A Quiet Place

Yesterday, I woke up feeling ill. I ended up calling out sick for work and didn’t get out of bed until 10:30.

This seems to happen every so often–I later noted to Wilfredo, my husband–that I think that my body often knows what I need sooner than my mind or heart…but I needed some quiet time. I needed time alone to clean the house, relax, and reflect on what God’s been doing in my life through prayer (I love praying aloud during my quiet time).

In our Wednesday night Bible study, we’ve been covering 1 & 2 Samuel, and we’ve been discussing 2 Samuel 5 which takes place after Saul & his sons have been killed in battle, and David has become king. After running from Saul for so long, here, David comes face-to-face with a new enemy–the Philistines–the same army that just wiped out Saul’s family. It’s so interesting to me that the first thing David does when he’s threatened, is return to the place where he’d spent so much of his time seeking the Lord, crying out to Him in anguish, questioning, and praising Him, when Saul was hunting him down: his quiet place, his stronghold in the mountains. (Even more interesting are the words David often uses to describe the Lord: Rock, Fortress, Refuge, and Stronghold…Kind of sounds like a mountain to me. 😉 Just something else to think about; perhaps a discussion for another time.)IMG_3489 (2)

David’s a prime example of what God desires from us at all times. He desires that we go to our secret, quiet place, wherever that may be, and seek Him first; but not only in moments like these, when the enemy is knocking at our door, but in the mundane of everyday life! To just talk to Him about our day, to reveal our fears and worries, to ask Him to walk with us through the changes and growth processes in our marriages/relationships, as parents, in our careers and school, and to take us further and beyond what we could ever expect to do on our own, especially in areas of ministry and sharing the gospel–which we’re ALL called to do as believers. So don’t delay…find your quiet place.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress [on the mountain] and my rescuer;
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge,
My Savior—You save me from violence.
 “I call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.
“For the waves of death encompassed me;
The torrents of destruction overwhelmed and terrified me.
“The cords of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
I cried out to my God,
And from His temple [in the heavens] He heard my voice;
My cry for help came into His ears.
“Then the earth shook and quaked,
The foundations of the heavens trembled
And were shaken, because He was angry.
“Smoke went up out of His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
“He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With thick darkness under His feet.
“He rode on a cherub and flew;
He appeared upon the wings of the wind.
“He made darkness canopies around Him,
A mass of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
“Out of the brightness before Him
Coals of fire were set aflame.
“The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice.
“He sent out arrows and scattered them;
Lightning, and confused them. 
“The channels of the sea appeared,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At the rebuke of the Lord,
At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
“He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of great waters.
“He rescued me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
“They came upon me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
“He also brought me out to an open place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.
“The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me.
“For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
And have not acted wickedly against my God.
“For all His judgments (legal decisions) were before me,
And from His statutes I did not turn aside.
“I was also blameless before Him,
And kept myself from wrongdoing.
“Therefore the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
According to my cleanness in His sight.
“With the loving and loyal You show Yourself loving and loyal,
With the blameless You show Yourself blameless.
“With the pure You show Yourself pure,
With the perverted You show Yourself astute.
“And You save the afflicted people;
But Your eyes are on the haughty whom You abase (humiliate). 
“For You, O Lord, are my lamp;
The Lord illumines and dispels my darkness. 
“For by You I can run upon a troop;
By my God I can leap over a wall.
“As for God, His way is blameless and perfect;
The word of the Lord is tested.
He is a shield to all those who take refuge and trust in Him.
“For who is God, besides the Lord?
And who is a rock, besides our God?
“God is my strong fortress;
He sets the blameless in His way.
“He makes my feet like the doe’s feet [firm and swift];
He sets me [secure and confident] on my high places.
“He trains my hands for war,
So that my arms can bend (pull back) a bow of bronze.
“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,
And Your help and gentleness make me great.
“You enlarge my steps under me,
And my feet have not slipped.
“I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
And I did not turn back until they were consumed (eliminated).
“I consumed them and shattered them, so that they did not rise;
They fell under my feet.
“For You have surrounded me with strength for the battle;
You have subdued under me those who stood against me.
“You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me [in retreat],
And I destroyed those who hated me.
“They looked, but there was no savior for them
Even to the Lord [they looked], but He did not answer them.
“Then I beat them as [small as] the dust of the earth;
I crushed and stamped them as the mire (dirt, mud) of the streets.
“You also have rescued me from strife with my [own] people;
You have kept me as the head of the nations.
People whom I have not known served me.
“Foreigners pretend obedience to me;
As soon as they hear [me], they obey me.
“Foreigners lose heart;
They come trembling out of their strongholds.
“The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
And exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation. 
“It is God who executes vengeance for me,
And brings down [and disciplines] the peoples under me,
Who also brings me out from my enemies.
You even lift me above those who rise up against me;
You rescue me from the violent man.
“For this I will give thanks and praise You, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing praises to Your name.
“He is a tower of salvation and great deliverance to His king,
And shows lovingkindness to His anointed,
To David and his offspring forever.”

