It’s A Two Way Love

As I continue my study of Song of Solomon, I realize more and more the depth of God’s love for us. This book is encouraging us to know, really know and understand how much and how deeply. We talk about God’s love all the time but do we really understand the depth of His love? The words in Song of Solomon describe an intimate kind of love from Him and from us to Him. Some synonyms for intimate are close, cherished, faithful, devoted, personal, confidential, secret, innermost, deep, unspoken, undisclosed and familiar.

All healthy relationships are two way. If you have a friend who only wants to talk about her stuff, you might decide to be a good listener for a while because you care, and she may need someone to help her process some things going on in her life. However, if this continues and this person doesn’t return the time for you, you might begin avoiding her. And you may find someone else who can be that kind of friend who better understands the way healthy relationships work.

In the same way, a healthy love relationship with our Father needs to be two way. We need to understand how intimately He loves us. When we really get that, we will naturally return that love to Him.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because God first loved us.” (GNT)

You might want to take the time to read the verses prior to and following this one. What I understand here is that God has taught us what true, deep, intimate love is so we are better able to love Him and love others.

In Matthew 22, Jesus responded to the Pharisees who were questioning Him about the Law and trying to trap Him. In verses 37-39, “Jesus answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” (GNT)

You can also find the first part of verse 37 in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (GNT)

My point here is that throughout Scripture, God teaches us by examples and commands how to receive love from Him and others and how to return love to Him and to others.

Yes, He teaches us that love is a two way street whether it is love for Him or love for others.

 

Photo Credit:  Gloria Boone

Oh, How He Loves!

Song of Solomon 2:10, 13b

10) My lover spoke to me, saying: “Arise, my darling; My beautiful one, come away with me! …

13b) Arise, come away my darling; my beautiful one, come away with me!”

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I’m studying Song of Solomon this week and I’m struck by the love our Lord has for us. It’s similar to a romantic love. He calls us numerous times in a way that one would address a lover. Just look at the verses in Chapter 2.

Romantic love is described in Wikipedia** as “the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction towards another person.”

“In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one’s strong romantic love, or one’s deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately or romantically.”

So, I’m seeing in a new light that our Lord wants a relationship with us as deep and intimate as a romantic love.

He excitedly tells us to come away with him. See the exclamation point at the end of both of those verses above? It excites Him to be close to us, to be intimate with us.

He wants us to love Him this much too. Our love for Him will grow as we get to know him and we can get to know him better by intentionally drawing close to Him.

Even though I’ve often been hurt over my lifetime by people who claim to love me, I’m beginning to realize that there is One who will never betray my love and that One actually enjoys my closeness and intimacy with Him!

Draw closer to Him today by focusing on this amazing love. You can start by reading this short book of 8 chapters and meditating on His deep and intimate love for each of us as individuals.

Have an awesome day, knowing you are loved!

*Photo Credit: Unsplash: Milada Vigerova

**Quote taken from Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_(love)

Who Will Be There For You When You Are Beaten Down?

As you may or may not know, I am a Christian Life Coach and Counselor. I have met with people, who were at such low points in life that they just could not gather the strength or initiative to pray.

Have you ever been so deep in the quagmire that you just don’t have the words to pray? We can pray with groaning in our spirit and He hears our cry. We don’t have to use our voices and words. Sometimes we are so low, we just don’t have the words, but Holy Spirit does! And Holy Spirit will intercede for us!

Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (ESV)

At this point, I am reminded of that poem, Footprints. The actual author is disputed because many have claimed to author this allegorical poem. Not at all my point today, but Wikipedia says:

(This popular text describes an experience in which a person is walking on a beach with God. They leave two sets of footprints in the sand behind them. Looking back, the tracks represent various stages of their life. At various points, the two trails dwindle to one, especially at the lowest and most hopeless moments of the person’s life. When questioning God, believing that the Lord must have abandoned His love during those times, God gives the explanation: “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”)

This is not actual Scripture but it states perfectly what I think about when people, including myself, experience when at those low points. And there are plenty of Scripture that remind us that He is with us and knows our needs, even before we are able to put them to words. Matthew 6:8, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (NIV)

Are you in a place of deep despair? Take heart and be encouraged!

