Category Archives: Love

A Word for Today: LOVE

“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Our focal verse may seem not to fit the word for today, but bear with me a moment while I explain.

Remember the parable of Christ when He described the day all will stand before Father as sheep separated from goats. I had a dream years ago about that, in which God allowed me to experience the position of the goat.

As we were ushered in to His presence, upon seeing the Father, we all were overwhelmed and filled to the full with understanding of His essence. Many, knowing their vehement rejection of Him, instantly knew they missed the boat; others who trusted a false salvation were just figuring out that they were on the wrong side of the gulf. The thing that overwhelmed us all was full understanding of God’s pure love for us even in that moment, and that we were finally complete – made whole by His love.

We watched as the names of saints were called one by one, greeted by Jesus, and ushered into His Kingdom by angels. Then came the time when the goats were cast into the outer darkness. I woke with realization that the hottest flame in eternal damnation will be the knowledge of never knowing God’s great love so clearly again.

God used that dream to call me to two major foci in ministry: one being the importance of calling others to the Cross of Christ before it’s too late; the other being the importance of making God’s love known now, while there is time to make an informed decision.

God calls us to be love as He is love. God is the love we are to have and walk in, allowing Him to be love in us, so people can see while they still have a chance of changing sides. This is why Jesus warned us, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (complete).” Matthew 5:43-48 NASB (author’s note)

The most dangerous prayer I have ever prayed is for God to be love in me, loving a person in my sphere of influence with His unfailing love. I say “dangerous” because when God answers that prayer – and He will do so to the sincere heart cry for it – no matter what that person we love does, our love for them does not stop. We keep knowing God’s love for that person as our own. We feel a portion of the pain God feels for those who refuse Him. Their rejection hurts, and it’s hard, and the love keeps pouring out for them with longing for a right and true relationship fueled by and filled with the unity that is only found in mutual relationship with the Father. Only the brave, with true love for the Father that desires His love be found by all who need it, can face the heart of rejection experienced by God’s love for all. Are you ready to love in Jesus’s Name? He will supply the power for it, if you are willing to walk in His love-supply for all.

My prayer for us today, Beloved, is for our Strength to go forth and love in Jesus’s Name and in the power of His supply before time runs out. The eternal clock is ticking.

Propitiation Love

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” ~ Matthew 24:13-14, NASB.

Endures what? Lawlessness? No. The endurance we must possess is to persevere against the assault to one’s love-walk that lawlessness produces.

Love is key to our survival in these days. As lawlessness increases, giving love can be challenged by frustration with those who sin against us; defeated by a spirit of discouragement toward those we see as never changing from the evil that ensnares them. Key to our love-walk in such times of difficulty is the fact that God loves because He IS LOVE: and we are to BE as HE IS. Grab this key, beloved and meditate on it today as you deal with those who stress and strain love. And as you do, consider the following:

Never turn away a loved one because of frustration with their sin without first seeking the Father for the best love-action that needs to be taken. Sometimes leaving the person to wallow in the mire is the greatest love we can give them, so they learn to hate their own sin and to long for the good they can have with the Father they have experienced, hopefully through us. Other times, surpassing frustration to meet a physical need is the love act that expresses God’s care to them and shines the Light that draws them in. But only the Father knows their heart and which is the avenue of destruction to sin that frees them. So we must seek His discernment in our love-walk. Teacher-Test

Unfortunately, in this life with the evils we deal with daily, we also have to consider the protection of innocence, turning from those through whom sin touches us in order to protect the innocence affected by it. Thus knowing how to rightly love requires God’s wise discernment. His love will prevail to accomplish its purpose if we seek to follow on the heels of LOVE-Persona.

While studying for a Bible Study lesson the other day, I discovered an interesting truth about our love walk and what it should be. To endure lawlessness with a spirit of love toward those who do wrong against us, I believe this truth is necessary for us to consider.

In 1 John we are told that Jesus is “propitiation” for sin (2:2). He fully satisfies the payment required by GOD’s Law for the sin of all mankind, the whole world of us! Even ISIL right now, Jesus paid the price of the atrocities they are committing right now; but blinders hinder their receiving His gift of grace, freedom from their sin, and the eternal life they think they are fighting to acquire. Think of missing the very thing you think you are achieving through your works that are sin against the one true God, because you cannot see that God as reality or His propitiation love as true in the Christ you deny. That is sad indeed, a pitiful situation.

We are the people of God if we have chosen Him in Christ just as He chooses us through the same. Though we continue to struggle against sin, because of Jesus this propitiation love of God for us does not hold our sin against us. John 3:16 tells us that God gave Jesus to this role because He loves us—ALL of us, thus the gift purchased reaches out to the whole world, even those ensnared by philosophies like that of ISIL. This is God’s love for us all, the whole world of us. He wanted us with Him for all eternity so much so that He sent His son to pay the full price for sin for all mankind everywhere. And He holds that Christ out for all to see as The Way by which we receive that eternity as a gift, paid for by Him.

That is not news to me, beloved, as I am sure it is not to you who believe as I do, but the following grabbed me! 1 John 4:10-11, NASB, instructs us:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the PORPITIATION for our sins. BELOVED, IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE ALSO OUGHT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

We are to love with Propitiation!

Through love we desire to be His light to a world that needs our Savior. Love growing cold hinders our desire and ability to share Christ. Love growing cold hinders our desire and effectiveness in making sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel. Being propitiate toward those who are unworthy of love from our standpoint means to love them despite sin, not holding their sin against them so as to become cold hearted toward them and fail to hold out to them the ONE they most need to achieve the goal they so greatly desire. Propitiation-love seeks to love fully by continuing even in the face of atrocities done to us, to be God’s light and a conduit of His love toward them with hope of their salvation.

