t understand. I was confused because my friends attended church and, on most occasions, were kind. In my youth I would, on occasion, listen to provocative music and attend parties that made me uncomfortable just to show people I am not perfect.   With age, I no longer wanted to prove anything to anyone but God. With my life, I want to show that I am grateful for His love, mercy and grace. Every day, I learn what giving my life over to the Holy Spirit means….what it looks like. I am no longer invited to as many parties as before and people tend to study me intensely looking for imperfection so that they can declare “that I’m not a real Christian!”

Child of the Most High God

God’s word tells me that as a believer, I am now a child of God (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12). I get excited thinking about what that means. As a mother, I know how it feels to love and care for a child. I know that all that I can provide for my children, I will and do…by the grace of God. So much more so must be the care God has for His children. God’s word confirms that “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matt. 7:11).” God also tells me that His plans for me are prosperous (Jeremiah 29:11) and that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”

Even more exciting about being a child of the Most High God is to know I have an inheritance. “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (I Peter 1: 4-5).”

Heir to God’s Promises

The reason for my hope is that I know I am heir to God’s promises. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). God promises me long life on earth (Ephesians 6:3), peace (John 14:27; Proverbs 1:33), power and strength (Isaiah 40:29-31), and to supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19). These are a few of many of God’s promises.

No More Sorrows or Tears

God reveals in the 21st chapter of Revelation that upon Jesus return there will be no death, sorrow and mourning.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:1-4)”

There will also be singing and everlasting joy:

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35: 8-10).

These are my reasons….my 4 reasons to love, rejoice and live in the fullness of the day the Lord has made! 4 reasons for trusting God.  4 reasons to forever abound in love, hope, peace and joy!

Victory: The Plan for Me and You

Like many who live in the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area, I awake before the break of day to prepare for work. Typically, my television is tuned to the local news channel hoping that the weather forecast will be mild and sunny. But by the time I get into my car to head to work I’ve not only received the weather forecast, I’ve also received numerous messages of despair and dysfunction through the News. It’s discouraging and sometimes makes me afraid for the future. Where is the peace…the love…the unity?

So to overcome this fear and despair before it can convict my spirit, I like to take in large doses of encouragement. When I get into my car I immediately tune to my favorite radio station for praise and worship, Praise 104.1. Without fail, the song by Donnie McClurkin, We are Victorious, not only gets me inspired but it helps me put the day in perspective. After hearing it this morning, I put pen to paper to remind me and you that we are Victors. No matter what surrounds us, we will be victorious.

In my life, there have been three things that have impeded my victory: quitting, fear and not believing. When I searched the bible to find out what God’s word says about these things, I was empowered, strengthened and encouraged to discover that I am NOT a victim….loser….or defeated. Victory is God’s plan for me and you.

Quitting

What is the saying? When the going gets tough the tough gets going. Well, I’ve always interpreted that saying to mean that when things get hard it is okay to abandon ship. God’s word declares the opposite of how I interpreted that saying. Whether it be an illness/sickness or a closed door to a relationship or job (rejection), God’s word says that we are “more than conquerors”, “God will deliver us out of all our afflictions”, and if we will just wait patiently and not quit, “He will renew our strength.” We were not designed to lose this battle.  Victory is God’s plan for you and me.

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19 NIV)

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31)

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (I John 4:4)

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (I Corinthian 10:13)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:35,37 NIV)

Fear

If you watch the television long enough, it is easy to reach a level of despair and fear for the future. But I tell myself that the “mess” this world has gotten itself into…we have gotten ourselves into…is nothing for my God. He can move mountains. He has parted seas, made the blind see and the lame walk. So, no worries! We are victorious! And, His Word confirms it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7).

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8: 14-17)

If God is for us who could be against us (Romans 8:28)

I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,` and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him (Mark 11:23 NIV).

