Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love


Happy Valentine's Day!

This morning I woke up to two Valentine's on the kitchen table. One for me. One for my daughter. Both from my wonderful husband. My husband also wrote as a P.S. on his little love note that I should answer the door to whoever so kindly knocks on it. Hmmmm... so excited to see what I'm getting!

So this morning I woke up feeling the love. I felt compelled, since today is a day we recognize as a day of love, to share how to love God, and how to show love to others. The Bible has A LOT to say about love. In fact, when I looked the word up in my Bible's concordance there's too many verses with the reference to the word love, loved, lovely, lover, lovers, loves, and loving to even want to count!

Some of the most popular verses in history revolve around the word love,
"For God so  loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
or in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 where Paul defines what love is...
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
And verse 13,
"So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
Still, my question about "how do I show God that I love Him above all else, on a daily basis?" rings through my brain. What does God expect from me as a Christian in showing love to others?

How I Show God how much I love Him!
Every day I evaluate my heart. Is God #1? Do I put others or things above him? What is the first thing I think about when I get out of bed? What is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning? Do I consult Him first with my problems or do I go to my family and friends? Do I talk to Him as much as I talk to my family and friends? When I go back and answer those questions it goes something like this:
  • Do I put others or things above Him? Ummm.... well crap. There are days when I tell my husband I love him more than God. I even tell my daughter I love her more than God. There are days when my focus revolves around my home and the things in it.
  • What is the first thing I think about when I get out of bed? Ummm... well crap. Today I laid in bed and used my iPhone to cruise through Hobby Lobby's purple items to prepare for a "Pretty in Purple" baby shower I'm hosting. Not that that's a bad thing, but should it be my first thing?
  • What is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning? Ummm... well crap. I try to get my lazy butt out of bed every morning before my daughter so that I can drink coffee, eat breakfast and spend time in His Word, but that doesn't always happen because I choose to sleep instead.
  • Do I consult Him first with my problems? Ummm... well crap. Usually I call my sisters, or my mom, and my dad (depending on the problem) and when Kyle comes home I unload. In all of that time do I sit down and pray about it first? Nope, not usually. Does that show faith in a God who has promised to take care of those who love him? Nope. Dang. It.
  • Do I talk to Him as much as I talk to my family and friends? Ummm... well crap. My sisters and I try to FaceTime every day. Girls always have something to talk about. I don't talk to God as often as I do my sisters.
  • Lastly, I ask myself a question my pastor asked us once and has been forever ingrained in my brain: "Given the choice between heaven and hell, everyone would choose heaven. Given the choice between heaven and earth, which would you choose?" Are my priorities for things of this earth, that I can't take with me? That will eventually be destroyed by moth or flame? Or are my priorities for the things of heaven? Where are my treasures? Jesus said... 
    "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and dust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
    Am I focusing more on the things of this earth than on the glory of my God and Savior? That's my purpose here on earth, right? To give HIM glory? That's what He wants right? We are going to heaven to bask in HIS glory, every day! Am I keeping my eyes upwards, looking to those things? Or am I dwelling on my house, my husband, my child, more than HIM? When I find myself doing that (which is often) I picture myself walking with Him, holding His hand, talking, going for a horse ride, singing to Him, learning about HIM, drinking a glass of wine with Him. And when I do that, I CAN'T WAIT to get to heaven and live out eternity glorifying Him - being with Him! God calls this life a vapor, a mist, because it flies by, 150 years from now, am I going to look back and care about the things of this earth? Nope. Cause I'll be dead and the things of this earth will be left behind.
So even while I'm alive on this earth, keeping my focus on God and His instructions, praying to Him, worshiping Him through Psalms, through prayer, through music, telling Him that I love Him, filling my home with items to glorify HIM, telling my daughter about this wonderful God that loves her so much and not fearing tomorrow because of the hope that I have in HIM, is exactly how I show God how much I love Him.

By the way, do you know how often I give myself this evaluation? Daily.
Do you want to know how often I screw up? Daily.

How do I show love to others?
Everyone produces fruit. No, I'm not talking about apples, oranges, or bananas, I'm talking about how the state of our heart produces good works and good words. Our actions and the things that we say are a direct reflection of our heart. If our heart is focused on God's Word we produce good fruit. Paul wrote about the "marks of a good christian" in Romans 12:9-21, if you are truly a follower of Christ, you should...
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
And that's only part of it, but since this is about love, I'll focus on this one particular section. I like the Contemporary English Version of verse 10, "Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself." Honor others more than you do yourself. America teaches the exact opposite. Do what makes you happy. Do what's best for you. The Bible teaches us to value others more than yourself. Am I producing that kind of fruit? Nope. I'm a pretty selfish person. That confession is pretty sickening. The mark of a true Christian is selflessness, genuine selflessness. OUTDO others in your selfless service to your brothers and sisters.

How do I do that?
Well, read on... (Romans chapter 12, 13, 14, and 15)
  • Contribute to the needs of others.
  • Show hospitality.
  • Bless those who persectue you, do not curse them.
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
  • Live in harmony with one another.
  • Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
  • Never be wise in your own sight.
  • Repay no one evil for evil.
  • Live peaceably with all.
  • Never avenge yourself, but leave it to the wrath of God.
  • If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
  • If your enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink.
  • Let every person be subject to the government. "For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1)
  • Submit to authority. (Your boss, your husband, your principal, TO GOD)
  • "Owe no one anything, except to love each other." (Romans 13:8)
  • Do not commit adultry.
  • Do not murder.
  • Do not steal.
  • Do not covet.
  • "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Romans 13:9)
  • No orgies. (Yes it actually says orgies.)
  • Do not walk in drunkeness.
  • Or sexuall immorality.
  • Do not quarrel.
  • Do not be jealous.
  • Do not pass judgement on one another. (Do not judge, there is only one judge.)
  • Do not cause another to stumble.
  • Bear with the failings of the weak, do not please yourself. (Romans 15:1)
  • Build up your neighbor.
  • Live in harmony with one another so together, with one voice, you may glorify Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
  • Be like Christ. Christ came to earth to be a servant. To serve others!
God is so many things and He says over and over again that He is Love. God is Love. He loves His people more than we could possibly understand. If Jesus Christ died on the cross, enduring that torture and pain, and most importantly taking on the wrath of God by becoming sin on our behalf, all because HE LOVES US, shouldn't I continue to live my life according to the love he has so generously poured out on us? God, please help me to do that! You are love, you understand love, you created love! Help me to show love to others as you show love to us. I love you, Lord! With all my heart, mind, and soul, I love you, and you alone.

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