Photo Credit:  Milada Vigerova www.Unsplash.com

 

 

What Happens After The Rain – My Thoughts On Life

We’ve had a lot of rain in our part of this planet earth. Actual flooding, pouring, storming rain has been a part of our lives for over a week now. We’ve also had a few, a very few, breaks with some sun shining down. Oh, what an experience to live with wet, muddy, rain and then see the sun pop out, even if just for a few minutes.

The other morning, after a night of constant downpours, I took some pictures of the wooded area on my way to work. I am always amazed at the brilliant colors of the varied greens and browns on the trees after a soaking spring rain!

What this made me think about are the rains and storms of life we all experience. How do you get through them while they are right on top of you and smothering you with, not only rain, but some bolts of lightning thrown in? Those metaphorical bolts of lightning are really jolting to the system. In our emotional, spiritual and even physical systems, we experience the effects of those “thunderstorms”. It’s almost like, we are down with the blaahhs, and even perhaps full blown depression, and then a lightning bolt is thrown at us for good measure.

During these times, I have to really make an effort to remember that I am an overcomer. Jesus took all that rain and those thunderbolts of life, with Him to the Cross. I have to remind myself that I can do this because He gives me the strength and stamina needed. I have to look toward a better day tomorrow with hope because of Him.

That better day is usually filled with beautiful, more vibrant, more varied colors. The Hope of a better day is, of course, available for us in the next life. But we can experience that better, more fulfilling, more exciting, day NOW. After the storm passes, there is a better day ahead if we walk with Jesus and stay close to Him, even through the storms.

John 10:10 says,” A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came to give life—life that is full and good. “(ERV)

My storms and thunderbolts have always brought me to a better place of provision and abundance. We all hate the dreary, cloudy, stormy days. There is a better day ahead and we don’t have to wait to die and go to heaven.

These past weeks of rains have reminded me to be more intentional in my spirit to look forward to the hope of greener greens, flowering dogwood trees, and various colored tulips.

Have a hopeful day today, regardless of the weather!

IMPORTANT:  If you are experiencing depression, even mild depression, for more than 2 weeks, PLEASE SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP!

If your depression or down in the dump feelings are causing problems with everyday normal activities, like differences in sleeping habits, irritability, etc. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP!

This article is NOT meant to replace a need for professional help. God’s Word says you are valuable. Take care of yourself!

What does praying mean?

Photo by Ben White benwhitephotography.com

What does praying mean to you? Do you recite a prayer already written by another person? Do you pray only on Sundays? Or do you make sure to say your nighttime prayers as you were taught when growing up. Or do you pray before every meal?

I think praying is more personal than any of the above. And I’m not saying any of the above is wrong. I just want to point out a more personal way.

We speak to people we love daily, hourly. Even friends and family get some sort of communication from us on a regular basis. And with social media, we can communicate as often as we desire.

I have sisters who live in other, far away, states. We can touch base by Facebook Messenger almost daily, if we desire. They are always on my mind.

Here’s where I’m going with this. If we have a relationship with our Father, why not talk to Him anytime of the day. No set time needed. No set prayer, already written, needed. Just talk to Him. Let Him know your needs, struggles, even your accomplishments, and your happy moments.

Thank Him for all you have, and are, and how He provides for you. We always thank our friends and family for even the little things they’ve done for us. I think He deserves that too and more.

When we spend time talking with Jesus, we are in a state of relationship and worship. Praise Him for Who He is. Worship is not just the music on a Sunday morning at church. Praise and worship is a state of thankfulness for Him and all He did and does for us.

If you are a believer in Jesus, and all He did for us on the Cross, then His Spirit lives in you. You also have a spirit. So both Holy Spirit and your spirit live in close proximity, 24 hours a day. You can communicate with Holy Spirit anytime of those 24 hours. Take time today to express gratitude, praise Him, and even tell Him what troubles you. And since both Holy Spirit and your spirit live together, He will definitely help you with those troubles. Be open to Him. Be in tune in your spirit with Him.