To desire that others know the one who loved us enough to give His all on our behalf, especially those who sin against us, is Propitiation-love. There is no room for self-centeredness, self-preservation, pride, greed, resentment, grudge and anger THAT HINDERS our love-walk and keeps us from giving our all in order to share our Christ with the least of these. If we as God’s people in Christ are sitting in their torcher chamber, this love and Light should prevail against the dark; and by His grace at work within us, it can and will, but we have to understand the call and trust Him who is able to make it so.

Does that mean we never fight against evil? No. We are called to expose unrighteousness and stand firm against it (Read Ephesians 5:6-21; 6:10-20). To fail to do that is to leave those who can be reached with the love of God ensnared by those who would never allow their exposure to the love God has for them in Christ. Thus we fight the good fight of faith, doing good wherever we are able, and routing out sin wherever it seeks to destroy the Light that is there.

One of the hardest things I have ever experienced came when I asked God to fill me with His love for another; and He did, fully. Love you still! I know you are reading this. Receiving that love for the beloved was easy. But when they committed what for me was an unspeakable, unfathomable sin, that love did not quit, and the lesson concerning the fullness and power of God’s love began. To be so hurt and disgusted by sin, but still to love and long for a right and good relationship is hard; it is beyond comprehension to me who is still hindered by flesh. And to have such sin form a wall of hindrance to the full experience and expression of Love is heart breaking.

This is God’s love for us. It is the hurt I believe God bears for those He longs for every second of every day because of the gift of Jesus, but who cannot see or walk in truth because they are blinded to Jesus and ensnared by sin. When we are covered by Christ, that covering brings low the walls that divide so we can continue in relationship with Him. But when we refuse the covering, His love for us does not die. It just goes unfulfilled, and don’t you know, that hurts!

This is a picture of the Propitiation-love we are to have for each other. Love never fails. It puts the sins of the past in the past and works to go forward, not adding up the sin to keep using it against the one loved. Though sin may separate us because of the walls that fly up as created by the sin, love does not die, but continues to desire and seek the best for the object of its affections. God sends rain on the just and the unjust because, though sin hinders relationship, love continues.

There are many “Walking Dead” in the earth, beloved. Those who refuse the gift of propitiation love found in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins. Only as we grow to love others as God loves us will we endure the days of lawlessness ahead of us so that we can continue to reach out into their darkness as His Light. And only as we get understanding of this Love He has for us and calls us to have for others can we truly be a conduit of that love to the unlovable in our midst.

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY  sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”

My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:

Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.

Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.

There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.

Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.

Love is Not Jealous

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NLT.

This is one of those passages that, without the Holy Spirit to instruct us, makes scripture look like it is contradictory. Here it says that “love is not jealous”. But “God is love” and God, “whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”. So what’s up with that? (1 John 4:8; Exodus 34:14)

As I read it this morning, I see the movie “Sleeping with the Enemy” in these words of instruction. You see, God does love us fully, and He is only jealous when we take other gods in His place. For example, God does not mind that I really love and cater to my husband, because He knows my heart has Him in first place even as I love on my man. In fact, it is my love for God that thoroughly equips me to love my man in right ways. But when Father slips to second place in my affections and loyalty, that is what leads to Him becoming jealous over me. I have given myself to Him as my First Love. I belong to Him even before my husband. And He has every right to be jealous when I take that part of me that is His alone and I give it to another.

The jealousy spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13 is not a righteous jealousy, like when God is jealous. It is unreasonable. That type of jealousy says, “If you even look at another, though you are innocent in intent, I will lash out at you with jealous fervor.” This jealousy refuses to trust the love of another. It is suspicious, accusing, and vicious. It has nothing to do with truth or true love, and everything to do with unrighteous possessiveness that too often and easily seeks to rule over the object of its wrath, demanding to be as a god in their lives. It is unreasonable and only truly giving of love to self as it either demands its own way at the expense of the need of the other, or it holds oneself back from the other out of false perceptions that breed insecurity in the relationship.

Unrighteous jealousy can lash out in obvious ways, like the enemy Julia Roberts’ character found herself sleeping with, or it can be more subtle, like so many of us who are sneaky in our ire. Joyce Meyer often tells of when she was jealous of the time her husband spent enjoying sports, how she would decide to vacuum the floor in the room where he was trying to watch a game. We can be sneaky in our jealous tempers, but it is as evil toward the one we profess to love as when those who are overtly jealous beat their mate for their perceived offence, because jealousy of this type breeds discord, hardship, bitterness and anger.

Do I have a right to be jealous if my husband enters into a bad relationship with another woman, or even with an overboard focus on sporting events that rob me of him? You bet I do. We have a license that makes us exclusive as a couple both with God and with man, and we each have right to the others time and attention. There are certain ways in which he is mine alone, and I alone have right to him in those areas of life. There has been a time when I had to warn him that I could tell that another woman was after him, and he was shocked when he discovered it was true. Forewarned was forearmed and he stood faithful. Instead of the other woman’s obvious attraction to my man making me jealous in harmful ways, I knew my rights and was used of God to prepare my mate for the challenge by simply mentioning that she was enamored with him and he needed to be on the alert. I did not badger him or make demands of him. I simply warned him. He was honestly shocked and could not believe it, but when her advances took a clear turn, he was ready with the right response.

My husband went from working mostly with men to a job where he is working with a lot of women and there have been times when I had to deal with the green-eyed monster within; but there have also been times when the jealousy I felt had a righteous seed to it. When he started this job he worked with a very friendly, fun loving man, who was very flirtatious toward women. On one occasion I observed my husband seemingly to fall into that flirtatious fun. Yes, I had to fight off a little jealousy there, and with the Lord’s help, when we were alone, I gently told him that his joking around with them came off to me as flirting. I told him those single women are in the market and that they could well perceive the “fun” as flirting, just as I did, and think he is available, which could end in temptation for him. My husband had an obvious Tim-the-tool-man, aha moment that changed the way he behaves.