2 Samuel 22:2-51, AMP

Advertisements

Unplug – part 2

Back in December I wrote a post about learning to unplug. In that post I was focused on unplugging from technology, but today, I want to focus more on scheduling quiet time for privately studying the Word, prayer, and worship.

Today, upon reviewing past journal entries during my personal quiet time, I noticed a pattern, and from this pattern, God reminded me of something very important.

First, I realized that every few months I schedule these days—often mornings—of quiet solitude and prayer, out of necessity. I find that I’m forced to schedule such days because I’m exhausted, depressed, and unmotivated. I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to go to work, and I don’t want to be around people. I become short-tempered, refuse to answer my phone, and I don’t want to talk to anybody. I’ve finally come to the realization that if I just scheduled these quiet times more often, I wouldn’t have to take an entire day off from work to rest.

I study the Word, I pray, and I attend church and bible studies regularly, but these quiet moments are worth so much more to me because I’m not rushed, there’s no one around to interrupt me, and I’m focused on only one thing—pouring my heart out to God and listening for His voice. My prayers during these times resemble a conversation one would have with an intimate counselor or closest friend. These are the moments in which I confide my deepest fears and struggles, ask clarifying questions, and seek direction. And I hear His voice!

These moments are so precious to me. He comforts me, covers me with peace, reassures and corrects me, and points the way. And so I question, why don’t I schedule these moments every evening, when I come home from work? Why don’t I release everything over to Him and let Him renew and refresh me, every day?

The truth is, life is hectic. It’s busy and stressful and we’re often consumed by the next activity, the next meeting or party, or the next thing on our to-do list. We’re easily distracted and focused on so many other things that we often neglect the most important thing. More important than the relationships with the people around us, more important than our job, more important than whatever we have planned to do, is the relationship we have with our heavenly Father. I don’t know about you, but I can’t do life alone; I need His presence with me wherever I go and in whatever I do. It’s time we stop pretending we can get by without Him! If we think that we can get by on a few crumbs we receive on Sunday mornings, or Wednesday nights, or the scraps we pick up elsewhere, we’re sadly mistaken. It’s what we do in our personal time to deepen our relationship with Christ that satisfies, strengthens, and changes us.

Second, as I realized that this is what I needed to do, God reminded me that it’s what we all need to do. Whether we have a secular job or work in a ministry setting, God desires these quiet moments with each of us to remind us Who He is, to recharge and refresh us, and to change our perspective about our lives in terms of His kingdom. God wants to do amazing things in and through us for the glory of His Name, and if we’re distracted by our desire and plans, we can’t see the bigger picture and what His desires and plans are. If we’re exhausted and stressed out because of our over commitments, traditions, and lifestyle, then when God calls us to do something, are we willing to be used with joyful heart? Or are we too tired? Too grumpy? Too distracted by all the other things on our to-do list?

