Love is Everything

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” [1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV]

1427703_27664717I was thinking about this passage last night, and all of a sudden a whole new level of depth opened up for me. It specifically mentions a few areas where love is important – communication, knowledge, faith and generosity. If we have all these things perfect, but don’t act in love, they are useless.

The thing is, this spreads to every area of life really. I mean, how many times do we hear on those reality cooking competitions ‘there is no love in this food’? Even if they used the right techniques and skills and it looked great, sometimes there is just not that extra wow that comes with love.

And again, when you listen to a skilled musician or watch a graceful dancer — without the love, it all becomes mechanical and doesn’t have the same impact.

It’s like love is the invisible foundation beneath all of life and without it, the world is colourless and meaningless. A world without love is no world at all.

Of course, when you think that GOD IS LOVE, it all makes sense. He’s in everything and He’s everywhere. That love — HIM — underpins all of life. So then, without Him, there is no life. When everything else is gone, love still remains. I’d say He’s a good thing to hold onto then.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” [1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV]

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Published in: on 2nd September, 2013 at 10:50 am  Comments (1)  
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Days Without Number

“Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.” [Jeremiah 2:32 NIV]

Photo by Patrice Dufour

When I read through the later prophets, the ones just before the exile and even during the exile of the Jews, I feel a sense of brokenness. God loves His people with an everlasting love, a love that goes beyond every treachery they can dish out. But, I cannot say, after reading these prophecies, that their rejection does not hurt Him. Indeed this one chapter of Jeremiah is filled with frequent ‘whys’.

In the same way our heart cries out when we are betrayed, or if we lose someone we love, the Father’s heart says ‘why’. When He had done everything possible to win her heart, why did she still turn to others? Why did she find wood and stone more interesting than the Living God? There’s even a ‘where did I do wrong?’ Are all His efforts in vain?

As I think about it, how often are we the ones asking ‘why’ of the Lord? Why do You put me through this? When are You going to heal me, or fix my problems? How long do I have to wait for You to answer me?

Do we ever stop to listen? Perhaps He is saying the same things of us? Why do you continually turn your back on Me? Why do you forget Me, days without number, and only turn to Me in times of need? How long do I have to wait for your love? Does a Holy and perfect God deserve to be treated with disdain?

As for me, I will worship Him today, with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my strength. You?

Published in: on 13th August, 2012 at 10:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Unshakeable

‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” [Isaiah 54:10 NIV]

Photo by Sven Golz

One of the things I love about the character of the Lord is that He is unshakeable. Immovable, solid as a rock, unchanging and unwavering. It’s that kind of resolution you can rely on, lean on, stake your life on. His promises and His love are everlasting and unbreakable.

The verse above is one of my favourites because it displays this aspect of our Creator. It is easier to shake a mountain loose of its foundations and send it crumbling into the sea, than it is to shake the love of God. Sometimes we think we have done things that would make Him reject us forever, that He could never forgive us for. But, the truth is He has compassion on every one of us – He is aware of our suffering under guilt or shame and desires us to be restored to Him. His love constantly reaches out, despite our darkest thoughts and acts.

Unshakeable love simply washes away the unforgivable, kind of like a tidal wave washing away whatever is in its path. So, I want to encourage you today, if you feel like you are not good enough for God, or have sinned too greatly for His acceptance – think again. He is standing close by with arms of compassion, ready to receive you. All you need to do is call His name.

Published in: on 24th January, 2012 at 4:51 am  Comments (4)  
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The Unseen

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'” [Genesis 16:13 NIV]

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how insignificant we are when you compare our world with the whole universe, but that God takes interest in us anyway. (See here.) Today I want to show something similar from one person’s perspective. Hagar.

Hagar was a servant. Servants have no high position, get no special attention, they basically do what they’re told, when they’re told, often doing the things that most people wish to avoid. Not an especially fun kind of life.

Now, Hagar was the servant of Sarai, the wife of Abram (before their names were changed). When Sarai remained barren for decades, she took things into her own hands. She gave Hagar to Abram, so she could provide a child for them. I cannot begin to imagine how it must have felt to be used in such a way. There’s food for a whole novel, right there. Hagar fell pregnant and gave birth to a healthy son, which must have been her only joy, for once a baby arrived, Sarai became very jealous and mistreated her.

Sarai abused Hagar to the point that she took her son and ran away. A servant with nothing in the wilderness – she must have been desperate! Used, abused, ignored, undervalued and unseen. I imagine she was despairing – losing hope.

