Believing You are Lavishly Loved

infinityContinued from here.

Because of my childhood abuse, I had intense self-loathing. I have always been “different” and never felt like I fit in anywhere. I lived most of my life feeling unseen, unheard, and unloved. All of this changed when I chose to believe that God loves me. You might know in your head that God loves you, but you need to embrace that love in your heart. You need to know in the marrow of your bones that God deeply, richly, and profoundly loves you. Until you do, you will never accomplish His purpose and plan for your life.

As silly as this may sound, one tool I used to embrace this truth was to look myself in the eye in the mirror and say, “You are loved.” This was very difficult for me to do because I did not believe it. I did not believe I was worth loving, and I did not believe that anyone who actually knew the “real me” could possibly love me … but I was wrong. Nobody knows me better than God does, and yet He loves me more than anyone else does.

God actually UNDERSTANDS me – something I cannot even say about myself! I do things all that time that make no sense, even to myself. While I am baffled by my own behavior and choices, God is not. He knows exactly why I do the things that I do, what broke me to drive me to behave in that way, and the specific steps I need to take to change. I have learned through many years of experience that I am incapable of changing myself. Only God’s love can do that, but I’m not going to tap into that power if I don’t believe that it’s mine to receive.

I challenge you to enter into a season of receiving God’s love. Meditate on Bible verses that talk about His unfailing love. Spend time with Him in which you do nothing but receive His love. Fill up with it. Drink deeply from the well of living water. It will change your life!

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace behind an infinity sign, saying, “I love you X infinity.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Channeling God’s Love to Others

love_mostContinued from here.

One of the most profound lessons God taught me in my journey to forgiving others is that He provides the love for those who have wronged me. It took me a long time to forgive some of the people in my life because I had been so deeply wounded. When it was time for me to interact with these people, I feared how I might feel being around them again. I knew I had forgiven them, but I didn’t “feel love” for them. So, I spent hours in prayer, praise, and worship to fill up with God’s love before the interaction. I was blown away by God’s ability to love them through me.

While I had no love in my heart for them, God had ample love for them because Jesus died for them, too. If they only knew how deeply God loved them, they would not have behaved toward me in the way that they did. It felt like God turned on a firehose of love that coursed through me. I didn’t have to contribute any love from my heart – it all came from God. Not only did these people receive God’s lavish love through me, but I also got to experience God’s love in a much richer way because it flowed through me before reaching them. Thus, not only did forgiving those who wronged me bring me healing: it also brought me a deeper sense of love and joy!

This dynamic is particularly true in marriage. No matter how broken your marriage is, God can fill you with His love for your spouse. You don’t have to bring an ounce of love to the table. Perhaps your marriage has been dead for years. God can breathe life into the dry bones of your marriage. What resurrects a dead marriage is love – God’s love – because God loves your spouse enough to sacrifice Jesus for him or her. If your spouse truly understood the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for him or her, the behavior that killed your marriage would change.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of love flowing out of Grace’s chest with the words, “Love you the most.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

God’s Love is Unfailing

foreverContinued from here.

Most people – even Christians – buy into the lie that love is limited. Beth Moore worded it this way: It’s like we carry around an empty cup, begging the people in our lives to spare us even a few drops of love, when we have an ocean of love right in front of us if we will only open our eyes to see it. The Bible is filled with passages about God’s love for us, such as…

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love. ~ Ps. 147:10-11

God’s love is unfailing! I don’t need to beg a few drops of your love to get by in my life. All I need to do it hold my empty cup out and let the waterfall of God’s unfailing love pour so much love into my little cup that His love spills out all over the place – onto everyone I encounter as I go about my day.

This is the secret to what healed my marriage, my heartbreak over the childhood abuse, my inclination to fear and worry, and every other negative aspect of my life. I have learned how to hold my cup in God’s waterfall of love so my need for love is lavishly met – not merely enough to get by but in such abundance that I have excess to share with everyone I interact with throughout my day.

I have learned that if I am feeling snippy with someone else, then I have disconnected from the Vine. God’s love is unending. As long as I am connected to Him, I have more than enough love to pour into everyone around me, even the high maintenance ones. As soon as I get the sense that I have a shortage of love to share, I know that I have disconnected from the Vine and need to hold my cup under the waterfall of God’s lavish love. He is more than enough.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace standing by a tree with “Me + U 4ever” carved into it. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Written on My Heart

Continued from here.