Jealousy can be a warning that leads us to realize and take action in protecting our rights, or it can be an ungodly emotion that leads us to behave in ways we have no right to. This emotion we often deal with requires the Spirit of God to instruct us in realizing which jealousy we are in and how to properly address the issue at hand.

So there are two lessons in today’s ponderings:

One, jealousy can be a righteous right, but often is unrighteous and destructive when we fail to get God’s heart on the issue. It is important that we discern the difference and follow God’s example and the Spirit’s lead so we give true love to those around us.

And two, scripture can appear to contradict itself, thus we need the Rabbi-Spirit to instruct our hearts so we know the truth that sets free indeed and realize the continuity of God’s teachings.

Fear Not!

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8.

A quote by Will Smith’s Character, Cypher, in “After Earth” caught my attention. I found it to be one of the most insightful and well-spoken viewpoints I have heard regarding the subject of fear. Thus I quote:

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may never exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”

Wow. That is such a true and thought provoking statement, worthy of meditation. Think about it. Even in an instance of imminent danger, fear comes to the fraction of time in which we allow ourselves to imagine the potential of the next moment that is not yet present reality, and may never be. When we give ourselves to that fear, it brings the mind and emotions to “near insanity,” hindering our ability to think and respond clearly to the danger. Fear, when given a place in our choices, can well lead to destruction. When fear catches our attention, instead of evaluating the danger and how best to address it, we bow to the fear, giving self to its power over us, which leads to running from rather than toward the danger that needs to be dealt with. At the end of the movie, when Kitai was at the point of do or die, he was able to refuse to choose fear any longer. In that instance of calm, he was equipped to face the danger with right priority and discernment of resource to deal with the danger and come out victorious.

It is no wonder that our God tells us over and over to “fear not.” We cannot see the potential for a good outcome and head toward that when fear gets hold of us. And we cannot see clearly the presence and power of our God and His ability to lead us to a right and victorious response when faith to trust Him is hindered by fear.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” ~ 1 John 4:15-18, (see also in AMP. Other “do not fear” passages).

Knowing the love of God for us, being assured of His presence and care, empowers us to face danger with good judgment that empowers us to overcome.

True, Agapé Love Leaves No Scars

“ Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” ~ 1 Peter 1:22-23.

The thought that hits me as I read this passage is that we too often do things that are harmful to those we say we love; and according to my understanding of our love-walk through Christ, that fact proves the lack of our maturity and lack of full understanding of the way of love that God desires and destined us to have for one another.

True, Agapé love leaves no ungodly scars on those we profess to love. True Agapé love always does what is best for those we love, for true Agapé love does no harm. In fact, scripture says that “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” ~ Romans 13:10.

For, “‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you” ~ 1 Peter 1:24-25.

Learning to love, as God desires and designed us to, is vitally important because life is too short. Whether separated by death or the death of relationship due to sin’s destruction, life is too short to waste even a moment on anything less than to love one another from the heart. Leaving people scarred and marred by our sin against them brings difficulty to life that makes their usefulness to God – and ours – more difficult as all struggle to heal from sin’s wake. And one sin can lead to another as protective lines come up to separate us from one another. The solution?

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” ~ 1 Peter 2:1-3.

True repentance and turning from our sin is vital to restoration of relationships. Repenting our failure to truly love those around us is to practice the law of James 4:8-10: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

God can and will restore our stance in life if we, in sincerity, repent with mourning humility the sin we committed because we failed to love those God blessed us to have in our lives, especially repenting our failure to truly love. True repentance focuses on one’s own part in the sin. When talking about drawing near to God, it does not matter what was done against “me”. If I want right relations with God that leads to some degree of restoration with others, all that matters is that I repent my part and leave what others did to God, for Him to deal with them.

One reason our focus must be on our personal sin, not counting the sins of others before Him, as a tattletale trying to make one’s sin more palatable, is another thing we must realize with repentance. Besides repenting being a tattletale, trying to take a little of the heat off our own sin, when our failure to truly love commits sin against another, leading to them stumbling in their love walk, we must repent of being a stumbling block to them because of our failed love for them.

When we can truthfully proclaim “Have mercy on me, a sinner,” without pointing to the splinters in the lives of those we sinned against, then we are truly practicing 1 Corinthians 13 love.

“…Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….”

And as I reread that Corinthians passage, I see a new-to-me meaning of the phrase “…does not take into account a wrong suffered….” I’ve always heard that taught to say that we are not to add up sins as in a tally, constantly bringing up the past in our present discord. But as I read that in light of the turn this writing has taken, I see that we are not to take into account a wrong suffered as if it makes our sin somehow more palatable, saying, “It is okay that I sinned as I did what I did because of what they did.” Taking into account what someone else did to us and using it as excuse for us to sin, then saying, like Adam did, “She made me do it,” is not repentance. It is blame game.

Teacher-TestTrue love repents of “my” sin without bringing up theirs. When we reach a love walk that not only repents of what we did without bringing up what was done to us, but more so we practice a love that chooses to not sin against those we love, no matter what they do to us, that is maturity in our love walk that will take us far in life.

True love says, “I love you, therefore I will do right by you no matter what you do to me; and if I do sin against you, showing the smallness of my love for you, I will accept responsibility for what I did without numbering your sins against me as excuse.”

How is your love walk, beloved? Do business with God today, and let’s press forward to live out for all to see the abiding Agapé that God gives to us and calls on us to give in His name, as representing Him.

For the Love of God

Father, here am I, ready to spend my day with You. I like this thing we have done the past day or two: setting up my note page, getting into Your word or the Heart Quest study throughout the day, working on memory verses. It is awesome to have this time with You and to have you as the main focus throughout my day. Thank You.