Not Believing in God and His Word

I believe part of my problem stemmed from me not truly believing that God wanted the best for me. Better yet, that I deserved the best from God. But I have learned that I am redeemed through the sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ and therefore I am heir to the many promises of God. I am of no help to anyone when I go around defeated. Taking a moment to allow the truth of who I really am in Christ is critical to me believing that I am worthy of God’s goodness…worthy of being an heir. This truth is taking awhile to cement to my being. I have to constantly remind myself that I am redeemed and that if God is for me who can be against me. And, most importantly God has plans to prosper me. I am victorious….we are victorious!

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1)

Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (I Corinthians 2:9)

We live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV).

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. So let`s do it- full of belief, confident that we`re presentable inside and out. Let`s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word (Hebrews 10: 22-23).

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And, if children, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (Romans8: 24-25)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Knowing God’s truth has strengthened my resolve…my desire to live in the fullness of what God has for me. I declare that I accept the depth of God’s love for me and thus I will live for Him. I am victorious…we are victorious!

This Thing Called Love

For a long time, I’ve had this love thing all mixed up. It is not until recently that I was brought to the realization that I’m wired all wrong and my way of thinking about love is flawed. And, from that flawed way of thinking I have left a trail of missed opportunities to love. I’m not sure where I veered off course but I’m guessing it was at a very young age. As I think back on my life, I begin to see where my understanding of love didn’t align with God’s definition and I thank the Holy Spirit for imparting this wisdom upon me.

Like many, my humble beginning consisted of two parents who loved me and anxiously waited for my arrival. Once I entered this world, my parents gave of themselves to nurture me. They served (bathe, clothed, fed, and sang) me. So, I guess I had to be a happy baby. To this day, I can remember moments of my life when my dad was alive…at age 3 and 4. Our memory is a fascinating thing. I can’t remember what I did last year on the 4th of July but somehow I can still remember moments when I was 3 and 4 years of age.

Things rapidly changed when my dad died which was about 5 weeks before my 5th birthday. Things weren’t the same. People weren’t the same. We moved from our home to an apartment and everyone was so sad.

Within six (6) months of my dad’s death, something devastating happened to me of which I am not quite ready to discuss openly but I believe it was the precursor to my distorted understanding of love. The first year after my dad’s death was a bit much for this five year old. The things I endured…the things that happened to me…happened in silence. My mom’s heart was heavy from the death of my dad and, at 5, I knew she couldn’t take much more so very little was said.

So as you can imagine, entering elementary school was a little rocky….at a time when social and emotional development begins. From elementary school through college, everything around me indicated that love was about me. Love was about how I wanted someone to make me feel and if they failed at doing so then they didn’t love me. Relationships were about perfection. If you lacked perfection in your relationship with me then I had no choice but to conclude that you didn’t truly love me. This thing called love was all about me!

Well, I had it all wrong. God has taught me through scripture that love is not about me…it is about how I serve others.

This is what God Says About This Thing Called Love:

Serving One Another

  • Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves (Galatians 6:2 NIV).
  • You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Galatians 5:13 NIV).
  • Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mark 10: 42-45 NIV)
  • Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 4: 10 NIV)

Esteeming Others Above Yourself

  • Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10 NIV).
  • Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Romans 14:19 NIV).

 Forgiveness

  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the nameof the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3: 13-17 NIV)
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

Humility

  • Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (I Peter 3: 8-14 NIV).
  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2: 3-11 NIV).

Coming to the truth has brought me such joy in my relationship with my children, husband, family, friends and colleagues. Instead of me asking “What have you done for me lately?”, I ask what have I done for them lately? I often look for ways I can edify (uplift) others instead of the other way around. I trust God will supply all my needs that includes the love and joy I need to thrive here on earth.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (I John 4:7-16 NIV).

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, 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 perseveres. Love never fails (I Corinthians 13: 4-8).

Recommended Reading:

A Love Worth Giving: Living in the Overflow of God’s Love by Max Lucado

Love is…..6 Lessons on What Love Look Like by Jenna Lucado Bishop

Bold as Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does by Bob Roberts Jr.