Living Loved

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There’s no experience on earth quite as extraordinary as being in love. To love someone and know that you are loved and desired by that someone is an intoxicating high that no substance can come close to reproducing. In love we live differently, we think differently, we talk differently, we act differently…sometimes even forgoing food because we are so filled up on, well… love. Love is, indeed, a “many splendored thing”. But while human love cannot sustain us, God’s love can. Because God is love. And it is His desire that we not only know His love, but according to John 15: 10 that we abide in it, remain in it, or as J. B. Phillips’ paraphrase puts it, “live in My love”. And the way we remain living in love is by pursuing Jesus with the purpose of knowing and loving God more.

So, how’s your love life with Jesus?

For most of us the flame in our heart is probably in need of some fanning. I hope to encourage you in the Lord to fan that flame by setting your mind to intentionally pursue Jesus today and every day. Not in some crazy legalistic way, but in the way of love… in order that you might know Him better and live more fully in His love.  If you set your mind, your heart and your life will follow.

Before you scratch you head bald, let me explain.

It’s one thing to know that God loves you (head knowledge). It’s another thing to believe it (heart knowledge). But it is quite a different thing altogether to live loved- to live with the knowledge, belief, and the continual life experience of God’s love on a daily basis; to live right in the center of His love (Jude 20-21a). At any given moment to be able to stop and hold out the finger of faith to test the winds of the Spirit and confidently say, “Yes… I’m living loved right now because I… _________________________ (you fill in the blank).

I’m not talking about goosebumps-and-hair-raising experiences. I’m talking about living… the kind of daily living in love that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary because we’re engaging with God relationally…in His Word and through the everyday experiences of our life.

For years I lived with certain head knowledge of God’s love for me.  I’ve taught Bible studies for women for over 15 years and have a true hunger and thirst for God and His Word. But for years my life experience of living loved was inconsistent. I saw people who had that…who lived that way, and I knew it was the real deal. I knew there was so much more of God to behold and so much more He desired for me to know of Him, and I desperately wanted it all. Making the choice to seek him and search for him as a vital necessity for life (see Jeremiah 29:13) was the beginning of the never-ending quest of more of God. That quest created a desire in me to live a loved life.

In early 2014 I began an intentional spiritual quest to the place I call “living loved”. It’s a place I’ve not returned from, nor do I intend to. It’s where I choose to live. It’s where God wants you and me to live continually… to abide…to remain. Living loved is the place where we come to know more and more of this awesome God of ours; to know Him as our Abba, our King, our friend; to trust His character; to believe Him; and to fall in love with Him over and over again. Living loved the place where we become our true selves- the real women of God that He has created us to be…women who are fully functioning, thriving, and flourishing in that particular place where we have the most profound purpose, influence and the greatest impact for Christ on this planet.

Living loved does not happen by accident. If you ever dare to go there, it will be because you’ve determined to get there. The journey there for me was profoundly quick, and profoundly life changing; living there remains a daily choice. It began with the conscious decision to intentionally love God through His Word, and out of that love to obey Him… in the big things and the not-so-big things.

Let these sweet words of Jesus settle into your mind and heart: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21)

It’s extraordinary to me that our great God and giver of love desires our love, too. God knows those who love Him, and the litmus test is obedience. The more we know of God, the more we will grow to love Him; the more we love Him, the more we will desire to obey Him; the more we obey Him, the more we will know and experience His love for us…and the more Jesus will show Himself to us. The blessing that follows the woman who obeys God is the blessing of continually living loved. That woman sees God everywhere…every day, because God delights to be loved by her, and gladly responds to her love and obedience. Notice the order: it’s love first, then obedience. Obedience springs from the overflow of love.

In the beautiful words of Jeremiah the Lord speaks to us saying, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

We get pretty excited about knowing the prosperous and hope-filled plans He has for our future. But the emphasis here is not on the future plans, but on knowing the One who knows our future. The phrase “when you seek me with all your heart” means to seek, to “search for as a vital necessity for life” (see Jeremiah 29:13, Amplified Bible).

You and I will never come to trust or love whom we do not know. Therefore- make it your prayer to fall in love with Jesus; make it your passionate pursuit to know God; make it the holy ambition of your life to obey Him out of your great love for Him.

Every new day brings a new beginning, with God’s brand new mercies and grace to help us live the life He’s purposed for us. The best life. The loved life. So, begin again today. Make this your prayer and surrender yourself to the Lord with arms outstretched, reaching toward Him and everything He has for you:

Lord, I want to love you more than anything and anyone,
and to desire nothing on this earth as much or more than I desire you.
Give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know you better (Eph. 1:17), be the greatest delight of my heart, and help me to live in your love.
To the praise of Your glory, and in the matchless name of Jesus I pray.