To conclude, I recommend we all take a good, hard look at what our current commitments and lifestyle looks like, and make a purposeful stance to schedule absolute alone time with our heavenly Father. If this means heading to our car for an hour, hiding in our prayer closet, locking our bedroom or bathroom door, or heading to a secluded spot in a park, so be it. We need this time with God, our Father, as much as we need food or water, and honestly, many of us are slowly dying of hunger and dehydration. Let’s stop making excuses, and give God the very best of our lives, time, and resources, instead of the leftovers.

As Michael Catt says in his study, Refresh: The Road to Revival, “What we bring to God is a reflection of what we think of Him.” What are our lives reflecting?

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for His Name’s sake.

~ Psalm 23:1-3, ESV

How desperate are we…really?

Monday nights we host a Bible study at our local Starbucks. It’s a nine-week study on Michael Catt’s Refresh, which focuses on three areas of our spiritual journey: desperation, surrender, and persistence. So far, we’ve only been focusing on what it means to be desperate.

The power of desperation is something the world cannot comprehend. In a world where strength is lauded, we see that broken people have unexpected power with God. ~Michael Catt, Refresh

Tonight, as we finished up and I began making my way home, I started thinking about Psalm 119. I think it’s the longest psalm, so I’ll just highlight some of the verses that came to mind…

  • Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long (verse 27, NLT).
  • How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey (verse 103, NLT).
  • Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path (verse 105, NLT).
  • Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them (verse 129, NLT)!
  • I pant with expectation, longing for your commands (verse 131, NLT).
  • I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure (verse 162, NLT).

If you’ve read this chapter, you know that the author is talking about the Word of God; the Law of the Old Testament. But it got me thinking, is this how we feel about the Word of God? Do we pant with expectation and longing for the Word? Do we rejoice as we study the Word, as if we’ve found a great treasure in every verse read? Are we excited by it? Are we desperate for it?

The Word of God is how we get to know God, intimately. It’s how we learn His character, how we learn to understand His heart, and it’s through His Word that we are challenged and transformed into His image. If we claim to be desperate for God, but won’t open a Bible, then are we really desperate for Him? If we claim to be desperate for Him but won’t turn off our television or computer, or we won’t put down our cell phones long enough to spend quality time with Him, then are we really desperate for Him?

Some may be thinking, “But I just can’t. I can’t find the time. I can’t understand the Word. I can’t get excited about the Bible.” These are excuses. I believe that we use the word can’t way too liberally. The word can’t states an impossibility; that we’re mentally or physically incapable of learning, studying, reading, praying. That’s obviously not the case if you’re reading this. The truth is, anything we truly WANT to do, we’ll make time for. We have the freedom to choose how we spend our time–yes, the Holy Spirit can, and often does, prompt us–but we, alone, are responsible for our choices. We can choose to study the Bible. We can choose to spend time in prayer, and ask God to give us a hunger for His Word and to help us understand it. We can choose to worship Him and show Him how truly thankful we are for His grace and mercy. We can choose to be obedient and allow Him to direct our paths and write our story. But we can also make the choice not to. The question is do we really want to?

Desperation for God comes when we recognize that we’re nothing without Him; for without Him we have no hope, no future, no purpose. Desperation for God comes when our heart is overwhelmed and overflowing with gratitude for all He’s done, all He’s doing, and all He’s promised to do! When we’re truly desperate to know God, to have fellowship with Him in an intimate way, we’re not going to let anything come between us and Him. We’re not going to give Him the leftovers of our day, we’re going to give Him the first fruits! We’re not going to find time for Him, we’re going to schedule time for Him; because otherwise all the other things in our busy lives will push Him out.

So, I ask again…how desperate are we…really?