There is a quote in The Rabbi’s Heartbeat that is really calling me to evaluate my motives for all I do, Lord God. The instant I read it, I was grabbed in the Spirit by it. I pray, O God, to know the truth and to rightly evaluate my true intents and motivations, and to bring all to one lone reason for life and living: for the love of God. Here am I, O God. In Jesus, amen.

Quote: Brennin Manning, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat, Devotional title: Perfect Love; page 55 in the Nook Book

“Suppose for a moment that in a flash of insight you discovered that all your motives for ministry were essentially egocentric….”

This really has me wondering why I do what I do. Do I write His words because I love Him above all and desire to help Him achieve His desired purpose, will, way, plan in the lives of those touched by what I share? Do I reach out to others with compassion because I love Him and desire to be His conduit in ministry? Do I clean the kitchen because I love Him and desire to be the wife, mother, grandmother of His heart’s desire, tending to the daily duties for His glory as a good example of a godly woman? Why do I seek to serve? Do I fully and completely and madly and passionately love God and desire to show that love by doing for others as His namesake?

May today be the turning point for the rest of my life to be dictated by love for my God and Father, Yahuwah-Ishi. To God be the glory! AMEN? AMEN.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 1

The Struggle Revealed

 I have experience of numerous deep, abiding, holy, pure loves in my life. They are equal to each other and beautiful to behold, bringing rejoicing to my heart; but distinctions in relationships make equal expressions of love forbidden, hindered by rite of Law. What do I mean?

This will be a two part article, first looking at our love relationship with and in Christ; then looking at God’s love relationship to us through Christ and the effect that has on our eternal destiny.

So what do I mean and how can love equality be? Aren’t we to love God first and foremost and each relationship falls in a line under that? God’s love flow is the answer. In making the point I am to share with you today, I tell you of three of my love relationships; made equal by the degree of God’s love flowing through me, but unequaled by rite of relationship Law.

My first Love, of greatest importance, though equal to the others because of its source, is for my God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I choose to love Him and be in relationship with Him as my God, but the love, which is my own, is limited by the weakness of my flesh. However, as I choose to love God with my all, keeping Him as first in my life, trying as I may to love Him as He deserves despite this limitation of flesh, God moves in with His supply and I am helped by Him Who fills me with love that goes beyond the bounds of my ability. He, who is Love, couples His supply with my own, making my love for Him pure and full blown for His glory. It wells up in me and I soar to the heights of the knowledge of His presence.  In this way I am equipped by Him to love Him in ways that please and honor Him fully.

My second love is my husband. Now, I have always said that my love for my husband is less than that I have for my God, because I BELIEVED that was as it should be. As far as hierarchal Law goes in determining who I will follow first as Lord, that is true. But lately, as God has grown and blossomed my love for my husband, God has shown me that my love for my man should equal my love for Him, for it too is supplied and made whole and full through our union as one with Him in holy matrimony: our love making us one flesh together through Him, His love for my husband swells in me and the experience of it is equal to what I have when love soars to God.

God is not a jealous God when our love for others is based out of our love for Him. The only jealousy He has is when we turn from Him to others as a type of god. I can love my husband fully, as I love my God, because God pours His love through me. In this way I am capable of loving my husband as God desires and designed me to, and through the purity of God’s love flowing through me, I am protected from sinning against my first love, God.

The purity of God’s love desiring the very best for and toward the object of love, whether God or man, protects my relationship with God as God, keeping me from seeing my husband take God’s rightful place in my life. My love for my husband is kept in right priority and rite of relationship by this love of God that flows through me to him. And I am protected by the full and pure love I have for my husband from sinning against my marriage vows, whatever temptation the enemy may send. Now, if that is clear as mud, let’s throw a third party in the mix.

I love my husband as I love my God, with whole heart that is helped and empowered by His love-flow, desiring to please God in my relationships. And like with my love for my God, my love for my husband, empowered and made strong by my God, is pure love, and I cannot fathom ever sinning against that love. Nonetheless, there is a love in me that has been there and grown strong for many years. It, too, is pure and holy and supplied by God, and when it wells up in me fully, it is equal to my love for my God and my husband. It is different in its expression and intent and purpose from that of my love for my God, but part of that love. And it is different in expression from my love for my husband, but a love made great and soaring strong in me in likeness to my love for my God and my husband because of the source of love’s flow.

This love has a forbidden dimension to it because it is love toward another man, not my husband. By rite of marital Law, though I love this other man of God fully and have enjoyed serving God together with him on many projects for many years now, I cannot act on this love in the same way that I do toward my husband.  Still there is the call of God in me to minister alongside this other man as is proper, just as the women who served at the feet of Jesus, and those who were ministers with Paul and Elijah. Our union of heart desire toward God swells in my heart with the love of God toward him, filling me with love that equals my love for my God and my husband, pure and holy in its intent and sourcing.

Then enters Satan: often Satan will try to distort love, for our experience of love is the closest thing to sitting in the lap of God, who IS love. Satan does not want us to truly know that heart of love where we may come to greater understanding of and stronger relationship with God, so he works to make our experience of love into something it is not meant to be.

Satan often moves in when that love for my Christian Brother soars, using my misunderstanding of God’s love-flow, my fleshly wisdom and that of this world to bring thoughts that make this love seem wrong. When love toward my Brother wells up so strong in me, lies of evil regarding it using the way the world thinks about love, twists the love into something different in my mind, causing me to feel guilty though I have done nothing wrong and have no wrong intent or desire toward him, for I can see no other man for me than my husband.

In that moment of struggle, this love that, if acted upon fully in accord with the temptation of the distortion Satan seeks to work, would be sin against my God, my husband, and this man. When it is full blown in me, Satan working to make it appear ugly, I struggle with guilt and anguish over it, and it hinders my ability to work with peace together in our common desire to fulfill the purpose of God. It has been a confusing journey and a long lessen I am grateful to have lived through, for it has shown me great things about my God who knows and understands our struggle in life, and He allows it for our good, not for harm.