What should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind. 1 Corinthians 14:15 (NET)

These are just some of my thoughts on what prayer means to me.  Feel free to comment what prayer means to you.

3 Tips For Nourishing Your Relationship With Jesus

Colossians 2:10 says, “And it is in union with him that you have been made full — he is the head of every rule and authority.” (CEB)

Because of the work Jesus completed in full on the Cross, when our Father looks upon us, He sees no sin, no blemishes, no imperfections in appearance, manner or personality. So if that’s what He sees, we are actually falling short (sinning) when we see ourselves otherwise. That does not give us free reign to do whatever we what whether good or bad. But it does give us the freedom to be who He created us to be.

In order to get the full meaning of this one verse, one needs to read and meditate on the previous verses. In particular look at verses 6 through 8.

 Therefore, just as you received the Messiah Yeshua as Lord, keep living your life united with him. Remain deeply rooted in him; continue being built up in him and confirmed in your trust, the way you were taught, so that you overflow in thanksgiving.” (CEB)

When we accepted and received Jesus as our Savior, His Spirit moved into us and now lives with our spirit. We can communicate with Holy Spirit any time we make that an intentional part of our day. But because we are “in union with Jesus” our communication is a constant part of our lives as well.

Just because He lives in union with us that does give us the freedom to hear from him but there are a few things we can do, without being legalistic about it, to nourish that relationship. We do some special things to nourish our human relationships.

And because life gets busy and noisy we need to be intentional about nourishing that relationship with Holy Spirit, just as we would with our human relationships, especially the ones that matter to us.

1)      Read about Him. Get to know Him. How? Spend daily time in the Word. It is a love letter from the Father. He wants you to get to know Him. When we get to really know someone, a human someone, our love for them grows. Our love and appreciation will grow as we get to know Him more deeply.

2)      Hold conversation with Him. Talk to Holy Spirit. But take time to listen as well. The how to of listening is addressed in other articles and in ongoing articles, so I won’t go into that detail here. This exercise takes intention at first but soon we will recognize His voice even in the middle of our daily noise.

3)      Just “be” with Him. Just sit quietly with Him. How often do we spend time with our human loves but we don’t say a word? Being with someone we love doesn’t take any effort except to remove all the other distractions. I’m talking about more than the first suggestion above. I’m talking about just sitting with Him. Enjoy His presence. Express thanksgiving for all Jesus has done for you. Worship Him. Start and end your day this way.

Please don’t think you have to “set” aside time to the legalistic point that you allow the enemy to play with you. That’s what the enemy likes to see. That we are so legalistic with a “schedule” that we experience guilt for having missed that time of day. Yes, in our human relationships, we set time aside for them. But we have a perfect Father and He just loves us with no agenda attached. Take time for Him but don’t fall into the trap of being legalistic about it. That’s playing into the enemy’s hands.

3 Things I’ve Learned About Hearing Holy Spirit

Last month we had the most emotional and sad experience. We had to say goodbye to my sweet pup, my Little Bit. She had been trying to tell us all weekend and for several days before we made the hard decision. At this point in her life, she had Congestive Heart, Canine Cognitive Disorder; she was deaf and mostly blind. Even her sense of smell had deteriorated. I know, because I had to bring her to her food.

In the past couple of years, I’ve asked the Vet how do we know when? The answer has always been, “she will let you know.” Until I experienced her trying to let us know, I didn’t understand the depth of this statement. Yes, she did let us know, slowly, at first, over the course of this past year. But that weekend, during the snow storm, she tried to tell us. She wanted to be held a lot. At night she kept moving closer in order to touch body to body. Her back legs weren’t doing a good job of holding her up. And her incontinence was out of control over the weekend.

Were we hearing her queues? She doesn’t speak, in fact, during the last six months she didn’t even bark. So we had to be “tuned” in, listening, in order to hear her.

I think it’s the same with our relationship with Holy Spirit. He speaks to us in numerous and variety of ways. Are we listening so we can hear?

We know that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we receive the gift of His Spirit. Holy Spirit now lives in each of us. If He lives in us, then His Spirit and our spirit live together in this body of ours. And if they live together, they communicate. Makes sense to me.