Too Much of a Good Thing

Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything new, but don’t think that you haven’t been on my mind, because you most certainly have. I’ve begun writing a few things, but never seem to finish, this is partly because I’m a perfectionist and expect a certain amount of quality from my own writing before sharing with others, but it’s also because I’ve just been so busy! Which is actually what I felt needed to be discussed here.

I finally finished my Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling (with a focus on Family & Marriage) a few months ago, through Liberty University, and I’ve been taking some time to relax after a grueling few years of school and work. I’ve learned that I tend to be the type of student who takes her work very seriously at the expense of her relationships, so I’ve been working on building new ones and strengthening those already in existence. I’ve also begun to get a little more active in church activities.busy image

I love all of these things. I love spending time with my friends and church family. I love being actively involved in worship, children’s, and young adult ministries. I love Sunday school, Bible studies, and worship. (And I suggest that if you’re not actively involved in a church check out Multiply: Week 4 to understand why you ought to be.) I love going to concerts, amusement parks and restaurants; watching movies; reading books; and chatting with friends into the wee hours of the night.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, however, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! With so much busy-ness in our daily lives, where do find the time to spend quality time with the very One Who gives us life—both physical and spiritual—and who gives us the capability to move and participate in all our activities? Every day we are bombarded with a barrage of phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram pics, Vine & YouTube videos, television, sports, news, jobs, school, and many other activities. When do we make the time to unplug from it all and just sit in God’s presence? When do we get down to the nitty gritty and become vulnerable before God about what’s going on in our lives? When do we study His Word , not to prove any points or prepare for a Bible study, but to just learn about Who He is and to allow Him to change us through the Words (check out Multiply: Week 7 for more on this)? When do we make the time to Worship Him through song? When was the last time we fell to our knees in awe of Who He is?

No matter how much is going on our lives, we must, must, must, carve out time for our Savior, our Friend, Our Father. He ought to be our priority, and everything else, secondary; for it is He Who sustains us and without Him we can do nothing! We should never let our lives become so busy that we aren’t plugging into our source of life; we need our bread and living water on a daily basis!

P.S. Praying and working through a Bible study with others is great, however, sometimes God wants to talk specifically to us and reveal something directly to our hearts that can’t be responded to the same way in a group setting, as it can when we’re at our most vulnerable before a Holy God.

High Stakes

I finished the book of Romans, and have begun 1 Corinthians, this week. I’ve decided that I really like keeping a journal when I study the Word of God, because it helps me remember what I’m reading, which in turn, helps me understand and apply it. Well, this is what I’ve been mulling over for the past few days…

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ~ NIV)

I’ve always taken these verses in the literal or physical sense, as in the Holy Spirit lives within us and therefore, we shouldn’t do any harm to our physical bodies and neither should others harm us, because God will have His revenge. But when I read the same verses in the Amplified Bible, it took on even deeper meaning.

Do you not discern and understand that you are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? If anyone does hurt to God’s temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ~ Amplified)

EpistlesPaul’s epistle (letter) to the church at Corinth, wasn’t just talking about our physical bodies. He was also talking in the spiritual sense of harm and corruption to the individual believer and to the church as a whole!

These verses made me realize (again) how careful we must be as teachers—and sharers—of God’s Word, to stick to His Truth and not tell others things that they want to hear, just because we’re afraid of what they might say to us, how they may treat us, or what they may think of us, because we will be held accountable! And if we didn’t get the hint with these verses, the Word tells us the same thing elsewhere…

    • But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)
    • You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)
    • Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)

I believe I’ve mentioned before about how teachers will be held at a higher standard, because we “should know better” (James 3:1-6). As we should! After all, there are souls at stake!

Because I love the people around me and because I value the Bible as the VERY Words of God, I cannot, in good conscience, tell someone that it’s okay to live a certain way or commit a certain act, when I know that it’s sin–per the Word of God–and will ultimately lead to their complete and utter separation from God! I’m not passing judgment; I’m stating Biblical fact/Truth. This is me being loving because I don’t want anybody to be severed from the love of God. I want every one of my readers to come to the knowledge of Christ. To recognize their (our) need for a Savior!

