God’s Love vs Human Love

Have you ever been disappointed by love? Maybe your heart was broken by the one that you loved. Maybe those that are supposed to love unconditionally (parent’s) abandoned you. Somehow, in some form, we have all been disappointed, betrayed, hurt, or negatively impacted by “love.”

God’s love is so different from the love that we have come to understand and believe in our world today. Love to us has become a feeling. It’s fleeting, flimsy and just plain weak; that is, compared to the true love that God offers. We have come to believe that  we are at the mercy of love, rather than knowing that love is a choice. We hear people say often, “Well, we fell out of love”, or “We simply dont love each other anymore.” Because of what love has become in our world it’s no wonder many people don’t truly understand the love of God.

Do you know, even for the most righteous person, the one who walks the walk and talks the talk, His love is not fully comprehendable.

One of the aspects of the Bible that I really appreciate is how the authors, all throughout, have put human attributes on God. All in order that we, as humans, might be able to understand Him better. God’s hands (Psalm 31:5), His eyes (Proverbs 15:3), His arm (Isaiah 62:8), and the voice of God (Ezekiel 10:5). The problem, however, with this is the very thing we do best as humans: mess it up. I’ve been guilty if it, and I know I’m not alone; the process of taking more human, sinful traits and projecting these characteristics and tendencies onto the Lord. If doing such and such makes Him smile and pleased, then doing this sinful act clearly makes him sad and disappointed. There are a lot of assumptions made in a statement or a thought process such as this. And there is not a whole lot of truth in it.

When we begin to place our fallen, human characteristics on God, several things begin to happen:

1) We are calling God a liar. From His mouth it has been told to us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways. They’re higher.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, paraphrased);

2) We place God in a box, which leads to the third point;

3) His characteristics become human rather than that of the One True God. We strip Him of His sovreignty, His omnipresence, and His omnipotence. Everything that makes God who He is quickly disappears.

4) Ultimately, then, this leaves us completely devoid of hope. Without God, there is not Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no salvation. And without salvation, there is no hope.

God’s love is far beyond our understanding. I’m not convinced we’ll even understand it once we reach Heaven. God’s love is without conditions, it is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow, nothing can separate us from the love of God. And because of His love we are able to experience true love, therefore being able to love others as He has loved us.

We are human, so we cannot do this perfectly. But as the Church we should set the example: forgive as you have been forgiven, offer grace and mercy as He gives us daily, live as a child of God not as a child of the Devil. Can you imagine the revolution, the revival we could have in our lives, homes, and community if we loved with even an ounce of the love that God shows us!?

Start today, ask God to change your heart and mind, ask Him to reveal His love to you so you can show it to others. Ask Him for a willing heart, a confidence that can’t be shaken, and courage to obey when it’s hard. When you ask, He will always answer. When you ask, you will receive (Matthew 21:22Jorhn 16:24, 1 John 3:22James 4:3). This will not be easy; I’ve adopted the slogan, “Being Christian is not for the faint of heart.” God is going to break you and mold you, to make you more like Him. While it’s no cake walk, the rewards are eternal, the joy that comes from serving Him with abandon is beyond describable, the relationship you forge with God is priceless. The rewards reaped from sowing in God’s love, will far outweigh any hardship you might experience.

Colossians 3:12

John 14:21

Prayer: God, we give you our lives and hearts. Take us deeper than we’ve ever been, farther than we dare go on our own. Jesus, make us more like You. Give us willing, obedient hearts, completely dependent on You. We love You, and look forward to Your plans with hope, peace and joy. In Your powerful name we pray, let it be so!