But then, God appeared to her. Yes, God, to a simple servant girl. He promised her an amazing legacy. It turned her life around. That is when she made the statement in the verse above. She, the unseen and un-valued, had been seen and valued by the Creator of the Universe.

And it is the same for you and I. If you feel like you are alone and nobody sees you or values you, remember God is standing by ready to meet with you. He sees the unseen. He loves you and has a purpose for you.

Published in: on 10th January, 2012 at 6:24 am  Comments (2)  
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Nothing But Dust

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” [Psalm 103: 13-14 NIV]

What I love about this verse is that in one breath we see not only that we are basically insignificant – mere granules of dust which are here one day and gone the next – but in spite of that we have the interest and love of the Lord of Creation. It almost seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it?

We are made of matter, of earth, of biodegradable materials that will not last, no matter how much we inject them with Botox or exercise them or fix them up with medical technology. We are, as the bible says, like chaff, easily blown away by the wind, or like the morning mist which disappears with the first rays of sun. In the great scheme of things, when you think of the size of the universe and the infinity of time, we are really less than nothing. See this short video to get more of an idea of what I am saying.

God sees all of that, He knows how small we are, and yet, He takes a personal interest in each one of us. He loves us, has compassion on us, He forgives, satisfies our desires, redeems, He works righteousness and justice on our behalf, He renews and restores, He is slow to anger, He provides and nurtures, He gives us hope and a future, He heals and delivers, He even speaks to us if we will listen.

I don’t know about you, but that amazes me. It absolutely blows my mind to think that the God and creator of the universe, loves this little speck of dust enough to send His beloved Son to earth to die on my behalf, so that He could have an eternal relationship with me. Something to think about …

“The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him.” [Psalm 103:15-17 NIV]

Published in: on 27th December, 2011 at 5:47 am  Comments (6)  
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One Three Nine (Part 2)

Continuing from last week, I would like to meditate on more of my favourite piece of Scripture, Psalm 139.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. [Ps 139:13-14 NIV]

Photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert

When I read this, I remember my nana sitting with her knitting, lovingly working on a jumper or some such thing for one of her grandchildren. Every stitch has to be carefully made and counted, else the garment not be right. The Lord created us in the womb, counting each cell as it came into being, making sure we were just how he wanted us to be. He doesn’t make mistakes. We look at ourselves and see imperfections, things we don’t like, but I would dare to say that when we complain about the shape of our nose (for example) we insult our very creator. His Word says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Like David, we need to get a hold of that truth and “know it full well!”

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. [Ps 139:15-16 NIV]

These days, with the help of modern technology, we can have a sneak peek at what is going on in the womb. It is amazing to be able to hear your child’s heartbeat at six weeks when their image on the screen is no more than a bean-shaped shadow. Yet they have vitality already streaming through them. What a comfort to know that the Lord watched over us even in the womb, caring for us, ordaining our life, knowing the path we will walk. He knows all of our days before even one comes to pass. Even in that secret, hidden place inside of our mothers, He was speaking purpose and life over us. Wow!

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you. [Ps 139:17-18 NIV]

When I spend time dwelling on all of this, I come to the same conclusion as David – that God’s thoughts are precious even as they are vast. It really is too much to comprehend. I rest in the knowledge that God’s love goes beyond even what my limited understanding can accept. It is wonderful to know that the Creator of the universe, cares for every cell in my body and every thought in my head. I hope you have been encouraged by this Psalm as much as I am. Remember that in God you never, ever, wake up alone.

Published in: on 6th December, 2011 at 5:09 am  Comments (2)  
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One Three Nine (Part One)

My favourite scripture of all time is Psalm 139. I thought I might meditate on it this morning for a while.

You have searched me, LORD and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. [Ps 139:1-6 NIV]

His eye is on us 24/7 – even when we are asleep, He is keeping watch over us. He knows our character inside and out, so much so that He knows what we will say before we say it. He knows how we think. But He not only knows us, He watches over us and protects us as well. He surrounds us with His presence, going before and behind us. It is more than you and I can comprehend when you try to think about it.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. [Ps 139:7-12 NIV]

Photo by Shirley Booth

Sometimes we want to hide from the Lord. Perhaps when we feel full of guilt and shame, or we feel unworthy of such attention, or even feelings of bitterness can make us try to hide from Him. The thing is, there is nowhere to hide – no distance great enough, no hole deep enough, no cave dark enough. He is light and knows exactly where you are and where you are at inside. Not so He can ram justice down your throat, so He can love you back to health and happiness.