For some reason the world encourages us  to warn people of the danger of being embarrassed, and the danger of being physically, emotionally, or financially injured; but for some reason, it discourages us from warning others of spiritual danger—the most important and destructive threat to our very souls! This life is temporary (extremely short); but eternity is forever. I want every one of you to spend eternity in heaven, but I also understand—according to the Truth found in the Word (the Bible)—that God can’t commune (connect or establish a relationship) with us as long as there’s sin in our lives. In fact, the Word says that as long as there’s sin in our lives, we are actually enemies of God (James 4:4).

Yet, even so, God still desires a relationship with us! As it says in Romans, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (verses 5:7-8). Can you imagine dying for your enemy? THAT’S love. (Jesus did all the work; all we have to do is repent–turn away from our sin and turn towards God–to receive the precious gift of eternal life and a relationship with the giver of life, the God of creation, the lover of our souls!)

Okay, so now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Everybody makes mistakes and everybody sins and they should just be free to make their own choices.” (I know this because I’ve heard it repeated and asked over and over again.) Sure. Fine. But I’m not going to encourage anybody to make bad and/or sinful choices. I’ll continue to encourage them to do just the opposite; to make wise choices. Because isn’t that really, what love is about? Being there for the individual, speaking truth and encouraging them to live holy lives, pleasing to God (Hebrews 10:24)? That’s what I want for my younger sisters, my parents, my friends. I understand that ultimately, it’s their decision. I can lead a horse to water—in this case, I’m talking Living Water—but I can’t make them drink.High Stakes

Make sure the words from your mouth and pen are spoken in love and truth. Make sure you hold true to the standard that God provides us with through the Bible. If God says that He’ll respond to our actions in a particular manner, don’t accuse Him of bluffing. This isn’t a poker game (and if it were, our souls are mighty high stakes to be playing with)! If He said it, He meant it! I get the feeling that we think that God will change His mind in regards to sin. “Oh, but He loves us, how could He condemn us?!” His Word says He can and He will. We will stand before Him and be held accountable (Matthew 12:36-37; Romans 2:5; 2 Peter 2:4-9, 3:7 ). The questions we should be asking ourselves are: will we have Christ defending us (Revelations 12:10)? Is Christ our rock and our foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-20)? Is He our covering (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 13:14)? Our life’s purpose (Mark 16:15; Philippians 1:21)? And is our life a testimony (evidence) of the One Who saves us (Acts 26:20; Romans 6:12-13; Hebrews 10:26-27; James 2:17; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4: 22-24; 1 Peter 1:22; Revelations 12:11)?

As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:14).

The Bridegroom

I finished up Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge tonight, and towards the end of the book the author reveals a dream (rather a nightmare) that she had one night, which can be applied towards every believer (male or female) and I thought it needed to be shared.

A radiant bride greeted her guests with a brilliant smile as she entered the reception hall after the wedding ceremony. She gracefully moved and milled about the room, the train of her stunning white gown flowing along the floor behind her, her veil cascading down her button-adorned back.

She conversed with each guest one by one, taking the time to mingle and soak up the compliments. “You look absolutely lovely.” “Your dress is divine.” “I’ve never seen a more beautiful bride.” “What a stunning ceremony.” The lavish praises rang on and on. The bride couldn’t be more proud or more appreciative of the crowd’s adoration. She could have listened to them swoon over her all evening. As a matter of fact, she did.

But where was the groom? All the attention focused on the bride and never once did she call anyone’s attention to her husband. She didn’t even notice his absence at her side. Scanning the room, I searched for him, wondering, “Where could he be?”