The Armor of God: Part 1

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

“Be strong” – endunamoo – Increase in strength, to receive strength, to be strengthened, to increase in union with the Lord
“in the Lord” – kurios – The Lord, exercising absolute ownership rights
“and in the strength” – kratos – dominion, power; a mighty deed (from a root word meaning “to perfect, complete” … in this verse context is the might of HIS strength
“of His might”– ischus – strength, power, might, force, ability…power (over external things) afforded by strength

After looking at the original Greek, I have come up with my own version of this verse: “This strength is the ability for us to increase our union with the Lord, who has complete rights to our lives anyway, through His perfect and complete power over external things.” This brings new life to Philippians 4:13 for me: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Since we are going to be looking so much as strength today, it’s important to look at our weaknesses too. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I think Paul is saying that he rather enjoys his weaknesses because then Christ has all the more opportunity to shine, and isn’t that the goal in life? To let the Lord’s light shine before all men. Matthew 5:14-16 is a great illustration straight from Jesus’ lips about how brightly our lights should shine. Look at the end of verse 16 – so “that they may see…and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

It circles back to that infamous question, “Why are we here?” Answer: to worship God. How then, are you worshipping God? Is your whole life a reflection of Christ? Where are you struggling in your journey of faith? Look to the Lord for your strength!

Weary? Isaiah 40:29-31; Psalm 73:26
Fear? Isaiah 41:10, 13; Deuteronomy 31:6
Rejected? Isaiah 41:9; 2 Timothy 4:16-17
Dry/Empty? Isaiah 41:17-18
Knocked Down? Psalm 18:33
Psalm 18:2, 32, 28:7-8, 29:11, 46:1, 59:9; Proverbs 31:25

I wonder if what Paul was getting at is that in devotion to Christ we offer our lives as a living sacrifice to His will. In that sacrifice we are bound to see we have weaknesses, but God is so much bigger than our weaknesses. And when we’re honest with God, with ourselves and those around us, our weaknesses begin to fad as Christ steps in and covers them. He doesn’t always take them away as if they never existed, but He covers them in a way that He is seen in our lives rather than us. The Lord is seen, not our inadequacies.

It’s much easier for us when we are seeking God during this process of refinement, is it not? Not that it will be easy-because life in a sin stained world is not easy. However, look at what Jesus Himself says in Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Is anyone else just absolutely basking in that promise?

As we go through our lives we would do good to remember this: God is pruning the branches that bear fruit so that they may bear even more fruit; no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. The vine being Jesus. As He remains in us, let us also remain in Him (John 15). Let us do this so that we may be the Father’s glory by bearing much fruit. I love what one of my pastor’s said this last Sunday about glory: it is to live your life in such a way that those around you have a good opinion of God.

But what fruit is it that we bear? The fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5 and Colossians 3. Love. And through love we see joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and compassion. As we devout ourselves to God’s, love and all these things ooze from our pores. We are a pleasing aroma to God. If you know about my love for essential oils, then you know I’m all about pleasing aromas.

This may beg the question then, how do we remain in Christ, how do we continue shining His light, how do we worship God with all of our life, particularly when life is hard?

1. You must stay in the Word of God, or use The Sword of the Spirit. Daily! “Oh, but everyday is so hard. I’m just too busy. I don’t have the time.” This may not come out very gracious, but really!? You don’t have time for the creator of the universe? You don’t have 5 minutes you can devout to Him? But I agree, it can be a challenge to figure out when and where to fit in the time with God. Here’s my personal belief, which is supported Biblically by Jesus: first thing in the morning. (And make it something interesting ya’ll). Let me drive my point home a bit further here: how often is Satan trying to steal and kill and destroy you? Every single day. And sometimes he’s not even taking a break while you’re sleeping. So, yes, read and study your Bible daily.

2. You must exercise faith. Exercise implies that you’re strengthening something. How do you strengthen your faith then? Stay in the Word of God as you walk, run, stumble and fall through this race of life. Faith is the assurance of things not seen and confidence in what we hope for. As we go through life with confidence in our hope in the Lord, and assured through the Word of God, our faith turns into a Shield with which we can duck behind, or hold high as we extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. I’ve even recently pictured my Shield of Faith growing larger with each trial.

3. When we equip ourselves with the Sword of the Spirit, and the Shield of Faith, our Breastplate of Righteousness begins to form around our life. Righteousness will protect our heart and vital organs and our back. The righteousness that God is working out in you and allowing to flourish will give you strength to make the right decisions when facing temptation, it will protect you from relying solely on your own strength, or, may the Lord forbid, your emotions or feelings. Instead you are able to rely on God’s truth. When circumstances begin to loom over you like a dark cloud, or your life seems to be spinning out of control, or a situation rises up suddenly, you get to rest in your righteousness. Knowing that you have already have a line of defense in place.