I know this love that swells in me for my Brother is of God because I know the love of my God personally and intimately. God, in His grace, has always helped me to deal with this twisting of satanic ploy, putting my thoughts and my relationship back in the position it belongs, thus equipping me to continue serving God in righteousness alongside this other man. But the twisting of distortion has hindered me from fully living in the love-flow of God toward him for fear of the struggle, and I often pull back from things I feel called to alongside him in order to avoid the struggle.

When I shared the turmoil of heart with my husband, he encouraged me with his understanding of how it can be when people of opposite sex work together and have like desires in the work. He prays for me and helps me with his trust and support. And I have grown to trust this love to God for His protection, so that I may serve as He leads without sin, at the time, not understanding its source because of the hindrance within.

God’s love toward my friend wells up in me unexpectedly and often, calling me to prayer for my friend in Christ who is often in harm’s way in his ministry, helping me to reach out to meet the need of my ministry with him with right heart and priority. But false wisdom and understanding hinders the joy of love’s purity.

I have cried out often for deliverance from these wrong emotions that hit me with this love and for understanding of the struggle demonic thoughts throw into the works; but until now there has been no response from God. Today I share this struggle with you so that I may make clear God’s answer that finally came to my understanding.

Now, before you get all judgmental and close off to the moral of the story, hang with me. Like with Hosea who was led to take a bride of harlotry in order to understand the message God had for Israel, there is a lesson here that God taught me and wants you to hear. And believe me, you are not thinking anything about it that I have not thought during my struggle. You may even be able to relate to it from your own experience. If so, I hope you had God’s help to protect you from sin as well. So, setting the judgment aside to God, now that you have the background, let’s continue to the truth God revealed to me through this situation.

Last night I had a dream that this man came for a visit. When he comes, we open our home to him as Lydia and her family did to Paul. My husband and I love him and we minister to him together in the Lord. And he loves us with a pure love. It is a joy when he comes.

During this visit in my dream, he became very ill and I began to minister to him, doing what I could for him in our home, in the hospital, and after his release. As I did so God’s love welled up in me. Again, that temptation of forbidden love came and I began the struggle anew in my dream, feeling guilty over a love so strong toward one who is not my husband. Crying out to God as I ministered to him, drawn of God to care for him, I am as grieved and confused as ever.

Waking from the dream, that love still overwhelming my heart, I cry out to God as never before, seeking understanding of why He would allow such a struggle to exist in me. Seeking discernment as never before, do you know what God said to my heart?

“For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish but have everlasting (eternal) life” (John 3:16).

In that instant knowledge of why God allowed me to experience this love from Him was clear to me: God is love! He cannot help but love. And He loves all equally and fully: saved and sinner alike, He shows no partiality in His love. But like with my love for this other man who is not my husband, His love is hindered toward some because it is forbidden by rite of the Law He himself set, limiting Himself toward us so that we can have rite of choice to love Him in return.

God loves all who are in the world, giving His Son for all, but He has set up a law, the law of sin and death, where sin was allowed to enter by His design that we should have choice regarding our personal relationship with Him.

Mankind began with full access to God, but sin entered to separate us from full relationship with Him, working a spiritual death that would set the stage for spiritual birth to new life, where those who receive it will never to be separated from Him again.

God had this plan from the beginning. He developed for Himself a people, out of which He sent a Healing Balm to restore life anew to all who choose to receive it, and that is found in the sacrifice of the Son, the Messiah Christ Jesus.

Blood has long been required as sacrifice for sin, and before Christ there were long lines of people bringing their offerings for sacrifice in order to be seen as pure in God’s eyes. But sin and death reigned in the earth, and very few were allowed to know the presence and reality of God as a result.

God loved all His created beings, wanting so much to have a personal and living relationship with each one, so His plan from the beginning included the Gift of a final offering on our behalf. Therefore, sending Jesus, His Son, who willingly gave His life as a sacrificial Lamb, God provided in likeness to His provision for Abraham on the mountain with Isaac, his son. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God removed the rite of sin and death to hold us captive, returning to us the right to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing with Him, or curse of living without Him, never to know His love flow. He desires to flow His love to all, but He chooses to honor our decision regarding Him and holds back from forcing Himself on us.

Do you see the flip-flop effect here? Where Adam and Eve had God in all His fullness right there with them and their choice was to remain with him or depart to a life of death, separated from Him by sin; we are birthed to a life without right to God and must choose to be born again in our spirit by receipt of the Sacrifice for sin that restores our relationship with God to its full intent. He then, begins the work of restoring our love relationship with Him to its full capacity, giving Himself fully to us, making us whole, and reviving His likeness in us, including our ability to love as one in Him.

This remedy to the law of sin and death says that all who choose God by accepting the sacrifice of the Son as the work of the Spirit accomplished at the hand and bidding of God will be cleansed and set free forever from the consequence of sin and death; and they who choose life in Christ then receive all of God’s love with all the perks of relationship with Him. With Christ as our covering, God then can pour out His full love on us through the vital relationship He desires to have with every person born to the earth.

God ministers to all, sending the blessing of rain on the just through Christ and the unjust alike: He must by right of the pure love within Him, do what He can for those He loves. But, for those who have not chosen to enter into a marriage relationship with Him through Christ, He cannot give Himself fully to them and sin against His law of sin and death, nullifying His marriage vows to the church, the Bride of Christ; His beloved children through Jesus. Those who are born to the earth are separated from God by the death brought to all mankind that separates them from Him because of sin, and our God of Love struggles in His affections toward them, desiring to give Himself fully to them, but hindered by Law.