Since I am only half way through this wonderful Psalm, I may leave the rest till next week. But, let me encourage you. If you feel as though God would not be interested in an insignificant human, one of billions on the earth, read the words of this Psalm again. He does care and does notice you. If you’ve never tried to talk to Him before, just cry out. He’s ready and waiting, as close as a heartbeat away.

Published in: on 30th November, 2011 at 5:46 am  Comments (4)  
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Obedience

If you love me, keep my commands.” [John 14:15]

Sometimes we read the Old Testament Ten Commandments and see them as a list of rules, a set of dos and dont’s which are rigid and cold as the stone they were originally written on. And around them is all the Levitical law – how many lambs must be sacrificed for a certain type of offering, or what should be done for a certain type of offense. When I read all of that it seemed like such a burden the ancient Jews had to carry. And to a certain extent, I think that kind of ritualistic obedience is.

When Jesus came, He fulfilled the law and gave us grace to live by, taking the burden out of obedience. But it now hinges on something quite different: relationship. Notice the word “if”. Obedience is not forced on us – we are not required on pain of death to obey every jot and tittle because we are saved by grace. BUT, if we love the Lord, we will obey Him with everything we have.

Obedience naturally flows out of love. Think about it. When you love and respect someone deeply, the last thing you want to do is hurt them, so you follow their advice, take up their suggestions, do what they ask. It is all on us. Do we love the Lord enough to do His will? If not, perhaps it means we love something or someone else more – that someone is most often our own selves.

I encourage you today, to build up your relationship with the Lord through His word, prayer and worship, and as you love Him more, you will find it easier to obey His word. Something to think about.

Published in: on 8th November, 2011 at 4:36 am  Comments (2)  
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You Complete Me

As a woman, I’ve always found it easy to relate to the love of God. God is always referred to as He or Him and Jesus was definitely male. As a young, single, adult it was quite like a romance – discovering the beauty of Jesus and His love for us. (I suppose this is part of what inspires me to write romance.) I would picture myself sitting beneath a huge tree with Him, by a trickling stream, talking of the future, telling Him my burdens. He’d always wrap His arms around me and I would feel His strength sustatin me.

I always felt a bit sorry for blokes because they can’t look at God the same way (although some do), as it makes them feel a bit awkward. In general they aren’t looking for the lovey-dovey romantic thing with God, and secretly I thought they were missing out a bit.

The other week I realised that God is the perfect compliment for each person, where they’re at, what they need. For a bloke, it might be the tenderness, nurture and wisdom that the Lord offers which makes him feel complete. In fact wisdom is spoken of in the Bible as a female (see Prov 7:4).  And for those of us women who have been hurt in love/romance, God will come to us with another of His infinite characteristics to meet our needs. Whoever we are, whatever the need, He completes us…perfectly. AMEN.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:19 NIV]

 

Published in: on 16th August, 2011 at 6:19 am  Comments (2)  
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People

Recently I was driving to work and the car was filled with the strains of worship music. A song came on which repeated the words “let me love You more” over and over. I found myself wondering why this song was not connecting with me as once it might have.

You see, fifteen years ago that would have been my song. I would have been on my knees singing it from the bottom of my heart. That was my desire — to get closer to God. I loved to worship and thought that was the most important thing in life — even over ‘the great commission’.  I figured that soon enough we would all be in heaven and there would be no need for evangelism anyway, there would only be worship. The sum of my life as I calculated it was: Me + Jesus + worship = forever.

No wonder I couldn’t seem to get closer to God. I was wrong. God is about community. God is community. He loves everybody and wants everybody with Him. Three times Jesus asked Simon-Peter if he loved Him. Three times Peter answered “I do.” And three times, Jesus told him in slightly differing forms “Take care of my sheep.” See John 21:15-18

To love God, we must love people. For a task-oriented introvert this realisation gave way to a fundamental change, a whole personality shift in me. I no longer try to avoid people, my focus is not solely on the act of worship, and yes I feel closer to the Lord. So, if you have a desire to love God more — love people. It’s that simple.

For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” [1 John 4:20 NIV]

Published in: on 13th July, 2011 at 8:50 am  Comments (4)  
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