Sunday, June 26, 2011

All You Need is Love! Part 2

Starting in Matthew, I was looking for ways Jesus loved, whether himself or other people.

First, I came across Jesus' temptation after 40 days in the wilderness (starting in Matthew 4:1):

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."

Notice that the devil was questioning Christ's identity, and trying to make Jesus question it too.  How often does that happen to us?  I think it's a serious problem for us these days!!

4But he answered, "It is written,

    "'Man shall not live by bread alone,
   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Every time the enemy said "If you are the son of God..." instead of getting defensive or wondering if the devil might be right, Jesus told him what God said about himself.  He completely relied on God!  I usually feel threatened when someone questions if I'm genuine, and I usually wriggle in my skin feeling the need to prove myself and make sure they don't question me any more.  And if I follow through with that feeling, it ends up making me look and feel sort of dumb I think.

I think that Christ's response really showed that he was secure in God - that he didn't have to do anything special just to prove he was God's son or that he was good enough.  He just WAS good enough.  And we are, too.  If we know that then we're going to love ourselves and not feel like we don't quite measure up, which hopefully will keep us from doing foolish things in an attempt to make ourselves feel/look good enough for other people and God.

You and I are more than conquerers through Christ's love.  We are God's children.  We can come before him with absolute confidence that he will love us, care for us and answer us EVERY TIME no matter what we have done.  We do not have to put up with lies or ANYTHING from the devil because we are not subject any more to his dominion over us as part of the family of God.  Who we are has little to do with our behavior - it has to do with what God says about us.  So we should maybe love ourselves and take some time to look into what God does say about us!

Knowing our identity in Christ is probably the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and it will make our lives so much more peaceful.

And that reminds me of a sermon I recently listened to... it is highly recommended, and not too long.  Do yourself a favor (LOVE YOURSELF!) and listen to it!

Or, if you prefer to read (and you're a woman...) read So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

All You Need is Love!

The Bible doesn't seem to talk much about loving yourself.  

But it does talk about love, and it does tell us to "love your neighbor as yourself. "  A lot.  Leviticus 19:18 & 34, Matthew 19:19 & 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8 are all the places that phrase shows up.

To love my neighbor as myself, I have to first love myself!  I did not realize that until about a year ago.  I always thought I needed to trample myself in an effort to love and serve other people, but that just didn't seem to be working for me.  I had constant guilt issues and felt resentful because I never did the things I needed for myself.  So I am continuing the process that started at that realization, learning to love and tend to myself in order to have a well of mental health to reach into when it is time to serve other people.  In my search for answers about how to love myself, I am taking apart what godly love is and trying to see how to apply each of those parts to myself.

The Greek word for love that appears in all of the above verses containing the phrase "love your neighbor as yourself" is agapao (Strong's #25, if you care!).

1. of persons: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly
2. of things: to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

So if I think about applying that definition to myself, I should welcome myself, entertain myself (I think this means "be hospitable" - not "go watch a lots of movies"), be fond of myself and love myself dearly.  And for the second part, even though it refers to objects, I think it is fitting to be well pleased and contented with myself!  Jesus didn't seem to have any trouble being pleased with himself or knowing that God was pleased with him, and we are new creations LIKE CHRIST!  We can be happy and content with ourselves even amidst our sins and failures because we are trying our best and we are the righteousness of Christ - we are just as good in God's eyes as Christ is - because of what he did for us.

Jesus' love perfectly reflects God's love.  So we now have concrete examples from Jesus of how to love!  And I really believe that we can and must take those examples and apply them to ourselves, to love and care for ourselves.  

So..... TO BE CONTINUED - with some specific ways we can love ourselves!  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

God Day!

Today is Father's Day, and I just want to take a moment and thank my Father in Heaven, my God, for everything he has done for me.  If I tried to list it all, I would not be able to!  

But I will say that for who he is and everything he has done for me, that he deserves all of my energy, all of my time and all of my thoughts.  

Nobody can love me like him: when I am a huge, cranky brat, he still calms my heart and ministers to me so that I can gracefully return to pretending I'm not a big pain in the butt.  

Nobody can take care of me like him: he knows every little thing in the world about me and uses that to fill my life with good things and to protect me and keep me from ruining my life.

My life would be nothing without him and his incredible son.  

I have found that real joy and stability in my life have come from spending time getting to know God.  The more I know him the more I trust him.  And nothing can really mess with me too much when I let God and Jesus Christ get close to me.  They are my body guards (except better because they also guard my more valuable treasures: my heart, my mind and my spirit).  They are my best friends when things just don't seem to be going all that well.  They celebrate with me when I'm having the time of my life.  They are peace, safety and vitality.  They are my life.

Thank you God for choosing fatherhood!  You are the best Dad anybody could ever ask for.  I love you!!