Just as by rite of relationship laws, I can only show my love for my friend to a small degree of the full relationship of love I have with my husband, so God is limited by the Law regarding rite of relationship with Him, mankind being separated from experiencing all that He is by sin’s right over them. For those who receive by faith the sacrifice for sin in Jesus, the gap between God and that person is closed, and God again has right and delight in giving all He is and all He has to us for our joy and fulfillment. We are made whole together with Him, made one in the Beloved. Thus the flow of equal love to many in my life is made clear, and the struggle that the flesh, the world and the demonic would work to hinder that love flow and the power it brings to work together in unity is squelched. I am free.

God loves all fully, and through relationship with His Son we experience His full love when we choose Him through believing faith. So what does our choice or lack thereof mean for our eternity? See you tomorrow for the conclusion of this thought…

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart” (vs. 4, AMP).

Do you realize that delighting in the Lord is a duty for us who seek Him? We cannot have His Light without first having Him. And one who truly has Him, delights in Him.

John Piper has a book out that suggests that delighting in God is a command to His people. Titled, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, the danger comes from the fact that our true, sincere and complete delight in Him will put us in opposition to the world as we walk the paths He lays out for us. I highly recommend this book.

So what is delighting in the Lord?

My first thoughts are from my simplistic mindset. Those I delight to be with bring joy and rejoicing to me, and hopefully, me for them. I long for their companionship and seek them out.

I think of the delight I have when bouncing my smaller grandchildren on my knee and hearing their laugh—finding joy in their joy. Thoughts of times with older grandchildren come to mind, getting to know them as the people they are becoming, sharing with them in their lives, praying with them, loving on them, sharing some of myself with them.

Then there are my children, other relatives, and close friends. What a joy it is to share their lives, see God’s work in growing them, encourage them in the way and be encouraged by them. What a delight these relationships are to my heart.

And lest I forget, what joy and delight I find in relationship with my beloved husband: spending time with him, listening to his heart’s desires, hearing his heartbeat, cuddling up with him and just enjoying being with him. The longing of my heart is for him, to honor him, care for him, fulfill his needs, help him through life; to be the best wife to him that I can be. In likeness to the author of “Lord, Teach me to Pray,” I often pray, “Lord, give my husband a better wife, and let it be me.”

Perhaps the definition of “delight” is “relationship”; and the greatest picture we have of relationship to God is the right and true love relationship found in the marriage bed.  But just for laughs and grins, what does “delight” mean? Yum! I see good food to chew on as I turn to Delight defined.

“Great pleasure; joy. Something that gives great pleasure or enjoyment. To take great pleasure or joy: delights in taking long walks (I would add “with the Lord in His garden of delights”). To give great pleasure or joy: an old movie that still delights (never losing our delight in the Lord). To please greatly. …

Extreme pleasure or satisfaction; joy.”

The definition of “delight” led to look at “to please”, and there we find our meat:

“To give enjoyment, pleasure, or satisfaction to; make glad or contented. To give satisfaction or pleasure; be agreeable.”

Yum! Delighting in the Lord means to be a servant that desires His pleasure, satisfaction and contentment, finding one’s own pleasure, satisfaction and contentment in His. This is the roll of one who is not just a slave in Christ, they are a bondservant. What is the difference?

A slave is generally one by force or by the right of legal ownership of his person belonging to another. They are told what to do when and they have no choice but to obey or receive the consequence. These often will seek every opportunity to get out of their bondage.

Whether or not we realize it, “slave” to God is the roll of all who live: Why? God holds legal rights over us.

Adam sold us into slavery to sin and death. God bought right over us back through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, paying the price He required through the flesh of His own Son given willingly and freely.

All belong to God. And those who do not choose before their physical death or the return of Jesus Christ to be His bondslave through the relationship afforded us by the sacrificial gift of Christ’s death in our stead will suffer the consequence of their choice. They will find their escape from God, but they won’t like it. 

God does not force us to be His servant. He has gifted us with choice through Christ. Those who do choose Him are gifted with the seal of His Spirit for all eternity, and though they remain servant by choice, they also move from the roll of slave to that of the adopted child of God: no longer numbered as “Gentile” or “sinner”, we are “Jew” through Christ—the chosen and forgiven, circumcised of heart.

A bondservant is one by choice. They have found that being servant to their Master is the best place they can hold. They serve because they love the Master and they trust His love for them. After all, He gave His all through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son to provide a place for them with Him.

In this love relationship with the Master, these then grow to know their Master’s desire and way to the point that they will know, as if before they are told, what needs to be done. Their hearts are one with the Master, knowing His will and having His desire at heart. Their relationship is one of mutual trust, love, and reliance (yes, God has a form of reliance on the bondslave, though it is Him who supplies our ability to be reliable – Matthew 25:14-30).

Delighting in the Lord is to no longer be slave, but bondservant: “To be the will or desire of. To have the will or desire” of God as one’s own. Delighting in the Lord is becoming one with Him. Obedience is easy because love abounds:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. …I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (Jesus, John 14:23-24, 30-31).

So get up, let us go from here as bondslaves through Christ who delight in the Lord. Then He will give us the desires and secret petitions of our heart.

Now let me warn you, this does not mean that He will give us whatever we ask for. Like a good Father, He only gives us the best, and He gives what is best for us. So how can He promise to give us our secret petitions and desires?

Look back over our definition of ‘delight’. He can give us our secret petitions and desires because as bondslaves who delight in the Lord, our first delight is to have His desires at heart. He is able to fulfill this promise as He works in us to align our desires with His own heart. How does this happen?

It begins with the mind of Christ.

Beginning tomorrow we will press ‘pause’ on our study of Psalm 37 to take a look at what I believe reveals one to be dictated by the mind of Christ. Again I ask you to pray with me for God’s heart as I seek Him to lead us through this study. See you tomorrow!

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 4 – Live Defined by Love

“Live life to the full”: that is the goal, despite difficulty that comes to hinder.