If you pray that prayer daily, you. will. be. changed… for the better, changed for good, and ruined for anything less than more of God.

OK, dear one, you can begin again… right now, and fan the flame of love in your heart for the One who loves you. There’s no better place to live, than loved.

You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!

Listening for the Voice of God

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
I Samuel 3:9

How is God speaking to you?

A better question might be, “How are you listening to God?”

I believe God is always speaking to us, but do we hear Him? Are we listening for Him? I’m not talking about an audible voice, but that still, small but profound voice that reverberates through your heart and mind like thunder. The primary way that God speaks to us is through His Word- the Scriptures. But God also speaks through our circumstances as well as through others. And yet we can still remain “ever hearing but never understanding…” (Isaiah 6:9).

Our inability to hear God is deafened by many things: mental and physical distractions, the noise and busy-ness of this world, anxiety and stress, even stubbornness. However, it seems that the overarching issue in not being able to hear God speak is due to impatience. Impatience is not a disability or an inability, but an unwillingness to intentionally listen to God…to listen for God. We simply do not, or will not, slow down and worship Him through the reading and study of His Word, through taking time to listen, consider, perceive, comprehend, receive, and apply what we’ve heard God saying to us. We have become the statistic of our “instant” culture; wanting everything delivered in pictures that one can glance at in a flash, or 140-characters-or-less that can be re-tweeted or posted- mainly with the intent to impress or correct others, but with very little personal application to “me, myself, and I”.

The Hebrew word for “listen” or “hear” is shama (shaw-mah), which means, “to listen with the intent to obey and declare (or teach)” Deuteronomy 6:1-9 is known as The Shama… can you determine why? I have a framed calligraphy of the Shama hanging by my front door, a treasured wedding gift from a dear friend. Hearing from God through His Word is of the utmost importance to our Spiritual health and the development of our faith in, and relationship with, God. It’s vital to our very lives. Start listening intentionally by saying, as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

CONSIDER THIS:

Next week I’ll share some practical tips for helping you to be more intentional in your quiet time and enable you to “hear” from God. But for now I’m issuing you a challenge!

For the next 7 days I am challenging us to take a break from some of the other voices that are speaking and screaming at us in order to concentrate on God’s voice.  What do I mean by this?

  • Many of us are devoted readers of wonderful devotional books, blogs, and emails written by amzingly gifted, wise, and inspired men and women who communicate God’s Truth powerfully. We listen to them online or on podcast; we retweet their quotes and can even quote them ourselves. But their words, while inspirational and educational in communicating and teaching the truth (wait for it) are not God’s words.   God wrote a Book; one Book (say that outloud to yourself right now). In His Book He tells us about Who He is and what He can do; He shows us who we are and what we are to do. God’s Book is His complete self-disclosure to us, and through it He speaks. Let the Word of God speak to you, girlfriend! Let’s become experts in His Word and in recognizing His sweet voice above all others. Let’s meditate and memorize His Word and so hide it deepliy in our hearts to the point that we don’t just quote the Truth, but that we’d bleed the Truth if we were cut open. Lets become fluent in the language of God. Let’s get His Truth trending in our hearts and in our minds; from our lips and through our lives. Let the Word and the words of God speak to you!
  • Social Media is both a blessing and curse. My fear is that it is more the latter than the former. We’ve become, quite frankly, addicted. So, (you knew it was coming) for one week (7 days), fast from all forms of social media unless it is part of the work you do for your employer (but please practice self-control in that). Did this strike fear in your heart? Or relief? My first thought was, “How will I know what’s happened to the people I’m praying for?” So, because I know that many of us depend on SM for commuication and updates on the status of people we are praying for all over the world, I will extend “grace” to“check in” on SM one time during the day for a limited time period. I will let you use your better judgement and self-control to determine how long that time period is (wink). [And FYI, I am taking the challenge with you, but want to alert you that our ministry office auto tweets/posts things that frequently show up on my SM accounts]

So- for one week, take a break from your dialiy “devototional” readings, emails, commentaries, studies, etc. , dial down the podcasts, the radio, and the online sermons; bring your social media interaction to a screaching halt; and put away the teaching tapes and the TV preaching. One exception: Your church Pastor is your God-appointed “shepherd”; listen to him… and tune out every other voice.

Ready. Set. GO!

To encourage you, read Revelation 1 and tell me how many other voices you imagine the Apostle John was surrounded by on the island of Patmos? What was he doing and what happened next?

At the end of the 7-Day Challenge respond to the blog with what you discovered by eliminating the excess noise and distractions from your life. I want to hear from you!!

You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!