I finally found him, but not where I expected him to be. The groom stood alone over in the corner of the room with his head down. As he stared at his ring, twisting the gold band that had just been placed on his finger by his bride, tears trickled down his cheeks and onto his hands. That is when I noticed the nails scars. The groom was Jesus.

He waited, but the bride never once turned her face toward her groom. She never held His hand. She never introduced the guests to Him. She operated independently of Him.

I awoke from my dream with a sick feeling in my stomach. “Lord, is this how I made you feel when I as looking for love in all the wrong places?” I wept at the thought of hurting Him so deeply.

Unfortunately, this dream illustrates exactly what is happening between God and millions of His people. He betroths Himself to us, we take His name (as “Christians”), and then we go about our lives looking for love attention, and affection from every source under the sun except from the Son of God, the Lover of our souls.

Oh, how Jesus longs for His own to acknowledge Him, to introduce Him to our friends, to withdraw to be alone with Him, to cling to Him for our identity, to gaze longingly into His eyes, to love Him with all our heart and soul.

What about you? Do you have this kind of love relationship with Christ? Do you experience the inexplicable joy of intimacy with the One who loves you with a passion far deeper, far greater than anything you could find here on earth? I know from experience that you can.

Ethridge, S. (2003). Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press.

The Power of Love

Funny how God uses basic every day experiences to teach us invaluable lessons. I’ve been watching that show, “Once Upon a Time,” on CBS. The show is based on all the fairy tales/characters that have been passed down from generation to generation, for the past couple hundred years. In the season finale of season one, the main character, breaks a curse over the town with a kiss of true love which she bestows on her “dead” son (think Snow White). And it really hit me…how obsessed the world is with LOVE. From sacrificial love, such as found in books/movies like Harry Potter, Johnny Q., and Man on Fire, to romantic love like that in Twilight, The Notebook, and Romeo & Juliet…our society is truly obsessed with love.

This idea is definitely not new to me, I’ve been studying love for a long time now, but for some reason this idea really stood out to me as I watched “Once Upon a Time.” Especially because the characters have stated on more than one occasion that “love is the greatest magic of all” and “it has the power to break even the strongest curse.” Wow! Love has the power to break even the strongest curse; what a statement!

So, what’s the one thing that most, if not all, of our love stories have in common? There’s always some force trying to separate or prevent love or goodness from occurring, correct? That’s because, there is no greater curse than separation from love.

When man fell in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of creation the curse bestowed upon all of mankind was just that, separation from love, more specifically, separation from God, because God is love (1 John 4:8). The world recognizes that there’s power in love, but they still haven’t grasped just how much power.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God loves us so much that He sent His Son into this world, to die for us, so that the curse—our separation from God—might be lifted!

God provided the greatest—NONFICTION—love story ever told, when He sent His Son into this world as a sacrifice for our sins. His love affected ALL mankind, past, present, and future, regardless of our own actions or character. He died not just for those of us considered “good” but the dirtiest of dirty, the murderer, the rapist, the drunkard. His love provided us all with the opportunity for restoration of our broken relationship with God.

I’m sure you’re confused…”the opportunity”? Yes, because God provided the opportunity for a restored relationship with Him; a gift offered freely to us, known as grace. Yet, we must receive the gift; we must accept it. Grace is there for the taking, but we still have a choice in whether or not to take it; and as we take it, we must acknowledge the sin in our lives, become truly repentant before God, and turn away from those sins. This is why God’s word says that no one can come to the Father unless they are called…because true repentance and sorrow comes only when the light of God shines into every nook and cranny of our lives and we recognize how filthy we are in the light of His glory. And true repentance and sorrow is not being remorseful about the consequences of our actions, but being repentant for our actions, period.

God’s love is more powerful than any earthly love, and yes, His love does have the power to break the strongest curse. His love conquered the grave and defeated death! His love restored our broken relationship with Himself, and allowed us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him! What an amazing God—full of love, mercy, and compassion—that we serve! A God full of power and justice, and yet full of such tenderness and grace.