In nursing, when dealing with people who enter into a season of learning to deal with a chronic illness, the goal is to help them find a new norm that allows them to live life to the highest degree possible. That is what we have been talking about this week. Disease is part of life in a fallen world. Sometimes God chooses to heal, miraculously or over time; but always He chooses to use the struggle to grow our faith in Him and bring us to greater reliance on Him as our first, most vital Need and Necessity. He is our Resource and Supply, our Great Ally.

Because of love of God and love for those around me, I refuse to waste good days protecting myself for fear I might overdo and flare, never getting anything of importance done, failing to enjoy not only this life God has given me but the people in it. I know better than to constantly push myself, yes; but there are just some days that are worth the push.

When I do push to live life and enjoy it, if a flare follows, I refuse to give my enemy the glory by bemoaning the push of life and the energy of God’s supply for it, even regretting that I possessed a day to live it to the full. I will, instead, choose to rejoice in the good days and rest in God in the bad days until healing comes and the enemy is back in its place.

Finally, with these truths under my belt, I can live life to the full knowing that truth sets free indeed, wisdom directs the path, and faith, hope and love abide: and the greatest of these is love. So love to the full keeping God first, for we can do nothing apart from Him, but with Him all things are possible, for nothing shall be impossible with God. He is for us and not against us. And even when He allows evil to touch our lives, it has eternal purpose for good and not harm. Have faith in Him and follow His directives to the healing of His desire and the glory of His name. Live with hope in God who supplies strength to live life to the full.

In this way we can live to His glory, realizing our resource is in Him. With those resources in mind, having His priorities of faith, hope and love actions, determine your boundaries, and fight the good fight of faith that is defined by who you are in God’s estimation. Remember that He is more interested in how we love Him, self, and others, than He is in a clean house and a meal that takes hours of preparation. Save energy for those you love. The house will fall apart and return to dust for eternity. The people are all we can take with us. Love those kids. Play with them. Enjoy your mate. And give to those in your sphere of influence without fretting over the house being less than you desire.


 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).


Thank You, Father, that You instruct my life and grant me Your wisdom and discernment. I look to You as I seek to understand how to live with my limits, know my enemies, discover the truth, and live this life in the abundance of Your supply. No longer being dictated by my diagnosis, but empowered by Your gracious love and provision in it, I pray I will live this life of abundance to the glory of Your name.

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

 In Jesus I pray You, show me Your glory. Amen

Strength And Beauty Are In His Sanctuary

“…show forth His salvation from day to day. …For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all [so-called] gods. …strength and beauty are in His sanctuary” (Psalm 96, AMP).

God has graciously been ministering to me concerning the paranoia my daddy is dictated by and the struggle that brings this tired daughter’s heart. I am grateful that God loves me and that He instructs my heart as a Faithful Father to this, His child. So what causes my struggle?

One thing, of course, is daddy’s paranoia that has him thinking we who love him most and desire to do the best for him are doing things to bring him harm. God reminds me in this passage that not only is this fear that wells up in me to hinder my effective relationship with daddy not of Him, but He is the only one worthy of fear and worship. When I bow to fear, I bow to a false god.

Another thing that hinders is fear of what others think of my struggle where daddy is concerned. Again He points out to me the fear being used to hinder and the reminder from God that He is my God.

Not only is He my God, but He alone is my judge and King and I can trust Him. I can trust Him to lead me day by day. I do not have to fret about what is needed in my tomorrow, or what others think I should be able to do for daddy today. God knows my heart and He knows my struggle and the reasons behind it, which He is helping and healing. I do not have to fret over the expectations of others or even of my own heart. All my tomorrows belong to Him, as does my here and now. Only in my now is it my choice. Will I follow Him with faith, rejoicing? Or will I leave Him in the way? He is the path before me. All I need is clarity for the next step He has for me to take and faith to step it. It is my step by step that He requires and He will always supply the need of the moment with strength sufficient for the call, great or small, for …

“Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” That means two things to me.

One: I can rest in the sanctuary of my God knowing that He protects me and fights for me. I do not have to give myself to fretting, fearing, cringing, or doubting, which lead only to inability to worship and trust in Him. I cannot follow His call in the day to day ways of ministry to my aging daddy, or anyone else, when I am blinded by fear and anxiety over the struggle. I cannot hear Him whom I desire to honor when I am not seeking to follow close at His heels in obedient faith.

Following Him requires faith, and faith in action requires hope-filled belief; trusting that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says, for He is able. And because He who equips me is able, I can do what He says I can for I am who He says I am: His beloved possession, child of the King, a princess warrior in Christ, a part of the Holy Nation, the Royal Priesthood, called and equipped to live a life that declares His glory and His Lordship.

Two: When Jesus breathed His last earthly breath, the Father tore the dividing wall asunder, removing the separation. That act not only made the way for me to come to His throne of grace personally as a minister in Jesus’ name, entering His sanctuary as a priest unto God, but it also opened the way for His Spirit to reside within His people—which includes me. I, along with you, are the very Temple of the Very God, and His strength is in His sanctuary.