I am a fan of KLOVE’s new KLOVE Classics radio station, so I have been listening to a lot of Christian oldies. What a blessing! One of my favorites is Plus One’s Written on My Heart. I invite you to listen to the song, paying particular attention to the lyrics:

I love this song because it tells my story. I particularly love these lyrics:

You were waiting all the time
For me to come around and finally see
The love I was missing
There you were right beside me
Always beside me

I spent decades crying out to God, sobbing over the lack of love in my life. I felt unseen, unheard, and unappreciated. And the entire time I was begging God for love, I was actually surrounded by love, but I couldn’t sense it because I was asleep to it. I did not believe that God really loved me, even though the Bible is one big love letter of God reaching out to His people again and again in love. I only saw my brokenness. I was blind to the love.

How might your life be different if you actually took God at His word that He loves you? Not only that He loves you but that He LAVISHLY loves you? How might that change how you view yourself? How you treat other people? How you spend your time? Your perspective about the past, present, and future?

For me, the transformation was profound. I first believed and embraced that God loves me in March 2013. By Fall 2013, multiple people had commented upon how different I had become. I had been leading Bible studies through my church for years, but there was something different in me after that season, and that difference transformed my small groups. The difference was God’s love – I really, truly embraced His love, which profoundly changed me.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Plus One video. Courtesy YouTube.]

 

You are Loved

lovedIf you only ever hear one message from this blog, I hope it will be how deeply you are loved. If Christians really believed this about themselves, they would be transformed, and the overflow of that love would transform the world!

I lived most of my life as a Christian who did not believe she was loved. I actually believed that my salvation was an “add on.” I believed that Jesus died for other people, and since he was doing it, anyhow, it was no sweat off his back to throw me into the mix. A few years ago, God convicted me and made me see that even if I was the only person who ever received Jesus’ gift of salvation, he would have made the same choice. His sacrifice was very personal for me, and it was very personal for you. You were chosen because you are deeply loved.

On her television program Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer made a profound statement that has helped me with forgiving others. She pointed out that people behave badly because they do not appreciate the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for them. If they really understood it, then they would not behave as they do. Praying for someone to see the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for them is something I can always pray sincerely, no matter how heinous someone’s acts are. For example, this is my prayer for the school shooters that have been in the news over the last year. If they really understood how deeply they are loved, they would not have done what they did.

The Bible says that God loves us lavishly – LAVISHLY! God IS love, and He is unending. Thus, we are loved without limits because God has no limits. Anyone who truly embraces this truth steps into a path of transformation and profound healing from all of their emotional pain.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling with a heart by her head. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Choosing Life

toasterContinued from here.

So, then, what does it mean to choose life? In a word, Jesus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Follow Jesus, and he will transform you from death to life, which is why he came in the first place. Paul summed up how to do this here:

If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’” ~ Rom. 10:9-11

This is what it means to choose Jesus as your Savior and Lord, which is choosing life. Simply tell Jesus that you are sorry for living in death and that you want to live in life through him. It really is that simple, although I have said many times that simple is not the same thing as easy.

It’s hard to humble yourself, admit that you have made a mess of your life, and that you need a Savior. You know what’s even harder? Being dead … living only for yourself … making your own judgments about what is “good” and “bad” … bearing the consequences of those decisions because your worldview is skewed … being mired in bitterness toward everyone who has wronged you … taking advantage of other people before they take advantage of you… Being dead is hard work!

I gave up a lot when I became a Christian. I gave up my “right” to live my life however I feel like living. You know what else I gave up? Being dead! I gave up reliving all of the ways that my abusers harmed me … fixating on my bitterness … judging everyone around me while worrying about their judgments of me … suicidal urges … an eating disorder … severe anxiety disorder … panic attacks … self-injury … Yes, I gave up a lot for God, and following Christ was the best decision I ever made!

Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live. Are you ready to live?

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace popping out of a toaster saying, “Not bad. How are things in your life?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Why Jesus Came

lifesaverContinued from here.

So, if Jesus did not come to make bad people good, what did he come for? To make dead people live! That is the good news that if we really grasped, we would experience joy and peace every minute of every day for the rest of our lives! (And, no, I am not there yet, either.)

God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate the fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil. When they ate it, they did not physically die. However, they did spiritually die, and that is what Jesus came to undo.

From the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit, their perspective shifted. Instead of seeing the world in alignment with God, they aligned their worldview with Satan, whose worldview is in direct opposition to God. Sadly, we have all inherited this skewed worldview, causing us to naturally behave in ways that are counter to God. Our problem is not that we are “bad.” The problem is that we are DEAD! This is why God told the Israelites through Moses to “choose life” rather than to “choose to be good:”

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. ~ Deut. 30:19-20

Don’t be deceived – your default setting is death. If you do what comes naturally, you will consistently choose death over life. That’s the consequence of the Fall and why we live in such a broken world today. God gives us another option – to choose life, and He sent His Son to die for us to make this possible … not in our own strength but through the equipping of the Holy Spirit.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking through a lifesaver and saying, “Ur a Lifesaver.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]