So why is it so hard sometimes to hear Him? Our lives can get very noisy and our spirits deal with a lot of life “stuff”.  However, I’ve had this conversation with Him and He knows I need Him to speak loudly to me in order to drown out all the other noises. And He does that! But I still need to live in a state of awareness of Him.

Read Acts 10: 9-20 and notice how Holy Spirit communicated with Peter.

19While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

A few things I’ve learned about Holy Spirit as He communicates with us Spirit to spirit.

1.  There may or may not be a clear voice speaking to me. Most times it’s “heard” on a spiritual level.

2.  I need to live in a constant hour by hour, minute by minute awareness of Him. Awareness is a key word here.

3.  He can speak to me above all the noises of life! Why not? He is God, after all!

Yes, it’s quite interesting and amazing how God taught me some lessons on hearing and listening through my sweet Little Bit. He is an amazing God who loves me and you and wants to communicate with us.

God’s Amazing Healing Power in 3 Women of the Bible

In this world, we have trouble. Difficulty will come our way. Even for Christians, there is no exclusion from the hurts and pains of this world. What options for hope do we have?

We can see this reality through the lens of God’s Word. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have troubles. Behold, I have overcome the world.” Jesus was guaranteeing the truth I shared above, but not without passing on to us a major promise.

He overcame the world. And to those who call themselves His, He has given the ability to do the very same in Him. It is in Christ alone that we can overcome.

But where do you look when it seems that promise is falling flat? What do you do when you start to doubt God is going to help you overcome those hurts?

There is no better place to look than to His Word!

Looking to Scripture

The Bible says that the Word of God is living and active. This means that God has given us the Word to talk to mankind in any generation at any hour. This also means that the things He did for those in the Scriptures are the same amazing feats, wonders, and miracles He is able to do for you!

Often times, us women can gain the most encouragement as we look to those women of God who came before us. I believe that God has set so many examples of healing women’s hearts in the Scriptures. And there are some women whose hearts He healed so beautifully it ought to inspire such an overwhelming hope and trust of Him in our very hearts and souls.

Women Healed by God

  1. Hannah

Hannah was the wife of a man who happened to have another wife, Penninah. The Scriptures tell us that Penninah provoked Hannah. While we don’t have explicit detail on what this means, we know that it must have surely irritated the already pained, childless heart of Hannah.

Hannah deeply desired to be a mother. She desired this so much so that she would pray continually to the Lord to grant her this desire of her heart. Eventually, he did just that.

It was when Hannah dedicated the desires of her heart to the Lord that He stepped in an altered her situation. He not only blessed her to be a mother, but gave her a son who would play an integral role in the history of her people. He truly helped her to overcome.

  1. Ruth

Ruth was a widowed Moabitess who had married into an Israelite family. With her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law’s deaths she and her widower’s family were planning to head to Bethlehem. Naomi, her mother-in-law pleads with her to return to her family, her friends, her way of life.

But Ruth’s taste of God’s goodness is enough to make her determined to stay with Naomi. The two women go together, living a life of poverty. Ruth spends her days in a hot field collecting the extra portions of wheat in the field of a man named Boaz.

But God caused Boaz to show her favor. She eventually finds such favor with this man, who is a kinsman redeemer for her family that he decides to marry her.

Ruth and Boaz marry, and have a son. This son eventually becomes one of the many people in the honored ancestral line of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

God looked on Ruth in her desperate time of need. He showed her favor with Himself and with Boaz. What an awesome path God allowed Ruth to walk for His glory!

  1. Woman at the Well

When the Woman at the Well ran into Jesus, it radically changed her life forever. During their conversation, Jesus pointed out to her that He was aware of her less than perfect past.

This astounded the woman at the well. And it is in this precious moment that she recognizes that the man talking to her is the Christ Himself, the Messiah sent by the Lord.

She then immediately returns to the village she came from, praising God and telling others that she has found the Messiah. We can be pretty sure that God had done a major transformative work in her heart, healing her from her past in such a way that she wanted to share the Good News of the Messiah with as many as she could find.

May this be the very response of our hearts to God’s continual healing power in our hearts!

 

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