God spoke these things to me on Saturday. Sunday, as Pastor Tim began his message on love in action, he gave one simple instruction as he began to define love, and God used it to remind me of my need to focus on loving daddy in His name. Pastor told us to not focus on taking note of his definition of each aspect of love found in 1 Corinthians 13, but to write down what the Spirit instructs us regarding our love walk. God spoke clearly to me regarding love-actions toward daddy, giving me 10 simple ways I can love daddy while overcoming fear and anxiety:

  1. Practice long-suffering (patience) toward Daddy.
  2. Do good to daddy, searching for opportunity to do so.
  3. Honor daddy from my character, not from my position in his eyes – non-envious love is not position oriented, but character birthed.
  4. In honor, prefer daddy, giving preference to him. Love calms the angry passion. Do not be cross or contradictory.
  5. Act becomingly toward daddy with courtesy. Do not despise his conduct! – Then I noted; Life is opportunity; so is love.
  6. Do not seek my own to the neglect of daddy. Do not love self to the cost and damage of daddy or those who watch and go through this with me. I have long believed that the difficulties God has me walk through are not only for my benefit in purifying me, but so that I have a comfort with which to comfort others. How can I give true comfort that does good to others if I do not first learn to do this relationship struggle the right way, through love that gives at all cost?
  7. Love will temper anger toward daddy. Love will reconcile with him, 70 times 7, for my own sake as well as his (Matthew 18:22; Isaiah 43:25 – Forgiving God’s Way – Part 1 ; Forgiving God’s Way – Part 2).
  8. Love will give daddy the benefit of a doubt, not pre-judging his heart toward me, thus letting fear hinder relationship. It will not add my suspicions to his. As it rejoices in truth, love will speak the truth in love.
  9. See daddy through Love’s eyes. Do not expose daddy’s sin to others, unnecessarily causing him to look bad in the eyes of others.
  10. Love does not give up on the one loved (Memorize verse 8: “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]”, AMP). Fortification and firmness of foundation is the gift of Love—that stick to-it-tiveness found in standing on the Solid Rock and walking in His ways is what I need to persevere despite the difficulty.

 My prayer as the message began was, “Father, remove from me the love of self and the misconceptions of love that stops up the love of You meant to flow to the lives of others. In Jesus, I continue to pray this, amen.”

Father, fear and debilitating anxiety, tiredness and frustration, bitterness and anger, all of these clog up the pores of Love’s flow. Perfect Love casts out fear. You and You alone are perfect love, for You ARE love. Here am I, O God. Strength is in the Santuary of God; you being my hiding place and defense / defender when fear strikes its cord; my body being a temple of Your habitation, where Strength resides. Strengthen me, O God, to persevere in faith and practice Your love that fails not. In Jesus, show me Your glory. Amen.

Thoughts on Love

As we come near to Valentine’s Day, my thoughts turn to love. What is love?

Scripture has much to say on this subject, defining several degrees of love. One that comes to heart today gives definition in the fact that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and we are called to love as He loves. From this I understand that love begins within. True love comes from who we are, and therefore is undisturbed by what people do or don’t do. When love flows from my being, I will find it easier to keep on loving others, despite insult, making 1 Corinthians 13 easier to follow.

Then I think of the passage in Ephesians 5, where the husband is encouraged to love his wife as Christ loved the church. How did He love the church? Through giving Himself for it, nurturing it, and cherishing it.

Jesus gave His life for those He loved. To give oneself fully to a relationship requires compromise: meaning I have to be willing to give up what I want and have for the sake of those I love—and vice versa, by the way. Jesus died to self to come to this life as the Lamb of God: giving up all He had before in order to come to this life in flesh; show us how to love, live for and honor God and each other; and then to give His life for us, leading us then to do the same in giving our all to God.

That was His first act of love toward those who would be the people of God. But He did not completely neglect Himself while here. He often drew apart from the crowds for a little self-care and time with the Father so as to replenish His stores for giving into the lives of those He loved enough to die for. We, too, must take care of ourselves if we expect to have any supply to give into the lives of others.

Jesus nurtured those He loved. He encouraged their spiritual growth, called them up higher in their thinking, and did all He could to help them be the best person they could be. Nurturing others we love in this same way is vital to a love relationship. Love desires the best good of those loved and encourages them to be and do their best. Love sees the potential wrapped up in the person and nurtures it, calling for it to come forth and live.

Jesus also cherished those He loved. When we cherish something or someone, we do all we can to treat them right, as one we treasure. We also do all we can to protect them from harm, destruction, or loss. Love treasures, cherishes, and protects.

When asked which was the greatest law, Jesus rightly said that loving God is the greatest, followed by loving others as we love ourselves. Love fulfills the law, for love will always keep God first, having no other gods before Him, honoring His name in word and deed. Thus love of God does the things He requires of us, beginning with keeping the Sabbath holy, giving honor to parents, protecting life, honoring the marriage bed as holy; love will give and not steal, it will build up by speaking truth in love and not tearing down others through false witness, it rejoices over God’s blessing toward others without being envious and jealous and covetous.

True love never fails, because love will always see the potential and work to help the one loved reach that potential. Love will not keep a tally of hurts, spouting them off at every opportunity, but love will always be open to starting anew, leaving the past in its grave to go forth to improved relations.

Love always seeks the greatest good for the one loved, therefore faith, love and hope are seen together in the relationship that withstands the test of time and the growth of individuals.

Before ending this note on love, we must realize that if we are to love our neighbor, Jesus’ response to the question posed makes clear that for us to truly know how to love others, we must first know how to practice all that love is toward self. That means that to love self properly, we cannot focus on and add up all our flaws and failures, but must maintain hope of better and encourage our own success toward becoming our better best. It means cherishing oneself enough to value ourselves in ways that lead to us being protective over the things we want to maintain and work to shore up the areas of our being that need improvement. Being “love” will cause that flow to touch all we are in relationship with, beginning with God and self. As they say, “I better like me because I am the one person I cannot get away from.” Love of oneself works toward being able to like oneself and causes us to become one of our most faithful supporters.

When we can first love God, then rightly love self as an outflow from our relationship with God, then we will have what it takes to know how to truly love others. The greatest valentine card we can give to God is to be love as He is love, and to let that love flow to all in our sphere of influence, from our glance in the mirror every morning, to “the least of these” we meet every day.

And lest we forget!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48, NASB).

I perceive this call to perfection as meaning that we are to be who we say we are in truth; not putting on a façade of Christlikeness or godliness, but truly being as He said He is: “I AM who I am. I’m just me.”

For other insights on love, read: 1 Corinthians 13; Romans 12; Colossians 3.