4. Speaking of God’s truth…we are to wrap the Belt of Truth around ourselves, as if allowing it to hold us together. We are then able to walk in His truth which we can find in the Word of God. If you follow Priscilla Shirer with Going Beyond Ministries there are several events she has spoken about regarding the Armor of God. In her speech she talks about how the Belt of Truth helps take the weight of your own righteousness.

5. When we strive to equip ourselves with all these attributes and disciplines we are then moved, and fully prepared by God to spread the Gospel of Peace. It becomes natural to spread that peace where ever our feet take us.

6. And isn’t that our great mission? To tell others about the Helmet of Salvation. With which, none of these other pieces would fit. So you see, it’s a full circle. Salvation leads to the Word which leads to faith, and righteousness, leading to knowing and walking in the truth, and where we walk we carry with us the Gospel of Peace. Salvation leads to the Word, and to faith and righteousness and truth…it’s all connected. They aren’t really separate pieces at all.

7. And then there’s Prayer.

The power and strength and might that Paul is mentioning here in Ephesians 6:10 is most certainly an active strength. When you think about a battle, it’s not a place you imagine to be relaxing, or comfortable, a nice place to rest and rejuvenate. NO! Why then do we think that we can rest in our devotion to God? Leaving fellowship, or taking a day off? I’m guilty of this. In fact just just a few weeks ago, when I was sick (flu sick), I thought, ‘I don’t need God, I’m sick. I’ll be fine. I’m not going to work; I can barely have an attitude anyway with how sick I am. I got this.’ Let me tell you how well that didn’t work for me. I was an awful human being to be around. Isn’t it so reassuring though, to know that the power of Christ can cover a multitude of scenarios? Cancer, death, moving, relationship struggles, mental or emotional distress…the list could on. If Christ’s power works in the midst of a battle, then boy howdy, He can do anything!

I did a quick search in the Bible to see what else the power of God is described as, likened to, or emulated as. [This is where you can grab your Bible and look with me]. Ephesians 1:19-20 The Resurrection Power. Psalm 68:32:35 It can be/should be proclaimed; resides in Heaven; over us-not tyrannically, but rather compassionately, with a downward care for us; the power of His sanctuary is awesome; he freely shares it with us. *Mark 12:24 The power of God is for the living. Job 27:11 We teach others about God’s indescribable power. 1 Corinthians 1:24 Christ is the power of God. *Acts 8:10 Satan often disguises himself as the power of God.
*Context is important for these verses; go back far enough to get a feel for the Scripture and message.

The power of God: justifies, saves, reconciles, judges, loves infinitely, creates life, gives life, demands holiness, forgives.

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If we go back to Ephesians 6:10, we see that the power of God lives within us, working personally and communally, as the Church. And it’s God’s power working in us and through us that puts us in a place to choose to put on the Armor of God to fight against our enemy. Don’t miss this: it is a choice; it is your choice. God is not going to force you into relationship with Him, that would go against all He is. But He has given you all the tools to fight successfully, you just have to pick them up, clothe yourself with them, and stand firm in your choices.

We agree then, that the power of God is in us, right? Then let’s talk about the kind of environment you have you created for the Lord to dwell in. What is the state of His house? You’re the keeper of the house, what have you been doing to it? If you watch the show “Stranger Things,” is it like the Upside Down? Do you have locked doors that disallow Holy Spirit to truly roam freely in your life? Do you have piles of clutter you or Holy Spirit are tripping over, or is your life so full right now ya’ll are walking in pathways in your house? Are you holding on to anything that you know the Lord disapproves of? Are you an active participant in keeping the house clean? Are you like I was as a teenager, allowing things to gather and sit and build and pile for ages, and then finally doing a big, deep clean, only to let it all fill up again? Are you putting up a front of cleanliness or righteousness, knowing that inside it’s really a different story? What kind of place have you built for God to dwell in?

Can God truly move freely within you in order to accomplish His plan? What are the obstacles you have out you might be tripping up on, or might be holding up God’s plan?